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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - December 2004


After just one more sunset at Ayers Rock we were back on the road and heading south. Our brakes are still not performing as well as they should and as you can imagine, we are not happy about it. I will publish the complete story after seeking comment from Alice Brake & Clutch.

As the midday temperatures are reaching such crazy heights we are getting up early and travelling while the tar is still solid and parking up for the night before lunch. We stopped at Cadney Homestead and I decided it was time that I properly investigated the issues with the Moke. It did not take long to realise that the problem was not in fact a broken engine mount as we had first thought, but two separate issues. The radiator had broken loose from its mount and the clutch master cylinder seems to be in need of new rubbers. This is nowhere as bad as we had imagined it might be. A few hours work and some creative 'bush engineering' later the Moke was again mobile (although the clutch is still a bit dodgie - but it will do until we can get a kit for the master cylinder).

Coober Pedy, South Australia's opal mining capital was the next stop. We were enthusiastically greeted by Albert who runs the local op-shop. Albert and his wife are members of the CMCA (motorhome club) and welcome other members to stay in their yard while exploring Coober Pedy.  We followed the signs and gratefully parked up in Alberts yard which is quite close to the centre of the town. The last use of the exhaust brake had alerted us to a leak in the manifold as so I set about finding the leak. To cut a long story short, I decided to remove the fibreglass wrap that I had put over the exhaust manifold to keep the heat from further increasing the temperature inside the motorhome. As soon as the fibreglass had been removed I saw the cause of the leak. The entire manifold has over heated and two large cracks allowed me to see daylight from below the engine. We will not be moving from here until we get a new manifold. A quick call to our Bedford spare parts man in Melbourne and we have a replacement on its way - express post will have the manifold and gaskets with us by Thursday. The weather has changed from the hot, dry and cloudless sky we have been used to for the last few months - we now have strong winds and cool temperatures. At one stage the wind was so strong and the motorhome was being shaken around so much, I actually felt a little sea sick!

While we waited for the manifold we tried various kits in the clutch master cylinder of the Moke with out any luck (but we are now very good at getting it removed, disassembled and refitted). We also took a tour of Coober Pedy. The tour turned out to be very good and at $40 each, quite good value. We visited underground houses and churches, hilltop lookouts and some of the sets used in the making of movies like Mad Max III. Crocodile Harry's was the highlight for me - this is a house (cave?) dug into the side of a hill and occupied by an extremely excentric 76 year old man.

Harrys Holden garden, SA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Harrys Holden garden, SA

Despite his age, Harry is fixated on woman and his home is a shrine to the naked female form. Harry's place was used as a set in Mad Max III. During filming Tina Turner left one of her bras with Harry and this seems to have started a trend - female backpackers and visitors have added to the collection and now Harry's entire bedroom is lined with woman's undergarments of every shape and size, all with hand written notes from their former owners. If you ever find yourself in Coober Pedy, you have to visit Crocodile Harry's (and if you are female, bring spare underwear).

As promised, Thursday morning the replacement manifold arrived and in less than two hours we were ready to continue south. The road south from Coober Pedy passes through the Woomera prohibited area. This is a huge expanse of desert waste land. It is used by the military for secret stuff. In the past it has been used for atomic bomb research and testing, desert military exercises and other top secret government stuff (including an area for detaining asylum seekers).

From Woomera we will be heading to Adelaide to meet up with John and Glenda for a few days of well deserved R & R.



The time with John and Glenda in Adelaide went just too quick. It was however great to catch up with them (and the duty frees they brought will ensure a Merry Christmas will be had aboard Hobohome).

We have fixed the issues with the Moke and fixed most of the stuff that needed doing on the motorhome and are currently heading south from Adelaide looking for a quiet beach somewhere to hide from the Christmas madness. We plan to do some diving (despite the recent death from a Great White Shark in the area) and lots of reading on a beach. We will be heading back to Adelaide early in the new year to meet up with Zoie (#1 daughter) who will be spending a couple of weeks with us. Then .... well who knows?



We travelled south from Adelaide and down the Fleurieu Peninsular to a little sea-side town of Rapid Bay. Rapid Bay features in our guide to diving Australia (a book given to me by my team at Baycorp Advantage). The Rapid Bay pier extends quite a few hundred metres out to sea and the supporting pylons are home to a large number of fish, among these is the bizarre "Weedy-Sea-Dragon".  After two excellent dives we have seen lots of fish, many that we have never seen before, picked up some scallops - but did not see a Weedy-Sea-Dragon. Diving below the pier is quite an eerie experience.

Diving under the Rapid Bay Pier, SA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Diving under the Rapid
Bay Pier, SA

The old wooden pylons have mostly been claimed by the sea and the replacement steel supports are well on their way to joining their wooden predecessors. The changing light and moving shadows created by the structure and supports makes the diving experience quite unusual.  For the second dive we were lucky enough to get a lift out to the end of the pier from Peter and Lois (on their band new white RIB). This gave us the opportunity to explore the deepest part of the pier before swimming our way back to shore among the pier supports. On the day before Christmas we had a visit from the South Australian department of Transport and Poor Timing. They delivered a flyer declaring the pier closed (due to the state of disrepair to which it had fallen). This created quite a stir among both the visitors and locals. By 3pm we had a channel 10 helicopter landing beside us and a channel 9 news crew interviewing Tracey.

Christmas day was fairly quiet and we entertained ourselves by spending most of the day eating.  The camping ground is now starting to fill up with families, dogs and the normal contingent of noisy children (either being noisy while playing with whatever Santa delivered or crying and screaming because it has just broken). Time to get out of here!


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