Travels of the Gypsy March 2020

To keep reading April 2020

Tuesday 31st March - West Wyalong to Coonabarabran

Last night was 14.8 and upto 29.7 during the day.

It's going to be another long day with over 400km to be covered today. We left at 10.00am and arrived just after 4pm. We did have a small stop for lunch at a rest area just north of Dubbo, which thankfully had some shade. We're staying at the John Oxley Caravan Park. There are only about half a dozen vans here. Another drive through site. Most of this trip was on the Newell Highway.

Time for the
lunch stop.

is so green.

large park.

Sunset in

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Monday 30th March - Balranald to West Wyalong

A low of 12.6 last night and upto 31.8 during the day. Still we are in country NSW now.

The van park is located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, and the frog theme you see in town is carried on in the park as the pictures show. Balranald was gazetted as a town in 1851 and an official post office opened in the town in 1852.

Heading to West Wyalong today. About 390km further up the road. We left again around 10.30am and arrived at 4pm. It's been a long day. We saw some emus running along the fence line as we were crossing the Hay Plain. The Hay Plain is just so boring. To pass the time and distance we stared counting cars coming the other way. We hardly saw any, so people appear to be listening to the advice about not to travel. There were a few trucks though, who seemed to be quite happy about basically having the roads to themselves by the chatter on the CB.

We passed the petrol station in Rankins Springs that when once we were doing this trip the fuel gauge was on E for empty. It was just on 5pm and closing down when we rocked in. They opened it up for us to buy fuel so that we could fill up and continue driving through the night. I think that was back in 2004. They also have some beautiful silo art here too, called the Weethalle Silo Art Project. In the front yard of a property there is also a mixture of metal creations.

We arrived at West Wyalong as the sky is darkening. Looks like we are in for a storm. Now there is thunder and heavy rain as a storm blasts it's way across while Clive is out trying to set up the satellite dish again, so we can see what is happening. We really need to see the news and get any state updates.

Another long day tomorrow, but we're going to try and leave around 9.30am.

Frogs in

Our lunch
stop spot.


Storm front

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Sunday 29th March - Renmark to Balranald

No weather report today. Clive forgot.

What a day - again!

We left around 10.30am with about a four-hour drive planned as we need to get to Balranald in NSW to stay on track. It's about 300km away. It started out OK, but about 80km from Balranald there was torrential rain. Luckily it wasn't for very long. Still the car and van got a good wash. A bit further up the road we could see a brown haze approaching. What is this?

Ah - a dust storm. Lots of chatter on the CB and even truckies were advising others to slow right down as in parts there was next to no visability. This continued for about 40km and we had a truck behind us for about half of that distance. We had our hazard lights on when driving and Clive had a chat to her on and off. Pretty scary.

So our white car is now brown again and dust everywhere outside. At least we can get into the van park, even though they have 'No Entry' and 'Closed' signs up at the gates. Checked into the Balranald Caravan Park and again another drive through site. Clive has rung all the van parks we plan to be staying at as far as Armidale and all have advised that there is no problem. Some require him to sign a stat. dec., but that's OK.

Today was the second time we had to throw away all our fresh fruit. At least we are doing the right thing, even though there was no check points open. At the SA border, coming into SA they are stopping all cars. So we crossed from SA into Victoria and finally into NSW.


into Victoria.

The dust

Frogs at

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Saturday 28th March - Gawler to Renmark

A low of 11.2 last night and a very hot 38.3. So glad we had no car issues today and thankful for the air-conditioning.

Let the drive home re-commence. Just over 200km today to Renmark, taking over two hours. Along the way we had caught glimpses of the Murray River, with a big bridge crossing at Blanchetown. We arrived after 1 and it's pretty hot out here. The van air-con is used, the first time in a long time. At least we feel like we are doing something to get us home now.

We're staying in the Riverbend Caravan Park, which is situated on the banks of the Murray River. Poor TV reception, so Clive sets up the satellite dish. With COVID we need to know what is happening, so news every night is important. We listen to the ABC during the drive to as there are regular updates. A drive through site, so no un-hitching required.

It's a nice large park, so Clive decides to go for a walk late in the afternoon, as they have walking track. Along the way he sees a koala. Manages to take a picture then the camera battery goes flat. Where are the spares? He left them in the van, so back he comes and sets off again. He finds the koala now up a tree, so a few more shots and time to finish the walk as it's starting to get dark.

Still no closure of the NSW and Victorian borders, so we should be able to get into NSW tomorrow via a quick trip into Victoria.

Coming down from
the hills.

Crossing the Murray
at Blanchtown.

A koala


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Friday 27th March - Bolivar to Gawler

It's going to be a warm day for travel today. A top of 31.1 and a low last night of 13.2.

All packed and ready to leave by 10.30, so off we go. About 30 minutes in to the trip the Jeep starts to lose power and the engine sounds rough. Clive managed to pull over off the road, but we're in a 110km/h area. Tried to re-start it and all it does is turn over and over. Looks like we are not going anywhere. It finally stopped so Clive gets onto the RAA. Someone will be here in about an hour he is told.

Clive noticed diesel on the ground so it looks like a fuel leak. He put a towel over the windscreen on my side of the car to try and help keep me cool, as it was quite warm and the sun is coming in directly through the glass. Nearly an hour later the service car arrives and it appears it's the pre-fuel filter that has done something and no fuel is getting through. He can't fix it.

They advised him to ring the RACQ direct as our Ultimate membership has more benefits then their standard 10km towing. He was told that if he rings the 13 number he'll just get the office in SA. Clive hunts for the RACQ but can't find it anywhere, only the 13 number. So he rings that again and explains that he needs to talk to RACQ and they out him through to QLD. We then get put through to the Ultimate area and they see all the details. They arrange a few things and call back. Time is marching on and it's hot.

Clive rang Mary and she offered to come and pick me up, but I told him I wanted to wait with him. Eventually the RACQ ring back and a few more calls back and forth. They have arranged a tow truck and will also tow the caravan to the Gawler van park. They've booked us in there for four days as it's now unlikely that they will be able to do anything today as the approved repairer is very busy. Seems our plans are going astray.

By now I'm starting to feel sick from the heat, so Clive tells me that I am going. He rings Mary and she calls Theresa who came and picked me up so I left him to wait for the tow truck. We also had a phone call from Denzil who said, " Tell me that's not you pulled off the road with bonnet up." Sure is. He was driving past on a work job. We told him it was all under control.

The tow truck arrived and the Jeep was loaded up. The van attached and because of the virus they are no longer allowing anyone in the cab with the driver. While loading Clive noticed that the driver was wearing a shirt with the garage name of where the van was going. He explained the issue of what had happened with this filter back in October and asked him to pass it onto the mechanics.

Theresa came back and picked him up and took him to the van park. Everything sorted there as it's all being paid by the RACQ. If it can't be fixed withing seven days then we do have the option of flights home etc. Good but not good. Went and plugged the van into power and water and then off to Mary's for KFC for lunch. I was resting in the cool lounge room when they got here. Jude was off to the school to get one of the girls, so he kindly dropped us off at the van park on the way. Theresa told us how her children had loved the blankets Clive had made for each of them. They all even made their owns beds the next day, with their blankets on top.

Expected to be here for four days, but around 3.30pm we get a call that they had found and fixed the problem by bypassing this filter. We'll get it fixed properly when we get back home. Turns out to be what Clive thought. A fuel hose line had blown off. $160.00 later and we have the Jeep back. So tomorrow it's now take 2. Advised the RACQ of everything, so now they will only pay for one night.

Diesel on
the road.

Mary is under
there somewhere.



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Thursday 26th March - Bolivar

13.8 last night and 24.5 during the day. Typical Autumn weather for Adelaide.

There's a Domino's Pizza over the road from mum's house, so Clive ordered online for a 1pm pick up of two pizzas and a garlic bread. Well between the three of us we ate just over one pizza and most of the garlic bread. Too much food. Mum now has plenty of leftover pizza to freeze.

It was great to see her and she looks really well. It's the first time we had seen her unit as we have not been in S A since 2007 and then she was still living in Hannan Street. We got her some books for her birthday which came from the UK. Clive read them first and then wrapped them up in newspaper for her. Well we didn't have any birthday paper did we. Clive is taking the sock knitting machine back with us too.

They have finally addressed the situation with caravanners. As we are trying to get home, we are classed as essential traveller and can stay only one night in a park, that's if they are open. Some parks are not letting people in as they want to protect their permanent residents. All the van parks are now closed in NSW, except to essential travellers. We start home tomorrow and need to get into NSW just in case they close their borders.

Mum with her
birthday presents.

and Gai.

Mum and


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Wednesday 25th March - Meningie to Bolivar>

A cool 7.3 last night. A good day for driving being a sunny 22.2.

So about a two hour drive today to Bolivar where the Highway One Caravan Park is. We crossed over the Murray River. Jude is cooking a curry tonight, so we'll go to Mary's for dinner and then back to the van park. It won't be a late night. We are going to take a ham and cheese sandwich for me to toast when we get there. We're nearly there when Clive remembers that he didn't bring my dinner. Actually, he didn't even make it. Big fail on that one but he remembered extra containers for the leftovers.

Still Mary had bread, ham and cheese so I didn't go hungry. There was plenty of leftovers, so once again the freezer is full of curry for him.

Tomorrow we'll catch up with mum for a pizza lunch then start heading home on Friday.

Crossing the
Murray River.

Van park

Bear was

A full
freezer again.

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Tuesay 24th March - Meningie

Down to 12 last night and back to 24.3 during the day.

A lazy day for me, but Clive spent most of it re-working the trip again to try and get us home as quickly as possible, but also safely. In the past we have driven back to the Coast in a few days, but now we have a caravan on the back and with my health it will not be possible. He also rang people that we were going to see and advised then of the change of plans, so a lot of this SA part of the trip will have to wait until next time.

The original plan was to spend ten days over Easter here and catch up with family and some of Clive's friends that he went to school with. A big curry night was planned and that too will now be cancelled. We'd already paid a deposit on the van park at Boliver where we planned to stay. With us staying for only two days now, we should be able to get back into Queensland on April 2nd and home on the 3rd.

Clive went for a walk around around the van park, as it has some interesting ornaments, if you can call them that. Across the road is a museum that was open. So many tourist things closed currently.

A snake carved
from the tree trunk.


Spot the


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Monday 23rd March - Meningie

It was cold last night with a low of 5.2, but a nice sunny day of 23.7. The problem with this is that it generally doesn't reach the maximum temperature until early afternoon.

We went for a drive today and did the Coonalpyn Art Trail. This is something that Clive read about in one of the information brochures. Coonalpyn was established in 1909 and is a small rural country town, set among grain crop fields. They have some painted silos there and it's situated to the eat of Meningie and is about 50km away. When we arrived we saw the silos, but they were just blank concrete. There must be others around we thought, so followed the road into town, and sure enough, it was these ones but the artwork is on the other side.

The silos are not full colour, so they have a different 'feel' to ones that we have seen in the past. The Coonalpyn Art Trail has six different sites to visit including the Mosaic Mural and the Tunnel Re-vision. This tunnel goes under the railway tracks and contains 36 artworks of which some older ones were restored and twelve new ones added, as part of this project.

They've announced that the Queensland borders will be closing too, so now we'll have to make our trip even shorter, in the hope that NSW and Victoria don't close their borders too. We would the presumably have to self-isolate for two weeks in each state as well as two weeks once we reach Queensland. This would then take us another month to reach home.




Bun time.

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Sunday 22nd March - Kingston SE to Meningie

It got warmer today. Well not by much, but it did reach 22.2 with a low of 11.9.

Our drive along the Limestone Coast continues We're off to Meningie today and staying at the Lake Albert Caravan Park. The drive today is about 140km, so an easy drive if not a bit monotonous. We passed the Coorong and saw a few salt pans. The Coorong water level looked to be very low as the water was quite a distance from the road. We stopped at Tanganekal and took some photos of the Coorong.

The van park sits on the edge of Lake Albert. This lake gets its water from Lake Alexandrina and the two lakes are know as the Lower Lakes. Lake Albert has a surface area of 168 square kilometres and is a great spot for fishing and bird watching.

They announced on the news tonight that the SA borders would be closed and anyone coming into SA will have to self-isolate for 14 days. We'll need to watch what is happening around the country, as this may not end well.

A rest


Gai enjoying
the drive.

The loo view
of Lake Albert.

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Saturday 21st March - Kingston SE

Where has the warm weather gone? It only got to 20.5 today and was 11.6 last night. Don't know if I like this.

We had a lazy day today. We enjoyed the fish and chips for lunch so much yesterday that we decided to do the same for lunch again today. Very healthy aren't we? I finally had lobster for tea and it was so delicious. It was fresh and tasted beautiful. Better than the kittens we normally get in Woolies and yes, I have enough for another meal tomorrow night.

Lot of smaller
Ones today.


I'm going
to enjoy this.

Can't keep
smiling about it.

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Friday 20th March - Kingston SE

A cool night last night going down to 14.8, but a pleasant cool day of 27.5

We decided to go for a drive around Kingston and saw Larry the Lobster. This sculpture of a spiny lobster was created in 1979 and stands over 17m tall. It is made of fibreglass and steel and took six months to construct. We also saw the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse. Due to COVID19 all National Trust buildings are closed, so we couldn't go in there. We also drove past Apex Park, which would be a great s[pot for a picnic lunch.

Kingston was settled in the early 1800's and has some beautiful old buildings. Outside each one is a detailed description and maybe they should have a walking / car trail map you can follow to see them. We decided on some fish and chips for lunch, so we went down to one at the end of the street, where the van park is. This shop is situated opposite the RV park where you can free camp for 48 hours. We had King George Whiting and it was delicious, as were the chips. Talk about fresh fish. This shop sells lobsters - yes, so while he was there he also bought me some lobster. Yummy. At $95.00 a kilo I'm going to enjoy it with some cheese sauce tomorrow night as I should get two meals from. Spoiling ourselves just a little. They have whole lobsters that would be over 2kg as well as lobster meat in trays.

Cape Jaffa

Larry the



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Thursday 19th March - Beachport to Kingston SE

We left Beachport at 10.30 for the drive to Kingston SE. It was a pleasant drive, but the winds are strong and gusty. We arrived at the Kingston Foreshore Caravan Park at 12.50. A very nice park and we have ocean views, not only from the loo. We are also next door to the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse.

Besides the winds it's a bit on the cold side. I think that the cool change they have been promising has finally arrived. It's lovely hearing the waves breaking on the beach. The TV reception is not the best, so we put up the satellite dish and then called VAST to get them to change our home state to SA time. So we now check the program guide and it's all out by half an hour to the actual time.

OK - we can cope with that. Watching the news, I realised we are now watching Melbourne News. Clive explained that it is now set to Central South. So, we are watching Melbourne News, have Darwin adverts and are on SA time. Confused ? We are!

The wind got so gusty later that night, so Clive went and took the awning down. Much more pleasant without the buffeting of the van.

Our view from
the loo.

Cape Jaffa



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Wednesday 18th March - Beachport

A warm 17.8 last night and upto 27.5 during the day.

A lazy day today. Time to sit back and smell the roses. Yes, there are plenty about.

Clive decided to go for a walk to the jetty and came back through the town. The Beachport jetty was originally 1220m long with a "T" Head at the end. The jetty was never completely satisfactory and the 'T" Head and a section of the jetty removed some years later, leaving the present jetty as we know it today.

There are some great views from the end of the jetty, not only looking back along the coastline, but also to Penguin Island, where you can see the remains of the original Lighthouse. You can also see the Cape Martin Lighthouse, proudly sitting atop a hill. The jetty is well set up for fishermen with clear fish identification signs including bag limits and a measuring station.

Clive also went into a gift shop and on their picture board they had photos of large crayfish caught in the area, so he took a couple of pictures of them. Walking down the main street, they have an old red phone box, that is being used as a free book library. Now never one to pass a look at books he found himself a book. Sadly none for me.

Then back past Centennial Park and to the van park. A pleasant 40 minutes walk.


One of many
Fishing boats.

The phonebox

Cape Martin

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Tuesday 17th March - Beachport

A beautiful sunny today with a top of 31.5 and a low of 10.7 last night.

We went for a drive around town today. Past the Beachport Jetty and Marina and then onto some look outs, including Backlers Lookout. Beachport was named in 1878 after Sir M E Hicks-Beach and has the second longest jetty in South Australia. It reaches 772m into Rivoli Bay.

From here it was to the Cape Martin Lighthouse and from here you can see The Penguin Island Lighthouse which was built in 1878. Penguin Island is a sanctuary for the Fairy Penguins and other sea birds. The Cape Martin Lighthouse was established on the mainland in 1960.

A short drive down the road and you come to the Pool of Siloam. This salt lake is saltier than the sea, so buoyance and swimming are very east. From here it was a drive into town to the old Customs House.

A quick trip into the shops and yes we bought some toilet paper - yes we did need it, as only 2 rolls left. Clive cooked a chicken curry soup for tea. Enough for tonight and three other meals.




curry soup

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Monday 16th March - Mount Gambier to Beachport

A cold 6.1 last night and upto 19.8 during the day. A pleasant day to travel as we only have about 80km to go today.

We left about 10.30am to head to Beachport. Along the way Clive takes a turn off to the Tantanoola Caves. These limestone caves are meant to be wheelchair friendly. Well they are! It's mainly one big cavern, so it was easy for me as I just sat on the wheelie walker and took photos from where I was. I could have taken the paths and went around, but they were wet and I was afraid of slipping - not worth the risk. The guide gave us a talk for about 10 minutes and then left us to our own devices to snap away as we wanted. Clive enjoyed walking around taking pictures with his SLR camera. After about 20 minutes we let ourselves out to continue our journey.

Back in the car and the trip to Beachport continues. We arrived at the Southern Ocean Tourist Park and were told we could park up anywhere we wanted. This is a big park and seems nice and quiet. As there is plenty of vacant spaces. But you can imagine this in the peak season when it would be full. There would be lots of people everywhere as there are good fishing spots around and there is plenty to do for all ages.

Caves Office.

the caves.


Gai enjoying
the caves.

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Sunday 15th March - Geelong

It's a little warmer today as it was only down to 12.3 last night and upto 18.1 today.

Clive rang his aunt who turned 80 today. He had a good chat with her and hopes to catch up when we finally get to Adelaide. Apart from that it was a lazy day for us both, although Clive went to 11am Mass in the morning at St. Paul's.

Saturday 14th March - Mount Gambier

A cool day reaching only 17.9 while overnight it was 10.7

My birthday continued today as we went to Big W to buy me some warm track pants - first time in about 10 years I think. It's freezing again and the ones I have are fairly light weight. When in Big W we always end up in the book section, so another four books for me and only two for Clive.

Clive spent the afternoon finishing the planning of our trip as he hasn't even earmarked the next place for us to stay when we head to Beachport, which is meant to be our next stop. Due to changes in circumstances we now plan to be home in mid May, but may take off again next year, health permitting. It was so cold Clive even put his warm padded western shirt on over his other clothes.

Clive gets
his jacket out.


curry soup.

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Friday 13th March - Mount Gambier

A cool 13.3 last night and a coolish day only reaching 19.3.

Today is my birthday and apparently now a 65 year old Senior. Interesting that in some states you can be a senior at only 60. Still, it's just a number, so a very happy birthday to me.

We went for a drive to the Umpherstone Sink Hole. Truly beautiful and amazing. You can walk right down and into it, which of course I didn't and couldn't anyway. Quite a few steep stairs to get to the bottom, although once you are there it's mostly smooth footpaths and very few steps. I waited up the top while Clive went down to take photos. It was freezing in the wind against yesterday's top of 33. Only 16 today and a very cold wind. Luckily Clive left me in a sheltered area.

While he was down there he had a good walk around, even going behind the creeper that is trailing over the edges of the cliff. He took some interesting photos behind this creeper. They even have a small BBQ area down the bottom and a little waterfall. Would be interesting to see this in winter after it's rained, as I think that it would have a totally different look to it. Clive was last here around the mid 1980's and he thinks not a lot has changed.

On the way to the Sink Hole there are seats cut in logs. These logs are from the 1983 Ash Wednesday Bushfires, that on the 14th February killed many trees in forest plantation around. this area. Due to the amount of trees killed and to protect the pine industry in this region, lots of dead trees were cut down and stored in Lake Bonney, or stacked and kept hydrated by sprinklers until they could be processed, as there was no way the mill could process all this dead timber at once. The trees were only burnt on the outside, so the inside timber was perfectly usable.

We went into the information shop and bought some souvenirs for my birthday - some tea towels and a kangaroo with a joey in its pouch. Very cute. More friends for the other soft toys I have acquired on this journey.

Next it was off to the Blue Lake. This lake is in the crater of an extinct volcano, and turns a vivid blue from around December to March. After this it reverts to its greyish colour. The exact cause of this annual colour change is still a matter of conjecture, but it has to do with the sun and also the minerals in the water. Continuing the drive around the lake we then saw Valley Lake, again formed in a crater. Originally there were four lakes but the Leg Of Mutton and Brown Lake are no longer in existence, having dried up over the past 30-40 years and also because of the dropping water table.

On the way back we stopped into the Information Center in town that has a replica of the Lady Nelson outside. Clive bought me another tea towel and then back home. Footy is on AGAIN on TV tonight - (sighs).



The Blue


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Thursday 12th March - Dunkeld to Mount Gambier

21.7 last night and 34.3 today. Time to head to South Australia.

Happy 15th wedding anniversary to us.

It's about a two hour drive today. This park has a departure time of 11am, so we plan to leave then and be in time for lunch in Mount Gambier. All was going to plan until I hear Clive talking outside. Seems a guy further along has come to talk to him about the satellite dish. They can't get proper reception either and his wife likes her TV. Unhappy wife, means - well you get the idea. So Clive explains all about it to him and then gets the decoder unit and digital satellite finder to show him too. Looks like he will be getting a satellite dish.

We finally get to leave around 11.40am. It was a good drive on minor highways and I took a few photos along the way, especially in Casterton. Casterton is know as the Birthplace of the Kelpie. In 1184 a rail link to Branxholme was established and the railway station building was the first of the 'Casterton' style of architecture. This was the prototype for all other Victorian railway buildings. Rail services to Casterton ceased in 1976. The station building now houses the Casterton Historical Society museum collection.

About 10km in from the border is a Quarantine Bin, so we stopped here and Clive emptied out all the fruit and vegetables that we had in the van. Luckily there was not a lot, but there was a half a packet of grapes that we had recently bought that went too. Onwards past state forests of pine and eucalypts. It was a warm 33 outside and there was a hint of heat in the breeze. Lovely rolling countryside and we rolled into the Mount Gambier Showgrounds around 1.15pm. The clock in the car automatically changed when we crossed the border, so we gained half an hour. The Showgrounds look good. Nice spacious sites and a modern clean amenities block. We're here for four nights.

On the
sheep's back.

Railway Station.


View from
the loo.

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Wednesday 11th March - Dunkeld

Weather update - 11.4 last night and a warm 31.4 during the day. Still this is Victoria and we can have four seasons in a day.

So the air conditioning was on in the van today, for the first time ages. A par for the course when we were at Michael's as it was so hot and humid. The people in the van behind us left, so we grabbed the fixed antenna cable. Now we can watch TV at the correct time, as against the satellite which is still set to Queensland time. All Clive has to do is to phone them up and get the state changed, but no. Not to worry as we leave Victoria Tomorrow.

Tuesday 10th March - Dunkeld

Weather report - 9.3 last night and upto 26.8 during the day. Yes we still have the doona on the bed.

We went for a drive today through the Arboretum, which is a living collection of the world's trees. Lots of different trees here with name plates to allow for identification. They have a driving track around it as well as walking tracks around the lakes. They were doing roadworks whilst we were there, but we still managed to see most of it. In the grounds are the Fitzpatrick and Sons sawmills. This equipment is amazing, when you can see what they do with large trees. There are also two large carved animals and also a timber workers hut, restored but waiting for authentic parts for the inside.

Dunkeld is named after a town in the Scottish Grampians. Timber has played an important part in this town's development. The beautifully maintained main street has old buildings with plaques describing the original building. For example, the Caravan Park is set on land that was called Victoria Park. Here the local tennis courts were, until they were moved to Memorial Park, where they are still used today. The first public monument was to Major Mitchell, unveiled in 1914.

We then went for a short drive into the Grampians. Along the way we saw an emu, which luckily ran away from us as he was a big old man emu. It was a pleasant drive with the mountains on either side. If we had more time we would have done a round trip to Halls Gap and back. Beautiful scenery and beautiful weather. What more could you want? The local store doesn't have a lot, but at least they had some grapes for me. A wonderful day.


Trees in the


Yellow-tailed Black
Cockatoo carving.

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Monday 9th March - Ballarat to Dunkeld

It got down to 9.6 last night. No maximum as Clive forgot to tell me. It's great to be back in our own bed again and in familiar space for me. A good night's sleep was had by both of us.

The drive to Dunkeld is about 2 hours away, west of Ballarat. Along the way the Grampians come into view. They look magnificent. Dunkeld is the southern gateway to the Grampians. It's only a small town, with about 600 residents, supplemented by tourists. There's a general store, pub, chemist, cafes and bakery and a couple of gift shops. In addition there is a police station and a school. Oh well, we do like small country towns.

We're staying at the Dunkeld Caravan Park. It's a quaint park, very peaceful and has a community garden, where you can help yourself to home grown vegetables and herbs. TV reception is average, so Clive set up the satellite dish. Working within five minutes and a perfect picture. Yay, as Home and Away and MKR are on tonight.

The Grampians
coming into view.


St. Patrick's
Catholic Church.

The old
prision cells.

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March 2nd to 8th - Gold Coast

Sunday 8th March.

We're travelling back to Ballarat today, so up at 5.30am to leave the house at 6am. The plan is to be at the airport for 7am for our flight to Melbourne. Jess drove us to save us catching another share ride and dropped us off at the departure area. We said good bye to her, then on to check our baggage through. Two bags and a wheelie walker. The Virgin staff again were fantastic and again we were the first ones on the plane.

Another smooth flight and Clive had some noodles during the flight, as that was the only real food that they had for him to eat. Landed OK and then again last off. Collected the baggage and again the long walk to the collection point and a short wait. The shuttle bus came, so loaded the luggage and hopped on board. Waited for some other passengers and while we were doing that, he notices some people in front getting onto another shuttle bus.

He then comments about the amount of duty free they had between then, and then the penny drops. He says that he has forgotten to pick up the box of alcohol from the carousel. So off he gets and leaves me all alone on the bus. He explained to the driver where he was going and we take off without him as other passengers are now waiting. We get to the car park and the driver kindly helps me out of the bus and sets up the wheelie walker for me and I sit in the shade of a tree with the suitcase to await the return of my hero, hopefully with some alcohol. Good one Clive!

He tells me that after he left it was a quick walk back to the luggage area and there sitting in front of the uncollected luggage area is his box of alcohol. He rang for the bus and the driver reported back to base that he had the other half, Clive, to the one and a half that he had originally collected, myself, case, walker and the luggage.

Dinner that night was a stir fry cooked by Gary, with Jeanette, Ebony and Nic, her fiance. What a great night we all had with lots of laughter and fun. Desert was apple crumble and ice cream. Absolutely delicious.

After the hot and humid weather of the Gold Coast, it cold down here. We're not used to the humidity of the Gold Coast anymore, but at least with cold weather you can get warm.

Saturday 7th March.

It's going to be another busy day as we have a 12 o'clock lunch with Deidre, Majella and Graham at the Wallaby. So it's back down the highway again for Clive. After a delightful lunch we arrived back to Michael's place and Alister and the girls were there. They had decided to come down for a visit so that we could see the girls. My, how they are growing up.

Clive had planned to make Michael a hot curry for when he returns next week, so he set about making a chicken and zucchini vindaloo. It was certainly on the warm side. Alister ended up taking a few meals home with him when they left around 7pm. I had a toasted sandwich whilst those not eating curry had pizza.

Time to get most of the packing done and have a reasonably early night, well 11pm, as we have to be up early tomorrow as the flight leaves at 8.05am.

Friday 6th March.

A day of rest for me. Clive was back down the highway to our house with the mower and hedge trimmer. The lawns and hedges needs doing as hopefully the tenants will be back in next week. He was gone for quite a few hours. Seems the new neighbour next door in 5A caught him and they spent a good 45 minutes talking. Well the neighbour did anyway. It's hot and very humid.

Thursday 5th March.

Another good sleep. Clive has Teddy under control with the feeding and playing outside.

Two doctors appointments for me today and one for Clive. Dr. Raj, my neuro specialist is not totally happy with me. It looks like when we eventually return it will be back into rehabilitation for me and also an MRI scan. Maybe they are still looking for my brain? The local GP was pleased, as he was with Clive's health, so all good there. Clive went off to Mass at St. Benedict's tonight and collected all our mail from Deidre. He met most of the Thursday night regulars there and they were pleased to see him. Jess got back that night so KFC for tea for everyone.

Wednesday 4th March.

Not a lot to do today except lunch with Adam and Judi And Buzz. Lunch is for midday, so our plan was to leave at 11.30am as it's just down the road at the Oxenford Tavern. Got into Michael's car and guess what? We spent five minutes trying to find the GPS and there isn't one. Set up the address into the phone and followed google. After about 15 minutes we arrive at the destination Clive has put in and we're in the middle of nowhere. Not a pub or house in sight. Clive put the wrong address in. Back to Google maps and he puts in the Oxenford Tavern. Now at least we are heading in the right direction. We eventually arrive at 12.25 and Clive tells his tale. Adam had sent a text asking whether it was a lunch or dinner get together. Cheeky little person that he is.

It was great to see Adam. He's still undecided about what he wants to do next. Judi and Buzz have sold their house and bought a new van in preparation for their fulltime travel around Oz. We had a great chat about our travels and they asked for information on various things. They are currently in the midst of down sizing and packing up their unit. Been there and done that. Maybe well see them on the road somewhere.

Tuesday 3rd March.

We both had a great sleep after yesterday's adventure. Jess has gone interstate for three days so we are dog sitting. Haircuts with Julie in the morning and she managed to fix my hair somewhat. It will need the length on the back to continuing growing after the last butchers attempt. Clive bought some pies from the Jacobs Well Bakery for dinner.

Monday 2nd March.

Cool 6 degrees when we got up this morning. Our flight leaves at 10.20am today from Tullamarine Airport. It's about a 90 minute drive from Ballarat to the airport, depending on traffic. With the ring roads we shouldn't have any trouble, hopefully.

We left at 7am and set the GPS for the airport. We saw a sign pointing to the airport, but the GPS said to go straight ahead, so we did. Wrong move. It took us through peak hour traffic in Melton, so talk about stop start. This added 30 minutes to our travel time. We arrived at the off site car park just after 9am, so eventually at the check in area for 9.25am.

What a hassle with the wheelie walker and wheel chair. Lots of walking as the drop off point is a fair distance from Terminal 3, well for me anyway, so it was a long slow walk. Still, we got there eventually. Clive was the pack horse carrying the back pack and pushing the luggage whilst also helping me. The Virgin staff were fantastic as always and we could finally relax.

The flight was just over 2 hours and as smooth as silk. Clive decided on a sandwich and a cold beer, seeing as he did't have to drive once we had landed. First on equals last off as I had to wait for an electric wheel chair to negotiate the ramps that they now use at the Gold Coast Airport. A Didi ride to Pimpama and $63 poorer. Still a lot cheaper than what a taxi would no doubt have cost us.

We got to meet grand-dog Teddy. Such a beautiful puppy, but too boisterous for me. He would have bowled me over had I got near him. Saw Jess when she got home and Clive had cooked her a butter chicken curry for dinner, accompanied with papadums and garlic chapattis. Delicious. I had a toasted sandwich.

Gai's waiting
for take-off.


Where have all our
bromeliads gone.

Lawns and
hedges needs doing.

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Sunday 1st March - Ballarat

Well we didn't record the temperature today as we ended up having dinner in the big house with Jeanette and Gary. By the time we got back Clive had forgotten to do it. It was however a very windy day with a few clouds.

Clive went to the 8am Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Mass was first celebrated in Ballarat in 1851, however the cathedral was not consecrated until some 40 years later in 1891. This was to become the first Catholic Cathedral consecrated in the Australian Colonies, making it Australia's oldest. The present High Alter and Stations of the Cross were purchased in Rome. The Alter is made od Carrara marble inlaid with precious stones. The stained glass windows were introduced in 1883, with the first three being made in Germany. The reminder were gradually added, until complete in 1910. The first organ was installed in 1867 and was replaced in 1930.

Across the road from the church is a monument to Peter Lalor. Peter was a young Irishman who wanted action. He was a gifted orator and reluctantly accepted the role as leader of the diggers. He eventually led the diggers who fought under the Southern Cross Flag. He was wounded in the fight and had an arm amputated. He was elected into the Victorian Parliament where he remained until 1887.

Ballarat has a beautiful Avenue of Honour and Arch of Victory. This is a memorial to those who enlisted from Ballarat and the surrounding districts in WW1. The Avenue of Honour consists of 3,771 trees planted at regular intervals of approximately 12 metres for 22km. The first planting commenced in 1917. The Arch of Victory was erected in 1920.

Gary and Jeanette were due back from their family reunion in Halls Gap today, so Clive made a curry for them for dinner while I enjoyed a toasted sandwich. Not to late a night as we plan to leave at 7am tomorrow to head to Tullaramine Airport for our flight to the Gold Coast.

High Alter
And Alter.

main street.

Monument to
Peter Lalor.

The Arch
Of Victory.

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