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2011 Trip

August 2011

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August  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

August 1

This was a roller coaster sort of day with a number of highs and lows.

It started off well enough with the sun shining and the view from Yemmy's door fabulous. I'd woken early so decided to get an early start and fired up the motor at about 7.30. Doing my usual thing to unlock the Park position I must have poked where I should not because Yemmy was stuck in 1st gear and wouldn't change! A bit more fiddling and I had 4th and then after another fiddle I got Drive and all seemed well but no Cruise Control. Never mind I'm under way  with 200km to get to Halls Creek.

When I'd filled with diesel I made my way to the hospital and after an hour and a half saw the doctor who fixed my implant in five minutes. Great - I'm right until after I get home so I don't have to think about that any more. I jumped on the scales when the doc left the room and was pleased to see I was 96.7 kg - Dr Nicky would be delighted! The weight was confirmed when I booked for the chopper ride later.

When I set off again Yemmy not only changed gears properly but he allowed me to use the Cruise - for a while that was and then he shut down altogether for a heart stopping minute and then when I put my foot down he acted normally with no Cruise. Eric did email with a suggestion of tyeing the brake switch and inserting a rolled up $100 note to keep it tight! Thanks mate!

Then on the way to Kunanarra I spotted helicopter rides over the Bungle Bungles. I'd flown over them many moons ago but a chopper would be much better. It was -  but cost $300 for a half hour trip. I was in the back seat and taking photos was hard. I'm sure some will be OK when I download them in a minute. I don't think I'll be able to post tonight - the phone says limited service and the modem isn't showing a signal.

I may need to get to Katherine to get Yemmy fixed in a few days time.

The view this morning didn't come out as well as I'd hoped but it really was good.                             The $300 helicopter ride was great - I was in the back and photographing was difficult but I've put a few shots on a separate page - click if you want to have a look.

I'm in a quiet little free stop tonight - a few people drove in, had a look and drove out again but it's fine. There are quite a few 24 hr stops and they are very well patronised. No caravan parks nearby to kick up a fuss and try to close them down!

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August 2

Perhaps we could forget this day ever happened and start again tomorrow. When I started off Yemmy would only go in 1st gear! A bit of fiddling and stopping and starting and I managed to get him into Drive. So far so good. I made it to Kununurra OK and did some Internet stuff and a little shopping. I left town aiming to get close to Katherine by journey's end but Yemmy thought otherwise. He was fine until I stopped for lunch about 20km out and then when I tried to go again he refused to go into anything but 2nd - and that reluctantly. I decided to head back here to Kununurra and seek help. I was referred to a diesel place who do work on Mercedes and they will put a diagnostic computer on him on Thursday. In the meantime I'm in a caravan park nearby with lots of permanents and lucky to get a spot even though it's in a sort of overflow area.

I took a couple of pics before all this happened - one the Ord as we waited for a green light to go over the bridge and the other of the lake.

 I also tried to get on a bus tour tomorrow but I was one minute after five and the door was locked at the travel place. The lady in the  office tried for me but with no luck. It was too frustrating a day to be bothered cooking so I went to the local pub on foot and had a chicken parmagana washed down with a large glass of Heineken

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August 3

Some Internet checking and a phone call got me on a tour that started with a 70km coach trip out to Lake Argyle and a look around the old Durack house. Then we boarded a boat for a fantastic 50km trip down the Ord River. It started with mighty cliffs and gorges and then downriver it broadened and became Lake Kununurra.
This year has seen the rainfall so high that from being well below its normal level, Lake Argyle reached a record high and water is still rushing down the spillway. All the flow of the irrigation system is done with the natural fall of the land with no pumping needed and the level is controlled by mighty gates.

I managed to get some washing done before I left this morning and tonight I spoilt myself at a local Chinese restaurant after a bit of shopping at Coles.

Pictures of today's outing are here.

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August 4

This should have been a memorable day because 60 years ago Vi and I were married. It doesn't seem possible that it's three and a half years since she died - I still miss her!

It became memorable for another reason - $435 of reason. That's what it cost to make a temporary repair to Yemmy's gear selector mechanism. Instead of putting my foot on the brake to disengage park I have a little button to press to do the same thing. It seems to work OK up to now some 300+ km later.

The time spent waiting wasn't wasted as I used it to write October's 'On the Wallaby'  for Caravan World and also a 'From the Chair' for the next edition of 'The Nomad' - the Australian Caravan Club's quarterly colour magazine.

When I finally got on the road it was nearly lunchtime but I got in 100km before the first stop and then continued on past the WA/NT Border to end up at a little campsite in the Gregory National Park. At this stage the Coleman 'Hot Water on Demand' refused to function and I found the charging gizmo didn't work. I've connected a different one and the charging light is on so we'll see in the morning if that does the trick. I've got plenty of water in jerry cans so it's not a huge problem - just a bit inconvenient.

I rang Jackie on the sat phone to let her know I was safely on my way again - I'd already told Chris and Sue while I had mobile coverage. A lady heard me finish the call by saying, 'Love You' and commented about how good that was for a man to say. I love all my three children and love talking to them by phone when I'm away.
The lady and her travelling companion are in a Jayco motorhome and are still enjoying being on the road together although both have lost their husbands.

I should get to Katherine tomorrow and may stay over the weekend to ensure an Internet connection for the Board Meeting on Sunday.(Whoops - I just checked my diary and meeting's not till next week so that may change things a bit)

No pics today folks although I passed some fantastic scenery - other things on my mind.

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August 5

A leisurely start to the day as Katherine was less than 200km away and I'd be there before lunch. Old ACC friends John and Katherine Kingdom spend time here with their daughter in the southern winter and I thought I'd try to find him. I had a vague idea of the area they are in and after a few wrong streets there he was with caravan and 4x4 in the garden! They were pleased to see me as the last time we met I was returning from a trip on the Ghan to attend my daughter Jackie's 50th birthday three years ago..

We reminisced for a long time and I had lunch with them before doing some pharmacy shopping for heel balm. I spent a week in hospital here last time with cellulitis caused through picking up a germ through a heel crack and I don't want a repeat! (See my 2008 Trip Diary)

It was getting on so I decided a night in a caravan park would be OK and risked the lovely quiet Shady Lane again Phillip remembered my previous visit with the week in hospital followed by my hasty trip to Adelaide on the Ghan. (See my 2008 Trip)

My hot water on demand still doesn't work and there are no Coleman dealers here. I guess it will have to wait until I'm on the East Coast and larger towns.

A couple of pics of Yemmy's abode tonight plus the meter box for this site. The writing is today's! The power points are on the back and nothing told you that till my neighbor put the words on today after I couldn't find them 

Tomorrow I must find out the fly screens we made for up here in the tropics as I'm being invaded by many kinds of creeping and flying things. The light is on and the doors and windows open! It's 28 degrees in here at 8 in the evening!

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This was a good day. I was sitting outside enjoying my early morning wake up cup of coffee when  a man came and asked if my name happened to be Lionel. It was Russell, a mutual friend of my Sprinter guru Eric. Apparently they had been talking on the phone the previous day and Eric said to look out for me. By sheer good luck we were staying in the same park overnight. We enjoyed a good chat before he headed off to Kununurra.

After that I had another look at the hot water gizmo and discovered the tube with the pump attached that goes down into the water tank had worked its way up and wasn't reaching the water! With that adjusted it works perfectly again.

I decided on an easy day and just came about 70km to Edith Falls National Park. It's a nice park and I'll probably stay two nights. My sat TV works ok here although there wasn't much worth watching except the news but tomorrow night there's Midsomer Murders. I haven't watched it with the new Inspector Barnaby - I rather liked Tom.
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August 7

This is a nice spot so at $9 a day I decided to stay another day. I don't think I'll bother going further north but tomorrow I'll probably head down the track to Mataranka.

I've had a very quiet relaxing day and this afternoon went for a swim - my first time on this trip. It was cool getting in but after that it was lovely. I'd thought of swimming to the falls but at the half-way mark decided that was far enough. The sun's been shining and my solar panels have been charging nicely.

Some green parrots came this morning and had a feed in one of 'my' trees

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August 8

After a very warn night - it was still 25 degrees at midnight - I woke early and decided to get on the road back to Katherine. I did some shopping, got fuel and washed Yemmy as he was filthy.

Then I logged on and downloaded a swag of emails - some of them needed answers to I was quite a while stationary. I also posted the last two days diary entries.

I stopped for the night after only about 200 km at a National Park nr Mataranka. It's quite nice and at $6.60/person/night not expensive. I walked down to the Roper River where Don, Anne and I canoed all those years ago and Vi stood on the bank filming our departure. She preferred looking at water rather than being in or on it!

At Edith Falls I met a couple who read Caravan World and he remembered a heap of things about me and then here at this NP a couple strolled past and recognise d me because they had camped next to me at Walkamin two years ago. They also follow my travels. I told them that I'd most likely be going there again this year.

           I think the swimming platforms are a recent addition to this lovely broad Roper River.                                            Clean Yemmy's spot for the night  

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August 9

Not a great deal to write about today. I called in at Larrimah to take a pic of the Pink Panther and the Darwin Stubby. I was here overnight when we won the Amiericas Cup all those years ago. Back then there was no radio or TV there and I got nearly to Katherine before I heard the result.

Along the way I overtook a van with an ACC sticker and although his van said UHF Ch. 40 he wasn't listening when I tried to call him. He caught up with me as I filled up the diesel at Daly Waters and he's a member from Tassie travelling with a mate with another van. They were heading the same was as me so we caught up and camped together tonight. It was nice to have company and quite a few yarns were swapped.

I took advantage of Internet cover at Daly Waters to post yesterday's diary and do some emailing and Skyping.

Yemmy's g
ears played up a little today - I hope that's not a sign of things to come.

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August 10

This was a BIG day!  I was up fairly early and on the road just after 8am after taking a pic of our camp. It had been nice camping with friends but they were heading off to Boroloola after camping at Heartbreak Hotel. I called in at the office there and got another census form - this one made a lot more sense and had as number. I filled it out and returned it so that's done. The other one wasn't really applicable to travellers.

What started as very interesting hilly country soon turned into vast grasslands and there were quite a lot of cattle about. The road was narrow single lane and very bumpy in parts. It was a case of getting right off the road when road trains approached. I'd done nearly 600km by the time I reached Barkly Roadhouse so stopped for a bite to eat, a rest and to catch up on emails.

I'm in a busy rest area for the night not far off the highway so I hope the heavy stuff doesn't keep going past all night. This part of the trip isn't very interesting so I intend doing higher distances until after Normanton. I'll have to slow up soon as I'm spending a fortune on fuel - the last two fills saw the price per litre at $19.9.

The sky to the south was full of smoke from a fire when I was at the roadhouse and the sun tonight was like a deep red ball. The pic doesn't do it justice.
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August 11

Once again not a lot to report as the first part of the journey continued across the flat Barkly Tableland. I stopped at Camooweal to deal with Internet stuff and filled up with diesel at Mt Isa. I couldn't believe my eyes - only $1.48/ltr - the cheapest for yonks. I did shopping in The Isa including some extra twin cable for the solar panels.

I turned northwards again at Cloncurry and pulled up for the night after 540km, on the road to Normanton. I'm on my own on what appears to have been a road metal dump. It's lovely and peaceful, hardly any traffic and the moon is so bright I could almost do without a light to cook sausages.

It was a pleasant surprise to find I had Internet and mobile coverage - I took advantage of this to ring Chris, Jackie and Sue and catch up with all their news.

The map shows my complete trip - I'm currently at the turn just above the 'Q' of Queensland. Without any side trips it will amount to just over 14,000km.

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August 12

A lovely day for travelling today, blue skies, sunshine and little traffic. I filled up with diesel and did a bit of shopping at Normanton and then pulled in where a sign said bush camping. I remembered seeing on the ACC Forum that Geoff and Carol were coming here and sure enough there they were in the nicest site in the camp looking out over the lagoon and all the bird life.

I intended just staying overnight but at $7 a night and a three course meal for $5 on Saturday night I quickly made it two nights. There's no power or drinking water but there are toilets and hot showers plus wonderful views and bush sites so you can park just how you like. Yemmy's site has good shade but also plenty of sun for the solar panels..

It was good catching up with ACC friends and we enjoyed happy hour together and then Geoff fired up his baby Webber and cooked their dinner plus mine as well. A great evening in lovely surroundings and tomorrow I've already been offered a lift by G&C's neighbors, to the homestead across the lagoon for dinner.

Pics coming tomorrow.
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August 13

A lazy day in Paradise! It was a bit cool overnight but the day was warm and sunny.

I did a couple of little jobs - put clips on the extension cable for the solar panels and was pleased that the extra 5 metres didn't cut down the charging rate - I used quite heavy cable for that reason. Then I taped a piece of heavy copper pipe to the plastic inlet pipe for the hot water unit so it will stay immersed from now on. (I hope!)

Graham, the fellow who gave me a lift
has Parkinson's Disease but drives a Coaster bus and various other things including a quad bike. An incredible man and his lovely wife Nancy also has a disability.

The meal was great, chicken soup, chicken and rice curry followed by apple sponge and custard. How they can do it for $5 is beyond me. There was good music as well and raffles to help the Flying Doctor -  a great night indeed. I'll decide in the morning whether to stay another day or not.
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August 14

I decided to move and with 608 kms to Walkamin I took it easy  and split it into two legs of about 300km. I stopped in Croydon for an ice-cream and Internet.

Just after I'd moved off from there, I came upon a flock/herd/group of black wild pigs in the middle of the road. There must have been 25 or 30 of all sizes. I was too slow getting the camera out and they took off - some one way and the rest the other. That is except one little pig who didn't know which way to run and stayed in the middle of the road - again not long enough for a pic!

I hadn't a destination in mind and then I spotted a track leading down to a tree-lined water hole and that's where I propped. I'm on my own apart from a variety of birds. There were a number of groups of noisy black cockatoos who came and circled overhead towards sundown but fortunately they took themselves off .

I've set up the telly and later tonight I'll watch the last episode of this series of Midsomer Murders.

Yemmy's all alone  with no jumbuck at this waterhole. There are small fish in the water but I don't know about bigger ones.  The track in was rough!
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August 15

This day started at 2am with a heart stopping moment or two when someone banged on the van door and a voice asked if anyone was awake. In my fuddled waking up moments I thought police? By-laws officer? Aborigines? I had my door and window open as it was a fairly warm night so was completely unprotected if someone meant harm!

It turned out to be two apologetic young men on their way home to Croydon - about 20km away - and they had a flat tyre and no jack. I took a risk and lent them my jack, wheel brace and a torch and wondered if I'd ever see them again. They had seemed genuine and back they came about 20 minutes later full of thanks and more apologies. Apparently they were due to start work at 5am! It took me a while to get back to sleep!

Then a leisurely 300km drive to Atherton where I did some shopping at the IGA and on to Walkermin Caravan Park. It's still only $132 a week for a grassed powered site - wonderful value in such a lovely park where happy hour still takes place in the 'shed' with an open fire dispensing cheer. I was too busy setting up etc to bother with pics today but will get some tomorrow. I booked in for a week with an option to stay longer.
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August 16 & 17

I'm in relaxed mode this past two days catching up with washing, putting up the awning and roping it down, going for walks, talking to old and new friends, etc, etc. Having a good Internet connection I've been able to Skype the family. Also been composing letters for the ACC to send to the Tasmanian Government who seem intent of cutting out budget camping in their State.

Today I made a booking to join a tagalong tour leaving Brisbane for Bingarra on the 1st of October - I hope to get to Brisbane before that and call and see my friends Anne and Don - neither of them have been too well so it will be good to catch up.

No pics today again.
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August 18

This is becoming a little boring. Yemmy stayed in the same place all day and I just walked to the shop for bread and milk.
I did get a few little jobs done though. My step has to be folded up before the door can close and this has meant going outside, folding it up and then getting back in using my loose step. Today I drilled a hole in the step and attached an ockie strap so I can pull it up like a drawbridge and lower it over the moat in the morning.

Yesterday I was lucky to have a fellow who does a lot with radios come by and offer to fit Anderson plugs to my solar panel cable and extension. I now have a permanent connection to the batteries and can plug in the panels direct or through the extension.

Tomorrow ACC friends from Cairns are coming up for morning tea and then we are going out for lunch to a nice place we went to two years ago when they stayed here in this park for an ACC muster. Then there's a $2.50 baked potato and choice of filling for $2.50 back here at the park. Life's hard!

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August 19

This was a great day. Kesley and David arrived for morning tea and a great chin-wag was had. Then they took me out to the Mt Uncle Distillery where we had lunch at 'Bridges'. Crispy based pizza and a glass of white wine went down well. This is where there are a lot of Lady's Finger bananas growing - I didn't take pics as I did that the last time I was up here.

More chin-wagging when we got back to Yemmy and then a a great meal over in the 'shed' - a huge potato wrapped in foil and baked in the coals with a wonderful choice of fillings. Good food, good company and good weather - what more do you need?

Poor Yemmy is feeling neglected - I must take him for a shopping run tomorrow.

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August 20 & 21

Poor Yemmy finally got a run on Saturday with a shopping trip into Mareeba. It was good to be driving again after nearly a week in the one place. I continued on to Tolga on the way back in the hope they had got some sugar bananas in but no such luck.

I'm filling in time reading my Kindle - it really is great. I've also managed to talk on the phone to my cousin Ruth in the UK - they've been on holiday so that's why I got the answering machine every time I called. Also Pete and Jean in Yorkshire came on Skype and although I lost the connection at the end we had a nice chat. Their next trip will be to Argentina and Chile - lucky things - I've always wanted to visit South America.

I managed to book time at Smalleys Beach but had to do it in three different sites. They have an on-line booking system now and a calender showing which sites are unoccupied. I now have three separate camping permits for 3 different sites. It doesn't take much to move Yemmy though.

On Sunday I found I couldn't connect to the Internet and started to worry as I had a Board Meeting to run at night. It finally came good and the meeting was without incident and was almost a record for quickness - it finished in just over an hour.

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August 22

A stone hit Yemmy's windscreen somewhere across the Barkly Tableland and I thought I'd better get the chip fixed before it developed into something worse so I rang RACQ Glass yesterday and arranged to have it fixed by their agent in Atherton. They quoted $104 but to my pleasant surprise it was only $60 after RACV Membership discount.

I fancied some of the Colonel's chicken for lunch and while there had a call from a publisher I was talking to before I left home. It seems there is a chance they may publish a new touring Australia book based on two of my earlier books with additional material and maps etc. It's quite exciting really as we will use some of the new material from this diary.

On the way back I stopped to get a shot of this sign saying 'CAMPERS WELCOME' - something nice to see. It was at the Memorial Park beween Atherton and Walkamin and the camping area is well used by RVers.

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August 23

I've always said that one disadvantage of motorhomes or campervans is that when you have got set up on a site and want to go out to sight-see or shop, you have to pack up before you can go out unless you are towing a car or something behind. Not having to tow is what appeals to me and when travelling most days the problem doesn't arise as I do my sight-seeing and shopping before stopping for the night.

However when staying in one spot for a while like I'm doing here at Walkamin,  it does become a bit inconvenient although I leave most things on the site when going out with Yemmy.

I used to take a bike away with my caravan some years but often strong winds or hilly terrain made that a not too enjoyable option.

There is an alternative - an e-bike! Today after quite a bit of research I ordered an alloy-framed, folding electric bicycle and it should arrive in a few days. It has the option of using the pedals on their own, using the electric motor on it's own or using both together.

It has a cruising speed of about 25k/ph and a range of about 35km on a charge of its lithium battery. With some pedal assistance this can be increased.       

I'm getting it from David Kemp at:

I'll be giving you a report on how it performs when I've given it a trial but I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun plus increasing my fitness as I intend using the pedalling option quite a bit.

In Alice Springs a few years back I saw a sign on a motorhome that read: 'Sorry Kids we've Spent it Already' I seem to be doing a bit the same lately!
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August 24

I made a nice beef curry last night and there was enough left today to have some cold for lunch and then finished it up hot tonight.
Nothing exciting happened today - just a nice restful, relaxing day and I spent a lot of it reading my kindle outside in the sun. There was a cold wind this morning but it died down in the afternoon,,
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August 25, 26, 27

Really these last few days have been pretty quiet until yesterday when Murphy dealt me a shocking blow.

I'd gone to the Youngaborough market for a look around and on the way back decided to re-visit the Curtain Fig Tree. It's quite a remarkable sight but as I tried to take a picture the lens jammed and has stayed jammed ever since despite trying all sorts of moves to free it. I've had that camera a long time and remember that it was quite expensive at the time . It was only 5,000 megapixels but that was a lot back then and it has always taken superb pictures. The ones you have seen on this diary are not what it has been capable of as I reduce size and resolution to make them load quicker in your computers.

A lot of research today into new cameras and I finally decided to get a DSLR as I do rely on etting good results. Tomorrow I'll head for Cairns and see what I can do. Hopefully I'll be able to resume the pictorial part of the diary then.
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August 28

Yemmy and I enjoyed the steep and twisty road through the rainforest down to the coast and the shops at Smithfield

You will be pleased to know that I now own a D3100  DSLR Nikon camera with two lenses and heaps of functions. I had a play with it when I got back here to Walkamin and just did a walk around the park shooting photos

Here's the old and the new. I'll hate throwing the old one away as it's been such a good friend and served me well both around Australia and last year in the UK and France.

The new one has a 'Auto' function so I'll be using that for a while until - or maybe IF - I master all the wonderful new features!

Here are some of the shots I took as a trial

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August 29

This was the day my bike arrived and I opened the box with great excitement and started putting it together as handlebars etc were loose to let it fit in the box. The front basket supports wouldn't fit but otherwise all seemed ok.

I put on my helmet and set off for the nearby shop - in fact it was going so well I decided to go a bit further. That's when Murphy struck! The throttle stopped working and I had to pedal. On the way back from the shop it was mostly pedal power with just an occassional bit of help from the motor.

He hadn't finished! Just as I got back I found the front tyre was completey flat! A job for the morning. I tried to ring David, the supplier, but he wasn't answering so I'll mend the puncture and ring him tomorrow.

The bike was fantastic when it was going and will be a great asset.
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August 30

It's lucky I rode a bike in my younger days as mending punctures is a skill you don't forget. That was my first job today and I found that the tube had been creased when put in and a small split had happened along a seam. One of my neighbors had a repair kit so the puncture was fixed and the tube tested in water.

That done I took it for a spin around the park and it went beautifully for a while and then the motor stopped responding. After letting it rest for bit it went OK for a little while before stopping again. It's such a pity because it's a hoot when it's right. Murphy has never laughed so much.

I managed to get supplier David on the phone and he told me that he'd had a few troubles with his latest batch of bikes including one with the same fault as mine.He's very anxious to fix my problem - maybe with a new bike but with me moving again on Thursday it's a bit hard to arrange where to send it. I may decide to leave it till I get near where he lives in Noosaville although I'd hoped to ride it while at Smalley's beach.

People are starting to move out of the park to start their homeward journey south although some stay here all year.

There's enough chicken curry left from tonights meal fot at least one more dinner.
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August 31  

Last day of August - I'll be home in less than two months.

Here's a couple of action shots while the bike was going this morning!

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