Friday, 7 October 2016

Road Test - Armidale

It’s been 269 days. That’s a long time … a really long time to be unable to do what you love to do. To be held back by barricades you didn't erect and were prevented from preventing. It’s long enough to lose desire; to stop trying.

It almost was for us.

After nearly four decades of packing the car and driving down the road and unpacking and then driving again, it all stopped in a busy street in Port Melbourne on 12th January. I won’t rake those coals again but it’s significant in order to establish how long and how difficult it has been to see our favoured life style kick started in the manner in which we have today.

You see today, the new van - modified after lots of sessions with Sue and I sitting with a cuppa at the small table and throwing ideas at one another - finally left, the house yard and waggled its tail at home.

Officially, we are calling it a road trial. Scared of plans because of their failures and subsequent heartaches, we have no plan. At some time in the next three weeks and for days uncounted, we will be in Yamba. It’s an old haunt and its familiarity offers safe harbour. Either side, we’ll just roam slowly and enjoy the bush, unconcerned about destination or distance.

Today, we left home after lunch and went north along the New England Highway. We got our first taste of any difference in fuel consumption, as the new van is marginally larger and has a boot area which will bring weight forward of the axle and therefore more weight onto the ball. A larger water tank compensates by shifting backward of the axle. The trip up the Moonbis and across the southern part of the tablelands returned a surprising 12.9L/100km, only 0.4 more than the previous van.

We decided to stay on the northern end of Armidale, at the Highlander C’van Park. It was a nice surprise. Well maintained grounds and very clean ammenities, which despite their age, have been given a new lease of life. The camp kitchen was well appointed - although we didn’t use it - and as it was an overnight stop, having a drive through site was a bonus. With our Big 4 discount, the tariff was under $30 which made it very good value. Despite being close to the big roundabout on the New England Highway, road noise wasn’t apparent.

The only event of the day came after dinner when the frying pan and saucepans decided to kamikaze from the perch above the sink and land on me as I was getting shoes out from their hidy whole under the bed. One lump but no swearing!

It good to be on the road again.

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