Jolly’s Bend State Forest, Kialla West on Goulburn River
This is the first time that we have met with a group of motorhomers. The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia has ‘Chapters’ all over Australia where members can attend for an outing or a weekend. There is a calendar of events in ‘The Wanderer’ magazine showing where chapters are going to meet for the weekend.
This weekend, we chose to be with The Bushwakers’. The Bushwakers try to bush camp each time they meet – this time at Jolly’s Bend State Forest. Interestingly, there is no signage on the Goulburn Valley Highway indicating the location. However, it is 10 km south of Shepparton at Kialla West. There is a membership joining fee. We found out the joining fee is a chocolate cake which you bring the second time you come to a Bushwakers weekend. (Now that’s what I like – I hope there are many new comers each meeting)
There were about 26 motorhomes when we arrived on the Friday night around 9pm. This number varied during the weekend as others arrived and some departed early for work on the Monday. Some members had been there since Wednesday and were leaving the following Wednesday. (They must be retired, properly!) So, the total motorhomers attending for the weekend were around 32.
The Chapter doesn’t have many rules other than to enjoy doing nothing. You are allowed to bring dogs, but they must be either on a leash or in your line of sight all the time. This is bush camping as there are no facilities at all. We found out that if we are going to do this type of motorhoming, we need a generator and a few solar panels on the Free Time to get us through. The panels are a necessity to charge up the ‘house’ batteries in order for the ‘camping luxuries’ to be enjoyed. The generator is to be a back-up if there is no solar benefits available for the day.
Each evening, there is a ‘happy hour’ that lasts for 2 hours – a time around the campfire to get to know other members and to learn what would be the best options as far as modifications to how you do things in your motorhome experience; lots of different locations are on our list for future visiting. The Sunday morning is a Chapter Breakfast and the menu tends to be the same hot breakfast each meeting; eggs, bacon, sausages, and tomato and onion sauce – all for $4 each. An additional $4 is paid to take advantage of the endless tea and coffee and the BBQ facilities on the Chapter Trailer.
Both Lyn and I read a book over this Melbourne Cup weekend. I started reading Ahn Do’s book “The Happiest Refugee”. This is a good read and because we have recently returned from 3 weeks in Vietnam, ever so more interesting. Ahn is a Vietnamese Refugee who came out from Vietnam on a boat during the American occupation of Vietnam in the 60’s. The book has not long ago, received ‘The Book of the Year Award'” for 2011. If you can get it, it will be enjoyed.
Most of our time was taken up resting and eating; well, sleeping came into that too. We met some new friends, some of which have only just joined the Bushwakers in the last few months. One couple, who were camped just next to us, have a large Jacana Coach which was featured on 60 minutes in an episode that went on about what the grey nomads get up to in their elaborate motorhomes. Russ and Heidi used their motorhome to tour WA pretty much for 9 months a few years ago. They tow a Suzuki on an “A” frame attached to the back of the bus. Russ was particularly helpful in how the motorhome should be set up with solar panels and what pitfalls you can miss out on if you are aware. His views on towing with an “A” frame were interesting and helpful too.
The State Park was big enough to contain a very large town. Interestingly, there were only two groups using it for the long weekend; us and a group called “The Mushroom People”. That sounds a bit sus, and it was, apparently. The New World music could be heard well into the night if you were in a motorhome that wasn’t well sound-proofed.
On the Monday, we packed up and drove into Shepparton to check it out. Also, we wanted to empty out cannister out – not a good idea to let them overflow. Shepparton is a fruit growing region and so we included a visit to the ‘factory shop’ to purchase some tinned fruit and other stuff.
We have had comments that a motorhome is restricted when you come to want to do touristy things when you are at a location. It took us about 5 minutes to be packed and ready to go and less than that on our return. To us, it is an advantage to have your home, on the back all the time, in case you want to use the kitchen or toilet facilities during your little tour of the local region.
Tuesday, we said goodbye to the Bushwakers with the intention to return soon for another ‘lazy’ weekend. If you have a motorhome and live in Victoria, join us at Meredith early December for the Christmas function.