This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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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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2010 Travels May 20

THURSDAY MAY 20     GOL GOL

I got up at 8.30am.

M had already gone from her site. She was off to Swan Hill, further along the Murray, today. Friends were doing a house sit there and she would spend a few days with them. I felt a bit lonely!

Gol Gol site

Today was to be a lay day for us, to give John a rest from two long days of driving. Even though I took a turn at the wheel when he needed a nap, he still did the bulk of the driving – his choice.

The impatient man from yesterday was equally impatient this morning, hitching up to move on. He would not be a delight to travel with, for sure.

After John got going, we drove back across the river, into Mildura.

At the Information Centre, I collected a number of up-to-date booklets about Victorian regions. It looked, now, that our travels would be confined closer to home, for at least the short term, so I needed such material.

Needed a quick supermarket visit to get food for tonight.

It was then John’s choice to visit Woodsies Gem Shop, where we spent some time browsing. The very comprehensive displays were interesting. I managed to buy a pair of turquoise earrings – my birth stone. I will be able to remember this trip by the assorted earring purchases!

We had a Subway lunch. I was used to the bacon in my usual order being microwaved before being put in the sub. Here, it went in raw – and was still raw after the roll had been toasted. Not nice at all.

Back across the river but turned left, towards Wentworth and thus to Orange World. This is quite a slick citrus marketing outlet, much more so than the more common roadside stalls in these parts. I bought a bag of oranges  for each of my offspring plus one for ourselves, a bag of mandarins ditto, and some  grapefruit for us. John’s impulse buy was a citrus peeler – rather a clever gadget.

For most of the rest of the afternoon relaxed back at camp, though we did summon up enough energy to go walking along the road that parallels the river, again, for a little exercise.

Gol Gol area. Caravan park beside Punt Road. Prime river side real estate….(Zoom)

Chicken schnitzels for tea, with some salad.


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2010 Travels May 19

WEDNESDAY MAY 19     PETERBOROUGH TO GOL GOL     435kms

We gave our remaining fruit and vegie stocks to the caravan park lady, knowing that we would be reaching the fruit fly exclusion zone of the irrigated regions along the Murray River today.

It was a pleasant day, sunny, just warm enough.

We were travelling a familiar route, interesting enough though. I still could not make up my mind what I really thought of the long march of wind farm towers that dominated the ridge lines as we travelled along the western side of the low ranges. There seemed to be more of these every time we came this way. They do have an eerie kind of beauty.

Had a coffee break at the punt area at Morgan, just as we had a few weeks ago.

The Morgan punt

Refuelled and ate lunch at Renmark. Again, John wanted to continue on. So I phoned the caravan park at Gol Gol and booked us into an ensuite site – a touch of extra comfort for our last camp of the trip.

We traversed the rather monotonous stretch between Renmark and Mildura. Crossed the Murray into NSW and went on to Gol Gol, some nine or ten kms from Mildura.

Our site at Rivergardens Caravan Park at Gol Gol cost $27 a night. M had an ordinary site, some distance from us. Our site was on the small side, the access road in front of it was narrow, and it took some backing and forwarding to get us into it. We could not stay hitched up. It was not a particularly attractive site, just gravel.

The site to our left was a corner one. We had just about finished out setting up when a larger caravan than ours arrived by that site. The man stopped to look at it, then drove around the loop road past us, in order to approach his site from the back and drive through onto it. He was clearly in a foul mood which we could tell from his comments and expression, was not improved upon viewing his site. He drove far too fast around the loop road, charged onto his site – and clipped the security light post, taking off a van mudguard and scraping the van side down the post. It made a really loud noise. His lady, who was standing watching, didn’t say a thing. We tried to look as if we really were not paying any attention!

The man got out of his 4WD, began to unhitch, then – when he went around the other side – looked at the van damage and said “When did that happen?”. Maybe he was deaf as well as bad tempered. It really was quite a mess – but what a clown! We avoided any interaction with him, though I felt rather sorry for the lady.

With M, went for a walk along the road near the park, past a lot of very substantial homes that had frontage to the Murray River. As did our caravan park – but its river frontage, and views, were occupied by cabins, not van sites.

We did note in our walk, that there were some much nicer, grassed sites on the other side of the park – but they were not en-suite.

We had our happy hour by our van, with M, talking over highlights of our trip. It certainly had gone by really quickly.

Tea was chicken noodle soup, with added creamed corn, ham and egg.


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2010 Travels April 21

WEDNESDAY 21 APRIL     BENDIGO TO MILDURA     390kms

Had the usual early visitor to the van – it makes his day! This time, we took him back inside to his breakfast, to wish daughter a happy birthday for today.

We left Bendigo about 9am. I’d texted M, who had left Melbourne at 7am. The plan was that she would catch up with us today, probably somewhere before Mildura.

The country through to Sea Lake was very green, which was great to see. The long drought that had finally broken earlier this year, had  brought  lots of good rains.

We fuelled up at Sea Lake, then pulled into the park there to eat the lunch I’d packed this morning.

After Sea Lake, we encountered the prevailing locust plague, that we’d been hearing about. It was really bad, the thickest hordes I’d ever experienced. Guess that was the down side of the lush, green countryside. The nasty yellow splats of expired locusts built up and made the windscreen almost impossible to see out of.

Through the windscreen…..

In places, there were thick swarms on the road. We slowed to about 65kmh – they didn’t seem to splat quite so badly then! Truck was “wearing” John’s home made shade cloth bug screen across the radiator grille, because we’d known in advance the pests were up this way. The hope was that this would prevent the build up of dead insects in the radiator body – which if bad enough can wreck the radiator. This one was new – like much of Truck now.

Bug screen

I hoped M had remembered to fit her shade cloth, too.

We stopped at Mittyack to clean the windscreen, then went on to Ouyen. By now, there was a strong smell of cooked locust – yuk! At Ouyen, pulled into the excellent rest stop area. Cleaned the windscreen again.

Windscreen at Ouyen

The bowls club was next to the rest area, and there were locusts all over the green there. Trying to bowl on that would have been a rather unpleasant experience.

Bowling green Ouyen – with wild life…

We hadn’t been there long, when M pulled in beside us. The Troopy was wearing its screen, and like us, lots of locusts.

The bugs did not seem quite so bad after Ouyen.

We decided to overnight at Mildura. It was enough for the day for John, and for M too, who had come further than us.

We pulled into one of the conveniently located caravan parks on the stretch just before the Sturt Highway intersection. The person on the reception desk was engaged in a personal phone call, and kept on having it for the best part of ten minutes, while I stood there waiting. I was about to walk out, when she decided to deal with me. I really wanted a drive through site, so we did not have to unhitch, but she said they were all occupied. So they were – mostly by unhitched rigs! Some people just do not want to back onto a site.

Since we really wanted to stay hooked up – John was tired enough without having to go through the unhitch routine – the helpful woman suggested we just back onto part of the site behind us – the occupied site behind us! She seemed to have no comprehension that this might not suit the occupants of that site. For this level of customer service, we paid $24.30, after chain discount. This was already mentally tagged as one caravan park we would not be returning to.

WE asked the people on the site behind us if they would mind if we intruded onto their patch, explaining what we’d been told. They were very nice and said it was alright. We actually did not have to go very far onto their site. It was a mixed blessing as they were smokers, so we had to keep the back window closed.

Occupying a site and a bit at Mildura

Set up was thus minimal. The clean up of locust carcasses took a lot more time.

We walked across to the nearby shopping complex, as I needed to buy some vegetable matter for tea. As we’d come into the fruit fly quarantine zone, I hadn’t brought any with me. We also need a new dishwashing brush, as the old one had been commandeered for locust removal.

The walk was good for all of us, after the day of driving.

It had been a hot day, in the low 30’s. There was some cloud build up as we drove through the day, and it became quite humid.

We sat outside our van, the three of us, having happy hour. It was great to be travelling together again – the last time had been 2007.

Tea was scotch fillet steak, mushrooms, salad.

John was happy with the new, small, flat screen TV he’d bought before we left, for the van. It replaced the one we’d travelled with since 1997. That had lasted well, considering that it was shifted every time we moved on, from bench to bed and then back to bench, plus the sometimes extreme conditions we’d been in. But it was old technology and John wanted a flat screen.

We were tired though and did not stay up late, TV or not.


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2007 Travels May 1

TUESDAY 1 MAY     BENDIGO TO MILDURA     415kms   

Grandson got to do his routine of waking up grandma – early! We had the expected cuddle in bed, before he had to go in for breakfast, and we got organized. It always surprises me, the simple things that give little kids so much joy.

We pulled out of the Bendigo driveway about 8.30am. Although coming across town yesterday, in what was after-school traffic, had been somewhat tense, the bonus for today was that we were on the “right” side of town, only a few blocks from the highway to the north west.

It was very foggy for the first hour or so, as we drove up the Calder Highway.

Stopped at Wedderburn to refuel – $1.30cpl.

Stopped at Ouyen, eating the sandwiches that I’d made this morning, and making coffee with hot water from the thermos carried in a basket in Truck. This always contained items that could be needed for a roadside break – plates, mugs, a knife, wipes and so on. It saved having to open up the van for such stops.

Ouyen has a very pleasant rest stop, centred around a feature made from a huge Mallee root. Looking at this, one could see why clearing this Mallee scrub country was such a challenge for the early settlers – and why the stump jump plough was invented. This machine, invented in the late 1800’s, as the more arid Mallee lands were being opened up, simply lifted up the plough blades when they hit a stump, and dropped them down again when the plough was over the obstacle.

Our overnight destination in Mildura was the Desert City Caravan Park. After discount, the powered site cost $20.70. This park was conveniently located within easy walking distance of a major shopping centre. Having been very good and not carried vegetables or fruit into the exclusion zone, we needed to stock up a little, here, on fruit and greens, so we made a brief foray over to the supermarket.

Sat outside in pleasant late afternoon sun, just chatting.

On Sunday, I’d cooked three chicken maryland pieces. These were rather a traditional first meal on the road for us. Marinated in lemon juice, sherry, soy sauce and garlic, then baked, they were really tasty – and kept well in the fridge. With some coleslaw – also made on Sunday, they were an excellent meal. I would not be catering, most of the time, for M, but some times when we were just overnighting in a place, it saved her having to unpack her cooking stuff from the Troopy.

Our fridge was definitely not cycling properly.


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2006 Travels December 10

SUNDAY 10 DECEMBER   PETERBOROUGH TO MILDURA   420kms

We slept in a bit later this morning.

Today was a much shorter day of driving. It was also much cooler, compared to what we’d been used to. We lost another 30 minutes of time when we crossed into Victoria today.

Refuelled at Morgan – $1.31cpl. It was wonderful to see the wide Murray River there – hadn’t seen a decent river for a while.

Now that we were – comparatively – close to home, John thought we could ease off the travel rate a bit, so we stopped for the night at Mildura. Took a powered site at the Desert City Caravan Park – $20.70, after discount. Had to unhitch the van. Having green grass around the van was a novelty!

Walked across to the big shopping centre across the road and spent some time wandering and browsing. Bought lunch – a bakery pull apart loaf. It was pleasant to have some of the day for just walking about and relaxing.

I had a long and lovely swim in the park’s pool. Bliss.

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2004 Travels September 14

TUESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER  PORT AUGUSTA TO MILDURA   590kms

We refuelled on the way out of town, at the servos by the long causeway that the trucks use. $1.11 cpl. Then got fuel again at Parina, later in the day – $1.07 cpl.

It was yet another long, uncomfortable driving day. All covering routes we had done before and which were quite familiar.

Turned a little south of Port Augusta, and headed up through Horrocks Pass to Wilmington, then Orroroo, Peterborough, Burra, Morgan, Renmark, Mildura.

We stopped at Morgan to eat lunch. This little town beside the Murray River had a very good park area by the punt crossing of the river. We had to turn right to go into town to this park, but it was worth the little back track we had to do to get back on the way to Renmark. We had previously stayed at the caravan park that was across the road from the park.

In Mildura, went into the Desert City Caravan Park – Top Tourist. $18.90 for the night, after discount.

We unhitched Truck and went and bought pizzas for tea.

John decided that he still wants to go to Canberra to see his daughter and grandson. More long days in Truck! I was contemplating a slow few days travelling beside the Murray, as far as Echuca or Corowa, then home. Damn!

In occasional phone calls, he had mentioned that we might end the trip by visiting them. Now he phoned and confirmed our intentions.

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2004 Travels March 27

SATURDAY 27 MARCH   MARONG TO MILDURA   386kms

Today’s was a comfortable stage.

Refuelled at Wedderburn. Diesel was 97cpl – making it 7c a litre dearer than at home.

Along the way, John realized that he’d left the plastic diesel jerrycan at home – hence the “empty” space in back of Truck, where he couldn’t remember what normally travelled there.

We took a break at Ouyen, at the very pleasant travellers’ rest stop there. I took a photo of the Big Mallee Stump that had been made into a display. This was a very large root system of the Mallee eucalypt that is endemic to the region. These trees are not all that tall, have multiple trunks, but have these massive root systems beneath the ground. It was evident why it had been so hard to clear this land for farming – and why the stump-jump plough was invented to deal with the problem.

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Big Mallee stump at Ouyen

It did not seem all that long until we were approaching Red Cliffs and then the outskirts of Mildura, moving from the arid mallee scrub country to irrigated farm land.

We booked into the Desert City Caravan Park. It was quite pleasant and adequate, and central. After discount, $18.90 a night.

Although the Park was by the main highway, traffic noise was not an issue.

We unhitched, but did not do a major set up, as we did not intend to stay here more than a couple of nights.

Went off to have a quick look around the shops in the complex across the highway. John bought some sneakers – Colorado ones. Costly, but comfortable on his hard-to-suit feet.

We bought fish and chips, from the supposedly good Sweet Lips shop. Very greasy and definitely not to be recommended by us!

We’d changed mobile phones shortly before coming away, and were still learning its tricks – much more convoluted than our very basic old one. I sent son a message – just to surprise him that I could do so. Received a reply about teaching an old dog new tricks! Also messaged daughter and she replied about how surprised she was!

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1999 Travels April 14

WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL   KERANG TO MILDURA   301kms

I had a very restless night, for some reason. Maybe there is something subconscious about heading off into the unknown again.

However, we woke to a great morning – crisp and sunny.

We got away well. Stopped to buy a newspaper in Kerang. John was not hassled by driving around the streets there, with the van on.

It was a very pleasant drive along the Murray valley, towards Mildura.

We refuelled in Swan Hill – 78cpl. That is a huge jump from what we paid at home!

At Boundary Bend, we found an area where we could park and eat lunch, overlooking the river. Saw a white plumed honeyeater.

Stopped at the Information Centre in Robinvale, mainly because it was easy to access, as we were passing. Bought almonds there – the area is a major almond producing one. There was a notice that was a job advertisement for casual harvest process workers, so we asked about it. It involves packing pistachio nuts, for $11 an hour. It would be standing all day and monotonous work it would be. They want females only for that. They also need a fork lift driver, which would be right up John’s alley – if only he had a fork lift licence! We decided not to apply.

We have discussed doing some emergency teacher work in another couple of years, in order to get the $3000-$4000 for the new computer that John wants. In the course of discussing work with the staff person at the Info Centre, were told that they are short of emergency teachers around here, and also need sessional teachers at the TAFE to teach basic computing. All is food for thought. But now that we have begun moving again, I really do not want to prop again for the length of time that something like that would involve.

In the meantime, we pushed on for Mildura, crossing the Murray at Robinvale, into NSW, and going through Euston.

Just out of Euston, we were pulled over at a mobile fruit fly inspection point. We had not given any thought to quarantine zones, and had not seen any signs about same on the back roads we had travelled. They took our new apples! And – brought from home – our kiwi fruit, lemons and figs. We hope we will not be fined – the inspector left that up in the air! It was not a nice feeling. I actually forgot we also had cumquats and guavas from home, tucked away, so they were not taken – whoops!

We were quite subdued as we continued on.

We booked into a very pleasant caravan park, on the northern edge of Mildura – a river front one – the Big 4 Golden River Caravan Park. It is not cheap, though. This week is holiday time, so we pay holiday rate – $109.80. And that is after the discount, and with the seventh night free. If we stay longer, subsequent weeks will cost $14.40 a night, with the seventh night free – that is better.

We had a calm, late afternoon set up, on a pleasantly shaded site.

This is an “organized” caravan park, with holiday activities and the like. We decided not to go to the organized wine tasting happy hour this afternoon. We would probably only have bought wines we can’t afford!

Tea was vegetables left over from last night, and sausages.

Phoned K to report our whereabouts.

I started up my computer. It says the printer is not installed!! What printer? It does not want to proceed further. While we were in Melbourne, John insisted on changing many of my computer programs to “bring them up to date” – even though I wanted them left as they were. Now, I don’t know what I’m doing, and it appears the computer does not, either. John gets very impatient if I ask him for help with such things. I feel un-empowered!

The night was cool. Maybe it is the effect of the nearby river?

I am pleased to be in Mildura, with time to look around. We have passed through several times previously, but never did more than overnight here.

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