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Drove through where the massive fire at Tuncurry had recently been – quite devastating and surreal!!


Headed to the Cypress Lakes Resort in the Hunter Valley – Birthday treat – had a fantastic apartment within the resort – surrounded by bush and golf course. It was very very smoky – the sun was deep orange.









Nice dinner at a cottage overlooking the grapes – Amanda's on the Edge.





Winery tour the next day – Lambloch and First Creek Winerys first up – both very nice – followed by a cheese and wine pairing with a very knowledgeable fella, great lunch - and finished with some schnapps and chocolate tasting. Great day – educational – and nice wines.

Then headed to Singleton and onto Newcastle for a nice Lunch with our Nephew – Matt and girlfriend Livvy. The drive back to Singleton was through the thickest smoke we have seen – deep orange, cars with headlights on mid-afternoon - eerie. Caught up with lots of Donna's relatives, and headed back into the Hunter – visiting Tyrells and Pepper Tree Wineries, and wandering around the very impressing Hunter Valley Gardens.

Then it was onto Bylong Valley to stay with an old GSK friend – Merran and Phil. They have a farm in the valley … cattle and sheep. Had to be done. They have successfully (so far) thwarted a Korean Co’s Coal Mine from digging up the valley. It would be a beautiful spot – except it is so dry from the drought that it was certainly not looking its peak. Had a great couple of days relaxing, eating, drinking, learning about farm life, and looking around the valley and Mudgee.


Drove to Rylstone – a tiny country town – for some of the yummiest dumplings on the planet … and then kept heading south through Sofala – a bizarre little village caught in a time warp, and past some massive fires / smoke plumes.

We decided to head to the Snowy Mountains to get away from the heat and bone dry (and unattractive) fields – stopping overnight in Goulburn.



Drove through Jindabyne and onto a camp site within the Kosciusko National Park – fantastic spot between the mountains beside the Thredbo River – although tainted a little by the black snake I nearly stepped on trying a shortcut!!!!. Decided to venture up to Mt Kosciusko – caught the chairlift up – then

walked up towards the summit – but we weren’t quite prepared for the cold so stopped at the lookout – then returned down the long steep path down to Thredbo Village. Took us a few hours – and we were stiff and sore by the end – but had to be done. We also had a bobsled ride, did another walk, and played golf at the beautiful lush green Thredbo Golf Course. We made the course look very hard!!!!. Great time of year to visit Kosciusko National Park – quiet, beautiful weather … cooler than the scorching plains, green, … could easily stay here for a week or more.













Then drove down the incredibly winding road down the side of the National Park – through some grand forests and past the Snowy River Power Station – down to Towong – where we camped right beside the Murray River …. with water flowing straight from the Snowy …. before it turns brown – was a very different Murray from what we are used to. Super spot!!!!


Then onto Yea in Victoria for our Last Hurrah!!!





Skipped Surfers and headed to Burleigh Heads … that place is caught in a bit of a time warp … but it grows on you. Nice meal at the Surf Club as the sea mist rolled in, run along the beach with the beautiful people, Tex Mex with the beautiful people, hung out in Coolangatta with the beautiful people, cruise down to Schnapper Rocks, and finished with a run over the Burleigh Headland – hectic few days … but as I say – Burleigh does grow on you!!




Next day – we left Queensland and have never been so excited to experience daylight savings … Queensland – for all it stunning beauty and beautiful sunshine … is mad – they need daylight savings something chronic, they need to get rid of the crocs, the stingers are probably worse than the crocs, and then there are the snakes!!! If you survive all of that – there are the midges. And running around governing the country are the Mad Katter and Pauline … the place needs some serious attention!!!!

Anyway – crossed the border and headed to the thriving metropolis of Possum Creek – near Byron. Stayed with an old Price Waterhouse friend Jenny and David. Lovely place in the country … we also had the pleasure of working in their catering business the next day – churning out cakes and chicken pies – which we really enjoyed.



Then headed to Yamba – a great holiday village on the beach. Walked along the rocky point and around town, photos at the fabulous Ocean Pool, went to the cinema (Knives Out) …. at a very rustic old cinema, drove to Angourie Beach for a walk, drove out to the very underwhelming Iluka township via the massive burnt our forest, and then sat in the van watching the enormous lightning storm show - and finished our stay with one of the most amazing sunsets you could hope for!!!














Off to another ‘hidden secret’ – South West Rocks …. What a fabulous spot – stayed at the park right on the beach – peering out along a long white sandy beach, with Horseshoe Bay right next to us. Was a bit wild the day we arrived, but we woke to a stunning still blue sky day – which displayed South West Rocks at it magnificent best … and that is pretty damn good. Lovely long beaches, calm breaking waves, beautiful golden rocks …. And great fish and chips!! Drove down to Little Beach … awesome spot …. And onto Arakoon National Park – visited Trial Bay Gaol – fascinating history – and then walked along to wild and stunning Arakoon Coastline to our own private rockpool for a swim. Watched the dolphins on a casual swim along the coast. Amazing spot.





Woke up and suddenly I was 56 what better way to celebrate than a long walk with Donna along the beautiful South West Rocks beach – followed by a scrummy breakfast at a café overlooking Horseshoe Bay … wow!!

Quick drive around Hervey Bay - loved the massive Urangan Pier, and the Marina.



Stayed with our Contiki friends ... big night! Then off to Gympie for a few nights with Donna's family and some much needed down time and handyman practice!!. Meanwhile, the bushfire alert in Queensland and NSW was hitting unprecedented levels ... but we managed to avoid them.




Then headed to the Mary Valley for a few days - beautiful part of the world. Stayed in Kandanga, with arguably Australia's best Bowls Club next door, and drove around the valley. Very hilly, beautiful trees and vistas everywhere, nice walk through the Strangler Tree Forest, and nice little country towns sprinkled throughout ... Imbil, Kenilworth, and Mapleton were all fantastic.


Next ... the famous Eumundi Market. Super market - although not the world's cheapest. It was jam packed with stuff we don't need. Was also very very hot and humid - so we retreated to the Eumundi Pub.

As we headed off – the heavens opens up and pelted us with hail. Damage to both the van and car whilst we can't believe the windscreen wasn't smashed - quite scary really. The type of day when you are thankful for insurance.

Had a great night with the Blackwells near Noosa – old Sorrento friends. After 4 months where we had maybe 10 drops of rain it total ...it was actually very nice to be sitting out watching the rain with a glass or 10 of Savvy Blanc ... another rusty day followed!

Then it was into Noosa for a couple of days – although we really needed a week or 2. Noosa is a fantastic spot. Had an afternoon at the Surf Club (after another massive storm) with Pittsy – an old Sorrento mate, and a lovely dinner in Noosaville with my old Price Waterhouse boss. Also hired a boat and cruised past the beautiful houses lining the Noosa Canal, and cruised down the Noosa river – attempting to catch fish … and failing again! Also wandered down Hastings Street – which is really Sorrento with better restaurants and weather.

Another big night followed at The Johnstons - more old, old, old Sorrento Friends - at Sunshine Beach. Nice beach and lovely area.

Then drove to Maroochydore for a couple of quiet days. Maroochydore is massive. Stayed at a great park next to the beach. Drove to Mooloolaba for a super seafood lunch at the wharf. Loved Mooloolaba - will be back for sure - fave spot along the coast!!!



Next -headed to Australia Zoo ... fantastic spot - very well done. Spent the whole day there - outstanding!



Left to visit our old Uni friends - Wendy and Graeme - who live in the Hinterlands. Beautiful secluded spot in the hills. Another big night of socialising!!!! Drove to botanic gardens and bird park in the Hinterlands which was also great.



Time for a break from socialising .... drove to Caloundra - another seaside town. Nice spot. Stayed at Dicky Beach, and walked in along the coast into town for lunch. 10km walk was great - but tiring.


Time to leave the Sunshine Coast ... so many great spots along the coast - we ended up rushing through more that we had hoped ... a taster really for a future trip where we will really take our time.


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© 2019 by  David Caspar. 

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