Formula One interlude
OUR latest trip involved a mixture of relaxing caravanning and the adrenalin-pumping Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
With Virgin Blue airline tickets and a four-day F1 pass tucked in our pockets we interrupted our caravanning travels at Brisbane and jetted down to Melbourne for a wonderful dose of high speed thrills and spills at the Albert Park circuit.
We had planned on hauling the caravan to Melbourne but were pleasantly surprised to discover it was cheaper to fly with Richard Branson's cut-price airline.
It was a fantastic interlude ... the highlight being our shoulder-to-shoulder encounters with some of the leading F1 drivers outside the Drivers' Paddock as they arrived for the big race.
During our 19-day holiday we visited Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, the Glasshouse Mountains, Petrie in Pine Rivers, Melbourne, Brunswick Heads in New South Wales and back to Landsborough in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Excluding our side trip to Melbourne, we covered 1201 kilometres. Our Ford Falcon AU, pulling an 18ft Jayco Westport full shower 'van, guzzled 199 litres of petrol, averaging 6.03 kilometres a litre or 16.58 litres every 100km.
With fuel costing between 80 and 89.9 cents a litre, we forked out an average of $13.98c for every 100 kilometres travelled.
Leaving Gympie, we headed for Caloundra for family commitments and overnighted at the Landsborough rest area just off the Bruce Highway.
Strange bumps on the caravan roof during the night were explained next morning when we realised we had parked under a passion fruit vine. The fruits had rained down on us ... a case of passion on the roof rather than inside the van!
We then spent two idyllic nights on a beachside caravan park at Caloundra's Dickie Beach with fabulous views over the Pacific Ocean. We saw passing freighters on their way to far-off lands and a brightly lit cruise liner way out at sea which lit up the night sky.
Our journey continued along the old Bruce Highway past the fascinating Glasshouse Mountains, named by Captain Cook who thought the peaks reminded him of glass factories in his beloved England. We could not see the resemblance.
Lunching at the Matthew Flinders rest area in the shadow of Mount Tibrogargan, we were bemused by the plaque which informed us that Flinders camped nearby during his explorations.
Another sign sternly warned that camping was now banned and that offenders would be fined. Lucky Flinders was not a modern day explorer otherwise his camping gear would have been redundant.
We continued south to the rest area at Petrie where we stayed the night and cooked dinner for a friend who came to visit us. This is a well used rest area and Pine Rivers Shire Council is to be congratulated for such a well kept facility.
A black mark, though, to the campers who blatantly pitched their tent under a sign clearly warning that tents and sleeping in cars was not allowed.
After depositing our caravan with friends in Brisbane we flew to Melbourne for the Grand Prix. Melbourne impressed us, but oh that recently opened Federation Square! Reminded us of a giant scrap yard, but I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Collecting our caravan again, we headed south over the Gateway Bridge, past the Gold Coast and northern NSW beaches to the spacious and pleasant riverside Massey Greene Holiday Park, Brunswick Heads. It was a good choice. We previously stayed at the nearby Terrace Reserve Holiday Park which we found, by comparison, cramped and more like a car park.
After a week, during which we spent quality time with our daughter who is expecting her first child on April 20, we retraced our tyre tracks northwards.
A new stretch of the Pacific Highway is impressive and does away with the long and tedious climb over the notoriously dangerous Burringbar Ranges south of Murwillumbah. You can now drive on excellent divided carriageways from just north of Brunswick Heads to Cooroy near Noosa.
We again overnighted at the Landsborough rest area before arriving home after a very pleasant holiday.
One thing concerned us during this trip ... the amount of debris on our roads. Our route south was turned into a virtual obstacle course thanks to shredded tyres, wooden crates, cardboard boxes, pieces of wood and no end of other smaller items. Not to mention the usual road kill.
Maybe more attention should be given to the manufacture of tyres and perhaps a ban slapped on remoulds. We lost count of the number of treads which had come adrift from their casings, creating mazes of rubber which had to be negotiated without warning.
I don't know how many accidents are caused by this dangerous and needless flotsam but I would suggest the figure is quite high. We only suffered a slow puncture when our caravan wheels hit a small wooden box on the Gold Coast motorway ... but it could have been a lot worse.
Updated: March 22, 2004