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Merry Christmas – enjoy the holidays!

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Hi all,

 

We’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year… and what a year it’s been!

 

We started 2015 in Cairns, where we stayed until May, working and biding our time until we had to fly home for two weddings.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Once we were on the road again, our task was fairly simple – explore the east coast of Australia.  After a magical visit at Paronella Park, we passed through Townsville and Mackay before heading inland to the beautiful Lake Elphinstone.

 

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We cruised through the Central Highlands before returning to the coast. We ate beef in Rockhampton, drank rum in Bundaberg, then caught a ferry to Fraser Island. We gave the Troopy a 4WD workout at Landcruiser Mountain Park and watched the rain clouds come in on the Sunshine Coast.

 

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We spent about three weeks in Brisbane because Dave needed some medical attention, but it was great to spend time with friends in that beautiful city.  As we approached the Gold Coast, the dark clouds returned and by the time we got to the Best Of All Lookouts, we couldn’t see a thing!

 

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We crossed the border into New South Wales and bee-lined straight to Byron Bay for a few days in the easternmost town of Australia. We were lucky to get a few days of sun but the drizzle returned as we made our way to Coffs Harbour.  Finally, with some sun, we got to enjoy the beautiful coastline from Port Macquarie to Newcastle.

 

 

We enjoyed a tipple in the Hunter Valley before spending a week on the Central Coast, helping out a family with their household duties while Juz scored some work with a school holiday program in Gosford.

 

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Arriving in Sydney was a little surreal. It’s the biggest city in Australia and we spent a lot of time walking around the city getting exhausted. We also have a few friends in Sydney so it was great to catch up and spend time with them.

 

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We headed inland to the Blue Mountains and Central West just in time for a freakish cold front to sweep through the area. We had the pleasure of experiencing subzero temperatures and snow, as well as seeing the Dish in Parkes and exotic animals at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

 

 

With a few more friendly visits in Kiama and Milton, and a stop at the Big Merino in Goulburn, we finally visited our country’s capital. We called in at the War Memorial and National Mint and even saw our old travel buddies Tom and Bella.

 

 

Once we returned to the coast, the wet weather reappeared and we reached the Victorian border within a day or two. From then on, there was no point stuffing around – we were 4 hours from home.  On Sunday the 2nd of August, we rolled in unannounced and enjoyed a hot shower and warm bed.

 

Since our return to Melbourne, we’ve been busy.  We got jobs, reconnected with friends, and started making plans for the future.

 

We’re going to take a few weeks off to enjoy the silly season and spend time with our family and friends. We’ll see you all in the new year with more posts about the last leg of our lap around Australia, as well as our run down of Tassie later in the year.

 

Thanks for all your support,

 

Dave & Juz

 

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Town Profile : Bowen

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We rolled into Bowen on a Saturday morning and after having breakfast on the Front Beach by the jetty, we went for a drive up to Flagstaff Hill for brilliant views of the town and surrounding islands off the coast.  It was fairly quiet so we spent some time checking out the murals around town that depict various aspects of the region’s history.

 

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Two groups of settlers that were exploring the area met at Port Denison and created a settlement, and then founded it as a town the next day in April 1861.  Port Denison was later renamed Bowen in 1865 after Queensland’s first Governor.  These days, the main industries that support the area include mining, fishing and agriculture – particularly mangoes, hence the Big Mango, which was erected in 2002 as part of a community campaign to revitalise tourism.

 

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Things To See And Do

Horseshoe Bay

One of the prettiest beaches we have visited in Queensland.  Surrounded by rocky headlands, it’s well sheltered and has a few corals just off the beach.  We explored the rocks and snorkelled in the warm water before moving on.

 

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Jockheim’s Pies

This bakery is a local favourite and has been operating since 1963.  They’ve won awards for various loaves and pies, so we couldn’t resist having a bite.  We got one of their Bowen Pies with tomato, onion and mango chutney, as well as a bacon and cheese pie.  Both were delicious, as expected, and fuelled us all the way to dinner.

 

Proserpine

About 45 minutes south east of Bowen is Proserpine.  This little town is located within the Whitsunday Region but misses out on the tourism because of nearby Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands.  Sure, it’s a small town, but it has three pubs, a major supermarket, and two of the coolest shops we have ever seen.

 

Colour Me Crazy is the most colourful shop you will ever see.  They sell jewellery, home wares, clothes and various odds and ends, and each room is styled and colour coded to match whatever tastes you have.  Just around the corner is Garden Art Alley, another shop that is almost like an art gallery!  They sell statues and fountains, and cool outdoor furniture.

 

 

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Big Things : The Big Mango, Bowen QLD

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Bowen is Queensland’s mango capital and is known for the Kensington Pride, a variety of mango that is sweet and fleshy without the stringiness.  Therefore, it would be silly not to erect a 3 tonne, 10 metre high mango, which cost $90,000 to design and build.

 

The Big Mango was erected in 2002 as part of a community campaign to revitalise tourism.  It’s certainly helped put Bowen on the map, particularly after a 2014 publicity stunt whereby the Big Mango was stolen.  Nando’s confessed to the heist which was aimed to promote their new mango and lime flavour.  It has since been returned to its home next to the Bowen Tourist Information Centre on the Bruce Highway.

 

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