We are on our annual Grey Nomad meanderings across outback areas in northern NSW and Queensland.
We enjoy this part of the country for many reasons. Probably the greatest being the ability to stay anywhere it suits us as a result of our motorhome being classed as self-contained.
We have solar panels on the roof providing lots of 12volt power to almost everything inside the vehicle; we have gas for heating and cooking and hot water; we have a very comfortable shower / toilet, and we have enough fresh water on board for about five days of activity.
And via either Telstra /or Optus we have internet coverage for most of the time. Our motorhome is now 10 years old; we've covered well over 300,000km around this wonderful land and the vehicle is starting to creak and groan a bit.
So long as it keeps chugging along nicely and it receives its regular under-the-bonnet servicing we hope that it will keep going for another few years yet.
During June and July this year we have meandered across the Top End of Queensland – from Atherton in the east and on the Tablelands, across through Mt. Surprise, then Georgetown to Normanton, followed by Cloncurry, Julia Creek and into Richmond where I am putting these notes together.
It has been a delightful journey so far – from here we continue across central Qld through Longreach to Emerald, then southwards until we get into NSW and the ACT to catch up with family. So we've still got several months of travel before us before we get home in mid-October.
We had a week in Normanton, with side trips up to Karumba and a trip on the Gulflander rail car back to Croydon.
We also have had a week in Cloncurry, with several days in Julia Creek and now Richmond. In doing so, we have enjoyed the towns’ hospitality with their "RV Friendly" overnighting areas as well.
Normanton's RV freedom camping area is a rough piece of ground on the northern side of the Norman River – an area that gets flooded each wet season, and consequently has no services on site.
This requires every vehicle staying overnight to be fully self-contained with toilet and water supply. There also is a limit of 10 vehicles per night and a council ranger comes around at sundown to ensure that each camper has the camping permit visible on the dashboard.
Normanton at sunrise.
In contrast to Normanton, Julia Creek's RV friendly camping area is very different. It is located on the side of a delightful lagoon and is administered by a Camp Host – a couple who volunteer their time and energies for a six-week period before going elsewhere to continue their travels.
While there is no quantities given for the number of vehicles, there is a council stipulation that all vehicles must be self-contained, and the Camp Hosts send away to the caravan park all whiz-bangs and battered station wagons who arrive intending to stay overnight. There is fresh water on tap as well. Julia Creek's dump point it attached to the council depot in the town itself.
The Camp Hosts plus council provided bicycles.
The Richmond RV Friendly overnighting area is also without any services, but there is a DumpEzy dump point and fresh water on tap.
The town information centre gives out permits to travellers who are in self-contained vehicles, and visitors can stay for up to three days.
The council have planted small trees across the most flattish area in the reserve, creating 'sites' of about 8m x 12m in size. Last night there were about 15 visitors, tonight there are about 10 visitors.
Yesterday in the Post Office, the lady serving us mentioned that 'tonight we have a major rugby match between Julia Creek and Richmond', and invited us along as spectators.
We arrived at the designated time, paid our entry fee, got in the line for the bbq - sausage sizzle and bought some food and a can of drink, and settled down to watch the game. For me as a non-sporting person, it was as exciting as watching paint dry, but we went along as we had been invited and we joined with the several hundred locals and visitors to watch the game. The visitors went home the victors.
During the last six weeks of these travels, we have frequented many supermarkets, lots of local shops, clothing shops, chemists, newsagents, fuel outlets, pubs for meals and accommodation, a doctor, the ubiquitous takeaway for tea, coffee and cakes, libraries for their WiFi coverage when we couldn't get Telstra, hairdressers, hardware shops, weekend art and craft markets, charity shops ... and the list goes on.
For accommodation, we try to overnight in council-run showgrounds or RV overnighting places, or sometimes farm stays.
All the RV Friendly sites listed are within walking distance from the town's shopping centre, and all of the towns listed have 'regular' caravan parks – both privately owned and/or council owned.
As we do not hook up to 240v power, a powered site is useless to us. Also, we have a perfectly good shower and toilet, so we don't need to walk across a cold and windy park to have a pee or a wash.
It comes down to "we do not use caravan parks – they are boring places to stay at and do not provide anything for us".
Our spending totals for the last six weeks comes up as:-
Accommodation: $285 [$140 of which was the pub dinner, bed & brekky during our Rail Trip]
Local Shops: $620
Take Away: $150 [a good pub lunch occasionally is hard to beat]
Vehicle Expenses: $100
Other: $400 [$200 is the rail fare for the Gulflander, $105 is 3x LPG Gas refills]
Total: $3235 which comes down to just on $540 per week
To conclude, for those readers who are thinking of travelling Australia, please make a start and do so: it is a great place to travel with plenty of places to go and things to see. We are on the road for about 8-9 months each year and love it; it's a highly recommended relaxed and inexpensive lifestyle that suits our retirement pension.
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