This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2015 Travels April 29


Last night was really cold. I slept better than I’d expected to, given the head cold and bouts of a tickly cough. Using two pillows to prop myself somewhat upright was not all that comfortable, but at least I was warm. Couey was good all through the night – not a peep from her.

I woke at 7am. There was a lot of road noise, for some reason and I didn’t think I’d get back to sleep, so got up, took Couey for her morning walk and fed her. Then cleaned the leg wounds and put on fresh dressings. Sat on my bed to do it, because leg has to be stretched out in front of me while the ulcer areas are soaked with special stuff, and also because that way I can reach it all. It was all a bit awkward and I thought it might be easier next time if I waited till John was up and used his bed to rest foot on. It was all a bit experimental still.

Had my breakfast sitting outside, the way I like. An addition to the Bus gear, before this trip,  had been a two mug sized coffee plunger. No more instant coffee for me at breakfast.

Left the park at 9.55am. Another benefit of shorter day stages is less pressure to rush away in the mornings. Before we left, I put some more of the Bunnings enzyme stuff down the sink drain.

Back onto the Hume Freeway.

The day was cloudy, with a few blue sky patches.

Refuelled at BP Logic Centre, a km off the freeway, just south of Wodonga.  We were getting quite low on fuel. Despite the strange name it was an easy place to go to and fuel at, and then to get back to the highway from. It was very modern and separated cars from trucks and buses. We went to the latter section and found there was only hi-flow diesel at those bowsers. Great – no room for errors there! $1.309cpl – John got a discount, not sure why. Maybe because we were in the truck/bus area?

The driver of a cattle truck filling up next to us asked me if A frame tow hitches were legal in Victoria? I thought they were accepted all over Australia…That led to some talk about travel  in general. Meantime, Couey resolutely ignored the all-pervasive smell of cow…

So onwards. The new-ish Wodonga Albury bypass highway is so great – love it. The bridge it takes over the Murray is called the Spirit of Progress Bridge. I wondered if that was to commemorate the train that used to travel from Melbourne to the NSW border, where Sydney passengers would have to change to a different train to complete the trip. After the standard gauge rail was completed in 1962, they could go all the way on the Spirit of Progress which remained in service until 1986.

Crossing the Murray

The day became less cloudy and hotter  as we progressed north, to the point where I swapped the windcheater I’d started out in, for a polo shirt.

Stopped for lunch at Holbrook where a slip road goes to a parking area by a bakery, housed in a former servo, so there was plenty of parking space.  It featured a good choice of food at good prices. I bought a salad and cheese multi-grain roll. That’s my measure of a good bakery – that they do that sort of food. I couldn’t resist buying a couple of vanilla slices for tonight’s dessert – they looked so tempting. After I’d made my purchases and returned to John and dog, he went in and got a pepper pie and sausage roll.

We set up our camp chairs outside Bus, by a large grassed area and sat and ate, whilst throwing the ball for dog. So she got a good workout while we indulged. Civilized living…

There was a caravan park behind the bakery that looked alright – just a basic one. Worth knowing about.

The Hume in NSW

The Hume really is a great road, these days, though the cement-type surface in NSW takes a bit of getting used to, because of the peculiar road noise the joins create, which, the first time, always makes one wonder if something has gone wrong with the vehicle. I noticed that on some downhill sections, the surface was roughed up – to make them less slippery if wet or frosty, I guessed. But also even louder.

Textured road surface on a downhill stretch of the Hume

We had a taste of the “old” Hume north of Holbrook, where about 5kms of the new road was closed off for works and we were diverted onto the old single lane, two way road.

Stopped again at Tarcutta as John was getting tired. We all got out to walk around and stretch the legs. Couey did the hugest wee – went on and on. Poor thing must have had crossed legs for ages!

Looked at the Memorial to Truck Drivers who had been killed whilst driving. It was both sobering and impressive. So many names and so many relatively young ones. Really drove home the hazardous nature of that work. It was very tastefully done. The old Hume Highway used to see so many awful accidents involving trucks. Tarcutta  was about half way between Melbourne and Sydney, so this seemed an appropriate place for such a memorial.

Truck drivers’ memorial Tarcutta

Our last deviation from the Hume was into Gundagai, to the Gundagai Tourist Park. Here we paid $41.40, after discount, for an en-suite site. This was an unusual park, clearly designed for overnight transit. About half the sites were en-suite – all roofed at 3.25 metres high. Believe me, I checked first!

Roofed Gundagai sitesthey don’t look that high…

The en-suites were like dividing pillars between each pair of sites, which were all cemented drive through, with a small patch of grass. It made for easy setting up – no awning needed. It was near the freeway, but the noise from this was muted – nowhere near as loud as last night’s place.

Yes, we fit under…and the car can stay hitched on

The park also had cabins and grassed powered and unpowered sites. All  needs  catered for?

We were told that TV reception was good there, so was no need for travellers to put up antennas, which would be hard under the roof, anyway.  Couldn’t vouch for that as there was definitely something wrong with our system – no signal again.

I walked Couey on the lead on a grassy area between the cabins and a little creek.

We had a relax for a while – it had only been 2.15pm  when we arrived here. Then walked to a Woolworths supermarket, only a couple of blocks away. I wanted a cheap calculator, to work out bus fuel consumption, mainly. I needed to buy some tea towels, as all but one of the Bus ones had been washed, ironed and put away neatly  – in the linen cupboard at home. Can’t remember what I was thinking at the time, but it probably had something to do with leaving the ironing basket to pile high over several months, before tackling same.  John had to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste – guess why!

I also bought Turkish bread rolls, salami, ham, some cheeses. John had said he didn’t fancy the pasta and sauce I’d planned for tea tonight, but he didn’t know what he did feel like. Lot of help, that. So bread, meats and cheese it was – he usually loves that sort of meal.

We’d obviously had to take Couey walking with us. She was, these days, quite happy to amble along footpaths on the lead, ignoring other people. But  she got very anxious when one of us disappeared into a shop. There was no way we could leave her tied up and both go off shopping. The harness/collar/lead that she can’t get out of has not been invented yet. John minded her while I was in Woolworths, and said she fretted a bit. Then we swapped. She watched him go into Woolworths, intently, and whined a bit and paced up and down.

As we put up the new camp chairs outside Bus, earlier, John had noticed a problem with one chair leg, where a rivet hadn’t fastened properly, so he wanted to find a hardware store and get some screws. I’d walked far enough with the sore leg, so said I’d wait on a seat, with dog,  by Woolworths, while he went and did that. Well, dog watched him retreating into the distance and just howled, loud and long. As in – made  people turn around and stare loud. All I could do was put on my “I’m really not mistreating this animal” face and wait it out.

We’d never before stayed at or explored Gundagai. I would have loved to be fit enough to walk around more and explore. We had seen some beautiful historic buildings and on the walk read some displayed information about the town’s history. Settlement in the area dated from about 1830, so there would be much of interest. The town is beside the Murrumbidgee River, so it has  experienced a number of major floods. One, in the 1800’s, killed over 70 people. There were extensive parklands alongside the river which added to the town’s attractiveness.

We vowed to return another time, stay for longer and really look around.

Back to camp where we sat outside with a beer each, relaxing. Very pleasant. Chatted with some neighbours – older than us – with an A-Van and two collie dogs.

Plenty of room to sit outside

John had a nap before tea. Again, he couldn’t get the TV to work.

Before we left, John had been in contact with daughter and arranged to be in Canberra to visit them. After that, we would decide what to do next – depending on how my leg was travelling.

Once the sun was down, it cooled down really fast. Tonight would be another very cold night.

The last two days of travel had been really pleasurable – not too far each day, and with regular stops. I was enjoying just mooching along like that.

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2015 Travels April 28


Finalized getting ready to go. For once, we managed it all in a calm and methodical way. The only drama was that, when it came time to get on Bus, Couey baulked, slipped her harness and was loose. But she didn’t run right away, just circling around us. Then she came to John when called and the inducement of chew bone coated with peanut butter got her on board, where she settled quickly.

The day was not too warm, lots of fluffy clouds, even some blue sky.

Left home at 11.15am. God, it was good to be heading off again.

Melba Highway – crest of the Great Dividing Range

Five years ago, this was blackened trunks and white ash, no green then.

Took our normal  route to Seymour, where we stopped as usual at the New Crossing Park for lunch. I’d made sandwiches before we left home. Couey got to have a ball chase, but only after she’d taken advantage of a momentary distraction on our part, and managed to lie down in a large, muddy puddle. Swamp dog!

The picnic table and seats had been removed, and the old toilets were closed up. I wondered if they were trying to deter people from stopping there?

Took the Hume Freeway northwards, stopping after only 9kms at the Grass Tree Rest Area – where there were toilets! Couey got a bonus walk around too. It was a well set out rest area, with car parking separated from truck and bus parking places.

Further along we stopped again at the Balcattah  Rest Area, for John to have a wake up walk. We all wandered about for a bit.

After this morning’s protest, Couey had no more reluctance to get on board Bus after stops.

Before this trip, John had bought a new Garmin GPS – a truck model with a larger screen. Because of the distance of the windscreen in Bus from the driver, he’d had trouble reading the screen on the old one. Set for truck use, it would plot routes that avoided nasties like low bridges – in theory, anyway. It seemed to take us on a slightly round about route to our caravan park in North Wangaratta. Perhaps that was because, being truck enabled, it avoided the centre of town. But it had not taken us via the Over Dimensional route at Seymour, so that didn’t make sense. There, the way we went, had we been a truck, we would have been seriously embarrassed at the very low railway bridge!

Arrived at Cedars North Wangaratta at 3.45pm. Long enough for the first day. The very nice man gave us an en-suite site where we could drive through and keep the Terios hitched to Bus. $45 after discount.

Staying hitched up at Cedars North

We were a bit slow at setting up, as we tried to remember how to do it. Both the awning and the TV aerial were stiff from disuse.

John fiddled about setting up his Blackvue dash camera, which he hadn’t done at home, for some reason.

A walking trail on part of the old highway bordered some of the park and we went walking along that, for a while. That was an unexpected benefit of the park. It was a pleasant walk with lots of interesting smells for Couey. There were some rabbits which she didn’t even see, and some cattle near a fence. These she gave a very wide berth to. Cattle dog? Who, me….nah! I even raised a sweat. walking, but then I was hopelessly unfit.

John couldn’t get the TV to acquire a signal – something was wrong, somewhere.

Tea was cold chicken marylands that I’d pre-cooked at home. I made a wombok coleslaw and a Greek salad to go with that. Dessert was passionfruit from our vines at home.

The night was rather chilly, but not quite enough to warrant getting out the heater.

My leg was hurting a bit; I would need to dress it tomorrow, probably. At least the cold was getting no worse.

In the absence of TV, we both spent some time using laptops and I wrote up the diary.

We are away! Done it – at last!

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2003 Travels April 9


It was a really cold morning. I could see my breath condensing – inside the van!

We were back on the road, without any glitches, by 8.30am. Breakfasted, and with lunches packed, and thermos of hot water prepared for our coffee breaks.

It was a somewhat tedious trip to Canberra. The route, most on the Hume Highway,  was not new to us. Though the remaining Victorian section, at least the towns – or turn offs to them – were relatively close together, to break up the farming country. But in NSW they became more spaced out, and it was mostly just low, rolling hills, and grazing country – mostly sheep.

We stopped for morning coffee break at Lake Mokoan rest stop, then for lunch at Holbrook.

I then drove the section from Holbrook, to Gundagai.

In Canberra, John wanted to stay on the Yass side of town – to avoid the morning city traffic when we left again. So we fetched up at the Canberra Carotel Caravan Park, at Watson  – a decidedly grotty caravan facility behind a big motel.  It was very basic, but they charged $19 a night!

There were about half a dozen more or less permanent dwellers, living in big buses, clustered in one section of the park.

Other tourists had packed into the line of powered sites furthest from “bus central”, occupying every site, but there were some empty sites closer to the buses, and we took one of those. In this place, it was a case of pay your money and find your own site!

We did not set up the awning, as it was to be a short stay.

John phoned daughter and arranged to go visit at 10am tomorrow. I phoned my daughter, to let her know we were away, at last.

It was a cold night again, but not as much as last night – rather surprisingly, as I always expect Canberra to be colder than other places, once summer is over.

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