This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2015 Travels July 15

WEDNESDAY JULY 15     HOME TO CHARLTON      380kms

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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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.