Burton's Perth to Cape York Brisbane to Caloundra Day 31-33 30 April to 2 May 2011

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:35

Red Dirt Australia


I always feel a sense of excitement on the mornings that we leave somewhere. Too many days in one spot leaves me itching to get on the road again. This morning dawned clear and bright and it wasn't too long before the sun was warming the canvas and things were finally drying out. We quickly packed, dodging the black mudholes, set the argumentative TomTom and Garmin and hit the motorway north.Queensland seems to have great motorways, well sealed, direct and heading everywhere...excepting for the on and off ramps. These seem to have been designed by a blind mad woman! They start and end in back streets, criss crossing urban streets in all directions, looping around and then blindsiding with a sudden exit...whew, a little nerve wracking for the uninitiated! We started to see more evidence of tropical creeks lined with mangroves and a more verdant landscape. It wasn't long before Caloundra came into sight, quite hilly and twisty. Dicky Beach Caravan Park is right on the foreshore, a smallish park and not too populated - couple of camper trailers and a few large Jaycos, little evidence of any travellers. After an efficient check-in we grabbed the keys to our, gasp....chalet! It was a tiny one room affair with toilet and shower. The kids had bunks and we were later to find, we had the most uncomfortable bed in the world. Before long we were yearning for our Oddy. We pulled up out front and unpacked all our essentials from the trailer before heading out to find Australian Offroad Campers on Caloundra Road.

Arriving, we spotted the Tall Sign, with the smallish workshop building behind. This was a type of pilgrimage for us. We purchased our trailer at the Sandown Show over 3 years ago and then had it trucked from Caloundra to Perth. Our handover was a DVD watched at home. We met Steve and Rhonda at the show and their honest sales pitch, professionalism and the great product cemented the sale, besides, they were really nice people. We kept in contact over the years via email and phone, sending many photos of our journeys for their marketing and promoting the brand whenever we could. Working in quality assurance for many years in all industries has left me with a keen appreciation of quality and quick to loudly recognise shoddy service or items. From the beginning the Odyssey and its' supporting service has been second to none in terms of superior quality. Steve, Rhonda and their team are always there should something need immediate attention, which is rare anyway. The Oddy has been incredible and I am happily AORC's number one fan and will always yell this message far and wide. So for us, arriving at the premises after all this time was almost like visiting a shrine (LOL). We were welcomed by their pleasant staff and Luke the new Service Manager, Scotty being ill with Ross River Virus, took command of our Oddy and its short list of fixes and improvement wish list. Unexpectedly and pleasurably we even bumped into Steve and Rhonda and chatted for ages. We took the opportunity for Steve the marketing manager to show us around and we greedily eyed off the Quantum 2. Can't wait for the new customisable Eclipse......we could also see why the team is looking forward to moving to new purpose built premises, it was cramped in there!

We spent a quiet afternoon in the chalet and walking on Dicky Beach, very different to our beaches in the west. Courser sand, steeper terrain, tall green points and bluffs and its' very own wreck, the S.S. Dicky. The remains can be clearly seen even though the wreck occurred in 1893. We dined at the Surf Club next door - specials and kids are for free night! Wasn't too bad, certainly good value.
We don't have too many institutions like this in the west, with it's keno and games, similar to the RSL clubs over here.

Next morning after a very uncomfortable night, the chalet bed had a huge chasm in the middle that both Amanda and I continually rolled into! Hips aching, we tried to swap our bed for the kid's bunks but they wouldn't have it! The Cruiser enjoyed its outing without the trailer as we headed to TJM Maroochydore who kindly ordered in a new set of Tyredogs for us. We decided to splash out on a six pack with a relay (totally unnecessary as we found out). Our old Tyredogs had been invaluable in monitoring the trailer and rear Cruiser tyres, warning us to any slow or sudden deflation well before they become shredded...this has never happened to us, however at $500 per tyre, this is a good investment for outback travel. This trip had signalled the death knell for the 3 year old set, them failing intermittently and now that we are trained to need them, travelling is uncomfortable when they are not transmitting! Munchie provided great service and a chat before we headed to Ken Mills Toyota in Sugar Road. These guys are incredible, fitting us in at the last minute, providing a 2 hour turnaround as well as a courtesy shuffle to the big Sunshine Plaza shopping centre perched over a river. Not usually our sort of thing, however served to kill a couple of hours. I even found a new Swiss Gold cup coffee filter to replace my holed unit, those damned corrugations! The service turned out to be done well, no issues with the Cruiser and all basic fluids changed ready for the Cape. Ken Mills offer a pit stop one hour service using two mechanics and the classy waiting room has windows facing into the workshop.

The rain was still falling as we returned to our minuscule chalet. Time for fitting the Tyredogs, Chinese instructions making it time consuming and frustrating. Amanda did some much needed washing and drying as we planned tomorrow's excursion to Australia Zoo and picking up the rejuvenated trailer.

Another $@&)!? uncomfortable night on our bed of nails which had the added bonus of ensuring that we were all up early. Packed and ready, we piled into the Cruiser....it wouldn't start! The dash lights glowed feebly before everything went dead! I decided to get the tools out of the rear, check the battery terminals and probably try to jump start the main battery from the auxiliary. Not to be - the rear door would not electronically open.....hmm, this is a problem. Next step in the problem solving process was to phone the people who had recently messed with the Cruiser, Ken Mills Toyota. Their invoice clearly stated "battery checked - OK"....mmm, mysteriouser and mysteriouser.....Brenda, the very efficient telephonist suggested that a tow truck would come down and pick up the Cruiser...I said, no way would a tow truck fit into the tight caravan park...she sent Caspar the workshop manager down with a new battery. He arrived soon after, efficiently installed the battery and the Cruiser was a goer....the damn computer reset itself and lost our kilometres to date figure, other than that all seemed OK. Still, another small set back that we didn't need and due to the delay we sadly decided that Australia Zoo was not to be. The kids spent the day with Amanda doing much needed school work, whilst I cleaned up the Cruiser engine bay, headlights and other bits (Amanda having disinfected the inside yesterday). We all had a much needed break on Dicky Beach, running and me having a swim in the washing machine like waves.

About about three o'clock we went to pick up our much missed Trailer from AORC. What service these guys give. Luke was there explaining all the work. Apparently one shocky had leaked, so they had replaced both of them with my approval. This was unexpected as both had been replaced before we set off by Ken Peachy in Perth. Even given the rough treatment I wouldn't have expected a blow out so soon! Bearings changed, brakes checked, fridge slides upgraded, new jockey wheel, new rivets in the sink and stove, a new sink plug, Anderson plug wiring checked, some welding on a camber setting crack, new mud flaps and the LED lights on the hot water system fixed. Graeme from the workshop came out, a very knowledgable guy who spent time with us offering improvement suggestions and discussing the work he had done, Steve the Marketing Manager wanting to replace out MSA rubbish sack with an AORC wheel cover rubbish sack until we explained we already had one and it wouldn't fit over a BFG muddy anyway. Steven Budden taking time from selling a Qantum to talk to us and wish us well on our trip to the Cape. Overall, it was an expensive visit, but well worth it and we now feel confident that we can make it to the Tip, the Gulf, the Kimberleys and home with our faithful Oddy following behind. The service and the work was first rate with no issues. I feel sure that our next buy will be the new fully customisable Eclipse..wouldn't consider any other brand!

The next few hours were quite frantic and we emptied the dwarve's chalet and repackaged out beloved Oddy. As night fell ( only 5:30 here) we ambled over to the Surf Club for a 'buy two meals and get a free bottle of wine night'. Jack had bangers and mash, Kate spaghettini bog, Amanda guttsed (is that a word?) down tandoori chicken and I gorged on the roast of the day...mmmm, all in all a fine meal and the bottle of wine didn't last long either.

Tomorrow we head North for as far as we can get in one day, with one detour to Ken Mills, to let them check the battery for unexpected discharges...i.e. things that are sucking the amps that shouldn't be....watch this space....p.s. we have had enough of towns and civilisation and caravan parks.....p.p.s it is still raining here!
Mike & Amanda
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