Sunday, 4 June 2017

Get a Giza at this!

There was frost when we woke on Sunday morning.

The guys in the cabin next to us needed to move their motorbikes into the sun for defrosting before departure!

We packed up for the 10am check-out and admired the dam under clear skies as we drove along.  First stop was at Heavenly Chocolate, near Ballandean - chosen by Vaughan (who felt he deserved a choice cos fancy cheese isn't really his thing)!

The main street dinosaur was made as a float in the 1998 Apple and Grape festival, hence it's neat Fruitisforus name! We spotted him/her en route to the Washpool Farm Soaperie, where Erin and I bought a bag of bargain, hand-made soap seconds.

When I read about the pyramid at Ballandean, it was high on my list of things to see. It's made from blocks of local granite and stands about 17.5 metres tall. It took around eight months to build, using an excavator and dump truck. You can read more of it's story, here.

Vaughan isn't always keen to participate in our group shots, so I bribed him with quicker access to his hand-made chocolate, to ensure positive co-operation!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Feasting like royalty!

We made a slow start on Saturday, sleeping in and then lingering over our BBQed brekkie.

Once on the road, our first stop was to taste some specialty apple juices and a rather fine apple syrup (which we're scheming to drizzle over pikelets)!

Our intended destination was Donnellys Castle - a rock formation and picnic area that we could explore with Bandit.  (Stanthorpe is know for huge boulders in nearby Girraween National Park but that was off-limits for us).

We spotted a cheese factory en route to the castle, so called in to sample some excellent offerings - and bought a couple of favourites.  (We highly recommend Jersey Cow Feta and Brass Monkey Blue)!

It wasn't all that far from the cheese factory to the picnic area and we saw several groups enjoying cheese platter lunches!

Donnellys Castle had quite mixed reviews on some of the sites I checked.

We thought it was brilliant!  So many rocks to scramble over, around and between.  We easily spent several hours there - feasting on cheese and soaking up the sunshine, in between bouts of squeezing through the rock maze. We outlasted many of the other visitors.

The area is said to be one of Captain Thunderbolt's hideouts.  He was obviously another slim individual, like Captain Melville, who had a hideout at Melville Caves, which we visited while in Victoria!

Donnellys Castle is Crown Recreation Reserve named after Ned Donnelly, an original settler of the area.  In 1973 the local Lions Club began to develop the facilities and still maintains them for public enjoyment.

It's quite likely we'll visit Stanthorpe and Donnellys Castle another time.

We may even travel a little further afield to fossick for topaz in the Passchendaele State Forest. Fingers crossed for success!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Stanthorpe sojourn ...

In contrast with our Dalby long weekend, there was very little preparation for our next mini break.

Nick and I bought some provisions from one of our local supermarkets on Friday morning but there was no menu plan - which Nick found quite novel!

We were packed up ready to depart after Vaughan finished school and had a smooth run out to our accommodation on Storm King Dam, near Stanthorpe.  Once there, we sorted ourselves fairly quickly.  It was a little cheaper to take linen for our "mini hut" beds, so we did that - which meant making beds on arrival. (The small cabin didn't have an ensuite but it was Bandit-friendly and definitely bigger than the van)!

I used the small kitchenette and plug-in hotplates to chef some creamy bacon and mushroom pasta for dinner - an easy option that seems a bit flash!  (Well, easy-ish with some improvisation around the limited space and utensils).

Monday, 8 May 2017

Emergency upgrade ...

Yesterday's picnic case upgrade has prompted a reshuffle of my "emergency picnic kits".

Emergency picnic kit?! Yep, every car should have one! 

I've explained the concept in the link above. As much as we plan picnics, there are times when we don't.  It's handy to have items on hand to save buying disposable cups, cutlery etc.

My kookaburra picnic case came with four large white and four smaller striped melamine plates, as well as a large black zipped pouch. The smaller plates are now in the box of trix kit (which lives in our smaller car), along with the cutlery from the red picnic suitcase.

The black zipped pouch is divided into two pockets. The larger one holds the plates and the other is just the right size for a small tablecloth - as long as I do some careful folding. I'll tuck the pouch into Elmer's passenger door pocket. Elmer's glove-box houses the orange-check shower bag (which once belonged to Nissa). It has a selection of plastic cutlery, straws and pink-striped melamine cups.

The cups were another op-shop bargain, at 50-cents each and are quite nice to drink from, even though they are pink!  We've used them as impromptu yoghurt pots quite successfully when we've bought a larger tub to share.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Picnic progress ...

When I bought my red suitcase I had plans of crafting it into a you-beaut picnic case. There was talk of ply divisions to hold the contents more firmly but we didn't get around to that. The case has done good service over the past four-plus years but is now planned for retirement.

In November 2015, I upgraded my beverage case.  I was a little reluctant to make the switch but the "new" case is a bit bigger and the deeper, upright format is great. I pack everything in and when the case is next opened, all items are in the same place. Neat!

The contents of the red case don't fare so well in transit. I pack plates, cups etc as shown in the pics at right. Everything jumbles together immediately after the lid closes and the case is stood up ready for departure.

Nick and I spotted a green soft-sided esky/picnic bag at an op-shop last year. It was in excellent condition and seemed a bargain at $15.00. (Some plates, cups and cutlery were also included but I may yet re-purpose them).  It has a top opening lid and lots of pockets.  The kookaburra emblem on the outside is another bonus!

I've mostly transferred to the kookaburra case now and we'll take the upgrade for a test-run today.  My picnic plates are not quite the right size for the holders but that's OK.  The tablecloth is in that front section along with the included cutlery.  There is a side pocket on the outside of the bag which is the right size for a pack of serviettes.  The small red zip pouch holds tablecloth clips and it's in the same pocket.

The middle (insulated) section of the bag holds paper towel, BBQ scraper and tongs, longer sharp knife and bread knife in a home-made denim sheath, chopping board, various cups and my "happiness spreader".

Mesh pockets in that section are sewn-in. I haven't used all of them. One is housing plastic bags (handy for rubbish and dirty dishes). Another has our salt and pepper grinders. There's space left for provisions, though we usually carry them separately.

I'm liking the new organisation.  I expect there'll be fine-tuning as some standard inclusions are MIA from our relocation shuffle.  I'll probably add a few extra cutlery pieces and try to find the small sharp knife (which lives in a green toothbrush box).

Friday, 5 May 2017

Menu planning for Dalby dining ...


In case you've missed it, I have a Camp Cooking tab on this blog - it's a good index to various camp cooking and picnic provisioning posts.  I refer to it from time to time and try to update the links regularly.  Although I've mentioned menu planning in broad terms, I haven't given more detailed examples - so will try to do that.

I save my camping menu plans in Excel and revamp them for new trips. They are sometimes printed but I generally take my laptop with me (for photo processing), so can refer to the plan on-screen if necessary.  Having a plan means I know exactly what to prepare, cook and pack, which is a great help.

It's always my aim to eat well with minimal effort on-site.  I don't mind putting in a bit of extra time at home if it means I can cruise through the holiday.  However, there isn't anything greatly tricky about these preparations and basically I pottered along getting ready, highlighting the packed parts of the menu plan as I completed them.

In the week prior to our departure I made a boiled fruit cake. It was divided up into containers and frozen.  The equivalent of a large loaf cake came away with us and the rest stayed in the home freezer to use for picnics etc. Pikelets were made, cut into heart shapes and flash frozen.  I poached four large chicken breasts, using Mimi's method, here.  These also were packed into containers and frozen. (This was plenty for two full lunches for the four of us with some left-over for a couple of simple sandwiches on Monday night).

I made a big batch of bolognese sauce.  Some of this was made into nacho mix with kidney beans, capsicum and taco seasoning, packed into a container and frozen.  I cut rump steak into pieces and packed those, with marinade, into two absolutely leak-proof containers for the freezer. I portioned bacon and chipolata sausages into containers for the freezer.  A pack of 10 chicken skewers went into the freezer.

Basically anything that could be frozen, was!  We have two Engel fridges.  One of those is currently in use at home as a freezer.  It sits on top of it's twin, so is a good working height.  We took it away with us, in freezer mode.  Once at the cabin, it sat beside the standard fridge and we defrosted items as necessary.  It was filled with:-

  • Flash-frozen pikelets
  • Poached chicken for sandwiches
  • Marinated steak (cut into portions)
  • Pack of 8 sausages
  • Chicken skewers (pre-packed)
  • 6 bacon rashers (cut into portions)
  • 8 Chipolatas 
  • Pack of six hash browns
  • Pack of 8 fish fingers
  • Frozen pumpkin soup
  • Thick-sliced fruit loaf (bought on special)
  • Loaf of bread

We had an esky with milk, fruit juice, butter, olive oil spread, cream and sour cream, cheese, eggs, marinated fetta and a few other things.  The esky isn't huge so the juice poppers went into an insulated lunch box, which was more easily accesible en route.

I'd packed non-perishable food into three plastic boxes.  There was a small amount of alcohol, some mineral water and soft drinks.  We usually travel with a teapot and limited (!) selection of tea, plus coffee and hot chocolate. I took a few plastic containers of cereal. Corn chips, biscuits and snacks were other items.

We were staying over a long weekend and I was keen not to spend much time buying extra groceries after arrival! I'm often guilty of over-catering though, so really tried to take just what was needed.  The fish fingers didn't get eaten cos Vaughan wasn't hungry on Friday night (he isn't a fan of nachos).  I could have left the soup at home, too.  Overall, I reckon I did OK!

On Saturday at Dalby I bought watermelon, a rainbow salad pre-pack, peri-peri mayonnaise and bottled water (cos the cabin water wasn't wonderful for drinking straight from the tap).

How did it all fit together?  This was pretty much my plan:-


Friday 

Afternoon tea - party pies and sausage rolls pre-heated at home and transported by thermal cooker.  These were served by the road as Nick and Vaughan changed a flat tyre!  Tomato and BBQ sauce were available.  I'd packed some individual-serve fruit juices in an insulated lunch-box with an ice-brick, so we drank those.

Dinner -   The frozen nachos mix had been used as an ice brick in transit.  Nick reheated it in the microwave on Friday night, for serving with corn chips, guacamole and grated cheese.  Erin made the guacamole on site.  I'd packed grated cheese into a small container, so this was a very easy meal.


Saturday

Breakfast - heart pikelets from the freezer, zapped in the microwave and served with lemon/sugar, raspberry jam, or golden/maple syrup.  We had a pot of tea (complete with tea cosy)!

Lunch - poached chicken and salad wraps, along with a large plate of watermelon.

Dinner - BBQ steak, sausages and onions served with packet pasta and herbed zucchini (cooked in foil on the BBQ).  Dessert was UHT custard and tinned fruit.


Sunday

Breakfast - Nick cooked bacon, chipolatas, hash browns and one large tomato on the BBQ.  I used the cabin hotplate to cook scrambled eggs, which were served with some smashed fetta and scattered sun-dried tomatoes.  Erin made toast and our combined efforts were very well received!

Lunch - more poached chicken and salad wraps, a couple of cold sausages and prickly pear tasting finale.

Dinner - chicken sticks cooked on the BBQ, served with flavoured rice.  I'd pre-measured rice with a couple of teaspoons of stock powder into a container - ready to be cooked in the microwave.  I had intended to buy salad or steam vegie packs as a side dish but couldn't be bothered going shopping after our long drive!


Monday

Breakfast - toasted fruit loaf with cinnamon sugar and/or various cereals.

I'd hadn't fully planned lunch as I thought we might stop on the way home.  As it happened we ate chips, apples and fruit-cake in the car as we drove along.  It wasn't ideal but we'd lingered a bit longer than intended at Dalby and really needed to get home for Nick's sleep before night-shift.

I may pre-make and freeze a box of sandwiches for next trip. Something easy that could defrost during the departure morning and wouldn't take much time to eat at a quick stop or that we could have in the car while travelling.  Home-cooked corn-beef with home-made relish would work.  (I cut the sandwiches differently to indicate those with relish and those without - eg, rectangles vs triangles).

Monday, 1 May 2017

Museum musing ...

We stayed at the Pioneer Caravan Park, just across the road from the Pioneer Park Museum. Among their collection is a dinosaur egg and we were keen to it!

After packing up, we spent some time at the museum. Bandit was welcomed as a well-behaved dog and we all enjoyed poking around the extensive displays. We would have happily amused ourselves for longer but we needed to make it home by early afternoon, due to Nick's night-shift.

We spotted the dinosaur egg and lots of interesting rock specimens, including an opal from Yowah! My favourite displayed pieces were a fold-up piano that packed down to a size suitable for transporting in a car boot - and a rather neat cutlery canteen.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

All the way to Jandowae!

There is a two-metre tall metal dingo at Jandowae. We parked Elmer in a side street and walked across the road to view the sculpture. In truth, we were far more impressed with the absolutely massive bottle trees than the art-work!

We'd seen very tall bottle trees earlier in the day.  These were tall and wide.  Just amazing!

Bottle trees can grow to a height of 20 metres and some achieve a girth of 8 metres. They develop their bottle shape between five and eight years of age - and may live 150 years.

Erin's "Wild Food in Australia" book has entries describing both Leichardt and Major Mitchell's early exploration parties chewing the wood to release a nutritious jelly.

Prickly pear ...

We traveled through some lovely country and the super-tall bottle trees beside the track were a definite highlight.

When I saw "Boiling Springs Lookout" listed as a picnic stop on the tourist drive, I was keen to sit and view the springs.  Yeah, well.

Upon arrival as far as I could see, there were no boiling springs.  There were two steel posts where some signage might once have been supported and no picnic table, though there was a shelter.

On the edge of the clearing was a large rock upon a large base of brown, patterned cement and I walked over to see if that offered any information. Nup, it was just a rock.  Nick called out, asking if was like the one near Eulo - which was what I'd been thinking, also!

Vaughan decided it was a great opportunity to harvest prickly pear fruit and given he is usually very picky about his food we foraged for tongs in the picnic case.

Although the drive was described as being  a loop of 110 kilometres long with a suggested time of two and a half hours, we took a lot longer (and drove much further).

Some areas were not well marked and we needed to double-back later in the day.  It was late in the day when lunch was finally eaten at a very nice picnic area beside the Jandowae dam.  Vaughan offered prickly pear tasting as a finale.  I was dubious but the taste was quite bland - and far, far more palatable than the snotty gobbles!!

Snotty Gobbles!

After patting the cotton modules one last time, we set off again along the Dingo Barrier Fence Drive.  We had the road to ourselves, except for a few roos bounding along the fence-line and we spotting for bottle trees, prickly pear and admiring the pink-topped grass along the track.

There had been much amusement the previous night when I read out the various alternate names for Weeping Pittosporum - especially Snotty Gobbles!  Vaughan called for a halt, keen for us to sample the fruit!

You can see footage of our reactions!

The tree is also known as Native Apricot, which prompted our tasting.  Since coming home, Erin has dug out her "Wild Food in Australia" book.  It gives another name for the tree, Bitter Bush.  Shame I didn't read that before believing Nick's perfectly straight face and well delivered: "Something you really have to experience for yourself, darling"!  Gullible.  That's me.

Great bales of cotton!

On Saturday, we spotted a truck heading out of town carting huge cotton bales. I wasn't quick enough for a pic but we were all very impressed by the sight!  Wow!

After our excellent Sunday breakfast, we packed up for a day of exploring. Erin was delighted to see cotton plants growing en route to Lightning Ridge a few years back.  

(The next year Erin insisted Nick chase some cotton trucks through Bourke when the two of them collected Nissa to spend a week with us at Yowah)!

As we drove from Dalby toward Jandowae, we could see many rows of cotton plants. Nick pulled over at a safe spot so we could cross the road for the a closer look.

We stopped again a bit further along, to see the huge cotton bales.  Hmm.  It seems the correct term is round module - and four of these are processed to create one bale of cotton lint.  Cotton Australia has a set of fact sheets and one states that a processed cotton bale weighs 227kg, enough to produce 680,000 cotton balls! (From my reading this afternoon, it seems these yellow "modules" weigh a similar amount).  Pretty neat, eh?!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Bunya mountains ...

Nick and I took a drive out to the Bunya Mountains in the afternoon.  There was some lovely scenery en route and we saw hills with many fruiting prickly pears, which made us wonder where all the cacto-blastis moths were!

There were quite a few trees with small orange fruit along one roadside, so we stopped to collect a sample - then later identified it as a Weeping Pitto-sporum using my Australian Trees book, cos my library was in the back of the car (yep, I'm a bit nerdy)!

We enjoyed our afternoon tea at one of the tables in the Dandabah picnic area.  A male satin bowerbird was busy in the undergrowth nearby and the scrub turkeys also wandered very close to us.  We could hear currawongs calling overhead and it was a lovely place for sitting quietly.

The sun was setting as we made our way back to Dalby, driving carefully due to the many small wallabies beside the road.  (They were grazing in house yards as well as more open areas).

Bunya Mountains National Park is home to the world’s largest stand of bunya pines. (They can live 600 years)!

Dalby dawdling ...

Nick works shift-work, so isn't always rostered off for weekends and often works during public holidays.  When we saw this opportunity for a mini-holiday, it didn't occur to either of us that it was also a long weekend for all the state.  That fact became clear when I tried to book our accommodation!

(As new QLDers we aren't yet up-to-date with our now local public holidays).

After lucking out on several destinations I found a budget, pet-friendly cabin at Dalby - so booked quickly!  I did a little research and read the town boasted a monument to the cactoblastis moth! Of course, we had to see that!

We've visited all kinds of monuments and memorials in our travels.  We regularly see prickly pear also and know it as an invasive plant. I was very surprised to see it being grown in Victoria - in netted areas to protect it from birds!  Given our extremely negative experience of prickly pear jam (purchased during our Lightning Ridge visit), it didn't make sense that a pest species would be grown as a prized crop.

Since returning from Dalby, I've done more research and some communities value the fruit very highly.  I'm still not sure what legal requirements exist for growing the cactus in Victoria.  In Queensland many of the subspecies are "prohibited invasive plants" and must be reported within 24 hours to Biosecurity Queensland, under the Biosecurity Act 2014.  ("Prickly Pear" is a general term used to describe more than ten species of cactus, most from the opuntia species).

There was an abbreviated history of prickly pear reported on the Dalby monument. I've learnt a lot more since returning home.  Some facts were revision, while others were new.  It's a very interesting story.  Biosecurity Queensland has published a detailed four-page PDF file, here.  There are more photos and facts, here.

About 70km from Dalby is another memorial to the cactoblastis moth.  The Cactoblastis Memorial Hall at Boonarga is the only building in the world named after an insect. (Boonarga is near Chinchilla, where the first prickly pear plant was destroyed by the cactoblastis larvae in 1926).  The local community celebrated the hall's 80th anniversary last year.  

We love Tyrepower!

Our first mission of the morning was to get the tyre repaired. Given it was the Saturday of a long weekend, Nick and I went out before breakfast.  There were five tyre repair options in Dalby. We chose the one closest to us - and then the GPS took us there via the most indirect route, which saw us arrive at the rear of the building!

It was a busy morning for the employees and I found it quite interesting to see them all at work.  Our tyre was fixed and then re-fitted to the car in it's rightful spot.  Nick put the spare back and we headed "home" for breakfast, which was a lot quicker when we navigated more efficiently!

I'd flash-frozen cooked pikelets for microwave reheating during one of our Lithgow/Ironfest visits, which was a wonderful success.  I'd similarly pre-cooked pikelets for this trip though cut them into heart-shapes for extra pizzaz!  Very happy to report they were heartily (hah!) enjoyed by all!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Feeling flat?!

Our plan was to depart when school finished on Friday afternoon - and we left pretty much on schedule. 

One of my last missions was to reheat some party pies and sausage rolls to keep warm in the thermal cooker (an idea that was successful for our Mortlake camping trip in 2014).

Of course, when packing these snacks I envisioned eating them at a nice picnic table!

We hadn't been on the road long when we spotted another Landcruiser the same colour as ours. When it exited the freeway, we were checking it's snorkel and thought the driver was waving but in fact he was shouting "tyre"!

Nick exited the freeway as soon as he could and found a quieter stretch of road for changing the tyre.  Vaughan helped - and we all enjoyed hot pies and sausage rolls during the delay, even though it wasn't quite the rest stop I imagined!

I was reminded of another trip where the commodore had a flat tyre en route to our campsite.  Fortunately this time we were staying in a cabin and didn't need to set-up a tent etc in the dark!

Elmer the Gold!

As it happened, we purchased our new-to-us truck not quite two weeks after we farewelled the original Elmer Fudd.

Our replacement is fairly standard - no lift, winch, driving lights, roof-rack, cargo barrier or drawers. He doesn't look, sound or feel the same but has traveled considerably less - 182,000km vs the starting 290,200km of his predecessor , a very worthwhile investment.

We managed 130,000km of adventures with the original Elmer, so there is plenty of potential for even more with this one!

Once home, we quickly organised four new tyres and pondered what to do next.  We've been out on a few local-ish day-trips and collected various furniture bargains but left the truck as purchased, while we considered what improvements to do.

In preparation for a weekend away, Nick fixed the awning (which hadn't been quite the same since a gust of wind caught it about 12 months ago at Beaufort).  He then fitted the roof-rack regalia. And now, the truck really feels like ours!  Hooray for Elmer the Gold!

We decided to stay in a Bandit-friendly cabin for the long weekend.  Fitting the roof-rack meant several suitcases and other gear could be stashed in our Aldi cargo bags, leaving plenty of room in the back of the car for food, picnic cases and a variety of essentials.

Typically, no-one remembered to wash the Elmer Fudd sign while the roof-rack was at ground level - der!  

Monday, 20 February 2017

130,000km of adventures ...

We arrived in QLD on Friday morning. The next Monday I drove Elmer to his damage assessment. He was moved from there to a different repairer and for a while it looked like he would actually be repaired, which was great news.

Unfortunately the cost of repairing our wonderful truck was more than his listed value, so we said goodbye two weeks later.  The staff at the centre were quite understanding of our emotional attachment, with one fellow saying that he'd owned a car for 31 years before it was written off in an accident.

We bought Elmer in October 2010. His odometer then read 290,200 and when we fare-welled him he'd done 420,000. How good is that?! Nearly 130,000 km of adventures (and a few misadventures as well but they are equally important in our family history)!  We'll definitely miss the Fudd Truck but Nick is searching for a suitable successor and we hope to be exploring again - soon.  Fingers crossed!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Forest Hill finale ...

Our last few days before departure were very busy. Aside from all the usual final packing, we were involved in an accident on the freeway where another 4WD lost concentration and ran up the back of us at speed.

We were all very lucky. Elmer was damaged but cleared for travel.  We made arrangements for him to be assessed by the insurance company once we reached Brisbane.

There was lots to do on our last morning. Nissa was farewelled at the train station. We handed back various keys, said goodbye to our neighbours and finally headed out the gate around midday - needing to achieve 530 km before 10:00pm.

Of course we stopped along the way for fuel and sustenance.  We even managed to find our 600th geocache beside the Murray river just before crossing from Victoria into NSW!

We'd achieved our 400th and 500th geocaching milestones while in Victoria and wanted to tick off our 600th as part of our relocation journey from Victoria to Queensland.  (Given timing restrictions, the group shot was not one of our better efforts)!

It was a big day. When planning our itinerary we'd decided against using the van for accommodation en route but rather seek Bandit-friendly places to stay.

The first of those was at the Forest Hill Caravan Park, where we had stayed with our menagerie on the way down to Victoria from New South Wales in December 2012.  It seemed a tidy conclusion to our Victorian era, particularly as we checked-in close to 10:00pm, much the same as we'd done on our first visit.  Denis escorted us to the same cabin we'd used before but skipped the intro tour, cos he reckoned we knew where everything was!

I stayed up for a while after arrival and grinned hugely when I realised that I had no need for my winter dressing gown (which had been standard night-wear even in late January)!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

It's a wrap!

As it happened, our Sunday silo sojourn was really our last great Victorian adventure. We were very busy enjoying Christmas and our wonderful "family reunion", spending time with Nissa, counting-down Nick's last few weeks in the Melbourne office - and getting ready for our QLD relocation!

In mid January we packed up my tent kitchen (because by that stage the girls were sharing a basic cabin and I could cook in there - with running water).

You can see the tent's lighting in the pic at left.  Each room had LED strip lights with on/off switches.  It was really quite neat!

Three days before departure, the big tent was packed down and trussed securely for storage, together with our pseudo-Persian carpets. We well and truly gained our money's worth from those purchases - it was really a *very* interesting period of our family history!

We bought our caravan cheaply, with plans of using it for weekends away or a few weeks at a time. In contrast, it was our home-base from October 2015 until early February 2017 - around 18 months in total.  We were fortunate to do several house-sitting stints (which we greatly appreciated) but for the most part we were in the van.

I've just calculated 412 nights were spent in the van out of a total 492.  Three cheers for Nick who did the full 412, whereas the rest of us had short breaks over that period!

To give you an idea, the entire interior of the caravan is approx 2.75m by 4.5m (which included our beds). The four of us and Bandit shared that space. Yep, it was definitely cosy, so you can see why we appreciated the tent’s extra living area - and our day-trip adventures!

Did we expect to be in transit for so long? No way. Was it hard? Yeah, at times it was tricky but we did it - and we're impressed with our fortitude! Would we do it again? Not by choice in our current set-up and definitely not in Victoria!

The big tent was wrapped in a cheap tarp.  (It had originally been housed in a piece of air mattress but that was far too cumbersome). I'd bought a $5.00 curtaining remnant from the local op shop earlier in the month and used it to make two generous tent peg bags.  We also found a $2.00 laptop-style bag, which was great for housing tent pegs.