Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Disastrous Weather

November 16:
I played golf this morning just like I do every other Saturday. The forecast was for showers and storms developing later in the day. We had been experiencing similar weather for many days prior to this with late afternoon showers which brought with it thunder and lightning.
Our weather normally comes from the south and once it reaches us it tends to hug the Great Dividing Range to the west with the worst of the weather effecting towns to the north like Ballina, Bryon Bay and Tweed Heads.

But on this Saturday afternoon the storms that battered Sawtell remained out over the ocean and we experienced the worst weather the area has received in many years. The storm lasted just over an hour with twenty minutes of hail, some the size of golf balls. We watched as the hail stones belted down on our gardens stripping leaves from trees, cracking windows, denting our awnings and causing considerable damage to our Bushtracker.

Every surface on the van has been damaged especially the top. It looks as though someone has taken to it with a ball hammer, however the four solar panels on the roof came through unscathed.
We are insured with CIL and have sent a series of photos to Bushtracker on the Sunshine Coast who will provide CIL with a quote for repairs. A CIL assessor has inspected our van and informed me that we will require a total re-skin.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Canberra to Sawtell

November 4:
A chilly five degrees inside the van this morning. Today we left Canberra after spending the past seven days camped at Exhibition Park. We had visited family and friends over the past week. Heading north along the Barton Highway we passed through Murrumbateman. Its located 40 kms north of Canberra and is surrounded by vineyards that produce cold climate wines. 
We joined the Hume Highway near Yass and headed west for 17 kms before turning north onto Lachlan Valley Way. Passing through Boorowa, a small country town of just over a thousand people before continuing on towards Cowra. Cowra is surrounded by farmland and is a wine producing region known for it's Chardonnay. During the second World War Cowra housed captured Japanese and Italian military personnel and in 1944 Japanese POW's staged a breakout from the camp. This breakout became known as the Cowra Breakout. Some prisoners were killed, some committed suicide and four Australian's were killed.
We stopped in Molong for lunch at the local bakery before proceeding onto Yeovil. We prefer to take the road less travelled rather than major roads but unfortunately the road from Molong would best be described as a goat track and was in a shocking condition. We set up camp in the showground which is listed in Camps 7 but there was no caretaker in residence so we just parked behind one of the tin sheds to shield ourselves from the strong winds that we had experienced throughout the day. There were toilets taps and power boxes but we chose not to use any of the facilities as we hadn't paid any money. And just like so many places we have camped we had the place to ourselves, except for several cows in the adjacent field.

November 5:
A very chilly zero degrees this morning with temperatures forecast to rise into the thirties and another day of thirty plus km/h winds expected. Our intention was to camp at the showgrounds at Gulgong tonight but we have now decided to spend three nights camped at Arakoon across the bay from South West Rocks so it was off to camp at Jerry's Plains in the Hunter Valley. The 40 kms of road from Yeovil into Wellington was in similar condition to the goat track we travelled on yesterday. Here we emptied our toilet cassette at the showgrounds and then refueled at $159.9 cpl before stopping in Gulgong for morning tea. We passed through Ulan with its open cut and underground coal mines, before we turned east onto the Golden Highway. The wind forecast was correct and for the majority of the day we were into a severe head wind. We came across a semi trailer 15 kms west of Denman carting a seven metre wide load and followed it until it pulled over at Denman Gap and let the now large queue of vehicles past.
November 6-8:
Nine degrees at 6:30 with some fog in the surrounding valleys and lovely blue skies. Thankfully the strong winds we had experienced for the past three days now appeared to be gone. We passed through Maitland 80 kms later and turned north at Hexham before refuelling at Raymond Terrace at 159.9 cpl. From here we had an easy run north to Arakoon and arrived just after 1:00. We have a lovely site looking across the bay to South West Rocks.