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Off for a Christmas tour


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Well, it's that time of the year again. The Disco is packed complete with Zodiac inflatable and Honda outboard and we leave tomorrow heading south with the ultimate destination being Melbourne to spend a few days with the outlaws and enjoy some Christmas cheer, and some alcohol :-) .

Places of interest on the way there or back will be the National Art Gallery in Canberra to see the Tom Roberts paintings exhibition, and I want to explore and camp on 70 mile beach in Victoria.

To each and every one of you I hope you all have a great Christmas and a happy new year, stay safe and keep those dear to you close,

I'll be back on line after the 4th of January

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, Julie and I are back at home, unpacked and doing two weeks laundry :o the trip to and from Melbourne was great, we New South Welshmen always recon that the best view of Melbourne is in the rear mirror but that's a given :hysterical: we don't refer to Victorians as Mexicans (they reside south of the border) for no good reason. .

Okay, the route down; first stop Gunning, just north of Canberra great free camp site next to the river and free hot showers and toilet facilities. (very civilized) we next drove down by-passing Canberra to Cooma and then camped up on the banks of Lake Eucumbene, one of the sixteen dams formed when the Snowy Mountains hydroelectricity system was built,

The Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme was an incredible engineering achievement following WW2 to "kick start" the Australian economy as well as giving viable employment to well over 100,000 men and some 500 women (mainly kitchen staff and cooks) of post war European migrants , they were housed in tent camps in summer temperature that were over 40*C and in winter when the tents were, at times, covered in snow, up to 4 meters of snow falls were recorded!. 121 men and boys aged from 16 to 66 lost their lives in the construction, mainly in the tunneling operations. The system today produces 4,100 megawatts of power. The scheme began in 1949 and was officially completed and handed over, fully completed in 1974 - 25 years of construction.

Of interesting note, the first 4x4 used were, naturally, ^_^ Land Rover series, The first Toyota's used were by the American construction company Kaiser in 1958 due apparently to LR not being able to meet demand and supply :blush: An original series 1, supposed to be one of the first used is on display at the Tumut Museum, by the look of it absolutely no restoration or cleaning work has been done to it, it looks as if it was driven straight from the work site into the museum. LR's were the preferred work horse as the early Toyota's suffered from not having a low enough gearing for the mountainous terrain.

The system includes 145 miles of tunnels of 50 feet diameter blasted and hand dug out of solid rock, some of these tunnels are over a kilometer below ground level and all had to be formed and then lined with wear resistant concrete 6 feet thick reducing the final tunnel diameter to a "mere" 38 feet. The waste rock was dragged out of the tunnels and used to back-fill the dams, one of which The Adaminaby took 58.5 million cubic feet of this material and stands 400 feet high and 1737 feet long, just 23 feet short of a mile!

Seven independent power stations are stationed at various locations fed by water from the dams and during "off peak" periods over night several of the turbines are powered by the other stations and reverse their drive and pump the water back up to the top dams ready for the following days power needs - clever hey ! ^_^ The other "by-product" of the Snowy scheme was to divert 75% of the water that would normally run down the Snowy river and out to sea to the Murrumbidgee River which runs inland to supply irrigation water to far away Griffith and Leeton in the MIA (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) which has, as a result, become the garden center of Australia producing some 55% of vegetables. 30% of table and wine grapes, 15% of fruit and 85% of rice - all for local consumption.

All the water from all the dams eventually flows into Lake Eucumbene where it can either be released into the Snowy River, Murrumbidgee River or pumped back up to the highest dam, the Kosciusko dependent on daily needs.

Anyway, I digress, we camped up that night in the middle of the Snowy Mountain Wilderness along a creek and I over-indulged in a bottle of Balvenie 15 yo single malt. The following morning we set off bright and early (I have never, ever suffered from a hang-over regardless of the quantities of alcohol imbued ^_^ ) and we arrived in Melbourne at Julies sisters around 4.00 pm.I should add that the daily temperatures during this part of the trip varied from 28 - 38* C -- nice and warm.

We left Melbourne on Wednesday 29th and camped up at Lakes Entrance on the southern coast of Victoria, hot and very windy and the following morning set off north along the Snowy River track - rough narrow and gravel 80% of the 250 kilometer long track with elevations going from 80 to 1680 meters above sea level, we passed though a hamlet of three huts called "Seldom Seen" - (very appropriate :hysterical: naming) - and camped that night on the banks of one of the many creeks that feed into the Snowy River. The following day we drove up and dropped down through rugged mountains that still were recovering from the 2009 bush fires that destroyed 45% of this wilderness area. The heat generated from these fires caused electrical storms to form over them and the lightning strikes caused 5 more Forest fires as far as 60 kilometers away the vortex winds caused by the updraft of heat literally tore fully grown trees out of the ground.

And so we returned home via Barry to visit some pals and have a belated new years barbecue.

Total trip, 2850 kilometers over 6 days of driving. and averaging 11,2 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers, average temperatures on the three days driving home were around 36*C. Elevations experienced were, as I said 80 up to 1680 meters above sea level in a little over 250 kilometers distance as the crow flies.

However the only downside to all the steep climbs is that I now have a whine in the gearbox that is most noticeable in 4th and 5th :blush: - and any ideas as to the cure or cause would be most appreciated, I'd hazard a guess that its a bearing.

I took several pictures and GoPro videos and I'll post these in my gallery in the next week or so. I'll advise when I've done this.

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What a great trip to do! I've driven a couple of routes in Oz neither in a Land Rover and not much of either trip was off the hard top.

First was 20 years ago, from Cairns north to Cooktown then along the battle camp road to Old Laura and then back through Lakefield to the Atherton tablelands. That was in an old Toyota Four runner with a wife and two small kids - camping all the way.

Second was a couple of years ago - up to Exmouth from Perth and then back. Little off road but still camping, this time just me and SWMBO. A great trip in a Mitsu. Overlander.

What I like about Oz is the (obvious) huge opportunity to go where you want. It's a grey nomads paradise!!

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