A Travellerspoint blog

Finally it’s time to pack up the caravan …


Finally it’s time to pack up the caravan …

It’s just 5 months almost to the day since we departed 25 Horseshoe Bend, (we left on Tuesday 10 June) and headed south in our newly acquired Toyota Prado. With clear skies, sunshine and a bit of sadness, we travelled the Pacific Highway through SE Queensland, into NSW and Mullumbimby, Grafton and south to …. ??

… to where – well, we didn’t really know but did think that the Southern Highlands (just one hour south of Sydney) might be the place to look for a home – cheaper prices and close to Sydney – but hallelujah! When we got there mid June (aka Mid Winter = snow frost and fog!!), we realised it was not a good idea. In fact Tim did pass the comment that “ you’ll be freezing your butts off down there!!” and he was right – again!

In between our travels, we were very spoilt and took up Chris and Mo’s kind and generous offer for us to stay at Amble Lea Lodge in Barrington Tops. Phew – thank goodness for that and so that’s where we then headed and stayed for almost a couple of weeks – with the wallabies and frost and beautiful space.

Dave then decided he’d like to look around the Coffs Coast – 6 hours north of Sydney and an area we were very familiar with! We did this and quickly became quite down in the dumps. Far too expensive for us to buy a small acreage – and so rather despondently we set off back to A.L.L. and this is really where our fortunes changes. As we headed out of Coffs Harbour, my other half suggested we take a look at Jayco Caravans – and so we did. After just half an hour of wandering through their maze of motorhomes, caravans, pop tops and camper trailers, we discovered a pretty good caravan complete with ‘bathroom: loo, shower and wash basin, with plenty of room in the bedroom and kitchen area.

It met all our requirements – and price – and fitted very well with our Prado which was 4WD – and so it became ours.

The stuff you can manage to put into a caravan still continues to astonish me – but we managed it all and eventually left Coffs Harbour on Wed 16 July. We were like kids with new bikes – where shall we go … … and managed to agree (!) to go up to Cooloola Cove near Fraser Island and see Peter and Vicki. They made us so welcome and we settled into our new little home very well and enjoyed their company – really great to see them and they were very supportive of our ideas – even though we didn’t have any plans to go anywhere especially!

Leaving the Fraser Coast we managed to get up to Gladstone and connect with Hilary and Peter on their way to Cape York on their own odyssey – great to see them.

However, there was no real objective or plan to ‘get to anywhere else’

We did manage to reach Longreach and it was there that we agreed it would be best all round !! if I went to live in Fiji – and Dave had the car and the van – far too hard for us to get on and/or agree in such close quarters! Well that was a really just another moment in time !!!

The following morning, however, and AFTER BFREAKFAST (important to note that!!), we did agree that it would be good fun to perhaps get past Longreach and see Mt Isa.

It is well documented in my previous 30 blogs, that our adventures took us much much further than we had ever dreamed of.

Places where we stayed:

Coffs Harbour to Corindi, NSW
Corindi to Mullumbimby, NSW
Mullumbimby to Mudjimba, Qld
Mudjimba to Cooloola Cove Qld
Cooloola Cove to Sharon Nature Reserve, Bundaberg, Qld
SNR to Kin Kora, Gladstone, Qld
Gladstone to Duaringa Free Park, Qld
Duaringa Free Park to Sapphire, Qld
Sapphire to Longreach, Qld
Longreach to Kynuna, Qld
Kynuna to Mt Isa, Qld
Mt Isa to Barkly Homestead, Qld/NT
Barkly Homestead to Newcastle Waters, NT
Newcastle Waters to Daly Waters, NT
Daly Waters to Katherine, NT
Katherine to Batchelor, NT
Batchelor to Berrimah (Darwin) NT
Berrimah to Jabiru, NT
Jabiru to Katherine, NT
Katherine to Renner Springs, NT
Renner Springs to Barkly Homestead, NT
Barkly Homestead to Mt Isa, NT/Qld
Mt Isa to Richmond, Qld
Richmond to Charters Towers, QED
Charters Towers to Kurrimine Beach, Qld
Kurrimine Beach to Proserpine, Qld
Proserpine to Gladstone Valley Motel, Qld
Gladstone to Childers, Qld
Childers to Yandina, Qld
Yandina to Wardell, NSW
Wardell to Coffs Harbour, NSW
Coffs Harbour to Hawks Nest, NSW
Hawks Nest, NSW
Moonee Beach, NSW
Hawks Nest, NSW

And so you can see we went to the places we wanted to see and managed to see lots of staggeringly beautiful places, enjoy Aboriginal culture and even get involved with the idea of real Grey Nomading – it was truly the most fantastic trip we have managed to do so far in Australia.

It is amusing, but we really did decide each morning after breakfast where and what we would do that day …and it still works for us even today!

Most will already know that our new home awaits us and today we signed all the documents at the solicitors office.

Next Tuesday, 18 November, we will move into our new home and so life begins all over again.

It’s been such a fabulous five months and packing up the caravan is bringing back so many memories of things we have bought – and lost in the many cupboards we have on board – winter clothes we haven’t even thought of – tins of food at the back of the cupboard I had forgotten about – and it’s with great excitement that we are packing up – and next week, we’ll even be packing down – if that’s the right expression. Certainly Dave thinks we have about 149 boxes alone to unpack – then there’s everything else.

It’s been a blast in NFA – our home on wheels for so long :

> 11,500 kms in almost 10 weeks
> $4500 in fuel and nearly as much in caravan park fees - but we did manage a few 'freebies'

countless - and we mean countless! – bottles of wine, trips in the fabulous Outback – Aboriginal artwork, an understanding of this amazing country that we love to call home … and all the rest of the things we packed in -

and while the packing up continues today under cloudy and cool skies – we are already looking forward to our next big one in “No Fixed Abode”

For now I probably won’t be adding to my list of blogs – phew, thank goodness I hear you say ..

Fondest love to you all

Posted by twodubfers 21:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Systems, superstitions and Fashions in our Field

Cobbling a few words together about the Melbourne Cup!



Melbourne Cup Luncheon at Coffs Harbour Races
Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Thought I’d cobble a few words together and tell you what a great day out we had today at the races here in Coffs Harbour!

To start with it’s really a gathering of the salubrious members of East Hills Caravan Club for our annual holiday and this time we are at Moonee Beach, just 10 minutes north of Coffs Harbour. It’s a delightful spot on the mouth of a river where we can kayak, swim or just enjoy walking the dogs on the beach.

Four couples, Hil and Peter Heanly, Mal and Tina Burgess, Di and Peter Marchbank and Dave and Lesley Forster are only 8 of the members, and this year we were sadly missing Mike Flanagan and Nola Foster. However, they were in our thoughts and we hope to see them next year.

The Boules Competition is already underway with very keen participation and a determination to take the coveted trophy – a lovely picture of South West Rocks, away from Queensland and the Marchbanks. And who will win it this year we wonder …

Clouds and light drizzle were not welcome as Melbourne Cup Day dawned, but the sun eventually shone and we dressed up in our glad rags just the same, and made a very presentable little group as we arrived for a splendid luncheon at Coffs Harbour Racing Club. Our table was waiting and correctly labelled for East Hills Caravan Club, right next to a front window. Superb organising by Hilary.

Fascinators were everywhere in many shapes and colours, along with some very smartly dressed men and women for Fashions in the Field.

We placed our bets – here, there and on just about everything running in the Cup and locally – how exciting it was to “study form”. If only we really knew how to do it … then we would all have heaps of ‘lolly’ – but it’s not like that is it.

A glorious buffet luncheon was served and this saw us join very long queues but amazingly there was a lot of delicious food for all and it was both delicious and much appreciated.

Should we buy a bottle of bubbly before the Cup was run? – an old superstition told us not to do so until we had our results .. but, I have to say, there was quite a bit of booze on our table anyway. The bar was doing a roaring trade – and the room was abuzz with bookies taking in lots of money and the TAB probably even more so as punters tried to work out systems – and their superstitions – and find a winner, perhaps a place or even pick a Trifecta!

Fashions on the Field was popular and even the Fashions in our own field was quite spectacular with Black and White being the overwhelming favourite – with hats as well! Our own men looked pretty dashing too – with just the occasional tie for good measure.

The Cup was run – and, oh tragedy – the favourite Admire Rakti died in its stall immediately after the race. As well another horse kicked a barrier during the race, broke its leg and was eventually euthanized almost immediately – a sad day in the end. I’m not sure if much money was won, but we all entered into the spirit of it all anyway.

Hilary’s two delightful little dogs – Cooper and Mopsy, along with Dave’s dog Skippy – were visitors to Tarraray Pet Retreat for the day and were very well looked after. They were all given a horse in the Pet Resort sweep !!! – and Skippy managed to ‘pick’ the winner and brought home $20 .. wonderful!

Systems were discussed and analysed and everyone thought they had it worked out – however, at the end of the day, we probably lost more money than we won but then the focus for the day was a good fun day – and we all agreed it definitely had been.

Hope you had a good day at the Races too….

Lots of love
From us all at
East Hills Caravan Club

PS Dave and I expect to move into Tea Gardens possibly in a couple of weeks time!! They are already working our house and the total refurbishment is well under way.

Posted by twodubfers 04:25 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne harbour at club cup racing coffs luncheon Comments (0)

Waiting and watching the wallabies

Amble Lea Lodge - our haven of peace



Amble Lea Lodge, Barrington Tops Resort
Saturday 18 October to Thursday 30 October

Now is the long wait until we move into No. 42, our new home. It’s never an easy time before you move into a new place. We’ve done it a few times and have to say it’s no easier playing this waiting game now as it was when we left our first home in Kellyville to go to North Epping back in 1971.

It’s actually not going to be such a long wait though really – and most definitely worth it as the interior of our place is being totally refurbished. This is a first for us and we consider ourselves extremely fortunate – not only is there no stamp duty to pay this time, we don’t have to fork out any money at all to pay for everything new! We still can’t believe it – but it will make the waiting more bearable.

It’s entirely thanks to Chris and Mo’s generosity that we arrived here today. The sun is shining, it’s a bit cool for mid October, the grass is very green and in the adjoining paddocks over the fence-line the grass really needs slashing. Surprisingly, it took just an hour and a half to get here from Tea Gardens after we parked NFA – our caravan into its new storage area, just 5 minutes from our new home. How about that for good organisation – thanks to My Lad – he found it. But its not far away after all.

There are twenty three lovely homes in this 200-acre Resort and we are only ones here today. A few of you will no doubt remember clearly what a beautiful spot we are in. Amble Lea Lodge is the most distant house on the hill as you come through the Resort. Three of them are for sale and have been for a while it seems although no offers from what we can see – what an idyllic place to live or even have a weekend break away from Sydney which is about 3.5 hours south. Any offers …. ?

There are lots and lots of wallabies here and echidnas too – Skippy loves to chase them but will never ever catch one! They are much to smart and fast for her even catch up to one.

I noticed 5 horses up and down the hillsides and these are used for guests to ride if they wish. It does accentuate the rural touch although they do leave their droppings about!

The birds, too, are fascinating and I’ve seen at least 7 bright green and red king parrots which to me is the most attractive bird south of the tropics. They are quite tame too at times and will land on the verandah railings from time to time.

Even the wallabies come up to the steps by the back door, looking for something to eat. It’s likely that previous guests have fed them – after all this is where they live!

There are finches, minor birds, tiny wrens, lots of kookaburras, cockatoos, currawongs, magpies too of course – they’re always diving on to your head especially at this time of year when they are either building their nests of minding their young.

We’ll be here for a couple of weeks, before heading north in NFA once again next week, to join friends at Moonee Beach for a week. It is near Coffs Harbour, for a week of noise and laughter – and our all-important Boules Competition – and lots of fun in kayaks, and heaps of booze too!! It's great fun.

We could well return to this house after 9 November, and wait here again until we get the all-clear to move into no. 42. It won’t be hard to do – and we will be forever grateful to Chris and Mo for this opportunity to unwind – after a VERY BIG YEAR. – sold a house, bought a 4WD and a caravan, travelled over 11,500 km and had a super trip!

We won’t get bored, we brought lots of books with us – snaffled from The Laundry in various caravan parks we’ve stayed in!! Got some good ones sometimes; there are some lovely walks here, we have a full frig and Dave will almost certainly find some mowing or tidying up to do – and anything C & M would like attended to while we’re here. They might not be up for a while and we are happy to help.

Then there’s beautiful down-town Dungog village just 25 minutes from here where we’ll pick up any items we might need – perhaps just more wine!!

It’s James’ birthday today – and I phoned him to wish him all the best and he’s off to Randwick Races with friends – oooohhhaaaaaahhh! We wish him luck .. .. .. !!

Dave’s birthday is next Friday, and then Tim’s next month – end of the year has always been expensive for the Forster Family – then it’s Christmas and summer which we love.

I love the quietness of Amble Lea Lodge – especially after four months of caravan parks. And that hasn’t really been bad at all – in fact we’ve loved it – but you can’t beat peace and quiet can you –

" I think that waiting and watching the Other Wallabies game tonight on telly when they play
those All Blacks tonight at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane … that might not be quite so good but we wish 'em well anyway"

Posted by twodubfers 22:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


42 Melaleuca Court, Tea Gardens Grange, 33 Spinifex Avenue, Tea Gardens, NSW 2324



42 Melaleuca Court
Tea Gardens Grange
33-93 Spinifex Avenue

Well, well, who would have thought that we would buy for our New Fixed Abode, a beautiful 3-bedroom house in a Retirement Resort of all places – certainly not us!

Our lovely home at Horseshoe Bend in Buderim, Qld, was sold remarkably quickly; so quickly in fact that it seemed that it was meant to be. After all, we had only been in the house twenty months and from the start we had not planned to move again.

There was only one buyer and it turned out to be the one that mattered. We had spent our time in that house just spending money on getting it liveable – well, it was actually liveable but the longer we were in it, the more we realised just how much money we were going to have to spend on it.

David almost lived in his garden and he worked tirelessly just about every day, in rain, heat and humidity, to make it the pride of the Bend – which is how it was always described by our many neighbours. A terrific effort - and so did the boys when Tim came home for Christmas.

Talking of neighbours, it would be remiss of me not to mention here the kindness and friendship we found in the neighbours of Horseshoe Bend. They – and they know this – are a very special group of people. Just seventeen families made up The Benders and that was just the top half of The Be; , they made us welcome from Day 1, their shared-stories made us feel at home immediately, and from the start we were made to feel one of them.

It was much much sadder to leave The Bend in June 2014 than it was to leave North Rocks in 2012 where we had lived for almost twenty years. To this day, the Benders are all still very good friends and we are still included in their special mailing list – and have even been invited to their Christmas Party in December.

To find such a group of friends was never going to happen again. And during our wonderful 11,000km trip to the Top End and back, we kept wondering where on earth would we decide to live – and indeed what sort of a dwelling would make us happy. We’d had one of just about everything, so what could possibly be next . . . .

Farms, small acreages, and sometimes small villages were the types of places we envisaged living in – fulfilling our dream of having “a bit of land” and some space around us.

From Innisfail just south of Cairns, heading to Coffs Harbour we continued to think this way, and neither of us ever were able to come to a comfortable decision.

About two months ago, some friends mentioned Tea Gardens Grange to us and how kind of them to do this. However, we have to admit to giving it no more than a cursory thought – how could WE possibly consider living in such a place. A retirement village for us – most definitely not – no garden, no shed, no room for visitors – no!

Towards the end of September, however, we began to realise that perhaps we should just ‘look’ at the Tea Gardens idea. It was, after all, within relatively easy access to Sydney and family and friends, without having to put up with all that Sydney has become and NOT for us.

So it was with a bit of reluctance, and a definite lack of real interest, that we rolled into Hawks Nest Caravan Park last Thursday, 9 October. We set up the van and by the middle of the afternoon, we decided to at least find this place and do a ‘drive by’. No harm done, and at least we could say we’d seen it. We did have a Saturday morning appointment with the CEO to have a look around – but really only half hearted about it all and we’d take a look first and possibly cancel the Saturday morning visit.

And here’s the surprise … as we drove down Spinifex Avenue, we could see the rooftops of some lovely houses with well kept gardens, space around them too, and wide streets. We drove in to the first street and found ourselves both lost and surrounded by some really beautiful homes. This doesn’t even look like a Retirement Resort.

Could this be right – perhaps we’re not at Tea Gardens Grange after all, so we stopped and asked a couple walking in the street. Yes, that’s right you are in the right place – but the Administration Office is the next turn left into that entrance.

We turned round and headed for that office – and decided to drive around as we went. Well, to say the least we were astonished to see some quality homes, a quietness about the place, many different types of homes, each with a private small and beautiful garden. What’s this, we wondered .. can’t be a retirement village because we thought they didn’t look like that.

How wrong can you be? We made ourselves known to the Carer/Receptionist at the front desk – 24/7 care here should it ever be required! – and she suggested she ring Peter and he could have a chat to us. This was about 3.00pm.

After a long chat and inspecting a few houses and round 5.30pm we realised we had arrived at A Destination – and quite possibly Our Destination! We’re shaking our heads at each other by this time.

The Grange was built 14 years ago, and there are 190 homes with about 300 residents.

It is owned by RSL Life-Care which is essentially a charity organisation, and has the reputation of being a first class retirement village. All this was new to us – and we are learning more about it every day.

There were 3 homes for sale last week – two of them were single garages with 2 bedrooms; and the third in a really splendid position at the edge of the village had 3 bedrooms and a double garage. Bingo – that’s the one for us!

But what was the catch? We were invited to meet the elderly couple who were moving out. Meg and Ken, aged 84 and 93 respectively, had been there 13 years and were moving to a similar Village away from here to be near their family as Ken is very ill and they want to move before it’s too late. Family was important and they were happy to move.

We found them to be a lovely couple, smart, bright and with a lovely home. What a surprise – again! Chatting to them made us realise that this was indeed just what we were looking for.

Neither David nor I require any kind of medical help whatsoever – not even pills - so far. We are healthy, active, lively and want to see friends and family and do more travelling in our coming years, before we are too old to do so.

But – this Village ticks all our boxes. To start with it is certainly within our price range at just $475,000. There is a very modest weekly charge to administration for the care of the Village – in fact – once we decided that yes, this was the place for us, our new friend Peter who showed us around – dropped his bombshell …

… the entire house, once any owners leave, would be almost gutted and replaced with new carpets, new tiles, new kitchen and appliances, new bathroom and appliances, painted throughout, new blinds, new lights, new pavers on the patio – all at their cost.

The gardens are beautifully cared for, lawns mown, leaks are fixed, ovens fixed, bathrooms fixed – at no cost to us should that be required.

There is no stamp duty and we have secured our new home with a simply (and even refundable) $1000 deposit. I kid you not …

But the most important factor is that once we have been in it for 10 years, then the Departure Fee will reach it’s maximum and will be 30% of the (at that time) sale price.

However, with no stamp duty to pay for (which would be around $20,000) and the cost of all new fittings in the house, we reckon we’d be ahead.

We will have to pay for electricity (there are solar panels fitted already), and phone – plus our own household insurance – all things we would have to pay for anyway.

In any case, it would be our boys’ problem – but after discussing this with them, they are delighted we’ve made this decision – Tim even thinks he’ll come and live here and better still – he won’t have to worry about us. James thought it was a great idea too.

So folks, that is how we came to find No. 42, Our Next Fixed Above.

We will have a lovely home, which will be tended to by the Organisation at no charge to us, whether we are there or not.

Like the majority of the householders in The Grange, we look forward to joining in (and only if we want to), the model sailing boat club (on the lake each week); the veggie garden, the library, the gym, tai chi, the craft room, the film club, lunches, a free bus to Newcastle, Raymond Terrace, etc –

And perhaps be fortunate enough to continue travelling as and when we want to .. instead of spending all our money doing up a house which was far too big, too far away and a really just a lovely memory.

We have even found a storage facility for our caravan up in Tea Gardens.

There are beaches to walk on, ferries to ride on, fresh air to breath, fishing to do, restaurants and bars to enjoy, golf to play and, most important of all, someone else to worry about our home!

You will come and visit us – we know you will – and we look forward to seeing every one of you.

We’re not sure when we move in – possibly mid November.
Stay tuned ….

Posted by twodubfers 23:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

And the coordinates are ...



(downsized as opposed to upsized!)


Latitude: S 32deg 39’ 28.367”

Longitude: E 152deg 8’ 39.972”


PS Another garage sale and e-bay not far away!

Posted by twodubfers 20:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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