So what is all about? Well... hopefully, by the time we are done, it will be a comprehensive journal about a family of 5 who have travelled around Australia to see the sights and also do some volunteer work around the country! In Mid 2010 we started thinking about what it would take to fulfil a life-long dream... We wanted to bundle up our 3 kids, pack-up the house, jump in the car and hit the road - probably for about 12 months. It sounds so simple ... At the start of January 2013, after almost 15 months on the road; we finally completed Our Big Aussie Road Trip. We hope that you enjoyed following our adventures, trials and tribulations as much as we enjoyed having them!

30 November, 2012

The Gold Coast

We arrived on the Gold Coast on Monday 5th November, and we were all pretty excited because we had told the kids that we would go to a theme park or two!  We decided to check into a caravan park just over the road from Movie World and Wet & Wild so that we would be close to 2 of the parks we planned to visit.  When we looked into the pricing of the theme parks, we found out that it would be cheaper to buy a season pass (with unlimited entry) than to go to 2 theme parks individually!  Therefore, we bought an unlimited entry pass for each of us and figured that we’d try to get the most out of it that we could.  Monday afternoon was quite hot and so we decided to head to our first theme park - Wet & Wild for the afternoon.  The kids loved the rides (but not the queue’s so much) and it was a great afternoon.

On Tuesday 6th November We went to Movie World, and we were there all day.  Mike thought that we should do a ‘whole family’ ride first, so we went to the log ride, and unfortunately this was definitely a wrong move.  Both Natalie and Sam really didn’t like being in the dark and were petrified the whole ride.  Josh wasn’t too thrilled about being by himself in a seat either!  Needless to say, none of the kids wanted to go back on that ride!  However as we explored the park, the kids found lots of things that they did like doing.  They all loved the dodgem cars.  Also there are lots of kids rides in the ‘kids world’.  Natalie’s favourite was the RoadRunner Rollercoaster and Sam’s favourite were the mini dodgems because he got to steer it himself.  Mike and Liz were able to tag-team to go on some of the ‘big people rides’ which were a bit scary but lots of fun.
About to enter Movie World

Natalie and Josh on the Tweety Bird Ride

Waiting for the Hollywood stunt driver show to begin

The Hollywood Stunt driver show

Bugs and Lola in the Street Parade

Josh and Sam on the 'Tweety and Sylvester' ride

Liz and Natalie rocket past on the Road Runner Rollercoaster

The Flash and The Green Lantern were lucky enough
to have their photo with Sam and Natalie :)

Sam loved sitting with Bugs and Marvin

Liz and Josh on the Road Runner

Cheeky Sam!

Sam and Natalie on the mini dodgems - Sam's favourite ride

The Carousel got quite a workout from the Masons!
By Wednesday morning, everyone was very tired, so we had a quiet morning around the caravan park (including a ride on the BMX Track) and then went to Sea World in the afternoon.  Sea World was probably our favourite park of the three we went to.  There is so much variety in the park and we all loved the mix of rides, animals and shows.  We enjoyed our afternoon at Sea World so much that we went back there all day on Thursday.  Thursday was a little wet to begin with, but then it cleared up and didn’t impact our day too much.
Sam splashing around on the BMX track

Josh liked to jump over the ramps at the track

Entering Sea World!

These Emperor penguins were very cute

The Seal Show was great

We couldn't believe how big this Polar Bear was

Part of the 'Imagine' Dolphin Show

This was a huge playground that the kids absolutely loved exploring

Josh, Natalie and Liz getting soaked on the 'Battle boats'

The people on land could squirt the occupants
of the Battle boats with a hand operated water canon

Watching the Jet Ski show was amazing
On Friday the 9th November we went back to Movie World in the morning and then went to wet and wild in the afternoon.  As we drove back to our caravan park on Friday afternoon, the car started making a horrible noise from the front right wheel!  We called a nearby mechanic (5 mins walk away from the caravan park) and got Bruiser booked in for Saturday morning to try to work out what was going wrong.
So on Sat 11th Nov we put the car into the mechanic, and then stayed around the caravan park.  That afternoon Julia and Warwick (Liz’s mum and dad – also known as Nanna and Pa to the kids) arrived at our caravan park.  They were doing a trip around outback Queensland for a month and were on their way back south and thought that they’d drop in for a few nights.  We heard back from the mechanic that they couldn’t find the problem easily, so we would have to re-book it back in on the Monday (which was the day we were planning to be driving south) but we didn’t really have any choice.  The caravan park we were staying at was fantastic.  It had a heated pool (complete with a great waterslide), a Jumping Pillow, a BMX Track, a fantastic café and other great facilities.  So if you had to be stuck at a caravan park for a few days while the car got fixed – this was definitely the one you would want to be stuck at!  It was also walking distance from Movie World and Wet & Wild too!

On Sunday we spent the day with Nanna and Pa at the caravan park.  We enjoyed all the facilities at the park and we ended the day with a beautiful meal at the café by the pool.

This Pool and spa was definitely the best that we had seen on our trip!

Sam having a chat with Pa

All the kids loved the waterslide

Enjoying a meal with Warwick and Julia at the Cafe by the Pool

On Monday morning, Mike dropped the car to the mechanics at 7:30am to try and get it fixed.  Warwick and Julia were due to meet some friends that day, so we got them to drop us at Movie World on their way out so that we could spend the day at Movie World and Walk back to the caravan when we were ready (or when the car was ready to be picked up).

The mechanic found that the front wheel bearing had collapsed and so they changed both front wheel’s bearings and inspected the rear bearings.  Bruiser was then as good as new – which meant that we were ok to drive south on Tuesday 13th November to stay at Mike’s brother’s house with Rich, Naomi and their 3 kids.

We said goodbye to Nanna and Pa and then packed up the caravan to drive to Rich and Naomi’s house in Eltham.
Saying Goodbye to Nanna and Pa

28 November, 2012


One of the main reasons we were heading to Brisbane (other than to see the capital city of Queensland) was to visit friends and family.  Mike has some cousins who live in Brissie and we don’t get to see them very much.  Also, some of our friends from Sydney have moved up to Brisbane a few years ago.  So we really wanted to catchup with all of them while we were in the neighbourhood.  Therefore on Thursday 1st November we left the Sunshine Coast, after doing our schoolwork, and drove south to Brisbane.  It wasn’t a very long trip to Brisbane (only about 160Km along the motorways).  We were heading to the south side of Brisbane and so we decided to drive over Brisbane’s Iconic Gateway Bridge (which is actually really, really steep! And also very busy).  Nonetheless, we made it up and over the Gateway and then setup the caravan at a caravan park not too far from where Mike’s cousins live.  It was time for a big food shop, so the rest of the afternoon was spent shopping and then just hanging around the caravan.

We had been in contact with Mike's cousins Tim & Verity (and their 3 kids) and Sally & Ben (with their triplets), and Tim had organised a breakfast for everyone at Kangaroo Point on Sunday morning.  We wanted to have a look at some parts of Brisbane on Friday, so after school, we headed off to have lunch at Sherwood park – where the kids also had a quick scoot to look at the river.
The Brisbane river - from an access point at Sherwood Park
Mike’s cousin Tim is a Police officer and works at the Brisbane Dog Squad, so that afternoon, we were lucky enough to get a tour of Tim's work.  Verity (also a police officer) was training some new recruits nearby and was able to pop over and see us while we were at the Dog Squad.  It was great to see the Tim and Verity and see 'behind the scenes' at the Dog Squad.  After the Dog Squad, we drove North to where our friends from Sydney (Tim and Sarah) live.  Tim and Sarah had invited us to have dinner with them on Friday night. The motorways got us north fairly quickly, so we had a little bit of time before dinner.  We stopped at a skate park and the kids had a bit of a scoot.

We then drove to Tim and Sarahs’ and had dinner with them and their son Ben.  It was great to catchup with them and see their beautiful house.
The Mason's visit Tim, Sarah and Ben
The kids loved playing with Ben and some of his toys.  It was soon time to say bye to Tim and Sarah so we drove back to the caravan.  We drove through the city - and on some of the busiest roads we have been on for a long, long time.  At one point, Navman looked like a bowl of spaghetti with roads and motorways going every direction around us.  It was a little confusing, but we made it without a drama.

We spent all day on Saturday in and around Brisbane, looking at the sights.  We went to Southbank and walked along the foreshore.  We went to the QLD Museum which is a great (and free) thing to do when in Brisbane.  And after lunch (which we ate at Southbank) and a stroll through the markets, we drove to Mount Coot-Tha which has a magnificent view over the whole of Brisbane.

Natalie, Josh and Sam at Southbank

Enjoying the hands-on exhibits at the QLD Museum

A stunning view of Brisbane from Mt Coot-Tha

Mike and Liz at Mt Coot-Tha
The next day (Sunday 4th November) we spent the entire day with Tim and Verity and their 3 kids.  We had a great BBQ Breakfast at Kangaroo Point where we were joined by Sally and Ben with their 3 year old triplets.  It was great to see everyone and meet the triplets for the first time.  All the kids had a great time playing at the park.
Fun with cousins at Kangaroo Point
After Brekkie, we went for a walk along the river.  Sally and Ben had to go before lunch, so we went back to Tim and Verity’s house for some lunch, a swim in their pool and we spent the rest of the day with them.  After dinner, we said goodbye and headed back to the caravan.
Looking at Brisbane City from Kangaroo Point

Tom, Josh, Jack and Sam take a rest on our walk along the river

Our short stay in Brisbane was very busy, but it was great to catchup with everyone and have a bit of a look around the city.  Sightseeing in a major city is actually quite difficult (compared with most of the country that we have seen on our trip) because there are so many things that you could go and see, it is difficult to choose what to do.  Also, most of the things to do in a major city are not free (or not even cheap!) which is another thing that makes it difficult.  However, we thoroughly enjoyed our few days in Brisbane - it certainly is a lovely city.

24 November, 2012

Sunshine Coast

Thursday 25th  We packed up and headed for the Sunshine Coast.  We were heading to the Maleny Showgrounds to camp. Maleny is in the hinterland of the Sunshine coast.  We put the address into Navman and headed off, but we failed to look at what route Navman was taking us on and before we knew it we were heading up a hill that suddenly got very, very steep and it just went on and on,  there was nowhere to pull over or turn back,  our car is not a Turbo diesel so we are slow on any hill but this one was scary, we discovered its name was Razor back and Mike had to put Bruiser in First gear and for a few tense moments there we thought we were going to have to stop and put it in low range 4wd to keep going (we had a line of cars behind us as well).  We finally made it to the top and decided that we would always check which way Navman was taking us, as it would have been a lot less stressful to cruise down the highway a bit longer and take a much better road up the hill.  After the stress of the steep drive, we stopped at a lookout.  The view from the top was absolutely amazing.  When we arrived at Maleny we set up at the showground (which are the nicest showgrounds we have stayed in).  It was only a short walk into town, the town skate park was in the showgrounds and the kids had a huge oval to run around on and there was plenty of room to ride bikes.  So that afternoon we walked into town and we spent a little bit of time at the skate park.  Our neighbours at the campground had a very little dog called Darcy, and our kids loved her, they spent every spare minute playing with her.

On Friday 26th We went to Australia Zoo, the kids were very excited as they have grown up watching the Crocodile Hunter and Bindi the Jungle Girl.
Arriving at Australia Zoo was very exciting for all of us
We arrived as the zoo opened and we didn’t leave until it closed, it is such an amazing place.  There are so many hands on experiences and lots of shows to go to, we loved the croc show at the crocoseum,  the Tiger show was just amazing and it was amazing to feed the elephants.  We also visited the Animal hospital which was very interesting.
The kids holding a baby Alligator

An Albino Burmese Python
I'm glad Sam was on the other side of the glass!

There were Koalas to pat...

Elephants to feed

and the show at the Crocoseum was fantastic.

Don't worry, it's not real, but it is life sized!

Crocs Rule!

The Mason's at the Tiger Show

The tiger show was definitely a highlight

This poor Koala was in the animal hospital

Being sick is a tiring business!

We had so much fun that the next day we got up and headed to the zoo again (as we had bought a two day pass) and we had another long day having a fantastic time.  The kids were also very excited when we spotted Robert Irwin while we were watching the crocodiles being fed.
Anyone want this job??

The kids at Bindi's bootcamp

We rode the train a few times
because it was very hot the days we were there
The 'Africa' Exhibit is now open

There are free Tea-cup rides!

Who could resit a pat of this cute wombat

On Sunday the kids spent quite a bit of time playing with Darcy the dog, while we packed up.  We then drove down the hill and across to Maroochydore where we set up for another 4 nights. That afternoon we went for a drive and then went swimming back at the van park.

After being healthy for the past 12 months Liz and the kids came down with colds, but that didn’t slow us down too much.

The next day it was time to do a bit of school and a bit of shopping and a bit of scootering at the park next to the caravan park.  Our car windscreen had a crack in it which was growing rapidly so that afternoon we had a new windscreen installed.

There wasn't much sun on the sunshine coast when we were there!
On Tuesday after a bit of school in the morning we headed up to Noosa Heads, we had a picnic lunch and a walk in the national park.
Noosa Heads

The next morning we headed to the markets at Emundi, we didn’t realise how popular these markets are! It was huge and crowded but they were great.  Lots of interesting stalls to look through. After the markets we stopped in for a photo and a climb to the top of the Big Pineapple. That afternoon, the kids rode their bikes around the large park next to the caravan park again and then played on the play equipment.
The Big Pineapple