Friday 26th Jan 01, (Frankston).

Our plans of visiting some local reserves today and having a walk around came to nothing as the weather prevented us from doing anything outside, you guessed it, and it rained all day. We utilised the opportunity to wander around the local shopping centres and do some shopping, not that we had much to do. Now that the day is over, 7.00 PM, the sun has decided to come out and all it is doing is making it very muggy.

I contacted Rick Cooper again today and they are back in Frankston, so we arranged a time to meet. Due to them leaving their children in Tassie for a few days they have decided to take a trip on the motorbike to the Great Ocean Road tomorrow afternoon so we will visit late tomorrow morning and possibly make arrangements to meet again one night before we leave on Wednesday.

Monday 29th Jan, (Frankston).

I visited Rick on Saturday, Linda stayed home because Rick’s wife was working and it would have been a bit boring for her listening to men talk. The house Rick has built met the expectations that I had given him, rather luxurious, and the standard of wiring preparation put in by him far exceeded that I would have expected of anybody.

We went to Geelong for a trip yesterday to visit the rellies before we head off on Wednesday, all were well and nothing had changed since we were last there. The trip home was something else though, everybody was returning home from the long weekend away and I never would have dreamed that I would have seen so many vehicles crammed into one spot at any one time. The entire 70 odd kilometres of the highway from Geelong to Melbourne was cram packed and we could only maintain about 50-60 kph all the way.

We finally made it to a reserve today to have a look around and found the flora and, what little fauna we saw, was really no different to that at home but it was good enough for a pleasant long walk.


Thursday 25th Jan 2001, (Frankston).

We have just had a few days having a casual look around the Frankston/Peninsular area and we decided not to get too in depth looking around the area because we will be back this way in December this year so we can have a good look then. At least then we will have a good idea at what we want to see.

We did find something of interest though, being Arthur’s Seat. Just before we left Tassie we were talking to Linda’s sister Sandra and she mentioned that one day just prior to this that she had an area listing on her mobile as Arthur’s Seat and she wanted to know where it was as she had never heard of any where with that name. I searched my memory of Telstra mobile sites in the area and could not recall any with that name, so I guess that freak weather conditions must have resulted in her picking up this site in Victoria. Arthur’s seat is of coarse a mountain in the lower peninsular area with a mobile site.

We have found a listing of state reserves in the area and intend to visit some and have a walk around and the first was the Botanical Gardens. These gardens are of a different nature than that of any that we have seen so far and we commented on how it looked so much like a golf course with bushes and shrubs surrounding the fairways. When we arrived home Linda was reading a booklet about the local area and low and behold an article explained, after a question of “what do you do with an old golf course?” how the gardens were in fact built from an old golf course.

I always thought that the weather in Tassie was unpredictable but it has nothing on what we have seen in Victoria this trip. It has shown that it can change from very hot and sunny to a thunderstorm in minutes. We were travelling back to Frankston from Narrelle’s yesterday when a news report on the radio stated that a thunderstorm was over Werribee area and heading for the lower South East suburbs and there had been no mention of it at any time in the news or any forecast heard. By the time we started to approach Frankston we hit the edge of the storm and by the time we arrived home the storm had passed and left tell tale signs that the winds were rather strong, as papers had been blown everywhere and even the chairs and thongs from the van next door had blown away as well.


Chapter 5

The Big Trip.

Saturday 20th January 2001, (Frankston).

We have finally started what is to be our big trip. We departed from Narrelle’s yesterday and made our way to Frankston. A small problem was encountered with electrics on the way, as we did on the way from the boat to Coburg (the caravan park) where the trailer brakes failed to function on occasions. I had noticed that the car’s brake pedal did not activate the brake unit, and neither did the manual control switch on the unit itself, but when both were applied the brake unit functioned correctly. It was then that I noticed that the car’s voltmeter was only reading a little under 13 volts and suspected that because the voltage was down the brake unit was not sensing the potentials applied to the individual inputs, but when both inputs were activated the voltage was enough for the unit to accept. The coincidence that the problem occurred on both trips when the caravan had been sitting idle and the fridge was running off the 12-volt system, draining the vans battery, indicated to me that the car’s electrics were down and could not keep up with the supply to the caravan as well as run the car. Tests today certainly did show that the car battery was low on charge, so I charged the battery for several hours and will perform some more tests tomorrow, but I suspect from tests today that the car battery will have to be replaced.

The caravan park seems to be rather good, with very friendly management and good facilities. The site given to us has concrete blocks on which to place the awning, which many parks over here provide, and is convenient because we can place down the carpet we have and not worry about killing the grass underneath.

I rang Rick Cooper last night to let him know we were in the area so we could meet up with each other again but he informed me he was at that time at the airport waiting to catch a plane to Launceston for a holiday and won’t be back till Wednesday. It looks as though that we may stay on here for a few more days to meet Rick after he returns.

Monday 22nd Jan, (Frankston).

We went for a walk along the beach and on the pier at Frankston today and noticed a startling difference to when we went down there yesterday, there were no people there.

The weather was quite warm yesterday and there was some sort of concert on the beach, so consequently there were people everywhere, so many that we decided to go back today and have a look and could not believe the difference with the lack of people.

Today was also a day of checking out shopping centres, and found that they are as large as those in Melbourne if not larger than most. The shopping centre in the city we found to be rather expensive with the Karingal Hub not being so.

Speaking to another caravan traveller camped next to us about the electrical problems experienced over the past few days corroborated what Linda suggested would over come the problem, which is to simply turn the fridge off while travelling. His suggestion was that if the planned trip is not too long, about 100-150 kms as is what we plan, the fridge will stay cold anyway, and the battery won’t flatten so the car’s electrics will have no problem, so that will be the next thing to try.

This exercise of touring is proving to be one big learning exercise to date as I am also still trying to come up with ideas on how to reduce the weight of the caravan to overcome my fears that it may be overloaded. I have decided I can reduce the weight by as much as 150 kgs, depending on how big the water tank is, which I haven’t been able to ascertain yet, by making sure the tank is empty whilst travelling. It had been my original idea to travel with the tank full to make sure that when we reach our next destination we would have a tank full of known quality water. By making sure that the tank is empty and then fill the tank in the panel van we will still achieve this but the water will be carried in the panel van instead of the caravan, which I cant see will make any difference because the panel van has to pull the weight wherever it is placed. This will probably be a benefit be increasing the car to caravan weight ratio. By doing this I can then transfer the water from the panel van to the caravan when we arrive at our destination so I don’t have to carry it around all the time when touring.

I am trying to organise a last meeting for a while with Marney and Michael (niece and nephew), and their families, in Geelong over the next few days so I rang Marney to see if she could organise a get together so we could meet them together to make it easier and I will expect to hear from her soon.


Thursday 18th Jan, (Melbourne).

It’s been a while again since I have put words down, but we have been camped at Narrelle’s since we arrived and we have spent our time catching up with Narrelle and Matt before we head off. The driveway at Nell’s is rather steep and with the van parked up the top of it Linda has had this fear of it breaking its moorings and rolling down the driveway while we are asleep. With all sorts of reassurances given I am not sure she will ever be fully convinced otherwise.

We are booked into a park at Frankston on Friday, not where we intended to start, but with the Australian open tennis on at the moment most caravan parks are booked out. This will be as good a place as any other though as Linda has not been there before.

I have a booking in at a van maintenance shop tomorrow at 10:00 AM so we will be detouring there on the way to have the brakes on the van checked to give me an idea of how much wear they have left.

We are booked into a park at Frankston on Friday, not where we intended to start, but with the Australian open tennis on at the moment most caravan parks are booked out. This will be as good a place as any other though as Linda has not been there before.

I have a booking in at a van maintenance shop tomorrow at 10:00 AM so we will be detouring there on the way to have the brakes on the van checked to give me an idea of how much wear they have left.


Thursday 11th Jan, (East Devonport).

We are at East Devonport at the moment with the idea of finally getting a chance to relax for a few days before we board the boat.

Yesterday turned out to be a very busy day organising the last few things we had to do before leaving, like pick up Narrelle’s gear that we left at Leona’s, check on payment for a health benefit claim I made which I found went to the wrong bank account. I still had details with them for an account I cancelled months ago, so there was a wasted hour fixing that problem. We had to pick up our mail, have the car serviced, which was just as well because the fan belt was in bad state of repair and was replaced. This could have been one very large headache if it had broken on our travels in the middle of no-where. Linda also had an appointment for her shoulder problem and we didn’t click that the appointment was at the General Hospital and she could have been there for ages, which she was, and after all this I had planned to be at Beaconsfield in the evening so Freckles could weld another spare wheel bracket to the bumper of the caravan. We managed to get away from Launceston at about 5.00 Pm, which made me very grateful that the manager of the Legana caravan park allowed us to leave the van parked there for the day with no extra charge. The welding job was accomplished just on dark and in time for us to finally settle down for the night after what was hopefully the last busy day I will ever experience.

This morning we had what could have been our last visit with Maxine and Paul for a while, and then had a leisurely drive to Devonport and set up camp for the next few days.

Saturday 13th Jan, (East Devonport).

It is very enjoyable at last to just relax and do what we wish to do. Final little clean up of unwanted gear from the caravan that we can leave at Narrelle’s when we get to Melbourne, and mending a few towels that Linda bought at an op-shop and had a few faults and are now like new so we can use them and get rid of our older ones.

Some disturbing news yesterday when we went to visit my old mate Andrew Ray and his wife. He informed me that he has been diagnosed with having the dreaded big “C” and is currently undergoing Chemo treatment for it. It must have been so disheartening for him to find out, especially not long after being made redundant from work. Andrew was one of the one’s that left when I did. After having my liver problem and associated troubles diagnosed a couple of years ago, I know what he is going through. Fortunately he is very high-spirited and has the same idea as I had in that we only needed a big shock to convince us to give up the grog, and in his case the smokes. He hasn’t given up the grog as such but has had to go without while under treatment. They will be getting a computer and net access this week so I gave him my Email address so he can keep me informed of his progress. I had the chance at least to brighten his life a little by going out fishing with him today, as it has been several weeks since he has had a chance to go out. I’m now sure it is not the fishing he enjoys so much as just being able to just get out in the boat. Any way I am glad I visited him while we were here and found out from him rather than some other method.

We are hopeful that we may get a visit from Matt and Lou, and some of Linda’s rellies tomorrow to see us off, as it would be nice to see them one last time before we go. At 9.00PM and Maxine just rang to say that because Rachael, her daughter, had given birth she would not be able to visit us tomorrow.