This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2015 Travels May 6

WEDNESDAY MAY 6     CANBERRA

This morning, the antenna man finally turned up. He came into Bus, fiddled about a bit, and got a great picture. I suspected the usually tech-savvy other half may not have had the controls set for digital TV. But no-one said anything, and – on further inspection – the man did find something wrongly wired outside, on the antenna. He rectified this. When the new antenna was installed, in 2013, the work was done by John and a mate and that is when the wrong wiring must have happened. Mind you, it all worked perfectly well through our 2013 trip….Anyway, all fixed, we were told, at a cost of $110, which seemed quite reasonable.

Now we were free to play tourists,  after an early lunch.

I had looked online for information about dog parks in the ACT and found that the place seemed quite well endowed with places dogs could play off leash, and also places where they could swim. Too cold for that, now, though.

We drove to one of the special dog parks, at Forde. This was not a very large area, but was securely fenced, with water bowls, agility equipment, and even some tennis balls lying around. Not very hygienic, that! We tried to get Couey working over the agility equipment, with varying success. She definitely liked going through pipes – and running along the top of same; ditto walls. But she could not be persuaded to jump the set jumps, even though they were all lower than she jumps at home in order to short cut through the garden. Anyway, we all had fun. She encountered a couple of other dogs there, too, with no dramas – always good to see.

After that we were in the mood for something panoramic. The obvious candidate, the Telstra Tower, is contained in the Black Mountain Nature Reserve, where dogs are not permitted at all. So we did not try to revisit that- had been up there in 1998.

Instead, drove to the top of Mt Ainslie to look at the view from there, across Lake Burley Griffin, to Parliament House.

In line: Australian War Memorial, Anzac Parade, Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House

Across to the eastern end of the Lake, we could see the reclaimed area and the lakefront apartments where the family was living in 2013.

From Mt Ainslie: central Canberra, looking towards Scrivener Dam

We walked around the pathways that were up there and read the information boards.

Telstra Tower on Black Mountain

We set out, then, to drive around the Lake, towards the western end first. Back in 1998, we cycled around the Lake, which took us most of a very hot day. Formal bike paths did not go all the way round and we did some riding on roads. Today, the driving was easy, on multi-laned roads, though the Driver didn’t get to look around too much, in the traffic.

Visited the Scrivener Dam at the western end of the Lake. This dam wall across the Molonglo River created Lake Burley Griffin, and controls its levels. It was named for an early surveyor of the Canberra area. I was surprised to find that the dam wall was not completed until the 1960’s. Had assumed it was created at the same time as Canberra was commenced.

The Molonglo is not a big river – seems more like a creek to me. Like a number of the water courses in the area, it is lined with weeping willows, planted by well-intentioned early settlers. It makes for picturesque scenery but is not great, environmentally.

Molonglo River valley

Not far from the dam wall was the Government House Lookout, with its views uphill to Yarralumla, the official residence of the Governor General of Australia.

Yarralumla House

Again, I found new information: that Yarralumla was not purpose built, but was originally a private residence of major pastoral families of the district. The original pastoral property was a large one. Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of Canberra, had included in his plans a grand vice-regal residence, but – as with quite a bit of his original plans – a cheaper option prevailed.

From the Lookout, we could look towards the valley of the Molonglo and see the large former woolshed of the original farm.

Looking across to the grand old woolshed

By this time, the afternoon was getting on and we decided not to continue round the Lake, but to head back to Bus to avoid the late afternoon traffic build up. The GPS took us round the back of Black Mountain, on Caswell Drive, a way we hadn’t been before. Saw yet another traffic rear-ender accident.

John re-glued the wardrobe door back together. I had to help him get the strap clamp round the outside edges of the door.

Tea was steak, with green peppercorn sauce, and vegies.

A decision was made that our next destination would be Cowra – a place we hadn’t previously stayed at long enough to see its attractions.


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2015 Travels May 5

TUESDAY MAY 5     CANBERRA

John went off, after an early start, for him, to watch the boys compete in the inter-schools cross country competition. It was out at the Stromlo Forest Reserve – across the other side of the city from us, naturally. John and the GPS managed to get themselves rather lost, and did a lot of extra kms.

I did the washing. One feeds a token into the machine. But first, one must do the long walk up to Reception to purchase said taken – for $4. I wasn’t sure of the point of the token. Did it deter people breaking into the machines, for coins? I couldn’t conceive this would be a significant problem…Did it mean the price of a machine load could be changed without having to adjust the machine> Or was I missing something here?

During the morning, the wind – which initially had signalled a good day for drying washing – became much stronger. It then signalled good idea to wind awning in, before it got damaged. But there was only me and it took a while to remember the various steps. It was not something I usually did and not since 2013. There was some trial and error. But I managed it in the end, despite some periods where I was just hanging on to the awning in the wind. It probably looked quite comical, had there been anyone watching. I was quite proud of myself. It was good to know this was something I could do by myself, however inelegantly.

I exercised dog, spent some time on laptop, and went to rescue the washing before our underwear ended up in Yass or parts beyond.

There was a small group of red-rumped parrots that foraged around, near Bus. I tried to get a decent photo of them, but the zoom on my new camera was not all that effective, and they were a bit camera shy.

Red rumped parrots

I had, earlier in the year, bought a new “retro look” Pentax digital camera and this was its first outing.

John returned mid afternoon. The boys had both qualified for the next level of competition and he was pleased with the photos and videos he took on the tablet. He’d been to Masters on the way back to get stuff needed for the wardrobe door repair.

I made a healthy version of hamburgers – on a slice of toast, instead of in a bun – for tea. John liked it.

The nights were getting much colder – heater needed – and the chill was tending to persist into the day.


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2015 Travels May 4

MONDAY JULY 4     CANBERRA

Today was a rather boring, even wasted, day. But, I had accepted that the main purpose of being here was for John to visit his family and have time with grandsons, not for playing tourists. We had, in any case, spent some weeks here in 1998, early in our retirement travels, and enjoyed extensive sightseeing back then.

John phoned the antenna man – again! He said he would come about 4pm and would phone first. We weren’t convinced…

We needed to shop – for door repair materials, and some food. Not wanting to repeat the Belconnen experience, I suggested there might be a Bunnings in the new, spread-out retail complex we’d passed, by the airport, yesterday. Off back down the Majura Parkway. This was being made when we were here in 2013 and there was still work in progress, with a detour at one section.

We saw a Masters hardware store, but John decided to drive around the spread-out complex, to see what was there. Spotted a Big W and supermarket. John was cruising slowly, looking for a parking spot. As he was turning left to pull into one – with the indicator going – we were nearly hit by a woman driving a big 4WD, who went past – on our left –  at some speed. She just fitted between us and the parked cars. I said that ACT drivers are aggressive! Had never had that happen in a supermarket car park before. John certainly let her know he was not impressed with her driving.

Checked out Big W to see if John’s preferred type of track pants was in this store. No – but it gave me the chance to buy a couple of windcheaters, having decided I had not brought enough of these with me, given the cold weather.

John spotted a retailer of computers and similar goods, and decided then and there that he really must buy a tablet, so he could film the boys running in their races tomorrow. Apparently, a standard camera was no longer preferable. He was interested in a Samsung one, but had trouble finding anyone in the store who was able to show him the features of same. Very poor service. Then, they didn’t have one in stock, despite it being on display, so we would have to go to Gunghalin to collect one.

Did a very quick whiz around the supermarket, collecting the items on my list. There was no time to go to Masters, because we needed to be back for the antenna man. Maybe? That tablet purchase had taken ages.

The GPS directed us to Gunghalin, which at least was in the same direction as the caravan park. Tablet duly collected – another toy.

Sat around at Bus, waiting for the antenna man, who, predictably, did not come. But he did phone, very late in the day, and arranged to come Wednesday. I could see another boring day coming up! My suggestion that we not bother about TV until back home, was not well received.

Our site, with large grassed area in front

At least John was distracted by trying to work out the operation of his new toy. I spent some time checking emails and catching up on the news on my laptop – my toy…

Tea was poached chicken thighs with potato and bok choy.

After visiting with his daughter today, John had decided we would stay on here until next weekend, as the boys had a variety of activities happening that he wanted to see

Today was the birthday of my son and his girlfriend. Since they were overseas, there was no contact.


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2015 Travels May 3

SUNDAY MAY 3     CANBERRA

We had an early-ish start again, as daughter had asked we get to her place about 10am, as they had other things to do from 12.30. Was going to be an early lunch!

This time, we took the Majura Parkway and skirted the eastern end of Lake Burley Griffin, to Griffith, an inner southern suburb. I hadn’t been to this house before and really liked the way an older house had been extended and made over. Very light and spacious. There would be very little outside upkeep, as the back yard was mostly swimming pool.

Couey managed to distinguish herself by falling in the pool, within five minutes of our arrival. The elder grandson adores dogs and spent much more time outside, playing with Couey, than he did inside with his grandfather. The boy would dearly love a dog, but the family’s regular overseas postings mitigate against that, so he was a willing player of ball games and general dog loving.

The younger grandson spent most of our visit jumping on the trampoline.

Daughter made a most interesting salad for lunch, involving farro – a grain I had not previously come across, but which I would like to use back at home. It was rather chewy when cooked. The salad – Middle Eastern flavours – was delicious.

Once lunch was done, we were hurried out.

Our drive back around the parliamentary precinct gave an interesting an new perspective for us. This part of the inner city was really dominated by the new Parliament House.

Driving in  Canberra – up ahead is Parliament House

On the way back to Bus, called in at the Visitor Information Centre to see what I could find of interest. I was intrigued to see they had special parking places for electric cars, with plug in charging points. First time I had seen this, but suspected it would become more common.

John had an afternoon nap. I changed the dressings on my leg. Definitely yukky. Decided I should start myself on the emergency anti-biotic tomorrow.

Couey was actually tired after her grandson games, and quiet for the rest of the day.

When I was putting my dressing stuff away, the wardrobe door fell apart. We had noticed previously that some of the joints were becoming unglued. I opened it, and it came to pieces, which nearly fell on my feet. John put the bits in the ensuite, to await fixing. He would need to buy glue, some clamps and a new catch. In the meantime, dog could sit and look yearningly at the box of her special treats, up on the now exposed top shelf.

Lunch had been light enough for us to be able to enjoy tea of lamb backstrap with potatoes, zucchini and tomato.


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2015 Travels May 1

FRIDAY MAY 1     CANBERRA

Bus was level enough for us to sleep alright, despite the slight heads-down angle.

When we got up, all six of the tour groups coaches – and contents – had gone. We hadn’t heard a thing.

John couldn’t hold out any longer…after some laptop research, he phoned Jims Antennas. Was told their Canberra person would contact him.

We needed some food supplies. My turn to Google – for Woolworths. No  way was I just going to launch forth in Canberra and assume the required shops would magically appear. There was one in Belconnen, which did not seem too far away from Sutton. I fed that address into the GPS and forth we sallied.

GPS led us unerringly – to a major shopping complex, with the shop I wanted tucked securely away inside, along with hundreds of other retail outlets. Plus multitudes of people, and their vehicles, going every which way. Not what I’d had in mind. It always seems so hard in Canberra.

Undeterred (mostly), we parked, left dog in Terios, and walked, got the requisites. Although John still assumed we would be dining with daughter tonight and tomorrow, as we passed a butcher, I took the chance to buy meat for a couple of meals “in case”. Also got some rolls to take back for lunch.

Somewhat surprisingly, we even managed to locate car and dog again, first attempt. The place felt like one of those where you could wander forever, lost…

Back to Bus, where we lunched and just hung about, waiting for contact from the family. Mid-afternoon, John’s daughter phoned. Each of the grandsons has a soccer match tomorrow: one morning, one afternoon, on opposite sides of town, which we were welcome to go find, in order to watch. They have some arrangement for Saturday night, but we could go to Sunday lunch, which would have to be brief because they had things to do in the afternoon.

Well, that sorted out the meals…as well as our place in the overall scheme of things!

Our scruffy site

The TV antenna man also phoned. John wanted him to come today, but man was not sure he could make it. None-the-less, we waited at Bus for rest of afternoon, in case. No show.

I walked up to Reception – quite a hike. Wanted to get some tourist information from the display, since it looked like we would have more time on our hands than originally envisaged. The ladies at the desk were occupying themselves folding a mountain of pillowcases – washing from the tour groups that had departed this morning.

I dressed my leg. One wound seemed a bit smelly – not all that happy with it. These were not ideal conditions to be dealing with it as I did it outside again. John was playing games on his laptop and didn’t like me interrupting to spread all the dressing stuff around inside.

We nearly had a real disaster. Dog was pestering John for a ball throw session, so he went out and tossed the ball some distance for her. But – brain fade – she was still tethered! The resultant charge to the end of the rope and sudden stop just about broke her neck. Could have been absolutely horrible, but she seemed to sustain no lasting ill effects.

Having had a late lunch after the shopping, we only felt like a light tea: tin of soup, cheese and biscuits.

There were a lot of kangaroos grazing in the caravan park, from dusk on. I was not sure if the Canberra roos carried paralysis ticks, but gave Couey one of the new anti-tick pills today, in case. It should last a month.

In the morning and late afternoon, it was really pleasant sitting outside in the sunshine.

I got my little portable radio tuned to a local station broadcasting the AFL match of the night, so John was able to listen to his beloved Carlton take an absolute hiding. He then decided it was probably good that the TV wasn’t working, because he wouldn’t have enjoyed viewing same.

I think John was pretty disappointed at the underwhelming family reaction to our visit.


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2015 Travels April 30

THURSDAY APRIL 30     GUNDAGAI TO CANBERRA     175kms

Woke to a lovely sunny, blue sky morning, after the cold night. Had been able to hear some truck noise from the highway, through the night.

I was awake at 7.45 and started the day with a lovely hot shower. That process was complicated by having to seal the bandaged leg into a waterproof shower bag…

I had to wake John up at 9.15, so he had no problems sleeping soundly.

We got away at 10am. Couey was anxious not to be left behind, and got straight onto Bus and didn’t even do her usual barking before we started moving. So hope this improvement lasts….

The road was a long, steep-ish pull up out of the town, before we got back onto the Hume.

Seen on the Hume…

By 11am it was getting grey and cloudy and the day stayed that way.

We had to slow for several lots of roadworks, mostly indicated well in advance by several moving warning vehicles with lit up signs. At a couple of them, there were so many advance warning vehicles that we wondered when we were ever going to encounter the actual roadworks.

It seemed no time at all before we turned off the Hume and onto the Barton Highway at Yass. This is a really pretty road to drive. Makes up for the fact that it is single lane, each way, for much of it, and fairly heavily trafficked.  A rather unassuming approach to the nation’s capital city. There were the blue, distant, mountains of the Alps, autumn leaves on the poplars that were common in this region. There were the occasional more stunted eucalypts – the multi-trunked snow gum types.

Barton Highway on the way to Canberra

At one point, the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain, in Canberra, appears directly ahead and really stands out.

Arrived at the Eaglehawk Holiday Park just after midday. Had been there a couple of years ago, knew the way there, and – hooray – knew that it did not involve negotiating Canberra’s confusing circular roads and huge roundabouts.

Our en-suite site cost $43 per night. No discounts, but a surcharge for paying by credit card. However, the office staff were very pleasant and helpful.

Our allocated site was not level, so we had to mess about with putting chocks under Bus front wheels and even then, there was still a bit of a front-down lean. Took our time setting up, with the awning out and ground matting down.

It was rather a strange set up here, really. There had been no attempt to landscape or beautify these en-suite sites. It seemed the little buildings had just been plonked down an some concrete, a bit of gravel thrown around where rigs would park, and that was it. Right up the back of an otherwise highly developed park – literally and figuratively. On our last visit here, we had thought that caravanners were regarded as second class citizens in this place.

I made our lunch and appreciated having a plate of salad again.

John napped for a couple of hours. I did a leg dressing, sitting outside. Wasn’t all that happy with the way it looked.

There was a phone message from grandson – did John want to come and see him act in a play tonight? John hadn’t been clear about what we would be doing with the family members over the next few days. He phoned son-in-law, who seemed surprised we were in Canberra! He didn’t know what was happening, or when. Daughter was in Sydney for work. He thought we might be having dinner with them tomorrow night. And with that, John had to be content.

A big black cloud that formed about 4pm seemed to guarantee rain coming, but it went somewhere else. A weather check on my laptop showed another east coast low forming – more bad weather for southern Qld – and a little cyclone off Exmouth. Glad this rather late-in-the-season one was not further north, where M was cruising around the Kimberley coast.

By late afternoon, three of the four en-suite sites in this area were filled. A final van arrived about 9pm – unusual for vanners to arrive at that hour. By tea time there were six large coaches parked in the bus area near us. Presumed they were school tour groups, but didn’t see or hear any kids, thankfully.

The grey water drain that had appeared to be blocked ever since we left home was now dribbling, under the influence of the purple-bottled enzyme cleaner that I put in yesterday. John was pleased.

Tea was fresh linguine pasta (well, “fresh” from the chiller section of a supermarket, back home), with bottled stir through chargrilled vegetable sauce. The chorizo salami that John had for tea last night gave him huge indigestion through the night, so I threw out the remainder.

Message from my daughter that the young grandson was having abdominal lymph gland biopsies done next week, to rule out any cancers as being the cause of his ongoing leg issues. A worry.

Still no TV signal. I thought it was nice without it, and just the radio on – good clear sound there. But not sure I could  convince John.

When John took Couey out, after dark, she saw a roo grazing in the distance and nearly pulled John’s arm off.


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2013 Travels November 17

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 17     SUTTON

We were up early, in order to be at the pool at the Australian Institute of Sport, just after 9am. Found our way there, with GPS help, quite easily.

The boys had a packed sporting day, which seemed to be a norm, rather than something specially arranged for us.

We watched them swim in a couple of events, then hurried off to Ginninderra Lake, where they were supposed to have triathlon events. These had been changed to a kind of biathlon, though, due to algae in the lake. They were to run, then bike, then run again. Both boys had all the right gear, including racing bikes. Not a cheap sport!

Younger grandson rounding the curve on his racing bike

The younger boy – aged 8 – tackled the shorter course event – and won. He was really good.

Coming up the straight in the lead

The older boy (10) came about 5th, over double the length of the other.

Then it was a fast move back to the AIS for more swimming events. The boys certainly had stamina!

The younger boy swam the 100 metres backstroke for the first time over that distance and came 2nd in a tight finish. It was a good performance. They had changed swim clubs from when we were last here; the coaches seemed to be much better – have coached Olympic swimmers.

Dog had to stay in the Terios while we were at the pool. Fortunately, it was a cool enough day. Had it been warmer, I would have stayed back at Bus with her. At Lake Gininderra, she was able to come on the lead with us. Triath;lon was clearly a really popular sport – finding somewhere to park wasn’t easy, and we had to walk a long way to the course. So we were exercised too.

We left mid-afternoon, after the boys’ events were all done.  Lunch had been overlooked in all the rushing back and forth, so we meandered about the north-eastern suburbs looking for somewhere to buy food. Canberra is such a frustrating place for visitors! Neighbourhood precincts might be fine, with a few service shops tucked away in convenient locations for residents, but they are hell for those who are not partial to going round in circles!

Eventually managed to pick up a couple of rolls and ate them sitting in the car by the shops. Then back to Bus.

John was really happy that some effort seemed to have been made for him to have contact with the boys  and participate in aspects of their life. He had certainly now seen a representative sample of their sporting activities.

After the late lunch, tea was soup, followed by bacon and eggs.


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2013 Travels November 16

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 16     SUTTON

Had a relaxed start to the day, then left camp about 11.30, to go visit and lunch with John’s daughter. Her husband had gone to Sydney for the day, to a party, so it was just her and the boys.

We had specified that we only wanted a light lunch – no fuss – so we enjoyed salad rolls and fruit.

The boys were enthusiastic about having John’s attention, and being able to play with Couey. They got her out of the car in order to play ball games on the grass in front of the apartment. I just had to hope she wasn’t tempted to sample Lake Burley Griffin! They would love to have a dog, but the life of overseas postings makes that impossible. Couey had a great time and was happy enough to be tethered out on the little patio while we all went inside again.

Ball games by Lake Burley Griffin

The younger grandson had been offered a place in his school’s music stream for Grade 3. He sang for us – an incredibly pure voice – so we could see why the offer was made.

We left mid-afternoon. The boys had homework to do.

Outlook across Lake Burley Griffin

Visited the nearby shops for the weekend papers and on the way back went further up the Federal Highway to check out the location of the Queanbeyan exit road, for Monday.

Relaxed at camp for what was left of the day.

Pasta and bottled sauce for tea.


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2013 Travels November 15

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 15     COROWA TO SUTTON     423kms

Today was Couey’s third birthday. Does that equate to her 21st in human terms?

Well, it wasn’t being used….

It was a pleasant enough day – not too hot for travel.

We left the park just before 10am. Hadn’t hurried the packing up too much.

Took the Up River Road again, on the Victorian side of the river. This eventually took us to the Murray Valley Highway, and hence onto the wonderful Hume Freeway. Had we remained on the NSW side of the river. we’d have had to negotiate the streets of Albury.

There is no doubt that the Hume Freeway is a great route, these days, making travel so much less stressful than it once was.

John forgot about refuelling until we were well underway, and we eventually did so at Tarcutta, by which time the tank was well down. Took 83 litres, in a 90 litre tank! $1.589cpl.

Gave Couey a quick run on the grass behind the servo, while we ate the sandwiches I’d made for lunch, and had a coffee – from my thermos.

Tarcutta was our first stop after leaving Corowa. John had been put onto pills to ease the issues he’d been having due to enlarged prostate, and there was no doubt now that they made a huge difference, compared to what our mornings had been like on the earlier trip this year.

Didn’t stop again until we reached Sutton at 3pm – staying on the highways and definitely not deviating via Gunghalin!

Driving towards Canberra from Yass, there seemed to be an early afternoon exodus from the city – all those public servants taking flex time to get a head start on their weekend…

Our en-suite site at Eaglehawk Holiday park was very suitable. Both having an en-suite and dry weather (although a bit cool and windy) made this a much more enjoyable stay than last time.

Lots of wonderful space…

The oval in front of our site was great for Couey to do ball chasing. We just had to make sure there was no local wild life around – kangaroos and rabbits.

Noticed that the park was under a flight path for Canberra Airport; rather frequent planes going over. More of the weekend Canberra exodus, I guessed.

John made contact with daughter to say we had arrived in town. Then we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Tea was fish and fries.

While we watched some TV after tea, Couey sat up in the front of the bus, grumbling away at the kangaroos grazing outside. We could see a disturbed night coming up, but once we’d gone to bed and the lights were out, she settled right down to a normal night’s sleep. Can’t figure that dog out, some of the time.


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2013 Travels September 18

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 18     SUTTON TO WODONGA     374kms

Left the park about 10am. We were a bit slow to get going this morning, possibly because of sitting up late last night. The port wouldn’t have had anything to do with it!

The day was grey and cool, but Canberra’s rain soon turned to light showers only, which became more intermittent through the day. By the time we stopped in northern Victoria for the night, they were only occasional.

The drive was uneventful. We went my way this time: down the Federal Highway to its intersection with the Barton Highway and thence to Yass. Very preferable to the back roads of Gungahlin!

The suburban neighbourhoods of the planned city gave way to the lifestyle small acreages of the fringes, often with grape vines growing,  interspersed with grazing country.

We did not need to go into Yass so were able to use the bypass to get straight onto the Hume Freeway.

John continued to be happy about the results of the changed tyre inflations.

We took a break at Gundagai, at the Dog on Tuckerbox stopping place. Had coffees. Bought a bag of apples.

Couey was totally indifferent to the ancestral dog on tuckerbox statue – but would really have liked to get into the pool at its base! Again, we spoiled her idea of a party.

No – it is not a fancy dog pool…

Stopped for lunch at Holbrook – always a great place for a break. We didn’t need to visit the tempting bakery there, though, because I’d made us lunch sandwiches before we left this morning.

Refuelled at Holbrook – $1.619cpl.

I didn’t want to do any driving today. Had lost a bit of confidence after the Dubbo effort.

The Albury bypass had made a great difference to progressing through that city. So much easier now.

We found the Borderland Holiday Park at Wodonga, on the Victorian side of the Murray, with no problems. Our en-suite site there cost $38.70, after discount. The park was pleasant enough. Very dog friendly, with a big off lead exercise area in a van storage paddock at the back.

En-suite site at Wodonga

I cooked up a chicken stir fry, with rice, for tea.