First job – Catering Assistants

Catering Assistants

It was part of our plan to find work along the way, as we know we are on a tight budget. If we purely rely on the little amount of money we’ve had, we won’t last long and it will be a very short trip. So when we came to ACT, we have decided to also try to find some work.

We have tried searching for jobs on the internet, but not a lot of short term work on offer. So we then tried using agencies, as we’ve found out there are quite a few agencies for different types of industry, such as construction, general labour, office & administration, hospitality, etc.

In the end, we were offered a short term position by Pinnacle People. They are an agency that deals with the hospitality industry. We have applied the catering assistant they have advertised and we were told it would be a short term position for a month and up to two months if possible. We thought it was very suitable for our need and we accepted the position.

We worked as catering assistants at a nursing home kitchen in ACT. This was a decent size nursing home with quite a few residents living there, our job with the rest of the kitchen team was to provide quality food for them with six meals a day and seven days a week!

It was certainly very different to the type of office work we were used to, as we were required to be on our feet all day and serving food to different areas inside the nursing home.

Although different, but it was a rewarding job, not only did we get the money we needed from this job. We have also met many new people, such as the lovely kitchen team, the caring staffs and made friends to some residents.

We have also learned so much from this work place, especially about the type of food handling requirements and the different types of food and drink texture required for different residents. We’ve felt the pressure that we and other people are under in taking good care of residents in the facility, and we will be showing more of our respect to the people working in the aged care industry.

During our time here, there were two significant moments for us. First of all, we were named ‘Employee of the Month’ by Pinnacle People in May. We were very surprised, as we have never thought we would receive an honour like this, let alone this was our first month to work with the agency and the nursing home. Secondly, we have received a thank you and farewell gift from one of the lovely residents, who thanked us for our service to them and give us a little koala as our travelling companion during our trip! We were so touched by her action and we have gained so much more than just money from this job, which we will treasure for as long as we can!

A gift from a lovely resident.

A gift from a lovely resident.

We thank God for this job opportunity, the love, experience and memories that were given to us. It’s sad to know we will leave this job, but at the same time, we look forward to the next one ahead of us!

Back – First two months on the road |

First two months on the road

Our first two months on the road

Well, what do you know? Time really does fly by, all of a sudden, we have been on the road for two months now (although really speaking, we have stay put in Canberra for the whole month)! It has certainly been a very different experience for us, we are still pinching ourselves every now and then to confirm whether this is a reality!

Even though we have just started our trip and our dream, there had been a lot happened with many fond memories. It is true when they say, ‘It is not just about the places you have been, but also about the people you have met along the way.’

We have certainly met many wonderful people, we have made some friends and have learned so much from others with different backgrounds, knowledge and experiences.

Apart from these fond moments, we have also come across some challenges. One of the main challenges we had would certainly be the tight budget we are on, it’s not easy when you have a set weekly budget and there are so many places to see, things to do and delicious food to eat! Not to mention about the feelings, when you don’t have a stable income and you see the amount of cash decrease in the bank every week.

However, it has also been a good lesson for us to learn how to use our budget wisely, be creative on spending and still visit places and do the majority of things we’ve wanted. Aren’t we glad that we have set a budget and stuck to it, imagine how worse it can get if we hadn’t?

The limited amount of space has also been a new normal for us. Yes, we have a 4WD plus a camper trailer. Yes, we are only travelling as a couple. Yet, you’ll still be surprised by the limited amount of space you will get when you pack to be travelling full time on the road for four seasons. So far, we are blessed that we have listened to other’s advice on packing only the basics and essentials, otherwise, it would’ve been very difficult for us to try and fit everything into the 4WD or the camper.

If we do run out of things, or we have realised we needed something that we didn’t pack, we can always buy again on the road. At this stage, we are using frequently of what we have brought with us, and we haven’t needed to buy anything major, apart from the little fan heater to deal with the cooler weather.

We have enjoyed our journey so far, we have had more time to learn to live a simpler live. More importantly, we have been envied by many we have met along the way, as we are living their dreams at the moment. Which we hope one day, those people would make a move and live their own dreams, before it becomes too late!

Go explore this great country!

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Our travel buddy – Curly!!

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Looking forward to the great moments ahead

Back – Albury-Wodonga |

Albury-Wodonga

Albury Railway Station

Albury-Wodonga – Connecting Victoria and New South Wales

Albury-Wodonga is the twin regional city that is located on the North-Eastern part of Victoria. With the Hume Highway running next to it connecting Melbourne and Sydney, Albury-Wodonga became the major stop for travellers on the Hume Hwy.

Although often being referred as the twin city, yet, they are actually two cities. With Wodonga located on the South of the Murray River in Victoria and Albury on the North of the Murray in New South Wales.

Albury Motor Village Tourist Park

Albury Motor Village Tourist Park

Albury Motor Village Tourist Park

For this trip, we have spend majority of our time in Albury. We stayed at a nice little caravan park called Albury Motor Village Tourist Park (http://www.alburytouristpark.com.au). It is located in a suburb called Lavington, which is just 10 mins drive North of Albury CBD.

The park is now under new management and the new park owners are very friendly and helpful. They also have plans in doing some major upgrades to the park in very near future.

The park has only a handful of van sites, so they are generally fully booked. Though, there may be upgrading to more van sites in the future. The van sites can be tight, especially with the drive thru sites, so call in early to confirm with the owners in regards to availability and van size limitation. There are other accommodation options such as various style of cabins and YHA shared dormitory.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

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Nice wooden cabins.

The park may be small, but it comes with the lot! It has free Wi-Fi (24 hours per night stay), a children’s playground, a swimming pool, a shared BBQ area, a shared guest centre with TV and a very well equipped kitchen area. Guests are also spoiled with choice when choosing your dining options, there are various eateries within walking distance from the park, you can either drive or commute to the CBD for more options, or cook up a storm with the ALDI supermarket just across the street.

Swimming pool.

Swimming pool.

Children's Playground.

Children’s Playground.

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Well equipped, clean and tidy shared kitchen.

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Guest Centre with dining area and TV.

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Undercover BBQ area.

As mentioned above, the new owners have plans for some major upgrades to the park in near future, so it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next 12 months.

Albury CBD

The heart of Albury is on Dean Street, spreading between Young Street and Wodonga Place. There are also a lot of shops, service stations and other supplies surrounding the CBD of Albury.

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Intersection in Albury CBD.

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The busy Dean Street.

The visitor information centre is also very close by, situated on the corner of Young Street and Smollett Street, right next to the Albury Railway Station. The staffs there are knowledgeable, friendly and willing to help.

Interesting crossing sign in Albury.

Interesting crossing sign in Albury.

Diners can be spoiled by choice if you decided to enjoy a meal in the CBD, ranging from fast food outlets to restaurants for a sit down meal. For alternative, you can walk further to Noreuil Parade, where the famous The River Deck is located. It is sitting just on the bank of the Murray and diners can enjoy their meal with a glass overlooking the beautiful Murray River.

We have found the average costs for a sit down lunch to be $15-20 per person, which can be pricey for some people.

There are quite a few attractions in Albury. The Albury Library Museum and the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) are in the CBD and are within minutes of walking distance to each other.

The Albury Library Museum is a free and permanent exhibition showing some of the culture of the Wiradjuri people, their history and how they live. The museum also exhibition the insight into Albury’s past and some famous people who were from the town, including the famous Margret Court (Australian Tennis Legend) and Lauren Jackson (Famous Australian Basketball player).

Albury Library Museum

Albury Library Museum

The Library museum also house some information regarding the Bonegilla Story, which involves the migrants of many nations, especially the European nations, which formed the foundation of Australia’s multiculturalism.

Scarred tree and canoe.

Scarred tree and canoe.

Traditional Aborigines tools.

Traditional Aborigines tools.

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Display of early Chinese settlement.

For those who have an artistic sense, MAMA is the place to go. The entrance fee as at March 2016, is $15 per adult. Also, during the time of our visit, it was the Festival of Marilyn, which celebrates the life of the one and only Marilyn Monroe, featuring iconic imagery and artworks inspired by her.

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Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA)

 

Murray River

With the mighty Murray being so close to town, it plays an important role to the locals and tourists. There are many parklands, walking tracks and public open space along the river, and we saw many locals gathering along the river with their lunch and enjoy the river-view, or the local parents catching up while their children have fun at the playground near The River Deck, or just simply have a relaxing afternoon nap under the natural shading from the trees around.

The River Deck

The River Deck

Locals enjoying their afternoon.

Locals enjoying their afternoon.

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Children’s Playground

Albury Botanic Gardens

If you prefer just some relaxing and quiet time close to the nature, apart from the Murray River, the Albury Botanic Gardens would be another nice option. It is located at the West side of Wodonga Place between Dean Street and Smollett Street. So it is just a few minutes’ walk from the CBD. It is another popular place for the locals with their picnic lunch or a relaxing walk during the day.

Albury Botanic Gardens.

Albury Botanic Gardens.

It is not a very big park, however, it is very well maintained. It is facilitated with many park seats and benches under shades and a drinking fountain. The gardeners did a wonderful job to keep the place functioning, clean and tidy and the plants happy.

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Plenty of shaded seats.

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During the summer months, there are signs everywhere telling visitors to beware of snakes, therefore, keep an eye out for your children.

Wonga Wetlands

Wonga Wetlands is predominately a man-made area, with an ecosystem lagoons and billabong. It is aim to bring back birds and wildlife back in the area, as the construction of the Hume Dam has altered what used to be floodplains along the Murray River. Since the restoration of the wetlands, it is said to house more than 150 species of bird in the area.

A bridge crossing a lagoon.

A bridge crossing a lagoon.

Hidden wetland?

Hidden wetland?

Apart from the lagoons and bird watching, the Wonga Wetlands has also recreated a Wiradjuri campsite. It is to show visitors how the Wiradjuri people used to live, and how they used the land back in the days. It is interesting to see how they have men’s camp, women’s camp, young men’s camp, a working area, etc. When we went to Uluru and learned about the Anangu tribe, they also have a very similar camp allocation. Maybe this is a common practice for the Aboriginal tribes?

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Display of Wiradjuri campsite

Unfortunately, during our time of visit, the Wonga Wetlands is quite dry and we didn’t get to see much birds, apart from a few magpies and ducks. We hope we will have better chance next time, more importantly, we hope our readers will get to see the true beauty of the Wonga Wetlands.

We've managed to see a few magpies...

We’ve managed to see a few magpies…

...and a few ducks.

…and a few ducks.

Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk

We’ve found the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk to be the most iconic walk in Albury. It is located at the North side of the might Murray River, spanning almost 6km between Kremur Street Boat Ramp and the Wonga Wetlands.

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Information about the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk.

Along the walking track, not only do you see beautiful river scenery and wildlife, there are also a total of eleven contemporary Aboriginal sculptures created by local Aboriginal artists.

You can choose to either do only a part of the walk or in the full return trip (10.5km – 2-3hrs walk). It is a fairly easy walk with very well paved paths. You can also choose to do the walk in sections by stopping at a few stops in your car, do the full walk on foot or even ride a bike.

Nicely paved path suitable for walking, running and riding a bike.

Nicely paved path suitable for walking, running and riding a bike.

There are some pretty amazing artwork on display. You can appreciate the amount of hard work that has put into them and the messages they are trying to express through their art work.

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Goanna

Teaming Life of Milawa Billa.

Teaming Life of Milawa Billa.

Bogong Moth Migration.

Bogong Moth Migration.

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Wiradjuri Woman

Reconciliation Shield

Reconciliation Shield

In order to make the most out of this walk’s experience, we were recommended to download the ‘APositive’ app on our smart phones. Once you turn on the app and scan the QR code or images with ‘AR’ symbols, there will be descriptions and even the animated explanations from the artists themselves.

We would personally recommend to bring enough drinking water and a sun hat, especially during warmer and sunny days. From our experience, when we did the walk, it was a sunny warm day, and there were parts of the track which was close to the road and had no shade, without water and a hat, it would be a less enjoyable experience.

Peaceful and beautiful scenery along the Murray River.

Peaceful and beautiful scenery along the Murray River.

We saw more birds here than the Wetlands!

We saw more birds here than the Wetlands!

Others

There are quite a few other attraction points which we haven’t visited. Some because we haven’t arrived at the right time or season, such as Lake Hume, we were told there was only about 30% capacity when we were there, so we didn’t put it on the top of our list. Also, we haven’t been able to visit the local markets, especially the twilight market in Albury CBD, as when we arrived it was already finished (Oct – Mar).

There are some other attractions, we simply didn’t have enough time reserved for them, such as the Gateway Village, Bonegilla Migrant Centre, Bandiana Army Museum, Albury War Memorial and Huon Hill Parklands.

There is really a lot to see and explore in Albury/Wodonga, we truly believe it is much more than an overnight stop when travelling between Melbourne and Sydney. So we would strongly encourage if next time you get a chance to visit the area, allow some extra days to truly experience the area!

Albury and Wodonga are very colorful cities!

Albury and Wodonga are very colorful cities!

Back – Bemm River  | Next – First two months on the road

Bemm River

Bemm River

We were told by one of our friends that Bemm River is a very nice place for fishing, therefore we have decided to make a trip there to check it out.

Bemm River is approx. 420km away from Melbourne CBD, which would take a good 5-6 hours of driving depending on the road condition and weather, also whether you will be towing or not. It is a very small township in East Gippsland with a population of less than 300. It has a pub, a caravan park and a store, the closest petrol station would either be at Orbost or Cann River. Although, it is a small township, but don’t let its size fool you, as Bemm River is also known as ‘The Bream Capital’, renowned for its great bream fishing! There are many tourist who would travel here just to fish for bream, either recreational or competition.

We’ve chosen to stay at the Bemm River Caravan Park’s powered site. During the time of our stay, our fee was $25 per night, which was considered to be quite reasonable, given the nice environment, with clean facilities, friendly neighbourhood and friendly staffs. To many pet lovers, this caravan park has advertised itself as being pet friendly, we have seen the managers with their dog on site, and many other campers who brought their beloved dogs along. Even though, it is a pet friendly site, the grass camp sites has been kept clean without droppings everywhere, we didn’t stayed in their cabins, and hence, cannot comment on their condition.

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Bemm River Caravan Park – Pet Friendly

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As usual, we were arriving the site late…

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Rushing to set up camp before dark!

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Finally, camp set! Now time for dinner.

On the next day, we went down to the local store for some bait, and more importantly, some local fishing knowledge. There are two main boat ramps in the area, one near the Bemm River Hotel, and the other between the Hotel and the caravan park. Both were facilitated with cleaning tables and water hose, which is very considerate for people to clean their catches at the end of the day. Many seagulls and pelicans awaits for leftovers in the area and it can be quite an interesting sight! For those who don’t have a boat (like us), you can either choose to hire a boat or simply fish at the jetty near the boat ramps.

We first tried in the afternoon, one of us did managed to catch a small size bream, which we had to release. Other than that, we haven’t had much luck with it, after all, bream is one of the smarter fish out there, and the water was clear. So, we have decided to try again in the night after dinner.

It was dark and obviously not many people liked the idea of night fishing, but we thought we would give it a go anyway. There were a lot more activities in the water at night comparing to day time, where there were mainly prawns and small fish splashing in and out of the water surface. We haven’t had much luck with both lure or baits, not to mention there were a lot of sea weeds and rocks underneath. It was getting late and my patience was wearing thin, but my friend, Sean was encouraging me not to give up so easily. So I was going to do one last cast with a worm bait and was I glad that I did! It was when I started reeling my line and suddenly I felt there was a bit of a struggle at the end of the line, I wasn’t so sure at first, but as I reel the line in faster, the clearer the struggle. We were both delighted when we see the fish surface on the water, it was a legal size Flathead! We were both very excited, especially myself as this was my first ever night catch! It was late at night, so we quickly cleaned the fish and went back to camp.

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My first ever night catch!

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Nice size Flathead.

The next day, we asked our neighbour Glenn and Deb to show us how to properly fillet a fish. They were very kind not only to show us how to fillet our fish, but were generous enough to even share their catch with us to taste! They are also travellers on the road with their dog, Buddy. So they also shared with us some of their knowledge and insights about travelling on the road. We tried to extend our catch, but the wind was picking quite quickly, and even we gave it a red hot go, we couldn’t add more to our tally.

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Our neighbour were kind enough to show us how to fillet our fish and also shared theirs with us!

Sadly, it was time for us to start packing up and leave. Yet, we were blessed by the short amount of time we have spent here at Bemm River, blessed by the fish we caught, and more importantly, the wonderful people we have met here, especially our neighbour Glenn and Deb. We hope to be able to meet them again on the road in the future.

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It was time for us to pack up and head home.

Back – Jindabyne  |  Next – Albury-Wodonga

Jindabyne – ‘The Valley’

Jindabyne

Jindabyne is a beautiful township located 35km East of Thredbo or 178km South of Canberra.
This is also one of the major town with supplies if you wanted to visit and explore the Southern precinct of Kosciuszko National Park.
The name ‘Jindabyne’ was derived from the aboriginal word meaning ‘valley’, and what a correct description it was.

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Hills surrounding the area, no wonder it was named ‘the valley’.

Lake Jindabyne

As we were driving West from Cooma along the Kosciuszko Road, we had to come through a series of windy hilly roads as we were getting closer to Jindabyne.
It will be the same if you either continue West towards Crackenback or North towards Charlotte Pass.
When we’ve driven passed East Jindabyne, we came across a beautiful scenery.
It was the Lake Jindabyne in sight and with the afternoon sun shining across the surface of the lake, it was such a refreshing scenic change from the boring windy roads!

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Some locals with their dogs having a bit of a cool down in the lake.

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A popular swimming spot for the locals.

The lake is very popular water activity area for the locals, with many choose to have a swim in the lake, kayaking or even pedal boarding.
If you prefer to be less active, a walk along the lake side is a wonderful option.
There is a very well formed concrete path along the lake side, water refilling station, seats and plenty of natural shades from the trees and bushes along the path.

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One very creative artwork along the path.

The Lion (left) island and its cub (right).

The Lion (left) island and its cub (right).

Local Bakery and cafes

After your walk along the lake side, you can choose to relax at your local cafes and bakery.
We went to a cafe called CoffeeBeatsDrinks (a.k.a. CBD to the locals), they have a rather modern and relaxing environment inside, their menu is kept very simple and their choice to use glass jars to serve their coffee was quite an interesting idea. Not to mention, their coffees are pretty good!

Coffee in a jar?

Coffee in a jar?

Lunch at the local bakery.

Lunch at the Sundance Bakery.

Jindabyne Tourist Information Centre

There is a Tourist Information Centre next to the main shopping complex in town, it is a decent size information centre, with a cafe and cinema in the building.
There are plenty of information for Thredbo, Mt Kosciuszko, Kosciuszko National Park and surrounding towns and attraction.
The staffs there are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, there is even a theatre with a video showing information about the Snowy Mountain region.

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Jindabyne Tourist Information Centre

Getting around town

Driving around town is quite easy with the main road cutting through the heart of Jindabyne.
As mentioned, there is a main shopping area in the town, with a supermarket, local cafes, bakery, a pub and other eateries.
There is also a medical centre, pharmacy, banks, post office and newsagency to deal with any daily needs.
On top of that, there are plenty of shops to sell souvenirs, skiing, fishing and camping gear.
There are also two service stations in town for your choice of fuel.

It has everything you need in town.

It has everything you need in town.

We also took the chance to stock up.

We also took the chance to stock up.

Jindabyne town is truly beautiful town with character. It maybe a snow season town for the skiers, but this friendly town warmly welcomes you no matter in the snow or sun.
We hope to visit this town again in the future, hopefully in the snow season, where we can see the beautiful town and lake surrounded by fluffy white snow!

Back – Yarrangobilly Caves  |  Next – Bemm River

Yarrangobilly Caves

Beautiful limestone cave formation.

Yarrangobilly Caves

Yarrangobilly caves are located at the Northern precinct of Kosciuszko National Park. It is approx. 160km from Crackenback and would take 2hrs to drive each way.

There are three main attraction caves at Yarrangobilly:

  • South Glory Cave – the largest cave of all, which can be self-guided.
  • Jersey Cave – mid-sized cave, well known for the rare grey and black flowstones and its variation in formation and colour. (Guided tour)
  • Jillabenan Cave – the smallest and possibly the eldest of all caves and has amazingly delicate formation of all. (Guided tour)

You can choose to pay by the cave, two-cave pass or three-cave pass. If you can spend enough time there, we would recommend you do the three-cave pass, as we believe it is the best deal and you get to see them all at once! Some caves only offer guided tour only, and they have specific time for each tour, please phone Yarrangobilly Caves on (02) 6454 9597 to confirm the tour times for that day.

As of March 2016 the cost of visiting the caves as follows:

 

  • Self-Guided Cave Tour: $18 adults, $13 concession, $45 families
  • Guided Cave Tour: $22 adults, $17 concession, $55 families
  • Two-Cave Pass: $30 adults, $23 concession, $75 families
  • Three-Cave Pass: $45 adults, $35 concession, $100 families (Note: the family price includes 2 adults and up to 3 school-age children)

You can get the most up-to-date information from this web site – Yarrangobilly Caves Kosciuszko National Park

There is also a small $4 park entry fee per day per vehicle that applies.

Once you have finished walking around the caves, you can choose to wind down and relax at the natural thermal pool. The thermal pool car park is only a short 2mins drive from the park entrance, and then another 700m walk from the car park to the pool, which is at the bottom of the valley. This natural thermal pool is permanently heated to 27ºC and it has an adult pool and a kid’s pool. There are also change rooms available.

The peaceful environment, with wildlife presents and right by the Yarrangobilly River side, making this place a picture perfect spot to relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. If you prefer to be more active, there are a couple of walks in the area that can take you along side the river and explore the area.

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The well constructed thermal pool area.

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The Yarrangobilly River.

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There were a few kangaroos paying us a visit.

Due to the limited time we have at the area, we have decided to only focus on one cave, as we’d rather fully enjoy one than rushing through a couple. So at the end, we chose the Jersey Cave guided tour, and we were not disappointed!

Our guide Regina, is a very experienced, humorous, passionate tour guide. She explained a lot of the geological history of the cave formation, how the stalagmites, stalactites, columns, shawls and cave corals were formed. How the people discovered the caves and invited people to come and visit the caves in the old days. There were a lot of history behind the formation of the caves and how much man power has been put into opening the caves for the public.

On our way back, there was a section where our guide has offered us to have a taste of the kind of environment the people experienced in the late 19th Century when the caves were first discovered. So she switched off the artificial light and the cave turned into complete darkness! When she lit up a fire lighter, although we can still see her face, but the light was very limited, you wouldn’t be able to see more than 5-10 steps in front of you, not to mention any movements would cause to fire lighter to go off.

This made us appreciate the effort people put into opening these caves to the public and the danger involved when doing it! As there are sections that would’ve been very dark, difficult and dangerous to access with just candle lights or oil lamps. Also, imagine back in the days when the people who would’ve been invited to visit these caves, the men would’ve all been in suits, wearing proper hats and leather dress shoes, and the ladies were all in long dresses, boots and may even be carrying an umbrella! How difficult would it be for them to walk around in the caves in limited lighting, not well formed steps and in tight space.

It is very important to bare in mind, even though the limestone / crystals are very attractive, please do not touch any rock or crystal, as the invisible oil on our skin permanently damages the irreplaceable cave crystal.

Things to bring:

  1. The cave’s temperature is a lot cooler than the outside temperature, at the time we were inside the Jersey Cave, the outside temperature was around 30°C and the caves temperature was only 10-12°C! Please consider bring a light jacket / jumper if you are afraid of cold.
  2. Cameras are welcome, just to make sure you are not blocking other people’s view, also please check with your guide if you are allow to bring  tripod or a selfie stick into the caves as each cave’s formation maybe different and space can be limited.
  3. It maybe a good idea to bring a small torch / headlight with you. The caves itself has lights in it but if you want to take clearer photos, it’s always good to have more lighting to make sure you capture the most beautiful side of the limestone.
  4. The ground inside the cave maybe wet, so yo  may consider to bring a pair of good footwear with you.

If you happened to be in the area next time, don’t only spend time at the snow or the summit hike, spare some time at this wonderful area and see for yourselves, as cameras and photos don’t do them justice.

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Magnificent formation of stalactites.

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A pool inside the cave.

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Cave Corals.

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Simply amazing cave formations.

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If the rock is pure, you can shine your light through it!

Back – Kosciuszko Nation Park  |  Next – Jindabyne

Kosciuszko National Park

Kosciuszko National Park

Kosciuszko Summit Walk

Mount Kosciuszko has always been on our bucket list to visit on our trip around Australia, as it is the highest mountain in Australia, with its summit at 2228 metres. It is located at the Southern precinct of Kosciuszko National Park.

We know this isn’t a high mountain by the World’s standard, yet, not everyday do you get to be at the highest point of a country. Considering it being on the extreme points of Australia, we have decided to hike to the top of Australia and our friends Sean and Christine are also joining us.

We have chosen to stay at a cabin at Pender Lea Chalets, which is located in Crackenback, NSW, approx 570km North East of Melbourne. It would take at least 6.5-7.5 hrs driving, depending on which route you choose.

Crackenback is approx. 11km West of Jindabyne, which is one of the major towns in the area, where you can find a supermarket, fuel, cafes & restaurants and a tourist information centre. Thredbo is located 24km West of Crackenback, where the chairlifts would take the skiers to the snow in the Winter and the hikers to challenge the summit of the highest mountain in Australia in Summer.

The chairlifts at Thredbo to Mt Kosciuszko (Kosciuszko Pass) is $35 per adult per day. It’s approximately 9-10 mins ride from bottom to the top.

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We were at an elevation of 1927m at the end of the chairlift ride!

On the day we went, it was a nice sunny day at the bottom of the chairlift ride, yet, a completely different story when we reached to the end of the ride. Although it was a fine day, but it was blowing wind of 50-60km/h at the mountain! Even though it was a mild 23°C, but with the wind chill factor and constant gale blowing at your face, you will feel a lot cooler. That’s why we were recommended to have layers on, so we can adjust according to the temperature change.

The walk to the summit of Kosciuszko is 13km return and expected to take 4-6hrs. We started at around 10am in the morning, which started with an easy tarmac surface. The track than changed into a well constructed metal boardwalk, which covered most of the track. There are along clear signs along the track, so there is no need to worry about getting lost along the way.

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Start of the track at the end of the chairlift. There is also an Eagle Nest Restaurant with hot food, hot or cold drinks.

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Clear signs along the track.

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Well constructed metal boardwalk.

After 2km into the track, we have reached our first lookout point, the Mt Kosciuszko Lookout. This is a lookout which will give you an overview of the Mt Kosciuszko ridge line. There are quite a few people who’ve decided to stop their walk there and started heading back to the chairlifts. However, we were on a mission, and hence, has decided to continue on.

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Mount Kosciuszko Lookout.

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The ridge line of Mount Kosciuszko.

With the wind constantly blowing in your face and the body at a higher altitude, it is recommended to take it easy by having small rests every now and then, have snacks to keep the energy level up and plenty of fluid to keep the body hydrated.

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Constant little rest, snacks and fluid intake can help you go a long way.

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Apart from focusing on the track, you should look around and enjoy the natural environment.

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These beautiful little white flowers can be found along the track.

After another 2km or so, we have reached another lookout point, which is the Lake Cootapatamba Lookout. This lookout is 2.4km from the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, this is also known as the highest lake in Australia. It was also said to be the freshest water in Australia, due to the high altitude and low in salt content, however, it was also said to be low in nutrients. I was kind of keen to have a taste of the water, but it was quite a long diversion from the track and we were kind of against time, so I have to give up that thought.

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Lake Cootapatamba Lookout.

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The highest lake in Australia.

Talking about the highest lake in Australia, how about the highest toilets in Australia?! We have arrived at Rawson Pass, which is at an elevation of 2100m and holds the highest toilet found in Australia. This is also a cross path who would take the track from Charlotte Pass, which is another chairlift access to Mount Kosciuszko. From Rawson Pass, there is another 1.67km to the summit, which is about 30-40mins away. From here on, the metal boardwalk would be replaced by dirt tracks and at some point it can be quite steep, especially when wet.

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Rawson Pass has the highest toilets in Australia.

We’ve made it! We have arrived at the highest point of Australia! I know this isn’t the Himalayas, but it’s the effort that counts. It’s not everyday you get to be at the highest point of a country and feel the world beneath your feet. We were tired, but also excited and satisfied at the same time, because we have conquered another extreme point of Australia. Now it’s time for some quick lunch and then all the way back to the chairlifts before the stop operating at 4:30pm!

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Mount Kosciuszko – Elevation of 2228m.

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Should I literally stand on the top of Australia?

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We made it!

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Of course the wind didn’t slow down.

Boy, weren’t we glad that the walk back down was a lot quicker than the walk up to the summit. We were just able to make it before 4pm! The sun did come out in the afternoon to keep us warm, but sure enough the wind didn’t back down. The chairlift ride back down was one of the more relaxing ride we’ve had, as our legs get to rest after the 6hrs walk. It was a wonderful and satisifying experience and we would treasure it for the rest of our lives. We’ve even celebrated it with some hot chips and cold drinks!

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We are ready!

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After more than 18 months of preparation, we are proud to say that we are almost ready for this big adventure of ours! We have created this website and also our Facebook Page ‘Go Explore Oz‘ to share our journey with all of you and also hope to keep encourage others to do the same!

However, things weren’t that straight forward at the beginning. When we first had the idea of travelling around Australia (a.k.a The Big Lap), it was early 2014, when we first got married. We started preparing for the trip and got real excited. We have tried to read a lot of past and existing stories, following forums and Facebook pages, we went to purchase a lot of camping gear like tent, sleeping bags, self-inflating mattresses, cooking equipment, books, maps & atlas, GPS, etc. We thought we were going very well until when we have made the decision on the purchase of the camper trailer.

When we were deciding on which main type of accommodation to take with us on the trip, we have gone for the camper trailer option. There were a few reasons behind the decision, first of all, it was the amount of living and storage space it can offer, when you are travelling on the road full time for a year or so, have the extra storage space for some extra clothing seemed like a good idea (especially for the missus!). Secondly, not needing to sleep on the ground was a pretty darn important for first time campers like ourselves, not needing to worry about creepy crawlies at night would certainly give us a peace of mind for a better night sleep. Not to mention, the camper trailer would withstand different kind of weather better than a normal tent, or so we thought. Finally, towing a camper trailer would certainly be easier than towing a caravan with our humble 4 cylinder Toyota Prado, and would be easier to reach certainly places than a caravan.

Everything were well prepared at that point, and we’d thought we had done enough research on which type camper trailers we wanted. We saw an advertising for an off-road hard floor camper trailer for sale, we checked it out at a store. We liked the setting of the camper and the extra standard features it offered, where as other brands would have them as optioned. Not to mention, the price was a real winner (so we thought at the time)! Therefore, we have decided to purchase that camper, and that has led to our downfall…

It turned out when something seems too good to be true, it generally is. We have found out the hard way that what we have purchased was not a real ‘off-road’ camper, and was not built for our purpose along with a few other defects. We had to replace the camper for a more reputable and reliable camper. It was because of this incident that has caused a delay for 18 months and we were most frustrated by this experience, however, also a valuable lesson learned! After such dramatic event, we have now gathered ourselves, and are now prepared for departure take two in Feb 2016!

Back – First Aid Training  |  Next – Kosciuszko National Park

First Aid Training

First Aid Training

As part of our trip preparation, we have decided to attend a first aid training to prepare ourselves in cases of emergency.

We have never attended this kind of training before, so we were both quite excited and looking forward to learning something new and practical.

It was an intensive training course, which we had to first completed some homework as part of the foundation.
We learned about the followings:

  • The meaning of First Aid, our duty and responsibility as a First Aid Officer.
  • The effect of Epipen, and how to give it to the patients when required.
  • What is “DRSABCD”, how this is important at the first response.
  • What is a recovery position.
  • What is CPR and how to effectively apply to adults, children and infants
  • What is a Defibrillator and how to use it in an emergency situation.
  • Allergies, anaphylaxis and asthma
  • Wounds and Snake bites
  • Some basic bandaging and dressing

It was very eye opening, and has given us a lot of new knowledge and skills. We now feel more equipped to be out there tackling on our trip.
These are certainly the type of skills and knowledge you’d hope to learn, but never needed to use them.

Back – Vehicle Maintenance  |  Next – We are ready

Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicle Maintenance

Regular maintenance to your vehicle is very important. It allows the vehicle to be performing at a better condition on a daily basis.

As we travel around Australia on a road trip will cause extra workload to our vehicle, and hence, regular vehicle maintenance will become vital to ensure we can have a safe and smooth trip.

We have never considered ourselves as a handy/mechanical person. Thanks to the wonderful people from the Toyota Landcruiser Club Victoria (TLCCV), they have shown us some basic skills in servicing our own vehicles and learning how to check your vehicles before a trip.

We have learned the followings:

  • Changing engine oil
  • Changing automatic fluid
  • Changing transfer case gear oil
  • Changing front and rear diff oil
  • Changing oil, fuel and air filters
  • Changing fan & water pump belts
  • Procedures on changing brake fluid
  • Check for power steering fluid and coolant level
  • Check for brake pads wear
  • Check for oil leakage in engine bay and vehicle surrounds
  • Check for radial cracks on rubber bushes

We have certainly learned a lot and we have now felt closer to our vehicle by knowing more about it.

I am sure this will be very handy to understand more about your vehicles, and saving some money by doing regular maintenance yourselves.

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A full table of parts and tools to start the day!

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Some of the oil and fluid needed and jack stands for the vehicle.

Drip pans and funnels are essential.

Drip pans and funnels are essential.

An overview of a diesel Prado engine bay.

An overview of a diesel Prado engine bay.

Vehicle on jack stand

Wheels removed after the vehicle is secured on the jack stands

Oil dripping into the drip pan.

Oil dripping into the drip pan.

Checking the thickness of the existing brake pads.

Checking the thickness of the existing brake pads.

Checking the general condition of the brakes.

Checking the general condition of the brakes.

Refilling necessary oil and fluid.

Refilling necessary oil and fluid.

Changing oil filter after every oil change.

Changing oil filter after every oil change.

Putting the wheels back on after the service.

Putting the wheels back on after the service.

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