Kyogle NSW to Theresa Creek Dam in Qld April and May 2010 - Fishing, Bushwalking and places to stay

Sunday, Jun 06, 2010 at 20:24

Member-Heather MG NSW

This is a journal of our travels and experiences - Kyogle in NSW to Lake Broadwater Conservation Park, Bjelke Petersen Dam, Lake Monduran and Theresa Creek Dam in Qld.

27th April - Tuesday.
Lake Broadwater Conservation Park.
$4.50p night for 2, flushing toilets, hot showers, garbage bins, fireplaces

We arrived here yesterday afternoon after a long and rather interesting drive from Kyogle in Northern NSW (the drive was more aptly described as 'ardous' by the driver) .

We stayed the one night in Kyogle in the leafy caravan park ($20 - clean amenities) having looked at the showground where powered camps cost $15.40 and deciding that was not good value. The amenities there hadnt been cleaned for ages and the place looked a bit dodgy to leave an unattended van for a few hours in our opinion, however it was probably safe enough. Our afternoon was spent driving into the Border Ranges National Park to look at Sheepstation Creek campground where we had intended towing the van and were glad to have done so as it doesnt really seem all that suitable for vans - with small uneven sites, all full of campers because of the long weekend. Afterwards we continued along the scenic drive stopping to enjoy the panoramic scenes from the lookouts over Mount Warning and the surrounding caldera, with its evidence of ancient volcanic activity. I was sorry not to be able to camp and spend more time walking the area - one of the advanages of staying in the National Park .

That night, I had to reassess our plans for the next few days and pulled out 'Camps 5' while my loaf of bread and our dinner of roast chicken baked.
So.... Instead of staying in NSW for a few days in the National Park, we decided to venture straight into Queensland.

Our route involved taking the Summerland way from Kyogle through to Woodenbong and then the Mount Lindesay Highway??? through Urbenville, along the 'goat track' through Tooloom National park. This road was very narrow (3.5 metres) and uneven bitumen and took us over a mountain and back down, mercifully almost devoid of traffic at the time. The couple of vehicles we met were cars however if we had met something similar to our own we would have had great difficulty manoeuvring our way past one another as there was nowhere to get off the road in many places, with dense vegetation flourishing on the edges. It was slow going.

Might I add here that we took this road instead of the more direct route over the Mount Lindesay Range because of John's brother in law - and we joked that this will be the last time we will take his advice! As an ex NSW forestry worker who knew and worked in this region, he suggested we take the road because I think he said it wasnt as steep as the more direct shorter alternative?? Maybe he was right however I think he must have forgotten that we would be towing a two and half ton van!!

From Killarney near the NSW/Queensland border the road improved and then from Warwick we took the Cunningham Highway west for some 40 kms before turning north onto the Leyburn Milmerrin Road. We detoured a short distance off the road to lunch at the Leslie dam west of Warwick a few kms which was a pleasant enough place away from highway traffic noise. Continuing north from east of Millmerrin, we headed for Cecil Plains where John searched in vain for a shop to buy icecreams!! The only likely place in town - a service station - was closed due to the ANZAC Public Holiday so we continued towards Dalby, enountering a few very large pieces of cotton harvesting machinery and road trains on the way. We pulled off the bitumen and gave then the right of way as there's no use trying to wrestle with these.
Not too far South of the town we turned onto a minor road causing our GPS to go into meltdown, and saved ourselves some time and kms, arriving at Lake Broadwater around 4pm.

We stayed in this campground three years ago when we still had the pop top and no ensuite and found it very quiet. The major difference this time is that there is actually water and the many birds it attracts - along with more campers of course. We had no trouble finding a good place to set up - facing the perfect direction to shade the fridge - and put up the shadecloth awnings. We are pretty much off by ourselves and there is plenty of space compared to caravan park sites. The other people here are mostly in motorhomes and appear to be either travelling together or maybe are just a sociable group who spend a large part of their day sitting around talking.

Last night I cooked us up a delicious meal consisting of oven baked atlantic salmon with soy and ginger, on a bed of stir fried vegetables and noodles. This method of cooking fish - enclosed in a baking paper and foil parcel - avoids the smell which usually accompanies fish and is so tasty.
We washed the dishes and afterwards John wandered off to the amenities in search of a hot shower. He arrived back shivering and said he could only get cold water so ended up using our shower in the van which is such a luxury to have when unpowered. I caught up with emails and was in bed before 9.30 after a long day.

It was a cool morning and I thought about pulling out the merino gloves when I climbed out of bed to be lakeside for sunrise photographic opportunites. I am happy I made the effort despite very cold hands and prickles in my tracky pants acquired when I squatted beside a tree trunk to shelter from the breeze. The reds and orange hues in the sky were reflected in the water and were just wonderful, along with silhouettes of swans and other water birds gliding on the smooth surface of th lake !

Only two other campers were up to see the sunrise and there was little movement or noise in the camp for hours, I made coffee and sat outside the van catching up on the weekend newspaper before breakfast and enjoyed the morning calls of the birds and the views as the sun climbed higher.

We spent most of the morning walking through to the Wilga bush camping area two kilometers from the lake campground and found it deserted. There are some fantastic secluded sites there which would have been perfect for us, with fireplaces, clean pit toilets, a water tank and even undercover eating area. How I wish we had looked there first as we dont need the showers here like we did when we had the pop top. (A lesson learned). Next time....

The walk was flat and dotted with informative signs with the names of the trees along the way. We spotted a small black snake on the return journey, by now quite warm and sunny, and saw the tracks of many more. The remainder of the morning was spent sitting under the awning reading and enjoying coffee while John tackled the crosswords inside. He is not an outdoors person when we are in the van for some reason especially when the flies are pretty persistent but the aeroguard seems to keep them at bay. They like hitching a ride on my back to visit inside much to his annoyance but it is just one of the joys of camping I reckon! Also hunting them down gives him something to do!

I am very glad to have both the side and end shadecloth additions we had made recently as it is keeping the area quite bearable despite the warmth. Also I am taking advantage of the new 12 outlet we have outside to power the laptop and find that the power delivered is just as good as 240v, unlike that delivered through an inverter.
We plan on sitting out here to eat dinner tonight if the flies disappear and I will try out the low energy LED light I bought from the EO shop before we left home.

Later in the afternoon, we are going to take a walk down to the bird hide to view the many species which arrive and descend towards dusk. As I write the noise of the sulphur crested cockatoos is deafening as they circle the campground. The clear pure melody of the butcher birds however is a joy to wake up to, as is the noisy cackle of the kookaburras. Swans and ducks can be heard calling in the still air of the early morning and late afternoon. Such campsites are favourites of ours on these trips and are even more special if we are ever lucky enough to find a place all to ourselves.

28th April.
Lake Barambah.
Bjelke Petersen dam near Murgon. Yallacool Park
$22 powered site p night for two. Big grassy sites and loads of room if unpowered.

We pulled in here around midday and have booked into a powered site for two nights but intend extending our stay for another three, until Monday morning. This weekend is a long one for Qld with public holiday on Monday so we phoned Darrell and Barb and talked to them about coming here tomorrow to join us.
Our site is in the row closest to the water with bush in front of us and filtered views of the water. There is a boat ramp below us and the tinny will be down there early in the morning as John intends fishing and putting in some redclaw pots.There arent too many fish being caught but maybe he will be lucky as the dam is stocked with bass, yellow and silver perch supposedly!!.

On the way here, we stopped in Kingaroy and picked up a few groceries and beer - it is so hard to resist the urge to store food when we see a Coles or Woolworths for some reason, yet I really would prefer to suport local businesses when possible. Then a little further up the road, north of Kingaroy, we saw a sign advertising icecreams and other foods which we just couldn't resist. I decided on ginger, not my usual chocolate, and it was enormous and delicious and took us through until lunch which we ate after setting up the van.

We drove back into Murgon - some 12 kms each way - to buy oranges and dry cat food to use as bait for the redclaw traps and had a look around the town.

Then just on dark we strolled to what we though was the dam wall and I plan to return there in the morning before it gets too hot. I took a few pretty ordinary photos of the full moon over the water and will take the camera with me on the walk in the morning.

As the sun set the evening cooled and I was able to cook our meal indoors although I do have a single hotplate with me so I can cook outdoors if it is hot (and when we are powered). Tonight we had leftover hoisin noodles and vegetables with lamb cutlets. Followed it with rockmelon and passionfruit topped with King Island Vanilla bean yogurt - yum!

I am thoroughly spoilt with the delicious coffee I can make in the compact Nespresso machine I was given for my birthday at the end of March. It takes pods which I ordered hundreds of before we left home online and have packed, and also bought a carry case to protect the machine when we are travelling. Using it is one of the advantages of us staying powered and I just love good coffee (all but one or two a day are decaffeinated which is just as well as I like double strength, almost black!) It is a costly addiction however as I gave up alcohol over three years ago I feel justified!

Unfortunately the internet service isn't good here and the signal is intermittent at best. I did manage to get online and pay the bill for the work we had done on the caravan before we left home but tonight havent had any success with getting onto the net! It will be frustrating but I guess I can always walk up to the top of the hill - or drive to there and get connected.!!! to fill in the next four days here - plenty of walking in all directions early in the morning probably as the heat will make it pretty awful later in the day. Also I have a few books I bought before we left home and have those to look forward to. I can also print off some photos - postcards for friends and get them written.. Maybe even do some sketches.

30th April Friday, 6.45am
Still at Bjelke Petersen dam.

John and Darrell left to fish in the dam around 6am so I had no option but to get out and have a look at the day. What a difference to yesterday morning! It is clear and the birdsong is varied and loud.
Yesterday we woke to thick fog which didnt lift until nearly 9 o'clock by which time I had returned from quite a long walk around the dam, to the picnic area and beyond.
I photographed the lake shrouded in fog, a butterfly and the lacy patterns on the spider webs which covered the dead plants along the way. My shorts and boots were wet and covered in grass seeds as I ventured off the roads onto some vague wheel tracks leading down to the waters edge.
On my return to the park, I called at the office and paid for our extra nights and as well booked in the in laws who are now in the site next to us.
The laundry has been done and is on the line and I had a clean up in the van and out under the awning.

John returned from his fishing trip around 10 with no fish and we took a drive into Murgon for the paper, fishing lures (unavailable) and visit to the bakery for a pie.
Lunch was a sandwich eaten in the cool of the awning, then we sat around reading the news until Barb and Darrell arrived around 2.

John insisted on helping them set up - and this takes quite some time as they have one of the Jayco wind up and pop out campervans? with a bed each end, then theres the bag awning and all the poles,ropes etc. to put in place. By the time the men went off in the boat to check the redclaw traps it was around 4pm and they were to stay out until dusk to try for a bass using surface lures!
We were told not to get dinner until 8 so I placed the pizza dough in the breadmaker and left it to knead while I went back to look at the dam wall which had been invisible because of the fog in the morning. I also spent half an hour photographing the spectacular sunset and it was approaching dark when I returned to the van.

By this time, Barb was sitting outside her van and I invited her to join me at ours. We sat and talked until the men returned and then finally ate around 7.30. The pizza was particularly good - maybe because I was very hungry - and there was a whole one left which I partially cooked and then placed in the freezer for a future meal.

After dark I was aware of and intrigued by a low noise rather like the sound of truck air brakes in the distance, or perhaps the motors of boats out on the lake. Apparently it is the cane toads. They were very vocal for some hours but seemed to quieten down before we went to sleep around 10 and I had visions of many huge brown toads patrolling the lawns in the dark looking for a mate! The only one I have seen so far was squashed flat on the road near the dam crossing! I love frogs but these monsters revolt me and I would love to see them eradicated across the country because of the damage they inflict on native fauna.

John had a mishap in the showers last night when he slipped on the stainless steel floor while wearing his very old (treadless) thongs. He has a nasty cut right through one of his toenails and toe which I managed to dress with betadine and three bandaids. I fear that it will all be in vain today when he has it wet in the dam water and hope he doest develop an infection as he is prone to. Will apply more of same today when he returns and hope for the best!
This morning after breakfast I did a walk back to the dam wall for a bit of exercise. I think I must be the only person in the park who does this as I havent seen anyone else out and about on my excursions.
Barb is a very late riser and content to sit and read all day which is fine but I cant sit still for too long. My housework is all done and I am out under the awning with coffee, listening to the sounds of others packing up and moving on. The park will be almost empty until the long weekend people move in later in the day.

Darrell returned briefly for hooks and informed us that they had caught some live bait (shrimp) and John hooked one undersize golden perch (yellowbelly) and are off in search for more. I am so glad they are not sitting out there without some kind of entertainment as otherwise it may be a long few days!

Tuesday 4th May
Ceradontus Rest Area (11 kns north of Eidsvold)

We 'overnighted' here beside the road and will make our way to the caravan park at Monduran dam near Gin Gin today. I am not really looking forward to going there and expect it will be busy however we will give it a few days and see whether there are any barramundi to be caught and eaten.
Now to fill in the last few days.

Yesterday we farewelled the in laws and headed north towards Eidsvold and then a Conservation Park a few kms to the west of that town where we pulled in for lunch. It was a lovely peaceful place, on the banks of a (now dry) river with big shady trees. The permit system in Queensland National Parks required a camping No to be obtained either online or by phone ($5 per person) so we decided to move on to Wuruma dam after lunch, as it was still around midday when we left, and there didnt seem to be much to do there. I think we would have stayed if there had been self registration at the site as we could have our camp fire there and it was a bit off the road, but couldnt be bothered pulling out the laptop and attempting to get a signal to get online. I suspected that to try to phone would cost more than the camping permit, especially on a Public Holiday.

Wuruma dam is around 50 kms from Eidsvold on sealed road, although there is a shorted unsealed option, and the last km is bumpy, rutted dirt into the campground. We were surprised to see quite a lot more water in the lake and also many campers dotted around the area. We drove around and tried to find a level place to pull up which wasnt too close to anybody else and ended up driving out as John didnt like to park somewhere we might get stuck if it rained!!! (Yes, there were clouds in the sky and the track was steep and rutted ....however as usual the sky turned blue as the afternoon wore on). We did have to put the car into 4WLow to pull up the track from the lake as it was.
He asked one woman as we drove past whether there were any fish or redclaw and was told someone had caught one fish so he said he didnt want to get the boat off and we drove out with both of us short tempered and bickering!!!
It is a lovely place to stay and especially now that there is water visible from the camping area. Has flushing toilets too which is a bonus. Alas it was not to be one of our camping places this trip at least!
We did stay here two years ago when the water level was lower and John caught a good sized bass at the time which we enjoyed eating very much.

Anyway, we retraced our tracks and pulled up the back of this free rest area and are as far as possible off the road with a fireplace. It is on the banks of a mostly dry river with tall trees for shade. There are also flushing toilets (one out of two in the womens is out of order and the other doesnt have any lock on the door).

We enjoyed a campfire meal of slow cooked lamb shanks and vegetables and sat around pretending we were all alone. (John took a drive to Eidsvold for diesel and picked up some wood on the way back)The occupants of the five or so other vehicles retreated indoors and barely made a murmer after dark at 6 so it wasnt all that difficult, however the traffic is a bit noisy. Hoping it quietens down before we want to sleep.

This morning we woke and realised that the traffic didnt bother us at all last night. A couple of cars pulled in around 9 pm and turned up the music, mad a lot of noise while they visited the toilets and then roared off down the road!
We took the Mt Perry road across to GinGin and were on our way before 8. Consequently we were here before midday even though we stopped in GinGin for groceries and beer.

It is now 9.30 pm and we are parked in the caravan park at Lake Monduran (three nights for $84, powered). We were able to choose our site and are on the end of the row with a fireplace and looking out onto the grassy unpowered section and bush beyond, with no one looking into our site. We are very happy with our choice as there arent any others next to or behind us at this stage. The park is much quieter than I imagined and it is a big area however we have been sitting enduring a noisy group of young people who have been playing loud music and partying across the way a bit for the past couple of hours. They have suddenly quietened down so I guess they have been spoken to by someone else closer to them.

This afternoon we walked down to the boat ramp and to the lookout when the day cooled a bit, and I have found the start of the 6 km (one way) walking track which I will do tomorrow. There is a lot of water in the dam and not too many reports of recent fish so at this stage we arent sure how long we will be here. At least the internet signal is good so long as the antennae is attached.

Wednesday May 5th 7am
Lake Monduran, 20 kms North of GinGin.

John left the van around daylight and was off in the boat to drop in some redclaw pots and look for fish! He and Darrell tried in vain for the four days we were at the previous dam without success however they were not alone. Apparently the deluge of fresh water into Bjelke-Petersen took the water level from around 4% to nearly 50% a few weeks ago and that is the reason that the fish have gone into hiding there. Darrell did hook two big turtles but there were no other signs of life apart from the shrimps they caught in a trap which was left in a creek half way into Murgon. We would have been better off eating those!
They fished morning and evening both in the kayak and the boat, with lures and live bait and were still unsuccessful, as were all the others who arrived in their big camping groups for the long weekend, so really did give it their best shot.

Lets hope there is a different result here as today Barb and Darrell are due to join us today and also my sister and her husband on Friday for the night if we are still here.

It was a beautiful, foggy morning which always signals a clear sunny day . We had a very quiet night and another great sleep until the kookaburras woke us just as dawn was breaking. How I love waking to the bird calls.

My walk was lovely although the day seemed to get hot very early and I was glad I had taken water to drink and a hat, and put on the sunscreen. I was walking by 7.30 and home around two hours later having gone as far as I could get before water covered the path. The track meandered up and down hills and across a number of small gullies most of which are dry at present before descending into the water. Small timber footbridges make crossing the gullies easy and for a short distance I followed the course of a babbling stream which was green and lined with tropical ferns and plants.

When I reached the waters edge I photographed the reflections of the trees on the calm water and also spotted John out in the boat. From that point I retraced my steps and on returning to the park, walked the short distance up to the dam wall to take photos.

My day has been occupied baking date scones and a loaf of wholemeal grain bread, reading and enjoying the campsite. Tonights meal will be a moroccan chicken casserole cooked in the camp oven over the fire near our site. One advantage of camp oven cooking is that John cleans it up and there is less washing up to do. He returned this morning without fish and went in search of firewood along the Highway and I am happy to report he was more successful as far as wood was concerned. We have more than enough for a night or two now.
Despite a shower of rain after I lit the fire, the camp oven worked its usual magic and dinner was cooked to perfection. I served the casserole with steamed brown rice and broccoli and we ate under the awning as the nights are so balmy here. Back on the NSW South Coast winter is in full swing apparently.

The men returned from the afternoon fishing trip empty handed yet again with the usual retort - 'there are NO fish in Queensland'!!! Unless there is a catch or even a hit on the line tomorrow morning I have a strong feeling that we will pack up Friday morning and head for other waters! I was not looking forward to being here but it is a lovely place to stay and now I am in no hurry to leave!

Thursday May 6th
Lake Monduran van park

There are definitely 'no fish in Queensland' for us yet- unless we want to visit a fish shop!

The men returned empty handed again this morning and as I suspected, announced that we are to travel tomorrow. The boat is back on top of the Navara and the back has been re packed already.

John and I will head north then turn west from Calliope and have re-planned to meet my sister and her husband at the rest area a few kilometres west of Moura tomorrow night while the others will go up the coast a bit and meet us again on Monday somewhere.

This morning I did the laundry early and went for a wander along the dam wall and around the park - a very short walk for me. I also visited the fish tank enclosure to learn about and view some of the feral fish species which have been introduced by idiots into the waterways - Tilapa, carp and others. There is information about some of the fish we hope to catch and or eat while here, as well as a big barramundi in one of the tanks, along other fish.

I picked up a copy of the information sheets and John has already devoured them so hopefully next time he attempts to fish, he will be a bit wiser about where and when to go as well as what lure or bait to use.
The men have both had to have a 'Nanna nap' after another early start. I am enjoying the cooler more pleasant day today. There have been workmen around the park removing dangerous trees and limbs and causing a lot of noise which is a bit of a pain in such a nice usually quiet place. I guess it is for the safety of campers and must be done so not worth getting upset about. When it finishes for the day it is sooooo good.
After having a great internet signal yesterday, today there is none and I have been frustratedly trying to connect for hours with no success. Not sure what the problem is.

Dinner tonight will have to be cooked on the fire again as we have wood leftover. It is to be 'italian' tonight i.e pasta with beef mince, tomato and mushroom based sauce and topped with shaved parmesan cheese.

Friday May 7th
Rest area on the Dawson River west of Moura.
Flushing toilets, hot showers (coin operated and on a timer). garbage bins, picnic tables.

We left Monduran this morning before 8 and had a good trip up the Bruce Highway to Calliope, apart from having a young kookaburra fly into the boat with a mighty crash. We stopped a km or so further on at the first place to pull over safely and John found the poor little bird sitting on top of the car under the boat, looking dazed. He seemed otherwise unhurt so we left him well off the road and hope he recovers.

At Calliope we turned left and drove west to Biloela, stopping for diesel and icecreams then continued to Banana and Moura where we bought groceries and papers. The amount and length of the grass in the paddocks on the roadside is unbelievable. Previously we drove through here and it looked barren, brown and dry and we thought we were in the outback but now it is green and lush. The landowners must be happy people.

On arrival around 1 pm this place looked very much like a caravan park with neatly lined up rows of vehicles reversed. Not sure whether it is busier than in previous years or we are here earlier in the season, or maybe there is a group travelling together but there so seem to be many more people doing what we are.
We had arranged to try to save a place near us for Judy and Barry's 25' (internal) van so we drove into the central section which was empty (not far from the toilets) and very quickly had our van level. I prepared our lunch and while John got set up outside and put up the awning and shadecloth to protect us a bit.
Mid afternoon the others arrived, parked across in front of us, and we spent the rest of the day catching up and eating dinner together under our awning. We have been using the 12v LED light I bought from the EO shop before we left home and love it. It puts out great light and can be used indoors or out. We think we will get our interior van lights swapped for LED lights when we return we are so impressed.

We have been very antisocial here and didnt mix with anyone else because we are with others. There was a fire going and the sounds of laughter and happy people but it has quietened down now and even the road noise has stopped for the time being.
We have stayed here a couple of times before and used the showers in the past but decided to use our own tonight as we heated the water to wash up. Will top up the tanks tomorrow somewhere.

I found out last night that Telstra 3G was out of action for most of yesterday throughout the state which explains why I had problems trying to connect to internet.
Thank goodness it is all ok again!

May 8th
Theresa Creek Dam campground near Clermont. $10 per van per night for 2.
Hot showers, toilets, limited drinking water, campfires...

Yesterday we left the camp near Moura around 8am and had a long days driving to get here. Stopped for fuel, gas, beer and fresh water in Emerald, as well as spare non rechargeable lithium batteries for my camera which are not that easy to find in the smaller towns. This took ages as we had to find taps with potable water - eventually went to the Emerald information centre, asked permission and filled up there.There is also fresh water at the showground.
It was hot and we were rather tired and irritable, impatient just to get here I guess. I put the GPS on and punched in the Theresa Creek dam POI and we missed the turn when it incorrectly told us to 'go straight on' some 6kms out of Clermont. (I was looking away when we passed the clearly signposted turn to the dam) We had to then drive around 10 kms until we found somewhere suitable for us to turn the van around!

We enjoyed sitting around and talking last night and it was close to 8pm before we ate dinner. ( spicy chicken laksa with lots of fresh vegetables and noodles).
John used the showers in the camp but I decided to use the van and had a short one as we already had the gas hot water on to wash up.

May 9th Mother's day.

Having stayed here a number of times previously, we pulled in yesterday afternoon and were surprised to find a kiosk and coffee shop in a new building in the picnic area. Also lots of new areas to stay, some with undercover shady flat areas to park beside near the water. I guess it is called progress and it is probably wonderful for the locals but I was a little disappointed as I loved the place when it was just a little basic camping place!! Of course all this appeals to many people so there are at least double the number of assorted RV's here, many of them not at all interested in fishing. There are still lots of camps with a boat or watercraft of some kind and everyone seems very friendly, as in the past.

We chose a large flat area away from the water, as those places are in high demand and people seem packed in like in van parks. With generators allowed to run from between 7.30am and 9.30 pm I didnt fancy staying too close in case we were beside someone who wanted to do just that.

John had the boat in the water and redclaw traps out as soon as we had set up the basics of our camp yesterday. This morning when he checked them just after daylight, we had enough for me to make a mornay for four of us for dinner tonight, which is prepared and in the fridge. I am going to make a damper in the camp oven as we have a fireplace set up to cook the redclaw in a boiler on it and will also use it for cooking at night. My sister and husband arrived an hour or so after us yesterday and set up beside us so they will contribute to the meal, providing vegetables.

We have decided to sell our Honda 1kva generator as it is no longer necessary for us to use it to charge our batteries in the van. The solar panels do that but we like to carry a generator in case we need to charge the navara battery as we only have the one, and sometimes camp in off road situations so need emergency power. Also we may as well carry one which can run our appliances, such as the coffee machine if we need or want to. We have been using my sisters' 2kva today to do just that and it is just so good to be able to turn it on for 5 minutes every now and then to have a great cup of coffee!
I placed a sign on the side of the van and one in the ladies amenities today and will wait to see whether it brings forth any interested prospective buyers.

Today, the two men cooked the redclaw then it was time to take the boat out to try for barramundi. They took lunch and returned around 3pm without having had a bite, and were a bit disconsolate. They did have more redclaw to add to the mornay and will check the traps just before dark for more, then cook the lot.

I have had a walk around the whole camping area and a chat to a few people, but tomorrow will get out earlier when it is cool and go for a longer walk. The cooler nights are just so lovely for sleeping, and of course it is very quiet here.

Before we left home we had some maintenance work done on the van axles and brakes to ensure all is working correctly, as well as a few small additions to the van interior - extra 12 v outlets etc.
I also had the 184 litre Dometic three way fridge checked as it seemed to heat up the adjoining pantry cupboard whenever it operated but especially when running on gas. Also it didnt seem to work too well on 12v when we were travelling so I enquired about having extra ventilation or a computer fan added. When it was pulled out and checked, it was discovered that the installation was very dodgy - with no flue or insulation so the heat was being dissipated throughout the cavity. Also the 12 v wiring was not heavy enough to keep it powered, so we had this changed as well as a direct wire from the vehicle to the fridge. What a difference it has made. The fridge runs at a constant temperature regardless of how it is powered and there is no longer any problem with the heat in the pantry.
We had this new fridge installed less than two years ago when we replaced our Waeco 190 litre compressor fridge (due to its rapacious power consumption) by an authorised Dometic agent in Sydney, and now I feel like contacting him and asking him to compensate us for the bill we have just had to pay to have the work done to ensure it runs properly. Our local RV repair place told us it was the worst installation job he has ever seen. I am also going to write to Dometic and tell them of our experience.

Our solar panels and batteries seem to keep us powered for as long as we wish to stay out of parks and we can use lights, water, laptop, tv, charge phones and run small appliances using the
The expensive mat we bought to replace the shadecloth on the ground under the awning is fantastic as nothing comes up through it and dirt just shakes off it. We havent had to use it over mud or dirt yet but have put it down on ground with prickles and can walk on top barefoot without any sticking into my feet.
Also the deflappers which attach along the entire awning ends holding shadecloth in place which cost a small fortune are excellent in wind, as are the shadecloth additions which slide into sailtrack on the van and shade the area under the awning. They also protect against wind and rain. We have always had a problem with the steps and door being so close to the van rear in rain but this certainly helps protect it.

10th May, Monday.

I was up early this morning when John went off at daylight to check the redclaw traps. After breakfast I put on the small pack, picked up the camera and went for a walk back up the road for 3/4 hour then turned and walked back, stopping every now and then to take a photograph. I drew curious looks from people leaving the campground, no doubt they thought I was crazy but do like to get my exercise! And walking it the best way to really experience all that the area has to offer - it is slow enough to see the birds, reptiles and plants, and the colours shapes and patterns in nature. It was enjoyable despite my having to walk on the road surface and I felt energised on my return.

John and Barry left to go barra fishing just after I got back and I baked a fruit cake and got the van tidied up. Judy fired up the generator for our first cup of good coffee and we sat around and had a talk - there is always plenty of thisasshe and I are very close sisters. Around mid morning Barb and Darrell puled in and proceeded to set up their camp. I was called to light their fridge as they usually go powered and are nervous of running it on gas. Hopefully I have allayed their fears and they will find how well it works and that they dont have to be restricted to caravan parks. They arrived with stories about how crowded the Queensland coast is (having been at 1770 for a couple of nights)! Darrell decided to buy our generator tonight as he has been toying with the idea of getting one, so it looks like we will be able to purchase the bigger one somewhere along the trip, unless of course he changes his mind overnight.

The men returned from the fishing excursion - apparently John caught two very small barra approximately 15 cm long (which of course were returned to the lake) as well as some redclaw to add to our mornings catch. I guess it was better than nothing! They spent the afternoon baiting redclaw traps and talking fishing and other tall tales! Judy and I had a walk over to the camping area on the far side.

Judy and I prepared curries for dinner with me doing a redclaw one, steamed basmati rice and side dishes of tomato and onion, fresh pineapple, sliced banana, hot mango pickle and Judy doing a chicken, chick pea and vegetable curry and cucumber raita. We shared the meal under our awning and returned to the fire to sit around and talk for hours into the evening. I made a cobb loaf of wholemeal bread mix (Lauke) with added mixed seeds (pepita, sunflower and linseeds) and baked it in the campoven and it looks fantastic. Its the first time we have used it to bake bread but after the success of the damper the previous evening decided to try it. I just love the whole breadmaking process of kneading the dough by hand and the baking - it has a very different flavour to the bread machine, and in my opinion superior.

May 11th

A cloudy start to the day.

Judy and I spent the morning in Clermont doing the laundry. buying beer, boat fuel and diesel, filling the 20 litre water containers with fresh water. and purchasing groceries, medications etc. We also chanced upon a shop selling childrens clothing so of course the two Nannas had to go in and buy something to send home to our beloved grandchildren!!! Once again the credit card got burnt!

It was a hot few hours and we returned in time for lunch. Clermont has done very well out of me!
The camp oven baked bread has our seal of approval so I will do it more often.

The men are still fishing and its a bit like ground-hog day at this camp. Each morning the traps have to be checked, then it is back to camp to cook them and have breakfast. Next comes the fishing trip which lasts until mid afternoon. Home again to cook up any redclaw found in the traps and for a beer or two then back out in the boat to check the traps, cooking any redclaw . Finally socialising around the campfire and eating dinner. A pretty tough punishing regime really but someone has to do it!

Apparently Darrell still wants our gennie so I have removed the 'for sale' signs and we will give him a trial run with it tomorrow to show him how it works. We will start looking for our replacement 2kva now - either Honda or Yamaha.

May 12. Wednesday

Still in Theresa Creek and another clear sunny very warm day.
It was a busy one again with Barry and John setting out around daylight to fish for barra from the shore. I had a walk to where they were after my coffee, and found them about to come home, onceagain without hooking anything legal sized. There are definitely big fish in there but they are teasing them!
The traps were checked by Darrell and John and the redclaw cooked up, shelled and refrigerated, after which John and Barry took a drive to Clermont to buy fishing lures.
Judy and I spent the morning having a walk around the camping ground, stopping to talk to people and also had coffee. We discovered why their 2kva gennie has been 'complaining' when we started up the coffee machine yesterday when Barry realised that he hadn't turned the hot water system off 240v so each time they have started up the gennie, it has also been heating the water as well!

I tried in vain to read some of the newspapers which we have bought during the last week but kept getting interrupted so gave up yet again!

After lunch, John took me for a spin on the lake and I photographed the water lilies, and the jacana and other water birds as well as the scenery. It was such a beautiful sight as the large complex mauve blossoms protruded from the water for around 30cms, held aloft on a thick green stem and were surrounded by large flat green leaves resting on the water surface.

On the leaves a number of jacana hopped and fed, uite unconcerned by our presence. I took so many shots and I guess will have to cull some of them but they are all so beautiful!
Before returning to the camp, we checked the redclaw traps. There was one cute little turtle which we returned to the water after taking photographs for Oliver, and one good sized redclaw which came back with us.

The men returned to the dam to fish and I spent some hours getting the campfire lit and coals just right to cook our dinner of lamb shanks in the camp oven. It was a full time job ensuring the fire was neither too hot or too cool, and I used a tripod with chain to keep the oven out of the fire and coals. After browning the shanks ( trimmed of excess fat) I browned some diced onions and garlic then added canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste, rosemary and thyme, oregano and diced carrots, mushrooms and some water. Some two hours later I added a can of brown lentils and pepper. It cooked away nicely but was full to the brim as I was cooking for four of us. I had difficulty lifting it!

Meanwhile others joined our campfire and we sat around the circle telling tales as it grew dark. There were many stories told and the sound of laughter reverberating around the campground. Another couple we have met during the past week invited friends they made on the road in WA last year who arrived unannounced this afternoon over, and it was great to talk to new people.
John and Barry returned with stories of legal sized barra on the line but not landed and are more determined than ever to go back at first light (maybe before) tomorrow! Judy cooked up a mashed potato/pumpkin mix and we ate under our awning. The meat was so tender it was falling off the bone having cooked for so long and I was relieved to know that I had managed it.
Barb and Darrell retreated to their own vehicle tonight before we ate and we were early to do the washing up and get to the showers tonight. I have been the only occupant of the top shower block every night since we arrived and much prefer to leave the shower until late so I avoid any wait or fluctuations in water pressure and temperature. There is quite a walk to there but my head torch does a fine job in lighting the way.
Once again, its before 10 pm and I think I must be the only person still awake.

13th Thursday
Theresa Creek.
I started today day with a shortish walk to where Barry and John were trying to hook a barramundi, in a pool beneath the dam wall. It was a cool morning due to a southerly breeze and I decided to explore a bit of the surrounding countryside and look for a walk, continuing across to the far side of the dam wall and spillway and climbing under a barbed wire fence. There was a bit of a scramble up over the rocks and down again and from there it was a flat and easy stroll around the waters edge, following the water line. I have decided to go back tomorrow and walk further, take water and phone along in case of emergencies.

By the time I returned, John had checked the redclaw traps and had the fire going to cook the tails. We gave Barry and Darrell the catch to share today as we both had an excess a couple of years ago when we were here, and three meals during the last few days has been more than enough! They are best cooked very quickly in boiling water, then shelled and are juicy, sweet and tender.
Household chores were completed, I kneaded a loaf of bread and left it to prove and Judy and I had a coffee or two and a bit of a wander around the camping area.
John and Darrell spent most of the day out on the water, with no success, and Barry returned to the fishing hole, returning before lunch with a good sized barra. There was great celebration!

Sometime during the afternoon, John arrived to take Judy and I out onto the water as he had seen a couple of pairs of brolga around the edge. These large beautiful, long necked birds are never seen down the NSW South coast and I just love them. It was another glorious day out there and we managed to get quite close to them near the shore so I snapped off a few photos.

John joined Barry at the fishing hole and they returned quite late in the afternoon with three barramundi which were gutted. fillet and skinned! We enjoyed garlic redclaw and damper for entree, then pan fired barramundi with stir fry vegetables for mains tonight. The damper was a little undercooked as I made a larger dough than usual to feed 6 of us and was dubbed 'doughy damper 'by the men!! (I think they are too well fed!)
We cooked the redclaw, damper and stir fried vegetables in the campoven, in succession an it did a great job of all of them. Experimenting with it is making us understand just how versatile a piece of cooking equipment it can be.

Two other couples staying in a similar part of the campground joined us around the campfire again tonight and it was a really busy evening, what with juggling the food and making a phonecall or two in our 'free hour' between 5 and 6.

14th May Friday.
A very eventful day, still at Theresa creek.

A longer walk today for me - again across the dam wall and around the lake edge for a few kms. I walked for approximately 3/4 hour before turning around. Saw plenty of cattle, boats out on the water....and had a really enjoyable time. Took more photos.
Returned to the van, had coffee and then all of us except Darrell went for a walk back to the fishing hole.
John and Barry consented to having myself and Judy try for a barramundi and I had lots of fun casting out the lure and then slowly jerking the rod tip gently and reeling the line back in, as I had observed John doing. I wasnt too bad at it 'for a girl' either and surprised John who was convinced that I would have great difficulty! I didnt have any success with the fish although did have a 'hit' or two. Judy was content to let Barry do the casting out and when he hooked one, he passed the rod to her and she brought it to the bank. We used to fish for bream in the creek which adjoined our farm when we were kids so arent complete novices but it has been quite some time ago.

Barry caught a second one before we women decided to go back to the camp and then the biggest one of the time at Theresa Creek!
We were preparing lunch when I heard a bit of commotion outside and Judy called me to say that she thought that Barry had collapsed as he and John were walking up the track from the creek. I grabbed my phone and the car keys and was at their side asap to find John had placed him in the recovery position and he was barely conscious. I made my first ever 000 phone call and was so thankful that we had mobile service. I am sure there was panic in my voice but I guess this is usual! Before long there were two ambulances on the scene and he was checked by the paramedics before being placed into one of them and taken to Clermont for tests.
Judy and I followed in her vehicle and spent the afternoon anxiously waiting for what ended up being inconclusive results. He was allowed to return to the camp but was somewhat subdued person last night. He and Judy have postponed their work commitments and are currently on their way back to Bundaberg where they will organise a complete medical check up for him.
We had our usual campfire with the extras along but for the first time since our arrival here, didnt cook on it. Dinner was barramundi and vegetables, very simple and quick. I think we were all exhausted after such a stressful few hours and we were earlier to return to our respective vans.

Our last day in Theresa Creek.
This morning John and I farewelled Judy and Barry, Barb and Darrell and another couple who have sat around the fire each night with us. It has left us alone up one end of the campground and I will miss Judy's company.
We spent part of the morning in Clermont getting the laundry done and picking up fruit and vegetables, filling water containers etc. I was fortunate to be able to use three washing machines at the same time in the laundromat so we were out of there within the hour. It was back to the camp to hang it on the line while John cleaned the tinny, put it on the car and re packed the gear. I have had a clean up of the storage spaces under the bed and tidied and cleaned the van.

Our chicken, placed on a trivet, was roasted in the camp oven as an experiment and was brown,moist and falling off the bone - absolutely fantastic! I will try placing the vegetables around it next time. Wow - maybe it is the only cooking pot I need.... so long as we have a fire that is.
Only two others joined us around the fire - Terry and Sue, a couple from WA travelling with wheelchair as he has parkinsons disease as well as spinal and nerve damage.
They are really lovely people and he has a great sense of fun. We have enjoyed their company now for the last three or four nights. It has made me contemplate just how fortunate we are and how easy it is for us to get around. We take so much for granted with our health but we should be thankful each day that we are active and mobile.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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