Wednesday, 26 July 2017

30 Seconds - or so!

As well as Monday's fire drum project, Nick and I tackled another mission.

We'd tested the camper trailer over the weekend, setting it up in the back-yard for some practice camping.

The double-bed mattress worked wonderfully for our bed - and even better, the trailer can still pack up around it.  Hooray!

When we inspected the camper, there seemed to be mould staining on the inside of the roof. The seller believed the marks were from dirt on the outside. I wasn't convinced but we paid a good price for the trailer, so were quite happy with our purchase.

Those dark marks were very evident when we were "camping" over the weekend, so action was necessary.

Some time ago, we'd purchased 30-second cleaner from Bunnings.  On Monday, we cleaned the roof of the camper trailer - parking it alongside our front steps for ease of access (and because there was a tap close-by).

The roof definitely looked cleaner after our efforts but sadly there was no change to the inside stains. (All the fumes from the cleaner became trapped inside, so inspection was super-fast - and we decided a different approach would be necessary when cleaning inside).

Nick was excused from the second cleaning phase - though was on-hand to assist me this morning, mixing the cleaner and sorting the sprayer gadget.

I donned a painter's mask which was a huge giggle, cos I mucked up the straps on first attempt and it looked even more ridiculous in skew-whiff mode! I wore old clothes and decided against wearing a bra cos I didn't want to risk bleaching it. As it happened, that was a wise decision!  Given how drippy the operation was though, I'm quite impressed that I wasn't more bleached at the end!

The inside roof looks vastly improved.  I'm thinking it may require another quick go-over because a few small parts were missed.  (It's a bit tricky to see what areas have been done until the product starts working and due to standing below the canvas, excess liquid dripped down rather than pooling as it had on the outside).

I've been doing a fair bit of reading and it seems the high-octane cleaners affect canvas water-proofing, so we've bought a 5-litre container of Aqua Proof to re-seal the roof (inside and out).  I'll post those efforts separately!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fire-pit's first firing!

Nick and I were busy today. We ticked off several missions, including buying a 44-drum - which was converted to an excellent fire pit, using a former coffee table we rescued from a neighbour's Council clean-up pile. (I'd spotted the table during the weekend and thought it would work well, so was pleased to see it fit).

My wonderful Mother's Day fire-pit had been gifted to appreciative recipients when we prepared to leave Victoria.

After collecting the drum, we banked the cash received when we sold our van. The butcher near the bank was selling "goat curry meat pieces", so a kilo of those were acquired also.

We made a stop at Bunnings for extra grinding wheels - and then headed home to start work. Well, Nick did most of the work. I took lots of photos!

Our camp ovens hadn't been used since Erin's birthday last October.  Both needed some quick sprucing after being in storage.

We'd collected wood from the yard earlier in the day.  There had been a storm a few months back, so I gathered all the smaller fallen branches.  Nick started the chainsaw (it's first use after nearly two years of storage) and cut the thicker branches.

It's even longer since we've used our Maxi BBQ! It was handy for making a flat cooking area on top of the drum.

I can't remember making a goat curry before.  This one was very mild, probably more stew than curry but it was an excellent effort!

What went into it? About a kilo of goat meat pieces, two chopped onions, at least a cup of fresh green beans, a small pumpkin chopped into chunks, a few potatoes cut into large pieces, some red curry paste, some curry powder, a tin of brown lentils, a tin of diced tomatoes, water, stock powder and a tin of coconut milk.

The onions and meat were browned with the spices - and then everything else added to simmer away for a couple of hours. I wasn't really timing, just stirring every so often and admiring the progress! The pumpkin pieces cooked down to thicken the gravy and it really was lovely.

I often make baked rice in the oven but this is the first time I've tried it in a camp oven. What a success! I'll definitely be making it again! I use a simplified version of this recipe.  Tonight the quantities were 1 and 1/4 cups of (basmati) rice to 2 and 1/2 cups of stock. This cooked, filling my small 2-quart camp oven. The oven rested on coals inside the fire pit, with a few coals on its lid. I made a point of timing the rice. It had 40 minutes in total and was turned half-way. When cooked, the rice had a crunchy crust on the bottom and sides. Brilliant!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Winner, winner - chicken dinner!

Back in June, Nick and I went to the massive camping/caravaning show in Brisbane.  It was a huge day out and we were amazed by all the big-money rigs on offer.

My favourite was a hybrid camper with rather flash bench-height kitchen unit, accessed by a side hatch. It was marvelous! I could see us meal-prepping en route, in fantastic style and I indulged in a (fair) bit of day-dreaming.

The reality is the cost of the you-beaut hybrid is around the equivalent of what we consider a house deposit, so we resisted temptation.

Our camping gear has undergone various changes over time, to better suit our needs (and experience).  While in Victoria we bought a caravan, prompted by the colder climate and a change in Nick's work hours.  It ended up being our base for almost 18 months while we readied ourselves for inter-state relocation.  As part of those preparations we also sold our trailer, which had served us well for many adventures.

We (finally!) relocated to Queensland in February and have enjoyed a few short trips, staying in Bandit-friendly cabins - cos no-one wanted to go back into the van!

Nick has extended leave booked for December and January, so we are looking forward to getting away for a longer adventure.  Our budget won't stretch to cabin accommodation and we don't consider the van an option.  We still have our tents and camping gear.

I'd suggested looking for another trailer, possibly with some camping specific modifications, praps even a kitchen. Nick was keen for a multi-purpose box trailer. Neither of us were actually looking for a camper trailer - but that's what we bought this morning!

In 2008 we hired a soft-floor camper trailer and decided against that style of camping.  In more recent times we have viewed a number of hard-floor campers at different camping expos. These models seemed far easier to set up and we considered one as a possible option for sometime in the future.

Our new acquisition was advertised as a home-made Aussie Swag camper. It's previous owner ("D9") had made several modifications, the most obvious one being a large storage box on the draw bar.  We have a few ideas for how that may work better for us - and yes, I'm still scheming for an on-board kitchen of some sort! For the moment we've tested that our camping chairs and bi-fold tables fit nicely.  Of course, we'll look at what else can be stashed up front as well as how best to set up generally.

The camper trailer's previous owner spent a fair bit of time at Thargomindah, which seemed a good sign (or sticker) to us!

While living in the van, we bought a new double-bed mattress. It might fit the bed platform of the camper trailer, which would be great! Fingers crossed for that easy improvement. For quick overnight stops, we think two stretchers could be set up on the hard floor area adjacent the bed.  When staying longer, we can set up the awning/annexe and maybe one of our tents. Backyard practice might be in order!

The camper came with a heavy-duty gas burner and a camp kitchen table/pantry unit. We'll sell those as we prefer our dual-fuel stoves and bi-fold/3-height tables. The van is also being prepared for sale - to offset the camper trailer cost. Wish us luck for super-successful wheeling and dealing!

We haven't yet had a cake to celebrate our new camper trailer but we did enjoy a roast chicken dinner!  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Lunch-time trivia!

We'd had a quick lunch beside the road on the way up, so when Nick asked where I wanted to stop on the way back I said I'd like a nice spot with a table!

Our homeward journey took a slightly different route, following tar roads from Bauhinia to Moura and down to Theodore, then Taroom - rather than the dirt road between Taroom and Bauhinia that we'd used before.

We liked the dirt road but also wanted to see some new scenery.  

It was after 2pm when we drove across the Dawson River and spotted the large rest area.  A table with a river view was a great lunch spot and we enjoyed listening to many birds as we ate.

The table definitely benefited from my picnic table cloths!

I wandered down to the river bank after lunch, to take a couple of shots and read the signage.  I was laughing heartily when I called Nick and Erin down - and then Vaughan was convinced to put on shoes, so he could also join us to see what was hugely funny!

We are keen watchers of animal documentaries and used to spend lots of time at various zoos / wildlife parks, so already had a vague notion of bottom-breathing tortoises but were quite ignorant of the specialist cloacal bursae!  Now, there's some serious lunch-time trivia!!

Picking our moments ...

We were up at 7am and ready to check out by 9:30am - quite pleased with our efforts.  There was time for a few quick photos in Sapphire and a last call for souvenirs.

It was almost 10am when we rolled out of town, heading for Emerald. Once there, Bandit had a bit of a run at the local park, which gave Erin and I opportunity to look at the huge Van Gogh sunflower painting sculpture.

Apparently the painting is one of seven to be painted by Cameron Cross as part of a big easel project.  You can read more about him and his work, here.

It seemed busy when we stopped in briefly at Coles to pick up some lunch items but we were soon on our way again. Next town - Springsure!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sunset sampling ...

We'd driven along Keilambete Road on our first morning in the area - and decided it would make a good vantage point for sunset viewing on our final evening, so headed there after our Tomahawk Creek explorations.

I'd hurriedly packed up cheese platter provisions before leaving the cabin and left a couple of things behind. Even so, we had quite a lovely spread - nicely arranged along Elmer's tailgate!

We had some cheese and many olives purchased from Stanthorpe as well as other offerings bought from our local supermarket.

It was very pleasant watching the sun set and enjoying our nibbles. Even nicer that the few passing cars slowed greatly so we weren't coated in dust as we ate!

Signs of good things ...

I didn't have a clear idea of where we were going when we set out again in the afternoon. I'd packed my cheese platter goodies, just in case we had opportunity to watch the sunset from a good vantage point but the end of the day was still several hours away.

As it happened, we headed out along Clermont Road to the Tomahawk Creek fossicking area. It was a pretty drive, with lots of mountains along the way. We saw a Mt Ball sign at a dirt road and turned down, thinking to get a closer look and perhaps even scale that peak. Nup. The road was actually a drive way!

We did a quick lap of the camping area at Tomahawk Creek and then back-tracked to a sandy creek that Vaughan was keen to play in.

He convinced me to be part buried in the coarse sand with him. It was quite pleasant to sit in the shade with our feet throbbing (praps caused by the weight of the sand), watched over by a few curious cows.

There were more cows on the way back to Rubyvale - as well as the nicely embellished Boot & Kettle Creek sign!

Pretty nifty, eh?!