GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #082



I'd like one more Canon 1Ds body and maybe a TS (tilt/shift) lens but I've stopped buying camera gear for now, I already have more than I've ever had before so need to make sure I will use it first before I get more. Too many projects on the go for now anyway.

It's a bit like tools, I keep thinking that I won't start the camper build until I have all the tools I need, but the other day I realised that I probably have 10x the tools now that I had when I built two entire motorhomes. Like most things in life you can put them off until you have "enough X". People do that with retirement, always need to have just a little bit more $ before they pull the plug, next thing they know life pulls the plug on them.

Speaking of which, I've been talking with a friend from my Canberra days lately, he's probably going to take a redundancy package and move to the country to do his hobby (astronomy) full time. It seems that I had a small hand in that decision as he looked at what we've done and figured it worked for us.

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!


Mon May 4 2020

A pull quote from a news article today.

"Almost all our trade — 98 per cent of our trade, imports and exports — depends upon foreign-owned shipping systems, so we are actually in a pretty fragile position."

Current events are finally waking up the government and, dare I say it, a lot of the people.

Wake up guys, this is NOT news to a lot of us. I've been expecting something to happen for years and we're sorted enough for it to have had little effect on us. Well OK, I admit that I underestimated the rate at which we would consume Mint Slice biscuits, and this did cause a recent mercy dash into town. But apart from that it's business as usual at Wallaby Ridge.

That said I was building a board to house all my battery chargers today, and I decided to check the country of manufacture of said chargers. They are ALL made in China. If they fail, and we get on China's shit list, good luck getting a replacement battery charger. Now I have hand tools so that's not the end of the world, but who makes your CPAP machine? Are spare parts for it made in Aus? I doubt it. Who makes the drugs you need? What about the fridge, lawn mower, TV, dunny seat? Can you find three things in your house that AREN'T made in China? (rhetorical question, no need to answer).

What if the US dukes it out with China, an increasingly likely scenario because that's how governments get out of economic doo doo, and by all accounts the US is in deep economic doo doo. I'm guessing we will once again be part of the "Coalition of the willing (idiots)" and all of a sudden we will be up shit creek without a (Chinese-made) paddle.

Another quote from the same article.

"That's why this is such an important initiative to ensure Australia is safe, is secure, can control our own destiny and have real national sovereignty."

It seems that the powers that be are at last taking some notice of the experts that have been warning them for a decade or more. To wit the recent purchase of fuel from the Yanks. But it's not much bloody use to us 10,000 miles away, any more than having plenty of asthma puffers in Brisbane helps someone who needs one right now in Mt Isa.

If you ain't got it in your hands you ain't got it.

You don't have to make everything, but you do have to be able to make the important things.

As individuals we can't do much about the nation's sovereignty, but we can do a lot about our individual "sovereignty". Personally we're not there yet by a long shot, but at least we're working on it.

How you do that, or indeed IF you do that, is up to you.

Tue May 5 2020

So speaking of personal sovereignty we have made a start on the wicking bed garden. Well more specifically the wildlife-proof enclosure for the garden.


Thu May 7 2020

More garden enclosure progress.


Fri May 8 2020

Note my use of our little garden trolley for the MIG welder.


This has been great as I can easily move the welder anywhere I like. I used to lug it with the leads over my shoulder causing a trip hazard and contributing to some future hernia.

With the trolley it's real easy to take it anywhere. So I've decided to make a dedicated MIG trolley from a spare fridge trolley I have. Yet another project for the list.

 Don't look too closely at my porous duckshit weld.


Sun May 10 2020

Still working on the enclosure.


As you can see I have some of the reo mesh in place and I'm now cutting the pipe to be used as a rail under that mesh.

Mon May 11 2020

Just yesterday I was thinking about how this "lock down" has had almost NO effect on our lifestyle, mostly because of where we live (in the bush) and our age (retired).

But if it had happened 30 years ago while we were working and living in a town house in the big smoke I think we may have struggled.

I think that a lot of people will reevaluate their lifestyle and location after this.

Wed May 13 2020

Some of the "roof" is in place as is the half wall at the front.


Thu May 14 2020

Working on the second half of the roof.


Mon May 18 2020

Ages ago I buried two 50mm pipes under the drive with a view to using them as conduits for future water, solar and electricity lines.

They emerged from one end right in the middle of the new garden enclosure and so need to be extended.


There's a 16mm cable from the external solar panels and two 240v extension leads running through the left pipe, and I will run a 1" poly pipe through the other one to get water over to the other side of the driveway.

One of the 240 leads will take power out to the truck from the house, and the other will bring power into the house from the truck. There are no plans for the outgoing power as yet but I will probably use the incoming power line so the truck can essentially be used as a huge battery charger for the house. After all there are 10 solar panels on it's roof doing nothing useful at present.

And while I'm at it I'll take the pipe housing these lines up into the container that houses the batteries, through a new hole I drill in the container floor.


I use two 45-degree elbows rather that a single 90-degree one so and cables that need to be threaded are less likely to jam at the corner. The existing and new pipes don't quite line up and I can't change either, so the coupling is not straight but that doesn't matter.

Tue May 19 2020

With all that done I use some old corro that I was going to throw out to block up the rear wall of the enclosure.


Wed May 20 2020

I haven't fastened the last corro sheet in this photo but for now that's pretty much the end of this project. Of course it's not finished and even more of course we haven't started the actual wicking beds yet. Soon.


Fri May 22 2020

At the other end of the above pipes the cables and poly pipe emerge, for now the 16mm DC wire just travels across the ground to the solar panels (hidden behind the truck in this photo) but I've made a "mushroom" to house the 240-volt leads and a tap that is now connected to the house water supply.

All this is situated right next to the truck so by adding a short lead I can shunt power to/from it to/from the house.


The mushroom is simply a 6" PVC pipe with a flange and circular piece of ply affixed to the top, then a flower pot placed on top of that.

Sun May 24 2020

Well at least I now know I don't have osteoporosis.

Let me explain.

It's cold right now so we need some firewood getting in. There's a nice tall dead tree near the house that is a potential danger to the house and other infrastructure but also will make a good source of firewood for a few weeks. The trouble is that another nearby live tree is leaning at a huge angle with pretty solid branches that would stop the dead one from falling in the direction I want.

The offending live branches have to go.

Cue the chainsaw and ladder. (can you see where this is heading?)

I shinny up the ladder and then climb further up the tree to a spot where I can lop the branches. The chainsaw stops several times and is hard to start while balancing up a tree but overall it goes pretty well and I'm congratulating myself on being 65 and not even considering limb lopping at 5-6 meters up a tree a "thing".

It's time to come down, and I'm thinking that I really should have the saw on a lanyard so I could just lower it down, that would give me two hands free for the descent so if things get awkward I can go the full monkey and grab hold of something stable.

Whatever, she'll be right.

I climb back down to the ladder, get onto the top rung and even one or two below that. But it's about now that things take a turn for the worse.

The next thing I know the ground is approaching faster than planned.

Now one thing about the ground around here is that it's either as hard as rock or it's actual rock. Either way when you land on it after free falling about three meters you just know it's gonna hurt.

And yes it did hurt, but apart from some blood, some swelling on my forehead, and few sore muscles I seem to have got away unscathed. And not a single broken bone, hence my opening statement.



Anyone know where I can buy some firewood?

Thu May 28 2020

Just to show that I'm not a complete doofus with a chainsaw, here's yesterday's cut that will become firewood. This is not the tree I was planning to drop the other day, I've decided to leave that until I get over my shell shock, so I found another one. It dropped exactly where I wanted, although to be fair the tree was biased that way.

The tree is pretty sound, any local blacksmiths out there that need a stump, part of this might be suitable. Not sure of the diameter right now though.



I am however a complete doofus when it comes to reversing my car.

I put some new dirt down on the area outside the workshop I call the "forecourt". I am slowly building this area up to be a nice level place to work on projects and whenever I have some spare dirt I put it here. This I did the other day when excavating the enclosed garden area but I never compacted it, so on my return from coffee with the neighbour I thought I'd drive back and forth over the dirt to pack it down.

After a few to and fros I hear a loud noise from the back of the vehicle and get out to investigate.

At first I see a broken tree and think "bugger".


Then I look down and see some glass, "more bugger".


I've broken the left canopy window.

As I will be starting the camper conversion before too long and that will require the disposal of the canopy anyway my first thought is to just take it off now. But that would also mean I lose my roof racks and I will need them to get materials for that project and the probable 50 projects I will do before the camper.

So instead I spend the rest of the day extracting the broken glass from the window frame and cutting some ply to replace it.


Mon Jun 15 2020

I finally get sick of the storage setup I have for my grinders so I weld some flat bar to the bench legs to hang them off.


There's a bar on the other side as well, so the theory is that whenever I've finished with a grinder for a minute I can just hang in right next to where I'm working. But when the job is finished they live together on this side.

As you can see some of the grinders have short leads. This is something I've been doing for years as I find it really annoying to pick up a tool and then have to haul in the lead to get to the plug. So I either cut them off and add a new plug or cut off the existing lead, open the tool up and reconnect the shortened version.

This is very helpful when you have a lot of tools stored together as is the case here, as you can see two of them have not had the surgery yet and even with just two long leads it's a pain to find the correct lead to plug in. Yes I know you can roll them up or I'm going to do that every time I use them.

One thing however, this it not a great technique for tools that move along the job a long distance, such as a circular saw. This is because the plug snags on the material you are cutting after you've cut just a foot or so.

Now let's get onto a real job, time to build some storage for all that steel I got the other day from my friend in town.

I'm thinking three "ladders" that I can weld to the end of the shipping container and then store the steel lengths on the "rungs".

But also I need to store timber off cuts and ply sheets, so that will be handled by the design as well.

 Two of the ladders ready to be welded to the container.

Tue Jun 16 2020

The ladder racks are in place and I've stuck a length of 3x2 on them to give you the idea.


Sheets of ply will go on the bottom, and lengths of either steel or timber will go above that. The rack will handle lengths up to about 2.5 meters on the lower rungs and 3.5 or even 4 meters on the upper rungs. The difference being that longer lengths will protrude and I want said protrusions to be above head height.

Thu Jun 18 2020

Here's the finished storage rack.


I had so much stuff to store that I had to make another six shelves on the front of the rack to hold it all...well almost all, I still have more. As you can see there is still some material on the ground.

Sat Jun 20 2020

Still on the subject of storage. I have a lot of vice grips that are currently just piled in a heap on one of the benches, that needs to be dealt with as well. So I weld some old rusty angles together to get a piece long enough to span between two of the workshop posts, then drill 32 holes...


...and cut into the holes to make 32 slots into which the clamps can be inserted.


I still have some vacant slots, better buy some more vice grips I suppose.

This was the first real use of the drilling station I made some time ago, and although it's still not finished (hence the clamps holding the vice) it worked a treat.

Tue Jun 23 2020

Some time ago I made a very wide bench in the nether regions of the workshop. I guess I had plans for it at the time but I can't think what they would have been because the bench is too wide to be useful from one side and to access the other side you have to crawl under it. And even then the floor level on that side is about 400mm lower so I couldn't use the bench from that side anyway.

So that area of the workshop was largely unused and just collected piles of timber off cuts.

I need to do two things, raise the floor level on the other side, and get some decent access through to that side as well.

I'll start by cutting about 600mm off the end of the bench. To do this I set the depth of my circular saw blade to the thickness of the bench top and run a cut through that.


Now I have access to the underlying steel and can cut that as well.

That gives me the access I need, the next thing to do is build a floor at the same level as the rest of the workshop.

Fri Jun 26 2020

I build the floor by fixing two rails to the existing walls then cutting 8x2" planks to sit on the rails.


 The generator already had it's own floor made from a half pallet.

 The space seen here was FULL of timber offcuts and other junk.

Apart from the fact that this is faster than filling the void with dirt to match the rest of the floor I do actually need access to the lower level because there's a 2-inch outlet on the tank down at ground level. We don't use the outlet at present but the idea is that it might be connected to a fire-fighter pump one day.

I now have good access to the generator and both sides of the bench, which, as you can see, will be used to house my pipe bender and the DIY hydraulic press I have yet to make but have placed some of its components on the bench where it will live once built.

This project has converted a workshop backwater full of junk to a useful area.

With that finished I need to cut some firewood.

I return to the tree I dropped a couple of weeks ago and start dicing it up into rounds. Before long I find myself covered in native bees so stop to investigate. I see that the bees seem to have set up a hive since I was last here, and I just cut right through the middle of it.


This is quite distressing to me as native bees are cute little things and apart from that they are very useful.

I do the best I can to reconstruct the rounds that housed the hive.


I don't know if that will work or not, I hope so even though that will mean I can never use this firewood because hives live for years, we have one on the block that was here when we bought the land, 15 years ago.

Tue Jun 28 2020

Yet another tidy up project. The pile of crap under the container needs to go, or at least be tidied up, plus I need a step to give me better access to the shelves above. The concrete blocks you see here on the ground are my current "step", not very satisfactory that's for sure.


So I'll make a frame that will hang off the container and hold both a step and some more storage.


All done, and it works a treat.


Sat Jul 8 2020

I've had two Landcruiser spring packs for some time now. These are as heavy as all getout which makes them hard to store in a rack. But if you split the packs into individual leaves no problem. So I split the packs...


...but now I need a rack to store the parts.

Enter an old surplus 8x2 plank, some rusty threaded rod that I was about to throw out, and two railway tie plates. The plates were destined to become the front and rear of an unfinished log burner a friend gave me, but I'll find something else for that when the time comes.


Et voilà, I now have storage for these springs but also some others I had lying around and some wagon wheel tyres as well.

Total cost, $0.





Date  ::   13 Jul 2020
Name  ::   Rod
Location  ::   Perth
Comment  ::   I have 'stuff' as well but I do feel a little inadequate when I see your 'stuff'.
I do enjoy the continuing saga on how you use your 'stuff' to store your 'stuff'
May your stuffing continue for a long time.
Date  ::   14 Jul 2020
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   And to think that I used to be poster boy for the minimalist movement.

Still not much of my stuff is useless, I tend to only accumulate things that allow me to do things. Or put another way, stuff that allows me to make other stuff.
Date  ::   15 Jul 2020
Name  ::   Robert
Location  ::   Sydney
Comment  ::   Rob,
Thankyou for this blog and all the previous, really enjoy seeing the changes/Updates to your property, and your daily adventures.
Date  ::   16 Jul 2020
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Thanks for commenting Robert. I've been pretty slack over the last couple of years but am trying to pick up my game now.

I guess there will always be updates to the property as I'm something of a serial builder. But also there might be a campervan build in my future as well, and when that's done maybe some more travelling. At least that's what we're currently thinking.
Date  ::   10 Aug 2020
Name  ::   JC
Location  ::   London, UK
Comment  ::   Rob
I also really enjoy your site and am always looking forwards to the next instalment, Plus seeing how much you achieve helps motivate me to get of my bavkside and do some jobs

stay safe and keep blogging
Date  ::   10 Aug 2020
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi JC,

London eh? That takes me back. I've lived there twice, loved it at the time but prefer the Australian bush these days.

For some reason I am driven to "improve" my environment. Whether or not what I do constitutes an improvement might be arguable but at least it keeps me off the streets.
Date  ::   08 Jul 2021
Name  ::   Daina
Location  ::   Wollongong
Comment  ::   What's this 'you may have a buyer' for MK11?
Date  ::   08 Jul 2021
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Yeah I did, but he backed out. I would sell it if approached but won't be advertising, we are happy to keep it as well.

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