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2012 Trip

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Starts May 17th, 2012


The first leg of my trip will be from my home in Mornington Victoria to Hervey Bay in Queensland and will take about a week.

 Total distance:2431km  

I'm using my little Mercedes Sprinter motorhome for the trip and you will find I refer to him as 'Yemmy' - it comes from his number plate that is YEM 471.

The trip will take me into outback Western Queensland, up to the tip of Cape York, across the top to Darwin, down through the Centre to Adelaide and back home by the end of September.

I hope you will travel with me through this diary. Feel free to comment by email:

Yemmy ready to start the trip - he's had his service and oil-change and is all primed for our next adventure.

Clich for the date

18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 June 5

Go to June 2012

May 17th - Day one of my 2012 adventure

I left homme at about 10.30 - a bit later than I'd hoped but who cared. I was off and the open road beckoned. I was aiming for Genoa as a night stop as there a great free stop there and would put me in easy reach of Roy and Narooma tomorrow.

Stopping along the way for plently of photos for the diary and also for the new book I'm writing delayed me a bit more so I finished up diving in the dark for a bit in twisty hilly country but I arrived at the campground by just after 6pm having covered about 500km. It was a glorious day with bright sun in a cloudless blue sky and it felt great to be on the road again.

It was surprising that there was good Internet reception at Genoa but I was too tired to make sense of this page so I put it off till next day and went to bed and read my Kindle.

Here are some of the pics I took L to R from the top.

I took the ridge road from Lang Lang to Drouin despite Tom (Tom Tom GPS) telling me otherwise and the views on each side of the road are fantastic. I didn't go in the Musical Village this time although it's worth as visit.The Latrobe Valley has a number of power stations like this one. Lake Gutheridge at Sale is a gem usually passed by travellers although it's only a stone's throw from the Main Street. The Nicholson River is just one of the lovely rivers feeding the Gippsland Lakes.The views of Lakes Entrance are great but you have to heading West to use the lookouts.

I'll do better with spacing and labelling I promise - just a bit rusty at the moment!

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May 18th

It was cold at Genoa where I overnighted - 4.5C in the van this morning. It continued cold as I drove through thick fog interspersed with bright sunshine. As I passed a sign that said Bega Valley Scenic Lookout I couldn't see my nose in front of my face - never ming the Bega Valley. It was a shame as it's lovely country through there.

I arrived here at Narooma about 11am and friend Roy was waiting for me. I'd drained my water talk on the way as I'd filled up from a hose that had been in the sun and I forgot to let it run till the bad taste had gone and so I refilled it here at East's Big Four. The lady in the office was kind and knocked $10 off the bill as I was on my own - you can be luchy sometimes.

We drove up to Batemans Bay for lunch at the Soldiers Club and on the way back called in to Roy's friends who own an Avondale caravan imported from the UK. They love it and I'm not surprised as it is easily the best designed van I've seen and I've seen many vans. Beside being so very practical it's also very light - it only weighs about 1,300kg and it's a 20' tandem.

Tonight we dined at an Italian restaurant owned by friends of Roy's - venison in a lovely sauce followed by magnificent ice cream concoction and then rounded off with liqueur coffees. Did I mention the red wine? Whistling Duck Cab Sav in honour of Yemmy's new duck or goose decals!
Yemmy's overnighter at Genoa -  It was cold - 4.5 degrees in the van this morning

This is where he is tonight - East's Big 4 park at Narooma. They were kind and knocked off $10 because I'm on my own.

These were all pictures of Narooma - Roy calls it the Jewel of the South Coast asd I can see why

It was a really great day and I'll be sorry to leave in the morning - but I must if I hope to be in Maryborough, Qld., by Wednesday of next week

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May 19th

Disaster struck today with the pictures! The selector for manual or automatic got moved to manual and all the pics were out of focus. Murphy?

I'll put a couple in to show what might have been!

Great day weatherwise and when I got to Nowra I gaveAlan and Deirdrie a ring as I knew they were at Shoalhaven Heads. Yes - the kettle was on and a short detour saw me visiting them for a while. I then took Tom's advice and used a lovely scenic drive before getting back to the main road. I ignored him though when he wanted me to turn off and head for the Hume Freeway. I wanted a couple of pics of the wondrerful view towards Wollongong - not knowing they would be useless.

Finally I got on to the M7 and was soon at Richmond without having to go through Sydney. The free overnight parking at the Richmond Club isn't quite free as you have to fork out a princely $4 and join the Club but it's a great facility and I'll get photos in the morning. I went over to the club and had a lovely pork roast in the bistro for just $14.


         Ulladulla - lovely name                                                        Ulladulla again                                 View from the top of Mt Ouselly

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May 20th

There were only two shower/toilets at Richmond so I didn't bother using them this morning but made do with a good wash - it was pretty darn cold anyway! I took some pics and hopefully they will be better than yesterday's effort.

It was a nice day for travelling - mostly on 110k/ph motorways so the km sped by very quickly.

Around mid-morning I realised I wasn't far from ACC friends Ian and Cheryl Sherwood so I found their phone number and gave them a buzz. Ian was delighted when I asked if the kettle was on and said come on down. They live at Swan Bay and I stayed with them a few years back. It was great catching up and the bonus was that Ian found my missing hearing aid under the fire extenguiser! I thought I'd looked there but obviously didn't.

I'd intended overnighting in the Coopernook State Forest but hadn't printed out the directions. I couldn't find it without firing up the computer so settled for a trip out to the coast to look at Harrington and then a bit further north I found a nice spacious rest area. It's a bit near the road but the noise isn't bothering me.

The 'Wanderest" provides hardstanding parking for RVs for just the $4 joining fee that. There's power if you want it for a small fee and there are showers and toilets (just two)

Yemmy's spot for the night

There's heaps of room in this great facility - well done the Richmond Club

Every where I go I see lovely autumn colours - this was in the RV park

The beautiful wide Hawkesbury River

The F3 Freeway crosses the Hawkesbuy on this huge bridge

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May 21st

The day started with a pleasant conversation with Jeff - a fellow camper from Tasmania. He remembered reading, 'Pigs Go Camping' a blog I wrote for Caravan World On-line. I was surprised when I woke up to discover a Vanette had parked right next to me.

I had thought of staying at Woody Head National Park. It's nice and has beach access - Vi and I stayed there a few times in the past. When I found they wanted $21 for an unpowered place to park I quickly changed my mind. What is it that makes NSW so greedy when it comes to visiting their National Parks - I thought they belonged to the people but I'm begining to think it's just a source of Government revenue! I'm now camped in a rest area at New Italy - an interesting place with quite a story to tell of the Italian Settlers who came here and made a new life for themselves.

I deviated from the highway to re-visit the lovely little 'Scottish' town of McLean and just had to go up to the lookout for the glorious views. My small gifs don't do the views justice but I have the full resolution copies on file.

Clockwise from top left: Yemmy had a neighbor this morning, oyster farming in the lovely Nambucca River, ditto. Indian Temple at Woolgoolga, the Big Banana at Coffs. views from the lookout at McLean and reflections in the beautiful Clarance River.

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May 22nd

What started as a nice day quickly turned sour. Yemmy wouldn't come out of Park unless over-riding the solenoid with a screwdriver and when he did he would only go in a low gear - about 30k/ph max.I rang the NRMA and told them the problem. There was a communications breakdown as the service man came with just a ute and explained he'd have to go back for the truck.

When he arrived back poor Yemmy was winched up on the the tilt truck and we took him to an automatic transmission place in Ballina. The two fellows there were quite helpful but their diagnostics showed that the module was at fault. We put in a new module in November so they said to take it to a Mercedes dealer and try to get a new one on Warranty. They had reset some codes so Yemmy was driveable again. They only charged me $30 for their time plus some trannie oil and a tail-light globe. The Mercedes dealer was more than 100km away on the Gold Coast so I set off with some trepidation hoping to get there OK.

The dealership turned out to be just for cars and they sent me to a place in Southport who said they were too busy to look at it this week!  What to do? I decided to try to get the Hervey Bay and then try to sort it out after the Apex 40 turn. My friend Ray was a mechanic and owns a Mercedes so he may be able to help - I stay with them at Pialba next week.

I didn't have access to the camera while Yemmy was on the truck so couldn't get shots of him up there. I did get some pics of the New Italy complex before I hit the road this morning.

There's only 200km to go to reach Hervey Bay tomorrow so fingers crossed!

The first four pictures were all taken at New Italy. The story is that a group of Italians were duped into sailing for New Zealand to start a new life but they were dogged with disaster - a bit like me today.

Some died at sea and conditions in New Zealand were bad so they came on to Australia and made a new life for themselves here at what became known as New Italy.

I guess everyone knows the last picture is of one of the three Glasshouse Mountains.

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May 23rd

Not a great deal to report today. Yemmy behaved, the transmission was faultless and I arrived at Ray and Jeanette's place at Pt Vernon before 11am. It was great catching up with my old tromboning mate from way back when, and after lunch I started to try to find somewhere that was interested in fixing Yemmy's transmission. Bunderberg Mercedes said they couldn't take any more work until June 4th! However I struck lucky at Maroochydore and he's booked in for 11am on Tuesday. I'll head down there on Monday afternoon to be sure of getting there on time.

Later I went down to the Happy Wanderer van park to adjust my booking and changed to an en-suite site. May as well have a bit of luxury for a few days. I had a look at the site and it's fine - the lady gave me the keys so I can just drive in when ready tomorrow.

Then back to Pt Vernon for dinner with R & J and some of their family.

Only the one pic today folks - the name says it all. This is the Qld version - there's another near Albury.

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May 24th

Very little to report today - lazy relaxed morning with Ray mulling over old times and then after lunch drove down here to the Happy Wanderer Caravan Park and got settled in on my site. I find I'm backed up to Thelma and Charlie Bowman who we  stayed with on Nth Stradebrook Island a lot of years ago - a lovely reunion. That's continued all evening with old friendships renewed and many faces from the past appearing. Most Melbourne Apex 40 members will be arriving by air tomorrow and things will really get underway with the Welcome Social tomorrow night.

I managed to get in touch with Berwick Mercedes Spare Parts and they will fax the invoice for the gear control module to Maroochedore so that's a good thing and the module will be under warranty if it turns out that it's failed again.

No pics today I'm afraid.
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May25th - 28th 

At the Apex 49 'Rort" having a ball.

Friday night there was this lovely sunset while we were getting ready to go to the Welcome Social. There were nearly 200 people there including about 40 from 41 Club New Zealand and other International visitors. Apex 40 is an organisation for retired Apexians to continue to meet and renew old friendships plus make new ones. The 'Rort' is held once a year and members travel from all over Australian to take part.

This 2012 Rort was organised by the combined clubs of Hervey Bay and Maryborough and they did a fantastic job.


Our Saterday started with a visit to the Hervey Bay Heritage Village and then after morning tea we boarded a boat to take us to Fraser Island for lunch

After lunch was the Annual General Meeting and quite weighty matters were discussed and resolved. In the evening we went to the Maryborough Sports Club for dinner and dancing. Our group performed 'Tie me Kangaroo Down Sport' and I was the dying Stockman laying on the floor - we didn't win but aquitted ourselves well. The four coaches were kept busy all weekend transporting us to all the venues.

Sunday morning saw us in Maryborough again to view the lovely home above and below plus a well stocked Military Museum. We walked in Queens Park and saw miniture steam locomotives chuffing around while the local band played in the rotunda


The beautifully retored home had lots of character and a great deal of work and effort has been expended over a number of years to get it to its present lovely state. The chandeliers add to the ambience. The couple who own it have done a great job as it was very dilapidated when they bought it.
Col was a bit bored by the museum! We had 'Mary Heritage' explaining things all day and then the cannon was fired by the Town Crier to wake us all up. It really was used to let people know it was lunchtime


The Mary River carried a lot of cargo and shipping in earlier days when trade in the area was brisk. Maryborough has a ship-builing facility still is use and a factory building  electric trains

The final picture was in the local paper 31 years ago when I drove with Alan Kinder to Maryborough from Melbourrne for the inaugural dinner of the Maryborough Apex 40 Branch - the same Branch that co-hosted this weekends great festivities.

We finished the Rort with a buffet breakfast at the Hervey Bay Boat Club and farewelled the members going on a Post-Rort Tour for the next week.

After the coach left it was back to the caravan park to pack up and say goodbye to Charlie and Thelma before driving to Pt Vernon to have lunch with Ray and Jeanette. Then a drive in beautiful sunshine to Bruce and Jenny's place who live quite near the Mercedes place at Maroochydore.. Jenny's a Director of the ACC and we enjoyed a meal and plently of conversation helped by a bottle of very nice Qld red from Stanthorpe.

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May 29th until further notice

There won't be much from me this week as I have to wait until next week before the Mercedes dealer can get the transmission module and fit it! After five hours sitting waiting I was told the invoice for the module wasn't valid as the VIN number wasn't on it and it was in friend Eric's name! I rang Eric and he will fix the invoice for me and hopefully that will sort it out and the module will be under warranty. What a lot of codswallop!  Fortunately Jenny and Bruce are great people and say I can stay here in their horse paddock as long as I need but I'm not sure how I'll fill my days - especially if it keeps raining.

Just spent a very boring Wednesday. At least I've heard from Eric and he's managed to sort things out with the invoice so the Moroochydore dealer is happy and can get things organised - still looks like next week though. Murphy confused my dates so I don't have to be in Brisbane  until next Saturday and Yemmy should be fixed by then

Today - Thursday - was better. Bruce and Jenny lent me a little Holden Nova and I had an enjoyable drive along the coast from Perigian Beach back to Maroochydore.

Yemmy's got a new spot - he's in a shed near the house and no chance of getting stuck if the heavy rain that's forecast comes to pass. I called in at the Mercedes dealer just to keep them reminded that I'm here and still waiting. They said they would ring as soon as the new module arrives.

The forecast rain did indeed come and I'm glad I moved. We went out to dinner at Dickie Beach Surf Club on Saturday night and the rain was lashing down on the way home.

It's Monday, 4th of June, 10.30am, now and I just rang the Mercedes dealer. My new module is expected to arrive in the next hour. So much for overnight last Tuesday! Hopefully it will be fitted tomorrow morning and I can get back on the road again. I'm booked for three nights at Esk - one of my old favourites although I haven't been back there for a while. Latest at 4pm was that it should arrive in the morning and to come in at 1pm! They are confident - I'm not!

June 5th

It looks as though I'll be back on track today. The module has arrived and I'm booked in to have it fitted at 1.30pm. If all goes well I'll start a new page for June later. It didn't go well! The new module didn't make any difference and they were at their wit's end. They finally consulted a Mercedes truck and commercial dealer who said to bring it to his place at Forest Glen next morning at 8AM and be prepared to leave it all day. To make sure I was there on time and because it was becoming impossible to drive I strugged to the repairer at Forest Glen and spent the night in the driveway! I will start a new page in the morning as everything today has worked out well.
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Go to June 2012

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