WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST BENDIGO TO SWAN HILL 235kms
Woke up this morning with the intention of driving to Mildura. From there, John would decide whether to try another visit to daughter in Broken Hill, or find another destination along the Murray.
Pack up seemed to take a while – longer than I’d expected – and mostly John’s outside stuff. However, it was all quite new still, and I thought we would get better with more practice.
There wasn’t much for me to do inside. The TV got put down onto John’s bed, wedged in with a pillow. Cupboard doors had to be checked to make sure they were fastened, ditto fridge door. I’d brought a washing basket with us. That travelled on a bed, with things like the electric jug, in it, as well as the dirty clothes. When camped, it fitted on the driver’s seat at the front. My old trusty electric frypan went onto a bed for travel.
Most importantly, the two overhead hatches had to be closed, and the wind up TV aerial wound down. Very important that! I’d bought a little sign that clipped onto the steering wheel, to remind us to check it was down – out of sight etc. We hadn’t had a wind up aerial before.
With the van, our outdoor table and chairs had travelled in the back of Truck, but there were no readily accessible storage compartments for things that big in Bus. But putting them upright and folded up, in the floor aisle between the two beds was the ideal solution.
John had decided that the shower cubicle was ideal to store the sullage and water hoses, and the electrical leads! Plus some other items he packed at the last minute. He’d included the night-time bucket we’d used in the van, reckoning it would be easier to empty that each day than empty the toilet cassette. My protests – along the lines of having a toilet now, why not use it? – fell on deaf ears. Many years ago, John had spent a year travelling Britain and Europe with his first family, that included then 7 year old and 4 year old daughters. They lived in a very small campervan for the year, complete with porta-potti. It seemed that John’s memories of on-board toilet upkeep had prejudiced him forever.
We left the caravan park about 10am. An almost immediate first stop was at a caravan service centre John had seen yesterday. He bought a slide-on shade curtain type thing, that could go on the front of the awning; more upmarket than the shade cloth we’d used on the van!
Managed to find our way to the Mildura road, without going into the centre of Bendigo. Maybe the Garmin had some value, after all.
The Calder Highway was a road we’d travelled many times before. At this time of year, the country was pleasantly green.
Dog seemed to travel a little better – I used the tranquilizer spray again – but still was not a happy traveller. Sulk mode.
We stopped at Charlton for a leg stretch and a short walk for dog. Noted a great caravan stopping place there – sites arranged around two central ensuite bathroom buildings. $25 a night paid at the hotel, to park up there and have one’s own bathroom.
I would have liked to stop there – it was quite early and we could explore the little town. But John wanted to push on. As we tootled along the highway out of Charlton, he made the sudden decision that he’d like to go to Swan Hill next. Not for any particular reason. Oh well, this was a shake down trip with Bus and we could certainly make it up as we went along.
Stopped to eat lunch at a rather unappealing parking area at the hamlet of Dumosa, essentially a grain silo and loading facility on a rail line. Then turned off the highway onto the Swan Hill road – two lanes, but narrow and rough in parts. However, John was really enjoying driving Bus, so a patched road surface wasn’t going to worry him.
This was a road we hadn’t travelled before. The somewhat intriguing Tittybong was shown on my map, but proved to be a locality, not a village. Likewise Goshen, closer to Swan Hill, which was a place we knew of because our 2005 boss at Pungalina had grown up there. Nothing to see, folks.
Reached Swan Hill mid-afternoon. Went to the Riverside Caravan Park and were able to obtain a river side site – for $36 a night, after discount. This was a Big 4 chain park, but unusual in that it had a section for travellers with canines. We rejoined the chain, which caused the lady on check in to get all muddled up with her computer system.
The site was pretty expensive, for just a site, but it was really pleasant, looking out onto the Murray River, which was very full. In fact, so nice that John decided we would stay three nights.
As we were finalizing our set up, the paddle steamer Pyap came churning past on the river, and blew its steam whistle at us. Dog not happy about that. Then, a few minutes later, a couple of ducks appeared to check us out, and took exception to dog being in their environment, with one attempting to peck at her. That was it – dog was ready to go home. At least, she now saw the stationary Bus as home – a safe place from nasty experiences.
There was the large Riverside Park adjacent to the caravan park. Here, when there were no other people nearby, we were able to let Couey off her lead and let her cavort around, chasing her ball and just running about. There were sometimes ducks in the distance and she very carefully avoided going anywhere near those. To date, her experience of waterbirds had been at Lilydale Lake, where they ran away from any dogs. She clearly couldn’t cope with ones that were braver than her!
We saw two Trakmaster caravans in the caravan park – not together. They were both quite large ones, and one was silver clad – that’s a new development.
We soon discovered that the park was having a new swimming pool installed, not far from our site. It was very noisy work!
I cooked fish and fries for tonight’s tea.
We were now finding the Bus beds quite comfortable for sleeping.