Sunday, 16 July 2017

Change of Address

This blog has a new URL and while the old one still works the new one is much shorter and easier to type in.

www.bcl.id.au

How easy is that?

Friday, 30 June 2017

Looking Back…

I am now home - arrived here on the early afternoon of Thursday 22nd June 2017. Two nights travelling through NSW didn’t appeal to me - fine during the night but too cold in the morning.

Naturally when I got home both the car and the camper were covered in red dust but a concentrated day of cleaning have fixed that. There are a few minor things I would like to change in the camper which I will show later.

Statistics

Total Distance:16802 Kilometres
Total Fuel: 1705 Litres Diesel
Total Fuel Cost: $2361 (Average = $1.38/l)
Total Accommodation Cost: $1932
Length of trip: 63 days

Highlights

Horizontal Falls
The Bungle Bungles
Undara Lava Tubes
Wave Rock
The Pinnacles

I picked out those particular visits as highlights but in truth everyday was wonderful. Just driving through the Australian bush is an experience in itself the scenery is so varied it is just never boring.

The Van Parks

I always stayed in caravan parks though I was prepared to free camp but never needed to. The parks themselves were a source of interest, usually I arrived early afternoon, parked and set myself up within 15 minutes, then I would go to the tourist place and/or with information from the park office explore the local area.

170521 002 Broome Caravan Park

The parks varied in age and quality, some had very modern bathrooms etc, some had grass or concrete sites others were gravel or dirt but I can't say that I would avoid any that I stayed at in the future (including the roadhouses), they were all satisfactory to me.

170507 001 Principality of Hutt River

The different rigs people had were a revelation, some I wondered why they bothered leaving home their setup was so sophisticated though I suspect the van was actually their only home, others were pretty basic - my camper is definitely the latter. It was interesting watching them set up; some seemed to take an age others maybe 20 minutes I don't think any were as quick or as easy as mine. I must admit I wasn't impressed with most trailer campers they were very long winded to set up and take down, needed two people  and it was just living in a tent with a good kitchen.

To be fair everything had some disadvantage (including mine). For example I think (and this is just my opinion) the mobile homes and some of the roof top campers were the least convenient as they had to pack every thing up just to go to the shops, some mobile homes towed a small car behind them but I feel that if you do that you might as well buy a decent car and tow a caravan - it would probably be more economical and have better accommodation.

My favourite was a small caravan thing that fitted on a ute tray but had electric jacks so it was an easy matter to load and unload everyday if necessary it had the advantage of not towing but you had a simple vehicle for trips leaving the accommodation behind.

The Camper

The Camper worked really well, the more I used it the more I liked it. The mudguards were great tables for the electric jug and toaster but running the extension lead from the internal power point was a minor nuisance. An external power point near the mudguards would be very handy.

The main advantage of this camper for me was the total lack of any set up needed other than unhitching and even that wasn’t strictly necessary, the most arduous task was putting up the TV aerial or the gazebo.

Taking the gazebo was great I could put it up by myself in about 10 minutes but it was not always necessary and whether it went up depended on the length of stay and the shade available, often the one wall that I had was a boon providing shade from the late afternoon sun.  I never put it up for a single night's stay and usually took it down the evening before moving on.

170621 002 Hebel

The Esky was the bane of my life I must have spent $300+ buying ice nearly every day just to keep $40 worth of milk cool. For my next trip I will have a suitable 12/240v fridge. The only damage to the camper on the trip was a minor breakage caused by the Esky.

Ventilation and Power Improvements

The camper does need some wet weather ventilation (think of how a car steams up on a cool night with all the windows closed). It was not really an issue on this trip as there were only a couple of wet nights (in SA). Normally I slept with the glass part of the door open and just the security screen/fly wire in place but in wet weather this would not be possible so with the roof fan running there is nowhere for air to enter. I thought about putting an external vent in the side of the camper but dust ingress could be a a problem so I am going to try drilling suitable holes between the kitchen and the cabin so that in wet weather it would be possible to keep the rear hatch slightly ajar by not fully closing the catches (see pic below).

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I have worked on some of these problems already. The ventilation was the first and it involved drilling holes between the kitchen and the cabin. I covered the holes with fly wire, a louvre and cabinet vents.

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The electrical was easier – just a matter of adding an external waterproof power point.

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Where to next I wonder?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

21st June 2017–Hebel to Gulgong

Distance: 502 km
Fuel: 97 L

Set off early;  before 8am – hardly any packing up required because I left the camper coupled up last night so there was only the mat and power cord to put away.

Within minutes I was back in NSW.

170621 004 Hebel to Gulgong NSW Border

Filled up with fuel at Walgett and only made a couple of rest stops because I want to get as far south as was possible.  One rest stop commemorated John Qxley’s 1818 expedition.

170621 006 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial170621 007 Hebel to Gulgong John Oxley Memorial

Originally I aimed to reach Dunedoo but made good progress and in the end settled on Gulgong an extra 65km toward home. I should be home tomorrow as I have less than 400km to cover (though admittedly through what will probably be the worst traffic of the trip).

Poor Gulgong is quite a nice little town but since the town was dropped from the ten dollar note I think it has suffered a bit. The Town that Used to be on the Ten Dollar Note doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Town on the Ten Dollar Note. The only caravan park in town has a slightly run down feel to it (though the owners are friendly)

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I had a look around town, it hasn’t changed much since I was last here – some shops have closed while new ones have opened, the Gulgong Opera House is still entertaining the locals but you can stand in the middle of the street with little fear of being run over.

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After wandering about the main streets I had a nice coffee and muffin in one coffee bar before filling up with fuel again ready for tomorrow.

When I returned to the caravan park at 4pm it was already feeling quite cool and I needed a jacket.

What Gulgong does have is an Indian and a Thai restaurant so I was spoilt for choice. In the event I went for Indian, resisted a Vindaloo and tried Shahi Korma Beef. The restaurant was nicely appointed and warm so I ate in - the meal was very nice indeed.

BTW I might be wrong about the local economy after eating I drove past several pubs which were surrounded by vehicles and seemed to be doing good trade.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

20th June 2017–Injune to Hebel

Distance: 446 km

This will be my last day in foreign parts (for this trip at least); Hebel is only about 4km from the NSW border so I will be back on home soil tomorrow.

170620 034 Hebel170620 024 Hebel

I intend to start early tomorrow and get as far south as I can, the weather is forecast to be fine for the next few days but the downside to clear skies is cold nights. Last night I had to sleep under my winter doona and it is not going to be any warmer the further south I go. it was about 7’C this morning – remember I am not near the coast.

I will get at least as far as Gilgandra but might even try for Dunedoo or Mudgee – if I get that far I could probably make home in one more day ie arrive Thursday. I have allowed two days but I think one would be better.

I have passed through Hebel on a few occasions but this is the first time I have stopped. There are only about 15 to 20 buildings; it is literally a town where if you blink you miss it – though the right angle bend in the middle of town might bring you undone if you did blink.

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The pub sells fuel at $1.50/l however I have slightly under half a tank which should get me to Walgett (135km) where I expect more normal prices.

The caravan park is behind the General Store (which is for sale BTW) and $20 for a powered site. After a walk round Hebel and its “Historical Circle” I had a homemade peppersteak pie and a beer in the store for only $10 which I thought very fair.

170620 018 Hebel170620 019 Hebel170620 021 Hebel170620 031 Hebel170620 041 Hebel170620 033 Hebel

Once the sun went down went back to the General Store for a meal, not an exciting menu but a modest selection of beef, chicken and seafood meals, let’s face it the dining room has four tables so they probably don’t get a lot of custom. I ordered chicken parmigiana together with a couple of beers and it was very nice. Back to the camper to write this while listening to some music. A nice end to a nice day.

Monday, 19 June 2017

19th June 2017–Capella to Injune

Distance: 376 km

Set off relatively late (for me) this morning. Went for a walk to look at Capella especially near what I took to be a creek (well, it had a bridge for the highway). It was a dry creek with the beginnings of a community picnic area – I forgot to take a picture of that. Next to it was what I presume to be the Capella Bowling Club which had evidently hit bad times and closed.

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Eventually set off just after 8.30am and the drive south was uneventful, I stopped a couple of times to stretch my legs and enjoy the volcanic scenery of central Quuensland.

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There was a section of major road works where they had thoughtfully wetted the dirt down to stop dust. Personally I would have preferred the dust, it blows away, but the wet dirt sticks!

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Injune is an even smaller town than Capella with a population of less than 400 but it has a caravan park abet a self service one. The servo had run out of diesel when I arrived but he said he was expecting some in the evening. I was not that worried I have plenty to get me to Roma 90km away and am carrying 20 litres in the tray.

How nice it is to stay in Injune in June. Just as the sun set I went back to the Caltex place and filled up with fuel for tomorrow. All is good.

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

18th June 2017–Charters Towers to Capella

Distance: 429 km
Fuel: 46 L

Fog! Woke up to a thick fog, visibility was down to less than 50m however by the time I was ready to leave at 8am you could see the end of an adjacent paddock. For the first 30km of the drive it was still pretty thick fog.

170618 002 Charters Towers to Clermont

Almost suddenly I was driving in sunshine, the clouds disappeared rapidly and it was horizon to horizon blue skies which remained for the rest of the journey.

170618 004 Charters Towers to Clermont

On the way south I passed hundreds of caravans and trailers going north, “hundreds” is not an exaggeration I counted 30 in one 12 minute period. I can understand now why someone said that on 1st July the parks put their fees up to $50 a night with all that traffic.

Nearing Clermont I passed the Clermont Coal Mine with its conveyer belt running for km beside the road and its enormous spoil heap stretching along the other side of the road.

170618 009 Clermont Coal Mine

I had intended to stop at Clermont tonight but because there were few opportunities to stop on the road it was still reasonably early when I arrived so I only stopped to fill up with fuel before driving on to Capella another 60km further south.

Capella is a small town of less than 1000 people but it has a caravan park. It is Sunday and the town is dead except for the pub which was surrounded by utes and as noisy as anything. I bought a 6 pack of beer and had a quick schooner there.

170618 011 Capella170618 012 Capella