Warmer Winter 2021 – 2

From living with hundreds of horses, riders and floats for two nights, our next night found us camped at a truck stop on the highway heading north out of Sydney. At times we’re reminded of being a truck when we look at the drivers licence required to drive the motor home, so we took advantage of that for a night. This decision was made after passing a few other rest areas between Goulburn and Sydney. Once you’ve passed the “last” one, there’s nowhere to overnight until you’re through the M7 and on across the Hawkesbury River. There’s a saying in nomadic life that if you don’t get asked to move on, you stay. So we did. This meant we were only 20km from the next planned campground at Morisset Showgrounds.

The Morisset Showgrounds camping area is a little disorganised with the property being used as a COVID-19 testing site most of each day. However, after doing online bookings a week before, we found things fairly comfortable. Monday afternoon and evening and Tuesday were spent catching up with friends from way back. Wednesday we had an appointment in Sydney so took the train trip there and back. For lunch, we found a German bakery. Lots of wholesome breads but a different item we tried was a cheese snail – a rolled dough wrapped in a circle with melted cheese on top. They might see us next time we venture to the Sydney big smoke.

One of our friends turned up to visit. He found his car as a pile of rust down in the Yarra Valley in 1978 and has carted it with him to each address he’s had since then, tinkering as he went. It’s been in a progressive form to 3 states of Australia. We heard this “clapped out horn” noise and outside was what you see in the pictures. Interestingly, his hat was made in Vietnam.

Other old friends arrived during the days we were at Morisset before we headed north, in the pouring rain, for 6 hours or so. We stopped at Nabiac to check out the The National Motorcycle Museum. There needs to be another visit on our homeward journey as there are over 1,000 motor bikes in the museum to view. You’ll have to wait for our return.

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Warmer Winter 2021 – 1

After a year of uncertainty in 2020, we’ve decided to make 2021 a year of certainty – certainly be away from home enjoying life on the road in our motor home in warm weather during the southern winter.

Our departure plans were delayed just 30 minutes which isn’t too bad for a couple of Grey Nomads. The first stop was at the Lake Nillahcootie rest spot on the road between Mansfield and Benalla. The autumn colours were bright red here leading down a path to the lake.

Would you believe our first meal was at Maccas? The non- breakfast turned late lunch became a quick stop as we had met up with another Paradise Owner at Lake Nillahcootie. The conversation took us into the next hour. Much in common.

First it was near Wagga Wagga; then it became Gundagai; then it became Jugiong for our first night. Lyn drove from Glenrowan for about 2 and half hours or so. Arriving at the Jugiong rest camping spot, there were well over 200 horses and their riders to welcome us. I thought they thought we were VIPs from Canberra across the hills, but I succumbed to disappointment. The Jugiong Camp Drafting Championship is on for the weekend. Camp drafting is where the horse rider has to direct a steer around a set course. There were over 190 entries so a long day for the last competitor. Riders came from all over the southern part of New South Wales.

Jugiong is a well used popular traveller’s stop off point on the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney. It’s a quiet town that has a few exquisite eating places where many Canberrians come for a weekend drive. At this time of the year, the colours of the deciduous trees make the area a good place to visit when the sky is brilliant blue. Camping is alongside the Murrumbidgee River that flows down to the mighty Murray River through Wagga Wagga to Balranald. We arrived just after dusk so didn’t look around for a spot away from the horses. In the morning, we found there was no spare spots; horses were everywhere. At least we know where we can collect some horse manure for our garden on the way home in four months time. But no, a tad smelly for 7 hour’s drive.

Next post will include our time at Morisset and on to Stuart’s Point

Dando’s Free Camp – Otway Ranges, Victoria

We spent the March long weekend at this interesting free camp in the heart of “the Otways” in Victoria with our son and his family. Basic facilities are provided by the State Forest Department. It’s a great place to be “device free” as there is no signal, both by phone or the internet, to access the outside world. Most sites have a makeshift fireplace to keep you occupied if not wandering the camp ground or nearby tracks by foot or 4WD.

This park is in the heart of the beech forest region so there are many 4WD tracks for the enthusiast to muddy-up their vehicles. I didn’t do a physical count, but there would have been at least 100 vehicles, with many camping in tents and swags with makeshift shelters, in case the weather becomes inclement. Thankfully, only a little mountain dew dampened the ground.

Breakaway from Covid

Yeah! We can get away in freedom and take to the highways and beaches of Australia in our chosen alternative to our home in the Yarra Valley.

It’s probably fair to say, that many grandparents have either made a bee-line to, or made arrangements to, visit their grandchildren in the first week of lockdown freedom. Our grandkids and son and daughter-in-law, have been in semi-lockdown in Geelong which has had less severe restrictions than metro-Melbourne. However, within 12 hours of the lifting of the restrictions, we were making our way toward Geelong. We had washed and polished the motor home two weeks before; we just had to “fill the fridge” and load the clothes and we were on our way. Our first task was the “grand parents task” of collecting two of the kids from school and transporting them to netball, before we could be introduced to their new house of abode which they had moved into a month before.

We had gone to Geelong to also have a repair job done on our generator. We’ve had an intermittent leak coming from the generator area which showed up a little while after switching it on to use for the microwave or air conditioner. Friends directed us to a European Affair mechanic and we now have an extra fuel filter on the breather line. Hopefully all good for free camping in the future.

From Geelong, it’s just a short drive to Portarlington. We had chosen a “right on the coast” site as we couldn’t get the site we wanted at Barwon Heads Campground for 10 days starting on the Friday. Portarlington doesn’t seem to be loaded with vegetation and rather baron. Apparently, the fishing is good if ever you’re interested. There is a fast catamaran that travels to dock lands in Melbourne a few times a day.

Barwon Heads is out towards the coast from Portarlington, just 30-40 minutes away. With the first weekend after Melbourne’s extended state of lockdown, the town became super busy over Saturday and Sunday. Lyn’s sister and husband Rod came down on Saturday to check out the town too. They were both impressed. Our son Jay and his wife and family came down from Geelong for a few hours in the afternoon.

Sunday’s weather forecast was to be 34 degrees. We took some time at the beach but left early afternoon as the wind came, blowing up sand and turning sour for the rest of the day.

Monday was a bit on the “not a beach day” category. Being in a laid back lifestyle, allows breakfast to happen even after 10am. We manage to fulfil that criteria perfectly. It was 1pm when we ventured out to the hardware shop to pick up some silicon to clean up the slide on the toilet canister. Nothing like struggling at 1:00am to pull out the slide locker. Hey, after so many months in lockdown, the drains also needed some draino work to free up the drainage pipes.

Time for another beach walk in the late afternoon. There’s plenty of walking space here when the tide is out. Yes, we still wear masks on walks – it’s the law in Covictoria. It’s also very clear that the mandatory use of them in the state has been a weapon for the reduction of the Covid-19 virus. That and the lockdown have been a saviour to our future really. (Sorry all you anti-maskers – will NOT agree with your opposition to the use of them).

Tuesday, we had to mark it down that we took an early morning walk before breakfast. As our custom used to be, so shall it be in the future.

Our time during Covid

It pains me to see councils allowing a second, or even a third house, to be built “up the backyard”. When this happens, all it does is give psychologists more appointments with people who have become so mixed up from being prevented being able to gain the natural therapy of working their gardens. Take a look and enjoy this short video of the blooms that have shown up this spring.

10 Days Away – Ocean Grove, Seymour, and Gunning

Time for some timeout so we ventured to Ocean Grove for a few days before some more medical appointments.

We woke on the Friday to bad news that a friend of ours from our time in Papua New Guinea days, had passed away. We decided to divert our break and head to Sydney to pay our respects and to make a speech during the memories of Darryl.

Our motor home often manages to find the Free Camp at Seymour for a night or two. As we made our way out of Gundagai, another Motorhome didn’t like ours and tried to run us off the road. Just as he overtook us, he cut across in front of us sending us into a plastic white post which did some damage just behind the front passengers door. It could have been much worse with a culvert just beyond the post. Our journey became a little tainted with anger at the greedy motor home driver.

We had had good reports of a great free camp at Gunning north of Yass on our way to Sydney. So we aimed to arrive early in the day to get a good spot and leave late in the afternoon headed for Sydney. The donation camp was worth the stay with lots of bird life using the reeds across from us as breeding grounds and hide outs from other birds in chase.

On our way back to Geelong, we’ve stopped back at the Seymour Free Camp where it appears they are endeavoring to make the Old Goulburn bridge at least walkable for us campers to get to the town of Seymour using a walking track.

 

 

 

190915 A Quick Trip North

Once the feeling of a “nomadic” life gets in your blood, there’s no turning back.

I am reminded of our first “try” at motorhome living. We went to the US of A in 1983 for a three month tour in a friend’s motor home out of Los Angeles. Initially, we were to “see it all” but the PNG government devalued their currency 2 months before our departure which meant our PNG savings reduced by $US1000. In 1983, that was a lot of money. But we went on a significantly reduced itinerary and kept to the west coastal regions of USA and Canada. All went very well.

This trip north was planned 50 years ago as Lyn had graduated from a college course and we were headed for the 50th anniversary of that significant event in her life. Many old friends, whom we hadn’t seen much of in those 50 years, had to be searched out, questioned and hugged. Addresses, phone numbers and Facebook friendships were swapped for later referencing and delving into each other’s past. It was a good time of refreshing, and reminiscing.

After the homecoming (yes, an American Term, but it works for those who have called an education location “home” for their early years), We headed north in search of warmer weather, but we were also headed for ‘delays’ along the way. At the intersection at the end of the M1 heading for Hexham, we were in the right lane with a B-Double on our left. The lights turned green and we both headed for the new direction. However, we became a bit ‘jammed’ and came off second-best, loosing our left mirror in the process when the second trailer gathered it on its way through. We were very fortunate, both that the B-Double didn’t hit any of the bodywork, or us, and that an Iveco Truck Centre was within 100 metres of the scene. In 2 and a half hours, we were back on the road with a new mirror, taken from another truck in their yard, heading to Buladelah free camp-site for the night.

Buladelah free camp is a Lions Project to allow nomads to stop over for the night or sometimes two. There has been a donation box but that was missing this visit. The town pub hosts a lot of the nomads for evening meals.

Our journey to Hallidays Point wasn’t too eventful, but the location at Red Head where I had stayed before on my way north while Lyn was overseas, has changed and the caravan park is in the conversion stage to becoming an over 50s village with just a small number of sites for overnighters. The location is sheltered behind sand hills which border a lovely beach to walk along. On chatting to a few of the new residents there, they all found it to be a pleasant place to live with much activity for the park residents coming in the near future.

While here, we met up with a couple of Lyn’s friends from college days, one from over 45years ago since last catching up. Both these ladies have lived in the area for 12 years and neither of them were aware that they were ‘neighbours’. So a good time had here.

Coastal towns have great markets on a Sunday and Black Head was no exception. There were rows and rows of stalls with Lyn finding an island lady giving massages. A short neck and shoulders turned into a good 45 minutes while the others in our group wandered around the stalls.

From Hallidays Point, we made our way to an area which we frequent on most of our trips north. South of Forster/Tuncury, are a few nice beaches which we find is relaxing for us. The campground nearby, only has 4 sites but we have never had a problem having a few nights or even a week there. There are many kookaburras there and a few enormous goannas that prowl around searching for food. The owners are kind and accommodating too. Lyn had a fall coming back from the beach on the Thursday. Kind friends took us up to Taree Hospital to have two little stones removed and 5 stitches to hold the wound together. (No more visits to the beach).

With a surgery procedure due in a weeks time, we set off for Melbourne on the Monday and made our way to a friends place who was doing some major renovations to his back patio. The first work since his retirement has turned into a big project. While sitting quietly chatting, I felt a sensation that I was entering the bad stage of a menieres attack.  By the morning, I was feeling ok to drive the motor home again.

In the mid afternoon at Yass, we had a problem with the starter motor in the motor home and ended up on a tow truck headed for Iveco in Quenbeyan at 11:00pm.  In the morning, the service centre made up some reason why it wouldn’t start. We were not able to be sure what was wrong until we arrived in Geelong the next day when the same problem reoccured. The Iveco truck centre found that a small wire to the solenoid of the starter motor was doing an on again/off again trick. Now we have a fixed starter motor and can travel with less tension.

After the weekend catching up with the 4 grand children, Sunday was departure day for Caleb heading for Finland for 7 weeks on a private school exchange arrangement. A family has been in Geelong for 2 years and the kids and Jay’s kids got on well. They returned to Finland a couple of months ago and invited Caleb to go over for 7 weeks.

The house hasn’t changed much but the tulips were up on our return. I haven’t been able to do the lawns or the garden and kind Lyn has stepped in to carry that load.

 

190819 The Bridges of Gundagai

On our way north this time, we’ve decided to stop at a few little towns we have just ‘sped through’ on past ventures. Yesterday, we decided to stop two nights in the well-known town of Gundagai. Well known (for all the overseas readers), because of the song “… where the dog sits on the tucker box, 3 miles from Gundagai”. A few short weeks ago, the dog was knocked off his ‘tucker box’ in a vandal attack on this icon of the region. Just yesterday, Sunday, there was a ‘restoring of the dog’ and various dignitaries were there to make the appropriate remarks and unveil the restored canine.

It’s obvious that the town has been a very busy town in ages gone as there are many stories posted appropriately on various buildings signifying their importance in the etchings of small towns. There’s a story of the last mail delivery on horseback in Australia.

“On the night of 24th June 1852, the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history was about to happen. Widespread rains began in June 1852 with the levels of the Murrumbidgee River rising every day leading up to that dreadful Thursday night and in to Friday Morning. The white settlers refused to heed the dire warning from the local Aborigines who told them to relocate to higher ground. The river rose, water depths of 14 feet were recorded in the highest parts of town.

People took refuge on the roofs of houses and stables and even trees. Anywhere that may assist in sparing their lives. The stranded were rescued or washed away. By Saturday, the cries of the drowning had ceased. The flooded Murrumbidgee River raged through the Gundagai township drowning 79 of the 250 inhabitants and destroying 72 buildings.”

Every town in Australia has a story to tell that rarely is told to those who come to be sheltered in its shores.

Included in today’s video is Rusconi’s Marble Masterpiece. At 15 Frank Rusconi became an apprentice to the marble trade at Verquinto, Italy, finishing his studies five years later at Neuchatel. He settled at Gundagai in 1905. Then he established a monumental masonry business. As he worked, he collected various marbles and with them he built a magnificent marble masterpiece. You can see it at the Gundagai Visitors Centre. Rusconi also built the stairway at Westminster Abbey, The Dog on the Tuckerbox base as well as many other well-known structures in the area.

Anyway, enjoy the video that shows the bridges of Gundagai as well as a little of Rusconi’s Marble Masterpiece.