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  1. Without any definite word on the outcome of the refrigerator problem we decided to stay one more night at the Big 4 Campervan Park in Ecucha. Louise had our refrigerated items stored in the refrigerator in the park kitchen facilities. We moved to the new site and then decided to explore the town. As we walked, we got a call from the road service company. The agent informed us he was trying to put together a solution. He thought we would be exchanging our campervan for a different one and just wanted to confirm where we were headed and where the best place for the exchange would be. We indicated our intentions to be in Albury in New South Wales as our next stop. With that news, we could relax and enjoy the day in Ecucha. Our first stop in town was the Port of Ecucha. Yes, Ecucha had a port. We are far inland but like the cities of St. Louise and Minneapolis, goods and materials can be shipped up and down a large river to the ocean. The Murray River was just such a river. Ecucha no longer has a port because the Murray has several dams downstream from Ecucha. At one time goods and materials were shipped into and out of Ecucha on the Murray River. A fleet of paddle wheel river boats still rest in the river there. Several of these operate tours. There is a preserved old town along the waterfront with buildings from the early settlement of Ecucha and they post signs on buildings so you can tell who built them and their original purpose. We enjoyed walking from shop to shop, a tea café attracted Louise’s attention and we planned to return later. Unfortunately, tea is served for a specific time in the afternoon and we didn’t get back in time to stop there. We browsed the blacksmith shop and the woodworker shop. A modern day clock shop was in one of the old buildings and several wineries had outlets along this street. We had a grand time walking along the river and exploring downtown Ecucha. Returning to the campground, we found that we had missed a phone call. The phone I have is set to maximum volume and vibrate and I still am missing calls. The message said that someone would drive a different (new to us) van to meet us (at our specified location) tomorrow at 2:00 (our specified time) and that they would call again in the morning with details. To get the phone message I had to set up my mailbox which took almost 10 minutes and ran down my prepaid phone. I would have to buy a voucher at the Coles Supermarket on my way out of town to put more time on the phone. I could do it on-line but they won’t accept foreign credit cards for any payments on-line or even over the phone. Friday morning we left Ecucha headed for the Big 4 Park in Wodonga where we would meet the new campervan and its driver for the exchange. We arrived about noon. That gave us two hours to get lunch and begin unpacking the current campervan. Almost exactly at 2:00 the driver arrived with our new campervan. We went through the inspection and began to transfer our clothing and supplies from one to the other. Con, the driver, pitched in and within an hour we were moved and he was on the road. We spent the evening putting everything into cabinets and rearranging until we were happy with the way everything was stored. The new campervan is different, a 5 passenger van instead of 4. Both in New Zealand and here in Australia, our campervan was a 4 passenger vehicle. This one is the same size as the one we had before but it has two bench seats up front and a dining table/bed that can be set up there. Everything is arranged differently so we really do have a new house. Driving this vehicle the next morning I found it performed much better than the one we had previously and glory be, it had cruise control! I love cruise control. In fact I almost always drive with the cruise control on, even in light city driving. Cruise control would have been of no use whatsoever in New Zealand but here in Australia I can see long drives in the outback coming up in our itinerary and had been wishing we had cruise control. Besides the cruise control, this campervan has better suspension so it doesn’t rock and roll so badly and the engine/transmission combination is much peppier than the previous van. We are much better off with this vehicle. Not only that but Con told us to stop at the office in Sydney and they would wash the campervan for us and exchange the linens for a fresh set! I’d say that Britz really does take care of its customers.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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