The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Utes in the Paddock, Ootha


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Utes in the Paddock

Every now and then someone comes up with a crazy idea that captures the imagination and becomes a reality. Utes in the Paddock at Ootha, New South Wales, is a typical example of this. Ootha is situated about 430 west of Sydney and boasts a population of 94!

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They are all Holden Utes – what could be more Australian than that – and several artists have displayed their own interpretation of the iconic ute! Unfortunately the paint work has deteriorated on several of them and they are fading away but I hope you can get an idea of this crazy initiative in the middle of nowhere.

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You’ve gotta love the Aussie sense of humour 🙂 Thanks Ootha for keeping it alive!

 


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Tassie Solos Rally 2017

This rally is the main reason I have been so slack doing my blog since ….  forever! (October last year, actually). I was the Rally Manager and all my energies and efforts were channeled towards creating a fantastic experience for our CMCA Solos Network members when we met in Campbell Town, Tasmania from 28th February to 6th March this year.

For those of you who follow my blog I’d like to explain that our Solos group are motorhomers that travel by themselves – it is not a singles club in that most of us are quite happy travelling solo and not looking for a partner. It provides a safe group of travellers that we can link up with as we journey around our beautiful country.

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Thanks to George Gatenby, Show Society member, who took this photo with his drone

It was a wonderful experience for me and I loved every minute of the planning, preparation, putting together a week long program and then seeing it come to fruition with the help of my Rally Team, some of the local residents and businesses and of course my sister, Marion who lives nearby.

We had 205 motorhomes of all shapes and sizes in attendance and about 225 people (some couples joined us as they’d heard how much fun we have at our rallies!)

The Campbell Town Showground was a great venue with big buildings and plenty of room for us all to park. It was ‘rustic’ – our main building was a 75 metre long sheep pavilion – and the smell of the sheep never really left it even with all the doors open. Here’s how I first saw it when I arrived in Tasmania in June 2016 and the Campbell Town Show was on.

Not long before our rally started the Show Society held a working bee, so this is what the pavilion looked like without the sheep!

And then we filled it up with happy Solos ready to party!

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The theme of the rally was Life is Magic so we had witches and wizards, fairies and fortune tellers dressed up for our night of Magic and Mystery.

A spit roast dinner was provided and the night kicked off with our very own witches dance that our members had learned and practised with our member/instructor Karin Kirk.

This was just one of the many things on our program. Here’s an overview of what we got up to during the week…. Programxls – At a Glance

One afternoon we had an Op Shop Fashion Parade where members unwanted clothes plus those from the local Op Shop were ‘modelled’ by some of our group. What a funny day! So much laughter even the townspeople were talking about it!

Our Skit Night showcased our talented members – or those who thought they were talented – and it was another night of laughter and friendship. Here’s our Line Dancers and our First Timers performing.

Before the main crowd arrived on the Monday we had a special dinner to thank our Volunteers and welcome our First Timers. You can’t keep a Solo seated for long when there’s dance music playing.

The local Solos Chapter, The Tassie Shearwaters, organised a great Fun Day for us.  Some of the activities were quite challenging but I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

 

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There’s a huge age range among our members and 2 of them celebrated their 80th birthdays at Campbell Town – Nev, our chief bus driver and Miss Information (or was that misinformation?), Elaine. We even found a special booth for her.

 

The local towns people were delighted with the boost to their businesses while we were in Campbell Town. Our mini bus ferried us back and forth daily to the supermarket and coffee shops and we totalled up our shopper dockets at the end of the rally and we had spent over $65,000 in town during the rally. This is a huge amount for the economy of a small town of only 700 people.

 

You can see it was full on and wouldn’t have been at all possible without our hard working volunteers and everyone who came along to have a good time. You made it happen!

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the many members who posted some of these photos on our Facebook page and I have ‘borrowed’ them to illustrate this blog. Contributors include Rosanna Grifone, Jenny McLelland, Fay Byrnes and Shannon Lightfoot.

 

Murals in Sheffield, Tasmania


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A Tourist in Tasmania – Sheffield

I have been to Sheffield, the town of murals, before but this time I was enticed to go by the Medieval Festival being held there.

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I wandered my way there via Latrobe, where the Axeman’s Hall of Fame is…

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…. and Railton, town of topiary ….

This part of Tasmania had suffered severe damage from floods a few weeks ago, the roads were still very chopped up and there were piles of debris along the banks of the Mersey River. The Latrobe Caravan Park had been evacuated and was undergoing repair, and now  I hear on the news tonight that the latest downpour has damaged it once again.

The free camp in Sheffield is at the Recreation Ground and the Medieval Festival was happening right next door so I was looking forward to a great weekend……until it rained!  It was just too wet to enjoy the festival, dodging the showers and trudging through the mud, so I only spent a couple of hours there and decided not to stay another night in the hope the weather would improve.

Many of those who attended got into the mood with period costume, and I couldn’t help thinking, as they dragged the hems of their gowns through the mud, that it was probably exactly like that in Medieval England, without the benefit of washing machines!

The market stalls sold all things Medieval … anyone need a new visor? battleaxe?

And then I was off to find my knight in shining armour – except the mud took the shine off most things, including the jousting knights.

When the Medieval Festival isn’t happening in Sheffield, the town is famous for it’s murals that adorn the walls of the buildings and also panels in a ‘mural’park behind the Information Centre. Some of these are so realistic you feel you could step right into them.

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Happy Campers:
As I mentioned before there is a free camp at the Recreation Ground for fully self-contained vehicles. No grey water to be let onto the ground. It is beside the leash free area for your fur babies. It is a little way from the centre of town – too far to walk in the rain when I was there.

I can’t leave Sheffield without sharing the fabulous sign at the front of the Info Centre – and yes, the arrows are pointing to real places nearby.

sheffield

 

 

 


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Bendigo to Branxholme – Catching up with friends and family

Had a wonderful couple of days visiting in Alexandra catching up with family and the next stage of my journey would continue with more ‘catching up’.

On the way to Alexandra we stopped for lunch and a run for Jack at Peppin Point on Lake Eildon near Bonnie Doon.

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That night Dot cooked a beautiful roast beef dinner – that’s one thing I certainly miss. My nephew Steve and his wife Judy were also there.

At Ron & Dot's 4Ron, Dot and I also used the time to fill in all his family in the Family Tree that I have been working on. Dot is amazing as she had birth dates for their children, grand children and great grand children so I was able to enter all these. Now I’m inspired to continue with other family members.

We left Alexandra, spent a night in Bendigo with Ian, an old friend of Marion’s and left the next day for Avoca. I had travelled through this countryside when I bought Brutus home to the Gold Coast and knew Marion would love it – and she did! Lovely rolling green hills, sheep, pretty little towns.

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I loved this pub in Avoca that had the bank attached to it. Apparently the bank no longer operated and the room is set up for private functions. We camped on the river flats which we found out we weren’t supposed to do, but you can stay overnight in the Lions Park on the other side of the highway. There is also a dump point here, a supermarket that opens 7 days and a good information centre.

We left Avoca and called into the Wool Cottage at Amphitheatre where they breed coloured sheep and spin the wool and also sell mostly locally made sheepskin and wool products. Here is a link to their website.

We also stopped at the old Amphitheatre Hotel, which is in the process of being slowly restored but they are currently famous for their ice-cream, which we indulged in and thoroughly enjoyed.

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I rang an old school friend, Bob, who lives not far from here and we ended up parking the vans in his yard for the night and by chance happened to help him celebrate his birthday that day. Marion took a photo of us together and I thought I’d share it with you, but also the photos I had of when we first went out at school in 1962, and then again in 1964. OMG – look what the years have done! But how lucky am I to still have this friendship after all these years!

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Marion and I went our separate ways the next day as she was booked on the ferry back to Tasmania the following day and I was heading further west. The weather was cold, wet and miserable so I didn’t go far and found a powered site at a Recreational Ground at Willeura and holed up there for a couple of days catching up on emails, blogging and reading. This is when I discovered Brutus is a very small van to spend a lot of time in. It’s the first time I’ve really stopped and thought “What the hell am I doing?”

My cousin, Heather, lives at Branxholme, just south of Hamilton so that was my next stop. The fire was going when I got there and it didn’t take long to thaw out, relax and catch up on what we’d been doing with our lives since we last saw each other. It was also a great opportunity to meet her daughter, Rose, who I had never met before. What a lovely night we had together.

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My next stage was to head to Portland and do something about Brutus, who was travelling very rough, engine missing more and more particularly up hills and I was worried there was something seriously wrong. A very helpful man at the information centre gave me details about some of the rare free camps along the Great Ocean Road, and also the name of a mechanic to go and see at Cleary Motors in Portland.

The mechanic, Peter Cleary, couldn’t see me until the next day so I took a trip to Cape Bridgewater and enjoyed fish and chips at the beachside cafe. They always taste better in a location like this, don’t you think?

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The cold weather didn’t stop these enthusiastic young surfers from enjoying their class.

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A quick overnight stay at Narrawong (free camp), back to Portland the next day, and couple of hours later Brutus had new spark plugs and a new spark plug lead – and a new lease on life! I was accelerating up hills, something I have never been able to do!

Narrawong was a pretty campsite, bushy and not too busy.

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This little lady visited me, complete with joey in pouch. When she stopped to eat, the joey would pop its head out of the pouch and nibble on some grass too.

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With Brutus going like a dream I decided to head off along the Great Ocean Road.