Go West young man, Go West

That is the plan this trip, to head west of home for a few weeks, just following our nose, stopping at whatever takes our fancy. But our distance west won’t be any further than St George, QLD, due to time and a dog that is still not keen on car travel. Since we have travelled a lot further west on previous trips, St George doesn’t seem that far west these days. Once upon a time it seemed like a long way away.

Hooked-up

We headed off Friday after Chris finished work heading for Cooyar staying at our usual stop when heading this way Swinging Bridge. We stopped at Kilcoy for tea and to give Jess a break. Due to some very expensive motion sickness tablets she hasn’t been sick but was still anxious in the car.  She travelled better after Kilcoy and even settled down for a sleep.

Cooyar-Swinging-Bridge

There are quite a lot of vans here this time, the busiest we had seen it but still plenty of room to spread out. There are several new power boxes at $5 per night payable at the local pub.

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The old toilets have been removed with a new rural fire brigade building taking is place. Toilets can now be found at a new park across from the pub.

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We are staying here a couple of nights, chilling out enjoying the peaceful surrounds, bird life and lovely deep blue sky.

Chilling-at-Swinging-Bridge

Expedition National Park

This trip we are taking a few weeks over Easter and heading west stopping in at a few national parks. We spent the first night at Swinging Bridge Rest Area, a good distance from home for the first night. We arrived a little after 8pm; the place was fuller than we had seen it before with a few looking like they were set up for the Easter break.

20130328 Home to Swinging Bridge

29th & 30th March – There was a very heavy dew which meant the canvas was wet in the morning. It was still wet when we packed up so we put a small tarp on the bed to keep it dry just in case.

We are taking a bit more leisurely pace this trip. We stopped at Dalby for morning tea and sat and enjoyed our cuppa with another couple, each talking about our travels, also owners of an Aussie Swag.

At Miles we had lunch near the river just outside of town under the gums watching the geese and Corella’s, just enjoying the scenery.

Geese Park

The directions into Expedition National Park, Robinson Gorge Section, Starvale Camping area can be found on their web site and are pretty straight forward to follow. Takes about 2 hrs. to travel the 89 km’s. The first 34 Km’s are bitumen then its dirt road. The road is mostly pretty good, only the last 16 km’s is 4wd only.  There are lots of cattle that can wander onto the road so watch out for them.

Camping-at-Expedition Creek

There were 7 other lots of campers with one large group at the camping area. Sites can be found in mowed sections of varying sizes. There are long drop loos and non-drinking tap water. There is also a creek with a swimming hole that we were told was a little cool. There are also several walks from 1.2kms to 6kms return, grade 4. Since I was recovering from a bad head cold and sinus infection we just relaxed, caught up on some reading and generally chilled out for a few days. Was way too hot to go for a steep walk anyway, lots of ants and sand flies here.

20130329 Expedition

Q – Swinging Bridge Park

Swinging Bridge Park – OR, F, D, BR, M. Rest area at Cooyar QLD, behind the Cooyar Hotel. Hard to find at night, huge grassy area, goes along way back, very quiet, well off the road, no toilets but there is one down the road. Power available at $5 a night payable at the pub. Has a swinging bridge, popular spot. Toilets can now be found at the Cooyar Memorial Park opposite the pub. Rating – 5.

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Cooyar-Park Cooyar-Loos Cooyar-Hotel Chilling-at-Swinging-Bridge Swinging-Bridge Cooyar-Swinging-Bridge

Swinging Bridge Park in the new camper

We are camped at Swinging Bridge Park at Cooyar for our first weekend away in our new camper an Aussie Swag, yeah.

Ute

We hadn’t actually planned on staying here, we had planned to camp and had booked into Emu Creek Campground in the Benarkin State Forest near Blackbutt. When we got to Clancys Campground (12 km of dirt road) there was a sign in the middle of the road blocking the road down to Emu Creek Campground, saying the road was closed. We weren’t impressed, there was nothing on the National Park web site to say it was closed and they happily took our money for the booking. So they might be getting an email asking for a refund. (Follow up; the National Parks are giving us a refund) We could of stayed at Clancys but we knew they was quite a few booked to stay there over the weekend and with very few flat spots we thought it would get crowded out and the point was we didn’t want to stay there, if we knew Emu Creek was closed we would of gone somewhere else. So check before you go, Emu Creek was closed when we were there on the 29/07/11.

The trip through Woodford was a little slow due to the Splendour on the Grass Festival. There was road work from just outside Moore to just outside Blackbutt with only one lane open and the lights working 15 mins one way then 15 mins the other. The roads works will be happening for quite a while so keep that in mind if heading this way.

Finally arriving at Swinging Bridge Park, we found a spot right down the back. Flipping out the camper only took a min; attaching the awnings and putting them up took a wee bit longer. Something I’m sure we will get quicker and better at over time.

Setup

Lunch was a breeze in the kitchen quick and easy to set up. We had stopped at Moore for morning tea, pulling out the kitchen for a quick cuppa was very easy and quick, no hassles at all.

For people who aren’t familiar with the Aussie Swag camping trailer the kitchen is stainless steel with 4 burner gas hotplates with a grill underneath, has a sink with storage under it for all our plates, cups etc., it also has a flip out short bench. It slides out and swings around to run along the camper body. Our 2011 model has a stainless steel splash back and wind break. There is also a 100 lt stainless steel pantry draw that sits just above the kitchen, when its in the camper, to access it just slide the catch and it slides out smoothly. All models from ours onward have different taps, they no longer use the flick mixer type, they have changed it to 2 tap version one as it’s stronger.

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The 80 lt Waeco fridge/freezer also slides out from a vented storage box, they now have a stainless bench that sits on top of the fridge that flips over and is braced back to the fridge box. We went for the short bench version but you can get a longer one that requires screw on legs to help support the length, we opted for the shorter one because it was quicker to set up. Even has a place for the t/towel with a rail at the end of the shelf.

Kitchen

With our Baby Webber Q it completes a pretty snazzy kitchen.

We have to confess we have put an overlay on the inner spring mattress, which is why we didn’t have the awnings already attached to the camper; going home we will take the overlay off so we can close the camper with the awnings attached. We knew the current overlay was pushing it but we went with what we had, we will have to pick up more of a mattress topper for that extra bit of comfort, did I mention we had a gas heater installed too, and running hot water, now this is  glamping (glamour camping).

Bed

Charger

New Bainbridge 60 amp battery charger.

Batteries

We had 3 105 amp hr. batteries installed.

This spot is great, large grassy area, lots of trees and mostly flat. It’s peaceful, with just the sounds of the Maggies singing their songs and babies looking for food, with the occasionally dog bark from a local house. A cocky has just started to squawk and some cows have started to moo, little birds have now started chirping as they flitter from tree to tree.

Swinging-Bridge

When we arrived there was only one whiz bang van set up, as the afternoon has gone on, more are arriving, we are way down the end so shouldn’t get too many people if any down this far. There is a slight cool breeze, going to be a cold night.

Of course there is the swinging bridge, it’s a little wonky and it does swing when you walk on it, not for the faint hearted. Gets quite a swing up when you are trying to cross and the local kids think it’s fun to give it a good swing. After walking across it a few times the legs felt a bit like jelly. The original swinging bridge was washed away in Feb 1988; it was re built very quickly and opened a bit later in the year. It joins one part of town with the other part that has the pub, think it would be a bit hairy to cross after they have had a few. There is an old hay bailer on the other side that is worth a look.  There is also a small grave of a 5 year old girl that died back in Dec 1904 drowning in the creek.

After tea we retreated to the warmth of the camper with the gas heater running and watched a movie on the laptop. It actually got quite hot, hard to find the just right temp on the dial, seems to have big temp range on the thermostat. We turned it down to 2 1/2 on the dial for bed time but did find it was quite a bit cooler up on the bed, with our heads up the other end near the canvas, was warm under the covers but my head was cold. It got down to 1 degree outside, no frosts but lovely fog in the morning.

The hot water for the shower worked a treat, we tried out the creek system pumping water from a 20lt container interesting to note now much we used, 5 lts each. We have deliberately run the 12v hot water all day seeing what effects it has on the battery, does drain them a lot when left on all day. Chris has been having fun moving the solar panel around catching the sun.

Swinning-Bridge-2 Grave BridgeBridge-2

Haven’t done much today, kicked back enjoying the peaceful bush surroundings having lots of cuppas. Talking and admiring the camper, there are few mods we might do to give it our personal touch. Overall we are very impressed with the quality and workmanship; they are a good tough off road trailer that is going to take us to some awesome places. We will miss some of the conveniences and quickness of the van, especially the setting and packing up parts but the camper will get us into those hard to reach, beautiful, remote places of Australia.

As the sun starts to sets, the temperature is dropping and there is a lovely smell and sizzling coming from the Baby Webber as our roast dinner is cooking. After dinner we will retreat into the warmth of the camper with our heater running, tough life but someone has to do it and it may as well be us.

Another cool night but nice and toasty in the camper, another plus of the gas heater is it stops condensation on the inside of the camper. But you do get condensation in the bins next to the bed; have to be careful with what we put there.

Kitchen-and-Webber

We had a leisurely morning, and then slowly packed up while we were waiting for the canvas to dry from the overnight dew. Yeah we got it all closed with the annexes attached. All up it did take us a while to pack up but we do have things here and there at the moment as the Ute is not setup how it will be once we have a canopy on.

Chris

We stopped for lunch just outside Crows Nest, love the kitchen so quick and easy to use. We are going home via Esk for a different route home.