Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Archive for the ‘2016 The Trek That Never Was’ Category

Dual Purpose Wheels Chocks

We need to keep the weight of the camper down so it’s great when we discover more than one use for something. We didn’t like the way the doors of the storage compartments touched the ground when open because they’re bound to get damaged but we’ve now discovered the wheel chocks are a perfect solution.

door-stops

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Tripping Home

Last night was COLD, we’ll need to be better prepared if we go away in the winter again. There was frost on the ground this morning when Alex ventured out , I stayed tucked up in bed for as long as possible.

We walked down to the Artback Australia Gallery and Cafe for breakfast while the sun dried the moisture on the camper canvas because it will be packed up for a while after today. As I sat drinking my delicious fresh orange juice and eating my pancakes with berries and yoghurt I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”.  Across from me Alex sat drinking his flat white coffee and eating his 3 fried eggs, deliciously cured local bacon and sour dough toast thinking, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”

Just superb!

Packing up the Mitchell is much easier than our old camper where we certainly needed strong arms to lift up the hardfloor and flip it over. We’ve also appreciated the extra floor space where we were able to set up a table and chairs comfortably. It didn’t take long to pack up and then we were off.

Cullulleraine wasn’t a stop on the way back, we decided to keep going until Renmark where I wanted to make a stop at a roadside stall to buy some dried apricots. We’ve bought them there before and they were great and this time we also bought a couple of bags of Mandarins. The man had grafted the variety himself and he did an excellent job, they are sweet, easy to peel and have no seeds. Unlike the supermarket fruit they were all different sizes.

After Renmark we went through Berri where I worked for 3 years and then across the “new bridge” ie the one that wasn’t there in 1970, and across to Loxton. From there we went to Murray Bridge via Karoonda, mostly on a nice quiet road. From Murray Bridge we were on the freeway and it was far too stressful for me so next time we’ll try not to come home through the hills.

Now we’re safely home, the camper can go in for its check-over and we can plan for next time.

This gives you an idea of why we don’t have a bigger camper/caravan. If you click on an image it should take you to a Slideshow.

I forgot to mention that we stopped at the local IGA and as Alex walked out with the 4kg strap of Rib Eye draped over his arm the genial manager asked dryly, “Planning a steak sandwich maaate?” That sent us on our way with a smile.

Tripping to Wentworth

It was another cold morning, 3 deg it said on the radio. Brrrr. I remembered a hint from way, way back that it’s better to put a blanket inside your sleeping bag rather than on top so last night we put the quilt on top of the blanket and we were toasty. I wasn’t in any hurry to get up.

We packed up and set off thinking we’d get breakfast somewhere on the way to Mildura. We had to stop at Paringa for the opening bridge while a houseboat passed through. The bridge was opened in 1927, I’m surprised it hasn’t been replaced.

I decided we’d stop at Lake Cullullaraine just because I liked the name and it was the highlight of the day. I’m sure the lake is beautiful and the place would be buzzing in warmer months but we only saw the inside of the General Store. The food was mediocre but I’ll let the photos explain the place.

We passed the road to Wentworth and headed into Mildura. I expected a Caravan Park to be in a peaceful spot beside the river but the two we found were on a very busy road not far from the centre of town. We didn’t even stop just went round a couple of roundabouts and found the road to Wentworth.

We’ve stayed here before and really liked it. We walked around the town and along the river then relaxed in the SUN! Tomorrow before we leave Wentworth we’ll go back to Foodland to buy a whole Scotch Fillet (Rib Eye) for $14 a kilo but we won’t bother with a whole leg of “Two Tooth”.

The AC is working like a charm, the hot water service was great for washing the dishes and the cooker works fine and now has a lovely burnished wind shield. We’ve worked out the things that need to be attended to at the 1000 kms service when we get back so tomorrow we go home.

Saturday Night Jukebox is on the radio, it’s time to just chill. I want to spend more time relaxing by a nice river.

You can see bigger images and captions by clicking on one.

Tripping to Renmark

Waking up this morning was lovely, seeing the sun rise over the river and that was when we were still lying in bed. There is one issue with that though, if we can see out in the morning then at night people can see in. I’m going to do a spot check tonight to see just how visible we are when we’re inside. The windows are tinted and there are bug screens but there are no curtains.

As we drove out of Blanchetown we spotted a Take Away shop so think maybe there could be more to the town than we saw.

I drove back and forth between Adelaide and Berri many times when I was working there but my only visit to Waikerie was just as far as the Service Station on the main highway and that was to phone Dad because the car had broken down again. Today we called in and were surprised at the size of the town. We went looking for a cafe and there were about four in the main street but fried food seemed to be top of the menu, I thought one was selling “Pork Giblets” until I did a second take and saw it was “Pork Riblets” either way I didn’t want any. We had Devonshire Tea then headed off again for Renmark.

I was driving today and was very relieved when we finished the day with the gearbox apparently still in working order.

For those who might be wondering, it’s clear that although we haven’t been on the road for quite a while Alex’ membership of the Old Codgers Club is still current and members have been delighted to engage him in conversation.

This afternoon we walked into the town centre to the Telstra shop because I had a problem with our WiFi station. I don’t know how many steps are logged on Alex’s Fitbit and I can’t ask him because he’s now sleeping off the effects! It was a lot further than the 4kms round trip the lady at the Caravan Park told us.

Tonight the Caravan Park is again right beside the river and the Pelicans are nicely aloof. I think people are getting the message that feeding the wildlife makes some of them aggressive and belligerent Pelicans are not nice to meet.

Tomorrow we move on to Mildura.

 

Just a Trip Not a Trek 2016

The brand new camper has been sitting unused at home now for almost 2 months due to our issues with the Jeep and the horrible weather but it’s now comfortably sitting on a plot at the Riverside Caravan Park, Blanchetown. Thankfully we had a trouble free trip up the freeway then through the hills to Hahndorf, Balhannah, Mt Torrens until we stopped at Angaston for some warm sustenance. I did have my heart set on some nice warm soup with a sour dough roll but the offering of the day was Cream of Broccoli and that had me looking at the menu for a second time. I decided to go with Alex’s choice, an “Ango Pie” and it was brilliant! I’ve never before had a pie with beef, bacon, leek, cheese, mushrooms and red wine gravy.

Our next stop was near the Fruit Fly quarantine bin where we ate our bananas and apples then travelled on to Blanchetown. It’s not a big place but does have a pub, Post Office/General Store and quite a large Council Office/Medicare/Centrelink/Rural Transaction Centre/Library/Internet access hub. We went for a walk to Lock 1 but we couldn’t walk across it and there was a lot of work going on all around it so after reading the various informative noticeboards ( 13.5 tons of carp taken from the water last year) we went back to the caravan park to see if the Vanilla and Caramel Slices we bought in Angaston were as good as the pies. They were.

After eating those, of course, we needed another walk so headed off along the river in the opposite direction. We upset a lot of nesting Cockies along the way.

I enjoyed checking out the names on the various “shacks” and also comparing the styles, sizes and states of them.

Now we’re off to the Pub for tea …unless only Broccoli Soup is on the menu, if so we’ll come back for some Cup a Soup.

2016 The Trek That Never Was

Alex had about 7 weeks leave coming up and we looked  forward to our escape from the cold. We planned our trip, as much as we ever do, ie we knew we were headed north to Oodnadatta, Chambers Pillar, Alice Springs, Kakadu etc and we anticipated a lot of fun in our new camper. When the camper was taking longer to be delivered than we’d anticipated we decided to go to Melbourne to pick it up. We drove over on Thursday, June 17th and stayed overnight in fascinating Dandenong.

We picked up the camper and headed back home on Friday about midday. The weather was awful with relentless lashing rain making driving on the freeways doubly stressful. By the time we reached  a rest stop at Colac it was about 3:30 so we decided we’d stay there and set up the camper for the first time without the added pressure of approaching darkness.

At the rest stop in Colac

At the rest stop in Colac

The Jeep had other ideas. After driving a couple of hundred yards it wouldn’t change gear. We managed to limp into a side street and park safely. We rang the RAA but it was dark before the Tow Truck came, eventually the car was taken to the Caravan Park but the new camper was left behind. Thankfully, with the help of the managers that was brought to the Caravan Park too. We were too stressed to set up the camper, instead we spent 4 nights in a cabin.

If you’re going to have a breakdown and be stuck in a place for days Colac isn’t a bad place to be. We were able to walk into town from the Lakeside Caravan Park. There are lots of really interesting  old buildings, antique shops, eateries, sometimes a football game and a Sunday Market. The Botanic Gardens are just across the road from the Caravan Park and although the water isn’t near the shore the walks beside Lake Colac are enjoyable and there are seats where you can sit and muse.

 

On Tuesday morning our camper-rescuer (Dave) drove us to North Shore Station, Geelong  where we caught the train to Adelaide. Helpful people like that are an absolute delight to meet.

Thank goodness the volunteer arrived to assure us we were at the right place.

Thank goodness the volunteer arrived to assure us we were at the right place.

A transporter brought the Jeep and camper-trailer back to Adelaide. ($600 excess for the camper) Almost $8000 later we have the rebuilt gearbox in the 6 year old Jeep. It’s an automatic and apparently we should have been locking it into 4th gear rather than having it in Drive when we were towing. We wish we’d been given that advice before so we didn’t find out the hard way! Both of us are used to driving manual vehicles and never knowingly stress the engine or gearbox so it was very disappointing to have the gearbox fail. We have to do 1000kms without any towing then take the car back for a service.

About a week after we got the Jeep back our 2012 VW Polo broke down and had to be transported to a repairer. The fuel injectors had failed. Search the Internet and you’ll find plenty of information about that issue!

When we were in Melbourne we discovered that the camper-trailer needs to go in for a service after 1000 kms so we plan to do some short little trips when the weather improves.

So what’s the point of even writing this post? Firstly, it just might help someone avoid the destruction of their gearbox.

Secondly, travelling isn’t always trouble free and to not write about those things is to only tell part of a story. Maybe it will even make the reader feel good knowing it didn’t happen to them!

We didn’t have the holiday we anticipated but things could have been much worse. We could have been stranded at Chambers Pillar, 1400 kms away with no mobile coverage and thousands of flies! The weather this year has been out of whack with colder than average temperatures up north and unseasonal rains. Not what we were looking for. The weather has been unpleasantly cold and wet at home but at least we have all our comforts here.