FULL DIARY

Day 1 - Friday 26th October 2007 Notts->London->LA

The Big day has arrived. We had our hire car delivered yesterday evening. Drove to Heathrow, dumped it off and then caught our Air NZ flight NZ0001 1 to LA.What we saw Pirates of the C, World’s End, Unknown, Harry Potter 3,oh and played Who wants to be a Millionaire.the entertainments system on Air NZ is ACEfood superb A really good flightPlus Travel lodge LAX very good, spacious friendly and free shuttle, T2 under the red Courtesy signs Who we met The fruit hunting dog (LAPD sniffer dog working for the Produce Dept). Soccer coaching History teacher from Arizona who kindly loaned us his phone to ring for shuttle bus and knew of Forest and a guy who played for them in 1970s called Goughapparently he teaches alongside him now. Mexican shuttle bus driver who supported the baseball team (Dodgers?) and had a daughter who graduated from Paulo Alto Uni plus Ginger & Grace from Didley Boinge, Idaho (who offered us a Beach Vacation Condo in Malibubizarre), Ohhh and of course the 40 foot high LAX concrete letters outside the airport Plus Swartzenneger (Arnie) Governor of the state of California declared a state of national emergency yesterday after fires ravaged southern California, San Diego / Malibu areas and Fiji times tells us that SavuSavu was flooded, blimey what are we letting ourselves in for.Hurricane Ivan and Jamaica from a few years back spring to mind Alas neither Phone works can’t get a service despite what Travelmood eKit says,Took some photos of the Travelodge which had a nice pool although no time to use was about 69 deg F Hotel california with an eagle-eye

Day 2 - Saturday 27th October 2007,LAX->SJC

Good nights kip about 9 hours. Really comfortable king size bed. Needed after staying up I guess about 30 hours Travelodge LAX. Got shuttle back to T5 and caught Delta Airlines flight 7772 to San Jose (left 1.50pm) Flew along the coast, superb views. Was a v small plane, one & 2 seats across the aisle. About a 50 minute flight. San Jose airport fun and a bit like east midlands, v small after LAX Trung collected us in TRN 2 (Blue BMW) He has 2 cars and Sherree one. Showed around their excellent house Huge Jacuzzi, landscaped backgarden,Breakfast far too much at Travelodge.

First test email to Boys: Watched game 3 of the World Series (Red Sox Vs Rockies) with Trung in the El Toro Brew House last night....whilst Mum & I ate what was probably the larger burger we've ever had (eat your heart out Heston B) Sherree and Trung have been most welcoming and their house is ace (huge actually we need a map to find our way around). They have just had the backgarden landscaped so sat out with Trung under the pagoda watching the humming birds and saw our first bald headed eagle. Sherree alas was working about an hour away. They have a Jacuzzi so gonna try that. V warm here at the mo which is nice. Off to Monterrey and Big Sur today and we are treating them to a meal in the restaurant at Monterrey which is in the 1000 things to do before you die book we have.Flight over good. You will love the Air Nz flight, best we have ever been on....ace food, entertainment saw 3 current movies (Pirates, Harry P and Unknown...plus wait for it we played computer games) When you and Phoenix get to LA however you have to deplane , fill in the green card, wait in line, go to transit lounge for 2 hours and then get back on....only upside is your luggage stays on the plane so no need to recheck that. Bit of a pain but there you go. We forced our way thru jet lag by staying up the whole way to LAX....probably a good move for you too and then sleep on the bit from LAX to Auckland. Still better go, alas roaming profile phone DOESNT work so probably no phone until NZ (more later) Who we met Trung and Sherree, Aussies at San Jose who like us were puzzled by picking your luggage up on the tarmac Must be a fast track thing Plus simpering insincere waitress at El Toro Brew House restaurant Plus Eagle on the old oak tree from their backgarden. Humming birds. Squirrel, Canada Geese , Local Amber Ales and Californian Wines. Discussions with Trung on everything including Politics and Gadgets,Took some photos of Sherree’s from windows plus one of El Toro

Day 3 - Sunday 28th October 2007,Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur

Got up about 7.40 am V Sunny Clear skies Good Sleep, no real jet lag, Sherree & Trung drove us in TRN2 down to Monterey. Took about 1.5 hours to drive there. Saw eagles circling in air alongside highway. Lovely place. Lots of sea life – sealions, sea otters, cormorants, pelicans. Monterey is a 1900 old fishing harbour with now many new posh yachts moored. Used to be sardine capital of the world, which were processed by canning factories. Walked along the sea front having seen fisherman’s wharf and tasted the countless free offerings of clam chowder They hollow out a loaf and put it in there if you buy the full deal. Walked along Cannery Row which was a street next to the shoreline where the sardine canneries used to be (John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row). Had a quick bite in McFlys and then walked back along the sea front. Many posh hotels. Then drove through Carmel and onto Big Sur via CA Highway 1 A superb road. Carmel was quaint, individual shops along a busy main street with a small sandy beach at the end. Lots of tourists here. Sherree said that the houses were very expensive in Carmel even though they were very small old fashioned bungalows c 1920. Further along Highway 1 we stopped at Carmel Highlands area at a hotel and went in the Pacific Edge bar. Had fantastic 180 degree views of the ocean from the bar which was set on the cliff edge. Stopped at bar/restaurant at Big Sur coastline and had dinner under the stars. This restaurant is mentioned in book 1000 Things to See Before You Die. Lovely sunset. Would like to come back again sometime and see it all. Returned to Sherree’s around 10.30pm very tired and went to bed.Talked to the waitress in the restaurant about a old RHCP’s song that mentions Big Sur, reminder to K look it up sometime. Dinner under the stars at restaurant along Big Sur coastline. Watching sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Day 4 - Monday 29th October 2007, Morgan Hill, CA

Got up about 7.40 am Did some stuff on the PC mostly photos and updating the Website,Off to Santa Clara County Quicksilver Park. Walked about 2.5miles along trail to quicksilver mine where mercury was produced from 1902 to 1976 when it closed down. Sheet metal factory was dilapidated and rusty (took photo). Great views of Californian landscape which looked tinder dry. Sherree and Anne saw a small snake, about 12 inches long and as thin as a pencil. It slithered away from us among the leaves. Unfortunately Keef had the camera and he was too far ahead of us so did not take photo. After the walk we drove round the road near a reservoir and saw two deer and what looked like wild turkeys crossing the road. The houses at the edge of Santa Clara Park were small hick properties with chairs by the porch and rusted cars dumped out front. Other houses that we saw around the area were palatial mansions in contrast. Took photo of a field full of pumpkins on the road back to Morgan Hill. Then had a late lunch and well earned cold drink in a Mexican restaurant. Returned to Sherree’s house and chilled.Saw a small snake and wild deer. Mexican meal in downtown Morgan Hill. Great Burrito Fajitas Keef had beef, Anne chicken ohhh and we watched an Eddie Murphy Disney movie that Keef snored thru. Sorry! Loved Humming Bird, Santa Clara Park Walk

Day 5 - Tuesday 30th October 2007,Morgan Hill, CA

Got up about 7.40 am Did some stuff on the PC mostly photos and updating the Website, Sherree took us out for an American breakfast wow, ham, eggs (sunny side up) hash browns, stack of pancakes with maple syrup and cream and endless coffee.boy oh boy just too much food. Then as a first 2 times in one day we went to a Sushi bar for our evening meal. Very nicesushi, sashimi, tempura and teriyakisee we know them all, went in the Jacuzzi Keef had a beer and the ladies some Napa valley Chardonnay. Went to the Henry W Coe State park here in Santa Clara County. Twisty road that climbed the hills away from the Morgan Hill valley – stunning views. Saw another reservoir where people were fishing and waterskiing. Keef took photo of an eagle soaring. There was a campsite at the end of the one way road where there was a sign warning campers that raccoons can bite, but we did not see any, only some blue jays and squirrels. Only saw one other car there so the camp area was very quiet. Again, the grass looked very yellow and tinder dry. From the camp area you could see for miles across hills/mountains and valleys. Tried sushi for the first time. The little plates went round on a miniature Amtrac train. Very nice. Sherree told us that further north in the county two joggers were attacked by a mountain lion/cougar.

Pictures of Chickens outside Scrambl’z, Drive up past Leroy Anderson reservoir and Dam plus Henry W Coe park with views across the hlls and valleys.

Day 6 - Wednesday 31st October 2007,San Jose->LAX, AirNZ

Got up about 8 Did some stuff on the PC mostly emails Packed and got ready to go back via San Jose to LAX and then onto Nadi, Fiji  Sherree told us that there had been a earthquake in the San Jose area measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale. Not big but a quake none the less Must confess as we were driving back with S from the Sushi restaurant we never felt a thing.Sherree delivered us to San Jose airport Terminal C. They have both been most kind to us and we really enjoyed staying with them. Then via Delta Airlines 7772 we flew back to LAX terminal 5. LA is HUGE spreading in neat little boxes their grid system spreads from coast to hills as far as the eye can see. Have to say it would be most intimidating to live there. Pushed luggage, we now have it under control – 2 X 23kg bags, the laptop bag and the flight bag. In US you have to take laptop outta bag and shoes off for security checks. Got trolley for luggage and walked from T5 to T2 (Air NZ) Quite a way. Departures are top level at LAX and arrivals below. Flew out of LAX at 11.15pm on a slightly smaller plane than the NZ1 flight (we were on NZ21) but that was cool as we tried to sleep. Met check in guy at Delta Airlines SLC. We were over limit and they wanted 50 bucks per bag, took out one jacket and a jumper respectively and saved $100. Saw tramway alongside Highway 101 on the way into San Jose. Keef saw the HOLLYWOOD sign in the brown hills well away from the coast as the Delta Airlines flight came in. Alas not quick enough however to take a photo of it. Took some final photos of Sherree’s to show her Jacuzzi/ pagoda-pergola

Day 7 - Thursday 1st November 2007,LAX -> Nadi,Fiji  

Whole day ‘Lost in Translation’ or is it flight, weird. Basically to do with crossing the International Date line. Note we also crossed the Equator for the first time into the Southern  Hemisphere, what we saw or didn’t – Evan Almighty was on the wide screen (no back of seat entertainment) this time but it was tricky to listen / see

Day 8 - Friday 2nd November 2007, Land in Nadi,Fiji then to Venua Levu

Arrived fairly tired in Nadi, Fiji at 6 am. We really didn’t sleep that well. Main meal served early was chicken frizzled (very dried up) but the breakfast of turkey/cheese croissant was most welcome.  DePlaned and waited in the airport on some wonderful leather sofas after having some coffee/ tea (very oz.flat white, tall black etc etc) and cakes. FJD$1.50 (i.e 50p) for the most gianormous wonderful banana cake which they warm. Very very Humid.Had 2 showers today in freezing cold water. Checked in 10am. No boarding cards you just choose your seat. Sat about 18 half full. Great great journey across the mountains of the main island, then over the coast to Savusavu. Most memorable experience  

Oh just so much words fail me. The view from the De Haviland was SPECTACULAR. Clear skies, crystal blue seas and an abundance of coral reefs. Taxi driver from Paradise Cabs took us to the supermarket and Roy & Lisa (cottage owners) He is from Hawaii (Chinese origin) She is from California. They are most friendly Left a bowl of garden fruit for us.pineapple, guava, lime , bananas and chili peppers. Most kind.I cooked teriyaki lamb with onions/green peppers , rice and salad whilst listening to Sting and drinking well water, loved taking pix from the bi-plane flight from Nadi on Venito Levu (Main Island) to Savusavu, Venua Levu on the second largest island

Day 9 - Saturday 3rd November 2007,2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji

Got up about 6-ish having been to sleep (knackered) at about 10pm after cooking lamb & rice. Had a fine breakfast on the verandah - frosties & fresh local banana, papaya and lime (given by Roy from his garden) and local bread (whole meal with a hint of onion) topped off with local pineapple juice.Walked down track to Sewaka beach looking at the tropical vegetation and bananas growing (still green). Downhill there but hard walking uphill and very hot on the return. Cooled off in the Pacific and sat on beach for couple of hours. Sound of gentle waves on the shore was very relaxing and beach was deserted, although there were two Fijian women fishing. Had picnic lunch on beach and then returned to cottage for a siesta as very hot and humid. Woken by tropical downpour, including thunder and lightning, which lasted about an hour. The temperature reduced and the wind was very refreshing. Just as well the verandah had a deep roof overhang. In the early evening Roy and Lisa invited us to their home for a traditional kava ceremony and told us all about how it is made. It is a root from the pepper plant family that is ground into a fine powder and then mixed with water into a muddy looking liquid. It is drunk from small coconut shells. It has a mild sedative effect and is not alcoholic. On our return to our cottage we had dinner (chicken teryaki, rice and vegetables) and watched the DVD of Savusavu tourist board. Met Jeff, American from New Jersey who has lived on the beach here for 6 years. He and his wife, like Roy & Lisa do holiday cottage rentals and after purchasing the land built both their own house (on hardwood stilts – maybe bark shed coconut palm?).  Jeff had just been stung by a hornet whilst gardening so was healing it with ice. He suggested that taxi may be better and cheaper than hiring a car. Also do not stop in villages without first being invited as it is not good karma and visitors must remove any headgear. Plus tried snorkeling but just too unclear to be of use. First tropical rainstorm, thunder and lightning. Woke us from our afternoon siesta. We fed Vatu their (R&L) dog on our left over scraps of last nights meal. He is now a friend for life, even if he barks at everyone else. Roy & Lisa are Jehovah’s Witnesses and going to an all dayer in Lebasa The main town which has a massive Indian influence. Saw a mongoose, alas a little too quick to photo

Day 10 - Sunday 4th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji

Anne rose about 6.15am, Keef about 7.30. Alas K has developed a cold and sore throat from somewhere, maybe the plane with all those folks sneezing. Did various things on laptop, getting ready to email contact the boys tomorrow when we catch a taxi into Savusavu. In the afternoon we were so chilled we just relaxed and read our books, Chart Throb by Ben Elton is ace. So cooked fried chicken, mash & creamed sweetcorn for T and had one of the gardens fresh pineapples for pud, it was just so sweet (Yummy). In the morning we walked up the track to Roy & Lisa’s upper garden. Beautiful tropical plants, including hibiscus, orchids and a flame tree in bloom with big red flowers. On the top of the hill and flattened garden area there was a spectacular view of the bay and Pacific. They had built a wooden deck to sit on. Saw dragonfly but nothing else. Back on the cottage verandah Keef saw an orange dove flying among the trees. We could hear parrots squawking occasionally.Despite the thunder in the distance it did not rain but we had a sudden 10 minute power cut which Lisa said could happen at any time. Sometimes they may have a couple of power cuts a month and others can go for a couple of months without one. The water system does not work when there is a power cut but if it is long lasting then there is a back-up generator. Luckily we had already cooked our evening meal and washed up when the power went and were just admiring the sunset

Day 11 - Monday 5th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji

Went in by Taxi to Savusavu town past one of the best named villages Jerusalem. Used the Wireless Internet from the Computer shop (FJD$4 per hour) as opposed to café Bule Re which is FJD$10 per hour and you end up sitting in the café anyhow using the internet. Tis a bit slow but not complaining. Updated website , read and responded to email. Savusavu is based alongside an inlet/ harbour with lots of yachts. Most relaxing sitting in café on the waters edge. Had lunch there as well Very good. I had beef kebab and Annie had chicken escalope. We were impressed by cooking and have booked there for Weds eve for the Lovo meal (cooked in ground pit in banana leaves, trad Fiji) Booked car for 3 days from 2moro from Tanda. She is gonna pick us up and drive us in to collect. Saw the town and waters edge. We met Tanda and Tuklea , german lady (from Munchen area) and her Fijian husband. Both very nice. They own Bula Re and he is the chef there, having recently returned from cooking at the South Pacific games in Samoa which he says is safer than Fiji.Interesting because we feel most welcome and safe in Fiji, everyone says Bula to you whether you are walking thru town or out in the country. These folk have 2 adopted Fijian children, very friendly. They are also Roy & Lisa’s closest neighbours at Sewaka. It was Guy Fawkes Night,not surprisingly not recognized here in Fiji but all supermarkets well stocked with fireworks which are for Diwali (this Friday 9/11)

Day 12 - Tuesday 6th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji

Got up early and got picked up by Tanda and her husband and two children who took us into town. She dropped her two children off at school and then we picked up our hire car from outside her restaurant. Drove down some graveled roads and even some of the tarmacadam roads had lots of pot holes. Saw some tourist resorts, some of which were still being built, the ferry dock and went past the airport and saw some small planes land and take off. Saw a lot of coconut plantations along the coast. People waved at us and shouted ‘bula’ (hello). Saw the Hot Springs Hotel and then had lunch at the Copra Shed where the yachts are moored at the jetty. Did shopping in supermarket and then returned to cottage for siesta. No breeze at all. Went for cooling swim at Sewaka beach just before dusk and we were the only people there.They are the family who own the Fijian restaurant in Savusavu. We saw the school where the children were dropped off.It was extremely hot from 1pm onwards and swim at the beach was very refreshing.. Heard on Fijian radio in hire car that some people had been arrested for a plot to assassinate the interim Prime Minister of Fiji and were being charged, including inciting mutiny.

Day 13 - Wednesday 7th November 2007,Car trip to Labasa

Mostly rained today, so they do get bad weather in Fiji!!! Took our hire car to Labasa the main town of Vanua Levu, 30k residence and in the north of the island. About 75 miles from where we are staying. Much sugar cane production indeed we visited the factory on the outskirts of town and saw the hordes of farmers waiting to have their cane weighed / paid and processed.would love to know what they get paid for a cartload , bet its not much!  Labasa itself has an amazing Indian influence, for me it could have been India. Very busy town with lots of Indian shops. Weather turned very hot and we were glad of air conditoning in car.Worth noting that was a good road with asphalt surface (although slightly destroyed in places with deep potholes) so journey took about 1 ½ hours. Much of this island at least is unmade roads. Went over some dodgy looking bridges over rivers. Lots of lorries traveling to Labasa loaded up with sugarcane. Saw pine forests, farms and sugar cane fields and very mountainous in distance. Saw a mongoose run across the road in front of our car. Later on we saw one foraging at the side of the road and Keef took a photo.Met Roy in Savusavu outside the pie shop (Hot Bread Shop) after we had returned from Labasa. Started raining and continued all afternoon. Village funeral of an elder. The whole village were out in force and we saw his/her grave adorned with flowers. As the procession wended its way back alas rather embarrassingly our car was caught in the procession. The village was Urata. In the eve we are going back into Bula Ra for a Lovo feast, although the rain still persists. Note we have car hired for 3 days which is enough, air conditioned Suzuki Jiminy, small but perfectly formed. Lovo meal was lovely – we had chicken, beef, mahi-mahi fish, pumpkin with prawns, tara leaves wrapped with creamed coconut filling, tara (bland vegetable), plantain for dessert with chocolate sauce. Keef had two tropical fruit drinks as he was driving and I had a maitai cocktail, plus coffees all for £9 each. Drive back to cottage after dinner was dark and misty (low cloud in mountains) but at least the rain had stopped. Difficult to see where the potholes were in the road in the dark.Took these memorable pix,Trip to Labasa and sugar cane photos. Also mongoose and photos of lovo meal. Labasa, route back from Labasa and Urata village with pig and mongoose And Lovo feast in the evening.

Day 14 - Thursday 8th November 2007,Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Nr Savusavu

Vist to Jean-Michel Cousteau resort. Eventually went back into SS to use the Internet café and hand car back into Tanda and Tukea. Enjoyed the use of the car and the freedom it gave us but 3 days is probably enough @ FJD$92/day i.e 276 (i.e £96) went swimming for the 3rd time at our private beach, easy when you have the car, a hard climb in humidity otherwise. Not that impressed by JMC resort however the colour of fish off the jetty was immense. Big blue parrot fish, travaille and 2 huge blue fish (which I have no idea what they were called). Driving with 4 wheels for first time ever down very muddy track to JMC It was raining and very churned up, having slid there in the first place used the 4WD for return journey, very stable. Resort was very tiny with long jetty for dive boats, small swimming pool  and grotty beach which was very rocky and unsuitable for swimming. Did not stay long and weather rainy. Went back into Savusavu and had drink at the Copra Shed by the jetty and looked at the boats. Saw cloud of steam and realized that this was where the hot springs came out of the ground. Found out that the Saturday South Pacific music festival starts at 7pm  and is held at the Hot Springs Hotel. Went for swim at Sekawa beach. Torrential downpour pm. Decided to go back into Savusavu to internet café, hand back hire car and then got a taxi back to the cottage at dusk. Fijian lady (can’t remember her name) at Sekawa beach who was baby sitting the Czech couples baby. She had heard of Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood in history at school! Czech family are buying on beach front, wow, plus 4 Russians in Bula Re last night for Lovo feast. Us Northern hemisphere folk are taking over!

Day 15 - Friday 9th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji

Nothing to report, day spent locally

Day 16 - Saturday 10th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Venua Levu, Fiji

Relaxed in the cottage and then got a taxi at 4.30pm into Savusavu to the South Pacific Music Festival held at the Hot Springs Hotel. Noticed that the ferry from Vitu Levu was in dock (comes to Savusavu 3 times a week).. Arrived at the hotel just at the end of the talent contest where prizes were awarded for the best acts. The compere was either Oz or NZ and she was very patronizing and bossy towards the Fijians. Had some drinks and a meal of fish, chips and salad before the main music concert. We had been told it would start at 7pm but in fact it did not start until 8.20. The best act was a troupe of singers and dancers from the University of the South Pacific, Suva who had come over on the ferry. Their singing was very melodic and dancing was also very expressive and South Pacific. There were some other acts that were more pop group style and the Australian musicians were the worst. The concert was very amateurish and the PA system was also bad with feedback. We had booked a taxi back to the cottage at 10pm so had to leave before the concert ended.

Day 17 - Sunday 11th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji

A day of chillin. Did a few bits of video editing on laptop after last nights Music Festival at the Hot Springs Hotel and read the Fiji Times that Roy & Lisa loaned us. Anne did washing, not the greatest machine in the world and if the programme goes wrong it sucks all the water from the well dry. Oh dear! We then watched a whole stack of movies on DVD loaned by R&L  who had once again left us with treats fruit (pineapple & bananas) and diwahli snacks (sweet not savoury). Watched Casablanca, Bourne Identity and About Smidt (3rd time but we love it!). MetVatu, R&L’s dog when I returned the paper. They are in Labasa all day today on a Jehovah’s Witness meet.

Day 18 - Monday 12th November 2007,Sewaka Beach Cottage, Near Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji

Nice sunny day, got up around 7 -80 degrees plus humid but gentle breeze Had tea/ coffee and breakfast and read out on the verandah I am reading Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1851 Wow devastatingly anti Slave book. Apparently Abe Lincoln claimed it started the Civil War Otherwise apart from reading and watching videos didn’t do a whole lot Had to pack late eve. Saw Capote DVD about Truman Capote and then Dances With Wolves.Managed to supposedly send first TXT messages on Anne’s phone to the boys, we will see. Also rang Parmgeet to ensure Paradise Taxis all set up for 2moro to go to the airport. Had a huge tropical storm at 1.30 with thunder and lightning. Roy and Lisa invited us for more kava and wine as a farewell in evening. They told us about a hurricane which they experienced in the cottage in 2001 where they had 10”of rain and also told us about clearing the rainforest to build the cottage. Said that quite a few Fijian villagers had died when trying to save their animals during the hurricane. There are no hurricane shelters on the island and no tidal wave warning sirens either. Luckily as they are 250 feet above sea level they would not be affected by a tsunami. Offered to copy some music from our laptop for them on their blank CDs which they were grateful for. Rang Mum at 1am, created DVD.

Day 19 - Tuesday 13th November 2007,Leave Suvusavu and Fiji and journey onto Samoa

Back to the Future or Ground Hog Day We had 2 days today one Leaving Fiji..One version of the 13/11, the other Arriving Samoa. See details under Samoa

Day 19 - Tuesday 13th November 2007,Leave Suvusavu and Fiji and journey onto Samoa

Back to the Future or Ground Hog Day We had 2 days today.Leaving Fiji..One version of the 13/11,Arriving Samoa.Is another.Got up at about 8 and had breakfast in Princess Tuipapaya, brown banana in sugar and toast, not bad.however Anne almost left me if we didn’t get out sharp.and agreed it was a S**T hole; the sheets don’t bare descriptionanyhow we got a taxi and went off in search of a hotel for day 2, Aggy Greys (£200/night) full luckily, then Herman took us on a magical mystery tour of various places then started driving to Aggy Grays beach resort (near airport) Keef caught him out and got him to turn back into Apia and a car hire place as well as Insel Hotel still he ripped us off at $WST80 (about £16) for only 25 mins taxi ride. If I’d had my wits about me I would have argued but we did get booked in and got our car (less than £24 / day) and essential on Samoa especially travelling to Savai’I as the 2 supposed car hires didn’t seem to exist when we drove thru Have to say our stay at Insel was ace (if a little expensive £85) but we swam, did lunch with the Ms South Pacific Pageant (see the pics lads!!!) and had an ace evening meal as well as air con and 2 double beds, v relaxing  Also called in to checkout Outriggers that we are staying in after Savai’I , very good, pool, rooms, i/net etc.Chatted to young guy from California who was in transit at Nadi from Auckland where he had been studying wine production in NZ as part of a college course in USA. He said that a sparking white wine from kent had won the top wine prize in the world as being the best wine which surprised us. He recommended Raglan beach as an excellent long sandy beach where surfing also was good there. He said that South Auckland area was not a good area at night as young people got drunk and congregated in the main street area and had to be dispersed by the police in riot gear. He also said that Queenstown and Milford Sound and area were beautiful and told us that there are kea parrots in the glacier which tourists are warned will chew on your leather shoes if left outside. These are the largest parrots in NZ. Keef and the yank talked about music and he recommended a band called Tool who were similar to Pink Floyd. On Samoa met Dutch couple (who will pop up again later) that have been traveling RTW for 6 weeks in reverse direction to us plus a oz lady from Brisbane in the legal profession who had been on Vanuatu for 4 months. Sounds a v interesting place, the Happy isles. Said goodbye to our hosts in Savusavu, Roy and Lisa. Lisa gave us a guided tour of her garden and we saw pineapples, limes, lemon grass and papayas (also known as paw-paw) growing. Weather was really hot and humid – sweat was running down our foreheads. Got taxi to ‘airport’ early – just as well we did as the plane left 20 mins early with 8 passengers. Pilot told us that we would do a stop at Labasa to drop and pick up people. Then had 9 passengers on plane. Got good aerial view of mountains, rainforest and sugar cane fields and farms near Labasa. Quite cloudy at times and some turbulence in little biplane.when we went through a rainstorm and clouds. Then we saw a full rainbow from above which was spectacular. Good views of the coral reefs but some mist from clouds. Arriving at Apia, Samoa at 1.30pm and had lunch - banana cake, vegetable samosas and my first true Indian curry (vegetable). The banana cake was the best we have ever had and so were the samosas. We had to hang around the airport until our flight to Samoa at 10pm. As we had our heavy bags we did not go into Nadi town but read books at the airport. Keef posted his DVD to his mum cost about £1.Flight to Samoa was with Air Pacific which was a good airline. Captain was Scottish and his landing in Samoa was hardly felt. We had a snack meal on the plane and sparkling NZ and red wines. Flight took 1hr 50 mins and we landed at 12.17 at night still on the 13 November due to crossing the international dateline. By the time we got through customs, baggage claim etc we saw our name on a blackboard so we could be directed to our courtesy bus. Keef had got some Samoan money from Westpac bank at the airport and by then it was 1.30 and we were very tired. He also had to pay 12 Samoan Tala for a piece of paper to allow him to drive in Samoa as we said we wanted to hire a car.Anne was presented with a flower lei of yellow flowers. Very hot at night. was. international dateline thing again. So we seem to have had no Nov 1st on our journey but two Nov 13 days  very strange!! First impressions of Samoa although late at night was of a modern airport, good roads – drive on the rhs of road, wild dogs roaming on roads, private houses looked quite well built with cars and not shanty villages like Vanua Levu. Dropped off some other person at another hotel and then us, a Dutch couple and an Australian woman from Kiribati were dropped off at the Princess Tui after a long drive from the airport. We were given a coconut to drink and then shown to our room. It was dire – dirty, small and the shared washroom facilities were awful. Very disappointed as we had booked this place over the internet. By now it was 2.30am. Keef got to sleep but Anne was awake until 5am. Decided to leave this dump ASAP even though we had booked in for 2 nights. Worst place we had ever stayed in – campsites are cleaner than that place. Will give it bad feedback on internet to warn other travelers. Hope Ian Wright from Lonely Planet did not stay here. Oh and frightened lady in Insel office when Keef wanted to get i/net connectivity via their modem, alas they said no so rather frustratingly no i/net until we get back after Savai’i. Note Nadi is pronounced Nandi.

Day 20 - Wednesday 14th November 2007,Upolu to Savai’I, Samoa

Got up early-ish (7.15am) and had the Tropical buffet b’fast at the Insel. Ace cooked full English with eggy banana bread. Anne had pancakes with maple syrup plus a banana muffin. Then checked out with some degree of hassle, machine didn’t print our visa docket so a whole rig-ma-roll about no charge vs being charged twice. No worries from our side but Steve receptionist was stressed. I am sure it will be fine. Then drove the 45 mins from Apia to Ferry side. Called in at Aggy Gray beach resort to take some piccies as early for ferry. Then had to have car washed before queuing for ferry.  Good journey by ferry (1 hour 15mins) although a little disappointing that you are not allowed up on deck to take pictures. Then same time was to drive up to resort. V hot as window wouldn’t go up, but sorted when we arrived.Excellent Samoan villages on the coast road on Upolu. Lots of smaller Samoan islands passed by the Ferry. Jumping fish in our Fagamalo beach, coral lagoon and breakers on the edge plus hints of what will be excellent sunsets later in our stay. Met Lady samoa 2 (the ferry) and Ini (35 year old mother of 7, and married to mr lazy 54 years old) who is one of our host at Savai’I Lagoon. PS the kiwis who own it didn’t seem to have let the Samoans who manage it know we were coming. Notable - Ambulance with number plate of NHS, fascinating. Samoans sleeping anywhere and everywhere on ferry crossing. It was 32 degrees today, hot and humid!!! Waiter in La Legota restaurant trying to rip us off for a cocktail, Keef caught him out. Maybe we are getting paranoid about being ripped off but it is beginning to feel like more than a coincidence However that said the Fish and Chips were great. Deep fried snapper in spiced batter, quite superb but v filling. Ps believe it or not Anne & I are losing weight  

Day 21 - Thursday 15th November 2007,Savai’I Lagoon Resort, Savai’I, W Samoa

Met young woman who was a uni student from Houston in internet café who was using her own laptop. Her research was about an ant and its interaction with a specific plant and its affect on biodiversity. She said she was in Samoa for 8 months – nice place to study. Went to toilet at 3.45am and cockerel from next door Samoan family started crowing!! We thought it should go on the barbecue! Rain at breakfast time but then sun came out. Breakfast was delivered to our door at 7am – papaya, coconut, 2 bananas, bread, jam and butter and cereal. There was so much food that we saved some for lunch. Drove hire car to a village further along the bay and bought some food supplies from small shop and petrol for car – half a tank cost £5.50. Also we found internet café in village called Manase run by young German woman. They only do e-mails from their own computers so we could not use laptop to update website. Met American uni student in internet café. Returned to our resort and spent rest of morning in the sea and relaxing on the beach. We saw some small fish and keef did some snorkeling. Had lunch and then it was so hot that we had a sleep from 3pm until 4.30pm. Anne had a dicky stomach, first time on travels. Read our books until sunset. Keef took some good photos and we had a stroll along the beach.

Day 22 - Friday 16th November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Fagamalo,Savaii,Samoa

Not that much happened today. Anne very ill overnight with Samoan Stomachwe have guessed at what caused it but not really sure. Could be any number of causes. Started boiling the UV water since but as Keef fine and the whole village probably not that Keef went to Raci Beach internet café, 1 of only 2 on Savaii. Caught up on mail wrote to Craig/Doug/Brian/Linda & Jacky, plus put words on website. Sati (german lady who owns it with her husband) will now allow me to put pictures on from memory stick after virus check so although very slow via dial up should be able to get the website done on Monday. Sunday is a big religious day of rest here.Re-met Dutch couple Rolf & ? whom we traveled over on plane from Fiji with and up to Princess Tui in Apia. Great to see them again. Had a very long chat – they had been in 6 weeks NZ (North Island only), Cook Isles, Samoa, and were on to LAX and driving to San Francisco before KLM flight back into Amsterdam. He is some sort of pilot and they both disliked Princess Tui as much as we did plus Sati, been here for 3 years but she goes off for 4 months a year as finds Samoan way of life somewhat restrictive, but loves having travelers to talk to.

Day 23 - Saturday 17th November 2007, Trip to the west of Savaii

As the weather was very breezy and overcast skies we decided to tour round the north of Savaii. There were lots of villages near our resort along the coast but when the road went inland the habitation was rather sparse. Each village had its main fale meeting house and pigs and chickens wandered around and across the road. Some of the houses were like lean-to shacks and others looked more substantial. Many had lovely gardens with colourful shrubs and plants. Asua was an interesting village. As we left the coast we came across a vast area of an old lava flow from a volcano which Keef had read had erupted in 1911. The volcanic soil is very good for plants but some of the black volcanic rocks were huge. Because the weather was cooler and it was a Saturday we saw villagers walking along the road with machetes collecting bananas and breadfruit, mowing the grass, sweeping up fallen leaves from the overnight winds and the teenagers played volleyball in some villages. Keef stopped by a traditional fale where the wife was selling pineapples at the side of the road. He bought a huge ripe pineapple for 5 Tale (£1). The Samoan lady did not speak much English and her daughter was with her. Also as we were about to drive off for the day we met the New Zealand lady who owns the resort. She said that her and her family come over to Samoa about 3 or 4 times a year. After returning from our drive we had a late lunch and then sat on the beach as the breeze was very warm even though it was cloudy. The NZ family were doing a barbecue on the beach and they very kindly asked us to join them As we already had food for dinner we politely refused as it was a family barbecue. She then brought over some crisps for us and we had a chat about what we had done today. She said that she had asked some Samoans for plant cuttings from their gardens. Meeting Bruce & Margaret McCullen, from NZ. She was originally from Glasgow some 35 years ago. They are the owners of Savaii Lagoon resort despite their protestations that they have leased the land off the Samoans and handed it back to them they are the ones making the money, witness the 4 holidays a year to here . Lava gardens, and phenomenally good produce / growth i.e. the pineapple which will last for at least 5 meals Pictures of a day out west, some of lagoon resort and plants, others of coastal and inner land areas especially Auala on Asua bay with communal swimming /washing pools and lava gardens, plus fishing .Samoans with major tattoos, kids trying for breadfruit and the most bizarre church made of lava stone and painted white.

Day 24 - Sunday 18th November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa

We had a relaxing day on the beach although it was very breezy and overcast, although the wind was very warm. We walked along the beach to the next resort and discovered that the sea water was deeper for swimming nearer the Le Lagota resort. We went to their restaurant for dinner in the evening and had yellow fin tuna and chips which was delicious. Then watched Miss South pacific on the TV in the evening. Miss Tonga won with Miss Cook islands runner up and Miss Australia & Torres Strait Islands in 3rd place. Interesting to see the traditional costumes of each country which featured exotic headdresses and shells and feathers everywhere. We also saw a fire dance as part of the show by Samoan men which was spectacular,

Day 25 - Monday 19th November 2007, Trip south to Salelologa

After breakfast it was very overcast again so we went to the internet café but unfortunately it was shut. Decided to go along the coast to Salelologa to visit the supermarket. Road goes through an old lava field where the now black lava had flowed towards the sea and went past a place where you can swim with turtles which we will investigate another day. Torrential rainstorm just as we went into supermarket. Choice of food was very limited but managed to buy some canned food, noodles and sausages. Driving through villages we had to avoid dogs and pigs wandering across the road. Lots of houses had very nice gardens but some were just shacks. Also lots of Samoans were asleep in the fales along the beach and in one village they were building a church.Retuned to our resort for late lunch and then went swimming and read our books on the beach. Weather was still cloudy and breezy but pleasantly warm and not humid like Fiji. Had G&T and R&C as the sun set!!! Ace. Met Staff in the Hotel Safua, one of the 1000 places to see before you die and the only one on Savaii. Actually it was probably one of the 1000 places to help you die, Annes words,excruciatingly aweful

Day 26 - Tuesday 20th November 2007, Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa

Nothing to report

Day 27 - Wednesday 21st November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa

Beach day, as heading towards a full moon very low tide first thing and very high tide last thing. Spent the whole day, 8-7 on the beach topping up the tan and reading. Probably the best day weather wise since we have been in Samoa. Saw some tiny electric blue fish in some coral a few yards odd our beach plus a black and white striped fish. Keef saw an eel poking his head out of some coral – moray eel.Met an Indonesian girl who is studying in NZ who showed me the coral reef with the eel and brightly coloured fish. Took pictures of them but none really came out, Now discovered the UNDERWATER setting on the camera so gonna have another go on Friday.

Day 28 - Thursday 22nd November 2007, Car trip all the way round Savaii, Clockwise

Gorgeous blue Pacific which looked turquoise in the lagoons. Drove along the coastal road all round the island. On the south and western sides of Savaii there were breakers coming ashore in the sea and there were cliffs, lava flows and coconut plantations. Met Lonnie, his wife and baby both at the Alofaaga blowholes and at the beach BBQ fale. They had (coincidence) lived in London in Wimbledon in 2001 working initially for a Kiwi in a pub on the common. Its in their DNA. He works for Bruce and Margaret McCullum (owners?) as well as the Maori guy whom they call their adopted son. Had a good chat with them all things UK & NZ. Looking forward to arriving now, They live 1 hour north of Auckland and said don’t be put off by the airport and lack of public transport. For them to get to Samoa it is only a 3hr flight from Auckland.When we were chatting to the NZ people at Savaii Lagoon they told us that they had seen dolphins in the bay this morning but as we were driving round the island we missed them. Hope to see them tomorrow. Coastal road in south and west of island was very interesting and weather was hot and sunny in the morning when we set off at 09.15. The blowholes through holes in the lava were spectacular as the plume of spray went up 30ft in the air.. Drove down a long track to get there and paid 10 tala fee (£2 ) but the scenery was worth it. Took lots of photos and video of blowhole and waves breaking against lava rocks. Skies suddenly filled with storm clouds so walked quickly back to car. Had snack lunch in car whilst downpour took place. Got back to our resort at 3.15pm. Keef went swimming and Anne had a siesta then we had a cup of tea on the beach and chatted to the NZ crowd.58 pictures taken on our trip round, Savaii. The south side of the island has a spectacular coast line and the blowholes especially    

Day 29 - Friday 23rd November 2007,Savaii Lagoon Resort, Samoa

Spent the day chillin on the beach, well at least in the morning. Had a rather broken nights sleep with torrential rain at about 3am which continued through until about 10am. Took A & I ages to return to sleep after closing (slightly) shutters to prevent rain coming in All Pacific windowry (if that’s what you call it) is fitted fly screen on the outside and louvred glass slats (in 2 shutter sections) on the inside, idea with fans is to keep you cool whilst keeping the pesky insects out.Went out at low tide to take pictures of coral and the bright blue fish, alas the eel wasn’t to be seen again. Met again Bruce/ Margaret/ Lonnie, wife & baby and Suvisuvi (Part Maori guy Margaret likes to call her son) All Kiwis , nice folk. Gave us their food leftovers Cheddar cheese/ chutney and pineapple, v kind. Bruce has good sense of humour a good sign for our Kiwi visit Plus he suggested I could go up the water tower to get better pictures, now that is a good sense of humour from a nation who are into their extreme sports. I.e NZ weather said a ‘great weekend for taking your granny skydiving’.Lots of rain plus we checkout (alas) of Savaii 2moro. We have both found it most relaxing.

Day 30 - Saturday 24th November 2007,Ferry trip back from Savaii to Upolu, Salelologa Wharf to Mulifanua Wharf

Waited in terminal building (if you can call it that) and got a passenger ticket for Annie. Lady on desk at outriggers who was v friendly. Ini gave Annie and I a frangipani etc garland as a leaving present (ah bless) car fine this time, no problems with windows not shutting. V hot on ferry. Took some video off the back of the boat. Nice to be back on main island, smooth run into Apia (about 45 mins) 3 cars overtook when they shouldn’t near the wharf. As Annie said they mooch around all day but once behind the wheel they drive amazing aggressively (Note Updated later; the Tongans don’t maybe that’s a difference between races)

Day 31 - Sunday 25th November 2007, Outriggers Hotel, Apia, Upolu – Trip around Upolu

Saw everything drove all the way round the island in about 7 hours See the photos There are lots, albatross island, the leper colony, beach fales you name it, delicious day.Briefly met a Samoan band at the Coconut Beach Resort (by 2013 now called Coconut Beach Club) at the south end of the island. Hot and sultry day. Ate (expensive) in the restaurant on the beach front. Classy Burger and then  Anne had a chocolate truffle desert, yummy. At the end of today we have been away a whole month. The big thing for us was the way the Samoans treat Sundays. It may be a day of rest Mon-Sat but Sunday is for Church and Sunday best. Mostly full white clothing,shirts for the men, white lava-lave/sarong, full dresses for the ladies

Day 32 - Monday 26th November 2007,Outriggers Hotel, Apia, Upolu

Got up early and went to the Robert Louis Stevenson house in Apia. Excellent in every way. Guide good, info good well worth the visit .Visited soap factory(?), this samoan guys house. He was married to swiss lady and showed us around his garage and the process of making his handmade soaps from coconut oil, caustic soda (help!!! But OK) and a myriad of scents. Frangipani etc etc Lovely, Anne bought one of each and v cheap they were to $WST8 each about 80p.Kiwi backpackers who had been to Manolo and stayed with a samoan family in the village. No roads on that island. The guy reckoned he messed up big time on most of the village customs (seated when elders present, point toes away etc etc). Swims in the Outriggers pool to cool off and finally finishing Uncle Toms cabin, gr8 book used Wifi at CSL and had a shake and meal at MCD (bad eh) but we are on so much fruit at the mo we are definitely both losing weight

Day 33 - Tuesday 27th November 2007,Outriggers Hotel, Apia, Upolu

Last day in Outriggers Bit of a cockup on no of days stay (my fault) so had to pay and extra day so we used the room to store baggage and have some cold showers. Doesn’t really work in that humidity cos you are dripping again the moment you have finished drying yourself. Security guard helped us load bags in car (but only when it looked like Anne might collapse).Returned car at 3.30 full tank and joked with the lady (who I’d teased when we got the car) that it had seen more of Samoa than she had. She told me that she had never been to Savaii in her life. Caught taxi to airport arrived about 4.30 (in for the long haul16.5 hrs wait, 1.5 hrs flight to Tonga) Bizarre. Made sure this time I told taxi driver what the price was i.e $WST55 (about £11). Excerpt from letter to Brian & Gina that Anne put together and sent from our Lavaspot Wifi session in CSL (Computer Services Ltd) shop (air con) opposite McDonalds (also air con) .guess how we kept cool.96 deg .” Greetings from Samoa. Temperature here is a very hot 90F plus at night time and even hotter during the day. Craig e-mailed us to say there was snow in Nott’ham! We found the Samoans very friendly and when we tell them we’re from Nott’m they all mention Robin Hood! We have seen the contestants for the Miss South Pacific and now the Commonwealth & Oceana Games – Weightlifting is being held at the moment in Apia. We are looking forward to moving on to Tonga as hopefully it will be cooler there. Considering we are in the wet and cyclone season we are glad that the weather is not too bad.It seems strange to hear Xmas music & see decorations in the shops. Trust you are all well as we are (albeit very sweaty!)

Day 34 - Wednesday 28th November 2007,Faleolo Airport

Plus the day that didn’t exist (again) except up until 6.45 am (another International Dateline oddity). Spent waiting for our flight in the Samoan airport. No air con, no open shops, no water, no nuthin except parties , immense humidity (was over 95 degrees at night) and 2 flights to Auckland (one Air NZ, one Polynesian Blue) And heard.all night long the sound of cellotape being twined and ripped plus black bin liners being taped up round boxes of produce.coconuts, bananas, papaya, breadfruit, flowerswho knows what else.and you may ask why didn’t they prepare these in advanceand probably more importantly with NZs hot customs rules and foodstuffs and wood are not allowed, so dumb question how does that work, surely it will all be dumped on arrival in Aucklandoh and they have to pay excess baggage for it. Met 3 Tongan US marines, who had flown in from Pago Pago (US Samoa) who had to wait longer than us. Spoke to a few of them especially the big guy (linebacker with US passportwhose parents and child lived on Tonga) so they were getting a break from duty for home visit. Mark my words you wouldn’t cross him (although he was most pleasant with US accent) he was the size of the proverbial ‘brick s..house door and then some’.Went into main store (CHOWs) in Apia. I got flipflops and water, Anne some very nice material . The blue bit which is 3 yds long was only about £1.50 English Free almost.Various Uk & Kiwi med students doing ‘time’ in local Samoan hospitals and staying in Outriggers fales around the pool.

Excerpt from standard letter sent to Friends and rellies on arrival in Tonga (29/11 due to IDL).We had the most amazing 16.5 hour wait in the Samoan airport last night before our short flight to Tonga, no open shops in airport i.e no water, so I had to get a taxi to take me to a village 'shop' where they had no water and didn’t understand me but i was able to buy 4 bottles of coke and sprite (with no top opener) to at least stop us expiring in the immense humidity that was Samoa....about 95 at night...met a load of Samoan US Marines from Pago Pago (US Samoa) who had been waiting longer than us...still each plane that arrives in Samoa is a huge 'event' wow at 3am truck loads of large families would arrive, to greet one of their extended family returning from NZ, party time, so no sleep all night. We both loved Samoa, very different from anything we have ever experienced before....whilst being almost 3rd world, they are great people and 'village' life will stay with us forever....pigs, cockerels, amazing gardens, getting up at 5am, church frying pan gong, mooching - a national pastime, and boy what views....still we are now in Tonga and have 24*7 i/net so intend catching up with a few folk. Alas Fiji & Samoa i/net is sparse and costly...so please write, we would love to hear from you. We are in our 'exec' fale (trad cottage) listening to Black Rose (our fave Fijian band at the mo) and thinking of family and friends....but not too hard.We have noticed throughout the South Pacific islands they are all extremely religious and very very family (extended and we mean extended) orientated. They all have loads of little kids and seem gobsmacked that we only have 2 children and this is the norm in Europe. 7-10 is not unusual here and village chief mentality rules. So as a big fella I’m applying for a ‘leadership’ roleAnne now calls me King (or elseshe has just told me to remove this bit) In most cases feudal rights rule and as education has to be paid for if you are poor you remain so and learning which we all know changes life and cultures /opportunities are just not available, many kids don’t go to school. Robina the Kiwi (Tongan/Japanese dad....Tongan/German mum) who owns this place is most friendly and interested in tourism (as such it is) in Samoa so she can implement stuff here in Tonga. Its early days but they seem to be a much more reserved race than the Fijians & Samoans and the climate is 10 degs less that those 2 and although this is unfair Anne & i remarked on arrival England with Coconut palms....there is a lot of green grass (cultivated) still more when we have to report....proud to say i now have a photo of the Rose Cottage Tshirt in all the places we have been....watch out for further additions to the website

Day 35 - Thursday 29th November 2007,Arrival in Tonga, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Flight over quick and easy. Good NZ plane. Odd to see some 150+ people have to deplane in Samoa even though they were going on to Auckland, plus they would have to do the same in Tonga.Very little sleep. We had to have a 3 hour kip when we arrived to recover. Fale here at Nukama’anu is ace, Air con Inet 24/7, Sat TV etc.Met Silva, Margaret (PA) , Robina (owner) and handy man , who I had a chat to about Rugby and Hard Rock Cafes plus v friendly taxi driver who took us to 2 supermarkets and a stall for provisions and bananas.I drive a hard bargain and got a whole tree for $TOP4 (£1p) The currency is Pan’anga although for our benefit (I wish they wouldn’t) they call it a dollar.Plus lady in shop around the corner where we got bread, water and cheese (fondue style) who was having her kids talk to her ex in Stockton in California on a mobile, hoot or what! Most memorable: Christmas decs outside our cottage

Day 36 - Friday 30th November 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Morning spent on laptop catching up, bank stuff with Craig (our hero) and sally jacks (Barclays), website redo, audible book download (savage garden) research on Tonga and associated islands. Both feeling a little jaded and oh I hope not but experiencing Tongan Tummy.Anne ankles bad and she is resting whilst I catch the daily diary up as haven’t done it since we returned from Savaii to Upolu.Just chillin will get a car for 3 days. Researched beaches and roads / places of interest. Very laid back here. Most ladies (married?) wear black and a mat skirt over their skirts. It is warm but not humid here and sea breeze and air con a big plus Lovely cottage Sat TV which we haven’t tried yet but will .Silva gave us 4 bananas (with mine we could overdose on them if we are not careful) plus returned our washing (along with her underwear) Very cheap $TOP10 (about £2.50) - the bananas not her underwear!  Walk along beach to shop to get more water and bread. Coast is v interesting as inner coral reef but not advised to swim in. Taxi driver and Robina said they collect fish/ crabs/ all manner of marine life to eat from there. It was covered in folk at low tide doing exactly this. Plus kids all playing rugby by the side of the road. No posts , in Samoa each village at least had wooden tree stuff for posts

Day 37 - Saturday 1st December 2007, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Went by taxi into town and walked around. Saw market and bought tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, peppers and a small pineapple. Keith looked at cotton shirts but none his size. We saw taro, yams, kava root, ginger, garlic and other vegetables which we did not know the names. Very interesting. Internet café had a lot of NZ backpackers and Europeans. People were friendly and helpful in the shops. Bought a map & postcards. Some Tongans were in western clothing and others in sarongs with pandanus mats wrapped round their hips, both men & women. Saw local youth band singing & playing music in car park.Saw King of Tonga’s official residence (one of six) which was a colonial white clapboard building along the seafront. Town had a huge tree near the Westpac bank called a rain tree. Had lunch in restaurant, by then market was closing and traders were going home in pick-up trucks with unsold fruit & veg. Saw a pig in a wooden cage in back of truck being driven down main street. Weather was warm, sunny & cloudy & temp was 79F. Town looked very small considering it is the capital of Tonga – unremarkable buildings with colonial flavour – wooden with tin roofs but a small arcade with some modern shops and café. Got taxi back to our fale and then wrote postcards which we will send on Monday as the PO was shut. Watched ‘Around the bend’ on Sat Tv quirky family/road movie with Christopher Walken and Michael Caine (briefly before the cheque ran out!) – good (plus best quality picture since we started traveling) Tonga contribution to Broadcasting is a few local (hammy) adverts for beach resorts!  Had interesting walk around market and town. Had lovely lunch in 2 sisters restaurant – chicken escalope in lime sauce with fried potatoes, garlic bread and side salad. For desert we had strawberry and chocolate gateau slices and nice coffee.

Day 38 - Sunday 2nd December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Chillin.alas Keef has Tongan Tummy so he is on water only all day, which should sort it.  Reading, listening to music, researching facebook, laptop not much really. Waiting to get the hire car 2moro for 3 days so we can travel. Researched map also for islands worth visiting (Atata & Fala).Nuku is the uninhabited one where shipwrecked was filmed (teen reality show) Gentle walk left out of cottage along Hake Vunu (hake is road), our road.Robina and her 2 children dressed smart presumably for church. Note all ‘married’ Tongan women seem to be dressed from head to toe in black. She paid tribute to the Tongan customs of mat or belt mat with long ‘dangly’ bits by wearing an equivalent in silver. Met no one – Sunday is a very family/quiet day here in Tonga, Margaret and lady in 2 sisters said they slept as tired. Have to say as temperature is about 80, i.e 15degs less that Samoa folk here are far less ‘moochy’.Whilst writing our postcards we had a long chat with the Tongan gardener who was sweeping up leaves outside our fale. His name was Alex and he said he had been to France by cargo ship in 2000 and went via New Caledonia & Suez Canal which took over 2 months. Said he is going to visit his brother & family in NZ before Xmas for 3 months.

Day 39 - Monday 3rd December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Sent email to D&P-here is the extract which tells something of our day ,interesting one as first day of 3 with hire car***Hi Doug & Phoenix,Alas we didn’t get your text msg, both our phones don’t work here in Tonga and the only texts I have got are when i email phones and they respond...I’ll try l8r. Good stuff here in Tonga although i've got a rather bad dose of 'tongan tummy' at the mo, probably via water on salad but who knows, mum is ok. Got hire car 2day and saw LHS (left hand side) of the island, blowholes at Houma ace, plus saw surfing beach at Ha'atafu beach where we were talking to 4 ozzie surfers when a coconut that dropped narrowly missed all of us and the car (luckily). Gonna do the RHS 2moro. King died recently 84 and 33stone, fattest monarch in history, so being large (although we are both loosing weight a bit) is seen as good in Tonga. His main palace is just down the road from us, we saw his son (ex PM, King elect....its a bit / lot corrupt here I would suggest) drive past this a.m with police escort and blacked out bullet proof windows, public hols 2moro for his birthday and plaques everywhere celebrating what seems to be each of the previous kings 84 b'days (bizarre!)  have to say not really enough to do here for 10 days, its very small We both preferred Samoa, still not complaining We will (if we can work out how) get to 1 or 2 of the surrounding Islands....Nuku is apparently where they shot the TV reality show Shipwrecked (never heard of it!) Still in answer to your quessies, bag 59 has dougs rucsac in it, i guess your tent is probably in that (unless we bought it over to you) ...no probs mum & i will get you a mattress and 2man tent when we get to NZ...not long now. Saw England result (did Beckham play?) , blimey that’s a heavy group, no I am not interested either....bet Craig’s mates who pre-booked tickets are pig sick bye love M&D/K&A.***saw 3 beach resorts(?) that you would really question, 2 ripoff taxi merchants and 1 resort ripoff, but apart from that a fairly good day!!! Houma Blowholes (ace), King elect Tupou V.Alex bought us 5 more bananas, we could open a shop, pity no blender cos banana milkshake is gr8. we did find out that 2moros public holiday is to celebrate King Tupou ,we more or less followed this route by car over our 3 days

Day 40 - Tuesday 4th December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

National Holiday in Tonga to celebrate birthday of King George Tupou  1st – he died in 1893 having reigned for some 48 years and was single handed credited with reforming Tonga,needs an update now from new King George Tupou 5th. Went round the right hand side of the island in the hire car (see pictures for details) Reasonably overcast day and about 79degs. The island isn’t that large , guess about 20*10 miles. After a few false starts getting out of  Nuku’alofa down backstreets to avoid the town procession (after we had seen it) all roads from which seemed to lead to Queen Charlotte’s wharf we finally got out on our way, spend about 4 hours slowly traveling around. Memorable was Village dancing, protest banners against corruption, strip light (in our fale which was on the blink). Loved float procession thru Nuku’alofa , Captain Cooks monument, Paepe ‘o Tele’a (300 year old burial mound, started like pyramid (well 2 layers) – most UNIMPRESSIVE, Tonga’s Stonehenge (Ha’amonga’a Maui) , Lots of coconut/banana plantations, appalling roads, airport , Tongan boys college (red including mat uniform), dancing in village in SW Tongatapu,amused by Robina who said that the Princess regent came to her restaurant for a worship breakfast at 5.30 am (and she had to be up at 3.30 to prep for it) plus the father of her youngest child (boy) who has been visiting is returning to Oz 2moro.

Day 41 - Wednesday 5th December 2007, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Last day of the hire car so went to the Cultural Centre ($TOP3 each) which was very interesting, lunch @ café express then market to buy Rosilea by Black Rose and then chilled (reading / laptop/ music) whilst the builders removed the stones outside our door and put up ‘police tape’.talk about holidaying by a building site, I will ask for a rebate,  and Keef did some DIY to try and fix the light tube/ starter motor.Visited cultural centre, had tapa, saw outrigger boat, andsome great old tongan photos, especially those of the royal family. Called into International dateline hotel on vunu rd opposite wharf (empty) to see about the cultural show, it is tonight so we are gonna go. 9 pm UPDATE it was ace and cost us zip, mixture of tongan, hawaian and moari dances and a great band. See videos and pictures. The Tongans seem better at this than the Samoans (or maybe we just happened to be in the right place at the right time here). Met Ozzies on Queen Charlotte wharf who were waiting for their ferry to Fafa. They had just flown in to Tonga and were in transfer. We asked about ferries as it is so unclear and we want to go to Pangaimotu 2moro 10/11 trips out and 4/5 return, Robina reckons $TOP15 that you pay on arrival at island but as always its not clear. Will consider! Had to move the car parked in the shade outside the cultural center when some tongan guys shinned up the coconut tree and started machetteing off the fronds and nuts One almost landed on the roof (and that would have cost us) Went to Café Express (Robina’s) in Western Union Funds Mgt building for lunch. Chicken and pineapple toasty for me (my first food for 2 days and touch wood I seem to be over Tongan Tummy), Chicken and lots of things panini for Anne, plus 2 chocolate milkshakes (best so far on trip) and banana cake/ coffee cheesecake.

Day 42 - Thursday 6th December 2007,Trip to Atata Island

Took our hire car back this morning. Took boat to Atata, a small island north of Tongatapu at 10 am where there was a resort called Royal Sunset. Boat was very small with 7 tourist day trippers and open sea was very choppy due to wind. On arrival at 10.25 we were greeted by a Tongan lady on the jetty who gave us all an orange juice. Our day boat trip included lunch. We walked through some paths past some of the tourist fales and came upon a small village, then walked back to the resort along the lovely sandy beach. Some village children were sitting on the beach & greeted us and there were quite a few fishing boats and nets along the beach. Was very hot. Sat down for a rest on the decking in the resort and then got changed to go for a cool off in the water. Sea was only knee deep in the sandy bit but stiff offshore breeze. Keef still had Tongan tummy.One of the American ladies told us that she had seen a sea snake which put us off going swimming. There was an option to go out in a boat snorkeling but Keef did not go. Had lunch (Keef had mahi-mahi fish with sweet potato chips and salad and Anne had a burger). Relaxed and read our books and sunbathed. By now there was a pleasant sea breeze. Noted that the resort swim pool was very dirty and had never been cleaned so we did not risk going in. Also more dogs and puppies wandering around as well as hens, even in the restaurant bit. We were the only tourists on the island as even though there were 26 fales, they were empty. Lady who had greeted us asked us if we wanted to stay on the island in a fale but we said no. Would not like to spend more than a day on the island. Had a brief dip in the sea again and then walked a bit further along the other side of the island but saw a dead sea snake on the beach  .aargh! Did not get too close to investigate but it was as thick as Anne’s arm and black and green.. Anne ran away. Tongan lady confirmed that it was a sea snake. Got boat back at 4pm and trip back was just as choppy – small boat was like a roller coaster at times and lots of sea spray over us. When we arrived back at the pier we got a taxi back to our fale.Boat trip to small island Atata. Saw dead sea snake. Saw unusual coloured circle round sun and took photo.

Day 43 - Friday 7th December 2007, Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Chillin..got up about 8 had breakfast (slowly) Peanut butter on toast, fruit juice and T Did stuff on laptop whilst listening to music Avoided taking ITunes and Ipod software updates. Will wait until NZ and faster line. Just too slow here and would maybe based on fragility of s/ware mean we ended up with no music. Did DVD for Mum of Samoa/Tonga. Sent lots of e-xmas cards and e-birthday cards to Doug & Nikki. Not much, some sun whilst we sunbathed. 84 degs.Met Margaret to pay the bill. $TOP1200 for remaining 8 days.Chatted to a young couple from the UK who were waiting for a boat to another island where they were staying. They were traveling round the Pacific, NZ, Vietnam, Thailand and India. On our boat trip to Atata island we met 5 sisters who were all born in Tonga but now live in Alaska, Sydney & NZ & all sounded very American. One even gave me her business card. 2 bits of lovely chocolate birthday cake courtesy of Suki, Robina’s 8 year old daughter. Sent lots of Xmas Greets email card from Tonga

Day 44 - Saturday 8th December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Caught taxi into town. Went to Friendly Islands bookshop to get envelope for DVD for Mum. Alas post office closed (or never open) before 11 so will have to take with and post in NZ. Hope it gets there for Xmas. Had coffee in Friends café, walked around looking for tropical shirt for K, none his size however. Lunch at 2 sisters (we seem to be their only customers) They even send the chef out to say thanks for eating there. Then argument with taxi driver who tried to charge us $TOP7 (its only 4) we let him know in no uncertain terms he was trying to rip us off!!! Then back to sunbathe and do I/net research for NZ. Overnight real storm, maybe something to do with cat3 currently hitting Fiji.Bit of sun during sun bathing. Lady in trad costume in town. 102 Dalmatians (film with Glenn Close on kids TV channel) FOX News TV (crap-US).Tongan married to US guy (Stockton,CA) in shop where I went to get water and bread. Plus Corinne (previous Ms Tonga) in 2 sisters restaurant and her sister Andrea who chatted to us for a while as she was keen to try out her English and told us she had never been outside Tonga. Chicken escalope in lime sauce , herb pots and salad (again). Our fave Tongan food at 2 sisters restaurant followed by spaghetti ice-cream (Anne) and strawberry cake (kef) yummy. Alas Keef still had Tongan tummy, which is tricky to shift

Day 45 - Sunday 9th December 2007,Nukuma’anu Cottages, Nukualofa, Tongatapu

Last day on Tonga before traveling to NZ. Not much really. I/net catch up, backups, reading, scrabble, listening to music. Pack. Thought not much happening and then bang, Cyclone Daman and a quake. The quake off Raoul island some 355miles SSW of Tonga was 7.8 on the Richter scale (8.40pm) but luckily some 93 miles below ground under the sea so no real risk of a Tsunami. Tonga is so flat if it got hit you would definitely be a ‘gonna’. Cyclone had narrowly missed Vanua Levu  (Fiji) but was arriving at pace on Tonga. Big winds/storms.  Filled in visitors book for Robina.Felt Cyclone Daman.Alex and Robina called to mention the Sunday eve bread run to get fresh hot bread and cakes. A little too stormy for us outside so gave it a miss and watched Lethal Weapon 1 with Mel Gibson instead. Then they kindly bought us back a loaf, 2 cream buns and 3 choc donuts Had a real feast that eve as had pasta and fresh pineapple planned anyhow. Left a bit of food for them as you cannot take it out of the country.Pack, pleased to leave Tonga now. 10 days on reflection was probably too long. It is not big enough. Main town only really has as many shops as Sandiacre PLUS quake Was sitting on sofa which started to move. Bizarre, didn’t last long but it was big. I thought the walls of the fale had moved and jumped up to grab hold of them. To glasses on table at 45degs and liquids came out. Anne thought she was ‘having a turn’ in kitchen but then realized the clothes cabinet in bedroom was swaying. Amazed that the tiles on the floor didn’t split. Bit panicky after that especially with the howling gales outside so packed immediately and placed stuff reasonably high up. This happened at 8.45 pm. By midnight although it was still stormy it was a little calmer. Checked on Inet for quakes (recorded) and Daman, which it said had dropped to Cat2 tropical storm and cyclone warning for Tonga removed as it had veered off to the south west (thank god) After Jamaica and Ivan we vowed we wouldn’t get involved again .

Day 46 - Monday 10th December 2007,Travel from Tonga to Auckland, NZ and onto Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera

Storms mostly subsided (Hooray) Sunshine again and whilst windy nothing like Sunday. We knew we could fly off the island. Got up about 7 washed, showered and breakfasted. Did final packing. Ordered taxi ($TOP30 to airport) Said goodbye to Silva who said Robina was in the bath so we passed on our regards Left caught flight to NZ . Arrived 2.15 15 mins early and somewhat bumpy in places, mostly due to tail end effects of Daman Booked into Greenlane Motor Inn after taking shared shuttle bus with Brazilians and a Scottish lady whose husband worked as a miner in New Caledonia (Noumea). Amazed at Tonga International airport with its usual Tongan organization. Check in (for us luckily only 2 hrs early) had to pay $TOP25 each departure tax then made to wait standing up for at least 30 mins as scanner staff hadn’t arrived for work yet. Still our Air NZ flight did depart on time, unlike the Sydney Pacific Blue flight which hadn’t even arrived in Tonga until 30 mins after it was due to leave. We left at 11.30 am half full. It was a return flight from Auckland so understand most of the Tongans would never afford such. Had warm cheese and ham sandwich with salad and strange coconut thing but A&I had the wine, First we have done really apart from the Air Pacific flight from Fiji to Samoa. Met Vaughan and Greg Proprieters (guess they are a gay couple, but we don’t mind) Indeed they were very good friends by end of hols and took us and Phoenix out on their boat. Excellent room $85NZ (approx £34 a night) so good we have extended now until 20/12 so the boys can get a bed when they arrive.Shops: went to Foodtown, Fruit world, Chinese bread shop, Hot Roast shop etc Were gobsmacked at number of things we have never seen in our lives before, especially fruits. Will ask Phoenix what some of them are. Got hot Hoysin chicken, fresh bread and fruit for our T as well as some staples. Had great feast. Tummies a bit rumbly after that but Keef seems to be finally working thru his aversion to Tonga stomach wise. Its not been a gr8 time but things can only get better .

Day 47 - Tuesday 11th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Got up about 8, had a great breakfast Cereal, brown bread with Craig’s Boysenberry jam and marmite, apricots and teaafter the pacific islands this was bliss.Anne was overjoyed to see the shops of Remuera.Walked round to Remuera shops. Westpac ATM worked, posted DVD to Mum Bought map book and Auckland map Asked guy (v friendly) in coffee shop (ace café culture here) about wifi, free sometimes in Auckland so will try out Then caught bus with mad driver into DOWNTOWN went thru Newmarket, Parnell saw sky tower Hired a car from Juicy cars and drove back to motel for lunch Then headed out to Kea at Glenfield, up Highway 1 and over the harbour bridge. 20 mins max, not great weather Mostly rain.No camper vans nor big people movers anywhere on either island. All booked out for Xmas, so probably gonna get 2 cars and camping gear and stay in Motels/ campsites Steve and the Lady at Kea did offer us a 2 person camper with 20% buyback i.e we would loose £6k over 4 months. Too expensive, decided against A&I will reconsider when it is just us in mid Jan.Spent most of the afternoon on the phone trying to get a 8,9,10 person minibus all to no avail. We will take some other decisions i.e 2 cars.No photos taken, too busy sorting out arrangements for when the boys and phoenix come

Day 48 - Wednesday 12th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Keef spent a lot of time on the phone trying to contact a few more car rental people but without success. He did arrange to visit NZ Car Rentals later in the day to look at cars.We went shopping to Sylvia Park mall to buy all our camping gear from The Warehouse and got everything. Mall was easy to find – off Highway 1. It was a large mall and Keef also got a sim card for our mobile plus a Vodem which would enable us to use 3G Broadband with the laptop. When we got back to our motel in the evening, Keef tried it and it worked fine. Apparently we can also use it in Oz. Had lunch in motel then set off to see NZ Rentals people across the city. Kieran showed us a Bluebird car which had a very large boot with 4 doors. He had 2 available for the dates we wanted so we paid a $100 deposit and he said he would collect us from Juicy when we dropped off our current car on Sunday. Then the boys can pick up the other car with us after they arrive. The car hire worked out at £13.50 per day which is excellent value. Then we returned to our motel to sort out mobile phone and lap top. Went to Remuera shops and got a Chinese takeaway. Very tired and busy day but we were relieved that we had sorted out the mobile phone, internet access for laptop and car rentals. Kieran in NZ Car rentals – very helpful.

Day 49 - Thursday 13th December 2007,Orewa, Warksworth, St Martins Bay to Sandspit

Decided that we needed to find somewhere to stay with the boys for Xmas Eve & Day as well as when Phoenix arrives on Boxing Day. Set off past rush hour at 1135 am over the Harbour Bridge and headed north along Highway 1. Thought we would look at Orewa as it had a beach and was a tourist area and had a Top 10 holiday park. Orewa was a lovely coastal town with a long beach, grassy area between the road and beach with benches and huge pine trees and the red flowered NZ trees. Stopped to have a look at the beach then drove along to see the campsite – no good – mainly for RVs. Drove back along seafront and saw lots of motels before deciding on a modern motel called Waves. They had vacancies, were almost on the beach and the rooms were lovely so booked up right away. Set off up the highway and saw lovely coastal bays and beaches including a thermal springs resort, a pioneer village called Puhoi where there were some weatherboard houses and a church and Warksworth which was a small town on Highway 1 with small shops. Had fish & chips (snapper which was delicious) by the sandy bay at Snell Beach – quite a rich area with posh coastal homes with verandahs overlooking the bay and islands. Toured round the area a bit more after lunch and Sandspit was where you could take a ferry to an island but the ferry was not operating. Lots of rolling hills with sheep & cows and views of coast and sailing boats. Very warm but breezy with fresh sea air. Nice area.Returned to Auckland once rush hour was over. Good view of city and Skytower when approaching harbour bridge from the north.

Unpacked camping goods to get rid of packaging and when we tried out the camping table found that it had some parts missing so would have to return to the mall tomorrow to replace it.Motel owners at waves were English from Derbyshire and knew Nottingham. Loved Orewa beach and drive north along coast.

Day 50 - Friday 14th December 2007,Sylvia Park, Airport & Auckland Botanic Gardens

Went back to shopping mall to exchange picnic table that had parts missing. Also bought some more camping stuff. Then set off to see how far it was to drive to the airport when we would pick up boys next week. Only took about 25 mins from the mall, plus extra 10 mins from motel. Had Subway sandwich at the airport precinct. Spent rest of afternoon at Auckland Botanical Gardens which was free entry. Very warm today – about 76 F. Gardens were nicely landscaped but mainly park with few flowers and a rose garden which was just coming into bloom but not perfumed enough. Jasmine flowers were very fragrant though. Saw native NZ trees and lots of palm trees and exotic plants. Not as good as Butchart Gardens or Wisley. Also gardens were situated next to motorway and under power lines.Saw a quaint homemade wooden campervan which Keef took a photo of. Motorway was very busy on the way back towards Auckland at 4.30. Stopped at supermarket and fresh fruit shop. At 5pm had lovely roast lamb dinner at Hot Roast Hut for $28 – meat was excellent.Weather was very warm today – is getting hotter every day.

Day 51 - Saturday 15th December 2007,Auckland Harbour Cruise

Vaughan & Greg suggested we go into town via Ascot Drive along the coastal wall . Excellent advice, superb route that we now use all the time. The Southern beaches are excellent and maybe better than what Sydneysiders get to see(?) Then turned around and headed back into downtown along Quay St up to Queens St (main posh shops) tried parking on Quay by Hilton Hotel and misread costs as it was Sat, parked uphill in a Wilsons car park. Fullers harbour cruise was great. 1 ½ hours and great commentary Really enjoyed it plus unlimited free return ferry ticket to Devonport thrown in. We may well use sometime. Then drove off in search of North shore beaches we had seen from cruise, especially Cheltenham (deeply disappointed) Herne bay on south side just over bridge is very up market, took picture of Masonic lodge for Brian. Harbour, Downtown, Various Islands, Southern & Northern beaches, Marina, Harbour bridge, horse and cart (v old) with 3 drays pulling in Devonport, which has lots of old ‘mining town’ type buildings (weatherboard and metal porches/verandas), met various folk on the cruise, lots of ozzies off the Sun Princess cruiser,Free cakes & coffee on the Fullers Ferry. Bizarre ship shaped Hilton hotel on quayside ferry Capt. said it was over budget, over time and not fit for purpose hence many men and companies went to the wall. It is a blot on the landscape, took pix of  Harbour Cruise, Herne Bay, South coast beaches (i.e Hobson, Kohimara, Mission & St Helier) and North coast beaches (i.e Devonport & Cheltenham ($NZD15m houses, although we are not sure why?), Achilles point at St Heliers.

Day 52 - Sunday 16th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Returned Corolla hire car to Juicy motors in the Strand , downtown then Kieran came out from New Lynn to pick us up and go back to sign up for the 2 sedans, white auto Nissan Bluebirds. OK cars, big boot space, air con, twin air bags and bags of room. Happy. We have also asked him to get us a Station wagon for our last 3 months that we can dump in Christchurch. He is happy same price as bluebirds (approx £14/day with extra insurance) and so are we as he has dropped the $250NZD one-way excess. MEGA embarrassment when VISA card rejected for 2nd car then MasterCard rejected as well, don’t understand, bloody Barclays (maybe) Tried it out back ‘home’ online and ok so not sure, will try again 2moro and if blocked will phone and give B’card a bollocking Then had quick lunch back in Motor inn and went out to St Heliers beach for the afternoon Took our chairs and watched kite surfers for hours. Chinese girl posed in wedding dress. Weather overcast but HOT Keef got a little red, which shows how strong the sun is in NZ. Love south coast beaches. Went to Foodtown on way back to get some stuff for T Really good olives and bottle of Queen Adelaide Cab-Sav, xclent value.Kite surfers. Mt Eden although couldn’t get in, will try again sometime.Vaughan & Greg (again) clearing out 2 rooms for painting. As Anne said when we come back mid Jan we will have those ones.Kieran (nice guy) whose mum had come from Ipswich, told us houses about 4 times salary. His respectable middle class income is equivalent of £16k, not much in our books. Loved the Kite surfers jumping & St helier beach

Day 53 - Monday 17th December 2007,West Coast via scenic drive, Piha & Karekare beaches

Took trip out to west coast from Auckland  via Highway 16 to Kumeu. Farming area with lots of stalls selling strawberries. Drove along scenic route to Piha beach. Route had hardly any traffic and we saw lots of tree ferns, tropical palm trees and trees with red flowers. Twisty road down to coast. Started to rain so had picnic lunch in car. Few people were surfing but waves were not very good. Drove on to Karekare Beach where The Piano was filmed. By now the rain had stopped and sun came out. Small stream weaved through black sand to the beach where there were a couple of people plus one surf lifesaver and a few surfies. Beach was unspoiled and waves were crashing on the beach – worth seeing and nice walk. Continued along scenic drive back to Auckland.  Returned to motel and did washing. Then decided to go to the local supermarket from our motel but car did not work – battery failure. Keef rang NZ Car Rentals and Kieran came out at 8.30pm to sort out the problem. He replaced the battery & then we were OK after that. Met Kieran, Vaughan & Greg (again),Scenic road to Piha. Car gave up outside our motel room. Anne drove her first automatic around Remuera,Great view of Piha beach and lion rock from lookout point at top of hill leading down to beach. Karekare Beach where The Piano was filmed.

Day 54 - Tuesday 18th December 2007,Greenlane Motor Inn, Remuera, Auckland, NZ

Weather not so great, were going to either go to cinema at Westfield St Lukes or sit on the beach at Mission Bay, instead went and did shopping for first days camping with boys, not much else happened. Used I/net and read a bit,Had very late chicken from Foodtown, finished eating about 10.30pm then went to bed neither of us slept that gr8 as too excited about boys arriving

Day 55 - Wednesday 19th December 2007,Boys arrive in Auckland

Up very early about 4.45am had breakfast and went over to collect the boys from the airport. EXCELLENT to see them again. They were rightly quite jaded but insisted on staying up even though we had beds for them at Motor Inn. Went to the south bay beaches had a walk, then visited Remuera shops, Lunch Aquarium Had big Sunday dinner at Hot Roast Hut then back to motel where they did sleep from about 4pm thru most of the night. A Gr8 day ,Kelly Tartons marine life aquarium

Day 56 - Thursday 20th December 2007,Auckland to Baylys Beach via Dargaville & the Kauri Museum

Up fairly early, breakfast, Craig manages to get into the Guinness book of records by sleeping for almost 16 hrs. Went to Sylvia Park mall (Mt Wellington) so Doug could buy sunglasses. Then went over to New Lynn to pick up the 2nd car, another Nissan Bluebird auto to match the white one we already have. Set off from Auckland about 12 and had lunch on the beach at Wiemera Thermal springs just past Orewa. Very nice packed lunch, ham & cheese sandwiches and fruit. Saw Kauri Museum @ Matakope,met Mad Dutch guy who was biking around staying at our campsite in Baylys beach. Remember taking 40 mins to get the tent up for the first time and 4 hrs to prepare our evening meal of mashed potatoes/ scaloppini (summer squash), BBQ sweet corn, sausages & lambnot bad once it arrived. But a mission from Keef to get beer and wine (Hawkes bay Chardonnay, yum!) had to go into Dargaville and furtively find an open ‘liquor store’tricky and the publican couldn’t sell it to me. Annie. drove all the way from Auckland over the harbour bridge to Baylys Beach, some 250 km

Day 57 - Friday 21st December 2007, Baylys Beach to Mangonui, Northlands, NZ

Got up about 8, showered, had breakfast and broke camp. Very hot and a few very large mossies. Then went down onto the beach, wonderful. Spent about 20mins there if not more. Then drove up the west coast thru the Kauri Coast forests, Waipoua being the most interesting. Craig remarked on initiative of Maori’s who told you your car would get broken into at tourist spots unless you gave them $2NZD to guard it! Great motel to crash in , recharge our batteries (literally) as have to get to Bay of islands by 12 noon 2moro for ‘swimming with Dolphins’ experience Finished on PC updating daily diaries at 12.Largest remaining kauri tree, huge and spiritual. Apinhari at bottom of 90 mile beach although the weather was so crap it looked totally inhospitable. Doubtless Bay (ace), Coopers Beach (ace) then Mangonui, which supposedly has the best fish restaurant in the world!!! Lady from Boston , who had been 4 years in Mangonui and  14 in Japan She ran our Hill Side motel, luxury $NZD200. Remember all of the banter via the walkie-talkies between the 2 cars. Meal in Bushman’s Restaurant Kaitaia,lovely steak meals, expertly cooked. Doug had steak and oysters, I had steak scallops and king prawns. Especially liked the view of the west coast after kauri forest at Waipoua. Plus Baylys beach, campsite, Giant Kauri (although picky doesn’t do it justice) Ferry (MV Taurua) from Rawene to Kohukohu on highway 12, Doug was still in the shop!

Day 58 - Saturday 22nd December 2007,Mangonui, Northlands, NZ to Bay of Islands + Swimming with Dolphins

Got up earlyish, went with Doug down into Mangonui to get some breakfast. Got some good photos on route including the ‘best fish restaurant in the world’. Drove to Piahia (very touristy) and went on the swimming with dolphins cruise. Xclent. Saw lots of the Bay of islands. Saw a huge pod of Dolphins, but weren’t allowed to swim because they had babies. We were not sure you were ever really able to swim with them if the truth be known. Great time , loads of piccies. Then travelled to Haruru , probably the best campsite in the world, ever! Superb view from the end of our tent, gr8 BBQ, chicken & bacon, potatoes and scallopini ,Dolphins , lots of them, including cute babies,met boat captain who left the Germans behind at the island..’aufwidersehen pets’ Huruhuru falls site owner , drunk and glasses caused puss to run on his face where it looked like he had fallen over, indeed if I hadn’t volunteered to pay the next day he would probably not have bothered , we could easily have driven away.Remember Doug’s washing, puppy dog at campsite

Day 59 - Sunday 23rd December 2007,Haruru Falls to Waipu Beach

Rained a bit overnight, very sunny in the morning so tent mostly dried out. Had breakfast, they have gr8 kitchen facilities in NZ camp sites as well as what we have ourselves. Then quite a lengthy drive to waipou cove where we set up camp again. Exclent beach, very busy family campsite.Beach @ waipuu. Whangarai falls. Remember lack of space on camp site pitch , Police interrupt our walkie talkies at Whangarai, we think!

Day 60 - Monday 24th December 2007,Waipu Beach to Orewa (Waves Motel)

Not too long a drive, drove along tourist coast road, loads of nice beaches and eventually rejoined Highway 1 at Wellsford. Got to Orewa at about 12 and went and did meat and food shopping in New World and Mad Butchers. Really busy like UK so glad to have got in. Checked into Waves after that and chance to unload, straighten out stuff. Got out Crimbo cards, downloaded piccies, updated all electrical stuff. Keef had spa bath, ace, then cooked Lamb curry (lemon , coriander, tomato, garlic, gold kumara and beans) with rice and Turkish bread (Nan) . Met again Derby / Scots couple who run waves , remember Margaret’s number plate (?)

Day 61 - Tuesday 25th December 2007 - Xmas Day,Orewa (Waves Motel)

Got up about 7 to hear the boys talking. Phoenix had texted saying issues with visa at LAX even though she was only in transit Had a full English breakfast, opened our few cards, read our email xmas messages then went down to the beach, where we played rugby, read our books, paddled and then went for a swim in the waves. Good fun and a first for Xmas day. Craig’s xmas pressie to himself was a remote control helicopter which we flew indoors. Rained quite a lot from 2.30 on wards so sadly Annie and boys watched Only fools and horses on the TV. Keef caught up on daily diaries and had a Steinlager at 2.30. Rang Mum at about 9.30 am (8.30 pm Xmas eve there) she seemed good and was going to Jacky’s for Xmas and Glorias’ for Boxing day. Had an op on her finger. Kiwi’s walking on the beach and picnicking, met cleaning girl who almost walked in on Craig whilst he was in the loo, lots of Brits on beach, remember Craig’s Xmas socks. Swimming on Xmas day and rain (alas) pm. So did chicken with pots and veg for Xmas dinner with Preece wine

Day 62 - Wednesday 26th December 2007,Orewa (Waves Motel)

Boxing Day.Some confusion over Phoenix’s flight and arrival time but after Keef rang Air NZ Auckland we realized that she had not been allowed to fly via LA as a Chinese national without a visa even though she was only in transit, so rather than up at 4.30am we rose at 9am. Doug and Keef drove back into Auckland to pick Phoenix up but alas she was detained again by NZ customs who questioned her for 2 hours and unpacked all her stuff , bad news leaving her feeling like she never wanted to come to NZ again. Left Notts 6am arrived nz 2 days later 30 hrs travel, can well understand but we will convince her that NZ is good. Had a great BBQ (prawns ace) dinner and tea. In between went for a swim / sunbathe, played rugby and watched some Disney kids film, Zaphora, remember Poor Phoenix’s journey & our BBQ

Day 63 - Thursday 27th December 2007,Travel from Orewa to Golden Springs park, between Rotarua and Taupo

Boysenberry ice creams at Wildlife park nr Rotarua.Quite a long drive saw Huntly Power station, and loads of traffic going to Coramandel from Auckland.English guy who runs Golden Springs campsite. He has been in NZ 2 years and was selling the site. West Ham fan. Real cockney pleased to hear I came from London After travel we had meal in the restaurant on the site. Good, remember Getting both tents up. First outing for Doug’s Note we spent 7 days here and used it as our base to visit Rotarua, Taupo and Tuarangi plus cold swimming pool and very warm stream

Day 64 - Friday 28th December 2007,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Wai-o-tapu Geothermal park, nr Rotuarua and Polynesian Spa,The most beautiful and fascinating thermal landscape. Artist palette particularly good but all of it really. Remember 28c: Sulphur smell. Heat in various thermal baths and pool ranging from 51c to 31c plus view out over lake whilst sitting in those pools plus cold shower to cool off plus split heels

Day 65 - Saturday 29th December 2007,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Huka Falls Jet and Prawn Park. The jet does a whole series of 360deg spins the most spectacular of which is right close to the falls at the right hand end. The left hand end is a dam end that we came back to see open on a later day .Keef, Anne (2) and Phoenix catching 4 prawns after 4 hrs solid fishing, very satisfying. Alas we part boiled them and froze them back as the campsite with intensions of eating but in the end we chucked away as too risky.Loads of Russians prawn fishing. Remember 360deg spins, catching prawns and tour, almost hitting the golf stroke into the flagged holes (craig ace), walk round park and avoiding water / feeding trout

Day 66 - Sunday 30th December 2007, Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Sky Diving, Taupo Airport, all day event, up really early and drove to Taupo airport. Cost a lot but well worth it (so they said) 15,000 ft over 62 secs freefall with Freddie (German – Dougs), Phil (UK – Phoenix’s) & Greg (NZ- Craig) Their mad tandem pilots plus the American hubby who watched his mrs with anne & I firmly on the ground Young couple from London. Note All 3 had pictures taken by the professionals and DVD plus I took quite a few of their sky diving. NZ for extreme sports!

Day 67 - Monday 31st December 2007, New Years Eve,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Turangi Trout Farm. Irish Bar Taupo for midnight celebrations, with Maori singer Vegas Brown and 2 much Guinness,New Years Eve: Thai meal Craig took us all out for in Taupo. We then went to the fair and Craig won marbles and a handbag (kiddies) on darts (or some such side show) Then went to Finn McCoulls bar ($20NZD entry fee each) for a boozy and rowdy eve, fun poor Annie had to drive the 35+ kms back. Tried texting folk back in UK but phones jammed, used email the next day

Day 68 - Tuesday 1st January 2008 - Annes 54th,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Happy new year and 54th birfday me deary!!! Went round Moari Village, BBQ in eve with Preece wine ,Bubbling mud, haka and maori performance & main geyser blowing Heat from under your feet, met Nick Cage lookalike, remember Anne having her photo taken with the ‘cast’ very hot that day. Had hangi roll at site and D&P had sweet corn ‘boiled’ in sulphur spring

Day 69 - Wednesday 2nd January 2008,Golden Springs Park, between Rotarua and Taupo (Highway 5)

Trout Fishing from Taupo to Turangi,Hired 3 rods in Taupo and then set off around lake Taupo looking for ‘ideal’ spots went swimming and had dinner  at Halletts Bay on Lake Taupo, superb, so cool clear and what views. Expert who said he was a novice at Taurangi who gave us loads of advice on mending the line and casting, not easy! Remember Didn’t catch any. Doug saying he had caught his hat, trousers and the trees, plus supposedly one bite!!!

Day 70 - Thursday 3rd January 2008,Golden Springs to Tongariro National Park

Volcanos, Chateau Tongariro, Mountains + stayed in Mountain lodge Motel,Some of the best scenery ever. met Essex girl married to swede who ran the motel, remember Meal doug bought at Café Railway National Park village station and lunch at the Chateau. Craig having the best chocolate brownie in the world, loved Chateau Tongariro and the national park

Day 71 - Friday 4th January 2008,Tongariro National Park to Wanganui

Boys and Phoenix do the Tama lakes walk , up at 6am. Keef and Anne go up the cable car, which broke down on the way Superb views and very hot, although weather changed and was very cold when they let us down gently on the hour, glad to get down A&I spent rest of day reading in the sunshine. Very intense as always in NZ ,Superb , snow, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls etc, met guy on chairlift who got us down and annoying Kiwi kid who spilt our flat white at the top of the mountain. Owners of Anne& Dion Motel (Wanganui) they named the motel Anndion Lodge, wonder why, hee hee (Anne (Hard rock café bear collector and Dion , Maori welcome man) in Wanganui and yellowfin fish & chips. Nice aussie girl in spa pool at Anndion’s who gave us wine list for Barossa and had kayaked 4 days on Wanganui river. Remember The lift is broken!!!!! 2 + hour drive thru amazing scenery to Wanganui after their walk had finished. So hot road tar melted. Loved Mt Ruapuhe.

Day 72 - Saturday 5th January 2008,Wanganui to New Plymouth via Surf Coast Highway

Woke up showered , breakfasted and had Dion intro us all to all manner of people at the Anndion Lodge. Their spa, pool and sauna were most useful to the boys & P after their long walk. Went into Wanganaui, to fruit market and strolled thru old style town. Miner’s town. Found out how to pay for parking. Walked along river front, saw market had sushi saw tram reconstruction, then headed off via Harewa along surf highway stopping at Onupehe for surf day,Steam boat. Surf coast highway most disappointing. Boats over the surf throwing folk high into the air,Mt Taranaki (although mostly in clouds) almost going to KD Elvis impersonators house in Harewa American who was doing the tram

Day 73 - Sunday 6th January 2008,New Plymouth, West Coast, NI

Camped in sea front camp site for 3 days Found Boysenberry wine head quarters,Couple at Country wines and camp commandant,Sheep shearing first hand, Craig took us for a meal at Bistro on sea front, it was BYO We had 3 bottles and the meal lasted about 3.5 hours best lamb and steak ever. Shark Poo pud!!! and me not getting my Brulee, loved sheep shearing & rock carving

Day 74 - Monday 7th January 2008,New Plymouth, West Coast, NI

Great meal at harbour side bistro yesterday Day off for us catching up, the rest went surfing at Fitzroy beach but found it very difficult. I sent brief email to folks,

Went off in search of the kids surfing at both Fitzroy and east end beaches, as it was so hard they had left early. Went to New World to get steak, cooked tea early. It pee’ed down, so went to cinema with Craig to see the golden compass, it was gr8. D&P went to see a movie but walked out as said it was crap ,Kiwi fisherman at campsite who had bought their mussels even though they had nets out at sea. Said at $2nzd a kilo ‘no worries’ They gave D&P a BBQ one each,Mums birfday. Must ring. Tried twice at 11.30 (she was out at MOT) got her the next day. Visited local park lights extravaganza in the rain

Day 75 - Tuesday 8th January 2008,New Plymouth, West Coast, NI to Waitomo/Otorohanga

Absolutely bucketed it down for about a day and a bit. Got up and put on trunks to take tent down. Forgot ice bag, blocks, food and beer in our hurry to be away by 10. Waitomo caves and the glowworms, including boat trip thru the caves. Stayed at Otorohanga in motel. Spa and pool again for only $NZD150 .Mike from White Cliffs brewery (Urenui, Taranaki) One of the few members of Camra in NZ Had long chat about beer, sampled his Mountain lager and Mild and bought 2 litres of each , yummy plus nice Dutch guy who ran the motel. Lived there since 1961, big infux of dutch farmers to NZ in the 60’s,rang Mum on her 76th birthday from inside BlueBird1 (the car) whilst it poured Great mussels/Mexican and strawberries meal cooked by the boys Family in next chalet from Greenland

Day 76 - Wednesday 9th January 2008,Otorohanga Kiwi House and drive to Raglan

Camped so we could get the tents dry which were still ringing wet from New Plymouth, not the greatest campsite in the world but had our last BBQ with boys & P, sausages and Chinese chicken washed down with real ale.Kiwi’s (the first and only we have seen live) alas they have to be kept in the dark so seeing them saw a little tricky and meant most of my piccies didn’t work however the videos did. Drove to Raglan, had lunch , watched locals jumping off bridge into river and saw surfing at Manu bay and Whale Bay. Remember Camp site at Raglan with HiDiHi motor bike and loud speaker system for prisoners. Hill top campsite with train carriages as kitchen etc Alas it was full but had an ace view of the bay

Day 77 - Thursday 10th January 2008,Raglan then Auckland

Leave campsite, A&I up about 7 boys slept in til 9 Cold shower, boy really wakes you up. After Raglan drove back to Auckland via SH39 & 1. About 2.5 hours. Very hot,Boys & P doing surfing at Raglan. Ace beach. Doug & Phoenix hired a wet suit Craig didn’t. Craig first to fully stand up and surf. The other 2 then managed one run. Very steep cliff down but oh what views (superb),met English guy who kept telling everyone about ‘the one that got away’, remember Boys being able to surf

Day 78 - Friday 11th January 2008,Auckland, Remuera+

Sad day Sir Edmund Hillary (Orewa/ Remuera) dies. We went up sky tower, north shore beaches (Little Shoal bay) and ice bar as well as all having Japanese,Sky tower and sky deck, just superb views of Auckland. You begin to realize how big it is and what some of the yachts look like, we took lots of pics up the sky tower especially the mad beardy who ‘dropped in’ – take a look

Day 79 - Saturday 12th January 2008,Auckland, Remuera+

Alas boys last day, took them back to airport after a day at World Windsurf champs at Takapuna, Mini Golf and bagels/subways,Phoenix met the Chinese Wind surf guy and had her picture taken with him .Remember 27c: Sir Edmund Hillary fever in NZ. Anne shedding a tear as they left! 3 holes in one: C&D & me, the boys leaving (sad!!!)

Day 80 - Sunday 13th January 2008,Auckland Harbour trip, Greenlane, Remuera

Boys arrive in LAX after 12 hr flight, no problems this time. We and Phoenix went out with Greg & Vaughan on their boat around the harbour. Xclent weather and we did sea fishing, very much fun even if we caught nothing. Lots of bites and Phoenix caught a rock crab and sea weed,Rock crab, yellowfin and snails note shark in harbour the day after,Spent much longer talking to V&G over a fair number of beers. They are nice guys and most helpful.Boys (Vaughan & Greg) showed us where they used to live in Remuera after selling their Coramandel motel. Plus where Sir Ed lived. Phoenix took us for a lovely meal at Remuera shizuan. Boys (C&D) txt us to say home, tired but no probs. They saw loads of films. Fishing trip memories.

Day 81 - Monday 14th January 2008,Auckland, Remuera+

Alas Phoenix’s last day, she is back to China for new year for 1 month. Enjoyed having her around,Got up about 9.30am had breakfast and went to do some ‘retail therapy’ at Sylvia park mall in Mt Wellington area. Keef sorted Vodafone (sort of) and came back and after various calls found the way to set up a separate account online so he can pay that way rather than via the post office,Lazy day really, saw no one apart from Phoenix. 25c: Used mall food hall, had Indian (P&I) Fish and chips (A) then went to Warehouse to buy some extra camping stuff, will sell on Trade me when we leave for Oz (hopefully), lazy pm after being all shopped out. Anne got some clip on sunglasses for travel we went and had roast lamb at roast hot with Phoenix as her final meal. Bad storms in Sydney. Remember sadly saying goodbye to phoenix.

Day 82 - Tuesday 15th January 2008,From Auckland to Coromandel Holiday Park

Up earlish, packed and said good bye to Vaughan and Greg. Over to Kierran in New Lynn  to pick up Bluebird 3 (our Toyota camry gracia) for 81 days, drop off in Christchurch, 5/4Then repacked into new car and traveled off on the Pacific Coast Highway from Auckland thru Clevland, Kawakawa bay (where we had luncha complete whole shell beach) and onto the Coromandel peninsular at Thames (pronounced after London’s river). The view all the way along was superb, best yet. We really like the CP.  Oh such great scenery and the weather was great, met Campsite owner-Coromandel Holiday Park (a family park,generally good in our humble opinion) Went back in 2013 when it was a big 4 park.Space lab bright in the sky. 6.30ish only 10 mins thought it was a plane

Day 83 - Wednesday 16th January 2008,Coromandel Holiday Park

Got up reasonably early first time as it was a cold night and then back to sleep again to wake up in a sauna inside the tent. 28deg, hottest yet. Did bacon & eggs then had a gr8 trip further up to Colville, end of the line before unsealed roads, then back to site for swim. Then gr8 trip on Driving Creek Railway (DCR) up Cliffside to the Eyefull (geddit!) tower b4 returning for pizza (our first use on an oven in 10+ weeks) b4 catching up on PC. Gr8 day,Superb views over goat island, met Scottish lady and Dutch partner who had moved from Aberdeen 10 years ago (at campsite and then again in Colville), she had only worked 3 of the last 10 years supposedly based on her UK  property value, Hmm but by the same token she claimed that the average 3-bed house was £200k and salaries £12ksomething doesn’t add up they all have boats, summer batches (£100k) and food is more expensive,Buddist retreat, we thought about it but moved on. Driving Creek railway (superb)driving creeks were kauri dams for getting the wood down hillsides (ingenious)

Day 84 - Thursday 17th January 2008,Coromandel Holiday Park

Day of rest, went into Coromandel town, saw the town shops, waited outside Butchers for a while for him to open and then bought steak, mussel and sunripe tomato sausages. Had for t with fried kumara, yummy,28c, v hot. Had tent completely open although a little windy,French couple and 3 blond german ‘babes’ traveling in Hiace. Called them BBQ French couple spoke gr8 english (put me to shame), Germans also they were making icecream in a drinks bottle.Not much really apart from 3 hr chat to Bernhard & Esme from Hamilton. They gave us most of their bottle of Shiraz, a&I v drunk as we had already had Boysenberry wine and beer, loved Coromandel old colonial house, which is where I think greg and vaughan used to own/ let out

Day 85 - Friday 18th January 2008,Coromandel Holiday Park to Mateku, via Bay of Plenty via Pacific Coast Highway

Got up reasonably early, would have got away earlier apart from Bernhard & Esme (again) chatting to us. Eventually left about 10. Travelled across peninsular to Whitianga, then Tairau where we had lunch in front of the batches , superb views, then to Whangamata , Waihi beach, Katikati (mural town) , Tauranga (up and coming city), Mt Maunganui (New Auckland) , Papamoa , thru Te Puke and stayed at Maketu on the beach in a v expensive for what it was!!!) motel.Lots, including superb murals in katikati, lots of Maori ‘stuff’ and longship in Tauranga plus café culture in harbour side road (trendy), expensive yachts in Mt Maunganui and the whole of the wonderful 9 mile long Papamoa beach which we went swimming in but the rip was huge so didn’t go too far out,28c+. Giant Weta in Bernard and Esme’s awning note they are [email protected], alas having no food other than toast and cheese at the motel, 3 books for $20NZD including 2 Ben Elton’s neither of us has read (Bargain hunters!)

Day 86 - Saturday 19th January 2008,East Cape, Mateku to Hick’s bay, plus divert back to Te Puke Kiwifruit world

Set off from Maketu where we stayed in a motel on the beach, v expensive for what it was $115NZD. Then to Kiwi Fruit world at Te Puke, great fun, v touristy traveled around orchard on kiddies KF train. Saw many fruits plus vines of KF. Yellow ones Zestri the most interesting. Allowed to sample fruit, juice and pick other fruit. Then traveled along Pacific Coast highway via Whakatane, Ohope (gr8) Opotiki, old town Maori statue where Anne found out details of up and coming rodeos, hawai, Whitianga, Awanui, te kaha, te kopua, whanaria bay, waihau bay (decided not to camp, too windy) then cross land to Hick’s bay. Excellent remote scenery, but alas cold, windy and eventually drizzly and drivers windscreen wiper stopped working (serious stuff)fixed at motel, gr8views when u could see plus cooked Mexican inside motel on our gas ring with oxford landing red and boysenberry wine, bliss!!!

Day 87 - Sunday 20th January 2008,East Cape, Hick’s bay to Gisborne

Very misty and drizzly this morning. Luckily fixed windscreen wiper myself (hopefully) We will travel thru Te Araroa via Tikitiki where there are some Maori sites, then Ruatoria, Tokomarey bay, via hot pools at Te Puia and Cooks 2nd landing at Anuara bay, then Tolaga bay which has the longest wharf in NZ, thru Whangara, setting for the film whale rider past whale graves into Gisborne,Lots of drizzle, long wharfs, deserted ship yards ,Couple who run the Motel we stayed at in Gisborne, White Heron v good $110NZD incl breakfast,From Previous day a sign for a motel which said ‘Bummer: you have just missed Motel XXXX’ nearly died crying.25 rain soaked wonders, including logging kiwi style and cooks 2nd landing

Extract of note sent to B&A, Linda & Jacky, Pete & Chris,Most written by Annie.....you just couldn’t read my handwriting anyhow!!!ME: We are now in Gisborne on the East Coast, where James Cook landed A guy we met whilst camping said that when he arrived in NZ as a child in 1951 from Sussex his parents drove from Auckland to Gisborne and there were wheel barrows at the side of the gravel road to remove boulders that got in the way of the car. Apparently his parents almost gave up and went back but he is now a retired grandparent here. The roads aren’t that bad but there are still a few untarmaced ones around where we just traveled,ANNIE: We were sad to say goodbye to the boys at Auckland airport and they got home safely without any incidents although they were very tired. Doug had been challenged by the LA security police on the way to NZ because his passport stated he was born in Wellington and they thought he was a Kiwi (with that Nottingham accent I don’t think so!!) and therefore should have had a visa even though he was in transit. They took his passport away without saying why and took him off to an interview room. When Doug realised why they had taken his passport, he pointed out that he was born in Wellington, Shropshire and not Wellington NZ. The US customs guy did not apologise to him and Craig thought he was being carted off to Guantanamo Bay. Phoenix also had a problem coming to NZ because the travel agent had not told us that she also required a visa to be in transit to LA as she holds a Chinese passport. The NZ staff at Heathrow told her when she booked in and luckily they found her a seat on a plane to Auckland that went via Hong Kong but it meant she had to hang around for several more hours at Heathrow. When she got to Auckland she was quizzed for just over 2 hours by the passport people even though she had a visa which said she was on holiday and the date when she was travelling on to China. They wanted to know the purpose of her visit, looked at all her camera pictures to check up on her boyfriend and took everything out of her 2 suitcases to inspect it. Poor girl was exhausted and they were suspicious because she could not give an address in Auckland as we were travelling around staying in motels and camping. Keith and Doug were waiting for ages in the arrivals hall wondering what was happening. When we took her back to the airport for her journey to Hong Kong (& back home for Chinese New Year) there were no problems. She got back to China OK.All three of them had a brilliant time and really enjoyed NZ – it is something that they will always remember for the rest of their lives. They wanted to do some activities that they had never done before such as tandem sky diving, trout and prawn fishing (which we also thought was great fun), the 17km/8hr hike that they did in the national park by the volcanoes ,attempting surfing for the first time, going to the Minus 5 degrees ice bar in Auckland, the glow worm caves, the speed jet boat ride to the Huka Falls, seeing kiwi birds in the bird house, wonderful scenery, unspoiled and uncrowded beaches that stretch for miles, the good weather as well as the camping. Craig made us laugh a lot (he has a good sense of humour) and luckily he thought to bring out 2 walkie-talkies with him as he knew that we had two hire cars. This made it easy to communicate between the cars so we did not lose each other and at one town we thought that we got the local police on our frequency so had to have a ‘white out’ and lie low!! It was a hoot and I could not stop laughing at some of the comments that Craig and Doug made as we drove along.There is also the plus that there are no snakes at all here. There are a few small lizards though. We were told by a fellow NZ camper that all container shipments are sprayed inside to kill off any wildlife and apparently they have discovered the odd dead snake inside, probably from Australia. They definitely do not want these poisonous snakes here. They have already got a huge problem with possums which were introduced by settlers from Oz in the 1850s and these animals destroy the native trees by eating the leaves so are considered pests. As they are nocturnal we have only seen dead ones squashed on the roads which the Kiwis call ‘NZ pizza’. Recently we heard that 10 people had drowned in NZ since Christmas and some of the beaches have warning signs about the rip currents. So many Kiwis own boats (ratio is 1:10) and they are allowed to drink and sail boats even in Auckland harbour where there are ferries and huge container and cruise ships. It is only if they have an accident that the police may prosecute them for sailing whilst drunk. When we were out sea fishing in the harbour the other day we heard a cruise ship blast its horn because a small fishing boat was moored in the shipping lane. Although engines should give way to sail there was no way that a cruise ship could alter course quickly enough to avoid a small boat. Aucklanders start dingy sailing at the age of 10 apparently and no one requires any formal seafaring training, navigation certificate or licence to go out in a boat. The marinas around Auckland are huge – one alone near the harbour bridge holds over 1,000 berths. They also store their boats in boat warehouses where they are stacked vertically and if people want to get them out they just telephone in advance and the boat is taken down to a jetty for them. No wonder Auckland is called the ‘city of sails’.Keith and I are very impressed with NZ. Many people told us that the scenery in South island was much better than North Island but we think that what we’ve seen so far is ‘awesome’. The bush is tropical looking and almost impenetrable with huge tree ferns and other palm trees and native bushes and trees. There are a lot of reserves and national parks which preserves the virgin bush where no man has ever walked. There is a bushfire risk similar to Australia with road signs to identify the fire risk. They have volunteer fire crews outside of major cities who are called up by a loud siren going off as they do not have the people to act as full time firemen. We heard a siren go off on the Coromandel peninsular whilst camping and we were told that the siren continues to sound until the first volunteer fireman gets to the fire station to turn it off. All the houses are made of wood or part wood upstairs because of  earthquakes. Recently there was a big earthquake in Gisbourne (east coast of North Island) which caused some structural damage to buildings but no one died. There is one place along the coast from Gisborne where they had 1,200 earth tremors last year (it was in the local paper). NZ is such a volcanic country that a lot of the mountains are in fact volcanoes. There are 40 extinct volcanoes in and around Auckland city alone.The coastal highways are wonderful and scenic although the roads are very twisty there are volcanoes (extinct) everywhere, even in and around Auckland. The people that we have met so far have been very friendly and chatty and we have picked up some useful information and advice from them. The campsites, busy at the moment because it is school holidays, are well equipped with kitchens with a fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster and electric cookers. Some of them charge for showers though. At the moment we are travelling along the Pacific coast highway from the Coromandel peninsular, along the Bay of Plenty and its superb sandy beaches heading to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay (wine growing area). We have stopped in a motel overnight at Hicks Bay due to the high winds and rain caused by Cyclone ‘Funa’ which is travelling south of Fiji and we are getting the outer edges of this storm. The weather forecast is that some parts of North Island could get monsoon rain. Some of the cattle pastures are looking very yellow so the farmers will be pleased to get rain. The temperatures average between 24-28 C and it was 29c in Auckland yesterday. We hope to see 2 of Captain Cook’s first landing places today. We did plus Sir Ed (Hillary's) funeral next Tuesday, v big here , they may rename one of their many mountains after him  Hope you are all well,love Keef and Anne

Day 88 - Monday 21st January 2008,Gisborne to Wairoa, via Mahia peninsular

Left motel (colonial) at about 10. James cook statue and Young Nicks point plus gr8 views from up the reserve overlooking Gisborne. Then drive past wineries to Morere Hot Springs, didn’t go in, too hot today for thermals, had lunch outside instead. Afternoon around Mahia peninsular (about a 40km detour) but oh what views. Cloud alas cutting in and had to stop and u-ey (u-turn) car on gravel road after tarmac ran out. Then onto Wairoa to camp for 2 nights. Oldish town which was destroyed by earthquake in 1931. Pictures in gents urinal show what happened. One of the most interesting pees I’ve ever had hee hee! Met Rowena & Simon from UK. Ambitious trying to ‘do’NZ in 7 days, impossible. Was gonna do road to Rotarua in campervan via lake until I pointed out it was gravel. Humidity.plus putting tent up in it after string in one pole broke (twice), liked Wairoa,Gisborne, Mahia

Day 89 - Tuesday 22nd January 2008,Wairoa. Drive to Lake Waikaremoana along State Highway 38

V Hot today. 32c and humid. Then v windy. Drove along partially gravel SH 38 to lake Waikaremoana, superb views 4 day walk to Rotarua starts from here, police on look out as hardest walk in NZ.Did ½ day there then came back and picnicked at far end of Waioa river along Kopu St (famous Maori chief of area). Then came back to site to repeg tent and do some washing, i/net updates,SH 38, gravel 200kms to Rotarua, don’t go there,Gr8 campsite, superb kitchens. Met lady owner whose hubby had driven their rig (40ft caravan) up Coromandel Peninsular, now that’s scary,SIR ED’S FUNERAL : national day of celebration/ mourning. Laid in state in parnell cathedral, do hope Brits sent someone!!! Police car in the middle of nowhere when we were at the reserve at L.W, liked BBQ on camp site

Day 90 - Wednesday 23rd January 2008,Wairoa along SH2 to Napier, Hastings & then Havelock North (5kms past Hastings)

Hot again, up early to try and avoid heat of ‘decamping’. Keef spent too long chatting to folk from Auckland so didn’t quite make it. Still left at 9.30 and got camplight charged. Napier museum, including Roland Hopkins (Hipkins?) art stuff and 1931 earthquake movie (v worrying) 529 aftershocks, no wonder Wairoa, Napier and Hasting were wiped out. Art deco buildings in Napier and Hastings, those in Hastings in my humble opinion were more impressive. Bluff lookout Napier, only of the port (really) with tourist guide to fork-lift trucks, as if we are interested! Met old guy and teacher wife from Birkenhead, North shore , Auckland.Railway structure over the gorges on the way to Napier Getting completely lost trying to find campsite in Havelock North and annoying git who insisted on driving up my boot, a Kiwi classic, some are not gr8 drivers. Loved the art deco buildings, Nat tobacco building @ Napier

Day 91 - Thursday 24th January 2008,Havelock North

Gr8 day, decided to stay at site 3 days as we like it and the area so much. So went up Te Mata again,Jack, site owner on rusty tin bike, he is a hoot to joke with, wicked sense of humourask Annie about the showers!Went for nice walk along Ocean beach. Loved Te Mata and ocean beach

Day 92 - Friday 25th January 2008,Havelock North

Chilling Day – Bacon sarnie for breakfast, treatsville at £3.20 for 8 rashers of streaky Then posted cards and pressie / letters to Margaret / Brian in Havelock North. This is a very posh town, 50 something blondes who love to shop and are wives of winery owners. V affluent Went back up Te Mata (339 ft) Love the view from the top, better weather today so crowded. Maori legend is some guy who needed to win the love of the princess his last talk was to each thru the mountain which he didn’t manage to do hence the shape of the valley, but realistically the gr8 scenery is due to again volcanic eruptions . After mountain we visited Black Barn & Te Mata wineries as well as cheese tasting, bought a sheeps blue cheese and bottle of Preece and Mission Estate (Hawkes Bay) so good lunch, then attempted to do North island DVDs for Mum,Divorced guy in caravan next door. His daughter went back today and I did a copy of new eagles for him and he loaned me some Kiwi bands. His music is gr8, pink floyd and bee gees and hootie so we ‘gassed’ music for quite a while. His claim to fame was seeing Bob Marley live in Auckland. Plus scots guy and family (2 & 13 year old daughters) who were traveling oz and nz for 7 months. He is a paid musician, like john martyn supposedly, who was touring playing Auckland etc. Forgot to find his name.  Swim in site indoor ‘heated’? pool it was freezing but as 22c today most welcoming at least for Keef if not Annie. Corn beef hash 4 Tea. Great pix of vineyards (Winery in NZ speak) and us on Te Mata

Day 93 - Saturday 26th January 2008,Havelock North to Palmerston North

3 MONTHS TRAVELLING ANNIVERSARY – boy it seems to have gone quickly! Packed up reasonably early, said goodbye to our next door neighbour, the divorcee. Went into town to post office to post 2 DVDs to Mum, bumped into guy from campsite again who gave us directions for quick route out of town. Drove along winery highway (SH2) until we joined SH3 to Palmy. Saw various small towns, had Egg & Bacon sarnie and lemon/ginger cake and 2 flat whites in the town beginning with W (which been purchased (haha) by Mr Mclean in 1851 from Maoris and then free passage for all Scots to work on his snippet of land, 2 towns, railway and 272 hectacres from Maoris. No wonder they now feel cheated.) Travelled thru very scenerific Manawatu gorge between Woodville and Ashhurst onto Palmeston North (named after a famous PM from UK, surprisingly) even found Nottingham Avenue!Vikings at Dannevirke, Manawatu gorge, Massey Uni (PN) old art deco buildings and Institute of Rugby.  town center and life museum Palmy. Stayed at Awatea Motel, just outside main Palmy town. Watched ‘All the kings men’ with Sean Penn/ Jude Law/ Anthony Hopkins/ Kate Winslettace about (loosely) south American hick mp who gets shot, met lady in Museums (twice) Nice lunch in George St Palmy, Boysenberry juice/iced coffee/chicken lasagne & panini with brie and chicken (yummy!), cost about £10

Day 94 - Sunday 27th January 2008,Palmerston North to Levin

Layed in (a bit) as in motel. Supposedly quiet one, but kids up and noisy by 7am playing outside our door which was on the park. Left about 10, went to rose gardens (Dugwald Mckenzie) interesting yet not inspiring. Was set in Victoria Esplande park, lovely spot, kiddies railway track (although like the main trains on this island) we didn’t see the train in action. Lots of bikers / joggers Then went to Manawatu art gallery, maori stuff plus heaven Karl Maughan exhibition (look out for this guy)  After PN went to Foxton & Foxton beach before arriving at site in Levin very good campsite.A clear day exhibition wonderful, KM artist from Ashurst/PN went to Auckland FA then London, superb realistic oils of plants etc.Kiwi railway worker at campsite and English couple in camper van who seem to visit everything we did, they left the Levin campsite after only one night though! Remember NZ Rugby Museum, retail therapy in Kmart PN, plus King size duvet to keep out cold at night. Did meat balls, fried kumara and veg for Tea,loved rose garden/ art gallery and rugby, plus Foxton windmill

Day 95 - Monday 28th January 2008,Levin

Late up, pancakes, jam & syrup with Kiwi juice for breakfast, morning spend mooching in heat. Washing for Annie, pc for Keef. Off to beach/ wild life park pm.Went to Cobb & Co for lunch, I had beef escalope and Annie oriental chicken salad, yummy, we were the only folk in the place. Was a bit like being in the Bulls head at Breaston. Went to Horowhenua lake , lots of birds, swamp hens , ducks and geese. Bit smelly, lots of Didymo in lake. Then went to Waitareare beach (see below) and onto Hokio beach. Then back to tent for eve to read and relax.Kiwi railway guy who got up really early in the morning and was from Palmy and soon to move onto Wanganui after Levin. Drank what seem to be copious amounts of coke with ice in a chilly mug but my guess was it had rum in it as well judging by his slightly slurred speech. He told me about fly-fishing for trout, i.e. it took him 10 years before he caught anything.Driving on the beach at Waitareare beach after the surf guard said it was fine to drive along to Hokio We wanted to see the sunken ship, but only got as far as the first 30k signpost on the beach which I wanted to take a picture of but got the car bogged down in sand ‘ice cold in alex’-style. Annie and some kind kiwis helped with logs under front tyres and a big push to get us out!!! We turned round and got off the beach, that was enough for one day plus in the space of 2 roads at Hokio 2 idiots pulling straight out across me without looking, Kiwis are not gr8 drivers. Remember hick shack at Hokio village

Day 96 - Tuesday 29th January 2008,Levin to Greytown

Hot morning for packing up tent. Got away just before 10, not that it would have mattered as site quite empty. Went to Otaki beach, xclent, long drive along front. Was a pebble beach though and this time, yes I could drive up on it safely. View of kapiti island in background. Drove along Kapiti coast (SH 1) Waikanae town and beach (had to get there round back of houses but oh what nice houses). Had a walk in the water here, fun. Then lunch on chair overlooking Paraparaumu beach, disappointing as book said like Malibu but wrecked by Cyclone Funa’s after effects. Then back up thru Waikanae town again via Virgin Mary statue to Akatarawa Rd, single track steep road (superb views if a little frightening with sheer drops) Quick look at Hutt river at Beechville and then on thru windy SH2 to Featherston and Greytown where we stayed for the night in Oak motel. Relaxing eve Fish & Chips from local Chinese.Te Marau lookout on SH2 just outside Beechville. Watched Nick Cage in The Wicker Man (ace!),met poor couple from Auckland (and grandchildren) stuck at top of Akatarawa Rd where their radiator had burst. Smell of dead pig over powering so we didn’t stay long.RJs liquorish comes from Levin. Akatarawa Rd views thru Tatarua range (almost as good as Mt Tongarira,Akatarawa Rd , Giant statue at Waikanae

Day 97 - Wednesday 30th January 2008,Greytown to Lower Hutt via Palliser Bay

Up early-ish, packed and left at 10am. Went into look at Greytown and took some piccies of some of the older buildings. Its quiet and old (in NZ terms town, 1850s) then traveled via delightful road to Lake Ferry, Palliser Bay. Very deserted Few fishermen with quad bikes as long hard pebbly walk out (in flip-flops) past inland lake to bay. V dangerous rips, not swim able.Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, cities (my foot) CBD was one skyscraper and Top 10 site pretty bad industrial area still reasonable facilities, cheap and good location. Sea view esplanade drive round into Wellington sea front.Lady in next tent who is a musician who suggested Golden bay on South island from her music tours there. We will give it a whirl. Alas hit a female pheasant with the car, dead I’m afraid. It walked straight into me and I couldn’t get out of the way. Not very nice and made me feel a bit uneasy for a bit, but hey us or a pheasant, we win!!!

Day 98 - Thursday 31st January 2008,Te Papa Museum Wellington

GREAT DAY IN WELLINGTON!!!! Up early, good breakfast in kitchens. Weird walk in freezer room with paid ($1NZD per day) locker to keep stuff cool in. Arrived at Te Papa museum car park about 10.30am ($12NZD all day, pretty gooddespite girl in museum saying if you leave after 9.30pm its free, not true barrier still in play) Museum ace, we did 2 floors, floor 2 & 4 and looked out on the roof. Left Elvis concert about 9.30, went wrong way along SH1 to seatown not seaview and then back home for 10.30 Just in before curfew and 2 bed very satisfied with a gr8 day.Floor 2: earthquakes and volcanoes, weather systems, passports, Scots, pacific islanders, coffee Floor 4: Maori stuff with supposedly the oldest Marae (meeting house) in NZ and the paid ($16NZD) whales section, fascinating, whaling, Maori whale rider stories, lovely T-shirt that I couldn’t buy alas. After 5 hours standing we were done in. Went to MacDs for late lunch (down under burger and nuggets combo) sad or what! Then to Reading Cinema to see Death at a Funeral hilarious. Then Keef lamb madras from food hall, Annie smoothie then off to Elvis concert in Frank Kitts park on harbourside, very very good.Met a few folk at concert. Maori guys whose phones went off in cinema (annoying). Remember Down syndrome guys pulling the blondes and dancing to Elvis and Heat with Feet rock dancers.

Day 99 - Friday 1st February 2008,Wellington

Got up late, v blowy. Listened to and watched various kiwi supporters getting dressed for the Irb 7s. Alas all tickets sold out, only available on Trade me for £250 so not going. England playing Cook Isles, Wales & Fiji. Fiji will be hard to beat. Went to Pak n Save for some stuff, did PC updates. Had lunch of Sweet corn and pumpkin soup. Went to Interislander ferry to collect tickets for Tuesday, booked motel at campsite (room 27) for Mon eve so we can get an early start and go up cable car.Went up lookout by cable car and botanic gardens. Had coffee and cake with YOGART at summit café. Gr8 views and very sunny if a little breezy. Also visited Oriental bay (man made  beach) not impressed compared to Auckland. Saw lots of nutters (drunk) in costume for 7s. Babies, Durex, Surfschool, Cowboys & Indians, prisoners, you name it they were there. We weren’t so sure they were that interested in the rugger though.7s supporters in ludicrous costumes. Keef tried watching thru the caravan opposites window until he closed the curtains (wasn’t on TV) Friend of lady in next tent (another divorcee) who bought her daughter along, very pleasant and suggested Seatown beach.Very windy and a little rain overnight, 24c

Day 100 - Saturday 2nd February 2008,Wellington

DAY 100 Hoorah!!! Started off cloudy, got hot but remained windy. Final of Wellington Irb 7s, went to parliament house and had the tour of the beehive , main parliament building and library / archive house. Very interesting stuff. Took about 1 hour. 121 MPs and lots of committees. Follow the British constitution in all things parliament except banned house of lords and have a strong (rightly) Maori representation / ethic. Then back to Te Papa and floor 5, the art gallery. Gr8 Rembrandt original sketches otherwise disappointing that there was no real scenery of NZ. Then had woodbaked pizza in Sellar and Feijoa / wild berry juices and went to cinema to see Nick Cage / Helen Mirren/ Jon Voight in National Treasure. Don’t go.Drew out cash in Lower Hutt, Jackson St (off Cuba) they all seem to use the same street formats and names or is that just a coincidence, check on Palmy town map!!! Fireworks from Finals

Day 101 - Sunday 3rd February 2008, Wellington

Drove all the way along the Wellington harbour road in v bright sunshine 25c from Eastboune to Lyle bay and the airport. Stopped off in the morning and read books, papers, mags at coast side, then went onto Lyle bay and had a paddle. Watched planes arriving and taking off from extended runway into sea at Wellington airport. Sun lasted until at least 8.30 pm Drove back thru Oriental bay on coast road Went to Pak N Save and did Satay chicken 4 Tea.At Eastbourne amazing designer houses , guy swimming from one bay to the other and back (exhausting), snorkellers, jetskis, water skiing and subaqua with float / flag on water surface to show jet skiers where he was. At Lyle went to Warehouse had boysenberry icecreams and Keef bought a Hawaiian shirt for approx £6 not bad.Lady with little child in store at Eastbourne who only wanted muesli bars for his birthday (gr8 deal if you are a parent).Bloody dogs at Lyle bay, including the one who slobbered on our food bag. Hot day got both wind and sunburn and we are particularly brown. Tried to find Blue Penguins (no joy!), loved being around the coast

Day 102 - Monday 4th February 2008,Wellington

Up reasonably early to the sound of our German next door neighbours running water. Not too bad as had to pack up tent today which we managed to do just before it rained. Spent from 10-3 at Settlers museum lookout over beach reading and munching. Went into ANZ Patone to ensure account cancelled. Was set up in Wellington on 10/10 (shame they didn’t tell me about it!) No prob. Came back and got in motel on site. Pretty good and close to Ferry. Chilled on PC/ TV/ Reading. Did Audible book download Jenny Éclair and charged up stuff for journey to South island. Sweet corn (10p) and cheese on toast for tea  washed down with Bundaberg plus rang Mum and early to bed.Rain 14c. Met Nutty guy from Coventry (married Canadian) who had been in NZ since the 70s. Cat shop that did books. Bought War & Peace for $3NZD and Anne got a book as well. RJ’s liquorish (not the red one) from Levin. See South Island Diary for Day 103.

Day 103 - Tuesday 5th February 2008,Wellington to Nelson

Having stayed in motel on campsite overnight and rang Mum got up @ 6am to catch ferry Drizzly in the morning Got to Interislander about 7.35-ish Boat didn’t leave until 8.45am (late) Bit like being on a large cruise ship, weather improved as we went but wind in Cook strait so strong they wouldn’t open the leewardside deck doors. Annie read, Keef slept (and apparently snored) until we reached Queen Charlotte Sound on South Island Spectacular views. Disembarked in Picton, nice little place. Had coffee filled up with fuel and set off along Queen Charlotte Drive, ace views of the sound from the road. Windy twisty steep but it hugged the coastline. Then on to Nelson via SH6 and the WOW museum.Loved World of Wearable Art (WOW) & classic car museum.Met noone in particular.Have now left North Island Stayed in Golden Oak Motel, Nelson and had a spa (very relaxing)

Day 104 - Wednesday 6th February 2008,Nelson to Kaiteriteri, Waitangi day (Maori treaty Public Hol)

Just got out of the motel in time, 10.15am late went to investigate campsites in Nelson (No good) spent some time in Trafalgar sq, looking at trees, cathedral , town, parksNelson is very nice Then went onto harbour side to see settlers monument just open yesterday. Interesting. Sunny about 24c. Then drove thru fruit vineyard area Rabbit island and onto start of Abel Tasman Nat Park and campsite at Kaiteriteri (2 nights).Saw lots Rabbit island and Nelson church the highlights.Met Kiwi, swiss girlfriend and her sister and friends. They were very loud until 12midnight. We had to get up for boat at 7.30 so a bit pissed off V cold at night.Yummy, Boysenberry real fruit ice-cream and basket of fruit, cherries and plums

Day 105 - Thursday 7th February 2008,Abel Tasman National Park (by Wilsons’ boat)

An absolutely fabulous day..Too much to describe here, see photos to do it justice,met Kiwi next campsite, borrowed his can opener!Gr8 day, gr8 weather 25c, gr8 scenery, went for a swim when we got back, would like to stay another day but site slot full so will move on

Day 106 - Friday 8th February 2008,Kaiteriteri to Golden Bay

Left campsite at about 11 (eventually) Traveled via Hawk Lookout point with nice boardwalk. Then via Upper Takawa to Bencardi and the Amatoki Salmon Fishing then on thru Tawaka and Collingwood (weird little place) past Mussel inn to Pawaka camp site. Booked eco tour to Farewell spit for 2moro, saw lots, met old Kiwi couple who insisted on telling us which route to take around South island, partially useful for Doubtful sound bus/boat advice but delayed us about an hour whilst we tried to get away. Americans from Florida who were moving to Alaska (boy they will notice the difference) Geoff at Anatoki salmon fishing, who showed us how to kill my fish (not nice) and I had to do Annies one (ugh, thru the brain), caught my first ever salmon (1.14 kg or approx 2.5 lbs) and Anne’s first ever fish 11.58 kg or approx 3.5lbs We then had them apple wood smoked and coated in Cajun (one fish) and lemon pepper (other fish) best salmon and freshest ever Ate with garlic bread at lunch hot then cold with new potatoes and salad eve , loved Lookout, Salmon fishing and Pakawau beach where we are camping for 3 nights Note lady in wellington in next tent had recommended Golden Bay

Day 107 - Saturday 9th February 2008,Farewell Spit Eco Tour

Dossed around in the morning , quite hot went on beach read / pc-ed. Prepared sandwiches and went off to Collingwood to catch our Eco tour bus to Farewell Spit Bird sanctuary and 27 miles by about 5 wide in the shape of a kiwi’s beak if you see it on a map. Gr8 day out, v interesting especially if u r a twitcher which we are not! Pictures probably best way to see it,lots of sand and interesting coastline, ex river bed In 1800’s it was all trees not sand dunes, maybe that tells us something.

Excellent guide who drove the bus, funny and knowledgeable. Computer guy who worked for the Bank of Austria b4 he retired. Unmarried, opinionated and never shut up, sort of guy you would avoid at work (or anywhere) except a sandspit! remember Eco tour Gr8, listening to final part of Time to Kill by Thomas Harris on Ipod (audible book) in the car with seats laid down , most relaxing. Started to rain which is oh so needed by the farmers and folk for water containers

Day 108 - Sunday 10th February 2008,Pakawua Campsite

Poured all night, 2.5 inches of rain, tent and some contents soaked, outside ground (note there was only us and 2 others on site and they were inside) drowned. Spent day drying out, luckily sun back out by about 12-ish used pc to catch up and sorted out our wedding anniversary. Cricket 23/2 Finally managed to get 2 tickets to see England Vs Blackcaps in 5th ODI, they play nearly all their matches on North Island except the 1st & 5th ODIs in Christchurch - hooray,Plus we are going on the Transalpine train (Christchurch to Greymouth & back) supposedly one of the best train journeys in the world for our 30th wedding anniversary on 25th and staying for 3 nights in some luxury in Christchurch across those 3 days, Annie  taking me out for some posh nosh,Charged up cameras etc etc Nothing day really Had early T of spam, fried kumara and spaghetti, saw zip/diddly squat, met owner of campsite, droll Kiwi with a chauvinistic bent ‘ don’t carry plates for your woman’- stereotype. Said if they hadn’t had rain would have had to shut site as $NZD900 to buy in water (serious stuff), loved Rain stopping! Getting Cricket tickets

Day 109 - Monday 11th February 2008,Pakawua Campsite to Westport, A1 Motel

Drove from Pakawua back down road via Moutere (where we bought some stamp material for a shirt for me for about £35) Lovely fruit valley, bought apples (Red Goldenstein) and plums (red doris) Then superb scenery to Murchison where we had coffee (flat white) and blueberry muffins.Extract from note sent to Pete 2day

“greets from a very wet (a first!) Westport on the top west coast of south island...the thunder and lighting (remember that) was so bad whilst we camped last night that we had to sleep sometime in the car.... but we can’t complain after months of sunshine,we are really enjoying ourselves but its going a bit too quickly... ,loved your lines about sophie.....she'll be beating you at chess b4 u know it,good result for spurs, i didn’t know that one. Interestingly premier soccer is big here in nz, they don’t really do soccer...Finally managed to get 2 tickets to see England Vs Blackcaps in 5th ODI (23/2), they play nearly all their matches on North Island except the 1st & 5th ODIs in Christchurch – hooray, as we are now on south island and we ain’t going back 4 the cricket ,Annie & I are going on the Tranz Alpine train (Christchurch to Greymouth & back) supposedly one of the best train journeys in the world for our 30th wedding anniversary on 25/2 and staying for 3 nights in some luxury in Christchurch across those 3 days, plus Annie is taking me out for some posh nosh,Trust you are both well, enjoy the camping in the Cotswolds if you do go, Love Keef & Anne”  Met PAHOG & FUN41, old aussies on Harley D’s who we last met at Lake Ferry café near Pallister bay. remember Thunder & Lightening dumped 3 ins on Wellington overnigh t24c even tho it rained lots,Fish and chips in Motel definitely not Westport (awful place), run down ex coal town, loved buller river

Day 110 - Tuesday 12th February 2008,Westport to Karamea

Nice sunny day Good drive along SH67 up to Karamea along surf coast. We stopped for lunch and got eaten by Sandflies. Nice views though. Climbed through hills, high and tropical. Lots of land for sale but who would want it?  Karamea was a quaint little place and start of Heaphy trail. Stayed in best studio motel yet, $110NZD and did cooking inside (naughty) without setting off fire alarm, Strange letter boxes (fish, elephants, tractors you name it),Nutty couple with very old car and 1900 car hats, saw them again out at Gentle Annie Beach. Woman at motel (hubby Conservation guy) who had traveled to UK in her youth. Salisbury. Remember little kittens getting in our car at motel

Day 111 - Wednesday 13th February 2008,Karamea to Greymouth

Brilliant day (23c) Drive back thru Westport (you have tono other choice) then down SH6 to Greymouth. Superb views all the way. Like Highway 1 in California and Big Sur (maybe better) Stopped at various places but Pancake rocks and the blowholes was the best, superb 30min walk around the edge Lunch at concrete table and chairs overlooking Tasman and not sure who ate most the sand flies or us! Camping 2 nights Top10, saw lots including faces in the rocks! Good campsite. Station at Greymouth (will revisit 2moro) , met guy from Loughboro living in Holland with Dutch girlfriend at Fox River, remember being camped at Top 10 at Greymouth next to airport runway! Bought duvet cover cheap for tenting (the warehouse), loved Pancake rocks and the Blowholes (see on video)  

Day 112 - Thursday 14th February 2008,Greymouth

VALENTINES DAY!!! Wet day in Greymouth. Parked up the car and walked around the town for most of the day.Pier at Barry town, just o/side town, Quay wall in town, proverbial clock tower, art gallery (in old bank of NZ) very cleverly called ‘A New Land’ (see photo and painted ‘in’ lettering from ‘bAnk of NEW zeaLAND’), lunch at 124 MacKay yummy Annie had a special chicken with spinach and cheese,  I had Moroccan lamb with couscous plus lots of garlic bread (one kiwi portion is 4 big bits) –cost approx $NZD76 with iced coffee and flat white. Then we popped down to see Tranz Scenic arrive and depart Greymouth (its what we are on for our 30th from Christchurch), Jade Boulder gallery/museum (v interesting), carrot cake (again) then back to campsite, sunny now 21c, and read our books Had wine , cheese/bics/grapes 4 T . started raining about 8.30-ish ,mey guy from St Austell in the loos.Lots of nutty girls walking round town with a red heart on a stick, we mistook it (old fuddie duddies’ for something to do with Heart Foundation but it was obvious when you know its valentines day. Almost ‘international incident’ when kiwis left bench to guard their motor home slot and Japanese moved it and parked there. A&I were hoping for fireworks but it was a bit of a damp squib. Not many photos, it was all too ‘Grey’ Named after a brit general , river town etc etc

Day 113 - Friday 15th February 2008,Greymouth to Reefton

And it finished raining at about 9.30am, bad night huge electrical storm had to make a quick exit to car (again) at about 2.30am. This time only there for about 30mins . rain horrendous (3” guess) came in tent a bit.So after wash and breakfast packed insides and read until the tent dried. Got it down just in time as started raining again soon after. Went to MacDs for b’fast (yuk!!!) Petrol then onto Reefton via SH6. Lots of rain, stayed in First Electric light motel.Its what Reefton is famous for. Went in museum, saw old street lamps/ quartz mines, old shops. Ok place but not much happening. Went out for meal at Alfresco (eve) cold sitting outside nice filling meal though. We are only staying in Reefton for rodeo so 1 night is fine,Snow on Mountain range in distance from Top10 campsite when it was sunny Probably Mt Cook (guess) They said on news it had snowed!!!, met danish family with 4 kids under 10 traveling in campervan . Anne finished Wilbur Smith – the seventh scroll (book) one paragraph b4 Keef finished Ben Elton – Inconceivable at about 10.30am. We had to wait for tent to dry b4 taking it down, not quite the last folk to leave the Greymouth site, that honour went to poor German couple on motorbikes with leaky 2 man tent   Americans at restaurant who only have 4 days on south island, why the hell were they spending 1 of them in Reefton we ask ourselves!!! loved cars as gate posts.

Day 114 - Saturday 16th February 2008,Reefton Rodeo, then onto Hamner Springs via Lewis Pass

Rained all night, packed up car then had gr8 cooked breakfast for $10NZD, Rodeo was at Reefton racecourse, gr8 gr8 gr8 fun loved every minute of it, After it finished we had flat white and cakes in bakery before driving thru Lewis pass to Hamner springs. 9c outside (coldest yet) No vacancies anywhere in HS, real holiday spot and Kiwi weekend, not sure why but alpine spot, we will investigate 2moro. Lewis pass gr8.Animal lib folk outside rodeo. Frankly the only one hurt was rider on the bucking bronco who got kicked near the eye but St Johns patched him up,Guy in Electric light motel (Reefton is famous for having the first lights.bottled lightin southern hemisphere) when I told him his breakfast was the best in NZ plus guy at bar who I talked cricket to (especially as now 2-1 to blackcaps in ODIs), remember Rodeo and K being stung by wasp, plus Lewis pass, loved the rodeo especially the action shot with the mucous from the bulls mouth and Lewis pass

Day 115 - Sunday 17th February 2008,Hamner Springs to Kaikoura

Up early, indeed we had left by 9.30am unheard of, v sunny day. Good look around the ski resort of HS, then lovely drive across SH7, then 70 (Mt Lyeford) through to Kaikoura. The Kaikoura range in the distance had snow on it, oh what a view Arrived about 2pm and set up tent, field v wet from 4 days of rain but nice and sunny now.Mountain range.Guy from Norfolk who owned Hamner Springs campsite, been in NZ 3 years.21c, Views of snow on the range  

Day 116 - Monday 18th February 2008,Whale watching,  Kaikoura

Xclent day. Whale watching at 12.15 from old railway station behind campsite, watched movie (gr8 shots) then bused out to South bay where we caught the boat, v good seats. Saw sperm whale twice and hector dolphins (v rare and small) then seal colony After wards had fish & chips and drove round harbour (another waves motel, looked v similar), 1930’s cinema, whale bone archeds, Robert Fyffes cottage, Scots 1st whaler in Kaikoura, drowned then his bro took over, v interesting coast line that ended up at the seal colony ,Oh so much, whales a delight, Mostly cloudy all day, remeber Annie spotting whale blowing on horizon b4 anyone else (lookouts and all) well done! Hines best fish and chips in NZ in our humble opinion, had after trip, then bought loads of sweeties for Cinema – saw Atonement, v good

Bought poster of Kaikoura overhead view to send back to Craig, ace, Interrupting film to ask guy to turn off the lights on his motorbike, loved sperm whale and hector dolphin

Day 117 - Tuesday 19th February 2008,Kaikoura

Quiet day at the Top 10 site, if you discount train and helicopter at midnight and 6 am, plus steady stream of campervan leavers. V cold overnight, bad night for both of us so we slept in to 10.20.  Sun out, 20c, did washing, read a lot , popped into town to get paninis for lunch and the worst muffin ever (choc & raspberry but solid) Did PC stuff in eve, cold again , met australian lady whilst cooking in kitchen, sounded English had live in oz for 40 years. Lived at Morningtown on the peninsular so compared notes. She knew Elwood well they only have 4 weeks in NZ, with 3 on North Island (wow),Sent this to Linda and Doug 2day ‘We went to see Atonement last night here in Kaikoura in a 1930’s cinema, just like a scout hut. The film stopped halfway thru, no explanation and we thought it had broken, only it was the ‘intermission’ Not seen one of those since the 70’s To cap it all the ice-cream lady came in with a torch halfway thru the 2nd half to tell the ‘biker’ loudly that he had left his lights on.hoot!’

Day 118 - Wednesday 20th February 2008,Kaikoura to St Arnaud via Blenheim

Cold night again, lots of condensation on the tent, had to leave it dry out until about 11am Then set off up SH1 to Blenheim. Stopped to see seals , baby cub especially Liked Blenheim Had a real scots feel to it Visited art museum, some crap from a lady from Rotarua pencil / colour unfinished but some good photos Nice square and oldish buildings School kids wearing tartan Then drove thru Marlborough wine region down SH63 ace views to St Arnaud and Lake Roto-iti (see the piccies) MIND BLOWING place,Black swans and an eel on Lake Roto-Iti,met brits who only had 7 days on south island and had spent 3 at the top 10 campsite in  Kaikoura , barmy! Argentineans trying to con Countdown (supermarket) staff that they were over 25 for buying booze Nutter who dangerously overtook me on straight road with road train coming (I had to swerve in to save his life) only to find he had U-turn just up the road NZ drivers ain’t gr8.Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Lake Roto-Iti, log cabin Keef went in lake but only up to his knees, very clear and cold water Couldn’t find the Cloudy bay winery nor for that matter the wine! loved lake Roto-Iti

Day 119 - Thursday 21st February 2008,St Arnaud to Amberley

Set off about 10am. Hot went up to 28c. Saw the oh so wonderful Lake Rotarua in the Nelson Lakes scenic park. (see the piccies) Annie ran back to car after seeing how big the sandflies were. Yep I got bitten bad but worth it for the view. Better than lake Roto-Iti and best yet in NZ. Then traveled along to Springs Junction over quite a lot of highway we hadn’t yet seen. Good scenery Then redid Lewis pass (in sun this time) A driving, K passenger thru Hamner springs again and onto Culverton, thru Waipara (up and coming wine area) and flat Canterbury plains. Very wide plain with mountains all around Ended up in motel on campsite at Amberley after seeing the beach. Mrs Henderson presents with Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskyns (fun) on Sky movies.Both at Lake Rotarua. 2 old guys from Wellington who were on a fishing fortnight I had to take a piccie for them at the end of the pier plus PAHOG and FUN41 The 2 bikers on Harleys I keep bumping into Geoff & Belinda had a chat saw them at Woodstock and Lake Ferry (Palliser Bay, NI) They have a campervan that they base in areas and then go off on the bikes, Leathers v useful against sandflies.Bacon sandwiches and Preece CabSau Annie passed 1000 km driving in NZ Big distance driven 2day, will do far less 2moro. Loved Lake Rotarua

Day 120 - Friday 22nd February 2008,Amberley to Kaiapoi, via Scenic Highway 72

Left motel at 10-ish ($85NZD) Traveled on the loop road  thru Asley Gorge to Oxford and then back to SH1 and down towards Christchurch and stopped at Kaiapoi in the Pinehaven campsite motels Functional if you like living in a mobile home ($75NZD).A few eastern bay beaches on route Ashley gorge really good Walked along it up to bend A stayed in car cos of sandflies I saw a flying stork (got piccie after he landed) plus bird of prey on fence (missed it) and helicopter spraying gorse bushes. No-one really apart from young couple with baby traveling in a Hiace space wagon rather them than us but created lots of humorous material whilst we had lunch. Oxford quite interesting. Not sure why the SH72 was scenic, v flat in our opinion Tea : fried kumara/ onions/ chicken

Day 121 - Saturday 23rd February 2008,Christchurch

5th ODI Blackcaps Vs England. Ace day really enjoyed it. Up early from Kaiapoi and traveled in to find our motel for 3 nights in Papanui rd. Nice area. Went to find the ground and get our tickets 15 mins from motel but Christchurch is very one way traffic. Ground only half built (east stand missing) Then bought sandwiches from take away and ate those plus choccie cake before match started. Barmy army and Kiwis in south stand fun, rowdy and often evicted,Whole game until rain and Duckworth Lewis gave it to the Kiwis, loved watching the Barmy army, Free crisps plus see Scorecards in south island photos

Day 122 - Sunday 24th February 2008,Christchurch

GR8 day around Christchurch 32c and hot Got up late had showers and then parked up at Science alive and caught the free shuttle bus into the center of town. Then got the Tram/Gondola combo (2nd part to do later) did 2.5 trips round key sights by tram,saw so much, love Christchurch, met lots of nutty cricket supporters.N.E.W flower wearable art ex, superb spin off from WOW in Nelson, Classic cars , Oxford/Cambridge style colleges/ architecture and punting (bizarre)

Day 123 - Monday 25th February 2008,Christchurch

30th Wedding Anniversary – Tranz Alpine to Greymouth and back Gr8 fun, rained on way up v cloudy but oh so hot and sunny on the way back and gr8 scenery Hard to take pictures thru windows.Superb scenery, will go back via road at some stage but train takes you in places where no roads go so it will be our special memories.

Brummie couple (amazingly well traveled) who now live in Weston Super Mare Chatted to them all the way to Greymouth because of the rain. Loving Annie so much. Meal at Italian (sadly keef ill next day), liked Arthurs pass.

Day 124 - Tuesday 26th February 2008,Christchurch to Akaroa

Left Milano Motor lodge at 10, got my copy of the PRESS newspaper. Went to Bank, Petrol and PakNSave in Papanui to fill up on groceries for our proposed stay on the Bank’s Peninsular, about 85k from Christchurch ,Superb views on the way (Little river was a nice township) and from Hill top the view of the harbour area, met the folk we had met on the train, what a coincidence same campsite, alas as Keef so ill unable to have some wine and chat with them,26c, Alas Keef having v bad food poisoning, was it the Butter Chicken Fettuccine in the Italian or off milk, who knows but I had ate lots of diarrhea tablets and threw up big style 3 times. Slept from 3 thru 8 and then 10 to 10, hopefully it has now gone. Sweet corn for 9cents a cob (i.e 3p) and watermelon for 59cents (i.e 25p) whole one

Day 125 - Wednesday 27th February 2008,Akaroa

Alas day spent with Keef recovering No food only water & Tea very sunny day and quite relaxing with us both doing a lot of reading so no bad thing I guess. Read papers, finished Ben Elton’s 1st world war ‘who done it’ plus started War & peace , saw only view from campsite, heard loads of Brits, remember weakness & noisy drunk brits and gr8 sunshine, hot all day 24c mostly until 7 and later at night

Day 126 - Thursday 28th February 2008,Akaroa, Banks Peninsular

Laid in a bit to avoid queues at kitchen and showers. Went into Akaroa and looked around the town. Took loads of piccies of the quaint houses and French streets, it does have a distinctly French feel. Then traveled the Banks peninsular. Good day v hot, 27c and sunny, saw Ohanu Marae, Le Bons Bay, Little Akaroa bay, Pigeon Bay, Summit Road, Barrys Bay, Robinsons Bay, French’s farm & Wainui, we both loved the superb Banks Peninsular

Day 127 - Friday 29th February 2008,Akaroa

Again laid in a bit, a bit more overcast 2day. Relaxing day reading in the morning, Anne did some washing, then we went to the charming Akaroa café-Cinema TWICE, saw Sweet Land (Alan Cummings , Ned Beatty and others) about a arranged Norwegian marriage in early Minnesota and Once with the lead singer from the Frames. Both excellent movies and superb little cinema where you could take your tea pot in with you.met great Kiwi guy who had been traveling with his wife for 6+ years doing odd jobs etc he gave us some gr8 advice on Doubtful sound trip Plus he knew Notts and had dated a polish girl from Sherwood rise in his youth! Cloudy but still 25c sun tries to shine thru the clouds and the covering seems to keep the heat in, it was most humid, remember Films and Cinema experience oh and it was a leap year! Happy birthday Brad!

Day 128 - Saturday 1st March 2008, Akaroa to Hokitika via Arthurs Pass

Pissed down, and I mean gales all day Not too bad when we broke camp but had to pack tent in black sacks as wet,Telegraph Road, 37kms of the straightest road ever and then thru Darfield, Springfield, Sheffield thru the superb views (although hindered by low cloud) of Arthurs pass. Managed to take pictures thru the window. Awful weather. Avalanche creek shelter at Arthurs pass was interesting. You could see why it was needed with the steep gorge sides. Otira gorge amazing (especially when having visited museum in Hokitika you can see how it was all constructed in early 1870s etc) Very steep Then on thru rest of highway to Kumara Junction and west coast sh 6 down thru Chesterfield to Holitika (gold mining town) Stayed at Host Accommodation motel 252 Beachside. To escape the rain. Then having watched sky movie Marie Antoinette went to see Glowworms up Dell. Gales, driving rain and winds, soaked but happy Then back for wine and movie Casanova Heath Ledger (as he died they are showing ALL his movies) This one was real good, met Motel guy Hokitika from Nelson who had been in the British Navy and lived in Corby (god help us!), remember Jacksons Pub, T of fresh sweetcorn and chicken rice plus shiraz , cheese & biccies and Arthurs pass and glowworms @ Hokitika

Day 129 - Sunday 2nd March 2008,Hokitika

Another really wet day in Hoki, no lets say beyond wet. Did walking round Hoki, went to Museum (gr8), wharf, round old buildings, book store, new world for shopping, bank and cinema Lazy day really to try and avoid the rain, saw After the wedding, Danish art house movie in Rialto. 1930s building with comfy leather sofas and a glass of wine should you wish. Worked out the guy on 4 films 50 at each could make mega bucks ($NZD2400 / day) and as he was only showing a DVD not sure it was legal on a copyright front, met Girl in iSite with helium voice, mother in secondhand book store (in old damp government building (up for sale haha) ) who left everyone whilst she went off for daughter PLUS Hippie in Rialto cinema, now he was a classic. Route to Happiness movie with Will Smith on Sky (good surprise) and Thai chicken and rice

Day 130 - Monday 3rd March 2008,Hokitika to Haast via Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers

Gr8 day both weather and scenery wise. Left Hokitika at about 10 it was 12c but by end of the day was over 20c Traveled in beautiful sunshine to Franz Joseph, Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, Bruce Bay,  Knights Point to Haast. Stayed in 3rd chosen motel, 1st far too expensive but they have a monopoly. One we stayed in was $115NZD and we dried tent over back fence, saw loads including gr8 views of Mt Tasman & Cook in the distance , met too many Germans, all on organized tourist coach trips. Remember Both glaciers and Lake Matheson but especially Franz Joseph glacier.

Day 131 - Tuesday 4th March 2008,Haast to Queenstown

Another v sunny day Left Haast about 9.30am having loaded up the car over the back fence. Went to Haast beach and had to traverse cows loose in the road. Then A drove thru Haast pass (v interesting valley/gorge and glacial river and waterfalls) down passed Lake Wanaka and Hawua into Cromwell and then onto Queenstown. We are staying 6 km outside in the Top10 site at Shotover Gorge. It will be ‘well cold’ 2night,Vineyards galore, Otago wine we must try (Pinot Noir apparently the best, weak red in our humble opinion) Cromwell old town, old gold mining town from 1870s Otago gold rush,Finally got tent fully dried out from Akaroa rains. Lunch F&C at Lake Hawua, Tea Had buffet and free pint of Speights Salvation ale (v nice) at Point Albert pub, loved the lakes

Day 132 - Wednesday 5th March 2008,Queenstown

Now been on South Island a whole month. Very cold o/night Camping in Top10 Shotover gorge o/side Queenstown Got up late had breakfast about 11.30 luxury! Was overcast and drizzly. Then went to Arrowtown , came back read for a bit and then went on a drive about 5.30 to Glenorchy, just so good.Arrowtown a bit touristy and false as rebuilt. Chinese area interesting. Gr8 views all the way to Glenorchy down Lake Waipatu.Various folk in kitchen at campsite, many brits, plus brit girl with french boyfriend and Scandinavians with 3 kids who are looking to buy a house.Sun coming out just as we did our drive. England blackcaps 1st test in Hamilton

Day 133 - Thursday 6th March 2008,Queenstown

V sunny day & clear 2day, up about 9. Usual shower/ breakfast then into town to iSite and book LOTRs tour. Expect cold again at night as so clear skies.Superb views from Gondola restaurant and top. Luge/ tandem parascending/ bungee/ heli bikes and gr8 views over Queenstown.Various folks, guy from Broxbourne who took our picture on the gondola ride.$35NZD for pictures, can download eventually,Picture of my car from top with guy looking in, caught in the act!!! Stars and moon

meant to say loved y’days trip to Glenorchy

Day 134 - Friday 7th March 2008, Queenstown

Lord of the rings tour by 4WD 2day 1-30pm to 5.30pm Excellent tour off road with Fran our guide and driver. First up the Remarkables Ski field then Winery above AJ Hacketts with Keruwara Gorge used for LOTRs shots Then Arrow river along real road although mostly under water and cobbles to Macetown an old gold mine town, Then Gold panning Then Skippers Canyon The views over Queens town and back. Morning beforehand most relaxing reading books and wedges for lunch in the oven,3 LOTRs scenes and a whole lot more,Fran our nutty guide with replacement knee joint, boy could she drive the 4WD on 2 I did ask to have a go but she wouldn’t let me Plus 2 Hungarians who had been in Oz 3.5 years but still couldn’t get a visa She knew loads about LOTRs Must have just rewatched them b4 the trip Plus 2 swedes,remember (hoot) Fran grabbing hold of my trousers as she fell in the Arrow river whilst we were gold panning, Plus finding a few specimines, Mexican meal at Sombreros Plus the BUCKET LIST movie (superb) in teeny cinema which surprised us as Queenstown is second largest town on South island (supposedly)

Day 135 - Saturday 8th March 2008,Queenstown to Te Anau

Got up fairly early, it had been raining o/night packed remaining stuff (had done ½ day before) We are getting quite proficient at this now And cos of rain quite warm o/night 20c during the day and sunny which isn’t bad for Autumn V windy split tent tie (again) Waited until sun partially dried tent then packed and went shopping in Fresh Choice in QT for 3 days as realized wouldn’t t get much in Fjordland Nat park, especially as all shuts 12 sat and not open Sunday Arrived Te Anau 2.30pm. Much more gentle scenery with dried slopes, farmland and much dried grass humps.Canadian Doctor from Prince Edward isles, sailed to NZ with wife took 1 year and had now been traveling NZ since 1/11/07 Very interesting guy Was gonna leave his boat here go back to Canada for his daughter to give birth and then come back again and sail to Oz Plus v friendly lady in Top 10 Ta Anau who gave us a gr8 pitch with roses and Germans in campervan next to us Lots of Germans on this site.Nice picnic lunch with the Deer at Five Rivers in car

Day 136 - Sunday 9th March 2008,Te Anau

Doubtful Sound trip $340NZD (£136) each but worth every penny of it. Immense scenery Got up early Picked up by coach outside the Top 10 in Te Anau (where we are staying for 4 nights) @ 8.45am Early if you are Pensioners like us! Then round the motels and sites to pick up others and 20km drive along Lake Anua to Manapouri. Driven by wife of DoubtfulSound.Coms owner who hires Geoff (partially deaf but drives 2 boats and one 4WD coach) whilst he goes off cray fishing on the Sound, nice office life if you can get it! Paid at office and we were off on the Fiordland Explorer across lake manapouri. Only way to DS. Tin boat (or was it bath?) holding 20. Really choppy because of wind. Took about 1hr 20 to other side of the lake. Then onto coach at West arm and gravel road across the national park but popped into 2km deep manapouri powerstation visitors center before hand (quite interesting, especially the digging and their comments at good safety record, predicted 50 dead but only 16, hmmmm, crazy logic). Then onto great little boat for gr8 3.5hr cruise along the sound. Up to Tasman sea entrance and back close to the edge back to campsite at about 6pm.Oh so much, exquisite day, met American couple from Texas, well traveled, indeed she had not been in the US for more than a 3 month stretch since retiring How nice would that be? Canadian family from Ontario who had taken their kids out of school for 3 months and are working their way around some of the farms. Camping talk as they like us were in tents. Danish guy and family (3 girls) who was in the campervan on the next plot to us. They had done Milford sound and were leaving Te Anua after 2 days to finish off NZ b4 going to Thailand. Ozzie lady who still sounded like she was from the UK. Remember Rainbows..Packed lunch and oh-so-beautiful scenery Sandflies on coach on the way back as door left open, more than we have seen b4. V cold o/night 5c Crazy signs i.e Hotel in sound and sign saying "Beware, SPICE girls" on Road Weather amazingly changeable rain to sun, loved the waterfalls

Day 137 - Monday 10th March 2008,Te Anau

Chill day, up late after v cold night, Annie found it hard to sleep. Went and looked around Te Anau and the new housing area reckon it could be as big if not bigger than Queenstown in a few years time as new airport opens bringing international travelers to the Fiordland Nat Park. Odd that all the roadway infrastructure and lights are built but all there are are Plot numbers Good sunny day though 20c Did some retail therapy, bought shirt and A bought new PJs & NZ rucsac Then back to site, dinner panini and pumpkin/Kumara spread and read/pcthen late T still full from lunch (sweetcorn on cob/ pasta/ cheese & bikkies) Fiord land cinema, Te Awetua film so good I bought the DVD, met no one really apart from Kiwi in Cinema who was fun,Not much, caught up on PC and got Travelodge (Sydney) and flight to Tassie booked plus doing Mums DVDs of South Island,Ta Anua building area

Day 138 - Tuesday 11th March 2008,Milford Sound

Best day yet!!! Wind (gusting 140km ) and heavy rain overnight, tent almost took off but in a way this was a blessing in disguise Our trip to Milford Sound meant the most magnificent waterfalls and then the sun came out just as we were going on our boat trip. Superb only the pictures can describe it .Lakes trees plains valley waterfalls,oh the best scenery in the World!!!! Lady on boat who kindly took our pictures and Chef from MS lodge who came from Invercargill and worked up there.Remember the whole day..MILFORD SOUND is superb!!!! The road to and from Milford was fab and we were so lucky to have both rain & sunshine.

Day 139 - Wednesday 12th March 2008,Te Anau to Invercargill

Nice and sunny (hooray) so first collapse of tent in the dry for quite a while. Packed, breakfasted and gone by 10.30am Drove along scenic highway all the way to Invercargill; saw and stopped at many of the beaches including McCrackens Rest for lunch and Monkey island. Gr8 tasman surf again although there did appear to be some pollution and boy was it blowing a gale. The Roaring 40s Went to bed quite late and slept v well.Some gr8 mountain views in the distance, Southern Alps. Watched 2 movie on Sky in Motel.Keeping Mum (Maggie Smith,Rowan Atkinson & Kristin-Scott-Thomas) & Stranger than Fiction (Will Farrell, Emma Thompson).All the staff at Te Anau top10 were really friendly and concerned about our ‘survival’ in the storms/gales.Booked sat night on Stewart island in Kaka Cottages, v hard to get in as only a few places and quite expensive but hey we only live once.Loved views of Fiordland nat park & Southern Alps with snow on them.

Day 140 - Thursday 13th March 2008,Invercargill

Relaxed day in Invercargill. Got up late had brekkie, went and booked an additional 2 days here at the Evergreen Motel on Dee st (hahabuilding work next door and fashioned like a 70s version of crossroads) Went to the Southland’s Museum, spent about 2 hours there v interesting especially Tuatara (lizards) and sub Antarctic islands stuff (roaring 40s, furious 50s) Then shopped at Countdown and went to Invercargill Brewery and tasted some of their gr8 beers and bought a selection pack. Saw lots of Tuatara Henry took a long time to come out of his burrow but what a magnificent specimen plus 2nd test against the blackcaps Gr8 innings by Tim Ambrose and Paul Collingwood to rescue things Some very old and large and palatial Victorian Buildings. Invercargill was obviously once of significance.Helpful lady at motel.All roads on a grid system are named after Scottish rivers. The Tuatara HENRY was ace!!! A Maori at the waterfall at Dusky sound by William Hodges (illustrator on James Cooks 2nd voyage (HMS Resolution) to NZ.Remember Henry and the beers.

Day 141 - Friday 14th March 2008,Invercargill/ Bluff/Atoki Beach

Got up reasonably late again, made sandwiches and headed off to Bluff . Checked out our Stewart island trip for 2moro. Tickets and car hire. Got to get up early 2moro then went up to the lookout up the hill into Bluff reserve Weather not gr8 so views over islands not that good  Did bits of the Bluff Heritage trail, older buildings owned by J G Evans (PM twice) then went along Marine parade to Stirling Cove NZ’s answer to Land’s End (although not quite the most southerly part of South island) that is on private land but for tourists it counts as the end Took loads of piccies there.Test Cricket from Wellington basin reserve again, England on Top Although we had to get up early and it finished late we watched Blood Diamonds on Sky. Met no one really except the ladies at SIE (Stewart Island Experience) who were not keen to print off our tickets. We still owe $60NZD for car which I offered but they said they were cashing up and I should pay 2moro There you go.Shops selling Oyster and Chips Local luxury in Bluff.

Day 142 - Saturday 15th March 2008,Stewart island

Up early, parked up car in Bluff Then took catamaran ferry across Bit choppy but not 2 bad Took 1 hr Collected by Isaac and stayed in Kaka cottages Liked SI walked around Oban a bit and spent some time in the South Sea Island Hotel (the only pub) Then had meal Excellent in the Hotel Nice day,we met Isaacs (host at Kaka cottages) Remember the roaring 40s wind England doing well against the blackcaps as seen on TV screen in pub in Oban, which is where most travellers seem to congregate. See SI piccies mixed in with the Catlins

Day 143 - Sunday 16th March 2008,Stewart Island back to Invercargill

Hired a Ford Ka for 4hrs on the island There are only 27km worth of roads (most of which are gravel) even though it is the size of Singapore 98 % is forest and the Rakiura National Park Returned on 6.30 boat after time in pub (again) and then A drove back to Invercargill Evergreen motel, visited Lee Bay, Rakiura track, Braggs Bay, Butterfield beach (which we walked) Thule Bay (which we walked to) indeed all we could drive to.cost $60NZD for ½ a day, for a manual tin box which is twice what we were paying a day for the Toyota Camry but hey it was worth it Stewart island is lovely watched last king of Scotland on TV in Invercargill, spoke to Isaac our host at kaka cottages at least 3 times and a Kaka who landed on our balcony whilst we had breakfast.Shame a lovely 2 days on Stewart Island had to end.

Day 144 - Monday 17th March 2008,Invercargill to Balcutha, thru the Catlins

St Patrick’s Day to be sure!!! Up early-ish Rather drizzly day until late eve when it went up to 18c (was 11c) Visited Invercargill Bakery and bought stuff for lunch then traveled down the scenic coastal highway all the way thru the Catlins. Very interesting park , trees to coast  ending up having done at least 70km on Gravel roads in Balcutha Stayed at Motel just over the bridge.Sea lions (lots) ,birds but NO PENGUINS. Annie was disappointed.Met French couple who didn’t heed the warnings when photographing the sea lions Cannibal Bay.Loved the scenery and the wildlife.

Day 145 - Tuesday 18th March 2008,Balcutha to Dunedin, via Alexandra (Central Otago loop)

Travelled upto Alexandra / Clyde and then back down to Dunedin,saw Lake Dunstan, Central Otago, Rock lands, Blue Mountains, Roxbourgh Fruitlands, Middlemarch, Dunedin Motorway, St Bathans Goldfield ghost town,32c, Nice Chinese meal out in South Dunedin (Nanking) Stayed in converted hospital/ old folks home/ psycho ward in South Dunedin

Day 146 - Wednesday 19th March 2008,Dunedin

Gr8 day – went along Cliffside drive to Taiaroa head and the albatross sanctuary then back around the 31km harbour via the Portabello rd,Saw baby Albatross and adult. Did the tour most informative. NZ furry seals close up and some gr8 scenery both back into Dunedin and down to Taiaroa head.Staying in Commodore Motel, Great Cumberland Street North, Dunedin. Remember The albatross sanctuary and the perfect sunshine and annie standing next to full sized albatross, 3m wingspan

Day 147 - Thursday 20th March 2008,Dunedin

Leisurely breakfast watching what’s-is-name TV’s Paul ? (who is most funny) and Pippa on TV one Had hot cross buns Then went to explore Dunedin City Baldwin St first (bought the T Shirt, steepest street in the world) Parked up in the Otago Settlers Museum carpark (all charge in town) then up on cnr of Raffety & Broadway for Speights Ale House and Brewery (It is the oldest it NZ 1870s)  Then off down coast to St Clair’s beach and Brighton beach b4 returning to motel (Commodore) nr botanic gardens. Early t and off to see the blue penguins.Baldwin street (steepest street in the world) Good stuff in museum (old art deco bus depot forms the middle) Lots of stuff on steerage shipping of Settlers to Otago The picture gallery has ALL Otago settlers (mostly Scots) The first guy William Cargill wanted Dunedin to be the new Edinburgh hence half the road names (PS they ripped off the local Maori seriously in this area after they had been so helpful) The railway station and old buildings some made from Aberdeen stone shipped over Can see why it once was the leading city in NZ (and hopes to be again with Carisbrook stadium replacement $188mNZD).Gr8 sunny day Beautiful Uni city Octagon, loved all of the city and beaches and Baldwin st.

Day 148 - Friday 21st March 2008,Dunedin to Oamuru

Stopped along the coast at various points. SH1 v busy as all the Kiwis off for Easter weekend. Drove about 150km with lunch on one of the coastal areas near Shag point. Moeraki boulders (v touristy) then along the coast via kaunui to oamuru, arrived at site about 2.20 pm and set up Nice pitch

Day 149 - Saturday 22nd March 2008,Oamuru

Visited town, penguin colony to book tickets and hide for yellow eyed penguins,One penguin obscured after 2 hrs,Gr8 bloke at next pitch who lives in Christchurch, used to live in Perth and Long Eaton and was born in Hartlepool, amzingly small world.Remember Play in the evening – the storm of 1868 hot day/ v cold night and the yellow eyed penguin taken from the hyde.

Day 150 - Sunday 23rd March 2008,Oamaru

Went to see the Blue penguins in their burrows on a guided tour Then onto the lookout and yellow-eyed penguins and the hide again. Good day , saw one on the beach They are very rare See piccies then spent most of the afternoon eve talking to the Brits on both sides of our pitch and cooking our superb fillet steak BBQ (yummy best yet!).Blue and yellow-eyed penguins.Fiona – Blue Penguin colony guide. Alan Weathley, teacher, born in Hartlepool, lived in Long Eaton, Perth and Christchurch, his Irish wife (who loved Enya) and their 2 children Dale and Alana.hoot the little boy had a metal detector and wanted to start digging up the inside of our tent. On the other side the young couple from Harpenden who had traveled thru the Anderman isles, Vietnam & Thailand before coming to South Isles (NZ) who were emigrating to Perth.good time to do it! Remember the evening chatting, but not the v cold nights and my lilo with slow puncture oh and boysenberry ice creams heaven

Day 151 - Monday 24th March 2008,Oamaru

Up about 9-ish v cold night again and bloody air mattress ‘going down’ all the time, neither of us slept that well,Croatian ringing home at 12pm didn’t help outside the tent, still got up said goodbye to alan rang mum & craig to hear about appalling Easter weather in UK, snow etc  So felt way better, Nice emails from Doug, Linda and Phoenix off to cinema later Booked 2days at Lake Benmore site supposedly with en-suite Went to see Love in the Time of Cholera at the Omaru 3 Movies cinema, laid back cinema with coffee/ wine etc but popcorn all over the floor, yuck! Film most disappointing had Xavier Bardem in it .Anne did a bit of washing, sun came out and in, probably gonna rain which will wash tree pollen off car and tent Keef did PC stuff

Day 152 - Tuesday 25th March 2008,Oamaru to Lake Benmore

Travelled about 108kms today. Packed up tent in cloud and by the time we had reached Takiroa (Maori Rock art place) the sun was out and it was 22c. Travelled round back of Lake Aviemore (lots of DOC campsites) and had lunch there with the sandflies, no kept windows closed and air con on. Arrived at campsite at Lake Benmore at about 2.30pm .Great lakes.Nice lady and her hubby who work the campsite. They live in Nelson, do a summer season up here at Lake Benmore (although this will be the last) and spend the winter in their campervan in Oz. Doing WA this year. Remember en-suite pitch for tent with own shower, loo and washbasin. We have decided to stay 3 days ,$200NZD bid (so far) on our camping gear in Trade Me (Kiwi equivalent of ebay)

Day 153 - Wednesday 26th March 2008,Lake Benmore Holiday park & Mt Cook Nat Park

BEEN AWAY 5 MONTHS 2DAY!!!!! At this campsite for 3 nights.Drove thru Twizel to Aoraki – Mt Cook along SH8 & 80 past Lake Pukataki (superbly blue) Left at 1.30 returned at 7.30 as very cloudy in morning which then cleared to bright sunshine Drove down Tasman valley gravel road for 8km and then walked up to Blue Lakes Hard walk, missed out on tasman glacier walk as too knackered. Remember Mt Cook Nat Park,boo hiss, no one else bidding on our Trade me auction Meal in Twizel (weird place) and copper with rifle, loved Mackenzie plains and Mt Cook Nat Park .

Day 154 - Thursday 27th March 2008,Lake Benmore

Spent most relaxing day at site, quite warm. Read loads of Gossip magsboy what we don’t  know about Angelina Jolie and designer 3rd world babies doesn’t bear questioning!  Got up early to watch Trade Me bid on our camp stuff conclude, winner who didn’t hit the reserve was from Auckland (dummy – despite my explicit details about delivery in Christchurch) Sold to Andy from Rangiora who we will deliver to later $260NZD , lost about $1110NZD over 3 ½ months, not bad! Good weather, surrounding mountains and a very calm Lake Benmore,Lakeflies and midges attracted to the light in Kitchen as we tried to read at night Good pork Tikka masala for lunch with med grain rice, yummy! Nice ladies from campsite again who told us in the 80s when the roads weren’t tar sealed it took a day from Blenheim to Nelson, wow! Plus in Winter lake Benmore freezes no snow (often) but –20c temps because of surrounding Southern Alps Plus Canadian from New Brunswick who comes over without his wife every Jan for 3 months to escape the Canadian winter, can’t say I blame him, the weather I mean, not his wife hee hee!

Day 155 - Friday 28th March 2008,Lake Benmore to Timaru

Up reasonably early, packing takes little time now. We know the ropes and pack some stuff the Night B4. This will be our last night under canvas as have done 52 nights now and it is getting somewhat cold and autumnal and we have to deliver the camp gear to Andy, so motels from now on and campervan in Oz for the SA to QLD leg. It had rained o/night which helped with some of the sticky stuff from birch tree at Oamaru. Annie cleaned tent and ground sheet up well so put stuff to bed. Drove up to Twizel area and along Bullock heritage trail tourist route via canal off SH8 to see LOTRs sites then along  SH8  thru Mt Cook Nat Park, thru Lake Tekapo, up Mt John to Observatory, then thru Breakers pass back into the slightly flatter lands via Fairlie and P Point to Timaru. Staying in Aspen on Kings Timaru is v big maybe 2nd to Christchurch.Superb views of Mt Cook and surrounding mountain range as v sunny over that area, some good shots down Mt Cook salmon farm gravel road. Lake Tekapo most disappointing (v touristy) Mt John Observatory superb views again.English guy who runs motel, left east London 35 years ago but still has some sort of UK accent .Gr8 meal in Aspen on Kings restaurant A had salmon, I had beef medallions plus lemon meringue / coffee cheesecake for pud watched 2 DVDs – Emma (rubbish) and Beyond Borders (good clive owen superb), went to bed late

Day 156 - Saturday 29th March 2008,Aspen on Kings, Timaru

Alas up early because of kids playing outside at 7.30 am, kill their parents if we see them,. Did bacon & mushroom butties for b/fast and watched tv in bed, decadent or what! Cloudy day, only 16c Caught up on PC, paid bills, noted down our Sydney accommodation and flight to Tassie otherwise a chill type day off to town pm .

2 DVDs – Mrs Palfrey at the Claridge (Mrs Olivier – Joan Crawford) Ace, plus some other unmemorable Stealing home with Jodie Foster (bit part) and not her best, met the guy from Motel (again), Not much, chill day, Timaru is not that interesting

Day 157 - Sunday 30th March 2008,Timaru

Went out to Temuka and Milford Huts (just o/side Timaru) having been to Caroline Bay, not the nicest parts of South island if we are honest. Weather good and sunny 25c Got pumpkin and mushroom quiche from New World (Temuka) 4 tea and then went back to motel to sort out camping gear for our sale to Andy in Rangiora and watched 4 DVDs whilst quaffing Sav Blanc , creamy blue cheese and grapes. Ladies in lavender, Kid (Bruce willis, crap, stopped), Vows of deception (Cheryl Ladd) and Let them eat cake (series) Dawn French/ Jennifer Saunders (Gr8).

Day 158 - Monday 31st March 2008,Timaru to Ashburton, via Mt Hutt

Gr8 day, v interesting. Out of motel by 10am, started at 16c ended at 23c, drove up after petrol refill and screen wipe to Temuka, then Geraldine (v touristy) but walked around quaint township and saw museum (mostly farming community), then up Inland scenic highway to Mt Hutt / Methven , diverting down to Peel Forest and Rakianga Gorge (raft tour start).Sheep droving, nice hills/ mountains, deer, walk to the Big tree in Peel forest,gr8 fun , 30 mins, lots of bird life in this natural forest

Some Germans at the big tree, lady who runs Commodore motel, Ashburton,Weather, humid, 23c and big tree and little birdie that flew to us in the forest. Loved Mt Hutt bungy, big tree and sheep droving

Day 159 - Tuesday 1st April 2008,Ashburton to Christchurch, then Rangiora

Visited Ashburton Town center, gardens , museum and art gallery, then drove out to Wakanui beach nearby across Canterbury plains and then up parallel to SH1 thru lots of little places, Mitcham included, and back thru Lincoln into Christchurch. Staying at AAA Motel on North road nr airport (-ish) for 4 days b4 flying out to Oz.

Very nice town square and clock with flowers, flat countryside and NZs longest bridge over No water (or very little) – not that impressive if we are honest but maybe we have been spoilt.Andy and family, 8 Kensington Ave, Rangiora, sold gear for $260NZD , cost $1400+NZD but not bad considering we couldn’t take with us and we had used for 52 nights.Ok weather, student art better than Colin McMahon (NZs best living artist)

Day 160 - Wednesday 2nd April 2008,Christchurch beaches

Visited New Brighton , Sumner (polluted) and Gondola up above CC and Bank’s peninsular, very sunny but getting a little colder.New Brighton pier, cave rocks Sumner, Lyttelton harbour from above.Free coffee and gondola ride, good chicken meal in the eve (teryaki)

Day 161 - Thursday 3rd April 2008,Christchurch

After wasting 3+hours packing, unpacking and repacking stuff to be posted off to Craig, numerous U-turns on SH and 3 visits to the post office we finally got off to visit the city center. Parked up behind the Science alive on Moorhouse St and caught the free shuttle into Cathederal Sq. walked passed market, river Avon to Art Museum (lovely building) Colin McMahon stuff no good but Goldie and Gottlieb on old Maori’s ace,Art museum, cathedral and graffiti freeze for City of flowers (now complete).Slightly effiminant gent desk at museum.How long it takes to get a parcel off including guy I rang for shipping freight who said when I asked about personal effects ‘that as long as they were horses that was fine!!!’ hoho a horse merchant.Remember a couple of Kiwi speedway giants

Day 162 - Friday 4th April 2008,Christchurch

Day spent at the Botanic gardens and packing. See NSW (Oz) for Day 163 a flight day.

Day 163 - Saturday 5th April 2008,Christchurch to Sydney

Got up early, did the final bits of packing. Had scrambled eggs, checked out of our motel and went to Northwood Mall. Mooched around, K bought Opshop CD then we filled up with petrol and took car back to NZ rentals. Guy said he wasn’t expecting us and we would have to pay $10NZD for transport to Airport, we put him straight, but he did prefer to panic about picking up domestic passengers and drop us off early, still np as Christchurch is a very small airport, smaller indeed than Auckland. Nice flight over to Sydney and really clear as we landed.Coast line of NSW, busy inner city, pails anything in NZ into insignificance in terms of size.Met really nice and helpful Air NZ check in lady, who was surprised we could ‘do’ round the world with so little luggage,not much to remember, but catching the shuttle from Sydney airport to the travelodge, cnr wentworth & goulburn was fun as the thai guy tried to cram in every last space

Day 164 - Sunday 6th April 2008,Travelodge, Sydney

Gr8 day, see the piccies but basically did the tourist bit 2day. Went on the city sightseeing open topped bus firstly around the City route then out to Bondi, via SCG

and Fox studios. Ended up having a gr8 meal at Ice Cube on Darling harbour.Met lots of Japanese taking piccies everywhere.Gr8 walk on Bondi beach, spoke to Doug on MSN msg

Day 165 - Monday 7th April 2008,Travelodge, Sydney, Cnr Wentworth & Goulburn

Bit of a wasted day really but as bad weather not so bad. Got phone sorted but not vodem,wasted lots of time and bureaucratic nightmare,had to open a westpac bank account but still don’t know if it will get us thru the reqd 100 points for credit history, we will see in Tassie.World square, Irish pub and many vodaphone stores. Remember frustration oh and not a bad micro wave meal.

Day 166 - Tuesday 8th April 2008,Travelodge, Sydney

Gr8 day weather variable Got 3 day pass for monorail & light railway went to Darling harbour HMS Endeavour and Nat Maritime museum then onto the Imax to see the new 3d whales & dolphins Gr8 views of and from Darling harbour, we love Sydney Met Gr8 old Kiwi great granddad ex Navy on HMS End plus £15 paddie who was doing the same volunteer job. Alas Annie getting a really bad sore throat, really enjoyed the HMS endeavour.

Day 167 - Wednesday 9th April 2008,Travelodge, Sydney

Initially traveled by underground from museum to circular quay. Got the $16AD ferry ticket day tripper 2day and went to Watson bay, Manly & up the Paramatta river Had coffee/ ice chocolate at Risonni’s on Circular Quay at the end of the day Weather was mixed Sunny & Drizzle ranged from 18c to 24c.Lots and gr8 it was to, see the piccies, there were rather a lot of them. You will only get a limited set on the site.Met all the eastern European waiters at Doyle’s. Highlights:Seafood platter at Doyles Watson bay Annie rang Margaret and Brian at the end of the day,now used up all our Kiwi Vodaphone credit, Australian one working fine and online account set up. Our Westpac online banking will not work until we get out ATM cards (note write down the Handy card no 19 digits and BSB in our ‘little book of banking’ when we get them in Tassie + set up Vodem)

Day 168 - Thursday 10th April 2008,Travelodge, Sydney, Taronga Zoo/ Opera House

Taronga Zoo via Matilda ferries cruise and Swan Lake ballet at the Opera House ,Saw zillions of native animals. Enjoyed Express Thai nr World Square, gr8 meal and being exhausted by climbing stairs

Day 169 - Friday 11th April 2008,Travelodge, Sydney

Up not so early, used the last of our 3 day monorail/ light railway ticket to go to Victoria Galleries, Harbourside (Darling Harbour), Chinese gardens, Chinatown, Paddy’s Market, Lillyfield/ Rozelle Bay (ugh suburbs along with Glebe and Pyrmont),Chinese Gardens are superb, very tranquil,Met folk in Chinese restaurant in Chinatown,plus the ‘live’ tanks. surprised that we were the only non asian folk in Paddy’s market, its a great foodhall there for fresh produce.

2nd stay Day 226-228

Day 172 - Monday 14th April 2008,Huonville, Tasmania

Family tree day, completely today. Given over to reserach and discussion with Diana. used PC a lot. We stayed in all day with John & Diana. Most memorable was the Calel/ Solomon saga.

Day 173 - Tuesday 15th April 2008,Huonville, Tasmania

John & Diana took us into Hobart so we could pick up our hire car. We then visited Mt Nelson, Mt Wellington, City center Hobart and Battery Point and spent the evening with J&D.

Day 174 - Wednesday 16th April 2008,Huonville, Tasmania

Went to see Tasman peninsular including Port Arthur, Tasman arch, blowholes etc

Day 175 - Thursday 17th April 2008, Huonville, Tasmania

Visited Bruny Island,gr8 day Up early caught 9.30am ferry from Kettering and came back on the 4.30 one from Robert point and then drove around the headland up to Cygnet again . Loved Adventure bay, Clement link rd, Nebraska beach, oh and a whole lot more. We even saw the fairy penguins footprints and met an Ozzie couple at top of the 164 step lookout at the neck , we took their picture, they took ours. Most memorable was having an Eastern Grey Roo run out in front of our car on the Clement Link road

Day 176 - Friday 18th April 2008,Huonville, Tasmania

Quiet day spent with J&D, not much to report

Day 177 - Saturday 19th April 2008,Ranelagh to Strahan/ Queenstown , Tasmania

Off on our trip around Tassie. Up at 6 (nice to leave J&D) left by 7.10am Drove via SH1 & A10 stopping at Hamilton for an early morning pie and coffee Then thru Derwent River down thru Queenstown into Strahan and then back to Queenstown having filled up with petrol alongside the Targa Tasmania classic cars The whole area is packed out We paid $150AD (£70+) rip off for an appalling accommodation Silver Hills Motel.Most memorable Wall in the Wilderness gallery (hand carved wooden designs/ murals from Huon pine) at Derwent Bridge.Lovely drive.Wall in the Wilderness was superb, Fraser-Gordon World Heritage nat park, Queenstown, Strahan.Met lady in motel with Rally driver hubbie plus stewards who taped off every dirt track entry to the road from Strahan to Queenstown, in case they came out and bashed into the rallyall roads are closed from 5.30pm thru to 12 noon 2moro Both night and day legs.

Day 178 - Sunday 20th April 2008, Queenstown to Tullah , Tasmania

Got up about 8-ish, had a leisurely breakfast as Targa Tasmania was still on and all roads closed until 12. Finally left at 12 after nice lady told us about the roads reopening. Had to return as oops forgot stuff in the fridge (déjà vu for New Plymouth) Then onto Strahan again. Weather excellent. Had a good walk around edge of lake. Saw seaplane land. Not that much to see and do at Strahan although we went down to the old Railway. Then drove onto Zeehan & Tullah. Budget motel booked and paid for online with Innkeepers but Lakeside Chalets have no record. Budget place. Lots and lots of ‘controlled burn’ plus Zeehan, Rosebury & Tullah mining towns plus had a walk on Henty sandunes and saw the lookout, found our way back by my footprints, it was very confusing.Met guy with ute and caravan at lookout , I had to move the car as he couldn’t do a U-ey.Getting very fed up paying between £60-80 per night for frankly crap accommodation, very overpriced and someone trying to charge one twice is also not good news. Got a bit lost at Henty Dunes.

Day 179 - Monday 21st April 2008,Tullah to Smithton , Tasmania

Up early to see workman walk past our window. We were trying to look at Lake Rosebury from our chalet window and see the wombats (alas none) After arguing over paying twice lakeside Chalets Tullah ($80AD Budget) we sorted them out and Annie drove all 250kms today via Cradle mountain to Wynyard, Rocky Cape into Smithton Reasonably good weather again 22c and v sunny Stayed Bridge Motel ($99AD).Saw controlled burn, Cradle mountain Nat park, gr8 north coast along the bass straits highway.Met a welsh lady who served us in restaurant at motel who has been here 20 years and is married to a local fisherman. She got me vinegar to go with our huge flake fish and chips McCains is in Smithton.Nice bottle of Oxford Landing (eve). At Cradle Mountain as Annie said the wildlife was ‘one blackbird and some wombat poo’.

Day 180 - Tuesday 22nd April 2008,Smithton to Burnie via West point and Stanley, Tasmania

Out of Motel by 10, drove west to Marawah Beach via the Dismal Swamp which sadly was closed as storm had bought trees down over exhibits (i.e slide) Spoke to guy but had no confidence it would reopen the next day. Then returned along Bass Highway visiting various beaches, Stanley & the Nut (Ace), Rocky cape nat park, crayfish creek, Egcombe.West point from Marawah beach, next left is Argentina. The Nut plus from the top by Chairlift. Gr8. Guy in Burnie motel office who had played music in the ‘Trent Bridge Inn’ Notts when 19.Views from top of Nut, Stanley, Controlled burn that looked like Hiroshima (tassie carbon footprint ain’t good) Annie saw gecko/ lizard at top of the Nut. 5th Chairlift we have been on ($10AD both).

Day 181 - Wednesday 23rd April 2008,Burnie to Launceston, Tasmania

Out by 10 from our upstairs apt in the Ocean View Motel, drizzling. Drove down to Penguin lookout, no chance , too built up and Burnie Dockers AFL ground. Burnie is almost the pits but not quite. Filled up with petrol and drove out along Highway 1 to Launceston then diverted off onto scenic route via Penguin (a hoot) Ulverstone, Delamoire and Gr8 Western Tiers , then on into Sandors on the Park Motel 2 blocks up from CBD, Brisbane St. Loads of fake penguins, even adorning the bins. The Western tiers lookout where we had lunch and the lovely Pine lake boardwalkthat was superb but the weather changed just like that from sunny to cloud and cold.Western Tiers Gr8, Nice meal and brulee in Launceston Motel plus 2 pts of beer - Cascade (Hobart), Boags is from Launceston (and you can smell it) Probably as the tassie’s will tell you ‘the best beer in the world’. Pencil pines were wonderful.

Day 182 - Thursday 24th April 2008,Launceston, Tasmania

Laid in had brekkie in the room, Apricot weeties in a mug with milk, how we have learned to cope and peanut butter on Helgas (bread). Then walked into town, got stuff for k’s Jocks Itch, Vodaphone $29AD cap (gives you $130AD) and then bought pair of trus to replace those that had disintegrated. Had lunch in bakers 13 dozen of pies, cakes (yummy apricot custard) then off to wildlife park – Devil’s haven (ace)  and Cataract gorge at twilight.River Tamar.2 wallabies wild in Cataract Gorge reserve One let Annie get real close Plus all the lovely animals at the Launceston Lakes Wildlife park.Saw skippy, baby echidna, and many lovely birds oh and dumbie the wombie who wouldn’t come out of his pad.Ate in restaurant at Sandors on the park (again).

Day 183 - Friday 25th April 2008,Launceston to St Helens, Tasmania

Anzac day, checked out of Hotel in Launceston, $340+AD, filled with petrol and drove down the A3 thru Scottsdale, Derby and the tin mine valley to St Columba falls , Pyengena.Saw Derby bank and radio station, Dunes and beaches of St Helens, St Columba falls and cheese tasting,Priscilla the beer swilling pig at the pub in the paddock, Pyengena.Keef did 5 laps of the indoor pool, watching Kev Costner movie and Anzac day oh and grotty Bayside motel that cost as much as Launceston and is really tatty.

Day 184 - Saturday 26th April 2008,St Helens to Swansea, Tasmania

HOORAY, we have now been away 6 months. Left 10am v sunny 22c Shopped at local supermarket in St Helen’s then drove thru all the East coast beaches Diana’s, Sumpter, 4 Mile creek, Denisons, Bicheno, Coles Bay.See the piccies of beaches and wineglass bay, ace.Met no one in particular, guy on bike and woman with van who were fishing at Denison Beach plus dipstick in car who roared onto Diana’s beach to avoid getting stuck in the sand.Gravel track to Friendly Beach , had to turn back and that’s not just cos we didn’t pay our national parks fee. Annie looked for Penguins in the Rookery from our balcony in the Waterloo Inn Swansea.good value $97.50AD Wedding going on. Loved Freycinet NP.

Day 185 - Sunday 27th April 2008,Swansea to Port Arthur, Tasmania

Staying in our cottage for 2 days. Four seasons ‘Summer’ cottage in Tarrana on the Tasman peninsular. Lovely place but one is sure paying for it at £92 a night.East coast very interesting. Maria island ferry from Timmburra. Gr8 road from Orford, v rocky and hilly. Whole area very dry with CRITICAL water warnings everywhere. Met Noreen owner of cottage whose son had died in Illinois and husband with cancer. Her little grand daughter Scarlet was cute. She helped us get the Heater / Cooler working Very overcast all day.Had McDs in Sorrell, 1st in Oz.good tea first we had been able to cook for a while.

Day 186 - Monday 28th April 2008,Port Arthur, Tasmania

Staying in our cottage for 2 days. Got up late had full cooked brekkie Raining hard initially then brightened up Spent the day chilling, watching TV, reading, PC, gentle walk, very relaxing.

Day 187 - Tuesday 29th April 2008,Port Arthur to Hobart, Tasmania

Spent from 9.30 to 3.30 at Port Arthur, excellent day in the convict colony. Rain am, sun pm did guided tour , boat trip to Puer Point (boys prison island) and Isle of the Dead (12000 buried on this tiny island) and walked round most of it, asylum, severe etc etc then drove back via Sorrell (got cash from Westpac) into Sandy Bay. Stayed at 429 motel (Hobart), upgraded to exec overlooking the bay all for $85AD a bargain Saw lots see all 78 piccies.Well highlights anyway.Met gr8 lady who did the tour, born in Tassie, traveled as a kid to Papua New Guinea and Qld, discussed family trees.Remember Port Arthur plus wild Rosella’s, beautiful colours

Day 188 - Wednesday 30th April 2008,Fly from Hobart to Perth, WA

V long day, sunny but 11c in Hobart Drove up Sandy bay road to Shot tower and back to dump off car Gr8 scenery Met Diana & John. Visited IXL jam factory / wood design studio in Hobart harbour (ace!) Then to Mures for lunch Ace again Then to airport, said long goodbye

Day 188 - Wednesday 30th April 2008,Fly from Hobart to Perth, WA

Mid afternoon-ish Then to airport, said long goodbye, flew to Melbourne, 4 hrs wait rang Mum then 4 hrs flight to Perth with 2 hrs western time was really 3am before we got to bed Hotel not good we paid $105AD to Discovery west it is $75AD if you pay yourself still only here short time and out for most of it .Planes oh and 27 dresses movie (crap).Met Granny next to me from Melbourne to Perth who hadn’t seen her grandchildren for 3 years. Loved Getting to WA but sad to leave Tassie, pleasant memories.

Day 189 - Thursday 1st May 2008,Perth, WA

Got up late after very late to bed, 1am Western Time but 3am Eastern time (Tassie) Hotel not great 22c and sunny Made use of our time Walked thru town (lovely) went to Tourist Info (iCity in Oz, iSite in NZ) got stuff Then walked down to Barrack Jetty and got 2hr return ferry trip to Freemantle Lovely trip (see Piccies) Then caught Tram around Kings Park, got off at Murray st Went shopping for brekkie things in Woolies Then nice meal in Bobby Dazzlers.Met ferry crew and driver Real Ozzies plus Tram driver a hoot who embarrassed newlyweds.Remember Gr8 day, ferry and tram trip plus scenery. Roo steaks

Day 190 - Friday 2nd May 2008,Perth, WA

Nice hot day (24c) up earlyish cos of time diff from East coast. Had brekkie in Motel then walked into Murray St again via the various jetties and hopped on the tram Did the complete circuit, town, burswood area, jetty, kings park with various 10 min photo opportunities / leg stretch Very enjoyable Got back intending to get on Open topped bus they said it was gone, had lunch in Asian express (v nice and relatively cheap) then waited 1+hr still didn’t arrive Keef rang company and got stroppy when they said the guy hadn’t turned up/ had to leave early so got money back (hooray 2 free trips and a good evening meal) plus we had time to research our campervan trip. Visited Tourist info iCity , got loads of brochures to help start planning our round trip Perth, Wave Rock (Hyden) , Kalgoolie-Boulder, Esperance, Albany, Margaret River, Freemantle, Rottnest Island.definitely outback and needs treating with respect, leaving notes on Website. Met Guy in iCity, most helpful again. Remember Keef getting stroppy when they told us the bus wasn’t running, got all our money back $58AD, Meal in eve .

Day 191 - Saturday 3rd May 2008,Perth to Quairading, WA

Good & bad times with Britz!!! Got up early still suffering from 2hr jetlag. Packed and took stuff down to front of Mountway apts, which although budget were on reflection really close to the city center. Swan taxis (+61 131330) took us to 471 Gr8 eastern Highway (SH94) Britz, cheaper at $28AD than guy from Airport and further Hmmmm Britz in disarray, had a bit of a go after being made to wait 1hr for paperwork oh and our van not available, despite me having rung them the day before anyhow all ok in the end cos free upgrade gave us an automatic which is easier to drive and both of us can drive. Despite higher diesel prices.Then went to Midtown mall had lunch and did lots of shopping in Woolies Then set off for Quairading (half way to Hyden and Wave Rock). 150+kms nice drive, red dirt scenery and bush with ‘black boy’ (politically incorrect) trees. Campsite good and currently free  Most memorable Getting free van upgrade

Day 192 - Sunday 4th May 2008,Quairading to Narembeen via Wave Rock (Hyden), WA

Nice long day Hot 28c at Wave rock Drove down highway 40 thru to Wave rock and then back part of it to go up to Narembeen ready to rejoin the Gr8 eastern highway to Kalgoorlie.Saw Wave rock plus a lot of red soil.Met guy at Quairading site who suggested a pub to visit outside Kalgoorlie cos wait for it there had been 2 murders there Hmmmm Oh and old aussie couple at Narembeen who gave us the once over. remember York, Midtown & Quairading. Young Brit couple who waited 5 hrs for their campervan and were supposedly going to Geraldton that day, not likely. Lady from Leeds working for Britz whom I gave some grief. Aussie in caravan at campsite (only other person) who ensured amenities were open for us Remember Wave rock, gr8 terayaki chicken evening meal cooked in our camper van

Day 193 - Monday 5th May 2008,Wave Rock (Hyden)to Coolgardie, WA

Been in Oz 1 month now. Up early cold night put heating on in campervan Left site about 10-ish 2nd day of not paying as no one about to pay. Visited Narembeen Town nice little historic plaques from gold mining days everywhere and some quaint old buildings (see the piccies) then drove 71kms straight (and I mean straight 2nd longest straight road in Oz after Nullabor plain bit) single tar sealed with wide red gravel edges.only one road train, did WA travelers salute one nonchalant finger off steering column. Then at Merredin turned left onto Gr8 Eastern Highway 94 all the way to Coolgardie. Filled up at Roadhouse in Southern Cross and stopped at various places for tourist spots/ piccies Staying at campsite in Coolgardie (39km from Kalgoorlie-Bolder) $22AD not bad Dark by 5.30pm boo hiss Had a nice meal of 1st course: corn on the cob, Mains: spam, fried kumara, spaghetti followed by Cheese & Bikkies,saw RPF (Rabbit Proof Fence) No1 at Burracoggin, Yellowdine, Golden pipeline, Camels at Coolgardie, Road trains galore, met no one in particular,oh ozzie at Coolgardie campsite who sleeps out under the stars (cold) on a put-u-up bed, hoot!

Day 194 - Tuesday 6th May 2008,Coolgardie to Kalgoorlie - Bolder, WA

Up early-ish, v sunny and hot 31c although campervan said 38c at one point Annie did the washing 2 lots in machine Had a quick look at Coolgardie then drove into Kalgoorlie Lovely place still lots more to see went to Superpit and the Hall of fame mining museum Stayed at Prospectors Campsite $27AD, met folk in the next door caravan to us from Adelaide who have been travelling for 7 years and are from Kangaroo Island in SA They ran a store in Leanora and have been prospecting for gold They showed us a nugget they found. Remember the mines and the superpit

Day 195 - Wednesday 7th May 2008,Kalgoorlie – Bolder to Norseman via Kambalda West, WA

Up early, only cereal for brekkie Then went into town again, Woolies (food), iCity ,bank , post office (PC to Mum) then all the way up the historic Hannan St, and back again. Bought Tshirt and T towels We really like the feel of Kalgoorlie Then out to Bolder airport again to join the 11am tour When we came yesterday there was a private function so not on for the day Gr8 film and lecture then we saw the plane take off They do a gr8 job with v limited resources then drove down SH94 thru Kambaldi (where we had lunch) down to Norseman where we are staying at the Gateway campsite $23.50AD.Saw K-B towns, Skimpies (I wish), RFDS, Kambaldi new town, Norseman.Met folk from SA sheep station she was a governess, 10 people (oh and 40 aboriginals) on a farm the size of England. Plus Kiwi we gave a lift back into town who was born in Bromsgrove and lives in Hamilton, didn’t like the Oz landscape.Bad news from Belvoir, swietelsky only want to stay until June now, but heyhoe will continue to pester to see what they do for their £180 a month. Keefs first haircut since leaving the UK plus memorable meal and wine (home cooked) oh and played scrabble

Day 196 - Thursday 8th May 2008,Norseman to Esperance, WA

Good day (again) Showered had yogurt and croissants for brekkie then went off to look around Norseman. Camels, gold mine and great views from Beacon Point Lookout Then drove down highway 1 thru Salmon Gums, Grass Patch, Scaddan, Gibson past dried up salt lakes into Esperance. Wheatbelt change of scenery about Grass Patch But the major contrast from red outback to blue seas of Esperance was immense We like Esperance and twilight beach drive is ace, loads of beaches, saw lots of Road Trains, met Kiwi lady running campsite, nr beach $20AD.Remember Not so good Fish & Chip supper, worst yet! Beaches of Esperance and sealion showing off by Tanker Jetty

Day 197 - Friday 9th May 2008,Esperance to Jerramungup

Over 300k of driving Started out fairly overcast ended v sunny 26c had icecreams at Munglinup roadhouse, stopped off at Ravensthorpe for Tourist info and bottle shop Then on thru world famous (we think not!) Fitzgerald river Nat Park and onto J campsite ($23AD) Tame roo Priscilla we didn’t see but the gallah who said hallo On pc added money to MP3 RU and downloaded some new music Young Knives and Madonna, saw lots and lots of SH1, met guy with Rottweiler in next site.No water fill allowed at J campsite as dam only caters for 200 people oh and emptying the ‘potty’ for the first time, yuk and heavy,Jail at  Ravensthorpe last used in 1962 and reminded me of a dunny

Day 198 - Saturday 10th May 2008,Jerramungup to Albany

Left campsite at about 11am after brekkie of yoghurt and bacon sarnies. Filled up with diesel in Jerramungup, $69AD took ages in shop only a queue of 3 but staff had an IQ of 3. Annie paid $4.65AD for loaf of bread WOW!!! Drove thru Gairdner, Boxwood Hill, Wellstead & Many Peaks (where we had lunch in a layby) into town Albany Nice place Drove round a bit then out to Torndirrup Nat Park, saw Frenchman bay (family BBQ but would be about to get wetGr8 granny down to kiddies, with camera on tripod) then blowholes (not windy enough) Tooks some interesting piccies then back to Acclaim campsite at Emu Point raining but gr8 weird sunset with rainbow. Ringng boys to use up Vodaphone allowance, saw lots but now back from the outback. Filled up with water which we were not allowed to do in Jerramungup

Drove to Middleton beach which has a LED sign saying BEACH CLOSED DUE TO SHARK IN THE AREA,loved Torndirrup Nat Park

Day 199 - Sunday 11th May 2008,Emu Point Albany to Northcliffe

Channel 7 news, great white at Middleton beach eats 37 year old teacher We were there at 3pm and again 2day It happened 7.30am y’day we saw the sign about beach closed but hadn’t realized someone had been eaten He punched the shark and poked his fingers in its eyes and a mother of 3 swam in to help him, Mrs Lucas (v brave lady).We did tourist route round Middleton, Albany (packed with shark spotters although we didn’t see much) then on thru Denmark (ocean beach had a walk) thru Walpole/ Nornalup nat park and walked the Canopy walk in the Valley of the giants (ace 40m high) huge trees Tingle trees (tingle meaning red in Aboriginal) Getting late so pulled into RoundTuit Eco Campsite ($25AD) Best site so far They raise orphan roos and there were lots of wild ones even in front of our van plus Alpacas, saw lots but roos especially great as so close to our van, met couple who ran camp site, lovely people, remember Great white shark / Roos/ Valley of the Giants

Day 200 - Monday 12th May 2008,Northcliffe to Margaret River

Drove into Pemberton (filled with diesel narrowly avoiding taking top of campervan off as low roof at garage) went to Gloucester tree (60m high Tingle tree with footrung lookout) Didn’t go in as $20AD and no time Then down SH1 missed turning ended up near Nannup (41 extra k) and onto Augusta Nice seaside place and Leeuwin point where Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean and lighthouse then up Tourist route 250 via various caves (didn’t go as mostly closed and running out of daylight) via Hamelin bay into Margaret River (wineries by the score) Camping in town site $24AD + $10AD deposit, hard to park on limited site (steep edge and tree) but did it. 22c 2day some rain again 3rd day running and getting dark now by 5.15pm, Annie saw 2 roos in winery , emus and one roo running along fence, all in all a good animal day, saw o one in particular apart from the roos,Mummy roo & Joey o/side our campervan in the morning (Ahhhhhh – see the videos and piccies), Sand blasting at Hamelin Bay,  Wyre Estate Shiraz (Margaret River) $20AD Wonderfuland v drunk making! Oh and hummus and toast, chicken teriyaki & rice and Belgian choc puds (yum!)

Day 201 - Tuesday 13th May 2008,Margaret River to Bunbury

Left in rain Visited the town of Margs Then onto Prevelly beach back up Caves road along the coast seeing various bays and into Yallingup Incredible surf beaches V high waves then lunch at Busselton raining then sunny Quite cold 2day only 16c max 20c Did walk on beach and pier then onto Bunbury Bought wine M/R and blue cheese and other stuff in IGA Margs and Coles Busso Gonna have a good tea Did PC stuff Modem stopped not sure why. Annie did washing whilst we both tried to photo the green parrots flying round Eucalypt trees near our van, met no one in particular, saw lots of Japanese tourists. Remember than we are not gonna let our house for 2.5 months so loan to family & friends, plus big surf.

Day 202 - Wednesday 14th May 2008,Bunbury to Freemantle (Freo)

Up late. Showered, breakfasted on good coffee and croissants, then off to Fremantle via SH1 past Cape Bouvard, Mandurah (really speading waterfront properties) Safety beach, Penguin island, City of Rockingham into Fremantle. Drove around the town, v busy, interesting buildings however then out via south beach to our posh campsite (4 stars) at Fremantle village. Sat out for first time on table and chairs. Sunny and rainy 2day. Has been like this now for 4 days 15c at night same as Long Eaton today, max however only 19c. Saw lots of expanding Perth via cities (and train for commuting) up to 74k away. Met surfer dude at campsite who set up our Rottnest express trip for 2moro, off to see the Quokka.Campsite, best yet but $31AD per night.

Day 203 - Thursday 15th May 2008,Rottnest Island

Coach trip around island plus walking. Rottnest (rats nest because germanic sailors thought the Quokka was a giant rat). It is a holiday isle now. Forgot camera battery (still in laptop) so bought Rottnest Island book instead.

Day 204 - Friday 16th May 2008,Freo to Perth to Broome

Did all the clean up stuff on the campervan, left about 10.30am and went back thru Freo town Annie took a load of photos Then drove back along H12 to Perth, avoided going right thru the centre although only just by going on the North Highway and then off onto the right Highway to find the Gr8 eastern highway and back to Britz. Sorted good ish deal (£4600+) for 3.5 months campervan from Adelaide to Sydney via Queensland.Then taxi (mad git that Anne had to shout at) to airport, good Fish & Chips lunch then onto Broome. Really hot when we arrived at 6pm 33c taxi to Ocean lodge hotel. Saw Movie on free tv – "PS I love you" OK-ish! Met Lady in motel plus many more aboriginal folk in Broome and on the plane than we have seen so far. Remember Freo & getting campervan back in one piece.

Day 205 - Saturday 17th May 2008,Cable Beach, Broome

All day chilling by the pool at our Ocean Lodge hotel.Gr8 day some shopping which was HOT walking to Woolies 35c. saw sun, sun and sun V relaxing. Weird movie called the Raging of Placid Lake . Met guy in England footie shirt.Listen to loads of gr8 stuff on the iPod

Day 206 - Sunday 18th May 2008,Cable Beach, Broome

Another day chillin by the pool, cooked brekkie to start us off and then lunch by the pool with earl grey. Oh then caught bus ($3,50AD) to cable beach, walked and photo-ed and came back for meal and wine, superb day (again) in Broome. Saw sunsets by the score.Met bus driver.Loved CSN&Y, CSN & David Crosby plus cable beach sunsets, we absolutely adored cable beach, fab place, fab pictures, fab weather.

Day 207 - Monday 19th May 2008,Town, Town beach & Cable Beach, Broome

Hot day 35c. Got $10AD all day bus pass Visited the town, nice and small Lots of vagrant aboriginal buying booze only and some v drunk at say 2pm Shopped for Tshirts Then had lunch in Aussie pub plus watched Eng Vs Blackcaps cricket from UK Then onto Town beach (not gr8 after cable) then shopping at coles and post office (postcards to Mum , Craig & Doug) then onto Cable beach by bus. Drinks at Sunset bar then back to hotel for a swim and get ready for meal in town. Back by 7pm on last bus then Chinatown taxi home for 8.30pm. Saw lots & met staff in restaurant very friendly. remember the weather £6 for a ¾ pint glass of Matso’s (local brewer) ginger beer but quite alcoholic. They did a mango beer but at that price gave it a miss , Meal at Som Thai and lovely bottle of Watershed Marg river SavBlanc ($17AD and reduced from $21AD) bought in bottle shop over the road.

Day 208 - Tuesday 20th May 2008,Geikie Gorge Trip

Up at 5.30am caught new tour bus with Adam to the Gorge via Willare Roadhouse, Old Boab Tree, Fitzroy crossing (old & new) then the gorge. Trip by boat with Bill our indigenous guide, remember the 4 skins (aboriginal trad wisdom) ..boat trip, crocs, meal at road house very late back 11pm long day but a good one. Saw freshies and a whole lot more. met too many folk but Adam and Bill (guides) and couple from Sydney who had crossed the Nullabor and had 8 weeks in WA. The whole day was gr8 eating boab fruit The views, everything, splendid trip well worth it

Day 209 - Wednesday 21st May 2008,Broome to Darwin via Kunanarra by Airnorth

Up 8-ish packed made sandwiches Taxi to airport left about 3.40 (20 mins late) Flew 1hr to Kunanarra deplaned 30mins then 40mins to Darwin taxi to Barossa street V close to city center Lorraine (lovely lady) met us.Saw River Ord, Lake Argyle.Met nice lady taxi driver, lots of info on tropical plants in Broome. Lorraine Swan in Darwin (and she had seen Elton John live in Darwin the week before). Remember Kunannarra, flight and Darwin (a big growing city)

Day 226 - Saturday 7th June 2008,P/Boro (SA) to Broken Hill (NSW)

Day 210 - Thursday 22nd May 2008,Darwin

Walked into town, about 12ish then Hop on hop off bus, with drivers mum present $60AD saw most sights Stopped at Sky city casino had some drinks by the infinity pool then walked over to the Mindil Beach Sunset market (ace) Darwin is a nice city better than we expected.Loved the Mindil Beach Sunset market,Loads of folk at market which we went to in the eve and watched the sunset across the beach,Mindil Beach Sunset market, spray can artist, eMDee band, sunset and many many revelers (5k+),  

Day 211 - Friday 23rd May 2008,Darwin

Went by taxi to the Museum & Arts center, spent about 2.5hrs there V interesting especially the Cyclone Tracy stuff then walked back in 33+c heat to bus stop where drunk and his even drunk aboriginal partner told us about buses Caught no4 into City center Did shopping My BNT Mosquitos shirt, Annies Tshirt and perfume plus food shopping 4 Ghan trip Then back to Unit 1, 4 Barossa st, Larrakeyah to chill ring Chris & Mum Thai meal Massaman chicken and 2 bed not too late after packing. Loved My NT rugby shirt, sweetheart the croc.photo of of ‘Tracy you bitch’ car a treat from cyclone experience in museum

Day 212 - Saturday 24th May 2008,The Ghan, Darwin to Tennant Creek via Katherine

White Cockatoos,Brummy bus driver in Katherine, 2 ozzie ladies in seats behind us on Ghan , Loved the Red North, long journey with very little sleep after a very early start.

Day 213 - Sunday 25th May 2008,The Ghan, Tennant Creek to Alice Springs

Moored up at Tenant Creek (John Flynn – 1st RFDS) from 1.30am to 6am Noone allowed out weird station no platform Neither of us slept that well in our Day/Nighter seats but gr8 trip Lots of red soil as we moved thru to Alice Springs by 11.15am 26c Caught shuttle to hotel had to wait 35mins to check in (not best pleased) but Uluru trip receipt had been faxed by Vaitor.Saw 5 red roos, 2 to keef, 3 to annie. Met 2 ladies behind us on red kangaroo (steerage class) cabin R seats r13-14 daughter in Esperance son in Darwin oh and Sid the Sloth He and his girlfriend slept (supposedly) all 27 hrs. Remember the Ghan, Annie slept for 2.5 hrs when we arrived at Aurora A-S hotel (v good with pool) deluxe room. Henley on Todd (boat race with a difference,  no water so they have to carry them with their legs thru as though the River Todd had water in it which it does for very few occaisions a decade, let alone a year. Loved the the soil getting redder and redder as the Ghan travelled south.

Day 214 - Monday 26th May 2008,Alice Springs

Now been away 7 months,1st day on round Alice bus ticket. Telegraph station. Hot , Lovely views over Alice and trip round.

Day 215 - Tuesday 27th May 2008,Uluru/ Olgas trip from Alice Springs

Very long day 19hrs Got up 4.50am (having stayed up previous eve to see England thrash the Kiwis at cricket 2nd test) 1000k (625m) round trip. Just a very special day back in bed by 12.30am having washed our feet and red dust.Saw Mt Connor, Uluru & The Olgas, plus we did 3 walks.Met Brian the guide, pint sized ozzie who was v friendly but it was his first day guiding.Loved Uluru but really the whole day We had sparkling wine and a picnic as the sun went down over Uluru Really strange colours on the rocks.

Day 216 - Wednesday 28th May 2008,Alice Springs

Up late after long trip yesterday. Had brekkie (full English) at the Red Ochre Grill attached to our hotel, the Aurora, then showered, caught 2nd day on the Alice explorer out to the Old Ghan Museum (gr8 fun) then back into Alice and the Todd mall. Did Didgeridoo lesson booked tickets for evening show. Nice 3 course meal in restaurant Barramundi & Ginger, Steak/Fish&Chips, Pear & Apricot strudel & homemade ice-cream all for $38AD reach. The food at the hotel was very good value. Met Andrew Langford – Didge show, which we both saw and practised didge playing, fun but hard especially circular breathing. Sounds of Starlight Theatre.Plus no one in particular apart from drunk Aboriginal lady who wobbled into restaurant (sad) and security called the police.

Day 217 - Thursday 29th May 2008,Alice Springs to Adelaide

Up 8-ish Had gr8 cooked brekkie, then over to see Andrew and bought a Didge. Very pleased with it, made by aboriginal between Katherine & Darwin. Had it mailed home with free booklet. Then sent Craig note to say it was on its way Checked out of Hotel about 10.15 took longer cos I thought we had paid, we had not. Then shuttle bus ($34AD) to airport V nice airport Then flew to Adelaide Shuttle bus to Rockford. Not bad room although had to ask for 3 bits of maintenance Supposedly an upgrade and view of river Torrens, maybe!Annie took loads of gr8 piccies out of the plane of the Simpson & Mackay deserts and Lake Eyre.Met Andrew Didge man , plus yanks on shuttle bus to hotel in Adelaide who were very loud & opinionated. See SA for next day.

Lots of driving 2day, overcast and windy/cold initially but warmed up. Only about 16c Very desolate landscape with a few Roadhouses and abandoned dwellings  but the rivers ran with water and a red hue The Indian pacific railway line kept us company most of the way 300+k in all we have done over 18k miles since being away X-ing the border was fun No fruit/veg bins as we had expected having frantically used everything from SA up we needn’t have bothered Camping in Broken Hill for 2 nights Interesting town Went to Woolies to get loads of stuff and Westpac in Argent St (Silver?) to get cash Had nice Pork Korma for tea.Very desolate flat landscape with hills on the horizon (Barrier Ranges) plus 4 emus and countless wild goats.Vastness of the scenery, just imagine it in 45+c (no thanks) v desolate landscape

Day 218 - Friday 30th May 2008,Adelaide

Up earlish, showered, cereal in room then onto Adelaide Explorer tourist trip at 10.30am in King William St City tour thru N, E, S & W terrace plus a bit further out. North A the best Lots of piccies incl Sir Don Bradman and Adelaide Oval. Then went out to coast at Glenelg Only had 20mins there time to see beach and grab a sarnie.Lots to enjoy,Adelaide is ‘older’ than Perth and free settler built We liked many of the older buildings and parks. 22c and sunny.Met Annoying ozzie from Canberra who never stopped talking or contradicting the poor lady driver. Remember Indian meal opposite Rockford, Hindley St. New place had south Indian tikka & real samosas starter, rice&lentil pancake filled with chicken & pots with clamer (veg curry sauce) and coconut sauce, mango ice-cream (homemade) all for £26 for both of us. Ace! We will be back

Day 219 - Saturday 31st May 2008,Adelaide

Up very late Then off to rooftop pool and sauna at Rockford Hotel Roof open and v sunny Had to use sunscreen spent about 3.5hrs getting nicely roasted Then showered and walked into Rundle Mall to get books and maps for rest of trip Plus a bottle of Wolfblass (Riesling) and stuff for Tea oh and had Nandos for lunch. Did lots of Chillin, met lady in Haigh’s choccie shop with gloves.Remember not much apart from the words ‘chillin and someones gotta do it’ ace read in eve and watched movie Elizabeth with Cate Blancett.

Day 220 - Sunday 1st June 2008, Adelaide

1st day of Winter and we spent most of it chillin by our Rooftop pool at the Rockford 23c and v sunny again Then went to Curry house opposite for a final meal.Meat Thali and Chicken Korma respectively A good new place Then back to pack and retire early.Loved the winter sun, met really friendly guy in Curry house who gave us free poppadums.Did Mums DVD video intro.

Day 221 - Monday 2nd June 2008,Adelaide to Tanunda

Checked out of hotel at 10 Caught taxi to Britz in Don Brad drive and paid for and picked up our home for the next 105 nights A Britz Elite Much better bed and driving than the other one but not so much storage or room Drove out to Elizabeth, odd as first manual in about 5 months. Did shopping in mall (Woolies) and got cash out of Westpac ATM oh and had lunch in food hall Then drove onto Barossa Valley had a look around bit of tasting and then bought gr8 bottle of Gramp’s (name of JC first Lutheran owner) Shiraz Up market wine price not too bad at $17AD Best wine we have had yet Stayed at Tanunda Family parks site.Jacobs Creek and Grant Burge Wines (5th gen).Barossa valley and the bottle of Gramp’s.

Day 222 - Tuesday 3rd June 2008,Tanunda to Clare

Left site at 10.30 Issue with hose, alas had to nick an attachment than someone had kindly left around. Drove into Tanunda, nice town, posted DVD to Mum. Did some shopping for pillows and a table lamp Then off to Mengler Hill lookout, superb views across the Valley Drove round most of Barossa then onto Clare arriving just at dusk many Riesling vineyards in Clare valley (all Lutheran).Lots of vineyards including Barossa Valley estate, Penfolds, Seppeltsfield Rd, Seppelts, Wolf Blass (alas Rockford & Bethany which were recommended to us just too expensive at $45+AD).met Wolf himself, touched me on the shoulder and talked to me, I shall never wash my shirt again.Bought 3 bottles.1.5 JC Shiraz reserve , JC Riesling and Penfolds Koonunga Hills, Drank 2 and had steak, hic!

Day 223 - Wednesday 4th June 2008,Clare to Quorn

Left about 10.30am Bit of a rush again Filled up with diesel and got some milk. Diesel only $35AD for ¼ tank, Better than the other Campervan Then drove off thru many little townships, mostly farming, including Gladstone, Laura (home of the sentimental blokebought pie and apricot slice from home of North Ice-cream) , Mt Remarkables Nat park, Goyder’s line, Horrocks pass, South Flinders range, semi arid lands up near Pt Augusta on A1, Old Ghan railway then Quorn for the night Annie did some more washing.Had to wait for 2k goods train in foothills of Flinders Range. 3 Roos on campsite, numerous Galahs and Rosella’s oh and gr8 sunset. Met Bronwyn at the campsite who told us about Quandong pie (we will try 2moro). Flinders range ace! remember the run down house at Gladstone and the sunsets at Quorn

Day 224 - Thursday 5th June 2008,Quorn to Hawker

Been in Oz 2 months 2day! Up about 8.30 Had full English left about 10.45am Had a good look around Quorn V interesting little place Bought Quangdong pies from café and some cobs for lunch Then started in drizzle driving to Wilpena Pound Alas heavens opened , very wet Mud desert rivers run so decided to stop at Hawker Big 4 campsite Hub of the Flinders Did laptop, read, cooked and chilled.Rain and lots of it for us we have been very lucky This is only our 2nd days rain in Oz We had about 4 ½ in NZ. Met campsite owners who had only moved in from Brisbane 4 weeks earlier.Remember rain and roads awash, semi arid desert, quangdong pie and bush melons.

Day 225 - Friday 6th June 2008,Flinders Ranges

Lovely day in the national park and Wilpena pound, saw loads of wildlife, 20+ emus, 50+ roos, 2 wedge tail eagles and numerous other birds, up early bought petrol in Hawker weather improved throughout the day and positively hot and sunny by late afternoon, i.e the clouds cleared off the ranges Drove from Hawker to Wilpena pound 57k stopping at every lookout on route Annie drove back to Hawker then I drove to Peterborough where we camped for the night Nice campsite Very windy at night though and thus cold. Saw the magnificent Flinders Ranges Nat Park.Lots of roos, many ozzies who didn’t pay the A$7.50 to go in the park, we did so felt smug but ripped off, still for what we saw it was well worth it.Loved The wildlife and the views

Day 227 - Sunday 8th June 2008,Broken Hill & Silverton

Pissed with rain all day! (can i say that here, YES, just have!) Got up late showered and had cooked brekkie Then we went off to Silverton – Ghost town about 25k from Broken Hill Cos of the rain some of the ditches were starting to flood .Luckily although red dirt on road still easily passable Visited Museum, saw Mad Max landscape Then came back to BH did bit of Tourist route Up Pat Keenan’s lookout Tourist Info then off to Silver City Cinema to see new Indiana Jones movie (v good) and back for Corned Beef hash and check on roads for 2moro.Saw wild camels. Met most unhelpful lady in Tourist Info.Silverton was gr8 as was its Museum.

Day 228 - Monday 9th June 2008,Broken Hill to Mildura (Victoria)

Left in heavy rain after sorting out camp loo (ugh!) Drove part of Tourist Route (TR) round Broken Hill Took some piccies Then shared driving along Silver City Highway 300k to Mildura just across the Victorian Border via Wentworth Nice campsite for 2 days Apex family park Booked Melbourne paddle steamer trip on Murray river $50AD.Saw 3 emus, 2 roos, 2 wedge tailed eagles, countless wild goats & 2 swagmen one on a bike (with dog in pannier), one on foot Both had cowboy hats, boots and one was carrying a saddle as well as his swag (sleeping bag). Junction of Murray & Darling rivers at Wentworth (which was a nice town).It pissed down most of the way and was 16c. Had Mainland creamy blue cheese & bikkies, fruit juice, apples and old gold roasted almond dark choc 4 lunch in a Outback lay by, deserted. See day 229 under Victoria next.

3rd stay Day 253-273, See Queensland for 273

Day 229 - Tuesday 10th June 2008, Mildura, Paddle steamer trip on the Murray

GUp late, had cooked brekkie, went on the PS Melbourne paddle steamer thru Lock 11 on the Murray up past our campsite, v relaxed and pleasant journey in nice sunny weather 16c,Saw lots of the Murray river.Met Captain of boat, brief chat. Loved the whole boat journey We almost missed it It was just leaving the dock and we had to step on over the ropes $50AD.

Day 230 - Wednesday 11th June 2008, Mildura

Up late again (naughty campers!)  Very sunny 17c, went into town Had a good walk around up Deakin (the main street), pie in Hukey’s then ice cream sundae whilst sitting outside in the sidewalk chairs. Then drove around tourist route and saw the various new expanding housing estates. Visited camp shop for 2nd time, had to get curtain things (from Spotlight) then cap for water that had (we assume) fallen off somewhere between Broken Hill and Mildura. Then returned to site new plot overlooking river for T (chicken Satay and rice).Visited the town. Met Odd couple from Adelaide in Millard caravan who tried at least 4 sites she with a toaster to check electrics (weird) the plug attachment is different.Mildura we liked, and the olmpic sized swimming pool, which we didn't have time to go in alas.

Final Stay Day 231-240 in South Australia

Day 231 - Thursday 12th June 2008, Mildura (Vic) to Murraybridge (SA)

Up early, showered breakfasted and on the way by 10am Posted Mums card in Mildura on route Then across the border via Yamba (fruit fly inspection for fruit and veges), Paringa, Renmark (went for a walk and inside Tourist info site, watched film on 1956 Murray flood 38’ 1“), Berri, Karoonda and into Murraybridge where we are staying at Long island caravan park by the marina. Weather gr8 to start, sunny and hot, raining by the time we arrived. Was in shorts all day but still warm.Both reading books fast, soon with have finished the 3 extra we got in Adelaide.No one really unless you count the lady who came onboard to check our fridge at the border x-ing and the 3 Indian guys at Renmark lookout who were trimming the vines. Remember the Pelican at Renmark

Day 232 - Friday 13th June 2008,Murraybridge to Aldinga Beach via McLaren Vale

Went on M1 towards Adelaide, then to Hahndorf (odd twee German tourist place, but with gr8 houses) , Mt Barker , Adelaide Hills (could be the peak district with Littlehampton and Macclesfield) then into wonderful McLaren Vale and onto camp at Aldinga Beach. We tasted.d’Arenburg lovegrass/ laughing magpie.chapel hill; mclaren vale shiraz 06, the vicar06 and 18 year old port bought 1 d’arenburg and 2 chapel hill, 1 mvshiraz 06 and port oh plus we saw the rosemount estate, met Brit who ran campsite, real Londoner part of balmy army (cricket supporters). As I spoke London he gave us the prime site. Remember Shiraz plus lovely country views, booked kangaroo island trip to take campervan over 3 days £365 including 10% discount.

Day 233 - Saturday 14th June 2008,Aldinga Beach to Cape Jervis, Fleurieu Peninsula

Got up reasonable time, had shower, breakfast , did campervan ‘essentials’ and left site. V sunny / drizzly so a gr8 rainbow The whole day was a bit like that Got burnt whilst having coffee & banana muffins on bench outside at Normanville Beach (Annie fed sparrows) then wet when driving 10 mins later.Saw Aldinga beach with rock sand dunes (did a little walk, the climb back up was steep), S? beach were we drove around the smart 2nd holiday homes, Normanville, Second Valley, Cape Jervis (diesel real steep here1.90 , worst 1.93 (Hawker), best 1.71 (Paringa)) Saw 4 roos and white cockatoos at Cape Jervis plus our ferry. As we had already booked our Kangaroo Island trip rang the 2 campsites to ensure we get in. They said now empty as winter Found we gotta jettison all potatoes (quarantine) rang Craig in eve to tell him about David’s visit to 143. Loved wonderful, lush and undulating Fleurieu peninsula

Day 234 - Sunday 15th June 2008,Kangaroo Island

Travelled by 9am ferry over to Penneshaw Kangaroo Island (KI) Smooth as anything and sunny had to reverse campervan up ramp and into hold which wasn’t easy Channel 9 making Postcard travelogue on the boat Arrived and had a look around Penneshaw then American river, Kingscote (Reeves point), Emu Bay, Seal Bay, Visconne Bay and stopped at Western KI caravan site for 2 days, nice site,had a chat with ferry guy who said that ferrying was his winter job and he was a fisherman normally.Loved the Koala walk.Diary continued

Day 235 - Monday 16th June 2008,Kangaroo Island

Stayed most of the day at Western KI caravan site Had cooked brekkie V sunny Then watched Cuddles (our personal friendly Koala) who shinned up a tree outside our campervan and was there most of the day, admittedly after his 4 course eucalypt dinner, asleep! Afternoon / Evening went into Flinders Chase Nat park ($16AD) and saw Remarkable rocks and Admiralty Arch and lots of burnt bush, reasonable sunset. Saw Cuddles, met couple at Remarkable rocks for piccie taking swapping, him from Perth, her US.

Day 236 - Tuesday 17th June 2008,Kangaroo Island

Up early, another sunny day although v windy Had one last walk around the Koala walk in the park and saw 4 more Koalas Then drove down to visitors center in Flinders Chase Nat Park and then on round Western Hwy thru Paradana into Kingscote for lunch at the Ozone hotel.Saw a few things, burnt trees, dead echidna, wallabies, koalas, seed pods, met Chef at hotel and other simpering apologists! Worse Fish & Chips ever!!!! Asked for them to redo they did but still no better hake (ugh!) they offered us complimentary meal but we walked out

Day 237 - Wednesday 18th June 2008,Kangaroo Island to Victor Harbor

Stayed at Brownlea Caravan Park outside Kingscote. $25AD Up late had breakkie mossied around a bit and then left about 11.30 Just started to rain Drove about 45k to Penneshaw and set up camp overlooking Hogs bay for the 2hr wait for the Ferry. Had lunch and read after a little walk around reversed back onto Ferry Much better this time and had a somewhat bumpier crossing as rained the whole time Got off and drove onto Victor Harbor (a city – much bigger than  we expected) 12000 people Stayed at family park £25AD. Saw sheep truck next to our van Alas we had left the window open so some nice smells on getting back to mainland. Met a whole lot of sheep,note Harbor mispelt as that’s the way the original oz official spelt it (oh dear!).

Day 238 - Thursday 19th June 2008,Victor Harbor (VH) to Milang (Lake Alexandrina) via Middleton & Goolwa

Left VH campsite at 10.30 Went to Bank and Telstra shop in town as well as Tourist Info site.Saw Victor Harbor, Granite Island including Horse drawn tram (Thomas& Carmel were the horses that drove [email protected] etc), Port Eliot, Middleton (and kite surfers) Goolwa (and steam engine brewery, bought 6 assorted beers) and round Murray river termination in Lake Alexandrina to Milang where we stayed in the Oz parks caravan park on the shore ($19AD).Nice lady in iSite VH who had been to England Told us the 2 whales (southern right) we had seen in Backstairs passage between KI and Cape Jervis was in VH y’day (damn).Windy walk on cliffs at Granite island

Day 239 - Friday 20th June 2008,Milang to Mt Gambier via Princes & Southport Hwys

A day spent chasing rainbows, much sun and much rain but quite chilly. Left Milang, Annie drove 270+k, Keef 180+k so a long days drive, indeed further than we expected. Drove via Langhorne Creek, ferry at Wellington, Meningie, Policemans point, salt creek, Kingston SE, Robe, Beachport, Millicent and into Mt Gambier. Staying at Central Caravan park, run by Scots lady $22AD, saw lots of Road. Larry the Lobster @ Kingston SE (Naff caff), Old wine growing area (v thick stems) and Younghusband peninsula sand dunes/bank and lakes Lots of Chinese in coolie hats trimming grapevines plus Asian lady  at beach port selling artic trout by the edge of the road.Met poor couple in caravan site next to us who like us couldn’t find the office had their plot 33 nicked and then got drenched setting up, we were inside looking on.Mac’s Fish & Chips @ Robe, flake in corn batter Ate them by the beach yummy Finished On Chesil beach audiobook on iPod, rubbish but made us both chuckle at how pompous Ian McEwan is. Took vey few photos but mostly of ferry crossing on Murray at Wellington.  

Day 240 - Saturday 21st June 2008, Mount Gambier (SA) to Ararat (Vic)

V sunny when we got up about 15c Left town center caravan park and went up to Dormant volcano crater lakes (valley, leg of mutton (dry), and blue) drove around them all then Annie found a strange tree fruit (need look it up but similar to one on savaii) then drove out and over the border into Victoria.Met Scotch lady who ran the Mt Gambier Central site, been here for 30 years. Loved the lakes @ mount gambier.

Stay 3 Day 240-253

Day 240 - Saturday 21st June 2008,Mt Gambier (SA) to Ararat (Vic)

Then drove out and over the border into Victoria thru Casterton (diesel $1.90AD, expensive, lucky to get as closing sat lunchtime), Hamilton (shopping in Safeways $100AD, which is a subsidiary of Woolies), and whilst getting dark (time change to AET) thru Dunkeld, Glenthompson (NOTE everything is Scottish here in Grampians) , Willaura and into Ararat in the dark (Gold town) vaguely near Ballarat Stayed at Family park (nice) £22AD. Saw Grampians in the distance and some old interesting towns. Met . 3 old ladies (knitting bobble hats) at Casterton Tourist info Nice lady gave us both a stick pin (mine map of oz, Annie a roo). Lunch at 4pm (naughty)

Day 241 - Sunday 22nd June 2008,Ararat, Victoria

Mixed day weather wise, sunny & cold & drizzly Did washing then went off to explore the town Got back at dusk Nice day.Saw J ward in Ararat goal, notorious! , Views of Grampians, Ararat & Pyrenees from  One Tree Hill plus Gum San (tribute to Chinese miners who founded Ararat).Great guide for J ward (Keith) who we chatted to for ages, even showed us names register to ensure none of our relies had been in J ward (Lowlights guy who was 108 and had been institutionalized for over 60 years – William Wallace, plus 2 other ‘celebrated’ cases Joey Clancy, in from 13 and guy who was a self harmer and managed to kill himself with a biro (ugh!) all v depressing), met nice ladies in Gum San.Loved views from one tree hill.

Day 242 - Monday 23rd June 2008,Ararat to Port Fairy via the Grampians Nat park

Cold but mostly sunny day, approx 14c Filled up with diesel at Ararat and drove on tourist route thru Moyston to Halls gap (v touristy) then Mount Victory road  steep and windy then back to Halls gap, onto Aboriginal center and thru the Nat park back to Dunkeld, Penshurst (past Chatsworth) and down v farming C-road to A1 (Princes Hwy) and Port Fairy where we are camping at a Family park , swish loos, $28AD but lots of mossies Gr8 day view wise .Boroka Lookout, Reed Lookout, walk to the Balconies, Mackenzie falls (although we chickened out after so much walking already) and went to see the nearer Broken Falls All ace views. Met lady at Port Fairy campsite who had been to Nottingham forest in 1987. Japanese at all lookouts (jumping photos) Couple from Ararat campsite who seem to follow us thru the park (left their caravan behind in Ararat). Remember wonderful views in the Grampians, trying Tawny port from Chapel Hill winery with Mexican meal in eve

Day 243 - Tuesday 24th June 2008,Port Fairy to Warrnambool

Raining in the morning (and most of the night) Went into town did some 2nd hand book browsing bought 3 then shopping in IGA and bought 2 bulbs from backstreet mechanic for campervan Then off to explore Port Fairy Quaint old shipping harbour Managed a good walk along old wharf in sunshine Then out to Griffiths island causeway and south beach Raining again Then we headed off to Warrnambool TI site plus booked into Flagstaff hill (light & sound show in eve) $51AD similar to Sovereign Hill show at Ballarat 13 years earlier only much much better laser show projected on water wall and story about Loch Ard shipwreck rather than gold mining. Nice evening Walked up hill from campsite. Campsite cost nothing as owners not there. Would have been $A27 which is expensive. Show plus drove out to Logan Beach whale nursery but pissing down so turned around and went back and had a look at old wharf before checking into campsite. Saw 2 bicyclists who were in a tent, poor souls! Met then again at Port Campbell.Too much Chapel Hill port sent us to sleep early!

Day 244 - Wednesday 25th June 2008,Warrnambool to 12 Apostles and back to Port Campbell

Gr8 day, Gr8 Ocean road, in our humble opinion one of the world sights! Very sunny but windy Went to Logan Beach whale nursery, saw mother southern right whale and her calf (spectacular) alas camera not really good enough but binoculars were. Serious waves for surfers. Then bank in town and off to the Great Ocean Raod (GOR) Warranambool was where Doug had to go into hospital for tetanus injections all those years ago (13) Then Hopkins (Doug) falls , Bay of Islands (pboro) , Cove bay east, Bay of Martyrs, the grotto, the arch, Port Campbell, Loch Ard gorge, 12 apostles..HOORAY!!! and gr8 sunshine.The best views ever! GOR!!!!! especially the 12 Apostles saw way more this time than we did in 1995 but it is now much more built up.

Day 245 - Thursday 26th June 2008,Great Ocean Road

Been away 8 months 2day! Up early-ish really bad night with wind and rain rocking the campervan Severe weather warning Did cooked brekkie plus all the van things and we left the site at Port Campbell by about 11 Drove back to Loch Ard gorge area Did 3 new viewings then back to 12 Apostles then Melba gully (couldn’t go, dirt road) Laver Hill (motel we stayed in 12 years ago), Apollo bay and Kennett River where Annie saw Koalas,Loch Ard wreck point, Blowhole, Thunder Cave and a whole lot more! The GR8 Ocean Rd is SUPERB!!!Saw lots of Japanese tourists doing stupid things especially the guy who lost his hat at end of 12 Apostles viewing spot and leapt over the fence to retrieve (mad!) whilst his pals took piccies of him Oh and coach driver who almost hit us after drifting across the middle line Too many Aussies drive on that line! Wind and rain at 12 apostles we got drowned! 5 Koalas in Otway Nat park (park behind Kennett River campsite)

Day 246 - Friday 27th June 2008,Great Ocean Road

Kennett River. Spent about an hour walking around the campsite ‘spotting’ the wildlife 4 Koalas & many birds Ace time (see the extensive piccies which tell the tale) then on down the GOR. So wonderful we had to keep stopping. Pattons & Mt Defiance lookout etc Lorne saw cockatoos, Fairhaven the sign for GOR (built by WW1 vets) then lunch at Torquay after looking in on Bells Beach (no surf) Then lighthouse at Aireys inlet then thru Geelong (Kiaranda Park, go Cats go!(ozzie rules footie team champs)) and up to Macedon, where we camped in family park ($25AD) with budgies in cage We were more or less the only folk there and cold as in Mountain ranges.Old car (RR?) just happen to go under the GOR sign as we arrived oh plus wonderful views down this stretch of the GOR, Met oOnly lady in campsite from Swan Hill whose husband was from Port Campbell

Day 247 - Saturday 28th June 2008,Hanging Rock

Left Macedon campsite about 11 Cold at night!!! Drove thru Woodend to Hanging Rock (Mt Diomedes) Climbed to the summit Took 1 ½ hours return Gr8 views Keef in real pain on return left knee Had to create a walking stick out of eucalypt branch to aid descent On reflection grade 3 strenuous not wise to do again! Then  drove onto Bendigo (ok) and visited Mitchelton vineyard at Nagambie Lakes Gr8 lookout tower and art collection Print labels from artwork Bought 3 (2 Preece & 1 Mitchelton reds) Stayed at new Nagambie Lakes campsite (showers best yet).Met Essex boy manager at Nagambie lakes campsite who let us stay for free (saved $30AD) cos Annie mentioned Stanford le Hope (he came from Southend in 1981).Tried to buy a copy of Picnic at Hanging Rock but they had run out. Our i/net research showed the last missing chapter has some rubbish ending about extra-terrestrials and them getting stuck in rock cave , twaddle good job editor took it out!

Day 248 - Sunday 29th June 2008,Nagambie Lakes to Melbourne

Short day went into Nagambie bought lots of fruit and eggs , gr8 value $5.30 then  drove down to Melbourne took just over 1 hour via Seymour where we stayed 13 years ago, think we recognized the Motel Got into Big 4 campsite in Coberg after visiting Lalor (between Epping & Thomstown in the City of Whittesea) Arrived at campsite about 3-ish. Did washing Had tea Watched really odd 1960 DVD with James Brolin in it set in Capetown (Haha), saw Lalor and 18 Derrick St where Keef lived as a kid

Day 249 - Monday 30th June 2008,Melbourne

A wonderful day out in Melbourne The place has really come on in 13 years walked 15 mins Picked up West Preston to St Kilda tram (112) into Collins St in the city used the free City loop tram and trams 70/48 to get around Got back to campsite at about 9pm.Saw Greek quarter, Flinders St station, Federation sq, Yarra river, MCG, Immigration Museum (in old custom house) &  new docklands area.2 meals out, Greek at lunch in Tsindos (yummy) and Moroccan at MeccaBah on New Quay Docklands the eve Annie had a Monkey Business cocktail. Weather not gr8 cold and windy with a few spots of rain.

Day 250 - Tuesday 1st July 2008,Melbourne to Mornington

Late up, showered and left by about 11 Very stressful days driving thru Melbourne, Alas our map not quite good enough V sunny initially which gave way to some (limited) drizzle getting cold 13c made it 2 St Kilda after 2 false starts Then onto Elwood and saw where Keef used to live walked down Pine ave to shops bought some lunch from bakers delight (nice) then saw beach, high waves Then drove down coast.Baumaris etc etc Nepalean way (Highway 3) to Frankston and Mornington Did shopping in City of Frankston at Seaford. Got cash from Westpac bank machine in Mornington Saw beach Had 2 Apricot Danishes. Then back to Frankton to get 2 bits of foam Stayed at Mornington campsite $28. Saw the wild coast. Ladies in Mattress shop (v helpful) Lady at Rubber & Foam shop (ripped us off 50c, joke!). STRESS can become a 4 letter word when u are driving thru Melbourne. Trams are an added distraction trust us, we know , Saw Keef’s old house

Day 251 - Wednesday 2nd July 2008,Mornington to Sale via Gippy Hwy & 90 Mile Beach

Left by 10.20, Keef had to do the yuccy loo changing job how I’ll miss that NOT! Went into Mornington to post Mums postcard, got some more fuel ($180.5 cheapest yet!) and then traveled on thru Tabbah, Leonortha, Yaccam, Woodside, Stokeside down to Seaspray on 90 Mile Beach, then Golden beach, Paradise beach , Longford into Sale. Fairly long days drive. Annie did the long bit between L & end of 90 Mile Beach. Mixed weather sun and very strong wind & rain gales max 14c had lunch at Woodside Joined Top Tourist campsites at Sale $25 (just like Family parks) we are now members of 3 chains  Note the South Gipplands Highway is shortened (as everything is) by the ozzies to Gippy Hwy (and on the signs). Saw 90 Mile Beach plus saw 2 huge sea eagles, one of which alas had a baby lamb in its grasp! Met hippy couple in camp kitchen at Sale. Bald gardener with shorts, moustache and boots/sox combo at Mornington site.Enjoyed 90 Mile Beach – is a little cold & windy (Antarctic cold)

Day 252 - Thursday 3rd July 2008,Sale to Mallacoota

Big days drive thru very varied scenery 320k. Saw port of Sale, got petrol then went via Bairnsdale, Stratford-u-Avon, Lakes Entrance(LE), Orbost (and the Snowy River) Cann River (more petrol) then thru the Croajingolong Nat park to Mallacoota where we camped at the Swampgully caravan park (family park $20 with discount) Cold and windy day 13c some sun, saw Port of Sale, Wood carvings @ Lake Entrance Marine parade, Pelicans, gr8 views from LE lookout before the town, Orbost wooden hut.Gr8 fish and chip lunch (our fave Flake) at Lakes Entrance the town of which is quite touristy, loved pelicans (lots) @ LE

Day 253 - Friday 4th July 2008,Mallacoota (Vic)to Tathra (NSW)

INDEPENDENCE DAY!!! Brilliant day Weather superb and warm 17c plus oh what wonderful views in Victoria’s Wilderness parks – Mallacoota & Gipsy Point (M & GP) were lovely. So peaceful,so scenerific, so lucky we are! Roos chillin' on the grass. Got up early braved the cold shower (10mins to get water to run hot!!!) then had cooked brekkie whilst watching a Kookaburra near our van Then to M & GP then back thru Genoa and on over the border into NSW We have left Victoria for the last time.

Day 253 - Friday 4th July 2008,Mallacoota (Victoria) to Tathra (NSW)

We have left Victoria for the last time had lunch at Eden beach  (alas scene of recent dad who killed himself and kids, there have been a few whilst we have been here! Sad!) then on via the Sapphire Coast Highway thru Merimbula (shopping in Woolies & port/ beer from Bottle shop) into Tathra. Staying in family park $28 am right on the beach went for a late walk after Annie had done the laundry (cheapest machines yet $2 a wash!).Met Guy in woolies who was v friendly and chatty, looking fwd to his weekend off. Memorable Sun & Scenery.

Day 254 - Saturday 5th July 2008,Tathra 2 Batemans Bay

Up showered, breakfasted and gone by 10.30am Saw Tathra old wharf, walked thru memorial gardens (dead golfers) watched dolphins from T,Head lookout point whilst chatting to Irene & Liz. Drove on thru Sapphire coast scenic routes to Bermagui, Tilba, Central Tilba, Camel Rock, Mystery Bay into Batemans point (which is v touristy) Staying on Top Tourist site Cost $26 Not the gr8-est site too cramped weather good again for 2nd day 18c.5 gallahs (pink & grey parrots), 1 roo, heard bell birds (clear as a doorbell), dolphins and may have seen a platypus plus scenery, bank of red wildflowers.Met Irene (Canadian from Montreal who met and married her ozzie husband , nurse, in Scotland and lived in Aberdeen, which she loved) and Liz (born in Bradford) Both residence of Tathra. Nice ladies, younger than us Chatted with them for over and hour whilst we watched the Dolphins playing in the bay.Remember Dolphins in Tathra bay, weather

Day 255 - Sunday 6th July 2008,Bateman’s Bay(BB) to Shoalhaven Heads

Up 9-ish very sunny again hit 19c 2day left site at about 10.30am BB is big drove thru the various beaches stopped for a walk thru the reserve onto Surfside, almost completely deserted. Then on thru tourist route 4 as listed below eventually joining the Grand pacific drive at Nowra and staying at Shoalhaven Heads campsite Top Tourist expensive $29 plus 20c coins for 3mins shower , 1st such in Oz bad news.Surfside beach BB, Basin View, St Georges Basin, Sanctuary Point, Jervis Bay Nat Park, Hyams beach (gr8) and Bouderee Nat park (although at $10 to travel 5k down gravel roads we declined and went to the visitors center instead). Met guy with blue ute opposite who had occupied our camping slot when we arrived (bad news!) quite pleasant worked out of Goulburn as a lorry driver delivering fridges. Annie and I reckoned he was at the campsite with his piece of fluff (well mutton dressed as scrag-end).So hot Keef back in shorts and Tshirt. Annie in skirt Pelicans and 2 brightly coloured Rosellas. Squeaky sand at Hyams Beach, officially one of the whitest sand beaches in the world. Just loved the oh-so-wonderful Hyams Beach in Jervis bay Nat park.

Day 256 - Monday 7th July 2008,Grand Pacific Drive (GPD)

Shoalhaven heads, Seven Mile Beach, Gerroa, Gerrigong, Werri Beach, Kiama & Blowhole (weak on the day as not big swell in sea or blowy) Shellharbour, Port Kembla yuckindustrial, steelworks etc) Wollongong (fairly big) Lunch at Bellambi, Bulli, Sea Cliff Bridge, Coalcliff, Bald Hill lookout, Otford lookoutthen into Sydney thru Royal National Park Couldn’t find a campsite, looked in Cronulla (southern suburbs) so stayed in motel at Sutherland. Nice to watch mindless TV (US cop junk!)CSI Mon thru Fri! Saw lots, although spectacular in places the GPD is no where near as good as the GOR, met guy swimming in outdoor pool at Shellharbour who wanted to take our piccie, cold or what. Brewery in Woolongong that couldn’t sell me bottles of ale as didn’t have a license, how bad is that. In the end didn’t get any as had to go to drive thru bottle shop.

Day 257 - Tuesday 8th July 2008,Botany Bay & Blue Mountains, Camped at Katoomba

Up and out from out Motel by 10 despite Asian cleaner knocking at 8.30 & 9.30 She got a cheery P**S O** from us. Then drove down to Botany Bay at Kurnell which is where James Cook first landed. V interesting. Then back out thru paradise ave and kingsway to Princes Hwy and Highway 6 (Heathcote rd) towards Penrith. Almost stuck with toll freeway M75 where only e-tags accepted i.e no cash  Then thru Campbelltown to Penrith filled with fuel Now takes about $50 for ½ a tank. On M4 to Katoomba after nice lunch in Silver Spur (Steak chain) on outskirts of  Penrith went to Echo point, great views of 3 Sisters, Jamison Valley, Solitary Mt, Orphan Rock, Katoomba falls and a few Cockatoos last 4 from Reids Plateau which was opposite our campsite Walked up there late in the eve. Saw lots but the oh so wonderful Blue Mts. Sunny in Sydney, v cold at Blue Mts 4c at 7pm and biting winds. Met Ozzie couple with 2 daughters who took our piccie at Reids plateau, Blue Mts.Some real angry unfounded grief from 2 aussie drivers cos I was doing the speed limit on single lane and they couldn’t get past (didn’t really understand what else I could do) apart from accept them as arrogant b’stards.

Day 258 - Wednesday 9th July 2008,Katoomba to Lithgow taking in Blue Mtns & Jenolan Caves

Real cold night Left by 10 sunny so went over the road to see 3 Sisters, Orphan etc in sunlight What a difference from y’day then onto Blackheath and a different view of the Blue Mtns from first Evans Lookout then Govetts Leap Lookout, then on thru Mt Victoria (high), Hartley, Hampton and Jenolan Caves Got out about 4.30 and drove to Lithgow where we camped ($25) Started about 10c ended about 1c we need head north quick.3 gr8 views of the Blue Mts from Katoomba falls, Evans lookout & Govetts leap lookout. Plus Bridal Veil falls and the Pulpit then Imperial Cave tour ($40 with discount) at Jenolan Caves Parked alas in 3rd car park so 30min walk down (steep) luckily got a lift back up as Keef’s knee hurting by then (even after taking pain killers).Met guide for cave drop at Jenolan who gave us a lift back up at the end of the day. Amazing SNOW in Oz as we drove back up from Jenolan caves about 4.30pm The guy at the caves said Katoomba had had 2cms and in Lithgow campsite the lady said they had had some in the morning

Day 259 - Thursday 10th July 2008,Lithgow 2 Narabeen, Sydney North Shore & FRENCHS FOREST

Left by 11 after kerfuffle with gas cylinder Got petrol, asked to pay for 2 lots I said no Very cold again overnight (poss 2c) way better by the time we got to Sydney Long drive thru suburbs Not too bad apart from once getting lost on Pennant Hills Rd (HW7) After Lithgow, Bell, Mt Tomah (gr8 scenery thru Gr8 dividing range) Bells Line of Rd, Kurrajong Heights (gr8 long distance view of Sydney CBD) and Wollemi Nat Park then Richmond, Windsor (now suburbs of Sydney in our opinion) into Baulkham Hills shire then Chatswood, FF , Dee Why, Colloroy and camped at Big 4 Narabeen lakes campsite (20% discount winter, normally $45, expensive but good) May stay here when we come back to Sydney at the end. Saw about 150 km of gr8 scenery and fruit trees, apple pie a speciality, plus where Annie used to live and work. Met guy at Lithgow campsite who sorted out the gas container, $10 for ½ tank. Nice lady from Tassie (Cygnet) at Sydney campsite. Loved taking Annie back to where she lived and went to school for 4 years-ish in French’s Forest. Fish & Chips at Dee Why beach. Pics of Myers (ex Grace Bros, 49-51 Albert St, Chatswood) 148 FF Rd West and High School.

Day 260 - Friday 11th July 2008,Sydney Narabeen Lakes to Anna Bay Port Stephens

Left by 10 Did dump station (luvly NOT!) the to Pittwater/ Palm Beach/ Whale Beach (superb) drove back thru Sydney suberbs to Pymble (not 2 bad) then up Hwy1 to Nat Hwy 1 and lots of motorway (or equivalent ) Got off at Gosford (nice harbour) where we filled up with petrol and ate at our 1st Red Rooster (not bad) Drove around Tuggerah lakes inlet, the entrance, Norah head etc Really really nice, saw lots and met lots of Pelicans being fed at the Entrance Oh and some gr8 houses at both Palm Beach and Norah Head. Remember DVD from campsite that was reg 4 so couldn’t watch on laptop, watched laughably bad early 70s Leslie Nielsen movie instead (Power Kill).

Day 261 - Saturday 12th July 2008,Port Stephens peninsular

Had a cooked brekkie went to see Nelson Bay , Anna Bay and Stockton sandunes (Port Stephens area , gr8) then lots of driving up Pacific Hwy via Taree to Edgewater Holiday park ($24) in Port Macquarie where we stayed the night.Saw lots of motorway.Met a guy who ran out of fuel in front of us in Taree ‘almost made it to the servo’ Horrid Russian at Top Tourist park in Port Macquarie who off handedly said she had no slots. F1 powerboat championship in town this w/end. Remember getting hot, 20c Had picnic lunch in lay by on Hwy1. Loved Anna bay.

Day 262 - Sunday 13th July 2008,Port Macquarie

Brilliant warm sunny day,we are supposedly now in spring About 21c Spent another night in PM Gr8 place left campsite at about 10.20am Went along to the Koala Hospital. Saw cuddlies, Beaches and tropical plants plus 2 rabbits outside our van at Top Tourist site ($26).Met ex Airline pilot who worked as a volunteer at the Koala Hospital Most informative V sad stories about Billy, Birthday girl and a few other Koalas. Remember Beaches of Port Macquarie (7 of them) plus getting table and chairs out for 1st time in 6 weeks. Sat outside and on Flynn beach. Even got some minor sunburn.

Day 263 - Monday 14th July 2008,Port Macquarie 2 Kempsey

Left site at 9.45 am and drove off up Oxley Hwy to Billabong wildlife park Ace place Initially sunny then cold then sunny then rain, weird day After lunch in town shopped at Coles on the outskirts then drove to Kempsey (45k) and stayed in not so gr8 site (K Tourist Village) $25 Limited T as still full from lunch.See the many piccies but it was a gr8 wildlife day Oz has so many unique and interesting animals. Remember all the animals but especially the baby joey and Clancy oh and a huge lunch in town in the pancake house

Day 264 - Tuesday 15th July 2008,Kempsey to South West Rocks via Tourist route 12

Very relaxing day. Tried recording kookaburra vocals at Kempsey Tourist Village camp site but they would not oblige. Left site at 10.30am went 5km up Pacific Hwy 1 to Fredericton (Fredo) and bought some of their world famous (?) pies, v good Had Buffalo, Beef & Burgundy, Chicken-Chilli-Honey, and 2 lemon meringue pies They also do emu,croc, roo etc may call in again on way back v good then returned to outskirts of Kempsey to get tourist route 12 to Crescent head the longest right hand break in the world, ideal for Malibu longboardssee surfer dudes that we are. Spent quite a few hours here paddling and chillin on the beach Really hot morning 23c with winds developing afternoon. Left here about 4pm and drove alongside river to Southwest rocks where we are staying for 2 days in Top Tourist park overlooking the McLeay River, fish jumping everywhere. Saw Gr8 surf beach, good waves, nice scenery alongside river drive. Loved Ozzie pie fanatics at Fredo’s pies oh and 2 Marilyn Munroes. Met Clancy, Stu the park guide, Eddy the dingo. Remember "Matthew tonight I will be.." plus sent next Newsletter to everyone Belvoir tried to closed down the case. Not having it!

Day 265 - Wednesday 16th July 2008,South West Rocks

Spent all day at the campsite (TT) relaxing reading and doing washing Initially sat out after cooked brekkie but then found it too cold so came in. Tried to get a DVD but region 4 did spaghetti & beef mince sauce for T with our favourite Mainland Creamy Blue & Tawny Port.Saw the river and @ sunset.Met no one apart from all the fisherman at the site. Reading ah what a luxury Annie did email to Brian & Gina BLOODY HELL Insel Fehman hotel in Samoa have billed us thru Visa 8 MONTHS LATE (thought we’d got away with that one for £85).

Day 266 - Thursday 17th July 2008,South West Rocks to Nambucca Heads

Changed loo (as Annie said ENJOY!) left campsite Went down to see SWR beaches There are 4 of them but the small surfing one is in our humble opinion the best Then onto Trial Bay gaol (named after the brig Trial which was stolen and sank) Then Arakoon and Gap beaches down to Smoky Cape Lighthouse (named by JC) then tourist route 14 thru Stuarts point/Grassy head/Scotts Head (all in yarrabini NP) – not as good as tourist route 12 although all beaches good Then onto Nambucca Heads Gr8 views from JC lookout and arrived campsite about 3 (having bought a load of booze from Liquor store in town) Had salad lunch outside on table and chairs, v sunny but soon dipped below hills was 23c 2day and after y’day a gr8 day weather-wise.Saw 2 Captain Cook Lookouts with ace views One at Smoky Cape Lighthouse and the other at Nambucca Heads.Remember Salad outside Buying local produce (Avoes & kiwi fruitavacados were 25p each) plus finding out what the red deciduous tree we like is.Coral (Erythina) Tree

Day 267 - Friday 18th July 2008,Nambucca Heads 2 Darlington Beach

Nice and sunny all day, drove not too far up past Coffs Harbour to Darlington beach big 4 campsite Initially staying for 2 days Nice site $35 a night.Saw various beaches, Sawtell, Bongil Bongil Nat park (but no Koalas), lots of roos, Coffs Harbour, The big banana (yuck!) and Darlington beach site,met couple from Crescent Head,terry (shop keeper) and his wife (nurse) chatted for quite a while they invited us over for a beer, we declined as had none to offer in return. Remember reading and lots of hot sunshine and amazing tropical plants.

Day 268 - Saturday 19th July 2008,Darlington Beach campsite

Gr8 day 2 showers superb weather and a gr8 meal in the eve at the campsites restaurant. Started with brekkie outside in the sun, melon: croissants and real coffee then ALL DAY reading round the pool with the occasional dip to cool off V hot and sunny 24c got sun burnt a bit, even tho used loads of sunblock! loved the pool & the sun.Met lady in restaurant who told us about a liqueur Madeira coffee.Finished CRISIS by Robin Cook (Keef) Started triple Agatha Christie (Annie) Oh meal cost $114 included 3 courses, bottle of sav blanc and 2 beers and 2 liqueur coffeesgarlic Turkish bread , Seafood basket (A), Steak (K), lemon & lime cheesecake (A) Macadamia/ Mango pie (K)

Day 269 - Sunday 20th July 2008,Darlington Beach campsite

Not as gr8 a day as y’day but still pretty warm in places 20c Sat out reading after going for 2k walk on Corindi beach, fun. Flora & fauna plus gr8 beach, tried some dumb japanese-type photos to prove we are younger than we are, alas failed with the jumpshots! Met again the 2 aussies terry (supermarket mgr) and his wife (nurse) from Crescent Head who work in Kempsey and were on hols here for 4 days, very pleasant. Talked to Doug via voicecall over i/net very clear and fast.

Day 270 - Monday 21st July 2008,Darlington Beach Campsite

Got up about 10, dirty stop in beds but we were up late last night on roo watch. Our friendly ma, pa and joey returned again 2night for the 3rd day running our campervan pitch must be their site Anyhow had cooked brekkie then went for a walk on Corindi beach again V sunny and hot 23c but windy then back Did some washing and went swimming and in the spa and read round pool. Most relaxing Had veal & veggies with Avo starter (50c) and cheese & bikkies pud with Rum & Bundaberg (A)VB bitter (K) to wash it down, gr8 day Shame we have to leave 2moro.Gr8 beach here named corindi beach. Met couple in Spa from near Gosford who were on hols. Remember Roos at our door!

Day 271 - Tuesday 22nd July 2008,Darlington Beach to Ballina via Grafton, Casino, Lismore to Ballina

Sunny when we left campsite (sadly) after 4 days, really enjoyed it there. Cold and overcast when we arrived in Ballina, saw lots of farm land, a few beaches and some older style towns. Met Ozzie from Coffs harbour who was working in Tweed Heads and motelling it in Shelly Beach Ballina. I’d stopped him to ask about the strange ‘bread fruit’ style palm he didn’t know what it was but we had a long chat about places we had each been to, especially in NZ. Remember Avo trees.Loo water running out Refilled in Lismore after sussing what was needed.

Day 272 - Wednesday 23rd July 2008,Ballina to Tweed Heads

Out by 10, grayish , wet and windy day went along the tourist roads (mostly) apart from Pacific Hwy (1) when we had no choice ending at Family park in Tweed Head just over the bridge Expensive for what it is ($33 but hey it’s a touristy area).Saw Lennox Head, Suffolk Park, Byron Bay incl Lighthouse (posh houses or what), Cape Byron, Brunswick Heads, Pottsville, Hastings Point, Kingscliff (v up and coming retirement / seaside area) into South Tweed Heads and cinema to see mamma mia (ace) and shopping at Coles. Enjoyed Hastings point waves, immense plus bought 3 new reading books,post mortem & blind faith by Ben Elton and the quest by Wilbur Smith

Final stay Day 310-326, See Queensland for 310 & Singapore for 326

Day 273 - Thursday 24th July 2008,Tweed Heads 2 Labrador, Gold Coast

Awful weather rained all night & day, hard so cut our loses and went to Harbour Town shopping mall for some retail therapy (bought boys & Phoenix stuff from Rip Curl) oh and went to Reading Cinemas to see X-files movie (ace) Staying at Treasure Island park Big4 Biggera Waters. Much movies & rain.$35 per night for Big4 site and we are in for 2 nights (forgot to get our deposit back, DOH!)

Day 274 - Friday 25th July 2008,Treasure Island campsite Biggera Waters Nr Surfers Paradise

Wet all night Dried up in the morning some sun and some overcast Decided to stay in did the washing DVD for Mum etc Reading, Chillin etc etc Off to Surfers 2moro Sorted out trip to see Peter B& family,Sun came out again hoorah, saw the campsite, Harbour town mall and Woolies

Day 275 - Saturday 26th July 2008,Surfers Paradise (SP)

Gr8 weather Left Biggera waters after 2 days Forgot to collect our $20 deposit, blast! Did loo stuff etc went to SP via Southport and had a choc milkshake in HRC 18c sunny Camping at Aspley (North Brisbane) for 2 days as near the Birtles home in Warner. OK site nothing grand but also convenient for train at Zillmere. Main Beach, Burleigh Heads, Miami, Isle of Capri, high rises etc. Met Surfer dudes and guy in Hard Rock Cafe (HRC). Remember HRC Tshirt the only one in Australasia but guy said those in Sydney & Melbourne were due to reopen in 2009. Police had cordoned off the bank area in Aspley as some foolish hoods had tried to dynamite it,they used too much explosive and in the end got away with nought but one guy almost blew his leg off police lorry had metal ATM on it!

Day 276 - Sunday 27th July 2008,Brisbane

Sunny to start with Visited Peter & Lorraine Birtles and their kids Alex (12) & Victoria (16)(daughter out) and had a very nice BBQ and chat They bought their land 8 years ago and built their house and pool Plus have beach house at St Agnes nr 1770 in QLD Had a gr8 chat really like them left about 3 having arrived at 1130 on the dot went to ATM nearby first Then came back to the campsite having first checked out Zillmere station b4 our trip into CBD 2moro Got table and chairs out and read in hot sunshine for about 1hr 20c 2day although lunch on Peters veranda was in the shade, liked Warner where they live is very out in the bush, liked seeing peter again.

Day 277 - Monday 28th July 2008,Brisbane

Up at 7.30am (wow!) Overcast Drove down to Zillmere station on City Rail and caught the train into Central Brisbane, spent the day in town Got Cheap off-peak tickets Zone 3 ($4.80 each, good value considering it was 25mins and 12 stops in – way easier than driving) Got off at Central station and crossed over to Anzac Sq (Ann St) and bought 2 all day Hopon Hopoff tourist bus tickets ($50 for 2) Great way to see the city 1 ½ hour trip went round once fully then got off at stop 4 Riverside Had lunch in Jade Buddha then hopped on the City Cat and went down river Brisbane and across to South Bank Had a nice stroll along here Sun came out but brisk wind made it v chilly Guy on bus said constant temp in B 21-29c, not true way colder than that with wind Eventually re-boarded bus at Gray St SS  and back to stop 19 Central station Returned to Zillmere and drove out of B to Sunshine coast past Steve Irwin Way to Caloundra Finally got in at 4th site after Annie (thankfully) rang ahead Why was it so busy no-one could say and apparently not cos its nearest to Australia Zoo, saw City Beach with lifeguards Weird. Gr8 views from both Mt Coot-tha lookout and Bougainvillea way, met helpful lady at restaurant. Complained about Annies teriyaki chicken (all grissle) Got new meal (gr8 chicken) free plus 2 flat white so good value lunch, must try it again (not really!) Took loads of pictures, bloody tourist!

Day 278 - Tuesday 29th July 2008,Steve Irwin’s (SI) Australia Zoo Beerwah

Gr8 day at the zoofed elephants which we haven’t done b4 oh and a whole stack more see the pictures and video Full day , left after 4,15 and went to see the glass house mtns briefly named by our hero JC, saw loads esp animals of all sorts, baby tassie devil on lead (help), met Steve Irwin impersonator Michael, and Monty & Weipa the crocs

Day 279 - Wednesday 30th July 2008,Caloundra to Maryborough

Hot day again, 23c sunny, bit of driving Went to see beaches at Caloundra, filled up with fuel and then set off to Maryborough, tried ringing on route to book site but phone lost signal No worries as space when we arrived and nice helpful guy who told us about market , buildings, steam train etc etc to see in Maryborough $22. Saw

Ettamogah pub, big pineapple, buderim ginger , nutworks, met a few folk.Remember ginger & cinnamon bliss ice cream, possibly the BEST ice-cream ever! Plus 1kg of hickory macadamia nuts for $23 gr8 value plus we tried all flavours until keef told off by lady for not using the tongs (naughty)

Day 280 - Thursday 31st July 2008,Maryborough to Bundaberg

Yet another hot day, 26c spent whole morning in Maryborough Lots to do, nice town and way better than Lonely planet made out Then went to Hervey bay (we will be back for whale watching when they arrive) Shelly & Torquay beaches plus marina then onto Bundeburg via Childers on the Bruce Hwy Stopped in Big 4 campsite $27 with discount Nice quiet tropical site A did washing We had spam, couscous and sweetcorn 4 T with passion fruit yoghurt and dark fruit cake for afters,saw lots.Mary river, Mary Poppins, old houses and store.MB is GOOD! Then Fraser island from Hervey bay, mud crabbing, pineapples, sugar cane. Market in town bought stuff including pineapple ($1.50), met Mary Poppins, PL Travers,had no idea she was from QLD, lived most of her life in London , remember Sun, sun and more sun, MB and Brockwurst in market. Annie remembering Childers pub with swing cowboy doors Childers was only a one pub township 40+ years ago, now big

Day 281 - Friday 1st August 2008,Bundaberg to Benaraby (just below Gladstone)

Another v hot and sunny day About 28c and we both had heat stroke headaches (alas) drinking lots more water which should help Visited Bundaberg Rum & Bundaberg Drinks Ltd (home of the ginger beer) Bought Doug a shirt (hope he likes it) plus 6 assorted drinks. Not interested in the Rum place although it had a nice old QLD building Then visited Agnes Water and 1770 then onto Benaraby. camping Big 4 empty $29 Had a 30min wait standstill on Bruce Hwy just outside Benaraby as road train off road and overturned Apparently happened 2 days ago and they were taking load off as couldn’t upright it.Used public dump station in Bundaberg then did tourist stuff in Bundaberg Cook 1770 (only a Lieutenant then), met lady from Abingdon in Bundaberg Rum Ltd who had been in Oz for 21 years (still no accent tho), saw Lorry overturned. Lizard on road (large) and lots of roos at 1770

Day 282 - Saturday 2nd August 2008,Benaraby to Mackay via Rockhampton

Another hot day 24-26c tried out the aircon for the first time in the vans cab, cool! Had a nice walk around Rockhampton, nice place then lots of driving in heat, guess 350-ish k 2day arrived at site in Mackay but couldn’t get a power site so ended up on yucky site, tourist village Luckily only one night, saw Tropic of Capricorn (TOC), somewhat over touristy Annie said was  much understated back 40 years, met 2 students taking photos in Rockhampton, enjoyed Crossing the TOC

Day 283 - Sunday 3rd August 2008,Mackay to Airlie Beach (Whitsunday shire)

Another hot sunny day, 26c left site at 9-ish horrid site pleased to go. Went and saw Mackay marina, beach and drove on breakwater Then saw 5 of the 31 beaches it boast Some were v v good and we went for a paddle on 2 saw some very interesting tropical plants see piccies Then onto Proserpine for lunch and into Big 4 Airlie cove site for 3 nights Expensive at $39 per night and not as good as Darlington Beach site. Did go for a swim (cold) and read books in sunshine from about 4pm Get dark slightly later this high up. Remember the beaches around Mackay ace after thinking Mackay wasn’t all that much i.e quite industrial, how wrong we were.

Day 284 - Monday 4th August 2008,Airlie Cove Campsite

Spent all day on site and boy was it relaxinggenerally chillin reading books, mags and listening to musicoh and we booked a day trip to Daydream island on the Whitsunday isles 2moro.4ft+ female goanna just next to our campervan plus mountains sunshine and lots of big green ants that we think bite, but not sure. Met nosey Germans in next campervan. Loved seeing the goanna at close quarters plus our pair of friendly bush turkeys

Day 285 - Tuesday 5th August 2008,Daydream Island, Whitsundays

The most wonderfully romantic place and day,no more to say See the piccies lots of them Idyllic plus whole day cost about $200, Oh so much, see the piccies, met bloke with ozzie wife from Hull who ran a restaurant in Penrith Sydney called the ‘Major Oak’ he had obviously been in showbiz as introduced a whole stack of 50s ‘names’ His wife drank green cocktails, loved Everything..gr8 trip, gr8 weather, gr8 lunch, gr8 company, gr8 swimming, gr8 fish ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

Day 286 - Wednesday 6th August 2008,Airlie Beach, Whitsundays to Townsville

Up early 7-ish washed and ‘decamped’ by 8.45 a record Did the dunny then drove down to Shute Harbour (nice) and onto Bowen rejoining Bruce Hwy 13k on from Proserpine Visited Bowen, interesting place but not gr8 beaches, then thru Home Hill, Ayr to Townsville.Saw the big mango @ Bowen and the 2nd naff thing in one day the big Brolga @ Townsville Tourist Info (TI). Met no one in particular apart from our ozzie pal with grey hair and outback beard who seems to be following us around (mackay, airlie beach plus asked us about trip to daydream whilst supping his alcopop from his cooler and now he "reckoned" townsville) , bought a Baz Lehrmann T-shirt in Bowen from the Australia movie. Remember Mango ice-cream Buying fresh fruit and veg produce at Bowen plus making a lamb rogan josh that will probably last for 3 meals.oh and gr8 views from Flagstaff Hill lookout at Bowen.

Day 287 - Thursday 7th August 2008,Townsville & Magnetic Island

Up about 8, gr8 sunny day again 28c and hot sun Drove down into Townsville along Ingham Road (9) to Castle Hill Lookout, v steep and windy but oh what views of TV and MI then back down into the strand (water front) parked up van all day $5 then caught sunferries ferry to MI 11.30am trip $29 each plus all day bus pass on MI cost $6.20 each so a gr8 cheap day out on a Barrier Reef island (honeymooners go here, although v different to Daydream island) Back on 4.25 boat and back to Westwood campsite 12 k north of Townsville. Saw (All on Magnetic Island):Nelly Bay, Arcadia, Gregory bay, Horseshoe bay, Picnic bay,the last was the best Paddled here, walked the length of the beach and read in the sun whilst watching flying fish (silvery) and a guy snorkeling with a harpoon and float with fish capture box attached. Met drunk ozzies, bad news, remember drunk ozzie and I mean drunk driving mokes and scooters, bad news plus keef driving like an ozzie and overtaking and turning on the inside, better not do that in the UK!!!

Day 288 - Friday 8th August 2008,Townsville to Rollingstone via Saunders Beach

Up about 8.30am Breakfasted and left site by 10 having pre booked 3 nights at the Big 4 Rollingstone beach site about 60k further up the Bruce Hwy towards Cairns Drove to the strand, walked along the beach front to the pool and had a nice swim Then retail therapy and off for lunch at the very nice Saunders beach Then onto our campsite and yet another swim V hot and sunny again 2day 28c, saw sea water pool @ townsville, the strand, river, botanic gardens and a great fabric shop (spotlight where Annie became a VIP member). Met danish? family that we last saw at Darlington Beach with teenage daughter and very young son.

Day 289 - Saturday 9th August 2008, Rollingstone

Day spent chillin Not a good night sleep wise for Keef, had nice brekkie of croissants and sat outside reading / listening to music with the table and chairs near the lagoon next to our van Alas this was after we’d been for a walk on the beach and done the washing ($3) and seen sign the signs about crocs We are well and truly in salty territory After reading and great smoked salmon salad lunch we chilled by the pool The pool here is ace It’s a RESORT and probably 2nd to Darlington Beach, saw Croc sign/ beach/ pool, met Germans, French oh and the odd ozzie plus ice-cream lady ringing her bell round the site selling prawns and fresh fish (mangrove snapper & reef fish), little budgie outside our van was fun in the eve.

Day 290 - Sunday 10th August 2008,Rollingstone

Whole day chillin and v nice it was to. Up late 9.30-ish had brekkie and read paper all about Olympics Then over to the pool and a dip followed by more chillin hard work but hey someone’s gotta do it 28c hot and sunny with pleasant wind off the sea. No crocs today! (or any other for that matter but sign at campsite a warning) Rang and booked 1 day Fishery falls (Cairns) and 3 days Cairns Crystal sites.Saw the pool, the sea and sun,lots of sand flies that seem to like Annie but not Keef (hooray!). Salad, listening to Led Zeppelin & CSN (&Y) on ipod, heard guy at the pool cheer cos ozzies had got their 1st gold in the swimming pool (beijing Olympics)

Day 291 - Monday 11th August 2008,Rollingstone to Fishery Falls

Left about 10 after being the dunny man. Poor Annie very badly bitten by sand flies so lots of tea tree cream used to soothe. Drove up coast 320k with a few detours All in all a very nice day Stayed at FF campsite where we stayed 13 years ago Very much changed, new pool but winner of best gardens V Tropical, saw Cardwell, Hinchinbrook island, Tam O’Shanter NP, Mission Beach, Dunk island, Innisfail, Tropical fruit winery at Murdering Point, met lady in Winery, v nice let us try the lot plus nutty guy who sold us the bananas ($1 for 1 kg, $2 for papaya (big)) who spoke with a plumy British accent who said “my mother was taken up the Khyber Pass by a British army officer” too much info really, hard to get away from him. Remember seeing all the gr8 islands and having a drink in the Fishery Falls pub and watching Tom Daley in sync diving on Ch7 Olympics big screen

Day 292 - Tuesday 12th August 2008,Fishery Falls to Cairns

Slightly overcast day today but muggier First since we have been in the Wet Tropics Left FF by 10 Drove to Gordonvale, 1st place we visited 13 years ago as needed bank (aboriginal guy with budgie on his shoulder) Not changed that much but bigger square than we remember and huge Sugarcane processing factory Then on into Cairns walked along the board walk, into harbour, past new lagoon , nice new boardwalk and off up Spense st to Hogs Breath Cafe (HBC) then down Grafton back to Esplanade and our Campervan Arrived at campsite – crystal cascade about 3pm read and chilled oh and drank copious amounts of Passion fruit wine (yummy) from Murdering Point winery. Tourist Info(TI) , Board walk, The Pier, Lots of high rise hotels and apartments (cairns is now a big city), CBD, Cafes & Bars, Fruit bats and some sun only 26c 2day Westpac to get out some dosh plus filled up with fuel So much cheaper in QLD with Coles/woolies 4c off voucher about $1.63 a litre,met Irish waitress in HBC, ranjit the crooner (we didn’t go but heard him) aweful,apparently had played with Glen Campbell, Helen Reddy & Barry Manilow - really! Went to Hogs Breathe café (HBC) for lunch V good and value wise also 2 beef wraps with hickory sauce, HBC curly fries & salad, followed by Mud pie/date pud and washed down with beer/ fruit juice All $60 (i.e £30) Nice Campsite v tropical , some new plants we haven’t seen before

Day 293 - Wednesday 13th August 2008,Crystal Cascades Campsite, Cairns

Up late, cooked brekkie then off to Kuranda for the day. Very good day, sunny again although some strong winds. Barron Gorge NP & Falls, Surprise Creek Falls, Lake Placid, Gr8 tropical plants, Cannonball tree, Butterflies especially Ulysses Blue,met no one in particular Annoying UK couple next door with 3 kids and one crying baby. Loved the sweet perfume smell of the plants of the Cannonball tree. Seeing Kuranda again Aussie Butterfly Sanctuary

Day 294 - Thursday 14th August 2008,Crystal Cascades Campsite, Cairns

A day of 2halves. Spent morning at site doing washing, reading, getting sunburnt (K) and then after a dinner of lemon pepper tuna salad wraps and mini bananas washed down with ginger cordial we went off on an expedition to see Lake Morris and the Copper load falls dam 16k thru the Isley Hills wet Tropics up very windy hilly roads not ideal for a 6.6m campervan but what a view.Some gr8 views of Cairns & the Wet Tropical Forest up Lake Morris rd,Ozzie drinkers at Rednault.girl in IGA said there were 300 males in the pub, must have been pint and sausage eve cheap, Dark Equador magnum ice creams at lake Morris, exchanging 10 books in Cairns ($20) for 4not a gr8 deal but we can’t carry them

Day 295 - Friday 15th August 2008,Glengarry Holiday Park, Port Douglas

Left Cairns about 10.30 Went and visited various beaches on the way up to Port Douglas (PD) and the AJ Hackett bungee jumping Then along coastal road, ace views past Rex Lookout and Hartley’s creek crocodile farm (v different from 13 years ago) to Port Douglas Aim to stay here 4 days and see Daintree, Mossman, Cape Trib & PD itself,Trinity beach, Yorkeys knob (much built up after 13 years), Clifton Beach (good) & Palm Cove (posh & expensive, similar to Noosa Heads),Very clammy and overcast for much of the day. Gr8 views along coastal road, similar to Great Ocean Road & Big Sur (US)

Day 296 - Saturday 16th August 2008,Did lunch in Port Douglas

Up about 9 washed did the dunny stuff etc on the van and then drove into Port Douglas. Hot & Humid 28c and 48% humidity no wind Parked up along the front WOW has PD ever changed in 13 years It is now a massive thriving tourist metropolis with resorts everywhere A shame really walked up main street then had lunch.

Flagstaff Hill Lookout, 4 mile beach, Marina, Wharf, Church Shops, restaurants & resorts, met French waiter who told me ‘le red emerald feesh is orf’ so had to have Gold Based Snapper in Thai tamarind curry with macadamias Annie had Tempura reef fish with spiced coconut sauce and garlic mayo. 2 drinks, Ace meal and posh sea front restaurant $67 not bad and brits in next campsite from Yorkshire who had emigrated 2 ½ years ago Victorians escaping the winter, Gr8 meal Gr8 weather loved 4 mile beach.

Day 297 - Sunday 17th August 2008,Cape Tribulation

Named by Mr. JC again we had a wonderful day on Cape Trib See the pictures lots of them Not quite as hot and sultry as the previous day Indeed we shut the windows on the campervan at 11pm and turned off the aircon. Mossman, Cape Trib, Daintree River, Wonga Beach. met Solomon Islander (drunk) at ferry crossing at Daintree on the way back Claimed to be descended from a sugarcane plantation slave, loved all the lovely beaches and rainforest

Day 298 - Monday 18th August 2008,Daintree

Overcast and not so muggy. 25c went back to Daintree river x-ing to do a 1 ½ hour trip on the River train, gr8 fun Then onto Daintree town (not burnt down as far as we could see) not much there though Then back thru Mossman , down towards gorge, stopped as Aboriginal community area and back to site to read Did some shopping in Mossman Woolies,saw Crocs, lots 4 females 1 juvenile and Scarface, king of the patch 52 yrs old and the one we saw last time, met guides on boat, Japanese doing photo salutes Female Aboriginal drunk in road back to their ‘ghetto’ just outside Mossman (sad), salty crocodiles, tree snake, brahma cows

Day 299 - Tuesday 19th August 2008,Port Douglas 2 Cooktown

Up, showered  and gone by 9.30. Started muggy and overcast, then got v hot & sunny, then real tropical winds whilst ascending some of the mountains and at campsite in Cooktown. Good journey arrived at about 1.30am This is as far north as we can go in QLD The rest is gravel road and mostly shut in wet season up to Weipa on the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York and the Torres Straits Islands, 150k south of Papua New Guinea ,saw bush lots of it and much burnt plus a yellow sunbird at site in Port Douglas. remember wind that rocked the campervan,wax gum/ palm fruit,said goodbye to Swiss guy (he and his wife been in Oz 22years, sold up in Brisbane, been traveling 18 months and now having a house built on the coast nr Childers) plus UK guy from Yorkshire been in Oz 2 ½ years

Day 300 - Wednesday 20th August 2008,Cooktown

Drizzly and windy day but at least it now doesn’t get dark until 6.30pm (prev 5pm) Wind so strong overnight it shook the c’van. Went into Cooktown for the day, nice time with lunch at the bakery and a bit of shopping in the IGA,James Cook (JC) Museum, JC Statues / Plaques (3 in total) Monument, Statue of the gr8 man and cairn where he beached the HMS Endeavour for repairs after holing on the reef off Cooktown, met old guy in campervan behind who suggested beach & museum (we will go 2moro) and Fisho man. Now been away 300 days plus Annie did the washing and it dried in the rain, honest the wind was so strong! Guy at reception said this is typical Cooktown weather (Hmmm it says they have 7hrs of sunshine a day). Not long after we were back a brit was eaten by a salty when he was mud crabbing in the Endeavour river, the warninsg are everywhere, poor foolish soul.

Day 301 - Thursday 21st August 2008,Cooktown

Lazy day really, little hotter and mixed sunny / overcast but NO rain 26c went up Grassy hill (Cooks lookout) about 2/3rd then dirt track Went to Finch Bay (nice) Botanic Gardens, Bakery (pie and banana cakenot as good as Nadi Airport) then back to site for lunch Then off as far as the tar sealed road would take us north of Cooktown, about 22k past Marton and beyond Endeavour River crossing ,loved all of this + Cooktown airport (sweet) lots of tropical plants plus the lovely smell of Bush Mrytle + termite hills saw 6 roos at Botanic gardens and 1 in the wild near Marton (presumably named by JC after area of Middlesborough, his hometown), Annie made fresh lemon from bush lemons loved campsite mangoes

Day 302 - Friday 22nd August 2008,Cooktown 2 Atherton

Didn’t sleep so well, far too hot Up at 7.15 and showered etc and ready to go by 8.50am Went back thru Blackrock Mts to Lakeland where took photos of development road up to top Cape York (dirt track alas) and flocks of noisy white cockatoos Then onto Mareeba and Atherton. High roo count 2day plus one light brown dingo after roadkill. He was a little too fast to photo Did about 350 k and got to Atherton by 3.15pm including shopping, fuel and post office (sent 2 DVDs to Mum) Hot humid and overcast in Cooktown (blowy as always) but cooler in Atherton,Coffee world, roos on golf course at Mareeba, red rooster dinner, lovely tropical hut for BBQ by pool at campsite in Atherton, met guy on golf course at Mareeba popped up again 3 caravans down at our site in Atherton,hoots.’take a picture of you taking a picture of the tourists taking a picture of the roos on the golf course’, loved Roos on golf course

Day 303 - Saturday 23rd August 2008,Atherton 2 Charters Towers

Up at 7am (and it’s a hols, my life!) left by 8.30am Drove initially up over hills & rainforests of Gr8 Dividing range and past QLDs highest Town then via Kennedy Development road Hwy1 (single track tar mostly on top of wide gravel road) thru to the Lynd Junction on HWY40.  HWY1 split at savannah way then onto Normanton & then onto NTs (the road round oz) so slightly less busy for us on what is called the Gregory Developmental rd We were well and truly in outback QLD Went thru (and stopped at for lunch and ice-cream respectively)  Greenvale Road house and Bluewater springs roadhouse Got to Charters Towers at about 4-ish had driven 550+k today and reasonably warm Stayed at Big 4 site went to Drive in movie in eve Only 1 of 6 now left in QLD.Saw cattle droving, road trains, miles of outback roads, kids and adults in backs of utes with duvets, pillows watching drive in movies,Poirot, Hastings and the Big 4, got cracked windscreen from stone from road train, best loo paper in our whole trip oh and our 1st drive in movie saw double bill of Kung Fu panda and The Incredible Hulk Had  fish & chips, wine, beer, rum and coke sweets galore Gr8 eve and all for £3.75 each WOW and the stars  

Day 304 - Sunday 24th August 2008,Charters Towers

Up late, warm day but not humid Had bacon sandwiches Visited lookout walked town center Annie had done washing and alas broke big toe nail V painful Went to Charters Towers hospital to ‘have it sorted’ stayed 2 night in CT campsite to cut down the daily drivingCharters Towers Lovely old buildings At the goldrush had its own stock exchange 30k people and called itself the WORLD no need to go anywhere else for anything else, saw nutter cowboy / dangerous if you ask us Must have been the town loony, ugh Annie had to go to Charters Towers Hospital to have her busted big toe nail cut off

Day 305 - Monday 25th August 2008,Charters Towers to Emerald

Up at 7 Travelled over 500k 2day mostly on the Gregory Development road which apart from 20k was all normal 2 lane road if a little bumpy in places Not much township wise on the road Went thru Belyando Crossing roadhouse, Clermont (Blair Athol) both mining , Capilla into Emerald (both sunflower production seeds and oil) Interesting trip Staying in Top Tourist Lake Maraboon site ($27),Dried up rivers, brahma cows, brolgas , cotton fields, sunflower paintings, boab trees and at the campsite the friendliest rainbow lorikeets and Major Mitchell cockatoos, met camp site owners (gay couple) who did the evening sing song, note we did NOT attend but heard it,Hmmm, remember with fondness Annie feeding the lorikeets 2 Brolgas flying past our windscreen (close)

Day 306 - Tuesday 26th August 2008,Emerald Gem Fields

Left site at 10-ish having tried to coax the Lorikeets out with some melon, alas it didn’t work V Hot and sunny day 2day 25c Went to Emerald for  a look around the Cattle market (fun), station, 2 fabric shops, bought some Koala buttons, Botanic gardens (not so hot) then shopping in Woolies (£10 for 50 glucosulphamine tablets, 4 times UK price) then drove onto Anarkie (yep pronounced that way) and Sapphire – did fossicking at Pats Gems gr8 fun found 13 sapphires which we keep for $8 bucket of WASH.saw loads see piccies, claim sites at Sapphire amusing,met cowboys at steers sale (emerald peak downs municipal sales yard) , all v friendly. We have now been away 10 months, loved finding 13 sapphires

Day 307 - Wednesday 27th August 2008,Willows Gem Fields

Up late, had cooked brekkie Read a bit then hired prospecting gear from the campsite $10 then drove off past the township limits past the cattle grid and set up ‘camp’ Bloody hard work and blistering sun – 27c (oh and we didn’t find any sapphires) but had a go for about 2hrs Then back for a shower etc before relaxing reading and tea (beef schnitzel, new pots & carrots ) ,Kookaburras, the diggings, met lady in campsite who ‘sold’ us the prospecting gear, loved Diggings, email from Craig, Margaret and John & Diana

Day 308 - Thursday 28th August 2008,Willows Gem field 2 Roma

Up at 6.45am Gone by 8.15am Visited Rubyvale, Anarkie (and Saphire again) Stopped briefly to shop in Emerald and get fuel ($1.53 incl the 8c off coupon, cheapest yet in OZ) Then on down Gregory Developmental rd to Roma thru Springsure, Rollerston (where we had lunch) and then a v long stretch with NOUGHT to Roma Nice site at Roma with lots of bottle trees (now are these Baobabs?).Wildlife count Emus=2, Wallabies=2, Roos=1, met no one in particular, miner with long grey beard & hair in Rubyvale,remember some of the ‘architecture’ in Rubyvale plus a plethora of naff ozzie icons!

Day 309 - Friday 29th August 2008,Roma 2 St George via Surat

Up reasonable time, left just b4 10am Then went into Roma for a look around Visited Westpac and drew out some money and closed our account Town had a good outback feel but not quite so classy buildings as Kalgoorlie. Annie bought 3 really good fabrics in huge higgledy piggeldy store in Roma ($175) We visited tourist info and the site of the Big Rig Roma is famous for Gas & Oil K bought a class (?) stubby cooler then drove on down Caenarvon Hwy to Surat Had lunch here of our fave C&B’s and visited township and Cobb & Co museum Weather mixed hot but for the 2nd day running heavy rain Clears the air though! Wildlife count Emus=1, Wallabies=1, met lady in westpac bank in Roma who had lived in London and was off on hols for 3 weeks with her family to South Island, NZ we traded info V pleasant Plus old lady in Roma TI , remember being told off by campsite owner for running grey water, 1st time in 88 days Cobb & Co museum in Surat (v good and interesting) Reopened tap just outside of site

Day 310 - Saturday 30th August 2008,St George to Lightening Ridge via Dirranbandi & Hebel on the NSW border

Very hot day 29c+ Went into St George, drove along St G terrace and Balonne riverside Then visited Emu Egg carving studio ($6 for both) Got diesel ($1.60v cheap) and shopping in Foodstuff .Then about 260k driving to Lightening Ridge. Met greek guy with Emu eggs Lunch at Hebel riverside and surprisingly NO wildlife and met

Capt birdseye loudmouth / boring words from WA who never stopped talking plus nice scotch couple who have lived in Sydney for 20 years.Highlights Getting Annie her black opal necklace in Lightening Ridge plus lamb, mint & rosemary sausages from award winning butchers in St George. See NSW for next day

Day 311 - Sunday 31st August 2008, Lightening Ridge

Very wet day and previous night Only 14c unheard of for LR which is generally hot & humid. Gravel roads and others flooded We did a 3 hour Black opal tour which was great fun saw loadsmost routes around the diggings/ dwellings (well hovels) is by colour coded old ute doorsbizarre In the afternoon we fossicked in the mud A lot easier than sapphire digging.Hot springs baths, diggings plus a whole lot of hippies / eccentrics and hippy houses Quite like nowhere we have seen before has to be visited to be believed.Met American lady who did the Black Opal tour plus odd hippy couple her US/ he oz who do the Black queen plays (based around their collection of old gas lamps) Whacky backy or what? Oh plus old bearded miner (on diggings) who waved at us whilst hanging up his long johns in the rain. LR has a very high ‘mental health problem’ limit.Remember the tour plus doing the digging in front of the TI center Muddy or what as opal is found in clay we think we did quite well but only having our ‘pieces’ looked at will prove it. Sherman the teddy with sunnies has to be seen to be believed.

Day 312 - Monday 1st September 2008,Lightening Ridge 2 Bourke

Up at about 8 Checked out by 10 (after using palette knife to squeeze our van out from our rather over friendly next door neighbour) Went and had another look around LR in the sun. Bought some pressies in Opal shop and Annie did some more fossicking at TI Had our ‘gems’ valued at shop, most alas black or grey Potch (boo hiss) Then 290 k via Walgett into Outback NSW and Bourke Stayed at the Mitchell Campsite ($26 incl on suite) V nice site Wildlife Count: 1 skink, 9 emus, 1 tortoise/terrapin, many wild goats, Colorful birds LR: Bottle house, Hot bore water baths Brewarrina (slums and takeaway that was dodgy costing $9the road signs asked you to spend $20 in their town) why most folks just haired thru Bourke Wharf, River Darling, Town and TI/Shops.Met guy next site to us at Bourke from Adelaide Hills who had hit a carcass in his 4WD and therefore had to stop in Bourke. He reckoned dangerous Indigenous place, not that bad in our book Certainly not like Brewarrina where we stopped for lunch, everything with metal shutters, huge aboriginal population (note made Boro look like a picnic). Remember Bourke: Pop 3000 and shire is the size of Denmark (wow)

Day 313 - Tuesday 2nd September 2008,Bourke 2 Dubbo

Up at 7 Showered in our private on suite, good site The folk next to us had already gone Left about 8.45am went and took some piccies of town, bought stubbie cooler and award winning pies ($8for 2 way expensive!) Then onto Dubbo (400k total) via the straight (199k) Mitchell Hwy to Nyngan, then on via Nevertire, Trangie (had lunch here and bought some nice cakes in bakery) then Dubbo Weather good 26c and sunny (again).Wildlife Count: 13 emus& 4 chicks (alas didn’t get to photo) Colorful birds & a huge eagle perched roadside on a road kill roo. Remember Hotel Nyngan plus disused railway line all the way from Bourke to Nyngan oh and 3 coach ,loads of school kids visiting from the Port Stephens area Dubbo has a good zoo & old gaol Dubbo is a city and has 39k+ pop It is only 4 hrs drive from Sydney but we are going back up.Alas some very thin cattle that looked like they were starving and the herdsman on a trials bike had let them loose on the main Mitchell Hwy as there was at least some grass there

Day 314 - Wednesday 3rd September 2008,Dubbo 2 Gunnedah via the wonderful Warrumbungle NP

Up at 7 had been v cold overnight central NSW is apparently famous for hot days and cold nights esp at this time of year Left about 8.45am Did some quick shopping in Coles Dubbo and got some fuel Now $1.87 in NSW way more expensive than QLD Then drove onto Gilgandra had a look around Visitors center Then onto WNP, breathtaking see the piccies The Whitegum lookout walk especially Then across into New England, NSW (nice landscape & colours esp the flowering yellow oil seed rape against the brown sun dried grass) and into Gunnedah, Koala Capital of the Worldhaven’t seen any yet though Staying at Top Tourist site here ($20) Wildlife count: 5 emus, 16 big red roos, 5 feral goats (they were shooting them from copters during our visit to the Warrumbungle NP) and 3 wallabiesnot alas the rare bushy tailed ones.Met guy from Victoria in Dubbo whilst washing who had taken 8 weeks off work, got as far as Mission beach and had to turn back His daughter lived in Mildura.No one else really. Remember the absolutely wonderful Warrumbungle NP A real highlight oh and as spring the bright yellow of the Wattle , Dubbo hugely disappointing.Ranger (cop?) in Gunnedah who was gonna book Keef until he discovered he was a Pommie Tourist for parking campervan the wrong way roundwhilst going to Westpac ATM for cash. Alas some very thin sheep that looked like they were starving

Day 315 - Thursday 4th September 2008,Gunnedah to Armidale

Linda's birfday. Up about 8 Washed and breakfasted for the heavy Koala spotting day ahead. Went into Gunnedah Called in at Tourist Info and talked to Steve the full time Koala spotter Supposedly up at 4am spotting he gave us a long list of sightings and good spots both in and out of town Apparently there are about 5000 in the town So we set off and drove to all his certain locations NOT ONE After 2+ hours we left town almightily disappointed but happy we had at least seen these wonderful creatures in the wild on KI, SA and at Kennetts River on GOR, Vic.  Then drove onto Tamworth thru Liverpool plains along Oxley Hwy Stopped here briefly for Red Rooster lunch and a quick look at the Country & Western Museum (outside only)its what Tamworth is famous forthen on across the Great Dividing range (v hilly and huge bolder rocks) thru Urella (home of bushranger or was it whacker?, Thunderboltsimilar to Ned Kelly but supposedly not so nastyand if you believe that) into Armidale. Shopped at Woolies, camped at Top Tourist site on outskirts $26. rained a lot. Saw Koala’s NOT!!!! No Koalas oh and Steve the Misleader! Guy at campsite in Armidale who was a Doc of Linguistics at the NSW New England Uni here He was nice chap and v interested in Pom accents Plus told me Ozzies do have accents i.e those from around Adelaide have a Pommie one, hee hee! We renamed Gunnedah the World Capital of NO SHOW Koala’s

Day 316 - Friday 5th September 2008,Armidale 2 Darlington Beach

Staying at DB campsite again for 3 days. The best site in all our travels. Site D6 this time (was D8 last) just outside the pool Up and gone by 10 V wet day all daymost of the New England and North NSW Coast was floods. Traveled along the Waterfall hwy , most appropriate although most were off down gravel tracks so not accessible, especially in the wet did about 260 difficult kilometers arrived about 2.30pm. RAIN & FLOODS:Armidale,Dorrigo, Sherrard falls, Guy Fawkes river, Bellinger River (burst its banks big style), Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga (Indian area 2 mosques), Darlington beach, met guy from Grafton , next pitch, regular annual holiday for son from Vic (Byron Heads) and daughter from Qld (Atherton).had a lengthy chat with him about crocs, snakes and his trip by 4WD to Cape York (v hard).

Remember ace pies in Dorrigo, being back at our fave campsite

Day 317 - Saturday 6th September 2008,Darlington Beach

Day of Chillin, just SO relaxing! Up late, had cooked brekkie Then Ozzie guy next door gave us his copy of the Weekend Australian which we read all day Annie did some washing Weather mostly good with several shower spots We brought washing in a one point and then put it back out again then guy gave us copy of The Sydney Morning Herald Papers here cost about $2.20 Had spag bol and chilled again, saw the sun and 2 newspapers, bliss! Met nice old guy in next caravan who seemed to have throat cancer Chatted for a while he had taken his young family to UK and Europe in 70s His wife was off back in Sydney saying goodbye to their daughter and family who were off for 3 weeks to UK Son in law worked for Ernst & Young, funded business trip then she was gonna fly up to Sunshine coast to meet him.Loved Chillin.....

Day 318 - Sunday 7th September 2008,Darlington Beach

Another fine day in DB 24c and v sunny Got sunburn despite now ‘all over’ tan Spent day reading papers and books V relaxing after dinner of wraps went for a stroll on Corindi beach, bit blowy and tide much further in than last time we were here then back out to main road and water lily lagoon, saw Roo family that were probably on our plot last time. Lorikeets and loads of banksias and other colourful plants, met a few folk from the site down by the beach plus helped guy who gave us yet another paper with his caravan hitch up. Loved just spending more time at our fave campsite and sad that we are leaving soon

Day 319 - Monday 8th September 2008,Darlington Beach 2 Diamond Beach Near Forster-Tuncurry

Up at 7.30 Showered, Brekkied & watched the duck and ducklings. Then set off for F-T via Coffs harbour, Fredo’s pies, Port Macquarie to Billabong to buy a 2nd Koala, then along the coast road to Laurieton we hadn’t done before thru Lake Cathie, Bonny Hills, North Haven and the Ocean Rd finally rejoining the Pacific Hwy just beyond Laurieton then onto our Big 4 campsite at Diamond Beach. Great facilities, pool but lousy sandy unleveled site at $30 per night Staying 2 nights before moving onto Sydney gets dark down here about 5.45pm bad news reasonably sunny today 22c.Saw baby ducklings (ahhhh).Met really old lady with the shakes in campsite who couldn’t work the mouse so I showed her how to use a bit of plain paper as a mouse mat. On plot 254 (rubbish) so moved. Remember finally getting thru to Australia post (cheated after 2 booked phone backs, hit the VIP/Expensive service and got thru..parcel left oz 5/6now check in UK)

Day 320 - Tuesday 9th September 2008,Diamond Beach

Got up 9.15am Showered Had bacon sarnies for brekkie and cereal (ah luxury!) Then went for a walk on the beach just in front of our campsite. Note the campsite is empty. Us and one other Gr8 facilities but really poor sandy, sloped pitches Beach nice then came back and read all day K finished Marker by Robin Cook, A finished Rage by Wilbur Smith. Had lamb steaks for T yummy.Saw galahs in flight, the beach, and on beach (deadly & dead) puffer fish. Remember walk on beach, good weather if somewhat windy 24c

Day 321 - Wednesday 10th September 2008,Diamond Beach 2 Sydney (Narabeen lakes) via Forster-Tuncurry

Drove along 2 loop roads we had not been along when we first went up the NSW coast, then thru Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP and down HWY3 Mona Vale rd into Narabeen and the Big 4 lakeside camp site we stayed at b4 We are here for 4 final days in Sydney Weather warm and sunny, 23c but chilly at night.Saw Forster-Tuncurry, nice sea lake, Booti-booti NP, Myall lakes NP, Pacific Hwy/freeway (1) and loads of road widening (poor Koalas!), Gosford, Terigal, Avaco Beach, Copacabana beach, Woy Woy, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP and Bobbin Head, Narabeen. Met guy at Diamond beach campsite who said he was off to UK for 1st time in 3 years time to visit Dundee where all his rellies came from.Stopped at Stanford Forster retail park to do final food shopping in Woolies and bought an additional suitcase in K-Mart ($29.99 + lock $2.99), getting thru Ku-Ring-Gai chase NP and not paying the $11 as offices closed plus just making campsite at 5.50pm it shut at 6pm (phew!!!!)

Day 322 - Thursday 11th September 2008,Sydney centre

Up about 8.30am Showered Breakfasted and then caught bus outside campsite into Manly No 155 Got 2 x day pass for buses, trains and ferries Gr8 value $16 each! Had a coffee and Gloria Jean’s on Manly Wharf then caught Jet cat across to circular quay Walked around passed Opera house , Bennalong Point to QE2 gates and Royal Botanic Gardens Then walked thru it out to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, then back again round to have lunch/ t in Wolfies. Alas Wolfies Grill closed so went to Italian Village (ace) $145 (approx £78) for 3 courses and drinks and a table with Opera House directly in front then walked up into the Rocks and back to ferry and bus ‘home’ Got back about 8-ish Pitch black Not many street lights and asked kind bus driver to tell us when to get off for Lakeside park NarabeenBeaut day, hot and sunny all day with nice cooling breeze off harbour Guess 22c bed at 1am after sorting out route back to Britz near airport Alas Sydney is all e-toll roads which means you can’t even use cash, nightmare. We reckon gonna have to do 30+  k extra, saw lots see the piccies plus Possums on campsite gate post. Met lots of folk especially Mrs Angry with the loud phone on the Manly Ferry back and bloke at gate with torch who pointed out the possums oh and American couple whom we traded photos (i.e we took one of them, they took one of us) with whilst in the Gardens.Just a lovely day, shame it’s possibly our last time in Sydney Still the best city in the World. NOT TRUE back in 2013 and you can never say never

Day 323 - Friday 12th September 2008,Sydney (Narabeen Lakes)

Lovely hot sunny day again with cool breeze 23c tried sorting out Parcel sent from Alice with Oz Post via phone (131318) Had to go down to PO in Narabeen to fill out a complaints form Now been 16 weeks lady tried to assure us, lets hope she is right Then drove up and parked in the surf club car park and walked along Narabeen beach, paddling (alas probably for the last time in Oz) Didn’t cross river as it came out into the sea as too fast and deep then went back to campsite and sat out on chairs with table Went possum spotting at night. Saw Beach, River , lakes Met guy from Adelaide (and Yorkshire) in next caravan Been in oz 36 years.Last paddle, hopefully sorting out parcel with oz post and luvverly sunshine!!! Boy how we are gonna miss that

Day 324 - Saturday 13th September 2008,Manly

Got up 8.30 Scorcher of a day First gr8 day of spring in Sydney 29c and v sunny 25c at 6pm Caught bus into Manly ($4 each each way – nice bus driver let us off one fare as we didn’t have change) Bought strawberry smoothie from Wharf, went to look where Anne used to live in Manly 6 or 9 Gilbert st (now gone but no 13 original) then went for walk along beach, packed , Corso packed , surfing and beach volley ball. Then looked in shops (too expensive) then had a gr8 meal in the Bavarian Bier exchange on the Wharf overlooking the harbour. Both had  Veal and Claire valley white for Annie and a stein of Spaten Munchen for me. Rolled back on Bus, saw Manly beach in sun and throng! Met Len & Di in next door caravan. Downer (again) Barclays who screwed up and cut off our cash

Day 325 - Sunday 14th September 2008,Sydney (Narabeen Lakes) 2 Holiday Inn (airport)

Up at 8 packed final things Had breakfast Rained all night and hard, weird after previous days heat Got rid of rubbish, left leftovers in Kitchen for other campers – books, food, lamp etc Then after one final dunny man act we went off up Mona Vale road (Hwy3) across the Ryde bridge then down Concord road onto the Parramatta Rd (hwy4) and straight onto Hwy31 into Broadway (old part of Sth Sydney, close to city center) then out on Regent / Boundary to Gardiners and the Britz office. Returned van caught taxi 500m to Holiday Inn  (cnr of O’Roidan & Bourke) $14 bit of a rip but no other way with so many suitcases. Saw Airport and enjoyed a bit of luxury at hotel.Gave our home back after 105 days, sad but nice as well, good to get the luxury of space etc in our Holiday Inn Hotel, Sydney airport, room 522 Nice meal in restaurant then went to bed early to try and sleep as up early, not easy as so hot Met no one – canned telstra modem (although still had to sort out in UK 3 months later)

Day 326 - Monday 15th September 2008, Sydney 2 Hong Kong via Singapore

Long day flying, watched lots and lots of movies on the flight Up about 4.45am , flew at 8.05am although it was 15mins late going Good airplane, Air Singapore had to swap at Changi and use posh fast shuttle train to our next gate The luggage got transferred automatically for us from one plane to the other Taxi at HK was a hoot Service guy wrote down the hotel in Chinese for the driver who we had fun communicating with by hand signals Kowloon a long way Over lovely bridge and under tunnel 45 mins drive Went to wrong hotel then had to go to New SD all fine £75 a night stayed 3 nights Hot 35c and 100% humidity, what we saw today,Airports and movies, who we met, Shuttle guy @ Holiday Inn Sydney who was annoyed we had loaded on our own bags. Jobsworth! Getting on the plane went very quickly when one considers it, taxi driving thru market to San Diego (wrong hotel) was amusing, took 1 picture of Changi airport only! Plus remembering my Dad with love, who died on this day 6 years earlier.

Day 327 - Tuesday 16th September 2008,Hong Kong

Breakfasted at McDonalds Nathan Road, Jordan Then got Urban Day pass for the MTR (Metro) ($50HK-£4) Went to TST and walked to star ferry Crossed to Central ($8HK-63p) Walked across bridge up into IFC mall Had juice and muffin then back on Star Ferry Went to Hard rock Café for drink and t-shirt then onto Sham Shui Po for Computer bits Knackered as hot and humid (36c/ 100%+) back to hotel to flake Went to sleep and only had bits and pieces from Bakery on MTR for Tea. Met loads of very nice folk who helped us whenever we looked at a map even though we weren’t lost. Celebrated Keef’s 54th B’day spent in Hard Rock Cafe (TST) and Computer Nerdsville , Sham Shui Po, plus lunch up Mt Victoria via Peak Train & saw a  Wedding on Star Ferry. Probably for a magazine.

Day 328 - Wednesday 17th September 2008, Hong Kong

Breakfasted at McDonalds Nathan Road, Jordan Then got Urban Day pass for the MTR ($50HK) Then went up to Central and walked thru business district to the Peak Train went up to the top, alas very humid and unclear views but had great birfday lunch at Pappa Gumps Shrimps etc Then back to TST for light and sound show (spectacular) then back to hotel for a rest Had bits from bakery for t plus 2 bowls of fruit the hotel left. met loads of folk esp American gi (retired) and Chinese girlfriend from Schezhan.Enjoyed Tram ride, night lights and music show, retail therapy.

Day 329 - Thursday 18th September 2008,Hong Kong 2 England and Home!!!!

Very little sleep and alas Keef was sick overnight so jaded when we caught taxi back to airport K put poor guy off by giving him misleading airport terminal info Finally got to T1 gate 3 for Air NZ, long flight 12hrs 20mins which went quickly Craig collected us at Heathrow glad to be back Had fish and chips from Sandiacre fish bar at Craig’s then managed to stay up to 10pm then flopped No real jet lag at all..can’t wait for the next hols!!! THE END for now, watched 4 movies the best of which was a Kiwi movie called 2nd hand wedding, met a Nice girl from Ghangzho who was studying  at Bristol (2nd year) reminded us of Phoenix. Loved Arriving at t1 not t3 Heathrow. Craig’s sign saying AGEING HIPPIES