5th November–Exploring Goondiwindi

Distance: 153Km
Fuel: 39L

The first visit was to the local Tourist Information Office, it was open and was part of the library – there can’t be many libraries open on Sunday.

Armed with some leaflets we went to sample the delights Goondiwindi has to offer. First stop was the Big Cod!

171105 001 Goondiwindi Big Cod171105 002 Goondiwindi Big Cod

Then a short drive to Salisbury Bridge once again joining NSW with Queensland but this time exclusively for stock movements. On the NSW side a short distance away is a sandbar known as Bondi Beach – a popular swimming spot according to the brochure. The stock bridge is at the end of Bondi Rd.

171105 007 Goondiwindi Salisbury Stock Bridge171105 018 Goondiwindi Salisbury Stock Bridge171105 024 Goondiwindi Salisbury Stock Bridge

Then it was back to town for a walk along the top of the levee as far as the boat ramp. Lots of boats waiting to launch on this Sunday.

171105 027 Goondiwindi Macintyre River Walk171105 029 Goondiwindi Macintyre River Walk171105 030 Goondiwindi Macintyre River Walk171105 031 Goondiwindi Macintyre River Walk

Time for a scenic drive, on the way yet another ‘historic’ bridge to NSW this time across the Dumaresq River – bitumen on the Queensland side, dirt in NSW.

171105 038 Keetah Bridge171105 040 Keetah Bridge171105 036 Keetah Bridge

Arrived in the little town of Yelarbon with the intention of buying food but faced with a choice of two pies or a sandwich at the roadhouse ended up just filling with fuel (115.9c compared to Goondiwindi’s 133.9c a litre).

171105 043 Yelarbon

While we were there the entire police force of SE Qld turned up to talk to a bloke about something.

171105 048 Yelarbon

Had a quick look at the strainer post that marked the end of the longest fence in the world before heading back to ‘home’.

171105 045 Yelarbon End Dingo Fence171105 047 Yelarbon End Dingo Fence

Opposite the Goondiwindi airport a local farmer has got rid of a pile of junk lying about his farm at the same time adding to the cultural life of Australia. Neat eh?

171105 051 Goondiwindi Australia Coat of Arms171105 054 Goondiwindi Australia Coat of Arms

Just a reminder if you click on a picture you get a bigger version.

A Storm

At about 6.30pm there was rain and thunder. Fortunately it was forecast so we had already taken the Gazebo down and had put away everything that shouldn’t get wet. Got into the camper watched the news and Doc Martin on TV. The new ventilation set up seemed to work well; ran the fan all night. During the night the wind was quite strong and it rained again though personally I slept through it all.

4th November 2107–Texas to Goondiwindi

Distance: 145Km

Did my washing this morning so that I have enough clean clothes to get me home. Didn’t leave the park until after 9am but it didn’t matter we were only going to Goondiwindi which is only about 100km away.

First stop was Texas Rabbit Works. Now a museum but for a very long time, until myxomatosis wiped out their business, it was a thriving industry from the 1930’s until it closed in 1992. It provided rabbit meat, pelts and fur for hats. There was a video showing the whole process of making an Akubra hat. BTW Akubra now have to import rabbit fur.

Still had the cooling rooms with massive pipes carrying the ammonia coolant, the steam engine and the cooling compressors. It was well worth the visit and cheap at $7.

171104 049 Texas Rabbit Works171104 011 Texas Rabbit Works171104 013 Texas Rabbit Works171104 040 Texas Rabbit Works171104 024 Texas Rabbit Works171104 028 Texas Rabbit Works171104 035 Texas Rabbit Works171104 051 Texas Rabbit Works

BTW I have absolutely no idea what sort of boiler that was, too much is missing.

The journey to Goondiwindi was along minor roads shadowing the border with NSW. They were in good condition and made the Gwydir Hwy look like a goat track.

Arrived at a suitable caravan park at about midday and booked in. I had wondered whether it being a Saturday would cause problems but even late afternoon the park is largely empty, about a dozen vans and tents.

171104 079 Goondiwindi

Set up quickly and went into town to look around. First stop was Gunsynd’s Memorial on the banks of the Macintyre River.

171104 052 Goondiwindi Gunsynd

Nearby was the Tree of Knowledge, not the Labor party version but a tree where he locals came to view the possibility of flooding which happened regularly before the 1956 levee was built however the levee has been over topped a few times since.

171104 060 Goondiwindi171104 058 Goondiwindi171104 059 Goondiwindi

Drove into NSW across the ‘historic’ bridge (the river is the border) past the old Customs House from the days when NSW and Queensland were separate colonies.

171104 056 Goondiwindi171104 064 Goondiwindi

BTW there is an election on both sides of the bridge; the Queensland State election has been called while on the other side Barnaby Joyce’s New England byelection is happening.

Bought a 6 pack to top up my depleted beer supply then drove and walked around the town checking out the landmarks and weighing up the options for tonight’s meal. Two Chinese or a Thai restaurants are currently favourite.


After a shower ventured back to town for food. Decided to try the Chinese Malaysian restauant Bao Bao. It was very good and reasonably priced; $46 for the two of us – main meals, desert, tea and a beer.



3rd November 2017–Texas

Distance: 356.2Km
Fuel: 27L

Farewell Grafton.

This morning set off for Stanthorpe in Queensland along the appalling Gwydir Highway; how it justifies the name highway is beyond me. it is so narrow and bumpy. I suppose to be fair it is designated a ‘B’ road. Anyway we survived it…

About 25km from Glen Inis where I expected to turn north toward Tenterfield Tom Tom said turn right which I dutifully did and we travelled for 12 km along an undulating unnamed road before reaching the New England Highway; clever Tom Tom cut 40km off the journey.

171103 003 Bluff Rock171103 002 Bluff Rock

Stopped at Bluff Rock rest area about 60km south of Stanhope for a break. It was about midday and it dawned on me that in Queensland it was only 11am. Had a quick review of the map and decided to change the destination to Texas a small town just inside the Queensland border. With a name like that you just have to see what it is like don’t you?

Turned out to be quite a nice small country town with a main street including a Post Office, newsagent, hardware store even a couple of supermarkets, a pub and half a dozen other businesses like motor repair, cafe etc.

The Spirit of Texas:

171103 010 Texas171103 014 Texas171103 009 Texas171103 017 Texas

First stop was the site of the original township but it was difficult to find and I am not sure if we did. The town was moved to its present location after floods in 1895 and 1921 from the original site you can see that the current town is on a slight rise.

Visited the dead centre of Texas.

171103 019 Texas

Explored the supermarket and town centre and bought noodles, biscuits and ham for sandwiches.


2nd November 2017–Grafton and About

Distance: 80.5Km
Fuel: 58L

I have never stopped in Grafton before but I have been over its bridge on several occasions and wondered who designed it to be such a difficult bridge to negotiate. It is very high and narrow for two lanes of traffic with very tricky bends at each end and no footpath either side. I never had to cross it often enough to wonder why.

Today I had a serious look at it. It is a two level bridge with a railway and two footpaths occupying the lower level – you would never know that from driving to or on it.. At one time it was possible to raise a section for river traffic to pass but that was sealed up years ago. It needs a good coat of paint as it is covered in rust but the reason for that could be seen next door where a $240 million bridge is being built.

171102 002 Grafton Bridge171102 004 Grafton Bridge171102 008 Grafton Bridge171102 009 Grafton Bridge171102 011 Grafton Bridge171102 013 Grafton Bridge171102 015 Grafton Bridge171102 019 Grafton Bridge171102 022 Grafton Bridge171102 023 Grafton Bridge171102 020 Grafton Bridge

I suspect the town has been waiting for this new bridge for a very long time as it is such a bottle neck with queues at either end almost continuously yet otherwise Grafton is just a typical country town.

One of the reasons for visiting the bridge was to see the wreck of the SS Induna which was supposed to be at the SW corner of the bridge but I couldn’t see any sign of it. Winston Churchill escaped the Boer War on SS Induna before it became a rail and vehicle ferry across the Clarence River.

Headed south to Shannon Creek Dam 18km away. Not the most exciting dam that I have visited but it was full and nearby they had created a very nice picnic area.

171102 031 Shannon Creek Dam171102 027 Shannon Creek Dam171102 029 Shannon Creek Dam171102 033 Shannon Creek Dam171102 036 Shannon Creek Dam

Then it was north to Junction Hill to visit an Open Garden we had been given a postcard about at the Festival. It was a very beautiful garden in a suburban street which charged $2 for entry (worth it). They also offered morning or afternoon tea of scones etc for $10 and, as it was well after lunch time, we tried that. I wonder how they get on with their neighbours – remember the fuss and eventual closure of Janet’s Royalty Rooms in Woonona?

171102 045 Open Garden171102 047 Open Garden171102 048 Open Garden171102 050 Open Garden171102 051 Open Garden171102 065 Open Garden171102 068 Open Garden171102 075 Open Garden

Returned to Grafton to look at the Arboretum in See Park but it was a bit underwhelming so spent the next hour trying to get round detours for a festival event and road closure. It was hell! (especially when you have no idea where you are going).

Late afternoon took down the gazebo ready for tomorrow’s departure.

1st November 2017–Jacaranda Festival

Distance: 12.3Km

Drove into the centre of Grafton. Traffic jam crossing the bridge and anyway I still managed to take the wrong turning (if I was coming again I would try to stay on the north side of the river). South Grafton streets seem to have lots of short stretches with quick turns – very easy to take the wrong turning.

171101 001 Jacaranda Festival Grafton

Drove the circuit of Jacaranda lined streets and they were very impressive. Finally parked next to Market Square which seems to be one of the festival centres. It too is filled with Jacaranda trees.

171101 006 Jacaranda Festival Grafton171101 013 Jacaranda Festival Grafton171101 018 Jacaranda Festival Grafton171101 021 Jacaranda Festival Grafton171101 024 Jacaranda Festival Grafton171101 026 Jacaranda Festival Grafton

We were just thinking of leaving when a couple of kids started playing guitar and singing on the open air stage in the park. I think it was pupils from Grafton High School performing (unless I misheard). Some of them were very good but all of them performed very well. It was a pity they only performed in front of a small audience comprising their school mates and half a dozen of us old folks. They deserved better. I have to be honest and say I only recognised one piece they sang (a Missy Higgins composition) but I presume they were all contemporary songs.

171101 033 Jacaranda Festival Grafton171101 038 Jacaranda Festival Grafton

They were followed by a primary school who started off with a school orchestra. Obviously the days of the screeching recorder are over; these kids had flutes, trombones, saxophones, clarinets, drums etc. The orchestra was followed by a Year 2 choir and dancers then Stage Two (?) choir. While this school performed there was a big audience of doting parents and grandparents.

171101 041 Jacaranda Festival Grafton

After all this free entertainment went shopping in the local shopping mall to buy important ingredients like milk, tomatoes and nuts (forgot bread)  before returning mid afternoon to the caravan park for a late lunch and recovery time. Then planned tomorrow’s excursions which will involve more driving and less walking.

Spent a little time trying to improve the TV reception in the camper but the local transmitters are over 35km away and seemingly too weak for my aerial. The TV knows the signal is there but can’t make head nor tail of it.

Disaster! The power supply for the HDD seems to have failed. No TV and far worse – no films or TV series for late evening. To be fair I did know that this power supply was dodgy but I thought it was just a connection glitch, I hope it hasn’t taken the drive with it.

31 Oct 2017–Grafton

Distance: 400.9Km

Left Murrurundi at about 9am driving north on the New England Highway to Tamworth then on to Armadale.

Stopped at Uralla to look at the grave of Captain Thunderbolt the bushranger who was shot nearby in 1870.

171031 006 Uralla Captain Thunderbolt171031 007 Uralla Captain Thunderbolt171031 011 Uralla Captain Thunderbolt171031 014 Uralla Captain Thunderbolt

At Armadale followed the B78 to Grafton a narrow and winding road but less traffic than the appalling and equally winding Gwydir Highway. There is no way you can get anywhere near the 100kph speed limit for (at a guess) half of its length.

Arrived in Grafton and found the caravan park after a couple of wrong turns which involved lengthy detours to get back on track.

171031 016 Glenwood Tourist Park Grafton

30th Oct 2017 – Murrurundi

Distance: 437km

Have taken off for a few days to Grafton and perhaps places north. Set off reasonably early at about 10am. Endured the hell of Sydney traffic on the M4 and M7 before it became even worse in the northern suburbs. The Newcastle Expressway was quite a relief.

There seemed to be nowhere to stop until the Hunter Valley expressway where we stopped for lunch and something to eat.

Arrived at Murrurundi at about 4pm to stop for the night. Not a bad little park was able to leave the trailer coupled to the car.

The weather was warm 35”C but in the evening a cold change came through with some showers (not much) but the weather turned really cold.

171031 003 Murrurundi Caravan Park171031 002 Murrurundi Caravan Park171030 003 Murrurundi Caravan Park

Looking Back…

I am now home – arrived here on the early afternoon of Thursday 22nd June 2017. Two nights travelling through NSW didn’t appeal to me – fine during the night but too cold in the morning.

Naturally when I got home both the car and the camper were covered in red dust but a concentrated day of cleaning have fixed that. There are a few minor things I would like to change in the camper which I will show later.


Total Distance:16802 Kilometres
Total Fuel: 1705 Litres Diesel
Total Fuel Cost: $2361 (Average = $1.38/l)
Total Accommodation Cost: $1932
Length of trip: 63 days


Horizontal Falls
The Bungle Bungles
Undara Lava Tubes
Wave Rock
The Pinnacles

I picked out those particular visits as highlights but in truth everyday was wonderful. Just driving through the Australian bush is an experience in itself the scenery is so varied it is just never boring.

The Van Parks

I always stayed in caravan parks though I was prepared to free camp but never needed to. The parks themselves were a source of interest, usually I arrived early afternoon, parked and set myself up within 15 minutes, then I would go to the tourist place and/or with information from the park office explore the local area.

170521 002 Broome Caravan Park

The parks varied in age and quality, some had very modern bathrooms etc, some had grass or concrete sites others were gravel or dirt but I can’t say that I would avoid any that I stayed at in the future (including the roadhouses), they were all satisfactory to me.

170507 001 Principality of Hutt River

The different rigs people had were a revelation, some I wondered why they bothered leaving home their setup was so sophisticated though I suspect the van was actually their only home, others were pretty basic – my camper is definitely the latter. It was interesting watching them set up; some seemed to take an age others maybe 20 minutes I don’t think any were as quick or as easy as mine. I must admit I wasn’t impressed with most trailer campers they were very long winded to set up and take down, needed two people  and it was just living in a tent with a good kitchen.

To be fair everything had some disadvantage (including mine). For example I think (and this is just my opinion) the mobile homes and some of the roof top campers were the least convenient as they had to pack every thing up just to go to the shops, some mobile homes towed a small car behind them but I feel that if you do that you might as well buy a decent car and tow a caravan – it would probably be more economical and have better accommodation.

My favourite was a small caravan thing that fitted on a ute tray but had electric jacks so it was an easy matter to load and unload everyday if necessary it had the advantage of not towing but you had a simple vehicle for trips leaving the accommodation behind.

The Camper

The Camper worked really well, the more I used it the more I liked it. The mudguards were great tables for the electric jug and toaster but running the extension lead from the internal power point was a minor nuisance. An external power point near the mudguards would be very handy.

The main advantage of this camper for me was the total lack of any set up needed other than unhitching and even that wasn’t strictly necessary, the most arduous task was putting up the TV aerial or the gazebo.

Taking the gazebo was great I could put it up by myself in about 10 minutes but it was not always necessary and whether it went up depended on the length of stay and the shade available, often the one wall that I had was a boon providing shade from the late afternoon sun.  I never put it up for a single night’s stay and usually took it down the evening before moving on.

170621 002 Hebel

The Esky was the bane of my life I must have spent $300+ buying ice nearly every day just to keep $40 worth of milk cool. For my next trip I will have a suitable 12/240v fridge. The only damage to the camper on the trip was a minor breakage caused by the Esky.

Ventilation and Power Improvements

The camper does need some wet weather ventilation (think of how a car steams up on a cool night with all the windows closed). It was not really an issue on this trip as there were only a couple of wet nights (in SA). Normally I slept with the glass part of the door open and just the security screen/fly wire in place but in wet weather this would not be possible so with the roof fan running there is nowhere for air to enter. I thought about putting an external vent in the side of the camper but dust ingress could be a a problem so I am going to try drilling suitable holes between the kitchen and the cabin so that in wet weather it would be possible to keep the rear hatch slightly ajar by not fully closing the catches (see pic below).

170627 012 Camper Mods170629 003 Camper Mods

I have worked on some of these problems already. The ventilation was the first and it involved drilling holes between the kitchen and the cabin. I covered the holes with fly wire, a louvre and cabinet vents.

170626 001 Camper Mods170626 005 Camper Mods170627 006 Camper Mods170627 007 Camper Mods

The electrical was easier – just a matter of adding an external waterproof power point.

170626 002 Camper Mods170627 003 Camper Mods170630 008 Camper Mods170630 009 Camper Mods

Where to next I wonder?

21st June 2017–Hebel to Gulgong

Distance: 502 km
Fuel: 97 L

Set off early;  before 8am – hardly any packing up required because I left the camper coupled up last night so there was only the mat and power cord to put away.

Within minutes I was back in NSW.

170621 004 Hebel to Gulgong NSW Border

Filled up with fuel at Walgett and only made a couple of rest stops because I want to get as far south as was possible.  One rest stop commemorated John Qxley’s 1818 expedition.

170621 006 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial170621 007 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial

Originally I aimed to reach Dunedoo but made good progress and in the end settled on Gulgong an extra 65km toward home. I should be home tomorrow as I have less than 400km to cover (though admittedly through what will probably be the worst traffic of the trip).

Poor Gulgong is quite a nice little town but since the town was dropped from the ten dollar note I think it has suffered a bit. The Town that Used to be on the Ten Dollar Note doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Town on the Ten Dollar Note. The only caravan park in town has a slightly run down feel to it (though the owners are friendly)

170621 013 Gulgong170621 009 Gulgong170621 014 Gulgong170621 019 Gulgong170621 025 Gulgong170621 027 Gulgong170621 030 Gulgong

I had a look around town, it hasn’t changed much since I was last here – some shops have closed while new ones have opened, the Gulgong Opera House is still entertaining the locals but you can stand in the middle of the street with little fear of being run over.

170621 010 Gulgong170621 011 Gulgong170621 018 Gulgong170621 016 Gulgong170621 012 Gulgong

After wandering about the main streets I had a nice coffee and muffin in one coffee bar before filling up with fuel again ready for tomorrow.

When I returned to the caravan park at 4pm it was already feeling quite cool and I needed a jacket.

What Gulgong does have is an Indian and a Thai restaurant so I was spoilt for choice. In the event I went for Indian, resisted a Vindaloo and tried Shahi Korma Beef. The restaurant was nicely appointed and warm so I ate in – the meal was very nice indeed.

BTW I might be wrong about the local economy after eating I drove past several pubs which were surrounded by vehicles and seemed to be doing good trade.