Road Trip Melbourne to Noosa – Tin Can Bay

Our first road trip in a long time sans van – which was waiting on parts for a bent axle… The idea of country town motels and no setting up appealed to us along with avoiding exposure to COVID in crowded caravan parks.

Day one leaving Melbourne in the early morn the weather was wet and cold and we were grateful for the Prado heated seats as we headed towards the Hume Highway. We wanted to get some km’s behind us so by late afternoon after munching through most of the snacks I had packed we had not yet stopped for lunch and I was getting hungry and cranky. We left the highway looking for a bakery in one of the small towns that were now sadly bypassed by the long and boring highway. To my dismay nothing that offered food was open. We drove from town to town in disbelief until realising the state of affairs, all shops had closed by 1-2pm. We were too late. Not a whisker of a bakery or cafe or even a pub was lit up and welcoming. In despair, we had to be fortified with some leftover Hummus and a slice of bread and lollies. A most unsatisfying lunch indeed. As the afternoon rolled into early evening we were getting mighty hungry.

Recent floods had left many of the smaller roads in disrepair and some causeways were still flowing over the road. The shortcuts we had intended to take were either cut of off closed as a result of water damage. Detours sent us past our destination and as dusk fell we had to slow to a crawl to avoid the wildlife gauntlet that we found ourselves in.

We finally arrived in Parkes two hours late and truly grateful for a well heated room at the Apollo Motel. Totally starving we quickly dropped our bags in and went to look for somewhere to eat. Choices were limited, although it was Saturday night the main street of Parkes was quiet. We settled on a tiny but cute Thai restaurant, it only sat about 22 people. Relieved they were still taking orders we tucked into a tasty red curry, warm and aromatic. Just perfect. Unfortunately it was BYO only and we were too tired to bother with the suggested walk down the street to the bottle shop. Sensibly, and somewhat sadly, we sipped only water with our meal before retiring for an early night, grateful that the bed had a super comfy mattress and excellent pillows. T

Day 2 we had another long drive ahead of us. The plan was to do a couple of overnight stops on the way to Ballina and then stop for four days to catch up with family. As we drove the Newell and Oxley Highways, navigating pot holes from water damage and grateful to be sitting high in a 4WD. The sun came out and although only 15 C it was warm when we stopped for breaks and walks, enjoying art works along the way, even on toilet block walls.

Morning coffee on a Sunday found us again walking through deserted towns with nothing open for travellers. We stopped for a walk and lunch in Coonabarabran and had a chat with a local who filled us in on a bit history while we watched the Castlereagh river flowing high and fast. The only cafe open was as to be expected chockers full. The lines of McVansions lining the street and the constant parade of them up and down the main street testified that we were not alone in the search of places for luncheon. Taking note that weekends were not the best days to travel when purchased sustenance is required and unable to find an empty table in the busy cafe, we bought bread rolls, cheese and pastrami from the Woolies deli and made our own lunch.

The drive from Coonabarabran to Tamworth is very pretty. Beautiful ranges and pyramid shaped hills. It was wonderfully peaceful after the Hume Hwy chaos.

Gunnedah is out next rest stop and we are once again hopeful of finding somewhere open to purchase coffee! The sun is shining and even the flooded Oxley river is looking beautiful rather than treacherous.

We arrive in good time at the Edward Parry Motel in Tamworth. Clean, quiet, spacious and the delightful gentleman at the desk gave us two very full glasses of complimentary welcome wine. Definitely recommend this motel. It was recently renovated and super clean. COVID still being around, even the television control was made safe with a disposable plastic cover. The complimentary bikkies in the room were better than usual as well!

Tamworth was a little more lively and we chose The Tudor Hotel for dinner. We were pleased that COVID protocol still had tables well spaced apart. I was in desperate need of vegetables and salad. He who puts out the rubbish had a chicken burger which came with a mountain of chips, I selected a good old chicken schnitty which i was able to order with both veggies and salad in place of chips. Yay! Pepper sauce came in a little china jug rather than smeared all over the plate, another joyous plus. The chicken in both burger and Shnitty was tender to the level of perfection. The large wine was indeed generous. I highly recommend the Tudor Hotel for a good feed and genial atmosphere.

Day 3 was not quite as long a drive as the previous two days as we headed to Ballina. Morning tea stop was Uralla and what a delightful town it is. We did our stoll up and down the main street and spent some time chatting with Christina Bell @Barking Dog Gallery. She is a delightful potter who makes beautiful functional pottery. She showed us through her workshop which was indeed a joy for me. Being a Monday the street was open and we opted for Moon’s bakery which had a small but very nice choice of cakes. The passionfruit vanilla slice was very easy to eat…I totally recommend you take the time to stop at Uralla and walk the street. There are lots of historical buildings, beautiful old pubs and even a brewery! Which unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, was closed on an early Monday morning. The visitors information centre also has super clean toilets.

Waterfall Way was ahead of us and I was looking forward to this iconic drive. Unfortunately time was running short as we had not expected to spend such a long time enjoying Uralla. The road was super rough, very pot holed and we were only able to stop and look at the main falls at Wollomombi and Ebor. Both were totally worth stopping for and each provided different experiences. Wollomombi was a deep and thunderous cavern that fell far into the ground, not at all what I expected. Water poured through the steep, deep cliff faces from different angles. It would have been awesome to be able to climb down to the basin and feel the falls from within. Ebor was like a beautiful wedding cake. The water cascaded down several levels to end in a winding river far below us. The view of the mountain range was also spectacular. Good walking tracks at both falls.

With nowhere to stop for lunch, we pulled up outside the Nymboida Community Centre which has spotless toilets available for public use. We had rolls with camembert which i had stashed knowing lunches were not easy to find, and had a quiet and restful break, even though three sets of locals came to check us out.

Arriving in Ballina we were very pleased with our accommodation at Ballina Palms Boutique Motel. Very comfortable. At the end of the street was a walking path along the waterfront which was very convenient. We were here to spend some time with family and reminisce and celebrate my father in law who had passed away only a few days before our arrival. We had a lovely catch up and some great meals – thank you Ros.

Leaving Ballina we headed to Tin Can Bay for another four days. It was lovely. We stayed at the Dolphin Waters Motel and had a large upstairs apartment with a laundry, yay! A decent sized balcony overlooked the pool and inlet. A perfect spot. Very quiet and walking distance to shops which consisted of IGA, butcher, bakery etc and a small tucked away pub that was full of locals every day. A well made circuit walk takes you off the roads and is very pretty. Mangroves line the inlet and at low tide the many anchored boats are left high and dry. I really enjoyed the quiet of this town.

We decided to do a day trip to Hervey Bay as neither of us had been there and we wanted to check it out for future travel. On the way we drove through Maryborough, a large town with some magnificent examples of architecture in the original Queenslander style. Lot’s of them had been renovated to a superior standard. Beautiful.

We arrived mid morning and parked at the Marina, booking a table at Cafe Balena for lunch before going for a walk. There isn’t really much to see or do at the Marina other than lunch. We attempted a walk, but the path was blocked at many points and we ended up walking the car park most of the time. Lunch was lovely. We sat at a table overlooking the water and were glad we had booked as it got very busy. The food serves were generous and the staff friendly and courteous. Even though it was extremely busy and people were waiting for tables, we were not rushed. Oddly dogs were welcome, and there were quite a few sitting under tables or on chairs. Not sure how I felt about the dogs. After lunch we drove a little further to Ungara. They have a wonderful looooong pier. It was low tide and we were struck by the beauty of the huge sand bar. It was very pretty and i wish i could have seen it in full sunlight. The day had turned overcast so we missed out on seeing the colours of the water and sand at its best. It would be spectacular. Well made paths offer a easy walking and the pier was a ripper. I am inclined to return to Ungara.

While staying in tin Can Bay we also did a day trip to Rainbow Beach and Inskip Point. The walk at Rainbow beach to the coloured sands was beautiful and as it was not low enough tide for the 4WD’ers to roar across the sand we could amble, explore and gape at the beautiful surrounds in peace. Lunch at the Rainbow Beach Hotel was standard burger and local beer and excellent chips, very busy so we were glad to have arrived just after the main lunch crowds began to thin out and were able to get a seat looking out onto the street. Very pleasant. I would like to return for a longer stay in Rainbow Beach but definitely not in peak season. It would be horrendous. At Inskip there was the usual dodging of the 4WD’s tearing up the beach to avoid getting bogged so they could catch the ferry to Fraser Island.

Noosa was only a short drive south and we had four days in a beautiful house in Sunshine Beach. The weather was perfect for walking but still a bit too cool for me to submerge in the crystal blue waters at Noosa main beach. However, walking ankle deep was rather delightful. Hastings street was as busy as to be expected in these parts but still enjoyable for a stroll and some window shopping. The blue of the ocean however lured us, rather than the uncomparable shopping strip no matter how enticing and our days were pleasurably filled with walks shared between Sunshine Beach and Noosa main beach in equal appreciation. Further exploration also took us for a walk along the river which although peaceful and paths well maintained for walkers and bike riders, was not at joyful as the beaches.

Sunshine Beach

In celebration of my sisters birthday the family met at Sails Noosa for a surprise party. Quite a feat as we had managed to keep the fact that were were all travelling from Melbourne to Noosa quiet for months in order to surprise her at dinner. It was a very happy occasion, regardless of the fact I felt the food at Sails a bit disappointing as indeed was the service. For the price paid i expected better. I would not bother to return. But i will return to Noosa in warmer weather for a swim.

Noosa Main Beach

Very beautiful.

After four lively days with the family we sadly had to start the return trip home. Having driven north via inland roads we decided to drive home along the coast for a while in order to extend our time in sun and sea as long as possible before returning to freezing Melbourne.

Coffs Harbour was our first overnight stop on the way home. I immediately missed not having our little Penguin camper as we ventured into the east coast motel void. Overpriced and delivering borderline comfort I vowed I would only do this drive again with my own clean sheets and kitchen in tow. By now I was also fed up with eating out every lunch and dinner and was craving fresh food. However, I must say that despite the smelly, sticky room, a morning walk on the harbour and onto Mutton Island is something I most emphatically recommend.

The crowds were ramping up early on the harbour and parking spots were filling fast as we joined a steady stream of people out for a morning walk. The hordes thinned significantly as we followed the path up the steep incline on Mutton Island. The magnificent views from every direction were well worth a little bit of exertion.

On the return walk we took the lower boardwalk along the harbour and I was enchanted by the numerous schools of fish below. It was a really lovely way to spend a morning. I do suggest you avoid the Galley Cafe as our coffees ended up in the bin after one sip. The milk was definitely soured and as we were already in the car ready to start our drive couldn’t be bothered returning to make a fuss. It was a pretty grotty little cafe and the staff too interested in private chit chat to provide more than a nominal sense of service. We stopped for coffee elsewhere, but it was very busy with breakfasters and it was a 45 minutes wait for our take away coffees. Which were very good i might add. I can’t remember the name of the cafe…

Our second overnight stop was at Gorokan, a short distance from The Entrance. We wanted to stay somewhere we had never heard of and hoped it was away from crowds. After a late arrival we had dinner at the Wyong Leagues Club. The huge complex was an easy choice for our tired minds and we followed the path under a well lit canopy into the bustle. The food was not brilliant and we left quite a bit of it uneaten. Not the best choice but I enjoyed people watching over my glass of wine.

In the morning we drove to The Entrance for a quick walk before hitting the road again. Quite a magnificent waterway. I would have liked the time to explore more, including perhaps a swim at the sea baths which is always exciting.

Back onto the highway and it was horrible. The traffic was intense but it was the quickest way home. The drive was improved greatly with a stop at Mittagong and the Gumnut Patisserie. What a find! The tables on the lush grass were plentiful and it was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine. My only regret was not having a full size fridge to bring back heaps of cakes. They looked fantastic and i will make sure I get back there again. To top it off across the road is the Eden Brewery where I purchased my first growler of stout and a few bottles of various others beers to sample.

Gundagai was our last stop over before home. The main street has been repaved and it all looks very spiffy and welcoming to travellers. We enjoyed a quiet pre dinner walk looking at the lovely old buildings, some which have been restored, some works in progress and some looking decidedly shaky on their old foundations. The disused heritage train station is open during the day for visitors and although we arrived after hours we still enjoyed walking around the pretty area. I think the removal of the far too many dodgy pots of bedraggled plants could possibly enhance the entrance to the station. Just a suggestion. The wind was arctic so we headed to the RSL for a warm dinner and were pleased with the simple and delicious fare on offer. I went for a plain old steak which was beautifully tender with perfectly cooked veggies. Enjoyed it thoroughly. The staff were pleasant and prices reasonable. Very good.

Time was up. We were on the last leg of a very busy road trip. Lunch stop was in Wangaratta. We had to pull out the puffy jackets while walking around town searching for Shelly’s Country Bakery which had excellent reviews and I am glad we took the trouble to taste their vanilla slice. It was excellent. Although the lady serving us was a bit miffed at having to make our fresh sandwiches, she did a great job and we parked by the flooded river and enjoyed our fresh sandwiches and delicious vanilla slices. Very yum. Afterwards we went for a bit of a walk to check out the flooded river before the final leg of our drive home.

Beef Casserole – Aunty Frida’s Kitchen

Winter is the time for slow cooking. Bowls of rich tender pull apart meat is one of my family favourite’s. The cooked down veggies add a lusciousness that has you wiping up the bowl in delight with yummy crusty bread.


  • Beef cut of your choice 1 kg cut in 2/3 cm cubes
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • Carrots 2 Medium chopped into 1 cm bits
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Rosemary dried 1 teaspoon
  • Thyme dried 1 teaspoon
  • Paprika 2 teaspoons
  • Passata 1/2 cup
  • Tomatoes diced 1 cup (or 1 can)
  • Beef stock 1 cup
  • Red wine 1/2 cup
  • Lemon zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 Red capsicum diced
  • 1/2 medium Zucchini diced
  • 1/2 medium eggplant diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms cut into thick slices – don’t go too thin on these


  1. Diced all of the veggies, cut up meat, and have everything ready to go.
  2. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a heavy based lidded pot. Heat it and toss the beef until lightly browned then tip it out into a bowl.
  3. Put another tablespoon of oil in the pot and stir in the onion, garlic and carrots until nicely coated. Add all of the veggies except the mushrooms and stir well. If you get any sticking issues add a splash of the beef stock to loosen it up.
  4. Add the Thyme, Rosemary and Paprika. Stir well and put in the meat and juices that would have collected in the bowl.
  1. Add the lemon zest and stir in, followed by wine, tomatoes, passata and stock. Stir well. When it starts to bubble, turn it right down to a gentle simmer, bang on the lid and let it cook for two/three hours. At two hours taste it. The length of time it takes to cook will depend on the cut of meat you choose to use. If it is still chewy, give it the extra time. You can add a splash of stock if it starts to stick.
  2. Just before it is ready, toss in the mushrooms. They will only need a few minutes.
  3. Serves – 4 to 6 depending on how much you eat!
  4. Veggies of your choice on the side. Yumm.

Yorke Peninsula SA – Moonta Bay and Point Turton

Winter was fast approaching so we decided to make a quick dash to the Yorke Peninsula while the sun still shone. We were lucky to score a sunny if not exactly warm week and that was good enough for us!

We chose to drive the quickest most direct route as time was short, but never to short to stop and have a good look at the awesome silo art at Kaniva.

Our halfway overnight stop, well, a little more than halfway was at Murray Bridge, for convenience rather than comfort, as the night time noise from the freeway ensured a restless night. Other than the noise, the park was well set up. The amenities old but clean and the showers had a wonderful flow, much needed to recover from the sleepless night. The camp kitchen was an outdoor open sided setting more reminiscent of camping on tropical beaches. The garden provided a lovely ambiance and would be quite enjoyable on a balmy evening.

Lunch time stop the following day was at Port Wakefield to revisit a town we enjoyed staying at on the way to the Eyre Peninsula on a previous trip. The road works were a nightmare but it is worth stopping and going for a walk in this town of pretty buildings and wide streets. Artworks pop up unexpectedly and the giant pepper tree was awesome. It was hard not to hug it. The compulsory vanilla slice taste test wasn’t great from the Port Wakefield Bakery but the sandwiches were good.

We arrived at Moonta Bay Holiday Park glad to have booked a lower level waterfront site. Definitely the better choice of positions. The views were uninterrupted and glorious at any time of the day. The sites are tight but the view more than makes up for it. The amenities are almost fully refurbished and pretty yellow roses in a vase were a lovely touch. Unfortunately the showers are possibly the worst i have ever experienced, and i’ve used many…The pressure was so low i laughed in spite of my discomfort and the hot to cold roller coaster had me screaming and hopping in and out of the three drops that fell on my head. I learned to wash my hair quickly as soon as the water was warm enough and that was as good as it got. A shame, as it is a terrific location. As our first evening fell i marvelled at how lucky we were with the view from our van.

Loving tides as i do, Moonta Bay delighted me. High tide filled the swimming enclosure and low tide changed the colours to pale blues and provided heaps of paddling space for little ones. Add a wonderfully long pier and my joy was unbounded. I can’t emphasise enough how crystal clear the water in this area is. Simply stunning. The clarity of the water rivalled any i have seen anywhere, ensuring we will return in warmer weather to be able to enjoy it from within rather than from above. The swimming enclosure provided some assurance that the beautiful water could be enjoyed without fear of being shark bait.

I was pretty chuffed to see the van next to us named after me. Well, actually, i was told it was Frida Kahlo but eh…

If walks on white sand, fishing and beautiful sunsets are your pleasures, you should visit Moonta Bay. We saw soooo many fish and squid in the water when walking on the pier. When the sun shone, the colour of the water was stunning. And the sunsets were magnificent. Perfect for the evening wine.

We were entranced by the ‘crazy bunny’ in an enclosed courtyard in the main street of Moonta who was waiting for adoption. He was the last one left of his family. Tempting, but nah.

Sadly we had to leave Moonta Bay after a glorious four days but i was keen to check out Point Turton. We could only spend three days at Point Turton as we had to return to work, and it was not long enough. We once again booked a waterfront site but it was a bit noisy with fishermen coming and going in the early hours. The car park for the boat ramp was right at our feet. Best to book a site away from the lower levels at Point Turton. We will know for next time. This is a very busy park, lots of boats and mainly older gray nomads who appeared to have settled in for long stays. Lucky buggers. A fire pit beside the camp kitchen is lit every day at 4pm so anyone looking for company can congregate for a chat. The amenities are old but freshly painted and clean. The showers were wonderful after the sad ones at Moonta Bay.

Pelicans were well aware of the fish cleaning table…and squabbled openly for space as they expectantly waited. The pier was lined daily with hopeful fisher people. In the clear water we could see ample variety’s and numbers of fish happily swimming through lures and hooks dangling in their space. We watched in fascination as a two handfuls of burley thrown in the water created a seething mass of fin and silver turmoil for a couple of minutes before they all swam off with full bellies and not a single hook attached. Oddly, one solitary fisherman was pulling up fish after fish. Filling his bucket while others watched jealousy.

Again i was astounded by the water clarity. It was truly incredible. I was skipping with happiness.

Stingrays under the pier were so beautiful to watch. I took way too many photos. Such magnificent creatures.

These are three of my favourite pic’s.

We visited the famous Flaherty’s beach at low tide and were amused by the fact they hold a sandbar golf tournament there. The tide was just turning as we left and the incoming water was pristine. If it was summer i would have been wallowing like a jelly fish with no where to go. Many beaches close to Point Turton offer beautiful walks, easy beach driving and some super sand dunes that unfortunately were private property right down to the beach and consequently couldn’t be explored. Although tracks in the sand showed not everyone is as law abiding as some of us.

Tiny shells sparkled prettily on some parts of the beach in huge quantities. There is no lack of empty space to enjoy and exclaim over.

The salt lake trail is well marked and although i have seen more spectacular salt lakes, it is worth the drive to see some of them. A sunny day would have presented a better vista but the weather was turning and we were on our last day before heading back home.

While checking out the salt lakes we drove to Yorketown for lunch at the bakery. We don’t often have pies, pasties or sausage rolls, but i can honestly say these were the best pastries i have ever eaten other than my father in laws. Crunchy, golden and full of flavour. This is a bakery i fully recommend. The vanilla slice was pretty good too. Even though they look messy.

Far too quickly it was time to leave this beautiful part of Australia. On the way home we stopped at Ardrossan for Lunch and sat on a convenient bench overlooking the sea with the stunning red cliffs on either side of us.

Overnight stop on the way home was in Bordertown. It was dark by the time we arrived and we didn’t unhitch. Dinner was a questionable pizza from the road house which was across the road. We were too tired to cook and there wasn’t much else on offer unfortunately. A wee stop at Murray Bridge and a nice walk along the Murray led us to the Bunyip. Don’t go out of your way to see this noisy creature. And don’t take little kids unless they are fearless. The volume was eardrum shattering.

Beachport SA

In March we finally headed to Beachport SA. After a full day’s drive, once over the border we finally feel like we have left Melbourne behind and a new adventure begins. We drove along the Glenelg Highway, quite a nice drive that passes the majestic Gariwerd (Grampians), and through interesting little towns like Linton and Skiption, towns which although look defeated as they slowly decline, show an exciting potential should the future provide opportunity for a rebirth as road stops with fooderies and knick knack shops.

We stopped at Hamilton for a late lunch and the familiar Kings Bakery who offer friendly service, freshly made sandwiches and of course, i had to try the vanilla slice…half of one actually.

On reaching Beachport we were happy to have gained half an hour as we were running a little late. We checked into the Southern Ocean caravan park. Staff were extremely friendly and although a little dated, the amenities were clean. Good size grassy sites are protected from the howling winds that often buffet the coastline. Super quiet too. No road noises. We will stay here again. Easy walk into town.

This park boasts an incredibly fine camp kitchen. Large, light filled, big outdoor area and a pizza oven!

We set up quickly and went for a walk to check out the town and the waterfront before sunset. It is a very pretty town with a small but adequate shopping strip and looooong beach walks. I was super excited. It is an exceptionally beautiful coastline with crystal clear water. The 700 odd metre jetty added to my joy. A sheltered boat ramp for those wanting to throw in a line and miles of white sand with clean water made my introduction to Beachport joyful and as the sun set in a glorious show of colour we happily tucked in for dinner and an early night, ready for a week of exploring.

The main street of Beachport has a cute cinema, telephone box book swap and a bakery and cafes close to the waterfront.

So much beautiful water. The pictures say more than words ever could.

Day two we explored the nearby surrounds. The Pool of Siloam is heralded to have therapeutic properties due to it’s heavy salt content, but it didn’t entice us to go in for a swim. It was a bit murky and manky.

The coastline north just out of Beachport offers beautiful views of rocky outcrops and rock pools. Get out of the car and walk if you are able. You will miss out on so much beauty if you don’t.

Lake George is a salt lake that is dotted with thousands of black swans. The drive around the lake is really 4WD only as it is quite rocky, sandy and at times wet. We had fun but didn’t get to the end as time was short. We will do this again next time we are out this way as the lake was spectacular and the swans an incredible sight. I wish i had a good zoom. This was the best i could do with my phone.

Lake George from the other side was accessible by foot and 4WD. We had a quick look at the Woakwine cutting, a crazy engineering feat that i am not sure was such a brilliant idea, and then drove onto the lake for a walk. Don’t get too close to the edges! As it gets wetter the salty sand is very sticky. My shoes needed a wash and dry afterwards. I have a good husband.

Southend, about half an hour south of Beachport has very well marked walks and a cute book swap outside the CFA. The views are spectacular. Isolated coves with crystal clear waters. Truly lovely and quite easy walks.

Beachport sunsets are pretty impressive.

Sadly it was only a short five day stay. I could easily have stayed a month and explored in greater detail. The walks were so good i wanted to do them all again. But we had to head back to work and decided to take a long slow drive, heading home via Penola for morning tea.

I have a passion for tiled amenities and this one didn’t let me down.

Penola has a cute street and a little park with seats and benches. The surly woman serving us as Windara Bakery put a slight dampener on our experience but we took our vanilla slices and coffee into the park and enjoyed the greenery and sunlight.

Next we stopped at Casterton the home of the Kelpie, for a wee and leg stretch. Take time to stop and have a walk up and down the main street. The once prosperous town has some beautiful shops, unfortunately most of them are vacant, with hand written signs apologising for closing due to lack of business. They have a feel of waiting forlornly to be restored to their former beauty and filled for passing tourist trade. Truly sad. I wish i had seen the street at its best with all the stores brimming.

NSW Northern Beaches

Lockdown in VIctoria has been long and at times frustrating, but we made it out at last! November 2021 saw us crossing the border into NSW and heading up to the beautiful Northern Beaches.

Leaving Melbourne on a wet and foggy morning with my new friend sourdough starter in the van (he needs constant feeding and can’t be left behind) the GPS decided it would be nice to hit the Hume Hwy via Kinglake and the Melba Hwy. A much nicer start to the journey than the dreadful ring road at peak hour.


Coffee, wee and walk at our first stop in Benalla. I was thrilled to finally see the completed mural I had spent a weekend working on in 1983 as a pottery student at RMIT. I was proud to think my hands helped to make some of these terracotta tiles.

Some lovely murals decorated the town. Make sure you go for a walk and look around.


A long tiring drive but due to the rain this year it is very green and pretty. Storms around us delivered some interesting clouds.

Governors Hill Big4 is very tight park. It’s a bit shabby and quite noisy, but the bathrooms are all renovated and super fresh and clean. It’s an overnight stop we have used before, but not sure we will again. The little insect band played country music until quite late in the night. If we had a site closer to them i may well have taken a shovel to them.

Bonny Hill

Setting up through a tropical strength deluge was not fun but i have a good man who let me sit in the car while he battled on. We woke in the morning to sun, humidity and 29 C by 11am. A shower in the immaculate amenities set things right for the rest of the day.

Follow a clear path through a tunnel of vegetation to a beautiful beach that brought joy to my heart.


We stopped at Kempsey looking for a coffee and bakery, but after a walk through the beautiful park and picturesque riverside, enjoying the Jacaranda’s in full bloom, walking through the purple snow dropping with every puff of wind and marvelling at the pops of seed pods bursting open, we decided to move on and look for food elsewhere.

Nambucca Heads

33 C and humid in Nambucca Heads. We were finally thawing out. By now we were starving and settled on the Wharf Street Cafe. An inauspicious facade but it was quite nice and comfortable inside. Set on the river, it had ceiling fans swirling a nice breeze and the staff were really lovely. The food sounded promising but was average unfortunately. We shared Bruschetta, not great, Squid, which was not bad, and Buffalo WIngs, pretty good. The local beers were average, and we went for sweets. I had a Rose macaroon, acceptable but disappointing as i thought it was rosewater, but wasn’t. Coffee’s were good. we ran out of time for walk which was a shame. So, back on to the Pacific Hwy…which i do not like….

Skennars Head

We arrived in Skennars Head with a temperature of 34 C. First time we had felt hot for months and months. The Big4 park is still as comfortable and clean as it was last time we visited pre COVID. The grassy sites are lush, trimmed and spacious. The palm tree cast nice shade over site. Staff are extremely helpful. The low flying planes are great for enthusiasts but are bit invasive if you want a quiet space. Mind you, they are infrequent and don’t seem to fly at night, so it is not too hard to deal with the occasional boomer passing overhead. Friendly frogs in the bathroom!

Sharpes Beach

Just a short drive towards Ballina, Sharpes Beach is indeed beautiful at low tide. There is a walking track from the park, to Boulder Beach and along a well defined path. Surfers hit the waves at high tide. Car Parks are limited during busy periods but the bach is never crowded. Very lovely.

Lennox Head

Lennox Head has a smart little village style street with a choice of eateries. We were lucky to be there on a day when ight rescued sea turtles were being released. It was extremely moving and wonderful to see these incredible creatures who had been cared for restored to health and able to find their way back out to sea. The protected area where they were released is also a great pool for swimming. Naturally protected by rocks from the surf, we had a lovely swim here.

Whites Beach

Whites Beach was quite a journey to get to. Crazy steep steps down to the beach did me in for the next two days. Quite a few of the rocks i clambered down and then UP were deeper than my legs were long enough, so lots of scrambling. Hard work but oh so worth it. This is an incredibly beautiful coastline with a magnificent beach of fine sand and water exceptionally clear. A large cave offers shade to park yourself and there are other small caves and coves to explore at low tide. I wouldn’t risk being caught out during a high tide. The waves here are ferocious and only dedicated surfers were out in the water. The young men we saw bolted up and down the treacherous steps with boards under their arms and bare feet. I was envious of their ease with the quite scary steep track. This is not a swimming beach. The waves were majestic and i couldn’t stop looking at their immensity.

Boulder Beach

A short walk from the park to boulder beach gives access to a great walk that does either left or right along the stunning verdant cliff tops. It’s not called Boulder Beach without reason! This time we took the right hand walk back towards Sharpes Beach. The views are quite unlike most Australian Beaches with the lush green cliffs more reminiscent of the UK coastline. We also saw Dolphins frolicking in the water below. Easy walking and very peaceful.


I’d never been to Bangalow and have to admit i was expecting a pretty rain foresty type drive into a secluded hippy town. Unfortunately the GPS took us straight onto the horrible Hwy which quite killed my romantic vision of our drive. The town was very busy. Parking was virtually non existent. We found a park eventually and went for a walk up and down both sides of the main street. Eateries were not prolific surprisingly, nor particularly enticing. There are lots of pretty shops to have a poke about in for dust collecting items or pale linen women’s wear. Not much available for the boys. We opted to buy some cakes from Butcher Baker, which has a brilliant selection of bakery products. I had a nice chat with wonderful baker who served me and threw some extra cakes in, much to our delight as they were delicious. The custard filled donuts were crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy inside and the custard creamy and satiny and generously filled. Perfect. The pastry on the Raspberry Almond tarts, and pear tarts with delicious. Soft without being soggy or too crumbly. And the cheesecake, yes i am ashamed to say how many cakes we sampled, but have NO regrets, the cheesecake pastry was again wonderful and the filling creamy, not to sweet and i am salivating just writing about these fine sweets. Yummo.


It was time to head home and back to work. Not happy but a necessary evil. Getting off the ugly Hwy for a break, we stumbled on a town we had never heard of, Ulmarra. And what a joy it was. This is a place i highly recommend. The Clarence Cafe at the rear of the Ulmarra Hotel is bliss. I was sad we were there too early to order lunch but the cakes and coffee made up for it. Cakes are well up on the yummy stakes. My cannoli, although quite solid, was beautifully presented and the ricotta filling light and fluffy. He who always orders sticky date pud exclaimed effusively that it was the best he had ever eaten. The coffee on par with any fine establishments in Melbourne, if not better than many! My iced coffee tasted like proper coffee, and it was not smothered in fizzy spray can cream. The modern menu offered grilled whole sardines with ciabatta and sashimi. Reading the chalkboard i vowed to return for a lunch or dinner.

The beer garden was large, green and lovely. Set along the riverside the tables were well spaced out. The environment conveyed a feeling of peace and allowed you to sit and relax. To my distress, there were at least half a dozen water dragons who shared my idea that this was a nice spot to chill. They were draped on virtually every table or bench around the garden. Occasionally one would propel itself off the tables and land in the grass, scurrying away to stop and stare at something only they could see. This is a great place. Make the effort to find it.

After an overnight at Lake Macquarie Big4, which was not my most favourite place i have stopped at, we stopped at Marulan for lunch. The Marulan Cafe made our sandwiches fresh, and were happy to substitute the chicken, which they were out of, with roast beef at my request. Nice to get a pot of tea. The sandwiches were quite substantial and fresh. Good one to remember for a quick stop and feed.


Finding a quiet campsite off the beaten track is one of the best parts of travelling. Humula is a tiny town that boast the smallest licensed club in NSW. Unfortunately it is only open Wednesdays and Fridays, manned by volunteers, and we arrived on a Saturday. There are four powered camp sites on the grass and few more on what looks like it was once a tennis court covered in mulch. There are no shops, we didn’t see any people, and it was super quiet. The amenities are newly renovated and super clean and there are complimentary bathroom products in the ladies. The shower looked like it had never been used. This is a perfect spot for an overnight stop. Even though it was 25kms off the beaten track, it was worth the extra km’s at only $14 a night.


Last stop for lunch before the final part of the drive home. A tidy little town that is as expected set up for tourism. I was a bit surprised that the giant Ned Kelly menacingly pointing a gun looked rather the modern man about town. After a walk up and down the street we settled on lunch at the Glenrowan Hotel, thinking this was the best choice for a Glenrowan experience. Hmmmm. Disappointing. It falls just below average or acceptable. Service was good, the food was not. The ‘Kelly Draught’ is not worth trying. Don’t waste your money unless you like yellow liquid with no personality. I have no idea how old the coleslaw in my burger was but it should have been binned the day before. In their favour, the chips were good. The pizza edible if lacking any actual flavour. Shame, as it is a comfortable hotel with good choice of spaces to sit and chill. Just to let you know if you are looking for a good lunch choose another town, the Glenrowan Bakery was so disappointing we did a walk in, walk out. The choice of bakery products was very limited and looked quite unappetising. I was sad, as i really wanted to include a Glenrowan vanilla slice in my blog ‘The Great Vanilla Slice’ but they looked so plastic i couldn’t bring myself to try one. My recommendation is find another town for lunch.

Jetty Road Brewery

Mother’s Day in Melbourne, the sun shone, it was warm, and the water of Port Phillip Bay glittered in the distance as we circled an industrial estate in Dromana that boasted several breweries, distilleries and eateries.

Jetty Road Brewery offer a spacious casual atmosphere with delightful live music that filled the space without making conversation difficult.

We selected some share foods, chicken bits that were truly delicious, bruschetta that was tasty but more ricotta than tomato, and a meat and bread platter that i wouldn’t recommend. I enviously checked out the next tables chips which looked amazing. I will try them next time!

For $18 a tasting paddle was put together with four beers of my choice. The experience with the young bar man was not particularly delightful. A warning that the sour was ‘very sour’ – twice, and that the dark ale was like, ‘a dark ale’ left me feeling a little testy. a bit of advice to those behind the bar, don’t assume the customer has no idea.

Fortunately, the beers of choice were quite enjoyable. And I satisfied myself with the knowledge that the arrogant fellow will one day feel the wrath of the young.

Desserts were a small but good selection. The pannacotta was okay, perhaps a little heavy, i loved the pecan garnish which to me was the highlight. The beeramisu was disappointing. Far too much cream. Not enough cakey bits and what was buried in there was too dry, not enough beery/coffee taste to cut through the sugary creamy bulk. I wish i had chosen the donuts. I will next time.

The unhurried atmosphere was refreshing. TIme between ordering and eating was surprisingly fast for such a large venue. The waitresses delivered food and removed dirty dishes unobtrusively. Making the whole experience very pleasant.

With Mount Martha and Dromana beach so close, we bought some beers to take home and a couple of t-shirts and headed for a walk as the sun began to set. A good time to go up to the look out as most people had headed off home for the day, leaving lots of parking spaces. Good thing, considering the signage warning us to watch out for cars.

And my love of piers, even if it was just a little one, meant i ended my Mothers Day with a beautiful display of colours above the gently darkening water.

Moama, The Murray and Barmah.

The Murray is truly a wondrous river. The calm yet strong and steady flow pulls you down to the depths of it’s green water, filling your mind with images of what may be lurking below…

We spent a chilled out week at Morning Glory Camp Ground. Don’t let the name put you off, i was a bit dubious, but it is an excellent place to chill away from the busy caravan parks in Echuca and Moama, with the Barmah National Park only a short drive away. There are plenty of shady riverside sites and lots of grassy sites back away from the river and trees if you don’t want overhanging branches. It is a very pretty, clean, grassy camp ground with lots of sites, but not so many powered sites. Mid week during school term found us in a virtually empty park. It was awesome.

The changing colours of the Murray throughout the day are beautiful. I couldn’t stop looking at it…and taking photos…

The birdlife is crazy. The dawn and dusk are heralded by a cacophony, or symphony, depending on your personal thoughts on birds. It is loud and it goes on and on an on. So funny. Lots of squabbling. But beware if you do choose to camp under the trees. We had to wash poo off our car every morning.

Morning Glory is a space for people who want to steep themselves in serenity, away from shops, cafes and bars. A place to sit still. BYO booze and nibbles.The amenities are basic but super clean. The camp kitchen is however not terribly inviting. Functional, but not a place to sit and chill. There is an awesome pool and kiddies water play area, place far enough from the campsites that any noise from exuberance splashers is diffused.

Be warned! The pool and cabins at the rear of the resort are riddled with ants. I happened to walk through the middle of them while walking and my feet were instantly a crawling mess. i have kick off my runners, pull off my socks and run. Very scary. Luckily Hubby had Blundstones on and they couldn’t attach to the leather.

The BBQ looks rusty and a bit past it, but with a bit of a clean it cooked like a dream. We used it every night, and no one else went near it. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed in the results.

While on the subject of food, Suttons Bakery in Moama is right next to the Woolworths, about a 30 minute easy drive. They have a good range of cakes and breads and my review of the vanilla slice is in my blog The Great Vanilla Slices.