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

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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Our GCI Traytec Canopy

Our GCI Traytec Canopy

WHERE IS YOUR TRUCK BUILD VIDEO??? Yes, we hear you! And we feel it’s time we give you some answers.

We had really hoped that by now we would have had a full Chev build/run-down video posted … and we know you were hoping for the same thing as we get so many requests for it every day! We thought we’d better explain exactly what’s going on and why there’s no build video to be seen.

It’s a pretty straightforward reason really – the truck isn’t actually finished yet. Covid really made this build a tricky one; parts went missing (lost at sea ), wrong parts were sent, and some parts are still on backorder with no known arrival date.

So, what we have decided to do is a complete run down on the GCI Traytec canopy as this is one of the most common questions we get asked.

Why GCI Traytec? We believe without a doubt, that they are the best in the business. The innovation, styling, design, quality and precision are just some of the qualities that set them apart and has us being pulled over in the street!

The design is 100% Australian with all the work being completed at GCI Traytec which is part of GCI group. GCI group is one of the largest sheet metal fabrication businesses in Australia. The majority of the trays and canopies are manufactured at GCI, however the zinc plating on the mounts and some plastic CNC machining is outsourced.

Design, programming, laser cutting, CNC folding, welding, machining, powder coating and assembly is all done under the one roof in South East Queensland. The aluminium grades used are 5005, 5052, 5083 and 6061. There are zero raw aluminium surfaces as everything is powder coated.
Mounts are made from mild steel to ensure strength yet allowing for flex and copping a beating off-road without cracking or failure. The mounts are also zinc plated which means they don’t rust.

Here’s what we have:

THE TRAY:

Specs: 2000mmx2000mm tray, 900mm high, with a 200mm thick headboard.

HEADBOARD:

The headboard is designed in this way to match the C-pillar, allowing the tray to flow with the design on the car. In the headboard there is a 60L 316 grade (food grade) stainless steel water tank that gravity feeds into an under tray 100L stainless tank that is made from the same 316 stainless steel. It’s then pumped using a 9.5L/m 65PSI pump to the twin outlets on the rear of the tray. One outlet is for the hot water system/shower, the other is for the kitchen. Every component of the water system from filler to outlet is food grade.
The headboard also houses options for dual water and fuel fillers. The fuel fillers work with truck pump high flow diesel with zero splash back.

TOOLBOXES:

We have opted for toolboxes all round – these are actually drawers.
Front boxes are 51L and rear boxes are 32L. All boxes are on 16” (406mm) HD slides and are rated to 40kg per box.
They are all “box in a box” construction meaning there is an inner drawer and an outer box which gives the toolboxes their water and dustproofing. All side boxes have internal lighting.
The rear tunnel drawer is 1200mm long, 625mm wide and 150mm deep with stainless flip lid that doubles as a table. The rear tunnel drawer is also box in a box, meaning the stainless lid doesn’t add or subtract to the water/dust proofing.

MODS:

• Extra wide mudguards for our 37”x 13.5” wide tyres. This is not a standard feature, but this stretched standard design is to ensure truck is legal.
• Winch infill plate (winch to go in at a later date)
• Window protector. You can’t see this, but there’s one on there!
• Central locking on entire canopy– wired into OEM remote.

CANOPY

Size: 2000mmx1750mm

EXTERIOR

• Spare wheel holders to suit our 37” tyres
• Double folding rear ladder. Very similar to standard ladder, but it has had a redesign to allow for the 37s.
• Ladder uprights are 10mm thick, 5083 marine grade aluminium.
• Powder coat. This is a scratch resistant powder which is very hard wearing and super easy to clean with dust not sticking like it would to traditional 2-pac paints.

interior

• COLOUR

The internal colour is mercury silver. We chose this light grey colour as it is light enough to give an open feeling to the canopy but won’t be blinding in bright sunlight and doesn’t show every bit of dirt.

• LIGHTING

Both main doors have three colour strip lighting: white, warm white and amber.

BATTERY SYSTEM

Enerdrive and GCI Traytec’s design teams have worked together to create a fully integrated lithium battery power system. This entire system is housed on the driver’s side front wall. Our system consists of the following:
• BTEC 300AH Generation 2 Lithium Battery (located under false floor)
• ePower DC2DC Charger capable of producing in excess of 40 amp per hour while traveling and supporting up to 800watts of solar.
• ePower Battery Charger that charges at a rate of 60 amps per hour via mains power or generator.
• ePower Inverter – suitable for running 240V household appliances rated to up to 2000W, complete with remote switch & RCD
• Simarine Battery Monitoring System
• External GPO in between spare wheels
• 6 x double GPOs
• 6 x double USB sockets
• 1 x standard 12v socket
• 2 x Anderson plug sockets

Don’t forget you can get a discount on Everdrive products (and anything else you’re after!) by heading to this page: https://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/caravan-rv-camping/ This is where you will find all the discount codes that can be used on the caravan rv camping website

Also, on the driver’s side of the canopy we have two large drawers and the Companion hot water system. This is mounted on a slide/pivot bracket which also has a storage area for our gas line, hose and shower head. The rest of the area has been left open for storage purposes (ie. Camp chairs, table, folding solar panel etc).

Moving onto the passenger side of the canopy you will find ‘Le Chev’ aka Chris’s kitchen.

Starting from the left we have 110L Dometic upright fridge which sits snugly next to our slide out pantry. In this pantry we have heaps of space for our food, condiments, coffee machine, soda stream and other bits and pieces.

The kitchen is next level and has to be seen to be believed.  It slides out, and then drops, folds and slides again before sliding, folding out and sliding out yet again. It gives us so much storage and bench space while allowing us room for our flush mount, stainless housed double induction cooktop and yes, we even have a sink!
Above our transformer-like kitchen we have a large open top pull out drawer with front access and above that we have a microwave that also slides out and gives us more storage behind.

Upstairs we have the Alucab Gen 3 Rooftop Tent and 270 Shadow Awning. The Shower Cube will be installed as soon as it arrives, and we will run through the Alucab gear in more depth in a separate post. 
This is a dream build for us, and it’s now our way of life! It’s our home away from home (the caravan being our home!). By not compromising on quality, we have given ourselves the peace of mind to know that we can get on with our adventuring without worrying that something might go wrong.

If you want to see this ‘in the flesh’ we will be at most of the major national 4x4 shows and some caravan shows this year (covid pending).

If you are interested in a top-quality tray or canopy, contact the legends at GCI Traytec. They are one heck of a team!

Lazer Lamps Lights up the Silverado

Lazer Lamps Lights up the Silverado

Those of you who are serious about good clear night vision know how important lighting is.  I’m talking to you beach drivers, outback drivers and those of us who like to get out and play after dark.

We set out to build the Chev with top quality componentry that will stand the test of time and handle the harsh conditions of the Australian environment.

We know the Australian market is flooded with a variety of cheaper lighting alternatives, but for us, quality far outweighs cost.

Not all LED lights are designed the same or built the same and during our research, we came across Lazer Lamps, a product that is designed and manufactured in the UK.

 

Just to give you an idea of the quality of Lazer Lamps, here a few key points:

  • Made In UK
  • 5 year warranty
  • Continuous Improvement – https://www.lazerlamps.com/news/continuous-improvement
  • Motorsport development and testing carries over to products for everyday road/off-road use (M-Sport, Hyundai Motorsport, Toyota Motorsport etc) – WRC / Le Mans 24h Winners
  • Tier1 Relationship in Europe with VW Group (plus many other Tier1/2 partnerships)
  • Innovation Driven
  • Bespoke Solutions e.g. Grille Kits
  • Premium Product Design and Build (no compromise in the selection of component parts for the best performance and build quality)

We have 100% confidence that we have made the right choice. The Triple-R 28 Elite is what we have chose to run with; boasting 28560 lumen, delivering 1 lux to 1253 metres when we flick the high beams on, it’s just one big WOW!

Head over to https://www.lazerlamps.com.au for more info and to check out the entire range

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?