This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2014 Non-Travels October to November


Bendigo grandson came to stay in the September school holidays and John took him to the Royal Melbourne Show. A plan to take him out for a drive in Bus didn’t eventuate because John was really tired after the Show day.

Grandson doing “shed work” with John

Clearly, though, Bus needed a run to shake out the cobwebs. After the family had gone home again, we took the tarpaulin cover off Bus and I checked over the inside. Was surprised to find the house batteries were down to 1. Not good for batteries! I couldn’t work out why, because it had been plugged into 240v power, ever since we’d come home last year.

We took Bus out for a day trip, on a day that was cool, grey and slightly misty. Firstly, a detour down to Bayswater to refuel at an easily accessible servo – which our local one definitely wasn’t. $1.489cpl – much less than we paid on last year’s trips.

Back up the hill to Mt Evelyn, thence Woori Yallock and across to Healesville. The Yarra Valley was beautifully green after winter.

At Healesville, we parked a block from the main street and walked to get lunch at the place we’d eaten at, a few times before. This was shut, and a pile of mail on the floor inside suggested permanently so. So we had to lower the lunch expectations. John got some Charcoal Chicken. I managed a ham and cheese croissant from the nearby Bakers Delight, and we got coffee from a bakery cafe.

We’d left Couey at home today. My thinking was that, not knowing quite what was happening with Bus electricals, it would be better if dog was not with us if we broke down.

Back at Bus, parked next to us was a brand new Traveller caravan and 4WD. The owner was taking photos of his rig, which did look rather splendid in contrast with our utilitarian Bus. I could remember when we were that proud of our new Trakmaster and Landrover. Now seemed a long, long time ago.

John wanted to go look at Maroondah Dam – a water storage for Melbourne’s supply, a few kms out of Healesville. As soon as we parked, could hear the roar from the dam. It had been a wet winter. Although we thought the excess water must be coming out through a pipe, it was really boiling up and then coming down the rock faced section into the Yarra River. That was worth seeing.

Surplus water leaving Maroondah Dam, into the Yarra River

The gardens at the Dam are extensive and lovely, a destination for a picnic and wander in themselves. Back in 2008, when we’d had son and his children staying with us, we had occasionally packed the makings and had a BBQ lunch here.

Today, I took a couple of photos of a conifer-type shrub that had eye-catching bright green tips on it.

As we drove to the Dam and back, saw that new dining options had opened, on that side of Healesville. There was an establishment that offered wine tastings and food, seeming somewhat upmarket. There was a Beechworth Bakery too – how long has that been there? Maybe not so surprising that the cafe had shut down, after all. Entry on my mental to-do list: return before too long and try out these options.

Followed the Maroondah Highway to Lilydale and thence home – just in time to do battle with the local school traffic and buses.

Bus went as if it had never had an extended period of inactivity.

It appeared that, as we went along driving, the house batteries were receiving some charge from the engine. That was a surprise – I did not know that was supposed to happen, for those. The two cranking batteries, used to start Bus and power its “car” things, were isolated from the house system, and were obviously not affected by whatever had flattened the latter.

I still had much to learn about this motor homing lark and started to seek advice wherever I could, about what might be the problem.

The slight niggle of worry aside, it had been so good to be going somewhere in Bus, again if only for a few hours. John enjoyed the driving.

 My email queries to the company that had done the Bus conversion, back in 2004, went unanswered as did their phone. I wondered if the guy had retired?

We consulted an auto electrician in Lilydale. The advice was that we needed two new house batteries and a new charger. The batteries were a pity because the ones in Bus were onoy three or four years old. They were Haze brand which I’d never heard of. I ordered Full River batteries. We’d had these in the van, which was all 12v so they got a solid workout and were still going strong, after eight years, when we sold the van.  Decided to go for another Projecta charger, same brand as was there. The electrician said there had been a faulty batch of Projecta chargers some years ago – maybe that was our issue?

When I thought back, wondered if the funny episode we’d had with the smoke alarm, coming back from the NSW coast, last November, was in fact the charger burning out?

The new one came with a remote monitor, which the man mounted next to the other monitors and switches and  wired up for us, so I would now be able to see what it was doing. Previously I would have had to take everything off my bed and open up the underneath, to check this. I was much happier…

The new charging monitor – easy to see

He also explained to me how the electrical systems worked – finally I thought I understood it all….

That lot cost almost $1300.

Bus came home again, after its stay in Lilydale. We did not put the tarp back over the roof, hoping to get in a sort break away, before too much longer.

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2000 Travels December 14


We got away from the park at 9am.

We were not hurrying, because John wanted to go to the red gum saw mill, where he bought a platter making slab and some small pieces that he would make chisel handles from. That lot cost $50.

The man at the mill persuaded John that, when he makes the red gum chairs to match the table that is already done, it would be better to cut out the chair frames, rather than try to steam bend them. I was pleased about that!

It was not too hot today, so was a comfortable drive.

We travelled towards Shepparton, as far as Undera, than south through Murchison.

We had lunch by the lake at Nagambie – a very pleasant place.

Then it was the usual route from Seymour, through Yea to Yarra Glen and then Healesville.

We reached the familiar Badger Creek Caravan Park by mid-afternoon. We had a drive through site, for $20.90, so were able to stay hitched up.

12-14-2000 healesville.jpg

Our last night……

We had to phone K to get him to contact Telstra to authorize handing over of the home number to us. He’d told us a week ago that this had been arranged, but did as we asked and then John was able to arrange what he needed to with Telstra.

We went for a walk around the grounds and up into the bush. There were lots of birds – parrots, doves, wrens, cockatoos, and there were currawongs calling. It was so long since we’d heard these that I’d forgotten how melodious they sound.

Tea was sausages, potato, salad.

There was a cool tinge to the night air. The tropics are so far behind us now.

So – this was the last night of our life on the road. Very sad.

12-14-2000 to h

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2000 Travels April 16


We were woken by the breakfast announcement at 3am! Very uncivilized.

The boat docked late – at 5.15am.

After the semis and coaches, we were the first vehicle off, at about 6am – excellent!

The drive through Melbourne at that early hour was easy, if rather strange with so little traffic.

We faced the dilemma of what to do at such an early hour, to fill in the time until we could go to the caravan park. Could not think of many options on a Sunday morning.

We went to the Lilydale Lake, getting there before 8am, and walked around it, taking some of the sidetracks to make the walk longer and use up more time. There were a surprising number of other people there.

Then we drove up to Healesville, went to the supermarket there, and also bought some lunch supplies.

At 9.30am, having exhausted our ideas, and feeling like we’d been up forever, phoned the caravan park. They said our site had been cleaned and we could go book in there straight away. So we booked back in to the lovely Badger Creek Caravan Park – for $20.90 a night. The price had increased!

After setting up, John drove home to take the accumulated timber and some other things back for storage. Truck returned very much lighter!

I got lunch ready – salads, cold meats, rolls, fruit, cheeses.

V arrived about 1.30. She had been to the Healesville Markets on the way to us. She brought me some scented soaps and a little, pink spotted ceramic bowl, as an advance Mothers Day present. There was much talk and we had a pleasant, grazing style of lunch. She is now permanent in her new bank call centre job, but they are still considering moving to the Bendigo area. They are going to the Grampians for Easter. It was a most enjoyable afternoon. So good to catch up with my daughter again.

When John returned, he gave V our old TV aerial and I gave her my laptop. She seemed to think she could teach herself word processing on it. I would be getting a “new” hand me down from John, shortly.

V left about 5.30pm.

Our tea was soup and leftovers from lunch.

We had a very early night – feeling weary at the end of a very long day!

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1999 Travels September 25


We were up, packed and away by 9.30. We really hadn’t had a chance to fully set up camp at Pakenham, which made it easier.

Our route to Healesville went via Cockatoo and Woori Yallock. This time, we did not have the towing dramas of the early days when we travelled part of this route!

Because it was school holidays and the Badger Creek Caravan Park was heavily booked – it is a family holiday venue – we were put on a site where a permanent van had just been removed. It was not a very big site, but it had the great benefit of being away from the hordes of rather horrible and badly behaved children that were running wild in the “tourist” section of the park. I think we preferred it amongst the regulars and the cabins!

We also had to pay the holiday rate of $20 per night, but the seventh night was free. When the holidays end, next weekend, it would revert to the normal $17 a night rate.

John did a very quick, basic, set up, then rushed off to bowls at Lilydale – a social game.

I read, knitted, walked around the extremely attractive grounds for a while, and had the football Grand Final on in the background. Carlton lost, which would disappoint John – however he came home happy that he’d bowled well, and that offset the disappointment over Carlton.

For tea, I made up a version of the Italian chicken that we’d had at H’s – John really wanted me to try to reproduce this. I rolled up ham and mozzarella inside flattened chicken breasts (I pounded these with the little rolling pin). Cooked the rolls by simmering in the electric frypan, in a tomato, onion, garlic type sauce, with mozzarella slices on top, garnished with capers and black olives. They were yummy!

I phoned K and left a message that we’d relocated again.

John played computer games until nearly dawn.

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1999 Travels March 16


We unintentionally slept in till 9am. The morning was grey, cloudy and cool, which may explain the sleep in. Managed to leave the park at 10am though.

During the night, some fishing rods were stolen from a boat in the caravan park. It seems Lakes Entrance may have a problem, as we were told in Tathra, by other travellers, that there had been a problem with break-ins to cars in several of the caravan parks in the town.

It seemed a long drive to Melbourne. We reached the Trakmaster factory in Bayswater just before 3pm. Refuelled at Sale – 70cpl –  and had  a short lunch stop in the Latrobe Valley.

Owner C seemed really pleased to see us. The other owner R was there too. One of their vans returning from adventures! We sat and watched their new promotional video, and talked about the 1998 Trakmaster Trek that R had led, and his plans for the 1999 one. These annual expeditions are a great idea, to get new owners used to their vans, and see – in the security of an organized trip – the offroad capabilities of their vans. However, they are not for us – we do not much like travel in a group, and the Trek occurs at a time of each year when we are elsewhere.

J arrived – rather late. He couldn’t fix the problem! But he remains convinced that it is a control box. He arranged to bring a new one out to Healesville on Thursday and install it there. Whilst we were at the factory, one of the Trakmaster men worked on the support/brace to stop the fridge sliding forward in its cavity when we travel. It looks like they might have left something off when it was built! They also cut an extra vent for ventilation of the rear of the fridge, through the cupboard wall beside the cavity. There was already such a hole on the other side, plus the grated vent in the bench top above. We have not had any issues, but it just seems wise to ventilate the back as much as we can.

03-16-1999 fridge out for repair.jpg

The fridge out of its cavity and being worked on at Trakmaster

It was nearly 5.30pm when that work was all done, so we had to deal with peak hour traffic, through Bayswater and Kilsyth. It is a good thing we are familiar with the roads.

So it was heading for 7pm when we reached the Badger Creek Caravan Park – $16 a night, with the seventh night free. Back here again!

By the time we set up, it was very late, so we went and bought a pizza for tea.

Phoned K – no one home – so we left a message that we had arrived back in the area.

It seemed really cold to us, and we’d had a tiring couple of days, so went to bed at 10.30pm. Soon after, K rang. We arranged to go there to collect our mail, tomorrow, and for tea on Saturday. He offered to have a game of bowls with John – I think he misses the game, which he no longer plays due to having to work some weekends.


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1998 Travels February 20


The moving on routine gets easier each time. We were quick and efficient again today. Like the traveller yesterday, had to take great care getting out of the site. No one claimed the forgotten door mat, so it is ours. Will be a good one to have outside, in front of the portable step.

We were in Melbourne by late morning. Made our way through lots of traffic, via Carlton, Eastern Freeway, Springvale Road to Wantirna, the location of my choice of caravan park for our stay here. Found it was full – and it did not look all that attractive, anyway – a concrete jungle.

Checked my RACV caravan park book and thought that one of the two parks at Healesville would be convenient enough for us. But John remembered a park at Monbulk and wanted to go there, so we continued on out the Burwood Highway and through the Dandenongs to Monbulk. The park was unspeakable – grotty, gloomy, full of ferals; I doubted they even took tourists! Even John admitted it was not what he thought. It was no wonder that I had never even heard of its existence, and had not been able to find it in the RACV book!

He agreed to try Healesville. From Monbulk we went via Seville, where we bought lunch rolls, which we ate there, then Woori Yallock. By this time, John was getting impatient and his leg was hurting. Found ourselves on a long downhill stretch of road – he had not slowed at the top or changed down gears and by the time we reached the bottom, were doing well over 100kmh! Very scary – and a lesson in that. Obviously, there are some driving techniques still to be learned.

Badger Creek Caravan Park at Healesville had room for us – a good powered site in a very picturesque park, with lots of trees, and the Badger Creek running along one boundary. It is still flowing quite well, even at this end of the dry summer. $16 a night, with the 7th night free. I will like it here. The amenities are clean, roomy, but I am not sure about the piped music though.

Did a basic set up as the afternoon was getting on, and we had plans for it.

Drove home where we were reunited with the pets again. Dropped off some surplus gear, like the extra number of tent/awning poles. Had a chat with P and K. Thence to John’s bowls club, where he checked out coming games.

Bought fish and chips for tea, in Healesville. They were too greasy.

John discovered he could not get any decent TV reception. As we are surrounded by hills, this is not surprising!

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Our round about route from Torquay to Healesville