Monthly Archives: December 2014

Letter to Santa

With Christmas upon us we made a visit to a big shopping centre to fill up on supplies as we will be deep in a National Park with no access to shops for a week. We’re not sure whether Santa will be able to find us on our remote beach and we have been reminding the kids that this Christmas will be more low key than normal.

Letter to Santa

Letter to Santa

As we waited for Amanda to collect the last few items we watched kids having their photos with Santa, and they sat down at a table to colour in some pictures and write a letter to Santa. Xavier’s letter was so cute that I think expectations have been managed!

Then things started falling into place again. We had had to cancel our noon Sealink ferry to Kangaroo Island so we could get the windscreen fixed. We managed to rebook a 7pm one, which meant we couldn’t pick up our post, and would arrive in the dark to camp. Then we got a spot on the 4pm ferry, so we drove down early and got in the standby lane for the 3pm ferry, and snuck on. Santa paid us a visit on the ferry – well done and thank you Sealink, what a friendly and helpful crowd. We got to Kingscote Post Office 5 minutes before it closed and collected a few packages for the kids as well as their school work for next term.

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Categories: Christmas, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Towards Adelaide – whistle stop touring

Unfortunately with a deadline to meet for another ferry we had to rush from Ewens Ponds up the coast.

First stop was Carpenter Rocks where a bright red lighthouse at nearby Cape Banks alerts passing boats to the treacherous limestone rocks that line the shore. This spot was where in 1802 English Botanist Joseph Banks and Frenchman Nicholas Baudin passed one another as they mapped the coastline. A shipwreck on the beach and witnessing an unfortunate diving accident when we arrived all reminded us of how much respect the rugged coastline here deserves. We did witness a big fur seal haul itself up onto the rocks at dusk then disappear into a craggy hole to rest for the night.

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Heading north we flew through Mount Gambier but not before I showed everyone the Blue Lake, a remnant from ancient volcanic times in the region, and a few of my old cave-diving haunts, like Allendale East, where the road splits either side of the cave in a tiny town, Little Blue and Fossil Cave.

We stopped in Little Dip Conservation Park, literally, because we got bogged deep in sand on the coastal track. After two hours of digging and making slow progress, with several kilometres still to go, and Christmas Carols beckoning in nearby Robe, I had to concede defeat and turn around. A good learning opportunity for the kids that they responded well to, but we sustained a significant ding to a panel on the car trying to turn it around. We made the carols and enjoyed a rare treat of fish and chips.

The next day we back-tracked to the Coonawarra to meet the Prof at Majella Wines. We got a tour around the winery and an obligatory tasting. The first wine in 2 months for me and it tasted magnificent.

 

Stocked for Christmas we headed up to Naracoorte to visit the World Heritage cave site and visited the Victoria Cave where a massive bone deposit of Australian animals, including mega-fauna, lies documenting some 350,000 years of history.

Then back to the coast, along small roads, watching emus running through the fields as we went, to see a big icon. The Kingston Big Lobster is an impressive construction, that we spotted from some distance out of town, lurching above the treeline.

The Big Lobster

The Big Lobster

It was late but we were keen to stop in the Coorong and we pressed on up the coast arriving much later than normal at 42 Mile Crossing. After a late dinner, the kids went to bed as dusk fell and I noticed we had a visitor. I set the camera up to catch him, came oh so close and got within 2 metres of him, but my flash scared him off before the shutter went. Waking up the next morning 2 shoes were missing, courtesy of Fantastic Mr Fox! It couldn’t take a pair but nicked one of Oscars and one of Xaviers. If I hadn’t retrieved Hannah’s before I went to bed it could have been the set! We found some foxes earths around the campsite but no sign of the shoes.

Spot the problem here

Spot the problem here

Next day we headed north to explore the shores of Lake Alexandrina, where the river Murray meets the coast. The birdlife was fabulous and we spotted quite a new species for the twitching list. At Narrung we caught a ferry across one part of the lake to Point Malcolm, which hosts the only inland freshwater lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere, that was used when log barges used to ply the waters.

Then things went pear-shaped and we ended up with a broken windscreen late on Sat afternoon. With a ferry to catch at midday on Monday it was starting to look like we might be driving around for the next two weeks with a broken windscreen!

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Beach, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Offroad, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

🎄🎄🎄🎄Ho,ho,ho Mrs Clause here!!!🎄🎄🎄🎄

WIshing all our family,friends and loyal followers a wonderful Christmas and an amazing 2015!

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Maybe some of you will visit us on our travels?? Hint hint!! Just having you all follow the blog and sending us messages and challenges brightens our days! So keep them coming… If you have troubles logging on or responding to a post let us know.

So… 8 weeks on the road – where has it gone? And what have we done? And what have we achieved and learnt??

Leaving Sydney, packing up our home and trying to decide what a family of 5 has to pack to travel for 12 months in a little camper trailer…. Hmmm  tough job – I still remember the last day and squeezing the last of our belongings into our storage and other stuff into the car – 2 of our lovely friends C and S helping us close up the camper – because we had only taken delivery of our CT only a week earlier we were still learning – it took a while!! And I’m happy to say we have it down pat now!!  Our first stop at green patch ( which is divine!! Sydneysiders – tip go outside of any holidays) where we stayed 4 nights just to get over the pure exhaustion!!

The kids are learning what their jobs are and are getting better at packing away their sleep bags and camp chairs, washing up😉,helping with tent pegs and ropes for the awnings, filling drink bottles etc,etc! They have barely seen tv, and are learning to find there fun elsewhere – climbing trees, finding beetles, bird watching, beach combing, looking for bones😁 of various animals ( even a whole seal at one beach!) do they still fight ?? Of course they do – especially in the car😠 but they are learning so much about life and nature etc! Distance education is amazing – I am happy to say we are on holidays though !! Yay !!

Four wheel driving is not one of my favourite things – in fact my stress levels go into overdrive – if any of you read about a track we did coming into the Huon valley called Jeffrey’s track 😖 I could barely watch and thank goodness for the 2 guys that helped us out  I couldn’t do anything!! I was asked to take photos – but not being able to even watch made that quite hard!! We got stuck in sand recently which wasn’t as bad but still had the grey hairs emerging! We had to turn back to the road to go another way that time! But we finished the day with fish and chips ( a big treat) and Christmas carols in Robe SA.

Christmas for us is on Kangaroo island – I am hitting the shops tomorrow for some Christmas cheer – will try and sneak some home made rocky road in ( we are staying in a house! Yes a house for the first time in 8 weeks- thanks Hugh 👍) some Bon bons – J is hoping to catch us a crayfish for lunch???? I heard Oscar telling one of his classmates on the phone that no Santa won’t find us this year …. But grandma is sending a small parcel!! My heart melted- he was so ok with it!❤️

My my favourite places so far …. Hmmm Green Patch NSW is definitely up there, I loved the VIC countryside around Omeo, Boat harbour TAS, Narawntapu NP in TAS is gorgeous as was friendly beaches and bay of fires TAS , the Coorong is very pretty SA and I am sure lots more to come.

Animals – we have seen lots!!!  Today we found 3 shingle back lizards which was cool! Tassie Devils, rare black carnivorous snails, seals, echidnas,wombats,kangaroos,wallabies and other hopping things of all shapes and sizes – I’m officially confused as to what wallaby is what and what is a pademelon or a bennets wallaby etc etc!!! We have seen only a couple of snakes,dolphins, koalas,emus, thousands of birds – John has turned into a serious twitcher!!

Cooking for a family of 5 on a 3 burner stove – sometimes I see the photos on Instagram that friends are posting of things like weetbix slice!!!! Thanks B!! Made my mouth water!!!! We do lots Like fried rice, fajitas,bbq, damper and toasting marshmallows has been fun – we still need to perfect our damper if anyone has any recipes – Hannah is our damper chef!!!! Hamburgers, Koftas,bacon and eggs and tuna pasta is a rough idea!! Any recipe ideas? Send them through!!!!

Anyway, enough from me! Have a wonderful wonderful Christmas – think of us – we think of you all, have an amazing holiday break and fabulous 2015,

lots of love from all the fifty toes! 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁

 

Categories: @travelaustraliawithkids, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Location, SA, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Ewens Ponds

Our next stop was to a favourite of mine, Ewens Ponds, located near to the fishing town of Port Macdonnell. I had to show the kids the pristine waters that bubble out of the sandy bottom and flow down eight mile creek to the sea. The water is very cold though reaching 15-16 degrees, if you’re lucky.

Freshwater Galaxids, Ewens pygmy perch (Nannoperca variegate) and even black fin bream can all be found relatively easily in the ponds, though in the cold water they proved harder to photograph. The big spiny freshwater crayfish are always a highlight. This little conservation area is a gem, and even whilst snorkelling through the three ponds I could hear loads of birdlife in the surrounding wetlands and reeds.

Categories: Adventure, Animal Action, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Photography, SA, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Ocean Road icons

Categories: Adventure, Australian Outback, Beach, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure, Victoria | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Great Ocean Road – Cape Otway Lighthouse

Having been diverted off the Great Ocean Road to hunt the Black Snail we resumed the road heading for Cape Otway where Hannah’s teacher had given us maps guaranteed to locate Koalas. It was late in the day so we went straight to the Lighthouse and set up our camp there. Despite all the tourists visiting we were the only ones staying there in a very picturesque outlook just behind the lighthouse.

CapeOtwayCamp

Cape Otway Camp

We enjoyed the tranquillity so much we stayed two nights, and there was plenty to do there.

This was the first lighthouse we have had the chance to go inside and we had the privilege to meet Pat, a lighthouse man, and a dying breed now all lighthouses are automated. He was not shy sharing a few stories about peers who had been driven mad by the solitude, and one as recent as in the 1980’s who had to be subdued and tied up with ropes when he ran around the island trying to shoot everyone. On the trip back to the mainland he was strapped to the main mast to stop him terrorising the crew.

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He showed us the narrow platform they used to clean the windows from with no rails or safety gear, over 60m up. In strong winds he joked that he would make the assistant clean on the windy side. Having been the last lighthouse keeper at the Point Hicks lighthouse that we visited in Croajingolong it was fascinating listening to his stories for an hour so in the afternoon. Thanks Pat.

The next day we visited the aboriginal hut hidden in the bush and met Dale. We spent hours with him talking about traditional plants, medicinal and bushtucker, how the traditional hunting weapons were used and he gave us insight into the native countries, tribal structure, how each tribe speaks 4 languages, and how message sticks were used when entering neighbouring territory. The kids painted abalone shells and we spent many hours there. Thanks Dale for sharing so much with us. It really made the stay special meeting these people.

 

Categories: Australian Outback, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Great Ocean Road, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure, Victoria | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

In search of a fearsome beast in the Otway Ranges!

A carnivorous loathsome beast hides in the rainforest in the Otway Ranges. It uses stealth and cunning to find its prey then devours them slowly. That’s what convinced Fifty Toes that they had to track one down and capture it. Using local knowledge we found out what areas it could be found. Driving out of Apollo Bay we found Koalas first at Kennet River. A quick stop for a photograph was required for our top 25 list (more on that later)

Koala

After the brief distraction we headed for Maits Rest rainforest walk. We walked as silently as a troop of baboons through the forest, looking everywhere, and just as the kids interest started waning, Oscar let out a cry “I’ve found one!”. Well not quite, but a very small part of one.

We chose a dirt track to take us to another likely site and 20km later we set out on the walk to Beauchamp falls

Beauchamp Falls

Beauchamp Falls

Within minutes our enthusiasm was raised as we started finding evidence of Victaphanta compacta. We laid a bounty down of 2 sweets for the first person to find a live one, and just as we arrived at the falls the cry went up – Amanda found it and with Oscar’s help he emerged with the famous Otway Black Snail in his hands, a species of carnivorous land snail that eats meat. Maybe not such a fearsome beast but a very unusual critter nonetheless. Mission accomplished!

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Categories: Animal Action, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Great Ocean Road, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, Natural World, Photography | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Ballarat – home of “Gold Fever”

Time to hit the goldfields – we found an awesome camp in the forests to the north of Ballarat then hit the Sovereign Hill centre to find out about life in the Gold Rush in the 1850s.

Muskets and enfield rifles were fired, we climbed down into Red Hill mine, watched stagecoaches ride past, panned for gold, and even found a few specks in the stream (they put 3g of gold in each day for the tourists to find).

The kids were horrified watching the school kids who were participating in the whole thing, dressed in 1850s uniforms, attending classes, and raising caps to adults as we passed by. The school lesson was brilliant as a very stern teacher made year 3-5 kids recite poems over and over again until they got it right. Funnily enough I had flashbacks to my childhood and the eccentric English teachers who had similar approaches.

We watched a 3kg gold ingot get poured, boiled sweets being made and to finish an excellent day we visited the gold museum to find that we were camped in the middle of the gold area. We had noticed a handful of little tents squirreled around the hills in the forest but there is still a lot of gold fever there. One guy who had obviously had some luck drove past in a Mercedes with new caravan and license plate “TWINKL”.

Tempted we pulled out the shovel and gold pans to have a go, but soon gave up realising that thousands of people have tried before us, and we could have spent months there without finding anything. We gave it a go though!

Categories: Adventure, Australian Outback, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Travel, Travel Adventure, Victoria | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the Mainland

Just before leaving Tasmania we met a local farmer who we spent a while talking to. He owned hundreds of acres and cultivated poppies and pyrethrum for the pharmaceutical industry, potatoes, cattle for the top end restaurant market and more besides. A beautiful oak and sycamore stood near the entrance of what appeared at first glance to be a poppy field but there was also a graveyard in the middle of the field.

Bruce's poppies

Bruce showed us how the opium extraction begins then explained that the trees used to be at the entrance to the church that once stood there, and that a school used to stand next door. At nearly 80 years old he told us some of the local history that was slowly being forgotten. We took a photo with him then bade him a farewell after over an hour of chatting in one of his paddocks.

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Tasmania is the only state that is legislated to grow opium poppies. Farmers must have an approved contract with a pharmaceutical company and the whole operations are monitored very closely by satellite, police and locals. Last time Amanda stopped to photograph a poppy field on a previous visit we had a police car arrive before she had got back in the car!

Our final thing to do was get some fruit picking in and close to the ferry we found a “pick your own” farm with raspberries, tayberries and strawberries. All the kids loved the photo opportunity involving a horse’s rear, as well as in the field with the fruit.

 

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Then as we queued for the ferry in Devonport our last final excitement in Tasmania as the car in front us was descended upon by police. One man fled with cops in hot pursuit and his female passenger was escorted away. Before we got on the ferry the undercover cops arrived and were stripping the car!

Categories: Adventure, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, TAS, Tasmania, Travel, Travel Adventure | 1 Comment

Narawntapu National Park

Narawntapu National Park hadn’t been on our radar but when Hannah rejected our camp in the middle of the river at garden island near Clarence, after we had set up camp I may add, but we stumbled upon it as we headed towards Devonport, with only a few days left before we leave Tasmania.

NarawntapuNP

Dubbed the Serengeti of Tasmania it comes as no surprise to see vast expanses of short grassland, but instead of wilderbeest, lions, and elephants, this national park is full of marsupials. Forresters Kangaroos, Bennetts Wallabies, Pademelons, Bettongs and Potoroos all can be found here. I still can’t work out which is which but the ranger told us the rule of thumb was whether they are knee or waist high, and bigger or smaller than this, but there are so many joeys around too they are starting to all look the same. The wetlands are a haven for bird lovers and one of Tasmania’s top 60 short walks is the Springlawn walk to the bird hide in the middle of the lake. Our camp was surrounded by wombat holes, but no sign of them yet!

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The boardwalk takes you past swamps, melaleuca and silver banksia forest, then on to the lakehide. Black swans and coot were everywhere but also to be spotted were Australasian grebe, maned duck, pacific black duck, egrets, herons, blue billed duck, musk duck, hoary-headed grebe and many others.

Just beyond the hide the path takes you on a bush walk to the top of Archers Knob, where commanding views over the park can be enjoyed, including the full length of Bakers Beach. This beach has millions of soldier crabs parading the shoreline at low tide and the kids had a competition to see who could find the most shark and ray eggs. They found at least 4 different species.

I also spotted my first snake here – a tiger snake basking in the sun on the walking path.

The poor wombats are suffering from Wombat mange caused by mites and seeing a wombat with very little fur staggering around during the day, covered in flies was not a pretty sight.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Location, National Park, Natural World, Photography, TAS, Tasmania, Travel, Travel Adventure, Twitcher, Walks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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