This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2001 Travels September 21


We completed the packing of Truck through the morning, and left home before midday.

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I presume that I am coming too?

I’d arranged for a neighbour to come in and feed the cats, and replenish the litter trays. The cats live inside most of the time, and it wouldn’t hurt them to be confined to quarters for the duration. One of them acted like he knew we were going off and leaving them – again – and he followed us closely all morning.

We travelled the McIvor Highway to Heathcote and then on to Echuca.

Ate our packed lunch as we went.

We had fine weather for the day, and it warmed up as we got further north.

From Echuca, struck north, through Deniliquin to Hay, which was the night’s destination. We did not stop in any of the towns to sightsee. The aim of the first two days was simply to get to the first place we planned to spend time at.

We spent the night in a cabin at the Hay Plains Caravan Park.

Tea was fish and chips – John went out again in Truck and bought these.

It was so good to be on the move again, albeit for a short time.

09-21-2001 to hay

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2001 Travels September


During the year, we lashed out and bought a new dome tent, to be used when camping away from the van, at times when we were just overnighting and did not want to put up the big tent.

The small dome tent that had accompanied us until now was unsuitable on a few counts. It had been holed by an exploding bottle. It had proven too flimsy to make us feel secure in areas where there were dingoes or feral pigs. It was too low for John’s ease in getting in and out.

The new one was made by the same company as our big tent – which meant that it cost much more than we’d budgeted for – but it would last forever. It was of a size that we could actually use it for extended camping, at least in good weather when we didn’t have need of an inside living area.

We decided on a quick trip away, in the September school holidays, to try it out and to get an outback “fix” again. John could only get two weeks work free, and there was a question mark over whether the lady I’d filled in for would be fully fit to return to duty. So, a school holiday jaunt it was – shades of the old days.

For once, we applied brains before the event, rather than in hindsight – and practiced putting up the new tent in the back yard, before the trip. Good thing too. If only tent makers could write logical and clear instructions……….

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2001 Travels April


As we drove the width of the continent, late last year, coming home, we had resolved to try to at least take the van away for some 4 or 5 day breaks, through this year. This would sustain us until we could, somehow, arrange matters to allow us longer travel again.

But life has a way of altering plans.

At the start of the year, John was offered work with a company making high end vehicle tracking devices. It combined his knowledge of computing and GPS technology – just too tempting. The work was part time, and erratic. Some weeks, five days. Sometimes just once or twice a month.

This made planning ahead rather hard.

The job also involved a hefty commute across the suburbs. In Melbourne peak time traffic, it meant at least an hour in traffic, each way.

The Great White Truck was definitely not the ideal city commuter vehicle!

In the middle of the year I was asked to return to teaching, for a term, to fill in for someone on sick leave. Senior Politics teachers were a somewhat scarce commodity.

It had been about three decades since I filled a solely classroom role in a school. I found it quite pleasant, not having any other responsibilities in the place, apart from delivering senior Politics, History and Literature.

However, the experience underlined the fact that I had no desire at all to resume my career – that travel was what I  liked best!


APRIL 2001

After four months of sitting in one place, the van was dragged out, at the end of April, and packed for only a few days away.

The occasion was a family wedding in Shepparton in north-central Victoria.

While packing the van, I discovered a zillion ants nesting in the freezebox of the fridge. Their close relatives had taken up residence in one of the van tail lights.

I couldn’t think of any way to extract the colony from the fridge, except to spray much Mortein in there, shut it all up overnight, then wipe out all the corpses I could find. The fridge needed a good air out after that.

We had to dismantle the tail light to clean them out of there.

Ants are the bane of a caravanner’s life! Ours had arrived, this time, we thought, via a shrub branch that was touching the van – in a corner of the parking area that was hard to see. I resolved to be ruthless in pruning the garden around the van, in future.

We drove north, via the usual Yea route. It was so good to be mobile again.

Stayed three nights at the Victoria Lake Caravan Park, which was quite pleasant. There was water in the lake and so some bird life to watch.

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Lake Victoria

Some walking tracks went round part of the lake and continued on to other areas.

The weather was very pleasant – lovely autumn days, nights just a bit cool.

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Early autumn colours by the lake

The nuptials and associated events occupied us for two full days.

That was all the time we had free, so the next day it was back the way we came.

Just a little taste of travel. Just enough to sustain the talk of “maybe next year”…..and all sorts of plans that were tossed around, some more feasible than others.

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2000 Travels December 15


We took our time getting away in the morning, clearing the park just by the 10am checkout time. We had the day to fill in, in order to allow K to get clear and the carpet cleaners to do their job.

We had a leisurely browse around the Healesville shops and bought some lunch there.

Drove down to Lilydale and went for a walk around the Lake.

Eventually we headed for home, getting there at 2.30pm.

The carpets had been done – they must have been early – and everyone was gone. The carpets were still damp, obviously.

The house was fine inside, as we expected. But the gardens were a dreadful mess, also as we expected, but worse. It was hard to believe they had been allowed to get that bad.

The vegetable garden was a wilderness, with blackberries over two metres tall.

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Once was the vegetable garden

However, K had made an effort and the lawns were freshly and neatly mowed.

The pool was bright green, with large scummy clumps floating on it.

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We would certainly not be short of things to do in the coming weeks and months! This was not the way we’d have chosen for the travel time to end.

John discovered that the shed guttering/drains had been blocked, so water had come in onto the floor of the shed and wet some of the things that V had stored there, including a mattress and base that would now only be good for the tip.

The cats were very pleased to see us.

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Cat rediscovering bed – this is more like it!

After we’d had a quick look around, we backed the van into its parking area and unhitched Truck – for the last time for some time, we guessed.

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Resting place for ? long……..

Tomorrow would begin the tasks of unpacking our house belongings back into place, emptying and cleaning the van – that would be a sad process!

When the house was more or less in order, then the gardens could be tackled.

It seemed really strange to be in a house sized residence again, instead of the very small van that had been our home for three years. The rooms that were empty of furniture echoed!

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Most of our house is in this room!

John went and bought fish and chips for tea.

At least, with our bed permanently made up in our room, all we had to do was clear things off it and we could fall into bed.

To work, tomorrow. Tomorrow is also my birthday……..

The trip was 1076 days long – almost 154 weeks. The decision to take early retirement and do this was the best decision we have ever made!

THE STATISTICS FOR 2000   (those for 99 & 98 in (  ) for comparison)

Note that our 2000 travel was 16 days short of a full year.

Kms travelled for the year:  36,129       (32,450     29,845)

Kms towed:                             16,587       (10,827      8220)

Cost of diesel:                        $4291.91   ($3061       $2532.21)

Average fuel consumption:      8.1kms per litre   (8.1   8.3)  Approx 12L per 100kms

Dearest diesel:     $1.35cpl – Kalumburu  ($1.15 Mt Dare    93 Seisia)

Cheapest diesel:     .76cpl – Claremont  (.56 Toowoomba    .63 Charters Towers)

Accommodation cost:   $5263.70     ($4757.35     $4845.10 )

Dearest accommodation per night:  $33 – Middle Lagoon  ($26 Yulara  $19 Toowoomba)

Cheapest paid accommodation per night:  $2 – Opalton  ($5 National Parks  $10 Boulia)

Average cost fuel and accomm per week: $191  ($150.36  $141.87) Budgeted for $200

Number of different places stayed at:  58    (56   46)

Longest stay in one place:  40 nights-Hobart (over 99/2000) (26- Healesville   35- Atherton)

Number of times moved camp:  66   (60   53)

The introduction of the GST in mid 2000 did have an effect on our travel costs.


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2000 Travels December 14


We got away from the park at 9am.

We were not hurrying, because John wanted to go to the red gum saw mill, where he bought a platter making slab and some small pieces that he would make chisel handles from. That lot cost $50.

The man at the mill persuaded John that, when he makes the red gum chairs to match the table that is already done, it would be better to cut out the chair frames, rather than try to steam bend them. I was pleased about that!

It was not too hot today, so was a comfortable drive.

We travelled towards Shepparton, as far as Undera, than south through Murchison.

We had lunch by the lake at Nagambie – a very pleasant place.

Then it was the usual route from Seymour, through Yea to Yarra Glen and then Healesville.

We reached the familiar Badger Creek Caravan Park by mid-afternoon. We had a drive through site, for $20.90, so were able to stay hitched up.

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Our last night……

We had to phone K to get him to contact Telstra to authorize handing over of the home number to us. He’d told us a week ago that this had been arranged, but did as we asked and then John was able to arrange what he needed to with Telstra.

We went for a walk around the grounds and up into the bush. There were lots of birds – parrots, doves, wrens, cockatoos, and there were currawongs calling. It was so long since we’d heard these that I’d forgotten how melodious they sound.

Tea was sausages, potato, salad.

There was a cool tinge to the night air. The tropics are so far behind us now.

So – this was the last night of our life on the road. Very sad.

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2000 Travels December 13


We were away by 8am.

Today was a very pleasant one. We had an easy drive along the Murray valley and were at Echuca by lunch time. Getting so much distance covered on that first day has enabled us to do wind-down stages at this end.

We stopped at Kerang to refuel – $1.05cpl.

The old Riverside Caravan Park has changed, being taken more upmarket, but it is really nice now. There is a lovely big pool. Our site cost $20.

We walked up to the old wharf tourist precinct and then further on to the redgum sawmill, to look at timber.

Late in the afternoon, I went for a swim in the pool. I couldn’t persuade John into the water – he stayed back at the van and read. I really enjoyed my swim.

Tea was roast potatoes that I cooked in foil, in the electric frypan outside. With that, John had some tinned fish, I had strasburg.

The evening sky was a vivid mid-blue colour – beautiful.

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2000 Travels December 12


We got up at 6am and were away at 7.

Today seemed slightly cooler than yesterday.

We paralleled the Murray River much of the way to Renmark. Occasionally we caught glimpses of the river down in its valley.

Refuelled at Renmark – $1.06cpl.

Eastbound traffic does not have to stop at the quarantine checkpoint near the Victorian border, but we still did not want to carry plant material from other areas into the fruit growing area along the Victorian Murray, so I had not stocked up.

Thus, we stopped at the shopping centre on the edge of Mildura where I bought bread for lunch, and some salad materials for tea. Also bought an Age newspaper – great to have one of these again!

We had decided to follow the Murray for a couple of days, rather than drive the more arid and hot route to Melbourne through the Mallee. So we headed off into NSW for a short time, then crossed the river back into Victoria at Robinvale, and from there along the river to Swan Hill.

Ate lunch as we went.

We lost more time today as we crossed the border back into Victoria.

The Swan Hill Caravan Park, beside the Murray, was very pleasant. It cost $20 for the night. We were able to stay hitched up.

John holed up in the van, being justifiably tired, and read, with the air-con going. I walked along the river bank to town and back.

In the late afternoon, we sat outside the van, watching the sunset being reflected in the river water – beautiful.

Tea was again cold chicken pieces and salad.

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