I haven’t give up ranting, I’ve just been too bloody busy to spend serious time at the keyboard. “Human Nature” is still in production. Had I known how complex this task would prove to be, I’d probably have done something else. However, I’m committed to finishing it.
A huge amount of my time has been consumed in two tasks:
- Preparing a 4wd for remote area touring.
- Buying a new caravan.
I destroyed our previous 4wd in an accident. We’d had it for nearly 17 years and it had been constantly developed into a tow vehicle for touring Australia with our previous caravan, which we’d owned for 17 years. I had only about three months to bring the replacement vehicle up to a suitable standard for more travel.
My difficulty in getting my next serious rant completed caused me to expand my thinking about the site and I have decided to put “non-ranting” material in here as well. For some years, I’ve been writing reports on our travels and these have been well received by a small audience, so I thought “bugger it, I’ll stick our travel reports on the website as well”. So I have. Here’s the first one. If you read it and it’s crap, don’t hesitate to say so.
“LIVIN THE DREAM” – FIRST TRIP.
Saturday August 31:
The 200-odd kilometres from home to Coopernook was probably the easiest and most comfortable van towing experience that I’ve ever had.
Yes, it was 99% freeway and 1% reasonable gravel, but it was incredibly comfortable, compared to previous journeys.
This was due in part to the Colorado being a much better towing vehicle than the Patrol (greater power and torque from the common rail diesel; a smoother gear box with better ratios; less reaction to uneven surfaces, particularly on the gravel), and the fact that the new van has independent suspension and seems to be extremely well-balanced.
Sunday, September 1 – Tuesday, September 3:
Getting used to the van at Coopernook Forest Park.
- The elevated fridge. No need to get down on hands and knees to get stuff out.
- The big freezer means that, on most trips, we may not need to use our second Engel as a freezer.
- The separate shower is big enough for me to move around in without elbowing the walls or hitting my head on the ceiling.
- The separate shower means not having to get down on hands and knees to mop the floor dry with a sponge so that the toilet can be used.
- Big windows mean big ventilation and the sliding fly screens/blinds are so easy to use.
- Bigger television, right at the end of the bed. It’s like being at the drive-in.
- Enormous amount of storage
- More lights than the S.C.G.
- The solar power seems to be more than adequate for our needs, given that we’ve now got a gas fridge rather than a compressor type. The fridge seems to work really well.
- The “drop-down” corner stabilizers are so much faster than the old-fashioned full “wind-down” ones. Makes setting up and packing up much easier.
- I think that we’ve got it just right.
- I failed to wire the towing connection correctly, so the fridge didn’t work on 12 volts while travelling. I’ve never seen an arrangement which required a sensor connection before (too many years behind the technology). I’ve since fixed the problem.
- Storage space beneath the bed is huge because the bed is quite high. Due to her small stature, Jenni uses a small fold-up step to help her to get into bed.
- The bed is so wide that we need a king-sized quilt, and a map to navigate from one side to the other. Probably really good in hot weather.
- I found that my feet were hanging off the end of the bed, due to the fact that my firm contoured pillow was keeping my head six inches from the head of the bed. We bought a pillow which can be scrunched up and now my feet fit.
- Safari have pinched length from the bedroom and the lounge area, compared to the old Supreme, in order to build in a full bathroom. It works very well in a van that is only slightly longer than the Supreme. The only downside is that movement around the foot of the bed is a bit restricted.
- Since this van is taller that the old one, I need to use a small step in order to set the awning up. Even my gorilla arms aren’t long enough.
Wednesday, September 4 – Thursday, September 5:
Set up in Morisset Showground while visiting Jenni’s dad.
Friday, September 6 – Saturday, September 7:
Caravan/ski park at Pitt Town on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.
We arrived at about 1900 on Thursday night so that we could the avoid the Pennant Hills Road traffic nightmare on Friday morning. We got the nightmare traffic on the M2 and M7 instead.
Damon, Cass, Flynn and company arrived Friday morning/early afternoon and started setting up for Teneisha’s 18th birthday celebration. The weather shat on us. Extreme winds meant that we had to move the set up to the camp kitchen, 100 metres away from our sites. Damon had three rotisseries set up for lamb, beef and pork and plugged into the 240 volt power point, only to find that there was no power. The gods were clearly mucking about.
Eventually (after a couple of hours) the caretaker was able to find and reset the offending circuit-breaker so that power was restored. By this stage Damon was feeling a little concerned that everyone would be eating very late.
Partygoers were arriving throughout the afternoon and evening. Damon was working his arse off with the catering, Cass was managing the decorations and seating, in the teeth of a gale, and Flynn was doing anything and everything that needed doing. Teneisha and her friends were getting set up in their tents.
The day had been stressful, and then it got worse. The power for the whole of the Windsor area went out, due to the windstorm. Oh, did I mention that we had some cold rain as well?
Our son is a better man than I’ll ever be. Had it been me who was trying to feed the masses, without electricity for lighting or for the rotisseries, I’d have thrown in the towel, and everything else, at that point. He was very pissed off but refused to admit defeat.
A couple of four wheel drives with battery and inverter systems were set up to power the rotisseries and our Colorado’s rear-mounted flood lights provided enough light to allow us kick on with the party.
Despite the worst that the weather could throw at us, the evening was a resounding success. Around midnight, just as we were about to pack up for the night, the power was restored. Ironic cheers all round.
We were packed and ready to leave by mid-morning on Sunday. The weather was superb.
Sunday, September 8:
Jenni and I decided to avoid the highway north, as far as possible, and took the twisty path up through Wiseman’s Ferry and on to Broke, in the Hunter Valley.
The road is always narrow, often bumpy and winds forever along the Hawkesbury and through the valley down to Wollombi. It’s a great test of a caravan’s suspension and set up and our “Livin The Dream” did it all easily, I’d never realised what a difference independent suspension could make when dragging 2.8 tonnes over marginal road surfaces.
Monday, September 9 – Wednesday September 11:
Back in Coopernook, after an easy run up the highway from Hexham, we vegged out for a couple of days, doing nothing much, but enjoying the new van.
Thursday, September 12:
Another easy run home. Left the van parked out the front.
Friday, September 13 – Sunday, September 15:
Up to Dirty Creek, to Erin & Eric’s place. We needed space to set up the awning, and an extra pair of long arms, so that we could fit our awning accessories. That task completed successfully, we returned home on Sunday morning.
- Distance travelled – 1 409 km.
- Fuel used – 237 litres.
- Average consumption – 16.9 L/100km
Damon noticed, as I was crawling under the tray of the Colorado to plug in the towing connection, that this was a challenging activity for me, given that, although still just as handsome, I’m not as young and supple as I once was.
He suggested that I should relocate the connection point to a higher position, so that I needn’t squeeze myself underneath the vehicle. What a bloody good idea!
I’ve done it, and it looks like it will work brilliantly.