Oldies at Large – Out on the Tar at Last

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 7.06.44 amWe are ‘on the road’ finally! We drove out of the gate and barely looked back.  Though hubby managed to collect the cover for the gas water system and wiped it out… nahhhh who needs hot water in summer, fix it latter … just add it to the list. We will return on occasion, for better or worse, to check up on the home and hearth but mostly our home now will be in our cosy 20 feet of caravan along with two dogs and a solar and gas supply. I haven’t told you much about our caravan but it has taken three years in the organizing… actually longer than that if you count our adventures in the Bitch Box.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 7.09.05 amSeveral years ago we bought our first caravan, which affectionately become known as the Bitch Box, mostly because it was to help house my new pup Tuppi on my travels. Tup stayed glued to my side from the very first, she became a fixture in my life to help me over a rough health patch while I scooted about the countryside, newly retired and full of living my life. A health scare does that to you somehow.

The Bitch Box travelled with us, or rather we travelled with it, up and down the country side regularly. She crossed the Nullabor several times and climbed over the Great Dividing Range more times than I or she cares to remember.

My favourite trip would have to be ‘Out on the Never Never’ where my Chum-in-law and I crossed the continent on a right royal adventure together and you can read about it in the travelogue. It’s a candid account of our journey and a wonderful adventure brim with treasured memories. It just goes to prove that you’re never too old to embark on such an adventure and we had a rip-roaring time of it to boot. Check out ‘Around the Campfire Series’ of travelogues if you have the time to join us on some of our past travels.

That little caravan of ours was a gem, we bought her for ‘shilings’ and sold her for a ‘quid’ and she will journey always in our hearts. The Bitch Box lives on in another life now with her newer happy owners in a ‘classic vintage caravan’ club and I hope she gets the accolades she deserves. She taught us a great deal, she taught us what it was we would need to fulfil our dream of spending many years on the road in our retirement and she taught us to love the life we now are jumping into.

When our present caravan came onto the market three or so years ago we knew that he was just the van for us. He had everything we wanted in a future home and then some and with absolutely no hesitation we bought ourselves the ‘Grampie Flat’ as he is now affectionately known. This guy rates in amongst the big boy toys and we just adore living in the confines of our new mobile residence. Our friends and family thought we, hubby and I, were insane when we moved into the Grampie Flat several weeks ago now, still while we were parked in the backyard (see a past post) but it has been a wonderful opportunity. We have found many small things that needed attention and have had the invaluable opportunity to attend to these little chores, repairs and developments. This is to be our life and we have wanted this forever it seems sometimes.

I’ve rearranged the cupboard space a few times already so as to be more convenient and the list of small stores and items we needed is now almost all crossed off, but it will never really be empty I suspect. I’ve become very accustomed to sitting out under the awning of a morning to see the sun rise and to listen to the birds greet the day and it has been a delight I have learnt to love and appreciate.

In our years leading up to this our escape we have learnt some invaluable lessons and I would encourage the 50’s something crowd looking for a like lifestyle out on the track to experiment in the prospect of your retirement. We have always camped out on holidays as a family and we did the overseas jaunt thing early as well. We trialled all manner of options… resorting it … the camper trailer option … even the rotation in visit the kids option but the Grampie Flat suits us the best.

I would like to invite you along for the journey btw, you can subscribe to this blog quite easily and you’ll get an email when there is a new posting. You are most welcome along on our travels and I would enjoy reading any comments, or hails you might like to leave. Check out past posts which are gathered together on the ‘Oldies at Large page.’ We don’t plan on doing the ‘caravan park’ thing much and as we have two pups travelling with us the national park visits are limited but not impossible. Free camping is our favourite option by far and the one we will choose in every opportunity particularly on the limited income we have allowed ourselves as it is our most practical and comfortable option.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 7.50.20 pmFortunately we have had quite a lot of experience in this from past years and there are no reservations when we pull up out there in the bush looking for what could be anything from a night stop-over to a week stretched. For decades I have watched and learnt much from my wandering rels, of which there were quite a few from the good ole days before the ‘Camps around Australia’ bible hit popularity. Life is so much easier since the campers bible it the shelves. For those who don’t know what this is, it is the free-campers bible and an invaluable resource for camping locations around Aus, both free and those moderately priced.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 7.08.12 amBut at the moment we are holed up on our first freecamp and it is beyond delightful. We have spent our first night out in our new life and it is everything you could imagine. The reality of not having to return home anytime soon is wonderful, this is now our life and I couldn’t be happier.

We are camped up at Heifer Creek barely a few hours from home, just southish of Gatton in SE Queensland and the summer storms are everything you could learn to love. It is such a delightful spot here I only wish I could walk you around the wide sweep that is bordered by the gentle flowing creek. People are coming and going and some are settling happily, hubby is off introducing himself to other caravaners and happy hour is about to start.

How can I bring to you the wild thunderstorm that swept up the valley scaring the campers from the lower flats… the pleasure and delight of swimming in the swimming hole in the heat of the day and a hot day it was too… the temps in the high 30’s C , though our valley had a shifting breeze that teased you. It is hard to describe the rolling grass meadow cuddled by the high embankments of the hills surrounding us in this beautiful valley.

I love the sound of the cicada chirping wildly in the afternoon, as delighted as we were in the cool storm that swept the valley. The storm was then followed by the sun breaking through, cheering the evening shadow as it spilled down the mountainside and valley enveloping us all. I am in 7th heaven here and it is hard to think of leaving. It is so different a life style from four walls and a job to pay for it all that we laboured through for so many years raising the kids and co’. Now is a new beginning and it is beyond our wildest imagination, the sense of freedom, the sense of happily being a part of the wilderness, the sounds of the dusk and the wet grasses that harbour the noisy insects as they fill the valley with a song. But it is the rolling thunder down the valley that I love the most. I wish you could hear it…

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 7.07.40 amIt is the history of the place though that fascinates me and at the moment I am uncovering the small stories. Grantham nearby has a tragic tale to tell in recent times as it lay in the path of a summer torrent, which most recently swept away lives and drowned the town but there are other histories here. All that testament to the power of those summer storms which have now scared the campers from the lower flats, each one knowing the story.

There are other stories written here too, those etched into tree’s, scars where foot holds have been cut as kids and others climbed up along the trunk since the tree first bent to the creek. There are other stories too … those where long wooden bowls have been carved from the outer tree, leaving the tree to live on but tell the tale of a woman in need of a bowl. There are paths pressed into the banks where a million feet have trodden over the years following a path to the cool creek flow. I love these stories, and I love discovering them as I walk about the camp.

Welcome to my new world.  Let me share it with you if only for just this moment.

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