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
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
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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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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May
18
2009

Driving holidays – the Outback (Queensland)

By Australia / Queensland /

STRANGE LIGHTS AND DINOSAURS As winter approaches, my thoughts don’t turn to snow-capped mountains and log fires, but rather red dirt plains and wide blue skies. The cooler months are the ideal time to explore Queensland’s outback, and hitting its dusty roads is the only way to get to fully appreciate the scale, complexity and beauty of this rugged, wild and bizarre landscape. After flying into Mount Isa, we pick up our four-wheel drive camper and despite the kids’ pleas to don hard helmets and mining suits and venture underground (my idea of hell!) we press on, keen to embark on the first 300 kilometres of our journey. Signs stating “G’day” and “Welcome to the Min Min Byway” announce the theme of our journey; ahead lies a long flat stretch of tar, disappearing into infinity with nothing but scrub and red dirt on either side. This is hauntingly beautiful country; massive outcrops loom from nowhere, red boulders stacked randomly as…

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Apr
28
2009

Boys weekend – Gold Coast (Queensland)

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

The sun, the surf, the sights … the cheese. Ah, it’s what boys’ weekends are made of. The Gold Coast, Australia’s answer to Las Vegas minus a squillion casinos and bright neon lights, but certainly ample gambling opportunities, bands, great pubs and clubs, sunshine and sand – and that’s not desert sand, but the soft, powdery kind plonked right at the feet of some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Oh yes, then there’s the bikini clad babes wandering around here, there and everywhere. And plenty of buff male torsos for the ideal eye candy for a girls’ weekend, mind you. The journey But down to business, boys’ weekend business, of course. Do something a little different and fly into Brisbane rather than Coolangatta, where we snapped up our DriveNow bargain basement Mitsubishi Lancer, and take your time looking around this sunny city before cruising down the Pacific Motorway for an hour or so. We had lunch at…

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Mar
23
2009
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Driving Holidays – Cairns (Qld)

By Australia / Cairns / Queensland /

The old adage “it’s a big country” certainly rings true in Far North Queensland, where distances between sights are great and the only way to experience them is by road. But that’s what makes the region north of Cairns such a great place for a driving holiday, with the open highway a journey of discovery and wonder. When you’re deciding on a vehicle, keep in mind that the further from the Big Smoke you get, the rougher the roads – you may require a four-wheel drive if you are venturing north of the Daintree or up into Cape York. The journey After settling on Toyota Camry from Budget at Cairns Airport we began our trip north to Port Douglas on the Captain Cook Highway. This 68 kilometre stretch of road must be one of the most scenic drives in Australia, winding its way through Cairns’ beautiful northern beaches, with great vantage points at Rex’s Lookout and Yule Point back down…

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