A Travellerspoint blog

Canberra - Floriade and more

sunny 20 °C

Saturday 20th

After a few necessary chores we all caught the bus from Queanbeyan to Canberra’s quite famous Floriade festival. As the name implies it is Canberra’s attempt at answering some of the great flower shows around the world. The short walk from the bus stop to the grounds, we joined the gathering thousands also on their way to catch a glimpse of this month-long event.

One great plus is that there was no entry fee! As Canberra region bus services offer a $2.50 per day price anywhere on their local network this exercise was always going to be a bargain!

There were massive beds of flowers, mainly pansies and tulips, in colourful array. The theme was based on ‘passion’ so some flower displays featured ‘love hearts’ while others continued with variations on this theme. We took a number of photos although some of the pansies in particular looked a bit ‘droopy’. Maybe it was the relatively warm sunny day that had that effect, I’m not sure. Certainly there were many large garden displays offering a range of colours for keen photographers. For us we felt that the display was probably not as good as the Toowoomba Flower Show.

A small section of the park was dedicated to retail opportunities with healthy stuff, Cancer Society products, some gardening hoses of the very expensive variety, and soaps (for smelling nice after your gardening in the sunshine, and delicious fudges to energise one for more gardening efforts! I can vouch for the mint chocolate fudge however, the other items I left alone!

Our highlight for the day was to finally meet up with our friends from PNG days (decades ago) for a lunch in town. At the due time Mary & I waited adjacent to the ‘Big Wheel’ (that’s the one that goes round and round vertically) but eventually found out that we should have been a short distance away at the ‘Big Wheel’, the one that goes round and round horizontally! These senior’s moments just add to life’s challenges and diversity.
We walked toward the shopping precinct and soon met up and headed to have a lunch and long chat, catching up on family, mutual friends and the other important things in life.

We were then invited for a drive to see a few of Canberra’s sights and enjoyed the Embassy suburb, a view of Canberra from a nearby mountain lookout and finally a nice coffee at a private club before we were delivered back to our van park in Queanbeyan – tired but happy.

A few quick chores before dark and a meal before a quiet read, after fixing an oversight on my itinerary plan.

Posted by psstevo 20:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Canberra - War Memorial

sunny 18 °C

Friday 19th

Queanbeyan – Canberra - War Memorial
The overnight temperature in our van was 2.2C and yes it was cold!

Mary had to put the bedding washing out to complete the drying from yesterday and then cleaned the van out while I did a cleanup with some of the ute items.

We took the local bus service into Canberra (about 30 minute trip) and were somewhat lost with all the twisting and turning into the CBD. We disembarked at the Civic stop in town after getting views of Parliament House across Lake Burley Griffin. Not finding the War Memorial facility there we unfortunately scored the same rather taciturn driver who had driven us into town, and he would drop us off near to the War Memorial.
There was a lengthy walk up to the spectacular view of the Memorial in the distance was interspersed with memorial features of various wars and military actions being commemorated.

We reached the base steps and walked up into the reception area and were immediately impressed with the whole look and feel of the War Memorial facility. A ‘gold coin’ donation being made we entered into the reception area proper and very soon were invited to join Gina as she provided a 90 minute guided tour and commentary – essentially free.

About ten of us were greatly moved by the massive exhibits covering wars involving Australia since the Soudan War in the late 1800’s to Afghanistan.
The vast array of photos, movies, art work and history was almost overwhelming in its details and placement of exhibits. Planes, ships, tanks – there seemed be a never-ending display of one of mankind’s sadder attributes – killing each other. On the other hand the incredible number of bravery awards from the Victoria Cross to simple service medals show-pieced a most worthy place of honour for the men, women and even children (some signing up at 14 years of age!) in which honour and an attempt to give all human beings a change for the better.

Afterwards we felt pretty weary, to say the least, and decided to enjoy a quick light lunch in Poppys Restaurant, recently opened for visitors. I have always enjoyed Fawlty Towers as a comedy, but this place charged like wounded bulls and we waited for almost half an hour (it was not busy compared with any normal restaurant) for one sausage roll and a few hot chips – already heated and sitting on the rack for delivery. The coffees came (about ten minutes later) and when we asked for the rest of our order we eventually got the sausage roll and a bit later still a pile of cold ex-hot) chips. Sent them back and soon received the balance of our order by which time we had been joined by Rilla and Adrian to whom we offered a share of our wonderful repast!

We went back into the Memorial for a few more things we wanted to see and then headed back down the long slope to catch the bus, only to spend about 20 minutes putting up with a rather garrulous and unpleasant woman waiting on her bus. Fortunately hers arrived and soon after we scored a lucky break and boarded for home.

A quick look at a few Queanbeyan shops and then home to find that our water system had come unstuck and poured water everywhere. Fortunately it had been turned off before any damage was done. Our dry washing was brought in and packed away and followed by a nice tea to close a very tiring and eventful day.

Posted by psstevo 20:51 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Darby's Falls freecamp to Queanbeyan

sunny 20 °C

Thursday 18th

Today was a simple journey down through the village of Boorowa and on to Yass and Canberra. Great idea! Not!

Very carefully departing our safe haven we turned towards Boorowa and avoiding the local hoon traffic, we bumped along until we reached some roadworks. After trying to follow our GPS and the Detour signs we reached an impasse. Typical local government construction people appeared to have forgotten to put up a ‘road closed’ sign so we had to turn back. Wasted half an hour and about 60Km of fuel.

On the way back towards Cowra Adrian noted a road sign that seemed to say that getting to Boorowa via this local road was an option. A very helpful road-worker had told us to return to Cowra as the travel option. Adrian decided to take the punt and go with the local road and we decided to head back to Cowra and stay on the main highway.

Once again we passed through Cowra and on leaving town we noted a toilet dump sign so decided to grab the opportunity to unload in case there was no dump at the next stop.

This was also a nice trip with very peaceful scenery with sheep (black faced), cattle and crops. Plus eucalypt trees.

Later we had a phone call from Adrian and Rilla advising that they had managed to get into Boorowa way before we would. Never mind, can’t win them all.

We carried on and then joined the Hume Highway and headed towards Yass along with all the other heavy traffic that is normal here. Arriving at Yass (off the Hume Highway) we stopped for our lunch and visit to the Visitor Info office and I loaded up with maps and brochures and very helpful road and traffic conditions on the Barton Highway into Canberra and around into Queanbeyan.

We arrived at the Queanbeyan Riverside Caravan Park just as Adrian was moving in so we checked our proposed site and it seemed OK so we checked in and moved straight onto our site. The setting up proved to be a real problem as the front edge of the site was very low and our jockey wheel would not extend to the necessary height. We tried a few options and eventually Adrian offered a gas cylinder as a temporary support while we rejigged the jockey wheel with extra timber blocks under the wheel. Finally we had the jockey wheel stretched to its limit rather precariously perched on a wooden plate. Even after multi-blocking on a front leg support I was still unhappy with the result.

After trying to get another site (place full, sorry) I tried another caravan park some way off but, this being Canberra everyone was full for the very popular Floriade.

No choice, check insurance policy and stay the night and hope for no earthquakes in the region! The cold wind did not improve my rather fatigued brain, however, the quick and hot shower excellent shower (albeit designed by and for Hobbits) was a great relief!

Spent some time trying to buy a Trail-a-mate system to act as jockey wheel and jack. No luck in Canberra at all.

Posted by psstevo 20:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gooloogong to Darby's Falls

semi-overcast 18 °C

Wednesday 17th

Gooloogong to Darby’s Falls.
Today was a decent drive over rolling hills with sheep, cattle, canola and wheat crops in abundance. The canola was everywhere it seemed and with the sun shining on the golden flowers and contrast with the deep green of healthy wheat we enjoyed the day immensely. Our travels took us through the town of Cowra, famous for being the site of the largest prisoner of war escape in WWII! Over a thousand Japanese POW’s, being held in a camp just outside of Cowra, decided that the only honourable thing for them to do was to escape and, if necessary die in the attempt. Very Samurai I suppose, and therefore understandable from that viewpoint.

Quite a number were killed as were some Australian soldiers involved in the guard detail. However most were recaptured and kept in detention until war’s end in 1945. There is a large and very attractive Japanese Garden very close by and we managed to get there quite early and get a parking spot. The Garden is very much a Japanese feature with exquisitely manicured lawns and shrubs, all set among lovely waterfalls complete with ducks and carp.

Being spring there were a lot of beautiful flowering cherry trees (pink) and also white flowering trees in the area, especially along the main street through the town.

We all managed a few photos and hope that they look as good on the screen as they did when being taken. Of course there was also a shop with tasteful souvenirs and other knick knack items for sale. A Japanese Tea House was being prepared for Tea Ceremony services later on in the day. The place was pretty with tourists including a school party who all seem to have acquired brightly coloured kites. They made quite a sight (and a lot of noise!) as they obeyed their teacher and charged down the hillside with multi-coloured kites filling the sky. Great fun for the kids and good to see kids really having healthy fun – not a mobile phone in sight!

Eventually we returned to the car park planning to depart and have lunch in town (try the cakes and pies at Royce’s in the main street!!!). However, one of those unplanned events happened and as I endeavoured to ease our rig from between the surrounding park cars we could see that this was not going to be a successful operation and I managed to halt with about 4 centimeters gap to the next car’s front end and mirrors. Being just blocked in front back and sides we stayed put and waited for the ‘offending’ car to be moved. Apparently there was no PA address system here so no possibility of asking the car to be moved.

Eventually sufficient cars around us drove away, but the tricky one remained. I was willing to give a reversing procedure a go but Mary was adamant that WWIII would result if I mangled the small car. Adrian, good lad, volunteered to guide me, extremely slowly (!!!) into a cleared spot to our rear.
We never did see the other car owner and he would have gone merrily on his again way without realizing that he had held us up for nearly an hour and greatly increased my blood pressure.

After that episode we headed back through Cowra towards Bathurst for about 6 Km and visited the local Museum. (Rob you are forbidden to visit this town, what with French Vanilla slices and an incredible museum, we would likely never see you again!).

The museum included farm, local and war exhibits in a very specially “organised” way that enhanced its impact. I am not sure how long we enjoyed the exhibits but we were pretty hungry by the end of the visit. Highly recommended, in spite of its varied organisation and covered layout.
Lunch in town (see above) was a very nice potato and curry mince pie for me and a range of yummy choices for the rest of the team. We’ll be back.
Heading out of town to our next freecamp at Darby’s Falls (C6 # 497) we had a slightly bumpier ride through green fields and a variety of livestock on the farms we passed. One item I should mention was the frequency of cherry tree blossoms along almost all the roadsides and especially in towns and villages we passed through.

Arriving at our destination we were pleasantly surprised to see that no one else had beaten us in so we had a choice of the few level sites to park among the gum trees and adjacent to the Lachlan (?) River which was flowing at a higher than usual level but still very safe. According to a local tourism brochure this spot was not named after a waterfall (none was in evidence) but after a local chap called Darby fell from his horse. Maybe more than once?

A fine evening but really cool in among the trees. A couple of other rigs appeared before dark including a chap from the Sunshine Coast heading down to Canberra to participate in mountain bike racing. A very fit retiree indeed!

As there was no phone or TV reception we put on a video of the Murray Valley so that we could better plan our journey. A really cool night in all senses of the word!

Posted by psstevo 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gooloogong Rest Day

semi-overcast 19 °C

Tuesday 16th

1.40AM. Woken by a squall of rain but fortunately did not last! But then couldn’t get back sleep!

We decided on a rest today as the weather was not too good with a cold breeze and some possible shower activity around the area. The plus side was that Mary & I managed a walk around the village and scored a dozen free range eggs for $3 which is apparently a good price. On returning to camp Mary managed to sell other folk on this deal also so we hoped that there was sufficient stock left!

Later in the day we had new neighbours move in and a very profitable exchange of travel information took place. As a result we have included some Murray River headwater spots in at the expense of dawdling along past the Albury/Wodonga area.

To improve departure in the morning we decided to pull the awning down to keep it dry for the next part of the journey.

Posted by psstevo 20:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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