Published: July 22nd 2012July 22nd 2012
Yes we are still alive, but have not really had a lot to report lately. First of all, an apology for all the typo’s in the last blog and the double entry of one of the photos. I was doing it (typing) live on the site and attempting to place the photos in the text so they would not end up at the bottom of the text. In our last blog we left you at Kununurra and I also meant to include a map of our travels. It can be found here:
We have continued our sprint across the top, stopping only at a free camp 120 kms west of Katherine, then Katherine and finally straight through to Darwin. I checked Marg into the Royal Darwin Hospital to have a bug treated that has caused us to make this sprint and continued on to a caravan park. Darwin is very busy at this time of the year as the weather is generally quite moderate with days around 27/28 C and nights around 15/16 C. Not when I was getting the van sorted at the first caravan park (had to move after 2 nights as they were booked solid) when the temp was about 35 C with unbelievable humidity. Even the thought of getting out of the car was enough to bring on a sweat. Anyway, we moved to the new park – that does not take bookings, at 7.00 am in the morning and at least it did not get too hot whilst getting settled again.
The caravan has developed an issue with one of its (independent) suspension arms so that needs to be sorted before we go anywhere further. I have found a place to do the work (Northern Truck Alignments), and I am confident that it will be fixed properly with them. Only problem is that a) a new arm has to come from Melbourne and that will take a minimum of 5 days by road, and b) NTA could not give me a booking until the following Wednesday. We leave Darwin and fly home on Thursday! Cutting everything a bit fine, but hey, it will all be alright on the day…
Marg proved to be a bit of a puzzle for the Drs. at RDH and after seeing everyone from the head surgeon to the tea lady she recovered and I have her back again. The RDH returns policy stinks as I believe I cannot take her back again – well that’s what she tells me. And I thought I was getting a fully reconditioned model too – bugger! We have had great support from Bronwyn, a friend of a friend, who lives in Darwin, which has made things a bit easier. I was rather hoping that Marg might have been cured on her delinquent shopping syndrome in this process, but we were not even back at the van before she had shredded Noni B, Susanne Grae, Katies and half a dozen other fashion shops in Darwin.
Getting here a bit ahead of schedule turned out to be a good thing as the Darwin Beer Can regatta was held on the weekend that we arrived, and it was definitely on my bucket list. I made the journey down to Mindil Beach on the Sunday afternoon and got into the scene. It was a fascinating experience with the ‘boats’ made with a lot of hard work – well someone has to drink the contents of the cans or they wouldn’t float would they? There were several boats, although with events for seniors and juniors of both sexes meant that the boats saw more action than the individual crews. As there are no rules to govern the races some of the boats were looking a lot the worse for wear by mid afternoon. I took a short break to watch the thong (flip-flops, jandals or zori) throw. What a fantastic event; there were thongs flying in all directions, and the rules were very tight. You could use any method to throw the thong, but it must land in the 15 mt wide ‘field of play’. About 30% of competitors managed to keep their thongs on line and there were some good throws… and then up stepped Johnno. A person of slight stature and unassuming presence, but when the best throws were going 25 mts, his throw went 40 mts. Seems that he won the event last year and had been practicing every day since; that is a title that any man would be proud to have!
I nearly forgot to mention the smoke. Up here, around this time of the year, they do a lot of ‘controlled burns’ to reduce the fuel load for later at the height of the ‘dry’ season. The fire is not serious and it just whips along the ground cleaning out all the dry grass and litter that accumulates under the trees. But, oh the smoke and the noise if you are nearby. And it lingers for days as old logs and fallen branches smoulder on and on. As it happens on three nights ago, I was sitting in the van and I thought a hose had blown of a tap; there was a swishing, snapping sound just like water straight from a tap onto hard ground. I looked outside to see the entire sky was red and as I looked, I could see flames. The flames were not that far away. I checked with a neighbour and we decided to take a closer look. It appears that they had chosen to do a burn on the adjoining property to the East. There was a fire-break and the breeze was blowing away from the CP, but that did not stop the folk on that boundary from hosing down their vans!! The fire went around the southern boundary and the thick smoke hung around the CP all night. Every day we have been here there have been palls of thick grey/ grey-black smoke rising somewhere around the city. It is not pleasant.
There will be a short break from us as we spend a bit of time back in Melbourne, so you can all go back to work now safe in the knowledge that you will not be missing anything.