I Should Be Retired, BUT ….

I’m over the known Australian retirement age and I have ceased that regular work day routine; wake up, get up, shower up, eat up, dress up, turn up. Sounds familiar? But the day’s excitement really isn’t in “turning up”. It’s BEING UP – on the top-side of the grass. If everyone’s going to ‘end up’ on the ‘other side of the grass’, why not enjoy getting there?

Some get to the ‘under side’ very young in life and before they should have. Others arrive there after their ‘use-by-date’. They become a burden to everyone, including their spouse and family, since the ‘three score years plus ten’ has been reached. So what is a good way to enjoy those “days of fade”?

I guess you couldn’t say I was employed, nor could you say I’m retired. Keeping relaxed and calm is the most beneficial lifestyle anyone could undertake. And so that’s what takes up most of my day. (No one ‘pushes’ this little duck around.) Always abide by the rules of where you are. On the outside, people might say that I am lazy. On the inside, I know I am enjoying life doing what interests me, even if it doesn’t bring in the truck loads of money my talents are worth. Ha Ha!

Many save, save, and then save some more for their retirement and for many, beyond retirement. I haven’t! I’m enjoying life now before ‘they’ provide me with a walking frame. Yes, I have seen a variety of walking aids on cruises and tours, but these poor folk have had to do the tour ‘slowly’. Keeping the walker away from the aisle and away from the busy passing traffic, can be a real chore when ‘things don’t work properly’; and I’m meaning the body AND the walker.

Travel opens up the mind. But to get to some places that will fascinate your tastes, you need to be fit and agile. That includes opening up the body by taking in some deep breaths and making a big decision to TRAVEL. I say that because, for many, the first trip is like that breath of fresh air that opens up every cell in the body and mind for those new ventures. You forget all that drags you down around where you live and work. You begin to look forward to those new and exciting “everyone else has done this, so I’m going to do it too” experiences.

Remember when friends returned from their ‘amazing’ trip? Didn’t they enthrall you with tales of what happened when they landed and how they were taken to this luxurious accommodation looking out over the magnificent blue Mediterranean Sea? You were sharing their special moment that is so indelibly entrenched in their mind. That’s what travel is all about; being able to share what you have experienced because of what someone else has experienced and extending your education at the same time. Every trip you do will be that much different to what your friends’ trip was.

Even though there are many modes of travel, each person has their own favourite mode. For me, my preferred mode is fast becoming cruising. However, I have done coach, four-wheel driving, motorhome ventures, river and ocean cruises. Each can be the best mode to do the particular tour you have chosen. Sometimes you have to ride a kayak, or a donkey, or walk a hundred kilometers; it’s up to you.

Each continent has purpose built travel modes to get around that suit the type of tours being offered. South America requires a lot of flying segments to visit the well-known icons we hear from others about. South Africa requires a 4WD truck, or Land Rover, to cover the distances and view the scenery or animals, on sometimes, very hard, rough roads. In Europe, the coach or river cruise boat is often preferred. North America uses trains, coaches and car hire. Of course, each region can be done differently to each other. But I’m sure you get the picture.

So what’s all this got to do with being retired? When you ‘retire’ you have finished work. I have mixed the two so I manage to both work and not work. It’s a hard job to do but I love it. So what is my work? As you may have become aware, I travel a lot. I write, photograph, and take high definition movies of the trips I do, and convert all that into a blog, a photo book, and a DVD. I then make short movies to be used in advertising or promoting a destination to gain an income.

I have experienced whizzing along the Amazon River before breakfast in search of the fresh-water pink dolphin. To see a lion wake up and prepare himself to meet his mate and announce his intentions with an extended period of jungle roaring is spine tingling. Having cascades of water drop straight down on you is ‘cleansing’, both outside and sometimes inside. A morning sunrise while cruising down the Danube is refreshing at the start of the day. The museums of Moscow and Saint Petersburg give a new insight on the goings on in a ‘hidden country’ such as Russia. Even following the Tour de France can be exciting as you walk the roads that soon speeding bike riders will pass without even noticing the effort you have put in to the walk, can reward that ‘child-like desire’ of riding in a big cycling event. That is a sports lover’s interest.

Can I encourage you to believe that you too can enjoy retirement by expanding your boundaries beyond the front gate? Get out there. The world is your address. See and experience it. Your decision will be your own; but ‘live’ your decision.

170414 Lake Mulwala

Easter has come and Lyn wants to “get away from it all” again. I don’t mind that at all. But there is a major problem; at the end of Easter, Lyn will be back at work again. Each short trip away builds the yearning to be full time living in the motor home. It is becoming more and more on our minds to be away full time, but first, we have to get through this year and into next year before we can accomplish that desire.

Easter traffic is often chaotic and this year is no different. Slowly does it for the next 90 minutes after which we turn left at Merton to free camp at the local Racecourse. Quaint really! A big piece of ground for horses to race around and no grandstand; just some stewards boxes scattered around the perimeter, waiting for horses to pass to give their sign of approval. I guess the racecourse is rarely used. After the evening sleep and the sun had risen enough to take away the morning fog, we walked around a racecourse for the first time – ever.

We had had some trouble with the slide-out the last few times we put it out and brought it back in. Now we have a new ladder that closes up enough to store under the bed, I gave the slide-out a full wash and clean and applied a fresh coat of silicon spray. What a difference a wash makes; no problems or unusual squeaking noises on the way in. Thanks for the ladder idea, Ela and John. Much cheaper than having a ladder installed up the back of the motorhome, but then it doesn’t get me on top for the solar panel wash task. Friends of ours who are returning to ‘the mainland’ tomorrow night from Tasmania called on Friday night in desperation as their slide-out was making a terrible noise. They had not been given any instructions to apply silicon spray to their slide-out. Eventually, David found a large piece of rubber was stuck between the walls of their slide out which, when removed, enabled a good closure. Apparently, the large piece of rubber was off their dust seal, so it is booked in for a warranty replacement on Wednesday.

Our destination for Easter is to Free Camp somewhere on the Murray River. We had been to Yarrawonga a few times so decided to head that way. “Shall we camp upstream or downstream?” “Lets try upstream for a change.” Before locating the site, we took a short walk along the ‘coast’ of the lake near Yarrawonga.

I knew there was a Free Camp on the New South Wales side of Lake Mulwala but where, I wasn’t sure. The trusty Wikicamps app indicated a short drive through Yarrawonga, across the bridge to NSW and 10 km further on east towards Albury. We found the perfect site for ‘doing nothing’ for 4 days and 3 nights. There are quite a number of campers but only one other motorhome. No-one would complain having a great view of the lake before them for 4 days with temperatures in the low 20s. This was the first time I had laid the outside floor down at a site. It’s rather good when you find a nice location that you enjoy; you sort of become ‘owners’ of the spot. During our first meal, a mina bird was closely checking us out but really he was trying to alert us to a little snake that crawled over my foot. It was the size of the rubber snakes you ‘fool’ kids at school with, but still a funny sensation as it makes its way through our site.

We look over the lake, which is man-made to hold back the waters of the Murray River for irrigation use and control. There are many bare tree trunks and under water tree stumps but those who are enjoying water sports such as jet skis, are able to manoeuvre around them without incident – so far. Friday and Saturday were perfect blue sky days and encouraged a couple of walks and a sleep in the sun. Weekends are for recovering from the past week and long weekends do even more justice to the 3 hours travel from home. Apparently, in USA, they don’t have public holidays over Easter. A friend of ours is visiting family there and suggested they should, being so avid church-goers.

The nights have been rather chilly getting down to less than 10C. But it is nice to get up and check out the atmosphere before too many other campers crawl out of their swags and tents; refreshing. Each morning and evening, we have enjoyed a 5-6 km walk to get up our 10,000 steps and over, per day. I mentioned last post that we have started CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Programme).

CHIP is a scientifically proven lifestyle intervention program which can help prevent, arrest and even reverse the most common chronic diseases of our day, including obesity, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc.

Lyn has often returned a high cholesterol reading and has high blood pressure. I have a history of Menieres Disease, and both of us regularly experience reflux. We figured that with FULL TIME retirement coming up, being ‘health ready’ is important. Who wants a major problem caused by lifestyle, to prevent one (or two) seeing all the wonderful scenery Australia has to offer?

It is interesting trying a new lifestyle while in a motor home. We don’t have a grinder with us or a juicer. (The toilet cassette isn’t of the ‘oversize variety’). And ‘that’ block of chocolate has been in the fridge for a month or so; not even opened. We have a chat group on Facebook messenger and communicate to a few within the CHIP group. I put up a photo of an open packet of chocolate and the CHIP group convener came back and said “a little should be okay, but don’t eat too much” (He doesn’t know how much is my normal serve. But i guessed he meant “only one piece a month”.  HAHAHAH!) Lyn has managed to come up with some stomach filling, good tasting, food that lasts a good while before replenishment is required.

During our last night, we both heard the sound of ‘crinkling’ paper and it wasn’t until the morning that Lyn noticed a little mouse in the plastic rubbish bag. By the time I got to him, he was out of the bag and no-where to be seen. I literally threw everything in that spot near the dining table, outside onto the ground, and went through everything in detail. At least that area had a good clean out, but we don’t know where the mouse is. More surprises next time we are out, I guess.

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Sunday afternoon, those bicycles hanging on the back of the motorhome got a workout. We took a ride in towards Yarrawonga along a made track around the lake. There was a dump point along the way, so that will be our first stop on the way home. (I won’t show you the pictures of that.)

We ended the day, chasing the sunset. Friday night’s sunset was worth recording and tonight is different again, and worth the chase.

Yarrawonga is a great retirees region but for us, it will be a destination to come back to one day. It’s a long trip home when easter traffic has the same idea as us. Our return journey was long and into the darkness back to autumn colours in our yard.

170408 Walhalla

It was time to ‘get-a-way’ again. The past three weekends’ fixtures had kept us at home and we were ready to get out in the motor home again. It was also the first trip since changing our number plates back to GR8L1F, which we had on our previous ‘Free Time’ Paradise Motor Home – feels much better to drive too!

I had found a CMCA Members Stop Over Point at Erica about 2 hours drive away in the direction of Walhalla and after calling the owner, we decided to try it out. The owner, Sue, is also a motor home owner and was to return from a 2 month trip to Tasmania on the Saturday afternoon. Her daughter met us at the door and told us where we could park, but the site was on too much of an angle for our automatic levelling system to return us to a level position. So we went down the road a little and ‘camped’ there. In little country towns, there are very few people that would complain about having a self-contained motor home in the main street parked opposite the local ‘watering hole’.

The morning dawned with brilliant sunshine and the promise of clear blue skies. After breakfast, a healthy CHIP breakfast (Complete Health Improvement Programme), we wandered around the town past an acorn tree, the seed of which came from a tree at Buckingham Palace, and on to a walking track. This took us past paddocks of grazing cattle and into some great territory for a 4WD enthusiast; I imagined us in one as we hiked up steep inclines to view the surrounding landscape.

Sue had mentioned that Walhalla was not too far from Erica and that there was a free camp there that many who stayed with her, travelled to. So our journey took us into, what was, a very rich gold rush town of yesterday. Up towards the end of the road was the free camp, and we were fortunate to be able to park on a level site for the night. The weather forecast for that night and the Sunday wasn’t too encouraging, with even snow to fall on Mt Baw Baw not far away. It was a good idea to see as much of the town as possible before the weather did an ‘about face’ from the beautiful sunshine.

The track around the cliff face commenced just behind where we were parked. Steep but worth the effort, we climbed to the track. About half-way along, there is a tunnel entrance to the maze of other underground avenues gold prospectors used in the days when gold was rushed for. Further around, we took the steep descent into the village and walked to the railway station. The train leaves for its journey to Thomson 3 times a day on weekends, but we decided that the $20 per person return ride was not on our desire for moment. After our CHIP lunch of fruit and nuts, we wandered through the restored gold miners town. At one point, we could hear a bag piper, but could not see anyone. Eventually we could see him standing out on the edge of the cliff face where we had walked. His walk up to his ‘stage’ would have been followed by a long break before blowing into a bag for half an hour. If he had a buskers tin, he would have made a killing.

On up to the motor home, we passed the shops of old and some quaint restored houses of years gone by. Leaves were changing colour making a brilliant pictures to be captured. After an early dinner and the sun had set, the lightening started emblazoning the sky and thunder claps sounded like trains were ramming the motor home. Rain fell for the next 12 hours or so and we were bound to the confines of our comfortable motor home. Eventually, the rain stopped mid morning on Sunday and we were able to clear the water from the top of the slide out before pushing a button to bring it in and we were off to finer weather.

The drive out towards Moe is picturesque and colourful during the autumn months. The road is windy and undulating for the first part towards Erica. Moe was a lunch stop before the busy drive back to home.

170109 Great Ocean Road

We’re back on the road again, if only for 7 or 8 days.

Our daughter Sharlee, and her husband Paul, have flown down from Grafton to join us in our tour of the Great Ocean Road region of Victoria. Lyn and I had been before we purchased our Freetime motorhome and  have done a few walks along the interesting coastline of the area. So what better way to visit it again than with family?

We chose to stay away from the known touristy areas and take the car with us to use for transport to and from those very busy spots at this time of the year. Our first town was Colac. It’s kind of difficult to book a spot so close to New Year but we managed to be placed overlooking the nearby Lake Colac. Management allocated us a pull-through site, with an ensuite, which worked out well for Paul and Sharlee; the ensuite became their wardrobe as well.

Lorne, for breakfast at the sea-side cafe, became our first destination for Day 1 followed by a drive to Apollo Bay and a 10km walk along the coast from Marengo. The weather was a little too overcast for much of the day but some sun poked through for short periods. Paul is an enthusiastic photographer and had recently purchased an iPhone 7 to accompany his Canon (we are not Canon people). So he was enjoying giving this little phone ‘thingo’ more than just a test. Throughout the week, he became very proficient in taking panorama selfie shots of the 4 of us with an ‘ace’ background. At an early stage of our week, he had shot 2,500 photos; goodness knows when he’s going to weed and edit all of those, and then find time to make his photo book. But there will be some very good photos in the book, that’s for sure.

The views you come across when walking the Great Ocean Walk, are to be experienced best when the sun is shinning brightly in the morning for the eastern part, and then in the afternoon for the western section around the Port Campbell National Park. Each turn along the track presents a new and exciting vista. And, there are ice-cream shops in most of the towns nearby; a bonus. The one in Apollo Bay is very popular.

Hidden away in the Otway Ranges is a well constructed tree walk. The walk is quite extensive in the high tree tops with a bit of a climb up a tower for an all over view. There is a zip-line run as well that you can enjoy, at a price.

After the tree-walk, we drove down to the lighthouse at Otway Point. We had visited the Rainbow Falls before which are nearby. Paul and Sharlee wanted a longish walk for at least one of their days away. The trail is mainly sandy and is around 5.5km in each direction. Once on the beach, there is another kilometre to the falls. These falls are formed from spring water seeping through the cliff face. Over years, the cliffs have become a golden colour with areas of green and red. With a blue sky and the sun shinning on the cliff, the falls stand out along the coastline.

The next day, we packed up the tent and motorhome and headed towards Warrnambool. Our booking was from 2:00pm, but seeing the sun was shinning and the air was clear, we parked the motorhome at the intersection towards Port Campbell and took the car to the magnificent coastline in the Port Campbell National Park. The coast line is made up of cliffs and islands with ‘flat’ tops. Various sections are named due to their land formations such as London Bridge or The Grotto, or the well known Apostles originally made up of 12 but now a lot less. They have eroded over the years and fallen into the ocean. So you can’t call them “The 12 Apostles” anymore; “the Apostles” is fine. With the blue sky as a background, we were able to obtain some good photos as we moved along the coastline. We missed seeing the Loch Ard section; but another day will eventuate.

On the way back to Warrnambool, we stopped of at the ice-cream shop in Port Campbell. They have a great supplier from the local town of Timboon. If you ever get through there, check the store out for delicious, “end-of-the-day” ice-creams.

We had never been to Warrnambool but found the campsite quite easily. It was right on the beach almost, with a bike/walk trail and a line of scrubs between our site and the sand. The walk along towards the breakwater is easy and deserved a visit. A guy was perched there to take some evening photos. He had a 600mm lense on his camera attached to a large tripod. We got chatting and he had been a well known wedding photographer in the Warrnambool district and had joined up with another photographer in business. The business went bust and he had lost everything, so to say. He sounded destitute. Recently, he had submitted to channel 9, a photograph of a surfer coming down a wave with the spray ascending up behind him. Beyond the surfer, is the tail of a migrating whale. What a picture to own! He had been paid good money for the use of the photo, but still he felt he needed some new emphasis to his life. His expertise is really in people photos so we suggested he join a cruise team of photographers, which he is now pursuing. Our chatting ended around 11:00pm.

Moon rise at Warrnambool
Moon rise at Warrnambool

The rain turned up the next day so we visited the Maritime Museum for the morning and a cafe lunch of soup and home made scones; it was cold and wet, so the soup went down well. The museum is well worth a visit as there were many shipwrecks near Warrnambool during the time of the setting up of the British Colony of Melbourne in the 1800’s. Many artifacts and valuable treasures are on display in the museum such as a diamond ring found attached to one of the female survivor’s inner garment, in a cave from a shipwreck. There is also an expensive sculptured peacock, some $4.5 million worth.

Sunday, we travelled to Port Fairy just 20 or so kilometres away to the west. This town is well known for the Port Fairy Jazz Festival and the Port Fairy Folk Festival. It is also a fishing village where trawlers bring back their overnight catches of abalone and crayfish. The walk around the small island close by known as Griffiths Island, is the breeding grounds for the migrating mutton bird. We wandered the main street of upmarket gift and fashion shops with of course, an ice-creamery at the end of the street (amazingly not as good as Port Campbell).

We returned to Warrnambool in the early afternoon and unhitched the bicycles for a ride along the waterfront trail towards the whale viewing platforms. Normally, when the whales are migrating, this area would be very busy with tourists. But the ride has done us good after being a little too tourist-type visitors.

In the evening, I thought I would send a message to some friends we had made while on our South American trip in 2015. They live in Toowoomba. Would you believe they were in the RSL at Warrnambool, just visiting. What a coincidence! So we met up for the evening to reminisce on the past few months since we had travelled the Mekong River together in September.

We had decided to stay in the region an extra day and moved to Port Campbell Campground, much closer to the Loch Ard land formations which we had passed by a few days ago. The weather was brilliant for photography. We stayed there for 3 or 4 hours, finding different viewing platforms to view and photograph the various land formations. Paul managed to shoot another 1,000 photographs and numerous panoramas on his iPhone. The ice-cream shop took our interest again and deserved  another visit before we returned to the Apostles region. Our plan was to climb down the Gibson Stairs for some sea-level views at sunset.

From ‘sand-level’, the pillars of rock tower above. However, the sunset didn’t give the impression that it was going to present good a picture. So we moved over to the touristy area.  We didn’t have to wait long for a magnificent sunset to begin painting the western sky. It is amazing that there are no National Park Rangers on duty as so many overseas tourists jumped over the safety fence to get a better picture. Imagine the picture if someone had slipped on the ‘ball bearing like gravel’ on the narrow ledges they were tip-toeing on and fell to their death.

When Sharlee and Paul visited again for the next day’s sunrise, a local photographer, who had been returning to the Apostles for 30 years, told them that he had never seen a sunset like it. That made us feel special. Paul was very happy to have returned for a sunset visit to this Victorian icon.

The Tuesday became our ‘return home’ day, so clean the inside of the motor home and get the laundry ready for the arrival back home. Paul and Sharlee wanted to visit the Apostles for what turned out to be a ‘dull’ sunrise and then complete the full length of the Great Ocean Road while we made our way in the motor home to Torquay where we found a lunch spot overlooking the ocean. Our son Jay and family live in Geelong and we managed to have pizza for dinner before returning to Jeanette Street; refreshed and with cameras full of photos. (When shall I find time to do the editing and movie making?)

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Here’s a suggestion for anyone who visits the Great Ocean Road. Pick the days you visit by taking out at least 7 days and then choose according to the weather forecast.

As a kiwi writing this on Australia Day, and knowing that New Zealand has some terrific land forms to view, I have to concede that Australia’s Great Ocean Road region is superb and well worth the visit. And guess what, we’re having ice-cream for dessert tonight.

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161225 Snowy River

With all the beauty in Australia, we chose to head east in the State of Victoria for Christmas. One of Lyn’s clients suggested that Marlo was a pretty place beside the ocean and well worth a visit in our gr8l1f motorhome (Ah!! the one that still has Queensland licence plates.) We set off around 12ish and after a stop for lunch, headed out past Bairnsdale and turned right at Orbost. Marlo is just a small village on the mouth of the well known and written about, The Snowy River.

We drove through the small town, and headed further east along the coast towards Cape Conran. Cape Conran has a lookout to view even further east towards Mallacoota, a well known lakes region 30-40kms off the Pacific Highway. Our main reason for the extra distance was to look for a nice free camp on the coast without venturing onto gravel roads. Yes, we did a U-Turn and back to Marlo.

There are great fishing facilities for the angler but as fishing is not our ‘thing’, we decided to stop in the local caravan park and try to enjoy the sunset from a motorhome parked in a caravan park. After dark, we sent Christmas wishes to many of our sites and friends. In the morning, we realised that we didn’t have any 240 power so checked out the power supply and switches, and had the wife of the owner check the power (with her trusty electric power drill). No solution, so she called her fisherman husband who was out in a dinghy for that elusive early morning fish. He returned, to even find out for himself, that there was another isolation switch that had tripped – problem solved.

Without too much discussion before deciding, we exited the caravan park and headed back towards Orbost where we had noticed a lot of small free camps along the Snowy River. Ah, found one that didn’t take much to convince us to stay. The reflections in the river were just so relaxing and inviting. So we set the motorhome up on its ‘pegs’ and extended the slide-out to make this 48 hour stay enjoyable. (The notice said 48 hours – the site needed our presence for just a little longer. It is Christmas and the authorities are having a long break. LOL.)

Breakfast was late but holidays for us, is commonly a two-meal-a-day formality. What a sight to enjoy breakfast at; the reflections were just superb. We have 4 still cameras and a movie camera with us and all of them were getting over-worked; in just the first two days, our iPhones alone took over 100 photos. A friendly lizard comes by regularly for his food supply of insects and foliage. I just wished he had an appetite for flies; millions of them reside here. The local kookaburras are joyful in the morning as he hunts for worms and other insects that may have died in the last 24 hours or so. The cicadas seem to switch on their ‘sound blaster’ around 7:00pm for an hour and then are gone. But they are not like the all day ‘music’ we had at Seymour a few weeks ago. We have to stop talking sometimes due to the close proximity of the main road to Marlo, but the scene before us and the nearby ‘friendly gum tree’ is in the right place for us to be shaded during the afternoon; we have a heat-wave happening.

Christmas Day was very quiet but there needed to be some gardening done. The shire has been regenerating the river banks by fencing off much of the vegetation along the Snowy. There are a number of spots along the banks that have been cleared, lawned and made beautiful for the Free Self Contained motor homers and caravaners. However, in the cleaning up, they had poisoned some of the large weeds just in the foreground of our view. These browned off weeds needed clearing, so I donned the gloves, shoes and gardening shorts to pull them out and move them to a pile for the council to collect at their leisure. The view is now more enhanced.

The only ‘real’ problem with ‘free camping’ is that the facilities in the motorhome need to be serviced. For the uninitiated, at free camping spots there are no water faucets, no toilets, no power, and no drainage. To service the power problem, we have 3 x 150w solar panels feeding into a pair of 100amp truck batteries. If there is no solar energy available, we have a 2.6kva generator to charge up the batteries and also run the convection/microwave oven and air conditioner, when needed. We have water storage to 250 litres and ‘grey’ water storage to around 100 litres. Leaving a neat and appropriate site with great reflective views, is hard. We thought we could find a site on the other side of the river, but first, we needed to drive into Orbost to empty the cassette and grey water at a dump point, and refill the fresh water tank. After a ‘hot’ breakfast of tea and toasted raisin bread at the local bakery, we drove the road on the other side of the Snowy River. Before we came to any free camp sites, we came upon a fallen tree that was preventing us getting any further. A year ago, I purchased a pruning saw in case I wanted to saw off some branches from fallen trees for a fire. The saw came in very handy clearing the way as if a chain saw had done the job – but a little slower and with more sweat. Each site was a little too difficult to get into so we drove back to the Marlo Road side of the river, and after checking all the vacant sites along the river, believed that we needed a further 48 hours in the site that we had left earlier in the day.

The weather is overcast with a little rain falling making the atmosphere humid but cooler. In the morning, we decided to venture on towards Lake Tyers. I had researched the free camps at Nowa Nowa and one photo there of the site, provided by a camper, showed a suggestion on a tree, “why stay here when you can come on down to Lake Tyers Waterwheel Pub where we have power, water and en suites for free?” So, after checking with the pub owner, we took the last spot available for the night, so we thought.

While at dinner, a horde of little backpacker vans arrived and filled in the gaps. The ‘wide open spaces’ had become their kitchen, their clothes line and their socialising point. They are all good kids from Germany Belgium Switzerland and Holland. I say “good”, because they all cleaned up their sites well, before leaving. (Often that is not the case at free camps in the bush.) At 10:30pm, we heard a “Beep, Beep, Beep” of a vehicle reversing over the sound of our air conditioner. It was this Japanese guy in a hired motor home who ended up about 18” from our motor home. He had clipped his van on the roof of the en suite beside us, in the process of reversing. Karma, I say. No one should arrive into a free camp at that time of night, and trying to park on the side of the ‘road’ is not a good selection.

The beach is not too far away so we took a walk in the very humid overcast conditions for an hour or so. The main problem with the camping sites is that there is no TV reception, no radio reception, no phone connection and therefore no internet connection. Just near the pub you get a weak communication signal. If we want to know the cricket score, we have to find out inside the pub. So we feel like an arm has been taken off us. LOL!

A couple of days ago, I got a chill and have a tap-nose that won’t turn off. Many of you know, I am also an excellent sneezer. (I got that from my mum.) And so for me to have 3 or 4 sneezes is a disappointment for Lyn. She loves to count up to 7 or 8 before she’s satisfied.

After a morning sunrise that needed viewing, breakfast and another walk along the beach, we headed towards Lakes Entrance to fill up with diesel. I had noticed the price in Orbost was 135.9 cents per litre so was ready for a hike in the normal prices we pay, only to be surprised we picked up some for 115.9 cents per litre – a holiday period surprise. Lyn felt she was back in Melbourne and didn’t want to be in the ‘busyness’ of shopping so we quickly exited and made our way to Metung. There is a free spot just prior to arriving in the village, close to the water and the moored yachts. (I had seen a great spot for taking a morning sunrise if it was like today’s, so watch out for tomorrow’s sunrise shots.)

As I said, the village of Metung is not too far away, just 2 kilometres, and so we took the walk along a delightful boardwalk. Along the boardwalk, Lyn realised that we had brought our bikes for just such an occasion and they were still attached to the motor home. Metung is a quiet little village with quaint shops that overlook the Gippsland Lakes. An ice-cream is always on our list of an afternoon, before making our way back to the camp site. There are only 3 other vehicles here tonight, 2 of them are residents of Australia and we haven’t spoken to the third. The forecast, ‘lots of rain’, hasn’t hit us yet but looks like it is on the way for tonight.

Yes, it did rain over night. We noticed it when we brought the slide-out in. Some of the water on top of the slide-out came in and then ran down the sides and into the motor home, making a bit of a wet mess to soak up. Lesson learned? Brush the top of the slide-out before bringing it in; you may get rid of both leaves and water accumulated on the roof. The weather was looking promising for a short distance and then more rain to travel through. We headed to Bairnsdale and on to Maffra to do a little supply shopping. Not knowing exactly where our destination was, and the phone GPS not looking like it was doing a good job for us, we had to sort of guess our way to Cowwarr Weir. This is a very nice spot but only for self contained vehicles, which mean the vehicle should have storage tanks for waste water and its own toilet. However, there is a toilet block here.

What a great ‘hidden-away’ gem? The grass is green and mown and the weir is shallow and looks inviting to the kayak enthusiast. There were just 7 other ‘seniors’ in their caravans for the first night we stayed here.

The weather turned cold and bleak on New Year’s day so out with the warm jackets, even during the day. Finally, we decided to come home the day after, stopping for a meal at Yarragon along the way and arriving home early evening.

161210 Seymour

It’s time to ‘get-a-way’. Seymour is just 100 minutes away and the weather forecast is for sunny warm days over the other side of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. We had a steel ramp installed in the gutter where the gr8l1f.com parks so may as well give it some work to do.

The free camp across the Goulburn River near Seymour is a great spot to veg out. Lyn’s blood pressure has been up over some things at work and we are both just about over a cough/flu/cold, so the being away will bring us back to the ‘slow life’ again.

Water in various forms is a great healer and relaxer, even though we can’t bring ourselves to taking a swim in the murky Goulburn River. The cicadas started their one and only tune by 9:00am so ‘listening for silence’ was not on the agenda. There are a few campers along the river but none of them seem to make good talkers; no stories of their exploits around this great land.

The river is not a fast torrent here but sure does heal. We have quickly moved into grey nomad mode. This new motorhome is good to live in. There is a nice feel about it and everything works well. A cuppa in bed looking over the river is always the order of the day but the early arrival is not what today is all about. At home, the cuppa comes along at 6-7:00am, but today, we have slept in and 9:00am starts our day – after the cicadas have revved up. Days of ‘doing nothing’ should be part of everyone’s life. Interrupting ‘busyness’ should be on every agenda. Lyn needed the break and it sure did wonders.

Sunday came and so did the 9:00am cuppa tea and the fruit salad and waffles for breakfast. Another glorious blue sky day, and the cicadas on their finely tuned rendition of ‘a day in the life of a noisy member of Noah’s ark’ were at it again. A massage on the banks of a river is always hard to knock back and Lyn was able to enjoy that; I missed out again.

In the late afternoon, we took the long way around to the town of Seymour. The ride on the trail across the river from our camping spot, is sealed and easy to enjoy. Shady trees arched across the path which at some places camouflaged the pot holes in the trail causing a sudden shudder in the bike. The free camp at Seymour doesn’t have a toilet like many of the free camps around Australia, but we hear one is to be constructed – soon. (Soon is a word often used by councils to describe a time period meaning ‘a day in the distant future’). We found the closest toilet to the camp site. It is so far away that if you had to walk to the loo each time you wanted to use it, you would forget why you had made the 4 or 5 km trudge in the first place. (Shsssshhh I used the loo in the motor home for the first ever time – don’t tell the family).

Our decision to return home early Monday morning was a good one as the traffic was good and the early morning mist hanging around the farms was a great sight to enjoy. Seymour? A great spot for a couple of days of R&R. We recommend it and will be back.

The Re-Birth

Birthing can be a messy, difficult experience or a joyous occasion. Making the decision to go through a re-birthing procedure can be one that brings on unthinkable procedures to enable life itself. No, there was no forceps required, nor was a caesarean section performed in the emergency room. All was completed ‘out in the open’ for all the gloating passers-by to notice and enjoy the elation on the proud parent’s faces.

The smell of new leather and empty cupboards awaits as our new “Great Life” is draped in its big red bow in the “to be delivered stand”. After an all day handover and with Queensland number plates, we set off after transferring all our “stuff” from the ‘old’ great life to the ‘new’. (That’s a story in itself). Heading north towards Bundaberg, we spent our first night about 30km north of Caboolture at a roadside free camping spot (our first of what will become thousands of free nights in the next ten years or so). In the morning, we had a ‘first accident’; not with the vehicle but with us. We had brought some articles for the new motor home up from Melbourne in a cardboard carton. After emptying the carton, I ripped it up and placed it in a pile outside the motor home door. Lyn went outside and stood on the pile and down she went. No injury, but first accident.

Later in the morning, we met up with some other motorhoming friends, Eric and Joy, to travel on to Maryborough for a couple of nights and then on to Woodgate Beach Caravan Park. It appeared that the ‘look around’ was happening at lightening speed with Joy in control of the tour of the local areas, so Lyn and I decided to slow things down by getting out the lounges and setting them up on the beach to enjoy the sunshine for an hour or two looking out over the ocean view. After awhile, Joy commented that it WAS good to ‘feel’ a place, not just breeze through it. We mark this as the start of our grey nomading in the new Great Life. The BIG slow down is on its way.

After a try out at a CMCA members stopover, which turned out quite good, we drove on to Bundaberg and met up with some friends from years ago. That night, we spent at another ‘side of the highway rest stop’. As we were in our first week of our ‘shake-down’ and needed to try various types of locations for a week, we tried most styles of “glamping”. This helps to find any problems with the motor home, or our understanding of how to use the various facilities we were now the proud owners of.

Monday was our day to report back to the motorhome builders for the checkup appointment. There were just a few things to repair, instal or understand, and the builders were very happy to oblige. We spent the spare time at Harbourside Shopping Mall looking for various colours and ideas for the motorhome. The motorhome was ready soon after 2pm and when we arrived back at the factory, we were notified that a couple had just signed up to buy our traded-in motorhome. That made us happy that someone else thought our “old” motorhome would suit their needs in the future.

We needed to get to Grafton before dark and so the journey south had to begin. We stayed with our daughter and her husband a couple of nights during the Grafton Jacaranda Festival. That town sure is painted purple for the occasion.

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Each time we are north of Newcastle, we return to the Foster Tuncurry region to spend a few days on our favourite beach. Bob and Lyndal included a visit on their way home from attending a funeral at Port Macquarie. I took Bob’s role when I first started clerical work and he was an usher at our wedding while Lyndal played the pipe organ. Heaps of sunshine and heaps of whales and dolphins, some breaching as they played in the bay. Then it was time to take the long drive home to Woori Yallock.

We broke the drive by visiting some friends we have kept in contact with from our camping summer holidays at Valla. Thanks Judy and Ian. And a ‘show-off’ to long time friends, David and Elaine at Ourimbah. The night was spent free camping at Pheasants Nest.

While traveling the following day, we encountered lots of insects and our brand new motorhome was instrumental in killing them ‘splat’ on the windshield. At Logic rest stop, we needed to refill the windshield washer container. I recall saying to myself at our hand over time, “I must remember where the bonnet latch is”.  Do you think I could find it? Nup. The manual didn’t give a very clear idea as to where it is. I tried YouTube and the movie was very dark and virtually useless. I then went to the makers owners Facebook page and a guy came back quickly with the same YouTube link I had viewed. He then must have deleted it after looking at it himself. Then Helen came back with the comment “yes, it’s hard to find but keep feeling around under the glovebox and you’ll find it”. Lyn tried again, I tried again, Lyn tried another time and eventually found it. (We will not forget). Thanks Helen, the ladies do it again. We arrived home an hour later due to the bonnet latch problem.

Our nice new Paradise Inspiration Supreme Black Edition, now has its new home. It was time for me to stumble and end up on the ground while carrying stuff between the house and motorhome; accident number 2. The proud parents are both well and eager to take the new “Great Life” out for weekends and holidays well into the future.