Bottle Bend – Days 19 to 29 of 180 – the wait is over
Not planned for but we have extended our stay at Bottle Bend as we have struggled to get booked into the places we want to travel too. No biggie as this place is quite pleasant with not much happening. Gives me more days to sit and plan our trip much better before we get to SA & NT. Our plan was always to free camp as much as possible but I am seeing some very interesting station stays out there which look very good and not that expensive.
A bit of excitement yesterday late in the afternoon when we heard 5 rapid shotgun blasts across the river from us then a fire started in the cambungi reeds alongside the river that spread into the forest. In the end we had 4 CFA fire tankers plus 5 other CFA utes and the police attending. Not too dangerous as they knocked the fire down in about 10 minutes. We sat in our deckchairs sipping beers and enjoying the show. There were three caravans camped up about 200 meters from the fire who were not perturbed at all which we thought was rather careless of them.
Today we did a small trip up to Wentworth as Greg had never seen the confluence of the Murray & Darling Rivers. These are two of Australia’s largest river systems and it was interesting to see the confluence as their colours are quite different.
I didn’t take any shots that day as I had been here before. However, we also discovered the Perry Hills just outside of town a small area of constantly shifting sand dunes that originated 40,000 years ago. Quite pretty but obviously people cannot read the “No Vehicles on Dunes” signs so all the stupid inhabitants had made a mess of a very picturesque area. I know this is a bit of a rant but this type of casual carelessness gets us locked out of such areas which is very frustrating.
Greg has bit the bullet and upgraded his solar blanket to a 300W model which gives us more confidence that we can now keep his battery up to charge. It seems we go on about lack of battery power but it is a real issue if you are living off the grid and that battery needs to supply all your power needs. We also need to pay more attention as to how we orientate the camp as my solar panels are fixed and when the bed canopy is raised, they need to face North to get as much sun as we can. They currently face South so are not adding any power to my battery – that is 380W of solar I cannot utilise. My bad! I have a Safiery high energy 250W solar blanket that gets me too about 93% each day and overnight usage is around 20% so I am OK. Greg’s system for some reason is chewing through twice that. The only major difference is that I am powering an EverCool 60 litre fridge/freezer and Greg’s is a TravelMate TMDZ 95 litre.
Our plan was to move on by now but we are awaiting our Seniors Flu Jab which apparently is in short supply in Mildura. I am also awaiting a spare part for my Weber Q fry pan as the handle has shattered. Weber seems happy to give me a replacement just waiting for it to be shipped to the Mildura agent on Monday or Tuesday. Flu jabs now done and the Weber part has been supplied. Happy Days.
Had a large windstorm tear through the camp yesterday and the dust was flying. My turn for a disaster with my Safiery 250W High Voltage solar blanket being knocked over into the dirt a number of times. Unbeknownst to me it is now damaged beyond repair so have had to order a new one. The agent in Melbourne, Jeff Crane, was very helpful in getting it sent to a mate of his in Shepparton who then can send it up to Mildura. Hopefully will be here after our short sojourn into Mungo NP. The trials and tribulations of travelling on the road and you have to expect the odd $1000 expense. Luckily my home & contents policy had sporting goods included with RACV so they paid for $687 of the expense.
We had an entertaining afternoon feeding a family of butcherbirds with some meat I had inadvertently left out and had gone off. Their antics in beating the meat to death on the branches was quite funny. Maybe they were tenderizing it. In the end they were chased off by the magpies and a Mudlark.
Not to be outdone a Laughing Kookaburra swooped in for his share and Greg managed to get an excellent shot of the bird.
A friend of mine from the camera club, Tim O’Keefe and his wife Denise paid us a visit in our bush camp. They bought us a banana bread cake which was very welcome (and tasty). Very thoughtful of them. They continued on their way to enjoy a holiday down in Adelaide.
One thing I never enjoy about camping is the packing up so this time I am doing pre packing two days before we leave on Monday the 19th. Car is now repacked (for about the 10th time). I need to pack less or get a bigger vehicle!!!
One thing I have not enjoyed about camping here has been a mongrel dachshund that constantly barks across the river. Harvey you were so lucky that you were too far away for me to give you a swift kick up the bum for your terrible behaviour. I also blame his owner for not raising him correctly. All day long I would hear Harvey to the stage that I began shouting vitriol across the river at his owner to control the mongrel.
Due to my new solar issue, I am forced to lower the roof of my bed down each day so that I can utilise my rooftop solar panels. Whilst a slight inconvenience it makes a huge difference to have those 380W of solar panels working for me with the battery topped off to 100% by midday each day.
I will come back here one day as it is a very good campsite (even if the sign says overnight only) as it is very peaceful. Being a free camp, it keeps the expenses down. Also handy being only 25klm from a major inland city of Mildura so we can nip into town to replenish our red wine stock (thank you Dan Murphy’s) and pick up fresh groceries.
The fishing could have been better but we have caught three small cod (safely returned to grow bigger) and three carp (despatched and put out into the forest to become food for the monitor).
The weather is turning much cooler now even though we are experiencing sunny days around 21 degC. The wind from the south is relentless and cold. Night time temperatures are down to 5 degC. Daytime wear is pajamas with a jacket with trakkie daks if we are not going to town.
Showers in the middle of the day to take advantage of the suns heat on my shoulders. Major difference between the camper trailer and the caravan is that my shower is external and the wind blowing in can be very bracing to say the least.
Looking forward to finally getting to Mungo as it has been quite a long wait here (17 days). The next time we will stay this long in one place will be at Kurumba in North Queensland.
So farewell Bottle Bend and thanks for the memories especially the gorgeous sunset on our second last night.