Way 2013 Trip Diary - Part Eight - The Return Home
Yesterday was Day 158, and it just rained all day. I abandoned
all plans to go sight seeing, Ďcos Iíve seen rain before. And
so it became a fruitful day as I spent the time editing. I have
three DVDs to get done, and it seems to be taking forever. But
when you have so much footage, and you get rid of the extraneous
stuff, and then look at the finished product, and it somehow
doesnít look or feel right, you have to bite the bullet, and
prune some more. Itís the same with music. If you are playing
a solo, it is what you leave out that is important, rather than
what you put in. The important stuff picks itself - the rest
is ďfillerĒ, and if you donít get the filler right, then it
this report so far I guess LOL
a totally different story. I had the car and caravan booked
in to try and get this 12v and inverter stuff sorted out. I
was at the workshop by 8am, and by 9 he was done. He had found
a couple of blown monster fuses - replaced them, and all was
good .......... UNTIL I got to Nowra this afternoon, and my
entire 12v system is dead - gone - no light - no pump - nothing
.......... i did have the 240 working when I plugged in, so
off to Supercheap Auto to buy a 240v 8w worklamp, to plug in
and at least have some light in the van. That and a head lamp
did the job. And so tomorrow, more searching for someone to
sort this mess out.
down here was awesome. I got well away from the main roads,
and followed the minor roads down to Bowral, Moss Vale and across
the hills to Nowra. I passed through some stunning countryside
getting to Picton, and the old Tojo had a real workout towing
the hotel up a couple of very big and steep hills. First gear
stuff it was in a few places. I managed to stay away from the
rain until later in the afternoon, and copped it as I approached
at the gates of the showground, and found that I needed to get
a permit from the council. And so I rang them, got the OK, paid
my $12.35 pn with my battered credit card, and then found I
had no 12v.
I did the important thing, set up the dish, had dinner, and
settled down to watch the final and championship deciding NASCAR
I found an auto electrician who knew what he was talking about
(well he convinced me he knew what he was talking about). He
also started pulling covers off batteries and figured that all
was good. See, the strangest thing happened this morning. I
checked my Prostar solar gadget thingy, and it was still dead,
and no 12 volt. So the auto electrician told me in Larry Emdur
style to ďcome on downĒ. So I hooked up, plugged in the Anderson
Plug, and for some reason had a look inside the Caravan Boot,
and the BLOODY THING WAS WORKING ........... But there was no
explanation as to why, and the inverter was still dead, so I
packed up and headed down to see him. It didnít take him long
to discover some loose wires and a dodgy connection and things
began to make sense.
to the inverter had somehow become loose or dislodged, there
was a cable connected to one battery and floating around unconnected
at the other end ...... Now only three people that I can recall
have fiddled with this stuff in the past six months. The guy
who installed the three new batteries in June, the guy who replaced
the RCD in Kununurra, and the guy in North Richmond yesterday.
Someone had forgotten to connect the first battery properly,
and it had been having hit and miss connection, possibly for
the past 6 months. Anyway, all hooked up, tested, and working
I rang George
Royter from George Royters Australia, and arranged to meet him
when he finished teaching. He has a very interesting market
that he is targeting with his beautiful short videos. I had
a look at his studio setup, which took me back to my studio
before I sold up and downsized to caravan living and a caravan
sized studio. We had lunch, and he was very helpful in his insight
to marketing our products.
to me that there are some people who see you as a rival and
a risk to their business, but they couldnít be further from
the truth. We all have different products, and although we may
occasionally cover the same subject, we all see it through different
eyes and with a different viewpoint. The object of the exercise
is (in my case anyhow) to bring this wonderful country we live
in to the attention of Australians and of course, to our overseas
a great guy, and I really enjoyed our all too brief time together.
it being a beautiful day, albeit getting on a bit, I took a
run down to Jervis Bay and had a brief look at the National
Park down there.
I hit the road again and head inland. George gave me an alternative
route that should bypass a few of those big hills, and it is
somewhere new for me, and the target is Goulburn. The weather
is tipped to be fine again, at least early in the day.
next time I have signal.
It was a
beautiful morning in Nowra, as I prepared to leave the city
and commence my journey West. I have a couple more friends to
catch up with in Wodonga and Angaston before I hit the Nullarbor.
a route suggestion yesterday, that he said would avoid all the
heavy hills, and so I figured why not. The journey took me out
past the Albatross Aviation Centre, where I spied a couple of
old DC3ís (or C41s I think the military version was called)
sitting near the tarmac. That was a good start, and then the
trip in towards Nerriga, where the beaut double lane highway
ceased. A few kms down the road, and the turnoff to Taraga.
Apart from a km of dirt in the middle, this road has been sealed,
and is a popular route for caravanners in the know it appears,
to dodge the mountain section that I encountered the other day,
and of course the big hills further south. It also is a truck
route. And then you descend into Tarago which is a very old
village, and has a few character buildings, before turning to
the north and heading to Goulburn.
I used Goulburn
as a lunch stop, before finally relenting and joining the Hume
Hwy, to try and find somewhere ďquietĒ to spend the night. Gunning
arrived, and I pulled off to have a look. I think I have mentioned
in the past about my thoughts on major highways taking traffic
past small towns, and therefore effectively helping to kill
them off. The sign on the hwy said that Gunning had a population
of 1000, the sign at the town said 520. Gunning have made a
free caravan parking area available, obviously I would think,
to tempt the passer by to stop and spend the night (or two or
three) and leave some cash in the town. It is a lovely little
town, again having been first settled around 1821.
there is currently not a lot of RV traffic on the roads, the
spots at the Gunning rest area were taken, and it was still
a little early in the day for me to stop anyway. And so I continued
on, calling in at the Mundoonen Rest area, which is probably
the best set up rest area I have seen so far on this trip. Trucks
one side, cars the other, toilets, tables, shelters ........
but itís not flat. I had Yass marked on my GPS, and so after
playing a game of tag with a police car who would scream past,
and then stop someone, and scream past again, I arrived at my
destination. The Yass Rest Area has no toilets, is again not
flat unless you get there early enough to claim the top piece
of road ....... and I was the only one there.
It is right
beside the highway, and the trucks going past are again like
my Blues Brothers analogy of a month or so ago, when they were
in Elroyís bedsit with the trains zapping past constantly outside
the window. But I was tired, and I had a touch of Sinus I feel,
and so at 3.30, I hit the sack for an hour.
are rest stops on a regular basis down the Hume Hwy, and I guess
most major roads where there are truck routes, but something
I have noticed is the complete lack of rest areas on subsiduary
roads in this state - at least the Eastern part of it. I found
as soon as I entered NSW, rest areas were almost non existent,
and you had to stop when you reached a town...... so what you
say? Iím sorry, but I am used to having rest areas along a road
where you can pull off if you have a problem, someone is suddenly
not feeling well, or even if nature suddenly calls. There is
nothing - no shoulders that are really wide enough or safe enough
in my opinion, and certainly no where to stop and have a bite
to eat - other than in the towns. Gravel pits and metal dumps
all seem to be fenced off. A couple of times now, I have set
out with the desire to travel for just a few hours or 100-150
kms, and found myself spending a lot longer on the road with
no stops, because there is just no provision.
Itís 11.19pm, and things have quietened down. Iíve only had
11 trucks go past in 4 mins. Mind you, there have been a bundle
more since I put the stopwatch down a minute or so ago. The
volume of Truck traffic on the Hume Hwy is frightening. OK,
thereís another 16 in the last two minutes. Thatís incredible.
have a nice strong phone signal tonight, but the internet ......
Now THAT was an interesting day. I was determined that I was
not going to drive down the Hume Hwy to Wodonga. Apart from
the trucks, and the lack of decent scenery, it is a shit of
a road. For some reason, they have paved much of it with concrete,
and it doesn't work. I don't know whether it's because of the
trucks, but the bitumen bits are much smoother ..... and still
not good. Please give us an alternative road that we can travel
down in serene comfort and at our own pace. But I digress.
that I would go via Tumut. This meant travelling from Yass via
Wee Jasper. The road is narrow in places, but it is bitumen
.... until you get to 4kms beyond Wee Jasper, where the right
hand turn tells you Tumut 61, Gravel Road, and then ROAD NOT
SUITABLE FOR CARAVANS. Now my hotel is 30' long overall, and
if I find myself on a cliff face that is impassable - remember
we are traversing the Snowy Mountains - it ain't gonna be easy
to turn around on a 3 metre wide road. And so I bailed, I turned
around, and I headed back to Yass. It gave me an opportunity
to have a look at the countryside that had only been visible
in my rear vision mirror up until now. But with a drop of 400m,
who had time to look coming OR going. What little I did see
When I got
back to Yass, I went for a Subway, and passed Banjo Patterson
Gardens, and I wondered why here, when the Banjo Patterson Museum
is in Winton in Queensland. And then I thought "Of Course,
the Man Fropm Snowy River" and other poems of the area.
But it was more than that. He was born in the area, spent much
of his life in the area, his Dad is buried in the area, and
he had a station at WEE JASPER .... and I was there and didn't
know about it........... There was a roadhouse at Wee Jasper,
which doubled as the local Information Centre, but it had long
I have to
admit that travelling on my own, I have lost some of the passion
for what I am doing, and so I have been lax in stopping and
smelling the roses .... or swallowing the flies .... which was
the situation bugging some workmen along the road.
I now had no option but to continue down the Hume Hwy, if I
wanted to get to Wodonga in the next day or two. I was travelling
up a hill when I spied in the mirror a couple of trucks coming
up behind me. One was in the process of overtaking the other,
and it was obvious this was going to be interesting. Neither
truck would want to back off because of momentum. However, there
were two more trucks in the process of the same manouvre behind
them, and the front truck on the inside lane decided that he
would tuck in behind the outside lane truck, and in front of
the following outside lane truck, who was trying to complete
his pass on the second inside lane truck ..... does that make
sense? Four bloody trucks all fighting for position, and there's
this bloody caravanner plodding up the hill blocking a lane
....... I saw a gap on the side of the road and headed for it
as I was swamped by these four Formula One Truck Drivers .........
And you wonder why I wanted to go to Tumut down a back road
I had done
this trip in 2010 on the way home from our Queensland - Cape
York expedition, and so I bypassed most of the towns, but did
pull through Tarcutta, where there is supposedly a freecamp.
The town is apparently halfway down the Hume, and truckdrivers
do pull in and use the amazing facilities provided for them.
In fact, it seems that half of the town is truck parking bays.
I pulled up at the service station, checked the Freecamps Book,
and it said that the freecamp was 1km south of the town. So
to make sure, I input the co-ordinates, and headed for it. !3
kms later I found the Kyeamba Rest Area.
but internet .... forget it.
Now, I don't
know if you know who or what you are dealing with here, when
you read this stuff. It's now 9.41pm, and I have just washed
the dishes. Nothing unusual in that, but I had obviously overlo
oked putting the washing liquid away this morning, and I found
it on the floor. And not all of it was in the bottle .........
you get my drift. Now just how do you clean up half a gallon
of green syrupy washing liquid from a floor. I used a mop. I
had of course wet the mop first as you do when you clean floors,
and I didn't bother about putting cleaning stuff on it, because
that would have created havoc. It created havoc anyway. The
more I tried to clean, the more it soaped up and I would wash
it out of the mop, and it would soap up some more. I defy ANYONE
to tell me they have cleaner floors in their caravan than I
do ..... well that section that wore the liquid, anyway.
to be a transport day. I had arranged to meet my long time mate
and old school friend Kerry Martin and his lovely wife Shirley
at Albury, where he now resides (well Wodonga actually).
I was watching
the GPS as we approached Woomargama, and noticed that all of
a sudden, the Hume Hwy was running across what was marked as
open country, and it occurred to me that the motorway was bypassing
yet another small town. We had already bypassed a larger town
in Holbrook, and now, here was another one. And then the same
thing happened at Bowna. I was past the turnoff before I realisesd
that again, a new freeway extension was bypassing the town.
the Hume Hwy runs from Albury to Melbourne, and doesn't pass
through one town. And to me, this is a major problem in the
economy of the rural areas of our huge country. Anyone who has
had the privilege of trying to retrace the legendary Route 66
in America, I believe,. has found a whole heap of dead towns.
And the same thing is happening here. In my opinion, for what
it is worth, trucks should be forced to bypass towns by a genuine
bypass, and the main road should run throeugh the towns, thereby
forcing/encouraging travellers to actually pass through the
villages. In most cases, drivers will stop, have a walk around,
and in all probability buy something. At the moment, cars start
at the beginning, may stop at a rest stop which has a toilet,
and end at their destination without being tempted to spend
a dollar and keep local rural economies ticking over.
If I refer
to a town I lived in a number of years ago in WA, Katanning,
here is a perfect example. It is the largest sheep selling centre
in WA, and the trucks used to travel down a town street before
turning off to the saleyards. The town had a vibrancy. And then
the powers that be, decided to extend the Great Southern past
the town, and immediately, traffic drove past the town instead
of finding themselves being herded into the shopping centre,
and shop vacancies began to manifest themselves. It would have
made sense to turn the trucks before the town and push them
around the back of the town to the saleyards. Inconvenient maybe
for the truckies, but the big picture is the towns survival.
Katanning at least has a saleyard to keep it alive. Many towns
at Albury, made the phone call to Kerry, and we met at a local
rest area, and spent a couple of hours chewing the fat.
it was back on the road, heading towards Corowa. I had decided
that I was going to follow the Murray on the NSW side of the
border, aim for Deniliquin, and then get the passport out to
get into Victoria. (I'm a West Aussie and Victoria is our punching
bag - you ES'ers have your NSW vs Qld, Sydney vs Melbourne rivalries).
to have a look at Lake Mulwala, before travelling on to Barooga,
where I found a lovely little spot beside the Murray River,
where I plan to stay for the next couple of days watching the
cricket and the V8s, before hitting the road again on Monday.
phone, but no internet ÖÖ.. this will get posted when I have
DAY 166 24/11/13 (DAYS 164-5 were spent bludging)
been a big day. I left Barooga this morning, intending to do
about 100 kms to Deniliquin. And here I am, sitting about 60kms
from Donald, and I have travelled over 300 kms.
start at the beginning. The weekend was spent as predicted,
watching the cricket and the V8s from Phillip Island. Wow what
a race meeting - and wow what a cricket match - except when
I went back after the V8s, rain had stopped play, they were
going back to the studio, and if play resumed, it would be on
GEM, and they repeated that. And so I switched to GEM, and in
the news, found out that play had INDEED resumed, and that the
Aussies had won. WTF.
here of course, is that the cricket comes from Queensland, and
the 9 network is Eastern States Based. In the NT it is Imparja,
and in the West, it is WIN. And so what starts as a broadcasting
channel in one state gets switched to another channel in other
states. Now my VAST box is still set up for WA, and so if they
DID take the rest of the broadcast, it probably happened on
the main channel ........ and I missed it .... simple as that.
follow the V8s will find that it is broadcast on different channels
within the 7 network, depending on which station is running
it - 7, Prime, GWN, etc.
that all means is, that I sat on my bum all weekend glued to
the TV, instead of taking in the beautiful surroundings of the
Murray River, beside which I was camped. And so, when I packed
up this morning, on a whim, I decided to take a drive around
the park to see what lay beyond. And so I towed the hotel about
200m down the road, found a steep sharp narrow left hand bend
into a creek, and a steep sharp right hand bend out of it, and
I said whoa, Iím not going there with a 30í monster behind me.
There was no where to turn around seemingly, however, there
was an area directly in front of me with a track thingy around
a tree where you could drive in, camp, and drive out, surrounded
of course by the river. And so I drove in, took a wide berth,
swung around, and very quickly realised I wasnít going to make
it without wiping out either the van or the tree - and THAT
obviously wasnít going to happen. So I jumped out, surveyed
the situation, came up with a plan, which actually WORKED, and
long story short, managed to extricate myself from trouble.
And so I
travelled across the river to Cobram, had a look, and then instead
of heading back across into NSW, decided to go to Finlay via
Tocumwal on the Victorian side of the border. Approaching Tocumwal,
I encountered a Breath Resting Unit stopping traffic going the
other way. Listening to a couple of truck drivers, there had
been a Hippie Festival in the town over the weekend, and the
boys were out.
was quite cute, built on the banks of the Murray, and protected
(hopefully) by a levee bank along the river. It was very quiet
in town, and I got impression that it might be populated by
a more mature aged personage.
was Finlay. There being nowhere to park in the shopping area,
I decided to keep going, but just after turning onto the next
road, I spied a large lake on my right, and a rest area. The
lake is shallow, no swimming, but a nice water feature for the
town, and a nice park area built around it.
arrived, and I pulled in to grab some morning tea. The building
that was apparently the pub and general store was closed, and
didnít look as though it was a going concern.
And so onto
Deniliquin. It has a population of around 8000, has a really
nice town centre, and a lot of lovely old buildings. Again,
a couple of laps of the town, and a lack of parking suggested
that I keep moving. I must have looked like a kid doing bog
laps on Saturday night, not that anyone would have noticed a
15m long rig lapping the towns main street. As I was leaving
town, I found that the town does have a MacDonalds, and so I
suppose that indicates a ďcivilisedĒ status. Then a Harvey Norman,
and finally a Coles ..... well away from the main town centre.
Then I found an accessible fuel station and topped up.
was Barham. The land out here is as flat as the Barkly Tablelands
in Queensland, and as dry at the moment, but the farmers do
have the benefit of watering their land from the irrigation
channels that abound.
It was on
this stretch of road, that a truck coming towards me suddenly
braked and headed for the side of the road in a cloud of smoke.
The stench as I went past him indicated that he had probably
blown a tyre. I didnít envy him having to change it - it was
a warm day.
on the NSW side of the border, and there is a village on the
other side called Koondrook. Again, Barham is a neat little
town, and the towns oval had AFL goalposts. (that is an important
cultural difference to most towns in NSW/Qld). Trees line the
streets in the shopping area, which is very attractive and looks
like a pleasurable area to part with your sheckels.
was over the river into Victoria once again, and a quick look
at Koondrook. This town features the remnants of a tram service
that was obviously important to the area years ago. I would
think that the main shopping area would be interstate. I love
that these towns preserve some of their heritage, and donít
knock it all down. I found a gorgeous little old house here,
with a very modern house built behind it. It appeared as tho
the old place had been restored, and although probably used
as an office or something these days, maintained the ďcolonialĒ
look of the yard.
town, i found myself overtaking a couple of large pieces of
agricultural machinery. This happens fairly frequently on rural
my next port of call. Again, numerous laps of the town failed
to find a parking spot, and then I had luck down a side street.
If there IS an available spot, it is always on the other side
of the street. I have had a blown headlamp for a little while
now, and I hadnít been able to find a replacement. I spied an
Autopro shop, and having found my parking spot, managed to purchase
the required item. My lights are permanently wired ďONĒ for
vision safety (by other vehicles), and so I was getting plenty
of reminders that I had a blown globe. I donít drive at night
if I can help it, but the fact that the globe was blown gave
me a lopsided look
I left Karang,
and what was this ahead of me? My couple of large pieces of
agricultural machinery had bypassed the town and were in front
of me again. Immediate Deja Vu. This also happened to me a month
or so ago
finally a town with a sensible name ......... Quambatook .........
where do they get them from? I mean, why donít they get decent
names like Widgiemooltha and Innaloo?
the town is somewhat unusual. Instead of hitting a T Junction
and turning left, the road which is running East-West swings
North-South and then does a giant u turn back North-south until
it swings East-West again a few kms out of town.
a four way junction, and as I continued through, I spied a spot
on the corner that looked that it just wanted a caravan parked
on it tonight. With Daylight saving, the days are a bit longer
over here. You start an hour earlier at 9am which is really
only 8am, and so you start looking for somewhere to stop and
it is still the heat of the day. I saw some great places to
stop earlier, and if it was really 3pm, I might have, but when
you know that it is actually 2pm in real time, it is just way
too early. And then when it does become time to start looking
for a spot, there rarely is one ...... altho I must confess,
I have never really had a problem. Maybe it is just the brain
kicking in that you just might ďnotĒ find one in daylight. Incidentally,
I am not against daylight saving - for commercial reasons I
voted for it in WA. But Eastern Staters never had a say. It
was implemented in wartime I believe, and has been there ever
again tho, so this will have to be posted when Telstra graces
us with itís presence again.
DAY 167 26/11/13
Was up and
on the road by 9am, and drove into Donald about half an hour
later. The retail sector of the town seemed to be in reasonable
shape, but then the main road does run through the town centre.
I called into the bakery to sample one of their pasties, and
yes, it gets the thumbs up - probably one of the nicest pasties
I've had this trip. The Donald Bakery gets the award.
Then I discovered
that I had internet signal, so stopped long enough to upload
yesterdays epic. Now as I write this, I admit to using the technology
that I have at hand, and boy did I need it yesterday ..... and
today is no different - yes, I have gone to review the video.
myself glancing at the GPS as I headed in the direction of Warrackmabeal,
and it told me that I was on a bearing of 270 degrees - due
west ..... and the road was straight ...... Len Beadell would
have been proud of the engineer who surveyed this road.
the main highway to access the town, which is really a junction
for a number of highways. The trucks are diverted around the
main town centre, which is relly quite beautifully set up. There
are three main roundabouts, and each has a theme. The first
one, a dog sitting on bags of wheat, the next a dog shepherding
sheep, and the last one, a dingo standing on a dirt mound. The
town backs onto a creek, and there are a couple of rest areas
to rest the weary bones. What did run through my mind was, that
kids who live in the more modern cities these days are surrounded
by souless structures, and unless they get the opportunity to
venture into the country, they don't get the sense of history
that this country, however young, contains. Perth for example,
has knocked over many of it's classical structures, and replaced
them with the glasss boxes that pass - no, make that pose for
architectural excellence these days. Thank goodness we have
Fremantle ..... not as a footy team of course ...... . Warrackmabeal
does not suffer this disease - it is a blend of older classic
style and tasteful modern structures.
to Dimboola passes through grain growing country, and the weather
has been kind enough to allow the farmers to attack their paddocks
en masse, stripping the crops of their harvest. You reach the
main Melbourne to Adelaide Highway, which you need to cross
to reach Dimboola some 3 kms down the road. And the fact that
the highway bypasses the town I believe is reflected in the
number of shops that are empty. Dimboola is the gateway to the
Little Desert National Park, which I have noted as a visit next
time I am in the region. I sampled the bakery's vege pastie
and I am sorry to say, the pastry wasn't to my taste buds liking,
and overall, was disappointing. I spent some time chatting with
the owner of the hardware store, the frontage view of which
I had obliterated by parking car and van right outside his door.
We discussed the differences between his 22' and my 23'6"
van's constructions, and about road trips in general. If you
want a well stocked hardware store in rural Victoria, his is
for sale. He also told me that there is plenty of free camping
along the river heading out to the NP.
Now I have
been taking my time, but maintaining a 75-80 kph speed, which
is a pain if you happen to be following, but I take every opportunity
to help following vehicles get past me with a minimum of fuss.
So I couldn't believe my eyes, when a small green car who was
following me, decided that he had the power of a V8 supercar
as he decided to overtake me, and take on the truck that was
approaching from the opposite direction. If I hadn't braked,
there is a fair chance you would have been hearing about it
on the news tonight. There was less that 100m between the oncoming
truck and me as the "greenie" managed to sneak back
in between us.
my next destination, Again, the highway runs through the town
centre, and caravans are catered for with a parking area set
aside for them. It is again a very neat town, and the shopping
area is attractive. The information centre is set up on what
resembles a large traffic island in the middle of the main street.
It is all very inviting.
has the highway running through the middle of town, but the
housing and businesses on either side of the road has a service
road between them and the highway. A great innovation in my
cross the border between NSW and Victoria, there are signs proclaiming
that you have indeed entered new territory, and so I had the
camera running as I approached the South Australian border,
and I was so busy looking at the rest area that sits right on
the border, that I missed the welcome sign. Watching the video
now as I write, and yep, there it was ..... and all I saw were
a heap of signs telling you to put you fruit in the quarantine
bins provided ........ there weren't too many people complying.
In fact, and please correct me if I am wrong, but the only inspection
stations in Australia are at the NT-WA border travelling west
on the Victoria Hwy, at Border Village on the WA-SA border as
you travel west, and at Ceduna as you travel East.
and once again I decided to look for Bob Hawkes boyhood home.
I couldn't find it in 2008. and the sign said it was down here,
so I drove down here and Nope, didn't find it again. Either
I am blind or I can't see anything. But I figured with five
years difference between looks, I might find it, but ..........
Keith arrived, and a quick look around town, the nearsest freecamp
was 14kms away and in the wrong direction, and so I headed around
to the showgrounds. There is an honesty box at the gate and
a phone number. $10 per person, put your money in the box, showers
and Toilet were open and hook up to power and water. Travellers
are either few on the ground down this end of the world at the
moment, or content to pay caravan park prices, because again,
I was the only one camping at this facility. And in other areas
of low cost camping, I have been one of just a few in recent
times. Maybe Christmas is just too close.
the first time in ages, I had some internet, and was able to
catch up on the world's goings on. I just didn't get around
to writing and posting this edition of my ramblings ......
DAY 168 27/11/13
Keith disappeared in my rear vision mirror, as I headed further
west. the forcast had been for hot weather, it was overcast,
not too bad temperature wise, but looked thundery. It tried
to rain a couple of times, as I headed towards Tailem Bend,
and a reunion with the Murray River. I stopped a couple of times
and found the temperature was now rising, and when I pulled
in opposite the bakery at Tailem Bend, it became apparent that
we were in for a doozy.
found a bakery that makes Cornish Pasties, and what did I have
....... a ham cheese and salad roll .... I had made up my mind
before I went in, and for once didn't change it.
the road, and roadworks. Chatting with the workmen, they suggested
that I should detour through Mannum to reach my destination
of Angaston, that I would miss the big hills.
And so I turned off for Murray Bridge ..... hang on, the road
used to go through Murray Bridge - not any more, it's a detour
off the highway now......... don't get me started. I turned
at the lights as directed, and headed for Mannum. This is a
pretty town, again on the Murray River, and I followed the river
around until I came to a turnoff to Swan Reach .... it was a
dirt road. That wasn't in the plan, but I took it anyway, and
came to a cross road, which took you to Walker Flat. It seems
that I should have taken the Bowhill Road to Walker Flat initially,
but If i had, I probably would have missed the Walker Flat experience,
and two ferry rides. The second one was crossing back across
the river at Swan Reach.
it was really sweltering outside, and the northerly wind was
howling, and for the first time this trip, the Tojo started
to cut the a/c to keep the engine temp down. I passed through
Sedan, and then started the climb up Sedan Reach. This is a
long fairly steep winding climb, but nothing too much under
normal circumstances. But today, it was a test of overcoming
not only the 3 1/2 tonne of the van, but the wind and the extreme
temperature, and the gauge started climbing rapidly towards
the red. I don't know whether the fan was cutting in our not,
but the old girl sucked air when we got to the top, and recovered
fairly quickly on the descent. I would have loved to have found
somewhere to stop and look back at the view, but there are no
pulloffs on that hill. The road up the hill does have fences
made of rocks, an amazing feat I felt at the time.
I pulled up right outside my mates place, and the next few hours
were spent catching up on the past three years since I had last
It had been
another big, and in this case, a testing day.
DAY 169 28/11/13
Wow, what a difference. Today, we are in jumpers and long pants,
as the temperature has plummeted. Just a relaxing day off with
Kevin and Liz, as we reminisced over journeys past and present.
Kevin is a collector of Old petroleum company memorabillia,
and has an original caterpiller 2 ton bulldozer in his shed.
He also has a collection of old mobile phones, that he is convinced
he can get working again ...... a hoarding tragic ..... and
I know exactly how he feels about chucking stuff away. I have
the same affliction.
the journey resumes, as I head towards the border of SA-WA.
what, here at Angaston, in the Barossa Valley - NO BLOODY WIRELESS
see THAT coming, did you?
folks, you won't have to put up with this drivel for much longer
- The Perth run is on.
I left Angaston
about 7.30 this morning. I had woken up early, and tried to
get back to sleep, but the fairy with the sleep-dust wasn't
playing ball. I had actually grabbed a couple of hours fairly
deep sleep yesterday afternoon, and that probably had something
to do with it.
I have been
in this area a couple of times before, but I never fail to be
amazed at just how beautiful the Barossa Valley is. We all know
about Hahndorf and those places, but further out in places like
Nuriootpa, and Kapunda, and all the little villages that were
built back in the 1800s with their stone architecture. And I
didn't realise until this morning as I was leaving, that I was
camped just over the road from the Yalumba Winery. We visited
that and had a look around in 1995 when we were in Adelaide
for their final F1 Grand Prix.
at Clare - now there is a town I want to spend some time in
- and kept moving toward Port Augusta. You pass through open
farmland where they grow grain crops, and you can't help noticing
the lack of trees. Now the buildings were built from rock, because
they didn't have timber ....... and I assume SUITABLE timber.
I imagine that the land was wooded back in the early days, and
that it got cleared by the farmers. What annoys me, is that
farmers these days who have heavily wooded properties, are not
allowed to even partly clear their farms, therefore robbing
them of productivity. Sure there should be a limit on how much
you can clear, but not a blanket ban. My thoughts are, that
there should be some balance here, and farmers in South Australia
and Victoria, who have so much open land, should be forced to
plant trees on their properties - a mix of "x" sqm
of trees per hectare, thus balancing up the overall picture.
Simplistic I know, but a step in the right direction IMHO
into Port Pirie - yep, the highway runs past about 6km away
- because being a major centre, I wanted to make use of the
internet signal to upload my last three days blogs. Now I have
two pages - my personal page, and my 4wd Oz DVD page, and so
that meant doing 6 uploads plus 3 shares. It only took 20 mins
......... I also wanted to pay my caravan license fee, and so
logged onto Traffic in WA, hit the pay online button, and it
just would not load the page. Got frustrated, picked up the
phone, hit the internet, and had it done in about 5 mins ....
meanwhile, my internet modem still couldn't load the pages.
(I hate using the phone for internet and texting because the
keys are so small and it's a pain in the ...)
is in a largish town with a fair sized population ...... and
so here I sit at Iron Knob, 66 kms from Port Augusta - it doesn't
look like a mining town, but a few mining vehicles have gone
past and people do live here, but the business area is deserted
......AND I HAVE LIGHTNING FAST INTERNET ......... and you wonder
why I run around screaming like a chook with it's head cut off,
and they send men in white coats to placate me ............
everyone, as I said at the beginning, you don't have to put
up with this garbage much longer ..... the Perth run is on.
DAY 171 30/11/13
You do get
out of the habit you know.
from Albany to Perth is 400kms, and we do that with a van on
fairly regularly. So you would think that having been on the
road since June, that that sort of distance would be a piece
of P.... But apart from when we first started, and we were trying
to outrun the rain, we havenít got anywhere near that sort of
run in a day. Probably 250 kms at the most, but more often,
130-150 kms. The last few days, Iíve been putting up to 280
kms behind me, and I figured that would be the case today.
I left my
spot at Iron Knob a few minutes before 8am, and the weather
was nice, although a breeze had been blowing all night. Kimba
was only 88 kms away, and that came and went quite easily. It
being Saturday, the truck traffic was fairly low, and there
were a few vans and private cars on the road. The van got twitchy
a few times, and I wondered whether everything was OK back there,
because it has been a dream to tow. Apart from the fact that
the grass was laying almost flat, there wasnít much indication
of the outside conditions, as I tootled along with thumb up
bum and mind in neutral. And then came a comfort stop, and the
stool that I had placed by the caravan door took off with a
tailwind at about 30 kph. It was quite obvious by now, that
the twitchiness was due to an extremely stiff cross breeze coming
across the RHF corner of the car, and thumb definitely needed
to be extracted to keep this thing on the tarmac.
I had been
playing in my mind that I would probably stop at a caravan park
tonight, do some washing, top up with water, and generally get
ready for the Nullarbor dash tomorrow. As I passed the airport
at Ceduna, the first caravan park that came into view was the
Airport caravan Park, and I found myself pulling up at the office
without even thinking about it. The owner took $25 off me (Iím
travelling on my own, I didnít ask how much two people would
cost), gave me a drive thru site, I set up, turned on the washing
machine, hit the sack and died.
I have done
700 kms in a day just drifting along at 80 kph in the past.
I had covered 400 kms today at under 80 kph, in a stiff breeze,
and I was buggered.
You do get
out of the habit you know ................
DAY 172 01/12/13
I must be
getting used to it, acclimatised as we say in Australia, or
acclimated as they say in the States. They have a weird way
of pronouncing things, but then, maybe they think the same about
us. But I digress. After yesterdays 400 km effort, today I put
440 kms behind me - all at under 80 kph, and one section of
50 kms at under 40 kph.
When I put
my preview of our Nullarbor DVD up on the net, I had driven
along a section of the Old Eyre Hwy, with caravan in tow, and
had also called in on the Koonalda Homestead. That prompted
one of my subscibers to ask me about Ivy Tanks, and I confessed
that not only had I not been there, I hadn't even heard of the
place. It cropped up in conversation just the other day again,
and so we dragged out the maps, found it on a GDT Desert map
from Hema, and I decided it was time to have a look at this
to cut across a track leading to the Old Eyre Hwy (OEH), but
it either wasn't there, or it was the one that went up a steep
bank by the road, and I wasn't going to try and drag the hotel
thru that. And so I continued on, and found another track, for
which I took a big breath, and went for it. Last time I did
this, trees appeared where they shouldn't have and made things
awkward. This time, they were more friendly, and 5 kms later,
I joined the OEH. It was now 15 kms back to the Ivy Tank site,
and at the aforementioned under 40kph rate of knots, I arrived
at the remains of what was another oasis for travellers back
in the "olden days" ....... or a terminus for what
remained of their cars. There wasn't the number that was found
at Koonalda, but a couple of legends were in amongst them. Photos
of the tanks were also rotting in the dust, and so after taking
video and photos, I turned around, and headed back towards Nullarbor.
Now I am
yet to reach the border, and usually, Border Village and Eucla
are on a par with each other fuel wise, and Mundrabilla is the
cheapest of the lot. I did my sums, and topped up in Nundroo
at $1.649, and yep, Nullarbor $2.039. Incidentally, shop around
a bit in Ceduna - Mogas $1.629, BP Roadhouse $1.619, and the
other servos weren't displaying their prices. Now Nundroo had
a sign telling me that I would love their prices at Mundrabilla
and Shell Norseman. Mundrabilla used to be Liberty, but a sign
along the way was promoting Mogas. Be interesting to see what
the pricing is. I have heard that it is not all that "cheap"
any more. And yes, the Shell service station in the centre of
Norseman - ignore the decor, it has always been much cheaper
than the BP Roadhouse on the corner.
not much traffic on the Eyre Hwy currently. The caravan park
I stayed in last night was near empty and most of those who
were there looked like long term residents.
in a roadside rest area, and at 7.19pm SA Summer Time and so
far, I have it to myself. - It's not far from the border, and
they differentiate their time by 3/4 hr, so WA "Central"
time is 5.40pm, and the sun is still shining brightly - but
my tummy is grumbling - it likes the SA time.
NB As I
post this, Border Village $2.02, and Eucla $1.94 (All Diesel
prices Iím sorry)
Just a transport day today. Apart from yesterdays look at Ivy
Tank, I had no agenda for the Nullarbor this trip, other than
to traverse it as safely and as economically as I could. I had
had a real good look at the Eyre Hwy in 2010 when I filmed the
trip, both coming and going. The preview is on YouTube and can
be found via the website for those of you who might be interested
in some of what we saw.
I did detour
to one of the lookouts on the Bunda Cliffs, and a new addition
is the lookout "cage", which has been erected to discourage
travellers from going close to the cliff edges. The cliffs overhang,
and you only need one to break away whilst you are standing
on it and ......
to get across the border unhasseled, having no fresh fruit or
veges on board, and refuelling was done at Eucla and Mundrabilla,
the only two roadhouses selling at under $2 per litre. ($1.94).
However, the EFTPOS was down at Mundrabilla, and so it was cash
only, and there was an ATM, which I think was ANZ, and it wanted
$2.50 if you were another bank's customer ....... and so make
sure you have cash for emergencies, or at least enough in your
cheque or savings account if this sort of situation emerges.
to put 380kms away today. I'm hoping to get to somewhere near
Norseman tomorrow, depending on weather and time. Mind you,
you are travelling with the sun, and so the sunshine does last
longer going East to West.
was streaming into the caravan when I woke up this morning.
The sun was up and over the horizon - "wow" I thought,
"I must have slept in - must be about 7 o'clock".
I looked at the phone - WHAT??? ....... 4.42 am. Couldn't be,
but it was. I had gone to bed at 9.30 WA time last night, and
remember - I was over near Caiguna. And so breakfast, and on
the road by 6am.
was always going to be a big day ....... when you are chasing
the sun, you have more daylight hours than when you are driving
into it. And so despite stopping every 40-60 minutes, and doing
bog laps around the rig, and travelling at a steady 75-78 kph,
taking time out for morning tea at Balladonia, quick lunch at
Norseman, and hanging around in Coolgardie for half an hour,
waiting to talk to my Grandson for his sixth birthday, I finally
called it a day near the Number 8 Pumping Station on the Great
Eastern Hwy at 4.30pm, having covered 627.9 kms. I'd been building
up to it over the psat few days I reckon. A quick phone call
to my favourite caravan park in Perth (Karrinyup Waters) to
book a site for a few nights, and I was done for the day.
we are at it, my eldest son also celebrated his birthday today,
by taking the day off, playing golf (self flagellation that
game is) and headed to the Casino for lunch. Dunno who mowed
his lawns for him today
around the caravan you ask ...... OK, so you really couldn't
care less, but my rig is 15 metres long, and that is about 36
metres for one lap - 3 of those and you've covered 100m. After
my DVT hassles a year or so again, bog laps within every hour
are a must.
As I mentioned
before, the roads are fairly quiet on this side of the continent
and crossing it. There is no price fixing I am sure across the
Nullarbor. Apart from Mundrabilla and Eucla, I am sure that
$2.029 is a co-incidence. And the Shell at Norseman is no more.
Caltex were advertising $1.649, but the pump showed $1.669.
An enquiry at the counter told me that this was Caltex's new
Premium Diesel. The ordinary Diesel was over the end there ........
I actually used some of the new diesel somewhere else - didn't
make much difference, that I have noticed, anyway.
- If you are doing it for the first time - or whenever, do your
fuel homework BEFORE attempting it. Ring ahead and get the current
pricing. Know what your vehicles fuel consumption is, and what
you can get from a tank BEFORE the red light comes on. Fill
up at the cheapest place, and if you do have to top up before
the next cheapest place, calculate how much you will use to
get there, and that plus a couple of litres is what you should
put into your tank to get the cheapest run across the continent.
I knew that Nullarbor is always expensive, and I knew that Eucla
and Mundrabilla would be the cheapest, and so I filled it at
Nundroo ($1.649), Eucla ($1.94), topped up at Mundrabilla ($1.94),
gave it 30 litres at Balladonia $2.029) and then filled it again
at Norseman ($1.649). Everywhere else was $2.029. The same exercise
can be done going west to east. I'm probably teaching you to
suck eggs, but there it is.
to Perth. The trip is almost done.
DAY 175 4/12/13
is officially over. I have arrived back in Perth - if anyone
reading this sees or is speaking to my Mum, I am currently somewhere
near Broken Hill ...... I intend walking in on her on Sunday
was awake at 4.40am - must be jet lag or something....... and
so I was again on the road just after 6am. The 509 km trip into
Perth was uneventful, and I was settled in at Karrinyup Waters
Resort by 2pm.
it was just a matter of plugging in the modem, and uploading
my last couple ofreports ....... and the bloody thing either
won't connect, and if it does, the computer can't access it,
either as a Mac OR a PC. Is this a problem with the modem, or
is it a Telstra breakdown at the moment? Checked it on the PC
in the car - nothing. Gotta be a problem with the 4G WiFi Thingy.
Visit telstra tomorrow ........
worked out how to use my phone as a modem ...... after all this
time ..... That would be right .....