This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2012 Travels August 18

SATURDAY 18 AUGUST     SWAN HILL TO GOL GOL     227kms

The day was still cold, but there was less wind and rain.

Before breakfast, I took Couey on a run in the park lands.

Packing up was a bit faster. It really was much easier than it had been with the van.

Couey was not happy again, with the moving Bus, but the anxiety remedy did seem to dull her reactions. It was interesting that she was quite happy to be in the bus when it was in living mode, but upset as soon as she realized it would be moving again. She would totally happily go in and out of Bus, when camped, but once it was all packed up, had to be cajoled with treats to get on board.

We stopped at a servo in town for fuel – with me watching out the side window to make sure the correct nozzle was selected! Diesel was $1.399cpl, 76.4 litres went into the tank for $106.89.

John parked Bus near the servo and I went off to buy papers, and a chilli pull apart loaf that would be for lunch. As I walked away, could hear dog barking…..

We took the Murray Valley Highway. It was pleasant driving, much of it through irrigated farmed land. The road paralleled the Murray River, though only in a few places was it actually close enough to be visible. That made sense – a road too close to the river could flood.

I was forming plans for a future, more extended trip through these parts, that would see us camping in bush sites along the river – away from caravan parks. Given the Driver’s increasing dependence on TV and the recent, hospital-acquired addiction to the computer game World of Warcraft, separating him from plug-in 240volt power might be a dream on my part, though.

We stopped at a rest area in Robinvale for lunch. I was able to easily access butter from the fridge, for our pull apart loaf, and prepare it in Bus. Very convenient. After that, we went for a walk along the main street and bought take away coffees.

As we were driving out again, just before the river bridge, noticed a pleasant looking caravan park on the river bank. We agreed this looked like a town we should come back to for a few days of exploring.

Crossed the river at Robinvale into NSW and continued towards the Mildura area that way. This meant that we came into Gol Gol without having to go right through Mildura first. Much easier.

Booked into Rivergardens Caravan Park, where we had stayed before. This time, our en-suite site was a much better spacious one, across the other side of the park, tucked away by the side road to the river. We paid $33.30 a night, after chain discount. The park had new owners who had only been there for nine months.

Gol Gol camp

After setting up, took Couey for a walk along Carramar Drive, the road with all the lovely homes that front onto the river. There had been a couple of new places built since we were last here in 2010. The road had a really wide, sort-of grassed verge on one side, so dog did some free ranging along there.

Later in the afternoon, a group of motorbike riders moved into the nearby cabins. Then some local bike riders arrived – could tell they were local because they weren’t carrying gear like the first ones. They all congregated for a social event in the camp kitchen. We were a bit concerned that this could become a rowdy Saturday night, but they were not too noisy. About 8.30pm, the local riders departed, and all was quiet. We should not have been so quick to stereotype.


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2012 Travels August 17

FRIDAY 17 AUGUST     SWAN HILL

It rained for much of the day, and blew a gale. A very cold day.

First thing in the morning, I walked to the shops and had my repeat anti-biotic script filled, and bought some more silver impregnated dressings. Saw some track pants on sale for $6.50 at a menswear store, and also a fleecy zippered jacket for $13.50, so bought both those, to be additions to the cold weather gear to be kept in Bus. Did a small food shop at Coles and got some chicken thighs and sausages. It was becoming obvious, that with the small capacity of the Bus fridge, and no supplementary car fridge, shopping was going to have to be more regular than we had been used to.

In between rain events, we took dog for a couple of park walks, and also walked the other way as far as the Pioneer Settlement.

The riverside Pioneer Settlement dates from the 1960’s, earlier than most other history based theme parks in Victoria. As the name suggests, it shows aspects of life back in the heyday of the river boat era.

The Pyap, which scared Couey a couple of days ago, is moored here, and does short trips along the river, for tourists. It was originally more of a barge than a true paddle steamer, and was used for some years as a travelling general store, along the lower reaches of the Murray.

The Pyap churning up quite a wake

I had never been to the Pioneer Settlement, though John had brought his children here when they were young. We would both have liked to go in and look at the exhibits – but the place did not welcome dogs.

Spent the rest of the day in Bus – it was warm and snug in there.

We were pleased that the awning seemed really sturdy in the wind, though John had taken the precaution of tying down guy ropes on each of the front corners, to anchor it a bit more.

We did some more fiddling with Bus “gadgets”.  Like a kid with a new toy, John turned on the hot water service – on electricity – and it worked. What a luxury – to have hot water for the washing up, instead of boiling a kettle or jug! I played about and got the inbuilt CD player working; this radio/CD player was a separate unit from the similar one at the front that was part of the Bus gear for driving mode.

All of the fitments and additions – like the built in CB radio at the front – appeared to be quality goods. The fitting out of this home on wheels had not been done cheaply.


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2012 Travels August 16

THURSDAY 16 AUGUST     SWAN HILL

Before breakfast, I took Couey for a walk in the park. She enjoyed that, free ranging a bit, but mostly on lead. Then we transitioned to the streets, going as far as the Information Centre, not that far from the park. I had thoughts of leaving her tied outside and going in to check out some local information – not having expected to be in Swan Hill just yet. But, once we left the park she was very anxious, and kept looking to go back the way we’d come. So I wasn’t game to leave her tied up and go away. Once we got back to the park, she was happier and seemed to already know that the correct morning routine was walk, then breakfast.

Murray River by our camp

John had a good long sleep in. After his breakfast, we walked through the park again – more fun for dog – and then along the main street. Dog seemed slightly happier to be street walking with both of us. John waited outside Safeway with her, whilst I went in and bought a few things we needed. Couey didn’t like that and fretted and whined until I came back. Her pack should stay together!

Had a late lunch back at the van – rolls I’d bought this morning, with some ham, ditto, and cheese.

Bus at Swan Hill camp

There were some rain showers intermittently through the afternoon, so we stayed around Bus. It was  also quite chilly.

When I checked my leg, later in the day, decided that the petrol caused wound was infected and again opening up. Hell and damnation.

The Pyap made an appearance again. This time, dog was safely inside Bus.

Tea was pasta, with tuna, olives, capers tomato sauce.

It rained quite solidly through the night, and was windy. No roof leaks to worry about in Bus – unless one of the roof hatches was left open!


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2012 Travels August 15

WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST     BENDIGO TO SWAN HILL     235kms

Woke up this morning with the intention of driving to Mildura. From there, John would decide whether to try another visit to daughter in Broken Hill, or find another destination along the Murray.

Pack up seemed to take a while – longer than I’d expected – and mostly John’s outside stuff. However, it was all quite new still, and I thought we would get better with more practice.

There wasn’t much for me to do inside. The TV got put down onto John’s bed, wedged in with a pillow. Cupboard doors had to be checked to make sure they were fastened, ditto fridge door. I’d brought a washing basket with us. That travelled on a bed, with things like the electric jug, in it, as well as the dirty clothes. When camped, it fitted on the driver’s seat at the front. My old trusty electric frypan went onto a bed for travel.

Most importantly, the two overhead hatches had to be closed, and the wind up TV aerial wound down. Very important that! I’d bought a little sign that clipped onto the steering wheel, to remind us to check it was down – out of sight etc. We hadn’t had a wind up aerial before.

With the van, our outdoor table and chairs had travelled in the back of Truck, but there were no readily accessible storage compartments for things that big in Bus. But putting them upright and folded up, in the floor aisle between the two beds was the ideal solution.

John had decided that the shower cubicle was ideal to store the sullage and water hoses, and the electrical leads! Plus some other items he packed at the last minute. He’d included the night-time bucket we’d used in the van, reckoning it would be easier to empty that each day than empty the toilet cassette. My protests – along the lines of having a toilet now, why not use it? – fell on deaf ears. Many years ago, John had spent a year travelling Britain and Europe with his first family, that included then 7 year old and 4 year old daughters. They lived in a very small campervan for the year, complete with porta-potti. It seemed that John’s memories of on-board toilet upkeep had prejudiced him forever.

Destined to be a storage space….

We left the caravan park about 10am. An almost immediate first stop was at a caravan service centre John had seen yesterday. He bought a slide-on shade curtain type thing, that could go on the front of the awning; more upmarket than the shade cloth we’d used on the van!

Managed to find our way to the Mildura road, without going into the centre of Bendigo. Maybe the Garmin had some value, after all.

The Calder Highway was a road we’d travelled many times before. At this time of year, the country was pleasantly green.

Dog seemed to travel a little better – I used the tranquilizer spray again – but still was not a happy  traveller. Sulk mode.

We stopped at Charlton for a leg stretch and a short walk for dog. Noted a great caravan stopping place there – sites arranged around two central ensuite bathroom buildings. $25 a night paid at the hotel,  to park up there and have one’s own bathroom.

I would have liked to stop there – it was quite early and we could explore the little town. But John wanted to push on. As we tootled along the highway out of Charlton, he made the sudden decision that he’d like to go to Swan Hill next. Not for any particular reason. Oh well, this was a shake down trip with Bus and we could certainly make it up as we went along.

Stopped to eat lunch at a rather unappealing parking area at the hamlet of Dumosa, essentially a grain silo and loading facility on a rail line. Then turned off the highway onto the Swan Hill road – two lanes, but narrow and rough in parts. However, John was really enjoying driving Bus, so a patched road surface wasn’t going to worry him.

This was a road we hadn’t travelled before. The somewhat intriguing Tittybong was shown on my map, but proved to be a locality, not a village. Likewise Goshen, closer to Swan Hill, which was a place we knew of because our 2005 boss at Pungalina had grown up there. Nothing to see, folks.

Tittybong

Reached Swan Hill mid-afternoon. Went to the Riverside Caravan Park and were able to obtain a river side site – for $36 a night, after discount. This was a Big 4 chain park, but unusual in that it had a section for travellers with canines. We rejoined the chain, which caused the lady on check in to get all muddled up with her computer system.

The site was pretty expensive, for just a site, but it was really pleasant, looking out onto the Murray River, which was very full. In fact, so nice that John decided we would stay three nights.

Downstream outlook from our site at Swan Hill

As we were finalizing our set up, the paddle steamer Pyap came churning past on the river, and blew its steam whistle at us. Dog not happy about that. Then, a few minutes later, a couple of ducks appeared to check us out, and took exception to dog being in their environment, with one attempting to peck at her. That was it – dog was ready to go home. At least, she now saw the stationary Bus as home – a safe place from nasty experiences.

There was the large Riverside Park adjacent to the caravan park. Here, when there were no other people nearby, we were able to let Couey off her lead and let her cavort around, chasing her ball and just running about. There were sometimes ducks in the distance and she very carefully  avoided going anywhere near those. To date, her experience of waterbirds had been at Lilydale Lake, where they ran away from any dogs. She clearly couldn’t cope with ones that were braver than her!

We saw two Trakmaster caravans in the caravan park – not together. They were both quite large ones, and one was silver clad – that’s a new development.

We soon discovered that the park was having a new swimming pool installed, not far from our site. It was very noisy work!

I cooked fish and fries for tonight’s tea.

We were now finding the Bus beds quite comfortable for sleeping.


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2006 Travels April 4

TUESDAY 4 APRIL   SWAN HILL TO HAY   240kms

We did not leave Swan Hill until after some tasks had been completed.

Resize of 04-03-2006 Murray River view downstream

Murray River at Swan Hill

I visited a jeweller to get my watch going again. But the verdict was that there was something other than just the battery wrong with it. I had little choice but to buy a new one, as I really had to have a watch to function properly at Adels. So I bought a stainless steel one, quite nice, for $200. Had the band from my old one fitted to the new one, as it was a style I preferred.

We also bought a case for the video camera – more compact than the one we had been using.

John posted off the fleece jackets, bought in Halls Gap,  to Brussels.

We drove to Hay via Tooleybuc and Balranald, to stay on the better faster roads, even though it was not the most direct route.

Topped up the fuel at Balranald, at 222kms done. $1.37cpl.

There were a few spots of rain at one stage in the afternoon, confirming that summer had really gone.

Booked into the Hay Plains Caravan Park. $18 after discount.

We set out to go for a walk, but did not go very far because I had a really sore heel, ankle back. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with it; there had not been any incident or accident to account for it. All I could think of was that it was an aftermath from all the standing at the Games work.

Resize of 04-04-2006 Murrumbidgee at Hay

Murrumbidgee River at Hay

To add to the accumulating woes on this trip, after tea, John pulled out a filling when using dental floss. It would need to be fixed as soon as possible.

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2006 Travels April 3

MONDAY 3 APRIL   HALLS GAP TO SWAN HILL   315 kms

Once we were heading out of Halls Gap, discussed our options for today. If the Truck repair was done quickly, we did not really want to dawdle away the rest of the day in Birchip, so decided to try to press on and maybe make Swan Hill for the night.

After leaving Halls Gap, stopped briefly in Stawell, so John could buy a cable for his laptop, to replace the one he’d realized  he left at home!

We were in Birchip by 1pm.

The freight truck with the new pump did not arrive until 3.15pm!

We filled in the time with a couple of tasks. I went to the Post Office and sent off a little jumper I had just finished knitting for son’s coming baby.

Refuelled Truck – $1.37cpl. Had done 446kms.

My watch had stopped working. This trip really had not begun well!

We talked with W, while waiting for the part to arrive. He told us that the water in O’s house at Pungalina had reached five foot deep. It was no longer liveable-in. O had phoned him a couple of days previous, from Borroloola – where the lady friend was working. W said that the owner of the place, A, wanted to fly W up there to work on the flooded machinery and get everything going again. But O reckoned he could do that himself. We all speculated that things up there were worse than O had let on, and that perhaps he just wanted to try to sort it all out himself. We wondered what had happened to the boats, which would have been brought back to the house area, from their places on the river, at the end of last year’s season. Or at least we presumed they had. I wondered if the wheeled container that normally held all the Safari Camp stuff through the Wet, had been parked above flood level? I hoped so, after all the work I had put in last year, to get the place properly equipped.

Once the part arrived, W was pretty fast with the repair, so we decided to stick to our plan to try for Swan Hill. The vehicle work cost us $400. Nothing to do with Landrovers is ever cheap!

It was dark when we reached Swan Hill. Booked in to the Pioneer City Caravan Park – $27 after discount.

Resize of 04-03-2006 to sh


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2000 Travels December 12

TUESDAY 12 DECEMBER   MORGAN TO SWAN HILL   485kms

We got up at 6am and were away at 7.

Today seemed slightly cooler than yesterday.

We paralleled the Murray River much of the way to Renmark. Occasionally we caught glimpses of the river down in its valley.

Refuelled at Renmark – $1.06cpl.

Eastbound traffic does not have to stop at the quarantine checkpoint near the Victorian border, but we still did not want to carry plant material from other areas into the fruit growing area along the Victorian Murray, so I had not stocked up.

Thus, we stopped at the shopping centre on the edge of Mildura where I bought bread for lunch, and some salad materials for tea. Also bought an Age newspaper – great to have one of these again!

We had decided to follow the Murray for a couple of days, rather than drive the more arid and hot route to Melbourne through the Mallee. So we headed off into NSW for a short time, then crossed the river back into Victoria at Robinvale, and from there along the river to Swan Hill.

Ate lunch as we went.

We lost more time today as we crossed the border back into Victoria.

The Swan Hill Caravan Park, beside the Murray, was very pleasant. It cost $20 for the night. We were able to stay hitched up.

John holed up in the van, being justifiably tired, and read, with the air-con going. I walked along the river bank to town and back.

In the late afternoon, we sat outside the van, watching the sunset being reflected in the river water – beautiful.

Tea was again cold chicken pieces and salad.

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