Welcome

Welcome to Lemon Tree Passage

Welcome to Lemon Tree Passage

The Nelson Bay council welcomes you to the famous Lemon Tree Passage beach, park, harbour and boat ramp:
– no fires
– no camping
– no caravans
– no alcohol
– no dogs
– no domestic animals
– no horses
– no bikes
– no trikes
– no motor vehicles
– no golf
– no archery
– no littering
– no damage to facilities
– no glass
– not faster than 10km/hr
– no access without boat trailer
You are advised that SEVERE PENALTIES are provided for breaches of the above rules.

Music Room in full swing


Elisabeth reckons that I seduced her when I referred her to my music videos on YouTube. Personally I assess my musical abilities far from any seduction level, but you can judge it for yourself: you find my videos on YouTube.com under my username jaapvogel1. The video on this post is made to celebrate the inauguration of our refurbished Music Room on the first floor of our bus ‘The Spirit of Curiosity’.
Elisabeth has picked up her guitar again, so it won’t be long till I expect to show you the results of her adventures in the Music Room!

Solipsism is all about me

Orion, are you there?

Orion, are you there?

Last month we had an interesting discussion with a friend, Charlie, about the universe. Nothing special because if you get me started on that topic…. I keep going. The sky is the limit, so to say.
Anyway, my friend believes that the universe only exists because we can see it, perceive it. Without our perception it would not be there. In philosophical terms that is the idea of solipsism: the only things that exist are the things you perceive. When you don’t see your car or daughter or house they don’t exist. Okay, I tend to disagree and I think even my friend would take solipsism this far.
Tonight I took this photo of the constellation of Orion. I cannot prove it would be there if I did not look at it. And in this case it’s even harder… I cannot even know that it is there now. The light that left the star Betelgeuse, for instance, is reaching us now, in 2013, but it left Betelgeuse in 1370. So, if Betelgeuse disappeared in, let’s say, 1452, the year Leonardo da Vinci was born, there is no way in the world that we could know that now. And the star Alnilam in Orion’s belt is even further away… in the photo we see as it was in the year 654. What happened with Alnilam since the year 654 is a mystery.
I just wonder… would Charlie still be there, even though I don’t see him right now? Charlie… !!!!!!!!!

The lonely cyclist

A lonely cyclist

A lonely cyclist

The Mid North Coast within three hours’ drive from Sydney offers a world of astonishing natural attractions – stunning beaches, World Heritage national parks and spectacular coastal and country scenery criss-crossed with an extensive network of hiking and bicycle trails. In the vast national parks, quirky towns and the awe-inspiring magic of the rainforests we discover a relaxed cyclist searching for a taste of ancient Aboriginal culture, a golden beach along the magical turqoise coast line of the Pacific Ocean or a family of colourful sugar gliders in the alluring wilderness of the mountainous, subtropical rainforests. If so, than she clearly lost, as she is heading towards the Marina of North Haven…..
World Heritage rainforest

World Heritage rainforest

Prestine, turqoise surf coast

Prestine, turqoise surf coast

Babylon

A Skype call in Russian with Lena in St. Petersburg

A Skype call in Russian with Lena in St. Petersburg

Our bus is buzzing with languages. Together we speak English, French and Russian, and individually we add Dutch, Italian, Spanish and German. With skype and phone calls it is each time a surprise which language will be used. This night it is a Russian Skype call with Lena in St. Petersburg
We both love languages and practise a lot together, both improving our Russian (even though Elisabeth is miles ahead of me), Elisabeth learning the first words in Dutch (een bil, twee billen) and I trying to improve my dodgy (epineux!) French.

In high speed

IMG_0328a-1IMG_0305a-1We take the bikes to discover North Haven, where we are now. Even speeding a little bit…. you’re allowed to do so after over 20 years without a bike, aren’t you? And yes, I was ‘convinced’ to hop on a bike again because Elisabeth bought me one…. Rather embarrassing that is. I, as a Dutchman, had to be pushed by a Frenchwoman to use a bike…..
I love it. We discover the region while excercising. In the Elisabeths way: in high speed.

Gemini

Gemini is high in the sky in March

Gemini is high in the sky in March

This morning the Ranger showed up early to inform us that after 6 nights at the vacant council block in Coffs harbour, ‘clogged’ with ‘No Camping’ signs, it was time for us to move on. If not than a $ 220 fine/night would apply.
So, yes, we moved.
To North Haven, just South of Port Macquarie. A caravan park, lacking free camps and vacant council blocks. And also because we need to refuel the batteries with a bit of extra power.
Because of the first cloud free night since we left Byron Bay I use the opportunity to take pictures of the stars. The constellation of Gemini is high in the evening sky in March. I added the lines to show why Gemini is called Gemini. At the bottom of the picture the top of a tree.

Edible streetscapes

Limes and basil

Limes and basil

The cute town of Bellingen, famous for its beautiful little shops, ecological community and alternative atmosphere is perked up with a very interesting way of planting up the public areas. Many sites in public space are planted with edible plants, herbs and vegetables. ‘Edible streetscapes’ aims to plant food everywhere in Bellingen, towards turning the town into a model of resilience and sustainable developments. The signs tell you to ‘please pick and eat anything that looks be ripe’. The basil is good for consumption, we find out.

Bucketing down

Elisabeth returns from a shower/walk with the dogs

Elisabeth returns from a shower/walk with the dogs

We move the bus to a public carpark near the Jetty

We move the bus to a public carpark near the Jetty


The rain keeps coming down by the truck load. We moved from our first spot at the Jetty of Coffs to a field next door, to avoid annoying anyone with our HUGE presence… low profile is the best to avoid being chased away…. Also here ‘no camping’ signs, but… who cares? The field is fully parked because of visitors of the Coffs Harbour triathlon. We did not attend (let alone: participate!) the Triathlon but we assume that the swimming part was more successful than the running or cycling…

L’épicerie Hollandaise

L'épicerie Hollandaise complet

L’épicerie Hollandaise complet

Living with a Frenchwoman I learn that I should not ‘eat to live’, but ‘live to eat’. Life is all about food. To make this relationship at least a little bit equal I have to introduce Elisabeth to the rich Dutch cuisine. Not to a part of it, but to all there is! Here I go: Appelmoes (apple sauce), Poffertjes (Dutch pancakes), Stroop (maple syrup), Beschuit (Rusks), Stroopwafels (syrup wafers), Speculaas (Dutch speculaas cookies), Ontbijtkoek (Dutch breakfast cake), Talloze soorten en maten drop (numerous types and tasts of licorice), Roggebrood (rye bread), Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and ‘Gouda en Edammer kaas’ (Edam and Gouda cheese).
I could not find ‘Hutspot met een kuiltje voor de jus’ (Hodgepodge with a little pit for the gravy) so you have to think that one with it to complete your knowledge about the complete Dutch cuisine. Kind regards, Meesterkok Jaap (chef Jacques)

Ocean view for free!

In the background Moonee Beach Caravan Park

In the background Moonee Beach Caravan Park

All caravan parks in Coffs Harbour are so soggy that they don’t take any big rigs like our bus. After also being refused access to Moonee Beach Caravan park we decide to stay at a small carpark next to the caravan park (photo left). But… the owner of the same caravan park who refused us access shows up and wants us to move, threatening us with Rangers and police.
On her advice we decide to drive to the Jetty in Coffs Harbour and park next to a sign reading ‘no camping’: “You can camp there for free for at least two days”. The view over the ocean is stunning, despite the ongoing rain. We enjoy it….. as long we can stay.

The 'office/living room' has stunning views over the ocean

The ‘office/living room’ has stunning views over the ocean

The wet North

Forest roads turned into creeks

Forest road


The torrential rain that ravaged Queensland and New South Wales left its marks. When driving around New Italy in the North of the state the damage is clearly visible.
Sugar cane 'swamp'

Sugar cane ‘swamp’

Lock the gate

Lock the gate, save the roo

Lock the gate, save the roo

The dirty alliance between oil companies and governments (both labour and conservatives) has delivered at least one great result: environmentalists and farmers are unified as never before. They object against the reckless plans to crack layers of coal with chemicals to extract more gas, called Coal Seam Gas (CSG). When the world needs to transform to sustainable energy, like solar, countries like the USA and Australia support the opposite…. more fossil fuel and health and environmental problems as shown in the documentary Gasland part 1 and 2.
The Lock the Gate campaign advocates locking the property gates to stop drilling on private land. Here, in Northern New South Wales most gates have already a sign.

The howler is rescued

We love you, Boris

We love you, Boris


Early in the morning a call to the local vet: “Yes, someone just called that they found a blond labrador in Casuarina”. Caroline, the rescuer picked him up…. at 4 am! Between 10 pm last night and 4 am this morning she heard a dog barking and howling: something was not right. She got up, 6 times, to search on foot and by car for the distressed dog. She finally found hime along the national road, 300 metres from her house. She took him home and looked after him. Boris is exhausted, but his ongoing howling saved him. We are very, very happy that he is back and immensly grateful for people like Caroline who even sacrify a night rest to look for (and after) a dog in trouble.

Boris is gone

As usual he took off during the walk, in this case during a walk to the Casuarina Beach. It was 2 pm. Not home at 3, 4 and 5pm. We searched everywhere, but no Boris. In the evening again a long search without result.
The Big Boy is lost. We only can hope for the best.
It shatters us, especially during the night. It’s hard to fall asleep, but there’s nothing we can do. Only hope that he will be found.

$ 144 per night

no_dogs_allowedWe had to take the bus to Beenleigh, only 30 kms from Brisbane. Might be a good idea to leave the bus for 2 or 3 nights at a caravan park in Brissie, to visit friends, we thought. After thorough investigation we found out that hardly any caravan park in Queenslands capital allows dogs… and the one that did, charged $ 144 per night for our bus. 3 nights: $ 432. Mmmm, better go back to our $ 10 camp site in Canungra and drive up and down to Brisbane…..