Low cost camping at Dululu

Our stay in Dululu (pronounced Do Loo Loo!) was not planned however our stay at Lake Victoria was cut short due to heavy cloud cover heralding rain. 


The campsite at Dululu is OK. We have stayed here back in 2012 and not much has changed since. It is a flat area with some concrete pads but mostly it is grassed except on the tracks or heavy camped spots. Powered sites are available for an extra cost. There is a portable building serving as a shower unit but it is cold water only, the hot water appears not to be working anymore. It is a clean site and there is a good covered BBQ with tables and nearby is a well serviced and clean toilet block. It is a 48 hour stop.

Sunset at Dululu

The pub is within walking distance but was closed at the time of our visit due to a fire in 2015 that gutted a lot of it. One of the locals tells me it is under new ownership who hopes to have it up and running again within 12 months. Extensive renovations is obviously needed there, so maybe next year.

Morning Mist at Dululu

Sadly the town is dying especially without the pub as it's social hub nor are there any other shops in town. No work, people can't afford to stay.


One of the campers entertained himself by building this miniature model camp site and then setting the perimeter alight. I love the caravan with the solar panels on the roof and the portable ones on the ground!

Close up of the miniature model caravan with its solar panels

The murals of Biloela

We stopped in Biloela principally to do some shopping.


A couple of lovely things fell into place for us here. First off was the happy coincidence of friends, Peter and Sue driving through and they recognized our bus and rang up to see where we were. As we were in the shops having lunch, they happily joined us as we spent a good hour or so chatting. Pity they had to keep on rolling further south, but still it was good to see them. They used to live in Wollongong too but moved up the coast many years back. We had happily met up with them in Rockhampton around this time last year too!


Since we had stopped longer having caught up with Peter and Sue, we decided to stay over at the Federation Park RV Stop. It is not a free camp but the low cost included admittance to the museums on site. I can not say that I enjoyed the museums in fact The first one was so crappy in my opinion that I didn't even bother with the engine one. Still we made our own fun. Another great aspect of our staying over was that we met up with some Highway Wanderer friends from the Monto rally. Of course we  enjoyed another Happy Hour with them.

Some of our HHW buddies
On our way out we decided to pop past the murals were painted on the big water tank depicting principally the stories of women from two cultures from before white man invasion until the present time.


Free camping at Victoria Lake


Victoria Lake was recommended to us and we probably wouldn't have thought to go there otherwise. This is what I like about chatting with other RVer's at free camps. They can be a wealth of information that you would not necessarily find at the information centres or even on the internet.


The fact that there are no facilities at Victoria Lake is part of the charm for many people - a true getting back to nature type of break.  There's a fine line between bush camping and free camping. I am not sure where the differences are. It is a quiet spot and it seems as though not many people know of it.


It is about 20 kilometres south of Dululu along a dirt road. We came up from Biloela which is a much longer dirt road.  Next time I think we'll come up the Burnett Highway and turn south from there and just travel a much shorter dirt road to the road leading into the lake. The campsite is about  one kilometre from the gate, but there are many locations along the lake you can choose.


Being a dirt road in a black soil area, the track into and around the lake can be quite rutted. You will need to take care. Watch also for the many low branches of trees too. We took a short trip to look at a couple of spots in the car, but choose a spot right at the first sighting of the lake as it was reasonably level there and there was a lot more open area for the sun to charge up our solar panels/lithium batteries we need.


There was one couple camping not far away and we asked them out of courtesy if they'd mind if we park within 20m of them. They were fine with that. As it sometimes happens, we became quite good friends. Barry and Lyn live not too far away and like to come here for breaks. They had some family camping in a different area around the lake. We enjoyed our happy hours together with Barry and Lyn.


There was supposed to be some red claw(freshwater crayfish) in the lake and Rob got out some traps but we didn't have much success, just caught the one. Still we live in hope and set the traps again. I did some hand washing and Rob cut up some fire wood for happy hour.


We caught some lovely sunsets over the water and I even got a decent photo of the moon where you can even see the craters.


We enjoyed a lovely quiet couple of days here but we cut our time sort here as there was threats of rain and this is a notorious black soil which would bog a vehicle in no time at all, even Barry cut his time short too for the same reason. We'll leave it for the 4WD enthusiasts that will undoubtedly come a churn up the grounds even more. Still it would be nice to come back another time.


Just a little drive around Cania Gorge

Cania Gorge National Park and all the walking tracks within the National Park are just a short 35km out of Monto.  On the way out we were stopped by road maintenance team cutting down a huge tree. It was interesting watching the work. It only held us up for about 15 minutes and we certainly didn't mind at all.


Cania Gorge has fabulous sandstone cliffs and a multitude of weathered caves of vivid yellow and red ochres. We opted out of walking today and just drove around and had a picnic down at the lake. As you drive you can see the dry rain forest that is typical of this area. Apparently there are some wonderful flora to be seen if you were to take to any of the myriads of bush tracks in the area.


I particularly liked the scenic Lake Cania which  apparently has been stocked with Australian Bass, Yellowbelly, Silver Perch and the highly-prized Saratoga. We spoke to one local who comes in regularly to fish. He was just getting back with his catch.


There's a memorial to the pioneers of the valley esp the ones buried in the cemetery that is under all that water.


On the way out we decided to check out the Big 4 caravan park as one of our dear friends worked here for a year or three.


I generally don't like caravan parks and Big 4 in particular but I must say I do like this one, or at least the bush camping part out the back away from the inevitable cabins, pool and jumping pillow. Out there, they didn't really try to stick people into little boxed areas or at least not in the quieter time we saw.

All in all it was a lovely easy day's outing.

Monto Birthday Celebrations

The first focus point of this trip was to attend the Highway Wanderers' 23rd Birthday Celebrations in Monto.
The Highway Wanderer's is an RV chapter or club within the CMCA. It is open to RVers of all sorts and sizes for those who are full time or long time on the road each year.


The town had given special permission for our club to stay at the Polocrossse Grounds next door to the airport. This is a huge flat ground with a 'open' club house, toilets and showers. It was very much appreciated by our members during our birthday rally.

It is a very relaxed week spent catching up with like minded friends and making new friends. It is up to you just much you participate. Some like to chat, play disc bowls, go for walks, go shopping or sight seeing, etc. One of our ladies, our illustrious president,  arranged a craft class converting a t shirt into a cushion cover.


Happy hours are the one daily ritual. Again it is entirely up to you whether you attend and for how long. Each happy hour is well attended and very casual, though there will be an welcoming introduction to new members and first timers especially early in the rally. Sometimes there are jokes, some singing or music, or even the occasional skit or practical joke enacted. One just never knows what is going to happen at one of our happy hours. We even had the mayor come and welcome us as well as get a mention in the local paper.


Usually there is a fire going afterward after happy hour, which was very welcomed on the cold evenings, though many of the less hardy ones, like Rob and myself prefer to retreat to the relative warmth of our motorhome. It did get mighty cold here in Monto, down to 1 degree some mornings, but the days were perfect usually around 22-24.


One or two evenings will include a combine dinner with or without entertainment which our own members put on.


We spent one more night after the rally, still in Monto but out at the RV park right in the town. It is a low cost RV stop just behind the Information Centre. We wanted to wait until the rally was over before taking a day to visit Cania Gorge. I also had fun restocking my haberdashery at the Stitch 'N' Stash. We capped off a wonderful day with a lovely dinner at the local Thai and Indian Family Restaurant that night in the delightful company of Michael who was also staying a night at the Monto RV stop.


The foothills of the Glasshouse Mountains

Our first main stay in Queensland this trip was at Beerburrum which is partway between The fabulous Glass House Mountains and Caboulture, just inland from the famed Sunshine Coast.


We are not actually free camping though there is no cost involved, we are really staying at a MSO. We covered what an MSO is here.

The place where we are staying belongs to a fellow member of the CMCA and they have kindly opened their property at various times for fellow CMCA members. We first stayed here at year ago and were warmly welcomed then by Barry and Marlene, just as we are now. We also met up with 3 other campers here, 2 which were here the same time last year and it was great to catch up with them. I even jokingly asked if they had loved it so much that they stayed here the whole 12 months! LOL


All these people also mean great happy hours. Barry, Marlene, Patricia, Rod, Vickie, Rod, Debbie and.... Oh darn, I was going good at remembering names. Blast, one name got away from me.


Whilst here, Rob had time to install his newly purchased Dash Cam and to check out Trackr which we have adhered to my cochlear, in case we lose it. He also had to get under the bus to tighten the bolt on the front axle. You know, general maintenance is always an ongoing thing doubly especially when you have an old bus.


It would have been lovely to stay here longer but 3 night was all we could afford as we had a date in Monto to keep.

Grafton

After leaving Frederickton, we wanted to reach a certain pub further north but in the end we ended up hitting a huge traffic jam just south of South Grafton.
There was a huge traffic delay due to a major car accident which had occurred many hours earlier in the day. We had to wait over 90 minutes. Apparently the traffic backed up some 25km.

In the end we decided to find the nearest free camp which was in South Grafton. We couldn't find anything and asked at the local petrol station for directions, She didn't know of one but there is a block on the northern side of the station where some people stop. We were told NOT to use the truck stop on the southern side.

I don't think it is worthy a stop over normally but we didn't want to travel any further that day. We were the first to stop there, but we were soon joined by 3 other RVs though everyone kept to themselves.

We can't recommend it as a stop over as it is very noisy obviously with the trucks pulling in and out of the station all night plus the busy highway right next door. However the chips were very nice and crisp that we bought at the all night diner to go with our dinner that night!

Sorry guys but no photos this time.

Free camping at Frederickton Golf Club

On our way north, we decided to call into an Auny's place in Port Macquarie, since we've had very little contact over the years. She invited us to come for lunch which we happily did. It was the first time I had the opportunity to really get to talk to her husband, Chris and start to get to know him too.

A time of reminiscing and finding commonalities ensued and a very pleasant afternoon was enjoyed. My uncle, her brother was able to join us for a short time too!

All too soon it was time to move on, though we weren't going far. Just inland from Port Macquarie a little golf club was offering free camping in their large grassy carpark.

It is a good level park with lots of room for large rigs. It is a sharp right turn into the gate. We found it easier to take the towed car off the motorhome, though Rob reckons we could have done it. (We'd already taken the car off just beforehand as we went too far and needed to turn around.)


The club was happy to accomodate us. We returned the favour happily by buying some drinks and a pub meal later on. Prices were quite reasonable with a beer and ginger beer $9 and wedges with dressings $12.

The next morning was Sunday and we were blessed to find that there was a church right next door to the club, The Christian New Life Centre. What a wonderfully friendly church it was. For such a small community, it was a delight to see a wide cross section of ages and a decent number of people. Some of the people live in Port Macquarie and love this church community so much that they are willing to make the weekly trek.

Though we were thinking of staying 2 nights, we decided to leave as the weather was turning and we believed the grounds would become very boggy and we didn't want to take the risk.

Have you heard of MSO?

The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) is the largest RV Club in the Southern Hemisphere. One of the great benefits of the CMCA is the Member Stop Overs (MSO). This relatively new initiative is where some members voluntarily open their private yards or properties for fellow members to stop over on private property for a night or several nights. All members using an MSO are expected to be fully self contained. There are no fees involved. Occasionally some other services such as power may be available but it is at the owners discretion and is not to be expected.

One popular MSO property not far out of the Sunshine Coast are willing to take several vans at once
Each place is different. Some have only the room for one small RV at their place, maybe in their driveway and others might be able to fit in half a dozen or more on a small acreage

This is at our own place. It can fit 2 or 3 depending on the size of the rigs
These private properties are scattered all around Australia. Some are in cities and towns, some are on small farms or properties. There are certain conditions that must be met, such as a courtesy phone call asking if the property is available at the time you hope to roll up. Some allow you to stay more than one night, some allow dogs.

Sometimes it is just at the side of a house
As stated right at the beginning, to make use of the wonderful MSOs that are available right across Australia, you must join the CMCA. There is a one off joining fee of $16.50 plus a yearly membership of $44. There are a lot more advantages of CMCA membership than just the MSO but maybe that can be the topic of a future blog post or you can suss it out at the CMCA website yourself right now.

A disclaimer:
This is just my opinion and from my own personal experiences, which have all been positive. It in no way reflects the official views nor has any permission or payment been sought or given in the making of this blog post. Please regards any mistakes and inaccuracies as my own and then please accept my humble apologies.

Heading north to warmth

Once again we head north for winter to where it is not only warm but we get to catch up with family and many friends we have made on the road. I do feel that we didn't spend as long at home as I would have liked as with a broken wrist and the recovery of  movement in that hand restricted the catch up of gardening etc around the home.



However we packed as much into our brief 4 weeks at home as we could. Catching up with our kids including a family camp at Port Stephens and then welcoming of a new baby, our first grandson were our top priorities.


Various health checks as comes with older age and health issues are par for the course. We were also blessed with catching up with various friends on a one to one basis. Closes family and friends are the fabric that holds as together. De-cobwebing and dusting type housework and the gardening especially weeding are always crying for attention too.



Robbiebago II also had to have various 'health' issues fixed up. The springs were noisy, some part of the gears needed replacing and there's always a few bits and pieces that we think of to make life on the road more comfortable.



Finally we set a date and though it comes too soon for me as I still hadn't caught up with the weeding with my bad hand slowing me down, we were happy to be heading north once again. It has been a mild autumn but the nights were well and truly getting cooler. So the bus is fuelled up and stocked, bits and pieces are packed away and we are off!

First off we visited dear friends in Toronto near Newcastle, who we worked together with on many BCA projects on earlier trips. They invited us to camp overnight to continue the fellowship which we happily did.

Friends from back in 2010
We then went via Port Macquarie and met up with an Aunty whom I have only briefly seen once in about 45 years. It was good to really catch up with her and an uncle who popped by who also lives in Port Mac. Our time all together was very pleasant. We certainly can't let it go so long again. I have cousins I should become reacquainted with too! This is a photo of my self with my aunts and uncle, far too many years ago!


From there we went to Frederickton where they have a very friendly little golf club in the foothills behind Kempsey that welcomes self contained campers. We were thrilled to find out that right next door to the club is a church, the Christian New Life church where we attended on Sunday morning. It is a very welcoming church of all ages with a large musical leadership. Fabulous! It is very similar to our own 10 o'clock services back home without the volume. They were having a meal afterwards and pressed us to stay for lunch which we happily did. There was a lot of encouragement to stay for the monthly evening service too which we had to decline. Not only we had to move on but it had started to rain very early in the morning and we were concerned about getting bogged in the grassy campsite if it got too wet.

Pretty garden at the entry to the Golf Club

Our next campsite was originally going to be very close to the border, but with the later start after church lunch and then a traffic accident just south of Grafton which held us up for more than an hour, we decided to camp at South Grafton. We arrived quite late and left early so no photo.

So we pushed our driving a bit further and drove just across the border to Beenleigh. We are grateful for this campsite which is basically a gravel carpark next to a little grassed park that also borders a little creek. It is also between the highway and the Beenleigh Shopping Centre. It is not the first time we've stayed here as it is quite convenient for us. One time, I'd like to stick around long enough to take the train into Brisbane and do some sight seeing.

Hugh Muntz Park, Beenleigh

From here we will stay with friends in Beerburrum tonight. They are fellow travellers who also have a 1 acre block that welcomes travellers within the CMCA club. We were thrilled to catch up with both sets of friends whom we met here the last time we stayed. Patricia and Rod and Vickie and Rod. The eight of us made great use of happy hours in the foothills of  the Glasshouse Mountains.

Happy Hours with friends in Beerburrum

We are well and truly in Queensland now and that is just where we want to be over winter.