Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

The beach at Stoney Point

The Tide in at Hastings

Ready for it's trip


Our hosts at Stoney Point Caravan Park do not mind what time we leave, so we continue with our van cleaning during most of the morning. The camp site is unpretentious but being up dated. It is situated on a bay from which a ferry operates to both French and Phillip Island. Local clubs use the site for rallies and over 30 motorhomes are expected for a rally in November. It is a good place for a lazy time with not much to spend your money on; as a true Yorkshire Man I approve.

The journey today will be a short one. Following a grovelling phone call made on Monday, we are booked in at the Jayco Dandenong workshop tomorrow morning at 7.30am for repairs to the damage I recently caused; and to think they thought they had seen the last of us.

We drove a short distance along the coast road of Western Port Bay to Hastings where we had a walk on the front and round the shops, and ate lunch whilst looking out over the bay. There were no plaques claiming a battle was fought here in 1066, but that did not detract from this nice area. After lunch we had the simple task of driving to Frankston and on to Dandenong, a place we are now very familiar with. The Big 4 camp site near to the Jayco works is the first site we had the pleasure of staying on over 22,000 miles ago; this brought back memories of our earliest days in our motorhome, but no time for nostalgia, there is more washing and cleaning to do.

It is Wednesday and our mobile phone alarm went off at 6.45am. I didn't get up at this time when I was paid for a living, (instead of now living to be paid). We rolled in to Jayco at 7.35am and ate humble pie whilst the Repairs Manager was more gracious than I deserved. The good news was that they had all the necessary stuff to make the repairs; the bad news which I was already prepared for, was we needed to buy the whole window unit as window frames were not available on their own. The jobs will take 3 hours.

Further up the road is the café we have enjoyed eating in before, so breakfast here we come. After killing some time reading the paper and enjoying extra coffee we continued up the road towards 'Harvey Normans', a large electrical and furniture chain store where Sylvia bought a digital camera last week. One of our dilemmas is whether we leave our gas bottles in Australia or have them purged so that we can take them to NZ.

As we walked we came to the works site of a major company of the gas supply industry so we went in for advice. There was no answer from our ringing of the bell at the store yard. The office staff directed us to one of their subsidiaries who do exchanges of gas bottles; their place of work is further round the industrial site complex. First we spend some of our spare time in the Harvey Norman store where there are a lot of goods in the computer section which will interest us as well as increase our knowledge. There is also a lot of stuff we have no clue what it does.

Whilst in the store we were approached by Ian, the man who took care of us last week when we bought the camera. Ian offered his services if we should need any help with the camera and asked if he could follow our travels on the blog site; we swapped cards. Our next stop is the gas bottle swap shop which is on a long round trip back to Jayco. Here we learn that the company does not purge gas bottles or buy unused ones back again, and they don't know who does. To purge a gas bottle entails a complete emptying of gas and a substance pumped in which eliminates all odours + a certificate which will satisfy the transport company that the process has been done.

Back on the roadway we phoned BOOC, the largest gas company we have heard of. Their main office spokesman informs that they do not provide the service we need and cannot help us. By now we realise it is going to cost more to purge the 3 bottles we own than it is to buy new ones in NZ. We walk back to the Jayco store to buy more 'tank clean' solution and find that the manufacturer of the chairs we bought last year, has added a plastic click on tray and glass holder to the product range; we bought 2 and look forward to using them. Right on cue our phone sounds; the van is ready.

A new rail has been installed along the top and down the back of the road side and the damage done to the near side is almost non existent, the van looks almost as good as 36,000k ago. The next task is to attend at the Coach Company for our home to be steam cleaned underneath. Sylvia has been working on the big book of Melbourne roads loaned to us by our friends Ron and Val, and we arrive at the destination with little problem by 1.30pm. We were asked to attend after 3pm so that the busses would be out on the school runs and the shed would be empty, so we ate lunch parked on the street and surprise, surprise, did some more cleaning.

At 3.20pm we were introduced to the steam cleaning man who had worked on Fiat motors in Europe and welcomed ours as a long lost friend. A second man joined in to help and it amazed us how much Australian gunge was washed from the underneath of our van. The next task was to put the van through the massive bus wash. The old one at the previous works, before the company relocated, used to break off aerials and mirrors and had been known to smash a windscreen. This washing machine is an apparent prince of machines and did very well. After the degreasing of some areas it received a second wash and whilst all of this was happening a third man took our bicycles away and gave them a good clean.

I don't know any of the names of the men who worked on our van and bikes for over 2 hours, but it was a pleasure to have met and known them, and the total cost of £22 has to be the Australian bargain of the year. At 5pm, (what is it about Melbourne rush hour that encourages us to join in), we set off across the back roads of Melbourne. Once again Sylvia had sussed out a route and after many twists and turns we arrived at the Big 4 site on the west side of Melbourne; it was now 7pm. What an insight into the Melbourne tourists don't see this journey proved to be.

After making and eating our meal there was more cleaning and listing of goods before bed and another early start. At 6.45am, (I'm sure the phone is stuck at this particular time), we are wakened up. By 7.10am Sylvia has our extra washing and bedding in the camp site washing machines. I can't remember what I was doing but I'm sure I was kept working. We didn't leave the caravan park until 10.45am and we still hadn't finished. One of the last tasks was the dunny which is my job; I bet you didn't really want to know that. The very last task was getting the bicycles into the van and onto our bed which we had covered with some material we had bought for the task.

At the home of Ron and Val we finished off the work and Ron helped flush out and clean the waste pipe and wash the water pipe and electric cable. During a late lunch we met a granddaughter of Ron and Val who offered to fax an insurance questionnaire to our shipping agent. This had been down loaded at the house and filled in during lunch. Thank heavens for nice helpful people.

We set off to the docks and arrived at the entrance gate to our docks at 3.05pm. Here we learn that the last entry for the dock is at 2.30pm and the men went home at 3pm. They start in the morning at 7am but don't come to the gate between 10.30am and 11.30am as the dock workers are on their break. If we come after 12 noon we won't get in at all as between 12noon and 3pm the men work out the loading and storage schedules ready for our boat which arrives in the morning. Oh! One more thing. If you don't have an accredited photo ID badge to state you know your way around the docks, you pay £39 for an escort car and driver who, after escorting, takes you back to the gate.

We put in an extra 4 litres of fuel on our way back; there must not be much fuel in the van when it is on the boat. The fuel gauge never moved. Back at the home of Ron and Val our van is parked for the night on a neighbours drive, taking up all of the drive and most of the walking room on the path as well. It is imperative that the van is near the front of the cue for the boat to ensure even the small chance it could be bumped off is minimised even further. After preparing ourselves for the sadness of saying goodbye to our home, we must steel ourselves to do it again tomorrow.

Friday morning and I was wrong about the alarm on the mobile phone being stuck at 6.45am. Today it managed to go off at 5.45am.

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