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14 July 2024

Ravensthorpe to Albany

Info at Ravensthorpe allowed us to access a pooter to book a site at the Fitzgerald River National Park campground. Tough, it was full. But, a free camp at Hopetoun proved to be a viable option. Hopetoun turned out to be a nice little place to stay. Anyway, unhook and into the National Park to catch up with Royalty. We’ve seen these things before, on a previous trip, but Royal Hakeas hold a great fascination for us. Not seen anywhere else but in the south of WA, we actually saw hundreds this time, but these are the best photos of this time ….. They are so valued the cops have arrested this artists impression and have incarcerated it at the station.

On the way back to Ravensthorpe for the silo art we found these wonderful artworks…..

then the silos…

– all very arty-farty.

Onto Bremer Bay. Just another dot on the map, been there before but someone at Hopetoun said they’d seen whales there so we had to call in. Didn’t see whales but found some other items of interest, enough to stay over for 2 nights. …..

This is the Wallstead Museum on a homestead that remains in the same family for over 4 generations. We were privileged to have the current master Max Wallstead take us on a personalized tour of lots of the museum. The little house above is the first home built in 1850. More followed in later years..

   and then there were the sheds….

and thats a genuine 1750 Transylvanian hearse.

I haven’t attempted to post all of the photos taken at this museum – your minds might boggle so I can’t in all conscience do that to you. You will have to ask for more shots if you are interested.

Talk about an eclectic collection of stuff but most impressive was the musical component – from all sorts of music boxes, organs and pianos most of which we had demonstrated to us… but I can’t post movies with sound. This was a great afternoon.

We took the Patrol for a beach bash, managing to add a few more war wounds on a side track where we found the odd pelican…

Everyone agreed it was a good day out and then we went to the local resort for dinner, just to top it off.

14 July 2024

Here I Am Again

Now I’m not sure where I left off on the last entry cos I’m too lazy to look but suffice to say we are now in Bremer Bay, some 3500 km from whence we left Benalla. Fuel cost to date amounts to $2346 so you can do the sums.

But, so far still worth every centime. If I remember correctly we left cocka doodle doo for Norseman where we overnighted in a council free camp along with millions of others (well as many as fitted) then proceeded to Esperance. Esperance as we had earlier discovered is a gem. A really loverly town, beautifully presented with some of the best beaches in the world. The sand is white, pure white. Only negative this time was the mounds of seaweed, but this is probably seasonal and really didn’t affect us at this time in winter. We did however see some hardy souls swimming at Lucky Bay

Whispering Rock at Cape Le Grange National Park, the view from Banners Lookout around the way from Esperance and a few other incidental shots thrown in for good measure…. This last one was our overnight at Fowlers Bay

All of the above shots were taken with my IPhone and for some reason they won’t  sort into chronological sequence so I have to scroll through hundreds of miniscule images to find the ones I want – it’s tedious.

Along the way to Bremer Bay we stopped in Hopetoun. This was to enable a trip into Fitzgerald River National Park where we had previously been introduced to Royalty. We were not disappointed this time – we met hundreds of Royal Hakeas….

(somewhat phallic). Last time, back in 2013 we saw but a few. From the Hopetoun end there were hundreds. Strangest plants but fascinating…so much so that the local police have captured an artists rendition.

The days are starting to warm up, we even saw 20 degrees yesterday but the nights are bloody chilly and too like home. I’m sure it’ll get better as we progress further north although we are still on the south coast for plenty of days yet.

27 June 2024

Now I’m Awake

Weellll, more so than I was.

Anyway, 24 June came around, Robyn had come down to Benalla to join us on the next journey but my chores weren’t completed so we didn’t get away until yesterday, the 26th. The day was pretty uneventful, stopping for hours in Shepparton to buy a table cover and then God Help Me lunch at a Mcdonalds. But we made Dimboola for a nights stopover in poring rain in which I barbequed but it was all OK.

Day 2 and we headed for Adelaide with the plan to dine with the family. Along the way we saw some interesting things and hopefully the photos of said interesting things will in fact be interesting to you our dear reader…

Serviceton Station along with prisoner holding cells and bedrooms for staff and a commercial kitchen and a gypsy in the waiting room and a real train (which didn’t stop for the gypsy), then the WW2 fuel dump at Wolsley.

Right now we’re freezing our asses off in Mt Barker, awaiting the arrival of the Monk-Paynes. Here for a couple of days then on to somewhere further west.

I do hope I can keep up with this rambling rhetoric.

27 June 2024

I’ve been sleeping

August 2023. The last post!!!!

Where the hell does time go. I suppose when you do nothing, nothing happens worth reporting.

BUT – Jude had back surgery in December and this meant that traveling was out of the question for about 6 months. Prior to the surgery traveling was a real problem and this was no more evident than when we traveled north to get to Lawn Hill in FNQ. We set out in June (or was it May) with the very express intent of making Lawn Hill as it was/is a spot on the map that we have had to by-pass on no fewer than 4 occasions. However Jude’s back slowed us down somewhat with many stops to relieve the back pain. We got to Boonah in Qld to catch up with Robyn so she could travel with us onwards, only to find out that Lawn Hill would not re-open until July after it was very seriously flooded earlier in the year. OK, we would just take the journey slowly and catch up with friends along the way then.

Well….before we got to Boonah the diesel heater didn’t. In Newcastle we had to get it “re-programmed”. There went $70.00. Then in Boonah the gas valve let go and we lost all of our gas. There went $250.00 on a new valve/regulator and gas.We eventually got to Innisfail where upon testing we found the electronic control/battery management system had shit itself and our house batteries were dead. New batteries but no new BMS available. There went another $660.00. Attempted to find new BMS which may happen in Mt Isa. OK, that’s sort of on the way somewhere. In the meantime we’ll catch up with Graham and Pauline in Cairns – HA! Not a caravan park available anywhere so we move on towards Lawn Hill.

Stopped along the way to do the lava tubes only to find you had to book weeks in advance and the cost had skyrocketed. Stopped further on at Mt Surprise to overnight free camp and listen to the herpetologist (snake man) only to find he didn’t do it any more. Subsequently booked ahead to do Cobold Gorge out of Georgtown and found the cost was exorbitant but decided as Robyn hadn’t done it to do it. Jude wasn’t up to the walking and climbing etc so she stayed home and made friends with Garfield the cat in the caravan park.

 

Cobold Gorge was good again but for $128.00 a head it would want to be. Part of the reason for revisiting here was  a new glass bridge over the gorge. Spectacular! It is still a loverly place to see.

Closer we got to Lawn Hill we thought we’d better check its status. Great status – closed until the end of December. Now, Adeles Grove is a private property sporting a caravan park at the entrance to  Lawn Hill and we learnt that it had just re-opened after suffering the same flooding event that took out Lawn Hill. Well, lets have a look anyway. So, 100 odd k’s on a real outback track including detours at 20 KPH got us to Adeles Grove. Now light on fuel. Turned out to be a beautiful spot adjacent to the entry to Lawn Hill but still in the process of being rebuilt after the floods. The locals advised that it was unlikely that Lawn Hill would ever re-open. Spent a great night here with the snakes and bought petrol at $2.95 litre (a snake made it into the ladies amenities so Judy and Robyn didn’t).

A few days in Mt Isa to do it  all over again thence on to – DARWIN. Well its only 1600 km from Isa  isn’t it? Lets go and visit Mitch and Danielle (we missed them in 21 when Darwin got Covid). A few days later, via Daly Waters Tavern for another jolly night, we got to Humpty Doo. Spent the week lounging around the pool in tropical heat while Mitch went to work and Danielle headed to Sydney for a trade show. Then we came back.

I’m not sure if this post is at all interesting and I’m not going to re-read it so I’ll publish anyway.There are virtually no usable photos so here goes!

1 August 2023

A Long Time Coming

I’ve been pretty slack over the last couple of years (obviously, I hear you say) but there’s been a few good reasons. A. we’ve hardly done anything exciting, B.we haven’t been well and C. we still haven’t done anything exciting.

I didn’t finish the last post as we were about to hit the Birdsville track and whilst we did achieve that goal it wasn’t quite the adventure that we presupposed it might have been. Everything went smoothly, no breakdowns, no tyre letdowns, nothing really to write home about, just dust, dust and more dust. Then we made the Oodnadatta track and it was really just more of the same. The kids found a water hole to splash in and somewhere I have photos of them enjoying it, but Jude and I were too self-conscious to dive in (us old wrinklies). We didn’t make Oodnadatta again due to some broken shockers on someones Landcruiser so from William Creek we made our way into Coober Pedy for repairs. Not happening there it was onto Alice Springs a bit earlier than planned and repairs ultimately carried out .

In Alice the WA government decided that Jude and I were not welcome into their state so we were refused the opportunity to drive the Tanami Track. OK, the others could so we would wait out our quarantine and meet them a week later in Derby to do the Gibb River Road. Finally got to the WA border to be refused entry yet again so no Gibb for us. OK, then on to Darwin to await the others arrival at Mitch and Danielle Vague’s (Robyns nephew) only to have Darwin shut down. OK, we’re clearly not wanted anywhere so we’ll just go home. No, wait, perhaps we can call in to see Lawrie Hohensee in Emu Park (Rockhampton nearby). Good. And then ensued a quiet couple of weeks while we waited for Robyn to catch up. Alright then, lets see the folk on the Sunshine Coast on our way back down. What, the Sunshine Coasts locked down!

So bugger it! we’re going home. Had this shitty Covid crap. What do you mean, quarantine for 14 days when you get home? NO!

Managed a permit to traverse NSW in 24 hours and no end quarantine but Vic Health could not understand that NSW fell between Qld and Vic and when  we did finally crack the border there was no welcoming committee to check our permit. Farcical!

Anyway we got home without achieving most of our goals, some 15000 km on and much poorer for the experience. So much for traveling during a “pandemic”.

13 July 2021

The Bucket List

Mightn’t seem like a big ask but there were some holes in our travel coverage and this was to be the trip to fill them in.

The Birdsville Track, the Oodnadatta Track, the Tanami Road and the Gibb River Road were the holes in our journey map (at least to this point).

These are roads/tracks that you don’t do in a Winnebago, nor do you do them alone. The plan was to do them with Robyn (Judes sister) and Ben and Amanda (Robyns son and daughter) with their respective spouses, Megan and Kent and a hoard of little kids. Also included was to be Steven and Carmel Boynton, Robyns in-laws. The plan started out fine – we all met at Windorah on and around 16 June (south-west Qld) after we left home twice. What!

Yep twice – left Benalla on the 9th June, got to Jerilderie and remembered my lap-top was not with us. Also discovered that we had less battery power than when we started that morning. Whoops, something wrong here so back home first to auto elec who did all the wiring and found a problem with dc/dc charger, rectified? and thence to Noarana to get pooter, turn around and head for the night to Griffith. Get to free camp and find battery charging problem not fixed so find spot with 240 volt in Griffith Showgrounds and charge up o’night. Find another auto elec in Griffith next morning and $250.00 and 2 hours later we depart for northern climes with problem supposedly fixed. Seems we had two dc/dc chargers competing with each other so elec cut the throat of one – problem partially solved. Now however we find that the fridge is drawing power away from alternator as we drive along leaving insufficient to top up house batteries. We learn to work around the problem.

On to Cobar thence across the Qld border with all of our Covid border pass permits in place (including NSW and Qld and SA and WA) but no-one even wants to know. Overnight on the 12th in Cunnamulla and then on to Charleville for the 13th  and meet Robyn on the 14th after a Cosmos Centre visit. Didn’t see the stars cos it was daytime but did see an interesting doco on WWII (?) Some 1500 duplicated K’s into the journey towing we are averaging 22.3 litres per 100km using  E10 (I mention this now cos in the future this will seem good). Onwards now with Robyn and we stop at this homestead by a lake for the night……

and then on to Cooper Creek for the meet up with the others…..

.

We are met here by Di and Werner Hass, friends of Robyns who have traveled some 1500km out of their way on their journey home to rendezvous with us for a couple of days. Good fun was had by all (and a drink or two). Ben and Megan, Amanda and Kent and all the kids (8) and Carmel and Steve all turn up a day or so later then it was on to Birdsville…..

where we dined in no style at all and then next day queued for 1/2 hour to get bread for the journey. It wasn’t even Big Red Bash time but Birdsville was chokka.

Hit the Birdsville Track. (you’ll have to wait for the next episode but this is where the fun starts!!!)

26 March 2021

The NOVEL HOVEL.2

Well this is a new beginning!!!

Reported earlier though was our change from towing to being towed. Yes, no home towing car we are now car towing home and this is the report of our first serious trial run.

FOLLOW the MURRAY.

With nothing better to do over the last weeks of March we decided it was time to set out on our discovery of Victoria. Where better to start than along the northern border and coincidentally to conclude the journey at granddaughter Ediths 6th birthday in Adelaide.

So, the NOVEL HOVEL.2 was hitched up to the new Patrol on the 15th of March and around lunchtime we set off to find the start of the Murray River. First night was a free camp on the banks of the Mitta Mitta River……

and a very pleasant night was had by all.

Next day on to the start of the Murray high up in the mountains of the Kosciusko national park. We could only access what we could see from Tom Groggin campsite, probably 5 km from the actual start of the river where it actually bubbles from the ground cos I wasn’t able to walk the trail because of torn back muscles suffered some days before we left (and I as write this some two weeks on am just starting to recover). However the river  is not very great at this point….

but has been added to by about 8 different creeks by the time it reaches this spot. On our way up the windy mountain roads, which would have been a challenge in the Novel Hovel MKI, we stopped by Khancoban for lunch and to view the Murray 1 power station….

and night two saw us free camped…

on the banks of the Murray at Geehi Wall sharing with a mob of kangaroos.

Day three took us along the banks of the Murray via Towong, Tintaldra, Walwa, The Glen, Bungil and Bellbridge all the way back to Wodonga…

where it feeds into Hume Weir. As we follow it down it obviously takes on the aspect that we are more familiar with – it’s width. This is attributable to the continuing inflow from other creeks and smaller rivers along the way. Overnighting at the Wodonga Showgrounds we topped up water and batteries and day four had us continuing on to Barooga where we spent a very pleasant night again on the banks of the Murray….

Next day, on to Barmah State Forest where on our first major journey in The Novel Hovel 1 we had some technical difficulties which put us back 3 days. No such bad luck this time as we passed through Picola on and into the forest… (some technical difficulties have arisen -more later)

 

 

 

19 July 2020

End of an era

Its been a while since posting last. There’s not been much to say.

I suppose the most poignant report though is the fact that the “Novel Hovel” is no more. Sold a few weeks ago we had a tearful, albiet, lonely farewell. No one to commiserate with as we isolate due to this Covid-19 pandemic in what is now the state of greatest misery (that’s Victoria in case its not obvious). Maybe our number plates should be modified to reflect this as we stop at home and don’t use our vehicles.

There is one bright side to all of this self isolation – Jude has me renovating the house with nothing better to do. No motor sport, no travelling/exploration, no socialising. The Novel Hovel is being replaced though, in the hope that one day we will be able to leave home and travel. We’ve bought a new caravan, a Salute Sabre, a newish brand but a model that we consider after looking at many others  meets our future needs. Had to have a new tow vehicle too so back to the future with a new Y62 Series 5 Nissan Patrol. Van is still being built but we expect it to be collectable late in July, that is if we are allowed to travel to Melbourne to do so.

We’re open to suggestion as to what the new home should be christened. We’ll still be telling tales from the Novel Hovel but with a different house base – perhaps Adventure before Dementia in…………?

There’s probably a few tales still to be told  about last years travel through White Cliffs opal mining town  in NSW and on down through the south of SA but for the moment I can’t remember much – it seems so long ago. I’ll need to review the photo logs to remember and perhaps during this period of continuing isolation I might just be moved to do so (then again I may not cos’ it just reminds me of what we can’t presently do – perhaps its all we can do – reminisce).

30 August 2018

Roma

The trip back up to Roma was pretty uneventful. I missed the first turn Narelle directed me to and by default she found a better way which as it turned out was a wider road, had fewer twists and turns and relatively little traffic. Then on approach to Napoli we hit the Autostrada and stayed on it for lots of k’s at 130kph – it was almost a thrill. Our overnight stop on the way to Rome was at Monte San Giovani Campano which I’m sure means a lot to everyone but it was just a convenient dot on the map that had a hotel we could afford. What a place it turned out to be….

and we were the only guests in the place. Dinner and breakfast were a bit (BIT?) limited but it served its purpose and boy did it have a fabulous outlook…

albiet a little misty.

We were in Rome at our hotel by 10.30 Saturday, dropped the baggage and took the car to Romes Leonardi Da Vinci airport to hand it back in. I was never so happy to be car-less. As most of you will know I’ve/we’ve driven Volvos for most of our lives, we’re on our fifth at home but I could not get comfortable or secure in this V40 diesel. It was a major disappointment. The only thing going for it was its economy – average about 6l/100km over nearly 3300 km. I also have to admit at this time that of the 3 different cars we’ve had over this trip the VW Golf was the best to drive. Mind you it was the best of a bad lot. The Nissan Versa we had in the states had electric steering with about 3 inches of play at dead centre so it just upped and wandered at every bump in the road and the Golf didn’t have cruise control and the accelerator pedal angle was all wrong for my foot so I’d get out at the end of  each trip with a crook ankle. The ergonomics of the Volvo were just all wrong…

And we are tired. 3 months on the road has taken its toll. Living out of a suitcase was never going to be easy but we thought we could still do it. Driving on 3 continents (well including one little island), particularly the two on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road has personally been more stressful than I previously recall, although that may be influenced by 4 weeks on the road in Italy.

I think our next trips OS will be of shorter duration and a bit more locale specific. Whilst it was absolutely fantastic to catch up with Gary and Linda Michael in Phoenix and Justin, Jane and Edith in London, we probably should have left it at that. Throwing in the east coast of the US then Scotland and most of Italy has really proven to be a bit much.

We’re in Rome for a week and both of us can’t stop counting down the days until we get on that big jet-plane home. This is greatly influencing our daily activities here. Mind you, so is the heat – it is still in the 30’s and uncomfortable with it. We’re about 15 km east of  Rome city with a rail line relatively close, so access is good. The rail network/service is terrific but the airconditioning and all the sweaty bodies are a bit of a distraction. We’ll survive till next Saturday. We’ve got some tours booked so we will get to see most of the usual tourist hot spots of Rome.

26 August 2018

Napoli

Naples to us foreigners. But the journey doesn’t start here. From Civitavecchia we drove only 60 or 70 k to Latina. This was just a transit stopover for reasons previously enunciated and well it should have been because we found little of interest in this township. One of the weekly chores is laundry. Latina was to be that laundry day – so, dial up laundromat/lavangerie and we find 6 or 7. First one non-existant, second one closed, third one a laundry service in a private residence, fourth one the same, fifth one some 15 km away and finally some 16km away we find the lucky recipient of our dirty linen. That done, another e-book read and its back to the hotel. Not the most salubrious of places but, oh well, its just a one night stand that saves me from reaching out and strangling some bikie (I’m not sure you can call people on Vespas bikies but what else can you call them – vegans, virgins, mobile garden gnomes, dunno).There was a bright light though – as we walked into the dining room a threesome caught the sound of our ‘Ingleise’ and responded with ‘Oh thank God, someone here speaks English’. With that we had a bit of a chat over dinner then retired to the bar to have a round table with Joyce, Frank and their son Jeff. The two were from Tampa Florida whilst the son came from I think Chicago. They were touring part of Italy to discover some of Franks heritage/lineage and Jeff was playing driver. At least he was used to driving on the wrong side of the road….

We had a great chat about our joint experiences and resolved to keep in touch. I hope we do.

Dirty lined aired we moved on to Napoli. Now, Naples was supposed to be another transit stop but I stuffed up and after the sat-nav (Narelle) finally found the hotel with a lot of help from Google maps and many roundabouts and unplanned tolls we found that we weren’t booked in for this night. Oh dear! Much Italian consternation, misunderstanding and hand gestures and it seemed possible we could in fact get in tonight but ‘you’ve already paid for tomorrow night’. OK, can we just add tonight to the overall bill – no you will have to pay for it in the morning. OKaaaay!!!! It all worked out in the end and in fact it was a quite pleasant stay. It meant then that we actually had a day to see Napoli…

We took a RedBus tour, visited the old fortress which goes back to 900 or so, saw a remarkable photo exhibition therein…

and took some amazing view shots myself….

but no self respecting photo essay of Napoli can be considered complete without a shot of Mt Vesuvius in the background…

We didn’t realise it was this close to Naples and indeed that Pompei was also so close, yet a relatively long way from the mountain, but more on that later.

Couldn’t avoid the haziness in all of these pics. It seemed to hang around every day, all day. We’ve struck this throughout the trip as I’m sure you’ve noticed in many photos. Don’t know why – maybe its the red mist descending over a declining nation, maybe its just summer and humidity.

I say ‘declining’ because everywhere we’ve been there are any number of derelict and abandoned factories, some of them really substantial as well as thousands of residential properties falling into ruin. Naples was no exception although on our bus tour it was pointed out that many of the older industrial areas were the subject of residential rejuvenation although it is difficult to see what one could do with this….

Naples is Italy’s third largest city coming after Milan and Rome. Its a bit over 3 million people and is quite a sizeable place. Like so much we’ve seen though the buildings all cling to the side of precipitous hills and it is hard to comprehend how they were in fact built way back when. Some of the larger buildings are architectural and engineering masterpieces.

And boy are we having fun in the sun…