Over the Border – Go the Blues!

We have got some kilometers under our belt now as we headed over the border into enemy territory.

First step out of the car onto the Queensland soil was the lovely town of St George on the Balonne River. What a beautiful town. The massive river remimded me of the Murray complete with red gums and bird life. We had a nice lunch, a coffee and a look around.

We treated ourselves to a van park stopover in Roma as we were a little damp and stinky. Although the park owner was very friendly and helpful, in his own words “there is nothing to see here in Roma… it is just a stopover”. I disagree, the warm showers were well worth it!

Out of Roma we decided to head west towards Augathella. We did have plans to try for Canarvon NP but felt that it was just a bit out of our way. We also wanted some extra days in Longreach and Winton areas.

We camped in a beatiful spot on the Barcoo River at Tambo near the site of the first Qantas crash site. The town common is a free camp area but we enjoyed it so much it was very easy to spend some $$ in the town to help support them.

The “Tambo Teddies” are a famous name in Australian craft circles (so I am told). Chloe came out the shop with Harriett under her wing and she is already much loved. In the 1990s the recessionp hit the wool industry here and the town started to make pure wool teddies, leather and all. We watched them being made and saw a fresh piece of wool/hide ready to be the next teddy.

Lunch was in Barcaldine and a political history lesson under The Tree of Knowledge. This is where the Australian Labor Party started. We turned around and counted six pubs along the same street and wondered if the late Bob Hawke had been to every one of them.

We will be in Longreach by now. Hopefully I wont be the only person drinking ‘New in the pub tonight 🤤. Go the Blues!

We are outta here…

The day has finally come and we are back on the road. We had a leisurely run out of Orange, up to Dubbo and onwards.

The most exciting thing that happend enroute may appear minor and inconsequential but it has truly saved my sanity. I have been chasing a rattle under the dash ever since the the Gibb Rr Rd last year. I have pulled the whole dash board apart over the last 10 months looking for it with no luck.

Let me set the scene for you:

Me: I can not find this ****ing noise! It has to be right there somewhere (pointing at the dash).

Kaz: Maybe its the CD stacker?

What do you know… ejecting the 6 CDs fixed it!

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We decided a little place called Cumborah would do for the night. Piling out of the car we had Myrtle up in no time and we were soon sitting around the Noah fire enjoying a drink.

 

We have brought away with us a little fire pit called “The Wedge”. Kaz miss-read it and hense forth it will be known as “The Weirdo”.

We had a great time feeding wood to The Weirdo, eating our snags and planning our next days drive.

Half an hour after hitting the sack the pitter-patter of rain drops sent us off to sleep. What a nice overnighter area. Cost is by donation only and we were happy to pop a few $$ in the box.

The next morning we made the short drive to the bustling metropolis that is Lightning Ridge. Lots of holes in the ground and lots of tourists as well!

We visited the local MPS to say hello as Kaz has made a few trips out here in her district role. It was a good time to drop by as they were celebrating NAIDOC Week with a delicious cake! (sorry… no pic… eating!)

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Next up we are into QLD.

A New Adventure – The BRB2019

We are off on a new adventure!

The Big Red Bash is in its 6th year and is held at Birdsville on the edge of The Simpson Desert, SW QLD. It is a long way from anywhere and a unique venue for a massive event.

This years headline act is none other than Midnight Oil. There are also an amazing line up of fantastic acts that we are bound to enjoy such as Busby Marou, The Living End, 1927 and Kasey Chambers.

Pic credit: Big Red Bash

We have spent the last few days preparing Myrtle for the long journey down the dusty, corrugated roads to the location. It will be great to feel the rattle of the Patrol dashboard again!

Repacking most of the gear from our trip last year has brought back great memories. We have also included a few new bits and pieces… have we gone soft?? 🤔 🤣 Maybe!

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“Dougie built” portable diesel heater… warm!!

As we head off north we are looking forward to blogging our progress if you are keen to follow along.

Daz, Kaz, Noah & Chloe

Easter 2019 – Nangar NP

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It is nearly one year to the day that we packed up Myrtle the Turtle and headed off west for our big trip.

Our return back to normal lives has been pretty seemless. The kids settled straight back into school like they never left and much too our surprise, both our work places continued to function without our valuable presence (funny that!).

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We catch ourselves most days having our thoughts wonder back to some beach, fishing spot or conversation we had while travelling. They are great memories!

We have re-grouped, re-assessed and re-charged our travel batteries and are looking forward to new adventures.

To that end we were lucky to get away over Easter with great friends the Watsons (Doug, Katrina and Tilly) and the Parkers (Alison, Adam and Tom). We decided a local trip to Nangar NP was a suitable location as it was less driving and more relaxing.

Now Easter camping usually means floods, rain, sleet and snow in our experience. A good deal of time was spent reminiscing our previous fateful Easter camping excursions with awful weather the common theme.

This time we were blessed with magic blue skies and not too cool nights. It was the perfect campfire-sitting environment, as well as rum drinking weather!

We had a great time with Jack joining us for the whole weekend. It was lovely having him sitting around the fire chatting about uni, his history studies and contributing to the camp life.

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A “proud parenting moment” was Noah accepting a challenge with Dougie that he could start the fire with his old fashioned flint & steel in under 5 minutes. Third strike and 11 sec later the kindling was a flaming glow of red. Noah should have laid some $$ on the line! Mum and dad are so proud of his ability to set things on fire.

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The master fire man

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Noah enjoying the fruits of his labour.

It was so nice to get back into Myrtle. It felt so much like home and we laid inside with happy memories flooding back.

We have a few more adventures planned for this year. July sees us head out to The Big Red Bash at Birdsville and October it is “overseas” to Tasmania for a few weeks.

We have decided to keep the blog going if you are interested in continuing to follow the “smiths go west” fun.

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The bones on an unknown creature…

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The Jaffle iron got a big workout!
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Don’t look down!

 

Original song – “dive into you”

**WARNING** this post contains a shameless plug for my music 🎸😎🎙

I had a chance to play a bit of guitar on our trip.

Here is an original song “dive into you”. Written after our experience with the whale shark dive at Exmouth. Listen out for some guest vocals at the end.

While you are over at the dazmusic101 YouTube page have a listen to some of my other material.

I hope you enjoy the song as much as we had making the memories.

Listen here ➡️➡️➡️ dive into you. ⬅️⬅️⬅️

Our Team of Favourites

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Before we can tell you what our favourite places and experiences were, we need to give a big cheer to our kids Noah and Chloe. Without their help, opinions and enthusiasm, this trip would have been very different. Our teamwork was complimented many times by the grey nomads, especially directed at the kids when setting/packing up.

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Noah, our handsome young man, sorted the stabilisers, hammered in all the pegs, set up awnings and was always on the front box lifting or folding the canvas. We are so proud of his teamwork and initiative, but especially the kind, thoughtful person he has always been. Opening doors for strangers and contributing to any adult conversation that was had around the campfire, he has grown so much. No longer did he ask for us to get his scooter of the roof of the car, he was up there taking both of them off and strapping them up when done. Thank you Noah.

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Chloe, our inquisitive girl, can now do her jobs unprompted (well maybe just a little prompting now and then). Chloe was always on top of the trailer undoing/doing up the clips, sealing the velcro around the top and tying down the sides. She also pulls out and sets up the kitchen on arrival. All this before running off to the jumping pillow or the beach sand to play. She was also in charge of the evening wash up, collecting everything up and hauling Noah off to the camp kitchen. At every turn there was at least 5 questions about anything and everything. Never stop learning Chloe.

So, now that we are home, we are often asked the “favourites?” question, and we spent the last week on the road having a healthy debate between the four of us. It helped to pass the time and bring back some memories for the kids too. Anyway, here is the hardest blog to write!

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Darwin

Camping Spot – Big 4 Howard Springs! Thanks for the company, Karen Wilson, we just loved sharing our epic adventure with you! You coming was such a highlight for us. And our friendly neighbours, the Perry’s, bonding over shared hose connections to fill the tanks! Memorable 9 days with very special people. (Possums nearly ruined it all!)

Experience – it was hard to agree on this one, so kids voted the Darwin waterfront with the wave pool and RFDS facility and the adults went for ‘Walk Darwin’ tour. If we could add more, it would be the Territory Wildlife Park!

 

Kakadu

Camping Spot – although we really wanted to camp at Jim Jim, it was still closed (sorting out the crocs) so Cooinda was perfect for 8 nights. It was like camping in the bush, but with a pool, restaurant and facilities within reach.

Experience – it was a tie between Gunlom Falls especially the infinity pool at the top (of a 500m vertical climb!) and Ubirr rock arts/crocodile watching at Cahill Crossing.

 

Stuart Highway

Camping Spot – SA/NT border. The best free camp. Watched the stars at their brightest as there was no light pollution at all. We were all on our own there.

Experience – Mataranka thermal pools. This was Chloe’s absolute favourite place and probably pushed her swimming skills to the next level because she never got out of the water.

 

Kata Tjuta National Park

Camping Spot – Ayers Rock Campground. We just didn’t fit into the unpowered sites, Myrtle is 6 x 8m, so we were upgraded to the powered section. This was the first time we plugged in. The resort was fantastic, loved the Astronomy talk (with a huge telescope) too.

Experience – Mala walk. This free ranger guided talk took two hours at the base of Uluru and focused on the history as well as current life of the Ananou people. It also helped with our family discussion on why we should/shouldn’t climb. These were the best school days for the kids (and adults).

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Damper Peninsula

Camping spot – Gumbanan, perched on an escarpment, looking out to Curlew Bay and the Indian Ocean. We thought we’d stay for 2 nights, ended up staying 8 nights. Probably our favourite camp spot of the whole adventure.

Experience- Southern Cross Lullumb walk with Bolo. Although we explored the Damper Peninsula for 2 weeks, spending the day with Bolo and his family in Bardi Jawi country was an experience we won’t forget.

 

Ningaloo Reef

Camping Spot – Ningaloo Station, another corrugated road but worth the beach front camping! We didn’t wear any shoes for 4 days. Bonfires on the beach, swimming on the reef and fishing heaven. This was Noah’s favourite spot.

Experience – Dive with the Whale Sharks. Thanks to Ocean Eco Adventures, this was the most humbling experience to swim next these amazing animals. All four of us got to swim along side whale sharks, and turtles with the bonus of seeing humpback whales that had just given birth to their calves. They were just starting their journey back to Antarctica.

 

Shark Bay World Heritage Area

Camping Spot – Francois Peron National Park. We were completely on our own, more beach front camping, more stunning views. This was Darren’s favourite spot. We were the only ones here and the colours stunning. Red sand, white sand, brilliant blue with the setting sun.

Experience – meeting the dolphins at Monkey Mia, it was on Noah’s ‘top three’ list and he was lucky enough to be chosen to give them a little feed of fish. Darren’s favourite experience here was being recognised in the street from http://www.Smithsgowest2018.com website! Thanks Angela!

 

Gibb River Road

Camping Spot – Ellenbrae Station. A little oasis along a bumpy, dusty road. The kids fell in love with Evie the dog, we ate the best scones and showered under a semi-outdoor boab tree (hot water thanks to a wood fire stove). We also loved Kununurra – our beautiful neighbours Olivia and Matt! We sure hope to see you guys again soon.

Experience – Mitchell Falls. This was a hard place to get to. It took us 3 hours to travel 70km at one point but it was oh so worth it. The helicopter ride to the top of the falls, exploring every nook on the way back (under water falls and over rocks), it was a great slow amble back to camp. The rock art here was incredible as well.

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Nullarbor Plain

Camping Spot – ‘Gravel pit past the sink hole’ on WikiCamps. 509km east of Esperance. It was a magic free camp! Totally found it by chance.

Experience – watching Noah build epic campfires each night to keep us warm. He has mastered the ‘flint & steel ignition like a true bushman. The three days traveling across was not so Nulla-boring after all!

 

Eyre Peninsula

Camping Spot – Whyalla foreshore. We were 5m from the water (again) and Noah spent half the day fishing. It was also our last time camping in Myrtle for the epic adventure.

Experience – Day at Coffin Bay. Exploring this little coastal town had us chatting to the local volunteer ambos, walking along the numerous jettys and learning all about the oyster industry from Chris at PURE Coffin Bay Oysters.

 

Coober Pedy

Camping Spot – Riba’s Underground. Rick and Barbara (RIBA) were really great hosts giving honest advice on what to do and see with kids. Everything that was recommended was tops. They also had their own mine their and did a real hands on tour. Lotsa flies here!!!

Experience – This place was also on Noah’s top three list! All of it, the shops, mines and churches. The most interesting place (maybe a little weird) was Faye’s Underground Home. This house was dug out by three women over 10 years. They made sure to have a cellar, bar and indoor pool. They sure liked a party.

 

So that is a quick answer to “what was your favourite?” We did so much more that it is extremely difficult to narrow all our experiences down to one short blog post.

In the end, we managed to do a hell of a lot together, cover many 21, 595 kms of this awesome country and had a great time doing it. Next, it’s either smithsgonorth or smithsgosouth!

Thanks for coming along with us.

Barossa Valley – wining and dining

Barossa Valley, easy to photograph, easy to drink, easy to love!

We had quite a few reasons to be so excited getting to this part of the world. Not only had we won our Discovery Parks accommodation but we were getting closer east to home.

We have many good memories of the area from previous visits as well as family we love to see in nearby Adelaide. Helen and Daryl kindly came up for a lunch with us.

They know the area so well we were able to sit back and enjoy the day knowing we were going to see and learn something new for sure. Highlights included our pub lunch and a spectacular view from Menglers Hill Lookout.

We managed to sneak into Pindarie Wines. We had been here before two years previously and love both the wines and the cellar door.

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As we usually do, we tried to go to some vineyards that we didn’t know so well. We are rarely disappointed with this tactic and found ourselves at Bethany Wines, Yalumba and Turkey Flat Wines.

Our other not so tactical tactic is to invariably buy plenty from each. So we were well loaded by the end of the day!

We decided to end our trip with one last supper. Kaz found a place only a short walk up the road called Musque Food & Wine.

From the moment we walked in we knew this would be a very special meal. The vibe was casual and friendly and the staff were very welcoming. Kaz couldn’t resist taking some foodie shots as it was so delicious.

Of course we walked there for a reason… matching wines to go with each course! What a great night. Now onwards home to reality.

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