TWO YEARS DOWN AND STILL GOING IN OUR TVAN
AND……… WE’RE NOT QUITE FINISHED YET!
Live music featured in our second year starting with James Taylor in the Hunter Valley in February, then Echuca’s Riverboat Festival with James Reyne, Birdsville’s Big Red Bash in July and live local music in boutique breweries in Bundaberg and Melbourne.
We’ve seen rain on Ayres Rock, camped on the edge of the Simpson Desert with 7 000 people at the Big Red Bash, been overtaken by a swimming pool in the middle of Arnhem Land, played dodgems with an emu that ran down a sandy track for kilometres, waited for a crocodile to cross the track on Cobourg Peninsula and spent 6 months in the top end of Australia.
This second year started on the New South Wales North Coast then southwest through Cessnock, Bathurst and along the Murray River. From Adelaide we moved onto the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas for the rest of summer. We raked for crabs, fished and caught squid and King George Whiting and dined on Coffin Bay Oysters.
In Parachilna the Australian Coat of Arms was on the menu while further north it was red claw yabbies in the Davenport Ranges and Barramundi in Daly River. On the Cobourg Peninsula it was Jewfish and Golden Snapper and at the secret fishing spot on Lorella Springs Station it was mud crabs while in Atherton it was the local spuds cooked whole and stuffed!
Waterfalls caught our attention at Florence, Gunlom, Maguk and Edith Falls as we explored Litchfield, Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks. We soaked in hot springs in Katherine, Bedourie, Bitter Springs, Mataranka, Lorella Springs and Innot.
Spectacular landforms included Wilpena Pound, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, The Lost Cities in Limmen National Park, Undara Lava Tubes and Riversleigh Fossil Field. We shared culture in Arnhem Land in national parks and art galleries as well as recognising the significance of the unique landforms of northern Australia.
Once we saw the green verges on the road side as we headed into Atherton we knew we really are coastal people. This had been a dry dusty year with the dry savannah of the Gulf telling us we needed some east coast green!
Travelling can make you tired so we spent some weeks cruising down the east coast. It was very green but to get lush grass and rainforest you also get rain. At Mission Beach we had 300mms in 36 hours. It was so wet the wild cassowaries came into our annex and then the camp kitchen for some respite. At 1770 we were flooded in for a week due to heavy rain delaying our trip to Bundaberg to visit the Bundy Bear. The road out of 1770 was 9 metres under water!
We canoed the Lawn Hill Gorge, took the dinner cruise in Katherine Gorge, snorkelled and sailed the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Magnetic Island, Bowen and Airlie Beach and hit the surf at Coolum and Byron Bay all for a total of 12 months, 27,000 kilometres and $42,000.
So with two years down we’ve headed home for Christmas with our family and head to Tasmania in January for the next three months. Our kids wanted to know if we’re ever coming home. We will but we have tickets to the swimming at the Commonwealth Games so we’ll head to the Gold Coast in April and then head back home.
We always knew we’d need two winters to see the north and would like a winter at home to go snow skiing since we’ve missed two snow seasons in a row. And then………. a trip back to Broome and Ningaloo perhaps via the High Country in Victoria? How did we ever fit in work before we retired and hit the road?
Travelling long distances on bulldust, rocks and corrugations may lead to unexpected repairs and delays to your travel, but can also lead to meeting wonderful people who go out of their way to help. This year we’ve had a bolt overtightened on the Pajero underbody bash plates during a service, stripping the thread and resulting in our bash plates dragging down the road. Then in Bedourie a wonderful person welded the broken bracket back in place, refitted the bash plate and had us on our way, refusing to accept any payment. We’ve driven thousands of kilometres with good tyres but all it took was a single 500km stretch of horrendous road to ruin all 6 tyres on the road. All the tyres had to be replaced. We’ve also had careless repairs undertaken by a car dealership resulting in damage to the motor. Then the Mitsubishi dealer in Atherton went out of their way to make repairs and get us back on the road, assisting us to get a full refund for the repairs from the original dealership.
The Tvan performed wonderfully with a water pump diaphragm needing replacement and a couple of full services, replacing the bearings each time and a hatch rubber seal that had split were replaced.
But there were a number of blowouts. We both went through 3 pairs of thongs each. They just don’t make double-pluggers like they used to. The red dirt stained all our clothes so a full replacement of 5 T-shirts and 5 pairs of shorts each was required when we got out of the red dirt and in to Cairns. But you really know that you’ve been away a long time when we realised we’d consumed 5 large jars of vegemite!
We’ve met lots of fellow campers on the road as well as heaps of Tvanners at the Track Open Days and off road destinations, so you never know we may see you too.
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David