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Archive for February, 2010

Australian music festivals well worth the drive

February 27th, 2010 Comments off

Chill Island Music Festival on Phillip Island VictoriaEVERYONE loves a music festival, whether you love blues, country, jazz, pop or rock. So snap up a campervan rental deal with DriveNow, hit the highway and prepare to dance, sing, eat and drink ’til your heart’s content. While there are loads of big ones such as the Big Day Out, Good Vibrations and V Festival that do the rounds countrywide, don’t forget the smaller ones that might just offer something a little more intimate and also give you the chance to look around. Try these for size …

1) Riverboats Jazz Food and Wine Festival. Every July this one attracts jazz and wine lovers in their droves from all corners of the country, so head down the Hume Highway in your campervan or hire car to this historic river port township set on the banks of the mighty Murray River for some smooth jazz, great food and wonderful nearby attractions. It all happens in late February. Visit www.riverboatsjazzfoodandwine.com.au

2) Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival. Any time of the year is a good time of the year to visit this beautiful coastal hotspot. Enjoy the best of both worlds whether it be the beach or the hinterland. This world renowned music festival attracts some of the biggest artists in the world. Held over five days every Easter, visit www.bluesfest.com.au

3) Chill Island. Head south from Melbourne and find a patch on charming Phillip Island, home of Australia’s best known penguins and the Phillip Island motorsport circuit. Every January it comes alive to the sounds of easygoing, chilled music including artists covering such genres as folk, reggae, blues and pop. Visit www.chillisland.org

4) Womadelaide. This one stands for World of Music Arts and Dance and simply must be experienced if you’re ever cruising around South Australia. Thousands “bliss out” as they enjoy the sounds of the planet, street theatre, exhibitions and great food. Visit www.womadelaide.com.au

5) Tamworth Country Music Festival. No Aussie list of music festivals can be without this mighty country music fest when the greats of country music, and promising up and comers of all ages, hit the town for a fun time. Celebrations continue for 10 days every year from mid-January. Visit www.tamworthcountrymusic.com.au

AUSTIN BONHAM

Great driving holidays – Mt Surprise to Normanton (Qld)

February 13th, 2010 Comments off

WHAT A CROC!

FROM Mt Surprise we head further west and back out almost to the coast to a quaint little place called Normanton. This is the home of the largest salt water crocodile ever officially recorded. And you better believe it!

The local publican still has the original photograph of it. This croc came out during a wicked flood and a local lad shot it, 14 times, with his .22 calibre rifle. It could swallow you whole in one gulp and you wouldn’t even touch the sides! No wonder all the farmers were missing a ton of cattle in these parts – sometimes a herd a day, apparently. Just behind the monument of this beast of a creature is the old original prison. Very spooky! It remains just as the last prisoners left it, very airy and the writing on the wall says it all.

When in Normanton you just have to go Croc spotting. No matter how scared you might be, this really must be one of the priorities on your schedule. They breed them big here, trust me, and you will not see crocs this big anywhere else in the world, I can guarantee! The Normanton River is also a famous fishing ground, just beware what lurks beneath.

And funnily enough, Normanton also is home to the historic Gulf Lander train, the original. You can take a day trip back to Georgetown, have a great morning or afternoon tea, and let yourself slip back into the days of old. It’s awesome how they have restored her, a true testament to their dedication in getting back into tip-top shape.

Book your camp sites early, too, as Normanton is often booked out. With it not having many close neighbouring towns, it’s a very popular spot to stop for people going north, south, east and west.

PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT

Great driving holidays – Cooktown to Mount Surprise (Qld)

February 6th, 2010 Comments off

HEADING south and inland from Cooktown down to Mt Surprise was, well, a bit of a surprise – a pleasant one.

Definitely take the short-cut and head along the top of the Atherton Tablelands, and cut out going back through Cairns. It’s a great drive that’s fairly easy until you reach Rolleston. From then on its only bitumen for the width of one car, down the middle of the road, so drive your campervan and carry your load carefully especially on corners, as chances are others coming towards you are using the middle of the road too! The other half of your lane is orange dirt and badly corrugated, so it’s slow going. Every now and then you will get a double land of bitumen, but not often, and no there’s no phone reception from thereafter either.

It feels like the road is never ending, but it’s because of the slow going and the frequent pull-offs you have to make. But once you enter Mt Surprise, this little town never fails to surprise! It’s a tiny town with a pub built in the back of someone’s barn, a petrol station, post office, fish and chips shop and café. Just remember there’s not much phone reception here but there is a pay phone out the front of the petrol station.

We stayed at Bedrock Caravan Village and we can’t recommend it highly enough and you needn’t worry about staying anywhere else but there. It’s awesome! Fantastic hosts Joe & Jo bend over backwards to make your stay totally and utterly unforgettable, with singalongs around the camp fire, camp dinners and the best part is that they also own the local tours company out to the Lava Tubes and Volcano Rim. The Lava Tubes are amazing, still in their pristine, natural state, including the bones of many dead animals littering the floors of the tubes. It’s grea to see they haven’t commercialised it and it really hits home about how often we have ruined national treasures through tourism. You will not be dissapointed, not for a second. Joe is full of knowledge and has a great relationship with the local elders, which only lends charm to a very memorable experience.

Make sure you stay at least three or four days in Mount Surprise. You definitely will not regret it.

PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
The Great Australian Doorstep is coming to 7TWO on Australian television. Visit www.thegreataustraliandoorstep.com for more information

Great driving holidays – Cairns to Cape York (Qld)

February 1st, 2010 Comments off

CAPE York is absolutely totally out of this world. No word can sum it up, no matter how much you try to describe it. Quite simply, you just don’t know how great it is until you experience it for yourself.

I bid farewell to Sheree and the kids (they are having a week in Cairns) while myself and the film crew head into the unknown territory of Cape York Peninsula. Firstly, there’s a few very important things to remember. If you are travelling along, as in only one vehicle, make sure you stick to the Cape York Development Road at all times! If you are lucky enough to have a support vehicle or vehicles with you, then venture off on to the Telegraph Track.

We had only one vehicle, but we still saw so much and had the best time ever. Once you get past Laura you will feel like you are in a different country. It isn’t that far distance-wise, but time-wise it can be. It took us 8 1/2 hours to travel 291km from the turn-off to Weipa! Too funny! But it was all worth it and was a great opportunity to test out all your 4WDriving skills on these roads in particular – so much to learn along the way, but funnily enough we never felt in danger or at risk. Mobile phones will work in most parts, definitely in all the towns, but be sure to take a satellite phone with you for back up.

First stop was Weipa which boasts the most amazing sunsets. We stayed at a beachfront caravan park – what more could you want?! Take in the Totem poles, a history lesson you will never learn or experience anywhere else in the world. Weipa has all the services you will need. And remember to stock up on water at every place you can. After that, we headed straight across to the other coast to Portland Roads and a little private house called Portland House. It’s all run from “eco” things – eco this, eco that. It’s a great little spot and for only $75 per person it is great value. If you are looking for a romantic getaway then this is for you.

Then it was off to Seisia, a great little town a few kms short of the Tip of Australia. Once again, beachfront camp sites and just stunning. Seisia and Bamaga have a lot of services. Don’t forget to take the Champers when you finally reach the very tip of Australia! An enormous accomplishment by any standard!

PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
The Great Australian Doorstep is coming to 7TWO. Visit www.thegreataustraliandoorstep.com.au for more information