115. Sunday 20th December 2009…Reflections as we head to Christmas Day.

Australia is a BIG COUNTRY. Much of it unchartered, untamed, untravelled and unseen.

I have been reading a story about a group of people in 4WD motorhomes – 6 MH – who travelled across the Simpson Desert in 13 days. Of course they got into trouble and of course they got out of trouble because they had equipment, supplies, abilities and each other for help and support.

They also carried lots of food and water and booze supplies as well as a couple of wives who enjoy baking in extreme conditions so every day they always had a bakehouse delight for morning tea. Who can whip up a chocolate cake and biscuits while parked on a desert track in the middle of nowhere in the time it takes for someone to say “smoko time”?

Of course I am not planning such a trip, nevertheless I would enjoy a 4WD camping adventure to see some of those outback places. However our “WHEREWILLWEGO” is a big investment so we will be doing lots of travel in it but only to places where we can get to on a gazetted road.

(Hold on for a minute while I go off on a tangent- Our MH which we now call “WHEREWILLWEGO” because 1, it needs a name and 2 I wanted some link to the name Winnebago. I thought I would share a couple of names an 87 y.o. mate, Vic, has used. Previously he had a campervan with a side door which when closed makes a Whizz Bang sound. In MH circles they are called “WHIZZBANGS” and not always in an affectionate way. The noise of a whizzbang at night is annoying to nearby campers especially if they are opened and closed regularly. Vic named his little camper “WIZZBAGO”. Earlier this year he sold the camper and bought a partially fitted out Nissan Civilian and with a lot of help from a friend now has a very comfortable MH. We all thought he could never come up with a name which included BAGO. At our meeting last weekend I noticed Vic is sporting  a name on the front of his MH. It is now called “VICTORBAGO”. The wiley old coot is still pretty active “upstairs”!

Reading the story I thought about our little trip earlier this year from Airlie Beach to Tasmania. We mostly stayed on bitumen roads and when we were on gravel roads they were mostly gazetted and regularly maintained. Only a little bit of travel was on “dirt tracks”. In fact it was the dirt tracks which revealed great locations which appealed to us. In all we usually made a shopping trip about every three days and topped up water and fuel as often. Imagine carrying enough food, water and fuel to get you across a desert in 13 days!

Although we travelled over 7,500 klms in that 3 month trip, in reality we have only scratched the surface of places to see.

Before we set off on the trip I did a lot of planning, especially getting to Tassie,. Getting home was loosely planned and as things turned out, totally changed.

Roughly the distance from Airlie to Melbourne where we caught the car ferry is 3,000 klms, give or take a few k’s. Working on a theory of no more than 300 klms per day I reasoned we could do the trip in 10 days but as we had 15 days to do the travel I allowed for slow days or visiting days. As well I wanted to be near Brisbane as soon as possible because from there to Melbourne becomes more populated and travel days could be slower due to traffic. So… on day one we travelled 700 klms – without AC – and the second day was 600 klms which put us in Noosa. From here we could slow down a little and spend a bit of time visiting. We also had a couple of days to ourselves, If I did it again and did not have a time frame I think a month or six weeks for the 3,000 klm trip would be more appropriate. On arrival in Melbourne I felt a huge release that the major driving portion was over. At least for the time being. I knew we had to do the trip home again and in the back of my mind came the niggling thought I did not want to rush home.

Comparing notes with a friend who has been full time on the road for three years I discovered a few facts when compared to our travels.

Their shortest day of travel was 52 klms. The longest day was 320 klms.

For us to travel to the nearest weekend camp involves a minimum of 75 klms each way.

Thier average daily cost of fuel was $10. For the tree months our cost was $24 per day. This was because we were on the road at least every second day and travelling in Tassie involves lots of hills and mountain roads all winding and twisting. Plus the cost of fuel in NSW, Vic and Tassie are dearer than Qld – well at least it was then – Tassie being the dearest by far.

Their average daily cost of caravan park fees was $10. Our cost was $21 but I admit we stayed in caravan parks probably as much as 50% of the time. We also stayed in some National Parks which have big fees. We also included the cost of tours in this expenditure so overall this cost is not too bad. If I took out the tour costs, around $900, our daily average in CP will drop to $11!!!

Although self sufficient we still had our share of eating out. After all we were on holiday and meant to enjoy ourselves. The cost of bought meals was $8 per day which included a pie here and there, crayfish sandwhiches, meals on board the ferry and so on. Not bad really. Most of the time we made our own meals. We also ate very well.

I mentioned in my last post how a little community we have driven through hundreds of times holds interesting houses and history.

We also discovered so many places to visit that at times we were tempted not to go to Tassie but instead to explore those side roads. We had already booked and paid for passage to Tassie so we kept to the game plan.

We received a nice Christmas card and letter from Les B on Saddleback Mountain in NSW. We stayed with Les for one night as we travelled south. Les has been riding  trials motorcycles for many years and rides the latest GasGas lightweight model. In his card he excitedly recounted the results of the NSW Trials Championships.  Les finished 2nd in the Clubmans division while son Gary finished 2nd in the veterans and grandson Jarad was first in the 7 to 12 year olds.

Christmas weather is here. It is hot hot hot and humid with a hint that rain is not far away. The sky is getting that wispy stormy strange cloud look which signals a storm is a coming. There is a severe storm alert for areas from Brisbane to Rockhampton where they can expect rain wind lightning thunder and hail. The sky is telling us something is heading our way but when and what we will have to wait and see.

We can do with some rain. The grass which turned green and growing just a few weeks ago has withered, died and turned brown. In a way that is a blessing as my whippersnipper has died and will cost too much to repair. It needs replacing so next time I am in Bunnings I will have to look for a bargain.

In the meantime bring on that rain.

Navidad Alegre y un Año Nuevo Feliz, Seguro y Próspero.

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