I loaded last minute things into Bus. John had to put his car onto a trickle charger, then lock up his shed. He then backed Bus out onto the road and drove the Terios out, to hitch it to Bus, for the first time since we did it under the dealer’s supervision – and that was seven months ago!
It took us a while. Being new, all the parts were quite stiff and tight. The sloping road didn’t help, either, as the car tended to move forward when we didn’t want it to. We had to move Bus forward a couple of times before the hitch “arms” would lock down as they should. By the time we achieved complete hook up, we were part way up the road! My keys were in Terios, with ignition turned to Accessories, the handbrake off, the car in neutral – all steps remembered, I hoped.
Couey, of course, chose to be uncooperative and reluctant to get on board Bus. When coaxed on with a biscuit, she commenced the loud barking and howling that was usual until we got moving. John had no tolerance for her noise, and was already on a short fuse. So it was a hurry to do a check that the external lights were all working, then get me onto Bus, and get mobile so dog would shut up.
Couey subsided into a sulky, but quiet, heap, and I began to relax, telling myself that it would all get easier with practice, just as it had done all those years ago, with hitching up the van. First time with that had not gone smoothly, either.
As we trundled along, approaching Yarra Glen, and I was reflecting on the morning’s events, I realized that – with all the drama and pressure – I hadn’t actually gone back to the house to turn out the lights and lock up! The front door, through which I had dragged dog – would be wide open to the world. Oops.
John was definitely not up for turning around and going back, so I phoned M, who agreed to go round and close up. Later, got a text saying all was well, shut down, locked up. Thanks M – owe you!
John was really pleased with the way Terios tracked behind Bus. It was nothing like towing the van, or a trailer – possibly due to it being on all four wheels? He said he couldn’t feel that the car was there at all – but at least we could see it in the reverse camera screen! He was also pleased with the ease with which Bus pulled up the range beyond Yarra Glen. Much better than Truck had, towing the van.
Had the usual toilet stop at Yea, and gave Couey a run, then on to the Lions Park at Seymour to eat our packed lunches and give dog a ball chasing session to tire her out. That park was a great stopping place – good for dog and so easy to park our rig.
Couey still barked when back on Bus, before we moved off, but settled down really quickly then. That might just be something we have to put up with.
The GPS, yet again, could not cope with our chosen route to Bendigo, and carried on with ceaseless mis-directions, determined to steer us to the Calder Highway!
John got really sleepy as we neared Tooborac, so I got to have my first drive of the rig for this trip. Agreed with him that towing the car was a non-event – no drama at all.
I drove as far as Junortown, on the outskirts of Bendigo, when John took over again.
We were booked into the Ascot Holiday Park at White Hills. I had selected, from my paper map book, a back road route directly there, but John preferred to follow the Garmin’s directions – exactly the same as mine!
The caravan park staff were really helpful and gave us an en-suite site where we could drive through, unhitch the car, then back Bus to exactly where we wanted it. All without drama, though it took a little while to remember how to hook the folded hitch arms up at the back of Bus.
The ensuite site cost $45 for the night, after discount. The bathroom was really nice.
Then ensued the usual trip start reshuffle of things inside. We didn’t put out the awning. John set up the new Kogan TV he had recently bought and was very pleased with the picture quality. Obviously, the new Wineguard TV aerial he had fitted to Bus at home, was working.
We took Couey for a couple of short walks around the park, before dark. She was very well behaved, and sat out the front of Bus, tethered on her rope to the bull bar, quietly guarding us. She was a bit restless, inside Bus, after tea, trying, I thought, to work out the best place to bed down at nights.
After tea, of sausages, potato, tomato and eggs, all cooked outside in the electric frypan, we drove Terios to daughter’s place on the other side of town.
Delivered presents we’d bought for grandson. He was thrilled with his new – very first – hockey stick and associated gear. He had recently taken up this sport and been using borrowed equipment. A friend of M’s was a veteran hockey player and had selected the appropriate items for a ten year old.
John fixed the email function on his computer – an earlier present from us – while we were there, and showed him how to do some other things on the computer.
It was only a short visit as we were tired after a stressful day, and they had an early start tomorrow, flying to Brisbane to visit daughter’s father there.
Couey stayed out in the Terios during our visit and seemed fine with that, in the dark.
It was nearly 10pm when we got back to Bus. Driving in Bendigo at night was soooo much easier than in Melbourne.
Thursday was our final packing day, as we planned to leave tomorrow morning. We would go via Bendigo, as usual, and then on to Broken Hill to visit John’s daughter. After that, we would “head north”, making it up as we went. It sounded a wonderful plan.
Yesterday, dog had an unhappy outing to the Animal Aid at Coldstream for a bath – they did a good job, and the money went to a worthy cause, even if we ended up with a dog that smelled like coconuts. Better that than a dog that smelled extremely “doggy”.
Most of the gear I was responsible for was already packed permanently in Bus, so I did not have a great deal to do. But John, as was usual, had not been organized earlier and had much to sort and pack – everything from his clothes to the tools he might need. He had a very busy, long and tiring day.
I re-homed surplus fridge contents with M, and turned it off. Earlier in the year, John had vetoed using house sitters ever again, even if we could have found any at such short notice. He no longer wanted “other people” in our house. At times, I thought his various medical travails of the past few years, had altered his mental processes.
Late in the day, John was completing his final tasks. A lapse in concentration saw him draining, then filling the Bus water tank – but, unfortunately with the garden hose in the diesel tank! He realized his error when yellow coloured liquid gushed out of the opening. He then switched the hose to the correct inlet, and filled up the water. Apparently, an argument ensued with himself, about whether he would ‘fess up to all this, or just try to leave tomorrow and hope for the best. He didn’t think there could be too much water in the diesel as the tank had been almost full before water was added. Fortunately, common sense did prevail and he came to tell me he’d “done a terrible thing”.
I couldn’t believe that yet another trip start had been affected by tank filling problems!
However, I could see how the mistake came about. So many previous years of trip preparation had involved draining and filling our van water tanks. It was just an automatic part of getting ready to go. The van water tank inlets had faced onto the “open” side of the parking bay, and of course, it had no fuel tank to fill! Unfortunately, the Bus fuel inlet faced this same way, whereas the water tank inlet was on the driver’s side of Bus, facing the neighbour’s fence. Tired and distracted John was functioning on past memory, rather than current focus.
On Friday, Bus was onto a tilt truck, yet again, and off to the Toyota service centre. Since we’ve had it, Bus had done more trips on tow trucks than independently on the road! We’ve gotta get better at
this motor homing gig.
We noticed, as it was loaded and taken away, that there was water running from somewhere under the back. John asked the service centre to investigate where that was coming from, too.
Saturday morning we were able to go and collect Bus. They had drained about thirty litres of fuel from the tank, before they got clean fuel. So there was more water in there than John had thought. But the water that had run from the back was a problem with the hot water service and Toyota could not do anything about that.
Back at home, John investigated and I did some Googling. We worked out that, when John had connected up the mains water, and turned the hose on hard, the really good local water pressure had blown out a little turn-off gadget in the hot water service. Hence water just kept flowing through the hot water service and out the overflow.
Of course, Truma dealerships were Monday to Friday operations, so we would have to wait until Monday to tackle the issue.
Our motor homing life was obviously not meant to be easy!
I filled in the unexpected waiting time with quite a lot of gardening.
On Monday John was able to drive to Clayton and pick up the needed water service part. But it was for a newer model, and he had some issues trying to fit it. Eventually, at my suggestion, he went to the nearby Sunliner dealership – a place experienced in motorhome issues. They were very helpful – much more so than the Truma agency had been – and the hot water service was then fixed. We resolved to always be very cautious about mains water pressure and Bus!
Perhaps I could write a manual on how not to tackle motor home travel?
The start of January saw John’s first visit to physio, for exercises for the reconstructed shoulder. He was told not to drive until early March, and that there would be no bowls until mid-April, at least. Shock and horror all round.
I was not sure my sanity would survive being the chauffeur for another two months.
John just couldn’t manage to obey the physio’s edicts, and was back driving again by the end of January – though he did try to limit it, a bit. He couldn’t help but try bowling again, too, weeks earlier than he was supposed to.
It was a very hot summer and the pool got a lot of use, by us and offspring and grandchildren.
Dog invented a new game. It was hard to leave her outside the pool enclosure when anyone was swimming – we wondered if the crazy barking and carry on was because she thought she should be rescuing whoever? But once let in, she soon began to drop a ball into the pool for the nearest person to throw out into the yard for her to fetch. Repeat….and repeat and……..Great fun for her, not so much for whoever was the target of her attention, because she would bark incessantly till her will was done. A couple of times, in her running around the pool edge, she cut a corner too much and fell in. Dog had no problem swimming to get herself out again, though.
One morning, I found Couey outside the back door, with the tail of a possum hanging from her mouth and that unmistakeable “have I done something wrong?” look. There was no way she could have dispatched a live and fighting possum without us hearing it, or her bearing some wounds, so had to conclude that she found it already dead and decided on an extra meal. Always an opportunist where food was concerned.
Early in the year, we had to take Bus for a service – to be done every six months in order to keep the warranty valid, even though it had only done a few hundred kms since the last one. We found a dealership that could handle Bus, in a nearby suburb.
I sent away for a set of solar shades for Bus. These screens suction-capped to the inside of the front windscreen, and the two side front windows. We did not need them for privacy as a curtain had come with Bus that was on a wire and hung behind the front seats, when parked up. But I had noticed, on our shake down trip last year, that the large glass areas conducted cold on chilly nights. I hoped the solar screens would insulate us better. When they arrived, I was impressed with the quality and thickness.
We had a CB radio installed in Terios – partly for if we were day tripping with M tagging along. Could also see that, possibly, on a tricky road or really steep hill, we might drive Bus and Terios separately, and CB’s would be useful then.
John’s ongoing role with the Selection Committee of the bowls club kept him tied to home until the end of the season, but he really wanted to squeeze in a trip with Bus between then and Easter, which was at the end of March – two or three weeks. We had provisionally settled on a trip along the Great Ocean Road.
When John wasn’t working on bowls related matters, he was out in his shed, making a wooden table for my study. I spent much time in the garden, but also worked on a commission for another crocheted cot blanket. The one I’d made last year for new grandson was such a hit that the family had asked me to do another one, for a friend’s baby. As well, I was attempting hand quilting for the first time – both difficult to master and extremely hard on my wrist and fingertips (the pincushion effect….)
Mid March, another bout of the breathlessness that our GP couldn’t explain, saw John patronizing the ambulance service again. Back into Epworth Eastern for another couple of weeks. Two litres of fluid was drained from around his lungs, but after lots of tests the lung specialist could only come up with there being some sort of infection or inflammation, for an unknown reason. Once out of hospital, there would be fortnightly check ups by said specialist.
I commuted back and forth each day to visit the invalid. The dog fretted.
That put paid to the pre-Easter trip with Bus.
Actually, I could have a pretty good guess at the cause of the lung problem – but John forbade me saying anything to his doctors. He had been doing a lot of dust-causing woodwork and not wearing the masks and filters he should have been. Some timbers are really toxic, blackwood amongst them.
Back home again, John’s next project was to install a new, technologically up to date, Wineguard TV aerial on Bus.
I bought an e-book reader – a Sony. What a boon for travellers! No more storing bags of reading matter under the bed, and haunting book exchanges. I could load up the e-reader with three weeks’ worth of books from my local library and replenish same as needed – as long as I had an internet connection. Magic!
In June, with only a couple of hundred kms of day trips clocked up since the last one, Bus was back off for another service. So was John – and the lung man cleared him for three months before the next review would be needed – September.
A federal election was expected in mid-September and I had signed up to work taking Declaration Votes again – but that was three months away.
Suddenly, we had a window for travel again, so there was a mad flurry of preparation.
In September, friend M departed for two months in Italy, France, England, returning via New York. Her travelling companion was a long time friend whose wife – a great friend of M’s – had last year suddenly died.
Each to her own – I was not at all envious of M’s overseas travel, but took great interest in her emailed bulletins.
John spent a lot of September detailing Truck preparatory to selling it. My contribution was to wash – by hand – the sheepskin seat covers. God, those things are heavy when wet. If I’d thought there were dust remnants of our far-flung travels in the crevices of the van, there were even more in those seat covers. It took a heap of soaking, and about ten changes of the water in the trough to clean them. I could measure the depth of sludge left behind, at the start, with a ruler!
That damned ulcer on my leg kept on being hard to heal, and at times was extremely painful too. Twice weekly trips to our doctor’s practice nurse became times to dread, because of the pain caused by her dressing changes. Eventually, after a few different anti-biotic courses, there was improvement and healing. I even tried applying very expensive manuka honey to the wound – and, boy, did that sting. Much pain for no gain though.
I had researched, online, to try to get an idea of the value of our 1996, well-travelled Defender. John had thought he’d get maybe $7000 for it. He was amazed when I told him to double that! It did have a lot of extras fitted to it, and apparently there was a bit of a cult following for them. Our model was particularly valued because people didn’t want the later version with more complex electronic systems, that could and did go wrong. That really was a pleasant surprise. Also, it seemed that Landrover would soon stop selling Defenders in Australia because their design and structure did not allow them to meet the new safety standards.
We had nibbles on Truck as soon as I advertised it, in early October, and within a short time our (mostly) trusty old vehicle was on its way to a farm in Tasmania! As with the van, I was sad to see it go. It had taken us to so many wonderful and out-of-the-way places, over the years.
Since coming home from our first Bus trip, I had been researching and considering options that would give us greater mobility when parked up with bus.
In the past, John and I had been rather scathing when we saw motorhomes towing cars behind them – on trailers or their own wheels. We’d made comments along the lines that such travellers might just as well have become caravanners! How wrong was I?
My first thought had been that my little old Holden Barina might be suitable to take away with us. But John did not like my car – it was too low for him and he battled, these days, to get out of it. We had to have a higher car, he said.
We had rejected outright the idea of towing a trailer with a car on – that would have been too much like caravan towing. I did not like the idea of driving on and off a trailer, and could also see parking the trailer in some caravan parks as problematic.
That left what, in motor homing parlance , was called flat towing. And, boy, was that a complex topic to get my head around. To begin, basically the vehicle would have to have manual transmission, for some complicated issue to do with transmission workings in automatics. I took the word of the experts, but John took some convincing, loving automatics as he did.
Then, I discovered the issue of weights and ratios. Sounds complicated? It is. Essentially there are rules to ensure the motor home is not towing a vehicle that is too heavy for proper control, with the gross weights of both vehicles being key. Eventually I got my head around the rules and the maths of it all – not my strongest ability – and discovered that we would be looking for a car no heavier than 1500kg. When I thought about the towing combinations we had seen on the road, it seemed that a lot of motor homers were well outside the legal limits.
The field was limited. Very limited! I’d been secretly thinking that I might get a lovely brand new diesel Grand Vitara out of all this. Not to be – they weighed about 2 tonnes.
Eventually I decided that a Daihatsu Terios was the way to go. Light enough. High enough off the ground for John. Reviews had extolled a surprising capacity for handling challenging roads and terrain, having some sort of differential switch that almost approximated 4 wheel drive. The only catch was that importation of the Terios cars ceased in 2006. So, we would be looking for a used one.
I was then to find that they were a very popular car for flat towing, and thus in considerable demand for a superseded brand.
There were a few advertised for sale. But too many of these had done upwards of 200,000kms. John was also browsing the car sales sites, and liked the description of one he found: 2004 model, only done 45,000kms. Sounded too good to be true. But then, my 1986 Barina had only done 60,000kms in the 25 years that my father and then I had owned it.
There was a catch: the Terios was in Adelaide. Undeterred, John flew there, was very impressed by what he saw; next day had the car checked by an independent mechanic, and bought it.
He then set out to drive it home. By the time all the checking and paper work had been completed, it was into the afternoon before he set off. Via phone, he told me he’d overnight at Keith and hope to get home the next day. But there was no accommodation to be had in Keith. By the time he reached Bordertown and found a motel room, the night time driving qualities of the Terios had been well tested.
The Terios and John reached home the next afternoon. John raved about how lovely it was to drive and insisted that we go straight back out again so I could have a drive of it. He was right – it felt great, but having a narrow wheelbase and being quite tall, it did take some getting used to cornering.
Even better, from John’s viewpoint, it had air conditioning.
We had to get a Victorian roadworthy certificate done – no problems – and then take it to be registered in Victoria. So the little white Terios gained a nice new set of number plates.
It had, apparently, come from Port Augusta, where it had been a town run around for an elderly lady. That location could possibly also help explain its one obvious flaw – someone had keyed along the driver’s side. I’d read somewhere of that being a problem in car parks there.
My Barina was detailed by John – it was not as hard as Truck had been. I did not need to wash its lambswool seat covers because they were put in the Terios. When we turned up at the mechanic’s for the third roadworthy inspection in two months, I think he suspected we were running a used car business on the sly. The car was old, but looked pretty good, and had that low kms reading. It sold and I was happy with the price.
The next complexity in all this was what A-frame hitch would we use to tow the Terios behind Bus? There were two main brands available. I was attracted to the one that was Australian made, initially, but the experience of some users suggested they could be more difficult to use. So, eventually, we bought a Ready Brute. This had the advantage of folding up at the back of the towing vehicle, when parked up – thus being out of the way of being tripped over. Anecdotally, it was easier to hitch up on uneven ground, or if vehicles were not quite exactly aligned – a big plus. There was an accredited fitter fairly locally – another definite plus. He was able to order the hitch for us from the importer, plus whatever bits and pieces would be needed to make it all operational.
The existing tow bar on Bus proved to be too light and was fitted to Terios by the hitch fitter. So the cost of a new tow bar for Bus was added to the already considerable cost of the hitch. There was a base plate specific to the Terios to be fitted, that the hitch fittings would then go on. A brake system cable was part of the kit – operated by inertia somehow, when the towing vehicle slowed down, not directly by the driver. A little red light was fitted on Bus dashboard – this would light up when the Terios brakes were applied while it was being towed – a bit of a fail safe against them locking on.
Something else we hadn’t known when we embarked on all this was that some electrical works were needed to make the 24volt Coaster compatible with the Terios.
At different times, both Bus and Terios went to the hitch fitter for all this work. When all was done, we went in Terios to pick up Bus – and get a hands on demo of how to hitch the two together. It didn’t look too hard. I hoped that wasn’t a famous last thought……
The hitch and associated works ended up costing us nearly as much as the Terios itself.
Another issue loomed – we would have to find a place that could carry out servicing and any works on the Coaster. I had assumed that a Toyota dealer would do this – but found out that not all service centres have heavy duty hoists, needed for a vehicle of this size. Our local one did not. But Bus had been serviced just before we bought it, so that problem could wait a while.
By December we were back to having two cars in the carport and one Bus in the parking bay – i.e. normal. The travelling rig was all ready to go again. We did an occasional local drive, to places like Warburton or Healesville, for the sake of giving the bus a run.
Of course, it seemed that, these days, we could not get through the year without things medical and surgical popping up again. Late in November, John had a shoulder reconstruction, not because of an abrupt injury such as had caused mine, but just age-related wear and tear. That necessitated two nights in hospital – a city hospital of course. It couldn’t be the slightly more convenient Epworth Eastern. So I battled the commuter and city traffic for three days. Driving in Melbourne had become such a pain!
Couey fretted for the two nights that John was gone. Guess dogs do not have a “coming back” concept. Of course, she was rapturous when he reappeared.
A few days after this surgery, John woke up and found it hard to breathe. There was pain in his “bad” leg, so his immediate thought was of blood clots – yet again. Because his breathing was so laboured, I called an ambulance and he was taken to Box Hill Hospital. I joined him there and we waited in Emergency – and waited – and waited. Eventually all that showed up was an old hardened area of blood clot behind the knee. At 8pm we left to go home. Not a great day! Episodes of troubled breathing continued and an overnight stay in another city hospital ensued – more commuting for me! No definite diagnosis could be reached, except that maybe the symptoms were due to anxiety about getting blood clots again.
I became the sole household driver again, while John’s shoulder healed. This was hard on us both, particularly because he was never a good passenger. I didn’t take kindly to the constant flow of instructions – turn indicator on, change gear, don’t brake so hard, don’t turn the corner so sharply…..and so on. It would be early January before he started physio.
We both had a sleep in and, surprisingly, dog allowed it. It was still raining steadily.
After dog’s morning ablutions and breakfast for us all, in view of the poor weather forecast, we decided to call it quits and go home. John’s Beechworth idea had not been a great success, though the park would be pleasant in good weather and we filed it away for a return visit.
As usual Couey, who by now was happily going in and out of the parked Bus, saw our packing up happening. When it was time, she refused to get on. Some peanut butter on a dog biscuit changed her mind. Despite this, we thought she was starting to adapt reasonably well – just as we were finishing the trip!
It was just after midday when we left the park. As we had paid for today at the time of arrival, this was not an issue.
Back to Wangaratta, then down the Hume to Seymour. Stopped twice – once in a roadside rest area to eat lunch, which I’d packed before we left, but we stayed in our seats to do so. Then a stop at Euroa to fuel up. $1.489 cpl.
From Seymour, followed the usual route to Yea and home via Yarra Glen. The weather stayed grey, cold, gloomy, showery all the way. There was cloud on the hilltops south of Yea.
At home, did what unpacking was necessary – the fridge contents and our technical gear, basically, plus dog’s food and treats.
Bought fish and chips for tea.
The trip hadn’t quite gone as planned, but it was enough to show the potential of travel in Bus. For John, it was so much better to drive than it had been Truck towing the van. Much easier. Both of us had found it much more comfortable than the van, to live in.
However, the trip had also shown up one major problem. It was not convenient to pack up for moving when we needed to shop, or to go sightseeing every day, or even to find a park or oval for dog to have a run. We would have to investigate options for giving us easier mobility.
Accommodation cost: $366.20. (5 nights ensuite sites)
Average per night: just over $33 per night
Chain discounts received: $31.80
Most expensive accommodation: Riverside Caravan Park, Swan Hill (non en suite)
It rained overnight, and then on and off throughout the day.
The ground outside Bus got very muddy – there was no cement slab and it was just rather worn down grass and dirt.
Managed to get the dog some walks by the lake, in between the morning rainy spells.
Late morning, we went for a long walk to the town centre. I wanted to browse in some of the shops, but John was not in a mood to wait while I did so. I was able to buy a large half foccacia and some cold meats for lunch.
The town was where the well known Beechworth Bakery began, back in 1984 – which was incidentally the only other time I had visited Beechworth. We had to go there, of course. Bought a vanilla slice and a bee sting cake, to be our dessert for tonight.
Couey coped alright with having lots of people around her, and with the main street traffic. If nothing else, this trip had been valuable for getting her used to new places and experiences.
Late lunch back at Bus – the bread, cold meats, and cheese. Yum.
The rest of the day was mostly in Bus. It was cold and distinctly miserable looking outside, with the rain. John gamed on the computer; I read the newspaper I’d bought at the shops, embroidered and completed the piece I had been working on.
We dawdled around a bit in the morning, so didn’t depart the park until 10.15am.
John parked up in the main street, near the supermarket. He went in and bought rolls for lunch and a cask of water that I wanted. I was not happy drinking the local water supplies and wasn’t yet confident in the quality of the water from our fresh water tank – although John had filled it at home, didn’t know how long the water already in there had been there.
It was John who went to the shop, because it was easier for him to get out of Bus. Dog had already realized that if I got up to go out, then the door would open and she could get out. There would be barking and jumping at the door and I would have to battle to keep her in, while I got out.
I had envisaged a leisurely drive paralleling the Murray River, maybe as far as Rutherglen for a couple of nights. But no – John was determined to get to Beechworth in one go. Shades of the old days….
So we went via Echuca, Shepparton, Benalla and Wangaratta.
Booked into Lake Sambell Caravan Park – the site ended up costing us $26.10 per night. We booked in for three nights. The lady at Reception asked if I was a CMCA member – I was, so we were given a 10% discount. I had joined the CMCA as soon as we bought Bus – partly for a source of information and partly in order to be able to access their motor home insurance scheme.
Our site was quite wide, though not very deep – but no one was put behind us. The amenities were modern and clean. It was a very attractive looking park.
There was a motorhome parked next to us that looked an interesting one – a Horizon Grevillea. I hadn’t seen one of these before. Not too large. It had a slightly upswept back, so more ground clearance there than we had. That type of motorhome was a cut above the older, converted Coasters like ours – but probably also much more costly…..
After setting up, took Couey for a walk in the parklands that bordered the lake. Here, she could go for a gallop. There wasn’t much of the afternoon left by then, so it was tea, TV and bed.
The usual morning routine with dog, then breakfast and pack up.
Couey had been tethered to Bus bull bar whilst we packed up and was clearly unhappy at the signs. When it came time to go, she had decided to stay. Where was the Pyap and its whistle when we needed it? John had to pick her up and lift her into Bus.
We hadn’t hurried the morning routines or the pack up, and left a bit before 10am.
Drove back the way we’d come. I drove Bus for most of the way to Robinvale. Found that I would have liked to have the driver’s seat further back, only by a couple of inches, but its backward travel was stopped by being right up against the wardrobe wall. Guess the guy who had it converted had shorter legs than me. I only really noticed the restriction when having to work the clutch or brakes, the rest of the time it was quite comfortable. The steering was typical Toyota sloppy feeling – like our Hilux had been, and the Troopy at Pungalina. Otherwise – all good.
I suggested we could do that stay at Robinvale that we’d talked of on the way up, but John wanted to go further today. So we just stopped there for a short walk and coffee break. Again, Couey needed lifting back into Bus.
Stopped at Swan Hill for fuel and for me to go the Safeway. Diesel was still $1.399 cpl, Bus took 64.14 litres, so I was able to work out that we’d managed a tad over 7kms per litre. That was not too different from the Defender in general use – and better than we’d gotten from that when towing.
I bought a few grocery items. John needed to buy beer. He bought a pie for his lunch and ate it while I was in Safeway. I bought a pull apart loaf. We took the trolley with our purchases back to Bus, unloaded, then John returned the trolley. Somehow, he got in a muddle and left his daypack in the trolley when he returned it. Luckily, I noticed it was missing and asked where it was, and he was able to race back and retrieve it.
The afternoon was getting on a bit, so I ate some of my bread loaf whilst we went along. It would have been nicer with some butter, though!
At Lake Charm had a look around and a drive through its nether regions. We tried a caravan park there that had frontage to the lake – that was an attractive idea. There were lots of permanent establishments there – vans and annexes set up to be holiday homes, mostly. The caretaker was out and there was no one to assist us, so we left and continued on to Kerang.
Booked into the Kerang Caravan Park – $23 a night, The place was central, and there was a park next door where Couey could have a run. However, this was a park with mostly permanent dwellers in a formal, but shabby looking, section. We chose to go to the informal, riverside section. Here, the amenities were dated, but very clean. The river was more like a creek.
Set up. John retired for an afternoon nap. I took Couey for a good run in the park.
Later, because there were no other campers in this section, we played ball games with the dog, near Bus.
Was a reply on Facebook from John’s daughter – not a phone call. She would be away all the coming week, for work, and then spending the weekend in Wilcannia to be at the rugby – a recent interest, it seemed.
I told John we would not go to Broken Hill, after all. It would be over a 700km round trip, just to spend a couple of days at the Menindee Lakes. I thought we could slowly progress back along the river and eventually head home again. John suggested a stay at Beechworth – his ancestral home area. I agreed, thinking he meant having a day or two there, after our slow jaunt back along the river.
In the afternoon, walked Couey along the bush track beside the main road and back around the big block formed by Carramar Drive. She picked up a three corner jack in a back paw, yelped, stood still, then stuck out the leg for me to “fix”. Quite comical.
Interesting phenomenon: in our van travels, we had quite often propped in a place for days in a row, without going anywhere, or doing anything except walking, reading, John’s computer game playing, my sewing and writing. But here, I really wanted to go somewhere – anywhere – just because I couldn’t. That really got me thinking some more about this bus based travel and what was starting to seem a real limitation.
Before breakfast, while John was having his sleep in, I walked Couey along the street again. It was obvious that too many people – locals or those from the caravan park – did not pick up after their dogs.
The bike riders had gone before I got up this morning. We hadn’t heard them go. Bus really was quite sound-proofed.
After breakfast, we walked towards Buronga, to the small IGA supermarket at a service station, probably a bit over a km away. We were able to do most of the walk on tracks a bit distant from the main road. Couey could range a bit in some sections – she was very reliable at not going far from us and immediately coming back when called. She wasn’t happy about crossing the main road with us, though – there were trucks! I almost had to pick her up and carry her.
I was able to buy some salad makings and vegies.
Lunch back at Bus. John took dog across the road where he could throw the ball for her on the wide verge.
I’d have liked to go for a drive into or around Mildura, but John felt it would be too much effort to put in the awning, unhook services and generally get Bus into travel mode. I’m sure Couey was happy!
After tea, John tried to contact daughter. The phone numbers he had no longer worked. In the end, he sent her a message via my Facebook link, saying we would like to travel up to Broken Hill and see her. He asked for a reply by tomorrow, so we could plan our travel. I thought we could combine time in Broken Hill with a stay at the Menindee Lakes, where we hadn’t been before.