Day 421- 422 Ararat
Waking up in Ararat and it’s 8 degrees again! The heater goes on to warm the van up while we’re having our breakfast. I’m dialling in for our monthly board meeting today at 10.30am. The remainder of the day is spent working. Tonight we’re going down to Bugsy and Bone’s bunker for a sausage sizzle and a few drinks. Bugsy has given me 2 bottles of her tomato relish and let me tell you she should be bottling this and selling it. It is the best relish we have ever tasted.
Another morning dawns and we are heading into town to do some shopping. My niece Bel loves Butter Chicken so I’m making it for tonight’s dinner. We are in the car ready to go and it is dead as a door nail. A quick call to RACV who confirm our roadside assistance with RACQ and the mobile mechanic is at the house within half an hour. It’s not as simple as putting in a new battery. A scan tool is required so that battery can be programmed with the electronics in the car. The RACV don’t have that tool. They can put in a new battery costing $484 but we would then have to go to Ford for them to reprogram the car. We decide to call Ford. They can put us in straight away & get the job done. RACV give us a jump start & we are on our way. Grampian Ford were terrific and had the new battery in and car reprogrammed within half an hour. We were very thankful that this happened in Ararat and not in the middle of nowhere as it would have been a very different outcome especially given that we are leaving tomorrow!
The shopping is done and back home to catch up on some more work before beginning the dinner preparations. I’m used to making Butter Chicken for 2, tonight I’m making it for 9. It’s a winner all round.
Day 423: Ararat to Stanhope
It’s a fresh start to the morning however Ararat is expecting a top of 28 today. It’s time to say goodbye to my sister Julie and husband John. Bel is driving them into Melbourne to catch their flight back to Townsville. It’s sad to say goodbye we’ve had a great time here with everyone. There has been plenty of laughs and plenty of nights around the fire having a few drinks.
We are packed up by 10.00am and it’s a very pleasant 23 degrees. George (Cinta’s Ararat boyfriend) is sound asleep on the lawn as we say goodbye to him and put his food bowl down. Cinta loves George’s food! A quick stop a couple of doors down to say farewell to Bones and Bugsy. We’ve loved their company too and hope that we will see them both again sometime.
The temperature climbs to 30’degrees and for the first time in a long time the aircon is on in the car. I didn’t do any driving in Tasmania as the roads were so narrow and windy so I offered to take the wheel after morning tea today. I ended up driving right through to Stanhope. When we arrive I suggest to Andrew that we reverse the roles and I’ll back the van in (mind you there are no other vans here). I’ll unhitch and set up outside and he can do inside. Tick, all went well with instructions from Andrew on unhitching. Next things sirens are going and the CFA truck comes roaring out of the shed. We couldn’t see any smoke anywhere and we’re hoping that it wasn’t too serious.
We’ve travelled 258km today which is a big day for us. We’re free camping across the road from the Stanhope pub. They like you to support the pub by having a meal which we are more than happy to do so. Chicken parmi for Andrew and a scotch fillet for me. The meals were generous and delicious. We had a great chat with a couple of locals at the bar. Stanhope has a population of 590 and the main industry is dairy.
Pictured above is a painted piano that sits behind glass in one of the parks at Stanhope. it wasn’t easy to get a good photo, but the artwork was so great, I couldn’t resist trying.
Wildlife: sheep, cattle, dead snake, alpaca , dead kangaroos.
Day 424: Stanhope to Yea
Our journey today is 127km as I have a lot of work to catch up on. It’s a bit fresh this morning but the day should warm up. We’re going to check out the free camp behind the pub in Yea. It’s overgrown and looks a bit boggy so we decide to check into the caravan park. It’s $40 for a powered site which is a bit on the expensive side but it’s a nice clean park with all the facilities.
After we set up I spend the afternoon working. We have become quite concerned with the reports on the Coronavirus in relation to the prospect of cancellation of events, school closures and self isolations . We need to be home for Mums 90th birthday in May and we are becoming increasingly concerned about travel restrictions that may be imposed over the next few weeks. The dynamics of domestic travel are changing every day and we have had a lengthy discussion with a colleague who has given us some advice on how things may look in a few weeks. Taking everything on board given the current situation we have decided to alter our travel plans and make our way to Brisbane to Andrews dads as soon as we can. At least that way we will be back in Queensland and hopefully able to still travel within the State. We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we are both so disappointed that we have had to make this choice but in the long run we think it will be a decision well made. The bonus is we’ll have to come back and finish these areas next year!
Pictured above is our spot in the caravan park at Yea and a couple of the lovely flowers in the garden. I couldn’t resist capturing this cute little butterfly on the purple blooms.
Wildlife: dead rabbits, pelican, sheep, cattle, horses, dead kangaroos, parrots.
Day 425: Yea to West Wyalong
Last night was pleasant sleeping at 15 degrees. Andrew was up at 5.30am this morning so I decided I had better get up too so that we could have an early start to the day as we’ll be putting in 510km to reach West Wyalong. We are pulling out of the caravan park at 7.45am & it’s 10 degrees and we are both in shorts. Yep that’s right, it’s going to climb up to 30 degrees during the day.
We’ve decided to share the driving today. There has been a large semi roll over northbound into Melbourne near Benalla and the highway is closed. One of the BW’s is on its side across both lanes. We’d hate to be travelling into Melbourne today! Morning tea is at the Service Centre near Glenrowan and lunch stop at the quaint little town called The Rock. The park area in the main street is lush and green and Cinta is enjoying munching on the grass.
It’s 4.00pm by the time we reach the Showgrounds at West Wyalong and it’s reached 30 degrees. It feels weird wearing shorts again after being all rugged up and wearing winter clothes for the best part of a whole year. Time to pack those winter woolies away? I think we will really feel the heat this year. While Andrew is setting up outside I’m getting a bucket of washing done and the flies are driving us all crazy. Change of plan and we move inside the van. Andrew is in charge of dinner as I’m on a deadline with work commitments and I work through until 8.30pm just breaking for dinner & a quick shower. We are both pretty tired so it’s an early night for us.
Wildlife: llama, alpaca, sheep, cattle, rabbits, horses, dead kangaroos, currawongs, flies.
Day 426: West Wyalong to Narrabri
Another 5.30am start today. I’m missing my sleep ins and lazy starts to the day. This is not my idea of an enjoyable trip travelling another 530km. I’ll be glad when we make the Queensland border and we can get back to a normal travel pace.
We are on the road by 7.22am and it’s 16 degrees. Our morning tea stop is in Parkes and the flies are out in full force. We retreat to inside the van. I’ve had no reception on my phone or through our wifi router for most of the morning so it’s quite frustrating. The countryside is really green, the dams are all full from the recent rain. It’s lovely to see. Canola is coming into flower and there are fields of yellow everywhere.
There are some crazy NSW drivers on the road today with many cars overtaking us on double lines and others passing with oncoming traffic. Andrew pulls over as often as he can when he knows we have traffic behind us but some drivers are just plain dangerous. We have a quick lunch stop just north of Gilgandra inside away from the flies. I have finally have reception and see a Facebook post from my friend Jenny who was staying in Parkes. I am so disappointed as we were hoping to catch up with them sometime throughout our journey. I’m sure our paths will across again though.
We’re staying at the Narrabri Showgrounds, $20 for a powered site is a good price. Park up wherever you like and payment is by an honesty box if the caretaker is not around. There’s plenty of lush green grass and we enjoy some time outside enjoying the warmer weather. We are both tired after two big travel days so I’m cooking dinner early and we’ll have another early night. The Queensland border is getting closer!
Wildlife: pelicans, crows, dead kangaroos, flies, dead porcupine, Shetland ponies.
Day 427: Narrabri to Goondiwindi
It’s been blowing a gale all night. Not much sleep was had by either of us. We’ve decided to have a shorter travel day today as we will finally cross the Queensland border. We all slept in, including Cinta. Andrew is making bacon and eggs and by 9.30am we are packed up and on the road.
Morning tea is at a rest area along the highway and by 11.30am AEST we are in Goondiwindi. We both feel relieved that we are finally in Queensland, so if there are any travel restrictions we are comfortable with our decision and will be happy to stay put in our home state. We’re staying at the showgrounds as we stayed here over 12 months ago when we began our journey. Allan the caretaker is a real character and he meets us and tells us to park up wherever we like. Unlike last year when the showgrounds were a dust bowl, it’s lush and green after the rains.
We are all set up and I head into town to do the weekly shop. I feel like I’m back at Mission Beach. Coles doesn’t open on a Sunday. What a pleasant change. So, I head for the local Foodworks. It’s really disappointing to see the shelves are almost empty. Panic buying has taken over Australia with so many mixed messages about the Coronavirus. I can only purchase half of the items on my list… I was quite excited to find a packet of Kleenex thick and large tissues as I haven’t been able to buy any since leaving Tasmania. Perhaps it was the price that put people off! I managed to buy the last packet of bandaids as both Andrew and I stubbed our toes on tree branches while walking Cinta. Who would have thought bandaids would be in short supply.
We also use talcum powder around the legs of the caravan when there are a lot of ants around as it keeps them from getting inside. You guessed it, no talcum powder in sight. I have been trying to buy this over the past week as well. I have 2 special talcum powders on board for my sister Dot. I’m hoping that I won’t have to be desperate enough to use them as they were specially bought for Ralph in Tasmania.
It’s difficult when you are travelling in a caravan as weight and space are two of our biggest challenges. Stocking up on essential items is not really something that can be accommodated easily. We tend to stick to minimal food supplies and buy as needed. Travelling in the heat also comes with different challenges as three way fridges don’t work particularly efficiently when hooked up to the car. We are now back to putting 2 freezer blocks into the fridge to help keep it cool whilst travelling. When the heat outside climbs, so does the temperature inside the fridge.
The flies are driving us crazy here at Goondiwindi so there is no sitting outside this afternoon. I’m madly tapping away at the laptop finishing off last weeks blog and also this week. It’s been a crazy hectic time travelling through 3 states and working. I’m hoping that things will settle down next week as we slowly move into Brisbane now that we have made the border.
The next 8 weeks will be spent enjoying the State that we call home and hopefully having the freedom to move around unrestricted. Only time will tell.
Wildlife: horses, sheep, cattle, dead kangaroos, crows, dead echidna, dead rabbits.
Week 61 total expenses: $954.69 just under budget!
That’s a wrap for Week 61 of the Lap of the Map.
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!