AWOL Around Australia… Border Country And Heading South

Looks like a bush camp hey?

Well smoke and mirrors, this was actually at a caravan park in Stanthorpe. They sensibly used most of their open area for cabins and caravans (where the money is) and open up the scub land on the outside of the property just enough for camping. Anyway, we needed to do laundry, etc, and being hidden in the bush suited us just fine.

Next day was a scorcher, so we hid in the porch of the Oztent and just did rest day stuff.

Next day we restocked the supplies, and before heading back out into the country. We took in a few of the local sites. A local cheese maker.

Cheese all tasted the same.

We came across this baroque, errm, masterpiece when we’re we’re last in the region. I remember us going “look a castle!” “a mock castle” – corrected my old man… Anyway, inside it hid any number of delights.

Chatting with the same old boy who was here back then, I was pleased that the place not only still existed but had expanded to two other ‘castles’ elsewhere in Queensland. This area is a notable area for wineries, but to be honest I’ve been to enough wineries to last a lifetime. This is much more fun. Seems this guy will try his hand at anything in the booze making world and will try to turn just about anything into booze. All natural processes, and no preservatives. So of course, we stocked up.


I just love the kitsch retro style of the labels and bottles, reminds me of the Ween song – Your Party, for some reason.

After all the fun, plus the fact we were now on Queensland time, so everything was an hour behind we didn’t get so far after that. We found a nice spot on a riverbank, and were treated to another spectacular tiny bird display. These birds were so small they could land on the water and the surface tension was enough to support their weight for a few seconds whilst they plucked an insect or something off the surface of the water. I had never seen this before, incredible.


This campsite was actually right next to a small service road for a nearby quarry, so we had a few trucks rumble past that afternoon and a few more again in the morning, but hey it wasn’t that bad, and beggars can’t be choosers. The thing N most complained about in the morning was the noise of the river – you can take the girl out of the city…

The next day we tried to make our way north west, on some lesser tracks. In the end I remember it as a day of dead ends and delays. I’m not complaining and it’s totally a first world problem – albeit one specific to this kind of travel and exploring – we still saw some cool stuff. However many roads that looked like they went through on the map were not accessible. It’s a common theme with National Parks to be honest. I think they would get more visitors if you could drive through them (especially as the roads or trails are already there) instead of just driving in, visiting the sites and then having to drive out the way you came. It’s not all National Parks by any means, but it happens enough to be frustrating. Much less of an issue in state forests also.

Anyway, enough ranting. here are some shots from that day.

Nature will find a way.


We took many tight little side tracks into the bush, attempting to push through rather than back-track, with no success. However you have to try! These cacti were everywhere. A relation to the prickly pear but they don’t bear any fruit. A useless pest, especially when embedded in your foot…

After all the dead ends it was getting on when we got back into an area you could camp, along the banks of the Dumaresq River. Which was also the border of New South Wales and Queensland. We just grabbed the first spot we got to with no one around.

Once set up we indulged in some of our newly acquired bounty.

The old boy at Castle Glen had tried to talk me out of buying this beer. He said it was an experiment and they wouldn’t be making it again. It was weird but I didn’t mind it. All their beers had that kind of ‘home brew’ aspect.


I made Southern Style Prawn Cocktail Tacos. This turned out to be really good summer eating.

Prawn cocktail dressing ingredients.

Prawn marinade ingredients.


Papaya and lime breakfast. 

We headed up the river to the town of Goondiwindi, checking out some other campsites on the way that we could come back to later.

Nice buildings in Goondiwindi. Plenty of farming money up here.

The wind was up. Fire is always a concern, however this was just a dust storm.


Drying out the Cruiser after one of our water jerrys had a slow leak.

So we had a good camp by the river while we waited out the worst of the winds.

Ok, it was finally time to head south. Summer was coming, half of Queensland was ablaze, so it was time to make our way to hopefully cooler climes.

So we just stuck to the bitumen and drove down through farming country, heading for the ‘Country Music Capital of Australia’, Tamworth. I expected Tamworth to be more touristy, and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t. It would seem for most of the year it is just another big country town, only living up to its name for the annual Country Music Festival, apparently the biggest musical festival in the Southern Hemisphere. We visited the ‘golden guitar’ tourist information, which is nowhere near Tamworth centre, as these things tend to usually be. A row of signed guitars let you know where you’re at.

More country road driving to the little town of Nundle the next day, so N could check out the woollen mill.


Then some dirt roads to get back to the highway, stopping to photograph what I think was a Frill Neck Lizard, along the way.


Black means grumpy I’m pretty sure.


I initially thought we might make Gosford today (our eventual destination) but with the detours and winding roads it soon became apparent that wasn’t going to happen. So again we used WikiCamps to find some free camping. We ‘checked in’ to the reserve at the small village of Bulga. On the edge of a couple of national parks, it is also unfortunately on the edge of Mount Arthur coal mega mine on the northern side. Those hills certainly made for some changeable weather rolling though.

Next morning we took an unmarked trail off the bitumen road that I would see wound through the Yengo National Park. Have seen this trail on an official sign yesterday I was more confident of it actually being a through track.

So it was, and well worth the detour.

This was definitely one of the biggest goanna’s we have seen. He wasn’t bothered by me, he is yawning in this shot.


This fella wasn’t as big. He got a long way up this tree to get away from me.

The three or so hours we were in there meant we were starving by the time we popped back out on the bitumen. Luckily some fantastic food awaited just up the road at the Great Northern Trading Post, in the village of Laguna.


We pushed on to Gosford, or at least until we realised there was no camping of any description in Gosford – so, we really are now on the east coast of Australia. Only just north of Sydney I supposed this is only to be expected, but it was still a little surprising as we had been camping everywhere we had been for the last few months. 

If there was any doubt I had to merge onto my first 3 lane motorway for the first time in a few months that afternoon. Yuck.

So we diverted to the lakeside town of Toukley, a little further up the coast. Toukley, a bit like Santa Carla, has the feel of somewhere that might have been the place to be 30 years ago (when domestic tourism meant an few hours drive up the coast, not taking the Old Telegraph Track up Cape York – whereas really when you can holiday in luxury in Bali for less than it costs you just to holiday in Australia it’s unsurprising that’s what most families do). The shine had come off a little in the meantime, but the caravan park on the edge of Lake Tuggerah would serve our purpose.

The lake itself reminded me of Lake Alexandrina in South Australia, just that doesn’t have all the urban sprawl encroaching on it.


We were here as I wanted to visit Gosford Classic Cars, a classic car dealer and Australia’s biggest collection of old motors. So nesxt day I drove down to Gosford to check that out while N got here crochet on. I’ll drop those photos into the next post.

Thanks for reading.



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