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Touchdown : Devonport & Latrobe

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We rolled off the Spirit of Tasmania and has a very brief stop in Devonport for coffee and breakfast before continuing on to more exciting ventures.

 

Devonport

Devonport is a simple city of just over 25,000 people. It started off as two settlements on either side of the Mersey River – Formby and Torquay. As the shipping industry grew and the Bluff lighthouse was built, regular services to and from Melbourne began and in 1890, a public vote united the two settlements and they became the town of Devonport. It was declared a city in 1981.

There isn’t that much to do in Devonport so after you’ve grabbed a coffee and done your grocery shopping, it’s time to move on.

 

The Ferry Terminal

The first place we touched down onto Tasmanian soil. It’s amazing to watch the Spirit of Tasmania come and go, with a big bellow of its horn. The Spirit’s presence in Devonport would be a safe and familiar thing for the locals.

 

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The Rectory Cafe

We met up with Scott after disembarking and had a coffee here. The place is totally cute but the coffee was not quite up to scratch.

 

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The Laneway

This place was on our radar for breakfast because it’s the highest rated cafe in Devonport. We can declare that the coffee is great, and while the prices are a little high, the meals are good too. Dave got the Laneway Breakfast with mushroom, spinach, hash browns, bacon, eggs, local chipolatas and sourdough bread. Juz was craving some smashed avo, broad beans and feta, with crispy pancetta and sourdough toast. The cafe also sells local produce like eggs and deli meats.

 

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Spirit of the Sea statue

At the entrance of the Mersey River is a fountain of nude Poseidon, named the Spirit of the Sea. While it may not have any significant connection with the Devonport community, its perch offers great views of the coastline around Devonport. There’s a great walking track on the foreshore that follows the coast all the way to Mersey Bluff.

 

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Mersey Bluff Lookout

The Mersey Bluff is the home of the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse, which stands 37 metres tall and was built in 1889 just before Devonport was established as one town instead of two settlements.   There’s a path that goes around the base of the bluff to a lookout over the Bass Strait.

 

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Latrobe

This small town is located just 8km south of Devonport along the Mersey River. The area was first settled in 1826 and in 1973, the town was officially named after Charles Joseph Latrobe – the administrator for the colony of Tasmania.

Even though the town is small, it’s alive and has its own personality. There are trash and treasure markets every Sunday, and just alongside the variety store is the best display of photo ops we have seen in a while.

 

 

The Australian Axemans Hall of Fame

There are a few reasons to stop off at this location. This tourist information and function centre is a great place to stop for maps and info on the local area, learn about the achievements of Australia’s sporting wood choppers, and see one of Australia’s big things – the Big Platypus.

 

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The Big Merino, Goulburn NSW

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One of the more well know big things, the Big Merino is a huge ram made of concrete that stands 15.2 metres tall, 18 metres long and weights a whopping 97 tonnes.  The brainchild of two Hungarian brothers, Attila and Louis Mokany, the attraction opened in September 1985 and is a monument to Goulburn and the district’s wool industry.  It’s also known as Rambo by the locals, as it was modelled after a stud ram from a local property.

 

Within the Big Merino is a gift shop on the ground floor and a wool display on the second floor. You can also climb to the top and look through the Merino’s eyes!

 

In 1992, the Hume Highway was redirected to bypass Goulburn, and this resulted in a reduction of tourists.  To remedy this, Rambo was moved in 2007 to the Hume Highway interchange at a petrol station 800m down the road.  Their website has a great image of Rambo coming down the street!

 

http://www.bigmerino.com.au/

 

Goulburn

Goulburn is a regional city in the southern tablelands of NSW and right in the heart of Capital Country; the area surrounding Canberra and the ACT.  This area includes Bowral and Belangalo State forest in the north, Yass in the west and Braidwood in the east.

 

Goulburn is also known as Australia’s first inland city with the first recorded settler in 1825, and it has been proclaimed a city twice – once unofficially in 1863 by virtue of a Royal Letters Patent issued by Queen Victoria to establish the Diocese of Goulburn, and then again officially in 1885.  Our visit featured the newly refurbished Goulburn War Memorial, which also offers a view over the city, and the Big Merino, before continuing on to Canberra.

 

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Belanglo State Forest

If you didn’t know the story about Belanglo, then you’d think the campgrounds in the heart of the forest would be a great place to set up for the night.  However, Dave had bought Juz a book about Ivan Milat, one of Australia’s worst serial killers who used to pick up hitch hikers and backpackers then brutally murder them and leave their bodies in Belanglo State Forest.

 

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We drove through the forest and found the campground, but there was no way we were going to stay the night knowing what had happened there.  We stayed for about 2 minutes and then left to drive 20km up the road to the next rest area.

 

That night, we were reading in the cabin and the light suddenly started to flicker before going out, leaving us in darkness.  If that had happened while in Belanglo, Juz would have lost her shit.

 

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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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Big Things : The Big Mosquito, Hexham NSW

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The Big Mosquito was built in 1993 and is nicknamed Ozzie the Mozzie.  It is located outside the Hexham Bowls Club and is modelled after a local mosquito called the Hexham Grey.  The original Ozzie disappeared in 2010 and was never recovered.  The replacement Ozzie was put up around two months later, new and improved with eyes that light up at night.

 

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Big Things : The Big (Little) Ayers Rock, Karuah NSW

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This has got to be one of the worst big things we have ever seen, not only because it’s as ugly as a dropped pie but also because it’s not big at all – it’s actually SMALLER than the real thing!  The Leyland Brothers are responsible for this tacky eyesore, which is located at the Rock Service Centre and serves as a petrol station and food court.

 

The 1/40 scale Uluru and the attached theme park – called Leyland Brothers World – were opened in 1990.  By 1992, the Leyland Brothers were bankrupt and the bank was forced to sell the park.

 

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Big Things : The Big Kookaburra, Kurri Kurri NSW

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Possibly one of the newest big things, this 4.5 metre sculpture of a kookaburra was erected in 2009 to celebrate Hydro Aluminium’s 40th year in the area.  Hydro Aluminium is a Norwegian company that has projects in more than 50 countries.  The aluminium plant is nearby but Hydro decided to close it in 2012.

 

The kookaburra is a symbol that has been used by the community for many years. The sculpture stands in Rotary Park in the centre of town.  We love kookaburras and we were really pleased to stumble across this well built and beautifully painted Big Kookaburra – it’s definitely one of our favourite big things.
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The Big Lawn Bowl, Lake Cathie NSW

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When we heard of the Big Bowl, we were expecting a big bowl… something that you eat your cereal out of, not a big lawn bowl!  For that reason, we nearly drove past this big thing!

 

The Big Lawn Bowl was erected in 1975 out the front of the Lake Cathie Bowling Club.  It’s 1.9m in diameter with a 5.98m circumference and weighs 2 tonnes.

 

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Big Things : The Big Golden Guitar, Tamworth NSW

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Tamworth is the country music capital of Australia, so it seems apt to have a giant guitar to commemorate that.  The Big Golden Guitar is 12 metres tall and is a replica of the award given out at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which is held annually in January.  It was unveiled in 1988 by Slim Dusty, who has won more golden guitars than any other Australian country music artist.

 

The tourist centre is open from 9am to 5pm and includes a wax museum, gift shop, café and music store.  It’s closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day, but you can still see the Guitar from the outside.

 

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The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour NSW

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The Big Banana is Australia’s first big thing!  It was built in 1964 outside a banana plantation to draw in customers but over the years, it’s grown into a massive tourist attraction and amusement park.  The Big Banana recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and it’s such an important Aussie icon that our former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, took time out of his busy schedule to congratulate the iconic landmark on its birthday.

 

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The Big Banana Fun Park includes plantation tours, a downhill toboggan ride, laser tag arena, ice skating rink, a waterslide and the World of Bananas educational experience.  There’s even a souvenir shop and café that sells banana jam and chocolate coated bananas.  During the peak tourist season, the Big Banana can receive close to 150,000 visitors, although these days, the entrance is looking a little tired.

 

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Still, the Big Banana is a great Aussie icon and we were stoked to see it in all it’s big yellow glory.

 

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Big Things : The Big Prawn, Ballina NSW

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Built in 1989, the Big Prawn started off tail-less and sat upon the West Ballina transit centre.  Visitors could go into a viewing deck within the Prawn’s head and lookout through its bulging eyes.  It’s since undergone a makeover and moved to a new location outside the Bunnings Warehouse on River Street.

 

Plans for demolition by the Ballina Shire Council in 2009 were halted when the community banded together and petitioned for their beloved icon to remain.  The 2013 restoration cost around $400,000 and gave the Big Prawn a tail.  It currently stands 9 metres high and weighs around 35 tonne.   Shortly after the makeover, the adjacent Bunnings Warehouse went up for sale and sold for a whopping $21.3 million.

 

This is one of our favourite big things because it is certainly didn’t shrimp out on being big.  It also looked fantastic from its recent renewal. Where’s a giant BBQ when you need one?

 

 

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Explore : The Sunshine Coast

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Located about 100km north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is the third most populated area in Queensland and stretches from Trewantin in the north to Pelican Waters in the south.  It includes the towns and beaches along the coast, as well as villages and lakes in the Hinterland.

 

The region’s first white inhabitants in the 1820s were runaway convicts from the Moreton Bay penal colony.  In 1842, a British Governor declared the area a protected reserve to conserve the bunya trees, an important part of the local Aboriginal culture.  Unfortunately, during this time, the Bunya Bunya Reserve became the battleground for the Black War, a time of conflict between British settlers and Aboriginal people, but because cattle farmers and timber cutters exploiting the area, the reserve was later dissolved.

 

The towns along the coast started off as little ports for the timber industry, and grew somewhat when sugar cane and pineapples were introduced to the area, but the big boom came after the 1960s.  The Sunshine Coast had earned the reputation of a holiday destination, and various theme parks and tourist attractions were created, like the Big Pineapple at Nambour.

 

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Our visit to the Sunshine Coast was brief but enjoyable.  We started in the Hinterland, which was our favourite part – the little villages up there have so much character.  It started raining shortly after we arrived at Noosa, so once we did a quick lap to see the Big Pelican, we cruised down along the coast towards Caloundra.

 

Feeling a little big soggy, we made for Caboolture and stayed with some friends that we made in Darwin.  It was a great opportunity to catch up and swap a few stories as we dried off and prepared for our time in Brisbane.

 

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Noosa to Caloundra

We were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to explore Noosa a little more.  It was really busy and congested because of the Food and Wine Festival and not long after we arrived, it started to rain.  We managed a few laps of Hastings Street, a popular shopping strip with big name brands up at Noosa Heads, before heading over to the Big Pelican at Noosaville.  Everything in Noosa has the word Noosa in it – Noosa Spit, Noosa Springs, Noosa North Shore, Noosa, Noosa, Noosa!  The rain and the conceitedness chased us out of town.

 

Apart from the Big Pelican, there are two other big things on the Sunshine Coast.  The Big Pineapple is south of Nambour and Juz remembers from when she was a little girl that this was a very popular attraction.  North of Nambour is the Big Cow, which stands on a hill near a closed training facility.  While you’re in the area, take some time to stop at Wabba Dam in Yandina, or the Tina Cooper Gallery in Eumundi – the glass artwork is amazing.

 

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We followed the coast to the central business district of the Sunshine Coast.  We swapped some books at a book exchange in Maroochydore and walked out onto the beach, but the grey clouds overhead made everything seem drab.

 

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Further south in Mooloolaba, we spotted a statue of Steve Irwin with his two kids, and it was here that we returned a few days later to finally get a picture of the Sunshine Coast with the sun out.  In fact, the sun was so welcome that all the bearded dragons were out to enjoy it.

 

Not far from Maroochydore is Buderim Forest Park and Serenity Falls.  If you love rainforests and waterfalls, then you must make the time to stop here.  You will also be treated to displays from beautiful birds, such as Emerald Doves and Rufous Fantails, a relative of the common willy wagtail.

 

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With the sun soon on the horizon, we didn’t have much time to explore Caloundra.  We visited Dicky Beach, named after the shipwreck of the SS Dicky, an iron steamboat that ran aground in 1893.  It’s the only beach in the world to be named after a shipwreck.  We also ducked into Kings Beach and saw the beachfront salt water pool, but with the fading light, we had to go and find camp.

 

For the entire drive down the coast, all we could smell was hot chips from all the fish and chip shops.  By the time we got to Caloundra, we were craving chips and stopped in at a takeaway food shop near Dicky Beach to get a serving of beer batter chips with chicken salt.

 

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Another great place to stop for a treat is Dutchy’s Bakehouse in Sippy Downs. Their pies are awesome – perhaps one of the best pies we’ve had in Australia.  They also do specialty Dutch sweets, like traditional fruit loaves and oliebol – delicious apple and sultana doughnuts.

 

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The Hinterland

We woke up at the Little Yabba Rest Area about 6km from Kenilworth after a massive hair-raising day of offroading at the Landcruiser Mountain Park.  Nearby was the Fig Tree Walk that lead us on a 1km mossy path through the forest of enormous fig trees.

 

From there, we got on the George Wyer Scenic Drive, a lovely route through the Hinterland with rolling green hills and fat cows.  The first town we passed through was Mapleton, a cute little community on the northern end of the Blackall Range.  It was a timber cutters’ town until the late 1950s, before becoming a tourist destination because of the awesome views from the elevation.

 

Our favourite location along the George Wyer Scenic Drive was Montville, an adorable little village that dates back to 1887.  With buildings that reflect a variety of architectural styles from Irish and English to Bavarian and Swiss, it had a lot of charm and we recommend you take the time to wander around.  There are plenty of eclectic stores and cafes, but what really took our breath away was the Montville Sandstone Chapel that overlooks the valley.

 

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On the southern end of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are the Glass House Mountains, a cluster of eleven hills that rise up from the plain.  They’re all volcanic lava plugs that formed around 27 million years ago and over time, the weaker rock around them has worn away to reveal the hard rock peaks.

 

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The Big Pelican, Noosaville QLD

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Located at Noosaville Lions Park along the Noosa River, the Big Pelican was built around 1977 as a float for the Festival of Waters Parade.  As the emblem of Noosa Council at the time, it’s called Percy the Pelican, possibly after Mr Percival from Storm Boy.  The pelican can rotate its head, blink its eyes, open and close its bill, flap its winds and even wiggle its tail, all controlled by a collection of levers, pulleys and ropes from within.

 

Originally, the Big Pelican was a metal frame with chicken wire and papier mache, but because this wasn’t waterproof, it was later rebuilt with fibreglass.  During the 1980s, it fell into disrepair and was relocated several times – at one point it even capsized in the Noosa River.  It was eventually dumped on a block of land before being discovered by the owners of the Pelican Boat Hire company.  The Big Pelican was restored and set up as a permanent fixture near Pelican Boat Hire along the foreshore of the Noosa River.  That said, it is mounted on a trailer and is sometimes used for street parades.  The restoration cost over $10,000 and took 6 months to complete.

 

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Big Things : The Big Cow, Yandina QLD

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The Big Cow is located just north of Nambour and was built by Hugh Anderson in 1976 – he’s the guy who is responsible the Big Bulls of Rockhampton.  The Big Cow is made of cement, stands 15 metres high, is 7.6 metres long and weighs around 10 tonnes.  It was originally built to attract tourists to a working dairy farm.

 

It currently stands out the front of an old training centre for the marine, mining and disability industries.  The property went up for auction recently so we’re excited to see what will happen to the Big Cow next.

 

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