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 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #017

Editorial

Wothahellizat: For sale
That's right, Australia's largest and weirdest off-road motorhome is for sale! Sort of.

During the course of this chronicle we had several people ask if the truck was for sale. It's not uncommon, although I'm sure most people are just joking. One fellow however was very interested. Even after we implied what we thought is was worth to us, he still gave us his contact details.

Which begs the question, how much is it worth to us? Well I'm not saying here, but almost certainly more than anyone would be willing to pay. It's not the three years of my time that I'd want to recoup, you can never really do that, it's the prospect of spending the next year or so building another one that petrifies me.

Still, almost everything in life has a price, therefore, like most things, Wothahellizat is for sale. It's just not on the market.

 

Vale: Campsites index
You may have already noticed that the campsites index is no more. Regular readers may also have noticed that there has been very little activity in that section for several months.

I've killed it for two reasons. Firstly, the maintenance, it's a very time consuming section to maintain and I already spend a large part of my days working on this site.

Secondly, I'm not sure I want to tell everybody about these sites anymore. There's been a lot of controversy lately about various publications highlighting camp sites, only to have them overrun by hundreds of campers, most of whom are not self contained, and who therefore leave a mess of one description of another.

Also there's been cases of people feigning breakdowns to overstay in areas.

A case in point is the very first site I had in the index, at Tin Can Bay. This site was closed recently for two of the above cited reasons, ie. over crowding and over staying.

I could of course password protect the pages involved with, for example, the same passwords used by the CMCA for their site. But there's still the maintenance aspect.

So the campsites index is gone and I won't be openly sharing the good spots anymore, at least not on the web. But if you catch up with me on the road I'll certainly tell you where to go...and camp.

 

 

Sat 15 Feb 2003

It's been 16-odd months now and, for the first time, we're heading east, towards what we used to call home.

We leave Cape Freycinet and head towards Pemberton. After a brief stop at Chapman Pool we enter the Karri forest. This is seriously tall timber territory, and it makes a nice change to see massive straight trees after months of their twisted, stunted, and wind-distorted brethren on the coast.

We stop for lunch at Beedelup National Park, and for a while even contemplated camping there but, deliberately or by chance, the authorities have discovered a foolproof method of dissuading motorhomes from spending the night.

It's not the usual "No Camping" sign or even the "$3000 fine for even thinking of camping" sign. No there's a very simple method, you just put the carpark on the side of a hill so it's impossible to find a level spot.

We move on.

After a while we reach Pemberton and drive out to the Big Brook Arboretum where there is an official, and free, campground in the forest. On our arrival we find some humungous Sequoia trees here from the USA, a large clearing with tables and fire places, and a clean long-drop dunny.

There's nobody here so we choose a good spot and sit back to relax.


Wothahellizat snuggled in amongst the trees.

After a while Chris says, in a hushed voice, "Isn't it quiet". We agree that it's very pleasant, with just the murmuring of the breeze in the trees.

Hang on, what's that? There's the sound of a motorbike in the distance. Never mind he'll go past.

Well he doesn't go past, and there are two of them, both riding Harleys as they pull into the campground.

One of them comes over, "I've come to apologise in advance" he said, "there's 12 of us and we're coming here to camp for the weekend, we might make some noise".

Minutes later they all arrive, soon after we are surrounded and I find myself explaining the truck's features. The peace is shattered, but they seem like a good bunch of blokes.

Not long after they break out the 70cc trail bike from the back of a ute. It's one of those small unregistered bikes that are usually used to bash around the farm. They're annoying enough at the best of times, but this one has little or no muffler.

Up and down, and around and around they go, each taking turns at a spin around the campground between drinks. After a while everything goes quiet, "Maybe they've run out of petrol" Chris says. Shortly one of the blokes approaches and asks if we have a length of hose.

Chris is immediately suspicious, "What's it for?" she asks. We were right, they need to syphon some petrol for that noisy motor bike.

Now at this point common sense would cause most people to "forget" the location of any and all lengths of hose, but not me. I go one better and offer to sell them some petrol.

By 12:30AM I rue that decision. They are still fooling around on that bloody trail bike.

Tue 18 Feb

At bed time I go to close my shutter, it's quite difficult to pull in, and in fact I can't get it closed.

It seems that the hinge has seized and my pulling on the shutter has bent it. I decide to figure it out in the morning, so we leave the shutter half open for the night.

During the night it rains quite heavily and we discover a couple of leaks in the roof.

Wed 19 Feb

It's repairs day today. I've got to figure out how to fix the shutter and look into the leaking roof.

After much deliberation, and a couple of hours hammering and jacking, I decide that the shutter's hinge cannot be fixed, and probably has to be replaced.

This isn't a job I want to tackle in the bush so we manage to get the shutter closed (almost) and leave it at that for the moment.

Then I get on the roof to check out the leak. The first thing to do is lift the aluminium sheets that form the walkway down the centre.

When I put them in place I used screws to fix them, but also ran a bead of gap filler along each batten underneath the sheets, to stop it squeaking when I walk on them.

I expect a bit of adhesion from the filler but when I try to remove the sheets they're stuck firmly to the timber battens. It takes ages, prising with a hammer and screwdriver, to get them off. They are quite mangled by the time I've finished.

Isn't that just typical, some things I want firmly glued fall off, and other things that are supposed to be removable need a crow bar to prize them free.

Eventually I get to the source of the leak, I cut away all the old sealant and generally clean and dry things up. It's been a perfectly clear day and I'd like to leave everything open until tomorrow to air and dry out, so I don't cover anything.


Some roof repairs. Note the battens upon which the aluminium sheets are laid. These sheets not only form a walkway but, in conjunction with the solar panels, also create a tropical roof to keep things cool

About midnight Chris goes to bed, seconds later she's back, "It's starting to rain" she says, "we'd better put a tarp over the roof".

And we have just the tarp for the job. When we lived in the workshop I purchased two tarpaulins to build a "house" at the back of the building. When I selected them I made sure they were large enough to cover the truck just in case we needed to do so one day.

Well tonight's the day. I get one tarp out from under the floor and we spread it over the roof, it's so large that even folded in half it covers most of the vehicle.

For once, thank goodness, there's no wind.

Fri 21 Feb

I go into the Pemberton Telecentre to do some work on the web site. For three hours I'm uploading and testing. There's a bug in the site's Javascript code that I can't fix in a reasonable time, and I'm paying $6 an hour to stay online, so I'll work on it tonight and ride back into town tomorrow to upload and test the changes. It ain't easy being a nomadic webmaster.

Sat 22 Feb

It's back into the Telecentre. After another two hours everything seems to work and I've added some new features.

As I ride home it starts to rain, fortunately though it's not heavy.

I round the last corner and see the forest rising vertically from the farmland, a 70-metre wall of dead straight trees that I'm starting to think of as home.

It's raining heavily now but as I turn into the darkness of the forest, the canopy protects me. As I slowly wind my way down the trail under the timber giants I feel like a forest gnome, who's been out in the world for the day, returning to the safety of the trees.

Mon 24 Feb

Today I'm working on the web site yet again, so it's into the Telecentre with laptop under arm. The manager is on the phone as I enter but she just waves me through, I know where everything is by now.

Today however the line doesn't work properly. I can upload but cannot get onto my site, or any other sites for that matter, with one exception, telstra.com.

Funny how, when all other websites fail, that of the phone line provider works just fine.

Wed 26 Feb

We don helmets and ride out along Heartbreak Trail, a trip that's billed as having "spectacular scenery". It's a nice drive all right, but spectacular?, I'm not convinced.

Along the way I climb the Frank Evans Bicentennial tree, 75-odd metres of wire enclosed "ladder" formed by lengths of steel rod embedded into the tree.

I start the climb with much gusto, reaching the top, a lung-burning, leg-wobbling, few minutes later with somewhat less gusto.

On reaching the highest platform I find a hatch that provides access onto the roof. It's not locked but I don't feel at all tempted to climb through.

Sat 1 Mar

They're back! The madding crowd that we try so hard to avoid have found us in our lovely quiet forest. Along with them came the ball kicking, tent peg hammering, tent zip zipping and the general hubbub that accompanies 20 or 30 people camping in one place.

We tend to loose track of the days, but a quick consultation of a calendar confirms our suspicions...today is the start one of those events that full-time travellers hate, a long weekend.

Mon 3 Mar

We planned to leave today but, because of the long weekend, most campsites will be full until this afternoon, so we'll stay until tomorrow.

I take the opportunity to do some more maintenance on the truck.

Tue 4 Mar

We finally leave our forest sanctuary today, a short two-kilometre drive through the trees puts us back on the road to Pemberton.

We've no sooner said goodbye to Big Brook Forest, and got a full head of steam up, when we encounter the nearby vineyard. Some time ago the vineyard people placed netting over a large area of vines, it's very photogenic and I've had my eye on the scene for a couple of weeks

Unfortunately I just couldn't make it work as a photo from ground level. Today however I have Wothahellizat, the world's largest mobile camera platform.

I climb up onto the roof to take a photo from four metres in the air. I have to wait for a break in the breeze and it's quite difficult to watch both the camera and the subject to ensure they are both still.

On this occasion however Chris has popped her head up through the hatch so I have an assistant. "You keep an eye on the vines" I say, "Tell me when they're moving or still".

For the next ten minutes I get a running commentary as I wait for the camera's state of motion to match that of the vines. The ensuing dialogue goes something like this.

Chris says I think
   
"Still" moving
"Moving" still
"Still" bugger, nearly
"Moving" now the camera's still!
"Still" oops, missed it
"Moving" will it never end?
"Still moving" Eh?
   

Eventually camera and subject match and I take the photo.


Net-covered grape vines near Pemberton

We continue into town, top up with water, make a few phone calls, get the email, then leave.

After a short drive we pull into Northcliff. There's a service station in the main street and we want to check out the diesel price, but I can't get the truck close enough for us to see the numbers on the bowser.

Chris gets the binoculars out and lines them up on the pump's display. There's an employee from the nearby supermarket having a smoke, outside, as is required these days. Unfortunately she is directly in line with the bowser, so must have felt that the binoculars were pointed at her.

If she wasn't paranoid before, having someone scrutinise her with binoculars from a vehicle like Wothahellizat, must surely have made her so.

At about 4:30 we pull into Windy Harbour, smack in the middle of D'Entrecasteaux National Park. There doesn't seem to be much here but we'll stay for the night.

It's incredibly windy, who would have figured.


Windy Harbour is a shack community, but most of the shacks are really quite reasonable houses.

One reason we decide to stay in an official campground of the paying variety is the showers. Our guide book says that there are hot showers here, and we plan to put them to good use.

After dinner I make my way up to the shower block, enter a cubicle, and find that there's no taps, just a button on the wall.

Like one of Pavlov's dogs, I quickly learn that if I press the button I am rewarded with about ten seconds of piping hot water. I can live with that, especially as I haven't had a long hot shower for weeks. We can of course take hot showers in the truck, but not long ones, water's too scarce.

Wed 5 Mar

The wind has died so we decide to spend another day here. We get a bike out and go exploring.


Red wildflowers on the side of the road to Salmon Beach.


And speaking of red, Telstra are now using red solar panels to power remote telephones. Word is that they are the only people to have them, so you'd better not be found in possession of one unless you're a Telstra technician

Within a couple of hours we've given the sights a once-over and returned to camp.

After lunch I go back out on the bike, this time looking for photos. I find a lot of interesting rock formations and caves.


Rock formations along the coast.

Nothing worth lugging the big camera back for though, until I reach Salmon Beach. Here I find a nice stretch of grass-covered sand dunes and rocky headlands.


Evening light on Salmon Beach, near Windy Harbour, D'Entrecasteaux National Park

Thu 6 Mar

We leave Windy Harbour and I plan to get my email in the nearby town of Northcliff. On reaching the town however I find that there's no CDMA reception.

"What kind of town is this?" I find myself thinking, "with no mobile phone tower". A local tells me that there will be one in a couple of months.

Five hundred years ago you had to have a church to be a real town, now it's a mobile phone tower.

Just a different form of communication I suppose.

We spend the night in a nice secluded rest area.

Fri 7 Mar

We're expecting mail at Denmark but it's too far to drive today (way over 50k :-) so we may as well take our time and get there on Monday.

We find a reasonably nice spot just out of Walpole then get on the bike to explore the area.


We get a nice campsite all to ourselves, not counting the old crane

The rest of the day is spent exploring Walpole and the nearby Tingle forests.

I have to say that the Tingle tree is not one of nature's more beautiful trees. Most of them are covered in cancerous-looking burls, and they don't seem to follow the "normal" tree approach whereby branches get smaller as they get higher, creating an overall affect of symmetry.

Many of the Tingles split into two massive boughs way above ground level. These boughs are sometimes larger than the trunk from which they sprout, and often disfigured and vastly unequal in size, creating an unbalanced appearance.

No, the Tingle is not a handsome tree.

Sat 8 Mar

Early in the morning we pull into a rest area just a hundred yards or so from the Valley of the Giants turn off.

We get a motor bike out then head off to the Sky Walk, a massive elevated walkway set amongst the forest canopy.


The Valley of the Giants Skywalk

The walkway sections span up to 70 metres and are designed to sway slightly, apparently to give the punters an experience more in tune with actually being in the trees.

From what I observed the experience was a little too in tune for some.

After the Sky Walk we spend the afternoon at Conspicuous Cliffs and associated beach.


The Bibbilmun track runs right along Conspicuous Beach

Sun 9 Mar

This morning we're a little low on battery power so we stay in the rest area until about 11:30 so we can run the generator.

Up until the last month or so we've hardly used our little generator at all, the solar has done just fine. But now we're down south, amongst the trees, and getting closer to the year's shortest day. All these things add up to more frequent generator use.

The shutter is still broken so we cannot open both sides of the lounge room for ventilation.

Until today it hasn't been a problem because the weather has been decidedly cool. But today is hot, and we're certainly noticing the difference without the flow-through breeze.

Eventually it gets too hot so we break camp and head for the sea, arriving at William Bay an hour or so later.

This is the location of Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool. The area is stunning. Crystal clear water and huge granite boulders. The boulder islands, just a hundred or so metres offshore, provide shelter for the swimming area.

This is the classic Southwest "Granite meets ocean" landscape.


Sunset at Greens Pool, you could do worse

Mon 10 Mar

Into Denmark this morning to pick up mail, conduct some business and buy some fruit.

We park near the main street, every man and his dog comes up to ask about the truck. The local police, rangers, housewives, motorhomers, the lot.

One local asks if it is for sale, and even remains interested enough to give us his contact details after we said what we thought it was worth.

For months we've heard about the camp ground at Cosey Corner and today we finally get there.

On arrival we find a very pleasant spot, but the main area is a bit tight for big rigs, so we park slightly further inland.

We go for a walk, then a ride, to see what the area has to offer. Not much from our point of view, but I believe the fishing and surfing is good plus the camping is free. That's more than enough for most people.

Tue 11 Mar

While enjoying a morning cuppa I hear a 4x4 pull up under Chris' window.

"Is Rob here" the driver says (well I'm sure that's what he would like to have said, but he couldn't remember my name). Anyway it turns out to be Andy, a fellow we first met in Darwin eight months ago, and have bumped into several times since.

He and several others are camped not far away at Torbay Inlet. There's not much room, but one of the buses is leaving today. Would we like to move over there?

After lunch we move the truck to the inlet. It turns out to be a tight squeeze but we eventually get settled in.

Shortly after we arrive the lads decide to go looking for some surf, I pile into one of the 4x4s and go for the ride. And what a ride.

At breakneck speed we negotiate the narrow sandy tracks that thread their way along the dunes and through the scrub. The lads in the other 4x4 have had a few drinks but fortunately my driver (Andy) doesn't indulge.

After an hour or so it was agreed that there was no surfable waves today, and we return.

It's quite the Gypsy camp here, there's Barry in his 4x4 Patrol, Crusty with an antique Toyota and dilapidated caravan, John with a very nice home built motorhome, Andy in the huge blue bus with a sun deck on the roof, Basti the German backpacker with his panel van, and of course ourselves.


The camp at Torbay Inlet

Some of them have been here a couple of months and have set up an American-Indian-style sweat lodge.


The sweat lodge made from old tarps

They heat rocks in the fire, transfer them into the tent in an old washing machine tub, then pour water over them, a la sauna. However nobody needed any help sweating today, it's been quite hot.

After dark we are content just to sit around the fire until late.

Wed 12 Mar

This morning we ride into Albany to get film processed, scope for campsite possibilities, and generally check out the town.

It's warm when we leave. We still haven't quite got used to the weather changing for the worse, as is common around these parts, so we ride off in t-shirts and shorts. Soon after things get quite cool, so when we hit town we buy some warmer clothes for the return trip.

Not that we're affluent enough to by new clothes for a half-hour bike ride, but it's getting towards winter so we'll be needing more warm clothes before long anyway.

Thu 13 Mar

Hang out with the lads, talking about the same stuff we did yesterday.

I also go to photograph some bulls that live in a nearby paddock.


Who's a big boy then? Talk about hang out with the lads.


Nothing like a dust bath to lighten that complexion

Fri 14 Mar

I ride back into town to see to some business. I find an internet cafe that will let me plug into their network to update my web site.

I also find a place to park the truck and repair the shutter. Through an acquaintance of a friend, I get onto a fellow who rents a shed, he puts me in touch with the caretaker of the disused wool stores, a complex of massive sheds just out of town.

We can stay under shelter, no problems. We won't actually be inside the sheds, but there are three huge covered areas we can use.

Sat 15 Mar

Just hang around again. The others go surfing a couple of times then spend half the afternoon deciding which party to go to, or whether to move camp to a better surfing spot instead.

Barry can't go anywhere until his check arrives on Tuesday, "No piss, no pot and no petrol" he says.

Everyone else here is on some kind of dole or pension, they don't have to work, and can just hang around and go surfing all day.

On the surface it seems an ideal lifestyle, and in truth it's not far removed from ours, but I'm bored already. I think you need enough money to have options, and not have to answer to some paper jockey in Centerlink.


Another Torbay resident who doesn't work

We'll stay one more day, then move into town tomorrow.

Sun 16 Mar

Well we are supposed to move into town today but I seem to have pulled a muscle in my back. I can hardly walk, let alone drive the truck, so I guess we're staying put.

Basti is also supposed to leave today, but by the time he's fixed a broken fin on his surfboard it's nearly lunchtime. Looks like he's staying another day as well.

I spend most of the day feeling sorry for myself, and stretching the pulled muscle.

At about 7PM Barry comes over to ask if we have a book about the planets. I say that we don't, but I can probably answer his question anyway.

"Mars is outside the Earth?" he says, "You sure?, that's cost me a slab".

As the nearest thing to a resident expert I offer to change the position of the planets for a six-pack.

When I go back into the lounge Chris reminds me that we do in fact have a book that details the order of the planets. I go over to John's rig with my old astronomy book (from my school days) in hand, only to be told by Barry to leave it outside, he's already given his version of the solar system.

I settle in with the others and listen to music. Both John and Barry can play the guitar, John can also sing well (and the rest of us think we can) so, with the help of much Chateau Cardboard, the evening goes well.

At about 1AM we run out of Tony Joe White CDs and decide to call it a night. However, in the ensuing silence we can hear the surf, so John and Barry hop in a 4x4 and go to check out the waves.

I've had enough though, besides, I've got a diary to write.

Tue 18 Mar

My back's still not good, we'll stay yet another day.

Basti left this morning, after having "one last smoke" several times. He's a nice bloke and we were sad to see him go, especially the other lads who've been camping with him for a couple of months.

John's motorhome has a broken step and we've been using a milk crate to get inside. This sounds like a job for Rob's mobile fixit service.

One reason I like having the tools and power to fix things in the field is that I can help others who don't. So today we get out the welder (I say "we" because Barry carried the MIG to the job to save my back) and I weld the steps back in place.

Wed 19 Mar

We finally leave Torbay Inlet, the council prepared the way for us by grading the road half an hour before we leave.

This sure is a camper-friendly shire.

Ten minutes later we pull into Elleker to fuel up. We choose this tiny community to fill the tanks because the service station is easy to get into.

I stop between the rows of bowsers and connect two diesel pumps, and one petrol pump, to the appropriate orifices. We need water as well so I unroll the hose and also connect that.

With all these hoses connected the truck looks like it's on life support, which I guess it is in a way.

Before long we're back on our way, 500kgs heavier and $500 lighter.

We will be repairing the truck in the abandoned wool sheds for the next few days, but it's still early so we head to the coast and spend a couple of hours at The Gap, and The Natural Bridge.

At about 4PM we pull into a sheltered area between two of the disused wool store buildings.


Our first location at the Wool Stores

Fri 21 Mar

The spot we're camped in is sheltered from rain and also winds from the south, the north, and the west. Unfortunately the prevailing winds around these parts are from the east, so we move around to the west side of the wool stores, where it's very pleasant in the lee of the buildings.


Location #2, in the lee of the buildings, with sun and water. This industrial environment seems to be one of the few places where we actually blend :-)

Another bonus to this spot is the availability of water. There's a tap here.

The water is very brown. We run it for a while before filling our tanks, but that doesn't help much.

Later we notice that it doesn't taste to good either. It's been a year or so since I first installed the filters, and they are due for replacement. To this affect I recently bought a new filter for the drinking water system, so I now decide to install it.

Straight away the water from our drinking spigot loses it's taint.

We've been filling up from water sources of all kinds over the past 18 months and, since installing the filters, have not noticed any difference in the water emerging from the spigot in the kitchen. The filtered water has always been just fine, even though many of the sources have been quite suspect, including bore water.

Sun 23 Mar

While we're in a nice level and sheltered spot close to a large town I'm catching up on some maintenance.

Over the last couple of days I've done various oil changes, leak fixes, shutter repairs (the shutter is not fixed but at least it's usable now) etc.

Tue 25 Mar

While in Pemberton we decided to enquire about booking the truck onto the TT Lines ferry to Tasmania.

All went well until they asked me for the truck's measurements. At 2.5m wide we are over the size they have determined is appropriate for a motorhome.

According to TT Lines, any vehicle over 2.4m must be a commercial vehicle.

After a lengthy conversation, and much consulting with various supervisors further up the TT Lines food chain, it was determined that we are in fact a motorhome and could go on the ship at the subsidised rate.

So today I try to book us on the ferry. Of course I get a different person on the line and have to go through it all again. This time however the decision is that we have to go freight, at a vastly more expensive rate.

I am put through to the freight section to argue the point but just get an answering machine. I leave a message but don't have my mobile phone with me (all this occurred via a public phone) so I rush back to the truck.

Now most Australian businesses NEVER ring back, it's a bloody joke and in fact I don't usually leave details because it means that I have to wait around for a return call that doesn't come.

This time however they did return my call, within minutes, and before I could reach my phone. I listen to the voice mail when I arrive back at the truck, then ring them again and leave another message.

Is it any wonder that Telstra makes huge profits?

TT Lines now conforms to Australian business standard operating procedure, there's no return call for the rest of the day.

The deck has been looking a little sad lately, months of being camped in the sea air has taken its toll on the paint work, so while we're here I'll spruce it up a bit.

This means sanding the floor with a belt sander, one of the few tools I didn't bring with me. I rent a sander and return it in under an hour, job done.

We have shelter and water here at the wool stores but no power, fortunately our system can run all the tools required.

Wed 26 Mar

We had a visit from Alan today. Alan is the friend of a friend that found us this great spot at the wool stores.

He spends a lot of his time in the bush with his two daughters and his OKA 4x4. In an interesting aside, when asked if he wants a cup of coffee he says no, just water, half hot and half cold.

It seems that he just drinks plain water while in the bush, and it's always warm, so he has got used to drinking tepid water and has given up on normal beverages.

Fri 28 Mar

The council will be remaking the nearby railway crossing on Saturday and the traffic has to be diverted for the day...right through the wool stores.

We had heard about this and moved from our nice (but right on the diversion) position on the corner, back to the more secluded spot between the buildings. This also puts us back under shelter so we're not affected by the rain while painting the deck

Today I hear the bashing of a hammer on star posts. It seems that the area we're holed up in is being cordoned off so tomorrow's traffic keeps to the official diversion.

The traffic control fellow spots us and comes down to see if it's a problem for us to be fenced in for the weekend.

I say it's not, and he continues fencing.

Later I figured they probably wouldn't pull down the barricade for a while, because it's needed again next weekend when the traffic will be diverted again, so we are in effect fenced in for at least the next week.


We get fenced in for a week, I can still get a bike out however

Sat 29 Mar

Our quite little nook turns into the main highway today. The number of vehicles driving past our camp has risen from 0 per day to about 10,000.

Sun 30 Mar

For a long time now we've had a mouse in the house. We've tried traps but it just eats the goodies off the trap without tripping it. Eventually we placed some baits. More about that later.

More painting today. I thought I'd left this house maintenance behind, but then we did bring most of the house with us :-)

The trouble with painting anything is that the area next to it then looks bad, so you paint that, etc. etc.

While raising the steps to paint behind them, the cable clamp that ties the cable that lifts the stairs (the same one I knew was loose and intended to tighten one day) came off, and the steps crash to the ground.

There's no damage but the cable needs to be re-threaded onto the pulley under the lounge room floor.

As soon as I lift the floor I realise that something is amiss. There's a definite smell of decaying animal. Presumably the aforementioned mouse.

Lifting a suitcase reveals a flat, and somewhat moist, mouse corpse, complete with maggots.

Several months ago, when we realised we had a mouse problem, we tried normal mouse traps. They didn't work, as I mentioned, the pesky rodent simply ate our offerings.

Eventually we started using bait. We didn't really want to, reasoning that the mouse would just go off somewhere and die, leaving something resembling the above "mouse corpse, complete with maggots" in an inaccessible place.

Luckily for us he died in a spot that was easy to access.

Hopefully we're now a mouse free environment, but it got me thinking. I was never happy with the idea of killing the little fellow, and would have preferred a "catch and release" approach.

So I've purchased some chicken wire with a view to making a mouse-sized trap along the lines of a lobster pot.

Mon 31 Mar

Bad weather again, thank goodness we have a sheltered place to work on the truck.

They say that Albany is famous for experiencing all seasons in a single day. What I want to know is, when do we get the summer part?

While drilling a 2" hole with a hole saw mounted to my you-beaut slow-speed high-tourque drill, I'm caught off guard by the torque, and the drill twists from my grip.

This isn't normally a big deal, but on this occasion I'm working on the deck, so when the drill spins from my hands it topples to the ground, two metres below.

When it hits I can see the chuck break from the drill's body, and I know the fall has been fatal.

Fortunately Sanford Power Tools can fix Metabo drills, but they have to order the parts from over East. Just about everything in WA has to come from "over East", with the resultant delays.

While most people think that WA stands for Western Australia, in fact it's an acronym for Wait Awhile.

Wed 9 Apr

Raining again today. The other day I saw a sign that read something like "Welcome to the Rainbow Coast". I'm beginning to understand why this area has that name, and it's not because of any coloured sands.

Chris has been practising her languages and she's come up with the Latin for my name. According to her, "Slobious Maximus" is Latin for Rob Gray. I don't know about that, maybe I should get a second opinion.

Thu 10 Apr

We run out of water during the day. There is a tap on the other side of the building but we're not quite ready to move the truck yet.

I get our fold-away wheel barrow out, assemble it, and Chris barrows the home brew barrel around the corner. She returns with 20 litres of water but the water here is so brown that the barrel actually looks like it's full of beer.

No matter, the filters will deal with that.

We've been leaving most of the painting materials outside on the ground under the deck lately, and until today I have also been leaving several tools and more valuable items outside as well.

However we had a visit from a local this afternoon, and while we are talking he is not really looking at me but, eyeing off the stuff laying around.

Now he is probably a great bloke, but he certainly had the look of someone coming from the I'm-not-above-coming-back-tonight-to-see-what's-not-nailed-down demographic.

Tonight I decide it's time to go back to the more secure mode we employ when we're on the side of the road. From now on I will put everything of any value away at the end of the day, including the motor bikes.


All our tools, bikes etc. left outside, but not in future

Fri 11 Apr

It's late at night, Chris has gone to bed and I'm up playing on the computer.

The weather forecast was for a storm with 40-50kph winds, and at about 11pm it hit.

Fortunately we're under some shelter although the area is still quite open and we do take a buffeting. I would not like to be in the open under these conditions.

Sat 12 Apr

We get up to find that most of the materials left behind the truck are now beside the truck, under the truck, in front of the truck, and even miles from the truck. In fact the wind has dispersed our stuff all over the landscape.

We find one paint tray 100m or so away.

Mon 14 Apr

This morning we plan to move back around to the other side of the building where there's a tap.

After weeks sitting in one place and working on the truck we have spread out a bit, so we spend quite some time packing up.

Eventually we're ready. I start the motor and climb into the cab. Chris will ride a bike, but before that she walks around the truck to see if we've left anything on the ground.

We haven't, but she does find a tap. Right next to where we've been parked! For a couple of weeks we've been frugal with water usage, and all the time we were parked within five metres of a tap.

I turn off the motor.

Wed 16 Apr

We awake to a beautiful day. One of those great sunny autumn days with the temperature in the mid-twenties, bright sunshine, and no wind.

I spend the day servicing the motorbikes. Oil changes, brake pad changes, chain lubes and the replacing of one brake handle. Chris does some painting and polishing.


We've moved the truck to the other side of the sheltered area, for reasons that I can't remember.


The motor bikes get new oil, new brake pads, and one a new brake handle, at Rob's one stop repair shop

Because we've been under shelter, the solar has not provided any power for over a month. To make matters worse we've been watching rather a lot of television, and our TV is very power hungry.

This means we've been using the generator for a couple of hours everyday, and we've now run out of petrol.

When constructing the truck I kept one of the original petrol tanks, which now services the generator and sometimes the motor bikes. It holds about 80 litres, and we filled it the day we moved into the wool stores. Therefore we have used 80-odd dollars worth of petrol while we've been here.

It's certainly a lot cheaper to use solar, if you ignore the start up costs that is.

We've spent long enough here, tomorrow we really must leave.

 

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