Dec 15, 2014
Yetman, where I stayed on Friday night, is a very small village between Goondiwindi and Texas. The lady who looks after the caravan park says she and her husband came there eight years ago to stay for a year and never left! Her husband was a “vineyard creator”, they used to contract to vintners to install all the stuff you need for a vineyard, like watering, drainage, the espalier lines, and the grape vines. Anyway he was injured and couldn’t do it any more so they moved to Yetman and love it there.
The caravan park is very small but in a lovely area with huge trees, a toilet/shower/laundry block with free use of washing machine and a tennis court. There were four other vans there too.
I have registered with the Aussie House Sitters website and already have a house sit lined up at Meerschaum Vale which is a bit west of Ballina. I will be on a 50-acre property looking after a dog, a cat, some fish, a rabbit, chickens and the garden and pool. I will be there from 18th December to 5th January. There are lots of places to visit from there: Ballina, Broadwater, Evans Head, Alstonville, Byron Bay,etc. I am hoping to get another job after that one and some people at Guyra, which is between Glen Innes and Armidale, read my profile and emailed me wanting me to look after their place in March while they go away on their honeymoon. So if I can line something up between this job and that, one which is a bit closer to Guyra, then I will go to Guyra as well. I am hoping to get a lot of house sitting jobs, it will enable me to stop travelling all the time which saves a lot of money, and be able to leave the van in a safe place while I explore.
So after leaving Yetman on Saturday I headed for Tenterfield and stopped at about 2pm and went into the Crooked Creek Rest Area which is 40 klms east of Tenterfield. It is quite a large area with drop toilet and a picnic table and lots of fireplaces and is right next to Crooked Creek. I was there on my own and it was so peaceful, a delightful place, and I stayed overnight. And Cheryl, I had to get out that nice red jacket you gave me because it was cold, 19.5 degrees and overcast. Also had to put thick socks on!
So was driving out of the rest area on Sunday morning when I heard a “bang”. What the $%#@! is that? I said. I thought it was a large rock being thrown up as there was a lot of them about. I was about 30 metres from the road and when I got onto the road I knew something bad had happened because I could hear something dragging on the road. So I stopped and got out and found that the Ozhitch had broken!! The caravan’s draw bar was on the ground. No, can’t have been Chinamen this time because I’m sure there aren’t any left, I must be onto the Mongolians now (I could be the answer to the world's overpopulation problem).
I am on the very top of the mountains about 55 k from Tenterfield and 85 k from Casino and there is no phone service. So I flagged down the first car and asked them to call the NRMA when they got phone service and they did.
So there I was my car stopped on the road right on a bend with double lines. Lots of people stopped to see if they could help and two couples in particular did so much to help me - the kindness of strangers. The men got together and managed to shackle the chains directly to the hitch on the car and backed the caravan off the road back onto the Crooked Creek access road. Fantastic. So they left and the NRMA turned up about 15 minutes later with a flatbed truck. Not going to get the van onto that we said. So he removed both ends of the hitch and went back to Tenterfield to see if he could scare up a new hitch of any type so that I could keep going. Probably won’t be able to get it in Tenterfield but I could get one from Lismore and have it dropped off by the transport truck that goes past here every day. I have to be in Meerschaum Vale by Wednesday so that gives us 3 days to get this fixed.
Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the mess before the van was moved, I think I was just a bit traumatised and never thought to do it. But I did take photos of the broken bits(see photos), which I will be sending to the Ozhitch guy together with a request for a refund – and he better not mention the word “warranty” to me or there will be trouble. Actually I think it has a ten-year guarantee but it doesn’t matter, the Consumer Law Act is on my side. So I will be camping here on the side of the road (see photos) tonight and hoping that this can be fixed tomorrow.
If you look at the pics you can see where the round bar has parted from the hole into which it was welded and all the men said that the weld was so small they don’t know why the thing didn’t break a long time ago. I guess it could have been a lot worse, I could have been travelling at 80k or in the main street of a town or going down a steep winding hill. So, that hitch, that I went to so much trouble and expense to buy and install, hasn’t lasted two months. It IS an off-road hitch. I am not happy, Jan.
I’ve just driven 30 ks in the direction of Tenterfield trying to get a signal so that I can call the NRMA guy who said he would try to organise something and to call him at 3pm. The good news is that he found an engineer who is going to weld it back together. So I said, well is this going to be a permanent repair because once we re-weld it I will have no claim on Ozhitch. He said that the engineer said that it is a s**t weld and had been cracked for quite a while and he will fix it so that it cannot ever come adrift again. I am still going to talk to Ozhitch and send them the photos and suggest that they recall all hitches from my batch.
I am definitely going to buy a satellite phone now. I have been humming and harring for two years about it when it’s only about $450 to buy and peanuts to make calls. Even in the middle of civilisation you can get very stuck.
So tomorrow morning (Monday) the engineer will weld it up and bring it out here and re-install it so that I can get on.
Steve the NRMA guy turned up about 10.30 with the hitch all fixed and re-fitted it for me. All up the bill is $300. I am going to suggest to Ozhitch that they pay me back but that probably won't happen. So I finally got going about 11.15 and arrived in Alstonvile about 2.30pm after going through Casino and Lismore. All the country since I crossed the border is green, no drought in NSW. The country I went through today was absolutely spectacular, fabulously beautiful.
I am staying tonight and tomorrow night in the Alstonville showgrounds and will go to Meerschaum Vale on Wednesday morning where I can fill the fridge with bubbly.
more, probably not so exciting, tomorrow!