Chapter 15

Back on the road, from Townsville.

Monday 29th July 2002, (Rollingstone).

5:30pm and we are sitting outside the van and enjoying, listening to, the gentleman next door playing the piano accordion. We are once again at Rollingstone camp area soaking up the tranquillity of camping in a bush setting.

We left Townsville this morning and are on our way to Cairns, we have about 3-4 weeks to get there when it will be time to meet Narrelle visiting on her way to a wedding in Melbourne. We are very much looking forward to her visit.

Tomorrow will be the test for the modifications I made to the solar panels as to whether they will provide enough charge, considering we aren’t worried how much power we use tonight.

I have tested out our new shower pump and nozzle set up now in our shower tent and it was rather enjoyable. It made quite a difference being able to simply switch it on or off rather than fiddle with the difficult nozzle on the old water bag one.

I can’t remember if I have previously mentioned the fuss the caravan park owners have been making about these free camp areas in this area run by the local council. We had a visit from the council ranger today and his attitude was rather extraordinary, as if to say “to hell with the park owners, we have provided these parks for a reason so they can like it or lump it”. This was not an actual quote but seemed to be his attitude.


Saturday 27th July.

I have managed to achieve all chores I had intended doing in Linda’s absence, and I even came up with another mod for the solar panels so I can place them on an angle while on the roof so they can catch more sun while up there. Some paint was purchased for the cupboard doors and draws and I came up with a clever idea to prevent wasting paint. I purchased one of those edges painting, flat, brushes and it tuned out excellent to use. The problem was getting the paint on to it. The tin I purchased was a very small one and the brush would not fit into it, and the idea of using a tray wasted too much paint as I intend only doing a couple of doors at a time. I tried placing the paint into a sauce squeeze bottle so I could apply paint directly onto the brush as required and this turned out to be the ideal situation. The screw cap keeps the bottle sealed, one can release and use only the amount of paint required direct to the brush, and there is absolutely no waste of paint.

Linda is back now and we can settle back down to a normal life of travelling.

Monday we will be moving on towards Cairns, so the next chapter will commence there.


Sunday 21st July.

Things are always there to test one. A message from Linda, in Tassie, informed me that her sister Maxine’s daughter is leaving Tassie in eight weeks for Queensland. The problem is as follows; our household goods from home are in storage in the garage at the residence she is presently at, which is owned by Maxine and husband Paul, and when their daughter leaves the second daughter is likely to move in. This in itself is not the actual problem but the relatives; one in particular, of her boy friend, has a record of unsavoury behaviour, being recently released from jail for break and enter and theft. Recommendations are that it would be unwise to leave our gear in the garage while this fellow is, or can be, residing there. It seems the appropriate suggestion would be to consider, and pursue the option of purchasing an old sea container and store our gear in it and then store the container on the block next to, and owned by, Paul. If we were to do this then any future problem of this nature would be overcome by simply finding somewhere else to store the container. It was also suggested that when we are finally finished with the container we could re-sell it and recoup the costs of purchasing it. The other problem is finding a starting point in finding out how to go about, and where one would, purchase one of the said items. At this stage we will concentrate over the next month on overcoming this hurdle and if not successful we will have to think of another answer.

To a different thought, tests on the solar panels while on the ground revealed that I can, with them off the roof, achieve almost twice the charging power than when they are mounted on the roof. I was surprised to find that the angle of direction pointing at the sun, that is between horizontal and vertical, does not have a great variation on amount of power provided, about 25% at the most. So why then, with them mounted on the roof, was power down by 50%? It was then revealed that one problem with them being on the roof is that the roof itself is not level, but rather a convex shape between sides. The result of this is that, in most situations, one panel is actually sloping in a direction away from the sun, beyond vertical at least, and is not providing much charge at all. I am now considering that the work I have performed in making them removable from the roof was well worth it. This has also provided me now with several other advantages as well, such as flexibility in placement of either panel where I wish, and being able to take one with us when we go camping in the tent. With the plugging system I used I will possibly now be able to leave one of the batteries in the car permanently.


Thursday 18th July.

11:00pm and I am already feeling what it is like living on my own once more. I have been busy during the day so the effect wasn’t really felt, but now at night on my own with the whole van to myself, gets a bit lonely but we’ll be able to handle it ok.

I achieved a fair bit today as I removed the other solar panel and placed the sockets on the roof to plug the panels back in when replaced on the roof. The roof also received a wash, and needed it. One of the panels was rewired to a socket and a test was done by plugging that one in. The sun was rather low as by this time it was late in the afternoon and it was slightly overcast, but the results were promising. With the panel pointed directly toward the sun, according to maximum reading on the meter, I did receive a little over 4 Amps intermittently, which is almost the total I have been getting from both panels on the roof lately. It will be interesting to see the results tomorrow when both panels are fully wired and constructed so they can stand together supported by a prop.

I did have a visit from Barry, Ida’s other half, today and it was enjoyable having him around for a chat, and I think he was a little impressed with some of the work I was doing wiring the panels while he was here. I do admit one doesn’t see any caravanners doing such work. I was also invited around for happy hour at 4:00pm, which I did attend, but when it was time for them to dish up their roast meal, that looked enough to feed an army, I politely excused myself and went home before Ida could get a chance to ask me to stay for tea. Who knows whether this would have been her intention, as she gives one the impression it would, I wasn’t going to, and will not, give her the opportunity.


Wednesday 17th July, (On my own).

Linda is on her way home, and at this moment is in Brisbane spending the night with Deris before catching another flight tomorrow on her way to Tassie.

Seeing that Linda has gone I took it that it was now ok to start on the solar panel job, so number one has been removed from the van. This job could turn out to be a bigger one than originally perceived, as the panels themselves are a little bigger and heavier that I had planned, but all will work out well in the end. I guess it will have to, because I have now started it, I will have to complete it.

While looking and considering what I could use and be suitable for a dust cover on the new gas fitting, I stumbled on the ideal item. The plastic, or rubber, backstop for the caravan door turned out to be an ideal size to snugly fit over the outside of the fitting. These backstops are readily purchased from a hardware shop and after trimming the length of the item it made an ideal cover. Even though it fitted very snugly I ended up purchasing two of them, one as a spare in case the other failed to stay on during travel, but I personally think this will not happen.

Back to cooking for myself; and having to do those menial chores such as washing and wiping the dishes.

It’s now 9:30 pm and Ida has not yet enquired as to my well-being. Ida is the better half of a couple we have become close to in the caravan park, a bit of a worrywart.