The Goldilocks van

We arrived home from our last van excursion on Monday night and managed to get away again yesterday (Thursday). We left at about 10.40 am, being rather relaxed because our aim was to reach Capel for an overnight of free camping. We are enjoying the few days of cooler weather before another heatwave and were snuggled under our winter doona last night.

City Beach Monday evening

We finally met with our gardener on Tuesday evening. His partner seems alert enough, but he was clearly stoned on something. It doesn’t inspire confidence but Celsius, who are paying for most of the restorative work, say he has done good work in the past for them. We’ve set up the week beginning 10th February as when the work will be done, probably over a few days. We’ve asked for bushes rather than small flowering plants, by having fewer we should be able to keep within the budget.

There was no one else at the free camping place last night though a large caravan came in, then chose a spot further down the road. The ranger came in at 7.00 am and we don’t know if they got into trouble or not.

On the way down we stopped once at a services to use the toilet, then went a little further to our usual lunch spot at the John Tognetti rest area. We parked in the sun and watched Ash Barty lose her match. We were sad for her, but I think she can handle it. We were disappointed, but still glad to have seen the last hour of the match. Having lunch as well made a nice little break. I had remembered to fill the thermos so making cups of tea was easy.

We arrived in Capel at about 4.00 pm. At about 6.00 we walked into town and explored the Main Street. The IGA, liquor outlet and pub were open and kids were playing in the beautiful skate park.

With all of the driving and also making sure we park in the sun we’ve had no power problems, indeed the battery has stayed over 80%. I was worried that after hammering it down it might not hold a charge, but it wasn’t a problem and there is no need to get a new battery. It’s cloudy and we have some tall tree shadow but we are still getting some solar power this morning.

I defrosted the little fridge, and got it cold again with the van on external power. We found our icecream a bit runny last night. It hasn’t had problems before even with the battery running down. I think I may have packed the freezer too full. I changed things around a bit and this morning the food is frozen.

Stephen has been exploring campsites, etc. for the next few days, but we haven’t yet decided what we will do today.

As we develop our routines and still make silly mistakes, we note that we have become very comfortable in this van. When the two front seats are swivelled they make very comfortable arm chairs. The bench seat opposite isn’t as comfortable, but can be improved with cushions. We love our bed in the rear and adjust to getting in and out quite easily. It’s set quite high and I can’t sit up straight to drink my tea in the morning in the usual place, so I sit with my back against the door. Stephen doesn’t seem to mind slumping.

We left almost all of our electrical appliances at home. We will be mostly free camping and it seems silly to carry them. I’ve brought the induction cooktop and we have stainless steel kettle, pots and pans, which can be used on the gas or induction cooktop. Just in case we plug into power at some stage. We do like to preserve our gas supply if we are on power. I’ve also left the fan and fan heater at home. If we have power we can run the air conditioner for fan, heating and cooling. It is relatively quiet, in the Winnie the air conditioner seemed to be getting ready for takeoff!

Parked for the night in Capel.

Capel also provide a dump point and drinking water, which we will make use of before we leave town. We will check out the hardware store as well to see if we can buy a fly swat. We tried at the IGA last night and they recommended Bunnings in Busselton, but I’m not sure we need one that badly.

The John Tognetti rest area. I may have the spelling wrong, by the way. I love the smell of the pine trees here.
Our lounge/dining room.

We find the bathroom perfectly adequate for our needs. I can take a shower without getting the basin and toilet wet as the shower curtain can be set up to cover them. We also have a handy hanging rail in the bathroom.

We have six USB points in the house part of the van, plus one plug point for the TV. I can use that point with an adapter to charge my laptop. It needs a more powerful USB point than our phones and iPads. We have a small inverter on board, but may be able to get away with charging everything on 12volt. Even my cameras can charge via USB.

We also have USB points in the cab to use whilst driving. I can confirm that the vehicle battery is charged when we plug into mains electricity, that means if we went overseas we could leave the van plugged in for a couple of months and both batteries would be trickle charged.

Filling up with water and emptying tanks went well until we tried out the new grey water hose. We appeared to have no grey water, or at least not enough to go through the hose. It took ages to set up and wind back into its case, and we spilt grey water on the ground.

We then moved on to the Library, then the Fat Birdie cafe for hot drinks and a shared toastie. They have a paper for Stephen, this makes him ­čśâ.

Still no idea what we are doing next. It’s almost midday.

We love Pinaroo Point

It’s not a good idea to park the van in the shade for a day. We simply didn’t get enough solar power. I ran the engine for half an hour in the late afternoon so that we could watch TV in the evening. The battery appeared to be adequately charged, but as we settled down to sleep last night I noticed that there was a light flashing on our console, the battery was in severe distress. Running the engine for half an hour brought the battery up enough to keep the fridge running overnight.

This spot at Pinaroo Point was in shade for much of the day.

This morning we moved the van into a sunny spot. We had enough shade on one side of the van to sit outside for breakfast. We’d had a lovely swim in the almost completely calm water beforehand. The solar power was over 100w and the battery was happy, but it was a bit warm in the van.

The sea breeze came in just after 10.00 am.

We sat and read/listened to podcasts until about 12.00, then drove down to City Beach to find some semi shade for the afternoon. It was 10 degrees cooler here at the beach than in Perth, and we opened one of the rear barn doors to let the breeze through.

I like the idea of spending our going home day at the beach, then having a bit shorter drive home at the end of the day. We still have food, but are thinking of fish and chips for tea instead of raiding our fridge.

I missed most of the sunset last night, just caught this glimpse. We’ve had high, hazy cloud the last couple of days which makes for good sunset photos.

Of course, our semi shaded park up here at Floreat hasn’t been good for getting solar power, but we don’t need it to last as long tonight.

Twilight at the beach

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After sunset at Pinaroo Point. I didn’t get down there when we first arrived as food was a priority!

It took quite a while to get going yesterday afternoon as Stephen was watching the tennis rather than concentrating on getting ready to go. Eventually we got going and arrived at Pinaroo Point at about 7.00 p.m. A first, there was a row of food trucks and a two man band playing old songs, mostly quite well.

The food was expensive, we paid $16 for one serving, but it was just about enough to share. We added a bread roll, and later had desert of fresh fruit and icecream.

We originally parked where we could get a space on the inland side of the carpark near the bushes. Later, after lots of people had left we relocated to another spot that looked like it would have more shade in the morning. It’s late morning now and we are still mostly in shade. We parked next to the edge of the carpark with a kerb and sand next to us, thinking it would give us more room. In fact, people chasing shade are using the sandy part for parking.

I cancelled our alarm, but we still woke up quite early. The car park filled up fast as we were having our morning cuppa. Of course, we started the day with a swim and I even used my mask and snorkel for a while. There were quite a few fish as well as tiny sand beasties, something that you can be completely unaware when swimming. We didn’t go very far out into the ocean, but there were lots of swimmers which made us feel safe from sharks. This is not a patrolled beach, but has the advantage of being a bit less crowded.

Stephen has spent the rest of the morning playing with the TV, watching tennis commentary mostly.

We’ve had some more restorative work (after the new apartment block behind us damaged stuff) done this week, a new gate has been installed linking to our new wall.

The gardener has proved elusive, he was supposed to come at about 8.00 a.m. Friday morning and did not apologise for not coming. When Stephen contacted him he said he would come before lunch on Saturday. That didn’t happen either, though he sent a text later to apologise. We have got in touch with the company organising the work and asked if they would consider using another gardener. We’ve been waiting on this person, not knowing if we can take our short trip south before everythings starts up again in February, and it’s beyond annoying. Stephen has suggested that they find a new gardener and start again about February 10th.

A few more evening photos.

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This is the first time we have seen food trucks here. The options were quite good quality, the downside of which were the bit higher prices than we are used to for food trucks. They all packed up and moved off at about 9.00 p.m.

If you click on the photos you will see the captions.

When we weren’t sure about the timing of the gardening we planned this short getaway over the weekend. Now that we feel fairly confident the gardener will not be coming anyway we will leave sometime this coming week for about 10 days roaming around the south.

Fried mice and other delicacies

Nights 3 and 4 in our new van:

Technology fail: we forgot that we had to turn on power to our TV arial in order to watch TV. We tried many turns to try to get a signal and gave up. It was the next morning when I remembered about the switch. We had the same one in the Winnie, so it wasn’t new to us.

Technology win: on Sunday evening I had a look at our Victron solar controller and found it has bluetooth. I’ve been able to install the app on my phone and can now monitor the solar power inwards, battery status, and power usage.

We planned to have one night at the beach in the van and ended up having two. After a swim and breakfast at Pinaroo Point we relocated to Whitfords Nodes carpark in search of shade for the rest of our day. We had mixed results and tried a couple of spots before giving up. It was a warm afternoon and we felt quite lazy. By about 4.00 p.m. things had cooled down and we went for another swim. The waves were a little choppy but it felt wonderful in the water.

Taking a lesson from previous overnights I had packed more food than necessary, which meant we had a possible evening meal on hand. We decided to stay the night in our new location. Someone came over to check out our van and he was also staying the night there, so we felt we had a good neighbour. We set up chairs and table outside to dry our bathers and towells, and Stephen had fun doing a big wash up of all our dishes for the day, plus the large frying pan.

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Well, I think he had fun though someone warned him not to tip the soapy water in the bushes. We’ve decided to not admit we are staying overnight to car owners, just to fellow van dwellers so as to not invite criticism.

We had a good night although there wasn’t much of a breeze and the van got a bit stuffy by morning. We had been told that a triathalon was starting in the morning, then it was corrected to a market. In fact, it was a triatholon and people started to arrive at around 5.00 a.m. We packed up and got dressed quickly, then drove down the coast to City Beach. This time we wanted a view of the ocean and good shade.

After breakfast and showers we took up residence on a bench. When I went to buy coffees it took about half an hour, but well worth it. Stephen had a chai latte, of course.

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When we arrived the car park was almost empty and we had deep shade. This is the situation by mid morning.
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Life savers in training

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It was quite interesting see how many people were up and about, even very early, at the beaches. I’m almost reconciled to summer if we can spend it staying overnight in beach car parks and enjoying swimming and basically having a leisurely time. Temperatures are milder than further inland and we had a south westerly breeze, very gentle.

If you are wondering about the title of this post, as I was waiting for our hot drinks at the cafe I noticed this sign.

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We should check out the fried mice next time we are at City Beach.

Another Friday night in the van

After lunch and a productive planning session with Marie and Geoff we had a rest and cup of tea before heading off to Pinaroo Point for an overnight. After lunch, with the help of maps and the internet, we came up with ideas of where to base ourselves whilst we explore Karijini National Park and worked out what we do and do not need to book in advance.

Eversley joined us at Pinaroo Point at about 5.30 p.m. and brought so much snack food that it just about did us for an evening meal. We added some leftover chicken from lunch, cups of tea and chocolates. We also enjoyed some beer.

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We sat in the van until Eversley arrived, then took one of the covered picnic tables. It was a windy evening and we had a small bushfire near to us which made Eversley a bit late due to a road closure. Checking online found that the fire was brought under control fairly quickly.

We went along the walkway and saw where the fire had been. It wasn’t very large, but good to get it under control quickly. Eversley and I walked back along the beach whilst Stephen returned via the path.

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Just after the sun set we had this wonderful moonrise. I took other photos from a higher point without the lovers, but this particular photo is the best. They realised I had them in the shot and waved goodby to us as we left.

After Eversley left we listed to a Desert Island Disk before getting ready for bed. It was quite warm, but the easterly became cooler and we were  comfortable with windows open overnight, especially me as I am next to the rear windows.

It wasn’t as noisy in the morning as it has been in the past, perhaps because of the wind. We both had a short dip before a breakfast of tea, coffee and some pain de chocolates (courtesy of Coles). We had fruit as well, of course.

As we plan to stay at the beach for the rest of the day and have a swim later we have moved from Pinaroo Point to the Whitfords Nodes parking area where we have found a spot with deep shade under peppermints. It’s unfortunate that shady spots to park near the beach don’t usually have views, however we are close to another swimming beach and hoping that our spot stays shady.

We are still working out how to make the best use of facilities in the van, but we find we can make ourselves comfortable and the washroom/shower is working out well. We have our bathers hung in the shower recess at the moment and they should be almost dry by the time we go for our next swim.


Vanlife in York

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This was our first visit to Cherry’s ‘new’ house in York. She has been there a couple of years now. Although she makes weekly trips to Perth to visit friends and pick up grandkids for babysitting, she still finds she has plenty of time to herself, which was the aim of moving there. At first she said she wasn’t much involved in the local community, but she has been along to a couple of choirs and is presently participating in a book club as well as running Yoga classes.

When she was looking for a property she told the agent the land was more important than the house, consequently she is surprised that she has ended up with such a large house. However, it is handy for having children and grandchildren to stay and by not adding too much furniture she is able to take advantage of the generous kitchen/dining/living area. She has 4.6 acres on a sloping hillside, with an inner fenced area containing the house, large verandahs, shed and chicken run. In the cooler weather we have had for the last couple of days it was a very lovely place to be. There are a few large trees, but mostly smaller trees and shrubs. She has done a lot of work to tidy things up and plant more trees and bushes. She has pleasant view both uphill and downhill and the slope is quite gentle.

We parked on a flat space beside the house. It turned out to have quite a lot of morning shade, but I didn’t worry about the battery as we were driving home yesterday, which would give it a good charge. She invited us to an evening meal, so we left the food we had taken for our Friday evening meal and had it for lunch on Saturday.

We spent time in the morning sitting outside talking and enjoying the view down towards the river. She rarely has flow in her section of the river, but it seems to be quite moist, promoting thick undergrowth and lots of trees. She has glimpses of the grain storate beyond, but it doesn’t spoil the view, rather adding to the interest of the location.

In the late morning we drove up to Mt Brown to enjoy the views, then went to check out the new free camping area in town near the river. Cherry has invited us to come and stay at her place at any time, even if she is away. I was hoping the camping space, which is new, would have lots of trees and shaded areas, but it is rather regimented and there is only one really shady spot, which was taken. We had our lunch and a cup of tea before driving home. We had some shade, but although the temperature was pleasant, with a cool breeze most of the time, it was still better to be in shade rather than sun. Thereore, if we a going her way in future staying at her place is much the nicest option. We won’t over do it, most of the summer is likely to be very hot and it wouldn’t be much fun being in the van.

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Evening at Cherry’s
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Looking down towards the river
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Cherry showed us around her large front and rear yards.
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Mt Brown view
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Viewing point rocks with what looks like bitumen holding them together
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More bitumen holding rocks together at Mt Brown

Stephen and I took turns with the driving. We were waiting for an opportunity for Stephen to get used to driving the van away from city traffic.


Overnight in York in the Minnie

When I last spoke with my sister she said she is calling our van the ‘little Winnie’. I played with Mini Winnie, then realised that we need only change one letter for our getaway vehicle and call it Minnie.

Yesterday I had my monthly coffee date with Matthew. He decided on this when having his goal setting for the year session with staff when we were overseas. I expect he was missing us very much at the time.

Matt and his friend Seona.

Anyway, his house supervisor suggested we go across to the park where there is a coffee van. We had a nice walk, but the coffee van was taking a break until the 15th January. We went back to his house, had hot drinks, and switched from reruns of Mr Bean on the TV to watching our latest home movie, filmed just before Christmas. The people in his house normally have lots of outings during the week, but not during the Christmas New Year fortnight. Matt likes Mr Bean, but I expect even he gets tired of it.

We have had shower of rain this morning. Almost always when the weather bureau says there is a slight chance of rain it rains in our locality. It is enough rain to water gardens.

We were wanting to take another overnight trip and have contacted a friend of our who lives in York. When she first moved there a couple of years ago she invited us to bring our van and camp at her place. As we are having a few days of cooler weather now seems like a good time. It’s all about spending another night in the van and Pinaroo Point is better in warmer weather. So, we will have an overnight in York and be back in time to have tea with Matt tomorrow night.

Stephen has compiled a one page overview of our overseas trip. It’s great for savouring our memories of our time in Europe and England. It isn’t finished as we keep thinking of new things to add. We have the blog, of course, but a one page summary is a quick way of jogging our memories. I enjoyed the rail journey far more than I thought I would, especially as we slowed things down after a few days and got into a rhythm of working out our transport between and within cities and towns.

Last night we watched a YouTube video of a family travelling in a caravan from Broome to Lake Argyle near Kununurra. We have a trip planned for this winter to Karijini and Marble Bar. We are wondering about going up to Lake Argyle. It’s a long way to travel but it looks wonderful. We also want to explore the Burrup Peninsula on our way home. Lots of things we have been waiting to do for a few years, and now is the time. It will be warm during the days, but could be chilly overnight inland from the sea. We are travelling with my sister and her husband on the Karijini leg of the journey, it would be great if they could come further with us, but it’s impossible for them to get away for a longer time.

As we were watching the video Stephen recalled his travels in the region from years ago when he took a Greyhound trip around Australia. I was busy staring a new career as a psychologist at the time and didn’t go with him, apart from joining him for a weekend in Alice Springs. We did a tour of Uluru and Kings Canyon and it was my first visit to Alice Springs since I left when I was eight years old. Now I wish I had gone with him on the Greyhound trip of course, but perhaps I will enjoy it much more now that I’m retired and more relaxed. Back to Stephen’s trip, it was interesting to see some of the places he visited. He took a four wheel drive camping tour in an OKA from Broome through to Darwin, sleeping in a swag and being well looked after by the crew.

We’ve decided that if we do go to Lake Argyle we will budget for a sunset tour exploring the lake. It’s expensive, but looks to be well worth it. In addition, as we don’t have a four wheel drive vehicle we may need to pay for some tours in order to reach places of interest. We were getting a bit more inclined to spend money as we don’t know how long we will have good enough health for travelling, especially long road trips.