It'd been a good many years since I've camped in a bus so I'd really been looking forward to ReVolks. For the non-Aussies here ReVolks is a VW show held in Geelong in Victoria - Some 700k's away from where we are in Adelaide. The mad rush to get the lowlight finished in such a short period of time was mostly so that we could take a bit of a holiday and take in the ReVolks show at the same time.
With the bus more or less finished the only thing left to do was put a few k's on the engine and figure out where to store everything. I'd been using the bus to get back and forwards to work in and was quite happy that the engine was running okay. The only real mishap was the DVDA dizzy that decided to go FUBAR whilst I was out at Haandorf. Fortunately I was visiting a VW buddy of mine who was generous enough to lend me the 009 off of a customers bus. With new SVDA installed I gave the bus a service and tune and set about figuring out how to fit all of the stuff that we'd been collecting into the bus.
We put the 4x4 3-way fridge in behind the drivers seat, this also doubled up as an extra seat. This was plugged into a 12 power outlet above. The general foodstuffs and stuff that we needed to access regularly / quickly were packed into plastic containers in the rear overhead cupboard. The stove, pots, pans and other stuff was packed under the rear seat and bedding was stashed in the area behind it.
With the bus packed, baby seats installed, kids strapped in and a rough idea of our route we set off for Bordertown. The plan was to split the journey to Lorne into three smaller chunks. Most folks were travelling over the course of two days, but with two toddlers this makes each leg a bit too long so we decide to travel to Bordertown the first day, Hamilton the next day before travelling on to Lorne via the Great Ocean Road.
Our first stop was at Tailem Bend. It was also our first problem. When I went to start up the bus, I turned the key and nothing happend. I checked the starter thinking that the wire had come off of the solenoid but found it was okay, after checking through a few things I used the voltmeter I brought to measure if I was getting any voltage through to the solenoid. What I discovered was that the voltage was very low. I then checked the battery - this was also low.
I was a bit worried that the dual battery setup I'd installed was somehow incorrect; both batteries were flat, but after a little pondering I decided that the generator was simply not up to the task of running the engine, radio, CB and fridge. Ooops. Bit of an oversight there. We unplugged the fridge, bump started the bus and went on our way.
Fortunately I had guessed correctly, the fridge was simply drawing too much power for the generator to handle. With the fridge unplugged the batteries re charged no problems. We eventually reached Bordertown and set up camp.
The dune 4x4 awning was a great investment. it was dirt cheap at $99 and allows us to take everything out of the bus whilst we are camped. It simply rests up against the side of the bus and attaches by a couple of straps to the wheel arches. I opted to hook the rear one to the air inlet so that we could still slide the side door. Whilst it's not as good as a drive away awning we did eventually figure out that you could use it like a drive away if you pegged it to the ground.
Whilst we were fitting the bus out I added a 4 inch tube to the roof rack for awning pole storage, not only does it get the poles out of the bus creating a bit more room, but it also has the added benefit of making the awning really quick to put up and take down as the poles only have to be folded once and are easy to get to.
With the camp set up I got dinner on the go. Our stove is another one of those great investments that i'm glad I made. I chose to use a colemans dual fuel twin burner setup. I had a single burner version years ago and it always worked really well. It probably takes up bit more room than necessary but it really throws out some heat and is a reasonable size. It can also run on unleaded petrol which means that if you run out of camp stove fuel you can simply fill it up from the jerry can. Mind you - petrol makes your toast taste a bit funny.
With dinner over, the kids finally asleep I read a bit of my book. Unfortunately I was interrupted by a beep beep beep noise coming from the back of the bus. It was the inverter telling me that the battery was going flat. That'd be the damn fridge again. Need to figure something out for that!
The next morning we packed up camp and set off on the road again. The day was relatively uneventful, just lots of driving, stopped off at a few places along the way to take a break and let the kids off of the leash. Eventually we stopped off overnight in Hamilton. The next day, on the way to Lorne we had our first real drama. Whilst we had stopped off for lunch a freak gust of wind pulled the pop top up ripping one of the the tie downs out of the roof. I re-fastened the roof and thought no more of it until we were going along at 100kph and the same thing happened again. It freaked the kids out a bit and somehow, not sure how, the roof did not get completely ripped off of the bus. Fortunately I had some rope in the bus so I tied it down. We eventually made Lorne with no further dramas and settled in to make camp.
Lorne was the rendezvous for the ReVolks crowd so I was looking forward to hooking up with Choco and the gang. We sank a few sherbets, talked VDubs and went to bed late, pretty much what you would expect. Next morning we were packing everything and getting ready for the cruise to Birragurra when we had a little accident. MelleMel slammed Izabellas finget in the sliding door, ouch! There was lots of blood, a screaming Izabella and things generally didn't look too good in the finger department. The finger was still there but it looked like the top of it had been severely crushed, almost severed. We decided to abort the cruise and head for the local A&E instead.
The hospital in Lorne is pretty good, the doctors and nurses were awesome, but it wasn't set up to deal with injuries like this on a one year old. If it had been an adult it would have been no problem, they would have given a local anaesthetic and prodded around no issue, but to take a decent look at such an injury in a todder means that they would have to put her under a general anaesthetic, something that we would need to go to Geelong for. The worry was that the bone was broken or the tendon had been ripped off of the bone which could result in partial loss of the use of her finger and possibly ending up with permanent bend in it. Did I mention that the doctors and nurses were awesome. Somehow they managed to get us an appointment to see the plastics specialist at 7:30 the next morning. Looks like we'd be heading to Geelong a day early. So we set of for Birragurra to catch up with the rest of the ReVolks crowd before heading on to Geelong.
Birragurra was awesome. They had the village fete on so there was lots to see and do. Lots of animals for the kids to pet and stalls with stuff for sale, it managed to keep Izabella amused which took her mind off of her finger. The VDubs took pride of place on the main road leading in which was closed to all other marques. We ended up spending most of the day there before heading off to Geelong.
I'd been to Geelong many times before whilst doing jobs for Fords so headed straight to the Mercure hotel. As luck would have it, it was just around the corner from the Geelong hospital, a lucky coincidence. In the morning we headed to the Hospital where they saw to Izabellas finger. Fortunately there was no permanent damage, but they did have to take the top of her finger off to take a look (ouch). One happy girl later we set off to hook up with the ReVolks crowd down at the seafront.
It was a bit of a shame that I missed out on the cruise, of all of the weekends events, this is what I was looking forward to the most. Ahh well. Shite happens as they say. The Geelong show was great, it was really nice weather and there were some nice rides there too. There were also three Type 34 Karmann Ghias, the most I have seen in one place since coming to Australia. Eventually people started heading off so we decided to take the cruise back to Lorne.
From Geelong we headed along the Great Ocean Road stopping off at Torquay and a couple of the other touristy spots for a bit of a look before camping at Lorne for the night. We continued along the GOR taking in the sights - The Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, The grotto and other such natural wonders.
The Great ocean road is slow going, not only are there plenty of stops to take a look at things but the road is very steep and twisty in places which makes it slow going in a 1600 bus fully loaded up. In the end we only made it as far as Port Campbell before needing to stop again. Unfortunately Laughlan fell a bit ill so we decided to spend an extra day at Port Campbell, plus we could all do with a break from the driving. Port Campbell is a lovely place but it does not have much in the way of amenities, there is no supermarket and unless you want to pay the extortionate prices of the general store no where to restock on supplies. The Camp site owner was good enough to let us know that there was a supermarket at Timboon, about 20 minutes away, So we decided to go take a look.
We stocked up at the supermarket and bought something for tea from the local butchers before heading back. It was on the way back that we had another mishap with the roof. The weather was pretty awful, it was raining a gale and I was being blown all over the road. Eventually the inevitable happend and the pop top blew up again. The rope that I used to tie it down had slipped. No problem, I retied it. Off we went again only to have the same thing happen just down the road. OK, maybe I need more rope. This time I tied it off with two lengths of rope. Much better, or so I thought. This time we made it only a few hundred yards further before whoosh, the pop top got sucked up again. Hmmnnn. It looked like the angle of the rope was too acute allowing too much movement so I decided to tie the rope to the seat frame of the rock and roll bed. This was much better although I kept having visions of the roof begin torn off of the bus along with the rock and roll seat, complete with Locke and Bella in their baby seats swinging underneath it like a giant parachute. Fortunately MelleMel volunteered to sit in the back.
I am completely surprised that the roof did not get torn off of the bus. The canvas managed to survive without even getting ripped, quite how I will never figure. I guess we may have just been lucky, but looking at the rest of the trip Luck was not one thing we were having too much of.
The rest of the trip was pretty cruisey, apart from some bad petrol we got from one town that made the bus pink like can of nails. I though that I'd overdone it trying to make up a little time but after filling up at the next fuel stop the problem went away. Worst thing was it was BP 98 premium, not the 91 crap. Funnily enough there were two servos in this town and I decided to use the BP as it was more appealing looking than the other. Not sure what they were thinning their fuel out with but the bus did not like it.
The last night we stayed at a gem of a place just outside of Keith. The campsite was on a farm which had a pretty good menagerie of animals for the kids to pet, a massive hay bale maze, a boating lake and a bunch of other stuff. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. it was awesome. The girl that ran the place let the kids and Mel go help her feed the animals the next morning, the kids loved it. It's definitely one place we would go back to.
If you want to see more photos from the trip, checkout our ReVolks album in the gallery - http://vdubber.com/photos/mick/album?albumid=1089