The Journey South

On Monday 12th September we were all packed up ready to go, a quick trip back to the dealer to have a garage bike rack and a grab handle for the habitation door completed the preparations.

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Millie making herself at home!
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We caught the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre which left at 11.15pm. We arrived in good time but were boarded last. This meant there was not time to settle in properly before we set sail.

Last on meant first off, usually this would have been great, however I was a bit cautious of the ramps so went really slowly. No problem, and off we went.

Our first stop was Le Mans. The Aire, which is mixed parking was full, a few motorhomes but mainly cars, access was easy so we went in, then out and headed to Camping Le Pont. The temperature was soaring and reached 36˚C, we didn’t manage to go out to visit anywhere!

Colin wanted to reach Portugal as soon as practical, so the next day we went on the motorway and headed south. Unfortunately the Tomtom will only let you input 5 tonne for the vehicle weight, not so good when you are nearly 7 tonne. The Snooper has decided to play up so we are a little impeded, to say the least. Hey ho, the joys!

The toll booths were a bit tricky, but easier to get a ticket from the driving seat.

The aire at the citadel in Blaye, Bordeaux looked nice but as it was around 3:30pm we weren’t sure if there would be any spaces, no there weren’t. It was obviously somewhere people stayed a while as there was an area set up for a game of boules!

Next on the list, St Romain La Virvee, the Tomtom did take us through the villages where I did feel Sir Bumble was a little large.

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By the tennis courts, fitting in nicely!

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As we left the aire on Thursday the tomtom wanted to take us down a narrow lane, which we ignored, we were rerouted onto a more accessible route for us, hence confirming my fears that we needed to review our navigation equipment.

We reached Cap Breton around lunchtime, again a bit tricky through the village as the cars were parked on both sides. Not such a nice day, but time to chill a little, and for Millie to try the waves.

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Saturday morning we headed into Spain.

The Aire in Ampudia, a little way off the motorway, but worth a visit.

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The castle
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View of the town from the castle
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Most of the hoses were of this design
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The evening sky,
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Next morning we had a visitor, I had seen him the previous evening in the grounds of the castle.
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Another early start, the roads back to the motorway are narrow in places, and we were less likely to meet other motorists!

We arrived in Manta Rota, Portugal at tea time, the whole area was full of parked cars.This is a new experience for us as we have never arrived here so early in the year before. The Aire opened on the 15th and it was already nearly full! We managed to get the last place and I reversed into the 9 meter space, snuggly.

We spent a pleasant evening with another English couple, Val and Ray who were travelling with their dog Sky. When they left the next morning we moved into their space overlooking the fields.

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The temperatures are reaching high 20’s but there is a breeze, Millie cools off in the sea, so all is good.

However, as I write this we have now encountered a problem with the fridge, it works brilliantly on electric, but does not work on gas! We are in communication with the dealer about this, and hope it can be sorted locally, it’s a long way back!

Anyway, time to go to the beach now, loving this place!

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The Begining of a New Chapter

It is now 6 months since our last blog, which was posted when we were still in Portugal! So much has happened since then, but we are still living in the motorhome. First a quick update on our adventures ……

We left Portugal after Easter and headed to Barcelona where we had arranged to meet up with our daughter Clare on her way back to the UK from Australia.

Catching up with her chocolate fix, don’t think she’ll share Millie!

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Colin & Millie stayed at the campsite watching the planes while Clare & I caught the bus into the city,

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The still unfinished, after 120 years, Familia Sagrada

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The inside is amazing though, we went up one of the towers,

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We then had 2 days to get north for the Vets and ferry,

Snow on the mountains

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Across the awesome Millau Bridge

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Honfleur

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In time for our Eeldest Son’s wedding, all dressed up fancy!

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Back to normality, at Bosworth Water Trust
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Fun times in Filey

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In May we went on holiday, A Tour of Japan and cruise around Taiwan

Busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, Shinukja, view from Starbucks

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Haitchi, waited for his master to return from work every day, now a film has been made about him!

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Snow Monkeys
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Bullet Train
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Mount Fuji

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Traditional Japanese Meal

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Japanese style hotel, sleeping on the floor
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Shrines and Temples

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Confuscious

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Traditional
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Modern

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Back in the UK and a wet June was spent at a small site south of Derby on the Banks of the river

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These visitors liked the plot next door
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Millie had a new carriage
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Though I’m not sure she was impressed with it!
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We got a new carriage too and had an ‘A’ frame fitted for use in the UK.

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July was our working month, we also said goodbye to Mr Bumble and waited patiently for his replacement. We spent time in Derby and Plymouth.

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In August we travelled to Germany to collect the new Mr Bumble

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And drove it back to Portsmouth to be UK registered, it will take some getting used to I think. Colin keeps reminding me that the Delaware, with the bike rack on, was the same length and width as the Concorde, mmmm, we’ll see!

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Colin had a significant birthday, with lots of meals out and cakes

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All our belongings packed, one way hire south. Millie wasn’t going to be left behind

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It took several days to transfer our belongings out of the hire van and find suitable homes, for them
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New Travelling seat for Miss Millie!

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Time for some fun at Hayling Isand

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Our first proper trip was to Baltic Wharf, Bristol. We had phoned beforehand to check they could accommodate us, and they did! Travelling on a Sunday while the roads were quiet helped ensure a smooth journey, roadworks in Bristol not so good, we did however arrive unscathed.

A trip to Ikea, for new storage boxes and Marks & Spencer at Cribbs Causeway were completed with forward planning, google earth helped locate access and larger parking places.

Then it was south to Cornwall. They say not to use satellite Navigation to find addresses down there, they are correct. We were visiting friends who ran a small haulage business from their farm, easy access for us too, only we took a wrong turn down a single track road and ended up having to reverse into a stable yard and navigate past boulders on the grass verges and small ornamental walls. In my defence, there were tractor tyre marks at the top of the lane. No photos, but I’m sure you can use your imagination! We thought we had escaped with blackberry stains on the paintwork, but later inspection found a deep scratch along the wheel arch!

Back to Portsmouth via Derby, and the Ferry across to France. We knew our style of touring would need to change, how much so we are going to find out!

And so we begin a new chapter in our travels, happy days!

Springing into March

January dawdled into February which passed quickly into March and Spring! We are on the countdown to the end of our winter hibernation and starting to plan our return North, at the beginning of April.

We remain in our chosen place, Manta Rota. Folk we meet now ask why we have stayed so long in this place. I even ask myself this question, then I take Mille on the beach

Happy dog, happy owner.

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There is also another more practical reason why we have stayed. The root canal treatment on my tooth which I had commenced in Australia needed completing, hence regular visits to the same dentist!

So at the beginning of February we did spend a week in Portimao on the aire. Everywhere on the Algarve was really busy but the place at Portimao is huge, you just have to choose your spot away from the mud pools! There was no rain while we were there which was good!

Nice field for Millie to explore behind Mr Bumble

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Sunbathing

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There is a lovely beach for exploring

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Fun in the waves
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View from our visitors hotel room, and yes I did make good use of the bathing facilities there, lovely long showers!

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No visit would be complete without a trip to Silves for Piri Piri chicken,

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The next day we cycled to Alvor, there is another popular Aire here!

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Views along the path
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Outskirts of Alvor, very different from how I remembered but that was 10 years ago, only 2 high rise buildings then! Nice wilding spot.

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We did enjoy our time and learnt more about the area and places to visit around Portimao, for another tour!

Our lives settled back to our version of normality on our return to Manta Rota, the flora was changing again,

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we even had a ‘cobweb morning’

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new visitors

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Montpelier snake, he was dead next time we saw it!
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Valentines day Breakfast, Millie not impressed!

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We had a car for a week, so did some exploring, to places not so accessible for Mr Bumble, around dental appointments!

Nossa Senhora da Rocha, set on a rocky promontory IMG_3844

Alporchinhos, motorhomes have found a small parking space to stay, little small for us!

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View to Albufeira

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Praia de Marinha, tolerated motorhome parking, lovely walk down steps to the beach, nice rock formations
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View from a small wilding spot with view of Quarteria

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Millie not keen to explore

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Fort Rato, called here on a day out to fetch gas, wild parking spots here,

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Nice spot for bird watching across the Formosa

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Cheeky heron

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exploring and finding sticks

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Sergio’s restaurant Olhao, amazing Steak on a Stone, complete meal €15 including drinks!
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So although we have not moved Mr Bumble very much, we have been busy, having a lovely time 🙂

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Winter Hibernation

Happy New Year everyone, bit late I know!

It’s been a while since our last post, so I thought it was time to bring you up to speed with what we are doing or not doing, as is the case!

We have only moved Mr Bumble 3 times since our last post, once to have new leisure batteries fitted and the second time to get gas, 3rd for the dentist, really exciting stuff! We did take the opportunity to visit the Iceland Store in Albufeira, ( a place I said I wouldn’t ever go ) to have a little look, and we did buy some things that you can’t get in Portuguese shops, 4 Bird Roast, mince pies and nice Ryvita’s.

Suffice to say we have set up camp for the present, although in a week or so our eldest son comes to visit and I have booked him into a hotel in Portimao! Not sure why now, but this means we have to move.

In December, Sam came to visit, his idea of a break is restaurants and nice wines, he’s still not convinced that we enjoy staying on car parks though!

Meal No 1, most expensive, but very nice! No 2 Tradition Portuguese, then No 3 a 10 euro menu, more what we’re used to 🙂
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Villamoura

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Christmas came and went

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lovely sunsets

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Millie getting ready

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Posing

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Christmas morning
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4 way Skype call that went a bit wrong, some FaceTime too! Ingenious!

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A group of us went to a local restaurant for Christmas lunch, no washing up. New Years Eve is also my birthday, 5 course dinner in a lovely restaurant overlooking the beach. At Midnight we watched the fireworks in the next town. Millie was quite happy when we returned to Mr Bumble, I don’t think it was just the goody bag we brought back!

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Red Mullet
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So life has settled down into a bit of a routine now, the weather is not always sunny, but it is warmer than the UK. We have been busy planning, mainly other peoples visits to us, these have to coincide with where we are hoping to be on our way back north, bit of a challenge! Love it,

The spring flowers are starting to come through, despite the rain and the birds are singing,

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Brilliant camouflage
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So, that’s us at the moment, enjoying being here, happy days!!

December’s here again

Sunday 6th December

It just over 4 weeks since we touched down at Heathrow following our not such a bumble in Australia! Just before we close the chapter, and because I forgot to do this on the last blog, here are some of the practical facts from our trip to Oz!

We had a direct flight into Sydney, with a 1 hour stopover in Singapore (due to delay leaving LHR, fuel on the runway!) then another flight onto Adelaide. We returned via Brisbane and then Sydney. We had 23 days in the motorhome and covered 4103 kms, from Adelaide to Brisbane. The total driving time was 76 hours 36mins over 20days travelling which averages at 4 hours per day. Fuel was cheap, our total bill was Aus $615.73, just over £300 at present exchange rate. We used a mixture of free and paying sites for 4 persons which totalled $750 and we paid $270 per day for the motorhome hire including full insurance.

Would we have done anything different, yes! However as things turned out we did the right thing with Clare & Nicks camper breaking down! I would not promote covering so many miles driving in the time we had, plane hopping would be my option to cover some of the bigger distances, it then gives time to bumble along and stop at the interesting places!

Few last photo’s courtesy of Clare

Brisbane

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Great Ocean Road

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Philip Island

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Australia Zoo

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We then had a week to get ourselves sorted and packed before heading south for the winter!

Wednesday 11th November after a wet night in Bournemouth we drove the short distance to Portsmouth for the ferry to Bilbao. The crossing was smooth, which was nice, Millie was quite settled in the cabin

Breakfast

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Lovely sunshine in Spain

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We travelled the short distance to Cabeceno, more animals but no Koalas! We met some friends travelling North!
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Millie quite at home!
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They are building a cable car through the park with a large terminus near to the car park we stay in, hope there are not too many changes!
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We travelled south the next day and stopped at a new Aire just off the motorway, Area de Banos de Montemayor, only 3 spaces, not large and on a slope
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€3 for the use of the services

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We continued down the motorway into Portugal, and arrived in Manta Rota around 2:30pm. It was around 23˚C and sunny, but horrors, the Aire was full! We had not anticipated there would be no room when we arrived! We stayed on the car park opposite overnight and luckily the next day there was a space for us.

Guarding her spot
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A week later I had to fly back to Derby for a couple of days to sort some things out, Colin & Millie had the better option!

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Early morning view from my window, after a frosty night, nice sunrise

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Back to normal again, a walk up the beach to Cacelha memories of a drowned phone last year

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So we are now settled in our routine for a little while. Walks on the beach are Millie’s highlight, we combine this with the chores we have to complete and all is good!

  

Not a Bumble ‘Down Under’ the final chapters

Tuesday 27th October,

Queensland does not subscribe to daylight saving hours, so when we crossed into it from NSW we had to put our clocks back 1hour! Now, the sun rises around 4:30am and it gets dark at 6pm! Not sure of the sense in that!

We woke from the storm in brilliant sunshine, and the site had not flooded! All packed up, with the soaking tent hanging up in the shower we set off for Australia Zoo, along Steve Irwin Way!

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We had booked a caddy tour, so had a ride and a guide for most of the day!

Feeding Kanga’s
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I’ll hold your hand until it’s empty!

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Stroking Koala’s, each animal is on ‘show ‘ for 30 mins,

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Then allowed to rest again!

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Sleeping wombats

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Strange animal, but cute, can’t remember the name of it! Doh!

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Natives of the camper van!
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Men doing mad things to show us crocodiles, Steve Irwin style!
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Yes, they get them to jump, not quite like dolphins! There is a safety message in this really, how to avoid getting eaten!

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Rescued Parrots,
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Lemurs
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Playful otters
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We visited the animal hospital and spent so long there we missed the one thing I really wanted to see, the tiger display!

We did pay to spend some time with this lovely animal. Caytlin is the mother of the 2 cubs who were the subject of a TV programme, ‘Tigers in the house’ which I saw earlier this year and my reason for wanting to visit the zoo!

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Being fed frozen milk cubes to keep her happy! She does have double chains around her neck which are attached to the floor!
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Had to finish the day visiting the Koalas, again!

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The temperature during the day rose to around 30˚c and the van was extremely hot when we returned to it! We stayed just 3km from the zoo at Landsborough Pines. Shotly after we arrived around 5.30pm the skies darkened and we had another thunder storm, the hailstones were up to 4cms in diameter. The folk around us covered their cars with duvets to protect them. Strange weather!

The rain continued the next day as we drove into Brisbane, and our last site of the trip at Newmarket Garden Caravan park. On the way we took the Jayco through the hand car wash, it had got quite dirty on our travels!

Jacaranda in blossom, beautiful,

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This little family were enjoying the rain more than us!
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Thursday, we took a taxi into the city, and then the free water taxi around the harbour

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Storey Bridge
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Skyscapers with older buildings in between!
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Old Custom House, now a restaurant

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Manmade beach on the south bank! Free swimming? Not today!
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These birds are scavenging with the pigeons and seagulls! Shame!
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It rained again on the afternoon, luckily the laundry facilities were good.

Friday was our last day with the motorhome, having got it all packed up Clare, Nick & I went on a tour of the city again: On Segways

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We travelled around all the sites we had seen from the water taxi with no effort,

Outside the Art Gallery, not sure of the significance,
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We dropped Clare, Nick and our cases off at the hotel and said goodbye to Mr Jayco back at the depot!

Afternoon Tea in the Hotel Sofitel, bit of luxury after our days on the road, nice views too!

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The next morning we said our goodbyes to Clare and Nick who were leaving for a weeks holiday in Fiji, before returning to Melbourne to pick up their repaired camper, Clifford. Then we took a taxi to the airport for our flight to Sydney. Lot quicker than driving!

As we would only be in Sydney for 2 nights we chose to stay at the Holiday Inn, Potts Point for the views of the Harbour,

View from the room

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That night there were fireworks, and the bridge was lit up Yellow and green, in support of the Wallabies for their World Rugby final challenge!
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Sunday we were up bright and early for a look around Sydney. We caught the train to Darling harbour and paid for a whale watching cruise.

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Under the bridge

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Alongside the Opera House

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and out to the bay

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We did see a number of humpback whales, but they didn’t warn us when they were going to surface, so I just watched them! Magic! The sea was a bit rough, and the captain was on a time schedule, Yuk!!

On the way back to the harbour

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We had lunch overlooking the Bridge and the Opera house
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Then walked back to the hotel through the Royal Botanical Gardens

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Pleasant, but a little warm
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Tree of nesting birds!

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Later that afternoon from the comfort of our room we watched a storm arrive, think it was following the cruise ship out of the harbour

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All gone in seconds!

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Then the hailstones hit the windows!

Next morning we packed for the last time and left Sydney in sunshine again. The flight home was not so bad, we did manage to sleep a little.

Once in the UK we caught a train to South Wales, drove Mr Bumble back to Derby, and collected Millie from my sisters, where she had had a lovely time!

So where are we now! Well, after a week of sorting out and repacking we will be catching the ferry to Northern Spain for our next adventure!

Busy times!!

Not a bumble ‘Down Under’ the long juorney north!

The morning after our visit to the Penguin parade was grey and overcast and the place on Colin’s must do list was Wilson’s Promontory, the most southerly point in Australia. It was not the best day to visit as the higher ground was covered in mist!

The scenery along the road through the National Park was quite spectacular, but on a sunny day I imagine it would have been more so! Where the road finishes end there is a small community, Tidal River, with a large campsite, and numerous walking trails to the end of the Promontory. It was too wet and miserable to walk anywhere, such a difference from yesterday!

We stopped for lunch overlooking Whiskey Bay, no distillery here!

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The surrounding hills were more like rocky promontories in places,
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The only animal from this sign we saw was a poor wombat who had not survived a collision with a vehicle.

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Along the way we saw alpaca’s in the fields with the sheep. Adult males will protect the herd from animal attacks! (photo copied from article)

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We found a free site to stop for the night on a beach, Reeves Beach Coastal Reserve South 38˚34’24” East 146˚57’8” (Colin loved these co-ordinates), but the rain continued to fall so we did not get out to explore. It rained all night and we had lodgers in the van again!

We had a decision to make, because of the delays and the time it was taking to travel places there was a distinct possibility that we would not have time to visit the places we had loosely planned to. Clare wanted to visit Canberra and I wanted to go to the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney.

In our initial planning we had decided on the must do’s, Meet up with Clare in Adelaide, the Great Ocean Road, Australia Zoo to see the tigers, and Sydney. We were aware of the distances we would need to cover and had thought to fly between Melbourne and Brisbane, this would involve 2 motorhome rentals and one way hires. The guy in the rental office convinced us that the drive was easily achievable in the time we had, mmmh! It would have been easier if there were motorways and I could have set the cruise control and enjoyed the views! Winding through forests, with maximum speeds of 90 -100 kmph, and very conscious of wildlife around (noted by the number of road kills we passed ) it was not quite such a walk in the park for me! We stayed on the Princes Highway most of the way up to Sydney.

The Australians talk in hours travelling rather than distance, I know now why.

This was our Journey over the 2 days since leaving Phillip Island, with an overnight stop, breakfast in Sale, (Mc D’s breakfast, had to be done!) Lunch stop at Canns river.

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Crossing the border into NSW

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We stayed in a rest area at Waldrons Swamp, (S 35˚51’54”, E150˚7’9”0) a little too close to the road for me. As the name implies we were near some water, Nick found a turtle and the frog song was to be heard all night!

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Not so pleasant Facilities!
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Friday morning, we revised our plan to concentrate on reaching Brisbane by Monday so we had more time and could stop off at interesting places. We headed for the small town of Huskisson within Jervis Bay and found a nice cafe for brunch. We just missed a whale watching tour.

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Replenished we followed the coast to Kiama, famous for it’s blowholes –

Small blowhole
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Major blowhole
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Looking across from the major to the minor! These houses have a nice view but must be pestered with tourists!!

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Interesting places along the coast from Kiama, we followed the route to the sea cliff bridge

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Unfortunately we hit the outskirts of Sydney at rush hour, not very sensible. So we added about an hour and a half to the journey time! Would have been great to have driven through the middle!

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We stayed at Morrisett Showground Campsite, $21, and next morning the sun shone! No koalas here, just noisy green parrots and of course the usual noisy magpie’s

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As you can probably gather, this was not my most favourite part of the journey, but had to be done. We had a short drive to Port MacQuarrie.

A visit to the local Koala Hospital were they gave a tour and talk at 3pm.

This is one of their permanent residents as she is blind

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Elderly Koala having her daily food supplement by syringe, she couldn’t get it quickly enough!

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mmmh, yummy
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One of many statues around the town, ha, the koala, not Clare
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We’d heard this little bird before but this was the first one we saw! Katie Kookaburra!
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After a slow start and laundry duties, we drove along the coast to the surfers beach at Coffs Harbour

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Brave Kite surfer
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We stopped overnight in Ballina, nice site on the beach, Colin and I were beached out!!

Cheeky bird!
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Not sure fellows long beak was designed to pick up leftovers on the path! Very adaptable

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This is not very clear, 3/4 moon but the missing part was at the bottom!! Must be in the Southern Hemisphere!!!

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Another family but wouldn’t stay close enough for me to photograph!
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Cute Baby
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Breakfast in Byron Bay

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Gotta love the vans!!

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Nice beach
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Less busy

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No time for sunbathing! Onwards and upwards, over the Border into Queensland

Al Fresco lunch at Surfers Paradise,

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Nice beach!

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Guests welcome

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We reached Glass house mountains in the early evening, not with this sunshine though, and I didn’t manage to take photos!

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The nearest site to Australia zoo with availability was really basic but $10 per person!! The guy delighted in telling Clare and Nick that a recent storm had flooded the place, and left caravans floating! They set up their tent, however around 10pm a severe thunderstorm had them knocking on the door!

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The storm was amazing and seemed to travel around us for quite a time! We were nice and cosy in the Jayco, and tomorrow we were going to Australia Zoo!

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