Caravanning and RVing in Australia

Chapter 18
Nearly in the Drink with Murphy

Some of his tricks are quite hilarious in retrospect although there was nothing funny at the time. Take the time he nearly had me in the water. I'd left home around midnight ­ a favourite time for me to tow a caravan through Melbourne ­ and drove till I was tired a few hours later. I pulled in for a sleep at Lake Nillahcootie but unfortunately chose the wrong entrance so that I ended up in the boat trailer area instead of the picnic area. That would have been alright but I wanted to be a bit more private and so drove down a little side road. At least that's what I thought I was doing but Murphy had disguised the boat ramp as a road and before long I was staring with amazement into the water of the lake a few yards ahead in my headlights. It's not easy backing a caravan up a long, narrow boat ramp in the dark with the car reversing lights shining brightly on the front of the van and I was very thankful to finally park in the car park and get to sleep.

Caravans present Murphy with a big challenge and he loves making caravanners lives miserable with little annoyances. Driving out of Miles in Queensland one day there was suddenly a horrendous metallic noise from the back of the outfit. Fearing a collapsed wheel or something else pretty drastic, I was relieved to find it was only the aluminium mast for the TV antenna that had come adrift and was bouncing on the road. On another occasion he broke the mast off and I hate to think what any following motorist would have done when he saw the long spear-like mast heading for him.

I told you about the van suspension at Eidsvold but I didn't mention that on the same road, many years later, Murphy destroyed our wheel bearings on one side of the van and the wheel came off on a particularly twisty and awkward bit of road. He also destroyed the brakes on the van at the same time so that we had to descend the steep and winding road down from Mt Morgan to Rockhampton very slowly indeed.

There is one kind of lock fitted to caravan doors that Murphy really likes. With these locks it is very easy for him to slip down the little button that locks the door from the inside and then, when you close the door from outside, you find you are locked out. Nearly everyone with one of those locks has done this at some time or other and we of course, being slow learners, have done it more than once. Coming back to the van one Sunday afternoon we found ourselves locked out again so I decided to get in through the sliding window near the table. I was wearing a white shirt and black trousers as I had been playing in the local band so took the shirt and singlet off to save getting them dirty. "Might as well take my strides off too," I said. The chair I found to stand on was pretty low and I finished up half in and half out of the window and completely stuck. Not a pretty sight, but luckily Vi didn't have a camera so the spectacle was not recorded!
We have solar power on our van and our friend has had great fun with that. The best/worst was when he threatened to set fire to the van. The van wasn't level so I adjusted the corner jacks to straighten it up but didn't notice the power lead from the loose solar panel had slipped between one jack and the block of wood it was on. When the weight came back down, the jack cut through the lead and shorted out the system. Inside the van, the working bits of the ammeter melted and the wires smouldered. 

He's had a go at our fluorescent lights a couple of times and even burnt out a special adapter that connects our TV in the van to the antenna. Battery chargers are just run of the mill to him and present no challenge at all. Our new transformer was a bit harder and it took him a few months before discovering how to destroy it.
If there's one day of the year that Murphy favours its New Year's Eve and, although I wasn't pleased with him the year he destroyed the folding chair I was sitting inat a party leaving me in an undignified heap amongst the twisted debris, it wasn't his best act.

That happened the year we went to 'dog-sit' for our daughter Sue and family while they went to Sydney. It was going to be a quiet New Years Eve for us. Mum went to bed early, son Chris went out to a church service, Vi and I went to bed before midnight and we settled down to sleep. On the stroke of midnight the party over the road erupted with much blowing of those ghastly trumpet things, and cheers. That went on for half-an-hour and we settled down again. The dog woke up when Chris came home and barked furiously as he came in, then, thinking he had parked the car badly, he went back out to move it and as he turned into the driveway accidentally hit the horn button. Eventually all was quiet and sleep finally came. Before light, the dog ­ a large animal of no known breed ­ came whimpering into the bedroom and we realised that it could hear distant thunder and was frightened of it. "OK dog ­ come on to the bed." It settled across the top of the pillows. "I think I've got the best end of this dog," I smugly remarked as it put its head down on my pillow leaving its other end on Vi's side. Wrong again ­ I don't know what Murphy had given it to eat but its breath was vile. Was that all? Oh no ­ at 6am the room was filled with music. The clock/radio alarm was set for Grant to go to work and we hadn't turned it off! Happy New Year Murph .

I need to exercise and, as cycling is an enjoyable way of doing this, I carried my old bike on a carrier fixed to the back of the caravan. Apart from a few punctures from thorns Murphy scatters in places like Bowen, it was a good arrangement and when fortune smiled in the shape of a decent win on the pokies, I shouted myself a shiny new bike complete with trip computer, 21 gears and all the fancy bits. There was just one hundred kilometres on the clock when Murphy struck between Clermont and Emerald in Queensland. Vi came back from the bank, glanced at the back of the van and came to enquire, "Where's your bike?" It had gone and although we back-tracked the one hundred and twenty kilometres to Clermont with eyes swivelling left and right, there was no sign of it or the bracket that it was mounted on. I have another new bike now but, so far, it hasn't been travelling on the back of the van.


Chapter 19