Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lyall & Trish's Three Wonderful Years On The Road

Well, Trish and I are back in Brisbane and living in our new Spinifex Outback Explorer Caravan parked in the Spinifex Factory Yard in Deception Bay.  But more of that later….

Snappy update of the last three years of our wanderings in our Kedron ATV Off Road Caravan in three states of Oz.  “What?” I hear you ask.  “How the heck could you have been wandering for three years and only visited three States?”

Easy enough.  We wander for a while and then when we find an interesting place we tend to settle for a bit, work in the town to get a better feel for the place and then move on when it’s time to try a new “waterhole.”

Check out the map and you’ll see why we’ve clocked up about 30,000km  in those three years … and loved every minute of it.

But after three years on the road with our faithful Kedron ATV van has been sold and we have now delivered it to the new owners in Brisbane.

Here’s a quick tour of some of the places we’ve visited in the past three years.

On the road we’ve managed and worked in van parks in Hot Springs near Ravenshoe and Granite Gorge near Mareeba, Trish has worked at the Kunna Hospital and at Coles, and in Real Estate in the Isa (Note:  the locals refer to Mt Isa as “The Isa” and Camooweal is “The Weal”) and I’ve had maintenance jobs and contracts in Isa, and worked in the Home Hardware store at Kunna and at the Big 4 Van park in Kununurra. 

Work is easy to find and the further west you go the bigger the returns.  As a f’rinstance, I was able to charge $55 per hour for building maintenance in the Isa.

Anyway, leaving Kununurra was a bit difficult for us.  We were intending to take the dirt road alternative east of Kunna so we’ve included a few extracts from our travelling log.

We came to Kununurra for a few days back in September 2009 … and stayed for a year.  We loved the place and the people so much that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  If you ever get to visit Kununurra (that’s in the Kimberley at the top end of WA if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting the late Malcolm Douglas’ country) we guarantee that you’ll be very tempted to stay.

Short extract of our trip back to Brisbane
Kununurra to Saddle Creek Freecamp Site 205 in Camps 5 Australia Book
Saturday 14 August 2010

We’d planned to make the trip to Brisbane in about 14 days and spend a day or so with our son Vince and family in the Isa and a day with Trish’s bother Aeneas in Springsure. 

The trip plan was to head east from Kunna and if there was a park available in Saddle Creek campsite (Site 205) we’d spend the nigh there even though it was only 109Km.  Suited me too as I wanted to check bearing temps and tyre pressures because the Kedron hadn’t turned a wheel for almost a year.

Arrived at Saddle Creek freecamp and horror of horrors, it’s bloody full of fellow travellers… well very nearly.  Luckily we found a place under a gum tree … yes I know, gum trees drop branches but this one seemed reasonably healthy so we took the chance.

Probably 20 vans all told and some were using generators.  Now I have nothing against generators (we own and use a Honda 2KVa) provided that they’re quiet (Honda or Yamaha) and they’re run for a reasonable period of time …say long enough to charge the batteries.  But the bloke over the road from us had his going when we pulled up at and at and it was still bloody going. 

“Why?” I ask myself.  Why not just run off the house battery. Seems some caravanners don’t think it’s necessary to have a battery installed in their van.

Never mind.  I guess there are all sorts of us out there travelling.  And good on ‘em too for getting of their backsides and leading a different lifestyle.

Set the clocks forward 1.5 hours.

Have tomorrow planned.  Couple of hundred KM on dirt.  Oh well … that’s another day.

Day 2
Saddle Creek to Top Springs.
Had a bit of trouble with the time-zone this morning.  Daylight seemed to take forever … and it did.  It was 1.5 hours late. Our body clocks were still on WA time. Anyway we managed to get packed and on the road by 8am and fuelled up at Timber Creek.   21.8Km/L which we though was reasonable as we were facing a headwind all the way.
28Km east of Timber Creek we turned right to the Buchanan Highway (dirt) and found that the road had been recently graded … at least the first part was.  The majority of the road consisted of washouts and causeways which required fairly hefty braking … and replacing one kitchen drawer back on its slides, and the stuff on the top shelf of the fridge fell down to the next shelf.

Still, no damage except for a loose air intake on the diesel heater.  Fixed it in 5 minutes with a PK screw.

On the way through the spectacular ranges we found Charlie’s Camp Creek where we stopped back in 1988.  Would have loved to have stayed but we’re on a deadline so after shutting the scupper vent, (bulldust over the van roof and the scupper vent just sucks it in when it’s like that & Trish gets really pi…d off when there’s dust on everything in the van) we headed for Top Springs Roadhouse.  

That was 374km for the day, and most of it on dirt so I was pleased when Trish secured one of only 4 van park sites behind the Top Springs Roadhouse.   Immaculate lawns, friendly staff and only $20/night … with power.  How about that.

Topped up with fuel at $2.22/litre… and cityites complain if it goes to $1.25.

Day 3
Top Springs to Stuart Memorial

Well I’m sitting beside our van in the Stuart Memorial Freecamp (Site 90) thinking just how wonderful life is at the moment. The temperature is perfect, there’s a light breeze …but, more of that later.  Let’s start the day at Top Springs where we camped last night.

Headed out on the last 180km of dirt before the
Stuart Highway
and Dunmarra.  And how mush easier it was travelling on this section of road compared with the rugged stuff yesterday from Timber Creek.  We’d let our van tyres down to about 36 and we easily cruised on the freshly graded surface at a steady 80 – 90 km/hr.

Filled the diesel tank at Dunmarra and found that the heavy going in the ranges and washouts had cost us dearly in fuel … 26 l/100km. 

Great road, smooth bitumen, not much traffic … but a bloody great headwind which caused us to climb some of the hills in third gear at about 3000 revs.  Guess we’ll find the truth tomorrow when we fill up at the 3 ways and launch for Camooweal.  Hope to make the ‘Weal tomorrow night.

Now back to this campsite of ours at Site 90.  We pulled up and found a vacant site (the only one of two sites at this end of the park) and were lining up to back the rig in when a cheeky bastard in a small camper truck flew in behind us and attempted to claim the site.

Mother flew out, stood in his way, put her hands on her hips, looked angry and told him we were claiming the site.  He looked a bit pissed off and drove off muttering under his breath.

But like I was saying … what more could we ask for.  Check out the shot of our back yard.  Native vegetation, peace and quiet, dinner cooked and mother in a good mood.  Life is good.

Next day headed south to the
Three Ways
and east across the
Barkly Highway
to Camooweal.  Now our truckie son Vince had often told us about the difficulty he had experienced travelling across the Barkly with the headwinds out there.  Well we found out that it was all true.  Headwind so strong that for some hours we left the Toyota in third gear at 65km/h and kept the revs to around 3000.  Still averaged 19l/100km though.  Those 100 Series Turbo diesels are incredible things.

We’d heard about the free campsite on the Georgina Waterholes just west of Camooweal and what a pleasant spot to camp  … and heaps of other 'vanners thought the same thing.

Now I know that clay coloured water and mud banks aren’t exactly your picture postcard campsites but for us outback travellers any waterhole is a blessing.

After the ‘Weal it was simply a matter of launching on to the rest of the bitumen (boring) all the way back to Brisbane where we detailed our faithful old Kedron and delivered it to its new owners.

Our next adventure is to see our Spinifex Outback Explorer 24 ft off-road van built and tested … with a video camera crew.  See the next story.


Lyall & Trish
0427 977 970