Hi there loyal Bushman followers,
I know it has been such a long long time since the last post from the Aussie Bushman, in fact it was a whole year ago, when we were travelling Tasmania. Sadly, those posts don’t even exist anymore since the website was hacked by someone mid last year, cleverly replacing my stories and photos with links to porn movies! Grrrr! Not happy.
You may recall we left the Bushman in Melbourne in February 2017 as our first practice run in learning how to ‘switch off’ and store our truck ready to return to and resume our travels at a later date. We flew home to the Gold Coast with intentions of getting back on the road 8 weeks later. Well that didn’t happen quite as planned… actually NOTHING happened as planned.
The year of 2017 turned out to be such a huge year for us; selling the farm, buying a small cattle property, building sheds, turning 60, crowd funding campaigns and a trip to America. It’s only now that we have only found the opportunity to return to the Bushman for another short little road trip.
We flew into Melbourne on Thursday 28th December, to find to our astonishment, that we are really crap at storing expedition vehicles for long periods of time. So bad in fact, that we have begun writing a list of things NOT to do when putting the Bushman to bed and continuing our fly in fly out practice. I won’t bore you with the details but the consequences of having an electronically sophisticated and complicated operating system and a very very flat lithium battery can mean spending the first 6 days of your holiday, plugged into 240v at a busy caravan park whilst trying to fix the bloody thing!
We can’t complain too loudly though, it is actually quite pleasant whiling away our days at Portarlington and St Leonard’s on Port Phillip Bay, west of Melbourne. We quietly see in the new year and watch a few locals set off some crackers and flares on the beach.
The spare part we have been waiting for finally arrives and we hit the road with great relief heading for Ballarat.
Along the way, we make a quick stop at the public loos in Meredith and another NPS300 Isuzu motor home pulls in beside us! We meet Glen and Merryl who recognised our Bushman from a website (this one) they had subscribed to before Christmas. We go for a quick coffee together in town and talk incessantly about our trucks and adventures in them. Glen is a clever man, having entirely built his camper himself. A very impressive job!
Ballarat gives us an opportunity to resupply with food, fuel, gas and water: it’s a big place here, sprawling and friendly with many eclectic little eating houses.
Saturday morning we eat a delicious breakfast at the Webster St Market cafe, check into a new caravan park and walk up to Sovereign Hill, an amazing rebuild of the historical Ballarat gold mining town of the 1850’s. There is much to see, do and learn about the gold fever that took over the nation as well as thousands from Ireland, Canada and China. Alluvial gold in nugget sized proportions was being found just centimetres below the surface, bringing overnight riches to many a toiling miner down to his last penny.
This morning we finish off the last Ballarat museum attraction and head north west across the state. Victoria has begun to dish up some of her typically unpredictable climactic mood swings! Meaning over the last 2 days we have had chilly gusting winds with a sprinkle of rain and then today is a hot dry 42deg scorcher when all you want to do is drink a lot of very cold beer.
And so that’s what we do after pulling up for the night at Lake Lonsdale, our first free, isolated, off grid bush camp since we started this trip 9 days ago.
Next we visit the Grampian National Park. A nice coffee in Halls Gap and a lovely winding drive up into the mountains to see Mackenzie Falls and the various look outs.
As is usually the routine we start to look for a camp spot around 2pm and this is often a time when things get a little tense in the cabin between Alan and I. It’s the search for Campsite Nirvana which makes us bicker about choosing this spot or the potentially better spot down the road, that neither of us can be certain is there at all.
Here is what both of us agree is Nirvana but it’s the order of importance that we most disagree on.
- No Financial cost
- Next to a body of water accessible for swimming, paddling or fishing
- A million dollar view of said water
- Amongst trees for shade and wind shelter
- Perfectly level grassy area not underneath a Widow Maker*
- Interesting, varied and friendly flora and fauna
- No evidence of previous human occupation ie.no cans, bottles, rubbish or toilet paper
- Complete isolation with no other campers in sight
- An internet connection (Alan’s preference)
- Ability to have a campfire and abundant firewood nearby
- Nice private toileting spots
- Sunshine for solar charging the batteries
*A Widow Maker is a very large majestic eucalyptus tree (River Red Gum) prone to randomly dropping huge branches for no predictable reason… and killing all beneath it!
So, it’s clear we have rather high expectations and admittedly we have only ever found The Spot perhaps twice in our camping lives… needless to say, we don’t find it tonight.
But the next day, on Glen and Merryl’s recommendation, we find Ratz Castle Reserve, south of Garoke and it’s very close to a Jackpot, ticking 10 of the 12 criterion above.
Our recognition of near nirvana is immediate and thankfully unanimous, so we stay for 3 nights!
Life is grand here. Plenty of peace, quiet and time to unleash the kayaks from the roof and paddle the foreshore for some bird watching. Wash some undies, cook campfire feasts, read, snooze and chat. We met Jim, the local Senior Sargent who drops in to check out the Bushman and stays for an hour over coffee and a biccie
Tomorrow we head towards South Australia and one of our favourite wine growing regions, the Barossa Valley and on into Adelaide.
Until next time, we hope you have a wonderful time deciding what roads lie ahead for you in 2018 and thank you so much for climbing aboard the Aussie Bushman with us for some off-road adventure.
Cheers Julie and Alan.