Tuesday 29th June.
A longer bike ride almost all the way to Mooloolaba today revealed a section of the track that could fill in a lot of time. It ends up on a beach area with picnic areas and track similar to the style of the Strand at Townsville, having all types of shops etc on the opposite side of the road. It is our plan to go for a long walk up there tomorrow instead of bike riding, as this will give us a better look at the area, and a better opportunity to take some photos.
Monday 5th July.
We are settling into this place very well, enjoying the lack of cold temperatures immensely, and think we will enjoy a couple of months here easily. I will have to see if I can obtain a different site though, as this one has too much sand in its surrounds.
Linda is on her way back to Tassie for a few weeks tomorrow, and I will once again be on my own. I really don’t think I will have much trouble occupying my time here at all.
We had a trip to Brisbane on Saturday to visit Deris and Danny, and I must remember not to visit on a Saturday again, as Danny spends lunch at the pub with a few mates. I accepted his invite to join them and as for the meal and a chat with his mates it was rather enjoyable, but the couple of hours in the pokies room afterward was an experience I could have done without. I chose not to play on my own so Danny suggested we alternate in pushing the buttons, and watching him put in several hundred dollars without blinking an eyelid was what I could have done without. He, or we, did have a couple biggish wins, $1100 or so, but he would not have gone home with much of a profit.
Monday 28th June, (Sunshine Coast).
Now that we have sorted things out we find the overnight temps are very satisfactory, at this stage. It seems that when the sun disappears behind the trees it is time to cover the legs and batten down the hatches, and this keeps the inside temperature comfortable for the evening. It also appears that later in the night things actually warm up a little to keep things comfortable, hence we found out that running the heater, no matter how low, warms things up a little too much.
After heeding the advice from the battery man last week things seem to be better now I have put a reasonable charge into the battery. Today saw me purchase a new regulator and install it under the bonnet connected to the battery so I can connect the solar panels whenever a charge is needed. We will see how things handle from now on.
Today and tomorrow have been allocated for van cleaning so no sightseeing will be done, and then we can have the last week before Linda goes home for doing what we want.
I should be able to occupy my time on my own adequately as there are quite a few things to do, a nice long bike riding track that is flat except for a gradual hill, a long beach to walk on and plenty in the area to take photos of, when I get started. The beach should be good for exercise as the sand is very loose and takes a bit of walking on.
One thing we have noticed while here is that the bird, Cockatiel given to Linda by Matt for her birthday, is a good talking point. It’s talking is obviously noticed by many as they pass by the site, and quite a few stop and have a chat because of it.
Saturday 26th June, (Sunshine Coast).
We moved here yesterday, and I think we are going to really enjoy our stay.
It turns out we were a little late getting to the Sunshine coast as all the southerners have made their move north and there are obviously plenty of them stop in this area. Hence most of the good sites with concrete slabs have been taken and we ended up on a site in the tent camping area without a slab. Apart from the sandy area we are camped around we will be quite happy with what we do have. Our site is close to the beach so Linda can hear the sea noises in the evening, something she does enjoy, and close enough so she can take her chair down to the sand and sit and read a book.
There is a gigantic shopping centre within walking distance, and plenty of areas one can go bike riding, so at last we could be in an area where I can put the cover over the car and very seldom have the need to use it.
Once again I’ll say that we could really enjoy a couple of months here, especially if it doesn’t get much cooler than last evening. It is nice to once again be able to put my shorts on of a day, but it is does get cool enough to cover up of an evening. We were a little cool last evening, but we discovered that we actually had a few more windows open than we thought, and for the first night in months we didn’t have the heater on, so things are looking rather good.
Tuesday 22nd June, (Gold Coast).
We finally had some warmer weather at Yamba and that saw us walking around the area a little.
We are now on the Gold Coast and it didn’t take us long to realise that the only reason we are here is to visit Tony and Brenda. Not that we have anything against the Gold Coast, apart from being a little touristy and not what we really look for, but we really had no other plans for visiting here. I think we are now just looking forward to settling on the Sunshine coast for a lengthy spell.
I have lately been having battery problems with the car, and am nearly of the decision that we will have to replace it after only two years of use since purchasing the same. I am wondering if I have in fact been over-cooking it with providing charge to the two batteries to the rear, one in the back of the car and one in the caravan. It would seem that with these two batteries across the car one they would be holding the voltage down resulting in overcharging the car battery. We have of late been travelling with the van fridge turned off, and the solar panels have been running the fridge in the back of the car, so the car has been disconnected from the rear end 12v system. I may have to look into seeing if there is such a thing as a double regulator to overcome the problem.
Thursday 24th June, (Gold coast).
The battery; I went to a ‘battery specialist’ today and discussed my battery problem. He applied a tester and came up with the following suggestion. The battery is at a very low capacity and needs charging before an effective test could be properly done, but at this stage all showed there was nothing wrong with it. Further discussions had him make the following statement; “a car alternator will never fully charge a battery unless one travels for at least 7-8 hours non stop” and seeing that will never be the case in my situation it is becoming apparent that I will have to apply a manual charge occasionally. This leaves me with the thought as to how the battery gets to a low charge state in the first place. The answer to this could only be all the times I sit in a car park waiting for Linda with the radio, CB and fan running, and if he is correct about the alternator never fully providing an adequate charge, this could well be the cause. I have connected the solar panels to the battery today, and as near as I can ascertain it took about 20 Ampere-hours before dark. The trickle charger in the van is at present providing a small charge, so I will leave it connected overnight and see what happens. It was obviously well down.
All this aside, I can now say the weather is about what we were hopeful of, and assuming it will be very similar on the Sunshine coast I am sure we will enjoy settling there for a couple of months.
Saturday 19th June, (Yamba).
We decided to make a couple of longer trips on the next two legs to the Gold Coast, so instead of going to Coff’s Harbour area today we ended up going an extra 150Km or so to Yamba, which is about half way to Surfers. I have stayed here before, late last year when I was cruising south on my own while Linda was back in Tassie.
The wind has come up since leaving port Macquarie and is blowing a gale at present. We are a little sheltered from the wind but putting up all the shade cloth awning surrounds was a must as soon as we had set up camp. Hence we didn’t venture anywhere today, or Linda anyway, but we do have a couple of days to show Linda the couple of scenic areas on offer here.
Hopefully we may see some dolphins swimming up the river as I did when I was here before Xmas.
Sunday 20th June, (Yamba).
It was still rather windy today, but later in the day did see it drop somewhat so we did have short walk around the coast. Linda also had a stroll around the shopping district and she is now appreciating what I had told her about how she should like this place and could easily settle here for a spell.
Thursday 17th June, (Port Macquarie).
An interesting day today with us finding some centerlink facts about rent assistance: after trying to do the right thing and simply let them know that we have moved so they could stop our payment, it now seems we will be putting in forms more often than we anticipated. We had the idea that it would be somewhat of a hassle to submit forms when we only stay in an area for a period of a couple of days, so we would not bother. As this would be the case for the next week or two we went in to the office today just to cease the payment, but their answer was “you must let us know whenever you move anyway, so you may as well put in a new claim each time”. As it turns out it seems the only possible way to let them know we moved is to submit a form anyway, so that is how it seems to be from now on.
After reading a brochure provided concerning rent assistance for people in our situation, travelling, it seems that we can possibly let them know that we have moved by phone, but we will eventually have to submit a form anyway. Either way it seems this will be a regular thing from now on.
I had the idea of walking around Port Macquarie today and take some pictures of the local buildings, as it seems that last time we were here this wasn’t one of my ideas and all I took were a heap of pics of the shore line. It turns out that this town is a lot different than other towns we have visited and I just didn’t know where to start, or more to the point there was nothing I thought was interesting enough to take. The streetscapes, I considered, would be a waste as all streets are heavily tree lined and all looked the same. This would have blocked most shots of building anyway as there are no tall buildings in the city area anyway. The only tall buildings around here are holiday unit blocks and they were summed up in my shots last visit. So in the end no photos were take of Port Macquarie.
Wednesday 16th June, (Port Macquarie).
As nice a place as Port Stephens is we have now moved on to Port Macquarie, about 250k further north, with the idea of getting as far as the Sunshine coast within two weeks or so. Linda has booked a flight back to Tassie from Brisbane so it would be convenient to be at the Sunshine coast at that time. I would then remain there until her return and then we will decide what to do and where to go from there.
We stayed at a different caravan park at Port Macquarie, Melaleuca Top Tourist, as the big4 we stayed at last time is typical of big4 parks and has priced itself out of our league, hence the change, and this park looks as though it may be our choice for future visits.
Monday 14th June, (Port Stephens).
We had a look around the area today and went on a walk up Tomaree Head, which is the headland of the peninsula, and what a view from there. I also experimented with the zoom capabilities of my new camera and was suitably impressed: see below.
This is a normal shot: take note of the two boats, one in the centre, and the other to the left.
This is a full optical zoom of the boat to the left, there is still a 2X digital zoom if required. Looking at this shot on the screen, full size, one can tell the person standing in the boat is a female.
This is the one in the centre. This is why I am suitably impressed.There were a couple of other examples, but I think this one demonstrates well enough.
We also went to Fingal Beach, another local township, to have a look at another caravan park, and decided that although this park is a little remote from everything, except local shops, it would be our choice along with Shoal Bay when we return in the future.
Sunday 13th June, (Port Stephens).
Linda has now rejoined me and it is nice to have her back, although it is only for a few weeks. I did drive to the airport to pick her up and the trip only reinforced my ideas about driving through Sydney, I don’t like it at all. We almost got lost exiting the airport because I thought the road signage was very inadequate, I may have been alright if I had thought to read the Sydways before leaving there, but one thought the signs would be ok as they were on the trip to the airport, and I had no trouble there at all.
Linda has now had a couple of days to rest and recuperate, and although it is a lot warmer here than in Tassie she, we, agree that it would be nicer to be a little further north. On Wednesday we will move and intend heading for the Sunshine Coast. We will take a couple of weeks to get there having about four trips to do it. We now have two days to have a little look around here before we head off, and this will give us an idea of what there is to do for when we return here one day, and I am sure that we will.
Monday 7th June, (Sydney, Port Stephens).
I am now at Soldiers Point, Port Stephens, 50k odd north of Newcastle, and it is a lot warmer. I have been here since Wednesday and although it has been rather cool some nights it is almost a temperature I could get accustomed to, but we will see what Linda thinks of it when she comes over on Thursday and make a decision as to how long we stay here. I do think we will be heading further north though.
I left Goulburn on Tuesday last week and was just happy to leave there, an overnight stay was had in Sydney on Tuesday and then on to here. I met up with Sue in Sydney for a few hours and talked, we had a good chat, I think she is now half accepting that the planned reunion at her place later this year may in fact not eventuate through a lack of interest, it all seemed like a good idea in the first place anyway.
I am a little surprised with Port Stephens area in the respect that there are not as many travellers here as I thought there would be. It seems that it is not quite warm enough here for those who venture north for winter and it seems the peak period here doesn’t start until about October.
While here I have had the chance to check out some of the other parks, or at least the council ones as they seem to be the better value, and are in better areas, and it seems I may have not made the best choice in selecting Soldiers Point. The Shoal Bay park seems to be a much more suitable park as the layout is better, with concrete slabs, and closer to varied things to do, eg bushwalks, but we may as well stay at this one this trip and remember the other for when we may return one day.
As I mentioned Linda is flying over on Thursday, and her original plans were to catch trains from Sydney to Newcastle, but now it seems a better idea for me to drive to Sydney and pick her up. With her original plans she wouldn’t get here until 9 or 10 PM even if she did have no trouble selecting the correct trains to catch, and according to the radio there are disruptions to rail travel with line upgrades, so this could also confuse her.