This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2015 Travels April 28

TUESDAY APRIL 28    HOME TO WANGARATTA     280kms

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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2013 Travels June 25

TUESDAY 25 JUNE     HOME TO BENDIGO     202kms

Departure day. Was it actually going to happen?

I loaded last minute things into Bus. John had to put his car onto a trickle charger, then lock up his shed. He then backed Bus out onto the road and drove the Terios out, to hitch it to Bus, for the first time since we did it under the dealer’s supervision – and that was seven months ago!

It took us a while. Being new, all the parts were quite stiff and tight. The sloping road didn’t help, either, as the car tended to move forward when we didn’t want it to. We had to move Bus forward a couple of times before the hitch “arms” would lock down as they should. By the time we achieved complete hook up, we were part way up the road! My keys were in Terios, with ignition turned to Accessories, the handbrake off, the car in neutral – all steps remembered, I hoped.

Couey, of course, chose to be uncooperative and reluctant to get on board Bus. When coaxed on with a biscuit, she commenced the loud barking and howling that was usual until we got moving. John had no tolerance for her noise, and was already on a short fuse. So it was a hurry to do a check that the external lights were all working, then get me onto Bus, and get mobile so dog would shut up.

Couey subsided into a sulky, but quiet, heap, and I began to relax, telling myself that it would all get easier with practice, just as it had done all those years ago, with hitching up the van. First time with that had not gone smoothly, either.

As we trundled along, approaching Yarra Glen, and I was reflecting on the morning’s events, I realized that – with all the drama and pressure – I hadn’t actually gone back to the house to turn out the lights and lock up! The front door, through which I had dragged dog – would be wide open to the world. Oops.

John was definitely not up for turning around and going back, so I phoned M, who agreed to go round and close up. Later, got a text saying all was well, shut down, locked up. Thanks M – owe you!

John was really pleased with the way Terios tracked behind Bus. It was nothing like towing the van, or a trailer – possibly due to it being on all four wheels? He said he couldn’t feel that the car was there at all – but at least we could see it in the reverse camera screen! He was also pleased with the ease with which Bus pulled up the range beyond Yarra Glen. Much better than Truck had, towing the van.

Had the usual toilet stop at Yea, and gave Couey a run, then on to the Lions Park at Seymour to eat our packed lunches and give dog a ball chasing session to tire her out. That park was a great stopping place – good for dog and so easy to park our rig.

Lions Park Seymour

Couey still barked when back on Bus, before we moved off, but settled down really quickly then. That might just be something we have to put up with.

Easy parking at Lions Park Seymour

The GPS, yet again, could not cope with our chosen route to Bendigo, and carried on with ceaseless mis-directions, determined to steer us to the Calder Highway!

John got really sleepy as we neared Tooborac, so I got to have my first drive of the rig for this trip. Agreed with him that towing the car was a non-event – no drama at all.

I drove as far as Junortown, on the outskirts of Bendigo, when John took over again.

We were booked into the Ascot Holiday Park at White Hills. I had selected, from my paper map book, a back road route directly there, but John preferred to follow the Garmin’s directions – exactly the same as mine!

The caravan park staff were really helpful and gave us an en-suite site where we could drive through, unhitch the car, then back Bus to exactly where we wanted it. All without drama, though it took a little while to remember how to hook the folded hitch arms up at the back of Bus.

The rig parked up for the night in Bendigo

The ensuite site cost $45 for the night, after discount. The bathroom was really nice.

Then ensued the usual trip start reshuffle of things inside. We didn’t put out the awning. John set up the new Kogan TV he had recently bought and was very pleased with the picture quality. Obviously, the new Wineguard TV aerial he had fitted to Bus at home, was working.

We took Couey for a couple of short walks around the park, before dark. She was very well behaved, and sat out the front of Bus, tethered on her rope to the bull bar, quietly guarding us. She was a bit restless, inside Bus, after tea, trying, I thought, to work out the best place to bed down at nights.

After tea, of sausages, potato, tomato and eggs, all cooked outside in the electric frypan, we drove Terios to daughter’s place on the other side of town.

Delivered presents we’d bought for grandson. He was thrilled with his new – very first – hockey stick and associated gear. He had recently taken up this sport and been using borrowed equipment. A friend of M’s was a veteran hockey player and had selected the appropriate items for a ten year old.

John fixed the email function on his computer – an earlier present from us – while we were there, and showed him how to do some other things on the computer.

It was only a short visit as we were tired after a stressful day, and they had an early start tomorrow, flying to Brisbane to visit daughter’s father there.

Couey stayed out in the Terios during our visit and seemed fine with that, in the dark.

It was nearly 10pm when we got back to Bus. Driving in Bendigo at night was soooo much easier than in Melbourne.


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2012 Travels August 13

MONDAY 13 AUGUST     HOME TO BENDIGO     238kms

We got away from home mid-morning – an improvement on our last departure. I did a fast, last minute shop at the local IGA – for a newspaper and something for tonight’s tea.

There was rather a gusty wind blowing, which kept “catching” the bus side-on. The Driver could not relax.

However, the dog was somewhat calmer – the drops, and the spray on a bandana around her neck did seem to have some effect. I set up her bedding on the floor towards the back of the bus, and an alternate lot on the floor behind the engine bay. Attached her lead to the harness and the lead to the restraining hook, so she could roam between the two.

I found Bus quite comfortable, as a passenger, though after dropping a knitting needle down by my feet, I wished the sash part of the seatbelt was a bit longer, so I could move about more. I had no problems getting into my seat – had quite a bit of prior experience with Coasters as school buses. Simply stepped up onto the lid of the engine compartment, turned 180 degrees, then stepped backwards down into the foot well in front of my seat. As the TV ads say: “simples”.

John had transferred his new toy, the Garmin GPS to the Bus. It was a lot harder for him to read, there, because the windscreen was so much further away from the driver than in the car. Said GPS was hugely annoying on the run to Seymour. Having been “informed” we were going to Bendigo, the GPS lady was determined to send us via the Calder Highway – any which way she could. Virtually from the time we left home, we were being instructed to do a U turn, or go round the block and head the other way. It was a bloody good thing we knew which way we were going, because she certainly didn’t. Even at Seymour, we were told to take the Hume Freeway south……At this point, what was to be a forever distrust of the Garmin was sown in me. John might like fiddling around and setting destinations in the infernal thing but, me, I’d be cross checking the mechanized instructions with my trusty paper maps!

We drove straight through to Seymour – no stops in Yarra Glen, this time! Bus pulled well and easily up the range, and the exhaust brake was really great to have, for the downhill stretch.

Stopped at the Lions park in Seymour. This expansive area has frontage to the Goulburn River and some picnic tables and seats. Parking Bus there was easy. Took dog for a walk – on the lead – and gave her a drink. We ate our packed sandwich lunch.

Seymour Lions Park – great place to break a trip

Then continued on through the familiar route to Bendigo, with no further stops.

We were no longer going to park in daughter’s driveway. Doing so, on their slope, had been alright with the van as it usually stayed hitched to Truck, or if unattached, had big chocks behind the wheels. Either way, we could manage to sleep on what was not too much of an inside slope. But Bus was a different proposition. To achieve anything like level would take a hell of a lot more chocking than we could envisage. The slope would see our heads, in bed, very downhill.

Went into the A Line Holiday Village, at Big Hill, on the southern outskirts. Our en-suite powered site cost $30 a night. It was a very pleasant site and park, with bushland around. We could walk the dog around the park, but there was nowhere around for her to run off lead.

The ensuites were in A shaped buildings – hence the park name.

The park was well situated for us. Unfortunately, the owner told us that they may discontinue their dog-friendly policy. That would be a pity. The usual story – he was sick of dog owners not doing the responsible thing and picking up their dog’s mess. What I did notice after a little time here, was that it was a couple of permanent dwellers, down the back of the park, who were the regular offenders.

John intended to get our setting up done, before we notified daughter – who knew we were coming here – that we’d arrived. He was expecting that there could be some “oops” moments in our first setting up of Bus on site, and wanted to avoid a distracting audience – or any audience. However, daughter arrived – on the off-chance – just after we’d parked Bus. John was not best pleased, but daughter and grandson being there did not impede the setting up.

Setting up for the first time – in Bendigo

Our greatest apprehension had been setting up the awning. We had not had a roll out one on the van, nor the space to practice on this one at home. So this was the first time. I had Googled the process and made notes, and we actually managed it without any dramas. So much easier than the van one!

They stayed for about an hour, and had a good and admiring look at Bus. We arranged a BBQ tea here for tomorrow night and I gave daughter a little shopping list. I also gave daughter the crocheted blanket that I’d made to order for the younger grandson, now nine months old.

“Patchwork” cot blanket

John could not get the TV to go. Bus had a good quality wind up aerial, but he wondered if wiring was broken.

Tea was chicken noodle soup, and some skinless frankfurts for John – I hadn’t been feeling hungry this morning, when I bought those. I had some dry biscuits and cheese after my soup.

After tea, in our screen-less state, we played Yahtzee. Better than TV, to my mind, anyway!

The first night’s sleep in our new beds was not great. For some reason, we had assumed that we should sleep with heads to the back of Bus – beside the little cupboard and bench top between the beds. It was a tight space  between that and the wall and I found it very constricting.  John got the panics during the night, and turned himself around, so his head was next to the sink, but with open space on one side.

The new memory foam mattress toppers I’d bought and adapted to the bus dimensions worked well, providing just that crucial extra width to the body of the bed.

We’d set up the dog’s night bed up by the engine bay, but she was a bit restless and prowly during the night.