Over Brisbane and Gold Coast to the Blue Mountains

We leave Kin Kin and continue our trip to Noosa Head, a beach village with an entire surf climate along its pristine beaches. Along the road we pass a self car wash. After three months Janis can use a bath, but all the sea water we caught on Fraser makes a good cleaning necessary. We enjoy the high pressure cleaning and give her a huge shower. We finally know once again which colour our car initially had. But we visit Noosa for the small national park in the city, the spot is known to see some koala’s in the wild… And yes we’re once again lucky! At the start of the trip there rest one in a tree near the coffee shop, a cute grey bear on a tree branch.

We make a small walk in the park, some 6 km, with no more koala’s to find. The walk goes partly along the rough coastline, partly in eucalyptus forests and sometimes we cross patches of rainforest. Just a small stroll before driving along the tourist way through the Glass House Mountains, some vulcanic ‘beehives’ in the landscape. Around 6 pm we enter Brisbane, the third biggest Australian city with 2’000’000 people and the capital of Queensland. We already loved the beauty and well thought city planning of Queensland towns and Brisbane holds this spirit high. We park our car at the waterfront of the Brisbane River. A magnificent view of the city is our evening scenery.

Our first full day here in Brisbane we use to fix some necessities for Janis and ourselves. One of the legs of our rooftop rack is ruined after Fraser, so we order it and let it deliver in a shop near Gold Coast, our next stop. At the same time we receive information where we can repair our exhaust for a reasonable price and they can do it immediately! What a service. Finally we pay a visit to the hospital, because of an inflammation of a sting on my leg. The waiting is much longer than the cure, but finally all is ok.
Afterward we walk a part of the historical city trail, over and along the Brisbane River. Especially the boardwalk at South Bank is one of our favourites. Once again beautiful walking trails, a swimming pool, a children’s playground and much more follow each other. Along the trip we find a superb bookshop, where I finally find a book with the dreamtime tales of the Aboriginals. Ilse catches also some good literature, which we both enjoy at the Queen Elisabeth square. On a bench with lantern light we try our purchases. Finally we pass a nice Korean restaurant and give it a try. Some decent, however spicy meals are served, but we like the taste.
That night we sleep once again along the river shores. A perfect spot.

During our second day we visit almost all sites of interest in the heart of the city, including a swim at the boardwalk. We visit also the GOMA (Gallery Of Modern Art) and cross the Brisbane river by the two pedestrian bridges. We enjoy the spirit of the city, but have much time too short to know the city.
Our last night we sleep once again at the river banks.

From Brisbane we head to Gold Coast, an area known for its theme parks. Being a great fan of all these parks, I just got to try one. Our choice goes to DreamWorld and WhiteWater World.
The first day we spend in DreamWorld, a park known for some good attractions. There are the big 7 – 7 huge thrills – from which only 6 are open, a zoo with some inland species, the DreamWorks area – centred around Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda and the ‘coastal scenery’, with some great attractions. There are some attractions which differ from the ones I already know, so I can add a couple of new experiences on my list. Luckily there are just a few visitors, so it is quite easy to hop between all attractions, however the Aussie spirit here works slow. I’ve got the impression that the attractions more rest than work.
That evening we drive to Labrador, a small city a little further, to pick up our leg for the roof top rack tomorrow (which proves not to be present) and sleep there somewhere in a living area. However the locals are not that happy about these two backpacking intruders.
On our second day we go for the water fun in WhiteWater World… A couple of the high speed water coasters prove to be real fun. We try all the glides, laugh a lot and have fun in the sun. We conclude our day with a laser fight and head then back to Brisbane for another night in the city.

Next morning we leave Brisbane, pick some rides at WhiteWater World, just to kick off, and leave then for a trip along the Gold Coast region. We take the coastal route through some of the best known cities, including Surfers Paradise and pass suddenly the New South Wales border.
A new state during the trip. We have to adjust our clock with another hour, because they follow the Eastern Summer Time here. This brings us up to 10 hours of difference with Belgium.
We take the HWY till Byron Bay and bring a fast visit to Cape Byron, the easternmost point of the Australian mainland. What a difference with Steep Point! Much easier accessible and we’re greeted by rain…
But the view is wonderful.
After Cape Byron, we prepare some dinner and make a walk in a quite empty city. That night we search for a street, park our car and sleep in a more industrial area. Not our favourites.

Next morning we decide to bring another visit to the Cape and are greeted by a school dolphins and sunshine. What a difference with yesterday!
After that we have to drive a long way… Our goal are the Blue Mountains, some 850 km further. We decide to take the New England Highway, over the Great Dividing Range, a highland with peaks up to 1400m. This landscape is known for its extremely green fields and some towns that remind at the UK. We drive to Ballina, head inward to Lismore and Tenterfield and head then to Glen Innes. In this city we pay a visit to the local historical buildings and have a good laugh at the Australian Standing Stones, a kind of poor replica of Stonehenge. But Excalibur is present… Rain and clouds are our allies all day and night.
That night we camp somewhere along the road to Tamworth, because rest areas are prohibited as campgrounds. Some clear signs put that straight.

Next morning we sleep long and enjoy our rest place. From there we drive to Tamworth, the city of the Country music. A big golden guitar is the imaginary proof of that event. In the visitors centre we ask directions and decide to make a detour to Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungles, a beautiful volcanic area.
Along the road we see the landscape changing, from green hills to yellow cattle fields and pines. A sweet outback returns… And the weather changes from cloudy and rainy to bright sunny.
First we pass Gunnedah, the koala capital city. Around the village is the biggest and healthiest colony of these fluffy bears located. We don’t spend long at searching one in the wild, but head directly to a small park – Waterview – just outside town. There we see many native animals back, mostly in their natural habitat and get the change to cuddle a koala. So sweet, furry bears… You just want to take one home.
After that we drive straight to Coonabarabran and figure out that the Siding Spring Observatory is located here, the biggest one in Australia. We get a change to take a star gazing tour that evening in the clear sky, but head first to the bungle park for a small walk.
At night we enjoy the stargazing… Mars and Jupiter can be seen with no help, but we get a closer look with the telescopes. They show us some nebulae and young stars. We get a glimpse of the 7 sisters – the Pleiades – and view some close ups from the moon. What an amazing night!
Afterward we head back to the NP to camp there. Along the road we look at the kangaroos, never ever we’ve seen that much of them together.

The Warrumbungles are another volcanic remnant of a shield volcano that erupted some 13 million years ago. Erosion did a good job and created the current landscape. We go for the Breadknife and High Tops circuit, some 14,5 km. along the way I decide to make a small detour to the Mt Bluff, another 2,5 km extra, from where I have a great view of the area. During this walk we get a good idea of how this area is formed and enjoy fully walking between the eucalyptus trees.
At the end of the walk we spot a kangaroo with a small one in its pouch. This is the first time we get a view like that. How cute. The number of kangaroos here is stunning, never we saw such masses together.
That night we park our car in the park and decide to sleep under the sky instead of in the car. When we park our car, some 11 kangaroos are grazing and when we prepare dinner some are hopping just 10m away from us. That night under the sky I get a wonderful view on the stars from inside my warm, comfortable sleeping bag… Sleep well and sweet dreams.

Next morning we head to ‘The Cave’ for a trip to an Aboriginal site, but this is quite a disappointment. There is only a cave with some stones inside. The only good point is that we have another marvellous view of the bungles.
After that we drive to Mudgee, known for the many vineries around. We think higher about these in France, so the drives doesn’t take that long. We just spent some hours in town, arranging a couple of necessities before we head to Litglow, the first Blue Mountain city on our road. Along the road Janis reaches her 20000 km in our company. We sing a little birthday song and tonight she receives a huge maintenance. Changing the oil and oil filter, the fuel filter and the spark plugs. The fluid levels are also refilled.
All this is done with a stunning view on the mountain area, close to Capertee.
Tomorrow we’ll drive into the mountains.

Zaterdag 17 november2012

We worden wakker in het industriepark. Dit zijn van die minder aangename kampeerplaatsen…
Daarna keren we nog even terug naar het meest Westelijke punt van Australië waar we een totaal andere indruk krijgen dan de avond ervoor. Windstil en dolfijnen in het water!!!

Daarna nemen we the New England Highway over the Dividing Range, een gebergte over de 1400m. We wanen ons echt in Engeland. Groene heuvels en stadjes vol kerken. Lismore, Tenterfield en Glenn Innes waar we een bezoekje brengen aan de Australian Standing Stones, een replica van Stonehenge.

Zondag 18november2012

Vandaag slapen we lekker uit. De hele nacht lagen we knus tegen elkaar onder het tikkend geluid van de regen op de auto en de sound- and lightshow van de donder en bliksem buiten.
Rond 10u30 vertrekken we naar Tamworth, het dorp van de countrymusic. We zoeken er de gouden gitaar op, het symbool van de stad. In het infocentrum besluiten we onze plannen te wijzigen voor vandaag en rijden het binnenland in richting Coonabarabran. Probeer dat maar eens uit te spreken!
We rijden terug de outback binnen. Wat geeft me dat een goed gevoel! Blijkbaar ben ik meer eentje voor de uitdagende landschappen! We rijden tussen de graanvelden, dennebomen en cattlestations.
In Gunnedah, het dorp van de koala bezoeken we een klein dierenpark Waterview . En of het de moeite is! We knuffelen een koala!!! Zo zacht!!! Je zou er onmiddellijk eentje willen adopteren!!!
Daarna gaat het verder tot het nationaal park Warrumbungles.
Onderweg stoppen we aan the Siding Spring Observatory, het sterrenobservatorium van de Australische universiteit. Hier kunnen we niet bij de telescopen maar bij een amateur verderop wel. Dus boeken we een nightseeing voor deze avond.
We rijden nog het park binnen voor een uitzichtpunt en een wandeling met zicht op Mount Exmouth, de hoogste Warrumbungle van het park.
Bij het uitrijden worden we verrast door een kangooroomeeting langs de weg. Wel honderd van die dieren hebben zich verzameld langs de weg. Bovendien lijken ze hier intelligenter dan in Western Australië want hier springen ze weg van je auto ipv ernaar toe.
Naar de sterren kijken door professionele telescopen is schitterend. De maan, Jupiter, Uranus, de 7 pleïaden, een sterrenconstellatie,..prachtig!!!
En nu nog helemaal terug naar de camping in het nationaal park. Slaapwel.

Maandag 19 november2012

De Warrumbungles liggen in een vulkanisch gebied die uitbarstte zo’n 13 miljoen jaar geleden. Erosie zorgde ervoor dat in het landschap hier in daar stenen torens bleven staan.
We maken de 14,5km wandeling via de Breadknife and High Tops circuit. De wandeling gaat door een eucalyptuslandschap die heel rustgevend is. Op de top hebben we een prachtig uitzicht over de verschillende Warrumbungles.
Op het eind van de wandeling zien we voor de eerste keer een baby-kangooroo in de buidel van de mama. Best wel grappig.

Op de kampplaats grazen de kangoeroes gewoon rond onze tafel. Leuk om zien.
De avond besluiten we onder de blote sterrenhemel te slapen. Wel raar hier. In het midden van de nacht komt hier een hele sterke wind op…in vlagen…en tegen de ochtend gaat die terug liggen alsof er niets aan de hand was.

Dinsdag 20november2012

In de morgen maken we nog een korte wandeling naar een Aboriginal grot. We krijgen er nog eens een prachtig uitzicht op de verschillende warrumbungles.

Vandaag gaat het door de wijnlandschappen van Mugee en verder richting Litglow. Onderweg passeren we de kaap van 20 000km. we zingen samen HAPPY BIRTHDAY voor onze Janis.
We stoppen bij Capertee en rijden een boerenwegel in waar we ons op de top tussen het graslandschap zetten met een adembenemend uitzicht op de rotsen van de Blue Mountains.