Sep
30
2009
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Port Douglas – 1 Car Hire, 2 Bags, 2 Kids, 2 Parents and a Blissful Break

By Australia / Port Douglas / Queensland /

Weathermen were redundant for our week in Port Douglas. I mean, how difficult can it be to forecast blue skies and 30 degrees? Sheer and utter bliss. For that’s the only way to describe our week in September up North. Departing a grey overcast Melbourne and with the obligatory (and brief) Sydney stop-over we arrived into Cairns to find the airport in a somewhat chaotic state with extensive renovations underway. To be fair looking at the impressive Qantas check-in area the chaos will be worth enduring. We’d booked ahead through DriveNow (no surprise there!) and organised an Avis Corolla car rental at Cairns Airport which was perfect for 2 large bags, 2 excited children and 2 parents hoping to spend at least a little time relaxing in peace on the beach, book in hand. Glad to report that no one was disappointed. Heading up the Captain Cook Highway we did ponder about taking the Karunda Skyrail – this unique Rainforest…

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Sep
14
2009

Driving holidays – Fossicker’s Way to Armidale (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

After leaving behind an awesome time “Fossicking”, and finding a truck-load of great gem stones, we headed further north to Armidale. This place is so cold, I can honestly say I have never experienced living in such a chilly town! One morning we actually got down to minus 7! But in saying that, Armidale is a great town and full of surprises. We met up with a guy affectionately known as “The Arrowcatcher” (Anthony Kelly). He is world famous for his amazing reflexes. His partner fires very sharp arrows and he catches them with his bare hands! Around town there are some great photo opportunities with their historical buildings, especially the Catholic Cathedral which is simply stunning. Even if you are not religiously inclined, you really just have to go and see this place for yourself. I even walked the 5kms out to the site of the very first hydro dam … I thought I would actually see something, but…

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Aug
29
2009

Driving holidays – Bathurst to Nundle and Fossickers Way (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

HAVE you heard of Fossickers Way? If not, you don’t know what you are missing. Heading off from Bathurst, we stick to the main highway and head for Tamworth. Just 60km (40 miles) out of Tamworth, you will find Nundle, a tiny, quaint little village positioned at the beginning of the Fossickers Way. So, what is Fossickers Way, you ask? Well it is over 200km of area where you can indulge some time in fossicking for gems! And, boy, did we find them. Gold, rubies, sapphires … you name it. After all the years of trying to find opals in Coober Pedy and gold in the Outback, we have never ever found a thing, but doing the Fossickers Way you will find plenty! They are all destinationas relatively easy to get to by normal car and you can even take the vans down most of the roads. Nundle is also home to one of the last remaining Wool Mills. Got…

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Aug
26
2009
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Driving holidays – Nelligen to Bathurst (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

Now here is some very sound advice. Advice I wish I had been given earlier! We left Nelligen, bound for Bathurst, and we let our trusty Tom Tom do the talking … really, really bad idea. We went to Bathurst on a “long cut”, via the goat tracks of southern NSW. I swear these roads had not been used for many, many, many months (see attached picture). We were on this particular road for four hours, so a five-hour trip turned into an eight-hour trip. I guess the scenery was spectacular and it did give us an insight into a road definitely less travelled, so I am thankful for that, although not very thankful with four kids in the back. So, here’s an important rule: when travelling in the country, don’t use your Sat Nav! Stick to trusty maps and common sense. Once we finally arrived at Bathurst we were pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a town of petrol heads…

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Aug
22
2009

Driving holidays – Quenbeayan to Nelligen (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

LEAVING behind the arty town of Quenbeayan, we head east out to the coast to a little village called Nelligen. Now, it’s important to remember that when you leave Quenbeayan, be very, very careful. The road down to the coast is very, very steep. I had to go down in first gear the whole 18kms. It’s very steep and in places you feel as if you are going to get out of control. But we made it and were greeted by the outstanding BIG 4 Nelligen Holiday Park. What a place! Built on an old footy oval, it’s almost entirely surrounded by water and the Clyde River. This place is so picturesque and the kids loved it thanks to the best children’s  playground, jumping pillows and tonnes of room to run around with the footy oval still in place, smack bang in the middle of the park. For something different, take a cruise on the Clyde River or drive just…

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Aug
05
2009
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Driving holidays – Sydney to Coffs Harbour (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

The great thing about cruising in a campervan to Coffs Harbour is that you can either do it from Brisbane or Sydney, therefore offering two very different journeys to enjoy. For us, we chose the Sydney option and while it would take about seven hours maximum with no stops, we spent five days negotiating the route along the Pacific Highway, a great option for some diverse stop-overs along the way. Newcastle First port of call was Newcastle after a leisurely two hour cruise. This city is one of extremes – a rougher element stemming from its early days as a shipping and commercial centre, with iron and steel mills built. While some parts of town are eyesores, the rest is beautiful, including some amazing beaches such as Stockton, Nobbies and Mereweather, while the Honeysuckle Boardwalk – an area that was a once derelict harbour area – now boasts funky restaurant-bars, a brewery and a great walk. Forster Second port of…

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Jul
28
2009

Driving holidays – Lakes Entrance (Vic) to Quenbeayan (ACT)

By Victoria /

Australian Capital Territory – a place with artistic flair The drive north from Lakes Entrance in Victoria was a hard slog in some places, especially in a campervan. It’s about a five-hour drive but, funnily enough, the time just seemed to fly by.  There isn’t a lot to stop and see along the way, but a myriad of surprises awaits in Quenbeayan! Did you know that Quenbeayan is one of Australia’s biggest art towns? We certainly didn’t! This part of Australia is home to some of our most talented artists. We went to the Bilk Workshop and The Artists Shed. You can even taken in a few art classes which run three or four times a week. Who knows, you may just have a hidden talent ready to be unearthed … though I certainly didn’t. So, if it’s art you love, Quenbeayen is definitely the place for you.  There are loads of art galleries and tucked away little studios all…

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Jul
24
2009

Driving holidays – Melbourne to Lakes Entrance (Vic)

By Melbourne / Victoria /

Melbourne to Lakes Entrance We decided to check out our own “doorstep” and spent a few days looking around the Dandenongs, within an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a leisurely cruise in the campervan, too, with loads of great sites as you wind your way up these hills east of the city. It’s such a beautiful place in Autumn. You just have to go to the Cuckoo Restaurant, it’s a damn good day out. Great food and very entertaining.  We parked the vehicle and took the Puffing Billy (pictured) up there – a place I haven’t been since I was 7. You forget what is right on your doorstep, you really do. A grand entrance Then we headed off to Lakes Entrance, which is an easy drive, nice open roads, flat and perfect for just cruising along. Lakes Entrance is so under-rated. Only four hours drive from Melbourne, it’s an easy weekend getaway with so much to do. We…

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Jul
22
2009

Driving holidays – Adelaide to Warrnambool (SA)

By Adelaide / Australia / South Australia /

On the road in South Australia When leaving Adelaide behind, we headed off to our first morning tea stop in Hahndorf. It’s such an awesome little town, and it’s world famous for its apple strudel. You simply cannot afford to miss this place. Harndorf is only a 90-minute drive from Adelaide. Watch the big hill heading out of Adelaide, however, as it’s a killer! With full tummies, we cruised our way down to Robe for the night.  We stayed at the Big 4 park which is across the road from the beach –  and a great little swimming beach at that. The park has absolutely everything, including an indoor heated pool; way too spoilt for a caravan park! We went out to some local farms to check out the dairy industry, comparing it with what we do in New Zealand. Most of it went straight over my head as I am still learning, but my wife Sheree talked for hours and…

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Jun
27
2009
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Driving holidays – Port Augusta to Adelaide (SA)

By Australia / South Australia /

From Port Augusta to Adelaide on the banks of the beautiful Spencer Gulf, it’s just gorgeous. It’s only a leisurely two-hour drive and all easy going, big open roads. Port Augusta has some  unique attractions including the “spook hill” or Gravity Hill, near the Flinders Ranges where you face your car up this hill and put it in neutral and you somehow get pulled up the hill! It’s all true and is a fairdinkum optical illusion and very much worth the drive out there. We enjoyed the the Champagne Cruise out onto the Spencer Gulf itself and went diving for the rare Razor fish (see picture). The water here has 7% more salt in it and you float really easily, but it makes it tougher to dive down for the Razor fish. This really is a place where the Outback meets the ocean and you won’t find a more photogenic place. Also take in a visit to the Wadlata Outback…

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Jun
22
2009

Driving holiday – Sydney to Melbourne (NSW/Vic)

By Australia / Sydney /

I’ve always preferred to drive to Melbourne than fly – I just like my independence, the freedom of the road and the convenience once I get there. The direct route down the Hume (highway) can be a little tedious, just as well I’m comfortable behind the wheel! A new touring route has officially opened, however – the Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route. It’s not a new road, just a new slant on familiar territory, opening tourists’ eyes to what’s special in the states of NSW and Victoria. Keen to try out the multi-day ‘Mega Drive’, I arranged campervan hire through DriveNow, picking up my camper in Sydney. After meandering through Sydney’s southern suburbs, we diverted through the gorgeous Royal National Park, emerging at Stanwell Tops and the start of the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive. This new road skirts the spectacular Wollongong escarpment, with a bridge hovering above the pounding ocean and offering spectacular views down the coastline. I’m always blown away…

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Jun
09
2009
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Driving holidays – Esperance to Port Augusta (WA)

By Australia / Western Australia /

DESERT ROAD DREAMING The great vastness of the desert …The Nullarbor. What  a drive! We set off early in the morning thinking we would get a big day of driving in. Silly idea. The amount of wildlife playing on the road was bordering on being ridiculous. Certainly, this provided terrific photography opportunities, but not a particularly safe environment when towing a 4000kg road beast in their path. The Nullabor is deceiving and almost every person we bumped into (not literally!) along the way, which wasn’t many mind you, had a great yarn about their journey. And make sure you experience the Nullarbor Roadhouse, which is a real treat. There is an old bike there that some silly dude rode on for the entire Nullarbor Plain back in the 1950s. There isn’t much there, however. In fact, there isn’t much anywhere along the plain. We were very lucky to run into not one but two herds of camels. They are such…

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