Dec
15
2009
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Great driving holidays – Mackay to Ayr (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

We decided to deviate from our intinerary, something we have become very good at! Although sometimes it is not planned at the time. So after Mackay, we decided to stop in Ayr, a great little town 80km south of Townsville. It’s a good old country town, buzzing with busy farmers and tonnes of produce. There is still enough sugar cane to sink a battleship, but two things Ayr has that not a lot of these small country towns have are, one, it is right on the beach, and two, it has an enormous water supply in the Burdekin River and Dam which flow through the southern side of town. Water is never a problem around here, even though they have balmy summer days all year round. Produce is grown by the hectare and therefore there is nothing better for a campervanner/caravanner than roadside stalls from which you can stock up on supplies. Just 10km south of Ayr is a little…

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Dec
08
2009

Great driving holidays – Strathbogie Ranges (Victoria)

By Victoria /

On the run with bounties on their heads, Ned Kelly and his gang frustrated troopers for 16 months after robbing the Jerilderie bank by holing up in the ruggedly beautiful Strathbogie Ranges, a wonderful place to enjoy as a great driving holiday in Victoria. Today the ranges are just as breathtaking but modern-day adventurers can see the lot in just a few hours after a leisurely two-and-a-half hour tootle up the Hume Highway from Melbourne. Ned and his boys spent their time knocking up their famed armour for the final showdown at nearby Glenrowan, but I’d suggest some way more leisurely pursuits.  A good start is the wonderful little town of Euroa for hearty sustinence (good little nosheries abound) before heading for the spectacular granite-topped hills. Now a mix of general farming among wineries and horse studs, the Strathbogies definitely don’t challenge the Gold Coast in attractions. Theirs is a more natural beauty, pristine bush with maybe a koala and…

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Dec
07
2009
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Away with the Family out of School Holidays periods

By Australia / Port Douglas / Queensland /

My family and I recently went to Port Douglas to relax before the mayhem of the festive season.  Taking kids out of school for a family holiday is a hot topic at the moment.  But as our eldest child was in Prep this year we thought a week away (armed with her writing journal and a few reader books), would actually enhance her education. Now most people think that Far North Queensland is not the place to be in late spring, but let me tell you – the weather was perfect, we had the place to ourselves and we enjoyed the low (out of school holiday) season prices! We actually booked our travel arrangements 3 months earlier and got great deals on flights, accommodation and car hire.  Car hire was booked via DriveNow.com.au with Thrifty. We started our journey from home at 5.00am and set off to catch our Jetstar flight from Melbourne to Cairns.  Having bundled Zac and Tasha …

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Nov
30
2009
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Great driving holidays – Emerald to Mackay (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

LEAVING Emerald and heading back out to the coast in the campervan was a welcome relief. I’m not saying anything bad about Emerald, it’s a very unique place, but to head out to where the Great Barrier Reef begins and see the view just says it all. Pulling into Mackay we ran into trouble. Big trouble, so it’s worth taking note of this if you’re driving around Queensland in your hire campervan from DriveNow or caravan. We had all pulled over on the side of a newly tar-sealed road to wait for the others. We got out, I walked up to the motorhome to speak to Sheree and, just at that moment as we were standing there and talking, a delightful truck tears past doing about 90km in a 40km zone, showering not only myself but the motorhome with stones … and there goes the driver-side window. Luckily it missed my head! The window shattered into a million pieces all…

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Nov
16
2009
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Great driving holidays – Rockhampton to Emerald (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

BIDDING farewell to the ocean, regrettably, we set off inland to the vast spaces of the Queensland mining Outback – Emerald. There’s some great roads around there, in fact, Queensland has had awesome roads pretty well everywhere we’ve been so far. But one thing to watch are the road trains as these gigantic things are hauling enormous mining machinery. They take up the entire road, both sides, and their support car often only travels a couple of hundred metres in front, so when you see one – get off the road! And I mean off the road. The truck is usually still travelling at about 80-100kms an hour and if you aren’t off the road, there is no mercy. If there is no where to pull off, try anyway! It’s better to get stuck than get mutilated by one of these babies. Upon arrival at Emerald we headed just past town to Fairburn Dam and Lake Maraboon. What a place….

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Nov
06
2009

Great driving holidays – Bundaberg to Rockhampton (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

ROCKHAMPTON is the Beef Capital of Australia – and the world – so they tell me, with over 3500 head of stock going out of Rocky every single week. The drive up from Bundaberg is a good one. Good roads and great areas to pull off the road, too, when those wonderful road trains almost mow you down. You will not see anywhere else in Australia the sheer numbers of cattle roaming the roadways. Obviously not too safe when you are driving, but certainly great scenery! Upon arrival in “Rocky” we were invited to visit the Gracemere Saleyards on one of their busiest days of the year. We were there for five hours and they put through 1400 head of stock in that time! Trucks, dust and loads of cow poo was everywhere so watch your step. One thing we didn’t know about Rocky was that it was home to many, many salties (aka saltwater crocodiles). The river running through…

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Oct
27
2009

Great driving holidays – Maroochydore to the Outback (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

AS sad as it was to leave Maroochydore, it was time for some Outback fun! We headed north to Bundaberg, the home of the world famous Bundaberg Rum and I couldn’t wait. The drive up there seemed to take forever, even though it’s a great road to travel on, as I was so excited about our distillery tour that afternoon. Sheree wasn’t so keen … I wonder why? After unhooking our vans and setting up, we headed in the direction of the birthplace of the big White Polar Bear (yep, you know the big fella from the Bundy advertisements on TV?). And there he was, right inside the door waiting to greet us. They make some awesome things in that place, not to mention the liquors – they went down very, very easily, if I might say so myself! Next was the Mysterious Craters on the outskirts of town on the way to Gin Gin. That’s the town everyone claims…

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Oct
15
2009

Great driving holidays – Maroochydore (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

It was time for a great week on the Sunshine Coast. Maroochydore – here we come! Staying at the Big4 Maroochy Palms is just out of this world – it’s a 5 star resort. With so much to choose from to do, we decided to go simple and hire bikes and take in our new surroundings – definitely a place I could live. We rode up and down the foreshore on the bike track and the kids had a blast. Then it was off to the Ginger Factory to enjoy in another awesome family attraction. Boston loved the train so much we couldn’t get him off. We think he did about 10 laps! Anais and I took a boat ride, which was very entertaining as they have a pack of sheep doing the haka – very fitting, I thought! Then a day was spent just relaxing at the Big4 park. Honestly, this is the best park we have ever stayed…

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Oct
12
2009

Great driving holidays – Armidale to Ballina (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

LEAVING behind the bitter cold of Armidale, we head out to the coast to Ballina. It’s an awesome drive, very easy going, but just make sure you take your campervan via Glen Innes and then head out to the coast. That’s the best road when in a camper or towing a caravan. There’s some stunning scenery along the way, too, and for once we had no hiccups! When arriving at Ballina you can feel the buzz. It is a vibrant little place and the beaches are awesome. We stayed at Big4 Shaws Bay, which is right on the water with a walkway that goes all the way out on the spit to the heads. The sites here are right on the water, which is just magic! Then it was time for a bit of a challenge and Anais, my 8-year-old daughter, thought a surfing competition was the order of the day (here I am, right, trying to psyche myself up…

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Oct
05
2009
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Great driving holidays – Ballina to Toowoomba (Qld)

By Australia / Queensland /

IT is an easy drive from Ballina to Toowoomba, especially with the new highways making driving your campervan a lot more pleasant experience around the Gold Coast and Brisbane. It’s just the last steep haul up to the top of the mountain that can be hard going. Mind you, it wasn’t until we left that we realised the problems that it caused – those damn brakes again! Toowoomba is world famous for its amazing gardens and even though I wouldn’t normally look sideways at a garden, these have to be seen to be believed. It is just awesome to see the local council putting so much time and effort back into something that everyone can enjoy. Next on the agenda was Sheree deciding to experience the local Ghost Tour. It’s a self-drive option but the problem was she was too scared to get out of the car and film it (for The Great Australian Doorstep)! She still swears that there…

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Oct
05
2009
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Driving holidays – Melbourne to Kangaroo Island

By Australia / Melbourne / South Australia / Victoria /

This is a must-do trip with your camper, enjoying the spoils on offer along the Great Ocean Road and keeping the navigation simple – stay in on your left-hand side! A shopping trip at Torquay should be first on your list and the best bargains are found in the warehouses located behind the main surf shop strip. Good quality wetsuits, fins, mask and snorkel are mandatory and easily packed in the camper.  For the more adventurous, a surfboard is worth the effort too. Stay on the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Warrnambool.  There are many great places to stop along the way but Apollo Bay and Port Fairy are highly recommended – plan to stay at least one day at each town. A terrific little (and not well known) camping ground is at Yambuk about 30km west of Port Fairy which is sensational, with a beautiful ocean beach and inland river. It caters for all water sports and all…

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Oct
04
2009

Surfers Paradise and 2 Theme Parks in 2 Days

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

So, having relaxed on the beaches of Far North Queensland we headed for a slightly different pace of life, south to Surfers Paradise and the Theme Parks. Flying into Brisbane we picked up another Avis Car rental at Brisbane Airport. We’d make the booking with DriveNow back in August and one point that really came through was how much cheaper it was to book in advance. That may sound like a sales pitch however the reality was that it saved us $60 on a 3 day rental. It does pay to book in advance particularly in peak periods such as Christmas, Easter and School Holidays. Perhaps we were lucky with our timing but we had bags and hire car collected and were on the road within 35 minutes of landing. We drove south to Surfers through the road-works on the Gateway Motorway (why in Australia do we refer to some roads as Motorways and others as Freeways? Aren’t they the same thing?) and on…

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