This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2005 Travels February – March


Over the summer, Truck had a huge service and repair of clutch, gearbox etc – over $6000 worth! This was done at a Landrover dealer we had changed to last year, after issues in 2003 with the previous one.

Van had the under chassis painted and a service – over $1000 worth, at Trakmaster.

These costs would have been needed had we just been going travelling, anyway, rather than going off to work. A degree of age was catching up with our rig. Truck had now travelled 220,000kms – some of them pretty tough ones.

We had a new solar management system installed by a specialist in alternative power systems. He turned out to be a former staff member of the Outdoor Education company my school had used, and I knew him from then. He found that the van batteries were defunct – probably due to mismanagement back from 2002 by the incompetent  who installed the system back then. Our new power man recommended Full River AGM batteries, which we were able to source at mates rates through an electrician friend.

The new solar management system gave us much more information about what was happening with the solar system and batteries. It was easiest to install it next to the old one, so we had new and defunct side by side.

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Defunct and new solar management systems

We noted, with some amazement after reading a recent article in a caravan magazine, that it appeared the incompetent solar power man was back in business, under a new company name! More trusting innocents to be sucked in!

John arranged for A to see the alternative power person, to discuss possible options for powering Pungalina, such as a system operated by the force of running water in the creeks.

A few weeks after the Truck works were completed, its electricals died. New batteries were needed. The old ones were bone dry. Checking these had been overlooked by Landrover dealers in successive servicings, it seemed.  It was no consolation to be told the latest mistake was that of a second year apprentice…”But we’ve sacked him now”. Clearly, oversight was lacking. We decided to put AGM batteries in Truck, too.

We were disconcerted to find, when gearing up for the trip, that the CB and HF radios no longer worked. Clearly, something the Landrover service centre had done, had disabled them. So it was back across the suburbs to the dealer, to get that rectified. Apparently, “someone” had overlooked reconnecting that part of the electricals. That was kind of the last straw for us – seriously considering just finding a non affiliated competent general mechanic!

We had arranged new housesitters through an online site. This Tasmanian couple had a daughter with young family living locally, and they wanted an extended sit, to be near her while she had a new baby.

Friend M, who had spent some time travelling with us in the Pilbara, last year, had finally decided to retire from teaching and embark on travel. We spent time helping her firm up her plans, culminating in the sale of her home and her purchase of an ex-Telstra Toyota Troopy, and gear for travel and camping with that.

We spent some time preparing for this year’s adventure.

John made the folding tables, bought lights and other potentially useful stuff. He packed some of his own gear that might be needed. He bought packets of vegetable seeds for the garden he was to get going properly.

I sewed some chef’s style aprons, figuring that there were unlikely to be any already there, and thinking I should look the part. Used plain coloured heavy cotton – in safari camp colours of black and light brown. John asked for a couple to be made for him, in case he was doing something like open fire barbequing. I made him two, from a heavy striped cotton. They looked different!

I did a lot of recipe research and roughed out potential menus for camp groups, allowing for possible supply issues. It was a good thing that I had some experience of remote life! I bought things like food handling gloves, enough pannacotta moulds to cater for twelve people – and packed quite a bit of my own cooking gear to take, beyond that which usually travelled in the van.

Close to departure time, my laptop computer (which had been a hand-me-down from John) stopped working properly. I took it to our computer man for possible repairs. If it could be fixed, he would send it up to us. That was quite a blow because it potentially limited my ability to do things like word process letters to family and friends, store photos from the digital camera that I had decided to rely totally on, this year.

John did some preparatory work to set up as observers for Birds Australia. We had decided that Pungalina offered potentially rewarding bird surveying, being so remote and little populated. It would be an extra interest for us.

I phoned our Griffith friends and arranged to visit them on our way north.

At the last minute, A dropped in some signs he’d had made for each of the camp tents – they were to have local plant names, like Bauhinia. They were wood and very nicely done. John would have to put them in place. A also bought some sets of binoculars, for the use of guests, and a heap of Pungalina pamphlets he’d had printed. We were to put these into caravan parks and information centres, as convenient, as we travelled north.

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John fuelled up Truck, and filled the jerry can – $1.10cpl.

There was not much room left in or on Truck – or in the van!


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2000 Travels November 21


We moved today – not far – only to Woodman Point Caravan Park, just south of Fremantle. This was where we were originally going to be for the Olympics (for good TV), but we had managed to change that reservation, without penalty, to one over the Xmas summer holiday period. Now, of course, we have had to cancel that. So, we planned to stay here now, for five days, partly to use up some of the deposit money we paid, and partly to see what we would be missing over summer!

Before we left, John pulled off the van wheel and checked the brakes – the spring was there!

Then we finished the pack up and set off.

The brakes on the van were NOT working! This did not make the man happy!

I did not find it easy to navigate across the southern suburbs of Perth, with only the Road Atlas map to use.

Woodman Point cost $19.80 a night.

It was a lovely park – we would have been really comfortable here, over the holidays.

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Lovely site at Woodman Point

As we were setting up, a man came by and stopped to talk. He had a Defender. He was in the Army in Victoria, and worked on them all the time. He’d bought the new five cylinder one, but plans to go back to one like ours – low-tech – due to problems with the computers in the new ones.

He told us that the wheel bearings can be greased, and gave John some hints about that. He suggested that we contact the customer service boss for help re the repairs and compensation for the bearing problem we had fixed in Broome.

We had lunch, then went into Fremantle. Picked up our mail there. Bought calendars – WA scenery ones – for Xmas presents. Bought a share market book for me and a Harry Potter one for John. I put films in for processing.

We went to Harvey Norman to look at fridges and get an idea of what is available these days.

John got back under the van again. He found the spring was out of its cup – wonder what bump did that? The bushes were gone on a shock absorber and that was worn.

On the advice of the park people, he decided to get a mobile van repairer to come.

John was really unhappy about the things that need fixing. Bits breaking down and wearing out were making him depressed!

The van had now been towed 31,421kms. Guess bits will wear out.

The mail had several lovely personal letters from friends.

Tea was chow mein and rice.

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2000 Travels November 20


I did three loads of washing in the morning, whilst John made phone calls to try to sort out vehicle related stuff. He went to a van parts place, then worked on the van brakes, and thought he’d fixed them.

We then had to really rush to go quite a distance to the north side of town, to get the Polyair suspension bag replaced on truck. John had made a 3pm time for this. We got there half an hour late, but the man was nice about it. It was probably too ambitious to try to do it all in one day.

While the work was being done, we walked to a bank to get the money to pay him cash – it was quite a long walk!

He found the shock absorber on Truck also needed fixing, so it was a more costly exercise than we had expected – some $500. It also took much longer than had been expected!

It was getting on for 7pm when we got back to the area of the caravan park, so looked for a place to get pizzas.

John was really low on diesel and worried about that and finally found  a place to put in some fuel – at $1.08cpl..

It was just all too much of a rushed day!

On top of it all, John couldn’t remember if he’d put a spring part back in the brakes, due to the rush to finish, so he would have to pull it apart again, in the morning, to check.

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2000 Travels August 21


It was another lovely hot day.

John was up early to drive Truck – very slowly and carefully – to Shinju Motors.

I cycled to the shops at the newish Boulevard Centre and had a look around.

Shinju Motors phoned, later in the morning. Both back wheel bearings and axles need replacing. We don’t do things by halves! But the shocking news was when they said that the problem was caused because the back wheel bearings have NEVER been greased! It is not on the service schedule, it seems, because they are supposed to be “whole of life” units”! The mechanic told John this, but also said that there is an “extreme conditions” addendum to the service schedule, and greasing the bearings is on that. Obviously, the various service centres we have used have only followed the standard schedule. It is simply not something one thinks to ask be done – seems so obvious.

I suspect, also, that the time the hot wheels spent standing in cold water, when we were bogged on the Kalumburu road, may have played a role. I had read somewhere that, after such an event, which can suck in water, re-greasing is needed. I wondered if we had gotten this done in Kununurra, whether we would have been ok?

John will complain to Landrover Australia about this issue. It is going to cost us about $1600. However, it may be ready as early as Wednesday.

John has insisted that they keep Truck locked inside the workshop at night.

John began work on this year’s tax stuff.

I cycled to the Post Office and collected our mail. I got some nice letters from friends.

The cruise ship left, late in the day. So it basically had a two day stop here. Guess they did the Cable Beach sunset thing last night.

From the caravan park beach front, we can see the wharf area in the distance.

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Roebuck Bay as seen from in front of the caravan park

Tea was curried beans and rice.

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2000 Travels May 8


John was up early, to take Truck to Landrover. We packed our bedding and the overnight things in Truck before he went. He then walked back to the unit for breakfast.

We left there at 10 and walked to the nearby shopping complex. On the way we visited Harvey Norman and bought computer games. John bought Railroad Tycoon and an update for his Alpha Centuari. I bought  Bridge and Euchre games.

Having time to fill in, we browsed in a tile shop, looking at kitchen tiles and laminexes.

At the shopping complex, bought a birthday card for S, ordered a new mobile phone battery, had lunch.

John checked in by phone with Landrover. Truck needed new wheel bearing seals on the front. It also needed a new tyre as the flat one was beyond redemption.

We walked back there and spent a while checking out new tyres at a nearby place. Decided to buy a complete new set – definitely not Olympics! Went for Dunlops – a new type, SF Road Grippers, replacing their Adventurers. These were the ones the tyre service man recommended as best for our needs. We got a good trade in on the Olympics.

John then realized that the tubes he had in the Olympics were the original ones – now done over 100,000kms! No wonder they had been wearing!

The tyres were an unexpected expenditure, but I think we both had much more confidence that these new ones would be much more stable on the road.

The tyres could not be done until the next day, so we went back to the caravan park for another night. We were in a different unit, but one with a similar layout and price.

While John went to collect Truck, with new seals done, I walked to the shops and bought things for tea and breakfast.

Tea was some salad. John had skinless franks and bread. I just had bread with my salad.

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2000 Travels April 22


Another early start, to go to Beaumaris for bowls. But it was not as early as it should have been, as John was not very organized and had to do a big hunt for the right bowls clothes. We had to rather hurry. Truck blew the fuses again, on the way. When we got to John’s sister’s place, the other men had already left for the club, so sister H offered to drive him there.

I phoned Landrover Assist and they arranged for me to take Truck to the dealer’s at Frankston. That drive of some 20kms In Saturday morning traffic, was a tense one, with no indicators!

The workshop replaced the left hand indicator light, in the front bullbar, which was rusted and corroded – and the blinkers then worked again. That cost $85!

I’d had to phone my brother to cancel today’s lunch and arrangements with him, due to Truck issue.

On the way back to Beaumaris, I stopped at a shopping centre at Chelsea, bought a roll for my lunch, and some food offerings for tea at H’s. I got back there about 2pm.

H took a phone call that said her husband had won a big Easter egg raffle, and that the prize would be delivered.

I walked to the bowls club and watched the last part of the third game. John’s team (him, brother, brother in law, and friend of brother from the MCC club) was unbeaten. There had to be a playoff with three other unbeaten sides. They won the first elimination round fairly easily, but the final was closer. However, they won! The crowd was supporting the other side – all local members. I heard one man describe our team as “mongrel” – I think he meant hybrid! As in made up of men from different clubs.

The guys were so thrilled. They received $200 each – not bad! They also won a souvenir glass each for having one end where all eight of their bowls were winning ones. That is fairly rare. So they were on a real high. It was a pity that the other wives had not seen the final.

Back to H’s for tea – roast rolled chicken. It was a pleasant evening.

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Victorious bowlers – and a big basket of Easter eggs

We got back to Healesville about 1am – long drive back. Drove 210kms altogether today.

It had been another long and tiring day, albeit for different reasons for each of us.

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2000 Travels April 3


We were up early, as Truck had to be at Landrover in Launceston at 8am, for them to try to fix whatever is wrong in front.

We walked around parts of the city for a while. Fortunately, the dealer was not too far from the central city area.

Visited a good looking craft shop, where I bought some embroidery fabric.

Went to the Library, and found they had the Tasmanian Pioneer Records, and a good family history research set up. I began to research mum’s family, using the microfiche and found out quite a bit, including that my grandfather could not write. His name, on his marriage record, was signed with a X.

We got a phone call to say that Truck was ready a lot earlier than expected. John went to fetch it, while I worked on at the Library. It just needed a proper wheel balance, apparently – the Burnie K Mart one was not done properly.

On the way back, went to the mill at Legana because John wanted to swap one of the pieces of wood he bought yesterday, for a better piece. We arranged to go back tomorrow to collect same.

Tea was chicken dijonnaise.