Port Pirie

Monday 31st March.

We had a trip around the southern Flinders Ranges today and were rather disappointed. It seems South Australia has a problem putting up signs to direct people, tourists, to places. It started in Adelaide with the very noticeable lack of street signs, there were signs on the side of the road warning of a, main, street approaching but when one is at the intersection street signs are a rarity. Speed limit signs are also very few and makes it hard to ascertain the limit on a road when joining it mid length. They are generally a lower speed limit than other states on comparable roads, so either assume 60k, or 50k if on a minor street.

The problem we had on the ranges was that we had a booklet telling us what was around to see, but we had trouble seeing any signs telling us how to get there. After finding a couple of these sites I decided that the main reason, perhaps, of not signposting them is that they are not really worth seeing, or there was a long bushwalk to get there. If it was because of the walk, then I assume the info would be available from National Parks.

One gorge we were looking for, and found eventually, took us about 25k from a particular point when we first tried to get there, to find when we got there that we were only 5k from when we were at that particular point via another route. There were lookouts on our locally produced map, but we could not find a direction sign to any of them. This was the most disappointing thing as it is this type of photo that I mostly look for.

We may be rather glad to get away from Port Pirie, it is a very nice place, but the mosquitoes aren’t.

Port Pirie

Saturday 29th March, (Port Pirie).

Must remember to wind back the clocks tonight as it is the end of daylight saving.

We moved yesterday from Adelaide to Port Pirie, about 220k. We plan on being here for 5 days or so as it will be the last chance to relax for a while due to us doing a lot more travelling and only stopping overnight or for at most 2 nights. This is until we reach Alice Springs at least and we intend staying there for at least a week or so, and then we will be back to large amounts of travelling once more until we reach Darwin, unless we turn right at Tennant Creek for the east coast.

There seems to be a bit to see around this district so it won’t be hard to fill in our time. We won’t be doing all the day trips that are on offer because we will be back here one day with a lot more time to look around with more detail. A familiarisation with the town, a visit to the tourist centre and a short walk around town taking photos was the order for today.

We have been wondering why there are a lot of places around here with the prefix ‘Port’, and the answer is obvious; almost every township on the coast is a port with wharfs. Port Pirie also has a lead smelter actually built on the edge of the local wharf, which is the main employer of the town folk.


Tuesday 25th March, (Adelaide).

Linda is back home, arrived Saturday, and seems to have gotten over her jet lag so we have decided to move out on Friday on our venture up the centre.

We are at present having a few relaxing days before we head off and getting things ready for the trip.

I am wondering at the moment if we have done some damage to the caravan, but it may not be anything. We had a flat tyre while sitting at this park and with all the weight normally on the tyre being distributed to the front and rear legs the van then began to sag in the middle. The adjustment on the door catch indicated that it was sagging. I have since pumped up the tyre, after replacing it with the spare, and would you believe it has stayed up. I have taken some steps to overcome this problem in the future by buying some jack stands, threaded adjustment for continuous adjustment, and placed a pair of them under the chassis next to the wheels, to actually support the wheel weight, and another two at the rear where the stands would provide support. I am not going to use the leg supports at the rear in future as the stands provide better support anyway. I have been worried that the strain on the chassis with the flat may have caused some structural damage, but it may not be any different to normal and just seems that way.

Plans: it seems we may have to change our travel plans this year as it seems that Matts parents, Nell’s Matt, won’t be going to Perth for Christmas so it now seems more appropriate to have Christmas at Albury. This way Nell and Matt will be able to share it with both sets of parents, and we may also be able to get Matt and Lou over from Tassie as well. If this change eventuates we will just have to leave our Perth trip for after Christmas, or maybe the next year. In the meantime we do intend going up the centre to Darwin and then we should know what we intend doing afterward.


Wednesday 19th March, (Adelaide).

I have now decided that this caravan park is in fact better than Levi park as it is still reasonably close to most places that one wishes to go, it is close to the beach, which I’m sure Linda will enjoy on her return.

I have for the past couple of days been thinking again that I have been rather slack in not putting fingers to keyboard once again, but the past couple of weeks have been rather ordinary with not much that I would consider of a nature to put in words: That is until last night, and what a busy night and day today.

We seem to experience extremes in weather conditions wherever we go, and here is no different. Last evening we had one of the worst storms they have had in Adelaide for a fair while. It broke at about 2:30am this morning with such force that the awning started coming down, then I am not really surprised though as I had taken a few short cuts in erecting it to create situations like an easier parking spot by placing the ropes, pegs, close to the base of the poles. This resulted in not being enough strength in the poles and ropes to withstand the force of the wind. I was fortunate, I guess, that I was up at the time watching the world cup cricket semi-finals when the storm did break and I managed to dismantle the awning and store it away before any damage was done.

If I had any doubt as to what I would be doing today it was soon overcome, as I was rather busy re-erecting the awning. This wasn’t a very easy task as the wind was still blowing and I was attempting to do the task on my own, I did manage but it wasn’t extremely easy. I spent some time making sure that this time the erection was completed more effectively, placing ropes further away from the poles, providing more ropes on the ends of the awning and tying ropes from pegs to the bottom of the poles to prevent them from sliding away at the bottom.

One thing I have learned from this is to erect the awning on every occasion to expect the worse situation and then it should withstand a fair wind strength if it does occur, believe me it is no fun dismantling the awning in the middle of the night and trying to store everything somewhere out of the weather without folding anything, especially when one has to do it on his own.

It is only three days until Linda returns from the UK and I can’t wait so I can have a break from such things as cooking. I have booked in here for another week so it will give Linda time to get over her jet lag before we move on.

I have over the past couple of days been pursuing information on software and cable for data download from a new blood testing machine I recently purchased so I can download to my PC. After getting the info that I did today I have decided to forego the idea. The machine has infrared capabilities, as does my laptop, but according to them the infrared system used is not a standard format so the purchase of a cable to convert the infrared to a serial port is essential and at a cost of $250 or so for the cable. The software is apparently only available from the internet and they expect an up front fee of $25 and an annual fee of the same for continued use of it. This seemed to me to be too costly for a system that they are dictating the expense and how one should use it and also too costly for the intended use I would give it, so the idea of a purchase is now a no-go. I guess I will just have to keep records in the old fashion of pen in a log method.

I have just seen on the weather report that we are not the only ones with bad conditions: apparently Melbourne has extremely poor visibility due to dust storms, being topsoil from drought-affected areas.

Adelaide/West Beach

Wednesday 12th March, (Adelaide/West Beach).

I have made a move today to Adelaide Shores at West beach, another Big4. I was fed up with the lack of sunshine at Levi Park, especially now that I want to experiment with another theory I have with the low output while the solar panels are on the roof. I am suspecting, and rather hopeful, that the brackets they are mounted on may be acting as a big heat sink on the panels and resulting in a reduced output. Now I am here I will be able to find out, I have run everything on 12 volts all night tonight to reduce the battery charge in readiness to do the checks so the panels will supply continually.

I have almost formed the opinion that this park is better than Levi Park. There are in fact new bike tracks along the coastline, not shown in the bike track maps, so this should keep me up with exercise. It seems to be easily accessible to everything, and is on the beach, which will make Linda happy when she returns. The site I have been given actually has a double sized concrete block for van and annexe.


Saturday 8th March, (Adelaide).

I had that drive down south of Adelaide today, Fleurieu Peninsular as it is known as, with the intention to just have a brief look at the area.

One decision has been made as a result of the trip, being that we won’t be taking the caravan to Kangaroo Island, as Linda would have liked to. After being given a brochure on the ferry by a fellow traveller that revealed the costs, far too expensive, and the route involved in getting to the ferry and return there from has some rather steep hills that I would prefer not to negotiate. Victor Harbour through to Goolwa is a very nice section of coastline that could warrant a visit some time although most of the area is very much tourist orientated and busy in the tourist season.

I did encounter a remarkable piece of road construction during the trip, called the Southern freeway. I was wondering why this road was in fact only half a road, meaning that there was only one road carrying traffic in one direction only, not two separate lanes as usual. After a fair amount of observation I noticed that all the signposts were double sided, and there were also direction signs facing in the reverse direction to which I was travelling. It then became obvious that this road is used for traffic in both directions, one at a time depending on the busy periods: eg open in a southerly direction in the mornings of a weekend and in a northerly direction in the afternoons of a weekend to cater for traffic doing just what I was. In hind site I do remember seeing signs that explained what times the road is used for which direction before the entry points at either end. I was originally bemused as to what was going on because the road was open in a southerly direction when I went down the peninsular, I did notice this even though I didn’t use it because I missed the turn-off. When I returned it was open in the northerly direction and whilst travelling along it the road in the other direction was very obviously missing which is what starting me wondering. I don’t think in my ignorance of the design of this roadway that I would have gotten into any trouble as the ends of the road are light controlled and there are barriers placed over the barred access roads to prevent entry. All very interesting.


Friday 7th March, (Adelaide).

Not much exciting has happened in the past few days. I have been busy with normal household chores that Linda would normally undertake, and I have continued with the chore of painting the cupboard doors that I started last year.

I have been planning a trip down south of Adelaide to have a look around. I was going to go over the weekend but the Melbourne formula 1 grand prix is on so I guess I will be glued to the TV too much to worry about sightseeing.

That will do now as I must do the ironing.


Tuesday 4th March.

Isn’t it amazing: I generally use the excuse for not putting words down is that I have been relaxing and not much has been happening. This time is quite the reverse though as since Linda left for England I have been rather busy and the time has just flown by and I haven’t given a thought to the memoirs?

One thing taking up a fair bit of time, would you believe, is organising shopping. No wonder Linda worries about it so much.

More on the light problems with the other traveller; it turned out that he has the same light fittings on his van as I have on mine and he was suffering the same problem as I experienced some time ago. The lens cover does not have a seal underneath to prevent water getting in to the light sockets themselves. His problem though, as his van hasn’t seen any rain for so long, was dust and dirt getting in and his contacts were failing as well. It did rain overnight while working on his lights and the next day when we removed the other lens cover, the dust in that light had turned to mud. We gave the globes and contacts a good clean, placed some thin rubber sticky back seal around the lens and all was now ok, lights working perfectly. After doing this for him I decided to once again check my lights and sure enough the seals in mine were not sufficient. When I placed the rubber seals on mine I only placed it on the end where there was no seal at all, but in my case the original seal that was provided was now not doing its job so it was all removed and replaced with the new seal. It turns out that I didn’t have to buy any seal for mine because the other chap, John and Nannette Steanes, only used half what they bought and they gave me the rest to do mine.

I have also been doing some pedalling on the bike. The bike tracks around here are terrific; they go for miles both to the coast and east to the Adelaide hills. I more than likely never get to see much of them but I have been to the city all ready. What makes these tracks so good is that they are not completely flat, they have little hills which make the muscles work all the more and believe me I can feel them doing their work.

I have also been working on van maintenance as well. I have organised for a visiting mechanic to come in tomorrow and grease the wheel bearings, and I have bought some more paint for the cupboard doors. I have painted a couple of doors and I have noticed that this batch of paint is a little glossier than the other lot, but I don’t think it is really that noticeable.

I guess I must have been rather busy this last week as the time has just passed that quickly that I could not believe that it was time for another weekly payment for the park site already.

I also did another modification to the battery wiring. The main problem with this park is the trees provided for shade, they also prevent the sun from getting to the solar panels, so the small battery charger is now wired into the charging regulator so it can be left on continuously without overcharging the batteries.