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2011 Trip

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JUNE 6th 2011

Only three sleeps to go and I'm nearly ready for take-off.

'Yemmy', as I call my Mercedes Sprinter ex-ambulance, is nearly complete with just the installation of a Genius 'smart' battery charger planned for tomorrow.

I've bought an additional 100AH AGM battery and this will double my AH capacity. I've also bought a 240volt 400/800watt heater that works a treat on 400watts from my 400watt inverter. Of course this takes a lot of current - hense the extra battery.

My catalytic heater is a bit expensive to run although it works a treat. One propane cylinder lasts about 8 hours and that works out at just over $1 an hour. I've also got a little 12volt 250watt heater but it's a bit small.

As you will gather I hate being cold and as the first part of my journey will be west over the vast Nullarbor Plain I need all the heating I can get!

Yesterday daughter Sue and I fitted carpet alongside the bed and where my feet go when sitting at the table. Sue and husband Shaun have been great and helped a lot with the fit-out.

This pic of the two of us at Agnes Falls on a recent camping trip, is framed and will travel with me during the trip.

I'll take a picture of Yemmy's battery monitor and charger once it's all completed.

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June 8th 2011

One more sleep to go!

Here's roughly the way I'll travel for the first part of my journey although there may well be deviations along the way

As you can see Mornington to Perth is 3,466km direct but I'll add a bit as I'll probably deviate here and there - I think I'll 'do' the south west of WA before getting to Perth.

I won't be aiming to do it in 34 hours - more like a month!

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June 9th
....and so it begins! This is the first day of my journey right around the coast of Australia and  - yes - I'm excited.

It started with my nemesis Murphy throwing his hat in the ring. I'd stated to my friend Tom at Setec that I never went back if I'd forgotten something. I went back on my word when I found Murphy had made me forget the camera. Yes - I went back.

My first stop was at Setec at Knoxfield where Tom quickly re-wired my new you beaut Genius battery charger to run my 12volt heater. He then took me to lunch - thanks Tom and Setec.

Then it was a pleasant 3hr trip to Bendigo and thank goodness - I paid my last toll for about five months until I hit Melbourne again.

It was 110kph for most of the way and mostly fine weather so that by 4pm I was settled on a site at the Golden Nugget Caravan Park and was pleased to see many ACC flags and stickers.

Happy hour was great - catching up with a number of friends from the Southern Nomads Branch besides our own Gippsland Gypsies people.

With a connection to mains power I was able to run my new little heater on 800watts and it did a great job making the van toasty warm.

 I rang Sue to ask her to remove the meat pie I left thawing on the kitchen sink! I don't think it would stay forest till I get back.

My big trip will really start after Monday as I'll be here in Bendigo till then.
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June 10th

Cold sums up Bendigo weather! however my heater soon had Yemmy habitable and I was able to get dressed in relative comfort after my shower.
A group of us headed for Bendigo's famous Talking Tram and listened to an interesting commentary as we trundled along the rails and our driver gave us a talk as he welcomed us on board

Back at the park, happy hour was as usual hilarious and then a veritable banquet was served with soup, main course and lovely sweets.. All this was provided by the ladies plus me as I have no lady these days. They did us proud.
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June 11th

A great club day. I set up the satellite TV in the morning and then helped a member transfer some pictures they took last year of our camp when we were out for the day! Hilarious! You don't know what goes on when you go out for the day.

In the afternoon we played a game called 'KLOP'. It's played with small numbered logs of wood and the idea is to knock them over to score points. If you miss three times you are out! I was out twice! Good fun in the sun.

In the evening we went to the RSL for a lovely meal and delightful company.I was lucky and had a lift which meant I was able to consume some nice red wine without worrying about driving back.

It's cold again tonight and the heater is struggling. I think it will be 3 degrees C.

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June 12th
After a lovely bacon and egg breakfast supplied and cooked by the committee, we went for a trip to historic Maldon. We thought there were nine of us on the trip but we forgot my friend Murphy who managed to get the cafe to forget me and our driver Kay so that everyone had finished their lunch while we patiently waited for ours! I got a complimentary cup of coffee out of it though as a make up.
What is so difficult to understand about flat when you order a 'flat white' coffee and it invariably arrives with a thick layer of froth on top?

We saw an old dredge used in the days when gold was found in the are and then drove to the top of Mount Tarrangower - the road up the mount was made to allow horses to be used to transport the tower up the hill.

The view from the tower was apparently superb - but I didn't climb it!
After taking in the history of the goldfields in the area we called at the little town where one of our number lived and grew up before returning to the caravan park via Castlemaine for happy hour.

I had to go easy on the red wine as I had an ACC Board Meeting to run this evening and needed a clear head.

It went for a very concentrated 2+ hours and I was pleased when I closed the meeting and wished everyone goodnight. Unfortunately there was a major report to discuss and we agreed to hold a special meeting for that on the 26th. I don't really know where I'll be by then but one thing's sure - I'll need Internet access to participate.

My satellite TV set up is working a treat and I've just seen Australian Casey Stoner win the British MotoGP. The Canadian F1 Grand Prix is on tonight but it's not till 3am our time and I don't think I'll be watching it. Unfortunately I don't have a means of recording it from Satellite. Yet! 

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JUNE 13th

This was a lovely day spent at my friends' place at Maiden Gully near Bendigo. Ivy, and son Paul, came to Australia more than 50 years ago and we shared a dining table on the old P&O Orontes. We've been friends ever since.

We spent the day catching up with family news and looking at the lovely garden that has been created from scratch.

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June 14th
The day's travel  started a bit late as I stayed chatting to Ivy after breakfast and didn't hit the road until 11am. Murphy had a laugh today by making one of my water containers leak so that when I put my feet down getting up from bed, they met cold, et carpet! He also ensured there was no service station in Marong and I had to turn round and go back nearly to Bendigo to get some fuel. It didn't really matter as I had no fixed destination today.

As it turned out I got to a nice campground in the Little Desert National Park. There were a few km of unsealed  road but it was worth it to get here where I had the whole area to myself. The light was going when I took a series of pictures but they give an idea  of my surroundings

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June 15
Today started off through fairly flat wheat and sheep country as I travelled along the Western Highway but I changed my mind half-way thought the day and headed for Kingston SE at the beginning of the Coorong. It has the 'SE' to differentiate from another Kingston -also in South Australia.

It was lovely travelling along the Coorong - a freshwater lake system with just the dunes between it and the sea. I was headed for Nerung - a lovely little reserve that allows 72hr camping . It's where Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert join at the Narrows. A Heritage Listed lighthouse still stands as a beacon to guide vessels through the dangerous strip of water. There were three paddle wheelers plying the lakes back in the 30's.

Beside a huge crayfish 'Lenny', Kingston boasts a human activated sundial. You stand on the current date and your shadow falls on the time. Quite a feature.  The pics show it and the shadow at just after 12 noon is mine.

This is a delightful spot and the lakes were beautiful in the afternoon sunset.

I set up my solar panels for the first time - and they didn't work! Murphy? It turns out there was a faulty connection in the plug and no means of dismantling it. I fixed that by cutting the plug off and joining the wires without it. It then charged well although it was hazy and the sun was getting low. Should work well in full sun.

The battery monitor I have on test is working well and lets me know exactly whats going on in the battery department. I'm writing it up for Caravan World and I'll put a copy on here when I've done it. I'm also testing a new 'Smart' charger.

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June 16th

From a lovely placid evening the night turned stormy and it rained heavily during the night. I got up for the call of nature at 5-ish and had a look at the moon in eclipse. I was dark and red around the outside but I didn't stay watching and was soon back under the doona. It was freezing with a strong chilly wind as I packed up the solar panels and satellite dish. 

It improved during the morning and I decided to have another look at Hahndorf - a little town in the Adelaide Hills where most shops have German origins and sell German goods. I had a nice toasted cheese, ham and pineapple sandwich and a cup of nescafe for just $4. A bargain.

Yemmy will be here at son Chris's home for the next few days.

It was lovely catching up with him and wife Marijana and we found plenty to talk about.

It will be funny sleeping indoors again after a week in my snug little motorhome. 

Diesel is cheaper here and not much dearer than petrol - I've only filled up twice since leaving home.

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June 17th - June 21st

Not a lot to report as we are stationary at my son's place for a few days so no pics or writing until Tuesday.

When I get a round tuit I'll put the dates at the top of the page and a link to each day to save you scrolling. I'll have a new page for each month as well to make navigating easier.
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June 21st

I feel that today was the real first of this trip after all the social visit are over.. It's about ten days since I left home but today the trip stretches before me with day by day decisions about where I'll spend time.

An uneventful days travel mostly on highways saw me turning inland before Port Augusta and heading for Wilmington. I wasn't impressed by the rest stop so headed back down the hill and turned off for my night stop at Hancocks Lookout. It looked like a great view but was a bit cloudy - maybe tomorrow I thought 
wrong. It was windy and I had to position my sat dish close behind the Sprinter to stop it blowing over.

 Chris and me after he had given Yemmy a wash          The view at dusk                                                                  ...and the fog in the morning
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June 22

I awoke to thick fog so bang went any idea of capturing the view. Driving back down the steep and twisty Horrocks Pass I came into sunshine and this continued for most of the day with occasional heavy showers. I'd originally thought I'd get to the WA Border and stay there for Sundays Board meeting but doing some checking today I realised Norseman by Sunday is quite do-able. With that in mind I did just short of 500km today.

Above l to r:  Too misty for the view; a look around Iron Knob and Yemmy's night spot.

There was nothing of great note along the route but I did go off the highway for a look at the little mining town of Iron Knob.

Then tonight, just as I was pulled up at the entrance to a property wondering if I could camp there, the owners came by and pulled up thinking I might have been lost. I asked if I could stay overnight so Yemmy's in a nice quiet spot hidden from the road and with a nice view of the property.

Tomorrow will see me on the Nullarbor. For overseas visitors to the website I should explain that Nullarbor means 'Treeless Plain' and it seems to stretch for ever. In reality the highway skirts the bottom edge of the plain which covers a huge area to the north of the road.

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June 23

I covered a lot of ground today without really trying. An open road stretching into the distance, Yemmy purring along at 100km/h + with the cruise control set and sunny skies most of the way made 548km easy and I'm over the Western Australian border tonight camped in a quiet rest area.

It's only about 700km to Norseman so I may even make Esperence for Sunday's Board meeting. I'll spend a day or two there before exploring the rest of South East WA. So far the modem doesn't want to get me on-line but it may work later tonight -i it's only just after v3pm here as the clocks went back an hour and a half when I crossed the border. The rest of today I'll tell by pictures.

The cliffs on the edge of the Nullarbor looking over the Southern Ocean are magnificent         Yemmy's night stop near Eucla
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June 24

Today I woke early to clear blue skies and decided to get on the road by 7.30. My aim was Norseman but when I saw the signs for Fraser Range Station Caravan Park I changed my mind. Daughter Jackie and partner 'Duck' spent Christmas 2010 here and said how nice it was, They were not wrong. There's a lot of history here and excellent facilities for travelers. Four stars it's not but for atmosphere and adequate facilities it's all you need for a pleasant stay.

There was little of interest to see along the way and as this was my eighth Nullabor crossing I didn't linger except for the odd photo.

Royal Flying Doctor Service planes land on marked sections of highway for emergencies                  Despite the warnings I didn't see an animal of any sort!
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June 25

I'm here at a most wonderful spot - Cape le Grand National Park.You'll have noticed I'm sure that I dropped the 'e' off ' Grand' This place is fabulous whether it has an e or not -  pristine beach, secluded campsites, a camp kitchen with free gas cooktops, a toilet block with free hot showers when the sun shines , and  the only other campers here tonight are a lovely couple with an A-van. I would like to stay here longer but despite my tricks with the modem I can't get a reliable Internet connection and may have to go back to Esperence for the Board meeting. I'll get under the bed in the morning and dig out an antenna that may do the trick.
I don't know if I've mentioned it before but I'm thoroughly enjoying this trip. Lonely? Just sometimes. Exciting?  Yes - often. Challenging? Not really, Yemmy is such a joy to drive and with the cruise control set he just eats up the journey. Sometimes I listen to the radio that tells me the price of fat lambs and how the mouse plague is going and isn't it good there are more bait mixing places now. Mostly though I watch the ever changing scenery unfold and rejoice that I'm able to enjoy it again in my eightieth year. I'm not old. Don't feel old (often) and don't intend stopping traveling while I'm still able.

Here's a few of today's pics.

Yemmy's home for tonight at beautiful Cape le Grand National Park and some views of the fabulous beach - so hard you can drive 27 km along it!

I love this place and have dreamed of coming back to stay after Anne and Don and Vi and I visited it for the day some years ago during a wonderful around Oz trip.

 Ah - memories!

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June 26

This was a bit of a maintenance day, I needed to get a secure Internet connection if I was to stay here tonight so I lifted my bed (It's on gas struts!) and retrieved my external antenna that I then connected to my Wireless Gateway modem. With the antenna and modem on Yemmy's roof and the inverter supplying 240volts, I was in business and able to conduct the Board Meeting with no problems or drop outs.

I had bought a battery for my multi-meter in Norseman so I was able to check the cables for my sat TV but there were no breaks or faulty connections. It might be the VAST box itself - I'll get it checked when I get to Perth.

The battery monitor has had a fair check since leaving home so I'll write it up for Caravan World  today. Having tested it with the one battery, I connected up my other battery in parallel today and that has doubled my capacity and makes it possible to stay longer away from caravan parks.

Murphy took a hand tonight! I went to the Campers Kitchen to cook my dinner after the meeting and he made me drop an egg. What a mess! I went back over after dinner and cleaned it up.

My improvised antenna array worked well and I was able to make phone calls using Skype without trouble.
One came from fellow trombonist Ian who was in a hotel room in Johanisburg, South Africa.

The solar panels are working OK because the day was nice and sunny.

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June 27

Unfortunately my new friends had to leave today as their house battery and small solar panels were not keeping their Waeco freezer running properly and they had it full of fish they had caught earlier in their trip. I spent a quiet day just enjoying the peace of this lovely place. I did make a few Skype calls and answered a few emails while I had the good Internet connection. I also wrote the product review of the battery monitor and smart charger. It has  gone to Setec for checking and when I get the OK I'll post it here as well.

There was a lovely sunset tonight and I got a few pics before bar-b-queuing my pork chop

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June 28

There was a nice sunrise this morning while I was getting ready to leave the Cape. I woke early so took the opportunity to use Skype to talk to a friend in Victoria. My camera battery is quite old and is not holding a full charge anymore so I went looking for a new one in Esperance. No luck so I'll have to try in Perth later this week.

The weather got progressively worse as the day went on and the strong headwind was violently gusty at time and there were heavy rain showers. Coming over the top of a rise a very dark kangaroo came out in front of me and I had no choice but hit it. I looked in the mirrors and it got up and took off into the bush so I guess it wasn't severely injured. It gave me quite a shock and fortunately Yemmy wasn't damaged although there was quite a bump.

As the day was so miserable I decided to use a caravan park for the night and when I saw a sign with a caravan on it pointing to Cheynes Beach  I took it and ended up in a very pretty little bay. I'll explore the beach and get pictures tomorrow if the weather is fine,
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June 29

It was fine this morning but the camera battery was flat again and I could only get one shot of Cheyne Beach. It used to be a centre for whaling a long while ago. Apparently it's a great place to see whales but I didn't see any today. I charged the battery from the inverter while driving today so was able to get a few shots of this secluded little spot on the edge of a little used gravel road. Not one car has passed since dark.

Today was a driver's day. Lots of hills and twists as we drove through southern WA's forests and tall timber. I didn't stop to look at the Valley of the Giants or do the treetop walk as Paul and I did them a few years ago. I spent about three months in WA when I was a school photographer so I'm familiar with a lot of the countryside.

Many years ago on a round Oz trip with friends we found absolutlely scrumptious custard tarts at a little bakery in Denmark. On the trip with Paul I boasted about these tarts but when we got to the shop - alas it was the one day he hadn't baked any! Today I thought I might be lucky but the shop burnt down about five years ago! Not to be missing out I bought two from the new modern bakery around the corner and surprise, surprise - they tasted just as good as the ones I remembered, Lovely crisp sweet pastry and luscious firm c
ustard with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Lovely!

I didn't like the look of any of the rest areas along the way as they were all too close to the road. Instead I turned on to a little gravel side road and found a quiet spot for the night. 

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June 30

The weather today was atrocious! Horrendous storms where you couldn't see even with the wipers going full blast. Quite often there was water over the road - not deep but making quite a spray. Fortunately I didn't have too far to go and reached my destination in Como by about 2pm. Jayne was home and the kettle was soon on.

On the way I called at iTechWorld at Rockingham and got a nice surprise. There was nothing wrong with either the sat finder or the VAST decoder. Somehow I'd managed to put the setting for the LNB to 1070 instead of 10700. Amazing what a nought can do. I bought a new LNB mounting bracket and the lot came to just $20. I expected much worse.

Tomorrow I'm off to try to get a new battery for my camera and I'm advised that it's better to get a bus as there are lots of road works happening in the city.

Tomorrow's also the start of a new month so I'll start a new page for July.
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