Homebase: getting stuff done

Yesterday we had our new fuel infill hose fitted at Newtown Toyota. We had friendly, professional service and they only charged $110, half what I was quoted. After worrying since Mt Isa that the patched line would start leaking again it felt wonderful.

Our licence inspection today didn’t go so well. The silver box on the back makes the overhang too long. It didn’t pass. However, he did say that if we could get it taken off, it would pass and he would see us again tomorrow morning without extra charge. we panicked a bit, wondering if we could get it done in time.

So, after lunch we looked for a local company and just happened on a 4WD service centre in Welshpool. They offered to take a look and after some hard work managed to get it off. They cleaned up quite a lot and made sure all the bolts and holes were waterproof. What made it so difficult to remove was that it was glued as well as bolted in place and they had to use heat to soften the glue.

Once we have cleaned up the back I think I prefer not having the box on the back. We may install brackets to hold some outdoor things, but will definitely not carry anything heavy.

Travelling Oz…Wannamal Rest Area to Home Base

We had a good sleep at Three Springs, but still found we were a bit tired the next day. As it was over 300 kms to home we decided to spend one more night on the road at the Wannamal Rest Area. Of course, it is the right time of year to go there as there were lots of wild flowers in the bush surrounding the car park. We appreciate that there are flushing toilets as well. It wasn’t busy overnight, with only five RV’s and we were well spaced out.

It was sunny and clear on the drive home. We stopped in at Bindoon Bakehous for a morning tea of custard donut and hot drinks, plus one of their loaves, then were quickly on the Tonkin Highway section which took us most of the way home.

Stephen guides me in, as he did with the Adria campervan. I feel I have a bit more control with the Sherwood, it’s easier to drive at the very slow speed needed to make a safe landing.

Our neighbour had a package of our mail, a new remote for the airconditioning for the Sherwood, plus a fuel input hose which arrived Friday, the day after we ordered it. The firm is in Welshpool, I didn’t realise this at first, and uses a delivery service that has three deliveries per day, so it was bound to get here before us. As Suncamper says this is the right part we assume it will fit and have let Newtown Toyota know. We are continuing to get up early so it shouldn’t be a problem to get the Sherwood to them by 8.00 a.m. tomorrow.

Travelling Oz…Galena Bridge Rest Area to Three Springs Free Caravan Park

Lunch at the Grenough Museum Cafe yesterday

On Friday we drove to Galena Bridge which is on the Murchison River near Kalbarri. On the way we went to a lookout which gave us views across to the ocean. I have photos, but will need to process them for a later blog. I find the iPhone is good for documenting our travels and mostly use it, but some views demand a camera.

It was very busy on the Southside of the rest area, but we hunted for a spot on the river and were able to squeeze our van between two caravans without blocking them from getting out. The river is particularly full at the moment. We love that we can stay overnight for free in such a lovely location even though there were so many other vans. I’m not sure why it’s still so busy now that people can travel overseas.

As we got further south the road became increasingly busy. We stayed on it long enough to enjoy lunch at the Grenough Cafe, but at Dongara we’d had enough. Even though it is about 70kms further back to Perth we decided to take the Midlands Way. People were passing cars in pairs, not giving an inch, and it felt so dangerous.

Which is why we’ve ended up in Three Springs instead of Western Flora.

It is called a caravan park but is just an area near the oval and swimming pool where people can stay, sort of higgledy piggledy around the place. We managed to find a spot that is fairly level. There is one shower and some toilets available.

Travelling Oz…at Wooramel Roadhouse

We think we can make it home by Sunday night. We will have one night of free camping at Galena Bridge rest area just outside Kalbarri National Park, one night at Western Flora Caravan Park, then zoom home from there. At least, that’s our plan.

Our little Sherwood looks very clean in the photos, though up close she is a bit dirty. I keep emphasising her smallness because we are hoping she can fit into our car bay, despite not having the sloping roof of our van. She is short enough, and the bed section does not extend as far as the nose of the Hilux, so that can fit under the overhand of the house. The car bay is wider than when we had the Winnie due to taking out a driveway light and being granted a few extra inches when they rebuilt our side wall. But if it fits it will be tight.

I’ve only elevated this matter to the top of my Worry List recently. During much of the trip Matthew getting sick with us a long way away was top of the list. Do you find you do this as well, reorder your priorities on the list? The Worry List is good for giving me something to do when I can’t sleep.😀

Newtown Toyota could not get hold of a new fuel infill hose, so they are trying to find one through salvage yards. Suncamper got back to us with a link to a boating site with a fuel infill hose that they are confident will fit and we’ve put that on order with express shipping. Will it arrive by Wednesday? Will Toyota come up with one as well in time? It’s very exciting for us as we wonder if we will be able to have our licence inspection in time to renew our licence by the 19th when the present one expires. Or will we have to apply for a 30 day extension.

Travelling Oz…making progress

After spending two nights on powered sites we couldn’t get a spot at Minilya, so used the free camping area across the road. It’s a bit of a madhouse due to not having the roadhouse option and everyone else free camping as well, nevertheless we had a good night.

Our camping at Nanutarra on Tuesday night went well as we were able to order a takeaway meal of Thai curry and rice, with a side of vegetables, very tasty and just the right size meal to share. We felt it was a definite step up from the meal in Karratha.

Last night I cooked eggs and veggies, just a small meal that suited us as well. But we plan to go to the IGA in Carnarvon as we are out of so many things. We can get water there as well, important as I don’t think we can drive as far as the next roadhouse after losing time shopping and getting water in Carnarvon.

Some good news though. Our dead battery that we left in Port Hedland has sprung into life again after they put it on a different charger. How to get it to Perth? Well, the manager makes fairly frequent trips to Perth and will bring it to us on his next trip. They were able to contact us because I left a positive review on Facebook as well as on Google.

So, we are ready to head off for Carnarvon. We are still trying to progress the repair of our fuel line and have been advised that we shouldn’t book the licence pre inspection until it is fixed as it could result in the car failing to pass. Fingers crossed that Toyota can get the part in time for our booking on Wednesday 14th. Stephen has made a lot of phone calls yesterday and today to get to this point.

Travelling Oz…What happend in Port Hedland

We hadn’t planned to stay in Port Hedland, but with heavy rain it seemed a good idea to stay. We had done a few chores, running too and fro in the rain, and then having to dry out our jackets. At the shopping centre, once we had done our shopping and had lunch, I did some washing at the laundromat before we drove over to the free camping ‘compound’ as Stephen calls it, we are in a fenced area. We had a choice of places to camp and chose a spot next to an enormous 5th wheeler.

By evening the rain had eased and we took a walk to the beach and water tower. We then had a good night’s sleep.

We are still waking up at 6.00 a.m. and I find I often wake up just before the alarm, which shows my body clock is working well. As I was boiling the kettle for our cup of tea our whole electricity system went suddenly dead. Just like that, no power at all, including 12v. We decided to press on and switched on the gas and had kettle washes (no water pump or ability to use our gas heater). There are a couple of lamps in the van (no 12v, no lights of course) and we felt we could probably cope until we got home by always staying in caravan parks. Until we tried to put the step in and realised that it wouldn’t work without 12v and we didn’t know how to manually override the system.

Rescue came in the form of a man from the RAC. He couldn’t work out what the fault was, but our solar system appears to be part of it as the fuse kept tripping out. So, as a last resort to get us moving he took the steps off. He recommended an auto electrician in the town and with our steps inside the house we headed off to a caravan park for the night. The steps sat under the van overnight.

In the morning, rising early, we contact the auto electrian soon after it was open and managed to wring from Christie, the co-ordinator, a promise to have a look and see what she could do. She said she had no spare man power, but we were so grateful that we could get it looked at that we trusted her to find some sort of solution. Turns out, she really knows her stuff. The batteries normally shut themselves down before getting damaged by being totally drained. One battery was still dead after she tried to wake it up, the other is viable. She shifted it over, connected all of our 12v stuff to it, so that we have a normal 12v service for all of the applicances, lighting, etc. We won’t be able to use the inverter, but as that may have been part of the problem we are happy, so happy, that everything else works.

I asked if she knew someone who could reinstall our step. Even if we couldn’t use it we wanted to carry it outside rather than inside. She must have made a call because low and behold a knight in shining armour with a white van came along and reinstalled the step. He also plugged it into the 12v system, so we have a working step again. Our house is fairly high and the little plastic step we were using, both for getting onto the bed, and then getting into the van, was pretty inadequate, though better than nothing.

He wouldn’t allow us to pay and when Stephen went to pay for Christie’s work the bill was only $57.00. Hedland Auto Electrics gets good reviews on Google for helping out travellers, so we’ve added ours as well. We were both very stressed whilst we were having the problem, but tried to remain outwardly calm and supportive of each other. Once we were on our way our stress levels really did go down.

We hadn’t planned to stay in Karratha, but it was a good distance for us to travel after leaving the auto electricians and getting fuel, and a new wrench, in case we need to manually put up the steps in the future. Our knight (or is he Christie’s knight) showed us how to do it, which is different to the manual. Did I say that in the morning we actually found the manual for the steps.

Christie also advised us to stay in a caravan park so that the battery would get a really good charge overnight. We have our DC to DC charging working whilst we drive and that normally maintains the batteries. As our battery bank is now halved it may make it even easier for the DC to DC charger to keep it full. Of course, one 120ahr lithium battery is equivelent to two 100AGM batteries, so we actually still have plenty of power. However, having two batteries works best as that way if one fails it can be disconnected so that you are using the one that is still viable.

We are staying at a former workers camp, now caravan park, in Karratha which still has the dining room attached. For $30 a head you can enjoy a full three course buffet meal, but we opted for one $20 takeaway meal to share, which still defeated us in the end, we couldn’t eat it all. Plus it was heavy, stodgy food, more suited to workers than pensioners.

This morning I took advantage of the free washing machines to wash our towells, etc. plus a little addition clothing in another machine. There is only one dryer, but as I started early I was able to get it into the dryer. After about an hour and twenty the stuff was still damp and we’ve hung it out to do a bit more drying before we leave here.

Our next stop is Nanutarra, we are not sure if we need to plug into shore power again tonight, but we may miss out on a powered site anyway, so will just take our chances. It’s a nice place to stay near the river as you can take a walk on the bridge.

Travelling Oz…the last few days

After saying in the last post that we wouldn’t stay at Fitzroy Crossing, we changed our minds and stayed at the Fitzroy River Lodge. It was still hot and we wanted air conditioning. We spent the afternoon resting in the cool of our van, then walked over to the bar for a pizza and beer, enjoyed on the verandah. In the morning we used our discount voucher from the lodge to have the gas bottle filled and some shopping at the IGA. Although we found Halls Creek felt a bit dodgy, with signs up regarding keeping valuables close, we didn’t feel any of that at Fitzroy Crossing. The staff at the Lodge were particularly welcoming.

Our next night was at the Willarie Bridge Roadhouse, again enjoying a powered site so we could have airconditioning. In the evening we walked out along the bridge to see if we could see any crocodiles. At least, that was my idea, Stephen was birdwatching of course.

At this point we passed the turnoff to Derby, which means we are now back in familiar territory from our travells last year. We are trying to move a little faster and did over 300 kms per day for a couple of days.

We had overnights at the Stanley River Rest Area and then the De Grey River Rest Area. It’s still rather uncomfortable in the late afternoon and last night at De Grey it was very humid and every bug in the area had found it’s way into our van, or that is what it felt like. We have experienced our first rain in weeks by coming into Port Hedland today, that was why it was so humid last night. The rain was heavy until about 2.00 p.m., but is supposed to lift tomorrow.

After getting water, visiting the dump point and doing some shopping we’ve decided to stay in the ‘compound’ as Stephen calls it, an area in the town where RVs can stay for free. As we were staying I put a load of washing through at the laundromat at the shopping center, using the dryer as well, and then we’ve come to the RV area for the night.

I had an afternoon sleep when we arrived here, something I haven’t done in ages. Stephen said he feels a bit like we are travelling forever and just can’t get home. We are making progress, but slowly even driving for longer days. And today was only a short drive to the town, about 80 kms.

Last night, I got a bit frantic about the bugs and sprayed with insect spray a few times. As we were settling down to sleep the gas detector alarm kept going off. We had closed the door and put the fan on the table to blow straight up to the bed and the insect spray was triggering the alarm. It took us a little while to work this out. We didn’t have a gas alarm in the Adria, but did have one in the Winnie, and I remembered the same thing happening. Jason of Ken Peachy confirmed that the detector can react to any noxious emission. Our door is a typical caravan door with two layers. The screen door is the real security door, with an overlay. So, we are safe to sleep with only the screen door, but I had been worried about the forecast rain and wanted it shut. Once we opened the door, which is near the alarm all was well.

We hope to keep up the pace of 300+kms per day for most of the days until we get home. I’ve booked our van in to have the fuel line looked at at New Town Toyota in Welshpool on the 14th September. In addition, we need to have our vehicle inspected and weighed before the licence can be renewed with WA plates and the deadline is the 19th September. We really do need to get back to have this done.

I’m not feeling too sad as we near the end of our trip. In early October we will be going to Dwellingup for the Nanga Music Camp, then in November we have the Dunsborough Songfest followed by the Folk in the Forrest Music camp back in Dwellingup the next weekend. And we will likely go to Cosy Corner near Albany in January. So, lots of little trips in the near future. It will be lovely to be able to get the Sherwood clean and get rid of our ‘too much stuff’ to make our trips a bit easier.

De Grey Rest Area. This is a large rest area that is up from the river and has gravel as a relief from the red dust.