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
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
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.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
||now the camera's still!
||oops, missed it
||will it never end?
Eventually camera and subject match and I take
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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'
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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