No  Boundaries  

 

Mackay to Dubbo, via the Hunter and Eastern Creek Raceway - as you do!

Mackay to Calliope via Claremont and Biloela

We had mixed feelings when leaving Mackay.  We'd made some good friends and the culture, landscape and weather is easy to take.  Kym's workplace at NQX was keen for him to stay.  There were warning bells in our heads but - we'd heard all too often of travellers staying on for a bit longer.... and never moving on.  We've too many places to go to let the grass grow under our feet.  The thought of having to mow it is enough!!!!

Always looking for a different road, our journey south started by heading west via the Peak Downs Highway.   

This is a notorious piece of road that claims far too many lives with much of the traffic use tied up with the mines, heavy and ultra-heavy transport, and commuting workers.  Having the UHF on channel 40 proved, as often does, very handy.  The trucking fraternity does not have a good rep for language on the radio, but we find that the further we venture from the major centres, this changes.  Friendlier and informative radio helps everyone.   Just out from Coppabella, we encountered the first extra wide load.  The radio warning gave us opportunity to pull off the road.   It was a whopping 8.5 metres wide, the last thing you'd want to come across with a van in tow as you rounded a bend.

Our first camp was at Theresa Creek Dam -a peaceful and pleasant site with fantastic views across the lake.  Rather than back-track to Clermont and the Gregory Highway, we took the back route to the Capricorn Highway via Rubyvale and Sapphire.   As their names suggest, these settlements with their somewhat scattered, primitive and sometimes untidy accommodation mostly house miners working their leases.  It's worth spending time to look around.  Like many of these 'make do' settlements, there are interesting characters, some even a little eccentric, but characters all.  Have a look at some of the methods used to extract these elusive stones that attract people from far flung places.  Walk in mines are open for public viewing.  There are safety issues laid down by the mine operator that you need to adhere to.  A lot of regulations may seem a bit blurred in these areas, but your safety shouldn't be.

Turning east onto the Capricorn Highway, it's an easy half hour drive to Emerald.  We pulled up at the free camp under the rail bridge to take a lunch break.  Emerald has had its' share of water-logging in recent years, and a walk around the park revealed the "tide marks" from various floods.  We had visited Emerald just over three years earlier and we did note some major changes - new housing estates, large shopping complex etc. It is fast growing into a city rather than a large outback town. 

Onwards to Blackwater to pick up a couple of last minute supplies for our stay at nearby Bedford Weir (Camps 7 QLD 317).  The Blackwater International Coal Centre is worth a stop and see.  Even if you have no interest in mining, the historical information laid out in an interactive time line display is something all ages can appreciate.  There is easy access and parking for big rigs too.  In the right weather conditions, tours are available to nearby mines. 

Bedford Weir camp is an easy bitumened 25 kms north-west of Blackwater.  We'd visited this camp three years earlier also, when it had consisted of nothing more than an old empty caravan (awaiting appointment of a caretaker) and a shower/toilet block.  At that time it was pouring rain, and apart from us, the only other campers onsite were a couple biding their time in a tent - waiting for the outcome of their caretaker application.  They had figured that staying on-site may auger well for their success.  Successful they were, and we had heard no end of glowing reports about Bedford Weir since.  We had to see the transformation for ourselves.  A transformation it was - now a busy little camp, but friendly and well cared for.  Since taking on the caretaker responsibilities, Allan and Lyn Greenslade have lobbied the council to vastly improve the facilities and landscape.  Their updated onsite caravan accommodation is attached to a rotunda which houses an office and retail area.  They sell a range of home-cooked goodies alongside camp essentials.  They provide local tourist information, have extensive book and entertainment libraries, and have a well tended herb garden for campers use.  During busier months, they organise social events, mostly focused around their research of the local area and its history.  Allan and Lyn have achieved all this despite having endured a couple of devastating floods, each time coming back bigger and brighter.   We met Geoff and Annette Wiadrowski who hailed from Packenham and spent a cosy evening swapping tales around their 'wouldn't be without' fire bucket - a drum with lid cut out that Geoff recycles with a new one as needed.

On another mission to travel a road ne'er before travelled, we turned south from the Capricorn Highway near Duaringa.  It was the Fitzroy Development Road - considering the area's isolation, this was a newly bitumened, wide and barely travelled road that happens to border the Aboriginal Shire Council settlement of Woorabinda.  We were delighted by some roadside displays of wildflowers in this area.  We turned off the Development Road towards the Leichardt Highway via Baralaba, the road becoming not as user-friendly further from the settlement.    Heading for Biloela, we passed through the delightful little township of Goovigen, where instead of stopping for traffic lights, we were stopped by a trail of cattle ambling across the main intersection with motorbikes and dogs in tow.   

Calliope back to home territory on the Gold Coast

From Biloela, we were not far via the Dawson Highway from our overnight camp destination at Calliope River Rest Area back on the Bruce Highway.  This is a popular camp, and at this time of year (September), we were surrounded by hordes of southerners on their homeward journey.  What did surprise and disappoint us was the fact that the toilet facilities were closed.  We were told that not for the first time, the cisterns had been filled with concrete.  Not pointing fingers, but could this be a at the hands of disillusioned local park operators?  We may be jumping to conclusions, but we do understand that many of the camps along this section of the Bruce are under siege by caravan park operators.  In any case, it is a travesty in regard to waste of public funds. 

What was apparent is that the local council do a good job in keeping the campsite maintained.  We were pre-warned with plenty of council signage that there was going to be an early morning invasion of mowers, and so along with most of the other campers we made an early departure that day.  Just as well we got this motivation, as the day's drive proved a long one with numerous stretches of road-works that were enough to test the patience of Job.  We will no doubt be grateful for them next time we travel the Bruce.  It might have been the stop-go's, and also a couple of ranges traversed along the way, but we totally underestimated our fuel needs between Calliope and Gin Gin.  How lucky were we to have some diesel sitting in the heater tank.  We stopped short of Gin Gin to syphon it out, and this just got us to the servo in the nick of time.  Not something that you plan on, and sure gives you a sinking feeling in the tummy. 

Not far south of Gin Gin there is a campsite to the west of the road called Booyal Crossing.  We had tried to access it before, but the road was closed following floods.  We were curious to give it another go.  As it turned out, that stay (and I say 'that stay' as often it is never the same again) is one that is ticked in our memories as a beauty.  It is certainly understandable that the site would have been vulnerable in floods.  As the name suggests, the camp adjoins a creek at a low causeway crossing.  With no rain in sight, we were tucked in on our own for the night on a nice grassy patch overlooking the surrounding bush with running water and trilling birds.  It was a bit of heaven after the testing day's drive. 

Next day, next stop was Yandina Caravan Park.  We enjoyed the park facilities here, the hosts were lovely, and we used it as a base to combine a business and friendship call on Phil from Camps Australia Wide.  Phil was right in the thick of it with the print of Camps 7 being in its' final draft, but still gave us the time of day to swap some information, tales and a few laughs. 

Back in our home territory of South East Queensland, for the next 10 days we squeezed in family and friend catch-ups.  House calls, dinners out, a grandchild's birthday party, beach walks and coffees with friends - it is always nice to pick up with our loved ones, just as if we'd never been apart.   Old rituals die hard, and we also did the round of medical check-ups, hairdressers and vehicle checks at the shop-fronts of the familiar, tried and tested.   And then just as we had done almost 11 months earlier, we slipped away with our rig heading south.  There was the usual touch of sadness that comes with goodbyes, but we also had thoughts of the next adventure ahead, and, to be honest, there was a great sense of release to be leaving the congested freeways and stop-start traffic conditions behind.

Down the New England with the Hunter Valley in our sights

Our departure was made in the early afternoon of NRL Grand Final Day (Storm v Bulldogs).  Don't follow either of these teams particularly, but don't usually miss a Grand Final either.  That's OK - we'd determined that we'd pull up in time to get the Sat dish out and get into the spirit.  We departed the Pacific Highway north of Ballina and travelled via the Bruxner along winding ranges and valleys past Lismore and Casino, coming to a stop at a roadside Rest Area called 'West of the Range'.  The Sat dish came out, but for whatever reason, reception didn't.  So it was a bit of an anti-climax, tuning into the radio as we sat in this isolated and lonely little beside the road 'pull in' convincing ourselves that this was a better idea than staying back with the folks for another day enjoying the Grand Final camaraderie and big screen telecast.  At least our favoured Melbourne won.

Next day we turned onto the New England Highway at Tenterfield, famous as the 'birthplace of our nation' due to the Henry Parkes Foundation speech in 1889, but our thoughts here always turn to the saddler and the flamboyant Peter Allen.  This highland region has a unique and rather stark outlook with an undulating landscape dotted with granite boulders.  Mind pictures of bushrangers and horsemen of past eras flash by.  For the many early Scottish settlers it obviously reminded them of their homeland and local celebrations and features such as the Standing Stones near Glen Innes keep this Scottish heritage alive.  Although it was now October, with the low temperatures and fresh breezes across the plains, it could well have been Scotland.

We arrived at Armidale and campsite at Dumaresq Dam, about 15kms west.  Dumaresq is a small dam with a popular and well cared for picnic and camp area.  We took a short wander to the dam wall but the cold sent us inside.  The diesel heater was well used that night and again in the morning to get us up and away again. 

Our mission was to get to the Hunter Valley.   We intended to spend time, taking our time, and exploring the valley.   For now we drove through Tamworth, saving it for another day, and continued on to the quaint township and camping area at Wallabadah for a lunch stop.  The First Fleet Gardens beside this camp  presents the stories on stone tablets of those who arrived on the First and Second Fleets.  It is well maintained and a credit to the locals. 

Where the road goes 'up' there must be a road down.  This was our first time on this stretch of the New England and we were caught by surprise as the highway took major steep downward grades on the approach to the town of Murrurundi.  Better surprise - not only was the altitude lower, from Murrurindi and beyond the temperatures were a few degrees warmer as well.

 Wining, dining and 'r and r' - what else do you do in the Hunter?

Lake Glenbawn is a short drive east of Scone.  This was our home for the next couple of nights.  We weren't interested in the powered caravan park style camps near the entrance ot the lake, and opted to take the track around to the other side of the lake where we found a perfect spot on the water's edge.  Just a little distance up the hill we could take advantage of the hot shower amenities.  Some fishermen nearby told us they make the sojourn every year from Queensland to the lake for the fishing comp that had just wound up.  We realised we would not have enjoyed the 'pick spot' and the same seclusion a day or two earlier. 

When in Rome do what the Romans do, so when in Hunter Valley, one must wine and dine.  We had a delightful breakfast in downtown Muswellbrook and taking the tourist circular drive west, we lunched at the Denman Hotel.  We found many of the country drives surrounding Muswellbrook quite stunning with green pastures and well maintained and sophisticated outer houses, fences and paddocks, many of them horse studs and spelling stables.  Our touring and drives are usually planned with campsite reviews in mind, but this time the eateries were also taken into account.  We finished the day back at camp enjoying the sun going down over the water with take-away and a local wine.   

The next morning we packed up the van in readiness for the next camp, but not leaving Muswellbrook before breakfast and sampling at the Cheese Factory.  Lake Liddell Recreation Area is off the highway just south of Muswellbrook.  This is where we spent the next six nights as a base for 'r and r' and sight-seeing.  Keen to see the wine areas of the southern Hunter Valley, we did a dump and run with the van at Lake Liddell.  Far from sampling wine, we found ourselves sampling the fine products at the Chocolate Factory at Lovedale, enjoying more sight-seeing drives, taking a late lunch at Cessnock before heading home.  It is fortunate that we did save our wining for back at camp.  We were pulled over by friendly officers in blue doing random breath tests at two different locations on the journey home.  One at Branxton and the next at Singleton.  At the first pull-over, the officer kindly warned us to remove the rod-holders from the bull-bar to comply with NSW regs.  At the second pull-over, there was no mention of the rod-holders, but some curious questioning about the large dual rear vision camera monitor and mirror.  We think she suspected it to be

a video monitor, but was happy once it was clarified.

Not satisfied that we'd covered all the Lower Hunter, but certainly forewarned about saving the alcohol for home, we headed out again the next day finding different roads to travel via Broke and up into the state forest areas to the historical village of Wollombi - a blast from days past.  We enjoyed the pretty meandering country drive back to Cessnock - so much we needed lunch to reflect on it.  We chose the intimacy and surronds of the Small Wine Centre at Polkolbin over the many large and imposing estates.  It was relaxing and the food was superb, but did need a grand finish.  We found this not far up the road at the Sabor on Hunter Dessert Restaurant - decadent!  And so endeth our Hunter Valley gastronomic splurge.  For the next four days, we were content to get back to vegemite toast and tea, and just enjoy being at camp.

Near Lake Liddell is one of the area's collieries, the Liddell Power Station and a 24 hour operating train line.  If you can get past these, the lake and camp does have a nice ambience.  Living this lifestyle is learning to take the good with the bad.  We adopt an attitude of 'nothing is forever', and making the best of what we have at any time.  The hot shower and toilet facilities at Lake Liddell had just been rebuilt, so when we were there, they were first class.  The caretakers were welcoming, and being reasonably new, they were keen to make improvements, which is always a good thing.  We did enjoy some slow time here, but have one word of warning.  The wind racing across that lake can get up in a blink.  Take care to keep well battened down and put away light outdoor gear when not in use. 

One other thing needs mentioning.  Our Lake Liddell camp will be remembered as the one where 'one of us' was in a hurry to take off to the caretaker's residence in the Patrol and forgot that the portable solar panel was attached and aligned with the front wheel.  Somehow the panel still works but rarely gets used these days.  Avoidance strategy no doubt as questions always get raised about the shattered design.

We have an alliance with the amazing people at Hema Maps that has resulted in our being privileged to work with them at their show stands at various locations around the country.  We use and endorse their products, and sell them on our No Boundaries website.  Both the Hema HN6 Navigator and the IPad App are two standards in vehicle accessories that we couldn't go back to being without.  They are the most accurate we've worked with, they're informative, and with the Camps Australia Wide book to supplement them, the only other mapping and information guides we use to keep us entertained and out of trouble are local guides we pick up from Tourist Information Centres.

Sydney 4 x4 Show, Richmond and glimpses of the Blue Mountains with the hospitality of old friends

It was time to make tracks to our next Hema contract at the Sydney 4x4 Show at Eastern Creek Raceway.  Rather than follow the traffic through Maitland, we turned off at Branxton and at  Cessnock, turned east along Lake Road.  This passes through national park and state forest areas with neat small acreage homesteads dotted in-between.  We were pleased with the decision.  The drive was easy on the eye and easy to drive, mostly flat, with just a couple of steep sections on the final verge onto the Sydney Newcastle Freeway around Toronto Road.  Now driving from here to Eastern Creek is where the Hema Navigator becomes our best friend.  As usual, it was magnificently up to the task, guiding us, as directed, through busy and totally unfamiliar territory to the front gate of the Raceway.

Eastern Creek has camping facilities on-site for 'connections' to their events.  We settled in, backing the van up against a grassy wall, only to discover when we went exploring over the top that beyond this was the drag raceway.  And guess what - tonight was 'Drags night'.  We got into the spirit of things and took our dinner over to the other side of the hill where we were entertained by the gutsy high speed plunges of both cars and bikes.   This life is full of unexpected surprises.

Next day was the the first of three days of the 4 x 4 Show.  The weather was wet and wild and the 'big top' that housed our Hema display stand was not coping well with the conditions.  There was some pandemonium as the organisers were under-resourced to prevent the water rising at our feet, and by early afternoon the event was called off for the day.  No doubt this was a bitter disappointment for exhibitors who invest much time and money in these events.  The weather wasn't great, but it certainly wasn't 'cyclonic'  - the facilities should have been able to cope.  We retreated to our caravan for the rest of the day.  By early evening the weather had blown out.  Despite damp ground, a group of enthusiastic camping neighbours sat out much of the night around a fire contained in a huge bowl.  These fire bowls are ingenious, but not something we can find room for, compared to the Hino trucks this mob had to carry their stock from show to show. 

The next day we could have been on the other side of the earth, the weather was so different.   The sun was blazing, and the crowds enthusiastic.  We always have a fun time talking to the diverse people of all ages, brought together at these shows by similar interests.   Young people and families, rev-heads and grey nomads and those stand-outs that we've dubbed  'those that never age'.  There are some unstoppable adventurers in their 80's and 90's that we meet at these shows that can tell us more than just a thing or two about desert tracks and outback camps and walks in the never-never.  They are nothing short of amazing and inspiring. 

A bonus that comes from attending these shows is that we can keep a handle on what's new and useful for the travelling lifestyle.  We have learnt to be a bit discretionary and make considered decisions after some past wasted outlays on bits and pieces that we got carried away about in the moment.   We now have this harmonised rational voice that raises itself to question is it really useful, or is it one of those 'gimmicky' gadgets that will never see the light of day again. 

We have no such regrets about a set of Magic Heat Packs that we bought at this show.  These packs are Australian made, come in a range of shapes of sizes, and to look at, are a soft and transparent plastic type material heat sealed to house a liquid solution.  The entire set is easy to store, fitting into a box smaller than a laptop, and about 6 centimetres high.  What is magic about them is that when you press a disc in the pack it triggers a reaction in the solution, and they become a very effective and long lasting 'heat pack'.  After you've finished with it, just by boiling the pack, it becomes reusable over and over.   Because you can use them anywhere without need for powered appliances, we have found them invaluable as an adjunct to our first aid kit, to soothe all manner of aches and pains, and sometimes just to 'get warm'.   As usual, when we get this enthusiastic about something, we have taken the step of featuring them on our No Boundaries on-line store, and they have proven popular to others as well.

When the 4 x 4 show finished, we had some plans to catch up with some Sydney dwelling friends, but with a few days to spare, moved first to Wanderest Travellers Park.  Sounds a bit like a senior's village, but turned out to be a pleasant campsite provided for self-contained vehicles by the Richmond RSL Club, which is across the road.  We patronised the Club with a hearty meal shared in the company of Roger and Jill whom we'd met at Eastern Creek while they were working as part of the event's organisation team.  With the RAAF base not far up the road from the camp, there is plenty of overhead comings and goings, some of them coming and going so low that it was hard to eschew the illusion that you could actually reach out and touch them.   They'd make their entrance so quick but, and as we'd race to keep up with them and focus, we just couldn't get that perfect camera shot. 

We'd always had this vision that when we were out on the road, opportunities would be abundant for 'hunting and gathering'.    Who would have thought that, fishing aside (and not terribly successful at this stage), our first opportunity to 'gather' would come in outer Sydney suburbia?  Beside our campsite at Richmond was a fruit-laden mulberry bush.  It was us or the birds - so we determined it was going to be us!  A feast of mulberries not seen since those childhood days when our Mums used to shake their heads at purple stained faces, hands and clothing.  We are a little more reserved in our second childhood, especially since we've got to do the washing or replacing, so there was less stain, but no less enjoyment.

Kym keeps in touch with many of his colleagues from a twenty year naval career,  who are spread across Australia.  One of these is Chris Parr, who along with Kym, was once a fresh-faced 15 year old recruit at HMAS Leeuwwin in Fremantle.  Chris had invited us to visit him in the Blue Mountains at his Wentworth Falls home.  We were a bit unprepared for the amazing hospitality shown by him and his wife, Donna.  Chris gave us the tour around Katoomba and the famous Three Sisters, after which we all shared a magnificent dinner out.   Although we are always prepared to lodge in our van, the Parr's insisted we stay in the 'guest room' - a very welcoming gesture that we never expect.  If there's space for the van and perhaps the luxury of a spacious bathroom / shower, we feel more than privileged to be offered any more.

Tag along with Steve and Belinda via the NSW's central west to Dubbo

We left Chris and Donna to make a rendezvous with other Sydneysiders, Steve and Belinda at the junction of the Western and Castlereagh Highways,  west of Lithgow.  They had recently acquired a Viscount Evernew Pop-top, and were towing it with Steve's much loved Delica 4 wheel drive van.  Steve had made a few modifications to personalise the Evernew for their needs, and with Belinda recently having completed lengthy medical treatments, they were looking forward to a holiday to both test the rig, and to celebrate.   We had no real fixed destination, except to ultimately get to the 'back of beyond' in western New South Wales, so we were happy to tag along for a few days.  The tag started with a 'Cook's tour' taking the scenic drive via Rylstone to Mudgee, where we stopped for what later became a 'controversial' fuel stop.  We then headed north to Gulgong for the night. 

Gulgong is a fascinating town.  Straight out of another era, with around 130 buildings with National Trust classification.  Arriving late in the day, we were keen to take up camp, and enjoyed the surrounds and facilities at the showgrounds.  It always lifts the spirits when camping and sharing food, drink and tales with friends, and that night here was no exception.  The next morning we wanted to take a closer look at the town.  Since Belinda and Lyn are both breast cancer survivors, they were a bit bemused as one of the first things they saw was lines of bras hanging from the verandah of the Commercial Hotel - all for the cause of funding research and cure.

The Gulgong - Mudgee area was the home of Henry Lawson during his childhood and teens, and there was much to read and learn about him and his family at the Henry Lawson Centre.  We then spent a few hours taking in the vast displays in the Pioneer's Museum.  It is understandable that this museum has won acclaim.  It includes several pioneer buildings spread over an acre or more, has a well organised collection, some of which date back 150 years.  Although the museum does have a coach and RV parking area, we  recommend scouting the route in your vehicle only first.  The town is still so much of a past era, that many of the streets, gutters and corners are not suitable to manouver large rigs.  We topped the museum off with Sunday brunch in one of the main street's stylish and busy cafes.  We were keen to make tracks to get to Dubbo for the night, and took the across country road via some more 'G' towns, Goolma and Gollan. 

 Steve larking it up in the streets of Gulgong  

                                                                                                                                         Steve and Belinda in the Henry Lawson Centre

Our arrival at Dubbo turned out to be a bit of a mess-up.  We were still travelling in tag, and headed through Dubbo to what we had heard was a camp offered by the Dubbo Zoo, adjacent to their car park.  We'd found the area, indicated by RV signs, and started to settle for the night with intentions of visiting the Zoo the next day.  We went to the administration area to confirm our night's camp.  Whoooaaaa - panic from Zoo staff, who said although they had an RV parking area and a Dump Point, RV'ers were not invited to stay the night.  

There is a major tourist draw-card in southern Tasmania, managed by Forestry Tasmania.  It's the Tahune, which encompasses a vast area of natural forest and attractions such as mountain bike and walking trails, segway tours, an eagle glide, swinging bridges and the famous Tahune airwalk.  Like the Zoo, it would be easy to spend a full day enjoying the attractions.   At Tahune, for a reasonable fee, self-contained RV'ers can camp for one night in the car-park.  The Zoo may have a legitimate reason for not offering this option, however it is still difficult to understand why the Dubbo council, having closed facilities at the Showgrounds, do little to attract this RV market.  Just saying.

It was getting late in the day when we moved on to find another camp.   We headed back through town to the north-west of Dubbo to the reserve at Terramungamine.  This is an attractive riverside area provided for free camping about 14 kms out.  Unfortunately, it is not nearly large enough to cater for the demand.  Arriving around 4'ish with still plenty of summer light, we were lucky to squeeze in.  Not so lucky for the others that came after us, some taking risks to take their rigs over gutters and low clearance ground, while yet others shook their heads and moved on.

  Belinda and Steve with their Evernew

The next morning after several rigs left camp we decided to move both our vans to a more suitable area, and closer to the river views.  This turned out to be an ominous decision.  We parked and put the awning out when coffee time was called.  Never slow to answer this call, Kym downed tools and as he put cup to lips, out of nowhere, a wild wind came down-river and sent our awning flying with great force over the roof of the van, ripping out the fixtures as it went.  That awning had survived some wild weather, particularly around coastal Tasmania.  It was hard to believe that events had taken this turn on this still and clear morning. 

We were stunned, but with help from our co-travellers, we resurrected what we could of the awning, and started to make the necessary calls.  Steve and Belinda went back to the Zoo for the day while we coordinated claims, repairers and accommodation.   It was clear that we were going to be in Dubbo for a while, and ironically not for the first time due to unforeseen circumstances.  Six months earlier we'd spent two weeks here while the van's suspension was repaired.  We decided to take advantage of the delay, and booked the Patrol into Dubbo Nissan for a regular service while we were biding our time.  

From our down-town caravan park site at Poplars, we waved goodbye to Steve and Belinda the next day with our traditional 'chux supercloth' wave as they continued on their holiday.   We thought it timely that Dubbo Nissan did the service to the car, as next came the news that Kym's step-dad, Kevin had finally succumbed to the prostrate cancer that had dogged him for the last few years.  A decision was made that Kym needed to be with his Mum and family, and so drive back to the Sunshine Coast, while Lyn stayed on in the caravan at the centrally placed Poplars awaiting the awning repairs.

Trials and tribulations yet again at Dubbo

Dubbo how we love you.  Kym didn't get as far as Narrabri before the Patrol came to a dead stop - no warning.  A call to Nissan service resulted in him being put up for the night in a motel in Narrabri.  The following morning, he accompanied the tow-ey as the Patrol was taken in the opposite direction from Dubbo to a Nissan approved workshop at Moree.  After consultation with the workshop, Nissan undertook to pay to have all the  injectors replaced.  With the repairs estimated to take several days due to awaiting shipment of parts, and not enough time remaining to continue his journey north to attend the funeral, Kym caught a bus south to reunite with Lyn and the van at Dubbo. 

When the call came for the all clear on the Patrol repairs, another bus took Kym back to Moree to pick it up.  Pleased to have his wheels back, he headed back to Dubbo yet again.  He didn't make it as far as Coonabarabran (less than 220 k's) before the car stopped dead, yet again.  Although on the Newell Highway again, this time the mobile phone service was inconsistent.  He managed to get some calls out to Nissan service, but was told it was too late and too difficult to arrange a tow that day.  It was around 5pm.  Fortunately Kym had got a call through to Lyn and she re-contacted Nissan service, giving his GPS location.  Thank God for a different consultant, whom we only know as 'John'.  He recognised the seriousness of sitting by the roadside in this area overnight, and managed to dispatch a tow-truck immediately.  Although well in the night when they arrived back to Dubbo, the tow-ey was also gracious in bringing Kym back to the caravan park, and patiently waited while we unloaded the freezer and other goods out of the Patrol, before he took it back to Dubbo Nissan.

Kym was bitterly disappointed that his trip home was thwarted, but the time and cost to return by any other means was not feasible.  He consoled his ache, by putting together some words in dedication to Kevin, gratefully accepted by his Mum, and read at the funeral.   Then began a patient but embittered wait to get the awning repaired, sort out the issues with the Patrol, and move on, both emotionally and by getting back on the road.  

Warren and Justine from Workabout Australia live just out of Dubbo.   During what turned out to be another two weeks wait, Warren took the time to take us out for a coffee, provide some empathy (as much as he could, being one of those 'Toyota' people), chat and laugh, and provide some local clues on where to shop, and keep ourselves entertained while without a vehicle.   It was Melbourne Cup day, so he had a local lunch to get to, and we decided to forget our woes for a while and follow suit with lunch out and a Cup viewing in one of Dubbo's central hotels.  With our luck running as it was, we decided against a bet, which was fortunate as our pick is still coming home.

The awning repair was one of those exasperating 'tradie' experiences that was all promises, and no follow-up communication, but it was eventually fixed, and covered by our insurers at Ken Tame and Assoc.  Much later we discovered that the slight displacement in the fitment of the new awning compared to the old, considerably effected the fitting of our annexe.   We eventually had an extra panel made so the annexe didn't have a gap in it.  There was also an issue of rainwater seepage inside the annexe due to the angle of the roller, that we'd not had previously. 

As for the Patrol, the diagnostics included lots of to-ing and fro-ing between the Dubbo service centre and Nissan service, and resulted in replacing yet another set of injectors as well as the common rail.  We were grateful, but not necessarily satisfied, as there was no rational explanation for what had caused two sets of injectors and the common rail to go in the first place.  The Dubbo service manager seemed to have a one-track mind that turned off beyond implicating the performance chip.   We've since been told on more informed authority, that the chip installed is Nissan approved, and in any case would not have had any bearing. 

We had major misgivings that the Patrol problems were truly resolved, and that merely replacing the parts was band-aiding something else.  We had come to Dubbo as a spring-board for a far west New South Wales experience that we were longing for.  We rationalised that it would be safer to first test the vehicle by touring in a radius closer to Dubbo for a while.  Out came the maps and we re-planned our Dubbo escape route at least for the first few days while we gained some confidence in our beloved Patrol.  Parkes, Trundle and Tullamore here we come. 

                                                                                                        Whiling away the hours at Poplars Caravan Park, central Dubbo

  

We follow the Darling River next