Arno’s Wall, Winton QLD

Arno’s Wall, Winton QLD

If you want to see something a little unusual on your next outback adventure, Arno’s Wall should definitely be on your itinerary!  This ‘monument’ is something a little bizarre that everyone should take time to see when visiting Qld’s outback town of Winton.

Arno Grotjhan’s wall(s) have been constructed over the past 30+ years, reach two metres high and extend for at least 70 metres and are made of concrete and rock from Arno’s opal mine at Opalton.

 

I was walking past the gates, video camera in hand, when 2 big dogs started growling at me from the back of the ute parked out the front. I took the long way round, and kept filming. On my way back past, a man came out the gates, telling the dogs to settle down. I thanked him and asked if these walls were his. He nodded, Chris joined us, and Aaron told told us all about the walls that his father had built.

Arno Grotjahan was one of Queensland’s most well-known opal miners, and immigrated to Australia from Germany in the 1960’s. Not long after he arrived in Winton, Arno mined a valuable boulder opal and was able to to purchase a house in Winton. He spent the rest of his life mining, raising his family and collecting Australian and international memorabilia. When his collection got a little too big, he decided to create Arno’s Wall.

While we were chatting, Chris looked at me, then back at Aaron, then back at me, then back at Aaron before asking ‘Were you on a TV show by any chance?’ Aaron nodded. ‘Yes, I’m Opal Hunters next top loser!’ he said laughing.

Aaron, who has now taken over from his father who is now deceased, invited us to come inside the gates for a sneak peek at what he’s got planned over the coming years. We met his mate, his cat and gained a lot of insight as to why these walls were built and his plans for the future. The backyard is overflowing with, what some people would call, junk, but according to Aaron – he has big plans for every piece of it.

 

These quirky walls are so much fun to look at – and the closer you look, the more quirkiness you see and the more fun you have! There are so many industrial and household items like typewriters, TV’s, entire motobikes, engines, sinks, sewing machines, wheels, ovens, nuts and bolts, appliances, springs, a letterbox, a petrol bowser and the list goes on.

Aaron is going to be finishing another wall and tidying things up so visitors can actually walk through the walls of art which have been made from items mostly scavenged from the Winton Dump.

It’s a great piece of Winton’s history concreted into the walls and floors at this property in the heart of the town, just behind Winton’s iconic North Gregory Hotel.

Black Rocks, Esk, NSW

Black Rocks, Esk, NSW

Sand dunes, huge black rocks, perfect grassy campsites, and a spectacular coastline – this is Black Rocks, NSW – an incredible natural paradise.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the past four days camped up at the Black Rocks Campground in the Bundjalong National Park in Esk on the NSW North Coast. We have spent quite some time in this area over the past 10 years, but this was our first time camping at Black Rocks as our usual ‘go-to’ is Woody Head Campground, just around the corner. Day trips to Black Rocks are great, but not the same as setting up camp for a few days!

‘Set behind the dunes amongst tuckeroo and banksia trees, Black Rocks campground is perfectly positioned right by Ten Mile Beach and near Jerusalem Creek. Not far from Evans Head, it is a great place for a family camping holiday, with campsites for caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.’

When I posted on our socials about our trip, the most common question was ‘how was the road in?’ We found the road to be smooth and in really good condition. Dusty in the dry, and of course the rocks are still there as they always have been. But all in all, great condition. We did hear that just a few weeks earlier it had been very corrugated, so clearly some work has been done to it since then – my guess is in preparation for the Easter holidays.

Black Rocks Campground is extremely popular, and spots are snatched up pretty quickly, especially during the holiday periods. We stayed the week before the Easter Holidays and were lucky enough to secure the very last site big enough to accommodate a caravan, which was site 28. This is a GREAT spot! It’s a large, flat, grassy site with a clothesline, fire pit and undercover table and chairs. It is also right across from the beach, toilets and public BBQ. We even had a host waiting for us upon arrival!

There are 50 sites available at the campground and most of the sites are similar, but of varying sizes. Some are suitable for caravans, some for camper trailers and others just tents. Some are ‘walk-in’ sites and others can easily fit your whole setup.

You will find picnic tables, barbecue facilities, carpark, clean drop toilets, fire pits and clotheslines dotted around the place, and there is even a dump point if you need it. You will need to bring your own drinking water and firewood.

The beach itself is incredible and you could easily spend hours exploring the huge black rocks dotted all along the coastline. The weather in the previous few weeks had been a tad crazy which meant that the ocean and beach was covered in foam and quite vicious looking! It was also extremely windy for most of this stay.

Jerusalem Creek is well known for those who like to take the kayaks out for a paddle, and the Jeruslam Creek Walk is a 10.3km, three to four hour walk through the wetlands for people who prefer to explore with their feet on the ground.  

Black Rocks Campground is part of the Bundjalong National Park, which means that booking fees must be paid and permits are required. We paid $24 per night camping fee plus $8 per day for the car.

Click here to book https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/black-rocks-campground

We Loved the Historical Anchor Stampers in Lottah, Tasmania

We Loved the Historical Anchor Stampers in Lottah, Tasmania

We found the Anchor Stampers and it was one of the most interesting things we’ve come across on this trip to Tassie! I have lived here for most of my life and had no idea this place even existed. It really is great returning to my home state as a tourist.

The old Anchor Tin Mine was located on the southern footslopes of the Blue Tier and our visit to these rusted tin crushing machines was part of a half day trip to the Pyengana/Lottah region on Tasmania’s East Coast.

Pyengana Dairy

Our afternoon began with lunch at the Pyengana Dairy, a beer at the Pub in The Paddock (where sadly Priscilla 1 and Priscilla 2, the beer-drinking pigs, were hiding away in their little pig-house), a walk to the 90 – metre – high St Columba Falls and a visit to the incredible old Don Mine. It was an action-packed day, that ended with the short walk into the old Anchor Mine to view the old tin stampers.

Pyengana Dairy

Pub in the Paddock

St Columba Falls

Don Mine

We followed the GPS to Lottah where we found – nothing. Chris looked over at me while we were driving along the narrow, windy road surrounded by dense bush and said ‘great, another wild goose chase!’ But we were in the right spot and if you looked around, there was actually plenty to see. If we had more time, we would have included the Halls Falls Walk in the day’s adventures!

Given what we were seeing (which was nothing), you would never have known Lottah was once a bustling mining town and home to 150 miners and their families. The town had everything the residents needed including two hotels, a post office, general store and police station. Although any church goers weren’t catered for as interestingly, there was no church of any denomination. Lottah was once a main thoroughfare for those traveling between St Helens and Scottsdale but now the only way to get there is via a gravel road. This road runs alongside the beautiful Groom River that looks to have some stunning swimming holes – if you can find your way down to them! Lottah no longer has shops, and there remain just a few houses – which is so very different to a time when St Helens was built just to service Lottah and the Anchor Mine.

The Anchor Stampers signs are dotted along the road and not hard to see. Pull into the large, circular car park where you will find the beginning of the short 30 – minute – return walk.

 The track itself is a formed path that takes you gradually downhill with a couple of sections of reinforced dirt steps and past a few remnants of the mining days. You walk past the old dam and along what we think is the dam wall. It’s a bit overgrown in places with prickly plants like thistles and what appeared to be blackberry bushes, so be careful – I nearly tore a hole in my jumpsuit!

As you approach the first viewing platform, the two 10-head heritage stampers from the 1930’s loom up from the forest wall giving you a sense of being transported to another time; a time when there were no trees here, just a clearing with a working tin mine where hundreds of men laboured away, from 1880 until its final closure in 1996.

 Walking further down a little path, you will see that here are two different Stampers – one is the Thompson, brought across from Castlemaine in Victoria, and the other is the Salisbury, manufactured in Launceston (as you can see stamped on the front of each machine).

The stampers are huge and rusty and you can get right up close and even touch them- just mind the spiders!

The informative signs on both viewing platforms give a great explanation of what it used to be like here, and how tin mining has played such a huge part in Tasmania’s history.

As with most of Tasmania’s walks and hikes, be aware of snakes, leeches and ticks. Thankfully we only ended up with one leech on us this time! Our trip to the Don Mine delivered two leeches to Chris and five to me. Eek!

The Anchor Stampers are well worth a visit. I rate this little-known attraction a 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Paradise Found in Burrum Heads

Paradise Found in Burrum Heads

Check out our YouTube video here!

It’s definitely who you know not what you know! And lucky for us, we just happen to be mates with some amazing people who own a magnificent beach front property affectionately known as Tara, up near Burrum Heads on the Fraser Coast of QLD.

You’ll find Burrum Heads about 2 1/2 hours’ drive north of Brisbane, in between Hervey Bay and Woodgate on Queensland’s Fraser Coast. This stunning seaside fishing village is on the inlet where the Burrum River meets the ocean.

There’s plenty to do in and around Burrum Heads; great swimming just a little further south, fishing in Lake Lenthall, and of course, brilliant camping spots on the Burrum River. The Wongi Waterholes located in the Wongi State Forest, is a lovely place to camp or go for a short visit. Here you will find a string of beautiful waterholes fringed by paperbarks and rushes. The waterholes are a golden-brown colour thanks to the tannins that have leached from the paperbark trees nearby. We don’t stay here though, as we have our own private slice of paradise to park up on!

 

 

This property boasts 76 acres including its own slice of waterfront heaven. And when I say waterfront I mean— open your door, take about five steps, and your feet are in the sand. It’s for sale for $4 million. So, if you like what you see and want to make an offer, let us know and we will put you in touch with the owners. Or maybe we won’t. We really don’t want to see this place sold unless the new owners guarantee us a spot on the sand. 😉

And before you ask, no, this property is not available on Hipcamp (or anything similar) and it won’t be. As I said at the start – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!

Aside from just soaking up the beauty of where we are camped for six days, we do some exploring – of course!

We explore Burrum Heads first by car and as soon as we see the line up outside the local Fish and Chip shop, we know this is our first stop!

We have a chat with a lovely couple from Hervey Bay while we wait, and when the gentleman steps out the door holding our food and calls our number, we pick it up and then wander over to a table by the water and sit down to eat. 

I can honestly say that I think this could be the most delicious crumbed calamari I’ve ever had! Check out the YouTube video where Chris pinches one!

This is followed by a stroll along the Esplanade to walk off our lunch, hanging out with some pelicans, checking out the beach shacks and much newer, larger holiday homes, and chatting with some grey nomads parked up in the local caravan park. After we’ve seen all there is to see in Burrum Heads (that we know of), we head back to the van.

As the sun starts to sink low behind the van, the atmosphere comes alive — electric almost. Golden hour casts its glow over the land and shimmering water as we lay the sticks to start a campfire. Flames roar, Chris grabs his beer and the tribal sounds of Yothu Yindi float on the breeze to where we sit by the fire watching the full moon rise up as the sky darkens and the sun disappears.

On the Sunday we decide to make the 15-minute drive into Toogoom to have a look around, as some of the locals have told us that it’s a ‘lovely little spot’. The skies are grey, and the rain falls intermittently meaning umbrellas and shorts are the required attire for the day. Thongs splash mud up the back of our legs as we walk from the parked car across the road to Goody’s – we’ve heard that this is the place for lunch. What a great spot! Right on the water, with live music playing and jet ski’s being launched from out the front – the place is a hive of happy energy. Too much energy sadly, as they are booked out thanks to it being Father’s Day. The food looks and smells amazing and our mouths start watering … so we decide to wander across the road and see if there is any room at the Salty Squid. There is, and we have the most delicious tapas! Oh, it is yum! We eat, and eat, and eat … and then figure it is the perfect time to hit up the esplanade at Hervey Bay with our skateboards! Ok – so Chris thinks it’s the perfect time. I’m a tad hesitant due to the wet weather and the fact I’m wearing thongs – and my skate shoes are safely locked up in my shoe cupboard in the caravan!

After a quick 10-minute drive, we find ourselves in Hervey Bay. Chris points out this and that and I nod.  ‘Do you remember …?.‘ he asks, and I shake my head. It’s been about nine years since I’ve been here, and I can’t remember much as we spent all of our time between the hotel and the motocross track!

Out my window I see a huge chrome whale breaching out of the concrete and in front of me through the windscreen I see a water park – currently closed – with lots of smaller chrome whales. It turns out that this is the esplanade, and we park up, get our boards out, and off we go. Well, off Chris goes. I follow slowly behind, wary of my bare feet being so close to the ground and the complete lack of experience that I have on my board! It’s been over 12 months since I last went for a skate. I remember clearly thinking to myself last time that ‘I will not leave it this long in between skating again!’ and I’d done just that. But, by the end of our ‘session’ although I was somewhat confident on the board, at the same time I was happy to throw it into the back of the Chev, and climb in the driver’s seat knowing I still had all my skin on my body and teeth in my head!

I drive us home – I’m still getting used to driving this beast of a car! It’s just a little different to my RAV4 – and we settle in for another magic night by the ocean.

The following days are a mixture of sand, sun and rain. I have some work to do inside the van on my laptop, so the rain is actually a good thing! It’s just too tempting with all that beachy sunshine beckoning me out the door.

The time comes to pack up and head home and it’s windy, raining and rather miserable. Once again, this is not a bad thing! I don’t mind heading home when the weather is like this. Well, in all honesty I’d rather be in the van no matter what the weather! I’m actually writing this post in October – two months after our trip to Burrum Heads (slack, I know!) I am writing from my office, in my home which just happens to be our caravan! We now live in our caravan and never have to pack up and go home – to a house – again. How’s that for an awesome end to this little story?

Long Weekend with the Crew at Habitat Noosa

Long Weekend with the Crew at Habitat Noosa

Think an enormous campground on the banks of an enormous flat lake where enormously good times can be had!

Habitat Noosa is a 65-acre eco-resort in The Great Sandy National Park on the Sunshine Coast with 500 metres of lake front on the Noosa River. The stunning Lake Cootharaba, the largest salt water inland lake on the Noosa River is the gateway to the upper Noosa River and the Noosa Everglades.

This weekend (being a long weekend), the lake was filled with people on stand-ups, kayaks, canoes and when we were here before (years ago!) we saw people sailing, wind-surfing, kite surfing and fishing. Complete with solar-sites, 9-par golf course, bistro/bar, micro-brewery, watercraft for hire and even tours into Australia’s Everglades, it’s no wonder this place was completely booked out for the Ekka long weekend! I had no idea that there are only 2 Everglades in the world … The Florida Everglades and these ones – The Noosa Everglades. There is also direct access from here to some ripper walking trails in the National Park.

Please note that as this is a national park, no pets are allowed and all rules that apply to national parks apply.

 

Watch Video Here

We went with our regular crew of about 12 vans and a few that used the wilderness glamping and luxury glamping tents. Oh – and of course the teenagers that swagged it under the gazebo.

It was a long weekend for most, but not Chris’s kids who live on the Bayside. Most of our friends headed up on the Thursday, but we had to wait for the kids to finish school on the Friday and then enjoy the long weekend traffic all the way up. It took just under 4 hours! Others who went up earlier in the day had the same headache. Oh, how we love the weekend traffic to the Sunny Coast! 

We picked up our late check-in pack from reception and pulled in through the bright red boom gate about 7pm. The campfire was roaring, and beers and conversations were already flowing. What a relaxing way to end to another hectic week.

The next morning we thought we would get up early to snap a few pics of the sunrise over the lake, but the closest we got to that was a shot of the light seeping in through the hatch in the roof of the van as the sky changed from dark to light. It was overcast and threatening to rain.

It soon cleared up to a beautiful morning filled with exploring, water ‘sports’ reading, sunbaking, wheelies and just hanging out.

While I was reading/sunbaking on the beach I overheard the people behind me saying that the guys in reception had said a storm was coming about 3pm. The winds started picking up about 11:00 and mid-afternoon the ‘storm’ hit. It was more like a windy sun shower … but it made for some interesting times none-the-less!

At 12:00 the (big) boys headed over to the Eco-brewery to try 6 of the 8 beers on offer. This is Australia’s only artesian micro-brewery using water that has been filtered through time in the Cooloola sandmass to produce delicious, preservative free beer. This was by booking only due to Covid restrictions. They had one hour to finish the 6 jugs and did so easily!  

While the boys were at the bar, I headed back to the van and baked some scones in the air fryer and the teenagers did ‘teenager stuff’.

The rest of the day was filled with more of the same; friends, brews and good times (and Chris annoying everyone with the video camera!)

When Sunday rolled around, there was no feeling of ‘it’s gone way too fast!’ from us! The kids caught a lift home with our mate’s son who’s now on his P’s (how cool is it when the kids start driving?!) and we simply packed up and headed off to our next destination – Glastonbury Campground in the Brooyar State Forest. Now that’s an adventure for another time …

HABITAT NOOSA

  • Powered/unpowered sites
  • Glamping tents
  • 9-hole par 3 golf course
  • kiosk
  • watercraft for hire
  • Everglades tours
  • new toilets and showers
  • renovated camp-kitchen
  • group and education centres
  • CootharaBAR – bar and bistro
  • Eco-brewery artesion micro-brewery
  • kiosk serving breakfast, snacks and First Batch coffee
  • two levels and styles of glamping accommodation

Book here: https://www.habitatnoosa.com.au/

Camping from $33 per night

Wilderness Glamping from $150 per night

Luxury Glamping from $239 per night

Moreton Island

Moreton Island

Moreton Island is one of our favourite Aussie destinations, and we are so lucky to have it right in our own backyard.

Chris has been holidaying on the island since he was a kid and has been bringing me along for the adventures for the past 10 years. (yup – we have been together 10 years this October!)

 

He’s told me stories of his parents, aunties, uncles and cousins all loading into an old troopy and camping up at the Ben Ewa Camp Ground; of how he used to head over as a teenager and get up to all sorts of mischief (like falling off a tailgate that snapped when they hit a bump driving along the beach) and camping with tents and gazebo.

We first camped on Moreton many years ago in an old tent that I brought with me from Tassie. Since then we’ve camped in our rooftop, camper trailer and even towed our 22’6” Jayco across to the surfside. Yep – it was a little tight through Middle Track!

We’ve spent weeks camped up in the dunes on the surfside in the middle of summer, weeks in the same dunes in the middle of winter, a few nights in the glamping tents and multiple nights in other various campsites dotted along the beach on both sides of the island. We’ve had a wander through ‘The Birdcage’, a house for hire in Bulwer where family were staying and of course we’ve had a sticky at the Tangalooma Resort. And while it’s not our preferred type of accommodation, we have friends who love it.

There are plenty of choices for those who decide to stay on the island and this trip we spent 3 nights in the Castaways Glamping Tents and 3 nights in beach campsites. (See our review on Castaways on our YouTube video. Link here https://youtu.be/rVBlaKkaJFI )

Needless to say, we love Moreton and don’t really mind where we stay as each area has its own ‘uniqueness’! We do prefer absolute beach front though and love the sunsets and calm waters of the Western Beach and the sunrise and surf over on the Eastern side.

 

We’ve spent time snorkelling, fishing, sandboarding, surfing, hiking, exploring, kayaking, swimming, sunbaking and of course drinking and eating! There is so much more to do than hang out on the beach and we highly recommend exploring the old World War II Bunkers that are scattered across the island.

There really is so much to see and do and we would love for you to watch our latest YouTube video as we show you around the island. Link here https://youtu.be/rVBlaKkaJFI

Sadly the weather wasn’t the best for us on this particular trip and we had a day or two that was more suited to curling up with a good book and a cuppa! This meant we weren’t able to climb Mt Tempest, explore the Blue Lagoon or head down to Kooringal and the Gutter Bar. But we suggest that you do!

We often get asked how long we recommend staying. Let’s just say we stayed for 6 nights this trip and still didn’t do everything that we wanted to!

Please make sure to book your trip well in advance as the Micat’s more popular ferries can book out pretty early. If you are planning on camping you will need a camping permit before you head on over. Book and get everything sorted here: https://www.moretonislandadventures.com.au/

Let us know what your favourite Moreton Island experience is and if you haven’t been over, are you planning on it? If not, why not? We are sure you will love this perfect island holiday destination as much as we do!

Check out our YouTube Video here