Saturday, 26 October 2013

Our first Aus trip

When the company I was working for in 2001 transferred us to Melbourne from Christchurch (NZ) as Australia was part of the territory I managed. I would whenever possible drive to the different state capitals and cities/towns to conduct business. One of the first of such trips was to Adelaide, we left early one Saturday taking the Main Coastal Road to Colac and on to the Gibsons Steps. We walked down the Gibsons steps to the beach, all 86 of them and 70-meters later we were on the beach looking up at the vertical cliff line, in awe at God’s creation.

From there it is a short drive to the 12 Apostles, the 
car park is located on the land side of the road, the 5–minute walk takes you under the Great Ocean Road and to the viewing platform where one can view the splendour of these magnificent limestone rock formations rising up from the Southern Ocean. Wind and sea erosion continually batter them, with some having collapsed over the years, I believe there are now only 8 standing.

It was then on to Port Campbell, the area consists of steep, rocky cliffs with pristine sandy white beaches in bays at the base of many of these cliffs. Next was Peterborough, a sleepy charming seaside village, population 178, there are many walking paths where one can experience many rock formations, arches and blowholes. From here the road turns inland and meets the Princes Highway near Warrnambool, from there to Port Fairy, we stopped at Codrington Settlement Portland;

it's a teahouse inside a general store and a step back in time, it still has its original counters and tin’s etc. that they used to hold product. It was wonderful sitting there having a Devonshire tea being served by the Codrington family dressed in Victorian clothing.

We left there feeling refreshed and on to the Princess Margaret Rose Cave. We took the 40-minute tour led by an expert guide of this marvelous cave which was created by the constant slow drip of rainwater through limestone over thousands of years. It is often referred as 'the jewel in the crown' of the Lower Glenelg National Park.

 We arrived late afternoon at Mt Gambier found a motel for our night stop. Unfortunately we did not have time to explore, that would have to wait for a later visit. Early next morning we continued on to Robe where we stopped for breakfast, we did a little tour of the town which has a lot of history and a 4x4 beach run, this will also have to wait for a later visit. We continued up the Coorong, the lakes are amazing then on to Wellington where we boarded the ferry which holds 12 cars and takes about 10-minuets to cross the Murray River. From Wellington to Satrathalbyn down to Goolwa and on to Victoria Harbor where we had lunch and a bit of a tour then on to Adelaide.

We left on Thursday and headed for Broken Hill, why you may ask, well Kangaroo Kath's mum was born in 1911 and lived in 3 Argent Street and one of her dreams was to visit and follow up on her family
3 Argent St., Broken Hill
history. After Gawler the road is straight for long stretches with 
canola fields as far as the eye can see, some were in bloom and it was just a mass of yellow quite spectacular. It was then on to Terrowie a heritage town founded in 1870, houses are still standing only just and some are still occupied, we were unable to determine what they do for a living. From there the terrain changed being very rugged, we stopped at Yunta which is  about halfway for lunch then on to Broken Hill. This was our first taste of the outback.

The next day we did some research at the archives, great fun for Kathleen to find out about her forefathers, she traced her grandfathers grave number and discovered that his first born and brother were buried in the same grave! We put flowers on the grave, said a prayer, then into town to visit the historic sites. 


We visited Silverton about 25 Km out of town, it offers a thriving art scene, a beautiful landscape and is a good way to learn about the rich heritage of the region, very interesting indeed and well worth the visit. On the way back we visited the Daydream Mine - the mine is no longer in operation but is an experience and a half and should not be missed. 

Another must see is the White's Mineral Arts & Mining Museum it is a unique experience, you can go underground without actually doing so! A video on the history of mining in Broken Hill can be seen. There is also an exhibition of crushed mineral art which is fascinating, each masterpiece is of an event of the history of Broken Hill and an extensive collection of handmade dolls and bears are also on display.

We left at 6 AM the next day for home, at this time of the year it is still quite dark, we were not far from town when a Joey jumped into the front wheel of our car, we did not see it until the last second,  it was flipped under the car and died instantly, fortunately there was no damage to the car, God really looked after us. After that scare we had an uneventful trip home arriving at 4 PM after 847 Km.

Until next time..............remember miracles happen everyday

Saturday, 19 October 2013

If only.......

I've often wondered where I got the love of travel from; I never tire of travelling especially into the bush and see the splendor of God’s creation, if only I could do it all the time! Perhaps as the song says ‘I was born under a wondering star’ but I like to think it was passed on from my folks. A year before Sputnik went into space and I was a seven year old my folks went to the UK and Europe for three months by boat the year was 1956. Since then they did many trips to various places in the world, they visited us in New Zealand for my 50th in 1999 and their last overseas trip to visit us in Australia in 2002.

Dad had a Blue one

As a family we did a mammoth tour of Southern Africa in 1958 with family friends in two VW 1100 cc Kombi’s we travelled from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe, Zambia (Southern and Northern Rhodesia back then) visited mum’s brother and his family in Ndola, then on to Beira (in Mozambique) Maputo (Lourenço Marques) and back home. We did many more memorable trips.

Skeleton Coast
When our eldest two daughters were three and four we had our first holiday at Amanzimtoti in a tent, we have traveled to England, Europe, Greece and Israel. We lived in Namibia for about six years and traveled all over in our first caravan, we visited Ai-Ais (I walked the Fish River Canyon twice - all 90Km), Etosha Pan, Ruacana Falls, Caprivi Strip, Swakopmund and many other interesting places. I even did a 4x4 trip to the Skeleton Coast all the way to the Kunene River mouth.

Back in South Africa we had a Jurgens caravan and had many happy holidays in it. We immigrated to New Zealand and travelled most of the South Island and many places in the North Island. I was transferred to Melbourne in 2001 and we purchased our first van in 2004, and did many enjoyable trips, we also started to 4x4 and soon found that we needed a camper van so we migrated to one, we then decided to sell it and get a cross over which was more comfy, but in July we decided to upgrade to the Snowy. I have been fortunate to have visited about 20 cities in the USA as well as Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

In-between caravan trips we have done many 4x4 trips with the tent, in 2004 we did a 7,700 Km trip to the ‘Red Centre’, crossed the Nullarbor, taken the ocean road to Adelaide, the coastal road to Brisbane, the inland road to Cairns and coastal road Cairns to Brisbane, crossed the Simpson desert, many times to the Victorian High Country, and more….. I’ll be doing periodic posts about these trips in the future so keep an eye out or you can just sign up then you will be notified when I post them.

I have done quite a bit of research in regard to places to visit on our trip next year, our eldest daughter has loaned us a Reader's Digest book called Australia's Most Scenic Drives which is very informative and helpful, showing many places of interest with short descriptions including maps with distances and photographs. We hope do do some serious planning in the next few weeks.

Until then …… keep the shiny side up

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Awning Sides

We decided that that we should get sides for the awning so that when we stayed for more than one night we had a protected outside area for family and friends to gather, so did research via the internet and chose to go with Alpine Annexes, their price is reasonable and customer service excellent. They have an extensive range of design options and colors to choose from. As it is custom measured and made to suit the van they have an onsite fit & measure service, are on time, professional, very friendly and answer all ones questions giving one peace of mind. Not having to take the van to their premises (as required by most) is very convenient indeed.

Curved Rafter
The walls are attached with an easy to use Anti-Flap Kit. This method of attachment provides a secure and robust fit. The Anti-Flap Kit can also be used without setting up walls to brace the awning and protect it from damaging winds.We added a Curved Rafters for extra support to the awning, each wall is conveniently made separately so you have maximum versatility when setting them up as you can use the walls independently. As it is all custom designed one can add features that suit your specific needs such as extra doors and windows, window protectors, mesh door, dividing walls etc. If you are thinking of adding too or altering your annex it will be well worth your time to visit Alpine Annexes web page.

We collected the walls, anti-flap kit and curved rafter, were given a full hands-on demo of how to fit it so we tested it and found it easy to set up, fits very well indeed and we are happy with the end result. It will be put to the test when we are away for Cup Weekend.

I found this App on FB called Camping Around Australia for less than $5.00 The description says:

Choose from over 3000 rigorously researched camping areas. Browse campsites near you – perfect for when you’re on the road looking for your next stop. Or browse using a map view – ideal when you already know what area you’re travelling to, but not the site you want to pitch your tent or park your caravan at. Plus search by location, facilities or keywords. Whether you want to find dog-friendly campsites in your favourite national park, or the perfect beach camp with fishing opportunities nearby, Camping Around Australia will deliver. 

For every campsite listed you'll find:
• descriptions of the camping area
• facilities available
• nearby activities
• contact details
• information on how to book a campsite and get permits if required
• access information, maps and directions on how to get to the campsite.
• add your own photos and comments to all campsites, so other users can see    what the site really looks like and what you thought of your stay
• add sites to your list of favourites and plan your next trip

It seems to work OK but will put it to the test on on Cup Weekend to see how accurate it is when we go to Horsham where we will camp/caravan. We will also visit the 'Big Desert' one of the days and generally have a fun time with most of the grandchildren - more on that later. 

Until next time..................... Need what you want.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Before fitting the new fridge

Friday 4 October 2013

Before fitting the new fridge I decided to install a panel DC volt meter with an on/off switch so I can monitor the caravan battery - which will not only show the battery voltage but I'll know that the charger is working or the solar panels, so it was off to Jaycar Electronics to purchase one. It is neat and only 45 x 25 mm.

Back at the caravan decided to place it above the fridge, but before installing, it's time to check if it works and so did a temporary connection to the fridge 12 V supply as well as my trusty Fluke DMM and ..........nothing the meter was blank and the DMM read 0000. Checked the connections, still nothing, switched a 12 V light on, no problem it works, OK time to check the fuses, all in working order, so need to trace the wiring. Under the van and follow the cable until it disappeared into the chassis. Check all the connections at the fuse box, all tight and fuses OK. So what's the problem? It will have to wait as I have promised to assist my son with a project, as I'm leaving I decide to check the Anderson plug (the one that connects the van 12 V line to the car when towing) and no voltage! The plot thickens.

While driving home from my sons place a few hours later it suddenly struck me that as the old fridge was a three way convection type, it would need heat all the time and on 12 V DC it drew about 10 Amps so it would not have been connected to the van battery. When I got back I checked and sure enough the fridge 12 V cable went directly to the  Anderson plug, the wiring will have to be changed as per diagram.

Time to measure and purchase cable and connectors for the modification. What a mission to find two pair DC  40A cable! Burson Auto Parts had a roll so purchased 3 meters plus Anderson plugs, etc.

 As all the cabling was installed when the van was constructed it's impossible to remove so decided to "T"into the fridge 12V line where it leaves the chassis, easy to install and secure and has some protection. An hour later installation complete and we now have 12V at all times on the fridge connection, so back to fitting the panel meter and switch. The installation did not take long and then it was time to see how accurate the panel meter is.Not bad for $20.00 ?

Now it was time to fit the new fridge, it was a tight fit but I decided that would be OK and so moved it into place but had forgotten that the fixing brackets stand proud to the fridge sides so had to remove the fridge and cut 6 mm's off the one side and then refit, this time no problem. Affix the brackets to the cupboard and connect the DC and plug in the AC cord, switch on and wait for the fridge to cool. No problem, switch off the mains supply and the 12V DC takes over just like it should. Time for 'she who must be obeyed'  to give her stamp of approval, she gave it a 10 out of 10 so all is well.

Now that the modification is complete I can get back to do some planning and research for the trip. We collect the sides for the awning this week so that will be another box ticked..

Until next time ...........keep the rusty side down!
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