Easter School Holidays – Camping in our paddock

After spending a couple of weeks over Easter in the Snowy Mountains we came home to glorious autumn weather. It’s a lovely time of the year in the Riverina. We usually have sunny warm days and cold nights. Trees are changing colour and starting to lose their leaves for winter.

Our daughter and her three kids were keen to do a camping trip in their van and swags and we racked our brains as to where we could go just for a couple of days. The solution……….camping in our own paddock!

We live on a 7 acre hobby farm. The front 3 acres is our large farm garden and the back is divided into a couple of paddocks. Our paddocks consist of pasture that we mow regularly and at this time of year they are all lovely and green…..makes for a great camp spot!

Katie and the kids arrived with their little van and quickly set up camp. The kids set up their swags on a large mat and we set up the motorhome alongside. There we spent the next couple of days and 2 nights camping. What fun!

We had a bonfire the first night burning off a pile of prunings we’d been adding to over the last couple of years and we also made use of our little Kings fire pit. Excellent for cooking spuds in foil and baked bean & cheese jaffles for lunch.

What did your family do in the school holidays?


Who takes grandchildren camping?

We do!

On many occasions we have taken one or more of our 7 grandchildren away on a trip in the motorhome with us. Each year in January our large extended family get together for a week of waterskiing and catching up. In 2023 we were expecting some 72 family members to make the trek to ‘The Dam”. How epic is that?

For the last few years one grandchild has traveled with us on the Friday and camped with us overnight before continuing on our journey to ‘The Dam’ and meeting up with the rest of the family. This year it was our 6 year old grandson Henry’s turn and boy, was he one excited boy when we set of from home in the morning. How lovely it is to see excitement in children!

He arrived at our house bright and early with his bag, books, drink bottle and teddy all set for the big adventure of going in the motorhome with Gran and Pa.

I think he was a bit disappointed that we weren’t ready to leave and we didn’t drive out the gate until 10.30am.

It’s some 460km from our home to ‘The Dam’ at Grabine Lakeside State Park situated on Wyangala Dam in the central west of NSW. We don’t tend to travel that far in one day so we like to leave the day before everyone else and take our time getting there. Most of the others arrive at ‘The Dam’ on the Saturday.

Last year we must have left earlier because we made it to Gunning by lunch time and ended up camping at Bigga Recreation Ground however, because of our late start we arrived in Gunning late in the afternoon and decided to make camp at the Gunning Showground.

Gunning Showground is one of two free camps in that lovely historic town. The other is at Barbour Park next to the creek and close to the town swimming pool however we like the open spaces at the Showground. There is no power but water taps are scattered around the site. We don’t use the amenities but passed them by on the way in.

It was a busy campground with some 20 RV’s of all shapes and sizes from C class motorhomes like ours, a whizbanger, a coaster, a variety of caravans and a tent. It’s a large area so there is room to spread out.

As soon as we pulled up Henry was bursting to try out the adventure playground and fitness equipment. There’s also a small skate park next to the playground. That needed to be tried out too.

What to cook for a 6 year old? I asked him yesterday what his favourite was and the reply “nuggets and chips” so nuggets and chips it was. Glad to say the meal was eaten with much gusto and lots of lively chatter.

While Pa settled in with his book after dinner I showed Henry how we have a quick shower in the motorhome by wetting all over, turning off the taps, washing all over with soap then rinsing off. The end result one lovely clean boy who quickly jumped up on the bed with Pa. A movie was chosen and while I was typing this blog the sounds of Despicable Me 3 played in the background.

16 Guidelines for Life

I picked up a leaflet while visiting the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion and it just resonated with me. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone lived by these guidelines. I’ll share them below.

  1. HUMILITY – I am willing and able to learn from others
  2. PATIENCE – I have a calm and spacious mind
  3. CONTENTMENT – I enjoy who I am and what I have
  4. DELIGHT – I rejoice in the good fortune of others
  5. KINDNESS – I am friendly, caring and considerate
  6. HONESTY – I act with transparency and fairness
  7. GENEROSITY – I give without expecting anything in return
  8. RIGHT SPEECH – I speak with insight and sensitivity
  9. RESPECT – I honour people with a deeper understanding and experience of life
  10. FORGIVENESS – I let go of resentment and anger towards myself and others
  11. GRATITUDE – I acknowledge and repay the kindness of others
  12. LOYALTY – I am good-hearted and dependable in all relationships
  13. ASPIRATION – I seek a fulfilling way of life that avoids causing harm
  14. PRINCIPLES – I develop sincere and stable inner values
  15. SERVICE – I help and benefit others in whatever way I can
  16. COURAGE – I accept responsibilities and challenges with a calm determination

    from http://www.compassionandwisdom.org

Central Coast to Coledale Beach

After managing to turn our motorhome around we departed from Mardi in the Central Coast and headed southwards. We had no real destination in mind however we needed to find a dump point as our cassette was nearly full. Using WikiCamps I couldn’t find a public dump point anywhere near us. It looked like we would have to cross Sydney first and then try the dump point at Picton.

This shortage of public dump points in Central Coast and through Sydney could create a serious problem for anyone not aware that there aren’t any to be found.

We had an uneventful journey to Sydney and, for the very first time, went via the North Connex Tunnel. We have read a lot about the tunnel, especially how expensive it it, however we found it brilliant. It made crossing the busiest city in Australia a piece of cake. The tunnel is tall and two lanes wide with wide shoulders. I reckon it saves about 24 sets of traffic lights from the old route via Pennant Hills Road. We were impressed. We probably won’t be when we get our e-toll account though!

The North Connex Tunnel merges with the M2, then we carried on via the M7 and M5 to reach the Hume Highway. All too soon we were across Sydney and out the other side.

Leaving the Hume Highway at the Picton exit we drove into the little town to find their dump point. A quick stop got that job done and we found a little park where we could make lunch and decide where we were going.

Decision made, we headed off again and followed the Picton Road all the way down the mountain to Wollongong on the South Coast

Our camp for the night was Coledale Beach Reserve. This fabulous campground is run by the Coledale Surf Life Saving Club and is located right on the beach. You really couldn’t be any closer. What a great spot. We managed to get an unpowered grassy site with water and sullage for the great price of $20 per night (with a Seniors discount)

We recommend this great spot but it is extremely popular so it pays to book ahead. We only managed to get a site because someone had to cancel.

Another short break – Tea Gardens & Central Coast

Sadly we needed to attend a funeral in Tea Gardens on the NSW coast. Neither of us could recall ever going there in spite of having been to Nelsons Bay, on the other side of Port Stephens, many times.

The twin towns of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest sit on the northern side of the entrance to Port Stephens.

Setting off from our home town of Griffith in NSW our route took us via West Wyalong, Forbes, Parkes, Yeoval, Gulgong, Cassilis, then following the Golden Highway until we reached the Pacific Highway and turned northwards.

We had a big driving day the first day…530km from home to Cassilis Park Rest Area. What a sorry state rural roads were in. I swear some of the potholes could swallow a small car. We only averaged 75km/h due to the state of the roads and roadworks. Between West Wyalong and Forbes there was water everywhere on both sides of the road and that’s without the big rains that were forecast for the next 10 days!

Cassilis Park Rest Area is on the Golden Highway and has a large area where lots of RV’s can pull up for an overnighter. It’s also a truck rest area with a long tarred section for the big rigs. There’s multiple picnic tables and a toilet block. You can have a fire and stay for up to 24 hours. Although it’s close to the main road the traffic noise dies down after dark.

This was a great spot to pull up for the night and we quickly got a fire going and enjoyed just chilling while the sun went down.

The next morning two council workers were on site cleaning the toilets and keeping the grounds tidy. We were impressed with this great little free camp.

Something to be aware of though if you decide if to park up for the night, please don’t park in the long parking bays for trucks unless you want a huge refrigerated B-double parked right next to you with their compressor going on and off all night. Truckies are working and need their rest breaks at the right time. If their parking is taken up by us travelers they need to go on to the next stop. Just be aware and park your RV out of the way.

We arrived in Tea Gardens and, after a drive around found the only service station was closed off and under renovations. That meant having to drive back to the highway to go to the next nearest Service station. On the way back into Tea Gardens we called in at the Lions Park and made use of the dump point and filled up with water.

We made our way to the Tea Gardens Country Club where you can camp in their carpark for up to 2 nights. One of you has to become a member of the club ($5.50) and the camping fee is $11 per night. Power is also available however you do need to be self contained. No grey water is to be let out on the ground and all rubbish must be taken away.

Check in is at reception inside the club and this was a simple process. Armed with my new club membership we were good to camp for the next 2 nights.

Our friends, Kevin & Sally who have traveled with us previously with their caravan, arrived and the four of us enjoyed a lovely meal in the Club.

The next day we took the opportunity of no rain to get our ebikes off and go for a ride around the area. We rode from the Country Club along the riverside, crossed the Singing Bridge (still can’t find why it’s called that) where we had to dismount and walk our bikes across, checked out Bennets Beach and Jimmys Beach in Hawks Nest.

Under the Singing Bridge across the Myall River you can see the remains of the old ferry crossing.

Our second evening was spent having dinner with friends at the Tea Gardens Hotel following our attendance at the funeral we’d traveled for. It was a very busy pub and served up great fish and chips.

Tea Gardens Hotel dinner

After 2 nights camped in the carpark at Tea Gardens Country Club we set off southwards and traveled down to Central Coast via The Entrance.

On the way we stopped off at Australian Motorhomes at Bennetts Green to check out the current motorhome models and we were very impressed with the current Sunliner Navian range. Do you love window shopping for a new RV?

We arrived at our cousins place in Mardi near Wyong on the Central Coast. Their lovely property overlooks Mardi Dam. The only down side was the long, winding, narrow road and driveway to get into their place.

As everyone in Australia knows, we have had so much rain that the ground is just saturated. Rivers are flooding, dams are over full and the ground just can’t take any more water. This was a bit of a worry as our cousins driveway is on a hill and we were not sure how we were going to be able to turn around without getting our 5 tonne motorhome completely bogged. Oh well. We’d worry about when we leave.

Our cousins had just purchased ebikes so we enjoyed a lovely ride around the area to try them out. We quickly discovered that their motors are more powerful than the ones on our bikes. Our fabulous bikes are 4 years old and the technology has changed so much in that time. Still, we were able to keep up but with more effort up the hills.

We spent three days camped in their driveway. Over that time we enjoyed many lovely chats over dinner, had a lovely night out at the Shelly Beach Golf Club, and generally enjoying catching up.

Meals on the road

Meals on the road. Often people ask what we eat while on a long road trip. My answer to that is usually ‘the same as we eat at home’. Our motorhome has a full stove with three gas hot plates and one electric. It has a separate grill and oven below. Whatever I can cook at home, I can cook on the stove/oven in the motorhome.

What about a microwave? Well, we did have a microwave but as it could only be used when on 240v power (ie a caravan park with power) and we choose to free camp most of the time, the microwave just did not get used. We did use it to store our bread. Eventually we took the microwave out and my cabinet-maker son-in-law has fitted a cupboard door to the space. Now I have a fabulous extra cupboard above our fridge.

Our recent trip in June/July 2022 was to The Red Centre visiting Broken Hill, Port Augusta, Woomera, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, the West MacDonnell Ranges, Uluru & Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and The Riverland. We were away for six weeks. We were traveling with our daughter and her three children who travelled in their 4WD and caravan. During the planning stage of our trip we decided that we would take it in turns to provide the meal for dinner and we would do our own breakfasts and lunches. This worked really well.

Our daughter carries a Weber BBQ in her van so we made good use of that too. We carry a Biji-Barbi and it gets a lot of use when we free camp and can have a campfire.

Here is our dinner menu for the six weeks.

Week 1
– BBQ sausages in bread (cooked on Biji-Barbi)
– Tacos & Nachos
– Spaghetti Bolognese
– Chicken Burgers
– Lamb roast (cooked in Weber), gravy and roast veggies
– Shepherds Pie (has lots of veggies)
– Chicken Kiev & salad

Week 2
– Tuna Mornay (has lots of veggies) & Rice
– Beef Burgers (cooked on Weber)
– Lamb chops (cooked on Weber), Boiled potatoes with coleslaw, cheese & sour cream, corn on the cob
– Beef casserole (cooked in crockpot)
– Pasta Bolognese
– Dinner out at the Alice Springs Show
– Southern Fried Chicken Burgers with coleslaw and tangy dressing

Week 3
– Apricot Chicken & Rice (cooked in crockpot) & Rice
– BBQ sausages, chicken kebabs (cooked on Biji-Barbi), Boiled potato & salad
– Chicken Schnitzels, Gravy, Mash & Broccoli
– Beef Stroganoff, Rice & mixed veggies
– BBQ Steak, Corn on the cob, Mash, Broccoli
– Chicken Pasta Bake
– BBQ Lamb Steaks, corn on the cob, baked potato

Week 4
– Tacos & Nachos
– Lamb Roast (cooked in Weber), gravy and roast veggies
– Spaghetti Bolognese
– Beef Burgers
– Dinner out at Yulara
– Chicken Enchiladas
– BBQ Lamb steaks, chunky chips and corn on the cob

Week 5
– Dinner out at Kings Canyon
– Chicken Kiev with potato & mixed veggies
– Chicken & Mushroom Risotto (cooked in crockpot)
– BBQ Sausages & Rissoles, Potato bake and veggies
– Salmon & Veggie Pasta Bake
– Takeaway Fish & Chips in Port Pirie (awesome)
– Macaroni Bolognese

Week 6
– Duck Soup (courtesy of our friend George), Marinated Lamb chops (cooked on Biji-Barbi), Boiled potato, corn on the cob
– Crumbed steak, gravy, mash & veggies
– Dinner out for Ben’s birthday in Renmark
– Beef burgers
– Beef stroganoff & rice, veggies
– BBQ Honey soy chicken steaks, baked potato & pumpkin, corn on the cob

Breakfasts consisted of tea/coffee & toast, cereal, scrambled eggs & bacon, fried eggs & sausages.
Lunches were a variety including sandwiches, toasties, wraps, salads and leftovers.

On that trip I also cooked a Chocolate Coconut Slice three times so we always had a ‘nice thing’ for after dinner. 6 year old Maddie was my enthusiastic kitchen helper who got to lick the bowl!

And, of course, we carry ice-cream so Ice-cream in a Cone was a popular dessert.

My little blog reaches 10,000 views!

Wow! I received a notification today that my website has reached 10,000 views. I’m a bit stunned. I know that isn’t many for a full time blog however my little blog is really only to record our travels and maybe share some of our adventures with other like-minded travellers.

I started this little blog in March 2016 and I really enjoy writing about our meanders around our fabulous country.

Thank you to all who have been part of that 10,000 views. I hope you enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

I’m always happy to hear from readers what you would like to hear about. Let me know your thoughts!

Where have I been?

COVID-19 – has it affected your family?

I haven’t written anything for a while now. Let me tell you why.

We live in a town in the Riverina in South Western NSW and our town was one of those that had managed to get through the first waves of Covid without too many cases. That all changed at the end of 2021 with the arrival of the Omicron variant. Numbers of cases went up dramatically.

Our family had two Christmas events on the weekend before Christmas, one on the Saturday for 20 people and the other on Sunday for 39 people. Everyone of those was double-vaccinated. Unfortunately one person tested positive from the Saturday and then another and another. This led to our whole family being is isolation for Christmas. It was the worst Christmas ever! On Christmas Day Richard and I drove to our daughters house. We placed their Christmas presents on their front lawn then had to stand back and watch our grandchildren open their presents from a distance. It was horrible not to be able to give them a hug for Christmas.

Our son and his family were not able to go to his in-laws for Christmas as planned. It really was the strangest Christmas.

We did manage to drive to our place in the Snowy Mountains for New Year for a few days however it was a very quiet one with just us, our daughter and her three children and our friends Sally & Kevin.

We set off on 7th January 2022 in our motorhome to travel to our Annual Family Water Ski Holiday at Grabine on Wyangala Dam. This annual event has been going for over 40 years and sees some 70 of Richard’s family get together each year. We were a bit hesitant about going this year although everyone agreed to do a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or PCR test and be negative before they could go. Everyone was also double-vaccinated. What could go wrong?

We camped the first night at Bigga Recreation Ground. This is a campground provided by the local community and you can stay for up to 3 days for free. There is a dump point and potable water. The area is a large one with lots of rooms for multiple RV’s. Sadly the amenities block had been vandalised and was closed waiting on repairs. Fortunately we are fully self-contained and don’t need to use the amenities. The amenities block has toilets and hot showers and, hopefully, it will be repaired quickly. Why would anyone want to vandalise an amenities block? I just don’t get that at all!

That night a huge storm blew in and our young granddaughter thought it was extra cozy sleeping up in the Luton with the sound of the heavy rain on the roof.

We had a fabulous week of water skiing and catching up with family from all over, including a few who have been living in the UK for the last couple of years. As I said before, everyone was double-vaccinated and had a negative RAT or PCR test before they came. I suppose it was a little inevitable that someone would test positive and, sure enough, that’s what happened. One tested positive then another then another and so on. I became sick on our way home and was out of action for the next week feeling very unwell. Sure enough a PCR test showed I was positive for Covid. Luckily our house is two stories and I was able to stay in isolation upstairs whilst Richard lived downstairs. I am now at Day 21 since my positive PCR test and I am finally starting to feel better. I had a lingering cough, felt like I had a cold and was extremely tired all the time.

So many of our families have now had Covid and tiredness is the most lingering symptom.

Usually when we return home from a trip the Motorhome gets unpacked, cleaned thoroughly and the outside is given a good wash however this time it sat in our driveway for a couple of weeks until I felt well enough to get to it. Finally she is all clean and shiny now and ready for our next adventure.

Has Covid affected your family?

What are our most useful items?

We often get asked ‘what are the most useful items you’ve bought or use in your motorhome’ so I thought I’d compile a list. This is by no means an extensive list, just the things that we’ve found to be the most useful. Your list may look completely different to ours and that’s OK. Being different is what makes this world such an interesting one.

1. Muk Mats

I’m a huge fan of Muk Mats. We own four of them. We first purchased an Extra Large Muk Mat to use on the ground at our doorway. They are brilliant at collecting sand, leaves, grass, burrs and sticks from your shoes BEFORE it comes inside. We loved this mat so much we purchased two small ones to use as car mats in the cab of our motorhome. Recently Muk Mat announced they now make Step Mats so we purchased one of those too to replace our old ratty step mat. Love it! If you haven’t got a Muk Mat you can buy one from their online store.

2. A second water tank

Our motorhome came with only one 90L water tank and a 90L grey water tank. We found this would only last us for about 3-4 days so we had another 90L water tank installed underneath. This has now meant we can free camp for up to a week without running out of water.

3. 1000W inverter

Our Avida came with a small 150W inverter that was really only useful for charging our phones and iPad. When we had the washing machine installed we needed a bigger inverter and I went with an Enerdrive 1000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter. It runs our washing machine, my Bamix, our small slow cooker and charges our Makita batteries and Richard’s MacBook. I purchased our new inverter online from mygenerator.com.au.

4. Sphere 3.3kg Automatic Top Loader Washing Machine

I know, I know. It’s a family joke how much I love to do the washing. I get it from my mother! I’m a very happy Vegemite now we have our beaut little washing machine. I bought it from Campsmart.net.au online and our son-in-law and our RV Repairman installed it. It only weighs 18kg and uses about 20L of water on a full load. I only use wool wash so I set it to wash only, then spin only as you don’t need to rinse.

5. Versaline Traveler RV Clothesline

I can’t talk about washing without mentioning our clothesline. I purchased a Versaline Traveller RV Clothesline online and my son-in-law installed the wall brackets on the side of our motorhome. He glued and screwed them on and they have never moved. The Traveller Clothesline comes in its own storage bag and to put it up you take it out of the bag, unroll it, hook the ends onto the wall brackets, then put the spreader bars on to tension the line. Simple. Ours is long enough to hold sheets. I can hang about three loads of washing on it to dry. Packing it away is simple too. Sadly Versaline’s website does not appear to be working so I hope they are still in business.

6. Solarscreens

These were one of the first purchases we made after buying our motorhome. The Avida came with a curtain that clipped onto the front windscreen to offer privacy however we found that fiddly. I purchased the Solarscreen’s online. They make them to fit your vehicle and we have used them every day we’ve traveled in the motorhome. They are so quick to put up and take down. They roll up and live in their own bag and we throw the bag up in our Luton as we travel. They keep the heat and cold out and provide privacy. We recommend Solarscreens.

7. Safety Dave TPMS

We love our Safety Dave Tyre Pressure Management System. It has saved at least three tyres since we purchased it this year. To order one you call up Safety Dave and they will ask for details about your rig, how many tyres etc and then send you the appropriate monitor and number of sensors. The sensors replace the valve cover on each tyre and the monitor sits on your dash. The sensors send data wirelessly to the monitor and you can keep an eye on each tyre pressure and temperature. The monitor charges via a USB. If a tyre suddenly loses pressure the monitor lets you know immediately by making a loud beeping noise. You can pull up before the tyre blows out and causes damage. Brilliant device.

8. Adventure Kings folding fire pit

I bought the Adventure Kings Folding Fire Pit a few years ago for Richard’s birthday. I have to say he wasn’t very impressed when he opened it and set it up. He thought it was way too small for a good fire pit however he has since changed his mind and now loves our little fire pit. We use it a lot, especially when free camping and really enjoy sitting around a little fire at night.

9. Biji-Barbie
We’ve had our Biji-Barbie for a long time, long before we bought our motorhome. It has gone on many many camping trips. We love the Biji as it folds up flat and is so easy to store. It fits on top of our Adventure Kings Folding Fire Pit and also can be used on a fire on the ground. It has three folding legs and a long folding handle. When cooking over an open fire you can simply pick it up and move it away from the fire to turn your cooking over and you don’t get a face full of smoke. Biji’s come in 3 different sizes and our is the large 430mm/17″. We pack ours into a bag for storage.

10. Space Saver Saucepans

I purchased these stacking saucepans from Caravans Plus online store. They are Teflon lined and stack neatly inside each other. The handle is removable. We also purchased the frypan and lid with detachable handle. These have seen constant use since we bought our motorhome in 2016 and I am still very happy with the product. As they are square they fit well on the cooktop and it is easier to pack things around them in the drawer.

11. Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak

I love paddling so where to put kayak on motorhome was the challenge. I found the Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak on Amazon.com.au and it is a fabulous little kayak. It came with its own hand pump and only takes about 10 minutes to be all pumped up and ready for use. Packing it away takes a bit longer to get all the air out and wipe out any water. My kayak has been used on the Murray River, the Coorong, Lara, Wetlands, Lawn Hill Creek in Boodjamilla NP, Lake Pamamaroo, Lake Cargelligo, and our own dam at home. It does ‘waggle’ a little but having a skeg helps reduce that. It is not a ‘performance’ kayak however it is enough for me to get out on the water and enjoy a paddle.

12. Netgear Nighthawk WiFi Router

This has been a fabulous addition to our gadgets. I purchased an unlocked Nighthawk from devicedeal.com.au online and, at first we had an Aldi SIM, we now have a Boost SIM. Being on Boost we have access to the whole Telstra network and this gives us great coverage. For those occasions when we don’t have Telstra our iPhones on the Optus network provide us with a WiFi hotspot. As Richard is an avid trader of international portfolios he has found the Nighthawk to be an amazing gadget. It enables him to check his portfolios in the some very remote places.

13. Sandlewood sticks

This seems like an odd thing to include in this list but I love these little sticks. I buy them from Bunnings (usually in the BBQ section) and one or two of these will keep all the bugs away when we are sitting outside enjoying a fire and the night sky. A pack of 10 is about $5.

14. Makita Tools

I love my Makita Vaccuum. It is so quick to use to give the floor a daily clean. I hardly use the broom any more. Richard loves the power of the Makita Torch and he gets a lot of use out of the Blower keeping the fire going and blowing the leaves and sticks off our awning mat. We also carry a Makita Drill and mini Air Compressor so that we only have to carry one type of battery and battery charger. We have purchased all our Makita tools from Bunnings.

15. Air Compressor

After much research on forums and talking to other RV travellers we purchased an OUTBAC Portable Air Compressor 220PSI 12V 200L Tyre Deflator – Platinum Series from Edisons.com.au. This device enables us to quickly pump our tyres back to tar road pressure after deflating them to travel on gravel roads. It has leads to attach it to your battery. Our tar road tyre pressure is 70psi and before we hit the gravel we deflate to 50psi. It’s amazing the difference that makes to the shaking.

16. A second toilet cassette

To enable us to free camp for longer we purchased a second cassette for our toilet. We have room for the second one under our bed and we keep it there in the box it came in until it is needed. When the first cassette is full we take it out and store it under the motorhome (who’d steal a full cassette??) until we are ready to move and then it goes in a garbage bang and we just sit it on the floor until we get to the dump point. It gets a thorough wash and sterilise then goes back in the box under the bed. We purchased our second cassette from mygenerator.com.au.

17. Our folding aluminium outdoor table

Even thought here is a fold down table on the side of our motorhome we find that we tend to use that to hold our drinks and nibbles whilst we use the folding aluminium outdoor table to dine at. We were given the folding aluminium outdoor table as a gift so I don’t know where it was purchased but I found one at Catch.com.au that is similar. We use this table all the time.

18. Outdoor Connection Directors chairs

We have had many folding chairs over the years and we currently have the Outdoor Connection XL Director Chair. We both find these very comfortable and you can sit more upright in it to eat at the outdoor table. It is not the lightest of folding chairs but comes with it’s own carry bag and built-in side table and two of them fit in one of our outside bins.

19. Folding Beach Cart

The Folding Beach Cart is a useful addition to our camping fear. It is quite large and can carry quite a load. It has large wheels that can move across sand (useful in the desert or at the beach) and it makes carting your gear to camp or the beach a lot easier. It folds up neatly and stores in the outside bin with our chairs and table.

A washing machine in an Avida Esperance

One of the most common questions I get asked when we meet new people while out on our travels is where on earth we managed to fit a washing machine inside our 2013 Avida Esperance. It’s a bit of a story, so here goes.

Our motorhome is a 2013 Avida Esperance C7934SL. That means it was built in 2013, is a ‘C’ class motorhome with a bed above the cab (called a Luton), is 7.9 metres long and 34 is the model number. SL denotes that it has a slide-out. Our layout has a ‘dry’ bathroom across the back, then an east/west bed that lifts up to access a lot of storage underneath, then the fridge and L shaped lounge dinette on the driver’s side and the kitchen and entry door on the passenger side. Where could we fit a washing machine?

Firstly I did a lot of research into washing machines. I searched forums online and asked lots of fellow travellers what they had. I discovered that the lovely front loaders (I have had one in my home for years) are very heavy, weighing in at some 47 kgs. At the time we hadn’t upgraded our GVM so adding 47kgs was not an option.

Next I checked out twin tubs. I read and talked to a lot of people who carry one of these and store it in their shower. They are very light to move around and do a great job of washing and spin drying however I thought it would become very tiresome having to move it every time we wanted to use the shower.

So lastly I checked out small top loaders designed for RV use and eventually decided on a Sphere 3.3kg Automatic Top Loader that I purchased online from CampSmart for $369 delivered. This great little machine only weighs 18.5kg. It is 410W x 420D x 740H (mm) + 240mm with lid up. Now the challenge was where to put it.

At the rear on the driver’s side of our Espie is a large storage bin that we used to store things like our hoses, the wheel chocks, awning mat etc. It is a very large bin and can be accessed from inside by lifting up the bed. Luckily I have a very clever cabinet maker son-in-law who thought he could construct a box for the washing machine to sit in. This would also stop the machine moving around whilst traveling.

So the process involved emptying the storage bin, fitting the washing machine and taking the motorhome to our local RV repairer, Matt Best at Best RV Repairs, who plumbed in the washing machine to the cold water and drainage pipes. Then my son-in-law built the box around the machine. He cleverly lined the box with rubber matting so the machine does not move and keeps firmly in its place.

Next it was off to the auto-electrician to have the old 150W inverter taken out and a new 1000W inverter installed. The CampSmart website recommended a 600W inverter to run the machine however I went a little bigger in case we wanted to run other appliances in the future. Of course nothing is simple and the auto-electrician discovered that the new inverter could not go where the old one was as the cables are too thick to go from there to the house batteries, so the new inverter was mounted on the side of the new box built around the washing machine. Where the old inverter was is now a power point and two 12V plugs, one with two USB’s useful for charging our devices. A new power point for the inverter was installed under the bed near the existing double power point. The power cord from the washing machine can be plugged into it or, if we are on a powered site, it can be plugged back into the standard power point.

The box around the washing machine has made it really easy to stack items into the big storage bin as you can pack them up against the side of the box. What we store in each storage bin is a story for another day. That’s another thing we get asked about a lot.

So now we have a 3.3kg automatic top loader washing machine installed that I access by lifting up our bed. It uses 20L per wash for a full load and I use it all the time when we travel. I no longer have to use the, often dirty, washing machines at caravan parks or laundromats. The 3.3kg size is large enough to wash our sheets and these then get hung on our Versaline Traveller RV clothesline that Matt Best from Best RV Repairs installed on the slide out of our motorhome. Our son-in-law also installed a hanging rail above our dinette so that we can hang washing here to dry if it is a travel day or the weather is not good enough to hang clothes outdoors.

As we mostly freedom camp we are very careful with our water usage and usually only put the washing machine on if we will be filling up with water that day. Once while filling up with water at Menindee after camping in Kinchega National Park for a week I managed to do two loads of washing while we filled up. One of the beauty’s of the Sphere is that you can set it to do a wash only (this takes 14 minutes) then you can set it to spin only (this takes 7 minutes). If you only use Woolwash deturgent there is no need to rinse. So a full load of washing takes 21 minutes and uses 20L of water. The little washing machine happily runs on the inverter with no issues.

I really appreciated having it after our trip to the Big Red Bash in July. We arrived at the caravan park in Mt Isa afterwards to find the park chock-a-block full and all the washing machines in their laundry already in use. After being in the dusty outback everything needed to be washed and cleaned so the little washing machine did a mighty job. I did have to use the park clothesline as there was too much washing to hang out on my little clothesline. After a day of washing and cleaning we were ready to continue our travels.

So that’s it. With a bit of ingenuity we were able to find a spot to fit a washing machine in with plenty of power to run it when we are off grid.

The big storage bin. The white box surrounds the washing machine and the inverter is installed against the box.
A close up of the washing machine in its box. Note the rubber lining of the box.
Under bed storage with the washing machine on the left. Note the closest power point is for the inverter. The shopping bags usually sit on top of the washing machine.