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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The story so far

The story thus far… It’s taken us a while to get this blog up and running, so now it’s time to catch you up on the last month or so… Our first National Park stop was Bald Rock, just over the border into NSW. They’ve just increased the camping fees there, so it was actually cheaper to stay in a van park in Tenterfield – with power and hot showers!! We did a few short walks and Leanne was huffing and puffing – we weren’t too sure how all this bushwalking was going to go…

Mann River Nature Reserve… there really should be some warning as to how steep the road is. It’s a windy, steep, windy, steep, windy, steep road… We went down in first gear, but were confident we would be able to get back up the 10km in low range. As it turns out, we didn’t need to worry about that. The tow truck did all the hard work for us.

... 600m down a mountain, no phone coverage on the Easter long weekend. So there we were, sitting on our deckchairs watching another carload of drug runners roar past (on the old Glen Innes Grafton Road - Mann River Nature Reserve... great free camping by a small river). We were in a pickle.

Earlier that afternoon we had decided to go for a bit of a 4WD bush bash to a lookout, so we put the hubs in, engaged low range and with a puff of smoke, much exhilaration and wind in our hair (well Leanne's anyway) we set off. Things were going beautifully - see the attached clip - when all of a sudden, nearing our destination the groan of the tired old HummerRoo became a loud, disconcerting moan of mechanical agony.

'Oh dear' said Dazz... 'oh bother' said Leanne. He changed gears and poked forward. Same moan. He put it in reverse. Even worse. He rolled it in neutral. Futile.

Dazz awakened the bush mechanic within (himself, not Leanne), jacked the back wheels up on rocks and dove (yes that is the past tense for dive) under the grimey underbelly of the Jackaroo to hear where said moan was originating. The bush mechanic's lovely assistant turned the back wheels and the noise was determined to be coming from the newly reconditioned gear box... so why did we bother planning ahead to avoid such a situation!!!

Bush mechanic narrowly avoided being bitten by the scorpion he was lying on under the car, exticated the rocks and decided there was no other option than to slowly roll back down the 6km of hill to the camp. The end.

Just kidding.

On the way down a creative and constructive discussion was had as to whether to approach nearby houses of purported hippies. With much fear and trepidation Leanne watched as her beloved disappeared around a driveway bend, and then heard the bloodthirsty howls of distant hounds. He was told that the phones were out - a supposed lightening strike a few days before (I have suspicions that it may have been Darren kicking the poly pipe that contained phone cabling, thinking it was old stuff he could use to build an extension on the van with the previous day). Apparently there was a working phone at a shop 2kms down a side road. Unfortunately said side road had a big Keep Out sign that someone was not prepared to flout with (turns out that's just to deter constabulary looking for tomato bushes).

So, on limping back at camp, and we noticed the cars belonging to day trippers from Glen Innes we'd talked to earlier were still there.

Our pickle was do we ask them, or should Dazz hitchhike to the top of the hill with one of the suspected drug running vehicles to call NRMA and then hitchhike back down with another one. Eventually the former option was decided on and when the locals returned from their swim help was solicited and all pertinent RACQ membership details were given. 'No worries mate'.

So we waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, right in the middle of Dazz's afternoon nap the following day the tow truck arrived. Fortunately neither of us were concerned about how they might get our car and van back up the mountain to the highway, because our car and van have both been on a tow truck before. (We're collecting frequent tower miles.) Dazz told our neighbours to tell the rest of the campers that we'd just won lotto and were having this lot towed to the dump, and our new rig is waiting for us in town.

A very slow crawl up a mountanside in 2nd gear for 12kms, and then we flew down the highway back into town.

Now, at RACQ's pleasure, we are happily using fee power for our computers, and having nice long hot showers at the Fossickers Caravan Park in Glen Innes while the car goes under the knife (its collecting frequent knifing points). It will probably get looked at tomorrow (Wednesday) by the Holden service people in town, and then they'll talk to Tmba Gearbox & Clutch to figure out who will fix it (hopefully all under warranty and at no cost to us).

So, that's the first week of our trip over and done with. We declined RACQ's offer of a hire car because there is an annual $3300 benefit limit, and we want to save ours for future towing and van park accomodation.

Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter in our lives... on our walk around town last night we did notice that an old convent is for sale in town... hmmm... what could we do with an old convent...

We really enjoyed our nine nights in Glen Innes courtesy of RACQ. We walked up and down picturesque old streets with autumn leaves, did a few things to the van that we hadn’t got around to before we left, bought reduced to clear stuff from BiLo almost everyday, enjoyed the 240V power, showers and a water tap outside the door, Dazz caught up on his admin from last semester and we generally had a very relaxing time.

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and we were on the road again… one night in a rest area and then on to the Warrumbungles.

We did a warm up walk of three or four hundred metres up hill for a view of the general area. Leanne’s knees were all strapped up in her heavy duty knee braces and she made it up and down with no pain… maybe bushwalking would be okay afterall. So, the next day it was a 15.5km walk up past the Bread Knife, Grand High Tops, and back around a loop track. It was the most perfect day. Beautiful temperature, no clouds in the sky and stunning views.

After a few days it was on to the Coolah Tops National Park. Some great forests and a really nice drive, but it was really hazy so the views weren’t as good as they could have been. The grass tree forest was amazing.

We spent a few days at Myall Lakes National Park on the coast. It was a bit wet, but we did fit in a 10km kayak one day.

We've spent the last few days with friends in Swansea and have both been a bit sick, so no fancy photos or kayaking adventures to report from here.