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.
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.
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.
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.