Heading North.

Trip Start Nov 09, 2008
Trip End Apr 02, 2009

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Flag of Australia  ,
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We left Sydney on 3rd January heading up the East Coast.  We decide to head as far north as we could and then take our time coming back.  As has often happened (in Japan and Malaysia) we realised that we were amidst a public holiday, and as we started to leave Sydney we found ourselves in queues of traffic heading to the coast.

Obviously, on this side of the world the children have their summer holidays at this time of year and don't return to school until the end of January.  In addition, it was the end of the two week Christmas holiday and people were heading to the beach for the final weekend as well as returning south to Sydney.  So we made slower progress on day one of travelling north than we anticipated.  Despite this we managed to reach Taree and, although motel rooms were in short supply, we found a place. 

Day two saw better progress and we managed to reach Caboolture (renamed as Carbootle by Yvonne).  Most of the time was spent on the road with stops every couple of hours.  The authorities in New South Wales are very hot on the idea of fighting deaths on the road due to tiredness and there are frequent stops indicated by signs saying 'Stop, Revive, Survive' which D has to say in a superb Australian accent each time.  At these stops there are stalls which offer free drinks to the driver.  At one stop there was a Lions Club trailer carrying out this service!  Queensland doesn't have so many of these stops so maybe they haven't taken on the campaign so actively. 

We are also enjoying many of the road signs.  The one that everyone takes pictures of (which we haven't as yet!) is the warning sign for kangaroos.  There is a similar one for koalas, but we haven't seen an ostrich one yet.  The one Yvonne likes is the one facing the opposite direction on dual carriageways which doesn't beat about the bush and says 'Wrong Way. Go Back.'  No room for misunderstanding there!  One of the highlights was seeing a monitor lizard, about two feet long, crossing the on the road. 

Having arrived at Caboolture we stopped briefly for a snack and let Steven play in a little playground whilst we had a cup of coffee.  Steven was having a great time and had found a little girl who took him under her wing and they were playing well, going down some big slides together.  Next thing we knew, Yvonne recognised Steven's crying.  He was beside himself so she crawled into the equipment to retrieve him where he was dripping blood everywhere.  It transpired that two older boys (little yobs!) had been climbing up the slides and had been pushing children out the way when they got to the top and had shoved Steven and he hit his face against one of the posts. You never saw two children and a family leave as fast as they did after Steven started crying!  Steven had a fat lip for a day or two and a little bump on his head but is now fully recovered.

With the weather at its hottest so far we headed further north and arrived at Gladstone.  Following such good progress on day two we had ideas of reaching Cairns, but by the time we pitched camp at Gladstone we decided that it wasn't terribly fair on Steven to spend another two days in the car and there were reports of monsoon weather coming over from the Bay of Carpentaria to the east coast.  There had been some major flooding on the Queensland and Northern Territories border already.  Decision therefore made to start heading back south tomorrow - in short journeys!

We stayed at a motel in Gladstone which overlooked the largest aluminium works in Australia, which we thought was making a lot of noise shortly after we arrived, however as the evening went on we realised that there wasn't much noise coming from the factory and the noises we heard were probably whales calling to each other out at sea.  We are not certain of this, but whales do come to the area, and we would rather believe the more romantic whale explanation!
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