Tuesday 26th June 2012
Day 38 - Clermont to Sapphire - 163kms.

It was a cold night, so I used my sleepingbag and slept very well. It drizzled all night, I awoke around 6:00am, and got up and after we surfed the internet, finishing packing up and were on the road at 8:22am and headed towards Capella. Our first stop was at Capella in the drizzle and then we continued onto Emerald in the drizzle, we couldn't find an easy spot to stop, so we continued onto the rest area about 20kms from Sapphire. We arrived in downtown Sapphire, actual Sapphire doesn't have a downtown, only a General Store, a Dump Point and our caravan park that also sells fuel, that's about it, Rubyvale is the metropolis. Anyway, I digressed, we drove past the caravan park and went straight to the dump point and emptied the shitter. Arrived at the caravan park at 11:03am and after parking the fiver on our site, I changed into shorts and T shirt and raincoat and straw hat and did a full setup in the drizzle. When I finished, I used the park's shower and it was beautiful. After a late lunch, we drove through Sapphire and onto Rubyvale to check out everything, but all the areas that sell wash were closed due to the weather. We did stop at the cafe and had coffee and cake, the cakes were Yumma.
Dinner was pies and complimented with a few chilled refreshers and as usual very yumma, the pies were pretty good also.

Tomorrow, we are checking out the surrounding towns like Anakie and The Willows.

No photos today. I'm slack.

Wednesday 27th June 2012
Day 39 - Sightseeing around Sapphire.

Another cold night, still using my sleepingbag and slept very well. It drizzled all night, I awoke around 7:25am, a nice sleepin.
As the weather was still not pleasant, so we decided to check out Anakie and Willows. Anakie wasn't much, a pub and a caravan park and not much else we couldn't find any shops, so we then drove about 50kms to Willows. Willows is still not much better than Anakie but it did have 2 caravan parks, we also couldn't find any shops. It rained for all our drive, so everything was wet and naturally, didn't look that flash. We think that Sapphire suits us better than Anakie and Willows.
Back at camp, we needed to visit the pharmacy for some eye drops, so we visited the local pharmacy but it was closed. Go figure. It was meant to be open Monday to Friday.

We both spent the arvo laying on the bed reading, but as expected I nodded off for a quick nanna nap.
Dinner tonight was chicken and vegies (YUMMA) and a few chilled refreshers. Nothing on TV, so we watched Pictures of You taped last night. We usually tape TV at night, so we can go to bed and read. I am still reading Steve Job's life story, it is a great read.

Tomorrow, we are checking out Emerald and doing some food shopping, The forecast is for clearing drizzle. We will wait and see.

No photos today. I'm slack.

Thursday 28th June 2012
Day 40 - Shopping in Emerald.

Another cold night, still using my sleepingbag and slept very well. Very light drizzle this morning, but it soon stopped. I managed to sleep until 7:30am, which is good, Marg managed to sleep in until after 8am.
About mid morning we headed off to Emerald, about 50kms away, to buy a plug for the shower, some eye drops and do some food shopping at Centro Emerald Village. First stop was at Mitre 10 and bought a 44mm plug. Next stop was Centro, after walking the entire shopping centre, which had probably 20 shops, we had coffee and muffin at Suzies, Very YUMMA. Did the food shopping, also bought a 30 can block of XXXX Gold and then drove back to camp.
Had lunch at camp, lovely egg sangas. It was still overcast, but I still managed to walk down to the river and take a few photos. Only about 4 weeks ago, the Retreat river got to within 6 inches of going over the levee bank surrounding the caravan park. Unbelieveable. Now it is still flowing but slowly dropping, it will stop flowing soon. After my photos I sat outside under the awning and read my Steve Job ebook, then about 4pm, the SUN BROKE THROUGH THE CLOUDS, it was beautiful sitting in the sun, so WARM!!!!! We expect tomorrow to sunny. It has been rainy since last Saturday.

Dinner was Marg's Mixed Meal bloody YUMMA.

Tomorrow, assuming it is sunny, we plan to buy buckets of 'sapphire wash' and fossick for sapphires.

Retreat river still dropping.

In April the river flooded and nearly reached the vans.

Flood reached 6 inches below the levee behind the vans.

Our camp.

Our camp.

Helmeted Guineafowl.

View from our Caravan Park.

Blue Gem CP from out the front.

Friday 29th June 2012
Day 41 - Fossicking at Monique's.

Another cold night, still using my sleepingbag and slept very well. I managed to sleep until 6:30am, Marg managed to sleep in until after 7am.
About mid morning we headed off to Armfest to buy some buckets of 'wash' (wash is gravel that hopefully contains sapphires dug from mines and sold to various locations that we can buy and sieve through, it saves you from digging yourself). So we arrived at Arm fest, but it was full, people everywhere, so we left and drove into Rubyvale, 10kms away, and checked out Monique's. We purchased 3 buckets of wash for $25 and spent at least 2 hours sieving through it. We found several sapphires but none of any quality, that's the luck of the draw. After finishing at Monique's we called into Gunter's Muggachino for some of his world famous strudel and coffee. Two years ago, when we were last at Gunters, our 2 coffees cost a $1,000, Marg also got a 3 sapphire ring, very nice. Gunter does have the gift of the gab, he also remembered us.
Back at camp, we had lunch and spent the afternoon sitting in the glorious sunshine reading, I am still reading Steve Job's ebook, he has just released the iPad. It is a brilliant book, getting closer to the end.
Dinner is macaroni cheese, which is very YUMMA.

Tomorrow for something difficult, assuming it is sunny, earlier in the morning, we plan to buy buckets of 'sapphire wash' and fossick for sapphires.

No photos today. (A senior moment, while we went sieving through buckets of wash, my camera was hanging on my chair outside, I forgot that I left it there.)

Saturday 30th June 2012
Day 42 - Fossicking at Armfest and Willy's Wash.

The new 'norm' is now a cold frosty night with clear sunny days. My sleepingbag is a constant now, as the clouds have departed and the nights are back to cold with beautiful sunny,c risp mornings followed by warm afternoons. While I write this outside under the awning, my feet are in the sun and I can feel a touch of sunburn, but hey, I will put up with that.
Anyway enough of the weather report, I think that you get the gist, it is back to beautiful weather. Yesterday, when we visited Armfest, the joint was full, there was a queue of people waiting to fossick, so we left and said we would returm early this morning. Well, we returned at 8:30am this morning and guess what, we were the second couple to arrive and so had heaps of choice. We ended up buying 2 buckets of wash ($20 a bucket) and didn't find much, so Marg wanted to try Willy's Wash. We drove over to Rubyvale about 8kms away and parked out the front of Willy's wash, we were Glen's first customers for the day, so we bought a bucket $20 a bucket, but our luck was better, we found a couple of small cutters. We said our goodbye to Glen and said we will return, probably tomorrow after the market.

While in Rubyvale we went and visited Gunter at Muggachinos, as I said yesterday, he makes Rubyvale's best Strudel, so again we had a coffee and strudel each, it was bloody YUMMA!. I took a couple of photos of Gunter's new 'Strudel Hut', in the sunshine, it is very pleasant sitting outside under his trees and shrubs. On the way back to camp, we stopped at Al's Luck, to check out what his mine is about. He sells wash for $10 a bucket and you can check it out on his property, so we may visit him later.

During the afternoon, we relaxed by sitting outside in the sun and moving into the shade ocassionally. I have finished my Steve Job's ebook and it was brilliant and sad. I have just started another biography on Pablo Escobar - Columbian Drug Lord written by his brother Roberto.
Dinner is leftover macaroni cheese from last night and it will be very YUMMA.

Tomorrow morning, get up early and walk over to the market on the Sapphire footy oval, and hopefully, don't buy too much 'stuff'. Later in the day, we may buy some wash and look for sapphires.

Where did our neighbours go?

The rainbow lorikeets are extremely friendly.

The tame roo at Armfest.

Marg (middle) fossicking at Armfest.

The Strudel Hut. Nice back, Marg.

Gunter the man who makes great Strudel and sold us a ring 2 years ago.

Sunday 1st July 2012
Day 43 - Sapphire's Sunday market and Willy Wash.

Before I write today's update, I will try and paint the picture. Here we go.
Think of cloudless, blue skies, and gum trees along a river bank, birds (Rainbow Lorikeets, Cockies and galahs singing and chirping, their sounds breaking the stillness, the muffled sounds of fellow campers just talking with a chilled refresher in their hands, Marg sitting, spread eagled on her collapsible lounge reading her iPad in the sun with her right arm shielding the sun from eyes, I am sitting in the shade of our clothesline, so my bald spot doesn't get sunburnt, ocassionally a car will drive past drowning out the bird sounds, but most of the time, you can only hear the bird sounds. Now there is a cocky flew past making a screeching sound. This is the shit that Marg and I have to put up with.
It reminds me of the famous quote from "The Castle" ahhhh, the serenity. I just read this to Marg and she said that I keep breaking the serenity and would I just shut up. Yes, my little viper.

Ah Yes, where was I before I got carried away with the serenity.

The weather is the new 'norm' which is now a cold frosty night with clear sunny days. My sleepingbag is a constant now, as the clouds have departed and the nights are back to cold with beautiful sunny, crisp mornings followed by warm afternoons.
Today we decided to visit the Sapphire Sunday markets which start at 7am, we got up and organised and walked over the road to the market (all of 300 meters from our camp) arriving about 8:30am, the place was busy. We walked around the perimeter first then did the inside, our only purchase was from Greg who is camped opposite us in the caravan park, he makes very nice glass pendants, so Marg bought one for her girlfriend's birthday. There was nothing else that turned either of us on. I didn't even buy a sausage in bread as they cooked them when you ordered them and I couldn't be stuffed waiting for them to cook, usually, they have them waiting for you. So after spending $15 on the pendant thingy, we wandered back to camp.
After a quick clothes change into our dirty fossicking clothes, we drove over to Glen's Willy Wash at Rubyvale to buy a couple of buckets. When we arrived, there was one family with 5 kids, but they finished and left after we were there for about 5 minutes, which was good. We spoke to Glen as I washed the 'sapphire wash' and as Marg checked the washed wash for sapphires and zircons. We eventually bought 3 buckets for a total of $40 and about 2 hours labour. End result was a couple of sapphires big enough and of good enough quality to be cut into a nice sapphire, these are called cutters. Most of the time, the sapphires are not big enough and of good enough quality, these are called non cutters or just shit. We have a lot of shit ones, see photos.

We said goodbye to Glen and for something different drove about 300 meters over to Gunter's Muggachinos for his Strudel and coffee. While there we were talking to another couple having Strudel and coffee and as it turns out, 2 years ago they found a 90+ carat sapphire at Glens, it is worth over $50,000 Fifth thousand dollars, so it just proves that Glen doesn't check his 'wash' before selling it to us, his customers. The couple showed us photos of their find, as it is in a bank vault, strange that.
We spent the afternoon, reading and writing in the sun, see above 'paint the picture' section.
Dinner is Marg's famous home made hamburgers.They will be YUMMA.

Tomorrow, we will visit Glen and Gunter for something different and in the arvo, I will start packing up, as we leave for Rocky on Tuesday morning. Our week in Sapphire aka Paradise is drawing to a close.

Is this spooky or what?
Greg, who is camping opposite us and who Marg also bought the pendant from, has a beautiful Golden Retriever (Nicky), who I have given many cuddles too over the past week. Anyway, this afternoon while I was writing the update, I thought that I wonder if they are the couple that Marg and I met camped next to us in Cloncurry in 2009. So I spoke to Greg. Yep it was them. I remembered Nicky but not the humans. Small world, hey...

Our neighbours that roam the roads.

Our Caravan Park sign.

Some of this morning's Sunday market.

Our probable cutters, maybe not the bottom one.

These maybe cutters, I hope so.

These maybe cutters, I hope so.

Monday 2nd July 2012
Day 44 - Visiting Willy Wash and Gunter.

The weather is the new 'norm' which is now a cold frosty night with clear sunny days. My sleepingbag is a constant now, as the clouds have departed and the nights are back to cold with beautiful sunny, crisp mornings followed by warm afternoons, except today, it never got warm, we had a chilly Southerly. It was great when you got out of the breeze, but bloody cool in the breeze.
Today we decided to go back to Glen, the owner of Willy Wash, when we arrived there were 5 other couples already sieving through their buckets of wash. There was still room for us, so we didn't complain, we got our first bucket of wash and away I went, the champion washer of the wash. The procedure is to pour some wash into a fine hole sieve and then place the sieve in a willoughby (a fancy bit of machinery that the sieve sits in and with a handle that raises and lowers the sieve in to a tub of water, thus washing the wash). Marg and I spent over 2 hours and 3 buckets costing $40 and found some nice cutters, and heaps of non cutters (shit ones). Finally, we finished and said our goodbyes to Glen, saying to look after himself and we hope to see him next year, upon our return to Sapphire. While we were at Willy Wash, we were telling the various couples to visit Gunter for Strudel and coffee, which they did, because when we arrived Gunter said that he had been so busy and we compared notes and found that all the couples that we spoke too had actually gone to Gunters, he was naturally, very pleased. We had our strudel and coffee and chatted to Gunter, his next door neighbour Colleen who helps him and Nola his partner. We eventually said our goodbyes to Gunter and his mob and said that we would return next year, similiar time.

We were told of a guy in Rubyvale that polishes rough sapphires, so we tried 3 times to see him, once yesterday being Sunday, he was naturally closed and twice today, but each time, he was closed so he missed out and so did we, as Marg wants to get one of her sapphires polished.
On our way back to camp from Rubyvale, we decided to visit 'some' of the sapphire shops. First one was Skippy Gems, naturally, they sold sapphires from, in the rough to the high end jewellery, next port of call was M&M Sapphires, naturally same as Skippy Gems, selling the same range and next was Pat's Gems, which sold the same range and finally we stopped at Sapphire Showroom and Jim sold the same range, he also told us to visit Craig in the blue house near the General Store, who polishes Sapphire. We couldn't find his house, so we are out of luck. Stopped at our Caravan Park Office and bought some pies for lunch, they were home made by the Emerald bakery and delivered fresh daily. They were YUMMA.
During the afternoon, I started packing up for tomorrow's departure.
Tonight's dinner is just a scratch meal, as we are walking over to the Sapphire Hall for Monday night Bingo. Yippee.

It's 9:45pm, back from Bingo, shock, horror... we didn't win. And it is bloody freezing outside.

Tomorrow, we drive over to Rockhampton about 350kms.

Rainbow Lorikeets everywhere.

Rainbow Lorikeets everywhere.

Willy's Wash was jumping. People everywhere.

Marg in action.

Marg in action.

Glen the owner of Willy's Wash.

Tuesday 3rd July 2012
Day 45 - Sapphire to Rockhampton - 321kms.

It was a freezing, cold night, so I used my sleepingbag and a blanket and was just warm. I awoke around 6:00am, and got up and after we surfed the internet, finishing packing up and were on the road at 9:05am and headed towards Rocky. Our first stop was at Comet a small village, then we continued on towards Blackwater, when a truckie came up behind us, I got on the UHF and said to "Yell out" when he wanted to pass. He read our name and location on the back of our van and started talking to us on the Truckies channel (40). As it turns out he used to live in Broadmeadows in the early 90s and then moved to Yeppoon where he has been driving trucks since. We talked about the old movie drive ins, Luna Park in St Kilda, St Moritz ice skating ring in St Kilda and heaps of other stuff. We chatted upto Blackwater, as we approached Blackwater he pointed out all the coal mines etc that are springing up out there. We said goodbye to him as we stopped at Blackwater for a rest stop, as we turned off 4 other truckies that were close to us, travelling in our direction and listening to our conversation, all said goodbye to us. Unreal.

There were quite a number of 'Stop/Go' road works today along the way. Our next stop was at Duaringa, which has a lovely big open area for free camping, there were probably 10 - 15 vans stopped there, a good number were staying overnight, as some had erected clotheslines and others were running generators, a definite giveaway. We stopped there for a rest stop each time we come through, but Marg couldn't remember it. She's getting old and forgetful.
Our last rest stop was going to be at Westwood but their signs were so confusing that we had driven through Westwood before we knew it. So we drove straight through to our caravan park in Rocky, arriving at 1:45pm.
We did a quick overnight setup, plugged in the power, connected the water and put out 2 chairs, no setting up the Dish, as we can receive Rocky digital TV. Clear and crisp. Marg has gone to test the bed, I think it passed because there are zzzzzzzzzzs coming from that vicinity.
Dinner tonight is another scratch meal, spag sauce sangas absolutely YUMMA, complimented with a few chilled refreshers.

Tomorrow, we are doing a day trip To Mt Hay Gem fossicking area about 40kms from Rocky back out along the Caapricorn Hwy, we passed it today. You can camp there, but you have to be a mountain goat and our van isn't, so a pleasant drive back there will be good.

Duaringa Rest area, very spacious.

Duaringa Rest area, very spacious.

Duaringa Rest area, very spacious.

Wednesday 4th July 2012
Day 46 - Thunder Egg fossicking at Mount Hay.

It was another cold night, so I used my sleepingbag and a blanket and was just warm. I awoke around 6:00am, and turned on ch7 Sunrise, I got up about 6:30am and surfed the internet, Marg got up about 7am. I watched last night's Tour de France that I taped on my laptop, all worked correctly.
Today we will do a tour of the Mount Hay Gemstone Park about 40kms from Rocky. Talk later.

We are back after a lovely day at Mount Hay Gemstone Tourist Park. We left camp at 9:20am and arrived at Mount Hay at 9:57am. It is also a caravan park and we were discussing that next time, we may bring the fiver and stay, BUT after driving through the gates and UP the side of a mountain, we both decided that we will NOT be staying there. Anyway, we drove up the steep, winding road come drive to the main area, parked the mighty Navara in the parking area and walked over to the shop, where we met Don the owner. We paid $30 each for fossicking and a factory tour. Don gave us a pick, a plastic bag to put our Thunder eggs in and a bucket of water to rinse them in and led us over to the fossicking area, apart from thunder eggs, there was also some sort of lava glass. I liked the lava glass as it was easy to find, I also found some thunder eggs, Marg was the number 1 thunder egg finder. We spent probably a good hour or two looking for thunder eggs and lava glass, when we finished, Don took us on a guided tour of their Pewter casting operations, that was brilliant. When that finished, we checked out Don's rock garden, a big mistake, because most of the rocks were for sale. We bought a 6 kilo chunk of picture jasper, and chunks of mookaite that lightened my wallet by $87, good value.
We finally left Mount Hay after 3.5 hours and was more than pleased with our day's outing. It exceeded both our expectations.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at Gracemere's Woollies and had lunch (hot dogs. YUMMA) and did some food shopping. The traffic coming into Rocky was bumper to bumper, due to all the roadworks that are happening.
Dinner tonight is sausages and vegies, which will be YUMMA.

Tomorrow, we do an overnighter at Glen lodge CP, Bundy with dinner at 'The Waves'.

Mount Hay fossicking area.

Mount Hay fossicking area.

Marg, hard at work.

Marg, still hard at work.

Mount Hay buildings.

Don cutting our Thunder eggs, Marg checking something out.

An approaching wideload.

here it is.

While in the traffic jam, I snapped this.

Thursday 5th July 2012
Day 47 - Rockhampton to Bundaberg - 322kms.

It was a warmer night but still cool with a minimum of 5.1°. We awoke around 6:00am, and laid in bed watching Sunrise, then I got up and drove over the road to top up with fuel. We hope to get away by 9am. Talk later, hopefully, from Bundy.

Well, we left Rocky at 8:50am in light traffic and headed to Mount Larcom for our first rest stop arriving at 9:45am, just as we left Mount Larcom, we came across our first road works where we were stationary for 9 minutes. A little further down the road, we stopped for 4 minutes. The Bruce Highway is absolute shit in some places, at least, they are repairing it. Our next scheduled stop was at Benaraby, and then at a rest area just near the Granite Creek. Our last stop was at the rest area just north of Gin Gin, it was a lovely spot. We arrived at Glenlodge CP at 1:45pm, there were 2 vans in front of us and 2 vans pulled up behind us, so I stopped and walked over to the office, just as I approached the Office, Simon one of the owners, recognised me and said to follow him now and he would show us our site, so while the 4 other vans were inside, I leapfrogged them and started setting up on our drive through site. I went back to the office later, when the crowd had disappeared and paid for our site.

The reason that we do an overnighter here, is that we like Brendan, Simon and Denise who own the park and also we visit the Across the Waves, which has pokies, chilled refreshers and good food. We arrived at 'The Waves' at 4:30pm, Marg went to the pokies and I sat in the Sports bar and drank, at 5:30pm we wandered over to the Bistro, Marg had garlic prawns and I had chicken parma. Both were YUMMA.
Back at camp, for a quiet night watching TV.

Tomorrow, we are driving to Dicky Beach for 1 month's stay, we can't wait to get there and relax.

Mount Larcom Rest Area.

Nice gum Trees.

Gin Gin Rest Area.

Friday 6th July 2012
Day 48 - Bundaberg to Dicky Beach - 295kms.

It was a warmer night but still cool with a minimum of 12.2°. We awoke around 6:00am, and laid in bed watching Sunrise, then I got up and started packing up. At 8:41am, we said our goodbyes to Simon and Brendan and told them that we will hopefully, see them next year. Brendan stood out the front of the office and waved us goodbye, is that 'Customer Service' or what? We drove out of Glenlodge CP and turned left onto the Bundy ring road that connected us to the Isis Hwy which we followed to Childers where we continued along the Bruce hwy. Gee, does the Bruce Hwy suck? Yes, it does. Our first rest stop was at Matilda Petrol station just past Maryborough, then we stopped at Nambour as there were no rest areas along the Bruce Motorway. We arrived at Dicky Beach at 12:40pm.

We are on site 40, which is the same site as last year, just opposite the amenities, great for those nightly wee.
As we are here for 28 days for some serious relaxation, it was a full setup, but as the wind was blowing a good 25kph, we left the awning until tomorrow. We even got some rain during the late afternoon, not really rapt in that.
Marg cooked sausages and vegies for dinner and they were YUMMA. I went to bed about 8pm, as I was knackered.

Tomorrow, we are trying to relax.

PS: A funny moment: As we were driving along the Bruce Hwy, a caravan was in front of us and turned off with us at the Caloundra turnoff. I joking said to Marg, "We have to beat them to our CP." A bit of history, a few years ago, we were following our TomTom GPS to the letter and Tom lead us through a new housing estate with 20kph speed bumps, great when you are towing a 3 tonne van, since then we stick to the main roads. Anyway, this caravan turned off and when we arrived at Dicky Beach and they had beaten us there, I spoke to the wife and she said that their Tom had taken them through the housing estate. So there you go.

No photos today.

*2012 - Index page*

Heading to Dicky Beach.