Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Water-proof ...

Several bouts of heavy rain during late November/early December definitely dampened our spirits - and also impacted on my motivation to keep the van in a state of readiness for quick departures.   

There didn't seem much point in setting up and making our bed, if it was going to get wet.  (We can see where the water collects and drops onto the foot of our bed but finding the actual water entry point and fully fixing the leak will take some time, effort - and money).

Unfortunately we don't have a covered area to shelter the van, hence we tried the bargain caravan cover.  I expect those with pristine caravans would appreciate keeping them dust and leaf-free.  Our van is not pristine though and so the non-waterproof cover seems a bit silly, as well as being a fiddle to use.

As it's only the bottom of our bed that gets wet, I bought this "garden tablecover" while Christmas shopping.  It was $8.00 from a "real" shop and I (optimistically) expected the plastic to be less flimsy.  The cover is currently on but even after one use there are splits in the seams, so I'm now looking at a cheap tarp cover to protect the bed and bedding until the leak is repaired - unless I think of a better solution!

Saturday, 6 December 2014


We've made some lovely finds at our local tip shop. Our wonderful caravan door was one of them - as was our second Cobb Cooker and my Mother's Day firepit!

On a recent visit, I spotted this caravan cover - it became ours in exchange for $10.00!  The hand-written tag notes it was used for one year and my Google research shows it was probably purchased new for around $130.00.  Yep, another much-appreciated bargain!

I wasn't actually looking for a caravan cover - and definitely wouldn't buy one for $130.00.  We've discovered a leak in the van though and I wondered whether a cover might provide some level of protection.  For $10.00 outlay, it was good to test my theory.  As it happens, the cover is weather-proof (not waterproof) only and probably not really appropriate in our situation. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

(Not) Cooking with gas!

We don't use gas when camping and won't be starting now that we're caravanners!

Although our van originally had a 3-way gas/electric fridge fitted, that space was converted to storage area long before our purchase.

Our two very efficient Engel fridge/freezers run on 12 or 24-volt power and we have no intentions of replacing them. (At this stage, we'll continue to use one or both set up in the rear of Elmer).

Similarly we are very happy with our dual-fuel stove, which we tend to use outside - so the gas stove inside the van is also surplus to demand. For those reasons, Nick removed the gas bottle holder from the drawbar and took out the gas stove. The stove area now provides good storage for our collection of kettles, billies and teapot.  (I've put the toasting forks in there and I'm sure it will become a home for other cooking items).

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


I'm not sure how (or when) I came to realise there was a place called Vaughan. For obvious reasons, I thought it should definitely be on our list of places to go!

As it happened, Vaughan was not too far out of our way when we headed home - so we called in for a late lunch. It was a very pleasant diversion. Dogs are not allowed in the national park, so we weren't able to picnic near the mineral springs but I'm sure we'll visit again (without Bandit)!

Melville Caves

It was a very steep walk up to Melville Caves.

As usual, Vaughan bounded along ahead but the rest of us took several breaks to admire the views, which were gorgeous.  We could see (!) why Captain Melville used the area as his base.

We did think the bushranger must have been a fairly slim individual, given the access to some of the caves! 

When back at the picnic area, we had a closer look at the amenities blocks. I was quite impressed by the hand-basin in the ladies! (The mens' toilet had a similar structure but it no longer worked).

Monday, 3 November 2014

Melville Caves Campground

We'd seen lots of open country during the drive from Lake Hindmarsh to the Kooyoora State Park - so the huge granite boulders were even more impressive!

It was around 6:30pm when we arrived, so we set up quickly.  Nick parked Elmer close to the caravan and put out the awning.  I used one of our camping tables and the rear tray as a cooking area.  When we bought our Thumper, it came with a LED magnetic lighting strip.  I can't remember using it previously but we certainly appreciated it's strong light this trip - wow!

Vaughan quickly made friends with a boy his age and the two of them took over our other table, so as to play Magic the Gathering (in between bouts of toasting marshmallows at the other family's campfire)!

As you can see our dinner was cooked on the Cobb Cooker, with the dual-fuel stove also being used.  I'd planned an easy meal for our last night - a favourite from my Australian Bush Cooking recipe book.  (You can see inside the book, here).  I often make the "creamy bacon & mushroom sauce" when at home but I think this is the first time I've cheffed it while away! 

Second shingleback!

As much as we liked Lake Hindmarsh, we decided we should head closer to home for our last night on-the-road.

During the week, I'd borrowed a number of low-cost camping and/or caravanning guides from our local libraries.

Nick and I sat in the shade of a huge gum tree with drinks in hand - cross-referencing the books in search of a suitable campground destination.  Not all allowed dogs, including the two closest to our preferred travelling distance, so we made a decision to drive a little further than we had first expected. 

After checking all was secure, we started heading in an easterly direction.  We'd been travelling for about 40 minutes when I spotted this shingleback on the road and called for a halt.  Fortunately Nick was able to stop in time, though it is trickier to do so with caravan in tow. In any case the shingleback was safely relocated to the other side of the road - after posing for photos and having a tick removed! 

In Hind(marsh)sight!

Once the lovely shingleback was safely relocated, we set about preparing a late lunch. I was quite hungry and very keen to get our BBQ underway.

Nick and Erin set up the tables, chairs and dual-fuel stove while I retrieved various ingredients from the fridge.

It was quite a flash lunch of chicken and crunchy salad on wrap bread, served with icy cold juice.

After lunch Nick and I walked down to the lake.  When we first drove up, I thought there was water far off in the distance. 

On closer inspection there wasn't water - only heat haze. 

It seems the lake did have a lot of water at the end of 2010, for the first time in over a decade.  It was big news and the ABC ran a story about it in December 2010 and another one in February 2011.

Schulzes shingleback!

Lake Hindmarsh is Victoria's largest freshwater lake an extremely popular spot for holiday makers, teeming with wildlife. Fringed by ancient River Red Gums and fed by the Wimmera River, this huge lake is shared by parrots, pelicans, sea eagles, anglers and water sports enthusiasts alike.

So says the blurb on the Parks Victoria website - and my map had similar information.  When we left Pink Lake our plan was to lunch at Lake Hindmarsh and enjoy the views.

Yes, well - two things became apparent as we rolled into Schulzes Beach camping area. One: there was far more "beach" than "lake"; and two: we were about to run over a shingleback lizard! I called for a halt, then Vaughan and I quickly exited the car to greet the lizard! He/she was greatly admired by all, then gently relocated a little further away from the road.

"That's not flamingos!"

Many years ago, I was an exchange student in Kenya - so when I read about Pink Lake, I was reminded of seeing Lake Nakuru and it's resident flamingo population. 

I was talking about them in the car as we drove away from camp. When we first spotted Dimboola's Pink Lake, Vaughan quickly commented: "that's not flamingos"!

As soon as Elmer stopped, Vaughan was out and running down the access track to the lake.  We were all quite amazed by the sight that greeted us.  It really was very neat!

There was no information board at the lake.  I've been googling though and found this link, which includes a video of an ABC Landline story about the lake and it's history of salt mining.  Commercial salt-mining had continued at the site for many years but ceased in the late 1990s.  When the story screened in 2009, a business operator had just started small-scale salt harvesting of the pink salt, to market as a gourmet food.

Something special

In the morning, Nick insisted I come and see "something special" in the men's loo.  I was curious - and cautious!

As we walked over to the toilet block, Nick explained a willy wagtail had built her nest on one of the rafters. 

The nest was empty as we approached but the adult birds were close by, flitting about the trees and scolding.  As we watched one of them hopped along the rafter, then settled back on the nest, peering down at us! 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Layover at Lochiel ...

The evening light was really pretty as we drove into the Lochiel rest area.

It was our first night free-camping with the caravan, so Nick and I had some Aldi bubbles served in our smaller green polka-dot cups (two that hadn't rolled around the floor in transit)!

We set up the Cobb Cookers for a BBQ dinner, then sat back to watch the evening settle over the paddock.  There were lots of little birds about and a few rabbits also. 

Vaughan took his bike for a ride along an access track while he could still see where he was going.

Nick lit our lantern and the dual-fuel stove (so as to cook our pre-packaged pasta).  The pasta al fredo wasn't fully cooked but our flavoured sausages and corn on the cob were definitely appreciated!

Some of us had bananas and UHT custard for dessert - which was good, too!

Driving to Dimboola ...

It is fair to say the weather had been quite variable during our stay at the Green Hill Lake reserve.

There had been frequent rain cycles along with cold winds, so after our Gum San visit (and some lunch) we decided to pack up and move on - because we could!

I'd borrowed a few free/low-cost caravanning books from the local library and we picked a couple of places to head toward.  West was our general direction, so we refuelled at Horsham (which cost $168.00, just a little less than the quoted locksmith fee of $186.00)!

Dimboola was our next stop, where we pulled over to stretch our legs and have some afternoon tea.  (Our green polka-dotted cups had tumbled out of the cupboard during transit, so I gathered them up while in the van retrieving some corn chips and salsa).  It was very pleasant sitting in the sun, watching the birds and admiring the quiet township.

By Gum, it was good!

The Ararat tourist information officer recommended the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre and had given us two discounted adult entry vouchers.

When we presented our vouchers to the museum cashier, she used her calculator to work out the best deal for us - which happened to be the usual family rate of $28.50. Given how much we enjoyed our visit, the entry fee was an absolute bargain!

Ararat is the only Australian town to have been founded by the Chinese. We watched a short video of hardships faced by those miners during their voyage from China and their long walk from Robe in South Australia to the Victorian goldfields.

Erin, Vaughan and Nick spent a lot of time panning for their fortune - and brought home a vial with a few gold specks for their combined efforts!

While they were so engrossed, I moved off to view the courthouse videos and look at the other displays.

Nick, Vaughan and I later tried our hand at calligraphy.

Nick did his name but as Vaughan and I weren't on the name list, Vaughan wrote "ox" and I wrote Erin a "happy birthday" message. At least that's what it's meant to say! I also wrote "congratulations for getting rich" very neatly for Nick, just in case!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Silly Shower!

I had a shower late on Saturday night.  Actually it may have been just after midnight.  I felt quite grotty after all the day's excitement, so traipsed 200 metres down to the amenities block, determined to go ahead with my ablutions regardless of the cold. 

To put matters in perspective, I later realised the temperature was just 4 degrees!  It wasn't the first time I'd had a late-night, cold-weather shower but there was no power point in the Green Hill Lake amenities block for a fan heater (even if I'd thought to pack one)!!

The shower only had one tap but the ranger assured me I could use it to dial the correct mix of hot and cold water.  What he neglected to mention was the fact that I needed to continue to hold the tap in for consistent water flow!  Yep, one-handed showering!  If I let go, the water stopped and I then had to twist the tap again to adjust the water temperature!

I had lovely hot water but had to scamper a bit to get dressed.  Nick, Erin and Vaughan all waited to shower in the morning - and reported that hot water wasn't so hot by then, though the general outside temperature was a bit more reasonable.

Pizza party!

During the angst of the caravan key-retrieval, I said to Erin that her belated birthday pizza party might be even further delayed. 

Luckily it wasn't - and once the van was again accessible, I set up both Cobb Cookers in the nearby picnic shed / pizza parlour!

I've made pizza in the Cobb Cookers at home but this was the first time I'd used them for pizza while camping, though we made very fine camp oven pizza in the Warrumbungles. 

Previously I've used our enamel camping plates as pizza trays.  This time I cooked the pizzas directly on the Cobb grill plates.  I didn't keep track of the cooking time, just checked for crispness of the base and done-ness of the toppings!  I made six small, very rustic pizzas.  As an experiment, I also used one of our Aldi wraps for a base.  It was OK but definitely not in the same league as the home-made dough!

As well as making dough, I also make pizza sauce using this recipe.  One quantity is split into three small containers.  Two are frozen for later use.  I brought a frozen portion with me, and the sauce had defrosted nicely by Saturday night.

Key security points!

I did something stupid on Saturday evening. I blame the lurgi. I really wasn't feeling 100% and had been hanging out for an afternoon nap since lunchtime.

When we headed back to the camping ground after our windmill wandering, I was still hopeful of a quick sleep. Nup. Didn't happen!

Vaughan spotted a tortoise on the road as we rolled into the reserve.  He/she was picked up, examined and later released into a wet part of the lake.

Although I unlocked the van, put the keys down and almost got to my bed - I was interrupted by calls that the ranger had arrived.  Being keen to do the right thing and pay our two nights' accommodation, I dashed out with wallet in hand.  We chatted about local attractions and he confirmed that although the shower stalls only had one tap, there was in fact hot water - hooray!

After the ranger left, I walked back to the van - and found it locked.  I knew exactly where the keys were.  They were on top of a suitcase, at the end of  my bed.  Inside the locked van.  Great.

We hold premium roadside assistance for Elmer.  If he breaks down, anything being towed is covered for towing also.  I quickly conferred with Nick and rang the assistance line.  A very helpful lady advised that they couldn't retrieve keys from the caravan but she offered to give me the local locksmith's phone number.  In actual fact she transferred me through to him.  He was happy to come out - for $186.00 before 6:00pm and a much higher fee afterwards.  At that stage I didn't realise the time was so close to 6:00pm.

Nick thought the $186.00 could be better used, so started trying to get in.  You remember our beautiful bargain door and the new locking handle?  Nick was quite stressed at the thought of having to wreck either of them. 

Our neighbour, Rick, came over to offer assistance.  He gently confirmed that 6:00pm was fast approaching and agreed with us that saving the call-out fee was the best option.  Rick knew the story of the bargain door and suggested the side window as a better option.  He brought over tools and worked with Nick to remove the window - which was a more straight-forward exercise than Nick and I anticipated.  I would have taken better photos but my camera was locked in the van, next to the keys!

Once the window was out, it took two seconds to pluck the keys from the suitcase just under the hole - and then Nick worked to put the window straight back into the van.  We thanked Rick for his assistance and warned him that he'd gain some internet stardom after being featured in this post!

Wind Farming ...

During our late-night drive to Green Hill Lake, we saw a sign for wind farm information and viewing platform.  Of course it was too dark to see anything so after lunch we back-tracked along a parallel road and found a similar viewing area. 

Although we could see the windmills in the distance, we decided to drive along some country roads and hopefully get a closer look.

It was a very pretty drive and after a while we got to a point where the windmills were just up the hill from us.  We were happy Nick's hunch had led us to a better vantage point!

Power lunch?!

We were ready for lunch when we left the museum but didn't need to go back to camp as we had our picnic suitcases in the car, along with a fully-stocked Engel fridge.

There was a basic rest area out of town, so we pulled over to use one of the neat picnic settings.  We chose the un-graffitied option, which was obviously intended for tall people because I could only just touch the ground with my toes!

When we bought our caravan, it had a small electric fridge mounted near the front door.  We removed that as our two Engels are far superior  - and will run on 12 as well as 240 volt power.  (Although the van obviously had a 3-way fridge at some point, that had  previously been removed and the fridge cavity now has a shelf instead).

For this trip we opted to take one Engel in the back of Elmer, plugged in to our Thumper.  We were without power for nearly four days and the system worked perfectly throughout. 

Most caravans have gas stoves (and the 3-way fridges can operate on gas too).  The gas stove in the van looks to be the original one from 1974!  We plan to remove it and will continue to use our dual-fuel stove and lantern.  Our lighting options also include battery-powered headlights, "UFO" lights and a magnetic LED strip light that plugs into the Thumper.  We used LED lighting for the first time this trip and were very impressed by it's brightness!

Langi Morgala Musuem ...

After viewing the lookout, we called in at the local visitor information office. A very helpful lady provided us with some discount entry coupons to several of the town's main attractions. 

She was also happy to recommend some free and/or low-cost activities. As the Langi Morgala Museum doesn't open on Sundays, we choose to visit it first. What a very interesting place! 

When we visited the small historical display at Lightning Ridge my favourite item was Harold's opal-set false teeth

Although Langi Morgala had an old dentist chair, operating light and treadle-powered dentist drill (!), I didn't spot any false teeth.  However, I was quite taken with Don's 1875 sunglasses!

Vaughan really liked the Aboriginal artefact display - which is the largest in Victoria.  In fact he was quite happy throughout our visit.

The collection of school resources was very interesting. They were described as being in use during the 50s and 60s but I started primary in 1974 (not too long after the museum originally opened) and remember using some items - though Nick pointed out that my schools were probably not equipped with the latest equipment!

Look out, it's cold!

After breakfast we headed into Ararat and drove slowly through the town, admiring it's beautiful old buildings.

We spotted a lookout sign and headed up the steep road to One Hill Tree Lookout. 

As you can see (hah!) the views were wonderful.  We even recognised Green Hill Lake in the distance.  It was quite cold on the hill though and I felt decidedly under-dressed, so we didn't stay long!

Green Hill Lake late brekkie ...

After our midnight arrival, we took the liberty of sleeping in on Saturday!

The weather looked variable and we hadn't brought a gazebo, so I set up our dual-fuel stove in the large picnic shelter close to us.

We took tables and chairs across also.

There were several tables in front of the shelter but it had already rained a few times and we opted to stay dry.  While I was making myself comfortable, Nick was chatting to one of our neighbours.  Rick had planned to leave but decided to stay another day.  We confessed we were first-time caravanners and he offered some advice about caravan levelling methods, as well as our planned modifications.

Breakfast was quite a laid-back affair.  The picnic shelter didn't have BBQs but I improvised along similar lines as we had the previous night.  I'd brought eggs from home, some bacon and home-cooked baked beans.  We had a feast!

We stayed Green Hill Lake, just outside Ararat.  It's only 200km from home and an easy drive - if we leave in the afternoon! We'll visit again, for sure. Although the water level was low, there were many birds and quite a lot to see in the local area.  Of course, the bargain $5.00 per vehicle per night camping fee particularly appealed - especially as there were flushing loos and hot showers available!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Bunk buddies!

It was quite novel to be on the road with caravan in tow! 

Nick had suggested we organise dinner in a thermal cooker but easy spaghetti bolognaise didn't seem all that special as a birthday dinner - and I'd been busy packing, so the thermal cooker stayed empty.

Our tummies felt increasingly empty also and I called for a stop at Ballarat.  I was hopeful of a park with a BBQ but it was hard to find one in the dark, so we drove on. 

Nick was finally encouraged to stop at Learmonth, which is described as being quite picturesque.  I'm sure it is - in daylight!  We pulled up at a park and quickly investigated the large picnic shelter.  As far as I could see there were no BBQs, so we set up our dual fuel stove with a Cobb Cooker BBQ plate. 

Our more elaborate planned dinner became chicken sticks and crunchy salad, served on wrap bread.  (On checking, it was quite similar to our dinner during our overnight Cobar stop earlier in the year, thankfully without the dubious microwave rice)!  Our wrapped innovation was declared better than take-away though of course, dining at 10:00pm does heighten one's appreciation of the evening meal! Typically, I discovered the free BBQ after packing up but given the wind was quite strong we were glad to have set up in the sheltered area.

Nick checked the van and discovered one of the edging strips had come away. Bandit's rope was utilised as a temporary solution and we continued on to our destination. We eventually arrived at midnight, extremely thankful that our beds were already made - and we could just roll into them!

Bandit often joined me in the caravan while I was sewing curtains and other items. He adopted the bottom bed as "his", so I'm sure he saw Erin as the interloper when the two of them became bunk buddies on the trip!

Relief driver!

Now that Nick is no longer working shift work, weekends and public holidays are available to us as free-time.  We're still getting used to that novelty!

As the Melbourne Cup public holiday was on Tuesday, (4 November) we cleared all our commitments for the preceding Monday - and so had four nights available for our first-ever caravanning holiday! Our original plan was to depart on Friday afternoon, soon after Nick returned from work and Vaughan finished school. Lucky we had a Plan B!

Nick had been laid-low with a lurgi earlier in the week, so hadn't achieved as much packing as he intended.  I was caught up with Halloween costume-making and also warding off a cold, which equally impacted on preparations. 

Added to those hindrances was the new-ness of caravanning and not being entirely sure what we should pack!

Erin's birthday was definitely overshadowed but on the bright side, she got a celebratory holiday!  She and I shopped on Friday.  I expected we would be without power for the trip so had a rough meal plan of options that could be cooked using our Cobb Cookers, thermal cookers or dual-fuel stove. 

There was still much to do when Nick got home and departure seemed a long way off when we collected Vaughan from school.  We worked away steadily though and finally left home around 7:30pm - before dark, at least!

We adopted Bandit from the RSPCA about a week after buying our caravan.  He was particularly chosen for his size because one of our dog-selection criteria was that he/she would need to fit on the back seat between Erin and Vaughan, so as to come away camping with us! 

Our new family member was not at all keen on car travel when he first arrived and was quite scared of our caravan also.  It seemed to us that he hadn't been taken out much as he wasn't big on his harness or lead either.  Obviously there were a few challenges to be overcome in the lead-up (hah!) to his first camping experience.  As you can see though, he was definitely eager to be on the road!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

'ello, Ada!

We definitely took the long road to Neerim's Unlock Australia rally - and actually travelled some stretches more than once! Of course we were not really lost, just reluctant to follow the GPS route as faithfully as she would like!

Driving through the forests was lovely though and I saw a number of signs for the Ada Tree along the way.

There was no other information, so on the way home I googled (as best I could given the patchy reception) and we detoured to see the tree for ourselves.

We took an easy walk through beautiful rainforest to see one of Victoria's largest trees.  It was a lovely afternoon finale.

Most information I've found states the tree is a Mountain Ash with a height of 76 metres and a girth of around 15 metres.  The age varies but is deemed to be close to 300 years old. 

When at the tree site, the official information gives the tree's age as being close to 400 years old - but what's a hundred years in the scheme of life?!  As big as the Ada Tree is, it doesn't hold the title of Victoria's biggest or tallest.  I've book-marked this interesting link and hopefully we can meet more of Victoria's giants!

What's with the "twisty tree" pics?  Prior to relocation we lived on the Central Coast of New South Wales and often visited the Watagan State Forest.  I have a family album of us through the years, posing with a very similar tree.  There was a fair bit of excitement in finding it's twin, so the album can continue!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Keys to happiness?!

Our $15 bargain door didn't have a fully functioning handle. We ordered one from eBay - for just under $75.00. 

Yep, the handle cost five times more than the door!

We were keen to receive the door handle, so watched the mailbox closely. In recent times our mailman started delivering quite late in the day, around 4:30pm. When I spotted him at the front gate, Nick and I drove down to check the mail - ready to drive straight into town if there was a parcel card.

We are regulars at the parcel collection office and there was some joking with the staff member on duty, who wants to issue Erin with an Australia Post uniform on the basis that she is at the depot nearly every day! 

Our parcel contained the new caravan door handle (with keys), which Nick fitted as soon as we got home.  The two of us then quite happily opened and closed the door repeatedly - locking and unlocking it also!  I know.  It really doesn't take much to make us happy!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Curtain call!

Our van came with curtains. Not great curtains but they were purple, which improved them no end! (I like purple)!

Someone had taken a pair of tab-top curtains, cut them into shorter lengths and then roughly hemmed to create window coverings.

How do I know they were originally tab-tops? Easy. The tops had been left on as a kind-of funky frill for the set that ran above Erin's bed!

The pics in the top collage were those used in the Gumtree ad for our van. 

The purple fabric was thin and not very effective for blocking light.

As much as I wanted to keep costs down by using up my fabric stash, I didn't have enough thermal-backed curtaining - so I bought two large curtains from the op-shop (for $6.25 each).  You can see my first curtain efforts here.  I avoided extra cutting and hemming by using the full width of one bought curtain for each of the long rear windows.  Both were lined with some light thermal-backed fabric from the stash but it was a scrimped effort and I wasn't entirely happy with the result.

The side windows were made from a heavier quality curtain, so didn't require lining.  (You can't see in the photos but not all the rods had ends.  We bought four packets from Bunnings and they cost nearly as much as the op-shop curtains)!

I've used a small piece of leftover (rear window) fabric for the tiny window above the sink.  It has a lace curtain as well, which was quite possibly salvaged from the bubble van I renovated as a young mother (with fabric leftover from house curtains made when I was about 21)!  The lace is strung along a piece of elastic tied to the rod holders - an idea I borrowed from here (scroll down for pics).

Erin bought a lot of the bright striped fabric for her caravan but didn't end up using it.  She donated the 8-metre roll to be used in this van, so it seems fitting that the curtains above her bed are made from it.  In making those, I discovered a better quality length of thermal lining in the stash.  I created a set of four curtains and they should pull across easily to allow light in or viewing out.  (The hems don't look level but I'm sure that is due to the curtain hanger, not the curtain hemmer)!

Based on the success of Erin's striped curtains, I re-did the set above our bed.  I cut the two longer lengths in two, trimmed a bit and then re-hemmed the sides.  As part of that process I removed the thinner lining and replaced with the same fabric I used for the front (striped) curtain set.  I'm much happier with the end result (which you can see in the bottom left of the second collage pic).

At this stage only one window remains - the one in our "new" door.  I'm working on a solution for that.  There's plenty of material.  I just need to decide what sort of covering will be most effective for ease of use.  In the past I've made roman blinds and it may be that one of those would be better in this situation - though I might yet have a better idea!


Our caravan is 40 years old. I'm pretty sure the floor is original and as you can see, it's had better days!

As well as the many marks and chipped tiles, there are some small holes near our bed where you can see down to the grass underneath!

On Friday I used some of our existing black camping mats to cover the rear floor area.  I was pretty impressed with how it looked, though obviously the holey mats weren't an ideal option inside (where dirt would fall into the recessed areas). 

Nick and I bought five packs of solid foam mats from Bunnings on Saturday.  There were just enough to cover the whole floor, so that's what Nick did.  I watched and took photos!

(One of the black mats was used to cover a floor vent).

Later in the day, I gathered the leftover edge pieces and offcuts.  These were used to cover the floor of the storage area beneath Erin's bunk, which should ensure a warmer bed.  Some of our carpet tile pieces were then laid on top to hold everything in place.  I'm not sure what will be stored in the area but it's now ready for use.

Nick made a couple of modifications to the doorway prior to laying the mats.  An aluminium strip was removed - revealing a lot of dirt and ten cents!  Extra screws were fixed into place and the door fits even better as a result.  The mats now sit flush to the doorway and are easily swept - as demonstrated by Vaughan!

Why camping mats?  Well, they are cheap - $8.70 per square metre - so our revamped flooring was achieved for $70.00.  They have greater aesthetic appeal than the 40-year-old lino and also provide good insulation.  We've used them for cold weather camping and were definitely warmer as a result.   

Winding-up (and out)!

When we purchased our van, it didn't have a flyscreen for the roof hatch. We bought a screen from the dump-shop as part of a $7.50 collection

Actually we bought two screens because the first was too small. It was quickly exchanged for a larger version, which Nick then re-sized to fit the opening. 

(A $2.50 packet of clips to hold it in place was purchased from Bunnings).  

The winder handles for the hatch and two windows were broken. Although some replacement parts are available for old Millard vans, window handles are no longer made.

Nick found instructions for making replacements and I reckon ours are even more flash than those in the photo!

The lovely Nammo has been cheering our caravan renovation efforts from afar and it seems fitting that something of hers features in them! Some time back she gifted Erin a collection of beads and among those we found several of a flattish variety that worked well (with two nuts) for our handles. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Progress ...

We made good progress this week on our newly-registered van!

Yep, she's now legal and ready for the road. Well, almost ready. We are keenly awaiting delivery of a new door handle assembly. Until that arrives the "new" door, like the old one, is tied closed with a length of plastic-coated wire.

It's not an ideal solution and on Wednesday, during the drive into the local VicRoads office, the plastic stretched and the door was opening in transit. Whoops!

We had sort-of plans to take the van on her maiden voyage this weekend but will wait till the door is properly secured.  I'm not greatly disappointed.  There are plenty of other preparations to occupy us - and it will be nice to have them ticked off before we head out of the backyard!

I made all the beds yesterday.  When I finished, I thought of using camping mats on the floor for insulation and improved aesthetics.  Shame I didn't have that bright idea before setting up our bed!  Anyway, I enlisted Erin's aid today and between us we manoeuvred the bed around the corner and out of the way.  Hah - that was a feat (and then shifting it back into place over the mats was even trickier)!

At this stage I've just done the back area, mainly under the bed.  I used camping mats that were already here and utilised the little-used edges also.  I cut two damaged mats to size and think I may have used the six non-matching mats for the larger area.  At least that's what I tried to do!  I'm pretty pleased with how it is looking so far, though will probably buy some solid mats from Bunnings to finish the remaining area - as they will be easier to sweep over etc.

Nick worked on fitting the door properly this afternoon.  It isn't quite the same size as the previous one, so the hinges have been moved a little.  It's in place now and looks good.  There is a slight gap at the top but that will be easily covered by a piece of aluminium from Bunnings.  Nick has plans to strengthen the flyscreen frame - and will then replace the flyscreen.  I'll make a curtain, once I work out how to fix it to the door!