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Summer of 2002

1 January 2002
Today is our third day away and also New Years Day so for a change we are relaxing next to the O'Connell river, just south of Proserpine, but as usual its raining. Day one took us just a short drive to Cardwell but as the temperature was so hot we decided that camping without power was not and we booked into a nice shady caravan park for the night to keep cool with some much needed airconditioning. An early start yesterday saw us heading off in search of cooler weather but this was not to be so and I decided to continue on until we reached O'Connell river and then take a day off. The travelling was not without incident as we managed to get a big stone hit the windscreen and now have an ever-lengthening crack that is progressing across the screen and after a visit to Windscreens O'Brian in Townsville we were informed that there was no way to repair it so we are living with it. As you can see from the picture the rain is with us even if we have a view of the river from our bed its too wet to venture forth and to top that off the power has been on and off all thru the day, so I am getting in plenty of relaxing but not much else. Hopefully this will pass and we'll head off tomorrow at a slower pace so as not to get down to Southern Queensland for the heatwave there !

6 January 2002
After a relaxing New Years Eve BBQ with the other inmates of O'Connell river we had the day off and then headed off for our next stop with friends on their farm in Mackay. In the town we managed to get the crack in the windscreen halted by a helpful repairer so we'll at least be able to leave the complete replacement for some time now. We left there and headed off south finishing up at Marlborough for the night , again requiring power to keep us cool & dry. The next day another marathon for me we drove through the worst of the rain to our favourite Fred Haigh Dam and at last managed to sit outside for a while before the rain set in for the night but not as hot as before and kept our cool with the battery fan through the night. Very hot in the morning so headed off early and now staying the rellies in Mapleton for a few days

11 January 2002
After many days with the Robyn's parents in Mapleton including BBQ's ,bead shopping and visiting we headed just a little further south to visit Lawrie's mum at Rothwell nursing home and then spending the night with friends David & Debbie at Murrumba Downs where we stayed overnight in their drive and thankfully escaped the heat during the night with the aid of the airconditioner, its becoming almost a necessity. Today after a further visit with mum we headed a little north to Caboolture to stay the weekend with my brother at his property with my sister also to visit on the weekend we should then be heading off south. The mercury is set to top 40 C this weekend so we'll again be taking advantage of powered cooling to stay comfortable and hoping that the heatwave will pass soon.

17 January 2002
After the heatwave we took advantage of Tony and stayed on another day to just relax and stock up on some grocery items from the local shops. Tuesday we headed off up into the hills to Crows Nest National Park for our first cool night in a long time, very peaceful, only two other campers and the resident bush turkeys for company. Next, off via Toowoomba with a drive by Mum's old house to see if anything had changed and a visit to the cemetery there to pay our respects to Dad. Bought a new door mat as the old one had broken in half and then after lunch in a nice park and a fill of water we headed to Girraween National Park just short of the border to NSW. We found the grassy campsite was full to bursting with one motorhome camped on the road so tried the shady granite gravel one and were surprised to find only 3 other campers, so set up there for the night. Just before dusk we were treated to the sound and light show of a passing thunderstorm with the tented campers getting swamped but we stayed dry inside. Today saw us setting off into New South Wales and we got a great welcoming present from some lazy roadworkers when a passing semi threw up heaps of road rock from unfinished repairs giving us 6 more windscreen chips and many more stone chips along the side of the bus just for luck. Looks like the money spent repairing a crack in Mackay was wasted because we'll have to get a new windscreen sooner rather than later. Travelling on we are now camped at Dumaresq Dam just outside of Armidale and bracing for a predicted 10 degrees C tonight , but at least its free. Tomorrow we make the decision whether to go cross country to Bathurst or out west to Dubbo.

22 January 2002
Sanity prevailed and we headed off west to Dubbo. We stopped at Lake Keepit between Tamworth and Gunnedah overnight, just dodging the country music festival by hours. It was quiet when we arrived, had 100 acres to ourselves, but at dusk a crowd arrived and decided that near us was a good spot, but luckily they were quiet once they set up and were also late risers like us. Next onto Coonabarabran to do this weeks washing, pleasant evening followed at 1am by at thunderstorm. Continuing southward we drove 25kms of dirt road thru state forrest to Rileys Dam which turned out to be a muddy waterhole surrounded by dust and heat so as the mercury was already topping 40 degrees C we kept driving to Dubbo and booked in to a park and powered up the airconditioning for the night. The town of Orange was next followed with a drive up Mt Canobolas overlooking the town, supposed to be able to camp there but this was not so. Continued to Carcoar Dam for a free stop shared with many others and alongside a windmill farm generating electricity. Today we settled on a caravan park in Young and after spending the afternoon washing the Pod it was my turn to cook dinner on the BBQ. Still awaiting the promised thunderstorms but will probably come tomorrow when we head into Kosciuszko National Park for a few free nights in the cool.

26 January 2002
As promised we headed off to the mountains via Gundagai and 'The Dog on the Tuckerbox' and after surveying the camping grounds from Tumut onwards eventually settled on Jounama Creek. Robyn's Uncle Errol and son Thomas arrived unexpectedly for lunch on Thursday bringing with them fresh meat pies and cake for us all and stayed for a while and caught up on some family gossip. For three days the weather went from hot to cold and fine to wet with thunder every afternoon and then on cue fine weather arrived today for the Australia day long weekend and as expected the campers arrived in droves until the campground was more like the carpark at K-mart !! Well as we were getting low on battery power having camped under trees and the cloudy weather for the last three days we decided that the time for the return trip to Tumut had arrived. This brought us to Riverview camping park in town with a site alongside the river that's flowing at great speed as its downstream from one of the hydro powerstations but cool and pleasant and will give us time to visit with Errol and family tomorrow and then off to a special craft outlet at a little town called The Rock near Wagga-Wagga on Monday or Tuesday depending on whether they are open on the holiday. Then joy of joys the end of the school holidays and no more long weekends for anyone else until Easter!!

1 February 2002
Monday saw us on the road to 'The Rock' to check out the craft wares of 'Punch with Judy' usually only mail order but just for us we had service at their home, a 100 acre farm with sheep & emus, on a public holiday no less! This of course resulted in a vast depletion of funds and an increase in the storage of bead bag components. From there we proceeded to a nice quiet campsite 'Police Paddocks' on the banks of the Murray River near Rutherglen. This spot is named from its former roll of a 1000 acre river island used for spelling the police horses in the past and now just used by local farmers for cattle. We had no other residents for the two nights and only a couple of fishermen and the local farmer that passed that way during the days. Then off to one winery [yes just one] for a some white port and then to Yarrawonga for some shopping and lunch before heading off past Cobram to another riverside camp. This time the first site was packed and we found another that seemed ok until we had been there a while and realised that it was right next to the Newell Highway and as anyone knows its a road that never sleeps so after this we headed off and after many bush tracks and false starts we again found a spot in Barmah State Park complete with a sandy beach and all to ourselves. The next day was around 35 degrees so we spent most of the day in and out of the water cooling off. There were some passing travellers and in the evening some water-skiers and fishermen in a boat but both left when night finally fell at 9pm. Today we went into the small town of Nathalia found a small service shop and had the oil changed in the bus. This took longer than estimated and we were forced to have lunch AND afternoon tea at the local bakery and now know the main street intimately. Tonight we are encamped in Moama on the NSW side of the river from Echuca and intend to do domestic chores tomorrow before heading off for some more free camping further up the Murray.

4 February 2002
Saturday morning was spent doing washing and housework and then a drive into Echuca for a look around and also to visit the local carwash to clean off all the oil left by the service shop who as predicted had trouble removing the oil filters and spilt oil all around the front springs and the engine so it was left to me to clean it up and with the help of a can of degreaser from Sollys and $4 at the car wash not only was the oil removed but the whole bus got a clean, a bargain and seems like the easy way to clean in the future. Then we headed for the local craft shop only to find it had closed [what a shame] so back to the caravan park for a cold night and the air-conditioning on heat for the first time and the usual thunder & lightning but little rain. [this was the night of the big hail storms in Melbourne so we were lucky] Sunday morning we left late as usual and first stop was the craft shop where more cash changed hands and then onto the supermarket for supplies and a refuel before setting off. Decided to explore Lake Meran on the road to , can you believe 'Bort' , pretty drab place and completely overcast and blowing a gale but settled in for a night as the only residents. Another leisurely drive yesterday thru Swan Hill and then about 30 kms further and camped by the Murray again .This time we again have our own sandy beach but its too cold for a dip but quiet enough with friendly Goanna showing up at dinner time and kangaroo's over the river so stayed on today as well. Overcast again and a touch of rain so have just deployed the generator behind a tree to get the battery charge up for tomorrow as we intend going to a national park and want to make sure batteries are fine in case the weather remains the same.

8 February 2002
We took the detour to the Hattah-Kulkyne national park for a change of scenery but found on arrival that one of the two largest lakes was empty and the other almost dry. Along with the lack of water in the lakes the camping grounds were very dry sandy wastes and with little chance of any water based activities we decided to have lunch and move on. Here begins the first of our mishaps as when we prepared to leave we became bogged in the soft sand. After some angry words and a little coaxing we finally got unstuck and gave thanks that we weren't to spend the night bogged alone and listing to one side. We then drove back over the 20 Kms of corrugated dusty road back to the highway and headed northward and back to the river. There are a number of listed camps along this area which is the start of the grape and citrus growing so we explored three of them before the next mishap for the day when trying to extract ourselves from an endless dirt track I managed to drag the offside back corner past, luckily, a small tree leaving with thankfully a minor ripple in the fine metalwork of the Pod. In light of this I made an executive decision and returned back to the first of the sites explored and set up camp alone next to a wide sandy beach. In the cool of the evening we sat outside and viewed the stars sighting 3 of Jupiter's moons and a nebula cloud in Orion with binoculars before retiring for the day. The next day, as we were parked out in the full sun, was spent reading in the shade of the awning and swimming in the deep cool water until in the afternoon when one of the rare visitors to this camp became bogged and I added my efforts pushing and finally they were free and of course this required another swim. In the afternoon strong winds began to whip up constant dust so a minor adjustment in our positioning was made to avoid most of the dust . This wind has continued throughout the night and today as well. Setting off this morning under an overcast and dust filled sky we explored Red Cliffs just before arriving at Mildura. we had the obligatory visit to a quilting shop and even went in myself !!! Lunch was had and then shopping before booking into a caravan park for the next couple of nights and domestic chores. Tomorrow is our 28th wedding anniversary and after some shopping tomorrow morning and a visit to a machine embroidery display we'll be having a celebratory dinner in the restaurant next door.

12 February 2002
Saturday morning was spent in town, craft shop, book exchange, and information center followed by lunch in the bus and some shopping at Target. That night we had personalised service at a the Golden River Fauna Gardens outdoor restaurant next to the caravan park for our anniversary. Being basically the sole patrons that night we were given top service, superb entree and main course followed by complimentary desert and drinks and then just a short walk back to the comfort of the pod. If you are in Mildura have a meal there as the food is second to none. Sunday began with complimentary pancakes, jam & cream at the park and was followed by town markets and a trip to Lock 11 and the Mildura Weir. After lunch Robyn went to a display of machine embroidery by 'Alice Gove' and I read the paper but ended up having to attend also to photograph the display !! Monday we had booked an afternoon tour so after doing the washing and partaking of the again complimentary scones with jam & cream for morning tea we headed off with our Aboriginal guide and 10 others to Mungo National Park for the sunset tour. Four hours there with half being on rough road followed by evening meal provided and then a guided tour by Les of the main items of interest with many photographs taken followed by champagne consumed at sunset on the giant sandhills that border the lake. Then in the darkness we set off home narrowly missing the many kangaroos on the road but this time by a shorter rougher road a mere 88 kms arriving back at the bus by 11:30pm. This morning we set off finally into South Australia via Renmark and are camped in a reserve near the river at Berri, not the quietest of places but the price is right.

15 February 2002
The night at the Berri reserve turned out to be not so bad as everyone else seemed to be keen to go to bed at sunset and no one was awake too early so I take back what I said and recommend it. Then into the township and a visit to the elusive National Parks office to get information on the prepaid permit system available in SA but on the advice of the local ranger didn't purchase one and opted to pay as we go. After reprovisioning we went just a few kms away to a NP on the banks of a creek which forms an island with the Murray River called Katarapko Ck. and set up camp in the shade as the temperature was rising and awaited the cool of the evening and some rewarding stargazing. Next morning of course we awoke to find that we had no shade and the mercury was rapidly rising and as a bus load of schoolies had arrived for the day in the next site further up the creek we moved along to a better camp spot and spent the day moving the bus from one bit of shade to another being ever vigilant of the danger of falling branches from the River Red Gums. Also as we had now parked in the shade for two days I ran the generator for a few hours to try and get life into the falling batteries to survive the night. Lucky that I did as the temperature rose to over 40C for most of the day and when we finally decided to go to bed at 12:30am was still over 30C inside the bus and 27C outside, and that's how it stayed all night. Also having broken the park rules and run the generator turned out to be good luck as the refrigerator ran constantly all day until 6am next morning again depleting the batteries. Today it was predicted to be hotter than yesterday so we headed off in search of somewhere with power but instead as we left the camp there were thunderstorms storms brewing and soon it became overcast and cool and we came across Lake Bonney by chance and set up camp right on the shore and with the wind blowing it has waves like the sea. Have again run the generator to bring the batteries up but as the temp is now falling rapidly for the night after a superb sunset over the lake shouldn't be any problem with power and look forward to a pleasant nights sleep.

23 February 2002
Camping at Lake Bonney turned out to be so good that we spent three nights there enjoying the differing vistas depending on whether the wind was blowing or not, every night being rewarded by a spectacular sunset over the lake and beautiful night skies. There were many pelicans that entertained us during the days along with the seagulls. We then set off from our lake side hideaway and went to a truck repairer in Glossop to see what could be done about the annoying clunk in the front suspension. After much examining and $20 later they could find nothing wrong and suggested that we should have our springs reset while in Adelaide but didn't cure the clunk ! Off again to Berri to do some grocery shopping and then overnight at Loxton caravan park. There is not much of interest in Loxton and so after doing our washing, giving the pod a wash and refilling with water we headed off to for another powered day and night at Moorook reserve as the temperature was tipped to exceed 39C. Good camping spot with power but no showers for $6.60/ night and right next to the river and opposite shop. The afternoon brought out the locals in force to swim in the river who also proceeded to litter the place even though there were many bins. It seems to be the pastime in South Australia as we have found many places badly littered here more so than anywhere else. Moved on next to Waikerie and checked out the Murray River cliff top views and then after some light shopping and lunch by the river we visited the handmade chocolate factory. Coming away with bags of their wares we then headed off to Morgan further north. Our plan was to stay in the Morgan Conservation Park but this turned out to be a bad move. Soon after turning into the park and up a small hill we found ourselves up to the axels in sand and not moving !! This was not a good place, up a hill round a corner and bogged. Well with cunning, dual rear wheels, and pure luck we managed to extract ourselves in reverse. it was just lucky that no tree was in the way as it was impossible to steer until we were clear of the sand. Unless you own a 4x4 DON'T bother with this park even trying other access tracks near the river all the side tracks are just sand and so in desperation we crossed the river on the ferry and booked into the caravan park. In a way this turned out to be lucky as Morgan is a very historic town and I got some good shots of historic buildings etc. Seems it was THE major port on the Murray in the early days. Then onto Burra Creek Gorge for two nights without TV or phone just relaxing with the birds by day and shivering in the icy chill of the night.... Tried out my new setup for showering with the available creek water heated with the water heater and worked well. Today we went onto the township of Burra, another historic one with almost every building over 100 years old and arrived only minutes after their annual Rock & Roll festival day finished up and minutes before every shop [all 3 of them] closed for the weekend. Purchased bread and a local pie for smoko and did the town tour checking out all the top spots including the old open cut copper mine. Tonight we are in the REAL bush 20kms out of town at a place called Redbanks. Not much here except some [you guessed] red banks on the almost dry creek bed and a few stunted trees and lots of saltbush but at least its cool.

28 February 2002
From Redbanks we headed west to Port Wakefield but turned out to be a not very impressive fishing village so we decided to head over the Yorke Peninsula to Wallaroo for a night by the sea. There we watched South Australians drive their family sedans along the hard beach sand and wondered if any of them bothered about rust??? We did our washing and gave the bus a good wash before heading off to Adelaide. Booked into Levi Park caravan park right on the Torrens River and only 5kms from the city. Adelaide seems to be a quiet city, not a lot of high rise buildings and many parks. Next day we did the mother of all interior cleaning jobs on the bus and freshened it up for another 2 months living. Wednesday we headed off to town on the bus (really cheap only $1.80 each) and did the Rundle Mall walk and then headed to government house to see Queen Elizabeth II as she is here on tour. As you can see photo opportunities were negligible but we were there. Today was another marathon to the Caravan & Camping show and walked many kms and parted with lots of $$$ for some new gadgets for the bus and ate heartily to boot. Tonight I am uploading a new 2002 version of the photo gallery using a landline generously supplied by the caravan park. There will be some updates in the future but the main difference is that these are only selected shots that are suitable for wallpaper if you desire and as they are sized down from the 2048x1536 that my digital camera takes to 800x600 they will take some time to download. We are here until next Monday as the price was right with 7 nights for the price of 6 so should have plenty of time for sightseeing.

5 March 2002
Well we saw the sights and walked a lot and travelled far & wide on the busses but only scratched the surface of Adelaide so after parting with much cash on new clothes for the cool nights [not for me] we decided that after some further travelling we will return and revisit Adelaide. Monday morning we set off via the supermarket for the Yorke Peninsula; the foot shaped piece of land on the left of Adelaide. Lunch was had at Port Arthur [no resemblance to the infamous one in Tasmania] and then down the west coast to overnight at Black Point. Small village mainly beach shacks and camping right on the beach for $5.50 the night. This park was right next to a boat ramp so were considerable comings and goings late at night and early in the morning along with the neighbours so called quiet generator for the evening we decided this morning to move on. Had morning tea at Edithburgh at the jetty and then headed down to the heel part of the peninsula and have set up on the cliff top overlooking the ocean and the lighthouse at Troubridge Point. We can see Kangaroo Island in the distance and considering the price to go there this is probably as close as we'll get. Not a tree to be seen here but cool ocean breezes and beautiful ocean views. This afternoon we have been entertained by a number of dolphins playing just offshore and with the sky so clear should be good star viewing tonight.

10 march 2002
The star viewing was good but the wind was cold so it didn't last too long before heading inside. After dark we cleverly aligned the front of the bus with the lighthouse so that we didn't have the 3 flashes every 5 seconds all night and that was quite successful. In the morning the sky was overcast so we headed further along to a privately owned beach campsite at Butlers Beach where for the sum of $8 we had our choice of sites along a 7 km strip of coast. We chose a site at the top of a hill overlooking a very nice beach and settled in for the day. I spotted and photographed what I now know is a rare Osprey hovering over the dunes and later in the afternoon I took a long trek down the hillside and the dunes to the beach. The next day the cloud was with us again and hoping that it would clear in the afternoon we stayed on but so did the cloud and as the evening approached the wind was so cold we drove down from our hilltop site to a protected spot behind a large dune, turned out to be a good idea much warmer and quieter. Leaving there we headed to the toe end of the peninsula to Innes National Park named after the man who discovered large deposits of gypsum there and now a park to protect the rare Whip bird habitat. Here for $6 the day (and night) we explored the coastline and looked over the old township and the mine workings then ended up camping at Surfers Beach. This could have been a mistake or maybe it was just because it was Friday night but other campers came and went until all hours and again in the morning so we left it to them and explored the rest of the park before heading north to what would be the toe-nail of the peninsular Corny Point. After a bit of exploration before the lighthouse being careful not to get bogged in the sandy tracks we settled on a campsite right above a small bay and in sight of the lighthouse[this time no side facing light]. Having easy walking tracks to the beach we went down in the afternoon and Robyn gave me a haircut on the beach while I sat on a rock in the sun. Quiet night by ourselves and now on Sunday I am sitting on my chair overlooking the ocean watching the sailing boats pass by while Robyn is finishing off another bead bag..... some people must pay a fortune for a view like this!

15 March 2002
The peace and serenity continued on into the evening and we retired for another night only to be awoken by wind blowing our chairs away at 12:30am so then it was a cliff top rescue for them and back inside. BUT it gets worse after another couple of hours sleep the wind had become hurricane force and the bus was rocking around so much that sleep became impossible and at 3:30am I made an executive decision to move to a more sheltered anchorage. Things were hurriedly packed away or stowed on the floor and we drove off into the night ,wearing our night attire complete with slippers, thru Corny Pt township and a further 10kms up the main road until we found a quiet gravel road and drove down a bit and parked. Now safe from the wind we managed to get some much needed sleep. After this we drove via some scenic beachside villages to Minlaton for a some much needed washing and a guaranteed quiet nights sleep in the caravan park. Gave the bus a well needed wash and removed all the Yorke Peninsula dust from the boot and the screens. Apparently one of their exports is gypsum so most of the dust is composed of this and it sticks like glue to everything. The next day we drove to Maitland and spent the night in the free town caravan park next to the football ground so there was also free entertainment until dark with the local team practicing on the oval. On the road again and spent most of the day visiting historic Moonta and indulging in the local speciality 'Cornish Pasties' for lunch. Then onwards to Wallaroo and after inspecting the freecamp there which turned out to be a large treeless bitumen carpark in the middle of suburbia with no redeeming qualities we spent the night in the beach caravan park that we had been to 3 weeks ago on our way to Adelaide. Yesterday we headed inland, did some shopping in Kadina and some ladies clothes on sale at Target, and after inspecting two freecamps and giving them the thumbs down stayed at an excellent little caravan park in the small town of Gladstone, most notable for its historic jail and huge grain handling facility. Today a shorter drive via Melrose where the strange camper was parked and a visit to two craft shops we are tonight camped high on a hill at Hancock's lookout overlooking the lights of Whyalla and Port Augusta in the distance and with only another retired couple in a camper from West Australia and a young chap on a motorcycle. All very quiet and the sky is clear and the view is great.

20 March 2002
After a pleasant night we packed up, well after the other campers, and headed of to Hawker via Quorn [consuming a 'Quornish Pastie' for lunch) and booked into a caravan park as the mercury had again topped 35 so while the washing was doing we settled down to some cooling for the afternoon and night. Then off to Wilpena in the Flinders Ranges national park where we spent the day driving around the entire park checking out all the bush camp spots but it was not to be as every one though sited next to a creek were all dry and dusty and again the day was a scorcher. After many photographs of mountains and roaming emus we considered that paying thru the neck for a powered site at the so called resort was the only option and after parting with $28 for the night we settled down for some cooling before dinner. Now comes the fun part, very soon after the airconditioning had begun to do its duty it suddenly stopped working leaving us now hot and out of pocket to boot. Being the ex-tech type that I am I produced my multimeter and proceeded to check out the internals of the beast to see if anything could be done to coax it back to life but after many checks the prognosis was not good and it appeared that the fan motor was open circuit so I gave up and resorted to the portable fan and consumed many cool drinks whilst muttering about the total waste of money getting a powered site. But there's more, after sitting relaxing for a couple of hours and beginning to accept the inevitable I remembered that while measuring the voltage to the unit that it had been varying from 260 to 264V instead of the usual 240V that it should be and so reasoned that this may have been the cause of the failure and in combination with the high outside temperature had overheated the motor and just maybe it had an internal thermal cutout. Well believe it or not I hadn't lost my touch because when switched on now that the temperature had dropped it sprang into action and remained fine all night. Relieved by this I put away the stress pills and we both had a pleasant nights sleep and were up early to do the walk to the Pound lookout. For those who don't know the pound is a natural mountain formation that has resulted in what looks like a meteor crater. After sweating off many kilos we returned to the cool drinks at the resort bar before having lunch and then returning for the night to Hawker, more washing and fault free cooling for the night. Today we headed back via Quorn also the home of the 'Pichi Richi' railway and this time inspected the craft shop [not me] and then on to Port Augusta for some lower priced fuel and shopping. Tonight we have ended up in Australia's smallest rodeo grounds at Baroota just north of Port Pirie with a $5 donation to the building fund for the privilege. The caretaker assured me that there were usually 2-3 vans here but so far by 9pm we are it.

27 March 2002
We were the only tenants at Baroota and after a quiet cool night we headed over the hills to a little town of Wirrabara and stayed in the show grounds along with a couple of others, washed the bus and did the washing all included in the $12 fee for the night including power. Next day we went to Peterborough, last town of any size before Broken Hill in NSW and I inspected the Railway museum in the afternoon while Robyn had a sleep. This town has the cheapest houses in Australia that we have seen so far and many are old stone cottages, even a church for $39000. Stayed there the night in caravan park rejecting the free roadside park between the main road to Broken Hill and the railway line. Saturday we finally found a free spot next to a small river so we set up had lunch and as the temperature by now was getting hot we retired for an afternoon nap. This of course was a poor choice of places because by now it was over 30C and a carload of local louts had arrived for swimming and combined with the heat and their limited vocabulary we decided that we had better find somewhere else. After a look on the map we headed on more dusty roads over hills and through properties to a farm based park at Spalding. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as there were only another couple there in a tent and very quiet. The manager Steve and his wife Tamar made us feel really welcome and so after the Sunday afternoon farm tour we decided on another two nights there to unwind. This was much appreciated and can be recommended to anyone travelling this way. There are Clydesdales, sheep, goats, ducks, etc and sheds full of old farm machinery to explore and a replica copper mine to show how the early miners lived in this area. On Monday night we broke the record drought in SA with 56 days straight with no rain and reluctantly we headed off for a couple of nights in Gawler. Here we had the oil changed in the bus and Robyn went to the doctor for a prescription. Both very friendly and helpful and a small amount of shopping was handled before we booked into the caravan park. Today we did the winery tour in the Pod through the Barossa Valley coming home with some unusual bottles of port and mead for future consumption. To finish off the afternoon we visited the 'Whispering Wall' at the Barossa Reservoir where you can speak to people on the other side of the curved dam wall as if you were next to them. Tomorrow off to Adelaide for Easter and a weeks rest from driving.

3 April 2002
Here we are in Adelaide again and definitely a rest from driving, but along with chocolates Easter brought every child within 100kms to this park for a holiday by the sea. Being a four day weekend the shops were closed so there could be no escape until Tuesday except for believe it or not the Annual Craft Fair! Saturday we bought a day ticket on the busses and went to Glenelg beach, the city, and then on the tram to the fair [this is a first for me]. Sunday was a day of rest and chocolates followed up by a beautiful sunset over the ocean while we sat on the beach. Monday we planned to go to Port Adelaide on the bus only to find out after sitting at the bus stop for some time that the service does not run on holidays so ended up giving the bus a treat and thoroughly cleaned the inside ready for our next month. Tuesday all the children had returned home and we purchased another day ticket and went on bus, tram, bus again twice, train, and bus for a city tour. In the city we went to the botanical gardens and looked over the rose gardens all in flower and took many photographs including one of their glasshouse that looks like the disk from the Starship Enterprise crashed into the ground, and finally got to look over Port Adelaide on the way home. Today the boss had a hair makeover in Glenelg while I took the tram into town for some shopping. As the weather changed from warm and sunny to grey clouds and cold winds I headed back for the rest of the day with the new look Robyn ready for our next stage of our journey.

9 April 2002
From Adelaide we headed into the Adelaide Hills to Melba's Chocolate factory at Woodville where there was sampling of product and a good deal of purchases. There was also an attached craft shop and dried fruit factory that were given suitable attention. After this we spent the afternoon in the historic German-Australian town of Hahndorf. More craft shops and strudel and then overnighted at Mt Barker the temperature dropping to 6 degrees C. Shopping was done before heading back down through the southern Adelaide suburbs on our way to the Fleurieu Peninsula. Lunch at Christies Beach and two bead shops later we were at Normanville where we overnighted in the beachfront caravan park. While checking out we found that this park had been chosen by the 'SA Festival Wanderers' chapter of the motorhome club [CMCA] for their monthly get together and were invited to stay on and join in the proceedings. After a quick trip to town for some ingredients of Robyn's speciality egg & bacon salad we returned and joined the group for the afternoon and night ending up playing cards before bed. Then onwards via Rapid Bay for a look and then Cape Jervis to see the ferry departing for Kangaroo Island and a relaxing lunch at the wharf. Later in the afternoon we headed down to the southern coast to Deep Creek NP and stopped at Tapanappa campground. It was cold and windy for the night and the feather doona was finally needed. In the morning the weather was fine but still windy and a relaxed day was spent reading the Sunday paper and then a walk to the lookout in the afternoon where there were many kangaroo's, wrens and some Adelaide Rosellas about. We watched as the tall ships involved in the Flinders re-enactment were sailing back to Adelaide from Victor harbour. Second night was calm and warmer but of course all did not go well as during the early hours of the morning we were visited by a mouse in the pantry that nibbled at the bread, potato chips, and a chocolate bar before presumably disappearing. After a search in that area of the bus I found two small holes which probably could have provided access and blocked them up and tonight will be setting mouse traps in case the interloper has stowed away. Today on to Victor Harbour with a look at the horse drawn tram to Granite Island and then over to Hindmarsh Island to view the actual mouth of the Murray River. For those of you who are from Australia you will remember that Hindmarsh island is the site of the bridge involved with the Aboriginal 'Secret Women's Business'. Overnight in Port Elliot then heading towards Mannum further up the Murray River.

14 April 2002
As promised we headed northwards up to Mannum stopping at Milang to view Lake Alexandrina, this is the lake formed by the Murray River before what's left of it enters the ocean. At Mannum we set up under shady trees with a few other campers with two other motorhomers from the 'SA Adelaide Wanderers' chapter of the motorhome club who had been there since the meeting the past weekend and ended up spending the evening around their campfire solving the worlds problems. We had planned to move on the next day but we met up with a Queensland couple with a caravan and 4x4 having problems with emailing over their mobile. One thing lead to another and I ended up spending half the day and some of the evening getting it right for them so ended up not moving on until Friday. Downstream we stopped at Murray Bridge and Robyn picked up some more purse frames at a craft shop while I relaxed in the bus and then onto 'Fred's Landing' near Tailem Bend for lunch. Intending to stop the night at The Coorong NP we pushed on only to find that the weather had become windy, cold, and wet and when we ventured into the campground found it less than attractive for campers but seemed to cater for daytrippers. Considering the way the weather was shaping up we moved on to Policeman's Point CP which fronts part of The Coorong and had the comforts of their conveniences for the night along with heating. Saturday only took us a little way along the coast to a small free camp spot by the ocean called 'The Granites' and so we rested there while the cloud cleared but the wind continued and overnight temperature only managed to get to 7C so the doona was most welcome. Today it has fined up although still cool and we went on to Kingston where we saw 'Larry the Lobster' and across the road the 'Anelematic Sundial'. This is made from granite rocks and you tell the time by your own shadow cast on the ground so lucky it was sunny. Also a visit to the resited Cape Jaffa lighthouse and then purchased fish and chips for lunch from they claimed the number one fish shop in SA. All I can say is we do it better in Queensland as they were Ok but certainly not the best I've ever had. This afternoon booked into a park in Robe and finally did 4 loads of washing and with the wind and the limited sunshine got it all dry before sundown. Tomorrow a look around Robe then more adventure.

19 April 2002
Just a short drive further south we stopped at Beachport, beautiful surf beaches with views from the cliff tops and also calm bay with the second longest jetty in South Oz. We settled for camping next to Lake George in the national park, no other residents and the price was right. This is a shallow salt lake with sandhills between it and the surf. There are many birds that frequent the lake and good use was made of the bird reference book identifying them. As well as the wildlife there were the occasional gunshots from some deranged locals with one or two trail bikes passing through the day but the nights were cool and quiet, perfect for sleeping in. After two quiet nights and restful days we headed off once again this time to Mt Gambier, ex-volcano and the home of the famous blue lake in the crater. Taking advantage of the fine weather we did the photographic thing straight away before booking into a park for two nights. Thursday being Robyn's birthday we did the only thing that was deemed necessary and sought out all the local art & craft shops and had lunchtime feast and followed up by having take away for dinner and an enormous birthday cake. As we were both tired from the search for craft [and gluttony] and there were still more places to explore here we have stayed on for another day. Unfortunately the weather has turned bleak but still did the cave tour and I climbed up to the centenary lookout on the very top of Mt Gambier itself. With my legs aching from the steep climb we did the much needed domestic shopping and then back for afternoon tea of birthday cake and a rest before we head off tomorrow over the border farewelling South Australia for this trip.

26 April 2002
After leaving South Australia we went to the small town of Casterton to get a lotto for Victoria and also a visit to craft shop before having lunch in the local park. This town has a huge scouts emblem [Fleur de lis]carved in the hill overlooking the town apparently dating back to the days of King George V. Next on to Coleraine to make some purchases from the Glenelg Chocolate factory. A short way on to Wannon Falls reserve and after inspecting the falls [just a trickle] we set up in the camping area. Not a bad spot except as its close to a main road there were many late comers just looking for a place to bed down then off early along with the NSW family who were determined to use up most of the Victorian wood resources in one night in a monster fire and followed it up by having a similar blaze in the morning before leaving. Next morning onto the companion falls and reserve at Nigreta Falls where we had the last piece of birthday cake before continuing on. Lunch was had at Dunkeld and then to Lake Bolac. This is a large lake apparently good for fishing but of the numerous camping sites around the shore we were the only takers. Quiet night although a little windy but even so we decided to stay on. During the day the wind dropped but no sign of the sun since we left sunny SA so ran the generator for a few hours to top up the batteries. There is a charge of $10/night that is supposed to be collected by caretaker but as no one came we paid nothing for the privilege. Then up to Ararat [not the Mt] and did some shopping and then onto Mt Buangor State park. This is one that we went to last year and moved on when there was an invasion of teenagers and associated noise. This time just peace and quiet and many birds for company in the afternoon. The next day still in cloud I ran the gen for some hours and the rain finally came. It was cold and damp the second night and even so two other campers came but as the park is large we were well away from them all and the rain kept everyone inside. The next morning still raining but found we were surrounded by many kangaroos that continued to forage while we packed up. Another leisurely departure arriving in Ballarat just in time for the end of the Anzac day parade. The road into town is tree lined for miles with each tree having a plaque in honour of fallen soldiers and at the end an arch symbolising the victory in WW1. We have stayed in a caravan park for two days whilst taking in the sights and shopping so even though the weather has been pretty miserable and cold we have been warm and managed to find 3 more craft shops and spend money.

1 May 2002
After Ballarat it was on to Daylesford for a street walk exploring the craft & gift shops which were unfortunately mostly not craft and mostly made in China ! We did manage to find the one craft shop on a side road and local craft was purchased, also Robyn did the Convent Gallery tour while I did some minor repairs to the bus. Lunch was had overlooking the historic train station which unfortunately only runs once a week and not that day. Further on to Castlemaine where unfortunately everything was closed so onward to Bendigo where after many gravel tracks and poor directions we finally found Shadbolt reserve in Whipstick SP and camped for the night alone there. Not much of a park to speak of so could explain the lack of company but again the price was right. Next on to Shepparton after lunching and markets just north of Bendigo. We overnighted in a caravan park and did our washing and in the morning shopping and a visit to SPC fruit cannery. Numurka was next for lunch and onwards to All Saints winery for a couple of bottles of the best desert wine in Australia.Arriving at Police Paddocks on the Murray we didn't have long to wait before we were joined as planned by Laurie & Keith Smyth from Bairnsdale in the SE of Victoria. Some of you will know Laurie as the webmistress of CMCA motorhome club website. We spent the evening chatting, swapping ideas and more of the same next day interspersed with many meals and snacks. After two pleasant cool nights and fine days they have moved on but as our batteries are showing signs of age I have spent the day charging them with the aid if the sun and the generator and will be making a visit to Battery World tomorrow morning at Wodonga to see if they are living or in need of replacement. And saving the best to last its now exactly four years since I have done any productive work and still have a smile on my face, thanks to Airservices Australia for making my retirement so good.

8 May 2002
Proceeding to Battery World at Wodonga checks on the house batteries were done and pronounced 100% so after saving $400 to $500 treated the pod to a good scrub at the local car wash. Then headed north on the Hume Hwy to Holbrook, in time to do many loads of washing and overnight before proceeding on to Berrima [craft town] and overnighted in the free campground next to the river. Somewhere along the way we lost synchromesh on third gear and now only manages to change down reluctantly under 40 kms/hr making it difficult on the uphill sections but I'll have to make do until we get home and get it replaced. Awoke to be surrounded by thick fog but once it cleared headed off for another long days drive around the outskirts of Sydney by the bypass made easier by following a Queensland semi-trailer who had obviously been this way before, then onto the Newcastle motorway ending up spending the night at Cessnock. After most of the day at the Maitland craft markets, it was really BIG, we headed for Chichester State Forest for a couple of nights in the wild. When we arrived at Dungog it was raining heavily and we spotted some campers in the local show grounds and after some enquires joined them for $8 the night. Next day it was fine blue sky and we visited Chichester dam first then camped in the forest at Telegherry Ck for two nights alone except for the prolific birdlife before heading to Morpeth, small town, big bead shop you know the drill. Many $$$'s later back to Maitland tonight in the only van park, rating less than one star but no choice. Will do some shopping in town tomorrow then head north and get the washing done at somewhere more appealing.

18 may 2002
Keeping in mind that the washing needed doing we only travelled a little way up the coast to Tuncurry and booked into a nice quiet park where the washing was done and then a trip to the shops for some supplies and considering the weather was good and the park quiet and relaxing we stayed on for a further day just to enjoy it. Then onwards for a long days drive up to Pine Creek State Forest park just south of Coffs Harbour. Well this turned out to be a bad choice and after venturing down many endless narrow roads where I even had to stop and break branches from trees to fit thru we gave up looking for the promised camp ground and a few kilometres up the road settled for a small camping park at Boambee almost at Coffs harbour. We were the only travellers there along with permanent vans and cabins so again a quiet and relatively economical nights rest was had. Now at last we were within striking distance of an old favourite Woody Head on the coast in Bundjalung National Park. But as usual [seems to be the norm in NSW] the camp ground had been replaced by a day use area and campers pushed off to the back with no facilities and a $15/night charge! and even $6 for day visitors, so being mothers day and still before lunch we decided that KFC in Ballina was beckoning and continued on. Our youngest who is now in Arizona called up to wish Robyn happy mothers day on the way and then at 2pm we finally managed to be cramming some of KFC's 11 herbs and spices into our mouths. Two more days and more washing in Ballina, a visit to Ballina Campers the Dreampod's birthplace and then onto the Gold Coast. Here we planned to look at and test ride some electric bicycles in preparation for the next trip and seemed rather promising but will have to wait until there are more $$$ in the coffers. High speed trip up the motorway to Brisbane and met up with some people that I had only met on the net and we camped on their footpath and were treated to a most enjoyable meal at their house while exchanging ideas on motorhomes and craft !! A big thankyou to Robbo and Brenda for your hospitality. After spending the morning photographing another net friends new motorhome at Virginia we had lunch with my Mum at the nursing home where she lives and then on to stay with my brother again in Caboolture and as you can see had some fun driving his new tractor. Yesterday leisurely onward to Mapleton and will stay here at Robyn's parents place until next Wednesday when we'll be having a service on the Pod before the final part of our journey home.

23 May 2002
Six days of craft, markets, computer lessons and a mechanical service and we are once again on our way leaving the comforts of Mapleton and on the road. Tonight after a stop in Howard for craft supplies and lunch we are staying in the peace and quiet at the old reliable Fred Haigh Dam on the last week of our journey.

29 May 2002
After a quiet night at the dam we then sped on to Marlborough where we stayed at the only caravan park in town and discovered that now it had finally become hot that the house airconditioner had thrown in the towel and would cool no more so luckily the temp overnight remained mild and we were able to keep the windows closed and circulate the air with the fan only as the road noise there is really bad. Next onward to friends at Mirani just west of Mackay for two nights and days of eating and drinking. They live on an acreage and have their own cattle so there is no shortage of meat !! Having outstayed our welcome we headed off again northwards and ended up at Mt Elliott national park for the night. This campground has been revamped and has limited sites but boasts free hot showers and many species of kangaroo that roam freely around the grounds. After a warm night in the bush there was just one more quick stopover at Babinda to check up on the progress of the inlaws with their kayaking mates before the last few kilometres to home. Its been 153 days, 14427kms [8966 miles], 1976 litres of diesel [435 gallons], 880 saved digital photographs, 27 website updates, 1120 website hits, 89 nights freecamps, 64 nights paid caravan parks, 12 kgs of LPG , 3 oil changes, 2 collapsed front springs, 1 broken airconditioner, lost synchro on 3rd gear, a caravan and camping show, 3 craft markets, computer swap meet, craft show, lost count of how many craft shops, many new friends on the road and all in all a holiday to remember. Thank you all for following our progress and keeping in touch with your emails. This will be a hard act to follow but I'm sure the next one will be in the planning soon. There will be many more photographs uploaded soon so stay tuned for some more breathtaking wallpaper.
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