First steps and lessons learned.....
Trip Start Mar 20, 2012
50Trip End Dec 18, 2012
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Where I stayed
Tuross Beach Holiday Park
Well we’ve only gawn and done it, innit?
Following our final sleep in a real bedroom (the ‘Squatters Room’), we took a hurried breakfast in the ‘Large Empty Room’. Final packing and clearing up followed this, along with greeting the cleaner and then John (our landlord’s dad) arrived to start working on some things before the next tenant arrived to enjoy cleaning the pool and keeping next door’s weeds out of the garden, just like Morgan had for the last 2 years. Not.
The final packing was a bit concerning – bags of stuff, oddly shaped things and vanity cases kept coming out of nowhere, patiently lining up for a space in the car. We eventually did get everything in, slammed the tailgate shut after much heaving and puffing, and after saying our teary goodbyes to John and the cleaner (who had known us for about 10 minutes but it felt like she’d become a lifelong friend as Karen clinged to the last possibilities of not having to camp for the next year), we set off.
To the weighbridge, where we found out the camper trailer was OK but the car was 450 kilograms over its legal maximum weight. Not much we could do about it now so off we toddled, gingerly, to the coast on a leisurely jaunt that was punctuated by many roadworks. But, who
cared? We’ve got all the time in the world. Ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
After the forecast had threatened showers, the clouds cleared more the closer we got to the coast, and by the time we started descending to the sea near Batemans Bay, they had all but disappeared. A temperature of 25 degrees really gave us a fantastic feeling…
The afternoon was spent setting up at Tuross Beach Holiday Park where we anticipated spending the next week in a tropical excess of sunbathing, swimming and aperitifing……
Morning – sunny and warm again. Lots of faffing around to sort out the mess in the back of the car, followed by a leisurely walk around town in the afternoon. It got warmer as the day wore on and Karen went for a swim in the pool (too cold and rough in the sea). We settled down to tea during which a neighbour in a caravan came over and offered us some flounder he’d caught, as a thank you for Karen helping his wife remove an echidna from their annexe on our first day. I know, what a chore....
As we ate dinner at dusk and looked out over the sea, we looked with interest but not a lot of alarm at a solid bank of low cloud stretching across the horizon and coming towards us at a rate of knots. It was swallowing up higher cloud and looked like a bank of fog rapidly approaching.
The wind picked up and we remembered the weather forecast predicted a southerly change, so this was obviously the front coming in. All of a sudden, and of course on the cusp of darkness, panic set in because the biggest, most vertical area of our annexe, the front, faced south. We were going to cop it some!
The wind got stronger and as we banged the guy rope pegs in harder we started to see the main awning pole starting to bend, forced in by the weight of the canvas wall being blown back towards the main tent. The wind got stronger and stronger and after an hour or so of Morgan standing against the pole trying to stop it from snapping, and Karen frantically packing as much of our gear away from inside the annexe in the event of it collapsing completely,
we realised this was serious.
Not having experienced anything like this gale before we struggled for ideas and we were pretty scared. Every time a big gust blew up it felt like the poles would snap, the annexe would fly back over the main tent and we’d lose everything. There was no chance of packing up the camper and getting the canvas down, and thoughts started turning to insurance claims and where were we going to sleep when something bent, snapped or ripped.
We eventually decided to lower the annexe poles to reduce the area of canvas facing the wind and make some kind of slope to deflect the force of the wind. Bravely Karen went outside and
adjusted the guys and pegs while Morgan lowered the poles at the appropriate moments (Karen was too light to hold the poles with the force of the wind). We managed to do this, which at least meant the poles should be OK, and this did reduce the wind pressure a bit. Morgan also cut off the thermal roof blanket as it was acting like a parachute and pulling everything upwards. Then it was just a case of sitting inside and bracing against a pole each, and hoping for the best!
Well luckily it was a front passing and not a storm, and after 3 hours the wind abated enough for us to be able to go to bed after knocking in a few more guy ropes and pegs. The whole event had lasted from 7.30 til 11.30 and the experience was pretty scary. Certainly this was not the sort of thing to create comfort in a camping averse young wife who was staring down the barrel of another 200+ nights under canvas! But we did get a decent sleep for the rest of the night.
We woke up to a cloudy morning and spent it getting the camp ship shape again. Unbelievably the camper had suffered no damage at all and we’ve now got an idea of what to do if we’re in that situation again.
The rest of the day was spent going through our gear with a fine toothcomb and working out what heavy stuff we can get rid of. We got the car weighed again without any of our packed gear and it still came up only 35kg’s lower than the legal limit. What they don’t tell you when you go and buy your bull bar, winch, snorkel, canopy to cover the ute’s tub, roll out drawer system and auxiliary fuel tank is that all this weight adds up and you’ll pay for it when you come to try and put anything else in the car!!! Anyway we’ve got some stuff to leave out and we’re going to remove the back seats to save a bit more weight as we don’t need them. That shenanigans is tomorrow’s task, after a nice tea of leftovers, but who cares - it's calm....