Devil Wheelers Christmas Dinner

The Dell Luck Oval was the sight for the Devil Wheelers Tasmania (a chapter of the CMCA) Christmas dinner and weekend away. One of the advantages of joining any sort of club is the comararderie and friendship that revolves around a group of people that meet up on a regular basis.

This weekend is all about enjoying each others company rather than taking in the sites.

The first six rigs to arrive were all 5th wheelers, you don’t see this very often.

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Sixteen vans and motorhomes came for the weekend, some for only a day or two, some for the four nights. We even had three 5th wheelers from the mainland, thanks to the CMCA magazine, the Wanderer and word of mouth either from the internet or chance meetings in the street.

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The good things about these get togethers is that someone always lets their hair down, the bad thing is that there is always someone with a phone ready to record it. Phil Cowmeadow is usually the person letting his hair down.



Another weekend getaway with a small group of friends for a couple of nights gave Dianne and I a chance to explore another small town in northern Tasmania. We have travelled through Westbury numerous times and hardly even give it a second look. Westbury has long been bypassed by a highway upgrade. We decided we needed to stop and see what Westbury has to offer. A fantastic place to spend a couple of days, only one problem, the free camp in the middle of town is about to close. The Meander Valley Council has been forced into this decision by a  “competitive neutrality” ruling that stop it providing free camping in direct competition with caravan parks. The problem is there is no caravan park close by around Westbury, so the local businesses suffer and campers have been stopped from staying in a lovely location right in the middle of an interesting little town. As a side note the Meander Valley Council has referred the decision to close its free camps for review before they make any decisions

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Westbury is relatively flat and the group enjoyed a couple of walks around the old Bass Highway, now renamed the Meander Valley Highway, as well as a small shopping centre, the Village Green and the Town Common.

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Westbury has lots of interpretive signs around the town

Dianne has purchased a new electric Leitner Libelle folding bike. Hopefully this will compliment our camping setup and help us keep fit. While it is an electric bike, the Leitner Libelle has several pedal assist modes ranging from no assistance with pedalling only through to full electric operation. The aim of the electric bike is to use the electric capabilities to hilly sections and also use low assistance to increase the distance we are able to cover while still enjoying ourselves and increasing our fitness levels at the same time. Five of us enjoyed a bike ride around Westbury, two of us on electric bikes , while  the other three had to rely solely on pedal power. It was Dianne’s first ride on the electric bike other than around the back yard at home. By the time we finished our ride, she was getting the hang of the controls and easily able to match the power levels of the electric motor to the gradients that we encountered on our trip around the back streets of Westbury.

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Exploring on bikes has opened up another side of sightseeing the parks and streets of small towns that we visit. It also keeps us just a bit fitter.

A couple of us also ventured along the road to Pearns Steam World, a very comprehensive array of steam engines and vintage farm machinery.

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Lots to take in here for anyone interested in vintage machinery

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Photo borrowed from website as lighting a little dull for me to get a good shot



Another weekend off and we are off to Deloraine for a couple of nights. Only 80km from home, so we don’t need to spend hours travelling. A small free camp beside the almost defunct horse racing track. A football ground in the middle is well used but all the horse racing facilities are very run down, probably never to be used again except for some horses that are trained here.

Deloraine has two pedestrian bridges crossing the Meander River providing some picturesque walks along both banks of the river.

Fifties Diner

A Fifties Diner is a must see in Deloraine. Step back in time at the 50’s diner. Lots of memorabilia inside, old fuel bowsers, oil bottles, records, juke boxes and lots of caricatures and everthing from the fifties and sixties.  Take half an hour to check out all the artifacts around the walls and then have an old fashioned milkshake or spider just to top off the experience.

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They even had a life size Betty Boop

Even when we go camping we can’t get out of babysitting duties, they track you down, good thing it is no trouble and only for a few hours.

We even went and checked out another free camp in Westbury, where we plan to head to on my next weekend off. This is the beauty of Tasmania, free and low cost camps. It is just a short drive to the next town and a lots more to check out. The womens cricket were in action here this weekend, we will have to see who is playing next time.

I am always amazed at what people carry on the rear of their caravans that add to unstability and safety of their rig. This week I came across something I had never heard of before, a towbar extension. In my opinion anything that extends the pivot point away from the rear axle has got to decrease the stability of the combination.

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A towbar extension just can’t be good for stabilty

We also enjoyed another great meal in a country pub at the Deloraine Hotel. This has become a little bit of a tradition when free camping, get a free camp and spend the money saved in the town. A couple of counter meals and a few drinks shows that we spend some money in the town.


Latrobe Tas

Time flies when your having fun. I have been back at work for approx 6 weeks. Our new Iveco has taken up all my spare time, adding a few modifications and upgrading some of the wiring.

The weather has been very average, the van is packed, I have the weekend off. Will the weather be kind for a couple of days or do we call it off and wait another 3 weeks for my next weekend off. We have 2 or 3 campsites lined up. Our plan is to find one where we are not up to our ankles in water and mud.

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In the driveway, ready for the first trip in our new Iveco

The Latrobe RV campsite is our preferred choice and it does not disappoint. A couple of large puddles let us know that we should chose our spot carefully, however the rest of the area is well drained and we have nothing to worry about even though there was close to 30mm of rain only two days ago.

The best part of Latrobe is the campsite is only a 100m walk to the main street and within walking distance of most that Latrobe has to offer. Some people baulk at the $10 a night cost collected by the local school, but this can be saved by not having to travel for a couple of days. There is also plenty of short day trips. The Latrobe campsite is the perfect place to spend the first night for travellers off the “Spirit” as it is only 10km away.

On Saturday, six of us piled into the Iveco, lots of room, even with 4 seats across the rear.

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We checked out the new CMCA site at Railton, a nice site right next to a free camp and just up the road, another one behind the local pub. Three freedom camps within a few hundred metres, lots of choice for the town of topairy. Next stop was to check out the free camp at Sheffield, right next door to the steam railway yards.

An unexpected bonus was an old cable log loader that I used to repair back in the eighties. It was an old beast then but very effecient, it could outlift anything an excavator could. Sadly the big logs that it used to handle have long disappeared and the excavator does the job with ease now. It is funny how the women weren’t the slightest bit interested in a piece of Tasmanian logging history.

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I found this at the Heritage Railway yards in Sheffield

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Bringing back memories of years gone by

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Major repairs outside in all the elements as it was too large to fit in the workshop. It must have been a big deal as I took my camera to work back in the late 80’s, early 90’s, from memory

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It took weeks to get it to this stage, now we have to put it back together

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All back together, a test run up in the log yard before going back into the bush. The log in the grab is only a baby compared to what the Skagit could actually lift

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Besides the four stabilising cylinders, everything was cable operated by winch drums controlled by an air operated brake system locking up the seperate winch drums needed for each task that is now done with hydraulics in modern day excavators.

We decided to go to Tasmazia for some pancakes, just because we were in the area. We didn’t try out the maze, we could of still been looking to find our way out. Children would have a ball up here, so would the big kids, a very quirky place.

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We will let them think the sign is correct


We stopped for a look along the Sheffields main street as we headed back to Latrobe. A visit to the World of Marbles and the Contraptuary is well worth a look. A gold coin donation to view an amazing collection of “contraptions”, most are hands on and can be played with. It will keep the big kids amused for a while. For anyone lucky enough to sail of the “Spirit of Tasmania”, the entertainment on Deck 9 is sometimes performed by the creator of the contraptions.

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We also purchased a nice variety of fudge from Fudge’n’goodCoffee for some happy hour snacks, each piece cut into six to allow us to sample the different flavours , a little expensive but very nice.

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We had plenty to do around Sheffield and we didn’t even look at any of the murals, although we have seen most on previous trips.

A counter meal on the Saturday night at Mackies Hotel topped off a great weekend.


Quick Trip to Brisbane

Our holiday was over for another year, but I had purchased an Iveco Daily while on the Gold Coast. I now had to go and collect it. I needed to find a flight to the Brisbane Airport and also book another trip on the “Spirit”. With only one ship on the run, while the other was in dry dock. The first two efforts to try and book both trips, one of them would become sold out or the cheap flights would disappear. Finally a Monday morning flight from Launceston (Tas) at 6.20am to Brisbane with a very short stop over in Melbourne and a 7.30pm sailing from Port Melbourne back to Tassie on Wednesday night, two and a half days to drive almost 1800km.

The alarm went off at 3.00am, an hour and a half drive to Launceston, check in was an hour before the flight because of heightened security risks. The fog was like pea soup around the airport, just what I needed I thought, but not to worry my flight left on time. I landed in Melbourne and by the time I found where my connecting flight was leaving from, they were calling for final boarding. A two hour flight and Brisbane here I come.

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The Gateway Bridge on the M1 Motorway just before the plane landed in Brisbane.

I had barely picked up my bag from baggage pickup and Leon McTaggart was on the phone. He was just down the road, he came around and picked me up. We then went to a local service centre for a coffee and to finalise all the details, get a final rundown on the Iveco’s workings, hand over a cheque, say our goodbyes and I was on my way out of the city, hoping to make Goondiwindi before dark. While the Iveco had a GPS I was very pleased that I had the Sygic GPS App on my Samsung S7 phone. I didn’t need to learn how to use a new GPS operating system trying to cross Brisbane heading for Ipswich. I will leave that for when I get home, not travelling through the tunnels and toll roads of inner Brisbane. Anyway I was on the road just before midday, a couple of stops for a coffee and stretch the legs and Goondiwindi was reached just after 4.30pm. The first 360km was out of the way. I checked into a cabin at the Goondiwindi Tourist Park. A bonus was a free shuttle bus to and from one of the local pubs for a counter meal and then early to bed.

Day 2 started after a good nights sleep and breakfast at McDonalds, no laid back breakfast when not on holidays. Day 1 was just getting familiar with driving a new vehicle, Day 2 was a chance to see how things worked and  how it went. 750km of driving today gave me the chance to see how the Iveco handled at 90km/h, 100km/h and even 110km/h on cruise control. While I don’t plan to drive at 110km/h very often, I was extremely pleased how smooth it travelled, with no vibrations or rattles anywhere. I normally drive at 90km/h with the 5th wheeler in tow and the Iveco will happily handle this in 6th gear all day long.  An Ace Caravan Park cabin at West Wyalong was my 2nd stop on the way to Melbourne, a very nice counter meal at the Royal Hotel, just a short walk up the road, early to bed and an early start for the final 590km tommorrow.

Day 3 started a little earlier than planned, while the Ace Caravan Park was very centrally located, it was also very noisy as it was almost at the junction of the Mid Western Hwy and the Newell Hwy, as well as a train line to the rear of the park. I was on the road at 5.15am and in no hurry as I had plenty of time now. The cruise control on 90km/h was a good option as it was still dark and I did come across 3 very large grey kangaroos just standing by the side of the road. The last thing I needed was to clean up one of these in my new toy.

One thing I did observe was the amount of trucks pulled up for a sleep in the roadside rest areas. This is something Grey Nomads normally don’t see if they are travelling in daylight hours. We drive past these parking areas during the day and they are mostly empty with only a few travellers stopped in them. Trust me they are very well patronised overnight by our truckies having their mandatory rest breaks. No wonder the truckies get irate when grey nomads setup camp in them, especially the truck dedicated areas.

The sun eventually came up and I was making good time, just a couple of stops for breakfast, stretch the legs and to top up with fuel. I finally arrived in Port Melbourne very early at 2.30pm. As the Iveco was under 6m parking was not a problem, less than a 100m from the check in gate.

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You won’t find parking this close with a caravan in tow

With 3 hours to fill in, I filled in my time with a walk around the foreshore in both directions away from the “Spirit”. It is all flat walking, with plenty of interesting sights to take in.

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Lost of history around the port area

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The view from Princes Pier.

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Another smaller pier gives another view of the Spirit.

Time soon passed by and I was soon on board. In another first for me I had decided to sleep in the recliners this time as I was travelling alone and didn’t see the need for a cabin. The recliners were reasonably comfortable, although they could have layed back a bit more. I did manage a good nights sleep, I didn’t hear anyone snoring probably did help. The recliners were ok but I will choose a private cabin when Dianne and I head north next year and we will definitely won’t be travelling as far each day either.

Back Home to Tassie

We are heading home today after six weeks travelling to and from Queensland. We have never travelled towards the ferry terminal from the east before. After looking at three options including one suggested by the caravan park and one by a friend, both of which involved driving along the edge of Port Phillip Bay for the last part of the trip. We decided to use the Motorway and the Domain Tunnel (I think) onto the Westgate Freeway and into the ferry terminal. We choose this route to avoid as many traffic lights and general traffic as possible.

We had a 1.00pm checkout from the park, which while we were grateful, we would have three hours to fill in. We did manage to delay leaving until 1.30pm. We decided to park in a known parking area on Williamstown Rd. We were planning to use the Todd Rd exit, however the GPS had us come off at the Montague St exit as we were in the wrong lane, no real problem as long as we didn’t go under the Railway bridge, which only has a 3m clearance and the source of three bridge strikes per week on average by high vehicles. As long as we turned into Normanby Rd, which leads straight into Williamstown Rd, we would  have no problems. We managed a U-turn in light traffic just before Todd Rd and parked in our preferred spot on Williamstown Rd. With almost three hours to fill in, a couple of short walks revealed we were only 200m from a small group of shops that the local truckies were using for their needs. Two or three small coffee shops, a bottle shop and a chemist were just off the main road, nothing extravagant but if the truckies use it, they must be good.

Route to the Ferry Terminal that we used

The main issue with catching the ferry to Tasmania is finding a parking spot for anyone towing with a caravan. We have stopped on Williamstown Rd. for our last two trips, several places to park and no parking fees, with a couple of a small parks to stretch the legs.

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Map showing where we parked, the Montague St Railway Bridge and the Todd St exit that we should of taken, only to prevent us from doing a U-turn.

Check in begins at 5.00pm, we left our parking spot at 5.15pm aiming to arrive just before 5.30pm, hoping that all the early birds had checked in. We were able to drive straight into the quarantine check point with no holdups at all. Once through quarantine we proceeded to the ticket office with no delays, we usually line up for anything up to 40 minutes, not this time, almost no one ahead of us. We went straight through the ticket check in, and within five minutes we were parked up on Level Five in the over 2.1m level with some general freight and lots of other caravans and motorhomes. We found our room for the overnight crossing and were ready for a feed by 6.00pm, only problem was the restaurant wasn’t open for another half an hour. I did say we were quickly on board.

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Access to Deck 5 (and others) via the cue on the left, a quick U turn and head for the ramp. The ramp is steep enough that one does not want to stop halfway up with the 5th wheeler in tow. We just let the vehicle in front get well in front before we head up the ramp.

Anyway we had a calm sailing and arrived safely in Devonport ready to disembark just after 6.30am. We arrived back in Penguin just after 7.15am, ready for breakfast and now we must adjust to the colder weather that Tasmania in August will deliver.

Dandenong South

We had another early start this morning, around 9.00am. All plain sailing, but there were some weather forecasts being broadcast about some damaging winds for Saturday, our 2nd day on the outskirts of Melbourne. We arrived at the Berwick Showgrounds well before lunch, a lovely spot, but, there is always a but, all the camping areas were under some of the worst looking trees you would not want to be anywhere near with damaging winds forecast. We were both adamant that there was no way we would be setting up camp here. A couple of phone calls later, the Dandenong South Caravan Park had some vacancies. As it turned out they had a couple of spots sheltered from the wind. It was around 2.00pm by the time we were setup and sat down for lunch. The rest of the day was spent looking around display homes. It is information overload, but we did see some great ideas, all we need is a budget to match.

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Day 2 started with a short bus trip to Dandenong Train Station, where we met up with Tony and Thuy Maw, a former workmate and his wife then by train to Flagstaff Train Station in what should of been a straight forward 40 minute trip. However fate struck again, this time by an electrical malfunction on some switch gear. A 30 – 40 minute wait and we were on our way again. Flagstaff Station is only a very short walk to the Queen Victoria Market for Diannes once a year visit. No trip away doesn’t involve a visit to the market. A quick tram trip after Diannes retail therapy to the Southbank precinct, a walk around and a cup of coffee and only a short walk across the Yarra River to Flinders Street Train Station and back to Dandenong, picked up Tony’s car and finished off the day with a buffet meal at a Food Star Restaurant.

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If you leave here and you are still hungry, there is something wrong.

Day 3, started with a visit to the Dandenong Market, much the same as the Queen Victoria Market. However it does keep Dianne Happy.

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A  trip to Frankston and lunch at a foreshore restuarant, a walk along the boardwalk, with a walk out to the end of the Frankston Pier.

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The Frankston Pier.

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Hope they don’t grow this big in real life.

A two or three day stop over in Melbourne is enough for me to be pleased I don’t have to live here, as driving in the traffic is not for me. It doesn’t worry me, but I would much prefer life to be just a little less full on. Tommorrow we are heading home, our trip has almost come to an end.


Another early start today, we want to get to the Sale Showground early today, rain is expected late afternnon, we need to do some washing and get it dry before it rains. It didn’t when we had to wait for a fuel tanker to get out of the way at Bruthen so we could fill up with diesel. A quick setup, straight to laundrette, washing done and yes we did get it dry, as it was very windy, although we had a couple of small showers.

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How would you like to drive this motorhome around Australia

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A great firepot 

Day two at Sale was just checking out what the town had to offer, just a lazy day really with a walk around the botanical gardens.

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We also had a look at the historical Swing Bridge on the outskirts of Sale. It has been fully restoredto working order and it is opened at selected times each week. It has just been repaired again after vandals jammed the turning mechanism and caused over a hundred thousand dollars damage.

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We are heading to the Berwick Showground tommorrow, it is only 50km to the Spirit terminal. Rain is forecast for the next few days, lets hope it doesn’t hinder us for our last few days near Melbourne.

On the Banks of the Snowy River

On the road at 9.00am, we are travelling to the Snowy River, just off the Princes Highway today. It is a reasonable drive of 350km, we didn’t take into account that while the road is in good condition, driving was not fast by any standards, plenty of changing scenery, but up and down some windy roads all took time. We stopped to top up with water, grab some supplies and had lunch in Bega, all that probably took two hours. Back on the road we didn’t arrive at the Snowy River until after 4.00pm

There are several campsites on both sides of the river. You can access either side of the river at Orbost. We stayed to the northeast side of the river on the road that heads to Marlo. The road is only metres from the river only seperated by a line of trees. the campsites are only small, some had room for a small camper or two, some had lots of large overhanging trees. As always seems to be the case, the last one was the one we chose as there was some grass and no overhanging limbs.

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A reasonably level grassed area between the road and the river in a quiet country setting

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What more could you wish for, a free camp on the river, less than ten minutes off the highway

We have travelled through lots of country and seaside locations along the east coast heading from Sydney to Melbourne. We have not had time to explore at all, we plan to stop at the Sale Showground for a couple of days before one last stop at the Berwick Showground for three nights. We really only came this way to see what was on offer. Two or three weeks at a minimum would be needed to do this area justice and late February to mid April would be an ideal time. We have been very lucky with the weather, I am still in shorts until now, we may get one more fine day if we are lucky, but the forecast doesn’t look as good for the last few days of our holiday.

Potato Point (Beachcomber Holiday Park)

We set off for Batemans Bay around 9.00am, no problem navigating around Wollongong. The road south started off as two lanes, a few roadworks and then good single lane highway. Lots of different terrain to contend with, but lots to see. It is a shame that we do not have time to seriously check out all that the south east coast of New South Wales has to offer. We arrived in Batemans Bay right on lunch time. Too early to stop so we headed south for another hour after lunch and ended up at Potato Point at the Beachcombers Holiday Park at the mouth of the Tuross River. An isolated area in a national park. The last 2km’s was on a good solid road with no potholes, but boy was it rough, first gear all the way.

We had the choice of sites as there were only four other vans about, all we had to deal with were the kangaroos, plenty of them, but they were very tame. You could almost walk right up to them.

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Kangaroos outnumber the guests

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Kangaroos just making themselves at home

As the name suggests, there is lots of beach, it is approxiamately 2km to the mouth of the river from the park along some pristine beach. Tuross Head is on the other side of the river, although to reach it by road would be a 20km drive.

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Two deep channels and a couple of sand bars seperate me from Tuross Head and prevent me from going any further.

Tommorrow should see us setup camp on the banks of the Snowy River at Orbost, 100km east of the NSW/ Vic border.