Wednesday, 28 October 2015

More stashing ...

Following on from my Aldi "savvy storage" purchases, Erin and I stashed a lot of stuff under her bed yesterday.  We did good work and I'm pleased to see more clear space in the tent as a result.

I had packed the area prior to leaving our former home but it was a quick effort and we've accessed some of the bags since, as well as culling further.  I've tried to keep a few bits (Christmas lights, cool ties and hand-held fans) close to the top for easy retrieval, should the need arise - and as it seems we probably will be spending Christmas in the van, I've started pondering how that might work!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Malmsbury Reservoir

We'd passed signs for Malmsbury Reservoir as we drove into town, so decided to have a quick look on the way out.  (The signs were right on this occasion).

It was an interesting place and we spent a while wandering about. Nick and Vaughan took Bandit with them.

Vaughan spotted an echidna and was able to catch him (or her) but Nick didn't have his phone to take any photos - sadly!

Erin and I walked down to see the start of the aqueduct. A white-faced heron was happily fishing - and caught several while we watched.

We didn't have access to his area but Erin enjoyed racing leaves and twigs into the aqueduct to check the water flow.

A couple (of people!) had been fishing in the dam. They were pleased with their catch of three bigger fish, though the lady said she came out to enjoy the fresh air.

Malmsbury Viaduct

On the way home from the Garfield Water Wheel, we stopped in at Malmsbury Botanic Gardens for a very late afternoon tea.  It was a pretty spot with young families of geese and ducks.

When we set off again, we saw a sign for the Malmsbury Viaduct.  Although we traveled in the direction indicated, there were no further signs and we made our way home.

I had the terms aqueduct and viaduct confused, so was looking for a water-way rather than a rail-line - plus we were too busy admiring the gardens to look behind us!  

Today's trip was far more successful cos we ignored the signage.  Our research got us where we wanted to be - and as we were admiring the great viaduct, we saw that Malmsbury has an aqueduct as well!

You can read about the viaduct here and the history of it and the aqueduct, here.

Amazing work!

Blackwood Mineral Springs

We were taking a roundabout route to Malmsbury when we spotted signage for Blackwood Mineral Springs, so we detoured.

Given our previous (and very recent) mineral spring water samplings, Nick wasn't overly keen for more taste-testing!

The three other mineral springs we've visited have all been free.   There is a small entry fee to the Blackwood Mineral Springs Reserve to fund the upkeep of the site.

As we were cashless, we called in at the caravan park kiosk and arranged to pay next time.  The reserve was lovely, so a return picnic is quite on the cards.

There are two springs at the reserve - one mineral and one soda.  We'd been told that the mineral spring was the better one, which was true.

Erin offered Bandit a bowl of the soda spring water.  Our smart dog walked away after two licks!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Stowing (some of) the stuff!

Aldi had a "Savvy Storage" sale today. I bought one each of their hanging shoe and clothes storage units - and two of the three-drawer storage boxes.

The dimensions weren't advertised on the website and I couldn't find our tape measure, so I decided to bring all three units back for testing. 

There were only two of the drawer boxes left in red, so Erin and I excavated both - which was good thinking!

My original thought was to have the wider hanging clothes organiser in Erin's skinny top wardrobe.  She preferred the drawer boxes though and it happened that both sets fit.  The narrow shoe organiser hangs in the larger wardrobe, which leaves the other hanging unit currently without a home.  I'm sure we'll think of a way to use it.

Earlier this year I packed one wardrobe drawer with a few clothes, intended to stay in the van for our short breaks.  That system isn't workable now that we're living in the van and I've adjusted my thinking.

Nick and I still have a drawer each for small items.  His socks are in the green bag hanging with the oven mitts beside the wardrobe.  His work clothes are hanging in the wardrobe along with some of Vaughan's school uniform.  We all have clothes in the tent - and I'm still working on better organisation there!

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Caravanning Life ...

When we bought our caravan, it was to be used for holidays and weekend trips - not as temporary accommodation.

Times change though and for the moment we are staying in the van (in a caravan park) and doing our best to adapt to such confined quarters.

Although I packed some stuff under Erin's bed prior to leaving Hamby Home(in)stead, most of our efforts were directed to culling, packing the storage container and leaving the house.  As much as we'd culled, there was overflow which needed to be housed when the container was collected earlier than planned.

That overflow went into the van, our cars and the trailer.  We've culled further since, particularly after selling the trailer.  Four or five more boxes have gone to the op-shop.  Luckily we have our larger tent set up beside the van.  It houses the Engels, our food, clothes and various other stuff.  I've re-arranged it several times, trying for better organisation - and to lighten the load still further.

We can stay at a caravan park for about eight weeks before being required to apply for permanent residency.  Our current park does not allow permanent residents to have pets, so we'll move before then.  Of course, the better organised we are, the easier it will be to leave.  That's the plan!

We've made good use of the park's BBQ and I've been using an electric frypan to cook our meals outside.  I packed our $1.00 hotplates, which have proved useful as have my thermal cookers.  (The Cobb cookers are in the van also but yet to be put into service).  The past two days have been quite cold, so I cooked inside the van - that was a definite challenge given the cramped space and I was glad of better weather today!

It's just over three weeks that we've been living in the van (after our lovely house-sitting position ended).  We moved sites about two weeks ago and our current spot gives a good view of the main gates, so we get to see many arrivals and departures.  Our set-up is quite modest, particularly when contrasted against much schmicker (and larger) outfits, that often are used for just two people.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ballan Mineral Spring

We were enjoying an afternoon drive when we spotted the sign for Ballan Mineral Spring and detoured to check it out. We were not expecting much given our previous experience of mineral springs!

It's good that we didn't have high expectations, though of the several sites sampled it's water was probably the least unpleasant!

Erin tasted some from the initial pumping, whereas Nick and I waiting till more water had cleared the pipe.  A wise decision!

As we were getting ready to leave a family rocked up with about 20 two-litre PET bottles and two large 15-litre containers.

They travel out from Melbourne to stock up for a couple of months!  At their last visit, the pump was dry and they thought they'd need to find a new spring to use, so were very happy to see this one back in action.  (Yes, we thought them very keen)!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Where's Garfield?!

My thoughts were definitely on the fat orange lasagne-scoffing cat when I spotted a sign for the Garfield Water-wheel!

Nick turned around and we headed along a dirt road, not sure where we'd end up - or what connection there was between the cartoon cat and turning water.

As it happened, the site wasn't far from the turn-off and (not surprisingly) had nothing to do with Garfield the Cat!

We were super impressed by the remains of the wheel - which had been known as the largest of it's kind in the Southern hemi-sphere, back in 1887.

You can read about it, here and here.

There was an information board at the site, which detailed the history of the wheel and the mine.

"Water from the Expedition Pass reservoir passed along a race and, for the final 240 metres, along a sapling­ supported flume to the top edge of the wheel. After falling to the bottom of the wheel, the water continued down the hill to power the quartz-crushing battery of the nearby Manchester mine."

It was neat to see the old photos and try to imagine the wheel as it had been.  We were all happy exploring for some time. As impromptu detours go, this one was well worth making - even if Garfield didn't make an appearance!

The end of the tale/tail?!

Last year we went to Castlemaine with our lapidary club.  It was a fantastic excursion!

At the time Vaughan insisted on bringing a scorpion home for Erin, who was very excited to receive it.

The female scorpion later gave birth to many small white babies.  Erin has enjoyed looking all of them but decided the offspring were now old enough to be returned to the wild with their mother.

As an aside, did you know that scorpions glow under a black light?  It's very nifty to see them!

We drove along for a little while before establishing where we had parked the previous year.  It was a short scramble through the bush to the original scorpion site.  The mother scorpion quickly found shelter beneath a rock and her 20-plus babies buried into the loose soil nearby.  Success!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Happy trails, trailer!

We were so excited when we won our eBay auction trailer in late 2009!  It meant the end of our two-car convoy camping trips and we could go so much further.

It was first towed by the blue commodore (including our July 2010 Yowah trip) and later behind Elmer Fudd, which resulted in the trailer height being increased.  (In 2011 the trailer was given Landcruiser wheels also, in preparation for our lightning trip to the Ridge).

That trailer enabled some wonderful camping adventures.  It carted belongings down to Victoria and assisted in firewood collection and general household missions also.  We've well and truly had our money's worth from our trailer - and were pleased to farewell it to a new home, where it is set for more happy trails.

Keegan (22 April 2009 - 1 October 2015)

Erin adopted her rainbow lorikeet, Keegan, in April 2009.  He was very much her bird but we considered him part of the family - and a Happy Hamby Camper!

In Nick's words Keegan was so camp, he laid an egg!  Political incorrectness aside, that miraculous event happened late last year but by then Keegan was well and truly considered a boy and it was too hard to start thinking of him as a her.

Keegan made his first camping trip (to the Watagans) in October 2009. In those days, Anton the cockatiel also came camping.

Anton learned to imitate the calls of the satin bowerbird and it is a running joke that Keegan was a multi-lingual bird who spoke lorikeet with a cockatiel accent!  (Erin's TAFE classmates were skeptical when she described the differences of his vocalisation - until they met him)!

Rainbow lorikeets have a natural range along coastal areas but Keegan travelled further inland than his native cousins.  He spent a fair bit of time in south-west Queensland, which presented some challenges for him as he really didn't like flies!

During the heat, Keegan enjoyed frequent water-bottle mistings, though he would often attempt to bathe in his water dish - prompting Erin to fill a larger "bath" for him to splash about in.

He was keen to share whatever Erin was eating/drinking. Tea, fruit juice and the occasional sip of soft drink (though he didn't like the bubbles). Ice cream was a favourite and we all giggled when his bristle-tongue took on a blue tinge after sampling a lollypop!

If Erin had a lollypop and didn't share, he would become stroppy.

Usually Keegan travelled in his cage, seated between Erin and Vaughan. He rode on top of Oscar's cat carrier for our Yowah trip last year.

(The two of them were tent buddies at Deniliquin when Elmer broke down on the way home).

When Nissa joined our trips, Erin would nurse Keegan's cage. More recently Bandit has been using the middle of the back seat while Keegan travelled in the rear cargo area.

He coped well with our long distance trips - and we soon learned to anticipate his noisy shrieking in wet weather, when the wipers squeaked over the windscreen!

For a small bird, Keegan had a lot of character.  He would play peek-a-boo with Nick - and copy simple rhythms tapped on the table edge.  He was a big fan of tummy tickles and Erin would often take him into the shower where he liked to roll in the puddles!

Keegan loved paper bags and tissue boxes.  He was gently laid to rest in a carefully chosen tissue box with paper bag covering.