We finally head west after six
months on the east coast. Within 30k we have tyre trouble
and have to head east again. Oh well, that's life on the
road I guess.
Another part of life on the road is emptying toilets, there's
now a short article on the site about just that. And while we're on the subject,
once emptied of course you proceed to fill it again but before that some chemicals
should be placed into the loo. There's a recipe for toilet chemicals here, make
your own, it's a lot cheaper.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Mon 11 Mar 2002
We pull into our old spot at J C Trotter park. We'll spend
a couple of days in Brisbane catching up with friends and watching
a couple of movies.
While here I thought I'd sort out my old emails
and I find a copy of the note I sent to my work mates the day
I left my job. (Some names changed to protect the innocent)
The story 'till now.
Some time ago, after a stressful day
at work, I thought to myself "I don't need this shit".
Seconds later I realised that, rather than being just a
figure of speech, this was actually a statement of fact,
I didn't need this shit, or any other shit for that matter.
In fact, if I changed my lifestyle I don't need to work
at all, so why should I? After all, I've been slaving away
for 18 years now, that's more than anyone should have to
So what's the point of this spiel?
I'm leaving PROGRAMS-R-US, today is my last day.
What will I do?
As little as possible, but first I have to finish building
our motor home (RV).
We will be selling our houses and most
possessions and hitting the road. Australia's a big country
and we plan to see it all over the next 5, 10 or 20 years.
I also want to spend more time in the US, UK and Africa.
Will I work again?
Possibly, we'll just see how things go. We have investments
and I hope to make a few bucks from photography.
Mid life crisis I guess. PRU is a good place to work, heck
I've been here 8.5 years, if I didn't like it I'd have changed
jobs years ago. And look at the amazingly low staff turnover.
No I'm not leaving because I don't like PRU, just that I
realised life's getting away on me. As a friend said recently,
"Lately I've been carrying too many coffins".
How many people have you heard of that
slave all their life to retire and do "the big trip"
or whatever, only to be too old or infirm to follow their
dream. Or even worse, wind up in one of the aforementioned
coffins before they get a chance.
One thing I know for sure is that, when
I'm lying on my death bed (at 95 after being shot by a jealous
husband upon returning from a Mt Kilimanjaro climb) looking
back on my life I will not be thinking "You know I
really wish we'd got XYZ version 1.2.00.02.234.44.1 beta
out that friday".
Where will we go?
Everywhere. The truck is a six-wheel-drive ex-army truck,
it's capable of going anywhere it will fit.
So there you have it.
We won't be leaving town until next Mar/Apr so those of
you who live in Canberra feel free to drop out to the workshop
any time. Those coming to the conference in December are
also welcome to come out for a firsthand view of "Rob's
Folly". It may kill any thoughts you ever had of doing
something rash with your life, of course the the opposite
is also possible.
Meanwhile you can get the full story and
follow the project at http://www.robgray.com
So long PRU, and thanks for all the fish.
That already seems like a lifetime ago and it's
only been two and a half years. Feel free to use this when you
have your mid-life crisis.
I also came across the "todo" list
I was maintaining while working on the truck in Elimbah. With
much glee I renamed the file from TODO.DOC to DONE.DOC then posted
a copy here just in case you have any ideas about building your
own motorhome. Remember this work was done on a vehicle that was
essentially finished, we have been living in it for a year.
- Add shock absorbers to rear axles (includes
construction of four upper brackets bolted to chassis and four
lower brackets welded to axles)
- Add bonded rubber stabilisers between body
and chassis (includes construction of lower outriggers bolted
to chassis and upper brackets welded to body)
- Add rollers to route winch cable around new
shock absorbers and stabilisers
- Add roller to bring winch cable back into
line with chassis
- Remove and replace five 1200x20 crossply
tyres with radials
- Repair 1200x20 tube
- Run air line from compressor to rear of truck
- Connect compressor air to truck air
- Connect air control for winch
- Move compressor's bayonet fitting so it's
- Fill hole on side of engine cowling so hot
air from turbo doesn't burn driver's leg
- Fix passenger's fan
- Run power to overhead console
- Install termination block in overhead console
- Connect AM and UHF CBs to power
- Remove wasp nest from UHF CB
- Run coax from CBs through to house, up through
bedroom wall and onto poptop roof
- Make and install brackets (that collapse
when hit so aerial doesn't break) for CB aerials
- Add bracket to stop dashboard panel moving
- Add soundproofing to cab floor
- Modify overhead console to house new CCTV
- Install CCTV monitor in overhead censor
- Install rear vision CCTV camera
- Install dorsal vision CCTV camera
- Run TV lines through body and into overhead
- Make video switch to select which camera
appears on monitor
- Make panel for CCTV control switches
- Bleed brakes
- Change oil in all diffs, drop boxes etc
- Change engine oil and filters
- Change oil in motorbikes
- Modify desk top fans to be used as ceiling
fans in lounge room
- Add thrust bearings to all fans to stop noise
- Install new power point in dunny to run fan
- Install new power point in kitchen
- Fit and connect tank full alarm (Turd alert)
in black water tank
- Modify generator's isolation mount frame
- Fix holes in generator's muffler
- Run wire from generator to battery charger
and install power point
- Connect circuit breaker for new outside GPO
- Install and connect new outside GPO, run
wire to circuit breaker
- Install and connect shore power input socket,
run wire to changeover switch
- Fit fly screens to all windows
- Fit new ball valves to grey water tank
- Fit stays to lounge room shutters
- Make short stays for shutters
- Remove, refurbish and replace fuel tank cross
- Remove, clean and test batteries from bank
- Remove and refurbish cradle for battery bank
- Redo all wiring for battery bank one (double
the conductor sizes)
- Remove, clean and test batteries from bank
- Remove and refurbish cradle for battery bank
- Weld on battery hold down bolts for battery
- Redo all wiring for battery bank two (double
the conductor sizes)
- Make and fit cross member to hold new battery
- Make new battery hold downs for both battery
- Tidy all plumbing and wiring around battery
banks by adding P-clips to hold items neatly and safely
- Fit new sideways looking driving lights
- Connect and test air conditioner
- Make and fit brackets to store short handled
- Make and fit brackets to store long handled
- Make and fit carry rack for motorbike
- Make and fit new side mirror brackets for
- Make and fit mechanism for unlatching and
winding spare tyre
- Fix glovebox hinges
- Make and fit grab rails on cab
- Modify sling points on both motorbikes
- Remove and replace warped section of ceiling
- Add needle valve to poptop hydraulic lines
- Make trailer for pushbikes
- Fit bicycle computer (for digital kph speedo)
- Build control panel & fit monitor, timers
- Build & hang cupboard door
- Build pelmets for kitchen
- Fit new light and switch behind pelmet
- Respray truck under body
- Respray all tanks & fittings below bodyline
- Spray entire body with nylon compound
- Make brackets under body for security lights
and fit lights
- Connect control relays and wire in security
- Connect control relay for interior lights
- Connect internal hot water system control
- Connect timer for hot water system
- Fit compass in cab
I'm knackered just reading about it, still,
as I said in the last issue, Wothahellizat is now officially finished
although there is still some things to do.
Thu 14 Mar
After another 4AM start we drive up the Bruce Highway to the
Sports Complex at Cooroy only to find some good news and some
The good news...the Complex is a great place
to stay, with showers and loos and only a couple of hundred metres
or so from the shops and main street. And at $39 per week with
power it's a real bargain.
The bad news...camping will no longer be allowed
at the Cooroy Sporting Complex as of April this year. And why?
Apparently because of the bad conduct of a CMCA member. If this
is true, thanks for nothing who ever you are, you've ruined a
great spot for the rest of us.
The campsite at the Cooroy Sports Complex.
On a lighter note, the circus is in residence across the road
from the Sporting Complex and, as we pull into the camp site,
the existing campers think we are a circus vehicle that has made
a wrong turn.
Sun 17 Mar
Up with the sparrows today. A half-hour ride to the Noosa
National Park then a half-hour walk to the point at the end of
the park to be in place for the sunrise.
It's almost pitch black as I walk along the
path. As I round a corner I trip over the largest Black Snake
I've ever seen, I nearly crap myself before I realise it's a length
of three-inch AG pipe.
Checking camera settings at Noosa Head. My old hat is covering
my new haircut.
Looking South from Noosa Head.
After taking some photos at Noosa Head I drop
down to Granite Bay to look for some old friends, some granite
rocks. Two or three of my best shots were taken here 1993 and
again in 1995. The larger rocks I find, but the thousands of smaller
rounded rocks that used to form a "beach" seem to have
gone, presumably due to some high seas over the past couple of
And talking of things that have gone, another
of my favourite shots was of a Pandanus bush overlooking Granite
Bay. I search for that as well, but all I find is a plaque telling
me how the Sunshine Coast has a serious Pandanus dieback problem.
Eventually I find the spot, the subject of my
earlier photo has gone, leaving nothing but a dead stump. But,
right next to it there is a baby Pandanus just starting out, new
life from old.
Pandanus trees overlooking Granite Bay, 1994.
Pandanus trees overlooking Granite Bay, 2002.
Tue 19 Mar
Another early start to catch the sunrise in the National Park.
This time I only go as far as Granite bay, about half way along
the Coast Walk. I'd seen a potential shot here two days ago, and
it's just a matter of getting in place before the sun rises over
Boulders at Granite Bay, looking towards Fairy Pools, 2002.
Same rocks, higher tide, seven years ago.
Wonder why they call it Granite Bay?.
Thu 21 Mar
We leave the Cooroy Sports Complex and head to Tin Can Bay.
It's been a good week camping with some fellow motorhomers, indulging
in a few beers at happy hour and swapping stories about life on
Pulling into Tin Can Bay we head directly to
the Esplanade only to find "No camping on the foreshore"
signs everywhere. By this time it's getting dark and I'm not in
the mood for driving all over the countryside, so we select a
spot on a side road, not on the foreshore, and pull over.
A quick dinner then, before going to bed, we
program the breadmaker to produce a loaf at 8:30 next morning
so we'll have some nice warm bread when we wake. It makes quite
a noise when it starts kneading the dough, and I comment that
it will probably scare the daylights out of us in the morning.
Fri 22 Mar
Sure enough at 5:30 we are woken by the breadmaker kneading dough,
and three hours to go before the bread is ready. Chris goes for
a walk while I lie in.
Shortly after a car pulls up and the driver
gets out without stopping the motor, not a good sign. While he
walks around the truck I peer from one of the windows and see
that the car door has something like "Cooloola Shire Authorised
Officer" written on the side, that's not a good sign either.
He places a couple of sheets of paper on the cab window and leaves.
When he's out of sight I retrieve the sheets.
One is a polite note welcoming us to the shire and pointing out
that we're not allowed to camp in this location (or any other
location in town for that matter). The other is a map showing
us where we can camp, somewhere out of town.
As the bread's not ready we decide to leave
Tin Can Bay and check out the recommended site while on our way
to Rainbow Beach.
The campsite is only a few ks out of town and
not a bad place as it happens. We earmark it as somewhere to stay
if Rainbow Beach doesn't work out, then head to the coast.
On arrival we park in the car park at the end
of the main street. I get a motorbike out and scout for a campsite
on Inskip Point, while Chris stays behind to fend off the tourists
(busses actually offloaded their passengers so they could look
at Wothahellizat). I return with bad news, I could only find one
camp site that we could fit into, and that would be a tight squeeze,
so we decide to return to the shire-recommended camp near Tin
Can Bay at Cooloola Cove.
After setting up camp we settle in to watch
the world go by from our deck. Giant cumulonimbus clouds are forming
over the coast so I set up the camera and take a couple of shots.
Storm clouds over the coast.
We then see that it's raining heavily over
Fraser Island and think "what else is new, when we were there
a few years ago it rained every day".
The coast is getting a real pasting and we are
just thinking it's a good thing we didn't camp there, when we
feel the first drops. Minutes later it buckets down so we retreat
to the lounge room.
We've had a leak in the roof for ages and I've
never been able to find it. Recently I removed a ceiling panel
that had been warped by the water and replaced it with a panel
that was just screwed not glued and therefore easily removable.
This time, when the leak appears, I remove the panel and notice
water flowing from behind a sheet of insulation. I cut out a strip
of the closed-cell foam, and found our leak. Two screw holes,
Sat 23 Mar
We decide to spend another day at Cooloola Cove, it's a nice spot
and I couldn't be bothered driving anyway. Fortunately the rain
has stopped, blown away by the howling gale I suppose.
Scenery at the Caloola Cove campsite.
The view's great so we drop the deck.
You can't get much closer to the water than this.
It's official, motorhomes can stay here for two days. What
campers and caravaners do I'm not sure.
Mon 25 Mar
Leaving the Tin Can Bay area we drive to Childers and pull into
the large-rig car park behind the main street.
Some time ago we learned that camping at Carnarvon
Gorge was to be commercialised and the National Park's campground
was going to close. Our first reaction was that this will ruin
the experience of the gorge and that we won't go there again,
but today we thought we'd ring and see what the new deal is.
As it happens there is a hiccup in the change
over, so the old campsite has been reopened for a few weeks. We
instantly make a booking as this will probably be our last chance
to stay right in the gorge.
While on the phone I ring one of the new private
campground operators to see what they are offering, a camp for
twice the price that's bloody miles from the gorge, that's what.
Whereas you used to be able to camp right next to the gorge's
trail head, you will now have to break camp to drive yourself
into the park for the day, or maybe catch a shuttle bus or something.
The National Park's blurb states that the private
operators are offering "superior facilities", which
may be the case, but with a superior price and inferior location.
Another case of the powers-that-be sticking it to the average
When will authorities and park owners realise
that there are a lot of people out there that don't want or need
"superior facilities", just a pleasant spot that's safe.
We take the back road to Bundaberg, through
Goodwood, and book into the Bargara Beach Caravan Park once again.
Tue 26 Mar
It's shopping day, we've decided to buy enough food to last us
three months so we borrow my Dad's car and head down to Wollies.
Naturally we can't buy three months worth of some items, like
perishables, but we can sure get most things.
It takes just about all day to buy the food
and pack it away in the rig. It is quite amazing to see a station
wagon full of food disappear into the motor home and under the
floor without a trace, and we still have one empty under-floor
storage bin and another one about half empty (or is that half
Three months of food stored in the floor.
Last time we were in Bundaburg we ordered 48
bottles of Satay sauce, Coles had to order it in specially, they
thought we owned a restaurant. This time we cleaned both Coles
and Wollies out of many things, for example.
- 48 chicken breasts, all they had
- 12 cartons of So-Good Banana Soy, we cleared
the shelves but really wanted 24 so will have to go back
- 11 bottles of orange cordial
- 10 packets of breadmix, enough for 40 loaves
- 12 packets of breakfast cereal
- 16 packets of noodles
- 12 packets of Saltine biscuits
- 18 dunny rolls
- 12 boxes of ice cream cones
- 6 bottles of long life milk
- 32 tins of mixed fruit
- 8 dozen stubbies of beer
There is a heap of other items, but that should
give you the idea. Why buy so much?, well firstly the next few
months will see us in some out-of-the-way places where much of
the food we like is unavailable or expensive. Secondly I hate
supermarkets with a vengeance, so any scenario that only sees
me in one every three months or so gets my vote. And thirdly,
we have the storage so why not?
Fri 29 Mar
We go out early this morning and return to find that the madding
crowds we like to avoid have moved in and surrounded us with tents.
We'd forgotten that it was Easter, holidays mean little to us
these days, they're just an inconvenience because the shops are
closed. For hours all we can here is the tink, tink, tink of tent
pegs being bashed into the ground, loud kids and even louder parents.
For months now people have been asking where
we're going and what our itinerary is and I've had to say that
we don't have one. This often doesn't compute with people used
to cramming as much as possible into a four-week holiday so I
thought it's about time we also had an itinerary.
So, after days of studying maps and calendars
and reading up on all the National Parks and places of interest
I've come up with the following. It's still not quite finished,
but it's pretty close.
Summer - somewhere down south
Autumn - somewhere over west
Winter - somewhere up north
Spring - somewhere in the east
There, now we know exactly where we'll be at
any one time simply by referring to our itinerary.
Wed 3 Apr
The generator died today. We used it yesterday to top up the batteries,
after days of poor weather, but when we started it today there
was no 240v power being produced.
It was quite obviously an electrical
problem (as opposed to mechanical) because most of the generator's
functions were ok, so I took it to the local Honda dealer, told
them the symptoms and also that it was urgent because we want
to leave town on Friday. I give them my phone number and they
say they'll ring next morning as soon as they've looked at it.
Thurs 4 Apr
By 3PM, after pruning some of my Dad's trees, there was still
no word from the dealer (why do Australian businesses NEVER ring
back) so I ring them. "Oh it's an electrical problem"
they say "and our electrical guy is away 'till Monday, try
taking it to XY Electrical".
I drive into the dealer to pick
up the generator and try to give them a mild bollocking for not
ringing me, but the fellow behind the counter seems disinclined
to take me seriously so I pick up the generator and take it to
As I bend over to unlock the rear
hatch I catch my reflection on the window. There is half a tree
branch stuck in my beard, they're probably still laughing about
the feral-looking "treebeard" and his generator.
I had previously rang XY Electrical
and was informed that they fix Honda generators "all the
time", so I remove my extra foliage, drive across town and
drop it on the bench at XY, in front of a technician with a worried
look on his face. I am immediately suspicious.
"Oh it's one of those new
ones" he says, thereby confirming my suspicions. Sure enough
they can't fix it either.
I think my hearing must be on the
fritz. While typing this diary entry, with the TV going in the
background, I hear an advertisement for "brass undies".
I've just got to see these I think, and poke my head around the
corner to find that the ad was in fact for "bras and undies".
Well I did wonder about the practicality
of metal underwear, for the average person at least, Roman gladiators
maybe, but then the "Roman Gladiator" demographic would
hardly justify an ad on prime time TV.
Sun 7 Apr
The Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) was held last week.
By all accounts they agreed on heaps of stuff, or at least came
to some compromises. Now call me cynical, but I've always thought
that whenever you get several politicians and/or bureaucrats together
all you get is COAGulation.
While writing the above paragraph
I have a brainout and forget how to spell "bureaucrat",
I reach for my Macquarie Dictionary and find the following description...
"an official who works by
fixed routine without exercising intelligent judgment"
Hmmm, those dictionary guys really
know their stuff.
Mon 8 Apr
More drama with the generator. The dealer's "electrical guy"
is back from holiday, he confirms the diagnosis, and begins to
fill out some forms to get Honda to approve the repairs under
warranty. Then he finds that the serial numbers on our warranty
papers don't match those on the machine.
We bought the generator a year
or so ago and a couple of thousand kilometres away, so now I have
to make several long distance phone calls to try and sort the
Lesson for full timers
When you purchase a piece of equipment, check your warranty details
before you leave town.
Anyway we appear to have that sorted,
good thing to because the part required to fix the generator is
expensive. Now get this, the entire generator cost us $1590 a
year ago, the part to fix it costs $1200! This worries me a lot,
next time it may not be covered.
For the record the generator is
a Honda EU10i, one of those new inverter-style units, and it's
the inverter that's gone belly up.
On the way home I notice a whiff
of smoke ahead. As I draw nearer I can see a mound of dirt which
appears to be a fire that has been covered in an attempt to put
it out. A vain attempt as it happens, because the grass around
the mound is alight.
There appears to be nobody in attendance
and the flames are slowly spreading towards the neighbouring house
and cane fields. I stop, run to the house and knock on the door.
No answer. I run to the rear of the house to find the owner head
down and bum up under the bonnet of his car, with the engine running.
"G'day" I say. No Answer,
"G'DAY" I repeat. A head appears from under the
bonnet. "I think you've got a fire getting out of hand..."
"Oh shit", he obviously knows what I am referring to.
He grabs a bucket and runs. If
there had been three strapping young lads there I would simply
have left them to it, but this guy is alone and seventy five if
he is a day, so I grab a long-handled shovel and follow.
Before long we have it under control
and I leave, "Thanks mate" he says as I walk away and
I remember thinking about the idea of Karma and how you get back
what you give out.
Within two days someone was to
help me and reinforce the Karmic theory.
Tue 9 Apr
I've had a slow leak in a tyre for a week or so now but have been
putting off the job of fixing it. I have a good excuse though,
you see the weather's been pretty overcast lately so the batteries
are not fully charged, and I really need a lot of power to run
the compressor if I'm going to change a tyre.
So today we move to a powered site
and I get to it. We deliberately selected a site well away from
the remaining campers because I know that my working on these
big wheels would attract people like a three-ring circus.
Sure enough two blokes do come
over before long, and guess what, they're professional tyre fitters
Now I'm quite capable of fixing
the tube myself, but they seem willing to help so I stand back
hoping to pick up some new tricks.
A good plan as it turns out because
I do learn a thing or two.
Wed 10 Apr
We leave Bargara. I'm sad to say goodbye to my parents, but at
the same time happy to be on the road again.
We've stocked up on diesel, food,
gas, water, and film. Hopefully we won't have to buy much of anything
for two or three months.
So, we're gassed up, fuelled up,
fooded up, watered up, filmed up and on the road. Finally, after
six months, we're heading west and away from the east coast.
But not for long.
After a while I notice a motorist
beeping her horn and waving out her window. I pull over, get out
of the cab, and as we approach each other she says "I think
there's something wrong with your front tyre", we walk to
the front of the truck, "I'm a truckie's wife" she continues
"and something just didn't look right from behind".
We reach the front but everything
looks OK on the outside, however on the inside there's a bulge
the size of an orange. If that had blown we would have been in
deep doo doo.
I think my good deed just came
back to me, was it Karma or the little ivory Budda my Mum gave
me, I did rub his tummy and that's supposed to bring good luck.
The woman lives just up the road
and says we can pull in there as she has some equipment that may
We limp a few Ks and pull into
her drive. I start my compressor and proceed to extract the appropriate
tools. I'm just thinking that it's fairly hard work changing these
big wheels, but not to bad if you have a compressor to run a rattle
The compressor blows a poofer valve.
I try to fix it but it's a tight fit in the compartment and just
too difficult to get in there for the moment. Our current priority
is to change the tyre so it's back to the old-fashioned method
with a tyre lever.
The bulge in one of the front tyres.
Not long after we have the wheel
swapped with our spare but we now need a replacement tyre. After
several phone calls it's not looking good, until one dealer remembers
that Hervey Bay Bridgstone just bought a heap of 1200x20 wheels
and tyres but they only wanted the rims.
Another call confirms this, so
it looks like we're headed back east to Hervey Bay after getting
all of 30 Ks on our great western adventure.
We spend the night at the Gin Gin
Thu 11 Apr
We drive down the highway to Torbanlea then turn off to Hervey
Bay. On entering the town we pull over in a field, Chris makes
lunch while I extract a bike and chat to some people who "saw
it on TV".
After lunch I whip into Bob's Tyres
to verify that the tyres are what we want. They are, and they'll
supply them fitted for $150 each (we've decided to do both front
wheels as the other one was the same vintage as the bulging tyre),
for that price they can fit them.
I park the truck outside their
workshop and proceed to work on the compressor while Bob's boys
change my tyres. I thought they'd have all sorts of hydraulic
bead breakers and fancy tools but no, they just bash away with
the same tools I use.
At 4 o'clock the job's done and
I've ascertained that I can't fix the compressor's regulator,
so I decide to get rid of it entirely. The Hervey Bay shire is
not camper friendly (big notices as you enter the shire informing
us of a $3570 fine for camping) so I buy a half-inch-BSP to half-inch-barb
fitting for the compressor and we head out of town, there's plenty
of places that are camper friendly.
As we leave town we pass one of
those new road-safety bill boards, this one proclaimed "Is
there a nut loose at the wheel of your car?", I bloody hope
not I thought, but make a mental note to check the nuts on the
Fri 12 Apr
An early cuppa and we drive straight to Biggenden. The map shows
a small national park nearby so we park in town and I recce the
park on a bike. It's a great spot so we move the truck.
Mount Walsh National Park is one
of the little gems that everyone drives passed. It's just eight
kilometres out of Biggenden, there's a nice camping area with
loos right at the base of a part of Mt Walsh called The Bluff,
a spectacular granite cliff.
Parked below Mt Walsh.
There are some really nice cloud
formations so I head off on the bike looking for shots.
A trough and shelter with Mt Walsh in the background.
Mt Walsh again, this time framed by some trees.
Sat 13 Apr
We drive all day and make it to Monto. Just a long boring day
really with little to do except ponder on life's imponderables.
For example, while passing some roadworks I noticed a sign stating
that "Loose stones drive slowly" which left me wondering
if that's why they gather no moss.
We arrive at 4PM to find that the
rest area we intended to stay at is being rebuilt, so we find
a nice grassy field on the outskirts of town.
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