Well……. we’ve started.

15 04 2015

I have been offline, more or less, since Easter Good Friday, which is why not much has happened here on DTM for almost two weeks.  I have in fact done the unimaginable: my son and I drove the trusty old ute and a tonne of our treasures to Tasmania in preparation for the inevitable sale of Mon Abri in Cooran.

It wasn’t a decision taken lightly, because I will no doubt miss my old girl, not to mention most of my tools… but we had to declutter this place, there was just too much stuff here to keep it ‘tidy’, if you know what I mean.  Furthermore, Alex had a window of opportunity to assist with the drive that would not be repeated for three more months, so we just bit the bullet.  Like my niece was telling Alex in Melbourne, “nothing exciting happens in your comfort zone”.

Loading arrangement showing gates

Loading arrangement showing gates

To say it was an epic trip, is a bit of an understatement.  At almost 3000km (including the crossing of Bass Straight on the Spirit of Tasmania) it’s the longest road trip I’ve ever undertaken in a short period of time, in an old car, fully laden at that…. but the old girl ran like clockwork, and after this I love it even more!  All I did to it before leaving Queensland was change all its oils (who knows how old the transmission oils were…), the radiator coolant, and the spark plugs.  Which cost me as much as the original purchase price of $200!

To increase the carrying capacity of the vehicle, I bought four 1200mm

Ready for the long trek

Ready for the long trek

gates, two of which were put on the inside of each side of the tray to ensure nothing would fall out.  Then a tarpaulin was used to waterproof the load, which entailed the use of lots of ropes to hold it all together and alleviate much flapping around… and which worked flawlessly I am glad to report.

The first leg was short, 140km to Brisbane where I saw my mother in hospital, and later stayed the night at Alex’s where we fixed a very annoying and noisy flapping of the tarp with yet more rope between the cabin and the load, the last place you’d expect turbulence.

The plan was to reach Newcastle in NSW on the second leg where Alex’s twin sister lives.  Driving down the NSW north coast, it just rained and rained….  in fact I cannot remember ever driving six hours straight without turning the wipers off for not even a few seconds.  I can’t say it slowed us down, because we almost never went over 90 or 95 km/h in any case; breaking the car was not part of the plan!  Plus…..  at that speed and on its diet of 98 octane, the old steed’s average fuel consumption was an astonishing 11.6L/100km, at least 1 less than I had anticipated…  When we finally arrived in Newcastle in the dark, we unloaded the stuff I’d brought down for Claire while her boyfriend Nick cooked us a delicious steak dinner… bliss!

A windfarm breaking the Hume highway monotony

A windfarm breaking the Hume highway monotony

The third leg of the trip was Newcastle to Melbourne, over 1000km.  Strictly speaking, apart from a few lights on the outskirts of Sydney between freeways, that part of the trip was almost all four lane roads.  The Hume Highway was a bit of an abomination, largely made of concrete with the inevitable joins that even fully laden the old ute made uncomfortable for us.  Let me tell you, Tasmanian roads are far better than those in NSW!  Once in Melbourne, we stayed with Alex’s cousin who fed us really nice soup and kindly gave up her bed for us.  Thanks a heap Jacqs…

Queuing for the ferry

Queuing for the ferry

We weren’t booked on the ferry until the following evening – I gave myself an extra day up my sleeve just in case of any problems – so we took the time to show Melbourne to Alex who had never been there before.

Just like the rest of the trip, getting on the ferry took time.  Lots of time.  The security people insisted on looking at our load, which entailed undoing lots and lots of now tight and wet ropes, causing a bit of a queue behind us.  They must’ve sent a message to their colleagues in Devonport to not bother, because we were just waved on on the other side of the Tasmanian moat….

Eagerly waiting to get off

Eagerly waiting to get off

We made the time to see Geoff at Chudleigh as it wasn’t far off the beaten track, but Kate missed out (sorry Kate – just too far to drive with a heavy load!).  The last leg to Hobart was of course relatively short, Tassie really is a small place compared to the rest of Australia.  We stopped in Oatlands for a

The ute in picturesque Oatland

The ute in picturesque Oatland

late lunch of rabbit pie, quickly checked out the famous windmill, and eventually found our way to Bruce’s in Hobart where he kindly allowed us to sleep while he was in Melbourne.  The following day saw us arrive in Geeveston where we put all our stuff in storage until we sell, and where the old ute now also resides, waiting for my return.  Shane has agreed to start it up every now and then to get rid of the cobwebs in the engine, and I hope I can return as soon as possible for stage two of the Tasmanian project.

Finally.....  the Gates of Mordor

Finally….. the Gates of Mordor

Alex and I camped for a few days while we had a good look around, caught up with friends, not least a couple we’ve known for 42

Looking up d'Entrecasteaux Channel towards Mt Wellington (Hobart)

Looking up d’Entrecasteaux Channel towards Mt Wellington (Hobart)

years no less (you know you’re getting old when you can say you have friends that go back that far!) who finally retired from 37 years of sailing around the world, to…..  you guessed it, the Huon!  I helped Nick move heavy welders and tools out of their boat’s engine bay and into his tender, onto the back of the ute, and into their newly acquired shed.  We were rewarded with an impromptu boat trip from Charlotte Cove to Kettering where their current mooring is, on a stupendously beautiful day.  In fact, Tasmania turned on the best weather of the entire trip; and while I know the weather can turn to crap there just like it can anywhere else (as it did just before I left Cooran where I started to worry the 213mm of rain in two days were going to leave me marooned, unable to leave!), it was rather magic….

Alex even came up with the idea of making a Swedish candle to cook on, something he must’ve seen on youtube or somewhere.  Isn’t the internet a wonderful source of ideas?  To make one, you basically cut grooves in the end of a log (I fortunately had my battery powered chainsaw with me!), four in this case as the log wasn’t huge.  You then start a fire on top of this arrangement, and eventually the log starts burning in the centre where the grooves cross over.  Once you have your saucepan or whatever on the log, the fire draws air from the sides through the grooves, burning in the middle where you’re cooking.  The segments of the log facing out contain the heat, making this very efficient indeed…  I had never heard of this idea before, and it worked brilliantly.

Starting a Swedish candle

Starting a Swedish candle

Ready for cooking pasta!

Ready for cooking pasta!

I have to say that by the end of the trip, bringing Alex with me was the best thing I ever did.  We had great bonding time, he got good driving experience, and I really enjoyed the company of my intelligent and clever son…. plus I think he may have ‘fallen in love’ with Tassie too!

Now I’m back in Qld, it almost feels weird being here.  Tassie really agrees with me too….  I managed to lose 2 1/2 kg, which is baffling considering how much sitting down we did in the car and all the bacon and eggs breafasts, but I put it down to the fact the cold weather encourages me to do a lot more walking.  The very first thing I noticed when I hit the tarmac at Brisbane airport was that I almost immediately started sweating; whilst admittedly still wearing my Hobart attire.  All the same, just walking down to the ducks when I finally got home on the train had me sweating with no shirt on.  I’m really not made for this climate.  Tassie beckons more than ever….

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8 responses

15 04 2015
brendoncrook

Welcome back Mike, glad you had a safe trip. The photos are great.

15 04 2015
mikestasse

Thanks Brendon…… just a shame we didn’t get to meet up in Melbourne, but such is life…

15 04 2015
Kate

Sounds like a great trip – let’s hope your place in Queensland sells soon! I forgive you for not stopping in to visit 😉

16 04 2015
Danny Boon

I was thinking of what to say …and the thought came to me … ‘ it’s like someone you know in jail, getting out , while you remain …’

16 04 2015
Anthony William O'brien

What I have been dreaming of for years. Cannot help but believe time is so very short.

17 04 2015
Idiocracy

Milk Crates for the win!!! 🙂

19 04 2015
mikestasse

Milk crates are a stroke of genius….. and they last. Some of those crates are 25 yrs old…..

5 08 2015
One week to go…… | Damn the Matrix

[…]  As soon as we accepted the offer on Mon Abri, planning the final move hot on the heels of our first attempt last Easter was well underway.  But life has ways of throwing spanners in your wheels. Firstly, my mother […]

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