Monday, October 20, 2014

Maiden Voyage October 2014

Well, after fiddling around for a week figuring out what we need to take in our first caravan, we were as ready as we were ever going to get, so after arranging for Addison, one of the great nephews to look after the dogs and house for us, off we went on our 'Maiden Voyage' in the caravan, which we have named 'Jus Perfek'. (Cause it is)  Not far for this first trip, just a nice drive thru the countryside to Mudgee where, after reading reviews on Wiki Camps and a bit of chatter on EVERYTHING CARAVANNING AND CAMPING, a FACEBOOK group, we decided to stay at the Riverside Caravan Park. 

Setting out around lunch time. 

It didn't take us as long as we thought it would to hitch up. One job flowed into another. I stowed away and locked down and locked up in and around the van and Rod got down and under the and linked and locked whatever happens around the hitch. Our friend Norma was there to see us off and just as well as we were sitting there in the drive asking each other, "what else do we have to do? Have we done very thing?", when she sang out about checking lights, indicators and brakes. Thank goodness she did, we had completely forgotten about checking them. Everything checked out and off we went. It was a nice drive over to Mudgee, the countryside is looking good.

I'm pleased we picked the Riverside Caravan Park as the other one was just off the highway as we came into town and it didn't look very enticing and I imagine truck traffic would be very noticeable throughout the night. We got into Mudgee about 2:30 pm, we had a couple of "let's get out and check" stops along the way. 
The owners were very welcoming and offered us four different sites to choose from. We chose a drive through grassy site near the camp kitchen and not far from the gate to the river walk. Word got out we were virgins on our maiden voyage and people Came over to say g'day and  were only too happy to help us out. The guy at the park reminded me of a young Uncle Frank Larking. Nice bloke. Very helpful. 

Rod chatting up the locals.

Plenty of nice helpful people. I'm going to enjoy this caravanning caper.

The caravan park is shady, well laid out, clean, and flat, right next to the river and an easy walk into town, one block away from the information centre, two blocks away from the Mudgee Brewing Company where we had morning tea of coffee and a delicious slice of carrot cake. We decide then we would go back for tea that night. Wonderful ambiance, great staff and good food, and live entertainment. What more could you want. Their pale ale is world class and there's a few more beers there I wouldn't mind trying too. And it's a nice stroll back to the van park.

Mudgee is a lovely town, smack dab in the middle of some of Australia's best vineyards. Unfortunately the two wine tour companies in town don't do tours during the week which I think is an oversight on their behalf. We  were looking forward to a vineyard tour and a bit of responsible wine tasting. Oh well, their loss. There's a lot of very nice old buildings in town, remains of the gold rush era when the whole area was very populated and very rich, but I'm not knowledgable in that field so I won't go on about them. 

On Friday we took a trip over to Gulgong, which is about a half hour drive away. It's the town that use to be on the ten dollar note before they went plastic. Lovely little town, very narrow mayne street, yes that is how it's spelt, would not like to tow a van up that street, old fashioned shops and pubs. But the gem of the whole town is the Gulgong Pioneer Museum which was the reason we went there. 

What an astounding museum! The display is far beyond anything I have seen in a small country town before. So many exhibits and all beautifully presented.  It only costs $10 per adult to get in, there are concession rates too, and your docket lets you go in and out of the museum all day. Hows that for a bargain! ? 

We explored until 11am and then went across the road to the Gulgong RSL for morning tea. Once again, coffee and carrot cake, . . . . did I tell you Rod is working on a degree in carrot cake,  . . . . sitting outside in the shady and cool beer garden. Then back to the museum for more exploring. 

Lots of the old buildings were already on the site and were what formed the foundation of the museum when donated to the town for that sole purpose. Some have been dismantled and transported and resurrected here. Shops, school, pubs, bank, garage, council chambers.
There is a shed full of wagons and gigs and sulkies, most of them in workable condition, another shed full of antique farm machinery including harvesters and threshers and a few traction engines, . . . . . Did I tell you I just love traction engines? 

The maze of rooms inside the three old houses that form part of the museum were full of wonderful gadgets, A hospital room, a dentist room, a barbers shop and a couple of very good video shows one covering the role of the women in the area from the pioneers right put to and including the land army during the Second World War. And you're seated on banks of seats from the old Gulgong Opera house to watch them. (However did they manage to sit in those seats with full skirts)
We went back over to the RSL club for lunch at their Chinese restaurant and chose a set menu for two, $32, which was enough to take some back to the van for tea that night. 
Then back to the myriad of rooms in the museum getting slightly side tracked looking at things we had previously missed. But eventually we arrived back in the rooms full of handicrafts. So many wonderful clothes and lace and sewing, and knitting and every kind of handwork imaginable. I spent many long minutes drooling over exquisitely crocheted lace collars and cuffs!  (very rare to come across) and several matching lengths described as inserts which would have been stitched around the skirt. And ultra fine cotton fabric underwear embellished with inserted lace panels. All so beautiful and delicate looking.

We decide we are going back there next time we are in the area as we are sure we missed heaps of exhibits, but we were both so very back and footsore we had to call it a day around 3:30pm.
On the way back to Mudgee we lost the drivers side clip on towing mirror, so bought another better set at the local car/caravan/camping shop.  People in the park around us came to help us put them on, but they were quite easy really, they were saying how it's usual to go thru three or four sets before you finally find a decent set that works for you.  We're seriously thinking of getting them properly fitted to the car. Seems to be the sensible way to go and then you don't have to worry about putting them on and taking them off and putting them back on again as apparently you are not supposed to drive around with towing mirrors if you are not towing something. Another lesson learned. 

Got back to the van park to find two old Ducks had taken up residence next to us. LOL
I did the best I could to pre-stuff them while we were there. They were very friendly but wouldn't come anywhere near enough to the BBQ.
It was cold at night. We didn't mind the little double bed and snuggled instead of putting the heater on. I don't think we are going to have to upgrade the mattress as it didn't bother either of us. Must be those springy slats underneath. After so much activity we both slept well.  Decided we'd change the bedding for linens and blankets that fit a double bed and go with a bigger queen sized blanket and Rod's big black quilt on the bed tho, so less chance of baring backs when turning over. Beautiful weather otherwise. 

We packed up on Saturday in quite a short amount of time. Once again all the various jobs and checks flowing from one to another, and once again forgetting to do brakes and indicators until we got out of town a few Kms. We headed over to Bathurst, via Lithgow. We've driven a motorhome down the winding road thru Sofala to Bathurst and didn't think it would be a good idea for novices to try taking a caravan down there. Popped into to see Di and Johnno, home basing it at their son Chris' place. I fell for his Great Dane, . . . . . literally,  . . . . . yep, I took a tumble over Scoobie and ended up on the ground. I felt sure I would be broken and bleeding somewhere but all that was damaged was my pride, few bumps on the bits I landed on and a bleeding finger. Got off rather lightly although I am feeling the tumble a couple of days later in my hip and shoulder.

All in all, I would say, our first foray into the nomadic life went well. Thanks for all the encouragement and help. 

Everything was Jus Perfek! 

See ya all around sometime.