Things to think about before leaving on a real Outback Trip

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:09
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Morning everyone - a very crisp 10 here this morning! The flies will be slow getting started today. For a while now I have been thinking about things in the heading and I've come up with a few things, hints, if you like.
Many small towns in most states do not have mains power and have to make their own which means that caravan parks (this one included)and other town amenities such as information centres are not set up to cope with the enormous variety of peices of equipment needed to be re-powered constantly - computers, digital cameras, iPods, game boys, DVD's, vacuum cleaners, battery packs, re-usable batteries, satellite phones, mobile phones (which usually don't work and no, CDMA does not work all over Australia) - also if people had a little notebook or phonebook in which they hand-wrote (yes, gasp, with pen or pencil) the numbers they needed (or exercised using the memory in their head instead of their computer/phone) then they wouldn't need their mobile phone. (No, I am not a Luddite by any means and most interested in seeing all these gadgets and how they work but they don't rule my life). It is very disappointing for people who are travelling the Burke & Wills Trip, say, Innamincka, Birdsville, Marree and bush camps in between to find that the digital camera runs out of battery power just as a mob of camels rushes across the road, or worse still, the memory stick is full and they can't purchase another one until Mt Isa, Broken Hill, Alice Springs or wherever.
Similarly, it is not possible to replace gas cannisters used in some cooking stoves - another hint would be to use one before leaving home to ascertain how many hours of cooking you get from one cannister to work out whether you should pack two. Yesterdays experience for one couple showed 6 days on the road bush camping and being unable to boil the billy for coffee after only 5 hours of cannister.

Camera batteries, memory sticks, game boy batteries, gas cannisters, fiddly bits for gas cookers, 'o' rings of various sizes, iPods, computers - most importantly of all though is MEDICATION. Very few towns have Pharmacies and very few towns with Hospitals/Clinics have Pharmacies with large stocks of medications.

It is a constant source of amazement that people who bush camp all the time (without generators) have an incredible collection of electric kettles, toasters, frypans, hairdryers, even vacuum cleaners. How do they manage when they do bushcamp - do they use ironbark or redgum power sources or maybe gidyea.
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Reply By: Nick R - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:23

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:23
Interesting thoughts Ruth,
Nearly everything is chargeable with 12 volt if you try, it is for that reason that our patrol now has 5x12v outlets (1 on main and 4 on aux battery) for such things as phones, DVDs, NintendoDS, fridge, GPS, Oven, lights, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, plasma tv, heated toilet, fax, photocopier, ok, I am fibbing about the last 7. A small inverter can do the other stuff, it's not that hard to charge on the run. if the gameboy dies at camp, stiff, snakes and ladders hasn't!!!!

For some reason we seem to get plonked at powered sites when we go to caravan parks but have nothing to plug in, or anywhere to run the hose we don't have......

Can we have an unpowered site when we come to stay ruth?

NickR
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:54

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:54
I wouldn't mind betting the last 7 are in the 'other' Nissan, Nick. Ha ha ha.
Out here Nick you can have the whole 30 acres of unpowered campsite - got the best views along the banks of the billabong anyway!
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Reply By: Sparkiepete - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:24

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:24
The point about medication is well taken.

I would have thought that if you are traveling around in remote areas where having power available is a problem a 150W inverter would cover most charging issues.

Having said that everyting you mentioned is important when you are used to having everything available without thought. I will remember this if I ever get lucky enough to get out there to see this country.

Regards
Sparkiepete
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:52

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:52
Sparkiepete - it's been our experience here that lots of visitors are just having short trips, maybe 10 days and not experienced visitors to camping/fourby shows or stores, so maybe the inverter idea wouldn't appeal to them. Lots of visitors travel for 2 - 3 weeks each year but probably don't know about such things.
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Reply By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:38

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:38
Great advice Ruth.

As more people travel to such destinations, and still more hear about these travel, less experienced people are motivated to do the same.

Preperation preperation preperation is the word (or three).
I reckon most people on this forum would know how to travel in the bush, but for the rest, your advice is invaluable.

A practice trip or two for the newbies, prior to venturing into the unknown is a great way to see how things such as the small gas cannisters goes.

You can't beat the old billy-can and the banister brush as replacements for the kettle and vacuum cleaner.

And a small inverter usually deals with the battery charging chores (can't travel without the camera).

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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:50

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 08:50
Hi there - just going to have breakfast with Sully. Ian and Sully's mate, Barry, went to Diamantina Lakes yesterday afternoon and Sully is in charge of me.
They got into the Lakes about 6:00 p.m. - road is good and heaps of water in the Lakes - mosquitos and sandflies running 1:5,000 at 7:00 p.m. - smoky fire needed for the swags. Ian has been champing at the bit to get up there for weeks to stand on top of Hunters Gorge and take photos of the 'big' water, so hopefully can post some tonight or tomorrow. They've gone in through Springvale and Coorabulka.
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Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 09:13

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 09:13
Say G'day for us.

Sully in charge of you, better report early for breakfast then :-)

Can't wait to see the photos.

Cheers

David
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Reply By: Rock Crawler - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 09:15

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 09:15
"Yesterdays experience for one couple showed 6 days on the road bush camping and being unable to boil the billy for coffee after only 5 hours of cannister. "

What they couldnt light a fire ? Takes to long to boil a billy wuth those gas stoves anyway , what as wrong with some twigs
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 11:35

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 11:35
Lots of places don't allow you to have fires, and in some cases, where would they get the wood from? Remember, Rock Crawler, they aren't necessarily experienced in camping and travelling - they just want to have a go.
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 13:24

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 13:24
Hey, shouldn't you be basting the spit lamb with lemon today and not playing on the computer. Yassou, Thia Ruth!
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Follow Up By: Rock Crawler - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 17:44

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 17:44
I guess your right ruth , the things we grow up with and have a second nature , are a new adventure for others

Yes he had a lamb on the spit today and I lost the egg braking tradition. I dicovered though that the winners ( Dean and Natalie) cheated there eggs were plastic lol .

Something I always wanted to do as a child , but never got to do lol .

Dam kids , there just to smart lol
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 19:09

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 19:09
Dam gorgeous kids! xoxoxox for Dean.
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Reply By: hopscotch - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 09:57

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 09:57
Hi there Ruth and again thank you for the advice. This sort of info cannot be posted often enough. Our own experience was at Old Miornington - no campfires - where a young couple on their honeymoon in a hired 4WD ran out of the one and only gas cylinder they owned and had built their entire food supply around noodles which required hot water. They had evidently been living on love for a couple of days before admitting the problem. They were very thankful that we carry enough gas for about a month - water for minimum 14 days and providing we can use the genny or run the vehicle for the fridge we are right almost indefinately. Margaret carries medication to cover 6 weeks at a minimum which causes some fridge space issues.

Kevin J
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 11:38

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 11:38
Hi KJ & M - poor things having to live on lurv - no good to me anymore - I like hot tea out of the billy (not to mention - food!). Ha ha. We aren't set up with extra batteries and inverters (yet) but so far camp where there are fires or the genny but we'll have to think about all those things when we are out of here and on the wallaby. And, with 10 years experience of looking at everyone else's camp be it tent, camper, caravan, 5 wheeler or motorhome - we still won't have it right. Ha ha.
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Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 18:02

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 18:02
That reminds me of the gorgeous couple we met at Curtin Springs. A Finnish couple in their 20's been studying in Oz for years and decided to finish their time here with a drive from Sydney across to SA and then up the Stuart to Darwin.

A lovely couple that we would love to meet again, but they had no idea. We were already set up when they camped very close to us in the grounds. We were going about our normal routine, it was after dark and VERY cold. The male decided he would light a fire (we already had one going). He proceeded to tear green branches off a small shrub and tried to burn them.

I went over and asked them to join us at our fire which they initially politely refused, probaby out of embarresment, but then the cold must have got to them. I offered again and they joined us.

Anyhow we had a great night bleep ting, but it goes to show, that for some, it is all a new experience.

Dave O
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 19:14

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 19:14
Oh my - what an experience for them. Sully wasn't much help - just when the work started he racked off to the Pub (how unusual) and got back this afternoon and had to have a sleep. Just after that Ian and Barry got back from the Lakes. Going to check the photos in the a.m. - having to cook them Roast Beef tonight, get their strength up for Anzac Day, the are all sitting in front of TV watcing the News. Oh well.
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Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 20:47

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 20:47
LOL, You are a champion Ruth

C ya soon
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Reply By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 11:48

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 11:48
Just speaking with Ali Stickens, Director of Tourism and Community Development (truly!) at the Wirrarri Information Centre in Birdsville (07) 46563300, and I mentioned my Post this a.m. and were discussing problems and solutions and she advised that almost all visitors who go into the Information Centre and ask to download their photographs onto computer (either Centres or their own) have a simple problem - they do not pack all the gear required. That is, no leads from camera to computer! And, no manual to tell you how to work either camera/computer. Why not have a backpack with ALL camera gear, leads, manual, extra sticks, film (yes I have an ordinary camera) so that you grab the lot as you go to get the great shot.
Same goes for satellite phones - I keep mine in one of Ian's (new) wetpacks - everything fits in nicely including the manual, aerials, jacks and small notebook with lists of all numbers that might be required in case of an emergency so that if I am not there (or the patient) someone else can pick it up and use it - I have a piece of laminated paper with How To Use this Phone (written by me not a computer programmer - no offence but I find the manuals difficult). Oh, and if you are interested to know why the satellite phone is not installed into the vehicle it's because of experience - most accidents are rollovers and the first thing to get broken is the aerial for the phone, so I have the wetpack in a place that I think (hope) I would be able to reach in the event I'm upside down or round about.
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Follow Up By: Member - Richard B (Int) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 20:50

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 20:50
I like your thinking on the Satellite phone. I have always travelled in remote area's with a three bags in easy reach containing enough essential equipment to survive and communicate. I am more afraid of a fire and realise I may have to get out of the vehicle quickly and anything mounted in the vehicle is useless. Now I have a Sat Phone, Portable HF, Spare Battries, two GPS's and two Beacons and Maps and a compass. The other bag has Food, Water and clothing.

A long time ago I flew light aircraft in very remote area's and we practiced the same methods but in those days there was no Sat Phone or GPS, so just had a Portable HF, Compass, Maps and two Beacons. Had to use them twice so was glad I had them.

Dick
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 10:48

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 10:48
Dick, I hadn't even thought about fire - that gives me something else to think about. I like your idea of three bags - I know with light aircraft in remote areas they must have reasonable gear. Another thing to put on the list would be EPIRB too - no, you've got them already (have to go on mine though).
Just read your last sentence - on no, you didn't have a fast downward landing, did you?
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Follow Up By: Member - Richard B (Int) - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 08:19

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 08:19
Nothing that dramatic, slipped off a wet clay road and did a lot of damage to the machine. The other time the wind did it for me while parked. No damage to me.

Dick
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 08:32

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 08:32
Phew, thank goodness for that.
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Follow Up By: Member - Richard B (Int) - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 09:27

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 09:27
How are your mornings, getting chilly? Much traffic heading across the Simson yet?

Dick
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 20:58

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 20:58
Dick, 10 each a.m. - nice, keeps the flies at bay until about 9:00. Plenty of people coming out of the Desert - Toyota L/C Club of Sydney, LandRover Club of Sydney plus assorted others yesterday - they did west to east. Fair few struggling going east to west. Getting easier as they knock the tops off and wear big holes in the dunes by being rough in their driving habits! One rollover on western side of Desert so far - no injuries thank goodness.
Very very dry on this side - other side had storm last week which closed it for a day or two.
How are things over your way? Had a nice visit today from EO from Canada - they took a left turn and did thousands of klms to have a cappuccino with me this afternoon before heading up to Mt Isa - no kidding they really did. Great visit.
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 12:09

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 12:09
Morning to you also Ruth, your comments this morning are somewhat timely as we are in the latter stages of preparation for our 3mth outback odyssey. I've just spent a small fortune accessorised our vehicle with enough Anderson and cigarette sockets to cover our power needs. Plus extra rechargeable batteries, just in case. Spare battery for the Sat Ph. 3mths supplies of medications for both of us. Those gas cannisters are for the spare stove just in case my gas bottle runs out and I can't light a fire. Will now be packing calamine lotion because of Lice (thanks for that tip).
Also pack the water sterilisation tabs. You're used to your water but I'm not. Had a dose of gastro on one trip and missed all the sights of Coober Pede. Not this time.
Cheers
Dunc
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 13:28

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 13:28
Our water is beautiful and 98 degrees when it comes out of the ground, up the street here.
Hope you've put your ciggie lighter extras in with heavy duty wiring and check out the diode/fuse inside the ciggie lighter end (should unscrew) and make sure you've extra ones of those (I'm talking engel).
Next tip, don't pack the plastic clothes pegs at the bottom of everything where you can't find them, don't laugh - it's serious.
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Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 20:50

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 20:50
Ruth the pegs are nice and handy. Have 2 Andersons and 4 Cig plugs off the aux battery and yep heavy wiring. So you're saying that your water is damn near steralised before it gets out of the ground. Why bother boiling the billy just dangle your tea bag straight in it. LOL Save on gas that way. He He.
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 13:11

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 13:11
Hehehe,

Good observations Ruth and a great topic for reflecting on. Gave me a little chuckle reading your post.

Oh, by the way, you left out another really important piece of camping equipment:- the Bread Maker. Some people just can't travel without it.

Hehehe!

Cya!

Bill


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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 16:44

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 16:44
You are absolutely right - I did forget it - how do you think the HOnda 1kva will manage with my breadmaker - takes 4 hours. Give it a go next camp - know what the old fella will say! Ha ha ha.
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Reply By: kesh - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 15:50

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 15:50
Ruth. One can never (as they say)have enough.
In 1955 I made my first (solo) camping trip on a pushbike. I was able to carry enough to get me to my destination, (75miles) survive for 10 days, (lots of fish and rabbits) then ride home again.
Next came a motor bike, bit more gear but similar result, a car, a ute, now a 4wd truck which has a 60l. freezer, 2 spare wheels, satphone, uhf, a 200a./5kva. welder/generator, winch, high lift jack, chainsaw, enough power tools to rebuild the whole shebang but the two most important are the old black billy and the camp oven. But woe betide anyone who denies me the right to use the last two items on the road or in the bush.
Should be good fishing in the Wombunderry Channel this year.
kesh
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 16:45

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 16:45
What a joke - now you can't do without any of the things you pack in the new truck, can you.
It will be good fishing in the channells (not bad here now) and I know EXACTLY where you will be fishing - hope you get heaps.
Ruth
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Follow Up By: kesh - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 17:05

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 17:05
Yep, its a joke alright. But we both know the country out there.
Mining opal on the Yeperra field, some of those shot lines straight out to the channels have become a bit "how you going" so you dont sometimes know what to take or leave behind. But if its in the truck, well so she am. But its always going to include the billy an CO!
Didn't get up to the Western Star last winter, too busy on new ground. Did hear that Ian had finished the renovations and sold.
PS If you know the whereabouts, do you know the history of the ruins of that seemingly large building on the E side?
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 19:11

Sunday, Apr 23, 2006 at 19:11
Kesh, Ian and Marilyn leased the Pub out - was cheaper to go east with the kids than pay all the boarding school fees! The Pub's looking really good and the new people are doing a great job.
Will check the history - give me a research project. Keep posted.
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Follow Up By: kesh - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 08:17

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 08:17
Ruth, I know its a bit off your topic, but a quick one about the Western Star.
In 1997, our son and his wife wanted to come up then go out to B/ville, Innaminka, Thargo. then back to Sydney. So we decided we would make the trip with them.
It was the week before your Sept. races and the Jackson to Mt. Isa pipe line crew were just crossing the main road.
We went straight up through Ingella to camp the first night at the pub but it also happened to coincide with a "flyout" from the pipeline crew. Over 100 landcruisers parked in Windorah, and the planes landing in procession from about 5pm. Talk about a spectacle!
We set the swags in the back yard and it wasnt long before the party started. I think there were about 240 pipeline crew, 15 or so pilots and most of the town residents. What a night that was, and by 6'oclock next morning every plane had left. I recall thinking the old "12 hours between bottle and throttle" rule might have been bent somewhat too.
kesh
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 10:50

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 10:50
Wow, what a memory - that was our first year here. What a party.
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Follow Up By: LineB - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:46

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:46
G'day Ruth

Talk of Birdsville jogs my memory too. I cannot resist following up having read your beaut posts this evening. I want to say something about the "distilled" water supply and how hard it is for the Council to reticulate it from tower to tower, cold enough to shower. People are amazed at how hot it stays. I expect the problems persist to this day and still you cope. You and the town do a great job providing facilities when there is such peaks of heavy demand. Best to tub in the off season, I say, when there are few visitors around.

However, the quality is tops for drinking anytime of year even if you have to wait a day or two to try it. No need to buy bottled water in Birdsville.

Regarding your list Ruth, I never went in or out of the desert in my SWB Lannie without a 44 of water and another full of petrol, on the back. I think I was the king of overkill back then but there were times I needed a lot of one or both drums when I didn't turn up at either end and no one missed me. No radio either. That was before we pushed the French Line through (and there was precious little traffic around then). I carried an RFDS box as well, so my three "bags" were simply water, petrol and first aid - anything for repairing a motor vehicle would have been wasted on pen-pusher me.
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Follow Up By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 19:48

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 19:48
Ho, LineB, what good memories you've got. We have new water towers now which cool the water "too" well. It was painful during this summer when you really wanted a "cool" shower and the water was soooo warm - even late at night, even with the new cooling tank. If you owned a bath you filled it in the morning so you could have a cool swim each night - just like the "old" days!
Bet you wouldn't go out onto the French Line now with just the above - bet you'd have airconditioning in the landie as well. Ha ha.
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