Day 36. Saturday 2 September.
The sound of raindrops on the roof of the van had D bolt upright and ready to bolt – there was no way we were going to be caught by rain again, particularly if we had to share the site with a smelly, dead sheep. So, instead of slipping back into a second sleep at 6 AM as we would normally do, it was pack up while having at least a cup of tea to start the day.
Breakfast at Nerrandera Bakery two hours later woke us up, and we decided to ‘do’ lunch at the Long Track Pantry in Jugiong, rather than the dinner at the King George we’d planned (with an overnight stop). A good decision: this is an eatery we can thoroughly recommend, as it has been consistently excellent for service, beverages and food, and the bonus is the Hilltops wine cellar next door!
Having travelled a tad under 7,000 km, the only real moment of danger came 25 km from home. A vehicle travelling the other way lost part of its load from the trailer it was towing – it seemed to be some sort of fairly large chimney flue – which landed in the middle of our lane and bounced towards us. Fortunately its trajectory was towards the side of the road, and D was able to swerve enough to avoid it, but not without an anxious moment as the van objected to the rather abrupt manoeuvre – but it soon calmed down, as did D & T after a stop to draw a quick breath and settle nerves.
Arrived home at around 3.30 to begin the process of unloading, washing, cleaning, refurbishing, storing………
Days 37 to 41 – Sunday 3 September to Thursday 7 September.
A short, unplanned detour to Canberra to attend to a few matters, and to take the opportunity for a spring clean. Speaking of Spring, Canberra really turned it on – windy, cold and wet most of the time, usual Spring fare.
Lovely to catch up with family, and to be able to go to Maya’s and Theo’s Learning Journey activities, and to have a day with Theo and Charlie on Thursday.
Day 42. Friday 8 September.
Down the Clyde in the early afternoon, after a meat pie and coffee at the Braidwood Bakery. Arrived at Shellharbour just before 6 PM – D noticed in the gloom that lights on the van weren’t working, although the electric brakes fortunately were. A little job for tomorrow.
Twenty of the 25 strong Alaska/Canada motorhome tour group have gathered for a twelve-month reunion. A group dinner at a Thai restaurant in the village just a short walk along the beachfront became noisier by the minute, and the staff a little bit frustrated as meals were wrongly claimed and partly consumed before the error was noticed. All handled in the end with good humour.
Day 43. Saturday 9 September.
D booked a mobile auto electrician to drop in on Monday morning to fix the van lights problem. T mentioned this in a group chat and Pam immediately volunteered her husband Charlie to look at it and fix it – ‘he can do anything’. After a bit of problem solving with multimeter and cables, Charlie did indeed track down the problem to a blown fuse, which was caused by a screw having been put into the positive wire when the new plug was fitted in Adelaide. The problem was rectified and the auto electrician was cancelled – as the realization hit that we’d probably been travelling without van lights since Adelaide! The danger of assumptions: as the original problem with the plug had been fixed, we hadn’t been doing our regular checks of the lights and of course this happened. Murphy strikes again.
A lovely walk along the beach brought us back to our van via the sea-fed swimming pool. Not tempted.
Much like on the Alaska trip, little groups gather in their folding chairs, soon to be joined by a few more, soon to be most of the group. A daily Happy Hour was a feature of the 2016 trip, and sure enough the beer, wine and munchies appeared once again at about 5 PM (fudging that time slightly) as a prelude to a shared BBQ at Charlie’s van.
Day 44. Sunday 10 September.
The group is thinning out gradually – two left on Saturday morning and four more today. We joined with most of the remaining members of the group for a vehicle tour of scenic spots – as passengers with Charlie and Pam (Pam, by the way, hadn’t been on the 2016 trip – Charlie was accompanied by their adult son Mark, who dropped in this morning to say hello).
We are great fans of the South coast, and haven’t really explored spots north of Milton and south of Wollongong. Spots visited today were Kaleala Park, Farm Beach ( surfer heaven) Kiama Blowhole, Saddleback Mountain and lunch at the Jamberoo Pub, as well as the scenery – lush farmland mostly – in between. A new appreciation gained of a lovely, peaceful area, and not even the rows of Harley Davidson motorcycles at the pub spoiled that! We were excited to view a couple of whales at the blowhole, as well as a few spectacular blows.
Late afternoon saw the afternoon tea merge into drinks and then as the sun dropped and folks got cold, the retreat to vans.
Tomorrow ends this adventure, as we drop off the van for some TLC at Smeaton Grange, and head back to Canberra. Our next adventure is in NZ, starting on 6 November.