Category Archives: Caravan Park

Mallacoota

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

In February of this year, we bought a Travel Auction package we saw advertised on TV to a Mallacoota caravan park. In these auctions, you are told what it would cost, then you make a bid-the top 50 bids win. The parks RRP for a 10 night stay was $330, we bid $180 and won. We then had to pick a date for travel within 12 months of winning. Mallacoota is right on the Vic/NSW border, so close to 520 kilometres from Melbourne OR Sydney you wouldn’t argue about it, and considered one of Victoria’s most remote towns. It has a population of around 1000 that swells to about 8000 over the summer holidays (that’s why we came just before!)

We left Daniel’s place in pouring rain (the wettest we have ever had to pack up in) and headed east of Traralgon for the very first time with the van.  As we travelled, we realised why we’ve never come this way before with the van-the roads are a disgrace to the state of Victoria. So very rough towing a van!

One patch of about 1 kilometre of road outside Stratford was so potholed, we just knew we’d arrive to all sorts of mess inside and we weren’t wrong. We have a portable oven, hotplates and fruit bowl that fit neatly into a spot on the bench beside the fridge and above the built in hotplates in the van. That stuff has travelled all over Australia sitting there but when we arrived and opened the van door in Mallacoota, it was all strewn all over the floor. Squished tomatoes, avocados and electrical goods covered the floor!

Mallacoota

Mallacoota

We set up in the rain and it continued for the next 20 or so hours without a let up, but Sunday afternoon it cleared for a while so we managed a drive 3 ks out of town to the very beautiful Betka Beach to take a look and some photos. Wow, what a lovely spot to have to ourselves.

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

Monday, we braved the wind and took the boat out for a bit of a fish. The boat played up-coughing and spluttering and generally being a bit scary to be out in that wind. The fish were hiding and it was a waste of time for a number of reasons. We came back in and Russ arranged to have the boat looked at by a local mechanic the following morning.

Tuesday was a perfect day for fishing, so after collecting the boat from the mechanic, followed by an early lunch, we set off out. The boat seemed to be going well, then once again, it started spluttering and coughing-so much for the miracle fix we’d just paid for! Never mind, it was a super calm day, so we just limped out a tiny way, parked up in a pretty spot and started to fish.

We only brought 7 fish into the boat, but all were well over size so we counted it a great success. We came home with 5 flathead and one bream, returning one 33 cm flathead as that’s just too small to bother with at the fish cleaning table. Fish for dinner Wednesday night, and some for the freezer.

Tuesday night, we had a yummy dinner at Lucy’s Handmade Rice Noodle Shop here in town. A funny little place where you grab your own wine glasses, water,condiments and hope the food you ordered makes it to your table. We had the best steamed bbq pork buns I’ve ever had, fried pork dim sims I’d have not known were dim sims if I hadn’t ordered them (hand made and so different from shop bought), really delicious chilli prawn salad and fried rice. The bbq pork buns were ordered as pork noodles but somehow got lost in translation so we missed out trying the handmade noodles. Oh well, now we have to go back!

Shipwreck Beach

Shipwreck Beach

Today we hung around the van, watching the cricket, until the boat-motor-fixit-man called to say it was done. By the time he called, it was too late to go fishing, so we went out to Shipwreck Creek and Beach and Pebbley Beach for a drive. Back home, we had our flathead tails for dinner.

Flatty tails

Flatty tails

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Things that go BUMP in the day!

Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay

It took us a couple of weeks to travel from the farm at New Norcia in Western Australia, to Traralgon in Victoria where we plan to base ourselves for a few months.

After leaving the farm, we spent a night at Coolgardie caravan park, a night at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, another at Nundroo Roadhouse, then six at Streaky Bay.

We did a bit of fishing and crabbing at Streaky but really didn’t do too well until the second to last day when we caught 10 tommy ruff and 8 whiting and missed a few good sized crabs that came in on our fishing lines. No matter, it was a nice stop in a really nice park that we’ve always enjoyed.

Our next night was spent at a caravan park at Crystal Brook (not far from Port Pirie). It was a lovely surprise to have a long-time family friend Chris Daley and his partner Miriam pull up outside the van and stay the night in a tent near by. Always fun to catch up with Chris and all the gossip, share a meal and a few drinks.

On our way to Keith the next day, we stopped at a red light on a pedestrian crossing. Unfortunately, the woman in the car behind us didn’t! We heard a dull thud as we were pushed forward by her car. Jumping out of the ute, we hurried to check the damage. At first glance it didn’t look too bad so we pulled off the crossing and swapped details.

The harder we looked though, the more damage we could see. The van’s rear bumper weld had split, she’d pushed the whole bumper back into the van and bent the spare tyre mount. We could see where she’d hit the boat trailer too. Russ managed to pull the bumper out and we took off the spare tyre and put it in the back of the ute to travel on.

We contacted our insurance company and drove on.

We spent 2 nights in Portland with friends, a night in Port Fairy with our son and daughter-in-law, another with friends then arrived here in Traralgon. On the way, Ian Grant Caravans (who we nominated to do the repair) called so we dropped in there on the way past and they quoted the repair.

Caravans are super expensive to work on so I was expecting a few thousand dollars. The quote was reaching $7000 when he asked if there was any interior damage. We hadn’t actually checked, so it was a bit of a surprise to lift the bed and find the inner wall of the van is cracked as well. To fix it, the bed and wardrobe and all side panels have to be removed and the inner wall and outer panels replaced. Ka-ching!!!!! The quote just skyrocketed to around $14,000. If that bit gets accepted, an old dent Russ did dropping the boat on the van will be fixed too!

At home here in Traralgon, Russ tried to get the boat trailer built so he could take the boat off the ute. The trailer axle has been bent so he had to take to it with a hammer to just get the boat on. We’re not sure if the wheels go round properly, but the van repairers have added the trailer into the quote!

The repairers are also going to fix the van for us while we are in Bali for 10 days in January.

It’s so lovely just being here with my son and our grandchildren, I’m really not worrying about the van. No one was hurt so that’s the main thing!

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Busy Days

Shark Beach pano

Shark Beach pano

Thursday we spent a quiet day in. We went to friends for dinner, but I cooked. With 7 of us eating, it was much easier to eat at their flat with its dining table, plenty of crockery and glasses etc.

Beaty and John organised nibbles-I really loved Johns home-cured olives! I made savoury bread cases filled with curried crab for entree, followed by braised rabbit and veg and a pasta bake for mains. Beaty bought us drumsticks for dessert which was great.

Friday, we put the boat in at Eagle Bluff and fished for a couple of hours just bringing home two black snapper. That night we had drinks and a sausage sizzle with some of the lovely people on our level of the park. Thumbs up to the butcher-his black pepper beef, and beef and garlic snags were wonderful, as were his hogget (two tooth) loin chops. Hogget was half the price of lamb and twice the flavour so it was a win!

Yesterday, we were to move from site 108 to site 12 down on “death row” (someone has to die for a site to come vacant lol). As it turned out, the office stuffed up the booking and we had to move across the way from 108 to 104 for the night, then move today to 12. What a pain ITA!

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

After our move yesterday, we took a drive out to Shell Beach, back to Goulet Bluff, then across the road for a look at Shark Beach. It’s a well kept secret with much, much nicer shells than Shell beach, thick, white and loose so you walk ankle deep in the tiny cockle shells that live in the super saline water, then are thrown up on the shore in big tides and storms. We put the ute in 4WD to explore some old station tracks until we reached the old shearing shed bore then got back on the highway and came home.

After drinks with Beaty and Charlie before dinner, we ate our two black snapper along with wedges and salad. Just salt and pepper and baked in foil in the oven, they were wonderful. Our neighbour Narelle came over after dinner to sit and chat and have a drink. It was a great evening.

Today, we moved at last onto site 12 where we’ll stay for our last 16 days here. What a bugger of a site to get on to. We are the biggest van in the row-everyone else has smaller pop tops. We broke a concrete paver and scraped the shell cement wall, then got the van to a point where we couldn’t go any further back with ute. We had to unhitch, re-hitch in a different position and push the van back. What a performance!

I’m making pea and ham soup while I write this and relax.

Braised Rabbit and Vegetables

  • 3 rashers bacon, diced, fatty ones are good, I cook slowly to render the fat, then don’t use oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 Rabbit Pieces (I had the back ends of two rabbits-saddle and legs),
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups water or low-salt chicken stock (the gravy mix is salty remember)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 large carrots, chunky cut
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into eight pieces each
  • gravy mix (enough to thicken the two cups of stock/water), mixed to a paste with cold water (I use a really good commercial demi glace made by maggi. I buy it in 2kg tubs)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (I had it but I forgot to use)

    Braised bunny

    Braised bunny

Method

  1. Gently fry the diced bacon to release the fat, then add the onion and fry until softened. Add the garlic and celery and cook a few minutes more. Tip onto a plate.
  2. Add the rabbit to the pan and cook on all sides until lightly browned. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring a minute or two, add the wine and cook until it’s reduced.
  3. Now, add the stock, bay leaves and thyme, the celery and bacon on the plate, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots, cook a further 30 minutes. Next it’s the potatoes-add them and cook all gently for about 30 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender. In total, about 1.5 hours cooking.
  5. Finally add the gravy paste to the pot and stir gently until it thickens, then add in the green peas for a couple of minutes. Serve in bowls with parsley scattered over and fresh white bread and butter to mop up the gravy!

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Denham, Shark Bay, Monkey Mia

Sunset from our van

Sunset from our van

Yesterday, we arrived in Denham for a 5 week stay. Maybe more of you know it as Shark Bay, or know of its near neighbour Monkey Mia-famous for dolphin feeding.

When we first started travelling, we managed to get here about 6 winters in a row, but haven’t visited in three years now, so it feels good to be back. I have to stop myself feeling sad though about all the people we met in the early years who aren’t here now through death, illness or old age.

The boat and trailer are organised and ready to go, it’s a pity the weather hasn’t cooperated. It was just too windy to take the tinny out. At times like this, we can usually go over to Monkey Mia and crab and fish but the direction of the wind even put paid to that. We used the spare time to catch up on a couple of weeks worth of laundry and make Chilli Jam from the lovely chillies we bought at a farm gate in Carnarvon on Friday. We also bought tomatoes so it’ll be chutney next!

5 Cup Chilli Jam

5 Cup Chilli Jam

After accepting it was too cold and windy to fish, we took a drive out to Monkey Mia to see it’s still there and check out the boat ramp. Our friend Beaty here in the park told us her neighbour caught 34 crabs there this morning so of course WE are off to try and do the same tomorrow!

Shark Bay on the way home from Monkey Mia

Shark Bay on the way home from Monkey Mia

While we were organising dinner, I looked out the window to see the most amazing sunset we’ve ever seen here. I raced out with the camera and found everyone out of every caravan, 5th wheeler tent and motor home out taking photos as well. Then Russ took the camera up to the dunes for a few more photos. We reckon it almost rivaled the sunset at Mt Augusta the other night! Once again, that amazing colour is EXACTLY how it was-not post editing!

Our salad at dinner tonight was made using more of the lovely stuff we bought in Carnarvon-pumpkin, and the best rocket you’ll ever buy-from Morels in town. I know the sauce is the similar to last nights that we had over the eggplant dish, but it works so well with this salad I had to do it. I would add fetta or bocconchini to the salad if I had them but I didn’t! You could use spinach instead of rocket, but I like rocket the best.

Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint (all I have on hand or I’d use fresh)
  • 1 teaspoons runny honey
  • 2 cups diced Pumpkin
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunky wedges, then separated
  • 1 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small can baby beets, washed, drained and halved or quartered (rinsing them stops them bleeding through the salad)
Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

Method

  1. Mix the yoghurt, honey and mint together. Pop in the fridge.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190c
  3. Toss the pumpkin, onion, cumin, paprika and pine nuts in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread on a baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender (but not mushy)
  5. Arrange the rocket on a platter, add the roasted veg, scatter the baby beets then drizzle over the yoghurt mix and serve.

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Mount Augustus

From Emu Hill Lookout about 8ks from the caravan park

From Emu Hill Lookout about 8ks from the caravan park

Russ and I have bucket lists within bucket lists, and and a trip out to Mt Augustus from Carnarvon has been on one of our obscure ones since we first drove past the sign telling us it was 490ks inland from the highway.

We’ve driven up and down the coast, in and out of Carnarvon, passing that sign, reading about Mt Augustus and wondering how we could get out there and see it-the biggest drawback being our on-road van vs the mostly dirt roads leading to it.

About a month ago, after discovering we could get accommodation at the Mount Augustus Tourist Park we decided to bite the bullet, leave our van in a park in Carnarvon and go see “the rock”. It’s apparently the largest single rock in the world-at 8km LONG and 710 metres high it’s way bigger than it’s more famous Aussie rival Ayers Rock/Uluru, but much less known.

When we arrived at the Big 4 caravan park in Carnarvon, we hoped we’d find some nice neighbours happy to keep an eye on the van and boat the three days we were to be away. Better than that, we had Yarpturk (just near Warrnamool) couple Roz and Graham, and Geelong couple Maureen and John (Graham’s brother) beside us. They were more than happy to keep an eye on things for us including putting the boat motor in their annex and covering our generator with a tarp when it rained. Such a great stroke of luck for us.

I booked us twin share accommodation-at $88 it’s half the price of the “fully self contained” units . I wrote an e-mail (or two) to the current manager to ask what we would get/ should expect for our money and was told we would get a room, single bed (including linen and an extra doona for the cold) and a towel each and that was it. The ‘tea room” had a small fridge, kettle and microwave, the park had free bbqs. So no fridge, tea and coffee making facilities in our room, no TV (actually no reception). It’s like camping with no need to bring the tent.

We took crockery, cutlery, hotplates, a pot and pan, knives, chopping board and precooked dinners for our two night stay. We loaned our hotplates, pots and pans, dishwashing liquid and tea towels to people who hadn’t asked management what they’d need.

Outside our luxury donga

Outside our luxury donga

It was about 190ks of sealed road, then 300ks of dirt-a bit rough and rocky in the creek crossings, but you could definitely take a 2WD out there if you weren’t too fond of it. Having said that, two 4WDs arrived on night one having done tyres in the creek crossings. It took us 7 hours to get there but we did stop for lunch and to take lots of photos. I overtook two vehicles in the two hours before Gascoyne Junction, then one vehicle passed us in the next 5 hours it took us to get to the rock. It’s remote!

We arrived around 4.30 made ourselves comfortable, then grabbed a drink and the camera and wandered to a spot in the park where we witnessed maybe the most spectacular sunset we both reckon we’ve ever seen. It was amazing. When it faded and the sky turned to dark, we were then treated to a million stars in the crystal clear night. We had a lovely couple from Sydney in a room a few doors up and sat and watched the stars with them until about 10pm then Sunset 6headed to bed.

Our full day was spent driving the 49k circuit of the rock, stopping in at various walks and lookouts along the way. My favourites were the peaceful, pretty, Cattle Pool (Goolinee) where we walked about a kilometre along it’s banks, and the Pound where we walked up about a kilometre for views back into the pound and out over the Lyon’s River Valley.

Goolinee

Goolinee

Back at the park we were hoping for another beautiful sunset (that didn’t eventuate), but the clouds cleared at about 7pm and we had that big starry sky to enjoy again. We had a nice chat to a couple of Australian Electoral Commission workers who were out visiting the nearby Aboriginal Community of Burringurrah. Their accommodation had been booked by an agency who didn’t know/tell them they’d need to take food. They could buy baked beans, eggs and microwaveable pizza from the shop, the manager loaned them cutlery and crockery and when the elderly microwave in the tea rooms gave its last gasp and died, we loaned them our hotplate, pot and pan to cook their dinner in. We had a lovely chat with them over heating meals and doing dishes, then sat out til around 10pm again looking at the stars.

On Thursday morning we headed home, choosing to go back a different way for 230ks until we met up with the Mullewa Road again. About 15ks from the park, an Aboriginal family (maybe grandmother, grandfather and little grandson) waved us down and told us they’d run out of petrol (we only carry diesel). They asked if we’d take them into town but honestly, the back of the car was jam packed with our gear to save it getting dusty in the tub again. I said Russ and I would go back, get the petrol and bring it to them. The woman (who did all the talking) gave me her debit card, pin number and jerry can and off we went. The little boy (about three) had just clung to her looking at us until I asked if they had water (no, so I gave them a bottle of ours) and would he like a banana. YUP!

Fuel Sales MATP

Fuel Sales MATP

Back at the park, Mr. Doom and Gloom (the fuel bloke), reckoned the card would have no money on it and the fuel wasn’t going out the gate if it wasn’t paid for. I said fill the jerry can and we’ll give it to the kid if that’s the case. But I knew it’d be fine and it was. We got back to them, they grabbed an old coke bottle and started funneling the petrol into the tank. We went on our way home once again stopping to take heaps of photos, for lunch and arrived back in Carnarvon at 4.30.

Back in Carnarvon today, we’ve put the boat back on the roof of the car, shopped for fruit and veg down South River road, been to Woolworths and the doctor so we’re ready to go to Denham tomorrow.

If you ever find yourself in Carnarvon with a few days to spare and your car’s not to precious, go out and see Mount Augustus-it’s well worth the 1000k drive!

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Too Windy to Fish

Just about gone

Just about gone

It was really windy here yesterday-way too windy to be out in our little tinny so we just hung around the van for the day making a batch of our favourite pickled fish going down to the bay for a swim, then heading down again with a bottle of wine at sunset. After lingering there for an hour or so, it was time to go back and cook our dinner.

I took a couple of photos in the morning to show just how quiet it is here right now. The quietest we have ever known it! We are parked up in our favourite spot by the road, close to the ablutions block and I reckon there would normally be 20 other vans surrounding us. Right now there’s two and it’s been that way for a week. Those two vans belong to some guys building a new pub across the road and they reckon it’s them and the possible noise keeping the sites vacant, but in a busy year, management would just say “suck it up” to anyone who needed to stay but didn’t want to stay here. NO, it’s super quiet is the truth.

Vacancies at Coral Bay 2

Vacancies at Coral Bay 2

We caught 5 spangled Emperor the other day, so I had Russ save me a frame when he filleted them to make stock. I have plans to make a fish soup along the lines of  our favourite Tunisian Fish Soup (fish stock, tomatoes, saffron, cumin, paprika, garlic, potatoes) but will look for something a bit different this time.

Cooked and ready to eat. Cheek meat was amazing

Cooked and ready to eat. Cheek meat was amazing

We’d kept the smallest fish caught Tuesday to cook whole. No recipe as such, but I mixed equal amounts (about 2 tablespoons of each) of soy and black vinegar, added in grated ginger, a big dollop of jarred garlic, a chopped chilli and a half teaspoon of 5 spice powder. Then wrapped the fish in foil and baked until he reached 60c. Rested him while I finished off the fried rice. Both of us reckon it’s one of THE best dinners we’ve eaten in ages and well worth staying home for.

Fish Stock

  • 1 fish frame-inc head, should be a white fish like snapper or emperor
  • 1 onion, chopped small, (leave skin on for a richer colour)
  • 1 carrot, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (supposed to release the calcium from bones)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (supposed to balance the vinegar out)
  • A few stalks of parsley ripped up
Fish Stock

Fish Stock

Method

  1. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes Any more and the proteins in the bones start to break down.
  3. Strain and discard the solids.
  4. Wash out the pot and return the strained stock to the heat.
  5. Reduce over high heat until about a third remains. I do this for a stronger stock and to cut down on freezer space (if that’s where it’s going). Can always add in more water if you want to when you defrost.

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More in love than ever

Lemon and Cumin Fish Out of the Oven

Lemon and Cumin Fish Out of the Oven

I’m pretty sure it’s 8 winters out of 9 we’ve made it to Coral Bay, but as I don’t count stuff like, I can’t tell you exactly. Just like I can’t say for sure how many times I’ve been to Bali or across the Nullarbor. It just doesn’t matter to me/us.

So, I think it’s 8 and have to say, I’m more in love than ever with the place. We’ve been here a week already, have had almost perfect weather and caught just enough fish and squid to feed ourselves and keep it interesting.

This is the earliest we have ever arrived here and while we’ve found the park almost empty, more big boats are going out each day than we’ve ever seen before. We wonder if the more serious fishing people come and go before the huge influx of “grey nomads” from “down south” arrives in June for the winter. Whatever the reason, it’s lovely for a change.

Down on the Finger Jetty

Down on the Finger Jetty

As we’ve fished, we’ve also seen more (and bigger ) sharks than we’ve seen other years. So far, it’s stopped me swimming and snorkelling but that might change in the coming weeks. I have a new camera and that’s kept me entertained as I try to make sense of the instruction book and it.

Lebanese Eggplant Salad

Lebanese Eggplant Salad

We’ve eaten well and are almost finished our fresh veg from Carnarvon-just a few tomatoes, a zucchini and some herbs left. They are bought so fresh, they last really well.

Last night I used my remaining eggplant,capsicum, tomatoes and parsley in a Lebanese Eggplant Salad. We had it with Cumin and Lemon Fish which was sensational and I’m posting the recipe here. Our fish was too large for our oven so Russ took off the head and tail which spoilt it a bit for presentation, but didn’t affect the taste!

Cumin and Lemon Fish

  • 1 whole fish, scaled and gutted (about 2kgs) Snapper type fish is good
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon and Cumin Fish Out of the Oven

Lemon and Cumin Fish Out of the Oven

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200c.
  2. Mix together all ingredients from cumin through to oil. Set aside.
  3. Slash fish a few times on each side.
  4. Lay out a large sheet of foil (you may need to join two like I did, then place a sheet of baking paper on this.
  5. Lay down half the lemon slices.
  6. Smear the fish on both sides and in the cavity with the spice mix, then lay on the lemon slices on the foil. Top with remaining slices. Seal the parcel, tenting it a bit at the top.
  7. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until 60c internally (just shove a thermometer through the foil, into the thickest part).
  8. Rest for 10 minutes in the foil parcel, then slide onto a large serving dish and spoon some of the juices over. I served the rest at the table in a small jug. I wish we had had crusty bread to mop some of the juices up too.

This fish was enough for us for our dinner last night and again today we had it cold with the leftover salad for lunch.

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