Emerald Christmas 2008 Message

With apologies to all good movie makers, but we are only using a 4 year old Sony 3.2M digital camera. We had a go at making a Christmas message this morning. The movie is 5.1Meg in size, which is the smallest I could do and get a reasonable result.If you double-click the following link you should get to see our first attempt at making a movie.


For us, 2008 has been a year of massive change. We are enjoying our new lifestyle and are slowly getting used to the heat here in Emerald. We are both slowly learning to “chill out” which can only be a good thing. The lack of daylight saving means the sun is up well before 5am at present and we are getting used to that. No we are not getting up then, but we are doing more things in the morning before the heat sets in.

So, to all our family and friends, we wish you a happy Christmas and a great 2009. We will have a drink (or three) for you on Christmas Day. We will be thinking of you all !

Comments (1)

Emerald, pre Christmas

For us ex southerners, the heat since our arrival in Emerald has been testing. Most days have been in the high 30’s, with a small respite last weekend when low 30’s were a welcome “cool’ change. David has adjusted a bit better than Jan so far, but the aircon in the caravan has been running continuously. We have been swimming a few times in the town pool which is conveniently located right next door to our caravan park.

On our arrival we spent a bit of time finding things around town and seeing what the work prospects are like. We have been battling through the system since – computer-based testing and all. So far so good, we got a call today setting up an interview for Jan 5th with a local telecommunications outfit.

Lots of businesses close tomorrow till Jan 5th, so it is a bit slow in the recruitment businesses at present. The job losses in the mining industry is a bit of a worry also. So we have been doing a bit of sightseeing.

Last week we went west out to the gem fields around Anakie, Sapphire and Rubyvale. Didn’t run into Dennis but if he is still selling soft drinks he should be doing well (Thorpdalites will understand this line.) We went east earlier in the week and had a poke around Blackwater, the so-called centre of the coal fields. Today we headed north and spent time in Capella and Clermont. Both towns are service centres for coal mines. We both liked the Clermont area.

Couple of grey nomads hoping the delay timer is going to work - Theresa Creek Dam, Clermont

Just up the road from the dam, I took the following photo. This dump truck is only a baby compared to some we have seen either on the road or in yards in the industrial areas of the towns we have visited.

The Suzi driver has set a goal to drive a bigger version of this type of dump truck - somewhere, sometime

The Suzi driver has set a goal to drive a bigger version of this type of dump truck - somewhere, sometime

We haven’t made any plans for Christmas yet but we are planning to go over to the coast for a few days and have a look around the Rockhampton area. Rocky is about 300km east of here. Suzi is going well, as long as I remember to keep filling the petrol tank. Its range is only about 350km and I have managed to run out of petrol twice in recent weeks. The truck has a range of 1200km and our previous vehicle was good for 900km per tank. Well that’s my excuse for running out!        Our Christmas message will be our next post.

Leave a Comment

videos part 3

Leave a Comment

Busting out of NSW (will the last one out please turn off the lights)


We spent five nights in Moree. Had a bit of office work to catch up on. The internet access thingie worked fine so I got to update this blog. Also had a bit of government crap to sort out, but we got that done in the end. For the technophiles, I love the blue-tooth mouse, so much easier to use than the laptop touchpad and it frees up a USB port.

David's Moree office

And, thanks to Yvonne & Geoff Greneger’s suggestion we tried the hot artesian baths. They seemed to soak away some of my lingering aches and pains, so I am now a fan. Jan even got to go in her new boardshorts and rashie – getting a photo will be almost impossible, but I’ll try.

In windy spots, where there is plenty of room, the truck becomes a great help in blocking the prevailing winds, so as in the next photo, a trend in the site photos is developing.

Our site Moree Mehi River Caravan Park

Our site Moree Mehi River Caravan Park

Across the border

After a bit of prepacking the night before ie. putting Suzi into the truck and packing up the awning and stuff under it, we hit the road north. Managed to get away just before 9am. Northwest to Mungindi, the only town in the southern hemisphere that is dissected by a state border. (Good trivia question there). South of the rickety bridge there is a NSW Police Station and just over the bridge there is a Qld Police Station. We headed to St George, refueled the truck and had what turned out to be an early lunch (no daylight saving in Qld).

Fuel Economy

This was our first refuel since leaving Canberra. It was nice to see diesel at $1.31 as in Moree it was still $1.49. We got just on 3.3km/L . Truck on its own has averaged about 4.3 in recent years. Caravan will be close to 4t and the truck is probably somewhere between 7 and 8t with the back full of our gear. I might get into the habit of emptying our water tank, thereby saving 820kg, if we are going to continue to stay in caravan parks with good water supplies.

A big day out (on the road)

With an extra hour on our hands and a cool airconned cab to travel in (St George was expecting 38c), we decided to press on and try to break the back of the 836km trip from Moree to our next destination of Emerald. We travelled up through Roma and Injune and got as far as Rolleston before calling it quits for the day at about 5pm local time. Our Queensland welcome committee was soon greeting us – see next 2 photos.

We must be in Qld - green frog, Rolleston caravan park

We must be in Qld - green frog, Rolleston caravan park

Yes, we have hit cane toad country

Yes, we have hit cane toad country

Cane toads sure are ugly critters close up. Just on dusk they come crawling out from under just about any cool dark place. We have a few living under the slab beside our van here in Emerald.

Emerald on a hot Wednesday,  3 Dec 08

We had just a 140km run from Rolleston into Emerald via Springsure. Luckily we were able to get a long-term site in the Emerald Cabin & Caravan Village, less than 1km to the centre of town. The park is almost full and the shady sites are at a premium. We set up the van then went for a wander down town and I started checking out the jobs situation. There are a few prospects I am following up.

Emerald has certainly laid on a warm welcome – 37, 38, 38, 39 with 40 today. The van aircon has been going flat-out since we arrived, I have bought 2 silver tarps and have mounted them on the awning shademesh wall to try to deflect some of the scorching afternoon heat and I have bought a gazebo to provide some shade for Suzi.

Hot Emerald (40c when photo taken), Suzi now has her own carport

Hot Emerald (40c when photo taken), Suzi now has her own carport

We had tea at the local Bowlo on Friday night. Couldn’t believe it is not airconditioned – meal was OK but it was too sweaty to stay for the raffles so we went on to the Golfie. Whilst I think it is airconned, it was just as sweaty as the Bowlo so after one drink we headed back to the cool of our van. All readers back in Moruya should treasure the Cubs there, the equivalent 2 here in Emerald aren’t in the same league. I understand the Emerald Bowlo has just reopened after a fire but it sure seems to need a shake up. Their AGM was today and I stayed right away……..

From what we have seen so far we both like the town – there is another Club for us to try. We are going to stay here for a few weeks to fully check out the job situation.       Now where is that cool drink?

Comments (3)

Finally, we are grey nomads

First and foremost, let me tell you that it takes a lot of organising and hard work to go from a 5 bed home of 16 years habitation, to a 25ft caravan with a little bit of extra room in the tow vehicle, via a 3 bedroom home, with just a few boxes of family keepsakes in storage. A lot more than I imagined anyway. Well, that’s my justification for not updating this blog in recent weeks.

Moruya to Mogendoura

We vacated 82 Hawdon St Moruya on 11 November and shifted the caravan et al up to Peter Richardson’s property some 5K north west of Moruya. We spent just over a week there trying to make everything fit. It would be fair to say we are still carrying way too much stuff!

Peter’s carpentry skills bought about some good suggestions and we made a few modifications to the layout. Removable catches on the doors to the cupboards have made accessing then so much easier. I also shifted the tracks that locate Suzi as far left as possible, right next to the nearside wall so that I can squeeze past Suzi once it is loaded. Ratchet tie-downs are are breeze to use to restrain Suzi front and back.

The weber bbq has a home under the back of Suzi and the 60L Big Chilli 12/24/240V fridge/freezer I got for a bargain on the last day of the Batemans Bay Caravan & Camping expo travels in the back of Suzi, making it easily accessible even when she is loaded in the truck.

On a drizzly Tuesday morn we left Mogendoura for Canberra.


Towards the top of the Clyde Mountain we were back in second gear but then so are many heavily loaded vehicles. We camped at EPIC, the site of Summernats. They have plenty of room for bigger vehicles and at only $20 per night for a powered site are one of the cheaper sites anywhere. Lots of “carni” types there with their big set-ups, so we were a bit dwarfed by them.

Jan looking busy, EPIC Canberra

Spent time catching up with family – our son Rodney, David’s sister Christine and her family and David’s niece Cherie and her family. It’s been a while since we saw great nephew and niece Nicholas and Caitlin. Caitlin is no longer the shy retiring type she was.

Also spent time fine tuning things. Bought a laptop and a prepaid nextG internet access thingie. Pity Telstra registered it as a mobile phone rather than an internet access thingie. Along with Rodney we all wasted over 3 hours at a Telstra shop before they found out why it wouldn’t access the net. I spent 10 years working for Telecom but of late I have developed a huge dislike for the organisation they have become. Pity their powers-that-be didn’t feel the frustration many users have in trying to deal with them.

I also bought a Trax 430 navigator, an annex floor mat and a privacy shield to fit the awning. I few small modifications to the van have also been done – eg new catches on some of the cupboards as the supplied ones were impractical. Finally, on Sunday, 23 Nov 2008, we made the decision to hit the road on Tuesday morning. Monday we had lunch and tea with Rodney and let the wet weather pass.

Official Grey Nomads

So, as of Tuesday 25 November 2008, we have accepted the “grey nomads” tag. We packed up and hit the road by about 9.30am. Towing at about 95kph feels best but we can easily maintain the speed limit also, except on the steeper sections. We had a wander around Young before we hit Gooloogong, between Cowra and Forbes. Hats off to Cowra Council for supplying a free site, with power, water, showers and toilets. Good pub just over the road also.

Gooloogong free camp site

Found the navigator a great help already. Its speedo is a great help in Suzi as with the bigger tyres her speedo is about 10% under her actual speed. The navigator also acccepts co-ordinates and using the Camps book it quickly directed us to our next overnight stop.

Hickey Falls

After a visit to the shops at Dubbo we set up camp at Hickey Falls, a rest area south of Coonabaraban. Lovely setting – shady, just 25m walk to the falls and far enough off the road to be not too noisy.

Hickey Falls

We could hear thunder rattling around the nearby hills, but right on beer o’clock when I had climbed up to the back of Suzi to grab a stubby from the beer fridge all hell broke lose. We got pelted by a short sharp hail storm. Being the hero I am, I chose to stay in the back of the truck as the hail was quite painful.

Tombowler size hail after the storm had passed

We didn’t suffer any damage but just up the road Coonabaraban copped a lot of damage – we heard the hospital had to be evacuated, along with other buildings. Next stop Moree, for a few night.

Comments (3)

videos part 2

Leave a Comment

Videos part 1

Leave a Comment

A Productive 6 Weeks

Wow, I can’t believe it is now 6 weeks since my last post. BUT, I have been busy getting the truck (and Suzi) ready. Dirty drizzly rain this morning, so here comes an update.

Truck Body Work

The truck body has been repainted. Trims were removed and given a bit of spit and polish. The rear doors have new seals and new safety signs. The rear lights all have new lenses, as after 10years in the open air most of them had faded badly.

Heno after some paint and a fair bit of spit and polish
Heno after some paint and a fair bit of allround spit and polish
Heno's rear, after a fair bit of rejuvenation
Heno’s rear, after a good dose of rejuvenation

Truck Wiring Work

A Power Board has been installed in the body of the truck, just above where the truck batteries are mounted. The truck (start) batteries are 24volt. I have added an extra set of 24volt (house) batteries and a Dual Battery Isolator. A ‘smart’ Charger runs off these batteries to charge 12 volt batteries, one in the truck and 2 in the caravan (and Suzi’s battery if need be). I have also added a 2000watt 240volt Inverter that is also run off the 24volt house batteries. 24volt fluro lights have been installed in strategic places in the truck body. Another ‘smart’ Charger can charge all or some of the batteries from a 240volt supply.

Battery Power - 2 on left are 24V House, 12V House on right
Extra Battery Power – 2 on left are 24V House, 12V House on right is an old battery from our Vito van but is doing a good job in this role. 50mm conduit next to left-side battery is connection through insulated floor to the outside world.
Truck Power Board
Truck Power Board
Battery Box installed - vented to outside
Sealed Battery Box installed – vented to outside

Info For the Technical Types

Approx $4K (at cost) was spent on auto -electrical items. It is good having contacts in the trade. As I am a Technician by trade I did the design and wiring myself. The reference book “Motorhome Electrics” by Collyn Rivers was a welcome guide, especially in selecting cable sizes. I couldn’t believe just how expensive copper cable has become – I spent over $1K just on cable, and there is not much left. According to Collyn’s book a similar set-up would cost between $12K and $15K if done professionally, so I am pretty happy with the savings. I’m also very pleased with the end result.

GSL staff were very helpful. I am very impressed with their products. And made in Sydney. Their web site www.gsl.com.au is currently being upgraded. As the inverter in the truck will only get very occassional use I was happy with a Projecta model – Chinese made to Aussie specifications, and priced accordingly.

The fact that I could get these brands at cost did have some influence on my decisions. However I did make sure the gear could reliably do what I wanted.

Items Installed on Power Board in truck body.

GSL Dual Battery Isolator – cuts out at 23.6V so the Start Battery can’t be drained too low. I have installed a bypass switch that quickly allows me to parallel the Start and House batteries if a ‘jump’ start of the truck is needed.

GSL 24V to 12V Switchmode Battery Charger – 60amp output. Keeps House 12V charged, and caravan batteries when connected. Most 24 to 12 inverters will not properly charge 12volt batteries. This unit can put out up to 14.6V, floats at 13.5V and has a  23.0 low voltage cutout so it won’t totally flatten the 24V House batteries. One issue was that this Charger needed a battery across its output at all times, thus the 12V House battery in the truck. Previously an inverter had been installed in the dash of the truck for CB Radios, Alarm, Phone, CD AM/FM radio, etc but as it has a high residual current draw I was happy to remove it altogether. Also the truck 12volt wiring was a bit of a mess so I took the opportunity to tidy it all up.

GSL Auto Select Battery Charger – 240V to 12V or 24V @ 20/10amps. One of the new style of chargers with 4 stage output. This unit is impressive. I have installed a test/charge point just below where I have mounted this charger. It can charge all three batteries at once (using the 24V to 12V Charger)  or it can charge the House Batteries together (24V & 12V) or it can charge the 12V on its own.

Projecta Inverter IM2000-24 – 24V input, 2000watt output (4K peak). It can run all my tools except the welder and the big angle grinder.

Also, on the power board are 12 and 24 volt distribution fuse panels, 12 and 24 volt outlets and fuses for all heavy current connections.

In cab wiring work

I installed a 12 volt fuse panel into the dash, along with a 12 volt accessory relay.

Tekonsha P3 Trailer Brake Controller – nobody makes a 24 volt brake controller as yet (GSL are working on one). The P3 is a new model, it can handle up to a quad-axle trailer and the price was right. (Our van is tri-axle). As it can draw 30amp and output up to 40amp its cabling had to be heavy duty. Relays were used to get 12volt accessory and 12volt brake lights as inputs to this unit.

Professional Safety Video System For Vehicle – 4.2 inch monitor with 2 cameras, as supplied as part of our caravan deal. 24volt input with camera one automatically coming on when reverse gear is selected. I have installed this camera on the back of the truck so I hopefully can back up to the caravan for hook-up on my own.  Jan is typical of many wives and dreads the thought of giving me directions when I am backing. This camera gives a good view of 6 to 8foot behind the truck. The camera on the back of the van will give me an idea of whats happening behind us as we will be semi-trailer length when on the road.

Cabling under the Truck

All cabling under the truck is run in split conduit and is securely cable-tied inside the chassis rails. Thankfully the cable-entry into the tilting cab was well designed by Hino and they had provision for lots of addition cable entry. All connections were done inside the cabin, inside the body at the power board or right at the back of the truck.

A 7 pin socket has been installed for the caravan road lights and brakes. A heavy duty ‘Anderson’ style plug will connect the 12 volts and the camera has its own multi-pin plug.

Here endeth the technical stuff!

Layouts (so far)

Body – Inside the truck body there are cupboards right across the front. Next comes the Power Board and my workbench – its been with me for 37 years and has served me well. I few mods were necessary to fit it over the batteries but our relationship is destined to continue.

Opposite the workbench is the 820 litre water tank. On a trial run to Sydney and back, water slosh when it was 3/4 full was annoying when you stopped – you could feel the movement. So, over a beer or 6 at the Bowlo,  I came up with an affordable solution. I have filled it with 120 lengths of 90mm stormwater pipe (supposed to be mounted vertically). Problem solved. A storage rack over the water tank is coming.

Inside front of truck body, before workbench is installed
Inside front of truck body, before workbench is installed. Some of the baffle pipes in the tank have slipped, but they don’t seem to be shifting any further.

Next comes Suzi, with a couple of cupboards on the side, with a gap to let me get in and out when loading or unloading Suzi.

Cabin – The only obvious additions are the Brake Controller and the reverse cameras monitor. Both were installed within easy reach and where there was room.

Top is camera monitor, lower is Brake Controller.
Top is camera monitor, lower is Brake Controller.

On top of all this work to Heno I have also done a bit to Suzi, but I’ll save that for a later post.

Heard today that van is less than 2 weeks away. Got to go – I’m about to start packing our gear into the back of Heno. Giving up some of my treasures stored in the shed just in case I might need them is going to be hard.

Comments (3)

Me and Suzi go for a ride, finally

At long last I got some action going out in the shed.  On Saturday morning my “mate” came and repacked his gear which at least let me start to unpack all our stuff. And finally I got to empty out the back of the truck. The threat of putting everything of his out onto the lawn did the trick – still no sign of any rent but !

Suzi finally agrees to a Sunday drive with Heno and me

As Sunday was such a nice day I got to thinking about a Sunday drive. The best offer I got was from Suzi. So up into the back of the truck she went, I tied her up and then we went for our first drive together – Heno, Suzi and me. Suzi just sat there and behaved herself – Heno didn’t seem any different in the handling or grunt departments.

Suzi finally goes all the way (into the truck)

Suzi finally goes all the way (into the truck)

So this week was mainly spent on the tools. Suzi got some driving lights, some decent halogen headlights and a horn that you can actually hear. I’ve pulled the dash apart in Heno in readiness for his major wiring work.

Oh, and I finally found the cause of the water leak into Suzi. A mouse has chewed its way through the rubber hose that drains water from the air chamber at the top of the dash. This problem was probably there when I bought Suzi, as we haven’t had her in the rain until a week or so ago. Apologies to my windscreen man – his work was spot on, as always. Just to be sure I’ve put baits in and around Suzi and Heno and also throughout the shed. We have vacant land all around us as we are now living on the edge of town. Last weekend there was a mob of kangaroos in the paddock behind the shed.

Leave a Comment

Wet Suzi on the up

Twas a tad cold in Moruya this morning – our coldest day so far this year – so I stayed inside and finished the wiring diagram for all the work to be done on the truck.

Now that the frost has cleared we have a nice day, so I thought I might have a play with the loading ramps and give Suzi a run as I haven’t been near her since the windscreen was put back in. Surprise, surprise – the drivers side was full of water. The bloke who took the windscreen out and then put it back in after Greg fixed the rust in the surrounds is coming back tomorrow to hopefully fix that.

As the photo below shows,the ramps do the job and Suzi climbs up there easily. Now just got to sort all  the junk in the back of the truck and start the wiring job.

Suzi's first run up the ramps

Suzi's first run up the ramps

Unfortunately we are off to Melbourne in the morning to attend a funeral and I will take advantage of being down there and call in on my mate to get all the gear needed to do the wiring jobs. The bonus is that mates-rates save 40 to 50%.

Hopefully we will be able to get into our garage when we get back. It is currently full to overflowing. Our garage stuff is stacked to the roof in one quarter – the rest is becoming a pain. I did a favour for a mate and let him store his furniture in there but after 6 weeks of nothing happening I have had to get him to find somewhere else. I need to sort through all our stuff to work out what goes with us and what has to be sold.

Leave a Comment