Veberöd Chronicles

(Very) sporadic insights into the life of a family in a small Southern Swedish town

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hervey Bay

Woke up this morning with our toes almost frozen off. It must have been about 5°C outside. Wished we had gone to bed with socks on. Since we were not connected to mains electricity we couldn't put on any heating and had to rely on the little heat generated by boiling the kettle and grilling toast! It felt like what the Ice Hotel in Kiruna must be like. Perhaps this is the biggest apparent contrast between the Swedish summer we left behind and the Queensland winter. In Sweden the daytime highs are the same as they are here (indeed a bit better at the moment) but the nighttime lows are much higher - around 15°C. We are also still amazed by the way night comes like the flicking of a switch. ArIMG_3855.JPGound 5.30pm the sun plummets like a rock and within no time at all everything is pitch black. However the night sky is very beautiful and another thing that makes us feel far from home is the way the constellations are completely foreign. No Ursa Minor or Orion...

After warming up our extremities we did possibly one of our shortest drives, from just north of Childers to Hervey Bay. Originally we were planning to visit Fraser Island or go whale watching, but in the end we decided just to take it easy here on the mainland for a couple of days (and save some money!) The beaches in Hervey Bay are very fine.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2008



This morning we drove about 200km to Bundaberg, bypassing Angel Water and Town of 1770, which we had originally planned to visit. We got to the glass repair place around 1pm and they fixed it while we hung out in the town until late afternoon. Actually they only replaced the window with a sheet of perspex, as the glass is a very special size and would take ten days to order.

We visited the small zoo attached to Alexandra Park and Saskia helped the zoo-keeper hunt down a runaway chicken! After picking up the camper we shopped for food at Woolworths then drove out of town in the direction of Childers in an attempt to find a rest spot where it was OK to spend the night for free. (We have probably spent more nights at campsites than strictly necessary until now and it would be good to have a few nights gratis...) Anyway it was tough going as it was pitch dark already before 6pm and the rest spots were not particularly accurately indicated on our map. However we found one in the end.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Broken window

For today we had planned to do a big drive and then we would stay for two days in 1770/Agnes Water and do not do any travelling at all. The next 300 km or so where anyways not in any guidebook so that could only mean that we were in for a real boring bit. And you knows that you are really in for a bit of a long day when the nearest place signposted for is 170 km further away.... Indeed it was a long day and just on 3/4 of the way something "exciting" happened that was just a bit too exciting... A car going in the other direction brought up a stone and it shattered the window above our little kitchen unit. The window just broke into a million bits and they slowly started to blow inside. There was no easy place to stop and it was kind of scary too.

A small road leading to a kind of chemical factory was the place we could finally stop and clear all the glass that had blown into the mobile home and oversee the damage. There was one guy working in the office there who gave us a cardboard box and some packing tape to cover up the window. We called the Maui office in Brisbane who have found some kind of glass-smith in Bundaberg, but we haven't got the final details yet.

In the end we were too tired and stressed to drive to 1770 anyway, so we stopped at a place called Tannum Sands. The 450km of driving that we did do gave Derek an intense pain in his shoulders which might take days to go away, based on past experience. It's that killer combination of bumpy camper and Australian roads. The drive was pretty mind-numbingly boring too. If we see another sugar-cane field...

Tomorrow we might spend the day in Bundaberg while the window is repaired.

No nice pictures to illustrate the chaos...

(Marjolein & Derek)

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Monday, July 28, 2008


IMG_3796.JPGFrom Airlie Beach we thought it would be a good idea to go to Eungella National Park to see if we could spot a platypus. Since these are some of the most intriguing creatures on earth I just couldn't let the chance go by to see one and the national park sounded anyways really lovely. The road to it went to endless sugar-canes and finally we saw some "cane trains" in function. it was rather flat until at the very end of the valley when there was suddenly a very steep climb with indeed very sharp corners. There was a little lorry in front of us that did about 10km/hour and still managed to go up. Clearly someone who had done this trip many times. On top of the hill there was a little village and the park. Beautiful vistas of the valley below were available through windows of the very dense rainforest.

About 5 km from the top there was a huge rest-area and a small walk to a platypus platform where one would have the odd chance to see one playing around. Even though it was the right period of the year to see one, it wasn't the right time of the day. Too sunny and bright, a couple of hours later would have been better. Instead we saw a dozen turtoises swimming lazily in the water. Also a very nice sight for someone from far colder climates. IMG_3792.JPG We had lunch and unfortunately we couldn't really go for a walk since Marit was still not well and little feverish. Instead we headed back down through the same valley and back to the coast. We discovered later that Nellie Melba was born in one of the small communities along this road and that her husband owned one of the sugar factories that we probably saw.

We stayed the night very near the sea in a little place called Sarina Beach. We asked a couple of locals if there were any caravan parks in the vicinity but they said it would be OK just to spend one night in the middle of "town". In fact from the window of my sleeping place I could see the waves crashing in and during the night the only sound that I could hear was those waves. Really lovely and so quiet and nice!



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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Great Barrier Reef

IMG_3733.JPGYesterday evening, just after arriving at the Airlie Cove campsite at Airlie Beach, we booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef with Fantasea, one of the two operators working from the area and the one recommended by Alison. However during the night we discovered that Marit had 39°C fever so she and Marjolein had to stay behind. All the same Saskia and I had a great time despite getting up at the crack of dawn for the bus. The journey out to Harvey Reef took 2.5 hours, likewise on the return leg, and we had 4 hours at the pontoon anchored at the reef. On the way out we saw a humpbacked whale doing its tricks, which understandably caused great excitement.

Saskia couldn't wait to go snorkelling so we did that right away. Fortunately I managed another small step in my campaign to overcome the fear of deep water I've had since I was a kid (and which was aided and abetted by my sadistic primary school swimming teacher...) and managed the deepest water so far with the help of an extra lifejacket. However the tide was low when we snorkelled, which made it difficult to approach the reef. After lunch and a trip in the semi-submersible we noticed that the tide had risen and it was now possible to float right over the top of the reef, but by that time IMG_3739.JPGit was too late to snorkel again.


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

On the Beach

Today we had the ultimate tourist brochure experience: a pristine sandy beach and no other people around... Hardly any clouds either just perfect! This was just north of Townsville at Toolakea on the Bruce Highway from Townsville to Airlie Beach, which was our goal for today. This was pretty much the most boring stretch so far, just scrub and sugar cane plantations for ever and ever, and we were glad of the turnoff to the local road to Airlie Beach just north of Proserpine. Here the countryside suddenly turned more lush again. While we're on the subject of roads, another annoyance is the quaiity of the road surface, which is pretty abominable considering it's the major (and only!) highway. The "repairs" remind me of the American freeways, a patchwork quilt of little asphalt postage stamps that sometimes appear to have made things worse rather than better. In the camper you feel every last bump (and hear it because of the rattling cutlery!)


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Friday, July 25, 2008

Atherton Tablelands


To go finally further south we took the inland road through the Atherton Tablelands. The first bit was a steep climb to a plateau that stretched as far as we could see. The landscape was dry and not as lush and green anymore. However exotic fruits were farmed all over the place. Funnily they are also called "exotic fruits" here where they are not at all exotic .We had a lunch at one of the rest places that one can find next to the road.

After Atherton the landscape changed, it became more rolling and green once again. Lots of cows grazed in the fields along the road, always in company of white birds whose name I have forgotten.

We stopped briefly at one of the many waterfalls in this area, it was a lovely waterfall in the middle of a lush rainforest environment. There were loads of people swimming in the small pond at the bottom of the fall. A bit further

IMG_3674.JPGdown the road was a sign with look-out over the Johnstone River so we stopped again to have a look. It was however a 1.65 km track down the mountain through the rainforest (and of course what goes down must also come back up...) but a good walk is only healthy... The path ended at a clearing that also served as a helicopter emergency landing platform, presumably for white water rafters, and the view was really lovely. The way back was faster then coming down and we were puzzled by all the strange bird noises one could hear. No bird to be seen though but that was not so strange since it was such dense forest.

We spent the night at Mission Beach. Ate delicious fish and chips at a local cafe then walked on the beach in the dark and studied the southern night sky. It was funny to look at completely unfamiliar heavens, without any of the usual constellations to guide you. We also saw bats swooping past the lamp posts to devour the many small insects attracted to them.

(Marjolein and Derek)

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crocodile crocodile


We decided to stay a day in the Daintree environment to really have a look at a rainforest. Unfortunately it was a very grey, but quite appropriately rainy day. We wanted to visit the Daintree Discovery Centre and being bad guidebook readers we just assumed that it would be at the Daintree Village. It wasn't....

Not to be defeated we decided to go on a river cruise

IMG_3650.JPG instead, and although a drizzle was coming down, it turned out to be a splendid idea. We saw loads of wild-life: two different types of snakes, two crocodiles, all kind of birds and the river too. Rainforest is just so , well for the lack of a better word: exotic...lush, dense, green and just so different then any other forest I have been in.IMG_3659.JPG

For the afternoon we though a walk through the forest would give us even better opportunities to have a look at the forest. So we took the ferry and headed for a "boardwalk" trip through the jungle. Now we know where the Myst people got their ideas from! We thought we could take another walk a bit closer to Cape Tribulation point but it was not to be since the road was flooded at one point and we decided not to chance it by driving across. Back it was, but not before a stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company. One of the flavours they were selling was blueberry, and we were curious as to where they got them from, as we didn't associate them with this climate. They said they were from around Melbourne.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Picking up the camper

Most of the day went towards picking up the camper at the Maui offices in northern Cairns. It was quite a procedure with all the paperwork and instructions. We even had to watch a short DVD.

Up North

This day we got our home for the coming 3 weeks, a spirit 4 travel home and as soon as we got it we left Cairns.... a bit IMG_3609.JPG out of Cairns we went to a local supermarket (Woolworths) and as usual we were wondering why Swedish supermarkets couldn't just be a bit like this. It will be difficult when we are back home :-(

We wanted to explore more of the tropical rainforest so it seemed very logical to travel up north and we were not disappointed. The road went straight along the ocean with great views, although it was still grey weather. IMG_3610.JPG We stopped for a short time in Port Douglas before we went to the first camp site of our trip (Big4 Glengarry). Nicely laid out and so quiet! We felt as if we made the most noise of all people there (and we were not particularly noisy either!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Arriving Down Under

We had a 7 hour night time flight from Singapore to Brisbane which was both good and bad since we didn't lose any daytime, but as a night flight it was a bit too short and we all slept pretty badly. When we arrived in Brisbane we felt not too great and it didn't get any better when it turned out that about 400 or so WYF German Catholic teenagers fresh from seeing the Pope in Sydney were travelling on the plane to Cairns as well. The flight was delayed for an hour while we waited for the last of them to turn up. Luckily they were all rushed through customs as they were all in the same group.

During that second flight both Saskia and I slept all the way while Marit kept Derek awake....

When we arrived the weather was grey and Cairns, well it has a lovely esplanade but not so much else I fear. Our hotel for the night was good and it had a pool so we swam some dozen laps in order to get some circulation back in those tired travel-limbs. We had rijsttafel at the Balinese restarant associated with the hotel and that was the best rijsttafel I have ever eaten and I do like rijsttafel (I'm Dutch after all....)


Saturday, July 19, 2008


For our last day in Singapore we decided to have a stroll in the Botanical Gardens. The trip to it turned out to be a bit more of a walk then we had planned . But we got a look of the wealth of Orchard Road and the exclusive mansions of Nassim Road, and we actually did do a bit of shopping on the way too. It was the sunniest day so far and quite warm it was too. The directions we had to the gardens were quite sketchy and we were a bit afraid that we were completely missing it but luckily not!

We arrived at lunch-time so the first thing we did was to hot the food-court. a dozen of small places were you could order yoIMG_3534.JPGur dishes and we sampled some Singapore dishes such as laksa, carrot cake (which is a kind of potato-omelette with not a carrot in sight as far as we could tell) and more.

After that we went into the gardens and they were lovely. It was Sunday so many people were wandering around and it was just so pretty. Lush, green with beautiful flowers, water elements art and fields. We went into the special orchid gardens and that was even moreIMG_3545.JPG special. only problem, why did they have to have a special Margaret Thatcher variety, it just doesn't make sense. Or maybe in a way it does since so much of the high buildings are banks and financial institutes that in a way are always associated with the worst of the 1980's/1990's excesses.

But on the whole Singapore is really really a great city where we could have spend much more time. One of the best things is that although it is a huge city the people are especially nice and really helpful!


Friday, July 18, 2008



For our second full day we decided to go to the hustle and bustle of Chinatown and although the picture doesn't really show it, it is indeed busy as it should be. Loads of small stalls with all kind of things, the intriguing shops with mysterious roots and dried items and all that food. Singapore must have most restaurants in the world andIMG_3501.JPG it is just so good as well. We ended up at a Hindu temple where a service was taken place with loud, very loud music. Impressive artwork all over.


After that morning we slowly made our way to Raffles Point where we went on a boat trip on the Singapore River. A great way to look at a city and it also gives a rest. After that since the museum of asiatic cultures was at the landing place we decided to go in and have a look. What a great place! A real nice blend of objects, films, exhibits and children areas scattered all over the place. Saskia loved the place.

When we came out the whole of Singapore's school age kids seemed to walk in a long procession along the street. we never found out what event it was but it was funny to see. It had started to rain as well so they were all wearing DSCN0780.JPG colourful plastic bag-like Macs which made it even funnier. We had a "Bacardi-advertisement"° drink at a bar at the quay while the tropical rain was pouring down. When it was drier we walked back to Chinatown for a proper chinese dinner. On the way back it started to pour again and since we were not equipped with colourful Macs we got soaking wet but since the rain was warm and not like northern Europe's cold stuff it was it was oddly pleasing....

° Old dutch advertisement showing people drinking coctails somewhere in a tropical place while rain is pouring down.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Singapore zoo

After the long travel it seemed only fair to go to the zoo to give the children a break. It turned out that Singapore Zoo is a great place for adults too so nothing was lost. First we went through Singapore's excellent public transport system. It took some time before we had figured out the ticket system (a dollar deposit on every ticket but you can't reuse them...) but after that we were impressed. It must be very highly subsidised. Marit was just over the 90cm limit when you start to count for full fare but we took a chance that no-one would notice.


The zoo was great with good planning, spacious areas for the animals and everything in that beautiful tropical setting. It was overcast, which was actually great since we were outdoors the whole time. Otherwise the 95% humidity in Singapore was pretty oppressive. The animals were impressive and we had a great time. There is actually more then one zoo in Singapore and you can get combined tickets. This is what we did and for the evening we visited the Night Safari zoo, a place dedicated to show (nocturnal) animals at night time. there is a tram that goes through the park and there are walks too. In between we had food at a local restaurant, lots of choice and excellent. 200807221936.jpg

Wednesday, July 16, 2008



For once travelling was smooth and fine... No hiccups at Heathrow or anything else... Just one out of five items lost (the pushchair)! After we arrived in our hotel we spent some time in Little India, walk around, smell the spices and see indeed a sanitized version of India (but that's not necessarily a bad thing!) We had Indian food (of course) and the waiters started to dote on Marit....just like India indeed!


Sunday, July 06, 2008


Just testing the new direct image upload feature. Thought it would be fun to upload a virus to Blogger. In this case adenovirus. Boom boom.

Well it was pretty clear to me from the outset that the ambition to give "sporadic insights" into our life was going to have the emphasis well and truly on this "sporadic". It would have been more accurate to call it a holiday diary, as it's being dusted off just in time for our upcoming 7-week jamboree in Singapore, Australia and Japan. Only 9 days to go...

Interestingly, looking back at the entry from 28th June 2006, I vowed never to make a connection via Heathrow again. Well I would love to have been true to my word but unfortunately the travel agents gave us no choice. Frankfurt and other airports just didn't enter into the equation. Well at least this time it's via Terminal 5. Boom boom.