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Our campervan has several nagging problems and one big problem. The big problem is the gray water tank which doesn’t seem to vent except through the shower drain. The drain on the gray water tank is very slow and the valve has stops at two open positions but no stop for a closed position. So it takes forever to drain the tank and then when the tank is empty you just have to guess when the valve is closed. I talked to the technician and explained the problem. I also mentioned that the hose for the gray water has a very old ragged looking fitting and I wanted that replaced as well. They cleaned the tank and replaced the old valve and the fitting on the hose. We had several weak gas lifters that hold cabinet doors open. If you held the door in a spot for a moment they would hold the door there but if you needed it fully opened you had to hold it my hand. They replaced the lifters and found the problem with one of the latches that was malfunctioning. We also had plastic glasses which were cracked. One of them leaked and was unusable, the others were just a few uses of being in the same condition so we got replacements for those. All this took about two hours. In the meantime, Louise and I were deep into our computers, using the free internet at the Britz office. We managed to get caught-up with much of our work. Once repairs were done we closed down the computers, checked all the work and then set out on our way to our next destination. We’re heading back east toward Canberra, the capital of Australia. We put the name of a town along our intended route of travel into the GPS and off we go through northern Adelaide. About 15 kilometers of city driving, stop lights and the occasional round-about and we’re onto the expressway. This turns into an elevated highway for about six kilometers and turns us out into the countryside. About 20 kilometers out of town the four lane separated highway becomes two lane but retains the 110 km/hour speed limit. On good highway, the campervan can be safely operated at 110 km/hour or about 70 MPH. The problem is that there are many stretches of road that have roads that are less than good. Several days ago I posted some brief information about the roads we are encountering. The campervan drives like a truck. The suspension feels like a truck and its handling matches. The pavement is often lower along the shoulder of roads which makes the campervan lean toward the shoulder. All this rocking and rolling rearranges many items in the storage areas of the campervan. We often think of the airline caution, “Objects in overhead compartments may have shifted during flight.” Even with all this, the roads in Australia are a definite step up from those encountered in New Zealand. Roads in Australia are wider than those in New Zealand. We’ve encountered a few narrow bridges but no single lane bridges which were common in New Zealand.
Adelaide is the largest city in the state of South Australia. It is the smallest of the five cities in Australia with a population over one million. It is located on the southern coast of Australia in the State of South Australia. The Murray River is the largest river in Australia and its mouth is just east of Adelaide. It was the Murray River that we crossed on a Ferry on our way into Adelaide. We have arranged to have some repair work done on the caravan at the Britz office in Adelaide on Monday morning. Somehow that has a familiar ring to it, where have I heard (or written) that before? Since we were arriving on Sunday, we needed to find a place to stay for the night. Louise set the GPS for the Big 4 Holiday Park in Adelaide. This time it didn’t work. There were two choices and neither was exactly correct so she picked the closest. When we couldn’t find the park, we drove on a bit further then pulled over and Louise called Big 4. They told us to put the address in the GPS as 6 Military Highway instead of the 1 Military Highway that is their actual address. Seems this was a common problem as they gave us the solution without hesitation. We were about 10 kilometers away! Sometimes mistakes turn out to be good events and this was the case here. Looking for a place to turn around I came upon a shopping center with a K-Mart. I had a list of things I wanted to get for the caravan that would make life a little better. The heat pump in the camper is working for a source of heat but it runs constantly and then kicks in and out making a bit of noise and vibration each time. It isn’t helping my sleep. Britz rents an electric heater, small floor model, for $7 per week which would be $70 in our case. I found one in K-Mart for $19 so that was a deal. It works great for the small space in the caravan and is not so noisy. Britz also rents bag chairs, for sitting outside. I picked up a pair for much less than they charge. I got some cleaning supplies so I can keep the windows clean and a container to store the gray water hose which they had lying on the floor in a storage compartment with the fresh water hose, a broom and bucket. That compartment is also where we store our duffel suitcases so I wanted to keep it clean and not have gray water leaking out onto all those other things. I couldn’t find a lens cap for my main camera lens. The one I’ve used for years finally broke. A small spring retains the lens cap in place holding it against the threaded inside surface and the plastic support pin that anchors the spring broke. I’ve checked several photo shops, everything is digital, most cameras they sell are compact digital cameras. I’m going to have to find a real camera store that sells to professionals. Personnel in the stores I checked gave me several suggestions, all in downtown Adelaide and I’m not taking the caravan there. The Big 4 Holiday Park in Adelaide is located right by the beach. We were separated from the beach by a row of dunes but could hear the surf in the park. Beach parks are always sandy and there is no way to keep the sand out of the caravan. We sweep several times a day when we are in these parks. I have a small rug for use outside the camper but even that doesn’t do the job to get rid of all the sand on our shoes or feet. It was windy at the park when we pulled in and overnight it rained. This wasn’t just a light rain, it rained and blew hard. There were puddles in the roadways when we left in the morning. I had watched a group of four young people set up a tent in the evening. I wondered how they slept during the night. Their tent was still up and there was no sign of them stirring in the morning so I guess they were finally getting some sleep.
Leaving Melbourne we head southwest toward the coast and a road called the Great Ocean Road. It is a little more than a hundred kilometers to the coast. When we reach the Great Ocean Road we find a curving, hilly, narrow road. Reaching the ocean, we are rewarded with wonderful views of a spectacular coast. We spent three days on the Great Ocean Road. We found so many viewpoints that we were unable to stop at all of them. The coast in this area between Melbourne and Adelaide is rugged limestone which is being eroded away by strong waves. The nature of the limestone is to collapse once undercut by the waves. This produces cliffs all along the seaside. As the erosion proceeds, some areas are stronger than others and this leaves sea stacks, cliffs isolated from the shore. Some of these are small others quite dramatic, large and rugged. A region with many of these sea stacks has been named the Twelve Apostles. This area is quite popular with tour busses visiting along with hundreds of independent travelers. We joined the procession to view this concentration of sea stacks. There are multiple viewpoints as these cover a distance of over a kilometer. From one viewpoint only a few can be seen. Visiting multiple viewpoints allows one to see most if not all of them. We had wonderful weather, clear with a nice breeze. During our visit, helicopters flew a steady parade of sightseers by the cliffs. Their base of operation was right at the parking lot so people could simply walk from their car to the cliffs or to the helicopters. We walked to all the viewpoints and spent time enjoying the show. The waves formed powerful breakers against the rocks. The sound and the fury of the waves on the shore always amaze me and I lingered at each point to absorb all the action going on. By the time we finished this section of the drive, we had traveled only 100 kilometers and it was now time to find a campsite. Our second day we stopped for a rest stop in a small town along the route. Beside the public restrooms, there was a viewpoint of the wetlands and a small river. There were birds everywhere so we decided to take some time to identify a few new birds. But first we fixed a lunch and ate. Then it was off to walk the trail down to the river. A young lady next to us was arriving at the same time we started out and she noticed the bird book I was carrying. We struck up a conversation, she was from Quebec and was very interested in birds. We shared conversation at the viewpoint then she went on her way. A couple that was eating lunch on the deck at the viewpoint struck up a conversation and we spent another 15 minutes visiting with them. They were native Australians from near Adelaide. He was a mine safety advisor and we discussed our mining museum experience in Beaconsfield several days before. He remembered the details of the incident with the two trapped miners and we learned a great deal from him about mining in Australia. He has worked mines in many areas we will be visiting and his suggestions gave us ideas of where we could see more of the mines in Australia. Now we began our walk down to the river. By the time we had completed the walk we had identified five new birds and had a good look at our first Crimson Rosella, a spectacular red parrot. Half our day gone, we resumed our trip along the coast. This day there were arches and shipwreck sites and stories. At one point we walked down steps along the cliff to an inlet where we set our shoes aside and walked barefoot on the sand. Then it was off to another campground. Our campgrounds have been good places to stay but the internet access leaves much to be desired. At Apollo Bay, a change in the internet altered the password shortly after we checked in and we were not informed. With the office closed for the evening, there was no way to use the internet service. In Port Campbell the service worked occasionally and then would log of and we could not get back on until the next morning. Mount Gambier had a subscription internet service that cost $7 per hour or $20 for 24 hours. There were longer term options at better rates but I needed to know how widespread the service would be before committing to a long term contract. As a result, my postings have been delayed repeatedly and I remain posting our travel information with a time delay.