Over a few Christmas drinks a friend asked “What do caravanners do?
For a lot of people the well known ‘Happy Hour’ comes to mind or a quiet read.
But no, they don’t all sit around gazing at the bush with a cold beer in hand. It depends on you and how active you are and what your interests are. I tend to lose a little weight on long winter trips as we walk more than we do at home and that is because there is more to see. I find that I become bored of the same old area at home and tend to walk less and less. Like most travellers I always want to know what’s over the next hill. We don’t fish and we’re not your serious bush walking types but we do enjoy a walk of several kilometres to see a waterfall or lookout or the tranquility of the mist rising on Victoria’s Lake Elizabeth in the early morning.
When we’re doing long hops we like to stop in each town and ‘walk the street’, as lot of small country towns have one or two streets of shops we walk down one side and up the other just seeing what they sell. We may do a little shopping or we may not depending on what’s on offer. You’d be surprised how it helps to get a feel for the town. Little things, like a note pinned to the butcher shop window announcing the passing of a resident and when and where the funeral will be held. We were in Northampton in WA on ANZAC Day so we stopped for a few hours and attended the memorial service at the RSL.
Even though we do a lot of online research before a trip, when we are staying in a town we tend to visit the trusty Information Centre to find out a little more. They often have a few hidden gems that we haven’t heard of. Like the time we were in the tall timber town of Pemberton in WA’s south. A young travelling family put us onto a timber mill tour that cost us about $6 and was fascinating. We’ve toured underground coal, silver and gold mines. We’ve been driven down into immense Open Cut gold and iron ore mines. We’ve flown over a diamond mine and the beehive ranges of The Bungle Bungles, also known as Purnululu. We’ve taken boat trips to reefs and islands and on lakes. We’ve toured cathedrals, monasteries and even brothels.
When it comes to soaking up the history of a town the local pub, the museum and the cemetery give us a wealth of information about the droughts and floods and the arrival of the railway and often that once important railway station is now a cafe serving a decent lunch.
When we’re camped near a beach I tend to walk up and down the beach a lot, watching the changes of the tides and poking about rock pools. I love the play of light on the sea and learning how sea creatures live.
In the desert, where people often declare that there is nothing to be seen, I’m fascinated by the tiny world beneath our feet, tracks in the red sand telling us that we are not alone there are lizards and snakes and birds. And if you stay perfectly still you can hear them.
Then there are the hobbies on the road. As regular readers may have noticed Woody and I are on a divine mission to visit all of Australia’s iconic pubs. We are nowhere near completing this task but boy we’ve had fun trying.
Whenever we’re passing through an area that our ancestors have lived it has been incredible to walk the streets that they once walked. In Burra in South Australia we found the hotel that was once owned by Woody’s family in the 1800’s. In Charters Towers, Qld we found where my Great Great Uncle lived and worked as a mine manager in the town’s largest gold mine. In Carapooee, Vic we found the church that his brother, my Great Grandfather and other gold miners turned farmers built for their community.
When we do have some down time there is always the writing of blogs, processing photos, playing the ukulele, sudoku, crosswords, curling up with a good book and getting to know our campground neighbours.
Then of course there is Happy Hour around a fire with a glass of wine and new found friends from heaven knows where.
Is it any wonder that I get bored at home?
What do you do when you’re ‘on the road’?