Hervey Bay was our first coastal stop after getting deviated through inland Australia due to the very wet weather forecasts along the coast. Sadly, the rain wasn’t over when we got there. T needed the ocean’s saltwater, so we didn’t really have a choice but to bravely drive back to where the ocean was.
Hervey Bay is a town T considered an enjoyable place to live (apparently, not Boomi or Goodooga 🙁) I am quite happy to live anywhere as long as there are safe roads for me to run). Towns along the coast just generally have more of everything, unlike inland. Despite having more of everything, the weather didn’t allow us to do a lot of outdoor activities. There were great running and cycling tracks, sunset views, mostly calm waters, markets, and the famous Fraser Island (which everyone talked about). We were able to see bits and pieces of Hervey Bay which was enough for now, as T and I liked it so much, we already decided we would return, hopefully during the drier season. They also have activities like whale watching which is best done in Aug-September.
We watched the sunset once; (I) went to the market and botanical gardens once; we had coffee and dinner out many times; we walked the trails a couple of times and swam a few times too. So, it was actually a good and comfortable place to be. We both agreed to include this in our list of possible places to live in. 😜
Where did we stay?
Ingenia Holiday Hervey Bay: It was a very spacious grass camp close to the toilets. Site 88: Toilets and shower were clean. They’ve free Wifi connection. They’ve a common kitchen, entertainment room, bbq area, and laundry at $5 per wash. Friendly staff. We availed of their promotion pay for 3 nights, get 1 night free. The pool seemed clean, we didn’t use it, but it looked ok from afar.
We’ve stopped in Brisbane three times during the whole trip (Brisbane-Hervey Bay-Teebar-Brisbane-Townsville).
I’ve been to Brisbane Airport a couple of times now for stopovers, but I’ve never been outside until this trip.
Again, due to bad weather, instead of traveling inland, we decided to head to Brisbane. Brissie’s CBD is huge and is built around and along the river. There were so many things to see and do, but the most appealing to me was their running/cycling trails, which according to T’s aunty, are actually continuous and accessible to and from most suburbs. People from Brissie were obviously taking advantage of this feature as these trails were very busy when we visited. It was raining (and humid) every now and then, but this didn’t stop people from doing their fitness activities. So there, I loved the temperature, river trails, and the idea that many are into fitness. 💚
On our third trip to Brisbane, I realized how huge the city is. T’s relatives drove us around, and we managed to see different suburbs. We dropped by the Gap, then the Mt Coot-tha Lookout. We also drove to Redcliff for tea and other suburbs for personal errands and meals with more relatives. Just to go from one place to another took so long to drive.
Why were we in Boomi? Still, we were chasing good weather and our fourth artesian bore bath / fifth mineral pool. Boomi (apparently pronounced as ‘Boo-my’, NOT ‘Boo-mee’. We just learned this on our last day of stay there) is another small town with a population of 201(ABS Census, 2016).
This town is heavily reliant on farming and agriculture. It’s a small town equipped with an artesian pool, tennis courts, nature walks (trails were a bit overgrown, but apparently, improving them is on the town’s bucket list), a pub, a powered and unpowered caravan sites and a general store (which is very conveniently located beside the caravan park/pool). No post office, which was unusual for me as most smaller towns we visited had one. Anyway, like most rural areas, its night skies were mostly clear, therefore, amazing for stargazing.
This town used to have more people and used to be busier, but due to the unpredictability of Australian weather (for crops) and the transition to heavy mechanization, people were forced to move out of town to look for work. Despite this, agriculture was always around, especially with Koramba Farm & Cotton Gin (which we visited) just less than 15km away, providing employment for many locals.
***We only realized how huge the Australian cotton industry was when we drove past acres and acres of cotton farms on our way to Moree and Boomi. Cotton was said to be planted, cleaned, and treated here, then exported to other countries for further processing, and textile production.***
There were cotton tours offered in Moree but they only have them on specific days. We didn’t expect Boomi to have this tour, so when we asked people from the general store a.k.a. ‘reception’ about it, they helped us create a group, and organize a tour for the group…FOR FREE (not sure if it would remain that way though).-
As we’ve been told, and as per our observations too, people of this town work really hard, and apparently has the reputation of “getting things done”.
Where did we stay?
Boomi Caravan Park Coop, unpowered site: The unpowered sites were spacious, and the powered looked crowded. The staff were friendly. Unpowered site people share the same toilet and bathroom as the pool visitors while people from the powered site have their own (locked, they’ve got keys) toilet and bathroom which looked newer. The park was very close to the pub, just a few steps to the general store and the pool. We had to pay $10 for an unpowered site but this didn’t include the pool entrance. The Entrance fee to the pool was $6 every day per adult. They helped us organize a FREE cotton tour.
We were still in the process of following the sun and mineral pools instead of the ocean.
Moree is another town popular for its artesian bath. Unlike in Goodooga though, over there it’s not free to use this natural wonder. Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre’s our 4th mineral pool (3rd artesian). As mentioned, unlike in Goodooga, where the whole experience was free, in Moree, we had to pay to use the gym ($7) and the pool($8). It was still not so bad.
Also, as per the recommendation of Sasha from the Information Centre, we checked out Moree’s art trail. This trail featured murals around town, painted by local artists. The murals represent the community’s daily living in Moree. We just cruised and got to know the streets and the town a little through this activity.
So, what else was nice in Moree, aside from their artesian pools and art trail? Unlike the past few towns we recently visited, Moree was bigger.
It has most of the city people’s basics (Maccas, KFC, Woolies, Coles, Thai and Indian food etc). It’s quite progressive. Their buildings and houses looked well-maintained and quite unique in terms of design. It has a huge industrial area as well. My favourite part was none of these though. I loved that it has a river that flows around town, tracks along it and the idea that they’ve so many spacious parks. ❤️
Where did we stay?
Moree Tourist Park: Pretty spacious drive-through caravan space. The reception was very friendly. The toilets and showers were clean as well. Not far from the town centre.
Goodooga was only 45mins away from Lightning Ridge., The roads from LR to this place were sealed. We were intending to stay there for a minimum of one week, as Rob and Kate spoke highly of it.
Though it was true that camping was free with a hot spring just a few steps away, there was hot shower, gym, and stuff, there were no other things to see aside from these. I liked it as I’ve got lots of space for workouts + gym equipment.
Let’s talk about what else Goodooga actually have aside from the basics (schools, police station etc) and free camping-amenities-artesian-bore bath.
It has one pub with three tables and a few seats, one grocery store, and one post office that looked like a sari-sari (neighborhood sundry) store inside. Felt like the post office was busier than the pub. 😉 It has an old (looked burnt) but charming church-looking building. They’ve got dogs and cats on the streets too, which was nice if they don’t bark and run after you (which only happened once. They’re mostly friendly.)
They’ve got enough. It’s spacious. It was peaceful and quiet, but the opened fences could actually mean (maybe), they also do socialization among themselves(?)
“At the 2006 census, Goodooga had a population of 265, with 81% of the population of Aboriginal descent.”
As mentioned, daytime in Goodooga was as peaceful and quiet as the night. I asked a resident why is the town so quiet? She answered, “That’s the way we like it.” She asked me if I enjoyed the pool. I said I did. She then uttered, “As long as we all respect the place, we all can enjoy it.” Our very short conversation explained a lot about Goodooga. I initially felt sad for the residents, (because it’s too quiet and there’s nothing much over there). It was such a relief to hear they wanted it that way. Knowing that they can choose what they want for their village, and actually have it their way makes me feel happy for them. Now, the silence feels even more special.
I also asked her the most important question of all (to me) “Can I actually run around…quietly?” (It was that quiet, it felt like they won’t appreciate a stranger running around the village.) She said “Running is OK”, and so we ran around safely in the dark. 🙂
I liked Goodooga. The village has enough of what I think I needed too. T didn’t feel the same about this place. For the first time (during this whole trip), he said he was bored. I,on the other hand, liked it because I’ve got my space for workouts.
*** It’s also important to mention Dave. This man made our stay in Goodooga more memorable. He cleaned the BBQ by the pool every night as a volunteer (according to him), and every night he would also say hello and talk to us. We witnessed him help a man (he didn’t know him) get fuel from the next town, and didn’t charge him a thing. I will always remember Goodooga partly because of him. He’s just inspiring. Travel is not just about the beautiful places we’ve visited, its also about the beautiful people we’ve met. So far, we’ve met a lot of nice people, but Dave is next level. Hopefully, we get to meet him again next time.***
I guess, other things worth mentioning are; the sunrises and sunsets were beautiful by the artesian bore bath, and I witnessed the planets aligned there one Sunday. We also went on a half-day trip to another historical town, Brewarrina (about 1 hour away) because that’s where we could buy the souvenir magnet I was collecting. It’s the biggest town in the shire if I’m not wrong.
Where did we stay?
Goodooga Artesian Bore Bath: Free camping, amenities, gym hot shower, and toilets. It has great sunrises and sunsets. Though it was away from everything, nothing much around, I appreciated the silence and the idea that these were enough. They’ve got a town pub, convenience store, and an all-in-one post office, a busy one. Loved this town.
Lightning Ridge is a town with more than 100 years of opal mining history. The town proudly calls itself “The Black Opal Country”. Apparently, Australia is the world’s major producer of opal. They are found around the margins of the Great Artesian Basin. I wasn’t a big fan of fancy stones or gems (cos I know I will just lose them😥), until I saw some pretty (and expensive) ones from the shops. OMG! The colours were beautiful.
Anyway, aside from opal, endless opal fields, and the long mining history of this town, they also have a lot of galleries. The tourism board made the whole sightseeing thing easier for visitors, as they created the Car Door Explorer Tours, whereby they planned the most convenient routes (organised by different coloured car doors) for visitors to follow in one 4-paged booklet. I thought it was a good idea for smaller towns to adapt the same.❤️
Old and rustic, the town aims to please, but not too much. According to some readings, LR is also a town known for its “positive-can-do community spirit, as the town is built in mateship and having a go”. Well, that was about right, as we managed to talk to a few residents. It’s too rare to hear people talking about their jobs with much love and enthusiasm. I am probably generalizing, but they were just inspiring to listen to. I said to Tim, we should surround ourselves with people like them. 🙃
Our main purpose for coming to this town wasn’t to sightsee. We were here to buy some supplies before we head out to the place recommended by Rob and Kate (seasoned couple/travellers camping in Barmedman). But we were already there, so might as well do it, right? Lightning Ridge also has an Artesian Bore Bath (the outback’s version of a hot spring) where people can swim in for free. We relaxed and swam there for three nights. Imagine swimming in a hot spring, under the moonlit sky. It helped Tim sleep better, but don’t forget your mosquito repellent.
Where did we stay?
Crocodile Caravan Park: We stayed in a family-owned caravan park. Their powered sites were a bit small. The toilets were a bit old but all very functional. The hot water showers’ pressure was good. I just loved the warmth of the people and the colours of the park.
Anyway, hopefully, I can find more time to continue writing about our -possibly-once-in-a-lifetime-land-travel-around Australia journal.
Warrumbungle National Park is an area of former volcanic activity from millions of years ago. Its rocky spires, domes, and structures of different forms were formed because the volcano started to erupt. The wildlife in this park was admirable. Animals seemed to peacefully coexist with people. They are comfortable. We were too. It was sad to learn that over 90% of the park was affected by the 2013 bushfire. The good thing was, it is slowly recovering. This park is also of cultural importance as there is plenty of evidence of Aboriginal people’s occupation in the area from a thousand years.
The park is also a good place to stargaze. We stayed there for 8 days, and every night, whilst lights in the campground were switched off, we could still see our shadows. Meaning, natural lights from the sky (stars, moon) were that strong. At 2am, while we walked to the toilet, we couldn’t help but look up. It was extraordinary.
Warrumbungle was only supposed to be a 2-day stop for us, but I loved it there, so we kept on extending. It’s only 25mins from Coona. So, Coona remained to be our main spot to fuel up and get our supplies.
Why did I love Warrumbungle? I’ve always loved walking, and over there, there were so many tracks with different features to climb. For eight days, we managed to walk more than enough tracks:
Split Rock: (4.6km return: warning: very steep) It wasn’t my favourite in terms of feeling of safety. It was a scary hike up the Split Rock. For the first time in my life, I decided not to summit. Haha. I couldn’t get myself to continue to the part that required pure rock scrambling, possibly 60-70 degrees, without ropes/railing-part. My fear was doubled because I had T with me. I could have died of a heart attack instead of a fall. It’s probably “safe” for some. We even met people with kids, and they said they went up to the summit….but I just couldn’t. To me, it didn’t feel safe at all.
-We also, saw a snake and a weird loud sound. We thought there was a landslide or something-
We also heard some teenagers talking about walking this (to me, dangerous trail) to watch the sunset whilst drinking wine, and descending slightly tipsy in the dark. It made me question the demon inside me. Was it really that unsafe that I didn’t summit, or these teenagers were crazy? Have a look and decide for yourself.
Whitegum Lookout: (1km return) This is possibly one of the easiest trails here. At 500m, it’s a sure activity for families including children. We visited this lookout twice and on the second time, whilst watching the sunset, we witnessed something horrifying! A child falling off the cliff! I didn’t see the whole thing but heard the actual fall and the mother’s scream. Luckily for the child, I guess, he was able to hold on to something because the mother was able to lift him back up. Omg! I cried! I didn’t even know them! The mom and the dad hugged the child. They were sobbing. Not blaming anyone, but these things could have been prevented…😭 or can be……
Gurianawa Track: (1km circuit) A very easy trail as well. It is wheelchair accessible and quite educational. There were bits and pieces of nice views from here as well.
Wambelong Nature Track: (1.1km circuit) It could start from the Blackman Campsite. It was so beautiful. It wasn’t hard at all. People would always talk about just Breadknife and Split Rock tracks. Wambelong was just an afterthought, and walking around it made me wonder why. I was in awe of how beautiful it was. There were two small creek crossings, rock-formations plus the sunset from there wasn’t bad either. I would highly recommend Wambelong trails for people who prefer to have a small and easy walking activity or someone who’s preparing to go for the longer and bigger hikes around the area.
Tara Cave: (3.4km return) This cave used to be a seasonal shelter for Aboriginal people from thousands of years. As expected, (or maybe not), this cave was protected and gated. So, manage your expectations. You cannot get into the cave. The walk to it was still beautiful especially closer to the cave. It offered views of the mountain ranges, of course, a serene atmosphere, because not many people were walking this trail.
Burbie Canyon Walking Track: Also an easy one (2km return). There were roos along the way, and that made the trail pretty special. The diverse sound of wildlife was also amazing to listen to. So, walk not only with your eyes open…walk with all your senses open, including your heart.
Breadknife and Grand High Tops (Pincham Trail) (12.5km return). This trail was relatively easy until we reached the steps. Most parts of the trail were paved, therefore more comfortable, though, of course, it didn’t look natural. As mentioned, it was easy with slow ascents and stairs on the steeper parts
I, however, froze (again!) at the rock dome, where it was both steep and slippery for me and my shoes. The cliff by the side didn’t help. Luckily, my T didn’t give up on me. He made me feel safe, and eventually, managed to convince me to move and continue up to the summit.
I saw people just climbing up without fear, despite sliding. So, it must be truly easy. It was just the demon in my head stopping me. I was very happy with the view from the summit. It was a beautiful 360′ of mountains and peaks around Warrumbungle. Just be warned that this was a pretty popular spot, expect so many people at the top. Some, were, of course, doing some dangerous poses by the cliffs. Looking at them gave me goosebumps.
Fan’s Horizon ( 3.6km return) It was said to have 1000 steep steps, I might have missed some steps as I only counted 800+ haha Well, counting was a strategy so I could forget about the pain of the steps and the fear that I might meet snakey along the way. Counting made me faster, I think. It was supposed to be a 2hrs walk, and I did it in less than 1.5hr. 🤣
This walk was pretty special to me. Why?
Because it was T’s rest day, so I walked on my own this time. Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate every moment with T, and I would much rather walk with him. It was a short walk, and I managed to still enjoy following my own pace. The view atop was stunning, but I missed my T. 😬 Sharing beautiful things with someone is always good, but it also felt empowering to know I could still, somehow, do scary things by myself….that I still got it, just like before.
As mentioned, we had to extend our stay here a couple of times. We were able to stay in a few sites, both powered and non-powered. We stayed in 41-92-100-40-46-45. We did it this way, not because we wanted to, but because we had to. When using the park’s booking system, when trying to book for consecutive days, it would only show the park was fully-booked. So, we attempted to book by keying in shorter date ranges, and there were availabilities. The only drawback was we had to move (check out) almost every day, and it wasn’t relaxing at all. Another tip is to directly book through the Visitor Centre. Apparently, they have locked sites that ONLY they can book in for you. So, if you REALLY want to stay longer during peak periods, try this method.
Where did we stay?
Camp Blackman : We stayed in 41-92-100-40-46-45 (no extension cord, we had to change for the night) – 47 (shorter power cord needed). We just kept on using the main shared showers and toilets. It was ok for the purpose. Not the cleanest but ok. Hot showers were intermittent; toilet flushes weren’t strong enough too. My favourite spot was 46 and 45. These sites were under trees, and they felt more private for some reason. Lastly, make sure you have your long extension cords ready because some powered sites were far away from the power socket.
Coonabarabran or Coona, as people call it over there, (so much easier to pronounce) is the “Astronomy Capital of Australia” because of its very clear dark night skies. Though we weren’t really deep into astronomy, we kind of enjoyed just looking up the sky at night when it wasn’t raining and cloudy.
Aside from the dark skies (and bright stars), I also enjoyed truck watching (if there is such a thing?haha). It was very apparent how important this town is for trucks traveling to the coast. There were so many stopping and passing by, day in and out. Some of them looked like moving Christmas lights at night. It’s also known as the gateway to the Warrumbungle National Park, “Australia’s Only Dark Sky Park”. We also stopped there for a few nights. So, I prayed hard for more days (and nights) with good weather.
Coona was just supposed to be a three-day stop for us before we head up to towns with thermal pools. But then again, due to the bad weather forecast, we decided to extend our stay there. This town was not big, which I liked. It only had a population of 2k+ (Source: Escape Tourist Magazine). The town had everything we needed. Unlike the last town we were in, Coona has Woolies, IGA, and local shops open. It has one bakery that seemed very busy. Locals apparently like to buy their bread from this bakery instead of Woolies because “Woolies don’t make their bread here”. This bakery was the place-to-be, in my opinion. 😬
Lastly, if you happen to visit Coona, don’t forget to visit the Sandstone Caves + Getaway Tourist Park has very huge powered and non-powered caravan sites and cabins, and most importantly, the owners were good people. 💚
Where did we stay?
Getaway Tourist Park: very spacious drive-through caravan park. Amenities were a bit old looking but very clean. It was a little bit more expensive than nearby parks but, the space was really big plus the owners were friendly. So far, it was bigger than most caravan parks we’ve been in. There’s a bit of truck noise at night but that’s kind of expected as it is close to the roadside. Not bad distance to the centre as well. The other park was closer, but from the outside, it looked more crowded.
One and a half hours away from Junee is another small town called Barmedman. The town is popular for its large, said-to-be therapeutic mineral pool. Since T’s plan of swimming in the ocean every day didn’t happen, we settled for the next best thing, which was swimming in this mineral pool. The entrance fee /donation was just $1 per entry and the camping fee was $10 per night(3 nights max). Fees were paid in a donation box and were run by honesty or trust system.
To be honest, it was not very inviting to swim in it…but after reading about all its mineral content, well…how could I say no? 🤣
(Warning: I didn’t fact-check most information in this story. Our internet connection was very bad, and I didn’t wanna go to the library or town council to check🤣This was just for my family and friends to have an idea of how what the Aussie outback community felt like.)
Barmedman used to be a gold mining town. Here’s something from a poster by the road: Gold was discovered here in 1872 by the wife of a wood sawyer working at Barmedman station..her name? Mrs. Treasure. 🙂
It’s a small town with a population of 100, according to Marilyn, or 200, according to H. (Sorry if this information is wrong.) M, H, T-the-Russian (as they referred to her..nothing racist or anything), etc. were local volunteers running both the mineral pool and the ONLY coffee/second-hand shop that’s open in town. If M was right, T was thrilled to have spoken to 10% of the town population. Not bad for a self-proclaimed introvert. 🤣 They were all very welcoming. The police, Ton, stopped by and caught up with us twice. We were touched by the gesture. I jokingly told T, “You probably looked dodgy that was why.” 😂
Anyway, we asked M where could T watch his footy when she stopped by the mineral pool to do her volunteer stuff (as I’ve said, we had very poor internet connection). Thirty minutes later, we walked into the only cafe in town, and the volunteers in there asked “Are you the one looking for where to watch the footy?” Apparently, T’s question became the town’s mystery to be solved. Everyone’s looking and trying to help T find a place. One lady even invited us to her house to watch…but we were a little embarrassed to do that, so, we didn’t. We went to West Wyalong to watch it instead.
On a serious note, when I hear people say “shop local”, I just hear it, and sometimes just don’t take it too seriously. But then again, you see a town like Barmedman, and then feel guilty about not shopping locally. With almost all their shops closed (the church, commercial properties, etc being sold as residential. I heard a child screaming from the tightly closed pub, and thought it was haunted.😂), one could truly see the effects if people weren’t shopping locally….it was sad (to me). But the good thing was, the residents weren’t sad at all. Almost everyone we spoke with was happy and satisfied with the community (that feels like a family) they’ve created. I guess that’s what’s important. 😍
Where did we stay?
Barmedman Mineral Pool Campsite by $10 donation (Max 3Days): It wasn’t busy when went there. The site was very spacious. A hot shower costs $1 per 4mins. Toilet and showers were quite clean considering it was only run by volunteers. A few meters from the pool is a cafe also run by volunteers. They were all beautiful people. Amazing and welcoming community. It made Barmedman more special in my opinion.
Plans have changed. Why? T said, “I like swimming in the ocean, not swimming to go and get my groceries.”
The weather wasn’t very good along the coast. Some of the places we were intending to go to were flooded. We had no choice but to choose a random location with a better weather forecast. So, we decided to chase the sun….not the ocean!
Warning: The roads from Lakes Entrance to Junee weren’t very ideal for someone with motion sickness. The roads were long, winding, narrow, and definitely, scary.
“You, Me and Junee” is the town’s tourism tagline. It’s sweet and simple. These descriptions were true, too, to the town’s ambiance. It felt like I went back in time, not just because of how the town looked, it was multi-dimensional. Both the town and the tagline gave me that weird feeling of attachment or something like that.
Junee’s a very small town, and there weren’t many tourists. Their structures and buildings were old and beautiful. It could be a very nice destination for prenuptial photoshoots. 😂
My favourite was the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory. It’s located in an old flour mill. The old mill was a historical landmark of the town. Now, it continues to be a landmark as a chocolate factory. This place was probably the highlight of our trip to Junee. We went in twice in two days. Aside from the obvious (chocos and licorice), they also sell souvenirs and home items inside. They have a cafe inside too. The whole interior look was also worth a visit.
Residents: Lovely! Plenty of random conversations, helpful and friendly. I’ve never seen anyone apologize so many times for not knowing where the information centre was. It made me feel bad we asked her. 🙃 These things matter. Yes. I would love to stay longer or I would love to visit again.❤️ This was not because there was a lot to see. On the contrary, there weren’t many…but because of the (relaxing) ambiance the town provided + the locals were friendly. Also, the whole town can be explored by bike or on foot.
Where did we stay?
Junee Tourist Park: an old but well-maintained caravan park. Amenities were clean. Very close to the centre. Nice staff too.