Travelling in Oz

We’re back in New South Wales now just above Byron Bay at a place called Mullumbimby whhich is just a few kilometres inland from the coast. We passed through here a couple of years ago stopping only briefly for provisions but made a note about what a lovely town and area it was. We’re staying at the towns sports club campsite. It’s by the river and the club bar is open at night. It’s really handy for touring the area. There is a real hippy culture here with all the alternative therapies that go with it. Of course a lot of the hippies are now in their seventies but good for them. If we were ageing hippies we would certainly like to live here.

Going back seven to ten years Australia was great value for money for us travelling Brits but the global financial collapse caused a weakening of the British pound agains the Aussie dollar and saw exchange rates come down from 2.5 to 1 to 1.4 to 1. This plus a steep rise in the cost of living in Australia has made it seem very expensive to us. However, this year we have seen the exchange rate climb to 1.81 to 1 and it really does seem to make everything much more affordable – hence more meals out.

Toilets are worth a mention! On the remote campsites that we mostly frequent there is no mains water so the toilets are bush dunnies – basically a hole in the ground. They are OK, some better than others. Rarely are there any showers so it’s either a swim, a bird bath (a few inches of water in a bowl) or we do have a solar shower which is a black plastic bag that you leave out in the sun. It’s surprising how quickly it heats up. Today we came across a novel idea on an excellent bush campsite. You lit a fire under a large cylinder of water. When it was warm the water could be emptied into a bucket. Inside the facilities was a shower cubicle with a canvas bucket on a hoist. You put your warm water in the canvas bucket, hoist it up and hey presto you’ve got a shower.

This year we managed to bring a rear awning called a Packashak for Geoffrey from home. It’s a simple arrangement that fits over the tailgate and then just 4 pegs hold it square on the ground. It’s been a great success giving us more privacy for getting washed and changed in areas with few facilities. It’s also good for a night time toilet as we are often parked a considerable distance away from the facilities i.e bucket and chuck it!

Camp kitchens are another feature of Australian campsites. They range from quite basic facilities i.e sink and BBQ to full kitchen including microwave TV etc. They make good social places to meet with others or are just somewhere to do your washing up without the hassle of boiling a kettle of water etc.

We’re now down to our last half litre of gin so we know this adventure is coming to an end. Just a few more diary entries to go.

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