© Copyright Chris and Kerrie Jones 2018 All rights reserved
We’ve now been living in our little home for 3 months and 1 week and we’ve been on the road full time for 6 weeks.
It really seems much longer probably because of the tremendous variety of things we have done and places we have been. Every day of the last 6 weeks has been crammed full of new experiences. The last 6 weeks have also enabled us to work out what we need to do to improve the van and the way we do things. So for the next 5 days until Christine and Barry arrive we will use the time to sort everything ready for the next phase of the adventure.
A couple of things that have broken needed to be fixed. The most important was one of the back adjustable jacks that steady the van when we’re parked. We had these installed during the reno of the van thinking it would be easier than the old original wind-up jacks. It was jammed and useless and we’ve had it tied up with wire since Waratah, (another use for Shauno’s wire he gave me before we left). The trouble is we had to remove the bikes, the bike rack, the spare wheel and the rear bumper in order to get to the leg. This is an awkward job at the best of times but with being in agony with my ribs after the dumpster dive it was very difficult.
However, we got it done. After removing the leg I discovered the pins that click into place to hold it were bent and unable to find the holes they click into. After some surgery carried out with a hammer on a tree trunk, I was able to straighten the pins and after a good dose of grease and oil it was replaced and bumpers and bikes were put back together. We then took our jack handle to a metal workshop where we got 320mm added to the length. This will make adjusting the jacks easier and prevent the skinned knuckles when adjusting the front right jack due to the handle being too short to get under the tool and battery box we had fitted.
Although suffering in pain for the rest of the day we were so pleased we got that thing working properly as we feared we might need to redo the legs at more expense. I did get the original jacks from where they were stored at David’s while in Brisbane just in case.
If you are ever in a van park and you see someone trying to do a job like this – Leave them alone! Stay away till they’re ok unless they ask you for help. This nice, well-meaning bloke came up as I was laying in agony under the van struggling with the bumper which incidentally is very heavy. Even though it was obvious that I was fully occupied and concentrating on a tricky job, the bloke just stood and talked. Well-meaning but infuriating.
We purchased an OzTent ensuite so that we can have a shower and toilet as the next phase of our adventure will involve free camping 95% of the time. We were told by many experienced users not to even look at any other model but the OzTent. We also added a Porta Potty to our furnishings after finding one that has a large exit drain.
This was also the advice of a large number of free campers as the later model Pottees have drain tubes with narrow openings. This means if you use a bit too much dunny paper you risk the whole contents getting stuck in the tube requiring a very messy operation to free it all.
We also added a 12v shower pump that clips to the van battery and a 15-litre sealable bucket that will double up as the shower water container and a washing machine. By putting your dirty clothes into the bucket, adding water and detergent and standing the bucket in the Ute while travelling you have a highly effective washing machine. We already have a collapsible clothesline. Next, we reorganised the Ute so that we can fit the 2 KVA Honda generator we will buy when we get back to Melbourne. We will need this to power the air conditioner we will also fit in Melbourne in preparation for the journey north.
We saw a great setup being used by some free campers beside the lagoon at Bronte that we are tossing up whether to use. They had a fold-down 3-legged steel tripod with a chain that they hung a large billy on. They simply made a fire got water from the crystal clear lagoon and boiled it in their billy. The fire also made a cosy place to sit by and they could also roast spuds and other things in it at the same time. We can buy the tripod from a camping place in Hobart. Finding a suitable billy is not easy though. We wish we had picked up our large stainless steel pot from Brissy as this would have been perfect. This elderly couple had been around Australia 4 times mostly free camping so we think they know a thing or two about it. Kerrie also got some new walking shoes and she has been wearing them constantly, finding them perfectly comfortable and great for walking. So after this week, we will be ready to free camp the rest of the way around Tasmania using caravan parks only occasionally to catch up on washing etc.