This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2017 Travels May 1


There had been a rather leisurely preparation and pack for this short trip, in amongst tests, scans and appointments. With the news that a necessary specialist appointment would not be until May 17, we had a clear fortnight – and were away!

John was up early and sent the dog in to wake me at 8am. Crude, but effective. 28 kilos of dog doing a flying leap onto the bed, than going into the so-happy-to-see-you routine, is impossible to ignore.

All organized, dog on board, house locked up, Terios on back, we drove off down our street at 10.15 am. A couple of hundred metres along, John managed to collide Bus with a large green wheely bin, fortunately empty. It was minding its own business on the nature strip, but he was trying to activate one of his dashboard gadgets and strayed from the road. There was a most impressive noise, and bin bounced off, somewhere. Obviously, our solid bull bar was not going to be injured, and he did not stop to check on the welfare of the bin. According to John, it had no right to still be out there, since collection day was last Friday.

The day was cloudy and cool.

Took our usual route via Yarra Glen, Yea, Seymour, Heathcote.

There is a property between Coldstream and Yarra Glen that I always look at with interest. Once it used to have alpacas grazing but now there were very handsome sheep, with black faces and legs. I don’t know the breed, but they are much more attractive than the standard variety plain white sheep.

Topped up the fuel, as usual, at the Glenburn servo, where there is plentiful room to get the rig in. $1.149 cpl for diesel.

Stopped at the old railway station rest area at Yea – mainly for a comfort stop for the dog. We walked her across into the area that once was tracks, and let her have a run. Ungrateful creature! There was one small patch of mud where a tap was dripping and, of course, she found it – and wallowed in it before either of us could reach her. I swear the look on her face meant something like “I know you are cross with me – but it was worth it!” I’d gone to the trouble and expense, last week, of taking her to the grooming service at the Animal Aid, for a bath, so we would have less of a doggy smell about the place. Now there was a distinct swampy doggy ambience.

Old railway station Yea

After Yea, there were some encouraging patches of blue sky appearing to the north.

Next stop was Heathcote, for lunch from the bakery there. John took dog for another walk, firmly on the lead, while I did the buying. A pastie and sausage roll for John – he had been looking forward to the yummy pastries from here, for days. Egg and lettuce sandwich for me, a couple of coffees and a pumpkin and garlic scroll to have with tonight’s soup. $29 in all. Supporting small town economies…

I had been coming through Heathcote regularly, over the fifteen years that daughter had been living in Bendigo and had noticed how much this small, historic, Goldfields town has revitalized in that time – much of it due to the impact of tourists.

1.30pm when we left Heathcote for the last leg to Marong. Good timing as far as making our way through Bendigo before school traffic time.

John was happy with the feel of the new clutch. He had feared it would be very stiff, but not so. The gear changing seemed smoother and easier.

Lake Eppalock must have been really full as Mt Ida Creek, just to the west of Heathcote, was overflowing its banks. This links to the Lake and I can’t remember seeing it this full, here, before.

Our Garmin, with me carefully checking its instructions against my paper map, took us on the through traffic route that skirts the centre of Bendigo. It involved a few turns and the need to be in the correct lane in advance, but was not too hard.

Arrived at the Big 4 Marong Holiday Park at 2.30 and were allocated en-suite site 1, the same as we occupied last time here. We would be comfortable. The site cost $37.80, after discount.

I had not let daughter know we were going to be in the area until we were actually on our way, given how things had been going for us, lately. We decided not to actually meet up with them until tomorrow, because John wanted to nap for a while and then see if he could get his newest tablet working as a mobile hot spot/modem for the internet for our laptops.

Both ventures were successfully accomplished. I relaxed on my bed, and read.

Tea was cucumber soup brought from home, some slices of cold roast beef left from the weekend roast, and the scroll, which was very nice eating.

After tea, rain started and lasted for most of the very chilly night, but we were snug and cosy in Bus.

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2016 Travels September 6


John had to be up much earlier than usual. After he showered, I put a fresh dressing on the leg wound. Although the stitches were removed before we came away, the area rubs on his trouser leg and becomes sore if it is not covered.

I did a load of washing – $3. Had to go hang it on an older rotary line at the corner of the park, as the long lines by the laundry were full. There was lots of bedding, rugs and the like occupying the lines. I suspected someone from the retirement village section had done a big spring clean.

John left about 11am to drive to Williamstown in Melbourne for his sister’s funeral. He wasn’t sure if he would come back later, or stay overnight with another sibling. I had arranged with the park to move the Coaster onto an ordinary drive through site if we need an extra night, as this site is booked. I could manage such a move on my own, but am not very good yet at getting Bus lined up well by a slab, if I had to back it alone – hence the drive-through.

Read a novel found in the laundry, which was quite engrossing. Walked Couey around the park a few times. I wasn’t quite brave enough to run the gauntlet of the retirees, to take her up the back.

Caravan park at Marong

Spent some time studying the maps – paper variety. John really wants to go visit the site at Boolite, west of here, where he taught at a one-teacher school for a year in the 60’s. I thought we could go on there, from here, .look at the place, then go on to  Warracknabeal, Donald or St Arnaud for a couple of nights. All of those are new ground for me. Then we could base ourselves at Maryborough for a few days and look around the region, then ditto Castlemaine. There were so many little former gold mining villages in that region I’d like to look at. My artist brother went through a period when he painted lots of old buildings and scenes from those places and he was often off, poking about looking for new inspiration,  but I had never visited them.

Daughter, S and her mum, and the boys, arrived about 6.30, as arranged, to have a BBQ tea here. V brought hamburgers, rolls, sausages, bacon. They bought a very nice bottle of wine for crocheting the rug for their gift. I supplied some salad, eggs and tomato sauce. We cooked in the BBQ section of the camp kitchen and ate there. It was a little chilly, but not too bad – the big roof kept the worst of the chill off. After we’d finished, did a thorough clean up of the BBQ area to return it to its previous immaculate condition.

Adjourned to Bus because it was warmer, to chat and finish of the bottle of wine, mixing talking with partly watching Australian Survivor. John had phoned at 5.30 to say he was just leaving to come back. He arrived at 7.45.  The family left at 8.30pm – past the boys’ bedtime on a school and kinder night.

The funeral had gone off well enough, as these things go. John had the usual catch up with members of his very large family that he only usually sees on such occasions. We tried to count how many times he is a great-uncle, but gave up as he was not sure of “who has had what”. He knows all of the offspring of his eleven older siblings, but it gets a bit hazy after that. As a later-comer second wife, I know hardly any. With only one brother and one nephew, I find John’s family rather overwhelming. However, my recent family history research had turned up the fact that one of my great-great-grandfathers had 101 grandchildren, plus 21 step-grandchildren! I must be related to most of Tasmania…

John did not like the travel plans I’d devised today. He wanted to go straight to Castlemaine, from here, to visit his friend from teachers’ college days, who lives near there, and then go touring around the old goldfields towns.

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2016 Travels September 5


Usual morning – me rising about 8am and John sleeping late.

While walking Couey on the lead around the park, got talking to a man working on the gardens. Told him how attractive and well kept I found the place. The poor man said he was constantly battling rabbits that come in from the surrounding farmland and dig up newly planted shrubs to eat the roots. Given all the surrounding grass, that rather surprised me.

I said that, from my perspective, all the park needed to make it perfect was a fenced dog run area. Pushy? Well, maybe they hadn’t thought of it? He seemed to think it might be worth considering, but said that we could walk Couey through the residential section (that says no entry except to residents), to the paddock at the back and throw the ball for her there. Very nice of him.

Left the park at noon to meet daughter at her workplace in the centre of Bendigo. The drive in from Marong to the city was really pretty. Forested areas alternating with farmland, from Marong to Maiden Gully – an outlying sort of new suburb development – then more treed and farm lands. The built up city area really only extends about three kms in this western direction.

Mining dump area beside Calder Highway

I seemed to recollect from some long past history study, that the rich gold reefs found from the 1850’s on, extended in a roughly N-S direction and that was the way the early gold rush settlement developed. There was still much evidence of these beginnings about the place, in more than just locality names. We passed large mullock dump heaps as well as the occasional mine poppet head.

Old mining area only 3kms from city centre

At work, daughter was there on her RDO to take part in a blind pie tasting test, to determine the best one to buy for a future function, and she’d invited John – with all his pie eating experience – to join in. There were two pies from local bakeries, one from Aldi, and a Four and Twenty one. Rather surprisingly to me, the first choice of the majority of the tasters was the Aldi pie, with the Four and Twenty one second.

There were some great shops in Bendigo and daughter had a favourite where she bought many of her clothes. I’d been hunting for a while for an outfit to wear to son’s wedding, and not been able to find anything I liked in shops around our local area. I was really trying to avoid going into central Melbourne or one of the mammoth shopping complexes for same. So daughter took me to her favourite outlet, not far from her work. The sales lady there was most helpful and I ended up buying not one, but two, outfits. I suspected daughter who encouraged me, may have an eye to borrowing one of them at a future date.

Trying on outfits

I did love the manageable scale of Bendigo’s shopping areas – and traffic. Maybe one day….

We’d left Couey tied outside the shop, because John wanted input to the clothes decision making. She complained loudly whilst he was still visible, but lapsed into silent and sulking mode as soon as he was not in sight. Handy to know.

I bought a wrap for my lunch, the pie eaters being too full for any more. Then went to daughter’s for coffee. After that, we all drove to grandson’s school, in two cars. He’d commenced Year 7 this year at a fairly new school, on the outskirts of town. I was most impressed with the appearance and behaviour of the students at get-out time. Very tidy and mannerly. The buildings were excellent – interesting and innovative, heavily into open-plan learning areas and flexible spaces. High tech. Beautiful landscaping. Schools had come so far in the couple of decades since I worked in them. We heartily approved of the place.

We continued on back to Bus, Called in at the Eucalyptus Shop at Marong. Bought some laundry powder, lemon myrtle oil for my scent burner at home and wash liquid for the dog’s bedding. Received two “free” jars of local pickled onions as a bonus. John was happy – he eats lots of these.

Met daughter and the boys and S’s mum at the Marong Hotel at 6pm, to have a counter tea together. We’d heard good things about the meals here and were not disappointed. It was a pretty standard pub bistro menu but the food was, mostly, very well done. John had flathead and chips – often his choice at such places. I had a modern take on a souvlaki, which I found a bit heavy on the leafy greens and a bit light on the lamb. The other adults had parma and schnitzel, which they enjoyed. The boys had pizza. The younger one is a fussy eater, but does eat pizza. The kids’ food arrived first, which we appreciated. It was a very pleasant time together.

We were back at Bus in time to watch Australian Survivor.

After that, we had a serious discussion about the pros and cons of selling up at home and relocating to Bendigo. There are both, and no decision was reached. But there was no rush to make such a momentous change.

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2016 Travels September 4


Got up at 7am to go to the bathroom and there was mist all round. Quite pretty, and a little eerie.

Although the park is by the Calder Highway, we were pleased to find that the traffic noise was not really evident from the park. There was a bit of a swampy area next door, and what we were hearing was the sound of frogs – just beautiful.

When I got up properly at 9am, the earlier mist had totally cleared away.

Pottered about through the morning. John didn’t get up until after 11am! He had stayed up late last night, after watching TV, involved with a computer game.

Tried to check email on my laptop. The download proceeded at snail’s pace. John had used up our entire 8GB data allowance, last night, on his World of Warcraft update. Unbelievable! Especially since he said he’d done all the upgrades possible the night before we left home, using our much larger home data allowance. I was furious. Clearly, I am not a WOW devotee (addict?).

I was able to link to the park’s free Wifi, but it was not much faster. After sending friend M, currently travelling in Qld, a brief email that took forever to transmit, I gave up.

Morning relax at our site

As we were having lunch, was a text from daughter to say that grandson’s dad was dropping him at the park, in about twenty minutes. I waited out the front, and we chatted for a few minutes, before he headed off back to Melbourne. Daughter arrived not long after. We took the two boys to the very good park playground and jumping pillow. Daughter had received the OK to do so from park managers. It was the first time the four-year-old had been on one of those, and he had fun.

I was not impressed with the two boys, maybe 8-10 years old, who had two Cavalier spaniel type dogs in the playground, and were carrying them up, then pushing them down, the slide. The poor dogs were obviously uncomfortable. The boys’ grandparents were setting up an annexe on a van that I thought they’d brought from the storage area at the back of the park. I wondered if they actually lived in the retirement homes section behind the tourist part of the park. Seemed the kids and dogs had been sent off to play.

The boys may have decided that the look on my face boded ill for them, because they quickly left the play area. By the time we walked back past the van, there was no-one there. I mentioned the episode later to the park manager, who also seemed pretty annoyed by it. She clearly knew who was involved.

It was very chilly this afternoon. John suggested we might be more comfortable with our nibbles and planned pizza dinner, at daughter’s place. So we all adjourned there, complete with the food I’d bought yesterday.

As we drove through the streets of the more newly developed part of Golden Square, I was really taken with the white blossom on the ornamental trees that had been planted all down both sides of some of the newer streets. A really pretty display and, for once, clever landscaping on the part of some urban planners.

Street trees in blossom

Sat round the table with our nibbles and some wine, then ordered pizzas to be delivered. Made it easy! After tea, S arrived home. The sporting victory celebrations had been going on since yesterday and would continue into “Mad Monday”. In view of this, daughter had a rostered day off work tomorrow to mind the four-year-old, so we would be able to meet up again.

Watched Australian Survivor on their TV. We are finding that program at least as good as the American version. Then, back to Bus, keeping a careful eye out for roadside wildlife through the treed areas between Golden Square and Marong.

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2016 Travels September 3


I got up about 8.30am. Nice quiet park for me to be able to sleep that late.

Took Couey out for her morning constitutional. When we checked in yesterday, the guy at the desk said there was a lane behind the park where the owner took his dogs for a run. I intended to take her for a good long walk along that. Plan foiled when dog refused to go out the entrance of the park, presumably because she could see traffic on the road. So she had to settle for a “once around the park”.

I drove to the general store to get the Saturday papers. Realized that the entrance to the lane mentioned for dog walking, was a lot further away than I’d thought.

The little township of Marong is where the Alternate Calder Highway, that branches off south of Bendigo and enables bypassing of that city, meets the original Calder again. It seemed to mainly consist of a hotel and the general store.

I sat outside Bus and read some of the news. It was quite pleasant in the weak sunshine.

Had ourselves an early lunch, then set off to drive to Huntly, on the northern edge of Bendigo to watch S’s netball grand final. The GPS took us on a kind of outer ring route around northern Bendigo, where it was obvious that the city was growing and spreading out. This was an area we didn’t usually go through – Sailors Gully, Jackass Flat. Still plenty of bushland around those parts though. I loved the picturesque names, deriving from gold rush days.

I’d kind of assumed that country netball/football league games would attract some loyal supporters, in the country style that I’d been used to, in my Western District days, and that there would be room to park in the grounds. Wrong – very wrong! There were thousands of people in attendance, and cars parked for at least a kilometre in every street around the sports ground. We cruised around and eventually slotted into a very small space just across from the grounds. Good to have a very small car…

Daughter had brought chairs, so we were able to sit to watch the netball game. It was a good close one, as befitted a grand final. I thought the playing standard was quite high, although the opposing team was very rough. In a previous incarnation, I was a qualified A Grade netball umpire, and I certainly would have penalized some of the actions I saw! The umpires missed a lot.

“Our” team won by five goals. Going out with a premiership was a great way for S to retire from her netball playing, after about 40 years of it! She played well too, and was rather emotional after the game.

I’d brought with me the crocheted rug I’d been asked to make as a baby present for a friend of V and S. Friend was at the netball, so I was able to see her being given the rug, which was well received.

The completed gift blanket

After the presentations, we extracted ourselves from the crowd and our little parking spot, and went to a nearby supermarket. Some of the family would be coming to the caravan park tomorrow afternoon, so I needed to buy some nibblies. And wine.

The earlier pleasant day had clouded over and it began to rain as we were driving back to Marong, quite heavily too. 5pm when we got back to Bus. I resumed reading the papers.

An absolutely huge fifth wheeler had come in today and was almost opposite us, on a drive-through site. Each to his own I guess, but it just seemed really excessive to me. As well as its great length, there was also a large side slide out section. This extended across the walkway path, effectively blocking it. I entertained some very uncharitable thoughts.

Walkway to camp kitchen, later blocked by fifth wheeler on the site

Tea was cold chicken pieces I’d previously cooked at home, avocado and asparagus. I took the latter over to the camp kitchen – dodging the extended obstacle – and cooked it in their microwave. That camp kitchen would not be out of place in a normal home – very well equipped.

After dark, a van arrived in the park, towed behind a tow truck. Its 4WD was up on the tray. The truck put the van in position up at the end of the park, and left with the vehicle. A glitch for someone’s travels. I felt great sympathy – we’d once arrived in Broome that way.

After tea, John watched sport on TV. I continued reading the papers. It was a chilly night again.

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2016 Travels September 2


Bus had been ready to go for a while. The hold up had been waiting for three weeks before John could have the stitches removed from his leg. I’d ben doing some leisurely packing over the previous days.

It seemed timely to start a short trip now – maybe three weeks? The obvious first stop was Bendigo, where we hadn’t been in over a year. Grandson had a semi final coming up, in his hockey, and daughter’s partner a netball grand final. We could earn some family brownie points by attending these events.

Departed home at 10.30am. There were always last minute things to do, like packing those last fridge items, and filling rolls for lunch, and we were not in a hurry.

This morning, an added complication was a call informing John that his sister died earlier this morning. We had known this was coming, so it was not a shock. It was thought that the funeral would be late next week, so we decided to continue with at least the Bendigo part of the trip.

There was definitely an emerging pattern to our trip departures – that we have to stop at the park a couple of kms away, down the bottom of the range, to make some adjustment or another to the rig. In this case it was – again – the tyre pressure monitors. John had put them back on the Bus front wheels. He hadn’t ever gotten around to investigating solid sleeves for the inner rear tyre valve extensions, so we didn’t have the monitors on those, which had been the source of an unpleasant flapping noise on their first trip. But it was evident, as soon as we got up to any speed, that the front ones were making that noise now and would have to come off.

The monitor things are fiddly and hard to remove, which is probably a good thing. He swore a lot. The metal edges of the monitors were chopped about from flexing and hitting on the wheel rims, even over that short distance. Clearly, for this system to work on the Coaster, most wheels would have to have some modification to the tyre valve posts. It might make sense to just keep the system on the Terios, which was what I’d intended in the first place.

While John was working on the wheels, I watched a group of Little Corellas – of which we have a lot in the area these days – playing in a big gum tree a short distance away. They were taking it in turns to swing on “ropes” of bark hanging down and clearly just doing so for fun. They really are entertaining birds to watch. I know they are noisy and can be destructive, but I do like them. Had such a vivid memory from when we were camped at Purni Bore, on the edge of the Simpson Desert, some years ago, and there was a large dead tree containing a huge flock of corellas. A noise startled them and they rose all at once, like a great raucous cloud. Once, we would only see them in places further north – along the Murray, Coopers Creek and the like. But now they are well and truly present south of the Divide. Climate change?

Corella trees at Purni Bore, Simpson Desert

It was 11am by the time we got going again, taking our usual route via Yea and Seymour, to Bendigo. Also, as usual, the GPS was fixated on taking us back to Melbourne first. The only route it seems to recognize to Bendigo is via the Calder Highway.

On the large farms approaching Yarra Glen, workers were busily harvesting crops of Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprout farm Yarra Glen

Along the bypass route around Yarra Glen, there is one roundabout where the route to the Melba Highway is straight ahead, and the road to Healesville off to the right. John took the latter, then had to find a place to turn around, before playing circles on the roundabout to the correct exit. This is something else that now seems to happen every trip – it gets him every time, and sometimes even on the return journey.

The many hectares of grape vines around Yarra Glen and Dixons Creek had all been neatly pruned and looked very tidy. In one of the vineyards there was a red helicopter parked. I wondered if it was tour related, or someone’s private transport?

As we churned our way up the Divide, some cars coming down towards us were flashing their lights at us. Of course, our initial reaction was to think “police ahead”. Then, when there weren’t, to worry if they were spotting something wrong with the rig. The reason became apparent not far from the top – a broken down 4WD and large caravan, parked partly in the oncoming lane. Traffic cones had been set up around it and there was obviously someone helping.

There were a lot of caravans heading towards Melbourne – the return of the grey nomads…

It was a very pleasant day for driving. Fine, blue sky, cool but not cold.

Yea-Seymour road

Topped up the fuel at the servo at Glenburn – $1.149 cpl.

Stopped at the Rotary Park at Seymour to eat lunch and give dog some exercise. I wanted her kept on the lead, to keep her away from water, but he who learns slowly let her off for a run. She promptly found the nearest large muddy puddle and wallowed in it. That undid all the good work of the dog groomers! Wet, muddy, smelly dog now. I was not happy. She was.

Lunch stop Seymour

I don’t think we had ever seen the country between Seymour and Bendigo so green and lush. There were lots of full dams and flowing creeks. Part of Lake Eppalock was visible  from the road near Axedale, so it had to be pretty full.

I took a phone call and John was able to pull over to talk. It was to tell him that the sister’s funeral would be on Tuesday – sooner than we’d been previously told. We decided to keep going. Dog and I would stay in Bendigo and John could drive the Terios back to Melbourne for the day. I was pleased that we had set off today and were not now waiting around at home for the event to be over.

The Garmin had finally caught up with where we were, and directed us on the usual Over Dimensional Route through Bendigo. Only one glitch, when John seemingly couldn’t count to three and took the wrong exit from a round about. Again! Naturally, we’d managed to time our passage through the city to coincide with school let-out time…

It was 3.45 when we reached the Big 4 Marong Holiday Park, some 14kms west of the centre of Bendigo. We had not stayed here before, but were still trying to find a really good dog friendly park in the area. By initial impressions, this could be it.

I had previously phoned the park and booked us an en-suite site from today until Tuesday morning. Now, in view of the funeral, they were able to extend it for an extra night. After discount, we paid $36 a night, which I thought was very reasonable for a place of the quality that this turned out to be.

Set up on en-suite sites, which had ample room for us. The bathroom was compact, but clean and  quite adequate. I was most impressed with the nearby roofed BBQ area and adjacent camp kitchen room, which was very comprehensively equipped.

Left Marong again at 5pm to drive back to Bendigo for grandson’s hockey match. It was cold, and we had to stand for the whole game, which was murder for the legs and lower back. “Our” team lost, so that was the end of the boy’s hockey season for this year. But he appeared to play well – I think? I would appreciate the game more if I knew something about the rules.

After the game, the boy headed off to spend the weekend with his father, who had come up from Melbourne to watch the match, so we wouldn’t see him again until Sunday afternoon.

Drove back to Bus, stopping at Marong to order fish and chips from the general store’s attached shop, which John drove back to collect at the appointed time of 8pm. Very nice they were too.

We certainly needed the little electric fan heater to warm up Bus.

John watched football on TV. I did some hand sewing of the quilt project.

Bed at 11pm. We were both tired. For some reason, not long after getting into bed, I got a really nasty cramp in one leg. Unusual for me and it sure woke me up again! Was very careful how I moved that leg for the rest of the night.

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2004 Travels March 26


We left at 12.30pm, after the usual hard work of moving the travel gear from the shed, packing the Truck, and making what seemed like hundreds of treks from the house to the van, carrying shopping bags of gear and supplies to be packed away.

Son, wife and my 2 year old grand daughter came to see us off. It was hoped that, by seeing us drive away with the caravan, young J might begin to understand – maybe – why we had suddenly dropped out of her life, to be replaced by postcards!

We’d already farewelled daughter and the 1 year old grandson – the family having moved from near Bendigo, to an outer south eastern suburb, late last year.

We had some difficulty hitching up the van. It was not quite as bad as when we first left in ’98. Son was helping us then, too! Why did we do it so well when he was not around, then make a mess of it when he was?

There was the usual straight forward drive, via Yea, Seymour, Heathcote, to Bendigo. Our idea was to drive through that town, to Marong, just to the west – thus putting us ready to head up the Calder Highway tomorrow.

Navigating through Bendigo on a Friday afternoon was not the easiest exercise. My road atlas was little help and we finished up in the centre of town, having to negotiate traffic and the tram line to follow the signs to the Mildura road.

We booked into the Marong Caravan Park, for $15. My Top Tourist Parks booklet was two years old, and we found that this park was no longer a member. We could see why – it was full of rather feral, long-term dwellers. It was not pleasant at all.

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Marong Caravan park

We were able to keep the rig hitched up.

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