Thursday 30th May, (Townsville).

Well two new tyres have been fitted to the car, and with the alignment the car is once again driving like a new car. I have reverted back to using standard size tyres on the rear now I have had to replace them. Early last year, when the last tyre replacement was necessary, I fitted two tyres of a larger size on the back than those on the front to raise the rear end of the car. This was to hopefully better the wind flow over the car and caravan, if it worked the effect the tyres had negatively on gearing of the drive mechanism counteracted any benefit gained. Hopefully now the standard tyres will give me back the gearing.

I have also weakened and purchased a heavy-duty towing hitch. I have been against this style of hitch mainly due to the cost, and also because they are within themselves very heavy. They also, from what I have seen, cause the caravan to sit further back from the car by about 4-6 inches and this as well as the weight, would result in more down weight on the tow equipment, which will result in extra lift the hitch will have to create. The main reason I purchased the hitch, apart from the fact that I do need a fair bit of extra lift anyway, was due to the fact that I stumbled on a second hand one and saved over $200.00 on new price. I need extra lift now compared with last year because of extra equipment I have had fitted to the caravan, such as bikes, solar panels and the large batteries in the tunnel. I have also had the hitch modified to allow it to slide further into the receiver housing so the caravan will now sit not much further back than with the old unit.

These things alone have kept me, us, busy over the past week and we also have other task we wish to complete while in this area.

We have placed some thought into, and have taken steps to constructing some easy to handle and install shades for the annexe surrounds to replace the green shade we are presently using. Some materials have been purchased, as we do have an idea what we want, and now all we have to do is sit down, come up with some adequate measurements and cut and sew it all together.

We have also been discussing an idea I had very early in our travels, but never followed through with. It has been decided that a shelving unit mounted in the roof area of the panel van could house the outside table and chairs, to save storing them in the caravan during travel. I will now put a deal of thought into this plan and see what I can come up with; this should not be too difficult.

It seems I may not have enough spare time because that is not all I would like to achieve. I intend to modify the mounting of one, if not both, of the solar panels. I will require one of the panels to be easily removed from the roof of the caravan and then easily installed onto roof racks on the panel van. Later in our travels we intend being prepared to leave the caravan and travel a distance unsuitable for the caravan with just the panel van equipped with a tent and camping equipment for overnight stopping. The solar panel, with one of the caravan batteries, will provide us with power while camping.

With all these chores to be undertaken it will be interesting to see how long they all take. The most urgent though would be to adjust the new tow hitch; I have not performed this task before but have read about the process and it all made sense to me so we will see, maybe tomorrow, how easy the process is and how effective it is. I am prepared for the process to possibly take several hours.


Sunday 26th May, (Townsville).

Denis and Sue have now moved on toward Cairns and it was nice to have met them and sit and chat about old times.

We had a drive to Mt. Stuart today, which is the big hill to the south with all the towers on. We noticed a sign on our way in from Hughenden the other day pointing to a lookout that looked as though it was on the mountain, so we checked it out. The scenery of the surrounding area is fantastic from up there, although it was overcast today, and I might go back up one day when it is perfectly clear.

Monday 27th May, (Townsville).

The order of the day today was to have a wheel alignment and balance as after the gravel road incident I have noticed a small vibration suspension wise. It turned out that there was no problem with the front end, but a rear tyre is about to self-destruct. It now seems that two new tyres will have to be purchased, and that will blow the budget for this month. I now hope all the more that the insurance company will come the party with the sump repairs.


Friday 24th May, (Townsville).

We are now at Townsville, after having a 400km odd trip one was fairly tired last night. We got to meet Denis and Sue for a short visit and then settled down for the evening, or tried to.

We had possibly made the mistake of travelling all the way to Townsville with the air-conditioner in the car turned on and when we reached the outskirts of town I turned it off and opened the window, as is customary, and instantly my shirt felt like it wanted to stick to me. Coming from the dry conditions of the outback to the humid conditions on the coast was a bit of a shock to the system. This was probably one reason we had problems settling down last night, as the warmer conditions were something we weren’t used to. I’m sure tonight will be different though.

It is at the moment 11.30pm and I feel as though it is much earlier, probably due to the increased temperature giving us the feeling that is not late due to it not having cooled down yet.

A pleasant surprise was had today as I acted on a hunch I had while travelling to Townsville yesterday. I had the thought that the damage sustained to the car the other day may even be covered by my car insurance; after all it was panel damage. I rang the insurance company with my query and to my surprise the answer was yes. A minor problem though with my having had repairs done already and not advising them, but an explanation by me seemingly satisfying them resulted in the rest being up to the assessor. I have sent them details and the receipt and will now have to wait to see what results.

We managed to get a lengthy visit with Denis and Sue, along with the couple that have been tagging along with them, tonight. We will see them again tomorrow as neither of us have any plans, so I dare say we should catch up with any gossip I have missed out on lately.


Wednesday 22nd May, (Hughenden).

Well the last two days have basically been a waste, except for relaxation, with the car being stuck at the mechanics. Waiting for parts, and the mechanic being flat strap, has resulted in us staying here two days longer than planned. The cost of the repairs was a lesson in not letting that happen again, it will be a lot cheaper to travel gravel roads a lot slower in future.

I received a phone call from Denis, travelling the coast, to advise me that they are now in Townsville and will be until Saturday. Seeing our plans have been upset with the vehicle repairs it has now been decided to travel straight from here to Townsville so we can meet up with them. This will be our last known chance to see them on their travels.

Our break did give us a chance to have a good look around the town, not that there is much to see, as we did have a walk around on several occasions.

Our trip tomorrow will get us into Townsville a lot earlier than we had planned but I am sure we will have no trouble finding somewhere to go and see while filling in time.


Monday 20th May, (Hughenden).

An eventful day was had today with a trip to Porcupine Gorge. A trip of 70km North on gravel roads with ruts about two feet deep made by the road trains, but more about them later.

Porcupine Gorge is a definite must see when in this area, with spectacular scenery and being a photographer’s paradise. The trip offered several lookout points of a gorge several kilometres long, alongside which the road travels. One of the lookout points has a walking track down into the gorge and is a must do. The base of the gorge is one great mass of sand stone, offering shapes galore of which are ground into it. I didn’t take my camera bag with me, thinking the 64meg card in the camera would hold enough shots for the day, about 96. I used them all up and could also have used the spare memory card, which gives me about another 20 or so, but it was in the bag, wasn’t it. Anyway I was happy with what I did get.

On the way home, and I must admit I was travelling a little in the style I would have in my younger days. I came to grief with a mound of gravel in the middle of the road filled with large rocks. Nothing was noticed immediately, but when we arrived back in town and parked the car Linda with her keen nose smelled hot oil. An inspection underneath did in fact reveal an oil leak, a trip to the RAC garage and a more thorough inspection revealed a large dent in the bottom of the sump and a leak from the sump plug. Discussions with the mechanic concluded that a replacement sump was in order rather than try to repair it. Could be an expensive lesson, but it will possibly teach me to slow down on gravel.

Oh well we will get a restful day tomorrow as the car has been left at the garage for repairs. We have booked into the park for another day while repairs are done, and hopefully they will be completed tomorrow.