When it rains it pours!

After disembarking the Kangaroo Island ferry we stayed a stone’s throw away, on an unpowered site in Cobbler Hill overlooking the ocean and took a little time to reflect on our adventures and concluded that we’d been having a great run so far. Apart from our COVID infection in Broome we haven’t had any issues with our health, driving the many thousands of kilometers through the outback Henk and Prinney hadn’t missed a beat and although the weather had been somewhat cold and overcast it hadn’t been too unpleasant. Kangaroo Island had been such an amazing experience it was going to be hard to top it. The next morning we made our way along the South Australian coast and headed south towards Lake Albert. Along the way the mercury rose dramatically to 40 degrees, making me a bit worried about the comfort level of staying in Prinney with these sorts of temperatures. We had pre-booked two nights at a local caravan park and as soon as we arrived the clouds rolled in and a small shower dropped the temperature instantly making it almost a bit cold in comparison.

“Life is better by the lake!” was the slogan of the caravan park, but immediately the question arose “for whom?” as we were literally engulfed by a horde of blood thirsty mosquitoes whilst reverse parking and setting Prinney up. It was so bad that we devised a mozzie management plan: we set up our annex (the tent in front of the camper trailer) and lit a citronella stick inside of it to act like a sort of smoke screen. This extra barrier didn’t seem to make much of a difference, as we kept on getting stung inside of Prinney, where did these monsters keep coming from??!! Never in our lives had we encountered so many and such determined mosquitoes (and that’s saying something). We decided that our best defense was to go on the attack … war was declared … many lives were taken and a lot of blood was lost! Amidst all the carnage Piet learned a lot of new words, such as “Mücke” and “Fliegenklatsche”, and then there were some we didn’t intend on teaching him…

Despite the insect terror we managed to do all of our washing, a sufficient amount of forward planning and even baked some Christmas cookies, but in the end the frustration and sleepless nights began to take it’s toll. To top it all off, Ireen went through her back, leaving her effectively immobile and unable to sit. Plus, after the mozzies had taken a liking to Piet’s cute little face he looked every bit as bad as you could imagine. The scene was set for the pack-up, which must have looked a lot like a slap stick to the onlookers as we really slowly yet hastily tried to pack up, surrounded by half a dozen smoking citronella sticks, wildly fending off little vampires. The few choice Dutch words I ushered upon exiting the grounds Piet parroted straight back to me from the backseat, as I caught Ireen giving me the evil eye through the rearview mirror. We drove straight to the local hardware store to restock on repellants and candles and hightailed it outta there!! Ireen was in such discomfort we had to stop earlier than planned, but found ourselves a great little family run park in Millicent. The best thing of all was the absence of mosquitoes and delighted by the reprieve we finally got some rest. Piet and I woke up feeling much better, but Ireen’s back had gotten even worse overnight. We tried soothing the pain the best we could before driving on towards the Victorian border.

We arrived in Warrnambool on the western end of the Great Ocean Road and stayed in a rather uneventful park, but our stay here became memorable due to the fact our darling son finally accepted the boots we had bought him 3000 kilometers ago! It was a good thing too, because the weather predictions were not looking favourable. The next morning we began our journey along the famous Great Ocean Road, which I had visited a couple of times before and thus was nominated as the driver. My beloved passengers said “ooohhh” and “ahhh” and “wooow” around every curve, as I tried to keep Prinney in between the lines of the narrow winding road, whilst dodging oncoming traffic, potholes, rather inpatient local drivers and lots of roadworks. At the start of the route we dutifully got out to admire every possible sandstone structure carved out by the ocean, with names such as the “Bay of Islands” and “London Bridge” and the world famous “Twelve Apostles” (of which there were only five left standing), but the constant movement of getting in and out of the car strained Ireen’s back even more. By now she could only sit in one fixed position to be somewhat comfortable, so we decided to leave the rest of the special spots to the other tourists and drove straight to our overnight camp spot on Johanna Beach to provide Ireen with some horizontal comfort and deliberated our next move.

That night Ireen basically didn’t sleep and by the morning she was desperate for a reprieve. With little to no phone reception at our site I took a hike to the top of the hill, providing me with a spectacular view of the beach. I settled into my new workspace, with pen and paper laid out in front of me and my phone freshly recharged with credit, on a mission to find my poor wife a chiropractor in the local area that could crack her out of her misery. I gleefully returned to Prinney with an appointment made for that same afternoon in our next destination, Barwon Heads. We got on with the never ending business of packing our belongings in the car and folding Prinney back up, which Piet calls “Prinney slapen” (as in she’s going to sleep). Upon checking the taillights we noticed that the left indicator really had gone to sleep and simply refused to wake up. I didn’t have the tools to fix it at this point, so it would have to wait until we arrived at our next destination, after all we had an appointment to make!

We continued our journey along the many beaches and stunning bays of the Great Ocean Road before arriving at the biggest caravan park we’d ever seen. The more than 500 sites turned this grassy patch along the river mouth into small city bigger than most of the town’s we’d driven through so far. We were about to head over to the chiropractor when hundreds or perhaps thousands of cicadas started their piercing chirping at the same time, like the flick of a switch, filling the air with an intense high pitched humm. I’d forgotten just how loud these insects could be! Finally, after three days of utter discomfort Ireen gingerly walked out of the treatment room with a careful smile on her face, after getting the relief she so desperately needed. The chiropractor made sure she got a follow up appointment the next morning, which was a good thing as well, because that night the muscle memory pushed her back out again. After the second treatment the blockade was finally gone and although Ireen was still sore she felt very relieved.

That afternoon we met up with yet another ex-Kununurrian, Cliona and her wife Caitlyn, who surprised us by speaking almost accent free German as well as giving Ireen a bit more insight into the Australian medical system, which was really helpful. After we returned to the campground I had a crack at repairing our broken indicator and got as far as unscrewing the cover, before concluding that I didn’t have a clue on what to do next. The good thing about campsites in Australia though is that you can almost always find people that travel with a complete shed worth of tools and are more than happy to help a fellow camper out. I looked around and approached the neighbour with the biggest truck, who promptly dug up a multimeter and got to work. He diagnosed Prinney with a bad case of rustylightbulbitis and prescribed her some stern knife scratches, after which she was blinking like new again and we started to chew the fat (have a chat) about where they were heading and where they had been. He recommended us to drive north, to Bright, instead of following the coast. We dutifully noted the tips down and thanked him for his services.

The weather in Barwon Heads was amazing, with warm and sunny blue skies requiring us to do some actual slip slop slapping, thus we slipped on a shirt, slopped on some sunscreen and slapped on a hat. Piet was cruising along on this balance bike happy as a pig in poo, I was enjoying the cricket with a cold beer and Ireen was the happiest person around for feeling her normal self again. And there it was again, one of those “couldn’t beat it if I tried” moments, where everything just felt good and in it’s right place. How different the next days would be…. As we drove out of the Bellarine Peninsula towards Melbourne an alarm started ringing out and warning lights popped up on the dash….uhhh oh! Although the warnings didn’t seem to effect the way Henk drove, it was disconcerting to say the least. The next thing was our GPS throwing out warning after warning and before we knew it, we were stuck in gridlock. A terrible accident had forced both directions of the M1 shut … the main, 4 lane highway through Melbourne M1 that is! It turned the traffic into utter chaos, as all the cars normally traversing the highway were now trying to find their way through the back roads. We managed to crawl our way through and arrived at our campsite in the south of Melbourne with gloomy dark clouds closing in and the wind picking up. To the question if rain was predicted the manager said, without a hint of irony “Well…it is Melbourne mate…”.

We managed to set up Prinney and our annex just in time, before the rain came down by the bucket load. Piet had been patiently sitting still all day but now really needed to get rid of some cropped up energy. Nothing much else to do but to get out in the rain. He enthusiastically charged through every puddle he could find, wearing his by now favourite new boots and full rain attire, with his exhausted parents reluctantly in tow. This park was different from the ones we had stayed in previously. It had quite a lot of old and worn out caravans, held together by duct tape and tarpaulins for roofs, occupied by long term residents, who were … let’s call them a bit special, no scrap that, they were dodgy! It didn’t help that Ireen had picked up a book at one of the caravan parks, which turned out to be a blood curdling thriller about a dodgy bloke abducting a pregnant lady. It got to the point that Ireen asked me to escort her to the toilet blocks …oh dear..!

Although there were some breaks in the rain, it was really proper cold, so the next day we mainly stayed indoors and planned the route ahead of us. We decided to book Henk into a mechanic to check out what was going on with all these alarms, but our warranty only allows us to use certain dealerships, which in turn were mainly found around Melbourne and Sydney. All the ones in Melbourne were booked out for the next couple of weeks, so we decided to take the risk and make the appointment in Sydney for after the new year. The next day we drove into Melbourne and explored the Queen Victoria markets, Fed Square, the Fitzroy Gardens and Flinders Station, but again the rain wasn’t far away and came down relentlessly. So we drove back drenched and decided we had enough of this dodgy park and the bloody rain! The weather prediction for the coastal areas was miserable for the next week, so we dug up our notes and followed the advice of our handy neighbour with the big truck we met in Barwon Heads and decided to drive inland, where the sun would be shining and the temperatures would be warm.

We were heading towards Bright! For this episode we celebrate Piet’s boots with Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking

The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road and a happy son in his boots ©️ Jasper Kruse

1 thought on “When it rains it pours!

  1. Doody Doon

    I want to know what “Mücke” and “Fliegenklatsche” are!
    Too bad about the Melbs weather and the dodgy caravan park!
    Hope you enjoy Bright and surrounds. Can recommend Milawa cheese and the Beechworth bakery, though it’s been a few decades since I was last there. See you mob soon x


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