Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Tuesday 4th May 2004 to Thursday 6th May 2004

Tuesday 4th May 2004

What an amazing start to the day.... we actually managed to get up and moving by about 8:40am, wonders will never cease!

We headed out of Tamworth on the New England Highway through Kootingal and Moonbi before climbing up Moonbi Hill which is a pretty long steep up hill stretch of roadway. We were very impressed with the Patrol because even through it was towing 2.016 tonne of caravan (plus contents) it slowed down to about forty kilometres per hour then just kept on going. The heat gauge did not move and it didn't miss a beat (not that we expected anything else).

This took us on to Uralla which was the territory of the New England bush ranger, 'Thunderbolt'. We then continued along the highway to Armidale where we diverted through the centre of the city. This is quite a large place if comparing it with towns or cities in country Western Australia and although maybe not as spread out as Bunbury, the centre of the city appeared to be larger. The autumn trees in the streets of Armidale (and many of the other towns) were quite magnificent, showing a great range of splendid colours.

From Armidale we still headed north along the New England Highway through Black Mountain, Guyra, Llonglathin, Glencoe, Glen Innes, Dundee, Deepwater, Sandyflat and Bungulla before arriving in Tenterfield at about 1:00:pm.

This drive was through undulating hills for a start then toward the end the hills became steeper, higher and more frequent. It was very picturesque most of the way but the closer we came to Tenterfield the better it became, looking over valleys and into the steep sides of high hills or mountains. Certainly a drive that I would recommend to anyone heading this way in the future.

Once in Tenterfield we set up the caravan in the 'Tenterfield Lodge' caravan Park and then took a drive around the town. We visited the 'Saddlery' that was owned by George Woolnough from 1908 through to his retirement in 1960. George was Peter Allen's grandfather and is the subject of his song 'The Tenterfield Saddler'. We also went past the home of George and took a photograph of that as well. There are a number of National Parks within an hours drive of Tenterfield that make it tempting to stay longer, however we have decided that we will pass this way again one day and maybe have more time to visit them then.

Tomorrow we intend to head in toward the coast and then north toward the Queensland border.

Thunderbolt - New England Bush ranger

George Woolnough's Saddlery from 1908 -60
Grandfather of Peter Allen and subject of song
'The Tenterfield Saddler'

Wednesday 5th May 2004

Another one of those amazing days where we were actually up and ready to go by 8:10am. We hit the road through Tenterfield and took the Buxner Highway east toward Casino.

Not long out of Tenterfield we came across a sign that said 'The Great Dividing Range' and then a short distance later there was another sign that said 35 km winding road. They got that one wrong because after about 100 km we were still winding.... However the scenery was worth it all and we kept turning around to speak to Judy - it was just like we were back in Tasmania. After the first two hours we had only averaged about 60 kilometres per hour.

In that time we passed through Sandy Hills, Girard State Forest, Drake, Tabulum, Woodview Piori and then we arrived in Casino. We thought Casino was a great little city with all the shops that anyone could require. From Casino we continued on the Buxner Highway to Lismore which we also thought was a great little city.

Then it was on through Alstoneville, onto the Pacific Highway for a short distance into Ballina where we took a deviation and traveled out through Lennox Head, Suffolk Park and into Byron Bay, which we decided that it appeared to be a bit over rated, however in fairness we did only pass through the town.

The closer we came to the coast the greener the pasture became and by the time we drove along to Byron Bay we were in very lush green forest country. This is such a change from all we have been through up until now and that even includes most of Tasmania.

From Byron Pay we came back onto the Pacific Highway until we reached Tweed Head. We entered the Gold Coast Highway that meandered through Tweed Head, Coolangatta Currumbin, Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads and the high rise area of Surfers Paradise.

From here it was a little bit of luck and a few road signs we found our way through Labradore and finally set ourselves up in Bay 249, Treasure Island Holiday Park, Biggera Waters QLD 4216 and intend to stay here for at least the next 5 nights, however we are already talking of making it a full week before we move on as with the theme parks etc there is so much to see and do.

Over the Great Dividing Range

The Raw Prawn

Set up in Treasure Island Caravan Park

Thursday 6th May 2004

Not too many kilometres today but it was still a full day just the same. We were able to take it a little slower (No, we were not standing still!) this morning as it was our plan to visit Sea World today.

After purchasing the tickets from the Caravan Park office to attend Sea World, we made a telephone call to an old friends of the family, Les and Patti Nash who once were in the crayfishing business in Western Australia. Patti answered the phone and we had a great chat, with the result of a visit to their home coming up in the next few days. We look forward to that.

Then it was off to Sea World just after 10am, arriving shortly after it opened. Our first activity was a visit to Dolphin Cove to see the show that the dolphins put on twice each day. We have to say that we don't really like animals kept in captivity just for the profit of the human race, however these dolphins do have quite a large area and appear not only to be well cared for, they really do seem to enjoy putting on these performances.

After the dolphins, we went to the Polar Bear swimming pool where one of these animals were lazing around in an area simulating a summer in their place of origin. Then it was on to Shark Bay where some people were swimming with some of the smaller sharks and rays, however just through a sheet of glass or perspex, there were a number of much larger sharks and rays waiting for a feed. We viewed the sharks from above water and also through glass into their domain.

Next was a display by humans, it was a water ski display that provided some very skilful skiing exhibitions. 'One of us' thought it must have used quite a bit of energy and that we should re-charge the stomach before going too much further. This was achieved without a great deal of effort before we took the mono rail that travels around the whole of Sea World.

The next performers were sea lions or seals. We have to admit that we have never seen anything like these seals, we agree that although the humans in the 'play' performed their parts quite well.the sea lions did a much better job and didn't miss a line or action all the way through the performance. Bearing in mind that although they may be tame and friendly to their trainers, these animals are still wild animals and do this all for food and affection, they are not physically restrained at any time during the performance. When videoing their performance at one stage I couldn't keep the camera still because it was so funny.

After this we needed a seat so we took one, it was an expensive seat because it was in the Sea World helicopter that took us for a flight out over Surfers Paradise and down to Burnliegh Head and back again. It only lasted fifteen minutes and we though we had actually bought the helicopter when we paid for our tickets, but it was a great experience. 'One of us' had never been in a helicopter before and loved it, the other one had been in a lot of helicopters before when in Vietnam, but never before in one just for fun like this.

Next was a ride in the Skyway (Chairlift with enclosed seating) that took us over the top of a number of the exhibits in Sea World. This was a return trip and we found ourselves back near the souvenir shop so 'one of us' had to visit that location and added to the load the caravan has to carry.

The last exhibits we attended were the Aquarium which consisted of a good number of smaller aquarium windows containing a variety of fish. Then we went on to the 'Reef Discovery' Live Underwater Show which is in fact a short film and then an informative presentation in front of a huge glass front of an aquarium.

After all this it was now 4:30pm, over 6 hours since we walked in and as the park closed at 5pm, we though it must be time to leave. This was a great day and we would highly recommend it to anyone who had the chance to visit Sea World in the Future.

The Dolphins in Dolphin Cove

$$$ Helicopter ride $$$

(A small part of) Surfers Paradise from the air

Sea World