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byron bay bluesfest

Where to next?

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Where to next?

It's great to catch up with friends, but after 5-days BYRON BAY BLUESFEST is over... so it's back to the road for us. OK, so we often don't know where we are headed... not 'exactly' anyway. As always, our methodology is simple though, in this instance our 'plan' saying 'north'. And it is true our default setting is to follow the coast. For this leg it's Byron to Townsville, about a 15hrs drive if we were to head straight there.

But to beat the Top End Wet, we've allowed up to a month... so we are in no hurry. And on our last day in Byron, a friend asks if we'll be visiting Tenterfield and surrounds in Queensland. It's "beautiful country out there, and well worth a visit".

We look over our maps, then at each other. It's a minor diversion - only 250km to the west, and there is another wine district as it happens. So we change our 'plan' and head inland for now... just because we can.

Once on the road again, we check out 'WIKICAMPS' as per normal, finding a 'rest area' with 4-stars. After the festival, we are keen to keep today's journey short, and this place fills the bill - a rolling grassed site called 'Crooked Creek Rest Area'. It costs nothing to camp, allows campfires, has covered picnic tables and a toilet... all surrounded by glorious bush.

For dinner we share a Kerala coconut curry with salmon, a cask shiraz, a raging red campfire to warm the legs, the last calls of kookaburras and currawongs, then a lullaby of crickets, frogs and a gurgling creek. From our cosy bed in the top of the truck we listen to the intermittent rush of a passing breeze laden with damp bush smells and a hint of woodsmoke.

In the morning it's the last of Byron's best hot cross buns, toasted on last night's now flaming embers, surrounded by tiny wrens that dance and tweet at our feet... and we discuss nomadic life  with our only overnight neighbour.

Brisbane Bill wears sandals with socks, has a grey beard, blue eyes, and enjoys a natter. He and his wife are headed "whichever way the wind blows".

It seems there's another great camping spot not far from here -'Tooloom Falls' - also a free NSW State forest site as it happens. We look it up on Wikicamps - '50km NE from you' says my mobile phone app.

*****

A word about WIKICAMPS - an invaluable app for travellers and nomads of all ilks... dependent on public input and loaded with different camping sites, rest areas and points of interest throughout the country - with photos, lists of facilities, candid comments and prices of each.

Filters enable searching a current location, favourites or selected areas. New sites, comments and photos can all be added.

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Under the weather - Planning

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Under the weather - Planning

Just wondering... how much time we need to complete this little roadtrip trek of ours... the million dollar question... the elephant in the room... 

The pre-trip work has mostly been done over the last 12-months or so. Let's call it 'PLANNING' - the PC screen crowded with a multi-coloured, seasonal weather map, and  Hema digital map awash with tagged wishlists of places we 'just might' want to visit; a commingling of the odd and the isolated, the mysterious, abstract, the scenic and beautiful. Let's call them 'known unknowns'. And yeah, there are quite a lot. But these days there is heaps of info out there too, like AUSTRALIANEXPLORER.com and BEADELLTOURS.com.au.

And there are a truck load of wild and woolly tracks - the Canning Stock Route, the Deserts Simpson, Stony and Sturt, the Gary and Gunbarrel Highways, the Gibb River Road, the Tanami, Strzelecki and Old Telegraph Tracks - anywhere our truck will go.

And then there's the weather wildcard! It's a big country, with the full gamut of weather... Tropical and wet, hot and dry - through to VERY hot and dry - with freezing winters down south.

I do a quick calculation and come up with a roadtrip of... mmmm... 2-YEARS! (All pending the generosity of seasonal and unseasonal weather gods resulting in possible unplanned flights home to Melbourne from time to time.)

And, here's another thought - do we have everything accounted for? Well... there is the early July BIRDSVILLE BIG RED BASH, and the Easter BYRON BAY BLUESFEST... and the WA whalesharks and wildflowers among other things.

... To say nothing of the 'unknown-unknowns' along the way. Like... let's say we meet 'Jack' on some far-off wayward track. He sits propped at the bar of an Outback pub, staring into his ice-cold beer, the checkered shirt smelling of cigarettes, a battered pair of cowboy boots faded and scuffed. He says we 'must see' this or that, "just a day or 2 out of our way".

I stare at the PC screen, my cluttered maps of Oz - then look across at Sue. Will we have the time?

There really is an irresistible attraction in heading off with lots to see, while blessed with an indefinite vaguery of a timeframe.

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