When Tassie couple Brian and Christine Medcraft dropped by for a chat near the billabong at the Julia Creek RV Stay, I didn’t believe what I was hearing. An under-floor shower? What were they talking about?
I soon found out. When I went across to their quite old pop-top, Brian showed me the shower. First he turned on the gas water heater outside the van. Then he opened the window and moved the table out of the way. A section of the floor was lifted up, revealing some shower curtaining, which he lifted out and raised to the ceiling, where a couple of hooks held it up.
Unzipping the curtain, he revealed where the water pipe came in: through the open window and hooked up to the shower head. All ready to shower! Oh yes – there was a soap dish with soap in it, too.
Only one more thing to ask: where does the water go from the shower? I might have known – it goes into a grey water tank for places like Julia Creek, where it is the rule that no grey water is allowed on the ground.
The Medcrafts do a lot of free-camping, so Brian has stopped water going to waste from the awning when it rains. It’s channelled along the bottom of the awning, into a pipe, which leads it straight into the water tank!
A 12V ceiling fan really cools the van – is there no end to this man’s gadgets? Of course, there’s a diesel heater, but the diesel tank didn’t please Brian – he made a stronger tank from heavy-duty piping and just puts a bit of diesel in when refuelling the tug.
The three-way fridge was something else that didn’t please him, so he replaced that with a 12V portable unit that slides out from under the sink. A bread board also slides out.
To have two wedding anniversaries on the same day at the same place is rare, but that happened at Walkamin Van Park, Qld, just before I left. It was a lovely day and there were lots of chairs outside for the friends and relatives who had come to help celebrate.
Co-owner of the park and self-appointed celebrant for the day, Dallas, has a daughter who has a friend who sings and she gave a lovely rendition of a couple of songs before the reconfirming of the marriage vows. Each couple then took turns of getting into the buggy and did a lap of the park. The buggy had tin cans rattling behind and festive decorations. Food and music wasn’t lacking either!
RAINFOREST RAMBLERS MUSTER
After leaving Walkamin I joined the ACC Rainforest Ramblers for a muster at Wondiling Beach and what a great lot of friends they are.
The caravan park was pretty crowded but was the only one in the area with space for us all, but we managed and many yarns were spun during the nightly happy hours.
I was lucky that my Ramblers friends John and Helena like to take me on their outings and during the week we visited Innisfail and did a guided tour of the Town Hall besides a look inside the Catholic cathedral. We also drove out to Flying Fish Point where the group will have their next muster.
I went with Margaret – another ACC Lone Trekker like me – to Tully for a look around one day during the muster and, despite showers, we had a good time looking in shops. I even bought a lovely little mug that is just the right size for my coffee machine. It was marked at $1 but the kind lady said there was a slight imperfection and sold it to me for 50 cents!
OFF FOR A JAB
I’d booked into the Harbour Lights caravan park in Bowen, Qld, for one night and into a pharmacy the next morning for my second covid jab. Having arrived in Bowen during the afternoon I called into the pharmacy and asked is there was a chance of having the jab a day early.
The young lady said she would do it if I was prepared to wait while she dealt with two other customers. I was prepared to wait, so that saved time the next morning when I was heading for old favourite Smalleys Beach in the Cape Hillsborough National Park.
The site I was given was not very good but beggars can’t be choosers, so they say, and I got settled in and went on the beach to walk. The beach was as I remembered it – sloping with loose sand! A change of plans and I went walking on the road – firm and shady!
The next day I went to Mackay to shop and catch up with my friends, Tony and Denyse Allsop, for lunch.
I wasn’t impressed with site 6 at Smalleys Beach so I cut my visit short and headed north through all the roadworks the next day. Cutting across to Woodstock took me to the Flinders Highway and I stopped at the lovely Julia Creek RV Stay – a lovely free camp besides a small lake. That’s where I caught up with Brian and Chris – the Tasmanians in my first paragraphs.
ON THE WAY TO THE ALICE
I noticed an ACC spare wheel cover as I overtook a caravan and gave him a call on the CB. He answered with, “Is that you, Lionel?”
It was a Tasmanian who was one of the five caravanners who gathered at Longford in Tassie and formed the ACC Tasmanian Trekkers many years ago. The wheel cover was a cheat because he had resigned from the ACC after many years and hadn’t removed the cover – naughty boy!
John and I both camped at the Camooweal Billabong and spent the afternoon chatting.
I was off fairly early, crossed the NT border where the poor policeman was looking very cold. Besides a low temperature there was a bitter wind blowing but he was cheerful enough and I was soon on my way again.
I had a good run along the Barkly Highway and, after a night stop about 50km from the Stuart Highway, I headed south through Tennent Creek with the intention of stopping for the night about 200km to the Alice. However, I was only 200km from Alice Springs at lunch time so I phoned my daughter and asked her to tell the Big 4 office that I’d be there a day early.
It was great catching up with Jackie and Dennis and I stayed there a week, during which I managed to get in a helicopter trip! It was my first time in the air for some time and in appreciation I gave our pilot an autographed copy of my book. The books arrived after me but before I left I sold a few, leaving just enough for some to distribute to friends and relatives in Adelaide.
After leaving Alice Springs, I put in some longish days travel and arrived at my son and daughter’s home in Adelaide three days later after a couple of nights in bush camps. Another lovely time with family and I’ll be here for 10 days, which will include a catch-up with friends, plus a wedding on Saturday.