This installment comes with a reminder to self, 'do not listen to wife when it comes to where to stay'
We left Heathcote Caravan Park which we had all to ourselves after just one night because Vickie wanted to do washing and the one and only washing machine in the amenities block did not meet her fussy criteria, she says it's a woman thing and i wouldn't understand ... and i don't ... can someone explain to me what a washing machine does? it washes right?? so if we were to put clothes into a washing machine we could rightly expect the washing to get washed? And for the washing to be washed would mean the insides of the washing machine would also be washed ? each and every time it's used ... right?? Well apparently not according to Vickie, our washing which amounts to camp clothes need to go into a sterile enviroment to be washed ..... grrrrrrr
So ok Vik says, we will go down to Kilmore, there is a Van Park there and the washing can have two days to dry plus it's closer to Epping where we had the Van booked in to have the brakes & bearings checked along with a wheel alignment done. I stupidly suggested we phone ahead to make sure they had a spare site ...... but no says Vik, it will be like here ... no one around.
Haha, .... as soon as we saw the Kilmore Van park we knew it was a mistake to leave Heathcote, one site big enough for a small camper trailer was all that was offered. What now we thought? checking our Camps Australia Book we saw we had a couple of options neither came with a Launderette but having no choice we ventured on. The 1st rest area we couldn't find, damn not having my GPS with the in built map system, before we knew it we were in the out skirts of Epping. A call to the National Parks to see if there was anything open close by gave us the negative, we decided to drive up past Kinglake where the terrible fires claimed so many lives & homes and go to a free camp at Toolangi. The drive was a very quiet one as we both just gazed out at the unbelievable amount of damage and as far as we could see burnt forest & farmlets. We can only imagine the horror these poor people went through, I didn't stop to take any photo's, i felt that would be an intrusion and did not feel comfortable.
We arrived at Toolangi and 1st went and checked at the Forest Discovery Centre that we were allowed to free camp, not a problem said the helpful young lady behind the counter so we turned around and drove the few hundred metres back to the Toolangi Recreation Reserve, the main gate to the oval was locked but we had plenty of room to turn around and back up into the dryest section we could next to a running creek. Got the fire lit and sat and listened to the sounds of the lyre birds calling, a truly beautiful 'bush' sound. Just as we were thinking of going for a walk another Van came in and asked if we would mind company for the night, "no worries" we said, you look after the fire we will go for a walk and let you get settled in.
A pleasent walk to the Discovery Centre where they had some nice displays & information and then we walked along the river track and headed back to camp. Few drinks and stories around the camp fire with our 'neighbours' before heading inside as the chill was settling in. Awoke early next morning as we had to be at NP Hauffe at 9am, the 1st mistake i made was not retracing our steps, the 2nd was having Vickie navigate us, a few stressful moments dealing with peak hour morning traffic along steep winding narrow roads with woeful visability due to a heavy low fog, but we eventually arrived a few minutes late but Richard our point of contact wasn't worried and he straight away got things organized and sent us away to the shops for a couple of hours whilst they did the work.
Everything was straight forward and the cost was very reasonable, we chatted to another couple with a Boroma who were having the suspension upgraded and then we were on our way. We are getting quite used to missing the roads we need to be on, in fact it's become a machosistic game of ours to just see how much pain & stress our brains can take, driving an F250 & towing a large off road van down High Street, Coburg and in to the heart of Melbourne City is FUN / not, with us trying to read road signs in advance we luckily came across one pointing to the Sth Eastern Suburbs, this took us across the West Gate Bridge and City Link and eventually East Link, both of which are toll roads and with us not having an E - Tag we took note of the phone number to pay for the tolls which amounted to $17 for the one way trip.
Our destination was to be Langwarren where we would stay with our friends Debbie & Graham for a couple of days, we also wanted to catch up with long time friends Rob & Marg at Carrum Downs as well as spend a few days down at Mt Eliza with Vickie's sister Sue & husband Greg.
A visit to Melbourne is never complete without calling in to see my #2 Mum, Pat Mossenton at Carrum, Pat is the mum of my life long mate John and i hold her & Frank dear to my heart.
We had the F250 serviced and it took longer than expected as they replaced the top & bottom ball joints plus a steering arm on the front end, thankfully we have the 6 year extended factory warranty but we were without transport for two days untill the dealer lent us a vehicle, we were then able to do some shopping and visit Paul & Barb Swift [fellow BT owners at Mt Eliza] for a cuppa and chat before we take the Queenscliff Ferry across Port Phillip Bay to save us the hassles of using Melbourne's freeway & toll roads. At Barwon Heads we are visiting 'fellow Bushtracker' owners Rob & Sonia.