Friday 28 November

 Oops!              Oh Dear1!! 

                                                  Oops!!                                                                                                    Oh dear!!   

                                                                              This Looks Bad!!

                                                                                                         This looks bad

The weather had calmed down by the time we got into Devonport, a cloudless, sunny, warmish (18c) day. The drive off the ship and quarantine check went smoothly and I headed for the Abel Tasman Caravan Park which was about half a k up the road.  I booked in and quickly setup and then got some much needed shuteye. Woke up around 6pm feeling much refreshed, but didn’t feel like cooking so I headed into Devonport to pick up some take away tucker. Decided on a Subway foot long melt. Delicious!!  As I was now bright eyed and bushy tailed, I set up Austar and proceeded to watch all the rugby union matches played in Europe on Saturday. At about 3am I turned in for the night.

The next morning was also sunny so I had a look at the damage to the rear of the van. A closer inspection showed that the situation was not a bad as I initially thought. I called in at the local Kmart and bought a couple of tubes of Araldite epoxy glue as well as some super glue. A day or two later the van looks almost as good as new, as can be seen from the snaps.

  RIMG0544                             RIMG0545

                                    Not too bad                                                                                                                     Almost as good as new


                                                                                           Still need an amber reflector

The whole repair took some time (waiting for the epoxy to set) and about 30 bucks for the glues.  Time I got plenty of and thirty bucks is not too bad to look almost new. Reckon, had I taken it into a caravan repair place they would have charged me a grand or more as the whole grey bit at the bottom is a single bit of plastic, which they would have replaced. There would be the labour costs of getting an auto electrician rewire the rear lights.

Anyway spent about a week in Devonport doing some of the touristy bits.

      Penguin-1                            Penguin-2        There is a town called Penguin which has the obligatory “big penguin”. A lot of the businesses also have smaller penguins outside their shops.Although it is at the end of November, the weather, although sunny, is still a bit on the chilly side.



                                                                                  Tuesday 25 November


                                                                       Cradle Mountain Campsite-1                                   

                                                                                            Campsite at Cradle Mountain

 Crasle Mountain-1   Cradle Mountain-2

Left Devonport and took a leisurely drive to Cradle Mountain, and pulled into the only caravan park in the area. They charge $40 per night so won’t be spending too much time here. Fuel is also very  expensive. Lots of spectacular scenery to be viewed as well as plenty of walks to see even more scenery.

The snaps show why the mountain is so named.

 Unfortunately the ankle (twisted in the Grampians) is still a bit tender and tends to get worse after too much walking, so I was restricted to the 2 short walks and some driving about. Spent 2 nights at Cradle Mountain then headed off for the west coastal town of Strahan on a cold and rainy morning.

Luckily, there is not too much traffic on the roads as they (the roads) tend to be on the narrow side with a lot of mountainous twisty bits with not too many places to overtake. Pulling a large van means the Patrol tends to slow down with the odd second gear bit at 40kph. The sharp bends also mean slowing down somewhat. Fortunately I was not in a hurry so the speed did not worry me, and I only had to pull over into passing bays on three or four occasions, without keeping other road users behind me for too long.


                                                                                              Friday 28 November

Arrived in Strahan in miserable drizzly weather and quickly set up camp. Again lots of spectacular scenery, but I’m over the scenery – you’ve seen 3 rain forests with all the moss and tree ferns etc., and you’ve seen them all! There were two touristy bits that I wanted to do in Strahan. One was the Gordon river and harbour cruise, the other being a steam train trip up the Queenstown via an ABT railway. The ABT bit is a cog rail which allows the train to climb much steeper passes than normal. The harbour and river cruise was enjoyable. It departed at 10h00 and returned at 14h30, including a good buffet lunch – Well worth the $110 paid. The lunch was probably worth $40 on its own. It was rainy and overcast so didn’t bother with any snaps. The train trip was not worth doing as the ABT bit was undergoing maintenance and the train was pulled by a diesel loco and turned around at the half way point. Pity as I reckon it would have been interesting to do the steam/ABT trip

                                                                                             Monday 1 December

Spent 3 nights in Strahan and didn’t do too much as it was not too pleasant being cold and rainy most of the time. The rain is to be expected as we were told on the cruise that the area receives over three meters of rain annually – that’s a lot of water. Good thing that I have a supply of good books to read.

                                                                                                   Tuesday 2 December


                    Arrived in Hobart yesterday and set up camp in the Seven Mile Beach CP. A well laid out park with large gravel sites.

       7 Mile Beach CP - Hobart-1                 7 Mile Beach CP - Hobart-2 


Probably spend a week here as I have ordered some parts for the Patrol. The fan belt setup is making a bit more noise than I like. I was hoping to get it done at the 80K service when I got back to the ‘Gong, but I don’t want to take a chance of it packing up here in Tassie and possibly delaying my ferry trip back, as this could cost a few bucks in ferry fees for changed bookings etc. Not too much of a problem as it means I’ll just do the 80K service at 78Ks instead.


  The Trip Home.

Well I seem to have been somewhat lax in keeping my site up to date. (Actually totally lax!!) Now that I have got my back side into gear herewith the next installment.

It turned out that the main culprit for making the noise was the alternator pulley that was buggered. It was cheaper to get a new aftermarket alternator than to replace the pulley with a genuine Nissan Part, so I ordered a new one to be express posted to me here in Hobart. Means I'll have to stay a day or two longer than originally planned. It's a bit of a pain, as I don't want to do too much driving as the noise is now really bad! Ah well, at least I have a good book or two to read, until the new alternator arrives and is fitted. Took a drive down to Port Arthur to have a look at the Historical Village. I was raining when I left, but I was hopeful that it would clear before I arrived at the site which is about 80k's down the road. Anyway, by the time I got there it was still raining so I had brunch in the restaurant in the visitor centre still hoping the rain would clear. As the Historical Site involves a fair amount of walking outside, doing this in fairly heavy rain doesn't seem too much of a good idea. The same happened with the Salamanca Markets in Hobart on Saturday - rain, rain and more rain.

One highlight of my stay in Hobart was the trip to Bruny Island. Good weather, and the boat trip was excellent. Click on the links to get some idea of the trip.


      On the way back from Bruny Island there is a "train shopping mall" which consists of an old steam engine and six or seven coaches that have been converted into shops on a platform. I took a trip out to investigate further with more time available. There was a barber, a clothing shop, restaurant, stationary store and a couple of others that the names don't come to mind at the moment. Needless to say it was raining at the time. Still, the toasted ham cheese and tomato sandwich from the restaurant was pretty good.

Friday 12 December

After Hobart it was time to move closer to Devonport for the return trip on the Spirit of Tasmania. Beauty Point Caravan Park was my choice of CP near Launceston, a couple of hours from Devonport. Didn't do too much in Launceston area, although the visits to the Platypus and Seahorse houses were certainly worth a visit.

    Camp Site at Launceston-5     Camp site at Beauty Point CP

I phoned the booking office of Spirit of T and upgraded to a cabin for a few extra bucks - turned out to be a good move as I arrived in Melbourne bright eyed and bushy tailed after a good meal in the ala carte restaurant followed by a relaxing sleep in my cabin.


     Waiting to board at Devonport-1            Spirit of Tasmania1 at Devonport-1

                        Waiting to board at Devonport                                                                        The Spirit

     Leaving Tassie on Spirit1- 7           Leaving Tassie on Spirit1- 2                                                           Leaving Devonport                                                                            Bye Bye Tasmania

     Leaving Tassie on Spirit1- 8           Leaving Tassie on Spirit1- 3

                                     Leaving Devonport                                                                                 Building up Steam

Monday 15 December

 Booked into Ashley Gardens CP for the night as I needed to go to the South African Shop in Melbourne to pick up some Boerewors, South African style pork sausages  and Biltong for the family back in Wollongong.

Left Melbourne and headed back to the ‘Gong for the Christmas/New Year period . After overnighting in Goulburn I arrived back at the Shellharbour Beach Caravan Park on Wednesday 17th December.


Some interesting stats:

Total distance travelled to date (18 Dec 08): 7394km

Total litres used: 1035.78

Total cost of Fuel: $1537.84

Average cost per litre: $1.485

Average economy:  14.09 L/100k

Average cost per Km: $0.21




 Christmas/New Year at Shellharbour-Mittagong

I eventually ended up spending 2 months in Wollongong/Mittagong.  I was forced to split the time between Shellharbour CP and Mittagong CP because the Shellharbour CP was fully booked after Christmas until New year, so I moved to Mittagong for a week from boxing day as all the local CP’s in the ‘Gong area were also fully booked. After New Year ’s Day I moved back to Shellharbour for another two weeks.  I then moved back to Mittagong until 18th February 2009 (It was substantially cheaper – about half – to stay at Mittagong).

Kylie – eldest daughter who works for P&O Cruises – was on holiday in Oz for Christmas, so an enjoyable time was had by the family during this time.  She flew back to the UK after Christmas but was due to dock in Sydney on the Orianna on 16th Feb which was the second reason for the extended stay in the ‘Gong area. The other reason was that the Doc decided that the pills were not controlling my Type 2 Diabetes and that I should start injecting insulin. This involved about a month of trials and monitoring to get the doses right. I was initially not too keen on this idea as I don’t like needles, especially if I needed to inject up the three times a day!! However I need not have worried as the actual injecting device is not a syringe but a gizmo that looks like a pen. It also uses a very thin and short needle which is almost painless to use. Actually pricking my finger to test my BGL is more painful and testing the BGL is almost painless.  (BGL for those that don’t know is: Blood Glucose Level)  Anyway all is now good as the BGL’s are now good and the risk of Diabetes related issues is now greatly reduced.

During my sojourn at Mittagong I took a trip out to the Wombeyan Caves. Most of the road to get there is a crappy winding, narrow, dirt road with sometimes sheer drops down the valley without any guard rails.  Although in reasonable condition, there were some corrugations which could “bounce” you off the road if you took the bends too fast.  The caves themselves were quite good (better than Wellington), but again, once you have seen the Cango Caves, it takes a lot to beat them. Still worth the visit but decided to take the long (about double) way home as it was fully sealed all the way with about half the distance being freeway.

On my return to Shellharbour CP after New Year, it was advisable to get there early, as it would have been virtually impossible to get my large van onto my site unless I could drive through from the site behind me. I therefore arrived early before the guy behind me moved out (and the new guy moved in).  While watching the fellow move his van, I noticed that he was doing the whole thing by pressing buttons on a remote control!!  He even moved the van to the car to hitch up. I chatted to him and got some details, as I thought that with me being on my own most of the time, and having a fairly large van, this gizmo could be the thing to get if it could handle my size van. His was a midsized single axle van, and he was not sure if they could handle twin or tandem axle vans. I did some browsing on the Net and soon had all the details needed to make a decision.

After some thought, I decided to go ahead and have it fitted, even though it was fairly expensive to install.  Greatest thing since sliced bread!!  Certainly makes parking and manoeuvring my two and a half ton van a whole bunch easier. Due to the size and weight of my van I thought it would be a good idea to upgrade the available battery power on the van. I now have two 100AH batteries connected in parallel, giving me an effective total of 200 amp hours.  I could probably drive the van 10 k’s down the road using the Move Control!!

Click on the link to see a video of the Move Control.


     Move Control1                         Move Control4

                                                                  Move Control6  

 Some snaps of the Move Control Fitted to my Van


 I eventually left Mittagong to continue my travels on Feb. 19, and headed for Wagga Wagga.  As I  left later than normal, I stopped overnight at a rest area about 50k’s from Wagga, as it was too late to book in to the park.

Arrived at the Wagga Wagga Beach Caravan Park, booked in and selected a site. There really is a beach at Wagga Wagga even though its a thousand k's or so from any ocean. The park is very dusty and dry as although right on the banks of the Murrumbidgee river there are severe water restrictions and no watering is allowed. As a result there is very little grass left. Given some decent rain and no restrictions the park would be quite nice as the sites are large, some with slabs, and would be well grassed. Stayed at Wagga Beach CP for just over two weeks and did some of the usual touristy bits, the highlight being the aviation museum at Temora which has a bunch of WWII era aircraft – some of which are still flying.  One of the pilots passed away just recently, so the “flying day” that they have every month or so, was cancelled for February/March. Pity as it would have been good to see the Spitfire, Canberra Bomber, Vampire, P38 Etc in the air.

                                                                  Site at WWBCP2 

                                                                             My Site at Wagga Wagga Beach Caravan Park

       The Beach at Wagga Wagga3                 The Beach at Wagga Wagga6  

                                                         Snaps showing ”The Beach” at Wagga Wagga on the Murrumbidgee river.


 As I’m on my way to Perth via the Nullarbor, I need to head towards Adelaide, so I left Wagga and headed for Albury-Wodonga on the Murray River. Albury is in NSW and Wodonga is in Victoria. There was a local caravan show at the Albury Race Course, so I decided to have a look-see.

 Saw another gizmo that was worth getting. A fully automatic satellite dish setup. It impressed me so much that I ordered one on the spot.  I installed it on the roof of the van, and now at the press of a button, the system finds the selected satellite and locks on to it.  No more buggering about in the rain or dark because the wind or some idiot has bumped the dish. I’m all for making this grey nomad life as simple as possible. No more missing the footy or tennis or other Austar program when stopped for one night at a rest area as putting the old dish up was too much of a hassle. Now make sure no trees or tall buildings in the way (generally looking north) press a button and within a couple of minutes – satellite TV. It also runs of 12volts so no 240 power needed.


         Site at Borderland CP Wodonga-3                Site at Borderland CP Wodonga-1                          My Site at the Borderland Caravan Park (Note the new toy mounted on the roof)  


 Monday 16 March 2009.

Decided to stay another week here in Wodonga as next week end is the Clipsal 500 V8 Motor Race in Adelaide and it’s highly unlikely that I would find any vacancies within any reasonable distance of Adelaide.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Left Wodonga on Tuesday 24 March and headed off to Adelaide via Echuca and Mildura – a trip of about 1000k’s. I was going to stop over at Mildura, but as the day was still young, I decided to push on a little further. Not too much traffic and not too hilly so made quite good time, and pulled into a rest area about 200k’s out of Adelaide at about 10pm for the night. Woke up at dawn, had a cup of coffee and continued to Adelaide.  As I got closer to the City I realised that I maybe should have had an extra cup of coffee or two, as I was now in Adelaide’s peak rush hour traffic. Fortunately the route was straight through on main roads without too many turns. The GPS also was generous with the time given to change lanes. I booked into the Adelaide Foreshore Park which is a well laid out park with large grassed sites. They have bore water so were always watering the grass whenever possible which kept the sites in good nick.

I didn’t do too much in Adelaide, although did take a spur of the moment trip to Cape Jervis, the departure point for the ferry to Kangaroo Island. On the way there I passed a wind farm which had an information point that looked interesting so I pulled in and had a look. These wind towers are quite large, with the tower itself being of steel construction and 70 meters tall. The 3 bladed “propellers” are made of wood and epoxy, with each blade being 30 meters long and 3 meters wide at its widest point. The whole blade assembly weighs some six tons. Each tower is capable of generating 1.5MW of power on a light wind of 13kph. Of course in no wind conditions, no power is generated. After the wind farm, I moved on to Cape Jervis, and arrived in time for the ferry but couldn’t get on as it was full. The next trip was in about 90 minutes, so I had a cup of coffee and a hot dog while I waited. After a short while I decided to move on and give K.I. a miss, and continued back to Adelaide via the tourist routes.

As the Park was fully booked for the Easter Weekend, I was forced to move on and seriously considered going to Woomera for the Easter weekend as they had sites available and were only $15/day. This was somewhat out of my way and would have been part of the ‘down the centre’ trip from Darwin later in my travels. I gave the Whyalla Foreshore CP a call and they had sites available for Easter (also SA school hols) so I left Adelaide for a leisurely 400 odd k trip to Whyalla on Good Friday.

Unfortunately there are no snaps of Adelaide as I must have pressed a wrong button or something on the camera, as the flash card was empty when I tried to load the snaps to the PC. I reformatted the card and ran some tests and all seems OK now. 

Arrived at the Whyalla Foreshore CP and booked in for 5 nights. This covers the Easter Weekend plus 1 day thereby avoiding the end of Easter WE traffic. Quite a nice park, but like everything else in this prolonged drought, very dry. I have a nice waterfront site (costs an extra 3 bucks a night) with a view of the bay. These sites are also much less crowded than the other sites, so worth the extra bucks. 


   Whyalla - View from CP at low tide-3           Whyalla - View from CP at low tide-4                                                                                                        The view from my site at low tide.

                                                           Whyalla - View from CP at high tide-1                                                                                           The view at high(ish) tide.


                                                There is the unusual sight of warship stranded on land – about 2 k’s from the nearest water  –

                                                                             as one arrives in Whyalla from the Port Augusta side.  

Whyalla - HMAS Whyalla-3

      Whyalla - HMAS Whyalla-4                          Whyalla - HMAS Whyalla-2 

                Whyalla - HMAS Whyalla-1

Legend has it that a huge tsunami washed the ship ashore, and rather than spend a whole bunch of cash to get it back to the sea, they turned it into a Visitor Information Centre and Museum. They reckon that with global warming, the seas will rise and the warship will refloat itself in due course.

Actually I just made the last bit up myself and the true facts are as follows.

The Ship is the HMAS Whyalla, the first ship to be built by the BHP shipworks established in Whyalla during the early part of WWII. She saw service as a corvette and mine sweeper during the war and was subsequently decommissioned and sold to a dredging company. She was eventually too old to be useful and was sold (donated) to the City of Whyalla, who had her restored to her wartime look and transported to her present position using many flatbed trailers and prime movers at a cost of about half a million dollars. You pay $8-00 for a guided tour of her where they tell you all this wonderful stuff. There is also a Maritime Museum depicting the maritime history of Whyalla.


I didn’t do too much here in Whyalla as I suffered a bout of the flu, which tended to lay me low for the weekend. Actually I was about a step away from dying, but being originally from Africa (Africa’s a tough place), I managed to gather enough strength to survive the dreaded flu, aided by much bed rest while watching the tennis, cricket and footy. 

Tomorrow I move on to Elliston, a town about half way up the Eyre Peninsula on the other side. I’ll spend a few days there doing some touristy things before moving on to the WA/SA border and “doing the Nullarbor”.

 Friday 24 April 2009

Left Whyalla at about 10 am and after about 4 hours on the road booked into the Waterloo Bay CP in Elliston and set up camp. The whole region is a declared drought area, and this can be seen by the dryness of the bushland on either side of the road. This is supposed to be a grain producing area but I saw no evidence of any grain. There were the odd grain silos in some areas but who knows when last they had any grain in them. Maybe it’s not the grain season and the crop has already been harvested or yet to be planted.

I decided to take a trip to see the Talia caves and Murphy’s Haystacks.

The Talia caves are just holes/caves that consist of limestone that has been worn away or dissolved by the action of the sea over a period of time. Nothing too spectacular and really not worth the effort if viewing on their own. Combined with the haystacks the 7 or 8 k side trip could be justified. 

  Murphy's Haystacks-3           Murphy's Haystacks-15       

 A strange outcrop of rocks called Murphy’s Haystacks is worth the visit. There granite boulders were formed by the uneven wearing of the rock over the last 100,000 years or so. The various hues are formed by lichen which thrives on exposed granite.

    Murphy's Haystacks-13            Murphy's Haystacks-5      


After a leisurely 3.5 hour trip I pulled into the Big4 Ceduna Tourist Park.

Not much to see here at Ceduna. It seems to be more of a fisherman’s paradise as the first park I went to was fully booked. Moved onto the Big4 where there were 2 sites available. I took one for a week. The parks were not totally full but large sites were the problem. Lots of small pokey sites available. There are also quite a few “over nighters” or two nighters in most of the parks. These are mostly older couples on the road, as I am, but with a not so flexible schedule like mine. Most of the balance of residents appear to be fishermen who push off early morning with their tinnie and rods, returning in the evening. Not sure whether they have been successful or not.

 Sunday 26 April 2009

It’s been raining for the last two days (fairly substantial) which I’m sure will please the local farmers as, as previously mentioned, it’s very dry down here in the south.

I’m busy packing up, as tomorrow I depart for the SA/WA border and the Nullarbor. There is no real schedule (other than heading west) so I’ll just follow the road, follow any touristy sign posts and visit all the interesting places/lookouts mentioned in the various information maps etc that I have. According to the info to hand, there are dozens of rest areas along the Eyre highway so I’ll probably end up overnighting at a rest area rather than a CP or roadhouse.


  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is the end of the first portion of my trip around Oz.  Starting on the south coast of NSW, I saw some of south and central NSW before moving on to Victoria and then onwards to Tasmania. After Tassie back to NSW for Christmas with the family, and then onto South Australia. I'm now crossing the Nullabor going into Western Australia followed by the Northern Territory & Queensland and Northern NSW (and anywhere else I feel like visiting).


Trip 2008/9 Pt 2