Saturday, 22 December 2018

Terrific testing ...

We tested Nick's wonderful work just before Christmas, during a week-long stay at Nambucca Heads.  Our site was adjacent the camp kitchen, so we cooked there rather than at our trailer but we definitely appreciated our sliding fridges!

It rained heavily on a number of occasions and inside the camper trailer remained dry.  (Our larger tent had some water on the floor but that may have come in via the open door).  We managed a lot of fun in spite of the rain - and Bandit was a very happy hound romping at the nearby dog beach each day!

Setting up camp was quite straight-forward and we were all super-impressed with how quickly we managed the pack-down!  Nissa joined us through the week and while she had experienced our earlier setups, this was her first experience of our current configuration - and she really liked how much more streamlined it was!

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Tap gun!

Nick further modified the trailer throughout November. 

He'd removed the gas bottle holders earlier in the year and we'd used a small box in their place for our Roma trip.  (Pics are here).

Installing the fridge slides into the trailer meant some storage was lost.  The small wooden box and jerrycan holders made way for a larger wooden box (which houses our camping chairs and one table). 

After much thought and quite a few trips to Bunnings, a flip-over bench prototype was hinged to the side of the box.  I didn't take photos of it during construction but you can see a bit of it in this collage (at right).

The previous owner had mounted a tap on one jerrycan holder, all of which had been removed to make way for the large box.  To compensate, Nick installed a replacement water hose with tap gun.  As you can see, it shoots very well!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Slow slide to civilisation!

We came home from Roma with more modification ideas.  Although we bought our Engels in October 2010 they'd never been set up on fridge slides.

Nick built a shelf before our 2014 Yowah trip and one Engel sat on a basic wooden slide on top.  That set-up was in use for a little under two years.  It worked well for Innamincka and at Mortlake.

In late 2015 we bought a commercial drawer system with a fridge slide incorporated on one side.  Those drawers were re-fitted to Elmer the Gold in 2017.  To access the fridge, we needed to stand on the towbar and hold the lid open with one hand while rummaging for items with the other.

It was definitely awkward to access, hence fitting fridge slides to the trailer was high on our wishlist.  The cost of ready-built fridge slides was still more than we wanted to spend - but Nick sourced components via eBay and constructed two custom slides for the trailer.  He did brilliant work!

Two different mounting systems were used.  One fridge slides out front-first (which is the side we'll access for roadside stops).  The second fridge slides sideways, from the other side of the trailer box. It won't be accessed as often, so may operate more regularly as a freezer.

A second battery and solar panel were fitted around the same time as the slides.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Chillin' out at Chinchilla ...

Di had sent pics of Chinchilla Weir when she stayed overnight a couple of weeks ago.  It looked a lovely place and I was pleased we would get to see it.

Soon after arrival we were all relaxing, enjoying the late afternoon light.  Nick and Vaughan played Magic.  Erin knitted and I sipped tea (from our Ace Drapers pot!) while catching up on my journaling, watching various birds by the water and in the nearby trees.  It was very pleasant.

When the light faded, Vaughan lit a small fire - and we used it along with our Cobb Cookers to chef sausages, baked potatoes and some frozen vegetables.

Our neighbour, Earl (a cheerful chap travelling around with his fat sausage dog, filling in time till he died), donated one of his small logs to feed our fire - and we returned more than half of it the next morning!

Everything was so still when we woke.  There were lots of reflections. Very pretty. I would have been quite happy to stay longer, had time allowed.  Perhaps another trip.

When first awake, Nick and I took a short drive back toward Chinchilla.

We bought milk for our morning cups of tea/coffee.  I was also able to get some cash, so as to leave a donation at the tourist info office (for our stay).

I'd pre-mixed pikelet ingredients before leaving home so we had a fine breakfast, keenly supervised by several blue-faced honeyeaters!

Apostle birds had also visited but they were more fond of bread.  As we sat around eating brekkie Erin and I spotted a new-to-us bird, which she later identified as a Striped Honeyeater - and we're fairly sure we saw a Little Friarbird, too.

We left Chinchilla right on 9:00am, after handing our donation to one of the staff members at the tourist office. (It was 270km to home and we encountered more roadworks along the way, before driving through our gate in the early afternoon).

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Livin' it up - lunch at the Lagoon!

It certainly felt like lunchtime when we rolled out of Roma.

We made a quick stop to look at the fantastic "Pinkin-jinn-ee" painted boulder tortoise - which we'd seen from the road the previous day.

After that, I checked our Camps Australia Wide 7 book for a possible lunch place.  One site seemed familiar.  I then remembered someone had recently put pics of it on a Facebook group I follow.  Decision made, we headed for Judd's Lagoon.  Much of the lagoon was dry but we pulled up beside some water and enjoyed a very flash cheese platter lunch while watching a few tortoises and many birds.

It is possible to camp at the lagoon and several vans pulled in while we lunched.  We wanted to get closer to home though, before setting up for the night (to lessen our driving the next morning) - so pressed onward to Chinchilla.

We had an Ace time!

I belong to a few groups on FaceBook and had read some great reports of Ace Drapers in Roma - so definitely wanted to visit!

We rolled out of Ups n Downs and made our way back into Roma.  Erin had gone ahead so after parking Elmer and the trailer next to some nice bottle trees, we met her at Ace Drapers.

Nick waited outside with Bandit and the rest of us walked inside.  Wow!  What a place!  So much - everything!

Given so many references to my infamous stash, you will be pleased to hear that I did not succumb to the temptation of purchasing any more fabric!

Erin found some wool and buttons for her crafty creations.  Given all the range of choice, she did well to buy just two skeins and half a dozen buttons.

Vaughan requested a hat and hopefully will wear it often.

And me?  I try to buy practical souvenirs (our Ironfest fire poker, candle spike and toasting fork from Maldon as well as a shoe brush from Thargomindah).

I spotted a lidded enamel mixing bowl (similar to the one used by Jase from All4Adventure!) - and then Nick found a 6-cup Baccarat stainless steel teapot on special.  We were well pleased with our splendid finds, so paid up and headed back to the cars.

Roma Saleyards ...

We were on a tight schedule for our Roma visit, due to limited overlap between Nick's roster and school holidays.  We didn't expect there would be much open on Monday's public holiday, so weren't sure we'd fit in all we wanted to do.

Everything clicked into place really well though and we ticked off our top three missions!

When I read about the free sale yard tours, I definitely wanted to go.   

We met on Tuesday at 8:15am for an 8:30am start - and after a quick introduction began a really interesting look at both levels of the facility. 

Vaughan elected to stay in the car with Bandit, so he missed out but the rest of us really enjoyed the tour.  There was so much to see!

Usually 6,000 to 6,500 cows are sold at each sale - and there are two sales each week.  (Cattle in transit are also spelled in the yards). We saw the early stages of the sale and seemingly it would continue to around 7:00pm.

Our guide answered our many questions and we easily spent an hour with him, before heading back to finish packing.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Celebratory bottle (tree)!

I turned 50 this year!  I always enjoy my birthdays but felt this one warranted more significant recognition.  Not a party - a tree!

Nissa promised funding and even found a local-ish supplier but when Plan A fizzled out, I schemed for a Roma trip to visit another bottle tree grower.

I made contact with Elizabeth of Bindaroo Bottle Trees ("Grow your own bulge!") about a week before our planned departure.

I rang Elizabeth on Monday and we visited later in the day.  It was a bit of adventure.  Vaughan spotted two bustards along the way!

I had spoken to Elizabeth about my plan for a potted bottle tree (till we have a permanent abode) and she'd selected two lovely trees for me to choose from.

We chatted at length about her early bottle-tree growing days and current operation - with trees being delivered to all states of Australia!  (A truck-load had just left for Western Australia)!

Some of Elizabeth's bottle trees are in Peter Maccallum Cancer Centre's rooftop garden, which is not far from Nissa's uni.

I received lots of tips for looking after my new tree and really enjoyed spending time in Elizabeth's nursery oasis - standing in the shade listening to little birds flitting about. What a beautiful place to work!

We had visited Roma's largest bottle tree in the morning.  It has a girth of 9.51 metres.  My tree is currently almost my height (including crown - the tree's not mine)!  Let's not discuss girths!  I plan to measure the two of us each birthday and see how wonderfully we age together!

Ups n Downs!

We booked in for two nights at Ups n Downs Farmstay, just outside Roma - a very good choice!

It was around 6:00pm when we rolled in on Sunday night, a bit over seven hours since leaving home.  We'd had a few breaks along the way but the going had been slow due to lots of  road works.

Everyone was very pleased to get out of the cars and set up camp.  I used the camp kitchen to chef our dinner - and we sat around the big fire chatting with our camp host for quite a while before heading to bed.

We woke the next morning, to scolding apostle birds and wandering geese (with goslings)!

After breakfast, we explored a bit and walked down to the dam to see the small cows, donkeys and horses.  Vaughan's new friend really liked nibbling leg hair, which was funny!  (Later in the afternoon, sheep and lambs in the adjoining paddock were fed and it was fun watching their antics diving into the food trough)!

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Beyond the backyard!

Nick had a few days off during the school holidays, so we did a quick trip out to Roma - which had been on our wish-list for a little while.

It was good to test our most recent modifications on the road - and beyond the backyard!

We were up early to finish packing.  As usual Bandit tucked himself into Elmer several hours before departure, so we wouldn't leave him at home! 

In the days when we camped in tents, with various gear stowed in our trailer, we had a number of boxes and pretty much knew where each one went.  We are still working on a plan for the camper trailer but saw progress this trip.

Our new packing method streamlined our roadside lunch stop at Dalby, which was great.  Chairs and a table were easy to access and Nick's shelf proved very handy. We all appreciated a break from the cars (Erin drove hers as a practice for solo camping) and a stroll along the river.  There were many water dragons basking in the sunshine and some that dropped into the water for a swim!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Lots of bright ideas!

It's a bit over a year since we bought our camper trailer and exactly a year since our last proper trip in it (out to Yowah) - though we have enjoyed quite a few backyard sleep outs since then. 

Nick and I really like how easy it is to set up the camper.  We tried a few mattress options and think we'll stick with the current one of a low profile innerspring sofa-bed mattress on top of our 4WD mats, with a foam overlay on top.  (The layers stay in place when the trailer is folded up for travel).

The storage box has great capacity but lacks organisation. 

At the time of buying the trailer, we had grand plans of perhaps setting up a kitchen inside the box area.  We've gone off that idea but would like more structure to our packing/storage.

Top collage pic shows the storage box in use for our first overnight stay.  You can see the previous owner fitted a shelf to the driver's side of the box only.

Nick fixed two shelves to the passenger side of the box today.  The larger of these also has a hinged section for additional bench area.  It may be a good road-stop food prep area.  We'll have to test it!

The main mission of the day was to buy and install a solar panel.  We've talked about getting one for ages but the budget always had more pressing demands. 

Nick's done a lot of research the past few days.  He found a local supplier offering great prices - so today's panel, cable and charging regulator were purchased for just under $200.00.  Fingers crossed our new acquisition works as well as we expect it to!  There is space on the roof of the box for a second solar panel, if we decide to buy another one. 

Nick's final task was to bolt the wooden box to the jerry can holders and fix the spare wheel to the front of the box.  (The gas rings were removed early this year).

Everything's looking good for a camping trip - beyond the back yard!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Doggy bag?!

I've done some more sewing this week - prepping a backpack picnic set for Di.  I'm very chuffed with how it's turned out.

The basic backpack was a Gumtree find.  It hadn't been used and held a 4-place setting - cutlery, plates, plastic wine glasses and a small cutting board.

As experienced picnickers, we added extra essentials - a large tablecloth (with tablecloth clips), sharp knife (complete with custom sheath), purple napkins and storage containers, various co-ordinated bags/pouches as well as teaspoons and thermal mugs.

The mugs were a wonderful bargain, bought nearly 10 years ago at a liquidation ware-house for $1.00 each. As they retailed for more than $10.00 usually, we bought 20! After lots of careful consideration, I've decided to gift Di four of my stash. Generous, eh?!

The starry bag is a new idea. It's the same style as my kettle bags and loo kits but lined with leftover plastic tablecloth material. The size is generous to stow dirty plates, cups etc for washing when home again. (Now that I've made a prototype, I'll do one for me, too)!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Sharp thinking!

We do a lot of picnics, so our picnic kit is well equipped.  We usually carry two sharp knives - one for bread and the other for anything else!

A while back I made a denim sheath for our bread knife and it's non-serrated companion.

That effort (shown in the bottom collage pic) wasn't an ideal solution, so I've been thinking of a better storage method.

The denim cover will still be used, when carrying dirty knives home for washing. 

During the week we visited Reverse Garbage and bought some thin leather pieces, which were priced at $17/kg.  I only paid a few dollars for my choices.

Nick helped cut two shaped pieces, one for each knife.  They fold along the top edge of the blades.  Both pieces were wet and then folded in place around the knives, secured by paper clips.

About 24 hours later, those large paper clips were removed.  I then used my sewing machine to sew along the curved edge of each sheath.  I worked very slowly and carefully, using a longer stitch.  I sewed two rows of stitching, one directly over the other, for extra strength and security.

After checking both knives fit into their new covers, I trimmed away some excess leather.

I'm quite pleased with the result - cos I wasn't sure my machine would sew through two layers of leather.  Hooray!

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Sew civilised!

I used my apple print loo bag for the first time the other day.  It worked very well (!), which then prompted me to make two more - for using when out and about in Elmer.

I'd already bought the "red dust" face cloths and had lizard print fabric in the stash.  I think it was originally intended for Vaughan but he's a bit old for it now.

The bright frogs were a more recent purchase. I bought the last available fat quarter, which meant a contrast strip was needed to create the loo bag.

My new frog and lizard kits had their first trip yesterday, though the frogs were the day's pick.

I'd also crafted a new picnic table cloth with the remaining lizard print and a bargain remnant of spotty lime green fabric.  It was super cheery for our al fresco dining and toned nicely with our picnic set.

The feather print bag in the top collage is for Di's new camping kettle.  It's a spouted billy design, so a little different to ours  - and I made this bag bigger to easily accommodate the larger spout.

Di bought a small feather dream-catcher for her new truck. As I had feather fabric in the stash, it was used for a loo bag and also featured on another bag, which holds a soft feather motif blanket. (The kettle bag uses a different feather print, which Erin cleverly spotted in a remnant bin).

Di refers to her hand-wash kit as a dunny bag which has caught on here, though we tend to use the friendlier term - DB!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Bags the loo!

Last September I made a bag for our picnic kettle.  I really liked how it turned out and have used the same method to make various other bags since - one for a pair of billies, one for shoe-cleaning equipment and now several dubbed "new car kits".

What's a new car kit? When I wanted to give gifts to all the new car owners in our family, I chose to make something practical.

I've kept a hand-towel, small soap and loo paper in Elmer for quite a few years. When we were still in Victoria, I trialed a different storage method for those items.  It worked for a while but I'm sure my new system is better.

The minion and apple drawstring bags each hold a roll of toilet paper, small hand towel (well, technically it's a large face washer) and soap. Erin's minion set has a small pack of tissues but she may choose to stash them elsewhere. I'll probably include a little bottle of hand sanitiser in the bags as well. We've visited a lot of public toilets over the years. They vary greatly in terms of quality, so we carry our own supplies. Generally soap and hand towel are enough but sometimes we do need to take loo paper. (If we are particularly well stocked, we are happy to leave a roll in the cubicle - cos we're a generous bunch)!

From time to time there isn't water available at the public conveniences, so we wash hands back at the car - cos we carry water with us, even on day-trips.  If all else fails, we use hand sanitiser!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Seam's water-tight?!

When we returned from Yowah in early October, we traveled 920km over two days - in solid rain.

Once home again we discovered the large storage box was not waterproof. Drat!

We use a tub for washing up and that was half-full of water! Amazing! 

During our transit period when we lived in a small van, it was easy to see where the roof leaked - because we could watch the drips forming along the ceiling.   It's a bit trickier to be sure about the storage box leaks.  The box roof is made from two panels and it may be that water accessed the box via that seam.  There was some sealant evident but Nick added another layer today.  Fingers crossed that works!

Out with the old ...

Our camper trailer was built to suit the needs of it's previous owner and while our requirements are similar, we don't use gas as a fuel source.

We did consider leaving the gas bottle holders in place but none of our re-purposing ideas worked, so Nick removed the rings (and the upright spare tyre mount) today.

After taking off the surplus mounts, Nick measured the space between the jerry can holders. We looked online at ready-made metal tool boxes and heavy-duty cargo crates.  None fit the space though and it seemed a bit silly to pay $100.00 or more for something that wasn't right.

While I was pondering other options, Nick went back downstairs and retrieved the smaller wooden box which he had made in preparation for our 2010 Yowah trip.

It was slightly too long for the gap but fit well otherwise. Nick cut one end off and then re-fixed the panel, shortening the length.  The box now rests snugly in the available area.

There's a bit more work to be done but our two Cobb Cookers fit into the box nicely - hooray!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

We gave him a lift!

Unlike our first Fudd truck, Elmer the Gold was a standard 1996 Landcruiser when we bought him. The previous owner had not made any modifications.

In contrast Elmer the Blue was already fitted with a 2" lift.  Not only did that make him taller, it strengthened his rear suspension for towing.

The difference between the two Elmers was quite obvious when we bought our camper trailer.  The top pic shows it hooked up the day we brought it home.  (It was empty at the time).  The middle and second photos were taken after the  heavier suspension was fitted - much better, eh?!

The rear end sagging was more obvious when we had an overnight trip in August (top pic of second collage) and then drove fully loaded out to Yowah in September (middle and bottom pics of second collage).

It wasn't possible to organise Elmer the Gold's lift kit before heading out to Yowah.  The best available option was to book him into the mechanic the day after we returned. 

He's now as tall as his predecessor and after miscalculating our exits a few times in early October (ie Erin and I both almost fell out, rather than dismounting gracefully), we are used to his increased height. 

For the record, Elmer the Gold is too tall for the 2.3m height-limit of most underground parking stations! Best we remember that!