Thursday, 7 October 2021

Bags not getting dusty!

The hard-floor camper design means the floor flips over to become the roof when packed up. I took a spare sheet to cover the bed for our recent trip, to protect our bed from dirt. 

It worked fairly well and a previous owner had a plastic sheet in the drawbar box, which we used to cover the bed when packing in the rain at Blackall.

The bed still became a little wet, so I ordered a zipped mattress bag for future use. It's yet to arrive but my Drifta camping mat bags were delivered yesterday. Each will hold eight camping mats, including edges - which should further contain dust/dirt/mud. Fingers crossed!

The benefit of these mats is that a lot of dust falls into the holes.  The pics in the collage are from our Roma packup, where much dried mud dropped onto the floor also.  (I took the long-handled broom and pan with us and swept before each pack-up, to limit dirt being distributed through the camper when closing).

We took eight mats on this trip, which had been purchased at Emerald during our Wing-it Wanderings last year.  My plan is to have eight mats for outside use and another eight for inside - with bags marked in some way.  I'll buy a new set for inside use.  Any older mats at home will be good for the garage area.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Organising for more adventures ...

We returned from our adventuring, very keen to start improving (and personalising) the Spacevan. Nick still had a week left of annual leave and we wanted to make the most of his time off.  

One of the main issues while away was difficulty closing the camper when packing up.  We'd initially assumed the problem was due to windy conditions but later realised some pop rivets were missing on a metal roof plate.  

Nick replaced those rivets but the repair hasn't improved the closing issue, so we are now looking to have the gas struts inspected and possibly replaced.

A previous owner removed some of the 12-volt components and we've been researching how best to replace those.

Those are the main larger missions.  Many smaller jobs have been done.  The pull-out exterior pantry drawer lacked organisation, so we purchased two lidded plastic baskets from Kmart and several plastic containers from Coles.  $30.00 well spent!  Our beverage case fits quite well in the remaining space and hopefully there'll be less chaos next trip.

The single interior kitchen drawer became a catch-all while away, so it's also had a makeover.  Bunnings had these small plastic tubs for $3.00.  I bought a roll of non-slip mat from a variety store to sit beneath the tubs - and a few longer items can slide into the narrow remaining space.  

The six small cutting boards were a BigW buy.  $9.00 total.  Nick and I saw a set of stabilising jack pads at an automotive store a week or so ago.  The set of four was just under $60.00.  Nick spoke of cutting a large chopping board into pieces but the mini variety are already the right size.  These are just to sit under the camper's legs in case of soft ground.  I'm sure we've used scrap wood for the previous camper trailer, so the small boards will be an upgrade.  I'll make a carry bag for them.

Our Engels were purchased 11 years ago.  We've always just used them with the main basket, even though smaller baskets were available for better organisation.  On this recent trip one Engel remained in the back of Elmer.  Accessing the fridge involved standing on the towbar or scrambling onto the tailgate.  It was awkward to see into the fridge and retrieve items, particularly as they'd frequently fall into any empty space created by removing something.  

Yep.  We finally caved and bought two small Engel baskets and one six-can basket.  Only one can be used at a time but we're hopeful they'll help.  We use the Engels at home also, which will be a good test of the new organisation. 

We'll continue to take our Engels away with us, so the inside Dometic fridge was surplus to requirements.  Nick removed that yesterday and we've ordered some stainless steel doors to convert the empty space into extra cupboard area.  

What else?  A mini flip-top bin for rubbish, which will sit on the bench area.  Given most of our stops were overnight, rubbish was binned before checking out - so we don't need a big bin.  I've also ordered some magnetic gas level gauges.  (The line had a gas level gauge connector but the gas didn't run with that one in place).

Erin lent us her never-used kettle to take away.  It was a nice shape but whinged rather than whistled and was awkward to fill.  We bought a blue one on special from Tentworld and tested it this morning.  It's easy to fill, whistles very confidently and pours nicely.  Cheers!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Home again ...

Nick and I were blissfully unaware of any storm during the night, which really surprised Vaughan - cos the camper vibrated during some thunder claps!

We left at 10:00am and arrived home 7 hours / 473km later - 3,350km in total over 11 days. We made a few stops along the way, lunch at Morven and a break at Warra (as well as others).  

There was heaps of rain on the last part of the drive, from Toowoomba-ish onwards. We were very, very pleased to arrive home safely - and not to be paddling about, trying to set up in such wet conditions.

It was a great first trip.  Definitely a thorough test of our Spacevan. We got faster at both setting up and packing down. We coped well with strong winds and rain. There were some issues but we're hopeful of finding easy-ish solutions.  We've made a list of things to pack for next time, discussed improvements to be made and are already scheming for more adventures!

Day 11, Roma to Home - 473km (3,350km total)

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Windy and wet ...

The beautiful breeze became stronger later, accompanied by lightning flashes and a few drops of rain, which caused a brief retreat. I stayed up under the stars for quite a while afterwards, before retiring to bed. 

The wind picked up considerably during the night. There was lots of creaking and other noise as the canvas flapped and support poles flexed. Thankfully we stayed grounded, in spite of feeling as if we might go whirling about (like Dorothy in her house) at any time!

It wasn't raining early in the morning, so Nick and I went out with Mr Dog.  The clouds darkened as we walked, so we headed back to our site and started packing up.

We managed to get a lot done - but not everything - before the rain started.  Even in those soggy conditions, it was our earliest pack-up/departure of the trip!

It was a long day of driving.  We rolled into Roma around 4:00pm set for our last night, revisiting the Ups and Downs Farmstay (where we stayed in 2018). The Spacevan fared pretty well after the wet pack-up/travel - and thankfully there wasn't too much chaos to deal with. 

Our hostess advised us of hail storm warnings and offered space for our vehicle under shelter.  The fridge was plugged in though, so we opted to leave everything as is.  (She had added that no hail eventuated on any of the previous nights).

Day 10, Blackall to Roma - 501.5km

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

It's big!

Nick and I had an early walk through town with Bandit before breakfast - and packing up. We left Longreach at 9:30am and drove to Blackall via Ilfracombe/Isisford (which was new countryside for us).

There hadn't been as many lizards as expected this trip but we spotted a bearded dragon on the quieter road and called for a halt.  

Vaughan surprised us by exiting the car and successfully sprinting after the lizard, in his slip-on shoes and while hitching his pants! 

We'd missed seeing Alice and Avon on the way up, so were looking forward to seeing them on the way home.  We checked into Blackall caravan park around 2:00pm and were given a site very close to the one we'd had on the way up.  

It was lovely to spend several hours catching up with Alice after setting up, seeing her garden and desert roses, sharing stories - and her beautifully baked cake. 

Back at the van park, we dined under the stars again and enjoyed a beautiful cool breeze.

Day 9, Longreach to Blackall - 249km

Monday, 27 September 2021

Long reach from Julia Creek

We were up early again, so worked steadily in the cool - and checked out a little after 9:30am.  There were quick farewells with Di before we were back on the road.

Last year, during our Wing-it Wanderings trip, I was very excited to find half a Road Train sign. I've been looking for the other half since then and felt I might have better, albeit still slim, chances of finding one this trip.

Much excitement between Julia Creek and Kynuna when I spotted some yellow! Alas, on checking the archives my find was as Vaughan said - "the wrong half". Not to worry, I'll keep searching, though I may now require two "Roads"?!

My new sign is far more battered than the first one but still made it all the way home with us!

There was discussion while driving about the landscape and behaviour of willy-willies - as well as tumbleweed appreciation and some sing-alongs to Vaughan's playlist.  

We detoured again into Kynuna for a quick break and then drove to Winton.  

Nick and I bought takeaway from one of the pubs and we all sat on the footpath in the shade of a building (beside the car) to have lunch.  Nick and I had fold-up stools for increased comfort but we even so, it was still very hot and we were all pleased to get back in the car out of the heat.

Longreach was our overnight stop, as planned.  We arrived around 4:00pm, set up, chatted to a neighbour and then kicked back listening to a different neighbour's TV, so it seemed like we were "watching" NCIS together!  TV aside, it was very pleasant sitting outside, with stars emerging between the clouds.

Vaughan found several broad-banded sandswimmers beside the amenities block, so they were admired and photographed.  A definite highlight of the evening!

Day 8, Julia Creek to Longreach - 466km

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Sunrise to sunset ...

I was awake early and saw the sunrise while walking to the amenities block.  We then took Bandit for a walk around town, in the cooler part of the day.  

Vaughan wasn't keen to leave Di's air-conditioning (temps were in the mid 30s during our visit) but Di came out with us a bit later, to see the two museum sites in town.  There were some interesting displays, including a kerosene bulldozer.

"For something different, visit the remains of a concrete building which housed a generating plant supplying power to a RAAF High Frequency / Direction Finding Station, called the ‘Round House’, installed in 1942 on the ridge nearby."

We had late lunch at the roadhouse, then Nick and I went out searching for "the ruins".  It was a bit of a mission due to scant directions but eventually found, when we looked at our geocaching app!  

As much as I liked reading of the history, it was neat to see all the fairy martin nests on the ceiling - and a guy rounding up young cows nearby.

The geocache was hidden elsewhere, so we found that before returning to the ambulance station.

Given I'd watched the sunrise early in the day, I was keen to see the sunset.  Nick picked a likely spot and we drove to the outskirts of town in a mini convoy.  

Had we been fully prepared we may have stocked the on-board fridge with a few nibbles and more interesting drinks for a tailgate picnic, like this one.

Nick had chosen a great vantage point and it was lovely to view the sun setting in open country.  A brilliant end to our full day of exploring.

Although we stayed at the caravan park, there had been no bookings available for the artesian baths during our visit - so we'll have to return to do that!

Day 7, Julia Creek