Our Caravan Mods – from Cafe Seating to Recliners

We’re almost done!

When I say ‘almost’, I mean we can use it as is. We still need to finish off some trim (waiting for our order to arrive), create the lift-up flap on the counter top, and round the counter edge near the door.

But it’s close enough… and we’ve put a whole heap of photos here on our website to show you the step-by-step process.




Days 15-20 Porepunkah and Bright

We probably wouldn’t have thought of staying at Porepunkah (near Bright) if Don Corliss hadn’t urged us to come visit. Don and Denise do the relief manager’s job at Porepunkah Pines Caravan Park, so they know the area well. Now that we’ve been there, we’ll go back and stay another time – Porepunkah is a lovely little town just a few km from Bright, and handy to all sorts of attractions in the Alpine area.

You can read more about Porepunkah Pines and the surrounding attractions here:


There’s a delightful little walking track that winds its way along beside the Ovens river. It takes only 10-15 minutes to walk from the caravan park into Porepunkah, where you can enjoy coffee and a meal at the Rail Trail cafe or have a meal at the pub. Our site allowed us to sit looking out at the river and the suspension bridge, so we could watch walkers and bike riders while we relaxed outside the caravan. The colours in Autumn are just stunning – brings back memories of growing up in Bathurst, when you really knew when it was autumn!

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There are several small towns around here: you can go back to Eurobin or Myrtleford or move on to Bright and Harrietville. Our stay coincided with the Bright Autumn Festival, so accommodation was at a premium… if you decide to time your visit to go to the festival, it might be a good idea to book ahead!


Bright makes an effort to include as many of the town businesses and attractions as possible in the festival program, so you can entertain yourselves over a whole week instead of just a weekend (or one day). In the days leading up to Gala Day (Saturday) we visited the Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm and the Bright Berry Farm, as well as the Wedding Belles Display (wedding dresses through the years) and the Art and Craft display at Wandiligong. Unfortunately we arrived in the area a couple of days too late for the associated Wandi Nut Festival (the previous weekend) – it sounds like it would have been great!

If you’re interested for next year, here’s the Festival site: http://www.brightautumnfestival.org.au/

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I also meant to fit in a tour of some of the open gardens, but just ran out of time! (If you’re a keen gardener, you’ll enjoy this aspect of the festival.)

Gala Day at the festival, on Saturday, was excellent! I knew that the Grand Parade was due to start at 1.45, so I thought we might go in at around 10-ish, spend an hour browsing around the street stalls, and then maybe duck back to the park for a few hours before the parade. Well…that didn’t happen! There was so much to see and do that there simply wasn’t time to go back to the van. Music galore (buskers and bands) kept everyone entertained, and there were SO many stalls. I really liked the way the stalls lined the roads in front of the everyday businesses in Bright, so visitors wound in and out of shops and stalls all day. We caught up with other caravanners, had coffee and a quick snack for lunch, and really enjoyed the parade. There’s a great sense of community in Bright, and you can see it reflected in the festival. I could easily go back and do it all again… which is surely the sign of a good festival!

Marie, on the site next door, bought a gorgeous alpaca blanket for under $100 – she says she would have paid two or three times as much if she’d bought it retail.



Rob was keen to do a day trip to Mt Buffalo, so I went along with it even though I’m not keen on winding mountain roads! I’m so glad I went along: it was one of the highlights of our trip to the area. We passed keen cyclists powering their way up the road (sitting DOWN. I don’t believe it. Who cycles up a mountain road without having to stand up and pedal? The kind of cyclists who find their way to the Alpine area, that’s who.) We were amused when we called into the Dingo’s Den coffee shop at Mt. Buffalo to see a sign on the glass wall near the comfy corner lounge saying ‘Please – no food & no lycra in this area’! I asked the guy behind the counter if it was okay for us to go and sit there with our coffee, and he said it was fine because we looked like responsible adults, adding: “It’s just kids who drop food down behind the cushions, or those stinky bike riders in their lycra sitting on it!”

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The views from Mount Buffalo are truly magnificent. We took a gazillion photos and short videos from the various viewing platforms, and amused ourselves watching abseilers of various degrees of competency having a shot at rappelling down the cliff face. The place was quite busy when we were there, which made it all the more interesting. Highly recommended!

We stayed at Porepunkah for six days before moving on to Yackendandah. This is just one of the most BEAUTIFUL areas – we’ll be back for sure, and I can see how this could easily become a favourite. We ran into a caravanner from Melbourne who said he’d been holidaying in the area for decades, and said he never tires of coming back… that returning to Bright/Porepunkah was like ‘slipping into a pair of comfortable old shoes’.

Why haven’t we been down this way before??? 🙂

Days 12-14 Wangaratta

This was a ‘catching up wth friends’ few days: on our first day Debbie (previous owner of our Royal Flair) called in with a fistful of brochures to let us know what was on in and around Wangaratta – and to invite us to dinner the next night!

Debbie is a keen and accomplished cook, so dinner was a treat – a delicious lasagne. (Yum. My unfortunate children grew up thinking that all lasagne was meant to be kind of crunchy around the edges. We won’t talk about the black bits.) We also got to see Debbie and Ron’s new baby: their Elite van, outfitted ready for free camping and well-laid out inside. Lovely! (I agree with Debbie: I would have gone for the purple flashes rather than orange, too.) We had a great night, chatting non-stop, and managed to fit in a Skype call to Ron (who was away working) as well.



Earlier that day we met up with caravanning friends Hans and Linda, too, over at Milawa. They were staying with friends, and we caught up at the Milawa Cheese Factory for coffee and (you guessed it) more chat. We saw some absolutely gorgeous vintage cars pull in – wow, these are AMAZING.

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While we were out that way, we decided to take a look at Brown Bros. Winery. Rob took a good look at the oak casks, and we tried to educate our palates about wine! The premises are great, with wine-tastings and outdoor lounges for you to relax on the grass.



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We’d also heard that Brown Bros encourage RVers to stay overnight across the road. We checked out the camping, and found that there’s an area at one end of the car park set aside for RVs: you’re welcome to stay ‘for a night or two’. You need to be fully self-contained, but right across the road you have a wonderful winery and restaurant, wine-tastings, and plenty of areas to sit or lounge about with friends.

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Our visit to Wangaratta coincided with Anzac Day, and Debbie had left us details of the various Anzac day events. Rob opted to go to the 11 o’clock march and public memorial service. He reported that there were probably a couple of thousand people there, including representatives of local service organisations and schools.

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Days 8-11 Berwick and Seymour


Following a recommendation from Don Corliss, we decided to stay at the showground at Berwick for a few days, and incorporate a trip to Melbourne.

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Berwick showground was fine – a good base for what we wanted to do, which was a Jayco Factory tour (we’d heard from several people that it was really interesting, whether you’re buying a Jayco or not) and catch a train to Melbourne for a day. We met some lovely people there: Ray and Linda, who had some great tales to tell about their adventures around Australia! They do a lot of free camping… and I roped them into having their photo taken with gaffer tape for an upcoming ‘Better Half’ column for Caravan & Motorhome Magazine! LOL. Here’s the photo:

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Now…that day trip to Melbourne.

I have one word to say here: MYKI!!!!

Being New South Welshmen, we had NO IDEA what a Myki card was. I assume it must be the equivalent to the NSW Opal card. However… we assumed (foolish people) that we would be able to buy a ticket from Beaconsfield (near Berwick) to Melbourne easily. Just key in destination, return, status (senior) and bingo! a ticket.

No, not so. We discovered that the Vic Rail system is not visitor-friendly. We had to buy a full-fare Myki card each, but then found (when we got to Melbourne and went to see the Info desk) that when we thought we were paying enough for the day return fare to Melbourne – full fare – that $6 of it actually was wiped out immediately by the one-time Myki card purchase. Bummer. So instead of the $2.50 all-inclusive day fare that we would have paid (each) in Sydney, we ended up paying $15 each for various fares to Melbourne and back. Vic Rail… you need to make it easier for visitors!

Anyway, we wandered around the centre of Melbourne for a bit, had coffee, visited the Shot Tower Museum, went to see THE BOSS with the divine Melissa McCarthy, and went home. A nice day out, all in all.

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We really enjoyed this. We were so glad that we included it in our itinerary. Be warned, there’s a LOT of walking. Wear comfortable shoes (you have to wear enclosed footwwear anyway) and make sure you book ahead. It was fascinating not only to hear the Jerry Ryan story, but to see the factory assembly lines in operation. You’ll be able to see vans and motorhomes under construction from the chassis to the final product ready for shipping to distributors. Highly recommended!

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We’d heard from others that Seymour was a lovely little free camp (thanks, Trina and Ray!) so we decided to stay there for a day before moving on to Wangaratta. And it lived up to expectations! The weather was cold, but we had rugs and beanies and diesel heating, and a tranquil river scene right outside the door, so we were happy! If you’re looking for free camps, don’t go past Seymour. You do need to be fully self-contained: no facilities here at all.

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Days 6-7 Traralgon


We can’t get over how nice the sites are that we’re getting so far! The Olive Grove was fabulous, of course; Bombala and Marlo were excellent grassy sites in a nice location, and now Traralgon… the gardener said as he drove around “You’ve got the second best site in the park!”

We were on what was known as the ‘willow tree site’ – highly recommended: ask for it if you check in! It’s like having your own grassy back garden with a willow tree growing in it.


(What was the ‘first best’ site? One with another little garden area, right next to the amenities. Which, by the way, were excellent – ensuite style!)


Basically, at Traralgon we just took a deep breath and had a few quiet days, but we did (being caravanners!) walk to the nearby caravan dealership to look at what was on offer. (John Grant’s caravans, in case you’re interested). We’ll never get sick of looking at caravans! We did like the one with a central bathroom, opening into both the bedroom and the living area. There was one there that caught our eye because it had recliner chairs, but when we tried sitting down, we found that the tri-fold table that let down between the chairs was far too high! It was probably set at cafe-style-seating height, but as we all know, recliners are much lower than cafe seating – it was like sitting down to eat at a table that came up to your chin! (Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much.) Sometimes I wonder whether caravan designers actually try out living in a caravan with their designs… LOL

NEXT… on to Berwick!

Days 3-5 Bombala and Marlo


While we were venturing south, we just HAD to include Bombala on our travels…Rob was posted there with the (then) Bank of NSW (now Westpac), and we spent the first 3 years of our married life there. Our eldest son, Brendan, was born in Bombala.

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Right next to the Bombala River, Bombala Caravan Park is small but well-maintained, with excellent facilities (even with a timed heater!). A walk across the bridge will take you to the township – just as sleepy as we remembered it all those years ago! – and there’s a lovely river walk you can do. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a platypus or two.

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We couldn’t resist taking a photo of the house we lived in for 3 years. Now privately owned (it was a bank house) it has been looked after and looks like a lovely little family home.


The autumn leaves were spectacular when we were there. A nice little stopover if you’re in the area.


From Bombala we moved on to Marlo, on the Victorian coast near Orbost, following the mountain road via Cann River. Marlo is almost as sleepy as Bombala, and a delight for fishermen. That, of course, ruled out Rob, but we enjoyed our few days there anyway!

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We did a day trip to Orbost, and were lucky enough to catch an excellent display put on by the local Historical Society, outlining the history of rail in the area. Orbost has taken the trouble to create a delightful tourist area near the info centre, which itself is in an original slab hut which was relocated to its present site.

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There are quite a few free camping spots along the road between Marlo and Orbost: take the time to scout these first… a few, we noticed, were a lot closer to the road than others. One or two were nicely tucked away a short distance from the road.

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Days 1-2 Braidwood

And off we go!!!!



First stop: Braidwood – Days 1 & 2

What better way to start a trip than to visit caravanning friends? On their own olive grove, no less!

Here we are ‘free camping’ at the Morans’….

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Kerry and Paul are wonderful hosts, and spoiled us completely with amazing food and lots of fun and laughter. We loved visiting their olive grove and finding out all about the ins and outs of growing olives and producing olive oil. We set up near the house, but scarcely saw the inside of our caravan – the Moran’s ‘restaurant’ seemed permanently open for business!

Just to make you jealous, some highlights of Kerry and Paul’s cooking included:

Day 1: Dinner…veal in a cream sauce followed by cherry pie

Day 2: Breakfast….toast with a light scrape of chilli sauce, topped with smoked salmon, capers and two poached freshly-laid eggs (courtesy of the chooks Roxanne, Rosalie, Rowena and Rhonda), with a side of home-grown cherry tomatoes and bacon…garnished with a sprig of parsley

Day 2 Dinner: Paul’s home-made pasta with a delicious sauce cooked by Kerry.

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Now, I don’t want you to think that this visit was all about food! We walked around the olive grove and found out all about the challenges faced by olive growers: the pests such as the lace bug and the King Parrots and other bird life that liked to have a taste of the olives before harvest, the need to get olives to the press quickly so they won’t start to decay, the way water is monitored and fed to the trees… so interesting. And after hearing it all, I corralled Kerry and found out all the info that I needed to set the next Georgie book on an olive grove! Nothing like brainstorming with the owners of an olive grove – and Kerry came up with a great twist! (But don’t ask her what it is; she’s sworn to secrecy.)

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Kerry and I ventured into Braidwood for a shopping expedition (mainly for bread, but how could I resist the mug that said: “I could give up chocolate, but I’m not a quitter”? (Rob was thrilled. He keeps saying to me, “Marg, if there’s one thing we need, it’s more mugs for the caravan…” 😉


And guess what? Kerry actually has a paving stone with her name on it in the local park that celebrates local families! Not many people can say that…

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The 2 days with the Morans just flew by, and made a great start to our trip. Next, we’re off to Bombala.


2016 Main Trip – Victoria, NSW and Qld

Day 1: About Blogging….

Before we set out on our main trip for 2016, I assured everyone that I was going to be a lot more diligent about updating our blog and making Facebook posts, so family and friends could follow our travels and know what we were up to. Well…I’ve done half of that! I have been posting to Facebook, but we all know the problem with FB: it’s an exercise in frustration to try to scroll back through the days, weeks, months and years to find the posts if you want to look back! That’s where a blog comes into its own.

We’ve now been on the road for almost a month (yeah, I know…Marg cringes with embarrassment) and it’s only now, holed up in the caravan at Gundagai with rain pattering on the roof, that I’m finally getting around to catching up on my blog posts! It’s actually Mother’s Day today, and after Rob bringing me breakfast in bed I read for a while, played Words With Friends, had a late shower, made coffee, and finally here I am, POSTING TO THE BLOG!

What I’m going to do is create a series of posts to reflect our trip so far, and backdate them appropriately so they’ll be in order. I’ll also file all posts from this trip under 2016 Main Trip.

Even though we’re in Gundagai as I write this, I’ll make this post No. 1 and date it from the beginning of our trip…the day we left: April 11!

We haven’t had much of a chance to explore Gundagai yet, after reaching here yesterday and setting up on a lovely riverside site (at the Gundagai Riverside Park, of course.) Yesterday we just basked in the sun and relaxed; today we’re still relaxing…but inside, out of the rain! Here are a few pics (the second one shows our new collapsible bucket from Aldi being put to good use catching drips from the awning as the rain comes down):



Happy 2016 and Planning Travels

HappyNewYearAfter a relaxed New Year’s Day yesterday (much of which was spent talking about our 2016 travel plans) we’re spending part of today blocking in the year on the road. WHICH IS SO MUCH FUN!

We plan to kick off in April with a trip to Victoria. We haven’t actually seen a lot of Victoria so far, except for parts along the Murray, so we decided that should be on the agenda before we head north for the winter. Rob’s busy with his trip planner, and our itinerary might change, but at the moment Yackandandah is on the list (because we saw a TV show about it) and we’ll fit in a Jayco factory tour after hearing from people about how interesting it was. Then we’ll make our way to Grawin and Opalton to meet up with friends, and then on to Sapphire. We’ll probably duck across to Airlie Beach and visit family… and since we’ve put off visits to Wonga Beach, near Port Douglas, on several occasions, I’d love to go there too. But.. we’ll see.

Memories of 2015

Too many memories to count! But here are a few (well, more than a few!) photos… (you can click on them to view in a larger size)

Vintage Caravans Shellharbour

The moment I heard that there was a gathering of vintage vans at Shellharbour Caravan Park, I couldn’t wait to get over there and take a few pics. I’m heading back on over there in a couple of days to catch some more, but here’s a sample:

  1. Sandy and Ray – these were the first two I ran into, busy setting up their 1965 Viscount Dural. I could not BELIEVE the condition of this caravan – it is absolutely immaculate. Sandy tells me that the owners just took it away for a couple of weeks each year, and the rest of the time it stayed garaged. No wonder it’s so perfect both inside and outside. Ray and Sandy fired up the ORIGINAL fridge and it worked first go! Here are a few pics:

Ray and Sandy’s 1965 Viscount Dural


Vintage 1965 Viscount Dural

Sandy and Ray set up their 1965 Viscount Dural


Sandy says the original fridge worked the first time they switched it on!

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