This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


Leave a comment

2015 Travels May 31

SUNDAY MAY 31     BENDIGO TO HOME     230kms

After the usual morning routine and pack up, we left the park at 9.55am. It had rained during the night and now the sky to the south looked quite threatening.

Leaving Bendigo in lousy weather

The GPS directed us onto the OD route through the outskirts of Bendigo to the Heathcote road. All very easy – a benefit of having a truck system. “She” wanted to keep us on the route to the Calder Highway, though, but eventually re-adjusted as we tootled off to Heathcote.

The way home from Bendigo, through Heathcote, Tooborac, Seymour and Yea was a very familiar one. Not boring, but routine. About the only unusual event was sighting a live, rather than the usual dead, wombat by the side of the road.

Again, the GPS had some difficulties with our route choices. After Heathcote, she wanted us to continue down the McIvor Highway towards Melbourne. Then, at Seymour, she thought we should take the Hume towards the city. I could almost hear her grumbling to herself after about the twentieth “do a U turn…”

Just beyond Seymour, came up behind a line of several vehicles following a fairly large caravan. The tail back built …and built. A few cars took some risks to pass him – this stretch of road is fairly hilly and winding. There were several places where he could have slowed down and pulled over to let followers through, but was not considerate enough to do so. Eventually, just before Yea, he turned off onto a side road to somewhere else.

We followed this rig…and followed…and followed

We stopped for lunch in Yea. That town has a very wide grassed area between the road lanes, with picnic tables on. It had become our practice for one of us to wait there with dog while the other goes and buys their food from the excellent bakery, then to swap over. I love their freshly made cheese and salad rolls! I bought a vanilla slice and a beesting, to be tonight’s dessert.A final trip indulgence…

Today’s lunch was somewhat livened up by a carriage pulled by two grey horses, going up and down the road. Dog was interested but happy to be so at a distance. Showed no signs of wanting to go and investigate those large critters any closer up. Wish I could have said the same thing about the fountain, near where we had parked Bus. She was so strong when there was a water goal in mind. I could see one of us, one day, actually ending up in the fountain pool with a very happy dog.

After Yea, the rain was steady, as we traversed the Great Dividing Range.

The hills of home…

Reached home at 1.30pm.

Unpacking these days was fairly easy, as so much was permanently left in Bus. By late afternoon all was done and the washing was happening. Couey was rediscovering her toys and spreading them out all over the house. John was back on his big-screen computer.

It had been good to be travelling again, and using Bus, rather than leaving it sit there.

Before we’d left, I had wondered how well I would cope with the two leg wounds. Changing the dressings every couple of days had been a chore, and was done in less than hygienic conditions – dog hair anyone? But it was very clear by the end of the trip that there had been really significant improvement and progress. I was surprised by this, but very pleased. The scales at home also showed that I had lost several kgs of weight…good stuff, this travel.

TRIP STATISTICS

Nights away: 33

Kms travelled: 3017 kms

Fuel cost: $635.28

Accommodation cost: $1320.60

Savings through discounts: $90.40

Dearest accommodation (after discounts): Eaglehawk Holiday Park Sutton $43 pn

Cheapest accommodation: Gilgandra Caravan Park $29.70


Leave a comment

2015 Travels May 30

SATURDAY MAY 30     BENDIGO

Couey and I did an early morning walk around the park. I tied her up outside the office and went in to collect the Saturday papers previously ordered. Pleased to have The Age again.

Tucked in amongst the cabins at Epsom

We had to be organized and out, in order to watch grandson play football – Under 12’s – at 10.30. Earlier than normal start for John!

Successfully negotiated the busy Saturday morning traffic and found the ground. Daughter had managed to “save” us a space to park the car nose in to the perimeter rail of the ground, so we could watch the match in comfort. On this really cold morning, that was appreciated.

It was only grandson’s sixth game of footy, but he seemed to do alright. At least, I knew more about this sport! He was also training to become a boundary umpire. Busy fellow and daughter had a hectic schedule getting him to various trainings, plus watching his games. What goes around….I reminded her of the demands on my time that her years of horse riding and Pony Club had made. Summer gives her some respite, to date anyway, though he is interested in cricket…

After the game, took ourselves back to Bus for lunch and to read the papers. I took Couey for a decent walk around the park and gave her some ball chasing out on the street.

Pleasant grassed caravan sites…

Mid-afternoon, went to daughter’s place and relaxed there with her and the two children – the younger one was three now.

Eventually, daughter’s partner came home from netball, and her mother came to visit with us too. Daughter served us all a lovely corned beef dinner.

Eventually made our way back to Bus. Couey had spent our visiting time tucked up snugly in the car, apart from a brief leg stretch and her dinner, which I’d taken with us.

The night was really cold. Luckily the silver window shields insulate Bus fairly well and it did not take long for the little fan heater to warm the inside up.

It was our last night – for a few weeks at least – of sleeping on the narrow, but comfortable enough, Bus beds. I confess to looking forward to my home bed where I could actually spread out a bit.


Leave a comment

2015 Travels May 29

FRIDAY MAY 29     SHEPPARTON TO BENDIGO     122kms

I was up before John and took dog walking around the park, on a sunny but cool morning. Some cloud about.

Our outlook at Victoria Lake Caravan Park

It was 10.30 before we left.

The reed-choked lake

Were somewhat delayed by talking with the neighbours in van parked behind our site. They had a red stumpy tail cattle dog travelling with them. It is so rare to find someone who even knows about the breed, let alone who has one with them. In fact, this was the first stumpy we had encountered whilst travelling. She was also timid about new things, like ours. She did not want to do a doggy meet and greet with Couey – growled at her – but was really sweet with us.

Our Lake Victoria site

Refuelled at the servo right by the park entrance – so easy. $1.309cpl.

We had a very routine trip, through the flat country of central Victoria, through Stanhope and Elmore, to Bendigo. No stops along the way.

Went into the Gold Nugget Tourist Park, at Epsom, on the northern side of the city. We had not stayed here before, but the two parks we had previously used were no longer taking dogs, so they had lost our custom. Yesterday, I had phoned the park at Ascot that we had really liked two years ago. The lady who answered the phone was most apologetic but said there had been a change of management and hence a change of attitude to dogs. By contrast, Gold Nugget was most welcoming.

Our en-suite site cost $40.50 a night, after discount. We had to unhitch before backing on to the site. The location of the en-suite sites had us rather isolated from the main part of the campground, in amongst cabins. The ordinary powered site part of the park was quite attractive. Our en-suite was adequate.

Our site at Golden Nugget Epsom

We were able to access an area of dead-end road, beside the park, to give Couey a bit of a run after the ball. Otherwise, I enjoyed walking with her on the internal roads of the park.

After setting up, drove to a nearby small shopping centre (Epsom?) where there was a Woolworths supermarket and other shops. Needed milk, bread, fruit. We bought an iced fruit loaf and had that back at the bus, for lunch. John collected a card from the fish and chip shop at the centre, so we could order tea tonight.

Grandson was playing hockey at 5.30pm. Set the GPS and I double-checked the navigation on a paper map, and we found our way to the hockey centre in the near dark.

There was a very strong smell of burning rubber in the car, as we’d previously noticed in Canberra. We were quite concerned. The wheels did not feel hot to the touch, though. I wondered whether the handbrake adjustment that was done in the last service was “catching” somehow?

Left Couey in the car while we watched the hockey – for obvious reasons. A ball is a ball, after all, and meant for serious chasing when sighted.

It was good to finally get to see the grandson play hockey. Another game I know little about, but apparently he did some good things. His team won. The boy was growing up so quickly – twelve years old now – getting taller and filing out. I think he was pleased that we finally got to see him perform. And, of course, we spent some time with daughter.

It was bloody cold, standing around watching the game!

After the hockey, went back to Bus. Phoned and ordered our fish and chips – there was a forty minute wait! Food must be good if shop is that busy? John drove to pick up our order. The fish was excellent, so were the ships, but serves were generous and we had ordered far too much.

Watched the football match that was on TV.


Leave a comment

2013 Travels June 26

WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE     BENDIGO TO GOL GOL     438kms

We slept surprisingly late in the morning – it was 8.30 when I woke up. The beds, though narrow, were now quite comfortable, with their memory foam base.

Couey seemed to have decided that her night time bed would be the front passenger seat. I was pleased – and surprised – that she’d made no attempt to disturb us until we woke ourselves up.

It had been a cold night. There was frost on Bus and Terios when I got up, but inside Bus had been quite snug. It must be well insulated  although the large areas of glass windows would always be a source of cold or heat. That’s one drawback of this style of motorhome.

It was a frosty night.

Packing up went smoothly. The hitching up of Terios to Bus was easy. On the level ground there were no problems at all. We got away at 10.30. I was pleased with this caravan park and the fact they were very welcoming of dogs. We said we’d use it on future Bendigo visits. (Unfortunately, by the time we returned to town, their policy had changed to a “no dog” one.)

I had consulted my trusty paper maps and was able to direct us on a route that circled around the busy centre of town, to the Calder Highway. It was an easy way to go.

The first 100 – 150kms or so, today, seemed to take us ages. The collation of pills that John now had to take caused him to require several “comfort stops” in the mornings. We no sooner got going than he needed to stop again, it seemed. And each time we did so, the dog set up her barking act, until we were mobile again.

Had a morning tea break at a very pleasant park in the centre of Wedderburn where there was parking, toilets, tables and seats. Worth remembering that one.

We ate fruit for lunch, as we went along.

Refuelled at Wycheproof. $1.489cpl. I calculated we got 5.3kms per litre, so towing the Terios has obviously had some impact on  Bus fuel consumption.

At Sea Lake we swapped drivers and I drove to Ouyen, where we had a break in the excellent rest area there.

Reached Gol Gol at 4.30pm, having had to negotiate quite a bit of traffic through the centre of Mildura.

I’d phoned ahead this morning to book a site at the Rivergardens caravan park, asking if it was possible to be put on the same one as we’d had on our shakedown trip last year. It was not available, but the man said he’d put us on a similarly good site. He didn’t – basically because there wasn’t another like it. We were on the far side of the park, on the end of a row, so there were vehicles coming past regularly, and  Couey had to go on a really short rope. It was a small site and we had to park Terios on the road in front of the bus. The en-suite was small, with a funny little corner shower. It cost $34.20 a night, after discount.

At least there was no one on the site behind!

So neither of us was particularly impressed with the park, this time, and we said we’d suss out alternatives for the next visit.

Setting up was quick and easy, except we couldn’t remember how to put out the awning. There was some trial and error and it may not have been totally right.

I hoped we wouldn’t have too many long driving days like this one. I was really over those times.

John took Couey across the park for a ball chase along the road verge on the other side of the road.

Neither of us was very hungry after the day spent just sitting, so tea was light: soup, followed by a toastie for John and biscuits and cheese for me.

Watched TV coverage of the unexpected ALP leadership challenge and Rudd’s win. A significant event, clearly showing desperation at the prospect of an electoral wipe out. I thought the question now was to what extent Rudd would be able to lessen the scale of the loss. I didn’t think there was any way the ALP would win, Rudd or not. Unfortunately, some talented people had been lost in the turmoil of the internal factional upheavals. I wondered if the proposed election date would now be changed, and thus my plans to work in it be affected?

Yesterday, I’d developed a really sore arm, possibly from some heavy lifting when loading some of John’s stuff into Bus the day before. Maybe from gardening? Now a dark bruise had developed up along the central vein area, as if a blood vessel had burst. Strange, and it was still painful, though not quite as bad as yesterday.


Leave a comment

2013 Travels June 25

TUESDAY 25 JUNE     HOME TO BENDIGO     202kms

Departure day. Was it actually going to happen?

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.

Lions Park Seymour

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.

Easy parking at Lions Park Seymour

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 rig parked up for the night in Bendigo

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.


Leave a comment

2012 Travels August 15

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.

Destined to be a storage space….

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.

Tittybong

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.

Downstream outlook from our site at Swan Hill

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.


Leave a comment

2012 Travels August 14

TUESDAY 14 AUGUST     BENDIGO

I’d actually slept better than I thought I would. John seemed to have little trouble sleeping in!

I was up first, and walked dog around the park a couple of times, then brought her back for her breakfast.

It rained on and off through the day, and was quite cold. In such circumstances, the extra space of the Bus was appreciated.

John walked to some shops, which were about 1.5kms away, to buy some TV aerial cabling. He’d brought some with us, but couldn’t find it! I said there was ample storage room in Bus…… He took the phone and called me to say he’d got there alright. I asked him to also buy a bottle of wine for tonight, not realising that meant he had to walk an extra km or so. He came back with five bottles – a special deal at the bottle shop, which had seemed great – until he had to carry them back!

I had a thought while he was gone. The various switches and controls on the electrical control panel were still mostly a mystery – trial and error there. But I wondered if the TV would work if I turned on the TV/stereo 12 volt switch? Suggested it to John, he did, and it worked. He was very happy. Seemed obvious, with hindsight.

So complex……..I never did find out what the Transformer was or did…..

We gave dog a couple more lots of park circuits during the day, in between showers. The big bull bar on front of Bus made  a great dog tethering point. She was quite happy to be out there, with her camp bed, as long as one of us was sitting outside under the awning. If we were inside, then that was the place to be! She discovered she could sit in my front seat and watch the world go by out the front and side windows. I made a note to find something like an old beach towel, back at home, to cover my seat for dog’s daytime use.

I was still have to change dressings on the sore area of leg, where petrol had splashed the previously ulcerated skin. It had, briefly, appeared healed over, but then became weepy again. When I took off the dressing today, it looked OK.

Daughter and the two grandsons came after she finished work, daughter’s partner a bit later, and her mother arrived about 7.15 – after we’d finished tea and adjourned to Bus.

The BBQ tea was good, but it was too chilly to linger outside, even in the very nice BBQ area of the park. I provided sausages and burgers, daughter brought chicken skewers and a packet of coleslaw. We had onion, pineapple, beetroot, rolls, eggs, bacon – a feast.

We sat inside Bus, had tea and coffee and wine, and talked. Another great benefit of Bus over van was room for visitors to be inside – our two beds could act as lounges that held two or three people each. Everyone admired the Bus. Daughter’s partner also said how much she liked the blanket I’d made for the baby.

They all left about 8.30 – school  and work tomorrow for them. After we did the dishes, watched some TV – an excellent picture. Bus not quite as convenient for TV watching for me, though. John had set the TV up on the bench between our beds, which meant that my back was to it when sitting at the dinette, so I had to swivel around and sit sideways on the seat, to watch. Some sort of back padding then required.

We went fairly early to bed. I tried sleeping with my head towards front of bus – much better, less squashed in. It was a cold night but we were quite cosy and warm. Dog decided to sleep on the floor between our beds, where I had put a small floor mat to protect our feet from cold lino in the mornings.


Leave a comment

2012 Travels August 13

MONDAY 13 AUGUST     HOME TO BENDIGO     238kms

We got away from home mid-morning – an improvement on our last departure. I did a fast, last minute shop at the local IGA – for a newspaper and something for tonight’s tea.

There was rather a gusty wind blowing, which kept “catching” the bus side-on. The Driver could not relax.

However, the dog was somewhat calmer – the drops, and the spray on a bandana around her neck did seem to have some effect. I set up her bedding on the floor towards the back of the bus, and an alternate lot on the floor behind the engine bay. Attached her lead to the harness and the lead to the restraining hook, so she could roam between the two.

I found Bus quite comfortable, as a passenger, though after dropping a knitting needle down by my feet, I wished the sash part of the seatbelt was a bit longer, so I could move about more. I had no problems getting into my seat – had quite a bit of prior experience with Coasters as school buses. Simply stepped up onto the lid of the engine compartment, turned 180 degrees, then stepped backwards down into the foot well in front of my seat. As the TV ads say: “simples”.

John had transferred his new toy, the Garmin GPS to the Bus. It was a lot harder for him to read, there, because the windscreen was so much further away from the driver than in the car. Said GPS was hugely annoying on the run to Seymour. Having been “informed” we were going to Bendigo, the GPS lady was determined to send us via the Calder Highway – any which way she could. Virtually from the time we left home, we were being instructed to do a U turn, or go round the block and head the other way. It was a bloody good thing we knew which way we were going, because she certainly didn’t. Even at Seymour, we were told to take the Hume Freeway south……At this point, what was to be a forever distrust of the Garmin was sown in me. John might like fiddling around and setting destinations in the infernal thing but, me, I’d be cross checking the mechanized instructions with my trusty paper maps!

We drove straight through to Seymour – no stops in Yarra Glen, this time! Bus pulled well and easily up the range, and the exhaust brake was really great to have, for the downhill stretch.

Stopped at the Lions park in Seymour. This expansive area has frontage to the Goulburn River and some picnic tables and seats. Parking Bus there was easy. Took dog for a walk – on the lead – and gave her a drink. We ate our packed sandwich lunch.

Seymour Lions Park – great place to break a trip

Then continued on through the familiar route to Bendigo, with no further stops.

We were no longer going to park in daughter’s driveway. Doing so, on their slope, had been alright with the van as it usually stayed hitched to Truck, or if unattached, had big chocks behind the wheels. Either way, we could manage to sleep on what was not too much of an inside slope. But Bus was a different proposition. To achieve anything like level would take a hell of a lot more chocking than we could envisage. The slope would see our heads, in bed, very downhill.

Went into the A Line Holiday Village, at Big Hill, on the southern outskirts. Our en-suite powered site cost $30 a night. It was a very pleasant site and park, with bushland around. We could walk the dog around the park, but there was nowhere around for her to run off lead.

The ensuites were in A shaped buildings – hence the park name.

The park was well situated for us. Unfortunately, the owner told us that they may discontinue their dog-friendly policy. That would be a pity. The usual story – he was sick of dog owners not doing the responsible thing and picking up their dog’s mess. What I did notice after a little time here, was that it was a couple of permanent dwellers, down the back of the park, who were the regular offenders.

John intended to get our setting up done, before we notified daughter – who knew we were coming here – that we’d arrived. He was expecting that there could be some “oops” moments in our first setting up of Bus on site, and wanted to avoid a distracting audience – or any audience. However, daughter arrived – on the off-chance – just after we’d parked Bus. John was not best pleased, but daughter and grandson being there did not impede the setting up.

Setting up for the first time – in Bendigo

Our greatest apprehension had been setting up the awning. We had not had a roll out one on the van, nor the space to practice on this one at home. So this was the first time. I had Googled the process and made notes, and we actually managed it without any dramas. So much easier than the van one!

They stayed for about an hour, and had a good and admiring look at Bus. We arranged a BBQ tea here for tomorrow night and I gave daughter a little shopping list. I also gave daughter the crocheted blanket that I’d made to order for the younger grandson, now nine months old.

“Patchwork” cot blanket

John could not get the TV to go. Bus had a good quality wind up aerial, but he wondered if wiring was broken.

Tea was chicken noodle soup, and some skinless frankfurts for John – I hadn’t been feeling hungry this morning, when I bought those. I had some dry biscuits and cheese after my soup.

After tea, in our screen-less state, we played Yahtzee. Better than TV, to my mind, anyway!

The first night’s sleep in our new beds was not great. For some reason, we had assumed that we should sleep with heads to the back of Bus – beside the little cupboard and bench top between the beds. It was a tight space  between that and the wall and I found it very constricting.  John got the panics during the night, and turned himself around, so his head was next to the sink, but with open space on one side.

The new memory foam mattress toppers I’d bought and adapted to the bus dimensions worked well, providing just that crucial extra width to the body of the bed.

We’d set up the dog’s night bed up by the engine bay, but she was a bit restless and prowly during the night.


Leave a comment

2009 Travels August 30

SUNDAY 30 AUGUST     COBRAM TO BENDIGO     195kms

Because we had a day to spare, today’s destination was Bendigo. Started this trip by going there and would finish it that way, too.

We got away early. It was a pleasant drive, again through flat farming country.

Stopped at the bakery at Elmore for an early lunch – pie and pasty for John, a sausage roll for me, which I would probably later regret when the usual indigestion set in. Daughter had asked me to buy her some jam tarts from there, for grandson’s lunch box, him being very fond of same.

As we came into Bendigo, drove straight to the White Hills football and netball club. We had been given instructions about where to find parking there for the rig. We joined daughter at the club house; watched the annual best and fairest counts, saw daughter’s partner and a couple of her family members receive trophies.

After that, took the rig on to daughter’s place and parked in our usual place in the driveway. We did not unhitch! But, even so, put some bricks behind the van wheels. I do not like that slope!

We went with daughter, to Castlemaine, to pick up grandson, who had spent the weekend with his father. John was feeling generous and said we would pay for a pizza tea. The shop we went to was rather upmarket. It cost $67 for three ordinary sized pizzas, plus a small one for grandson. And to think that I regularly churned out more generously topped pizzas, at home, by the half dozen, for visiting family and friends….

Grandson was so pleased to see us, and talked non-stop on the drive back to Bendigo. He was very good at non-stop.

An early night was in order – work and school for the family tomorrow.


Leave a comment

2007 Travels September 28

FRIDAY 28 SEPTEMBER     BENDIGO

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.