New Blog – Apples for All

27 01 2015

Hello followers,

Just a quick note to let you know if you’d like to keep following my blog endeavours please hop over to Apples for All.  It’s where it’s all happening now we are not out and about hitting the tracks of Australia :-).

https://applesforallblog.wordpress.com (don’t forget to press follow)

Hope to see you there,

Christine xx

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Home!

29 10 2014

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Guess what?  We’re home!  It’s been close to 23 months away – just a little more than we expected and we’ve landed back in the Hornsby area of NSW.  To those that said we’d never come back… hahaha you’re wrong :-)!

Just a little over a week ago we were camping out in our good friends back yard in Bellata, near Narrabri NSW.  Katherine & Trent have established themselves a lovely home and have a gorgeous almost 6 month old, who was spoilt with many cuddles from all and especially Dan.  It was such a wonderful way to end our time on the road to be with good friends.  As an extra bonus, Nick – who we worked with on a cattle station last year joined us for a week before he headed back to his home country, Germany.

Baby cuddles with Melia

Baby cuddles with Melia

What can I say as I reflect upon the last two years?  I’m not sure where to begin…..

Everyone’s travels are unique and our trip defiantly had it’s unique experiences.  The experiences are many and of such magnitude that a little time will be needed to process it all – the last two years we’ve experienced the lowest of low and some all time highs as well.  What first comes to mind though is the many people who have accommodated us, showing us kindness and genuine hospitality along our journey.  We are especially grateful to all these people – not anyone will just take on an extra six people on their property or in their home – so to all of you THANK YOU!

  • Trevor & Janine for giving us city people our first go on their sheep farm in Kimba, SA AND for having us join them on their Easter holiday by the beach.
  • Camp Wattle Grove in Perth who don’t normally take campers but allowed us to stay, especially helpful as it was School Holidays.
  • Albert & Lynda of Badgingarra for having us on their fish farm and the many quad bike rides for the boys.
  • Wagoe Beach Quad Bikes for having us stay and do a little work near Kalbarri WA.
  • Warroora Station near Coral Bay WA for looking after us in tragic times.
  • Larry of Potshot Hotel in Exmouth WA for again looking after us in our time of need.
  • Christine & Andrew of Ashburton Station in the Pilbara WA for giving us ALL an amazing experience of station life with so many fond memories and stories to tell.
  • Andrew and and all the volunteers of Two Moon Whale Research station at Pender Bay WA for sharing your place of absolute paradise with us.
  • Rosie & Nick Linton of Broome who befriended us immediately, helped us find work, had us for Christmas and became genuine friends whom we miss.
  • Broome Auto Excellence for giving Stephen full time employment during our stay in Broome.
  • Anne, Dave and family who allowed us to rent their lovely furnished Broome  holiday home for the whole wet season.
  • Jo, Pete, Summer & Ciara who had us in their home in Broome for three weeks – love you guys :-).
  • Jo & Neville of Uptuyu on the Fitzroy River WA for having us stay, sharing your stories and bonding with great food and a laugh over the dinner table.
  • Pat & Peter of Mt Elizabeth Station just off the Gibb River Road, NT for having us stay and enjoy your lovely neck of the woods.
  • Karen & John of Crazy Acres, Berry Springs NT for having us stay on their wonderful mango farm and sampling their yummy home made ice creams.
  • Alice Wanderer Bus tours for giving Stephen some work during our stay in Alice Springs NT.
  • Jenny Marks for organising our stay in Samford, Qld at the Scout grounds and the scrummy dinner, coffees and washing our clothes!.
  • Katherine & Trent for having us at their lovely new home in Bellata NSW.

BUT as I contemplate all this the journey isn’t over.  LIFE is a journey, not just travel.  Our journey consisted of a camper trailer, changing destinations, itinerant work but life goes on – the journey continues.  It doesn’t end here – it just changes.  So I guess I’m talking about the good old saying “Life’s a journey not a destination”.  Our journey continues, as does everyones and some news on ours – very soon we sign a 6 month lease for a four bedroom house  to rent in Berowra!  Stephen is back at Hornsby Auto Electrical – all our old customers and new please phone him there and he’ll be all too happy to book you in, tell a few stores and look after your vehicles once again.

I’m uncertain at present what I will do with this blog – I imagine I may keep sharing a few photos and stories but I also have a camp cooking gluten free, photo journal and even a kids book in mind – so stay in touch, keep encouraging me and who knows what’s next!

Matt enjoying being home and taking Snoopy (Nana and Papa's dog) for a run

Matt enjoying being home and taking Snoopy (Nana and Papa’s dog) for a run

LOVING being with family again - we watched our nephew play cricket and Dan is going to join his team!

LOVING being with family again – we watched our nephew play cricket and Dan is going to join his team!





Friends and Family

14 10 2014
The rainbow and our panorama of our camp at Yelarbon

The rainbow and a panorama of our camp at Yelarbon

We’re on the downward stretch towards home and enjoying stopping off to see family and friends along the way.  Our adventure around Australia is defiantly coming to an end.  It is a total different feel – traveling to destinations that are pre-planned due to meeting up with others and no longer looking for WWOOF places or work as we aren’t having any more extended stops.  It is kind of limbo – we’re not traveling as we were, not holidaying as such and have our minds on home thinking of where we will live, what work we will do and even what kind of fridge, washing machine etc we will get!  No one really knows what is around the corner each day for our lives – a house and job can give a sense of security, but the reality is in a flash our lives can change – so whether it be our situation of not knowing where we will be next month or maybe you have a house and a secure job – our lives can change in a blink of an eye anyway – so I just trust – all is ok and all will be ok no matter what – a motto for everyone.

From Longreach we went to Anakie – to try our luck at fossicking for sapphires.  We had a fun day trying, and found a few :-).  We also had Matthew’s birthday here.  He had a lovely day playing with his new lego, flying his boomerang, playing with cars and his truck plus feeding the lorikeets and eating cake!  This is another interesting place in Australia.

Happy Birthday Matthew - no candles, but he pretended anyway :-)

Happy Birthday Matthew – no candles, but he pretended anyway 🙂

The boys feeding the Lorikeets the day we arrived

The boys feeding the Lorikeets the day we arrived

This is what you now search through for something shiny

This is what you now search through for something shiny

Washing the dirt and rocks

Washing the dirt and rocks

Lots of hard, dirty work

Lots of hard, dirty work

Fossicking for Sapphires!

Fossicking for Sapphires!

They were so tame and friendly

They were so tame and friendly

From Anakie we stayed in a free camp next to a community hall.  It had a flushing toilet and grass (which is a change!) to camp on.  From here we travelled further on to Pomona – an absolutely beautiful small town, kind of between Gympie and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Qld.  My cousin and her husband have a property there.  They’ve built a lovely home, established amazing gardens and have breathtaking views in every direction you look.  The kids were blessed with a horse ride from their neighbour and they even got to cuddle kittens at the local vet, play in the park, op shop, fish and kayak in Noosa and enjoy fish and chips and multiple ice-creams.

Free camping

Free camping

Fun times in Pomona

Fun times in Pomona

Next stop was Samford – just north of Brisbane.  Here we were completely blessed by our friend Jenny, who cooked us all a scrummy dinner on the evening we arrived, took me out for brunch and coffees and did multiply loads of our washing!  The other reason to stop here was to meet up with our friend Rosie – whom we met at the station we worked on last year.  It was brilliant to meet up with her again!  Dan slept out in his swag so Rosie could bunk in with us.  Everyone enjoyed Rosie’s company again and look forward to seeing her in Sydney in January.  Anyone want to sponsor a gorgeous Irish girl so she can stay in Oz, just let us know :-).

We farewelled Mum & Dad in Samford and then when all was quiet we realised we’d been sharing our campsite with a koala the whole time – what a shame Mum, Dad and Rosie didn’t get to meet our fury friend but we were delighted to spot him and then witness him swap trees, bolting across the grass to his next home for the evening.  We’d been hearing his growls on and off and at first had no idea what it was – we are now attuned to the sounds of male koalas as this one gave us quite show!

Having Rosie was a great excuse for a fire and S'mores (choc biscuits and cooked marshmallows)

Having Rosie was a great excuse for a fire and S’mores (choc biscuits and cooked marshmallows)

Our Camp at Samford in the local scout camp of approx 140 acres!

Our Camp at Samford in the local scout camp of approx 140 acres!

The Koala!

The Koala!

Heading down….

Heading down….

Going up….

Going up….

From Samford we travelled south of Brisbane to a camp near Lake Moogerah.  We picked here to meet up with my Uncle, Aunt and cousin from Brisbane.  We spent such a lovely day with them hanging out at camp, cooking lemonade scones, squeezing into our trailer when the rain came, campfire cooking dinner and damper.  Enjoying their company I totally forgot to take photos… DOOHHH!!!  This place was a cute little camp, on a running creek with flush toilets and a bucket for a shower.  We decided upon staying just the two nights.  We’ve roughed it many a times, but maybe our roughing days are over for a while as we all opted to move on to a place with showers that turn on hot with just a tap :-).

A quick shot of where we camped after we packed up

A quick shot of where we camped after we packed up

The creek

The creek

Yelarbon is a very small town about 50km east of Goondiwindi and this is our stop with a shower!  Are we procrastinating about heading back to NSW?  Maybe :-)!  Each stop for quite a while has been less than 200km apart – unheard of during our trip – except for perhaps Tasmania.  We’ve seen some fantastic free or low cost camps in Qld and this is one of them.  There are beautiful gardens, herbs to share, spotlessly clean bathrooms, very cheap washing machine, fire pit, BBQ all for the price of $10 a night or $15 if you’d like power.

Yesterday a stormed came in and it rained for much of the day, we decided to take a drive into Goondiwindi and take a look at the shops and pick up some fresh produce.  On our return there was a beautiful rainbow that lasted our entire journey back to camp.  Rainbows are always a reminder to me of our Creator and His hand of grace over our lives.  We’ve had an amazing couple of years and through out it all I see His hand on our lives – I’m thankful yesterday we didn’t have a major car accident.  While driving, in the rain at about 105km/h a commodore over took us – thankfully Stephen was aware and broke heavily as there was an on coming car.  They took to the verge, the commodore just swerved in and all was safe – our hearts pumping with what could have been.  As I said at the beginning, life can change in a flash – ours remains relatively the same for now – but it’s always a good reminder to live each day for what it is – enjoy each moment and live in the now.

The storm is coming!

The storm is coming!

The rainbow and our panorama of our camp at Yelarbon

The rainbow and a panorama of our camp at Yelarbon – after the Storm

 





Plenty Highway into Queensland

23 09 2014

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Today we’re having our rear window replaced due to being smashed on the Plenty Highway.  It was a good decision to include unlimited windscreen/glass repairs to our vehicle insurance!  This is the third window we’ve had broken on our trip – and unfortunately the first one we didn’t think to use insurance :-(.

The Plenty Highway is a dirt road that leads from just above Alice Springs into Boulia, Queensland.  The first 100km or so is a single lane tar road and the rest is off road with a largish section of bull dust.  The bull dust isn’t really the problem, but the other rough areas seem to be what cause the damage.  It wasn’t just our rear window that smashed but also one of our water tanks has a rather large hole.  Mum & Dad had a few minor issues as well with wiring under their van all breaking, but that was easily fixed by Stephen.  They also have two extra chips to their windscreen.

Other than that it was still a nice way to travel to Queensland.  The scenery changes, red dirt to a sparse grey landscape to mulga scrub to beautiful ranges.  Gem Tree, as my previous blog states was our first stop over on the Plenty, then we travelled the 400km or so to Tobermorey Station for a two night stop over for some repairs.  It was a nice enough place to stop and it even had grass!  Something we haven’t seen in quite a while :-).

It was about another 250km into Boulia.  A nice little town with a park for lunch, some fuel to keep us going and a shop for some bread and milk.  Onwards we travelled to Middleton.  What’s at Middleton?  A pub… that’s it!  Check out the photos below – it’s quite a place full of character.  After dinner we had a drink with the owners and were privileged to see some fossils and dinosaur bones from around the area plus some opals.  Another bonus – one of the guests at the Middleton Pub helped Stephen & Dan replace the cracks on their whips – so now Dan can make more noise than ever!

From Middleton we travelled onto Longreach… Here is where we have organised to have our window fixed.  At camp it’s blowing a gail and dusty – but it is free.  Hopefully we can move on tomorrow and maybe even try our luck at fossicking for Sapphires this time!

Loads of willy willy's on the Plenty!

Loads of willy willy’s on the Plenty!

We've know been to EVERY state and territory on this trip!

We’ve now been to EVERY state and territory on this trip!

The Hilton Hotel @ Middleton

The Hilton Hotel @ Middleton

The Hilton Hotel

The Hilton Hotel

Our camp at Middleton

Our camp at Middleton

Middleton Pub - on the left is a chopper (their son call's in for a coffee on his way to work)

Middleton Pub – on the left is a chopper (their son call’s in for a coffee on his way to work)

Middleton… in the middle of nowhere :-)

Middleton… in the middle of nowhere 🙂

Cobb & Co

Cobb & Co





Gem Tree

21 09 2014

untitled-1323My catch phrase for many a place we’ve stayed is that “it’s a gem of a place!”  Well, Gem Tree on the Plenty Highway only about 140km out of Alice is one of those… literally!

Gem Tree is a camp ground which is spacious, clean, allows fires, doesn’t charge extra for kids, has fossicking tours, bird life and is an overall friendly, fantastic place to stay!  If I was an Alice local, I’d definitely frequent this place often.

We decided to book into the garnet tour.  At 8:15am we were all ready to roll.  Filled the cars with our tools and off we set 30km from camp.  We were quick to catch onto the techniques and garnets we found…. loads of them!  But are they gem quality?  You need to take them back to camp to be sorted and graded.  In silence we watch has Aaron sorts them… wondering what each pile represents.  With happy faces we found out that we had many a garnet gem and even one that could be cut to 6mm (which I’ve had sent away to be turned into a ring!).  With just a few hours work, out in the hot sun it defiantly was a successful morning – everyone had success and fossicking fever has set in.

That night Mum & Dad treated us all to the Kate’s Camp Oven dinner at Gem Tree.  What a treat not to have to cook OR clean up!  Their camp oven cooking set up was amazing – they also shared some old family video’s of the five generations that have lived in the area.  A very interesting, delicious evening it was.

Our planned three night stay was over, but due to Mum feeling unwell on pack up day it didn’t take much consideration to stay an extra night.  What should we do with our extra day???  Fossick for Zircon!!!  Zircon is a little harder to find and requires a double wash and careful sorting, but again success was had – not quite as large as our garnets but enough of gem quality to keep us happy all the same.

We had a birthday at Gem Tree too… Dads!  We whipped up our usual favourite gluten free chocolate cake and with the fresh strawberries that we’d forgotten we had (thankfully) turned the cake into something rather special.

Mum & Dad fossicking

Mum & Dad fossicking

Mining the garnet fields

Mining the garnet fields

Dan picking away

Dan picking away

Holding it up to the light to find the red garnets

Holding it up to the light to find the red garnets

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad

The Birthday Cake

The Birthday Cake

Pretty Wattle

Pretty Wattle

Love paper daisies

Love paper daisies

Blue Wren - the most vibrant of blue we've seen

Blue Wren – the most vibrant of blue we’ve seen

Ants Nest

Ants Nest

Tash trying her hand at hairdressing

Tash trying her hand at hairdressing

On the Zircon Fields

On the Zircon Fields

Carefully looking for Zircon

Carefully looking for Zircon

 





The Heart of Australia

11 09 2014
Another sunset with moon rising… so glad I did two sunsets!

The heart of Australia – Uluru

What can I say?  This place is AMAZING!!!  Uluru is truly breathtaking and so much larger than we ever imagined it to be.  Along our travels we’d come across people that thought they may leave out a visit to “the rock” due to time restrictions and justified it saying it really is only a rock.  Well a rock it may be but probably the most amazing, striking, interesting, unbelievably ever changing through the day rock they will ever see.

We stayed at Ayers Rock Resort camp ground for four nights and found the set out of Yalara, the town ship very well organised and serviced.  The kids enjoyed the pool plus the playground and relished in that there were so many families here for them to play with – something we haven’t come across often in our travels.  We again joined an interesting ranger talk and even tried our hand at spear throwing and boomerang throwing.  Matt, who was the smallest there ended up doing a top throw of his boomerang as it did the circle and almost landed back at his feet – an applaud from the crowd he received with a proud smile.

While we had my parents with us Stephen and I made the most of the grandparents by doing a sunrise at Uluru, the Valley of the Winds walk around Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and even another sunset at Uluru – just the two of us.  What a novelty it was as that hasn’t happened either on our trip before :-).

Uluru is definitely something else.  It’s huge scale in the almost middle of our country is awe inspiring.  It has a majestic feel which I think most people sense as even amongst the crowds at sunrise/sunset it is still so quiet – people are reverent around the rock…  or maybe its just due to the many overseas visitors and different languages no one knows what to say :-)!  Either way it’s nice that it is a quiet event where you can soak up the beauty of a remarkable part of our land.

Matts winning throw

Matts winning throw

Dad trying left handed boomerang throwing

Dad trying left handed boomerang throwing

Kata Tjuta - The Olgas

Kata Tjuta – The Olgas

These finches were in force at the water stations… very cute :-)

These finches were in force at the water stations… very cute 🙂

A selfie on the Valley of the Winds Walk

A selfie on the Valley of the Winds Walk

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Valley of the Winds

Valley of the Winds

Every side, nook and cranny is different around the rock

Every side, nook and cranny is different around the rock

Textures of Uluru

Textures of Uluru

Sunrise with Kata Tjuta in the far left

Sunrise with Kata Tjuta in the far left

Sunrise… with Kata Tjuta in the left.

Sunset same day as above

Sunset again same day

Sunset again same day

A little closer look

A little closer look

Colours of midday

Colours of midday

Another sunset with moon rising… so glad I did two sunsets!

Another sunset with moon rising… so glad I did two sunsets!





The Centre of Australia

10 09 2014
Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

I’m so glad we decided to leave Central Australia as our last “big destination”!  It’s been roughly eight weeks we’ve spent in the Alice region and it’s one of the best places we visited.  It is so grand and peaceful, so vast and colourful, so cold and hot…. I think Alice has to be the coldest we’ve been on the trip (and that says a lot considering we’ve been to Tasmania) and now we’re back to some of the hottest days too – although it will never have the humidity factor of Broome.

Alice itself is a lovely town, but it’s surroundings are just something else!  The MacDonalds ranges are all together beautiful, with the drive out towards the west a stunning venture in itself.  We decided upon heading out to the Finke River at a free camp called Two Mile, opposite Glen Helen Gorge.  What a quiet gem of a place!  Well worth every effort of setting up the port-a-loo (as there are no facilities) and the small 4WD track out.  The river was VERY cold – even the kids said it was cold, so that’s saying something!  They still took a quick swim and we also did the short drive into Ormiston Gorge, which was just as cold – but pretty.

From Two Mile we travelled on for a brief stop at Hermensburg to refuel and then into Palm Valley.  The road into Palm Valley suggests it’s serious 4WD and the 18km can take you 3 hours.  In actual fact the road into the camp ground is just a dirt road and took just under an hour.  From the camp ground it is a further 4km to Palm Valley.  That 4km took us 1/2 hour and yes it is definitely 4WD ONLY.  We did the ranger talk at Palm Valley, which is always interesting and adds to the experience of the National Parks.  The camp ground here is also very comfortable with hot showers, flush toilets and communal fire pits.

From Palm Valley we took the Mereenie Loop Road, which is all off road and requires a permit.  It’s quite corrugated in places but again the scenery is nice with brumbies along the way.  We were hoping to see some wild camels but even though they are said to be in plague proportions out here, causing considerable damage there were none to be seen from the road.  Arriving at Kings Canyon was different to other places as we’d entered big business tourism.  The “resort” has camping for a steep price with a swimming pool, playground, bar, restaurant and even sells drinks at their mobile bar on the sunset viewing platform.  Our chocolate supplies were getting low and I’d looked at a block at Hermensburg for $5.50 and thought… nah too expensive.  Well – Kings Canyon shop had the same block for $10.40.  Let me say we’re not THAT addicted to chocolate – no sale from us!

This is only a portion of what you can see and do out in this part of the world.  Central Australia really has so much to offer the traveler and of course Uluru being my absolute highlight… but I will blog that one separately as it deserves a stand alone blog post I feel :-).

The Finke River facing Glen Helen Gorge

The Finke River facing Glen Helen Gorge

Finke River facing the other way

Finke River facing the other way

Setting up an experiment to get fresh water from the salty river water - it didn't work :-(

Setting up an experiment to get fresh water from the salty river water – it didn’t work 😦

The men cooking at Two Mile

The men cooking at Two Mile

Our camp at Two Mile

Our camp at Two Mile

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

Rock textures at Ormiston Gorge

Rock textures at Ormiston Gorge

Lookout above our camp

Lookout above our camp

Ranger talk at Palm Valley

Ranger talk at Palm Valley

Our camp at Palm Valley with the sun setting on the rocks behind

Our camp at Palm Valley with the sun setting on the rocks behind

The red cabbage palms of Palm Valley

The red cabbage palms of Palm Valley

Flowers and a butterfly at Palm Valley

Flowers and a butterfly at Palm Valley

Dan just hanging out… after giving the rangers a cracker of a double whip demonstration!

Dan just hanging out… after giving the rangers a cracker of a double whip demonstration!

Cooking apple cinnamon cake at Palm Valley :-)

Cooking apple cinnamon cake at Palm Valley 🙂

Finke National Park

Finke National Park

Kings Canyon Creek walk in the late afternoon light

Kings Canyon Creek walk in the late afternoon light

Mum & Dad at the lookout at the end of the walk

Mum & Dad at the lookout at the end of the walk

Native flowers (yes I don't know what they are called)

Native flowers (yes I don’t know what they are called)

More pretty native flowers that I don't know the name of

More pretty native flowers that I don’t know the name of