Well, what a slacker. 6 weeks without an update, so here we go -
Headed up the Outback Way (Laverton WA to Winton Qld) and the WA side was fine - good gravel roads, beaut weather. Camped overnight at Tjurkiyirla and Warrakurna (Giles Met. Station). Crossed into NT and the roads changed significantly. In WA they were formed with a crown in the middle, but in the NT the road is simply graded with banks on either side. This would normally be fine, but there had been quite a bit of rain through previously, so while all the rivers were bone dry, the road was covered in water! ! !
Came across a road-train about 150kms west of the Olgas and he was bogged to the axles. He had been there about 4 days when I saw him and he suggested that it would probably be another 3 or 4 days before he would be recovered.
Stopped at Kata Tjuta (Mt.Olga) and Uluru (Ayers Rock) but as the temperature was over 40 degress C, I didn't do much walking around. This part of Oz if so fantastic, I will be going back again and probably spend about 3 months looking at everything and everywhere.
Left Alice Springs and headed north to have a look at Central Mt. Stuart and then south again to the Plenty Highway. Bitumen all the way to Hart's Range (great campsite at Spotted Tiger, but unfortunately it hasn't been maintained and none of the facilities work - no water etc).
From Hart's Range to Jervois Station the road was gravel but reasonable, but from Jervois to the NT/Qld border it was really rough. I absolutely shredded a tyre on this section. Luckily only one 'cos I didn't have a second.
The next section, from the Qld Border to Boulia was supposed to be the worst (which was why I was worried about not having a second spare) but it wasn't too bad provided you drove to suit the conditions. There were numerous wash-aways, but provided you slowed down before hitting them, they weren't too bad.
The trip from Boulia to Brisbane was fairly un-eventful except for the heat. It continued in the very high 30's all through this period.
On Dec. 24th I found a delightful rest stop just outside Springsure called Mt. Zamia and the Virgin Rock. It was so pleasant I stopped there an extra day and celebrated Xmas here.
Continued through Queensland until I came to Roma. I stopped and had a look around and was just leaving town when I heard a disturbing noise coming from my rear axle. Of course, being the Xmas holiday period, no mechanics were open, so I stayed a couple of nights in a caravan park. A mechanic had a quick look and said "doesn't sound too bad, but as it's a warranty matter, you will have to see a dealer". Well, the closest dealer was Toowoomba so off I headed, hoping that it wasn't too serious. The dealer in Toowoomba says No Wories, we can fit you in next week some time - This was not suitable as I didn't want to hang around for a week so I headed to Brisbane. It turns out that the rear wheel bearing and the diff bearing were shot. It was on the same side at the shredded tyre, so I wonder whether the two were related? Anyway, the dealer fixed them up under warranty.
I spent a couple of weeks in Brisbane, staying with my youngest brother and his family and doing all the local beauty spots. He has a camper similar to mine and we both saddled up and headed down to the Gold Coast hinterland near Canungra for a week. Visited Mt. Tambourine, O'Riellys, Lamington Plateau and so forth.
On Monday 19th January I said my farewells and headed south. It has been many years since I last saw the north coast of NSW and I was astounded to see the amount of residential and resort development which has taken place. I am probably exagerating, but it seemed to be a built up area all the way from Tweed Heads to Sydney. Places like Lennox Head, Nambucca Heads, Iluka etc. are just full of houses and tourist parks.
I detoured around Sydney though Penrith and Singleton and then continued down the Pacific Highway through Kiama and Batemans Bay.
Tonight I am camped in one of the most beautiful campsites you could imagine. It's a roadside rest area called Bodalla Park, about 57 kms south of Batemans Bay and about 3 kms from the ocean (I walked down there this morning). It is set in a state forest among what appear to be Mountain Ash or something similar. It is supposed to be just an overnight stop, but I think I will strain the friendship and stay for two or three days and do some forest walking.
That brings us up to date. I will try to be a better correspondent in future and update the blog at least every two weeks or so.