148 nights of full-time life on road memorable experiences bring practical change

November 09, 2014
148 nights of full-time life on road memorable experiences bring practical change

By Alan, Pam and Chloe

Our last full-time life on the road adventure to Go Make Some Memories finished with us at Wellington, South Australia, waiting out as a series of severe weather events which marched east through South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

The weather was BAD, the wind had the caravan rocking a few times but we were OK as the caravan was still hooked on to the Ute and we had parked in behind an iron fence for protection from the storm squalls and rain. Now we are at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park. On average we spend $25.35 a night on caravan park campsites. That is $177 a week. We have travelled 2608km. Of the 148 nights we free camped two nights. One of the two free camp nights was spent in the backyard of the home of friends.

Wellington is one of the oldest towns on the River Murray (1838) the site of the first river crossing ferry. South Australia's oldest working hotel is opposite the caravan park. It is famous for its steaks.

Alan at work Wellington, SA.
Alan at work Wellington, SA.

Wellington, 1h 15mins S.E. of Adelaide, is the eastern gateway to the Fleurieu Peninsula, which borders the Murraylands, Mallee and Coorong regions, where the river Murray flows into Lake Alexandrina. It is a small privately owned and operated park with un-regimented shady lawned sites and a friendly atmosphere.

We did manage to get out to take Chloe for a walk and while doing this we found a nice coffee shop in a National Trust building. The old courthouse building at the ferry has been purchased from the National Trust and has undergone major renovations to now include cafe, museum and B&B it looks great. The Wellington Courthouse Café, Museum and B&B is at 678 Mason St.

The weather finally settled after three days and we moved on to Milang checking into Milang Lakeside Caravan Park for a week.

Leafy Milang Lakeside Caravan Park has many trees and heaps of bird life. Lake Alexandrina, is Australia’s biggest permanent fresh water lake system.It is about 60 minutes’ drive from Adelaide and 15 minutes from Goolwa and Milang. The premier wine growing districts of Langhorne Creek and Currency Creek are handy too.

Milang’s history includes the splash and colour of Australia’s paddle steamer trade on the Murray-Darling and related navigable feeder streams. Milang was once a thriving river port but is now attracts those who seek to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the area.

Activities and attractions in the Milang area include:

Sailing and power boating.

Windsurfing/Kite sailing.

Fishing.

Tennis and lawn bowls.

Rail museum.

Wineries.

Hotel with excellent dining.

Country bakery.

Campsite Milang Lakeside Caravan Park SA.
Campsite Milang Lakeside Caravan Park SA.

Milang Lakeside Caravan Park Lake has a great outlook over the expanse of Lake Alexandrina. It is a supporting park of GoSeeAustralia.

The steam train was puffing about when we visited Goolwa. Goolwa is really interesting when it is busy with steam locomotion and a thriving local market.

We drove over the bridge which was opened in 2001 to Hindmarsh Island. The bridge was the focus of national controversy when the Ngarrindjeri and some landowners objected to its construction. It was alleged that the Ngarrindjeri objectors fabricated the cultural significance of the island (the Secret Women's Business) in order to help fight the development.

A later Royal Commission decided that the Secret Women's Business was made up. Construction was blocked by the Keating Government but given the go-ahead by the Howard Government in 1996. Five years after the Royal Commission findings, the Ngarrindjeri, who had stated the bridge desecrated sites sacred to women were vindicated. Narinyeri still live on private land on the west side of the island in Alberto Forest which is planted with Aleppo Pines. Ngarrindjeri was originally the name of the language group. Europeans used it as a collective name for the Lakinyeri following colonisation.

Variations in spelling are common due to their use as family group names and include Narinyerrie, Narrin’yerree, Narrinjeri and Narrinyeri. In Ngarrindjeri grammar the –nyeri -ndjeri suffix means belonging to a specific place or area. The name Kukabrak also refers to the tribes of the Lower Lakes, however the name Narrinyeri/Ngarrindjeri was popularised in the 19th century by missionary George Taplin (1849). Taplin says Narrinyeri refers to Tribes of

Barbecue area Milang Lakeside Caravan Park SA.
Barbecue area Milang Lakeside Caravan Park SA.

Aborigines inhabiting the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert and Lower Murray.

The Hindmarsh Island River Murray Lookout in the south-west of the island gives a view to the mouth of the Murray River. This is a great area to visit and we enjoyed a walk on the sand. We also got a glimpse of a couple of seals in the water.

The first European to visit Hindmarsh Island was explorer Captain Charles Sturt in 1830 when he sighted the Murray mouth. In February 1830, Sturt’s exploration party reached a large lake which Sturt called Lake Alexandrina. A few days later, they reached the sea. There they made the disappointing discovery that the mouth of the Murray was a maze of lagoons and sandbars, impassable to shipping.

Goolwa is Australia’s first inland port (1853) built to allow cargo to be transferred from river craft to ocean going vessels via Port Elliot thus avoiding the dangers of the Murray mouth to shipping. The historic river port is a favourite holiday destination, particularly for people from nearby South Australian capital Adelaide.

Goolwa is experiencing a serious ‘sea change’ which challenges authorities to manage a balance of services to a growing population while protecting the ambience which draws newcomers to Goolwa.

It is the gateway to the internationally significant wetlands of the Coorong National Park and the Murray River and lakes system. Goolwa is also recognised as the nation's small boat capital, and hosts the biennial Wooden Boat Festival. It's a town tailored for water sport worshippers.

Milang flies  flag.
Milang flies flag.

Milang is an interesting place too with lots of beach shacks with a long history. We are told people with ‘power’ are trying their hardest to get rid of these places but the owners are not going quietly. We enjoyed our time in Milang as the weather started to improve and we even spent some days working outside and we cooked on Oz Pig which was a welcome change from being ‘house bound’ because of the weather.

From Milang we went onto Victor Harbour for a week. We checked into Victor Harbour Holiday and Cabin Park on South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula.

Victor Harbor Holiday and Cabin Park is five minutes’ walk from the beach and about 10 minute stroll to the town centre. The park carries a GoSee Australia Pet Friendly logo and GSA's RV Friendly logo which says Big Rigs to 20 metres can find a campsite.

Victor Harbor has a lot to see and do:

Swimming and surfing at local, beautiful beaches.

Greenhills Adventure Park where there is fun for the whole family.

Whale and dolphin watching cruises.

Penguin spotting and Wildlife parks.

McLaren Vale Wineries.

Scenic steam trains rides.

Fishing charters.

Golf courses.

Fishing, Boating, Sailing.

Take a ride on the horse-drawn tram to Granite Island and take the well formed walking track around the  island. There are plenty of photo opportunities on the Granite Island walk.

See the Murray Mouth, and visit the nearby towns of Goolwa, Middleton and Port Elliot.

Victor Harbour Holiday and Cabin Park racers.
Victor Harbour Holiday and Cabin Park racers.

One of the main reasons we went to Victor Harbour was our annual attendance at the SA Caravan Parks Conference. This is a one and a half day’s conference with two dinners in the evening which are always exceptional for the friendly company, fine food and wines. They are a particular pleasure for us because of the friends old and new we meet and make.

We did lots of work at this year’s conference and Pam learnt a lot about www.GoSeeAustralia.com.au as she met lots of new people. We were both tired after these busy days.

Chloe was a lucky girl as on the one full day of the conference she got to stay at a local vet’s for the day. When we enquired about this service they said that she would be in a cage for most of the day with a few walks – when we went back to collect her at the end of the day she was busy walking around the reception area as if she owned it!

Sadly Chloe left us recently, but our friend is still with us in spirit because we made so many happy memories as we travelled together.

After our week at Victor Harbour it was time to move again so we went on to Adelaide's Levi Park. Ten minutes from Adelaide CBD Levi Park Caravan Park's location makes it an ideal base from which to explore Adelaide, Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.

On the banks of the River Torrens, Levi Park Caravan Park has a quiet ambiance with old growth trees and rose gardens throughout the park.

Things to see and do include:

Adelaide Event & Exhibition Centre.

Kart Mania Indoor Go-kart Racing.

Adelaide Aquatic Centre.

Ice Arena.

Aboriginal Art Gallery.

Adelaide Central Gallery and a large number or other galleries.

Adelaide Gaol Historic Site.

Adelaide Zoo.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary.

Amberainbow Pony Rides.

Barossa Valley Wineries and Restaurants.

Excellent Shopping and Markets.

National Parks and Gardens.

Theatres and Cinemas.

Anyone for Chess at Levi Park, Adelaide, SA.
Anyone for Chess at Levi Park, Adelaide, SA.

We checked in for a week. Levi is a lovely park with beautiful gardens and they have an area around the oval with eight powered sites that are used for people with dogs. This area worked well for us as we only had to walk out a gate onto the oval to take Chloe for a walk.

If we wanted to go for a walk along the river then we had two options – we could walk out the ‘back gate’ and then walk along the river OR we could walk through the park on the main road out the gate to the river. The park requested that dogs are not walked right through the park which is a great idea.

Also whilst at Levi Park we picked up more work and also had some friends from Victoria came to stay and catch up. While we had friends staying we decided to have a day at Glenelg with them so this meant finding somewhere for Chloe for the day.

We found ‘Doggy Day Care’ in Adelaide – this is a professional, caring, secure option for dogs during the day. They do not do overnight stays but it was great – Chloe did not know what she was in for at the start but ended up having a good time and was exhausted when she got home.

We also went to the Top Tourist Parks Conference in Adelaide.

This was interesting and enjoyable. We ran a Top Tourist Park many years ago and the conference allowed us to catch up with some old friends as well as make new ones. As the conference was for three days and three nights we needed to find someone to look after Chloe for that time and Levi Park were helpful with a name and number.

So we rang Trevor ‘The Dog Sitter” and he was happy and able to take Chloe for this time. Trevor lives on the other side of Adelaide in a converted warehouse and the dogs have the run of the place. Chloe was very happy with this arrangement and spent three wonderful days with Trevor, was allowed to sleep on the bed with him and even had her own hot water bottle. Trevor also minds dogs for people on a daily/hourly basis so Chloe had to ‘share’ but this seemed to go well too.

Lake Charlegrark Sunset.
Lake Charlegrark Sunset.

After three weeks at Levi it was time to hit to road again – we really enjoyed our time in Adelaide.

We decided we would have an easy trip from South Australia to Victoria so we drove to Lake Charlegrark near Kaniva and spent two nights. The Lake area is set up as a caravan park we were the only ones and that was OK with us.

Strong winds blew in so we had a quiet day around camp. We went for a couple of walks and cooked tea on the open fire. The cost at Lake Charlegrark is only $7 per person a night.

Halls Gap Lakeside was our next campsite. Pam enjoyed a nice change when she explored the Grampians National Park with friends who joined us for the weekend. Pam loves gardens so she took her green fingers to the gardens around Halls Gap Lakeside. This is a happy memory for her.

With real experience living on the road under our belt we returned to Geelong where we began our full-time life on the road months before. Nothing improves focus as much as experience.

There were many things in the Ute and caravan we realize we did not need and things in storage that we had to have.

So we booked into pleasant Barwon River Tourist Park.

Barwon River Tourist Park is Geelong’s most central Tourist Park on the banks of the Barwon River. The park is minutes from the waterfront, CBD, restaurants, Skilled Stadium and The Great Ocean Road, including Australias most popular surf beaches. Next door are lawn tennis courts. Swimming pools are close by too. It was nice to get back to ‘our’ coffee shop in Belmont.

Things to see and do in the area:

Rowing, water-skiing on the Barwon River.

Walking tracks along the river.

Watch a game of football at Skilled Stadium.

See the Bollards at Eastern Beach.

Enjoy great swimming beaches.

Horse racing at Geelong Racing Club.

Dine at fine restaurants.

Pool time Barwon River Tourist Park, Geelong Victoria.
Pool time Barwon River Tourist Park, Geelong Victoria.

While at Geelong, we stayed a few nights in a Melbourne Hotel while we commuted daily to Sandown to take part in presenting free seminars at the Melbourne Leisurefest. Melbourne Leisurefest was huge and very successful.

We almost wore out our MYKI cards as we used the excellent rail service to commute first from Geelong and then from Melbourne CBD to the Melbourne Leisurefest venue at Sandown Racecourse.

We then travelled to Goulburn River Tourist Park in Seymour.

Goulburn River Tourist Park is on seven riverside acres, in the heart of Seymour in Victoria.

Seymour is situated on the Goulburn River at the base of the Tallarook Ranges, between Nagambie, Broadford, Euroa and Yea.

The park is an hour or so from Melbourne, but offers a peaceful, natural environment a far from city stresses

This upgraded Goulburn river-side Tourist Park is handy to the many attractions of the surrounding country areas.

Seymour and nearby attractions include:

Fishing, boating and canoeing in the Goulbourn River.

Seymour’s Vietnam War Memorial Wall.

Picturesque walking trails.

Parkland with picnic areas.

Avenel Maze, 17 km north-east of Seymour.

Learn about bushranger Ned Kelly.

RAAC Memorial and Army Tank Museum at Puckapunyal military base.

Seymour Railway Heritage Centre.

Old Post Office restored as a restaurant and Fine Art Gallery, featuring original paintings and quality craft by acclaimed Australian artists.

Fowles Winery, Cellar Door and Restaurant in Avenel.

Rocky Passes Estate - Winery, Cellar door, Café.

Numerous hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Three supermarkets.

Boating, Goulburn River Tourist Park.
Boating, Goulburn River Tourist Park.

Nearby Nagambie is the home of the new bronze statue of race horse Black Caviar;

As well as the famous Wineries of Tahbilk and Mitchelton

While in Seymour we also visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Walk which is a remarkable tribute to all those who served in that war. It has now been extended to acknowledge Victoria Cross recipients. Mitchell Shire, local Council, is building a new Information Centre at the West end of it. At the eastern end, bus and caravan parking will be provided and planning is underway for a public dump point.

GoSeeAustralia.com.au was also privileged to pick up a major sponsorship from the Victorian Caravan Industry Association who asked us to provide regular blogs and pictures of our travels to promote their ‘Go Make Some Memories’ campaign. Now the Ute and caravan carry ‘what are you waiting for? Go Make Some Memories’ signage.

From Seymour, we returned to Halls Gap for a few weeks to prepare our free seminar presentations for the three-day Bendigo Leisurefest from November 21 to 23 at Bendigo Racecourse. We now have Go Make Some Memories commitments there and at the new Melbourne Caravan & Camping Supershow in February at Melbourne Showgrounds (replacing the usual March Long weekend Caulfield show) so probably won’t be far away till after that.

Over 21 weeks gas bottle refills average out at about $5 a week. Gas is always used for cooking and sometimes for hot water. When the caravan is run from its solar panels the fridge is on gas. A Truma gas heater set on 13 deg. was used each night through the cold of the Southern Australia winter weeks while touring through the Murray River caravan parks into South Australia.

There is little cost difference between the gas and diesel version of the Truma heater in the actual purchase price. But Alan did not want to have to find space for the fuel tank which comes with the diesel heater so a decision was made to go with gas.

Chloe guards pet friendly campsite at  Levi Park, Adelaide.
Chloe guards pet friendly campsite at Levi Park, Adelaide.

Editor’s note: Chloe died of a heart attack in late October.

Reflecting on her passing Alan said:

“It is our duty as a pet owner to ensure our faithful companions live an active, healthy and comfortable life”.

“Early this week our Chloe suffered a seizure then heart attack only 50 meters into her morning walk. We were able to revive her but her breathing was restricted. She could barely walk. We had to consider her quality of life”.

“Did she still enjoy her favourite activity, sleep comfortably without being anxious?”

“Did she have quality of life, good hygiene and was free of pain and aches?”

“We travelled to the local veterinary clinic. They immediately took us in to examine Chloe”.

“We discussed our options and appreciated their professionalism and caring attitude. We had to decide what was best for her. She was peacefully put to sleep in our arms without any further suffering”.

“The vet has arranged for her cremation and her ashes will be returned to us in a couple of weeks”. “We will scatter them in one of her favourite places. She was a devoted companion and friend, always guarding the car and caravan and looking after her mum and dad”.

“Her memories will always be with us”, Alan said.

Editor’s note: All but two parks mentioned in this Information Article have a Pet Friendly policy. Please check GSA park listings for current details. Here are links to Information Articles which look at travelling with pets. Collectively they are among the most popular reads in the GoSee library with more than a quarter of a million individual readers.

Change in itself stressful challenge for long-term travelling pets

Pets welcome where you see this sign

Now GoSee Products & Services lists helpful options when pets need care while you travel

NSW Coast caravan parks make friendly pets welcome

Travel Australia with (and without) your pets

Agnes and Nick camp at pet friendly Park Lane and tour fresh, green Gippsland

Sleepy GoSeeAustralia's sub editor cat talks about travelling with your pet

Acknowledgement – This Information Article is provided through the support of generous sponsor Caravan Industry Association of Victoria (CIA Vic.). This support covers story research costs.

It is because of sponsors like CIA Vic. that an extensive library of free Information Articles is available to help users Go Make Some Memories. Click to find road touring destinations two and three hours from Melbourne. Go Make Some Memories

 

GSA campsite Wellington SA.
GSA campsite Wellington SA.
Silverband Falls, Grampians National Park Victoria.
Silverband Falls, Grampians National Park Victoria.
Victor Harbour horse-drawn tram.
Victor Harbour horse-drawn tram.
Wildlife make Halls Gap Lakeside a nature experience.
Wildlife make Halls Gap Lakeside a nature experience.
Victor Harbour Vet Clinic.
Victor Harbour Vet Clinic.
Alan and Pam Go Make Some Memories.
Alan and Pam Go Make Some Memories.
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