February 2021

The New Journey – Australia

After lots of delays, COVID, cancellations not to mention redundancies. we finally took delivery of our new home on wheels at Jayco Geelong. The van is a 2021 Journey Outback 19.6 non pop top this time.  Compared to our pop top this one is higher, longer, has more equipment and luxuries.

Day one

First trip for this adventure is a shakedown to find any niggles and or faults in the new van. Not wanting to travel to far from home we decided to head north to Lake Learmonth.  This is a small town just over an hour away which has received great feedback in the wikicamps app which we use all the time.  We also checked the forecast and all was to be good with a bit of sun and no rain. So Saturday morning in between some annoying rain showers we hooked up the van to the Landcruiser and off we went on the start of what will be a trial for our new lives as grey nomads for two or three years.

The drive was thankfully uneventful, the cruiser pulled the van with ease and if fact didn’t feel that different from our previous Journey pop top. 

Arriving in to Lake Learmonth is like driving in to most small country towns, quiet.  You would be forgiven if you thought it was Sunday but this was a Saturday afternoon and ok, we might have missed the Friday night rave and everyone’s sleeping it off but we have seen more people at a bus stop.  We do however spot as is our want, the local pub and it seems to be trading but is empty of course.  We make a mental note to return later then remember we have Max our Border Collie with us so looks like we won’t be partaking in pub drinks.

Dropping down off the Main Street greats us with a great view of the lake and what is a pretty small caravan park which though small is in very good condition as the reviews suggested it would be.  Kaz heads in to book us in and we have the choice of where we would like to set up camp..

Setting up we had a choice of sites we picked the Lake view. Little did we realise our mistake until later. We started to unpack when Steve headed off for a chat with the neighbours, returning 2  hours later ( yes I am exaggerating but it wasn’t 5 mins 😜) with invites for Beers later on. Then the lake breeze came and kept coming. This continued throughout the night and thankfully there was no rain with it but it felt like the van was at the top of Ben Nevis💨

Day2

Having survived the apocalypse we make the decision to move on and not stay for a second day of wind. We decided Bendigo would be between 23-30 deg the next few days,  lovely. Today would be Karens first drive with the new van attached. The Journey should be about 1 1/2 hours no issues……. Bloody google maps, don’t think they have any idea about caravans. So when we hit our first dirt track we had an opportunity to turnaround. The second not so much with a 25 kms detour. By the 3rd single track we both knew hugging it out at the end of the journey might be a little subdued this time….😘 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at the Big4 Ascot park.

We have stayed at the Big 4 Ascot before the new owners took it on just before COVID and they have done some really nice work Improving the place.  We are allocated our site and get offered a Stay 3 pay 2 night deal, perfect. Now our relationship gets tested again with the reversing/parking of the van – always a fun task but miracles can happen and it all
goes swimmingly. Maybe we should cancel those reversing and rear view cameras.
We settled in (hugged it out😜) max settled in as if this is how he has lived all his life.

We relaxed with a wine or two and prepped the Spaghetti Bolognese for the slow cooker and Garlic bread on the Weber – dinner done😁. Our big trip is going to be very different because we have Max.  Usually it is out to the pub or restaurants for dinners and the occasional BBQ.  It will definitely be a good different and I am sure we will find a pub or two that will welcome Max as well as us………beer gardens will be new norm.

Day3

This morning arrived bringing bright sunshine.  First job, taking Max for a walk then Weber on and bacon rolls for breakfast. Lovely sitting out in the sun.

After breakfast we head to ARB Bendigo as we need to get some equipment fitted to the cruiser. 

 We decided on a bull-bar, a snorkel for those river crossings, an oil catch can and a diesel fuel filter.  We did some other gear but soon we were up at $20K so shortened that list dramatically and after a bit off haggling agreed on what we wanted.   Most of the items have to be ordered and we will head back up to have them fitted when they have everything ready to go.

On the way back to White-hills we stopped off at Lake Weeroona and completed a lap which Max loved and with exercise completed we headed to one of our favourite places, the Beechworth Bakery and grabbed a couple of bee stings.  

By the time we return we have new neighbours from Sydney. They start chatting and one of the first topics is rugby and how we must have liked the result. (Scotland beat England at Twickenham) we soon discover he liked the result just as much as we did as they were originally from Wales.

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