Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Put another log on the fire

WOW how fantastic has the month of  August been here in Queensland but generally it seems like its been unusually warm all around Australia - with the days full of blue skies, warm and sunny although the nights and mornings are still very crisp.  Generally I hate August because of the westerly winds that seem to arrive after a few nice days just when in your mind winter has gone and spring is in the air the winds come in to remind you there is still another month of winter - but not this year - or so far anyway - fingers crossed.  This year though while we have had a few coldish days most have been spectacular which means for us - we have been out and about luxuriating in the warm glorious days and getting that tan back to where it should be.  Yep sure the nights and early morning are still freezing, but you can live with that when the days are perfect.

Its been so nice in fact I have hardly been on the PC at all which is how it should be and not listening to politics which no doubt is annoying everyone in Australia right now.  At long last we have been able to get out on the boat, go to the beach, sit and do some fishing and get some road trips in with a fairly good weather forecast for more than one day.

The beaches have just been so beautiful with little or no swells and from the beach you are able to enjoy seeing the whales meandering past, walk for miles in the sun, feeling the warmth in your bones without getting hot and sweaty, I have even gone for the odd swim - although the water is still quite chilly, you dry off quickly in the sun.

These are the types of days that NINKERS and retirees generally love - because there is so much to do and see without the need to spend a lot of money (which seems like it will become less if the Rudd Government gets in and taxes the banks for deposits - grrrr - as if it isn't bad enough that interest rates are sooooooo  low but then to want to actually make those who have money pay to have it seems incredible).

Weather like we are having makes planning your days so much more enjoyable, as there is an endless amount of things that you can do to enjoy yourself and one of the great things about living on the Gold Coast is that around this time of year we seem to have an endless amount of friends heading north - so it means some great lunches, plenty of  wine and good chatting in the sun.  Once again it seems like we have been lunching a lot lately but none were so enjoyable as a day with Mandi at Burleigh recently - a beautiful warm day, beach front views from the Burleigh Heads Surf Life Saving Club, good chat and a wonderful sense of freedom to be sitting on a Friday with no phones, no emails just enjoying good company - thanks Ladies had a great day.

We started the month off getting all our injections for our South America trip ouch - and we have been keen to start getting fitter by going for long walks every day - beach walks, road walks and now bush walks to ensure we can keep up the pace as well as enjoy ourselves without aches and pains and of course it doesn't hurt the winter waistline any either.  Again this is most enjoyable at the moment - as we begin doing slightly more hill climbs around the great south east in readiness of Machu Picchu.  

So most of the above is pretty standard for us, so whats new, what have we discovered lately you might ask?  Derek hasn't stopped his passion for metal detecting as his finds seem to get better each time we go out somewhere - and now we are even giving general fossicking a go as well - again the right time of the year although out in the country the nights and mornings are significantly colder hence the title of this post - because this week we decided to give this a go - take a road less traveled, and absolutely less luxurious than we are use to and headed out western Queensland way to try our hand at gold fossicking.

Lets just say all that glitters isn't gold, after a few days of net searching, map collection, camping ground info gathering we headed past Warick to Thanes Creek - where the Department of Natural Resources has a fossicking site (no license required - although we did buy a yearly one from the Warick Council - cost $57).  We did take a drive to this area and was very disappointed that the Department doesn't obviously make any attempt to have this kept nicely, provide any picnic areas, loos etc or even attempt to keep the grass cut - boo DNR not good enough.  When we were getting our license they said they had had so many people in that day getting licenses - and most of the people there were in the retirement age bracket, so its something that obviously a lot of people want to do, its the romantic notion of sitting on the side of a babbling brook, in the sun, with the hope of finding something - not about sitting in long grass, in a filthy area with no amenities.  Its a big area and could provide some great entertainment for everyone if it were just kept a bit nicer.

I know I said I wasn't going to travel with Teddy anymore, but given our destination felt it was probably OK so the 3 of us headed off on our first little fossicking trip - only a 3 hour drive from the Goldy and good roads and headed for Glendon Caravan and Camping Grounds about 40 kms west of Warick.

I had pre-booked 2 nights in one of their caravans which I have to say was really very very basic- and while the price of $50 a night was about where we wanted to be, the van was soooo old and dilapidated I was immediately disappointed - but hey we are here lets give this a go and lets harden up a bit, but I did expect just a little more.

The grounds here are very large and have a lot of areas to go mining and fossicking, but the dirt roads are pretty severe so if you don't have a 4WD you are going to be limited - we found their maps of the property hard to follow but for those really into this type of holiday there is heaps to do here.  Given the brochure we had picked up on this camp ground was very glossy, beautiful pictures etc we really did think by booking the van it wouldn't be as rough as camping - but while they tell you to bring your own linen which is far enough - let me tell you bring your own water as well because the water here isn't suitable for drinking.  Generally we take lots of water with us and tend to generally over pack - but given we were only going to be away for a few days and good weather predictions in place for one of the first times in my life we went light - bad mistake! The van had no heating and it was freezing and we really didn't have much in the form of winter clothes , blankets etc with us - so a pretty uncomfortable night.

I will say though that the grounds themselves where pretty and each camp site had its own fire pit outside where you could cook and sit around - which was rustic and this did make up for the state of the van itself as this was good honest fun, sitting around the camp fire having a chat and a laugh.  There was plenty of beautiful bird life, kangaroos  sheep etc around as well and Derek is sure he found a very small piece of gold.  Teddy ended up being a very good camp dog and seemed to enjoy sitting by the fire and keeping all those birds away.  We probably wouldn't go back to this area again, but it was a great first experience, but if we did this would be the best time of year as I could image it would get very hot in summer and bugs would no doubt get the better of you and of course we would ensure we had plenty of warm gear and water.  All in all though if you are a camper and its space, activities (dams, trail bike riding, fishing etc) then this place has it all.

Heading home we decided to take the settlers tourist route which is just past Warick rather than the standard highway and Cunninghams Gap. This probably made the whole trip for me it was one of the more beautiful drives we have ever done and was what we had expected Tasmania to be more like.  The roads were fantastic until the Kilarney to Woodenbong stretch.  We have started to take these tourist routes more and this one is one of the nicer drives taking you through towns that obviously care about the tourist dollar and make the attempt to have some good shops for food, parks, gardens etc.  

Our fist stop was at Yangan - what a beautiful little town this is and such a picturesque drive full of color full of life, well done to the Yangan shop as well which takes you back take to your childhood with jars of cobbers and other old fashion lollies, and they make a great cuppa as well.

From Yangan we continued on this route and took the turn off to Queen Mary Falls somewhere we had always commented on as we drove past at 100kms an hour  everytime we have been in this area - must go there one day! Another fantastic area with yet another lovely shop - which was warm and perfect for a cold mountain area, great bush walks, clean and fantastic views and plenty of beautiful birds.

The road to Boonah was closed so had to back track and head for Kilarney and Woodenbong - as I have already said, this stretch of road is hard yacka, very windy, very narrow and very bumpy and apparently is the Mount Lindsay Highway, but one these roads less traveled, its not so bad as there isn't a lot of traffic as long as you take your time, but the scenery is fantastic.  From Woodenbong (which really isn't much unlike the other little towns on this drive), we headed to Rathdowny where we stopped for afternoon tea and enjoyed their beautiful park and hospitality from the local store - all this and only 1 1/2 hours from the Gold Coast.  This 3 day trip cost less than $200 in total including accommodation, petrol etc.

So August has been very kind to us and we have enjoyed a month of beautiful weather, coupled with lots of great town and country travelling as well as our standard boating and beaching days and it seems to have gone so fast but has been so pleasurable and none of these things have cost much money outside of a little petrol.

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