This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2015 Travels July 22


Rain set in through last night, but there were only a couple of light showers when we were packing up.

Couey didn’t get a morning walk because the tracks were muddy and I didn’t want her tracking that into Bus.

The rain made it easier, after all yesterday’s angst, to leave here today.

Realized, as we were almost ready to leave, that scones, jam and cream were being served at the camp kitchen, so we joined some of the remaining campers there, and partook. Very nice they were too.

Left Warrawong at 10.20am. Had to drive back into Wilcannia to get fuel, at the cheaper outlet down a side street. As John got out and went to do the fuelling, Couey did her usual jumping around and barking, inside Bus, thinking she might be going to be let out. The servo man asked what breed she was – and then said he was about to go to Qld and get himself a stumpy, because he thinks they are great dogs. We know!

Old buildings in Wilcannia dating from its glory days as a river port

Fuel was $1.435cpl.

Some Wilcannia buildings are in a sorry state

The rain showers continued as we drove east, through the McCullogh Range and mulga country. The rain made the colour contrasts greater – blackened the mulga trunks and turned the red dirt darker. I found it really pretty.

Red, green and black contrasts

Saw many little groups of goats.

About half way to Cobar, the rain became steady.

Bleak outlook

Stopped at Emadale Roadhouse, where the forecourt was mostly under water. The stop was for a short rest for John and he went in and bought some mints. We did not let dog out. She would have had a lovely time wallowing in all the water.

There seemed to be so many trucks on this highway today.

As we drove along again, spotted a kangaroo beside the road ahead. It began to cross, then turned and bounded off the other way, whilst we were still quite some distance away. We wondered if it was the effect of the Shu-Roo gadgets that John put on the front of Bus. We had these same things on the front of the Landrover too, and they did seem to warn animals of our approach.

Birds of prey circling

Drove past the usually popular Meadow Glen Rest Area – a free camping place – and there was no one there. The country around there appeared very green, but the many more secluded parking areas off in the bush would have been red mud.

There were sheets of water on the sheep paddocks and some very miserable looking sheep.

The unsealed road to the Mt Grenfell Historic Area had a road closed sign up.

There had, clearly, already been substantial rain around Cobar.

We went into the Cobar Caravan Park. I hadn’t thought it necessary to pre-book for this large park, but now thought we were lucky to get in. They put us onto a cemented bus bay area, between the camp kitchen and the amenity block. Actually, a good location! Because it was meant for tour buses, it was a drive through site, so easy for us to park on without having to unhitch the car. The powered site cost $32.50.

Cobar site

The park was, by late afternoon, full – at least on all the formal, hard surfaced sites – and there are a lot of those. They were not using the grassy unpowered area, due to the wetness of the ground. We had stayed here before, and never seen the place this full. I suspected that some people who would usually be bush camping had abandoned the muddy bush and come to firmer ground.

Because of the full state of Cobar, I decided to play it safe and phoned the caravan park in Bourke to book us in for tomorrow night.

In between showers, walked Couey around the park.

Tea was baked beans on toast – John’s choice.

The night was foggy and damp, with a really heavy dew. The cloud stopped it from being really cold.

Damp camps are not fun!

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2015 Travels July 21


A sunny day initially, that clouded over later.

We did not go far on Couey’s morning walk, because I spotted kangaroos on both the possible tracks. They were quite big but she did not appear to see them. She is not interested in critters bigger than she is, or for that matter, quite a few that are smaller. But no point in tempting her – after all, once she was averse to water, too.

A beautiful outlook…

I did a load of washing that cost $4. Had to pay at the office – it was not a commercial one, but just a nice big, new, standard washing machine.

In the afternoon, we walked around the billabong, with Couey.

The track around the billabong

Looking down the billabong from the far end

It was a fair distance. She had some swims, and  of course had to roll in the dust whilst still


Gotta find a stick…

Pelicans on the Darling River

It’s a long time since this went anywhere

We saw some sheep in a nearby paddock but she resolutely ignored them.

Some red sand rises edge part of the billabong

The track took us past the area that we had been told, last time here, would be developed for private secluded camp sites and perhaps even cabins. No development there yet.

Destined to be a place for a cabin?

I went to have a shower, after our walk, but was told by another camper that the water had been cold, this morning. We both tested it and it still ran only cold. She went and told the managers. They checked it out. Apparently there were filters or something that should have been changed or cleaned last week. Something else the backpackers had not done properly. It was rectified and half an hour later I could go and have a lovely hot shower in the very spacious shower stall.

Went to happy hour again by the campfire. There were more campers in tonight, so it was a bigger group. It was one of the nights when dinner was available to buy – a beef curry. It seemed to be good value and people certainly enjoyed it, but we did not partake – we still had pork rashers to eat. I made them into sticky pork strips, with rice.

It was so pleasant here. We would really have liked to stay longer, but were booked to reach Lightning Ridge on Friday. Next time, we must allow enough flexibility to be able to stay a week or so.

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2015 Travels July 20


Left the park about 10.20.

Went to the Plaza shops (yet again) where there was plenty of room for our rig in a far section of the car parks. Got John’s scripts filled, and a new battery for his blood sugar monitor.

Fuelled up at the Woolworths servo there – not really well set up for anything longer than a car, but we managed. $1.377cpl.

It was 11.40 when we left Broken Hill. A degree of directional confusion ensued – not sure whether that was due to us or GPS, but we ended up unnecessarily going right down the main street and through the busier centre of town.

Duty done – now the holiday can begin!

We soon started seeing lots of emus, and goats, along the road sides.

Noted that when (if) we are next in Broken Hill, we must do a day drive out along the Wilcannia road. There were some photogenic looking old buildings, eroded stream gullies, and country that would be interesting to wander about in with a camera. All only a few kms from town.

Blue sky and sunshine today. It was quite warm travelling with the sun coming in on me through the Bus window – nice.

Some low hills began to appear in a line coming up from the south – like a dune line – beginning to be visible about 50kms from Broken Hill. I think it was the Scropes Range. It ran parallel with the road for some way, then segued into the Spring Hills, which were very photogenic, with rocky outcrops and sparse, arid lands scrub. Out here, hills are a novelty.

Scropes Range

We stopped at the Spring Hills Rest Area – quite a pleasant one with toilets, a kid’s playground, a shelter area, and some trees.

Scropes Range Rest Area

A young man driving a standard car pulled in just after us: he was driving from Perth to Byron Bay for a music festival…wow!

Well set up rest area

There was a big dry creek gully next to the rest area, with big culverts under the highway – an indication of what can happen when it rains in these parts.

Flood contingency

We kept going through more hills and with cypress pines appearing. Passed the Dolo Hills Rest Area, which had great views over the flat plains to the east, which we then drove down onto. Dolo Creek was several metres wide, but shallow, with a bed of red sand.

Down onto the flat country

The GPS suddenly decided we should turn left – onto an unpaved station driveway. No idea why, but we didn’t do it. The gadget seemed to have these sudden brain fades. Nothing like this to make us start looking around frantically, wondering what she knows that we don’t.

Saw a huge feral cat crossing the road in front of us.

Drove straight through Wilcannia, which did not look any better kept than last time we were here.

Arrived at Warrawong on Darling at 2.15pm. The lady who greeted us was definitely not a backpacker. She was very pleasant and efficient and told us that she and her husband had been here for nine months as managers. But they only returned this morning from a week away, during which time the Sydney based owner of the place had arranged for a couple of backpackers to look after the place. So I was right! I gathered that their efforts had been less than satisfactory in tasks like cleaning! The grey nomads work ethic is better, just about every time…

The powered site cost us $37.50 a night, cash only – unusual these days. We were able to choose our own site, as only about four of the row along the bank were occupied. We chose Site 5, liking it both for its outlook and because there was only unpowered space on one side – which was not occupied during the time we were there.

Clear space between us and camp kitchen

There were changes from when we were here two years ago – as one would expect in a newly developing place. The area back from the “waterfront” sites was now grassed and well set up as powered sites, some quite close to the amenities. There was now a row of accommodation rooms, with a wide veranda across the front, and a big gas BBQ provided for every two units. They cost $120 a night.

Our view…

We set up, then took Couey for a run down along the billabong track.

The billabong at Warrawong on Darling

There were now some well defined tracks to bush camp areas on the banks of the Darling – very nice.

Ancient river red gum in the bush camping area

There were some sections on the black soils of the tracks where vehicles had really churned up deep holes.

Bush camps by the Darling River

Couey had a wonderful time going in and out of the billabong after thrown sticks. Finally, a romp in water! Her attitude towards going into the water had completely swung around since last time here. Now, try keeping her out! I think we had created a monster. Now, she smelled like a swamp.

There’s a dog in there…

John had a sleep. I went to happy hour at the fire pit and communal gathering area by the camp kitchen. Saw something I’d not seen before, in all our years of bush wanderings. They had put a steel dropper post in the middle of the fire pit. When building the fire, they drop a hollow log over it. When the fire gets going, the smoke is funnelled up the hollow log and does not bother those sitting around the fire. Brilliant! Someone said it was an old aboriginal method….but they didn’t exactly have steel posts?

Fire pit chimney

It was a very enjoyable happy hour – or two. Most campers came. The managers served up some savouries – cheese, biscuits, sausage sliced.

John eventually appeared. Around 6.30 I left to go cook rice and pork rashers for tea. It was dark by now. Couey had waited patiently, tethered to the front of Bus, while we socialized.

Watched Master Chef again – the TV signal here was fine, as was the internet and mobile.

Another cold night.

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2015 Travels July 19


The usual start to the day.

Late morning, we went to the Plaza shopping centre. John wanted to fill some scripts at the chemist and needed to do this in person, because it was not long since they were filled at home. He wanted to ensure he had a good supply before we headed further north. Of course, the chemist was closed.

I bought food for tonight’s tea as daughter was coming again. I had originally thought to make a chicken Caesar salad, but decided against that. It was too cold to eat outside on the larger table, and there is not enough room on the inside dinette table to put a platter of salad for diners to help themselves. Also, I would have to buy a platter for the purpose. All too hard. I bought strips of pork belly rashers instead, to make sticky pork ribs, a favourite of ours. Also bought some mince, to make us hamburgers tomorrow night, and a good bottle of Sauv Blanc.

I directed John to the hardware store – he couldn’t remember from last time – then it was back to Bus.

As he did yesterday, John went off to do repairs at daughter’s, and I stayed with dog at the park.

We walked around it twice, looking and the variety of rigs, and watching newcomers roll in. The park was close to full. It has a real variety of sites, some with a surface of loose wood chips, some gravel, some cement. Obviously, grass is not a viable option in a place as dry as this. Daughter had told us that the town’s drinking water supply was so low that it would run out later this year. She didn’t know what would happen then. After our first cup of chlorinated tea, at her place on Friday, I had gotten out our water filter jug and set it up in Bus. It took away some of the chlorine taste from the water, but it still wasn’t great.

Spacious, private site

John, accidentally but fortunately, had found out from daughter that she no longer eats pork. He phoned me immediately. Luckily I had the mince, and it was determined that, yes, she would eat spag bol. So, change of meal plan. John and I would be eating pork rashers for a couple of days, as I had no room for them in the freezebox.

I phoned Warrawong on Darling, our next planned destination and booked us in for a couple of nights. It would be R & R after the tensions of family relations. I wanted to make sure we had a prime site with a direct view over the billabong there. The person who answered sounded young and British and told me in an offhand way there was no need to book as she was sure there would be a site somewhere. This was not quite what I was after. My heart sank at the thought that this place might now be using backpackers to run it – in our experiences, unless firmly directed by a manager, they were often not associated with high standards. We had often been told in our working travels that this was why many places preferred grey nomads as seasonal workers.

John came back about 3.30pm – earlier than I’d expected. He was exhausted, as sometimes happens to him after not much effort at all. He needed to sleep. Daughter was going to an art exhibition of the 2014 Archibald Prize paintings, that was on in town, and wanted him to go with her. But he was too tired. I don’t think she really understands how limited his capacities are, these days.

John had his sleep. I cooked.

Daughter arrived a bit after 6pm. She was not happy and did not want to talk about anything, so John and I conversed around her. I offered yoghurt for dessert but she did not want any of that – or any wine. Fine – all the more for us. We were planning to watch Master Chef so daughter left straight away. She did not want to stay and watch the program with us, as she dislikes one of the judges. Can’t say it was a pleasant visit.

The TV program was enjoyable – and so was the bottle of wine: a quality above our usual cheaper standards.

Another really cold night.

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2015 Travels July 18


A grey-ish day today.

First thing, walked Couey to the far end of the park, where there was a rough area by the side fence, not used for camping. This was suitable for her morning “ablutions”. Cleaned that up, then we walked right around the park for exercise – then she got breakfast.

I left dog sleeping (hopefully) in Bus with John and drove to the Plaza shopping centre. At the newsagent, was pleasantly surprised to find they had the Saturday Age, as well as the Weekend Australian I’d expected. I did some food shopping, and bought John a roll for lunch.

John had surfaced when I got back. Dog complaining when I drove away may have had something to do with that. We read papers for a while, then he had his lunch and went off to do the odd jobs for daughter.

Couey and I stayed at Bus. I didn’t think she should be confined to the car for hours, at daughter’s.  I walked her around the park a couple of times, did some work on laptop, read some more of the papers, did some tea prep. Really enjoyed the pleasant afternoon by myself.

Broken Hill park

John arrived back about 4pm, having done most of the required jobs. He would have to go to a hardware store tomorrow, for glue to finish one repair task.

Daughter arrived on time at 6pm. I finished the dinner prep: potatoes cooked in foil in the electric frypan, scotch fillet steak with peppercorn sauce (from packet). Dessert was poached pears with custard. I’d bough a nice bottle of pinot gris to go with it all.

The woman ate then left, saying she was still not feeling well.

We watched football on TV, after doing the dishes and clearing up.

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2015 Travels July 17


It was another cool and cloudy day.

I was up at 8am and walked Couey along the river path again. On the way back, up a different track to the park, I noticed a sign pinned to a tree warning that rabbit bait had been laid in the area. I had never heard of the substance mentioned and there was no indication if it would be harmful to dogs. Couey had been free ranging along the path but I hadn’t seen her snaffling anything. Mind you, she could be very quick and furtive, because she knows I get cross with her for eating anything  apart from meals and treats provided by us. I think the dingo ancestry in cattle dogs makes opportunistic eating a hard trait to train out of them.

Left the park at 10.15. The manager had said, yesterday, to let him know when we were going, and he’d lift the “in” gate up for us to use, as the angle was much better for a rig our length. Such a helpful man. I didn’t really need to call in at the office to tell him – I had Couey on the lead and once she heard Bus start up, I think half of Mildura knew it was on the move – without her!

This was definitely our park of choice in Mildura, now.

The GPS tried to direct us to avoid going into town, by going west via Merbein. This was quite logical from where we were. But John wanted to stock up on citrus at the Orange World farm complex, so we drove back into Mildura, across the Murray and out through Buronga.

Stopped at Orange World, a few kms out of Buronga. As the plan was – I thought – to buy a bag of mandarins, I was OK with John going in alone and I would stay in Bus to alleviate dog dramas. He returned with a whole box of mandarins that he thought were a bargain for $15. But he’d also bought three jars of marmalade – orange, ruby grapefruit, and lime and ginger – that were $6 each, two jars of orange blossom honey (with an attached citrus peeler) that were $10 each, a $6 bag of lemons. He was given a free bag of oranges. Some of the produce would be gifted to his daughter in Broken Hill, but that was still a hell of a lot of citrus. Buying the lemons hurt – our tree at home was laden, but of course we couldn’t bring fruit into the quarantine area around Mildura.

Orange trees

I don’t bring jams away with us as John is a Type 2 diabetic. It appeared that I had been outflanked this time and marmalade was going to replace vegemite on his breakfast toast.

Passed the nearby Stanley Winery. It is absolutely huge – and expanding.

Part way to Wentworth, turned right at a T intersection. At this point, the Silver City Highway begins and this was where the GPS had wanted to bring us via the other side of the river.

Crossed the Darling River at Wentworth. The river was full. This rather surprised me, in view of the extended drought in the upper catchment regions.

We were soon into saltbush and sheep country.

Scrub country beyond the irrigated areas

Stopped at the Seven Trees Rest Area to switch to me driving. I hadn’t driven Bus for almost two years. It felt a bit strange at first. Of course, I received much ongoing instruction from the passenger! He preferred me to drive much more in the centre of the road, when there was no oncoming traffic, than I was comfortable with. He was just not used to seeing the fog line disappearing under the little side window in the footwell of the passenger’s side.

He soon fell asleep for a short time. Was much better when he was asleep….

I pulled into the Popiltah Rest Area, as we usually did on this route, for lunch and to give dog a run.

There were signs up warning to beware of the bees, and even a sign in the toilet to check under the seat for same!I won’t elaborate on the mental images that conjured up. As it was cold and windy, I think all the bees were tucked away cosily elsewhere – we didn’t see a one.

Because of the weather, we ate in Bus.

Saw the first of a number of triple trailer trucks going past, heading south, carrying dirt or ore of some kind. Found out later that there was a mineral salts extraction operation nearby.

Triple trailer road train

After we started off again, for several kms the picture on the GPS showed us driving through water. Supposedly, the road is in Coombah Lake. Along here, there was a series of lakes along the lower ground, Popiltah being one, filled occasionally when there are floods.

Came to a sign saying unfenced road – and the roadside fences disappeared for a while. At the same time, regular little heaps of white bones kept appearing beside the road.

We saw lots of goats beside the road, in small herds. Saw a set of small stockyards and thought they might be holding yards for goats. Increasingly, pastoralists in these parts are seeing goats – both feral and farmed – as an extra source of income. Saw some black faced sheep grazing near the road. A ewe was feeding twin lambs – one on either side of her, with their little tails waggling furiously.

Goats beside the road

Saw signs directing off to a gold exploration operation. I did not know that there was gold in the area to the south of Broken Hill.

Changed drivers again, as John was tiring. I was supposed to stop just south of Broken Hill, to change back and allow him to drive us through town. However, by then, there was a big truck following me very closely and I didn’t get a chance to pull off the road. I was quite happy driving us through town and out to the caravan park, anyway.

We went, as usual, to the Broken Hill Tourist Park ,arriving about 2.30pm. I had booked our stay here before we left home, asking for en-suite site 9, if it was possible. And that’s where they put us – great! It is a nice big site, with a fence on one side, so is a good area for Couey to be tethered. The park was very busy, as I had expected. Our site cost $42.50 a night, after discount.

After set up, John phoned his daughter. He was surprised to find she had finished work early and spent the afternoon at home. He thought this was because of our arrival and felt guilty for not making more of an effort to arrive earlier. Much apologizing. Next day, she let slip that it was because she had not been feeling well!

We had been looking forward all day to buying fish and chips for tea and maybe sharing same with daughter. But she told John she was on a diet and no longer eating take away foods. Hmmm….

Drove to her place, with Couey in the back of Terios. Upon arrival we were greeted with a statement that we couldn’t have the dog in the house or yard because it would upset her cats. She had given away the dog she had last time we were here, in 2013. So Couey spent a few hours in the car, apart from when I went out and took her for a walk around a couple of blocks. The blocks in that part of Broken Hill are huge and we walked a long way.

When we got back to the car, parked in the driveway, I was about to put Couey back in the car, when one of said cats came thought the side fence. It puffed itself up, hissed really loudly at Couey, and advanced on her. Couey jumped into the car in a big hurry. Who was going to upset who, I wondered?

We were going to return to Bus, buying fish and chips on the way for our tea, but daughter decided she would cook up some pasta. She warmed up a tin of tomatoes to go with it. I think the pasta was rather stale; the parmesan she put out was months past its use-by date. A token gesture, in all. She kept feeling her neck glands, so we left as soon as possible. Arranged she would come to Bus tomorrow, and I would cook steak. It pays to be specific, in advance.

Daughter mentioned several maintenance type things that needed doing round her house and it was arranged that John would go round there tomorrow at 1pm to tackle the work.

We were back at Bus at 7pm, local time. Watched football on TV.

It was a very cold night.

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2015 Travels July 16


We slept late – till 9am! It was so quiet.

Last night had not been as cold as I’d feared. A slight breeze got up and prevented ice from forming on the vehicles. But it was still bloody cold…

Before we left, I thanked Phil and praised the town’s work.

Fuelled at the local Caltex servo – $1.389cpl – then left town, heading for Mildura.

Around midday, we stopped at Lake Tyrrell Lookout, a bit north of Sea Lake. This was accessed down a short side road from the highway, and there was adequate room to turn the rig at the road’s end. There was a picnic area near the end of the road, but no facilities.

Plenty of turning room

The lake is Victoria’s largest salt lake, most often dry. Salt is harvested here. The lake looked as though there may have been some shallow water on the surface, but as is often the case with salt lakes, it was hard to tell from the distance.

Lake Tyrrell

Couey had fun running up and down the wooden ramps to the lookout platform, and around the base of the structure – doggy maze.

On the way again, we were passing through the wheat growing Mallee country of NW Victoria. There were vast paddocks and wheat at various stages of growth, from just a green tinge, to maybe a foot high.

Wheat paddocks

The ubiquitous silos that mark small towns in our rural areas, or even just denote railway sidings, were so typical of the region. Because of the flatness of the area, they can be seen from far away, and mark the next point of possible interest along the flat, straight roads.

Grain silos in the distance

On some roadside areas there were stands of mallee gums, decked out in creamy flowers.

We passed a surprising number of vans and rigs heading south on the Calder. At this time of year, I’d have thought the preferred destinations were north. Late returnees from school holidays?

Stopped at the rest area at Ouyen to eat the sandwiches I’d made this morning.

There seemed to now be some campground type power posts there – maybe it is now a free or cheap camp area? More and more little towns are recognizing the value of attracting travellers – even on an overnight stay, money is spent in the town. A vanner pulled in after us and asked if it was a free camp area – we didn’t know. I did notice a motorhome parked across the other side of the adjacent oval though. There was a small caravan park next door to the rest area, so maybe it is not very politic to have a free camp area next door?

After Ouyen, travelled through some of the Hattah Kulkyne National Park – mallee scrub country. Some years ago, when staying at Mildura, we would drive down into this park on day trips. One memorable picnic lunch was by a small, drying lake ringed with dead fish, where we had to battle with white winged choughs for our sandwiches.

Fuelled up at the Uniting servo on the approach to Mildura – good access here for our rig. $1.347cpl.

I had pre-booked us into an en-suite site at the Golden River Caravan Park. Was almost 3pm when we arrived. The wonderful, helpful man who checked us in said that we could angle the rig across two en-suite sites so we could stay hitched up – and he wouldn’t book out the second site. Cost us $36 after discount. The bathroom was clean and quite adequate.

Did a minimal set up, then took Couey for a walk. One reason for choosing this park was its location right beside the Murray River. The river levee was at the rear of the park, so there was only a short track from the park edge to the riverside walking track.

Murray River

Dog could free range as we walked along the track. It was obvious that, as usual, what she really wanted was to try getting into the river, but we managed to keep calling her back.

Riverside walking path

The walk was really pleasant. We did not go too far, then retraced our steps.

Late afternoon by the Murray

The river seemed to be at a fairly high level. Of course, in this irrigation area, levels are artificially maintained by weirs.

After all that exercise, sat out in the sun and had a beer. Sun! Any warmth from it was more illusion than reality, but it felt good. Palm trees growing around the pool area helped the warmth impression along.

Golden River park

We would definitely return to this park. Loved that it was by the river and away from the traffic noise of the parks in the town.

For tea, John had a chicken maryland and some coleslaw – all left over from last night. I had a cup of soup from a packet, and a salad.

Watched Master Chef on TV. I had been finding the current series of interest again, after “going off” the program for a while.

It was another cold night, but at least we’d had a fine day.


2015 Travels July 15


Early start today, getting up around 7am. John was surprised that I willingly did so, and even beat him into the shower. Definitely keen to go…

Had a very calm final packing, and hitch up of car to Bus, out in the street. This was mainly because we left dog in the house until all was done. Then I went and collected her, and locked up. By now, Couey was so anxious not to be left behind that she bolted into the Bus. Score one to me!

So it was a 9.15am departure. Just about a record for us, in recent years at least. The day was grey, damp, cloudy, cold. Normal Melbourne in July. Later, we had occasional small patches of blue sky.

Had the customary stop in Yea at the old station rest area.

Rest area made around old railway station at Yea

It was too early for bakery food, so we did not need to park near there. Gave Couey a bit of a run on the open, grassy area of the old rail line area.

Great for a dog run

Just after we got going again, and turned onto the Seymour road, John realized his dash cam wasn’t working, so pulled into a parking space at the kerb to re-set it. We were all set to move on again, when a works truck pulled up beside us, blocking us from being able to drive away.

Blocked in…

Two men got out and began removing temporary signs from nearby poles. It was obvious we were about to move – the engine was going – but they took no notice. Eventually, after several minutes, one got in and moved their truck just far enough forward for us to be able to get out. John opened his window and said to the nearest man “Did you enjoy that?” He got a grin in return.

Why not park there in the first place?

A routine run, after that, to Heathcote, where we stopped for a toilet break – for all three of us! There is usually plenty of parking down the side street, next to the park and oval – good place for dogs!

Stopped at Heathcote for a break

I went to the well-known bakery and bought us both coffees, and a scroll for John, who’d asked for “a cake”. Don’t think the scroll was the sinful, cream-filled confection he’d had in mind, judging by the look on his face when he opened the bag.

Near Axedale, could see glimpses of the waters of Lake Eppalock, to the south. This was a novelty worthy of comment. The drought years were still so recent that we were not used to seeing water there.

Trusted the GPS to guide us through Bendigo on the truck route, to the Calder Highway. There was some traffic, and a few sets of lights on this route, but it was not too bad. I’d earlier had a text from daughter to be careful, as there had been black ice in town and several resulting traffic bingles, but the ice had melted by the time we were going through.

We were not stopping in Bendigo, as we’d just had grandson staying in the school holidays and had seen daughter then.

Once clear of Bendigo and able to see whether John was OK to continue, I phoned the hotel at Charlton to book us a place at the Travellers Rest there. Was told they no longer handled bookings as there was an on site manager and they gave me his number. I then played phone tag with Phil, and we were almost to Charlton before I managed to confirm a spot for us.

We reached there at 2.15pm and after minimal set up, ate the sandwiches I’d made this morning for our lunch.

Our en-suite, with power, at the Travellers Rest, cost $28. It was better than a lot of caravan parks we have stayed at.

Travellers Rest Camp Area Charlton

We had a patch of grass between Bus and the en-suite. There were two buildings with four of the parking bays and en-suites each. One lines up in marked spots on the asphalt. The bathroom was spotless. There was a large glass door on the shower. There were heaters as part of the light fitting. Even the toilet paper was good quality.

We could tether Couey to the Bus bull bar, with room for her to move about, and walk her across the nearby footbridge over the Avoca River, to an area where she could free range.

Footbridge over the Avoca River

All very good. The community was to be congratulated for the work they had done on establishing this facility.

Across the footbridge, there was a fairly basic caravan park and this and the Travellers Rest were now run together.

Much had been done to make the area attractive to travellers, with landscaping and a kitchen herb garden.

Kitchen herb garden

There was a free camping area at the back, and cheaper powered sites at the caravan park.

There were some lovely old river red gums lining the small river. We read on a signboard that there were plans to make a walking path along the river, to a weir. That would be an added attraction.

The manager was pleasant and helpful. He gave us a booklet – think he’d had a hand in its preparation – about things there were to do in the area. Obviously making the most of what there is. We decided that, next time coming through this way, we would stay a few days and explore the area. Having the manager in his office in the daytime would mean that the parked rig would be secure while we travelled out and about.

In between rain squalls, we gave dog a walk and run. She was obviously very tempted by the river and plotting a way to catch us off guard, but we headed that off.

Ventured to the main street and walked up and down it. Some interesting older buildings, including the theatre, which had an art deco air about it.

Old Charlton…

By nightfall, there were only four other rigs at the Travellers Rest – two caravans, two camper trailers.

Tea was the usual cold chicken marylands, that I’d cooked at home, and coleslaw.

We watched a little TV, then turned in.

The rain clouds cleared to make for a really cold night.

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2015 Travels July 14


Back in Lightning Ridge, in May, we’d seen the promo material for the annual Opal Fest, in late July, decided we’d return for this and stay a couple of weeks. Apart from the Fest, there was the draw of better weather than at home, and being in a place we really enjoy. I had managed to get us a booking into our preferred site at the caravan park.

Bus was serviced, cleaned and ready.

John made a type of box step, to make getting into Bus easier for us both. It was a big step up from the “landing” area to the main floor level. John’s creation was shaped so the bi-fold door would still close while it was in place.

Clever step creation…

Of course, medical matters required ongoing attention. The improved healing of the leg ulcers that really got happening on our last trip, had continued, so there was no issue with going away again. I hoped to come home completely healed! Doctor was still making adjustments to my blood pressure medications, and was not completely happy about the interval there would be between her checks, but I promised to take twice daily measurements myself. I had stocked up on all the dressing stuff needed for leg.

John did not get off so well. He was booked in again, in September, for surgery to remove some more skin cancers.

The dog went for her twice-yearly bath at the Animal Aid Centre, a couple of days ago. For a brief period, she will not smell so doggy! Of course, she resisted the process, which took two people to manage. If she liked baths, I wouldn’t have to pay to have it done….

Now, all except the last-minute stuff was packed and we were ready to go.

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2015 Travels June 30


Not long after we returned from the last trip, Bus went off to Toyota for a little pampering. All the essential bits were checked, fluids changed and the like. The manual that came with Bus had a service history for its warranty period, but after that there was not history recorded. So I thought it was important that we try to always have work done at the same place, so they build up knowledge and history of the vehicle, Plus, to date, we had been satisfied with their work,

One thing that they picked up on, but could not “fix”, was that they were unable to loosen off the front wheel nuts, to remove those wheels for checking. The tools they had made no impact, and they were reluctant to try to exert too much force, in case they sheared off a stud.

When the mechanic told us this – and gave us a demonstration of no movement – John and I both had the same thought, involving what might have happened if we’d had a flat on the front, out on the road somewhere. If a full scale Toyota Sevice Centre didn’t have the tools that would work, what hope would a Roadside Assist person have?

On the way home from Toyota, John called in at a truck tyre place, and they were able to shift the nuts – undid them and then re-tightened them. Fine! Next day, John planned to undo them again, apply some WD40 (Basic Principle #1 – if it does not move, and it should, apply WD40). Then he would re-tighten same. But – the immovable objects were immovable again.

So, before this next trip, he would have to take Bus back to the truck tyre centre and get it all sorted.

One useful thing we did find out from the man at Toyota was that the front wheel nuts undo in different directions. One side of Bus is clockwise, the other is the other way. We planned to write this information on the back of the driver’s sun visor – along with the Bus height measurements and tyre pressures already written there. Handy reference point…

John replaced a broken cupboard door latch in Bus, and we tucked away a couple of spares.

Bus was washed. I used to regard John’s pressure washer as a “boy’s toy” but it sure came in handy when there was an acre of bus to wash! Grandson, visiting for the school holidays, also came in handy for helping to clean.

John using pressure washer to clean Bus roof

The inside was thoroughly vacced and washed. Beds were all made up with clean bedding. Even the dog’s bedding was washed.

John bought a couple of rubber floor mats for in front of the driver’s and passenger’s seats – to help protect the carpeted floors ,and also because they are easier to remove and clean. He also bought a mat that I can store in Terios which can be used as an outside doormat for Bus. We used to have a couple of these with the van, but must have included them in its sale. Most of the time, with a cement slab, or with our annexe matting, a doormat was not needed. But we had noticed, on this last trip, when we were overnighting in places where there was neither, we tracked a lot of dirt and leaves into Bus. Doormat needed…

I guess we will eventually get the rig exactly right?