This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels March 30


We went to the Post Office where John sent off the pens, to Adels Grove, and I mailed off the jumper I’d finished yesterday. If I kept it with me until reaching home again, she’d probably be grown out of it!

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John bought two new heavy duty plastic diesel containers.

Refuelled truck – 94cpl. He filled one of the new jerry cans – he always tries, on trips, to have a 20 litre container full, “in case”.

After lunch, we played bowls at the Mildura club. We were not much good in the first game, but won the second well. Received a prize for the best score of the day – two packets of Sara Lee dessert pies. We also won the raffle, and acquired a new knife set. It was a rewarding day! But maybe not the best one for the waist lines, though.

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One afternoon at bowls……

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2004 Travels March 29


In the morning, John worked on the information slips for the pens.

I walked around the streets for an hour or so, for exercise.

Later, we went to the shops again. Bought a couple of books – one on Windows XP, which had been fairly newly installed on our laptops . And one on digital photography. This was needed because John gave me a Pentax Optio digital camera, for my birthday and Xmas. Some functions were similar to my old Pentax SLR camera, but there were many differences, too.

John was convinced I would get good photographic results from the Optio, but I still felt very reliant on the old film camera. I planned, this trip, to use both, and then see which way I’d go in the future. Had to admit that the concept of not being limited by the cost of having same developed and printed, was appealing. The need for economy had been a major limitation on my photo taking, to this point.

I did some knitting, finishing the jumper I’d been making for grand daughter.

John was having trouble getting an internet connection for the phone and laptop, and wanted to get that sorted out before we went any further. So he spent some time on the phone to Telstra, and seemed to make progress.

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2004 Travels March 28


After breakfast, we went shopping again. Most places were open on the Sunday. Bought John some trousers and walking boots, and some walking boots for me. We were browsing about in a Rays Tent City shop and saw these Land Rover boots that were 20% off. They seemed very comfortable, hence our unplanned boot purchase.

At Spotlight, I bought three lots of wool, to knit each of the grandchildren a jumper. That should keep the hands occupied whilst I was a passenger on long driving stages.

Back at the van, John worked on the computer. Before we left home, he’d made a batch of 25 wooden pens, using woods found in the Qld Gulf country. These were to be sold at the Reception desk at Adels Grove, as tourist souvenirs. He’d also made a display presentation box to hold some at a time. He had still to prepare a price list and a description of each type of wood, to go with each pen sold. Hence the computing.

Getting the pens finalized and mailed off was the main reason we were staying more than a night in Mildura.

Since we were here, John drove off, after lunch, to suss out about any bowls games.

It was a hot day – 35 degrees. I went for a swim in the Park pool – very pleasant.

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John came back with the news that the annual bowls Smith Cup event was played yesterday. This was the event that we surprised ourselves by winning, in 1999. If only we’d known, we might have managed to depart home a couple of days earlier, and played again in it.

John phoned his cousin M, to find out where they might be travelling, and found they were currently on the Eyre Peninsula.

I thought that we needed to plan ahead, for Easter, and discussed this with John. It seemed prudent to make a definite booking somewhere, and we decided that Ceduna would be a safe bet – in terms of being there by then. I phoned a caravan park there and booked us in.

John still had pen things to finish, so I extended our stay here by another two nights.

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2004 Travels March 27


Today’s was a comfortable stage.

Refuelled at Wedderburn. Diesel was 97cpl – making it 7c a litre dearer than at home.

Along the way, John realized that he’d left the plastic diesel jerrycan at home – hence the “empty” space in back of Truck, where he couldn’t remember what normally travelled there.

We took a break at Ouyen, at the very pleasant travellers’ rest stop there. I took a photo of the Big Mallee Stump that had been made into a display. This was a very large root system of the Mallee eucalypt that is endemic to the region. These trees are not all that tall, have multiple trunks, but have these massive root systems beneath the ground. It was evident why it had been so hard to clear this land for farming – and why the stump-jump plough was invented to deal with the problem.

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Big Mallee stump at Ouyen

It did not seem all that long until we were approaching Red Cliffs and then the outskirts of Mildura, moving from the arid mallee scrub country to irrigated farm land.

We booked into the Desert City Caravan Park. It was quite pleasant and adequate, and central. After discount, $18.90 a night.

Although the Park was by the main highway, traffic noise was not an issue.

We unhitched, but did not do a major set up, as we did not intend to stay here more than a couple of nights.

Went off to have a quick look around the shops in the complex across the highway. John bought some sneakers – Colorado ones. Costly, but comfortable on his hard-to-suit feet.

We bought fish and chips, from the supposedly good Sweet Lips shop. Very greasy and definitely not to be recommended by us!

We’d changed mobile phones shortly before coming away, and were still learning its tricks – much more convoluted than our very basic old one. I sent son a message – just to surprise him that I could do so. Received a reply about teaching an old dog new tricks! Also messaged daughter and she replied about how surprised she was!

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2004 Travels March 26


We left at 12.30pm, after the usual hard work of moving the travel gear from the shed, packing the Truck, and making what seemed like hundreds of treks from the house to the van, carrying shopping bags of gear and supplies to be packed away.

Son, wife and my 2 year old grand daughter came to see us off. It was hoped that, by seeing us drive away with the caravan, young J might begin to understand – maybe – why we had suddenly dropped out of her life, to be replaced by postcards!

We’d already farewelled daughter and the 1 year old grandson – the family having moved from near Bendigo, to an outer south eastern suburb, late last year.

We had some difficulty hitching up the van. It was not quite as bad as when we first left in ’98. Son was helping us then, too! Why did we do it so well when he was not around, then make a mess of it when he was?

There was the usual straight forward drive, via Yea, Seymour, Heathcote, to Bendigo. Our idea was to drive through that town, to Marong, just to the west – thus putting us ready to head up the Calder Highway tomorrow.

Navigating through Bendigo on a Friday afternoon was not the easiest exercise. My road atlas was little help and we finished up in the centre of town, having to negotiate traffic and the tram line to follow the signs to the Mildura road.

We booked into the Marong Caravan Park, for $15. My Top Tourist Parks booklet was two years old, and we found that this park was no longer a member. We could see why – it was full of rather feral, long-term dwellers. It was not pleasant at all.

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Marong Caravan park

We were able to keep the rig hitched up.

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2004 Travels January – March


After last year in the Gulf Country, we’d had some possibility of working the tourist season at the Pungalina safari camp. John was quite keen on the idea. I was somewhat ambivalent.

A tough decision was postponed – or maybe avoided altogether – when we received a phone call, early in the New Year, from O at Pungalina. He told us that the plans for the place, for 2004, were uncertain, and that he was not in a position to arrange workers.

Later, we were to find out that the personal circumstances of the main owner of Pungalina had changed, and he had to sell the property. That was actually to become good news for us – but more about that in 2005!

We were both quite pleased to not have any work commitments  for this year.

Much of the early part of the year had involved the hard work of renovating our kitchen, family room, lounge  and laundry. A kitchen fitting firm did the fit out, but demolition, tiling of floors and walls, painting, was done by us.

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Removing the old flooring nails

John had the extra stress of ensuring that the Tasmanian silver wattle we’d chosen in 2000, was shipped across Bass Strait, and used by the cabinet maker for our new cupboards.

The process, together with the usual  “unexpected delays”, not of our making, meant that for several weeks, my cooking, food preparation and washing up, was done outside, using our camping table, stove and washup bowl. Meals were very basic, over this time. At least, summer lent itself to lots of cold meats and salads. Meals were eaten sitting in the camp chairs, wherever they happened to have been put. After weeks of this, the prospect of heading off in the caravan was distinctly attractive.

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Makeshift kitchen

Plan B for 2004 quickly came into being – a trip to Western Australia.

Back in 2000, we’d planned to spend much of the following year exploring parts of the vast WA, that we had not been to in 1993 (our long service leave trip) or 2000. Lots of unfinished business there, after we’d had to return home instead, at the end of that year.

L, our lovely resident house sitter, was happy to continue our arrangement. She had missed the renovation chaos by spending the long uni break back home in NSW.

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The new kitchen – laundry too


Departure date was dictated by the end of John’s bowls season.

There was no detailed plan – just to make our way to WA, in our own time.


2003 Travels September 30


We crossed over the Murray River and back into Victoria.

Today’s was a relatively short drive south. It was pleasant to travel through country that was progressively greener than we’d been used to.

Refuelled at Yea – 85cpl.

We were home by lunchtime.

Our house sitter was at uni, but had left us a welcome home note. The place was immaculate.

We commenced the arduous work of unloading the van and packing away the contents for however many months it would be before we headed off again. Trips would be so much better if they didn’t end in all the unpacking, sorting and cleaning!

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Kms travelled:     9,534

Kms towed:         6,594

Cost of diesel:        $1,367.24

Average fuel consumption:   6.95kms per litre

Dearest diesel:     $1.33cpl – Hells Gate Roadhouse

Cheapest diesel:   $0.85cpl – Yea

Accommodation cost:   $675.90

Dearest accommodation per night:  $25 – Pungalina Station

Cheapest paid accommodation per night:   $16 – Blackall Caravan Park

Number of different places stayed:  14

Longest stay in one place:  20 weeks – Adels Grove


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2003 Travels September 29


Refuelled at Cobar – 99cpl and at Griffith – 96cpl.

Today saw changes of the type of country passed through. Since leaving Adels, we had travelled mostly through semi-arid grass and scrubland. But today we transitioned into the irrigated farmlands of the Murrumbidgee River lands and then reached the Murray River country.

Being inland, it was still hot, though by the time we stopped for the day, it was definitely somewhat cooler.

Went into the Boomerang Way Caravan park – $19.80 after discount. I was not impressed with this park, even though it was a Big 4 one. Seemed quite run down.

After minimal set up again, John napped. I went for a walk – it was cool enough – down to the main part of town, just to get some exercise after the long days of sitting. I did not really look around the town to any extent – just walked.

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2003 Travels September 28


Yet again, hot driving. The central drive shaft of the Defender seems to generate heat, and because there is not a great deal of leg room, it is a hot vehicle in which to travel. When it was really hot outside, the Truck battled to tow the van and run the air con, so we tended to rely on just having the windows down to generate a bit of passing breeze.

Refuelled at Cunnamulla -91cpl. Once in NSW, fuel would become more expensive, without the Qld State Government subsidy on diesel.

When we reached Bourke, John was wanting to continue on, so the stage became a really long one.

Went into the Cobar Caravan Park – $18.

We were pleasantly surprised at how attractive the caravan park was, and noted it for future travels.

After the long day, all we did was set up a minimal camp, leaving the rig hitched up. Tea, a bit of TV, and to bed.

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2003 Travels September 27


After breakfast, we drove to the main area of shops, to get the weekend papers, and to have a browse around shops again. It was already too hot to contemplate walking there from the caravan park.

John bought himself a good Akubra hat – leather – in the men’s outfitters.

Refuelled Truck – 89cpl.

Rested around the van for the rest of the day. It was so hot! I read the papers. John watched the football.

The rest did John good.

It was rather an unusual caravan park, this one. Very pleasant, though, with fairly modern and very clean amenities. But different because there were few formal, marked sites. A few down one side fence were standard, but over the main central area, an owner directs the parking of each van, very carefully, to optimize the number of vans fitted in. They could pack it quite tightly. This was not really an approach that I liked, but at this time of the year the place was not busy, so we had finished up with plenty of room around us.