Sunday, January 18, 2015

This is Australia - As a Grey Nomand: Part 14: Homeward Bound - The final Chapter

 We are sad as we know we are heading back – all good things must come to an end, and for the first time in the trip we will be doubling over places we have been through on the front end of the trip.  So now we leave Kings Canyon to Alice Springs – A Town Like Alice.  We got in quite early and spent the day checking it out, nice enough, but not enough for us to want to stay for any real length of time so off we go and begin the trek through Tennant Creek and Barkley Station heading for Cammoweal where we stop for the night after a big drive.

It is instantly noticeable the difference in the road as you hit Queensland again, no longer are the roads wide, well maintained and its sad to think our home State seems to have the worst roads, and the most agro of truck drivers, we have travelled now thousands of kilometres without any issues, but you hit Queensland and the driving is hard.  While we had to go through Mt Isa and Cloncurry again, we decided to take another route home so we were not going over too much of the same territory again.  We took the Julia Creek turn off to head to Hughenden which is a nice town, the heat is instantly noticeable – we didn’t do the dinosaur museums here, but if you missed out in Winton this would be another good place to see them.  We were pretty tired after a few days of big driving so took a cabin here and it was lovely, in fact the caravan park was really nice and we enjoyed it here recuperating.

Now off to Charters Towers where we had a lovely few days, and while CT is and was a major Gold centre, there is no public fossicking here and to be honest, no one wants to answer the question when you ask if there are any around, we would have loved to have done some here, but it is a lovely town, pretty up market, nice shops and good tourist walks, shops etc.

I am probably not as upbeat now, we feel like we are nearing the end and of course the Queensland country side is just so plain after WA, SA and NT, and while they are dry and baron as well Queensland just doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it – maybe its just us now.

After Charters Towers, we head to Emerald where we thought we would get some fossicking in, Emerald is a big town and while it has all the services you need we didn’t feel it was the right place for us, so we headed to Sapphire.

We loved Sapphire, it really is a fantastic place it feels like you have gone back 100 years, but it is pretty, friendly, and quaint.  Wanting to know more about sapphire fossicking we took a tag along tour, which was fantastic, and we got the bug for this, we ended up buying our own willoboughby and took up the art of sapphire fossicking for a few weeks.  We loved our campsite here as well, and every day, horses, cows, camels, birds would walk past our site.  It’s a great place and while initially the others in the camp ground where a little standoffish, once they knew we were here for a while they helped us in our endeavours of finding sapphires (not to the extent where they would tell you good spots to go, but helping establish the quality etc of stones found).  Everyone was up early here and out doing their fossicking until about 2pm, then home for a shower – it is dirty work and then it was an afternoon of drinking and show and tell, we loved it here and this is a place we will probably go back to regularly – the end of August is a good time not too hot and definitely no cold weather.  I can now say I can dig a grave because there is a lot of digging to be done in the hunt for sapphires.

From Sapphire we went to Rockhampton for a few days, then onto Gladstone and Tannum Sands, which had a lovely caravan park on the beach and log fire pits which was nice, it’s a lovely little area.  Didn’t really do much here, and we I suppose we knew it was all coming to an end – had to get back for things that needed to be done.  Our last stop on the way home for good was Woodgate, a place we had never been to before and just outside of Childers and Gin Gin so not far from home in the scheme of things (we had not that long ago done a road trip to 1770 etc so didn’t want to go there again at this point).  If you live in Queensland and are looking for a perfect beach area then I would say Woodgate is it, very quiet town, beautiful waters and beach areas and just close enough for day trips to Bundaberg (which we did again, have not been there in years).  Our last week was spent soaking up the sun and relaxing – very nice.

So home it was as the September school holidays were about to start, so there would be kids everywhere as well as everything becoming more expensive.

The Travel Stats:

So how far did we go, how much did it cost?
·         We ended up driving 21,400 kilometers
·         Total Cost of the trip including everything was $17,461 (that is absolutely everything we spent money on - food, petrol, accommodation, smokes, tours, souvenirs) - but not the price of the camper - so about 80 cents per kilometer - not bad 
·         We were away for 14 weeks in total

We sold our camper on Gumtree on our return put it up one Friday night and it was sold for the price we wanted (not much less than what we paid for it) by Saturday morning with cash folding in our hands.  It was sad to say goodbye to the camper, but while we loved our trip, I didn’t see us using it much in the future – not that we wouldn't travel again but maybe in hindsight a Jayco poptop may have been more comfortable for us and perhaps allowed us to do a bit more free camping - we didn't want to free camp given generally the ground was rocky and we had a soft bottom floor.  We did however love the trip and we did enjoy our camper from In2Campers, and the back up service and help we got from Kylie and Troy from In2Campers was fantastic, we got a lot from this experience and using a camper trailer was a fantastic introduction without a large investment.  We found we could live on less with less and enjoy life in a totally new and unique way for us, we met lovely people and had a blast as well as we got to see this special country Australia in all its glory and for that I am very happy - we have so much here in our own back yard and it was a gift to be able to see and enjoy it.

I hope you enjoyed my blog about this trip it was great and loved every minute of it, it was a great way to fill in our time while we waited for our new home to be built - we moved in on the 15th December, it didn't cost any more than renting and we had a great time, saw the best of Australia and had a blast, would highly recommend it.

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