Short Arms - Deep Pockets!

Trip Start Unknown
Trip End Mar 08, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

This is a frequent description of Grey Nomads by non grey nomads and I guess it's true. As I’ve written earlier, most of them are pretty well self-sufficient with solar panels, generators and freezers.  They don’t like paying for camp sites and neither do we!  Victoria has been the best so far for free sites and free facilities.   There are loads of bush camps along the Murray – much of the river bank area is, or is becoming, national park.   We went to a site which was listed in both our helpful camp books.  (The 'Camp’ books are the backpackers bibles – we have Camp 5 but Camp 7 is the latest (though we haven’t seen anyone with this) – which have free and cheap sites listed and marked on the maps, state by state.  They vary considerably from a roadside pull-in to rather lovely areas.  We actually stayed the night on a grassy spot at a motorway service station on the way into Melbourne, along with several others!)  Anyway, going back to this particular story, we followed the directions and found Nevans Bend Reserve, wandered a couple of Km up a dirt track, couldn’t find the camping spot but there was a pull-in on a bend on the river bank which had beautiful views both ways along the Murray.  So we stopped there for the night – it was very quiet, no facilities of course, just us.  The next day we looked at the instructions again and realised we had turned left on the track instead of right!! 

I’m writing this at a place called Pigs Point Reserve Rest Area.  It’s a grassy patch by the Mitta Mitta River.  This is our second night here.  There is a family here with a lot of stuff who are here for a few days – or weeks.  They are a travelling family with 2 boys under 5; they’ve sold up and are going round the country, working when necessary, till they find where they want to settle.  We’ve met several families like this, many heading for WA ultimately.  Yesterday we drove to the nearest town – Tallangatta (emphasis on second syllable) for lunch, a free shower at the showground and the laundrette!

We are trying to head south, originally along the Great Alpine Road, but there is a massive bush fire in the National Park – out of control – and the road has been closed for several days.  We decided we would go down the alternative route, beginning this afternoon, but the local council chappy has just driven in to tell us that today is a Total Fire Ban day and mentioned that the fire down in the park may be affecting the other road as well.

Yesterday the council chap called very early to warn some campers who had parked right on the riverbank here (something we have been told never to do!) that water was being released from the Dartmouth Dam and the level was due to rise.  They moved their caravans fairly sharpish and sure enough, a few hours later the river had risen by about a metre.

We had our first brush with the law the other day when we were stopped by the police for a ‘routine licence check’ but when he saw me in the driver’s seat his comment was ‘I expected something a bit rougher’!  He wished us a good trip and drove off…  John has washed the van this morning in an attempt to look a little less rough!  Obviously I was smart enough!

People are often confused when they see two older people climb out of a ‘backpacker’ van, though we have seen other couples our age in small poptops.  Backpackers and grey nomads do have one thing in common – they can’t afford to spend a lot of money.  The photos today show fabulous things we've experienced without having to put our hands in our pockets.
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So much sunshine! It must be wonderful. Hope you aren't too disappointed when you get back to Britain!

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