Since arriving home in June 2013 following a trip to Tasmania and South Australia with brief sojourns in Victoria and New South Wales, the caravan has been up on blocks and wrapped up to protect it from bad weather and particularly hail storms. Almost nine months later we are preparing to embark on a new adventure.
Our travel plans had been curtailed due to a period of enforced inactivity as a result of health problems (getting older tends to exacerbate some issues) and several procedures and short hospital stays over a period of months. Having received the all clear from the specialist we couldn’t wait to pack the van and head off.
We have planned two trips in 2014 the first (leaving soon) through south-western Queensland to Goondiwindi then on to St George and Cunnamulla. From Cunnamulla we will travel south to Bourke and Cobar then on to Broken Hill where we will spend a few days recapturing photos that we lost last year when our computer hard drive failed.
Initially we had planned to travel to Mildura to attend a Caravan Rally being staged by the Australasian Touring Caravan, Motorhome & Camping Club (ATCMCC) (http://www.atcmcc.org.au/). However problems with our caravan fridge delayed our departure so long that we have missed most of the rally so have decided not to attend.
From Broken Hill we will travel to Port Augusta in South Australia and then travel north returning to Queensland via the Birdsville Track. Once back in Queensland we hope to travel from Birdsville to Windorah, then visit Quilpie, Thargomindah, Cunnamulla and St George then to Miles where we will head north to Biloela then to Agnes Water and 1770 and to Bundaberg then home to the Sunshine Coast after visiting our girls on the Gold Coast.
Should there be problems with the Birdsville Track our alternate route is via the Stuart Highway, to Alice Springs and Tennant Creek then to Mt Isa, Cloncurry, Winton, Longreach and Blackall thence on to Miles to resume our original planned trip.
Later in the year we are planning a trip to the far north coast visiting Cooktown and Cape York and travelling across the far northern region to Normanton, Burketown and Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill Gorge) National Park (http://nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/boodjamulla-lawn-hill/index.html) before heading south and east to return to the Sunshine Coast. More on this trip later.
After we took the storm cover off the van there was a period of persistent light rain and we discovered we had a small leak around one of the hatches in the caravan; this hatch is directly above the bed but fortunately we had a plastic cover over the bed to protect it. On the roof there appeared to be no breaks in the sealant around the hatch but I applied more sealant wherever I could see any possibility of water intrusion and that seemed to do the trick as the leak has abated.
We have cleaned and polished and packed gear in preparation for the trip and tested everything to ensure it is in working order. Since we are planning to travel over a number of gravel roads we have also taken the opportunity to try to seal the caravan against dust intrusion by sealing joints and plugging larger gaps left during the manufacture of the van. Hopefully we can limit the intrusion of dust – but even the smallest most inaccessible gap will let dust into the van – we shall have to wait and see.
While doing the testing we discovered the refrigerator didn’t want to work on gas; as we want to do a fair bit of free camping on this trip it is vital that the three-way fridge works on all three power sources so we called in a service man to check the fridge as my efforts to get the appliance to work proved to be inadequate. The visit by the service man revealed the problem to be a faulty board which controls the refrigerator and its various functions and this will have to be replaced before we depart on our journey.
Obtaining the necessary parts has proven to be a frustrating experience. The service agent indicated he expected to have parts in two or three days but after three business days (with a weekend in between) I ended up ringing the fridge manufacturer to determine what the problem was (if any) with the dispatch of the necessary parts. I volunteered to drive from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast factory operated by the manufacturer to collect the parts only to discover that they did not have the necessary fridge board in Queensland and it would need to be sourced from Victoria. I was assured the necessary items would be air freighted from Victoria the next day and delivered to the service agent for installation.
Eventually the repair man returned with the necessary board and fitted this to the caravan but still the fridge refused to work using the gas supply. The old board was clearly faulty and one could see where the fault had occurred but obviously something further was needed to coax the fridge into action.
I was frustrated, the repair guy was frustrated and started moaning about the cost of the job. The upshot was that he rang the manufacturer and on advice from the technicians ordered a new solenoid for the fridge. This proved to be the trick when he arrived back a few days ago and when he fitted the new device the fridge worked happily on all three power sources – 240 volt; 12 volt and gas. Bewdy Newc!
The fridge worked on gas for the rest of the day so the decision was taken that departure day would be Friday. All but packed with just the last-minute items to go in the van. Will hitch up in the morning and pull out when we have everything to our satisfaction.
On the Road Again in 2014