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

BIG4 Caravan Park, Wye River, Great Ocean Road. VIC

BIG4 Caravan Park, Wye River, Great Ocean Road. VIC

We couldn’t have picked a better place to hold our first Titanium Caravan Owners Rally. BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park is such a beautiful, large and well maintained park with lots of wildlife and grassy, open spaces.

The park is located in a lovely riverside valley with mountains behind, a babbling river running through, and a surf beach right across the road. There is also a general store and cafe right at the entrance to the park. We ordered pizzas, lasagne and salad for everyone from here and it was delicious!

Most of us are self contained in our vans, but I did go and check out the amenities which seemed pretty new! The laundry was awesome and the large washing machines and driers both cost just $3 a load.

The new camp kitchen was great! Fully enclosed and self contained with tables and a large fridge. There was no cutlery that we could find though – so be sure to take your own. There are also outdoor tables and bbq’s – some sites even have their own tables!

For the kids there is a games room, adventure playground, jumping pillow, go karts for hire plus plenty of walking and riding trails.

There are cabins and powered plus un-powered sites, it’s dog-friendly and has all the regular awesome stuff that BIG4’s often have. Live music, firepits for hire, fire wood for purchase, drive through sites, disabled bathroom and the list goes on.

Check out the website https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/vic/great-ocean-road/wye-river-holiday-park for more info or to book. Say you heard about it from us and you never know they might give you the VIP treatment 😉

The best part of this park is most definitely the location. The Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular roads in Australia!

Riverina Hotel Free Camp, Holbrook NSW

Riverina Hotel Free Camp, Holbrook NSW

We ended up doing 600km from The Great Ocean Road to Holbrook and flicked open wiki to find somewhere close by. This free camp popped up and the reviews looked good so we thought we’d give it a go. We always enjoy pub camping; chatting to and having a beer with the locals is always fun!

It’s right behind the pub as they usually are, which means it was also close to the road. There is a grassy area with some dirt/gravel areas and a large gravel car park on one side (parking for the pub and trucks). You can enter via Bowler street through the car park or down the little road just past.

Big rigs do come and go – one started up and left at 3am, and overall it wasn’t super quiet, but not too bad. It was a warm night though so we had all the windows open.

The grass was green and the trees large and shady. We had no problem pulling in, turning and parking. We were the only ones there (Sunday night).

You must go into the hotel to let them know you are staying (for safety reasons) and buy a meal or a beer to use amenities (we are self contained so didn’t need to use them but I hear they are well maintained). We did have a beer, sat out front and had chat with the locals.

This is a great overnighter in a really convenient place.

  • Dogs are allowed

  • Shower (we didn’t see this but it says there is one in the wiki description)

  • Toilets

  • Bins

  • Good phone reception (we are with Telstra)

  • 72 hour limit

  • Accessible for big rigs

RV Retreat, Coolongolook, NSW

RV Retreat, Coolongolook, NSW

Overnight Campground for Self-Contained Vehicles

This morning we left the Gold Coast to head south. It’s day 1 of our brand-new lives … Aussie Destinations Unknown: Full Time Travellers! We know we have to be at various places in Melbourne next week, and we are catching the Spirit of Tasmania on December 11th. We’ve just booked 4 nights at the Melbourne Caravan Park for our time there, but leading up to those dates, we have no accommodation booked, and no idea of how far we will travel each day or where we will be stopping. Just like today. Chris felt that Port Macquarie was it, as he put the cruise control on, gave his feet a break and hunched himself over the steering wheel to stretch the stiffness out of his back. That’s generally my cue to flip open the laptop and start searching on wikicamps or Hipcamp.

Today wiki delivered a pearler of a spot! The reviews were fantastic, photos beautiful and location just one hour south of where we were. Chris had a look and decided he could drive a bit further and here we are. At the RV Retreat in Coolongolook, just down the road from the Cherry Pie Bakery, on the corner of Lombard and Park Streets.

Chris pulled over and I wandered through the gate and down the drive, following Denise’s instructions and the large signs saying ‘OFFICE’.

I was greeted by two smiling people, Matt & Denise and a gorgeous view over lush green fields, immaculately kept grounds, a dam filled with water lillies and a genuinely friendly country vibe.

Denise gave me a map which showed us where to park and all the things to do in the surrounding areas. There’s quite a bit to see here – I wish we could stay for another night! The reviews were right and the images genuine. What a find! I couldn’t believe our luck. Wikicamps – you’ve done it again.

We drove a small way down a dead-end street that looks like it leads up to the mountain behind the property and turned right through the large wooden gates and into our site. The roads are made out of what looks like crushed rock – not dirt, but not gravel, and browny/orange in colour. Dust free compacted road base is what Chris said it looked like when I asked him! This not only looks really tidy but offers a stunning contrast against the greenery and bright blue sky.

We were parked up in no time with the windows and hatches open letting the country breeze flow through the van. Being 31 degrees today, its surprisingly comfortable inside! We have a wrought iron table and chair setting right beside the van and the ‘site’ is very private.

We headed up to the brand new camp kitchen (‘The Happy Shed’) for a bit of a look to find a bar (installed a few weeks ago!), table and chairs, couches and lounge chairs, large table with table cloth, BBQ, trolley with insect repellent, stubby coolers, bin bags hand sanitiser and all sorts of practical things, a book exchange (woohoo!) and some antique goodies splashed around. All set in a wide-open shed with views down over the dam.

Chris and I love things to be neat, tidy, functional and to look good – and RV Retreat is all of those and more. The attention to the finer details is such a refreshing change.

About 4:30 Denise walked over to us and we had a great chat while Matt was at the RFS about a kilometre down the road. Originally from Sydney, they love this part of the country and moved up here for a bit of a sea change. Matt’s family was originally from here, so they already had the connection. Oh, we chatted about all sorts of things … including the new tunnel open in Sydney until she headed back to the house, ready to welcome some more guests.

Sure, RV Retreat is right behind the freeway so the sounds of traffic is there, but it’s definitely tolerable – and the sounds of the birds are what my ears tuned into in no time at all.

I can’t recommend this property highly enough, and for just $15 per night (that was for both of us!) you can’t go wrong.

DETAILS:

  • Location: Corner Park and Lombard Streets, Coolongolook (a bit over an hour south of Port Macquarie and 25 minutes to Tuncurry and Forster)
  • Cost: $15 (2 adults)
  • Power: No
  • Water: Tank water available in the kitchen
  • Amenities: No (must be self-contained)
  • Pets: Yes. On a leash as there are chooks and sheep
  • Dump Point: Yes – across the road at the BP
  • Rubbish and Recycling Bins: Yes

Close By:

  • 2 cafes within walking distance (Cherry Pie Café and Salty Dog)
  • Caltex Service Centre (open 24 hours) on other side of highway
  • BP Service Centre (open 5am – 10pm) has liquor licence (on other side of highway

10 minutes away in Nabiac you will find:

  • Butcher (opposite the bakery)
  • Baker (open Monday – Saturday)
  • The Village Café & Takeaway (next to the pub)
  • Nabiac Pub (courtesy bus picks up from RV Retreat Tuesday (from 5pm) and Friday and Saturday (from 3pm)
  • The Nook (local handcrafts)
  • Foodworks (open from 7 daily)
  • Farmers Market (last Saturday of the month) at the Nabiac Showground 8 am to noon.
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?