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Saturday, 2 July 2011

NORTH TO THE SUNSHINE

1 July 2011
I’m on the road again in the Tardis, headed north for the sunshine. Warmth would be a bonus but it’s the grey I want to escape.
I left home on Sunday, 26 June and drove to Swan Hill (315 km) to meet up with Helen, a long-time friend who lives in her van full time and house sits in between.
We spent a relaxed three days in Swan Hill, including Helen’s birthday. I took her out to lunch at a lovely restaurant on the banks of the river near the Pioneer Village.
When I left Swan Hill, I drove north to Goolgowi (no, I’d never heard of it either but the Camps 5 book said it had a caravan park). By then I had driven 305 km and I try to average no more than 300 km a day.
I found the caravan park at the back of the tiny town, beside the football field. It looked like someone’s large backyard with taps and power points on poles scattered round. It was totally deserted but the sign said, “If unattended, pick a site and we’ll be round between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to collect the money. If not, please use the honesty box.” The posted price was $18 for a powered site. That was much better than the $32 plus that most are charging.
I checked the facilities. They were fine and very clean so I chose a spot. This is not as simple as it sounds. I find if I go to a caravan park and they say “I’m putting on site 53,” then that is that. I drive to site 53 and I settle in. But when I’m faced with an entire empty paddock to choose from, I suddenly can’t make a decision. My mind races through all the pros and cons – proximity to the amenities, lovely view (if any), avoiding the western sun, and on and on it goes.
The Germans have a saying which, in German, rhymes very nicely, but in English it says “Who has the choice, has also the torment.” Fits this situation perfectly.
While I’m going round in my mind, I also drive round and round with the van. It’s bloody embarrassing if there’s anyone else around. Fortunately there wasn’t.
So I dillied and dallied but finally chose a site near the amenities. There was no view so that was not an issue, and I’d lost interest in the Western sun. 
I set up camp, made a cuppa and prepared to spend the night alone. Then another van drove in. No dillying or dallying. They parked right beside me. So we got chatting. They were from Melton. Unbelievable! They set up camp and we got together for Happy Hour. Then one by one, three more vans arrived and I was definitely not alone.
Next day, after farewelling Dorothy and George, I headed north again. The birds feeding on the previous night’s road kill were so intent on their middle-of-the-road breakfast, it was difficult not to turn them into more road kill. I managed by sounding my horn almost constantly. The young kangaroo who leapt out in front of me had a very lucky escape. Braking suddenly with a caravan in tow is no picnic.
I stopped for a morning coffee in a picnic ground in a tiny town along the way. There was an old Douglas DC3 on display. It brought back memories of the times I had flown in them as a child in Queensland and the Northern Territory when they were used as passenger planes. It can be a bit off-putting having things you’ve personally experienced labelled “history” but then it feels quite good when you consider the alternative.
I drove to Dubbo (417 km – too far) and arrived stiff and stuffed. Am staying here two nights to have a day of no driving and just rest. Beautiful flowering gum behind my caravan helped with the sense of peace and relaxation.





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