Friday, October 31, 2014

Casino to Grafton to Woolgoolga

Leaving Casino today, so after packing up and hitching up, a quick visit to the dump site to lighten up for the journey ahead was in order and like everything else here, the dump site has easy access and is very easy to use.

We aimed the Tug towards Grafton and set off.  The highway was easy going and it wasn't long before we were cruising along admiring the scenery as it rolled passed.  Casino was billed as the "Beef Capital of Australia" and Eileen and I were both amazed by the number of properties along the highway that were for sale... obviously no money in beef and we couldn't help wondering if this was just another example of the Coles/Woolworths price squeeze on farmers as they vie for bigger profits for their shareholders (how dumb we are. there is no free lunch - someone has to pay).

It wasn't long before we arrived on the outskirts of Grafton and we were lucky to be there at Jacaranda Festival time.  The sight is breathtaking to say the least.  No matter which way you look there is a sea of purple and the tree lined streets are simply impressive. The towns forefathers certainly got this right when they decided to plant so many of these beautiful trees... I'm sure that this picture does not do the justice that seeing in person would.

By now we were looking for a service station as the reserve light had just come on, so into the next one we saw along the way.  $1.60 a litre  but what can you do.

As this is our shakedown trip we are learning a few lessons along the way.  Diesel is nearly always cheaper where you are than where you are going and you should never depart on a half filled tank.
Another issue we have is that so often we would love to stop at some of the towns we drive through to have a look around and break our journey a bit but when you are pushing 14 meters in length there is often just nowhere to park so you just keep going. Wouldn't it be nice if towns had a Van stop at the beginning of their business center. I'm sure some do, we just haven't seen one yet.

Anyway, back on the highway, we both agree that we must come back here one day to have a better look around.  Grafton to Woolgoolga was slightly better road wise than our previous stint and Murphys Law came to mind as I realized that every time we came to a divided road there was no one close enough to pass us but by the time we got to the end of the passing lane sure enough they would loom up in the mirror just as I had to put the indicator on and pull over in front of them.

The turn off for Woolgoolga soon came up and we slowed our pace and took in the township while looking out for our destination - Woolgoolga Lakeside Holiday Park.

It is a smallish park at the end of Lake Road and to be honest not really ideal for big rigs, lucky we are small and we were given a lovely site backing on to the lake and a short walk over the sand dunes to the sea side.

There is nothing quite like the smell of the sea air (except perhaps the mountain air), and we quickly set up camp in order to have a big lunch as all the driving had left us both starving.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Days at Casino Resort....

We came to Casino to see if it was the type of place that we could spend out twilight years once we have tired of travelling around this lovely country of ours.  Our report card would be read HR on most counts, in fact it would be difficult to find anything that we did not like about the Park except perhaps a little more relaxation on the dog rules. (but that's just us and we understand that not everyone likes dogs).

Upon arrival, the first thing that you notice is the large pull up area reserved for people booking in followed by the obvious security surrounding the Park. There are various options available for camping from un-powered to En-suite sites, drive through to private hedged sites ranging in price from $22 a night to $33 for an en-suite.  As we did not know the difference they suggested that we drive through, pick one that we liked and come back to reception after we had set up with the site number.  We did this and I am happy we did as the cheaper drive through sites were very baron with only a couple of young saplings for trees (no shade), we drove through to the older more mature section of the Park and chose a lovely long level drive through site with 2 meter hedges on either side and a short walk to the dump site and Office/Shop.

I have to say that the landscapers and ground crew do a marvelous job here even though it is dry everything looks so green and well kept and maintained.

The whole area that you can see behind the dam is an off leash dog area and Pepper loved her morning walks here.  The complex has its own sewerage treatment works and the water that is produced from this is used to water the nine hole golf course.  All other rain water run off is collected and directed to this dam for other irrigation purposes. Most of the trees that you can see have been donated by CMCA members and are labelled by the white pegs that you can see at their bases.

We decided to do the obligatory run to Nimbin to see how the hippies live and have to say we were not impressed. Everything was so dirty (even the Hippies) there was definitely an air of 'she'll be right mate' about the place. I have no problem with the relaxed lifestyle or to an extent being out of it (I have to admit to a period of this in my life), but for me, there is no excuse for filth.        

The people were very friendly and polite and several came up to ask if they could pat Pepper before they got in her face. (very unusual).

We noticed that there were people from overseas talking in their own language and enjoying the experience so it can't be all bad and it proves that being a hippy or alternate is a world wide thing.

We did a round trip to Nimbin driving from Casino to Kyogle and then up and over the range during which time I'm sure Eileen kept her eyes tightly closed (she suffers from vertigo), a shame really because the sights were lovely.  From Nimbin we returned via Lismore back to Casino a more leisurely drive .

Tuesday morning I spent a splendid morning with several of the Resort members at the well equipped Mens Shed. I was kicking myself that I did not bring my turning tools with me.

Could see myself spending lots of time in this environment.

But as life has it - all good things must come to an end - and we are off tomorrow to Woolgoolga via Grafton. A short drive and we will take our time and have a look around.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Scarborough to Casino.

Departed Scarborough CP at 9.00am and made our way to the Gateway Motorway and on to the M1 at Rochedale following this through to Nerang (by-passing Southport as it was Indy Weekend and lots of road closures).  The Rig was towing well and we were easily able to stay with the traffic flow, although the trucks seem to be able to pass with ease. I’m not sure who invented concrete roads but I would suggest that they should have set a couple of blocks around his feet and dropped him in a creek somewhere… they are atrocious to drive on and it is a huge relief when we once again hit the bitumen.

Crossed over the QLD/NSW boarder and apart for one short toilet break at a rest stop we aimed for Ballina. Fairly good road with a few short hills but all in all, easy going.  Took the Ballina by-pass and made our way to Lismore along the Bruxner Highway. This was a test and Eileen remained relatively quiet as we made our way up hill and down dale on a one lane road with lots and lots of sharp slow speed bends and quite a few little hamlets dotted along the way with 50K speed limits. I have to say that our Rig handled the test well and came out with flying colours. I now have extreme confidence in our road handling capabilities and this has to be a good thing. From Lismore through to Casino was an easy run and we arrived at our destination at 1pm.

264k averaging 13.71lt/100k or 7.3k/lt or 20.6 mpg.  Not bad for a 5.5 tonne rig.

Both Eileen and I have been looking forward to visiting the CMCA (Now Big4) Caravan and Motorhome Resort for some time and so far we have not been disappointed. Set up camp and took puppy for a walk to have a quick look see and then back home for a quick afternoon nap. Note to self:  Must remember to break journey into two parts and organise stop and rest areas otherwise 4 hours of continuous driving is a little taxing for this little vegemite.

Woke up this morning to the lovely serenade of the Currawongs and the other bird life that surrounds our camp site, I think I’m in Heaven. 


Eileen looks really happy and relaxed here and I hope I can keep this smile on her face for a long time to come.


Well we arrived at Scarborough on the 2nd of October 2014 after a five full on weeks of work setting up the Rig, Van and our storage shed after my retirement from work at Carba-Tec.

Scarborough is a lovely seaside town and our camp site was across the road to the beach, a fact that Pepper enjoyed every morning and afternoon as she her daily constitutionals. We had 3 glorious weeks there of rest and unwinding as we waited for Eileens Specialist appointments. All appears ok at present and we have a reprieve till her next appointments 31st March 2015.

We managed a few short trips around the local area, in particular a trip to Deception Bay a place that held several memories from my childhood. (amazing the things that stick in your mind)

I had remembered a story about a Doctor having carved out a couple of baths for his wife who had some sort of ailment that required frequent bathing in the sea water.  More about this remarkable man can be read here...

I also remember chasing the tiny soldier crabs that dashed across the sand flats before burrowing into the sand and disappearing.

We found out that the solar panel that we purchased to power our freezer was completely inadequate, I also found out that finding out about Solar on the Internet was a veritable mine field so after a quick trip to Springers at Capalaba and $1100 bucks later we now have a fixed solar panel attached to the roof of the Tug and our freezer is at -6 and the batteries are holding up on a daily basis. A quick trip to Aldi and we have stocked it up with food to last a month.

At night we have taken to playing Scrabble and we are finding that it suits us to have our main meal at lunchtime and light snacks for tea.  We are already planning the next trip to Casino and Coffs Harbour to see one of Eileens school friends. This trip is really a test trip to see how the new Tug goes and weather I have set out the storage to my satisfaction.

So as the sun sets over the yard arms in the boat harbor here at Scarborough , we lay our heads down for the last night in anticipation of our drive tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


It is amazing just how difficult it is to come up with a name for your Rig.  For weeks now Eileen and I have been compiling a list of names that we have thought about and just prior to our departure I suggested that we should choose one so that I could get them computer cut when I went up to Brisbane to get the Solar fitted.

We agonized over the list we had made and really weren't happy with any of them and as it would happen an add came on the TV for the musical, The Lion King and they were singing the song "Hakuna Matata' when I asked Eileen what did it mean? To which she replied, 'Don't worry - be happy.'   And that pretty much summed it all up for us. So without further ado, We present to you...



Friday, October 3, 2014

Bugger!!!!.... Measure twice cut once.

When will I learn?  Hitched up on Friday and to my utter dismay I discovered that there was not enough travel space in the inner arches to allow for rear axle movement.  I was sure that I had allowed sufficient distance but upon inspection I discovered that I had measured 110mm instead of 210mm.
Stupid mistake, which after much discussion about different solutions, I realised that the only way to truly fix it was to cut out the Inner arches and replace with new ones.  A quick call to Paul Burrows, my brother in law, who dropped everything to come out and measure up the required size of the radius for the rolled arch and by 10am Monday, the new arches were sitting next to the truck for fitting.
First thing Monday morning (6.30am) saw me out with the angle grinder cutting out the existing inners.  With the assistance of my other brother in law, Brian Cotgrove, we held up the new inners and scribed the new arc on the outer guards, from this line I was able to cut the outer guards to suit and then we could slide the inners in to meet the inner guards, scribe the arc there and then cut them out.  From there we held the inner arches in place and I tacked them in place.  This took till about 4pm ish to do both sides.  I had to have a shower (covered in grinding dust) and a change of clothes before continuing to fully weld the inner arches in. finished around 9pm.
Another early start on Tuesday saw me grinding the weld areas ready for smoothing up and primer.  Brian re-proofcoated the inner arches underneath and replaced the wheels and by 5pm that day we had replaced the hitch and hooked up to the van.... All was well even if we were then two days late for our departure.

Old Inner Arch

New Inner Arch

Thursday morning at around 11am, we went and said our 'good buy's' to all the crew at Carba-Tec and by 11.30am we were on the road for a plesant drive to our next destination... Scarbourough Holliday Village Caravan Park.
We set up camp with ease and sat down to relax for a bit, whereupon the previous weeks workloads caught up with me and I just had to sleep.

... So as the sun sets over the yard arms....

another chapter in Eileen and My lives is about to unfurl....