Day 65 – Spalding to Kimba

Saturday May 25th, 2019

We made a good start this morning, setting off driving at 8.10 a.m. We were rewarded as we drove through the hills with wonderful views of cloud, sunshine and shadow on the rolling hillsides. We couldn’t stop, of course. A bit later we found a rest area and I was able to take a few distant shots, but without the vibrant colours we had seen earlier in the drive.

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We made good progress, joining the highway up to Port Augusta, which allowed us to travel a bit faster. We had a couple of stops, one for a break and one for morning tea.

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At around 12.00 we turned onto the Ayre Highway, with it’s sign to Perth, Western Australia. Still a long way to go, of course.

We took a break to have lunch after Iron Knob.

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We really enjoyed the views of sweeping horizons.

Those clouds in the distance were a sign, we had to drive through rain for about 50 kilometres. Eventually it cleared as we got closer to Kimba. We arrived here at about 3.30 p.m. First we went to refuel for tomorrow, then to the supermarket to stock up for the Nullabour crossing. The last supermarket is at Ceduna, but if we had shopped today it would mean not having to stop there.

However, it is Saturday and both supermarkets closed at 12.00. Although they will open tomorrow morning at 9.00 a.m. we hope to be well on the road by then.

Looking at the distance to Ceduna, it is about 300 kms, and we don’t know if the supermarket will be open by the time we get there. However, we do have food on hand, or can buy some supplies at roadhouses, so all will not be lost. We can manage until the next supermarket in Norseman.

The free camping area was pretty packed. We heard that they had rain the whole way from Ceduna, so people were taking a well earned break in Kimba. We found a level spot and Stephen went to turn the gas on so we could have a cup of tea. No gas. Switched to the other bottle, no gas. What! We distinctly remember filling our spare bottle.

There is a little caravan park here in Kimba attached to a roadhouse. The location is nice, and it is less crowded than the free camping area. What’s more, they run an Indian Restaurant, so we had one meal to share with our salad and a mango lassi each. It is quite comforting to be on normal power and water after our long drive today.

We will have a go at sorting out the gas problem in the morning, perhaps we really do have two empty gas bottles. The plan otherwise is to stay in caravan parks for the rest of the trip, as we did on our first Nullabour crossing with the Starcraft.

Day 64 – Cullullerain to Spalding

Friday 24th May, 2019

That was it, after a brief sojourn in Victoria we have entered South Australia. They take their bio security very seriously here. We reluctantly threw the last of our fresh salad into the bin. We didn’t have any other fresh fruit or vegetables. Soon, we arrived at the inspection point. We were searched, but not very thoroughly. We had a good conscience as we weren’t hiding anything, but we have lots of places we could have hidden food.

It was lovely at the lake this morning. There were clouds which meant rather subdued lighting, but it was a peaceful night and we slept well. Whilst we were finishing breakfast there was a 15 minute shower of rain, quite heavy.

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The road was fairly difficult this morning, quite a lot of bends, with lots of traffic leading in and out of Renmark. Renmark was where we stayed on the way out on the banks of the river. We had to drive through the town and it made we wish we could have stayed longer. We stopped briefly to replenish our supplies of fresh fruit and salads. Due to a time change of half an hour it felt like we had done very well on time, despite the quarantine inspection and shopping.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon the driving was still quite challenging with lots of vehicles on the main highway, not so much when we diverged onto the Goyder Highway. Our impression of SA as a very dry state was reinforced. We stopped for lunch at a spot from Wikicamps, rather dull, but we were hungry and needed a rest.

From there, the road straightened out and we gradually came into more attractive landscape of farmlands and, by Burra, quite tall trees. From Burra we drove another 50 kms to this place. We are free camping behind a pub, not so free because we had a drink and a meal at the pub, but appreciated nonetheless.

Our new, faster mode of travel is surprising me. Looking ahead, we should reach Kimba by tomorrow night and Penong the following night.

Day 63 – Pevensey RA to Cullulleraine (Bushmans Rest Caravan Park)

Thursday May 23rd, 2019

Waking up to our alarm at 6.30 a.m., we were well ahead of sunrise and watched it through our back window. We had a good night, not too disturbed by traffic (after all, we are city folk). The scenery might look a bit boring, but it was lovely being there in the morning. We seem to like flat country where we can have wide horizons.

Getting away shortly before 9.00 a.m. we have made good progress today, covering about 320 klms again. This included spending time in Balranald dumping our cassette and getting fresh water. We conferred with our insurer, but have to wait to talk with our assessor regarding what to do about the leak. We are inclined to wait until we get home. Stephen showed me the actual hose that is leaking, it is on the inlet to the tank, not the outlet to engine. He rang our repairer who confirmed that this part of the fuel system was simply disconnected during the repairs, not modified in any way. The pipe is probably quite generic and we could probably get it replaced, but we are reluctant to take time out from our travels.

This time I’ve had my way and we are camped near water, actually a lake. When we arrived we had a cup of tea. Stephen went off for a shower and I took my comfortable chair down to the lake to watch the sunset.

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Evening chair

There were a lot of water birds. Earlier there was the noise of a pump whilst the owners were watering, but this stopped soon after we arrived. There are a few other vans here, but it doesn’t feel crowded.

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the pelicans didn’t come in close, so this is my best shot at the end of the range of my lens
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We found a fairly level spot and held fast to it.


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white galahs making a fuss about returning to their nests

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Day 62 – Temora to Pevensey Rest Area (near Hay)

Wednesday 22nd May, 2019

I was awake in the night feeling a general sort of anxiety and sadness. A couple of Panadol helped me to sleep. This morning we made a good start, getting away at 9.00 a.m. We had brief stops, with the thermos doing it’s work in allowing for a very quick morning tea.

We arrived in Hay at about 1.30 p.m. We were low on fuel, and whilst filling up Stephen noticed that we had fuel leaking underneath, about 1 drop every 10 seconds (mathematics person here). He enquired at the counter and was recommended to check out Phil at a local mechanics shop. He had two goes at it and was able to diagnose the problem without being able to give a good solution. Apparently where the fuel line meets the fuel tank there is a discrepency in size. Our Young mechanics ‘fixed’ this with a clamp, but this is not really a long term solution as the fuel tank nozzle of the correct size needs to be made. He tightened the original clamp, which then was still leaking. He then used a stronger clamp.

My concern was safety. He assurred us that diesel is not highly flammable and can’t catch fire from fumes, however noxious. We are likely to have a small leakage from that connection until we have it fixed, but it isn’t dangerous to use our gas stove.  I contacted the insurance company and our repairer has been awarded a ‘fail’ for this.

Our plan is to continue driving homewards and keep an eye on the leak. If it gets stronger we can seek out a mechanic wherever we are to tighten/replace the clamp. In Perth we can take the Winnie to Iveco for repair. It will be due for a service as well.

I wanted to stay by the river in Hay, but Stephen wanted to go a little further. We are on the side of the road in a fairly basic rest area. It is a truck stop and we have found a spot away from the main area to stay the night.

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There is a stuffy smell in the van from being shut up for so long at the workshop. A pack of toilet rolls turned out to be quite wet, I assume because it was absorbing the moisture from the air, quite a good thing really. At the moment I would like to take everything out to air it, but that will have to wait until we get home. Hopefully by opening hatches and windows as much as we can and using heaters to dry out the air when it is cold, things will get better day by day.

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Day 61 – the call finally came

Tuesday 21st May, 2019

At about 11:30 a.m. We caught a taxi out to pick up the van. I checked the diesel heater, which was showing an error message. After a quick Google the batteries being a bit low was possibly the problem.

Back at our cabin we packed up everything into the van and set out at about 1:20 pm. We didn’t even stay to have lunch, we were just so keen to be going. On the way we stopped at a hamlet called Milvale. Stephen said that people there looked like a work crew, and so it turned out. They were putting up decorative sculptures. In conversation we were told about the thriving little community of Milvale.

I loved this spring water tap. Unfortunately the spring has dried up, but water may run again with winter rains.

Of course, there is another MCG somewhere in Victoria.

On arriving in Temora, we checked out the free camping place, which looked very nice, but we only wanted to use the toilets before going shopping. We have stocked up and loaded the fridge. We are staying in the little council caravan park, with power to give our batteries a good overnight charge. A little while ago we tried out the heating and it’s working perfectly, confirming that the problem was low house batteries.

Temora is only about 80 kms from Young, but we feel good about having made a start and are resolved to do lots of kms each day, going to bed early and getting up early. We shall see how that works out.

I’ve met a little family over their lovely campfire. They have been living in the caravan park for two years as they wait to be able to build their house. They have two little boys and the younger one has never lived in a house. The little one also took a fancy to me as a sort of substitute granny and has given me lots of hugs.

We still have to email our receipts for accommodation and car hire to our insurer for reimbursement, a morning task as we will need good light to take photos. It’s lovely being in our own dear little house again, although we managed to make ourselves very comfortable in the cabin at Young, home is best.

Day 60 – sadly we’ve been let down

Monday 20th May, 2019

Young Car Mart and Mechanical Repairs promised us that when our fuel tank arrived at their workshop they would work on our van. When Stephen rang about 1:30 pm, he was told that they had another job this morning and although they had the fuel tank they wouldn’t start on our van until they have completed the new job, whenever that is. Stephen rang back because he found it hard to believe that our van, which has been at their workshop for 9 days, would not have priority, especially as we had been given to understand that they would complete the work today.

So, we are feeling pretty grumpy about this and will NOT be giving them a good reference. The other problem is that our insurance company will follow up to ask us if satisfied with the work. If we have any problems and we are several hundred kilometres down the road we won’t be able to have this company fix the problem. Still, I can’t wait to get the van back to IVECO in Perth to check everything out to make sure it has been done well. Not feeling much trust at this stage.

They said it might be ready by about midday tomorrow, but we don’t feel all that optimistic. If we do get the van, the caravan park manager said we can have late checkout from our cabin and we will probably get started in the afternoon, getting some kilometres done by tomorrow night. We like this town but we really do want to move on.

We had lunch at Wilders Bakery Cafe, enjoying the spaciousness and comfort. After lunch we stayed there reading, enjoying moving to some comfortable armchairs.

We walked along the river afterwards, taking the slightly longer way home.

Day 59 – alcohol free zone

Sunday 19th May, 2019

I think they mean in the street, there are about four pubs in this town. Cute though.

We saw the movie ‘The Aftermath’ this afternoon at our local cinema. It’s so nice to be able to walk out to a movie. It was a bit of a tear jerker, especially affecting Stephen, of course. I could feel the seat rocking and looked across to my man sobbing over the ending.

We feel very much in a holding pattern now, waiting to see how things unfold tomorrow. We have looked at our route home, travelling roughly the same way home as on our outward journey,

We are very sad about last night’s election result, but there is nothing we can do. The whole thing becomes such a circus.

This is advertised in the Telstra shop. Hopefully they have a fast NBN service.

We will be talking with Matt later. He and his housemates had a day trip to Rottnest yesterday. We hope he ad a good time. They travelled from Hillarys.

Day 58 A quiet day, so far

Saturday 18th May, 2019

The polling station at the town hall in town has been busy all week with people casting early votes. It was strange to see that it was only slightly more busy today. We walked down to town and wandered around a bit. I went into the Millard’s Building to photograph the beautiful staircase.

Town Hall voting station
Millard’s Building

Stephen went for a walk along the little river and I did some shopping, buying a thin jumper to wear under my down jacket. Then he read the papers in the library and I went for a coffee.

Around lunchtime we met at the IGA to buy food for our pressure cooker meal tonight. We buy small amounts of groceries at a time because we have to walk home.

We came back to a clean cabin. The park manager had come to change the linen before we went out, but she also cleaned everything, including washing the floors. I felt a bit guilty that I didn’t help, but I think she would have been embarrassed if I had tried. We are not used to having a cleaner.

It was a sunny day in Perth and Matt and the others had a special outing to Rottnest for the day. Jackie sent us a photo.

After lunch we rested and Stephen read the paper.

There was a beautiful light on these trees in our caravan park.

We put the meal on at about 5.00. Stephen peeled vegetables and chopped the hard ones, I chopped the soft ones, onions, capsicum and zucchini.