Here or there…

After we escaped city life late in 2015 but had barely dipped our toes into our new treechange lifestyle we treated ourselves to a holiday: off and on during 2016 the G.O. and I explored Victoria, drove anticlockwise around Australia; pop-top-caravan-road-trips exploring the mainland states, only to discover that among many of the places we love most are our home, its village and in our regional backyard.

But yet, we want to do it all again. This time with Diesel: The Dog’s Tour.

It’s been a recurring conversational topic during these days of Covid where many future matters are moot. Can we? Will we? Our plan was… might be still… to start looking with a view to purchase a second-hand semi or off-road full height caravan when the G.O. reaches retirement age next year.

As well, we have to factor in the G.O.’s dodgy back, and knee replacement which was supposed to have already happened, and hasn’t as elective surgery has been another Covid casualty… but sensibly really should before we go driving too far beyond manageable day trippin’ distances for too long.

Consideration of these practicalities has not dampened our enthusiasm for dreams and conversations about travel… oh, the places we go… while sipping something cold on our front verandah in the evenings before dinner.

Where to?Dream with me. Share your thoughts about here or there… please. What have you been doing at home to pass the Covid time? Tell me the places have you been dreaming of travelling to once the new Covid-normal… whatever it may be… allows. In the event it doesn’t allow, tell me about your contingency plans.

We’ve come up with a short “There” list…

Melbourne, Victoria… Family and friends. Pre-Covid this trip was in the works to be taken right about now… rainchecked to March 2021. We’ve mapped dog-friendly possible Airbnb’s along the route and close by my sister’s place which is cat friendly, and Diesel-dog is enduringly not.

Mackay, Whitsundays region, Queensland… Friends. Maybe a shakedown trip for the caravan we’ve yet to purchase. Possibly en route to Karumba. Or standalone via Monto-Bundaberg.

Karumba, Gulf Country, Queensland… When we were stuck for hours in accident traffic on our way into Darwin in 2016 a young Melburnian police officer extolled its virtues on behalf of his grandparents who are regular refugees from the Victorian winter. After we do a reconnaissance trip we hope it will become a winter sojourn via various Queensland road trip routes. We were there in spirit on the G.O.’s mid-winter-Covid-wet-weather-stuck-in-the-house-birthday courtesy of an ode-to-Karumba homemade crab crepe lunch.

The big one… caravan road trip around mainland Australia again but clockwise. Rough planning at this stage has us at the end of summer 2022 or 2023 heading south through NSW and Victorian High Country + MelbourneGreat Ocean Road + Western Victoria to South Australia where this time we won’t detour past Burra and will cover the Eyre and Yorke peninsulas that we missed in 2016. Back across the Nullarbor to Western Australia’s South West that we missed, before heading variously up the middle to Kalgoorlie, Mount Magnet, Marble Bar, and along the coast to Denham, Broome, Derby and the Kimberley Region. Across to Darwin possibly via Gibb River Road this time, definitely with stopovers at Wyndham and Kununurra. Then, a first time for me, down the middle of Australia to Alice Springs and Central Australia, further on to Flinders Ranges, and back home via a route yet-to-be determined across Outback NSW.

Our Covid-cautious back up travel plans involve exploring our local region… since Covid restrictions lifted we’ve been fortunate to enjoy a few outdoor Covid safe lunches at local eateries. So nice to eat something someone else thinks up and makes. For wider NSW… we came up with a top 5 list.

Barrington Tops for World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforests, camping and trout fishing. It’s a place from my younger years I’d like to share with the G.O.. Similarly, Lake Glenbawn on the outskirts of my home town, Scone nearby my other home town Murrurundi in Upper Hunter Valley are always worth a visit.

Glen Innes for family history + cemeteries, Land of the Beardies museum and exploring New England High Country.

Blue Mountains and Central West food, wine and gold regions. Revisiting and expanding on our too-short trip in February 2012.

South Coast and Snowy Mountains high country.

Northern Tablelands and Outback NSWBingara, Pilliga, Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina + its Aboriginal Fish Traps, and out to Bourke.

And that’s just a taste.

Should we return to Covid lockdown we’ll revert to our previous safe-at-home strategies. In addition to house and garden; a never-ending source of projects, we have our respective pastimes. In addition to his classic [registered, in good working order] Yamaha Virago motorcycle, the G.O. recently acquired a bargain-shed-project-motorcycle aka “a basket case”… although its bits came in a box, which should keep him occupied for a while. Tafe NSW have a number of Creative Writing Online courses which interest me plus I’m still looking for an excuse to shout myself an Ancestry.com subscription.

In the meantime, “Here” we make the most of our Covid-safe time at home doing house & garden projects… day-to-day country-life in the villageNambucca ValleyCoffsMid North Coast we city-dreamed of for so long. And -food for thought if you’re thinking of travelling- we enjoy the company of family and friends who come to visit us, much as during our 2016 road trips we loved meeting up with far-flung blog friends who are now simply friends.

“What is it about maps?
I could look at them all day,
earnestly studying the names of towns and villages
I have never heard of and will never visit…”
― Bill Bryson, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

Credit: Maps created using Google.


20 thoughts on “Here or there…

  1. We have optimistically booked a small ship cruise (140 people) up the Kimberly coast from Broom to Darwin for July 2021. We are very low key that it will ever go ahead, but we may just postpone it for 2022 in that case. We have a short list to visit the Tenterfield area, and also to go to the southern coast of NSW to put some money back into the coffers after the bushfires in both areas. Other than that we have already visited Kangaroo Island and Kings Canyon, long awaited destinations for ‘one day’ when our bodies are tired of International travel. Actually, I think that day has arrived…for me, at least. It is very hard work anyway, without adding a pandemic into the equation. Plus, we have probably used up our luck!!! I hope you get to do your dreamed about trips, Dale. If you get to Alice, we’ll probably be here!! xx

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    1. My aunt and uncle did a Broome – Darwin cruise last year and really enjoyed it. Low key expectations and anticipation is a sound philosophy, much better to reinvent plans than give up on them. I hope all our dreamed trips come to fruition, and to see you again one day… in Alice, or who knows maybe somewhere else here or thereabouts.

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  2. I can travel in my own country, across the ditch from thee – but right now, I can’t do that as I’m seemingly recovering from some unwellness issues – and then when I think about this whole c/19:2020 caper, I don’t want to drift down to the dream trip to the South Island at all. But I can’t decide where I would go…if I did a shortish trip in the North Island.

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  3. All those wonderful places, so tempting. There’s nothing better than an Aussie road trip. Country, bush, desert, coast, all so good. Every state full of temptation.
    We plan to do a short trip next week. Drive 5 hours up to the Wimmera, flat wheat country with silos and big skies, to stay with as friend. Then down to Portland on the coast, though I think whale season is over, then a bit more of the west coast. We’re not taking the van but plan to stay in cabins or cheap daggy motels, merely a place to sleep along the way.
    Beyond that trip, and into next year, the van might take us to the Grampians,and Dunkeld, and then bits of the Murray on the SA end, then to McClaren Vale for some wine exploration, Burra ( which you reminded me of).
    If visiting your sister, just stay in our studio. We can manage doggo if he doesn’t run off into the bush and get lost.
    We also want to get up your way too… we will plan all this next year when I’m ‘out of the medical woods’ so to speak.
    It’s great to plan, and what amazing choices we have.

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    1. All those wonderful Victorian places bring back fantastic memories… We loved Dunkeld, the Grampians… I just added a photo each from 2016 of the Grampians and Murray River at Ned’s Corner to the post… I could do a whole post “Places I Love in Victoria”… Portland is up there too. Maybe the thousands of photos we took might come in handy while we wait to be able to revisit all those as you say amazing choices for travel we are fortunate to have both in our own country… and also overseas but which might be a little way to go yet. Thank you for the kind offer, we might take you up on it for a night or 2, giving us a bit more flexibility with dates.

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  4. Dog Friendly parking spot in Gippsland! Love the idea but sitting together in the car for hours just doesn’t work. I’d love to head to WA, Margaret River etc and up across to Darwin then back down the guts. Absolutely love Kununnura and the area around Litchfield. Never knew what colour was until I went there.

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    1. Thank you. We might just take you up on that parking spot when we get a van. For future caravanning trips we’ve vowed to set reasonable limits on kms/hours travelled per day, one of the reasons we want a self-contained full height walk in van… ad hoc day stops and free camping. We love those places too and the second time found some less popular but wonderful places at the further reaches of Litchfield.

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  5. We will be counting on seeing you on any trip north of Bundaberg! Mouse will be delighted to welcome Deez to our back yard and a share in any of his 4 beds, frozen chicken necks, bones, etc. For any short forays into National Parks which do not welcome doggos along the way, we can highly recommend the doggy day-care offered by the members of Mad Paws (https://www.madpaws.com.au/); they offer day care for a few hours, a whole day, overngith or even weeks at a time. For the inland northbound route through Qld, I think you’ll love Cania Gorge, just outside Monto. You should definitely make time to visit Cape Hillsborough at dawn to see the kangaroos on the beach. If you’re on the Atherton Tableland at any point, you should try and visit Innot Hot Springs, a series of naturally hot mineral spring water, ranging from cool to 40°. Oh, and Coffee Works in Mareeba, of course! I could go on (as you well know…) but maybe once you’ve been able to firm up any plans I can offer more targeted suggestions.
    And I’m with Bill here; I’d rather read a map than almost anything else.

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    1. Queensland offers endless possibilities, so wonderful that NSW shares a border… it’s almost our backyard! I enjoy the vicarious travels and mental notes of your and Mouse’s travelogues… so many treasures not to be missed, many already dog-tested. Until then we dream and plan.

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  6. I loved looking over your maps and plans of travel! It’s always exciting to revisit places and note changes since the last trip, eat where you find interesting gastronomic fare, having a bit of a plan but stopping when you feel like it, and making time to connect with family and friends. We are so busy with the fawns, chickens and dogs right now to take off as vagabonds and travel much. Our hope is to someday, weave our way around the US – we’ve both seen so many wonderful places, but this is a huge country and there is so much more to experience! We hope it will happen one day. Covid has presented us with the opportunity for Forrest to retire earlier than we thought possible. And, like you have done for several years – we hope to continue to work on a more self-sustaining life. I think for now, our trips will be to visit family and friends who are scattered about the US. I’m very happy with that. And I think traveling with dogs in tow, brings a lot of enjoyment. We’ve always been lucky to have hairy friends who traveled well.

    Your images are always interesting. I love the sawhorse legs – do you remember where they came from? That Yamaha bike looks like a puzzle indeed! Do you have all of the parts?

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    1. We have a big laminated wall map covered in squiggles of coloured whiteboard marker of past trips and future possibilities but doing it on Google maps gives a very real idea of the time and distances. We also use the wonderful Wikicamps app to plot trips, leave and read reviews. You’ve reminded me… must organise chicken sitters! I spent a wonder-full fortnight travelling around California mostly by train + a Mexico day trip in 2000… and was so exhausted I slept the entire awful United Airlines flight back to Australia… How wonderful it would be to have the time to explore the US at a leisurely pace… not sure you could do it in a lifetime. Congratulations on Forrest’s early retirement which can present so many possibilities. The sawhorses come from Bunnings, a big hardware chain, they’re not flash but useful. The G.O.’s Yamaha which he bought off the original owner last year is pristine and running despite being 22 years old but the bike in the photo is a 1988 HD Sportster last running in 2001! However all the parts, and more, are there… it needs some work on the engine and a lot of cleaning up.

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  7. I am excited by your trip Dale! It was lovely to follow along on your last one. I love travelling those vast expanses, feeling the road disappear under the tyres. Our travel plans are more local. I am longing just to meander, perhaps in the Grampians (do put them on your list of things to see in Victoria.) The practical problem we have is that everyone is so excited to be able to leave Melbourne, and regional Victoria has been the go-to place. And the busy Summer holidays are coming. So I am thinking more about Feb/March next year. In the mean time my sister has a place on the Mornington Peninsular, and she is happy to share!
    And please, pencil in for us to meet up when you come to Melbourne.

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    1. That was my aim… I wanted to create some excitement and anticipation… about our wonderful futures waiting for us in one form or another. I love following other people’s trips, and their travel tips. If not for your suggestion we wouldn’t have visited Portland and the caravan park you mentioned (en route to the Grampians at my sister’s suggestion) and we loved Portland so much we stopped a second time, same caravan park, on the way home on our big trip later in 2016. I’ve added a Grampians photo to the post, plus Murray River at Ned’s Corner. So many wonderful places to visit and revisit in Victoria. NSW has been similarly impacted, so our excursions have been -and for the near future will be- strategic… mostly not too far from home, on weekdays, and we’ll leave the weekend, long weekend, summer holiday travelling to others. You’re pencilled in!

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  8. Ohhh this is very exciting… sorry to have taken so long to reply as we are in the throes of painting and renovations to my eldest daughter & her partners new house … pretty much every waking moment is spent there !!!
    But back to my favorite subject… TRAVEL… and my most favourite of all TRAVEL IN AUSTRALIA… 😍
    We were planning a trip to the Kimberley’s this year but that never happened so the maps and notes and books have been put aside for 2022…
    Now next year (all going well) fingers crossed 🤞 and pretty much everything crossed we are planning another trip on the Motorcycle.. this time all the way up to Darwin 🤩
    We have done this trip with the kids in the can in 2006 but need to do this on the bike as well…
    Places we are planning on staying ;
    Ouyen
    Silverton ( Mad Max movies were filmed here)
    Quorn
    Coober pedy
    Kulgera
    Yulara Ayers Rock
    Alice springs
    Tennent’s Creek
    Mataranka
    Katherine
    Darwin
    Daly Waters
    Ti Tree
    Erldunda
    Port Augusta
    Adelaide
    Hahndorf
    … a few more which I can’t remember now ..
    I have a few spread sheets going and am happy we can start planning again…. albeit cautiously. It will be a month long trip and soooo looking forward to it.
    Looking forward to welcoming you to Melbourne 🥰 GO can go through J’s collection of bikes and you are more than welcome to stay with us as well ❤️

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    1. How interesting is that… in 2022 we are hoping to be heading same places but via different ways! That’s a great list. Oh yes, the G.O. is very much hoping to see J’s bike collection. Thank you for the kind offer to stay, we will see how much time away we can manage, and of course all going well we’ll have just seen you up here ♡

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