Albert and Annie Say:

Life without love is like a tree
without blossoms or fruit.

     

        Pam's Journal For February 2010

     
  Monday 1st February 2010  
  Well this is it, the countdown. We have started our list of chores before we are ready for the road. Pete Mate discovered the caravan emergency brake wasn’t working. He had a heck of a job accessing the battery, and then we had to go and buy a new one. Nothing went right and in the end he left it until tomorrow. We had a few other things to do in town plus we needed a good coffee. All of this kept us very busy until dinner time. The red tasted really good tonight.  
  Tuesday 2nd February 2010  
  We were very busy today doing cleaning and maintenance jobs ready for the move. Our new door for the freezer inside the fridge arrived; the old one just came away in my hand. Fitting it Pete Mate swore a lot and it was ‘a pig of a job’. Eventually he did it and we sincerely hope we never have to do it again.

Happy hour was spent with Tarranne (from NewTrain) and Neil, her husband, before heading out to dinner. It was a very pleasant evening with good food, excellent company and some rather nice WA wine. All too soon we said our goodbyes and then retired for the night. There has been too many goodbyes this last week, it reminds me of December 2004 when we said goodbye to so many people in Perth.
 
  Wednesday 3rd February 2010  
  We had to be out and about early as we had our appointments at the doctor’s. We both have excellent blood pressures and he gave us our scripts for the next six months. Plus we didn’t have to pay as I am not working. Bonus! When we left there we had a list of places to go to as we still needed a few things. Once the list was completed and we had enjoyed a coffee we headed home. Then it was back to work cleaning and boring stuff.  
  Thursday 4th February 2010  
  I washed everything in sight. If it stood still it went into the washing machine. Pete Mate worked this out early in the piece so got to work washing the outside of the ‘van and awning. By the time I had walked up and down the hill to the laundry half a dozen times, I was plum worn out.

After lunch we again had to do some more errands. Whilst we were out it started to rain; I was not happy! By the time we got to the washing it was soaking with a promise of more rain to come. We made a decision to leave it on the line, not one we would normally make as to leave washing out overnight in a caravan park is asking for it to be stolen. Anyway we left it hoping for the best and went home to continue with our leaving preparations.
 
  Friday 5th February 2010  
  Morning; it is still raining. I decided to give it a couple of hours and if the weather hadn’t improved then I would spend an enormous amount of money in the dryer. God smiled on us and the sun came out, the washing dried and was intact. Now I had to get it back to the caravan. A few trips later I had everything in the 'van and put away.

Now again we were off to town with another list. Such fun this getting ready. In the evening we walked up to the Oasis to meet Roslyn and Allan. On arrival we saw Mary so she also joined us. Our favourite chef had the night off so it was pot luck on what we ordered. Mine was very nice and I think everyone else’s was also. We had a very pleasant evening but then it was time to say goodbye to three very nice people. We were walking back to the caravan when the heavens opened and to add to our misery we got well and truly drenched.
 
  Saturday 6th February 2010  
  It is still raining. It was a job and half trying to get everything packed away in the rain. We were not happy. Finally with everything we could do done, we relaxed ready for the big trip tomorrow.  
  Sunday 7th February 2010  
  We finally left Tamworth around 10:15am after many more goodbyes from people in the park. Our destination being Bathurst. As it was only around 400kms we thought, easy peasy. We did not take into account Bloody Alice.

At some point we turned off the main highway and headed directly towards Merriwa. This is when I got the map out and discovered that this road actually became an unsealed road further along. We didn’t believe the map as it is five years old we made the mistake of believing Alice. As we hit the uneven gravel we became worried that the caravan wouldn’t take forty kilometres of this treatment, then a friendly chap pulled up and told us we would be right as the road isn’t too bad and we only had two lots of water to go through. We soon realised that it would take us two hours to do the 40kms, so an executive decision was made and we turned around. Not before the T.A. (me) had to get out and stomp all over the verge to check it was safe for a two and a half tonne caravan to reverse over.

We made our way back to the highway where I noticed a sign saying "Tamworth 75kms" and looked at the clock. We had been on the road for two hours! Turning left back to Tamworth was very tempting. Anyway we trundled along in the direction of Bathurst. Alice was not happy as she was determined to get us back on that dirt road, so I was reinstated as map reader. Up yours Alice, I knew this day would come.

I didn’t go to sleep and neither was I sworn at. By now it was pouring with rain and we were not happy as we were quickly realising that arriving in Bathurst by dark was not going to happen. We found a pleasant looking rest area and pulled in. We did what was necessary to spend the night, i.e. turn on the gas, switch the fridge over to gas, turn on the water pump and take things off the beds. We poured a glass of red each and Pete Mate promptly poured his all over the bed, the pillows and the floor. Life on the road is so much fun. That sorted, we relaxed with our wine, ate dinner, did some reading and sudokus and went to sleep.
 
  Monday 8th February 2010  
  We enjoyed a surprisingly good night’s sleep - usually at these free camps you are bothered by traffic or other noises. We hit the road again at 8:30am and again headed in the direction of Bathurst, not trusting Alice. We arrived there without incident but as it was only midday we pressed on towards Wagga Wagga.

We passed through some interesting looking towns that will have to be visited properly some other time. It took longer than we anticipated but we finally arrived in Wagga around 6:30pm.

The receptionist’s welcome was warm and friendly she loaded me up with all sorts of leaflets of things to do here in Wagga. We parked the ‘van on the third attempt which I thought was pretty damn good considering we hadn’t done it for over twelve months, plus we had an audience as Happy Hours were in progress all around us. We were dog tired so we did the bare minimum, had dinner and relaxed.
 
  Tuesday 9th February 2010  
  We awoke this morning to a flurry of activity as the neighbours around us were on the move. We did it again – is our snoring too loud or did we do something far worse? We had many chores to do today as we only did the bare minimum last night. The sun was shining so I did some washing as well.

I met a Scottish lady who had lived in Melbourne since 1983. She and her husband are retired. They are going back to Scotland to live but before they leave in March they are going around Australia in a camper van. She told me they would be on the road five weeks; sometimes it takes us longer than that to do one town! Nice lady though.

The park and its amenities are very clean and well maintained. All the people seem friendly enough and quiet at night. What more can you ask?
 
  Wednesday 10th February 2010  
 

Our first sight-seeing item on the agenda was the inside of a dentist’s surgery. I had my filling replaced which turned into two fillings apparently. We left there $410 lighter in the bank and me with an aching mouth.

We went for a look around the centre of Wagga and liked what we saw; so many shops and a Myers too. I love Myers - or I did when I had money. The only thing I found a little unsettling was there were so many people and they all seemed to be in the coffee shop when we were. It was so noisy, and packed like a sardine can. I want to go back to Tamworth where it is quiet and familiar. (Only kidding Pete Mate).

After lunch we had a drive around, so many old houses with new ones slotted in along side them. After a visit to the Information Centre (where we weren’t impressed, no help offered at all), we went to the National Art Glass Gallery. Now there we were impressed; it was amazing, beautiful and so interesting. The first part downstairs was the Mamana Mamanta exhibit which means Gradual Friendship. The artists are Luna Ryan (Canberra) and Jack Puautjimi (Tiwi). The art is supposed to reflect the gradual friendship, born from artistic and cross cultural collaboration. (Yes I have the leaflet). Well I have to admit all of the above did not leap out and hit me over the head but what did was the sheer talent and ingenuity of these artists. Amazing! This is a travelling exhibit so if it comes to your town go and have a look.

Upstairs in the Gallery there is the resident exhibition and that was also amazing. We viewed the works of many different talented people with their originality and resourcefulness. We enjoyed it very much and would love to see the artist at work as that would add to the pleasure.

From there we had a walk and found a lagoon which we walked around, as you do. The water was a little muddy and we couldn’t see very much except hundreds of beautiful water lilies. When we walked under the bridge (road over the top) we spied full length murals painted on the wall of the bridge. These were of sporting people who originated from Wagga. Mark Taylor was amongst them. I like Mark Taylor so I will be keeping my eyes peeled just in case he is still here. As we walked around the lagoon we stumbled upon a very well maintained park, with lovely trees and flowers. We walked through there and came upon the War Memorial with its eternal flame. All beautifully kept and Pete Mate gave his camera a work out.

We then visited the avenue of churches. That isn’t the official name but it should be called that as there are so many churches. I did a walkabout and the only one open was the Catholic Church. I went inside for a moment’s solitude and a sticky beak. The building opposite I also thought was a church but on closer examination found it used to be a monastery but is now apartments. I bet there are a few interesting ghosts floating around in there!

We now decided that we had enough sightseeing for one day and it was stinking hot. We called in at the shopping mall to collect some groceries and decided to have a cool drink. Wendy’s was closest to us so Wendy’s it was. We ordered a smoothie each and were given competition forms to fill in for a Valentine Day’s cake, plus a free sample of ice cream. Then, to our amusement, we were given free socks for our mobile phones.

Having refreshed ourselves on the smoothies it was time to do the shopping. That out of the way we were about to walk back to the car when the heavens opened and it poured. Now it must not rain often in Wagga as everyone was smiling and a lot of people just walked through it getting absolutely soaked. We waited until it had eased, no point in getting the wine wet.

Once back at the caravan it was time for happy hour with the rain still pounding on the roof.

 
  Thursday 11th February 2010  
  The sun has returned to our little world and the humidity has lessened, thank the Lord.

We packed our lunch and sallied forth for Temora which boasts that is has the world’s finest collection of flying historic aircraft. (One would be lost without leaflets). On arrival at the airfield we were bemused to see eleven police cars in the car park. The flying squad maybe? Sorry.

Once we had paid our money, we were treated to a personal guided tour by our friendly guide, Bob. Bob made it all very interesting and I enjoyed our time there, apart from Bob calling me Mum all the time. I know I am a mum but I am not his. At one point he said we were going into the workshop area, so I tried to back out of that one but no, Bob wasn’t letting me off the hook. I had to go with him even if they had to wait for me to visit the loo. I am glad I did stay with them as it wasn’t smelly old engines as I thought it would be but men working on the aircraft, including a second Spitfire. How magnificent would that be, not to own just one but two, and to fly them.

We finished back at the beginning where the walls were covered in information. As you can only take in so much we called it a day and left to have a look at a Gliding club. We had a look at that and the airport then headed for home.
 
     
   
  A photo of me with my Tiger Moth, (I wish), wearing the very unique NewTrain hat. Shame the
lighting was poor inside the hangar, plus the cap was too far back so none of the writing is visible.
Practice makes perfect and we will see where the hat ends up tomorrow.
 
     
  Friday 12th February 2010  
  The plan today was to visit the Botanical Gardens and have a walk through the centre of town to find some sculptures. Alas, whilst Pete Mate was in the shower the heavens opened and God gave us his version of a shower. So we changed our plans and went to visit the Charles Sturt University which had, we saw advertised, a cheese and wine outlet where free tasting is a must.

We eventually found the campus after Alice had us heading in the wrong direction. Once Alice had directed us to the campus she got totally confused and took us to a car park. Now I cannot blame Alice as we were also confused. Luckily I spied a nice young man walking to his car so I hopped out and asked for directions; being female I am allowed to do that. My first impression was correct; he was a nice young man. I think the expression on my face as he gave me directions brought him to the decision to say ”Follow me”. Thank goodness he did, we would never have found it.

We sampled some wine, cheese and olive oil. The grapes and the olives are grown especially for the University, either on campus or elsewhere. The wine is made on campus but the oil is made for them off site. The cheese is also made on campus. We purchased a couple of bottles of wine but left the oil and cheese as they weren’t to our taste.

Now we had to find our way out. We were given instructions, all very clear if you know where you are going. Eventually we found the way out and made our way to Junee. Junee boasts a Liquorice and Chocolate Factory. We enjoyed the tour of how they make liquorice, and then discovered the chocolate is imported from Germany - not what we expected. There were some renovations happening and were told the chocolate factory is on the drawing board. The farm where they produce the ingredients for the liquorice is all organic - as is the imported chocolate - so it was much better for us, our guide assured us. After the tour we played a skittle type game with a ball of liquorice, I managed one point but Pete Mate was the winner with three. His prize was a bag of liquorice which I helped him eat.

After we refreshed ourselves with a cup of coffee each we departed to have a look around Junee. The town is quite old and in some parts dull and drab, but to be fair to Junee it was a dull wet day. We walked on the platform of the station and had a look at Railway Square, all noted in the leaflet. Once that was done we trundled home for Happy Hour, which these days are spent inside the ‘van due to the inclement climate. In other words it was pouring with rain!
 
  Saturday 13th February 2010  
  The rain poured down all night and didn’t look like it was going to stop soon. So we cancelled all plans for ‘doing’ the Botanical Gardens yet again. We spent the day encased in our ‘van, reading, knitting and working on the web page. At one point the thunder was so loud we both jumped sky high. The rain never stopped, just eased a little at times.  
  Sunday 14th February 2010  
 

Would you believe it is still b????y raining? All night long. Well, whenever I was awake it was raining. Eventually the sun came out and we rushed out of the caravan so’s not to miss it.

We decided to have a look at the Botanical Gardens but there was not much to see and our hearts weren’t in it once we discovered the mud and water we had to walk through. Before venturing out into the gardens we had a look at the museum. Sorry, historical museum. It wasn’t our kind of museum; it was mainly writings about families that live in the Wagga district. Whilst in the gardens we noticed the sky looking a daunting battleship grey, (I pinched that from a book I have just read). As we wanted to pack everything away ready for tomorrow we raced home. We did manage to get everything packed before the rain returned.

 
  Monday 15th February 2010  
  We didn’t rush for an early start as we knew we only had a short journey today, around 150kms. At least the sun was shining when we set off but we did encounter a couple of showers on the way. Everything went smoothly until we approached Wodonga, then Alice got her knickers in a knot and I once more had to take over. 'Deputy Navigator' I am not – I am THE NAVIGATOR. Alice is allowed BY ME to perform as and when she can get it right.

We were advised that the caravan parks in Wodonga and Albury were not the best so we chose one further out of town. We made a good choice as the park is lovely, great amenities one of the best we have been to. We met a nice couple from Gippsland and had a very pleasant happy hour.
 
  Tuesday 16th February 2010  
  We left the caravan not knowing where anywhere is as we didn’t have any information. The caravan park was lacking sadly in that department. We saw a sign for Hume Dam so decided to go and have a look. We walked along the dam wall and saw fish and turtles in the water.

We had a wander around Albury, had a really nice lunch in one of the many cafes, bought some shoes, saw some lovely old buildings then went shopping for groceries. After asking twice where the Tourist Information Centre was we eventually found it ourselves. We were given plenty to see and do which means we should be out and about quite a bit.

Once home we spent a very pleasant Happy Hour with George and Teresa from Gippsland.
 
  Wednesday 17th February 2010  
  Today was lookout day. I found three different ones in the tourist leaflets so we set forth with our picnic lunch on the back seat. We hit a snag pretty much straight away as Pete Mate thought I said we are to go to Huon when I actually said Huon Hill Lookout. Once we straighten that out it was all plain sailing so to speak.

The first lookout involved some walking up a couple of steep tracks. I managed one but left Pete Mate to do the other on his own. I am so unfit!! The views were great except the haze over the area spoilt the photos a little.

The next one was okay but nothing spectacular so we went on to the next point of interest, Dan Murphy’s discount liquor store, where we stocked up on cheap wine. Or should I say, wine that was cheap!

Our last place of interest was the War Monument on Memorial Hill. You can see the monument sitting high on a hill from the centre of town, so I reckoned it would make a really good photo looking back towards town. I was right but alas the haze took the edge of it. Then it was home for Happy Hour.
 
     
   
  One of our friends leaving Happy Hour.  
     
  Thursday 18th February 2010  
  We had a lay day today. Lay day conjurors up a day of lazing around not doing much. I used the day to catch up on the washing and the cleaning plus sorting out the food for the next week. Pete Mate worked on the web page.  
  Friday 19th February 2010  
  What a perfect day, the sun was at just the right temperature as we sat having our lunch in the Botanical Gardens, under the shade of an enormous tree. Perfick!  
     
   
  Light, shade, lush vegetation and colour.  
     
  The gardens were lovely, so many beautiful trees. I love trees, we searched the gardens for, and eventually found, the original Elm tree that was planted by the Mayor of Albury in 1887 and so the Botanical Gardens were created. It was wonderful to see so many young mums and their little ones picnicking.
 
     
   
  As the plaque says, this sculpture was presented by Alderman Charles Schneidt in 1892. More than
that I do not know so if anyone can enlighten me, I'd be grateful. The figure is holding a dagger.
Perhaps more suited to the Council Chambers than the Botanical Gardens, Alderman Schneidt?
 
     
   
  Another view of the Botanical Gardens.  
     
  After the park we drove out to a pub, the first pub we have ventured into since leaving Tamworth. This pub was a little different as it was built as a tourist attraction. It is The Ettamogah Pub; there is another one in Queensland but this one is the original. We had a good laugh as we looked at it and read all the paraphernalia inside.  
     
   
     
  After we had enjoyed a refreshing drink I walked up the hill to look at the museum and souvenir shop. The shop was closed and the museum was really an art gallery of Ken Maynard’s cartoons.

After leaving the pub we wanted to call in again at the Tourist Information Centre. Easier said than done when you don’t actually know where you are because the maps are hopeless. Anyway, eventually we found the Centre - and had a look at some new surroundings on the way.

Once home it was Happy Hour time and we have new neighbours.
 
  Saturday 20th February 2010  
  We enjoyed a splendid day exploring more of Victoria; we feel like we have only touched the surface of this state. We experienced beautiful mountainous scenery that was sadly very dry. We visited the historic towns of Beechworth and Yackandandah; both towns were created after gold was discovered in 1852. The name Yackandandah is said to be derived from the Aboriginal meaning "rock and water hole" or "country of hills". So who knows? Both towns had very old, quaint buildings but nothing so outstanding that it was worth a photograph. Except perhaps the Yackandandah town sign. Wonderful name!  
     
   
     
  We did the Gorge Drive just out of Beechworth. Now, there was plenty worthy of a photo but the road was so hairy and only the width of our car so we didn’t stop for a photo shoot. Pete Mate missed most of the scenery as he couldn’t take his eyes off the road even for a moment. The result would have been a very long tumble down a steep gorge! All too soon it was time to head home.  
  Sunday 21st February 2010  
  As the mail did not arrive yesterday morning we have to stay until Tuesday morning. We blamed Australia Post but really it was our fault because we did not submit the correct paperwork at the onset.

As it was pouring with rain we decided to stay home and read. The ground outside is rapidly becoming a quagmire and all our things are getting filthy. What fun a caravanning life is. Thank goodness for wine.
 
  Monday 22nd February 2010  
  The mail arrived so we can now pack up ready for departure tomorrow. The sky was very grey and overcast; we were hoping that things would dry out enough to be packed away but no, down the rain came again. So nothing got done, we weren’t too worried as we didn’t have far to go tomorrow.  
  Tuesday 23rd February 2010  
  We were both up early. Well - early for us. The sun greeted us and everything had dried out somewhat. The ground mat was a disgusting mess but we couldn’t do much more than roll it up and hope we could wash it in Wangaratta.

We left just after 10.00am and Alice proceeded to give us directions in her melodious voice. We hadn’t been going long when Pete Mate pulled over because Alice was taking us in the wrong direction . . . yet again.

I say nothing, I just keep on knitting, minding my own business. As it turned out it was Pete Mate’s error, he had some finger trouble when keying in the coordinates. Sorry Alice.

We had a very good run through to Wangaratta passing some wonderful scenery which, to our surprise, was very green. After seeing two large notices telling us to ditch our fruit we pulled into a picnic area and ate the peaches we had. I was careful when we crossed from NSW to Victoria not to bring in fruit. I assumed that once in Victoria everything was okay. Whether our peaches were okay to visit Wangaratta or not we played it safe and, as I said, ate them. We arrived at Wangaratta in plenty of time to set up camp before lunch. It is a nice caravan park with friendly people. After lunch we walked into town, had a look around, went to the information centre and then had a mediocre coffee before walking home.
 
  Wednesday 24th February 2010  
  Our first plan was to go and explore Bright but then we decided to clean up a few things - especially the mat outside the door - do some washing and ironing and PM did some caravan maintenance. Later we did the grocery shopping, what joy. It was also a planning day of where to go and what to see, from the looks of it we should be in Wangaratta a week or two at least. I really have to say we are not Aldi fans. I know there are many out there but we visited one of their stores for the first and last time. I couldn’t find anything I wanted, I didn’t recognise anything I needed and the packing of bags totally threw us. Plus I really do not think we saved much.
 
  Thursday 25th February 2010  
  The morning flew by, doing what I have no idea. After lunch we had a drive to Milawa, someone had told me it was a nice little town and was famous for its cheese, olives and mustards. We arrived blinked and missed the town. There wasn’t a nice little town at all but apart from the above-mentioned industries there was a general store and a pub with one or two houses dotted about. So we drove around thinking we had missed the town somehow but no, that was it. We sampled the cheeses, bought some and had a coffee then drove home.
 
  Friday 26th February 2010  
  We set off early for Bright; we had heard so many good things about Bright that we were looking forward to seeing it. Once there we had a quick look around and then called in at the information centre. They loaded us up with things to do from Bright so it soon became apparent that we would have to move the caravan to Bright to explore this region properly. We decide we would do that on Tuesday. We parked under a lovely tree to have our lunch . . .
 
     
   
  The tree looked like green lace against the blue sky.  
     
  We then had a drive out to Harrietville – we had to visit Harrietville as my new hat is called Harriet and she wanted to have her photo taken there.

To all our sane readers, when Pam left NewTrain her friends gave her a yellow hat which they had all signed. She christened it Harriet.

On the way we passed through a small town called Smoko and again Harriet did not miss a photo opportunity.
 
     
   
     
   
     
  Back in Bright we drove to the top of a lookout. The road was pretty scary, I thought, but when we finally got there Pete Mate decided he would keep going up this goat track. Billy did really well as did the driver; the passenger nearly wet herself and requested we abandon this crazy idea and turn around. That was easier said than done, once back at the ‘official’ lookout we took photos and my blood pressure returned to normal.  
     
   
  Looking down on the outskirts of Bright  
     
  Once back on the main road we called in at some old tobacco sheds that have now been converted into a shop. It was like an Aladdin’s cave, room after room full of china, glassware, linen, ornaments, books, videos, furniture and even teaspoons. I reckon if you couldn’t see what you wanted you only had to ask and they would find it. Pete Mate declared it a totally pink event which is a little rich coming from the man who just a short time ago made me look very green indeed!

We left there empty handed as nothing was really suitable for a caravan, and made our way home as happy hour was well and truly in progress somewhere. Once home we poured our wine and Pete Mate sat at the computer ready to write up today’s events.

Alas woe is he. He knocked the wine over the computer and it went into the keyboard, plus all over his shirt, shorts, the carpet and floor. Luckily we have covers over the upholstery. The air was so blue I thought Billy Connelly had arrived, but what can you do these things happen. The rest of the evening was spent in a sober mood watching the wine drip from an upside computer.
 
  Saturday 27th February 2010  
 

The computer keyboard is dead so we walked into town to see if we could find a computer repair place. Harvey Norman seemed to be the best place to start but they do not fix computers, however they did give us the name and address of someone we could see on Monday.

The guy in the office here at the park rang someone he knows and he could only tell Pete Mate to do what he had already done. After lunch Pete Mate took all the keys off one by one and cleaned the underneath. The keyboard still refused to work properly. Damn keyboards don’t appreciate a good drop of red when they are forced to drink it. On top of all this we were treated to a nice thunder storm with plenty of rain.

 
  Sunday 28th February 2010  
  It is official. We are in mourning. The computer is kaput and Pete Mate resorted to reading a book whilst scowling at the thing. The rain continued for some of the day but then cleared to a beautiful blue sky. Looks like we will not be moving to Bright on Tuesday after all.