Trip Start Sep 25, 2003
59Trip End Apr 23, 2005
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Abstract: Arrived in Melbourne on Grand Prix day to stay with our dear friend Dave Shack. Met Larry the Landcruiser Campervan that we'd bought on the internet, & spent a frustrating amount of time arranging insurance for him. Headed off to see another dear friend Simon before collecting Larry & taking a day trip to Dandenong National Park to test him out. After sad farewells we set off for Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road & The Grampians, arriving in Adelaide to stay with yet another dear friend Dave. Spent a week burning CDs of the 15,000 photos already taken (!)& catching up with friends, did a 4WD course to equipt us for the outback, and spent another week getting Larry set up for our big trip, including some very expensive new shoes........
Touched down in Melbourne around 9am on Sunday after an uneventful red eye flight from Bali, on which we were feeling seriously overdressed (i.e
Not being F1 fans, we gave the Grand Prix a miss & instead went to Safeways..you have no idea how wonderous it was to wander around a supermarket and choose food you really felt like eating!
We had to wait 2 days before seeing our landcruiser due to a public holiday in Melbourne. Larry, as he's affectionately known was not ready to be collected as he was still being cleaned. Agreed to collect him later in the week and spent a frustrating time trying to arrange comprehensive insurance which was incredibly expensive / no one would insure a modified vehicle like ours.
To cut a very long story short, we managed to get insurance via a broker who with the help of copies of letters from a hire car company in Acton, a letter from G's old boss & a copy of our insurance policy from when we lived in Oz, managed to resurrect our previous max no claims so the quote was affordable
By the time we went back to see Larry, he was tarted up for a night out and looked fab. Decided to leave him at the depot over the weekend and headed off to see Simon, a friend we'd met rafting the Franklin River in Tasmania. Sadly Simon had to visit a friend in hospital so left us in charge of having a jacoozi (Simon is a fab plummer and has an amazing bathroom!). "Don't turn the jets on until the water level is over the top of them" were the instrustions he gave us.....G didn't notice the jets slightly higher up the bathside and yes you've guessed it, turned the jets on which resulted in high pressure water being squirted all over him and the bathroom and hall. Luckily it was all tiled and didn't take too long to clear up (sorry Simon!)
The next day we went for a walk with Simon & his girlfriend Janty (south of Melbourne) to Bushranger Bay. It was a beautiful day and the beach had huge breakers crashing on to it. G & Simon played wave running i.e. when wave goes out, you run down the beach to the waters edge and run as fast as you can up the beach when the next wave comes ashore, trying not to get wet. Needless to say, both got wet feet, G up to his knees & squelched all the way back to the car. We were very sad to spend so little time with Simon, but hope to meet up before we leave Oz for some bushwalking somewhere.
Finally collected Larry after insisting he be serviced beforehand - we'd been told he had, but found out this had been before the RAC inspection which advised a service - we were not best pleased....His first trip was to the Dandenong Nat. Pk north of Melbourne where we visited William Rickett Sanctuary
The following day we took off towards Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road, a beautiful stretch of coast line with surf beaches, turquoise seas and the apostles, a collection of sandstone islands formed by erosion. We hoped to find somewhere to bushcamp, but didn't, so our first night in Larry was at Warnambool where there is a huge southern right whale nursery in the sheltered bay, but sadly the wrong time of year.
Our first night in the campervan was a bit of a giggle as we kept elbowing each other as we organised the bed and getting into it entailed climbing up and trying to get your legs onto the bed before your head otherwise there wasn't enough headroom to comfortably turn yourself around. We slept very well though!
The next day we headed for the Grampians Nat. Pk. where we went for a walk and selected a spot down a 4WD track where we could bushcamp. It was a lovely spot and absolutely silent which meant that R didn't sleep very well as it was too quiet
It was some 500km to Adelaide so we took it in turns to drive 120km which made the time go quickly. Larry was easy to drive, but has absolutely no acceleration and a comfortable max speed without using masses of fuel of 85-90km/hour. As we approached Adelaide, we were listening to a local radio station when an anouncement was made that the first 25 customers to buy fuel at shell petrol stations and having a particular supermarket coupon would get a free tank of fuel. It was 2.30pm and we thought there was zero chance of us coming across one of these petrol stations, but we did, and we managed to get 130l($120) of diesel free! We were in shock for the rest of the journey.
Driving into Adelaide felt really strange - it felt like we were returning after a very long trip away........We had arranged to stay with our good friend Dave who had been a complete star by allowing us to use his address for insuring Larry & for tax purposes and had allowed us to ship a packing case full of camping gear to him as well. What a star! It was great to see Dave and to finally meet his little dog Timmy who took about 2 days to accept us and stop growling and barking at us.
The first week in Adelaide went by in a flash as G burnt Cd's of our 15000 photos taken so far (!) and did computer stuff and R caught up with loads of friends from Adelaide days and we both caught up with mutual friends which was great fun - it was starting to feel as if we'd never left
We also completed a 4WD course to equipt us for the outback. The practical day was especially good as we got to test our vehicles in all kinds of terrain and in several places we wouldn't have dared to go before the course. It also made us realise that when we'd been adventuring in our Subaru when we lived here, we were often out of control, so it was useful to know how to control your vehicle rather than cross your fingers!
The following week was spent spending $!*?& on all sorts of recovery gear for the car (like a long handled shovel, snatch strap for rescue by another vehicle and exhaust jack. We also have a satellite beacon for real emergencies.), spare parts, food, maps, extra camping gear etc which all took a surprisingly long time to sort out. We practiced using the exhaust jack which resulted in G being covered with diesel soot and changing a tyre tube to make sure all our gadgets worked. The final thing to organise was some new tyres for Larry as although all the tyres were new, they were all different and for 4WDing they really need to be the same. After much deliberating we opted for the top of the range ones recommended by the 4WD instructor. This was not without its problems as when we went to collect Larry we were informed that the split ring on the spare was not safe so we had to hot foot it to a wreckers yard to get another
I guess we should mention our plans.......We were heading across to Perth and up the West Coast to the North, but as Lake Eyre has some water in it, and we have a 4WD which we'd like to use off bitumen, we have decided to head up to the North via the Birdsville Track, across the Simpson Desert, and probably up the Tanami Track to the North, although we'll decide when we get to Alice.
As we intend to take 4-5 weeks to reach Alice, we will be out of touch for this time.....so don't panic!