On Sunday we were in Queensland and two days later we were in Victoria – three States in three days. After leaving Goondiwindi in Queensland on Monday morning we travelled through to Dubbo in New South Wales and camped for the night. When I say camped I am of course using the euphemism for “Stayed in a Caravan Park”. On Tuesday we proceed to drive to Wodonga in Victoria where we stopped for the third night of our trip. On Wednesday at midday we arrived in Melbourne where we will stay until boarding the Spirit of Tasmania for our journey across to our fourth State on this trip.
Apart from driving, driving, driving, with little to see but the road ahead, the trip has been largely uneventful with the pattern being start off, stop for morning tea, stop for lunch, stop for the night – broken up by the necessity to put diesel fuel into the car.
Guided by our GPS unit the last stages of our trip into Melbourne were quite unnerving as the GPS guided us into the city via some very busy narrow streets with cars parked and in the process of parking on both sides and twin tram tracks through the middle of the road complete with trams stopping and starting regularly.
We travelled along the Hume Highway, a good dual carriageway freeway, all the way from Wodonga. The GPS initially wanted us to leave the highway and travel via Longwood into the city – since we had no idea what the roads and route in and around Longwood would be like and since we could see no good reason to get off the freeway, we ignored the advice of the GPS and put up with the message from the “bitch in the box” to “make a u turn when possible” and “recalculating” until the GPS finally decided to punish us by taking us right out of our comfort zone through the suburbs of Campbellfield, Fawkner, Coburg North, Coburg, Moonee Ponds and Maribyrnong to Braybrook where we are staying.
When checking in to the Caravan Park I mentioned to the young lady on the counter that we were on our way to Tasmania but had no idea how to get to the ferry terminal. She handed me a sheet of written instructions indicating the most convenient route to the terminal and advised me to turn off our GPS as it would take us along a route containing low set bridges that would take the top off our caravan. I will have to write to Garmin suggesting that they include an option “travelling with caravan” in future updates of their software.
Before we left the Sunshine Coast we took the caravan to a weigh bridge and were dismayed to see that even with minimal gear packed in the van we were already in excess of our plated ATM weight. A couple of phone calls and several emails to Retreat (the caravan manufacturer) later and we had secured approval to obtain a new VIN Plate for the caravan with an elevated ATM weight. To solve the problem of being overweight on our trip to Melbourne we emptied the water tanks leaving just enough water to serve our travelling needs and reordered the load to hopefully be reasonably compliant with the plated ATM weight.
In Melbourne on Thursday morning (Valentine’s Day) we rang the factory advising them we were on the way. This time we followed instructions from Google Maps which took us on to the Western Ring Road and much more easily to our destination. Little had we known that we actually drove past the caravan factory on our way into Melbourne the day before. When we arrived at the factory it was only a very short time before we had the new VIN plate in our hands together with a letter from the company advising of the change of plate (this will be very useful when we go to the Department of Transport to change the registration for the van). The new plate is now fitted to the caravan and the old plate is in the car (just in case). We now have the maximum plated ATM allowed by the load capacity of the trailer.
Since the “bitch in the box” can’t be relied upon for caravan friendly travel we will have a dry run of the trip to the ferry terminal using the instructions provided by the caravan park. Tomorrow or Saturday will be the day we do this as we would like to see the ferry being loaded so we can get the gist of things before hand – but we shall see.
It is unlikely that we will do too much sightseeing in Melbourne on this trip as the traffic is quite horrendous and public transport is not very close by. We will see where we are when we go to the ferry terminal and might do a little exploration from there.