This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels September 28


We had another early wake up visit from grandson, and a snuggle session in bed. Mornings here were cold, so even the young chap was content to keep warm under the doona.

The idea of building that wood fired pizza oven in our yard had been quietly simmering away in John’s mind, ever since Tennant Creek – or earlier. A more urgent domestic undertaking was the renovation of our swimming pool, that had been a well visited duck pond since 1998, when we naively entrusted its upkeep to son, while we went travelling. It had become very green! Grandchildren would certainly appreciate being able to actually swim in it.

Visiting duck had left us an egg!

So – John was thinking of combining swimming pool reclamation, with re-laying the slate pool surround, with building his oven. Why not undertake three projects at once?

To that end, we took grandson to visit a Bendigo place that had a massive display of different types of pavers and stone wall materials. We found some retaining wall blocks and capping stones for same, that would be ideal for renovated garden bed walls around the pool area.

Grandson was surprisingly interested in the stone displays. He probably had never seen anything like this before! Some proved to be just the right height for grandson sitting, whilst grandad browsed. A bit low and undignified for grandma though.

As a reward, and because this could be a possible future project too, we also visited the nearby cubby house factory. That was a big hit!

Met up with the boy’s mother, in the town centre, for lunch.

Then it was back to base, for afternoon naps for the two males.

Fish and chips all round, for tea.

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2007 Travels September 27


Grandson was knocking on the van door at 7.30am. He’d been up, had his breakfast, and mum was about to leave for work, so it was over to us. The boy was happy to snuggle up in bed with us for a little while, but then we had to stir ourselves to face the day.

I had forgotten how much energy it takes to keep up with an active and enthusiastic four-year-old! We had to come up with some ideas to keep him busy and interested – and that we could cope with.

Grandson just loved travelling around in the “Grandad’s Truck”. I guess to someone his size it looked huge! For the two someones of our size, it was an intellectual challenge to fit the boy’s car seat into Truck. I could not believe how much of a hassle it was. When my kids were little, one did not need an advanced qualification in engineering to take them to the shops!

We visited a shopping centre and walked around for a while looking at shops. The boy and Grandad scored icecreams each. We tried a visit to the Art Gallery – thought we might introduce some different aesthetics into his life, since he was an enthusiastic generator of art works that graced our fridge, my study walls and his fridge at home. But it was not really his thing – fair enough.

The walk in Rosalind Park, and the climb up to the top of the big poppet head tower, was much more to his liking. We valiantly battled up the several flights of steps – that thing is high! I appreciated the views over the city, but all grandson was interested in, was going back down again! We probably could have amused him by repeated trips up and down the Tower, but we were not up to it, although I am sure he would have been.

The playground at Lake Weeroona was definitely to his liking – and ours, because all we had to do was watch him – one at a time, whilst the other sat it out……

Fortunately, the afternoon nap still happened for the four year old. Grandad needed one too!

Throughout the trip, I had regularly dispatched postcards to the boy. After his nap, out came the collection, all faithfully kept, and we had to tell him the story of each one, and read them to him afresh. Obviously it had been worth making the effort to send them.

I, for one, was very happy to welcome his mum home from work, and hand over duty to her!

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2007 Travels September 26


The early morning light on the Murray River was interesting.

After all the horrendous driving stages of the time just gone, done to fit in with the TV football schedule, we now found ourselves with a few days to spare before our house sitters’ time was due to end, and they would expect us home, on 30th.

John could think of nothing he wanted to do, to fill in the time, except he was adamant that it should not involve National Parks or walking! We had previously spent time in the Riverland and around Mildura. So we decided to go on to Bendigo and visit with daughter and family there. At least we would be able to give grandson a couple of days’ break from child care – and John would have some enthusiastic company – and a good TV picture – for watching the AFL Grand Final on Saturday!

So, it was on through to Mildura and down the Calder Highway, to Bendigo.

Refuelled at Red Cliffs – $1.38cpl and again on the outskirts of Bendigo – $1.25cpl.

We parked the rig in daughter’s driveway. With some trepidation, due to its slope. The wheel chocks were reinforced with stacks of bricks, before van was detached from Truck!

No more caravan park fees for this trip!

Grandson was thrilled to see us, when he and his mum arrived home. She had not told him we were coming, so it was a great surprise for him.

Bendigo was cold, after the places we had been! I had to burrow under the bed and drag out the little fan heater from storage, to warm the van up in the evening.

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2007 Travels April 30


After the usual flurry of last minute organizing and packing, we managed to leave home about 12.20pm. I might add that the usual last-minute flurry was not mine!

Our house sitters considerately kept out of our way while the last bursts of packing were done. We had done the “handover” yesterday, after their arrival. I had every confidence in this couple, T and A, who had been full time housesitters for several years, and who were solidly booked up a couple of years in advance.

It was really convenient to have sufficient rooms in the house for them to have their own area, whilst here. However, we did have to evict M for last night, as they would be occupying “her” bedroom, with its double bed. She slept in her Troopy, parked up on the lawn area in front of the house – getting into practice again, she said.

I’d thought, over the last couple of days, as I was packing the van, that the fridge was not working properly, that it was running too much. Perhaps the thermostat needed replacing again? John found and phoned someone who could supply a thermostat; it would be mailed to us c/o Broken Hill Post Office.

Part of the setting out ritual, every day that we were towing the van, was to check that all the exterior lights were working. This could really only be done after Truck and van were connected up and manoeuvred out onto the flat ground of the road in front. This time, they weren’t! Naturally. We did not have too many trips where there was not some setting-out drama.

John’s investigation showed that there was no globe where there should have been one, in the tail light of the Truck. And this after last week’s service by a proper Land Rover dealer! It really filled us with confidence that the vehicle had been properly prepared for the remote areas to come – NOT! In theory, having Truck serviced by accredited Land Rover dealers should provide us with confidence that tradesmen who know what they are doing, work on our vehicle. Over the years, we had received some great service from various interstate service centres, but the ones in Melbourne had proved distinctly lacking, unfortunately. And we had tried most of them, at some stage.

John was able to put in a globe, from the stock of spare fuses and globes he carried, so we were not too delayed. Even that did not work at first, but he applied RP40, liberally to the area, and that fixed it.

Through all this mini drama, M waited patiently with her Troopy, parked a bit further up the street.  

We stopped for lunch at Yarra Glen, parking up a side road from the main street, and walking to an excellent bakery.

After that, it was the usual run to Bendigo. Up and over the Range and down to Yea, then the picturesque but winding stretch to Seymour – where we inevitably finished up with a tailback of several vehicles behind us, but with nowhere to pull over and let them past. Minor road to Tooborac and then good highway for the last stretch, through Heathcote to Bendigo.

The roadside gum trees were looking really stressed, much more sparsely foliaged than normal. The effects of the last few drought years were really showing up.

I navigated us across town, to daughter’s. Over the years of visiting here, I’d come to know a route that avoided the centre of the city, with its heavier traffic, trams and traffic lights. But it was a route one needed to know, rather than a signposted one, so I just hoped that M was able to keep us in sight. Back in the gold rush years of the later 1800’s, Bendigo had developed in a somewhat ad hoc manner, dictated by the locations of reefs and mines, which now meant roads at strange angles and an illogical layout.

We set up in daughter’s driveway. Backed Truck and van down the slope, as close to the back yard fence and gates as we could get – and heavily chocked behind the van wheels! M was then able – just – to fit the Troopy in front of us. Staying hitched up meant that we had to put up with sleeping in a van that was distinctly higher in front than at the back – and we had a crossways bed! At least M had her head pointing uphill.

This driveway is a lot steeper than it apppears in the photo!

We enjoyed a pleasant evening with the family – dinner and lots of chat. I collected early Mothers Day gifts. Grandson was, of course, pleased to see us again, even though it was less than two weeks since we’d hosted a family get together for daughter’s 35th birthday. We talked with him about the trip we were doing, explained why we wouldn’t be seeing him for five months, and promised him lots of postcards from interesting places. He had – with some discreet help – kept a collection of every postcard we had sent him, to date. He went through it, very proudly, with us.

It was a chilly night – got down to about 7 degrees. Well, this was what I’d longed for, a few months ago!

In my occasional wakeful periods through the night, decided the fridge was definitely running too much, given the chill of the environment. What a pest.

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2006 Travels December 12


An early start!

Grandson came knocking on the van door just after 7am. I think he was very pleased to find we were actually still in residence, so he had some cuddle time in bed with us.

Getting his car seat set up in Truck involved rearranging some of the contents, and was a fiddly procedure. Hadn’t thought of that when we offered to take him out for the day!

But the boy was really excited to be spending the day with us, so the hassle was worthwhile. Then we had to work out what we could do with him. How did one amuse a three year old for a full day?

It was a hot day – by Victorian standards.

We went to the Art Gallery – more from our own curiosity, but we thought he might find some interest there. Whilst the Gallery seemed to have much that would interest us, it was not really the right place for a three year old, so we did not stay long.

Walked around the parklands behind the Gallery for a while. He could run about there and play hide and seek with us. Then we were persuaded to take him up the big tower that was the poppet head lookout. This gave us great views out across the city and was worth the effort to get up the stairs. I discovered that I still hate heights!

Then it was back into Truck and to the playground at Lake Weeroona, just north of the city centre. The boy tired himself out some more on the equipment. We were persuaded to walk to the cafe at one end of the lake and buy him an icy pole. By the time he had finished that, we needed to take him back home for lunch and an afternoon sleep. The rest was probably appreciated more by us than him – Grandad John had an excellent nap!

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He played with his toys after his sleep. We sat in the wonderful air conditioned cool and read until daughter got home from work.

Had tea with the family again. Much talk and tales of our adventures this year.

It was a really enjoyable – but tiring – day. Little kids are hard work!

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2006 Travels December 11


We had an unhurried start to the day and a relaxed drive to Bendigo.

Refuelled at Ouyen – $1.29cpl – and had a morning tea break at the rest area there.

It was mid afternoon when we backed the rig into the driveway at daughter’s place, and unhitched Truck and van – after carefully putting big chocks behind the van wheels. Their driveway slopes down quite markedly. This was the first time we had been game enough to unhitch the van on this slope. Not because of concern for the van – we were confident that the chocks and handbrake would hold it – but because linking up the van and Truck, with the Treg hitch, on any slope, had proved problematic in the past. I told myself I would worry about that later!

We drove to shops at Kangaroo Flat, for some oddments – nibbles, papers and the like, and some wine.

Enjoyed the late afternoon and evening with the family and grandson – now nearly 4 years old. He seemed thrilled and excited to see us again. I had sent him postcards when I could, to remind him of our existence, but these had, of necessity, been infrequent since September. It was arranged that the boy could have the day off from child care tomorrow, and we would look after him.

In a week, we had driven some 4,300kms.

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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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