A short update through the eyes of our eleven year old.
Today we went out to Murray Falls and on to a boardwalk leading to 2 lookouts. The falls were really big with lots of white water rushing over the edge of the rocks.
We then went to a swimming area and explored along the rocks. The water was so clear and a little bit chilly. We found a swing attached to a branch over the water.
Nathan wanted to take the first swing but chickened out so being the dare devil I am, I got up on a tree stump and got Dad to hold me by the pants and when I said let go he pushed me out and after a few swings caught me back around the waist.
I did it 3 times before Georgia finally manned up and had a go.
Nathan (after chickening out a few more times) got up on the stump and was about to get off again but slipped and didn’t have a choice but to swing anyway. That was funny but he really enjoyed it.
We stayed there swinging for a while and Mum got some great photos. It was great fun and none of us kids have never done anything like that before.
On our drive back to Mission Beach where we are staying, Mum spotted our first wild cassowary on the side of the road biting the air chasing some bugs so we stopped again for more photos. It’s not a pretty bird!
So whenever travelling you should always expect the unexpected, right? And so far this has been true, but the extent we've experienced is getting ridiculous.
We've had the car problems (high exhaust temps, replacement clutch, replacement inter-cooler), the caravan problems (whether it be leaks or warranty issues like a warped door letting the bugs in), and then the teething problems that comes with starting homeschooling after conventional schooling. The one thing we absolutely did not expect was health problems......mine (Kay).
We've been in the Landsborough area now for 4 weeks. We started out staying 5 nights to do the tourist things: Australia Zoo, the Glass House Mountains, The Big Pineapple, Caloundra, Maroochydore and then move on up the coast. We didn't expect to be any longer, but then we hit the roadblock. Our travels........halted.
I'd noticed a rapid change in the vision in my right eye as we were in the Goldcoast and knew once we left I had to get it checked. It was so bad that I couldn't read road signs with my left eye closed. That plus some headaches over a couple of days sent me off to the optometrist. It's been 13 years since I'd been in the optometrists chair after having my laser eye surgery, so I knew the optometrist was taking more time than normal. She asked if I'd had my blood pressure and cholesterol checked recently, the answer being no.
She then told me that I'd had a bleed at the back of my macula and I needed to see a specialist opthamologist. So a referral was written up and an urgent appointment being made. This all happened on Tuesday 21st July. I couldn't get the specialist appointment until the Friday at 4.00pm. I was also advised to see a GP as soon as possible to get my blood pressure and cholesterol checked. I then went off to get my BP taken at the chemist and found it to be a staggering 180/114. Not good, especially when I'm always 120/80...even through all of my pregnancies. We had it checked again later in the day and it had reduced, but only marginally...it was now 170/110.
I couldn't get a walk in appointment at any of the medical centres, so I organised an appointment for the Wednesday at Landsborough Medical Centre. I'm so glad I found this particular GP. She has been nothing short of amazing! After presenting and going through my symptoms regarding my vision and blood pressure, she was concerned about a retinal detachment so she arranged an urgent same-day appointment with a specialist Opthamologist. He advised me that my blurred vision was due a Retinal Vein Occlusion, not a bleed. The cause is always high blood pressure, or hypertension. I was referred for an MRI to discount other contributing factors. My GP had also requested I have numerous blood tests, a urine test, ECG, renal artery dopler ultrasound, echocardiogram, CT scan and a 24 hour blood pressure monitor.
All of this happened when accommodation was hard to get. Everywhere was booked out and we couldn't stay longer where we were, so we had to move to wherever we could find something.....and that ended up being an hour up the coast at Boreen Point Campground. The drive to get to my appointments was a minimum one hour, the appointments were sometimes drawn out (especially the specialists), most were early morning starts, all were on different days, and then there was the drive back. It took it's toll on all of us, but there was no other option. We tried to do some normal tourist stuff but obvioulsy couldn't do any all-day things.
After the long week of tests required when we were at Boreen Point, we were able to find accomodation back down in Landsborough and have been here ever since. The roadblock has now been in place for 4 weeks. Any time we thought we were close to moving up the coast (and there's been at least 2 occasions) we were either told I had to have a repeat blood test or another test/scan, meaning we had to stay put. We're all frustrated at not being able to do anything. We just want to start our holiday again and start having some more fun in the sun. So much for stress free!
One of the many tests undertaken found I have elevated Aldosterone levels which can cause high blood pressure. I've been placed on medication, but the main concern is that because of my relative young age (I'm only 41) and the fact I've always had a steady BP of 120/80, other causes need to be ruled out and the root cause found. So far all other tests have been clear. After an appointment yesterday with a specialist physician, we were told 10% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure never find the cause as to why. What's the bet after all the tests Ive been sujected to, that's going to be me? But even after telling me this, he ordered more blood tests, then increased my medication to 3 times daily and put me on one Asprin per day to prevent further occlusions.
I've been told the vision in my eye should correct itself within 3-4 weeks. I need to see another Opthamologist in the not too distant future. The eye is doing its thing and finding a way around the occlusion. If not, there is treatment I can have...an injection into the eye. I'm really hoping my eye self corrects so I can avoid this needle.
Today's was my last appointment with my GP and the outcome resulted in her giving us the okay to continue on our way. I have to ring her next week for the results of today's blood tests, and if anything shows up as being abnormal we may need to come back to see the specialist physician again in early September (or be referred to someone up the coast), but we're hopeful that won't be the case.
So for now, the roadblock has been removed and we can once again see the open road! Never has it sounded so appealing.
If you're into surfing, riding SUP's, kayaking, body boarding or fishing then plan a trip to Lennox Head in northern NSW. You will not be disappointed. This place is off the charts with pumping surf, great fishing and a very friendly local atmosphere.
With a lifestyle feel very similar to that of Yallingup or Margaret River back in the south west of WA, this place is right up there with other trip highlights such as Port Lincoln in SA and The Otways in VIC.
The beaches look untouched with crystal clear water but bloody cold, clean sandy beaches, rocky rugged coast lines and kms of walking tracks.
It's also very popular with QLD folks making the short drive from the Gold Coast just to catch a free wave. We were speaking to a surfie dude from Surfers Paradise when we were in Bryon Bay and he said the beaches up there get so over crowed it's near on impossible to get a wave to yourself.....something that isn't a real issue here.
Today we took a drive from Lennox Head to Ballina stopping at the hot spots such as Boulder Beach, Sharpes Beach, Angels Beach, Shelly Beach and Lighthouse Beach. We were in the right places at the right times too as we saw whales breaching and dolphins surfing the waves....just amazing. It was a beaut day, the sun was out and so were the bikinis with the temp was around 22 degrees, the beaches were the place to be. We might have even got our first east coast sun tan too!
It would be very easy to pull up stumps back home in Perth and relocate to Lennox Head, something that wouldn't be very popular to a couple folks back home though! For a family that loves the coast, beaches and summer back home, we all feel very welcome here.
Today we tackled the mighty Waterfalls along Waterfall Way which runs from Coffs Harbour through an incredibly scenic windy road some 200kms to Armidale. We passed through picturesque Bellinger Valley up onto the Dorrigo Plateau and the New England Tablelands.
Our first official stop was the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre Skywalk, Tristania Falls and Crystal Shower Falls nestled amongst the sub-tropical rainforest of the Dorrigo National Rainforest Centre. It wasn't an easy 6.6 km return walk but a very enjoyable one. Any time you get to walk amongst 200 - 400 year old trees towering some 50 metres above you and bush turkey's scrurrying away as you walk casually along the trek, has to be a good time in anyones book. Crystal Shower Falls was a favourite by all because you were able to walk behind it, awesome!
Next we moved on to Dorrigo Falls located on the Bielsdown River draining a large part of the Dorrigo Plateau and feeding north into Nymboida River and the Clarence River at Grafton. It was here that we first cooked up some burgers on the BBQ to replenish our energy stocks after completing the 6.6km walk some 30 minutes earlier. The kids screaming in our ears that they are starving hungry may have also had something to do with the stop!! Luckily for them it was lunch time!
Dorrigo Falls had a very accessible lookout no more than 50 metres from the BBQ areas which was very handy considering the fullness of our bellies. After a few photos and a well deserved rest we decided to walk down the 1.2km return to the base of the falls where a few more photos were taken. The area was just simply awesome and in summer I bet the water holes would be very popular with the locals.
Ebor Falls was the next stop which is a spectacular two tier fall where the Guy Fawkes River takes its first plunge off the tablelands....and it's amazing!
Our third stop, Wollomombi Falls ended up being our last of the day trip due to the time being 3:30pm and the really short days, it would be dark at 5pm and we didn't fancy driving back to Coffs Harbour along that beaut windy road after dark. Anyway it was definitely worth the stop pulling over here at this magnificent gorge which housed the Wollomombi Falls, one of Australian's higest at 260m. Admittently it wasn't flowing at its greatest but still a great sight to witness all the same.
It's a pity we ran out of time because there were 12 falls in total and doing the sub-tropical rainforest walk first up too a big chunk out of our day even though we were on the road by 08.00am, a record for the sleepy crew at the other end of the Expanda. Still having said that we still would have stuck to our plan. We pick and chose the most popular falls and were very happy with how the day turned out.
The kids did awesome with Kay racking up 18,900 step and me 16, 283 I dare say the kids would have smashed out steps somewhere north of 22,000, an epic effort.
Unfortunately the weather at Dubbo was not kind to us at all and apparently it hasn't rained there for the last three years, well nothing to write home about anyway. The day we arrived we saw 38mm fall in the town and the second day saw 36mm's, typical for us!
We didn't get to the Open Plains Zoo or the Old Dubbo Goal, the two things we left the coast to visit. So not to waste the trip entirely we decided to go to the recently refurbished Reading Cinema and check out a movie. Nate and I were outvoted 3 to 2 so we were stuck watching the chick flick Pitch Perfect 2. Now I don't mind confessing it was bloody good and very funny.
The cinema owners had a promotion going where all tickets were $10. $50 for all five of us to see a movie is a cheap day out in anyones language.....but The Dusty Mules didn't settle on just the one movie....we were greedy and saw two! The second being Jurassic World. Both flicks were very good in their own right and it was enough to lift our spirits and forget about the weather outside, even if just for a short time.
By day three we well and truly had enough of the rain and cut our losses, packed up that morning and headed to Tamworth hoping the wet weather front didn't reach there and going off the news reports we thought we may have been in luck.
The drive north east wasn't filling us with very much hope and confidence that wet weather didn't stretch out a further 300kms to our pending destination. There were a few flood ways brimming with water and the sides of the road was very wet and flooded in some areas.
Arriving in Tamworth was wet....surprise surprise! We spoke to a lady in town who said that it never rains in Tamworth....never my ass! We should really hire ourselves out to the farmers. We'll bring the rain to any part of the country....guaranteed.
Having this constant fight with the rain has really dampened our spirits (no pun intended) so we only decided to stay for two nights, enough to have a squiz around town then push on. On the afternoon of the first day we visited the tourist centre for ideas and the must do's in Tamworth. It seems that there really wasn't a great deal to do in the town (at least that interested us) and the lady in the tourist centre had a difficult time giving us ideas :/
Day two we found ourselves taking a drive around town. We checked out Oxley Lookout which gave a good view of the whole town. This place was amazing. It was built on one of the peaks of The Wentworth Mounds, 610 metres above sea level. It was named after a surveyor Lieutenant John Oxley RN, a European explorer who discovered the Peel River in 1818.
Oxley Lookout was officially opened on the 21st October 1936 following construction through Work for the Dole Labour Project during the depression of the 1930's and offers stunning panoramic views of the town and the Peel Valley. Well worth the look.
Following on from the lookout we visited the Tamworth Marsupial Park, a free entry park completely run and maintained by dedicated volunteers on a massive 11 ha property owned by the council.
We were impressed with this place too. There was a massive free flight aviary with a selection of Australian Native birds including a very friendly Grey Teal Duck who we dubbed "Quacka's" until we learnt his true identity, Willie. We liked the name Quacka's better so while we were walking through the aviary, Quacka's it was! Now this duck was something else, very friendly, loved to nibble on any part of exposed skin and snuggle into jumper sleeves or pants bottoms. We all fell in love with this little chappy and his excellent personality and it was hard to leave.
There was also a cockatoo aviary, emus and chicks, a Indian peacock, Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Kangaroo, Wallabies, Hopping Mice and a varity of parrots. All of this set amongst some very pretty landscapes, natural and man made streams and water holes. There were heaps of tables for folks to enjoy lunch and they even provided free BBQ's if you so wished. Very cool and like I said all free....very rare indeed.
A great spot to visit if ya find yourselves up this way.
As fantastic as it was to play in the snow of Perisher and Charlotte's Pass, it was so nice to leave the cold, wet snowy weather behind us and head for the coast where the sun was able to warm our bodies a little more thoroughly. Leaving the minus 7 degrees we had in Canberra and welcoming a balmy 15 degrees was bliss for the entire Dusty Mules mob.
Living in WA we are blessed with warm days for 80% of the year, the remainder 20% was still warmer than the day we arrived in Sydney but we weren't complaining. It allowed us to thaw the paws and circulate the blood back into the fingers and toes.
Sydney is a beautiful town but bloody hell she's busy. Cars and buses fill the lanes pretty much from 7am through to midnight daily and the crowds.....OMG, we didn't think they could pack so many into one spot. The place is just bursting with life and you are almost too scared to blink just in case you'll miss something!
We checked out Luna Park too. The kids didn't want to go on any rides saying they were a little too old for what they had on offer.....just between you and me, I think they were a little scared to ride them. See, out of the three kids we only have the one dare devil being Shenae and she's the youngest! The other two convinced her not to go on the rides for fear of the parents paying out on them for the rest of the day because they would have created some pretty funny scenes for Kay and I to enjoy! We did mange to get a few shots though.
Taronga Zoo was off the hook! Plain and simple....it was the best zoo we have ever been to hands down. The place was huge, the animal enclosures were fantastic, the shows were second to none. We saw the seal and bird shows, both unreal. Very clever trainers and even cleverer star attractions, the animals!
We went on a cable cart called "The Sky Safari". It goes from the main entrance all the way down to the ferries drop off/pick up area at the bottom of the zoo and loops back up to the main entrance. It only takes about 10 minutes but so much fun. The views of the zoo are awesome and you get a 360 degree panoramic view of the city too, just amazing. I'd love to know what the real estate is worth around there! $$$$
We spent the entire day there from open till close, walked about 12 kms with not a peep out of the kids about sore feet. We all had a blast and it was definitely a highlight of the Sydney visit.
It may sound funny but the animals really seemed to be right at home in their enclosures, I mean yeah sure nothing beats the freedom of their natural authentic habitats but they all looked very content and comfortable, well cared for and living in very clean enclosures. I reckon this mob have the best real estate options in NSW with the views available too. A great time and highly recommended if you find yourselves in the area. Kids were comparing it to scenes from the Madagascar movie!
Bondi was another big hit with the kids checking out where the boys from Bondi Rescue do what they do best. The day wasn't the best with very little sun poking through the clouds but that didn't matter, we were at Bondi! We didn't see any action on the day or the famous boys themselves but Georgia did spot Jade from Big Brother 2013 and to make the sighting more sweet for her she went on Instagram and posted on Jade's page about seeing her at the beach. Jade then responded saying that G should have come up to her to say hello. Man...wasn't she on cloud nine after that!
We took advantage of Sydney's Family FunDay Sunday where you can use public transport for only $2.50 per person. We hopped on the world famous Manly Ferry and took in the sights of Manly. They had a food and wine festival on so there was lots to see. The trip across gives a great view of the harbour. Again one that we all really enjoyed. Then once we were back at Circular Quay we went and checked out the "Vivid" light displays which is on for another year in town. The display brings a unique feeling to Sydney with a spectacular light show accompanied by music. It was cool to see the Opera House lit up in bright ever-changing colours, the harbour filled with boats all bright and shiny and the crowd enjoying every minute. And then we walked the city. Man did we walk!!! In total we walked about 22 kilometres throughout the day. To say our feet were sore by the end of it was an understatement!!
Next on the agenda is a little trip to Coogee for the girls to take in the atmosphere of where Wonderland is filmed. Tomorrow 'Wonderland', the next Palm Beach for the sites of 'Home and Away'. Do we watch too much TV?.........yeah....probably!!!
Blog Owners: Glenn & Kay Meuleners
My wife and I are currently travelling around Oz with our three school aged children and plan to be on the road for 12 months.