We are in a holding pattern at the moment. We are in the last month of our year in Australia, and the time has come to consider how we will part with Winston, our little old Aussie Winnebago. First of all, we need to fix a couple things to make him as sellable as possible. There is a cracked windshield (“windscreen” to the Australians). It started with two big chips from a couple big rocks tossed our way by a vehicle we met on an Outback highway between Longreach and Winton in Queensland last June. Today, two young men from O’Brien Glass came to our site in the Corrimal Beach Tourist Park and replaced that windshield, totally covered by our Aussie insurance.
Then there is a small wound in Winston’s rear end where Sharon allowed Jon to back into the tiniest of tree branch stubs while we were at Ayers Rock Resort in Northern Territory last August. We have also developed a bit of a leak where some molding has failed around the front end. The wound will be covered by insurance with a small deductible (“excess” to the Australians). The leak and its resulting water damage will not, but it should be a fairly minor repair.
The insurance claims adjuster gave us the names of three repair places they like to work with in this area near Wollongong, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Sydney. We were quite favorably impressed with the first one we called, so that is the only estimate we have gotten and it seems very reasonable. The insurance company has authorized their part of the repair, and we are waiting patiently in this lovely ocean-side caravan park for Keep Traveling Caravan Repairs to squeeze us into their schedule. Then we can start making the rounds of motorhome dealers to see who will give us the best deal. Even if we sell the motorhome for what we paid for it – an unlikely scenario – we will immediately lose about 20% of our investment in it because of the precipitous drop in the Australian dollar since we bought it a year ago. That exchange rate has been pretty nice for us living on the Australian economy, but it will not be to our advantage as we sell what has served as our abode for the past eleven months. Besides, we have put out some $10,000 in repairs to keep it on the road!
Of course, this all must come together in time for us to leave Sydney on April 16 headed for Tucson to reclaim our house-on-wheels and get back to Washington. The Beaver will seem huge after living in this tiny rig for a year!
In the meantime, we did see a couple interesting sights on our way from Canberra here. When we were in Australia with Masterworks Chorale Ensemble in 2002, as we returned to Sydney from Canberra by bus, we stopped in Goulburn, New South Wales, for lunch beside the “Big Merino,” a 15.2-meter (50-foot) tall concrete statue of a merino sheep ram, known to the locals as “Rambo.” The statue was built in 1985 in honor of the merino wool industry in the area. The statue is hard to miss, just off the freeway at Goulburn’s first exit from the south, but we knew immediately that its location looked quite different from what we had seen in 2002. As it turns out, Rambo was moved about 800 meters (half a mile) south to be closer to the freeway exit. It is now surrounded by fast food places, a petrol (gas) station, and a gift shop with some really beautiful wool products made from the finest of merino wool. We climbed up inside the sheep where there are displays depicting the history of the wool industry and the processes required to make those fine woolen products. A lookout allows one to see out through the sheep’s eye-holes to view the surrounding territory.
We spent a couple nights in the village of Kangaroo Valley. Located in the wide rift valley of the Kangaroo River in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, this village of about 800 people was established in 1817. The weather was quite stormy while we were there, and we spent most of our time making phone calls to the insurance company setting up our claims. We really weren’t able to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and interesting history of the area. It is only a couple hours southwest of Sydney, so if all our plans come together in time, we just might go back for another look!
However, we certainly can’t complain about being “stuck” in Corrimal! This is a lovely part of New South Wales. We are enjoying taking long walks beside the beaches, seeing and listening to a variety of birds, and being lulled to sleep at night by the sound of the surf. Life really is good!