This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels July 4

THURSDAY 4 JULY     COPI HOLLOW

It was so quiet out here. I slept really well and, despite the previous early night, didn’t wake up until 8am.

During the morning, the wind got up and it was quite gusty through the day.

We spent the morning relaxing, reading, computing.

Lawned lakefront reserve at Copi Hollow

After an early lunch, John tackled the grey water problem. He’d packed a small heat gun, in case of needing to work on the hot water service again, so he used this to soften, then remove without damaging it, a section of the drain hose under the bus. He then poked a piece of small diameter pipe up the opening – and liquid began pouring out! He had been smart enough not to be directly under the pipe he was working on……..

It drained for ages and was a bit smelly, but nowhere near as bad as I’d anticipated. There must have been over fifty litres in there.

The pipe was left open, and draining, to be repaired tomorrow.

It was all not as hard, nor as nasty, as John had feared. Now he knew what to do, this was something else that could  be fixed if it happened again.

He thought the problem might be related to the fact that there were a number of right-angled joins in the drain system, rather than one smooth curve. I would try to lessen fats and larger food particles from going down the sink hole. To that end, I made up three small, square flat strainers, from my wire mesh. One can be slapped over the sink outlet as soon as the plug is pulled out, so wash up water will filter through it. The actual plug hole was really small and I couldn’t find, back in the hardware store, a ready made strainer small enough to fit inside it, hence my home grown solution.

After that success, took Couey for a walk along the levee, again.

Welcome to Redfern???

On the way, we noticed a back section of the park dwellings that seemed a bit divided from the rest. I wasn’t sure if it was an exclusive little enclave, or what, but there was a sign in front of it saying “Welcome to Redfern”. Hmmm……A joke in poor taste?

The wind had dropped a bit by evening and there was another great sunset.

Tea was steak, mushrooms, potatoes, beans.


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2013 Travels June 28

FRIDAY 28 JUNE     GOL GOL TO BROKEN HILL     323kms

We seemed to be settling into a sleep till 8.30 routine! I remained surprised that Couey was so good and didn’t stir from her seat nest until I was up and dressed.

After breakfast, John took out the stopcock part and drove off to get a new one. It seemed he had, tacitly, agreed that there was a problem, after all!

I packed up as much as I could and took Couey for a couple of short walks around the grounds, while we waited……and waited…..

It was nearly midday when John got back. The park manager had stopped by to see if we were leaving. I offered to pay for an extra day because we were still here, but he said no to that.

John fitted the new part, but still nothing drained out of the tank. So I then wondered if the outlet was blocked by grease or the like? Would just have to worry about it later. It was high time we got going.

Refuelled just up the road at Buronga. $1.509 cpl. This time my calculation had us achieving 5.8kms per litre. Better fuel economy on flatter ground, than going over the Dividing Range.

Stopped at Orange World, a citrus farm sales outlet on the road to Wentworth. Bought oranges and mandarins. As had become normal, to get out to buy the fruit, I had to deal with dog jumping at me and the door, frantic to get out too. It was so weird, how desperate she was to get out then, but once we were camped up, was happy to wander in and out with no drama.

There were fairly frequent “comfort” stops for John.

Stopped beside the Silver City Highway

The skies ahead of us were vast and quite dramatic, with big cloud banks. I wasn’t sure whether rain was forecast, or not. Somehow, the large windscreen area of Bus accentuated the sense of space outside. Perhaps the small Defender windscreen had limited our outlook more than we realized at the time.

I experimented with taking photos from the moving Bus. Stopping to take photos was not going to happen, with dog prone to making such a fuss. John had never been encouraging of photo stops for me, anyway. I was fairly pleased with my photo results through the large front window.

Through the Bus window…..

We had a proper stop at Popiltah Lake, for a late lunch, and to give dog a ball chasing session.

Rest area at Lake Popiltah
Lake Popiltah

Reached the Broken Hill Tourist Park just after 4pm. local (S.A.) time. So 4.30 to us. Again, I’d phoned yesterday to make a booking.

I was so pleased with the en-suite site we’d been allocated. It was huge. There was a wood chip base – acceptable in this arid region. We were on the end of a row, against a fence, so the site was quiet and private, and the bathroom roomy and clean. The dog had plenty of roaming room on a long rope.

Broken Hill site

Putting the awning up was easier, but I thought we were still not doing things in the right sequence.

The site cost $41.40 a night, after discount.

After we were set up, texted John’s daughter to say we had arrived and invited her to come share a fish and chip dinner with us. After a while, she phoned – just as John was about to set off to buy our tea. That was lucky!

Having visitors in Bus was so much easier than in the van, because the beds could be used as lounge seating, even though the dinette table only works for two.

The fish and chips , that John went out and bought, were not great. It was a long way from the sea!

Daughter didn’t stay long, but said she had arranged to take some days off from work while we were in town. That was positive, if easy, as she was now running her own business.

My arm  was not as sore today, but looked really dire – black to the elbow and bruise streak 4-5cms wide.


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2013 Travels June 27

THURSDAY 27 JUNE     GOL GOL

We slept until 8.30 again. I was first up, took Couey for a walk, then fed her. After that, she just wanted to stay inside, close to John, while I had my breakfast sitting outside.

John and I spent much of the morning using our laptops. The new Telstra modem gadget worked well and allowed us both to be online at once – a big improvement over the previous dongle. I looked up directions for setting up the awning!

A few days ago, John’s daughter had talked about us bringing her an exercise bike she was probably going to buy, from Mildura. John phoned her to see about that, but then thought she may have changed her mind. She told him she would investigate it, but then we didn’t hear any more from her through the day.

I walked down to the river bank and took some photos. The Murray River level was down a little from when we were here last year, but still at a healthy height.

Murray River at Gol Gol

After lunch, drove into Mildura. Compared to last year, it was so good to be able to get in the car and go somewhere. On the way in, drove into and had a look around the river side caravan park at Buronga. It looked much better than where we are. Whilst not en-suite, the sites were spacious and the outlook over the river much nicer – not blocked by cabins like at Gol Gol. Thought we’d go there next time.

Did a supermarket shop, mostly for fruit and vegies, having not previously stocked up because of the quarantine zone.

At Auto Barn, bought window shades for my side windows in Bus, to keep the direct sun off as we are going along. Yesterday, it had become quite hot through the big window.

At a pet supply shop, bought a couple of dog chew bones, but not the sort I’d hoped to get. I’d managed to leave Couey’s good one at home. It occupies her for ages, without getting noticeably smaller.

Back at camp, took dog for a walk along the nearby street. John came too, but he couldn’t go very far, so we turned back.

John had suggested spag bol for tea, but I’d bought some fresh fettucine instead. He loved that.

Couey came inside at teatime and just crashed. Somehow, she’d had a tiring day.

I didn’t think the sullage hose was draining the grey water tank. If that was the case, it must be getting pretty full! Only a dribble seemed to be coming out of the hose John had attached to the outlet. I went out in the dark after doing the tea dishes, to have a look at it. Thought that the stop cock tap wasn’t turning anything. It seemed to be both bent and loose. I wondered if it had been like that since we bought Bus, last year? John didn’t seem convinced there was a problem, but said he’d investigate tomorrow, as he was watching football on TV.

The bruise on my arm looked worse today – darker and almost up to the elbow.


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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.


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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.


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2013 Travels June 20 to 24

THURSDAY 20 TO MONDAY 24 JUNE

Thursday was our final packing day, as we planned to leave tomorrow morning. We would go via Bendigo, as usual, and then on to Broken Hill to visit John’s daughter. After that, we would “head north”, making it up as we went. It sounded a wonderful plan.

Yesterday, dog had an unhappy outing to the Animal Aid at Coldstream for a bath – they did a good job, and the money went to a worthy cause, even if we ended up with a dog that smelled like coconuts. Better that than a dog that smelled extremely “doggy”.

Most of the gear I was responsible for was already packed permanently in Bus, so I did not have a great deal to do. But John, as was usual, had not been organized earlier and had much to sort and pack – everything from his clothes to the tools he might need. He had a very busy, long and tiring day.

I re-homed surplus fridge contents with M, and turned it off. Earlier in the year, John had vetoed using house sitters ever again, even if we could have found any at such short notice. He no longer wanted “other people” in our house. At times, I thought his various medical travails of the past few years, had altered his mental processes.

Late in the day, John was completing his final tasks. A lapse in concentration saw him draining, then filling the Bus water tank – but, unfortunately with the garden hose in the diesel tank! He realized his error when yellow coloured liquid gushed out of the opening. He then switched the hose to the correct inlet, and filled up the water. Apparently, an argument ensued with himself, about whether he would ‘fess up to all this, or just try to leave tomorrow and hope for the best. He didn’t think there could be too much water in the diesel as the tank had been almost full before water was added. Fortunately, common sense did prevail and he came to tell me he’d “done a terrible thing”.

I couldn’t believe that yet another trip start had been affected by tank filling problems!

However, I could see how the mistake came about. So many previous years of trip preparation had involved draining and filling our van water tanks. It was just an automatic part of getting ready to go. The van water tank inlets had faced onto the “open” side of the parking bay, and of course, it had no fuel tank to fill! Unfortunately, the Bus fuel inlet faced this same way, whereas the water tank inlet was on the driver’s side of Bus, facing the neighbour’s fence. Tired and distracted John was functioning on past memory, rather than current focus.

On Friday, Bus was onto a tilt truck, yet again, and off to the Toyota service centre. Since we’ve had it, Bus had done more trips on tow trucks than independently on the road! We’ve gotta get better at

this motor homing gig.

Again!

We noticed, as it was loaded and taken away, that there was water running from somewhere under the back. John asked the service centre to investigate where that was coming from, too.

Saturday morning we were able to go and collect Bus. They had drained about thirty litres of fuel from the tank, before they got clean fuel. So there was more water in there than John had thought. But the water that had run from the back was a problem with the hot water service and Toyota could not do anything about that.

Back at home, John investigated and I did some Googling. We worked out that, when John had connected up the mains water, and turned the hose on hard, the really good local water pressure had blown out a little turn-off gadget in the hot water service. Hence water just kept flowing through the hot water service  and out the overflow.

Of course, Truma dealerships were Monday to Friday operations, so we would have to wait until Monday to tackle the issue.

Our motor homing life was obviously not meant to be easy!

I filled in the unexpected waiting time with quite a lot of gardening.

On Monday John was able to drive to Clayton and pick up the needed water service part. But it was for a newer model, and he had some issues trying to fit it. Eventually, at my suggestion, he went to the nearby Sunliner dealership – a place experienced in motorhome issues. They were very helpful – much more so than the Truma agency had been – and the hot water service was then fixed. We resolved to always be very cautious about mains water pressure and Bus!

Perhaps I could write a manual on how not to tackle motor home travel?


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2013 Travels 1 January to 19 June

2013 TO JUNE

The start of January saw John’s first visit to physio, for exercises for the reconstructed shoulder. He was told not to drive until early March, and that there would be no bowls until mid-April, at least. Shock and horror all round.

I was not sure my sanity would survive being the chauffeur for another two months.

John just couldn’t manage to obey the physio’s edicts, and was back driving again by the end of January – though he did try to limit it, a bit. He couldn’t help but try bowling again, too, weeks earlier than he was supposed to.

It was a very hot summer and the pool got a lot of use, by us and offspring and grandchildren.

Dog invented a new game. It was hard to leave her outside the pool enclosure when anyone was swimming – we wondered if the crazy barking and carry on was because she thought she should be rescuing whoever? But once let in, she soon began to drop a ball into the pool for the nearest person to throw out into the yard for her to fetch. Repeat….and repeat and……..Great fun for her, not so much for whoever was the target of her attention, because she would bark incessantly till her will was done. A couple of times, in her running around the pool edge, she cut a corner too much and fell in. Dog had no problem swimming to get herself out again, though.

Fetch it for me……

One morning, I found Couey outside the back door, with the tail of a possum hanging from her mouth and that unmistakeable “have I done something wrong?” look. There was no way she could have dispatched a live and fighting possum without us hearing it, or her bearing some wounds, so had to conclude that she found it already dead and decided on an extra meal. Always an opportunist where food was concerned.

Once was possum…..

Early in the year, we had to take Bus for a service – to be done every six months in order to keep the warranty valid, even though it had only done a few hundred kms since the last one. We found a dealership that could handle Bus, in a nearby suburb.

I sent away for a set of solar shades for Bus. These screens  suction-capped to the inside of the front windscreen, and the two side front windows. We did not need them for privacy as a curtain had come with Bus that was on a wire and hung behind the front seats, when parked up. But I had noticed, on our shake down trip last year, that the large glass areas conducted cold on chilly nights. I hoped the solar screens would insulate us better. When they arrived, I was impressed with the quality and thickness.

We had a CB radio installed in Terios – partly for if we were day tripping with M tagging along. Could also see that, possibly, on a tricky road or really steep hill, we might drive Bus and Terios separately, and CB’s would be useful then.

John’s ongoing role with the Selection Committee of the bowls club kept him tied to home until the end of the season, but he really wanted to squeeze in a trip with Bus between then and Easter, which was at the end of March – two or three weeks. We had provisionally settled on a trip along the Great Ocean Road.

When John wasn’t working on bowls related matters, he was out in his shed, making a wooden table for my study. I spent much time in the garden, but also worked on a commission for another crocheted cot blanket. The one I’d made last year for new grandson was such a hit that the family had asked me to do another one, for a friend’s baby. As well, I was attempting hand quilting for the first time – both difficult to master and extremely hard on my wrist and fingertips (the pincushion effect….)

Another cot blanket

Mid March, another bout of the breathlessness that our GP couldn’t explain, saw John patronizing¬† the ambulance service again. Back into¬† Epworth Eastern for another couple of weeks. Two litres of fluid was drained from around his lungs, but after lots of tests the lung specialist could only come up with there being some sort of infection or inflammation, for an unknown reason. Once out of hospital, there would be fortnightly check ups by said specialist.

I commuted back and forth each day to visit the invalid. The dog fretted.

That put paid to the pre-Easter trip with Bus.

Actually, I could have a pretty good guess at the cause of the lung problem – but John forbade me saying anything to his doctors. He had been doing a lot of dust-causing woodwork and not wearing the masks and filters he should have been. Some timbers are really toxic, blackwood amongst them.

The cause of the lung problem?

Back home again, John’s next project was to install a new, technologically up to date, Wineguard TV aerial on Bus.

I bought an e-book reader – a Sony. What a boon for travellers! No more storing bags of reading matter under the bed, and haunting book exchanges. I could load up the e-reader with three weeks’ worth of books from my local library and replenish same as needed – as long as I had an internet connection. Magic!

In June, with only a couple of hundred kms of day trips clocked up since the last one, Bus was back off for another service. So was John – and the lung man cleared him for three months before the next review would be needed – September.

A federal election was expected in mid-September and I had signed up to work taking Declaration Votes again – but that was three months away.

Suddenly, we had a window for travel again, so there was a mad flurry of preparation.


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2012 Travels August 24

FRIDAY 24 AUGUST    BEECHWORTH TO HOME     309 kms

We both had a sleep in and, surprisingly, dog allowed it. It was still raining steadily.

After dog’s morning ablutions and breakfast for us all, in view of the poor weather forecast, we decided to call it quits and go home. John’s Beechworth idea had not been a great success, though the park would be pleasant in good weather and we filed it away for a return visit.

As usual Couey, who by now was happily going in and out of the parked  Bus, saw our packing up happening. When it was time, she refused to get on. Some peanut butter on a dog biscuit changed her mind. Despite this, we thought she was starting to adapt reasonably well – just as we were finishing the trip!

It was just after midday when we left the park. As we had paid for today at the time of arrival, this was not an issue.

Back to Wangaratta, then down the Hume to Seymour. Stopped twice – once in a roadside rest area to eat lunch, which I’d packed before we left,  but we stayed in our seats to do so. Then a stop at Euroa to fuel up. $1.489 cpl.

From Seymour, followed the usual route to Yea and home via Yarra Glen. The weather stayed grey, cold, gloomy, showery all the way. There was cloud on the hilltops south of Yea.

At home, did what unpacking was necessary – the fridge contents and our technical gear, basically, plus dog’s food and treats.

Bought fish and chips for tea.

The trip hadn’t quite gone as planned, but it was enough to show the potential of travel in Bus. For John, it was so much better to drive than it had been Truck towing the van. Much easier. Both of us had found it much more comfortable than the van, to live in.

However, the trip had also shown up one major problem. It was not convenient to pack up for moving when we needed to shop, or to go sightseeing every day, or even to find a park or oval for dog to have a run. We would have to investigate options for giving us easier mobility.

TRIP SUMMARY

11 nights.

Accommodation cost: $366.20. (5 nights ensuite sites)

Average per night: just over $33 per night

Chain discounts received: $31.80

Most expensive accommodation: Riverside Caravan Park, Swan Hill (non en suite)

Kms travelled: 945kms

Fuel cost: $203.92.


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2012 Travels August 17

FRIDAY 17 AUGUST     SWAN HILL

It rained for much of the day, and blew a gale. A very cold day.

First thing in the morning, I walked to the shops and had my repeat anti-biotic script filled, and bought some more silver impregnated dressings. Saw some track pants on sale for $6.50 at a menswear store, and also a fleecy zippered jacket for $13.50, so bought both those, to be additions to the cold weather gear to be kept in Bus. Did a small food shop at Coles and got some chicken thighs and sausages. It was becoming obvious, that with the small capacity of the Bus fridge, and no supplementary car fridge, shopping was going to have to be more regular than we had been used to.

In between rain events, we took dog for a couple of park walks, and also walked the other way as far as the Pioneer Settlement.

The riverside Pioneer Settlement dates from the 1960’s, earlier than most other history based theme parks in Victoria. As the name suggests, it shows aspects of life back in the heyday of the river boat era.

The Pyap, which scared Couey a couple of days ago, is moored here, and does short trips along the river, for tourists. It was originally more of a barge than a true paddle steamer, and was used for some years as a travelling general store, along the lower reaches of the Murray.

The Pyap churning up quite a wake

I had never been to the Pioneer Settlement, though John had brought his children here when they were young. We would both have liked to go in and look at the exhibits – but the place did not welcome dogs.

Spent the rest of the day in Bus – it was warm and snug in there.

We were pleased that the awning seemed really sturdy in the wind, though John had taken the precaution of tying down guy ropes on each of the front corners, to anchor it a bit more.

We did some more fiddling with Bus “gadgets”.  Like a kid with a new toy, John turned on the hot water service – on electricity – and it worked. What a luxury – to have hot water for the washing up, instead of boiling a kettle or jug! I played about and got the inbuilt CD player working; this radio/CD player was a separate unit from the similar one at the front that was part of the Bus gear for driving mode.

All of the fitments and additions – like the built in CB radio at the front – appeared to be quality goods. The fitting out of this home on wheels had not been done cheaply.


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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.