Overheating....

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, January 2, 2014

After a blissful 2 weeks of luxury living in Brisbane we decided that in order to avoid the hell that is camping during the school holidays on the Gold Coast we would head inland for a week or two to let the campsite rush calm down. It seemed like a great idea at the time until everyone we spoke to had a look of horror in their eyes at the concept of us spending any amount of time in Toowoomba, Goodiwindi (which we picked entirely because of its silly name) or Warwick and we very quickly discovered why!!

The day we set off from Brisbane the temperatures which were already in the high thirties decided to skyrocket and we were inland with not even a sniff of the ocean in 45 degree heat.  To really make things bad our campsite didn't have a pool or a common room/kitchen for us to hang out in  to seek refuge so we went to the only places we knew we would be safe, Kmart and Coles.  Yup we just hung out in supermarkets and shopping centres with no need or desire to buy anything just to get out of the heat.  So aside from the heat Toowoomba was alright, it had a lovely view point called Picnic Point, which has possibly the biggest Australian flag flying that I have ever seen and thankfully a rather nice café serving the obligatory Devonshire Teas.  We had to laugh that the information board advising of the best places to see and eat featured the biggest advert I have ever seen for MacDonalds, this really is a small town.

After 2 days of sweating it out, looking at the temperatures in Goondiwindi rising to 40 in the shade we made the executive decision to not go there.  Instead we decided to finally use the free money that we had accumulated by booking all our hotels and hostels around the world with Agoda to good use and we booked ourselves into a Motel.  I am pretty sure that this is one of the best decisions we have ever made.  This luxury break did however come with the condition attached that we used the time to catch up with the blog, so with 2 months’ worth of travels to document and thousands of photos to wittle down we pretty much set up camp and got to work and we came within a whisker of being caught up and treated ourselves to an evening trip out to see the lovely collection of windmills that Toowoomba has to offer.  A rather lovely collection it was too!

With the temperatures back down to relative normality we got back on the road to Warwick.  Warwick is seemingly really busy one day per year when they have their annual rodeo, sadly we were not there on that day and there was pretty much nothing to do.  This has never stopped us before and we set off to Leslie Dam to watch the sunset surrounded by kangaroos.  However this trip turned out to be a little different to the one we had planned.  We initially went to the actual dam rather than the lake and noticed a long necked turtle wondering around the car park.  There was no obvious access to the water so god only knows how this turtle had got into the car park but when we went to investigate the poor thing seemed unharmed but was pretty tired and made no effort to escape from us.  So armed with the bucket and a tea towel we mounted "Operation Turtle Rescue".  We managed to shimmy the long necked beauty into the bucket with the assistance of the tea towel and then took him on a short journey in La Toya to the stream running out of the dam.  After a treacherous climb with the turtle in the bucket we took him to the edge of the stream and after just a few seconds he made a run for it and hopped straight into the stream.  Good luck long necked turtle I hope you find your friends and stay out of the car park! Operation Turtle rescue was definitely a success!  With the sun still shining we still had just enough time to make it to the lake to see the sun set over Leslie Lake which as promised had some rather lovely kangaroos and pelicans to add to the view.  Sadly our drive home reminded us just why we don’t drive and dusk or dawn when the car in front of us hit a kangaroo, with tears in our eyes we tried to convince ourselves that at least we had saved the turtle, but we vowed never to drive at dusk or dawn again!

With one more day to fill in this little town we visited the tourist information centre and whilst we had a lovely chat with all the ladies in there, we didn’t leave laden down with leaflets for local attractions.  We did however discover we were on the edge of a lovely tourist drive known as the granite belt.  A region where the roads are lined with huge granite boulders and fruit farms, how could we resist.  So off we set, following the tourist route signs and very strangely the route started and twenty minutes later it finished and there was not even a sprinkling of granite, so we drove back the way we came and decided that someone was having a laugh with us.  We found a café for our obligatory afternoon tea and were pretty excited to discover that it had a giant apple in the car park to add to our growing collection of large fibreglass fruits of Australia.  Beneath the big apple was an advertising board and something caught our eye, Law Dogs of Australia, a dog show which just happened to be on in an hour, how could we resist!

We programmed Tom Tom and set off and seemed to be headed into the middle of nowhere, not entirely trusting Tom Tom I decided to check google maps and as I suspected we were headed into the middle of nowhere.  By this point we had 15 minutes until the show started and we had to make a decision to call it quits of push on, so we pushed on and finally made it.  We headed to the office expecting there to be a crowd of tourists all as keen as us to see the Law Dogs in action, but it seems that we were the only tourists and unbelievably they put on a private show just for us.  So what are Law Dogs, I hear you ask?  They are the biggest scariest looking dogs you can think of that have been trained as security dogs.  Some of the displays were the standard knock down of baddy, some were sniffing out drug packages and some were truly amazing skills used by the secret service, such as a dog just going and standing behind the suspect to make him turn around and lose concentration.  Tim was brave enough to go in and meet one of the main dogs, I on the other hand stayed safely on the outside of the fence.

At the end of our private show we spoke to the staff and they actually managed to direct us to some granite, after all this was a day trip to the granite belt.  We didn’t quite anticipate a 2 km trip on a corrugated unpaved road, but it was worth the trip when we were confronted by a mountain of granite boulders.  There were walkways through the boulders and at the top a viewing platform with a fab view.  With the skies darkening and a storm looming we decided to head home.

We got back to our campsite and when we were parked and setting La Toya up I mentioned to Tim that she sounded like there was a funny noise, he just told me it was the fridge so I ignored it and carried on. 

The next day we packed up and were back on the road headed to Mount Tamborine.  It was a miserable cold, wet and drizzly day, a stark difference from the heatwave of just a few days before.  About 20 minutes into our journey there was a super steep hill out of Warwick and as we get over the top of the hill La Toya’s thermometer started to shoot up.  We pulled over and had a look and she was spitting coolant all over the road.  Typical on the coldest and wettest day that we have driven in La Toya decides to overheat.  Seemingly that noise yesterday wasn’t the fridge!! We topped up the radiator and the reservoir and let her cool down and decided to see if we could push on to the next town.  This was almost definitely a bad plan.  She managed to get us another 10km and the needle stared to rise again.  So we pulled over, topped up the radiator and the reservoir and let her cool down.  About this time we were beginning to wonder if we should have bought roadside recovery cover?@!

After she had cooled down we turned around and decided to head back to Warwick, we had 20km to make it back.  8km later and she is back in the red and we are on the side of the road phoning any and every garage and pick up service we can find online, only to be told that everyone is fully booked for the next 2 weeks?!  Eventually we decide to call the ladies that we had been speaking to in the Tourist Information and thankfully they came through for us.  We called the recovery van and within an hour he was there and we were loaded and on our way into Warwick with a garage lined up that would take us in and have a look.  Having been really quite brave for the entire day’s proceedings I decided that the reception of the garage was the perfect place for me to melt down!  I cried and I cried and I cried some more.  Needless to say I got a few odd looks and the poor men in the garage didn’t quite know what to do with me.  Luckily Tim did, he took me to BigW and let me buy myself a £6 hairdryer, ha ha!  After a couple of hours aimlessly wondering around Warwick which is a pretty small town we headed back to the garage to get the verdict.  It wasn’t good news.  The thermostat was stuck, the clutch fan had gone and she more than likely needed a new radiator.  They could get the thermostat and clutch fan fixed but the radiator was too big a job unless we had a week to spare in Warwick (we didn’t).  So I cried my way across the street to the local motel and we checked ourselves in for the night.  My crying sadly didn’t score us a discount, but they did promise us that the cleaners would leave our room until last the next day so we didn’t have to spend the entire day pacing the streets of Warwick.

The next day we had a lazy morning enjoying the comfort and TV of our motel and eventually headed into town for some lunch whilst constantly checking our phones for the call to say La Toya was out of surgery.  After we had walked every street in Warwick at least twice we headed back to the garage as we needed to make a decision to stay another night or to press on to Mount Tamborine, obviously we didn’t want to drive too late as we didn’t want to encounter any kangaroos and we also needed to ensure that any garages were open if La Toya decided to play up again.  As we approached the garage we saw La Toya going out on the test drive so we waited with our fingers crossed.

She made it, not fully recovered, but well enough for us to carry on.  So we set off to Mount Tamborine.

What we didn’t fully appreciate was just what a terrible route this was, known as the Cunningham Gap, this was a narrow winding highway with ups, downs and just our luck the weather turned and we had torrential rain.  We made it to Tamborine with sunset looming and had one final stretch up the side of the mountain to the campsite.  Just as we were on our final approach, I saw something out of the corner of my eye which made me jump out of my skin.  I huge kangaroo came bounding out of the hedge and came right up to the side of the van, I honestly thought it was coming through my passenger window, but somehow it managed to turn on its heels and jumped right back into the hedge.

We got to our campsite which was one of the cheapest we had booked, and there was good reason for that, it was a dump.  If you have seen the movie 'A cry in the dark’ (the dingo took my baby one) it was exactly like that campsite with open fires and people and children everywhere.  Seriously people this is 2014 and I am fairly sure there is a fire ban. As we were so late leaving Warwick we didn’t have any food so we asked reception and they told us there was a Fish and chip shop just up the road.  What the useful receptionist failed to tell us was that it was actually a 15 minute drive up the mountain with no lights, a sheer drop and who knows how many animals wanting to jump out in front of us.  Amazingly we made it up and back to the campsite and were so tired, hungry, cold and exhausted we ate our fish and chips in bed.

With just one day to see everything in Mount Tamborine, we set off from our campsite as soon as we possibly could as I couldn’t take the grime and the screaming children for a minute longer.  Our first stop was the skywalk.  This is basically an elevated path through the rainforest  which was quite nice, although the main viewpoint was on a suspended pier which shook and swung when anyone set foot on it and was pretty terrifying and somewhat took away from the view.  Next we were onto the glow worm caves.  This is a man-made cave where they breed glow worms for both our viewing pleasure and to boost the population in the area which is affected by lack of rain and by too many tourists going out to see them and disturbing them with torches and cameras.  Sadly for this very reason cameras were not allowed in the caves.  What a sight they were, quite literally they looked like a shimmering night sky filled with pale blue stars.  The guide did use his red torch to show us one glow worm up close and they are not the prettiest creatures, they look like miniature dragon flies and they produce a sticky web which they use to trap their prey which is attracted to their light.  An interesting factoid about glow worms, did you know that they are cannibals?  If there is a dark patch with only one bright glow worm, chances are they have eaten their neighbours.  So after leaving the glow worms we headed back down the mountain and discovered a pretty spectacular viewpoint over the valley below.  It seems that one day in Mount Tamborine was actually enough and a blessing as I don’t think I could have coped with a second night on that slum of a campsite.

So we set off down the mountain and there was a sign redirecting buses and trucks as ahead was a very steep hill.  Tim confidently declared we are neither and set off down the hill.  10 minutes later we are stopped on the side of the hill not to take in the scenery but to let our now smoking and failing brakes cool down, hmmm, not a bus or truck huh!

Despite the overheating radiator and brakes we made it in one piece and crossed the border into New South Wales and back to the coast, oh how I have missed that sea view, farewell Queensland it really has been spectacular.
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