Townsville to Mission Beach

I’ve missed the last couple of days as we’ve been on the move and haven’t stayed in places with any reception. We are now just north of Mission Beach, which is about halfway between Townsville and Cairns.

But man oh man we’ve had an awesome two days.

Yesterday, after camping out at Balgal Beach, we woke up to some markets setting up around us. While they weren’t officially open, we managed to pick up a few veggies from one of the guys there, who grows all his produce locally at Rainbow Gardens.
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Next we headed up to Little Crystal Creek, which is in the Paluma National Park, not far north of Balgal. It was a short drive from the highway, and my goodness was it worth it. Check out the beauty we stumbled upon…(and crocodile free, too!)
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It was seriously just stunning. It’s unbelievable how many little beauties like this there are in this country.

After that we slowly made our way up to Digger’s Creek, passing through Tully and stopping for a chance to visit the Big Golden Gumboot.

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The Golden Gumboot pays homage to the ‘wet’ nature of the town, and the height of the gumboot (7.9M) represents the record rainfall for Tully, which was in 1950. Crazy huh? You can even go inside and climb the staircase to the top of the boot, hehe.

Today we got up early and started the day with a watermelon that we had been carrying around for a few days, waiting for the right time to eat. We actually picked this little baby up on the way to Townsville, when we saw a fruit and veg stall on the side of the road and stopped to take a look. When we got out, we realised this was not just any fruit and veg stall, it was surrounded by GIANT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES that we could take photos with. Hurrah!

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As the melon didn’t really fit in our tiny fridge, we decided it was best to eat it in the morning before the van heated up too much. It made a pretty good brekkie too!

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After filling our tummies we headed out to Mission Beach, which was a fairly short, but beautiful drive from where we had camped. We are now in croc AND cassowary country, and we saw countless signs warning us to drive carefully so as not to hit a cassowary. I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t see one, but also glad that none were playing too close to the road.

Mission Beach was stunning, and I think our first real ‘tropical’ beach that we’ve been to so far. The sand was so fine, the water crystal clear and the edge of the beach was lined with palm trees. And again, no crocs here! Wahooo. (only poison stingers and big stingrays, don’t worry).

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This picture doesn’t really even do it justice. It was just pristine and beautiful here!

We spent the morning walking the length of the beach and lazing around in the sun, before heading to town for a beer at the bar. In the afternoon, we simply went back to the beach, found a shady spot under some palms, and dozed and read books. Tough life hey? Of course now everything we own is covered in a layer of superfine sand, as you can never seem to get it all off. Oh well, I guess that’s the price you pay…

Tomorrow we should find out whether there is work for us in Townsville or not, and then we will be able to be a bit more sure of where we’re going – south back to Townsville or north to Cairns. It’s like waiting for a coin to land!

This wasn’t a very vegan MoFo-y post…there was a bit of food (and all local too!) but it has been more an update on my whereabouts….sorry! Tomorrow I promise to post something a bit more food-y. Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend!

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Travel day: Mackay to Bowen

We packed up and left Mackay this morning, bidding farewell to the showgrounds and our little flower friend that we found hidden away near our camp.

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I love getting to places, but I also love leaving. When we are back on the road, it’s exciting to find out what the next place will be like…it’s all an adventure! On the way out of town, we made a last minute decision to stop at an auto store to pick up a few things.

It was obviously meant to be, as we stumbled across this giant chair that we got to sit on.

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It was like being a kid again, when you sit on a chair and your feet can’t reach the ground.

Next stop, Airlee Beach.

First thing we spotted on the way into town was a skate park, so Bear had to get out and have a roll.

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Next we found a nursery with this dude out the front, which of course meant more stopping for photo ops.

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Airlee Beach itself was a little overrated. The town bit was quite commercial, and the ‘beach’ or bay beach was not even that nice. Perhaps especially because the tide was out, which always kind of makes the front part of the bay look like a wasteland.

We made salad and sat on the grass by the water anyway and enjoyed our lunch.

Then, onto Bowen. Bowen is about 200km north of Mackay, so we didn’t do a HUGE amount of travel, but we like breaking it into smaller doses, especially when it’s hot.

Bowen is a fruit and veggie growing region, and is also home to the Big Mango. We had to stop there, obviously.

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While there, we sampled some of the local delicacy in the form of some mango ‘sorbet’ (pure frozen mango).

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Truth be told, I’m not the biggest mango fan, but this was pretty yum. Also, you can’t go wrong with frozen treats when the weather is warm.

I made a yummy risotto for dinner tonight using some of the farmer’s market produce from the other day…I’ll share it with you tomorrow. We are now about 45km north of Bowen, and we’ll be heading not far up the road to Ayr tomorrow (and possibly onto Townsville). These bears are on the move!

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Travels up the coast

This post will be a little picture heavy, as we crammed so many cool things into the time since I last posted. We left Nelson Bay on the afternoon of Billy’s birthday and started heading north again, though with no intention of going very far that day. The weather had turned pretty sour, and I prefer to stay off the roads when there’s decent rain if it can be helped. We set our sights on Bulahdelah, managing to make a quick stop to take a snap with what we sort of considered to be one of the big things that Australia is notorious for. This might be the only ‘big thing’ we see that is not actually bigger than the real thing..

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After battling darkness and rain and roadworks which made it very difficult to tell which part of the road you were supposed to be on (unhelpful), we finally found the rest area we were searching for, cooked some falafels and ate some leftover birthday cake, and settled back into being on the road again. The rain made way for lush blue skies and sunshine the following day and we felt that ‘ahhh, it’s going to be a good day’ feeling. We set of for some exploring, first stop being the Grandis, which is the tallest know tree in New South Wales, located in the Myall Lakes National Park. On the way, we got a little sidetracked playing in this huge hollowed mossy tree stump…

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I was pretty excited to see the Grandis, as it is estimated to be over 400 years old and about 86m tall. To be honest, I thought it was going to look bigger when I was standing in front of it, but still, there’s no denying that the Tree is tall (and beautiful!)

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From there we made our way out to Seal Rocks, as several people had mentioned it as being worth checking out, and we were not disappointed. We entered onto this stunning little cove beach and immediately spotted three or four dolphins playing not even twenty metres from the shore. The water was sparkling and crystal clear, the sand was soft, the sun was out, it was perfect! We even did a little rock climbing

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Next we stopped in at Elizabeth beach for lunch and a cuppa, before heading further up the coastal route, which led us up a thin strip of land between Wallis Lake (to the left), and the Tasman Sea (to the right). We decided we would aim for around Taree that night as there were a few different rest stops to choose from, so we got a wriggle on and headed straight for it. We managed to get there in time to take a quick detour out to Old Bar, which Billy’s Nan had mentioned as being nice. We headed straight for the beach, and while it was pretty cold by then, we managed a brisk walk which revealed some lovely pebbles and stones to be collected. I’ve taken to collecting nice bits and pieces – stones, feathers, shells, beach glass, seed pods etc which I can incorporate into my jewellery making. Going into Taree gave us an excuse to tick another big thing off the list – the big oyster, or as the locals call it – the big mistake. I can kind of see why..

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We took this photo from the opposite side of the road, as we couldn’t be bothered crossing the road in peak hour traffic. As a result, we kind of look like giants here. We were actually way more excited by this fairy ring that we found on the oval across the road.

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Weeee so cool! Fairy rings form when the spawn of a mushroom falls, and a whole bunch of little underground threads spread from it in every direction, creating a circular subterranean network. Mushrooms develop above ground from these threads in a circular pattern. As the central spawn dies, the mushrooms up top keep growing, but without their little creator dude to hang onto, the diameter of the ring gets bigger and bigger until it eventually dies below and above ground. How cool is that? You can kind of see the imprint on the grass where this ring has probably partly died already.

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After staying over night near Taree, we zipped straight up to Port Macquarie the next morning. We spent most of the day there, as Billy found a skate park that he was quite taken with, and then we found a pool we could take a shower at (showers can be few and far between sometimes, so this is always a noteable event). We decided to venture a little further up before we bunked down for the night, and found a rest area near Macksville. When we woke up in the morning, these little chickadees were surrounding our van!

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We decided to go over to Nambucca Heads to have brekkie by the beach instead of by the side of the road. It was a gorgeous day and an awesome way to start it, with breakfast and coffee sitting on the rocks, followed by a walk along the beach – which was absolutely covered in shells and pebbles. I had a field day collecting them in the morning sun!

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We wandered around the little town of Nambucca, but not much was happening as it was Sunday. They did have an amazing mosaic along one of the walls in front of the police station that we spent ages looking at, it was just gorgeous.

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Billy was excited to find that Elvis even made an appearance…

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Next, Coffs Harbour as we had an old nemisis to check in with: the big banana. Now don’t get me wrong, we LOVE bananas, but a few years ago we stopped in and were disappointed by its size (not even that big), the weather causing the toboggan run to be closed, the hoards of shitty souvenirs, and the crappy frozen bananas on a stick. However, since we said we would stop at any big thing we were in the vicinity of, we thought we had better give it another chance. Also, the sky was clear and the toboggan run was open! I had never been on a toboggan before so it was pretty cool, but Billy berated me for using the brakes, saying it was against the rules. He also told me horror stories of people having their fingers cut off if they held onto the sides (BEFORE we went on). Thanks Bear.

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That was taken by a lovely lady who offered to take a photo of us. We acted happy to be at the banana again for the sake of her little girl. When she left, we set up the self timer and took this one, which expressed our feelings a little more accurately..

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Heading further up the coast, we stopped at more little beaches – Corindi Beach had a few more stones to add to the collection. We stayed at this weird rest stop overnight called ‘Little Italy’, which had a museum, cafe, gift shop, court yard and more…right in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately it was shut for the long weekend, so we missed out on poking around inside. Checked out Evan’s Head the next morning, before heading into Ballina to get supplies, get access to some wifi and get a picture with the big prawn, who is currently under construction in order to become more anatomically correct (seriously…the story of the prawn getting a tail was on the front page of the local newspaper).

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We also managed to pick up some cheap bikes while we were there, plus a bike rack to attach to the back of ZZ. They need a bit of work, but Billy is already onto it. I’ll leave it there for now, as this feels like a bit of a super post, but we are now in Mullumbimby, doing the helpx thing again which has been really great so far! More on that later I’m sure. Until next time…!

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