I need you to vote for me! Please!

Oh My Gosh!
I have been nominated for the 2012 most inspirational travel blog and made it to a short list of the top 50. Whoo Hoo!

Now if you think I am worthy, I would love for you to vote for me.


Just go to:

Then at the bottom of the post you will need to leave a comment letting them know you LOVE Robbiebago. You will also need to answer a simple maths (such as 3+ ... +4) to prove that you are a human.

Thank you for visiting my blog and supporting me just by being here, let alone voting for me too!

Testifying in court

If you ever testify in court, you might wish you could have been as sharp as this policeman. :)

He was being cross-examined by a defense attorney during a felony trial.
The lawyer was trying to undermine the police officer's credibility .....

 Q: 'Officer --- did you see my client fleeing the scene?'
 A: 'No sir. But I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender, running several blocks away.'

 Q: 'Officer, who provided this description?'
A: 'The officer who responded to the scene.'

 Q: 'A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?'
A: 'Yes, sir. With my life.'

Q: 'With your life? Let me ask you this then officer. Do you have a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?'
A: 'Yes sir, we do!'

Q: 'And do you have a locker in the room?'
A: 'Yes, sir, I do.'

Q: 'And do you have a lock on your locker?'
A: 'Yes, sir.'

 Q: 'Now, why is it, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your life, you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with these same officers?'
A: 'You see, sir, we share the building with the court complex, and sometimes lawyers have been known to walk through that room.'

The courtroom EXPLODED with laughter, and a prompt recess was called.

The officer on the stand has been nominated for this year's 'Best Comeback' line -- and we think he'll win.

Australia celebrates

Held on January the 26th Australia Day commemorates the establishment of the first settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788.

Party Time

Aussies love nothing better than to celebrate with the day in the sun with family & friends, whether it be a day on the beach or by the harbour, a barbeque in the backyard with loved ones or at one of the fabulous events that provide great entertainment & food all around the country.

Sydney Style

There is one place you can guarantee to celebrate the day in great style and that is Sydney! From its many parks and malls, beaches and bays, mountains and plains, there is something for everyone and most of it is for free or just the cost of your hamburger and drinks!

Celebrate what's great

The theme for 2013 is 'Celebrate what's great'.
Sydney will have a huge program that will include activites right across Greater Sydney

  • Darling Harbour Austrlia Day Spectacular kicks off at 11.30am and concludes at 9pm after a fireworks exhibition. It will be a day of multimedia symphony of light and music. Don't miss out on seeing the Tall Shops and citizenship celebrations.
  • There will be an Indigenous ceremony honouring age old custodial traditions from 8am at Farm Cove, Royal Botanic Gardens.
  • Cabramatta will host a Family Barbeque in Freedom Plaza between 11am to 3pm Hurstville Council Australia Day festival will be held at Steamroller Park, Oatley park, Oatley. 10am-4pm.
  • What about being part of Sydney’s biggest backyard, held at Hyde Park with sport. Live entertainment and various activities for children. 10 -5pm.

  • There will be an amazaing Aerial Display over the harbour at 2pm by the Royal Australian Airforce.
  • Ferrython will be run again from 11am. This annual ferry race up and down Sydney Harbour finishes under the Harbour Bridge.
  • Bicentennial Park will celebrate with music, face painting and crafts especially aimed at children and their families. The celebrations start at 12 noon and go through to 9pm.
  • Bonnyrigg Town Cnetre will be hosting a family barbeque between 10am and 2pm
Photo: Australia Day

Other towns sities and states will celebrate too!

I am sure there will be Australia Day celebrations held right across Australia from coast to coast. East to west and north to south. Visit the website or your local council or newspaper for more details of one closer to you.

Personally I will be spending the day with my family and also some friends who are calling in for afternoon tea. We will go for a picnic and a walk along the beach and play some games after dinner.

What does Australia Day mean to you?

Have a great day where ever you may be

Blog changes

Hi everyone,
I have some exciting changes that have taken me a few days to put together!
Have you noticed it for yourselves?  I am sure you have but just in case...
It is my new Navigation Bar just under the title.


It was something I have thought I needed for quite a while but was a bit daunted at the thought of learning yet another aspect of blogging. Plus I knew it would take quite a while to label all my blogs correctly. I had mistakenly thought that the labels were equivalent to keywords and had so many keywords inserted as my ‘Labels’.

A learning curve

So not only did I have to learn a new process, I had to undo all my faulty labelling and this would take quite a considerable amount of time. So I did what I am good at doing, which is procrastinating by keeping ‘too busy’.

Well I finally bit the bullet and have relabelled all my blog entries for 2012 and I will continue with the earlier ones now that I have bitten the bullet.

I also started searching for a way to place labels on the blog. The simplest way is to just have it as a side bar but I found that this way is not easily visible on the iPhones that many people now have. So I thought that the navigation bar across the top of the blog would serve the purpose better.

Blog tutorials

There are quite a few tutorials on Google, but some were way above my head. In the end I went with RealcomBiz as it had a few screen shots that made sure it was almost a matter of step by step photographs. It even had a tutorial link to labelling, except that was best if you have a clean slate to start with, which obviously I didn’t have! How I wish I understood this at the beginning of my blogging life!

My aim

My expectation is that all this makes it easier for you to get to the subjects you are particularly interested in. I will have all the labels on the side as there are just too many to burden the Nav Bar with. And this will also list various state regions such as the Far West Queensland and the Central West NSW to make your search more localised. I have had a search bar available on the blog all along for you to make your search as specific as you desire.

What's next?

My next aim will be to add a drop down menu to my nav bar. Oh, one never stops learning, do they?

Please leave me a comment about what you think of my changes.
I am open to any further suggestions.

How to beat the heat whilst travelling

Hot enough to fry and egg: Photo by Pockafwye
Summer is great for a lot of things: road trips, camping under the stars, walking barefoot in the sand, swimming, fishing, boating, and, of course, travelling holidays.

We are having a serious heat wave here in Australia at the moment, with some days officially listed as catastrophic fire dangers. In our house we rarely ever need to have the air conditioning on as we have a double brink house with concrete floor and ceiling and so it is well insulated and has an even temperature most year around.

Heat exhaustion 

is not only uncomfortable but dangerous. If you are not careful on extremely hot days, then a fatigue occur which can last for months. To avoid the damaging effects of heat fatigue, take it easy. Keep well hydrated by drinking lots of water, and limit your alcohol intake as this raises your core body temperature. Cover up and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Do not under any circumstances get sun burnt.

Shimmery heat: Photo by Alchemist-hp
However travelling in a caravan or RV, it is a whole different ball game. No one wants to travel with cranky, over-tired travel companions. Hot bedrooms make for restless nights. Add to that any type of work even cooking can really add misery on top of sweaty misery

How so do you cope in such hot weather whilst travelling around Australia.

Towradgi Rock Pool: Photo by Neil Taylor
Visiting a nearby water feature is great whether it be a river, ocean or pool.

When the above is not available then one option is frequent cool to cold showers. If water is limited then you can rig up a system where you recycle your own shower water by standing in a tub and reusing the water run off.

I like to have a mist spray bottle handy to spray myself and my husband with it.


In your RV or vehicle

Insulation in your caravan or motorhome is great if it is already installed but still it can get hot inside the RV. It is not very easy to retrofit it without major renovation work. Either way you can use a paint that reflects the heat especially on the roof

Open up the windows and vents when the air is cooler outside
especially at night. If you want cooling air flowing past you, you'll need a cross-breeze.

Fans and air conditioning Get a 12 volt fan where possible.
Either way, make sure it's the oscillating kind that rotates from side to side, the better to rake the length of you with blasts of air. However at night time, have it positioned from feet area and set the oscillating feature to off. Depending upon the humidity factor where you are, you might want to set up a dish of water before the fan. Unless you have invested in a 12volt fan, you generally require power and frequently it needs 240 volt, which obviously you can get if you are visiting family, friends or a caravan site where mains power is available. As much as I hate them, this might be just one those times you need a generator to run appliances if you are not near electricity.

Remove the quilt and just sleep under the cover or bed sheet only if you still need something over you.

In bed, the trick to keeping cool is staying still. Try to sleep in a position where you are sprawled out, exposing as much of your body surface area as possible. For example I sleep on my side. So I have one arm straight out in front of me and the other arm lower in a bent scissor fashion, the bottom leg is straight and the other leg is bent and resting on the bed surface. If this is too low for you, try resting the top on a pillow. Once you're position in bed, remain absolutely motionless. Impress the importance of this rule on anyone who shares your bed. Tell them the future of your relationship depends on it. This is one of those nights where you do not want to cuddle up with your loved one, whether it be your spouse or your furry friends!

Be prepared

If you know ahead of time, that it is going to be a blistering hot day, then you can also prepare by freezing some ice for drinks etc

Now remember if you are actually driving in the high heat of summer, that this will also affect your vehicle.

In a nutshell you need to keep your car well tuned up, checking air con gas, coolant and oil fluid levels, tyre pressure. Read how to Beat the Heat with Summer Car Care for more details on looking after your car in the summer.

What are your top tips for staying cool in your RV?

I love comments, so comment away dear readers. I reply to all questions!

Old Timer's Bar

The Lion's Den Pub
Four old retired guys are walking down a street in North Queensland, and see a sign that says, 'Old Timer's Bar' - all drinks 10 cents!

They look at each other, and go in, thinking this is too good to be true.

The bartender says in a voice that carries across the room, 'Come on in. What'll it be, Gentlemen?'

There seemed to be a fully-stocked bar, so each of the men ask for a martini, the bartender serves up four iced Martinis... shaken, not stirred, and says, 'That'll be 10 cents each, please.'

The four men stare at the bartender for a moment....they can't believe their good luck. They pay the 40 cents, finish their Martinis, and order another round.

Again, four excellent Martinis are produced with the bartender again saying, 'That's 40 cents, please..' They have each had two Martinis and so far they've spent less than a dollar.

Finally one of the men says, 'How can you afford to serve Martinis as good as these for a 10 cents each?'

'I'm a retired tailor from Sydney,' the bartender said, 'and I always wanted to own a bar. Last year I won Lottery for $25 million and decided to open this place. Every drink costs ten cents - wine, liquor, beer, it's all the same.'

Wow!!!! That's quite a story,' says one of the men.

The four of them sipped at their Martinis and couldn't help but notice seven other people at the end of the bar who didn't have drinks in front of them, and hadn't ordered anything the whole time they were there. One man gestures at the seven at the end of the bar without drinks and asks the bartender, 'What's with them?'

The bartender says, 'Oh, they're all old retired Victorian guys from the caravan park, waiting for happy hour when the drinks are half price.

Pounding Heart - humour

He was in ecstasy with a huge smile on his face as his wife moved forward,
lovethen backwards,forward,then backwards again, back and forth,
back and forth........
in and out...in and out.

Her heart was pounding...
her face was flushed...
then she moaned, softly at first,
then began to groan louder.

Finally, totally exhausted, she let out an almighty scream and shouted.................

"OK, OK! I can't park the bloody caravan!

You do it, you SMUG bastard!"

As seen on Whats up down under's facebook page They attribute thanks to Johnny Westbury, absolute classic!

Australian Bushfires are devasating

Long hot summers, school holidays, camping and travelling are all a part of our wonerful summers here in Australia. Unfortunately so are bushfires. We are currently going through one of the worst fire season on records. Many areas have been given Catastrophic threat level which is the highest rating possible.

Tasmanian Bushfires

Tasmania, usually a cool lush green paradise south of mainland Australia has had the hottest days ever on record, with temperatures up to 41.8C (107.2F). It was Hobart's hottest day ever recorded.

Bushfire photo: The Guardian
The images shown all over the news and the Internet from Tasmania are heartbreaking but thankfully there are no fatalities. However thankful we are for this great outcome to such extreme devastation, it doesn't alter the fact that there are several thousand people who have lost homes, farms and livelihoods. Many have had to go through some horrific traumas and flee for their lives. Some had taken refuge along the eastern coast of Tasmania with fires raging right down to the waterline in some places. Being summer here, Tasmania is heavily populated with holiday tourists which will be adding to the bedlam and confusion of numbers in the area.

Near Yass - Photo: NSW Rural Fire Services
Worst hit was the settlement of Dunalley, where its school, bakery, petrol station and police station were gutted by flames. Likewise, neighboring fishing villages had also lost between 30 to 40 percent of their homes.

Bush Fireys in action - Photo: NSW Rural Fire Services

Bushfires rage in other parts of Australia too.

Now while the country's major news has been on Tasmania, we are ever mindful that there are raging bushfires in many other states of Australia, with other areas on high alert.

As of today firefighters in Australia are still working round-the-clock to bring a series of blazes under control ahead of a forecast temperature spike that is expected this weekend.
The Hume Highway, which is the main highway between Sydney and Melbourne had parts of the highway closed at various times due to fire and/or smoke.
Victoria has been hit badly especially around Ballarat and Melbourne outskirts, by some fires that are believed to have been deliberately lit.
In New South Wales, at least 15 bush fires remain out of control.
In Queensland, a bushfire continues to burn on Bribie Island north of Brisbane and several smaller fires are ongoing around the Sunshine Coast and in other parts of the state.
In the Northern Territory, bushfires have reached the Ross River Resort, 85km east of Alice Springs and Kings Canyon (one of my favourite tourist places) has had about 60% of the park burn out - although the actual canyon including the Garden of Eden, Lost City etc is relatively unscathed. (As reported direct from friends, Amanda and Gary of  Travel Outback Australia who are there on the scene.)
Western Australia has been lucky to so far avoid the disastrous bushfires. may they have a bushfire free year!

Fire in Kings Canyon - Photo: Travel Outback Australia
Another sad casualty of bushfires are the native animals as well as livestock. For example Amanda and Gary mention that the Mala (Rufous Hare Wallaby, an endangered species, no longer have cover for them to hide in, which means that Wedge tailed Eagles will be able to easily feast on them. So there's a desperate race to try and catch the Mala and move them down to Uluru's enclosure.. what damage has there been to other native species?

Mala - Photo: Flickr

Rural Bush Fire Fighters

Having a son who is a firefighter makes it all the more meaningful. He is not a bush fireman, though he along with all firemen were on standby during the catastrophic fire danger periods even here in our own home town. I wish to take this opportunity to publicly thank all the courageous volunteer firefighters, their families, and staff who have given so much of their time and risking their own health, over the past few weeks, and who we know will continue to unselfishly protect us as best they can during the current catastrophic fire weather conditions in so many areas of Australia.

There are no words we can adequately say Thank you!

Fireman's Prayer... 

When I am called to duty,
God whenever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some life

I love comments, so comment away dear readers.
I always answer back the genuine ones!

Bus Conversion: More roof work

After the hired scaffolding was returned, Rob erected a mobile scaffold using the ute. This came in handy for the many high jobs around the outside of the roof. Just having the ute was to be such a boon.

The ute was also handy to erect a mobile sun umbrella for working under.

Rob removed the escape hatch that was post installed in the roof. This hatch had weakened the roof as they had cut some of the beams. Rob bends and shapes some steel to strengthen the roof and continues to do it to other areas of the roof, so that he can even walk on it. Later we will be able to install the solar panels, an air conditioner and such on the roof without any worries about the weight. Rob reckons it will be so strong that he will be able to walk on the roof without any hassles at all when he is finished!

The roof hatch was right at the top centre of this photo. The small blue steel is the new 'beam' roof support. it fits perfectly inside the roof 'beam' structure that was already there!

He also starts to weld steel 'scraps' to the roof joints. He will use some sheet metal to cover and shape the front corners before commencing 2 layers of fiberglassing.

Welding the roof supports
Inside the bus, he welds in 6 supports for the roof.

He wont be putting the welder away. There's more to be done on the walls!

Does everyone do this much work before they even begin with the more 'fun' part!

What sort of work have you had to do to get your RV up and road worthy?

A ride on Sydney's famous Manly Ferry

Recently I took the opportunity to visit one of my daughters who lives over near Manly. Believe it or not but it is the first time in living memory that I have been on the Manly Ferry.

The Manly Ferry

It was a perfect warm sunny day to take the public transport all the way from Wollongong. The train trip to Sydney is a lovely relaxed way to get into the city. No traffic jams or rude drivers, no traffic lights or buses squashing you out, just sit back and watch the lovely scenery as it passes some of the marvellous beaches of the northern part of the South Coast. Remember my earlier post here on the South Coast being officially known as having the best beaches in Australia. Well it is so true and you can see some of them whilst in the train as it weaves in and out of temperate rain forests and tunnels.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The highlight though is the famous Manly Ferry. It really is a "must do" for visitors to the city both Australians and international visitors should take this trip at least once. It is relatively cheap at around $10 each way and even cheaper on Sundays. It makes the 30 minute trip regularly, day and night.

The Sydney Opera House

It would have to be one of the best ways to see all the Sydney icons in one trip.... Sydney Harbour Bridge, Fort Denison and to see the great architectural features of the Sydney Opera House from the water is just the icing on top of the cake. The weather was warm and the seas were smooth to make sitting outside on the sunny side of the ferry just the perfect way to travel and take in the views.

The Opera House with the city behind it

Seeing the Royal Botanic Gardens from the waters reminds me that it is about time I revisit what is virtually on my doorstep. You tend to forget the marvels that are on your own doorstep when you travel this vast country and all the wonderful sceneries and places it offers.

You can just see the shores of the Botanical Gardens on the right.

Another trip I should take is a trip on the famous Cockatoo Run. It offers a train trip of the scenic delights of the South Coast and Southern Highlands in one package and the stop at the Summit Tank offers superb views over Lake Illawarra and the South Coast to Kiama. Most people would take the train from Sydney, but I can hop on the train at my local station in Unanderra, a suburb of Wollongong. Now that will be a trip to look forward to. Once in a while you can even get a steam train as the lead train when they do a special run, though never in the summer with its inherent bush fire hazard.

So take a ride on the Manly Ferry. You wont regret it!

Joke: It is all in the numbers

A family had booked a wonderful week at Surfer's Paradise that included public transport from their resort to the various attractions. They were going to visit them all.

Surfer's Paradise city skyline

The receptionist when to great lengths to ensure that they knew which buses to take & when.

It all boiled down to numbers, she said. Just make sure you remember these 3 numbers.

“Now repeat after me” she drilled into us. “Bus number 14. The last one leaves the park at 7.30pm”

So we repeated this back to her. Then she said there is one more number for you to learn. “218”

So we duly repeated two hundred and eighteen to her. We asked her what was this number for.

She replied very seriously. “Oh that is how much the taxi fare will be if you forget the first 2 numbers & miss the bus!”

Surfer's Paradise night lights

Tips for RV travel

You are ready to hit the road?

Ok, so you are ready to hit the road with your RV, whether it be an RV caravan, motor home or whatever. You have done your mechanical checks, and packed the vehicle.

Now what? What do you need to know? What do you need to consider to make the trip a success whether it be a couple of weeks, months or a couple of years (or longer.)

We all need tips, hints and advice from time to time. Here's my 2 cents worth!

Where to? It is a good have a general idea of where you are going and make no hard and fast plans or as little of them as possible. It is best to be flexible, you never know who you might meet along the way that might influence where you stay and how long for.

Be casual: By having a destination or general area at least you won't be running around in circles like a chook with its head cut off. If you have a rally or people to meet up with then use this to tie you in a bit more. You can always come back to a place if you have to quickly by pass some great places to get somewhere by a certain date.

Research: Take advantage of camping/RV forums. There are websites that are useful, including Explore Oz and Trip Advisor. Also use the Information Centres whenever you can, not forgetting you can access these online too!
Follow some blogs of other RV travellers as they will post about their stays at various places especially those that have been in the areas you are likely to visit soon. Most of all, talk to people you meet on the road whether it be in caravan parks or free-camping. They are a huge well of information. We have been to places we had never heard of on the advice of other travellers. On the other hand also, listen but don't pay too much attention when someone says "don't go here or there" as we have been to places others rave about and we get there and go "errr... ho hum" and I am sure others have thought the same thing about places we just love. We are all different and have different experiences & expectations. Some love scenic places, other love a place for the people they met at that spot. You get the drift, I am sure.

Food: I suggest you work out at least a week's menu and buy food accordingly. Always have on hand something that won't spoil in the pantry (not the fridge which could break down) and make sure it is quick and easy to whip up in case all else fails. Eggs, tinned tuna & salmon are my fall backs. Try my Salmon and Pea Frittata recipe. I haven't tried any of the freeze dried packs. Maybe someone could advise me on these!

Communication: In Australia, Optus or Telstra based companies or even Satellite are the main carriers with others effective in specific areas. These preferences depend a lot on where you plan on going. Remember that just because a company says they service 95% of Australia they mean 95% of the population. As you know 90% of Australia lives in cities on the coasts. There are vast tracks of land and road that is not covered by anything less than satellite. Having said that we have only used our sat phone about 4 or 6 times in the last 8 months and all but one was for practice, the one was for a non emergency call for information we had been awaiting. But we felt comfortable to know we had it with us as we knew we were going to be in some very remote areas. Accordingly we have a prepaid plan, which might be more expensive per call but cheaper for us in the long term.

Assumptions: I am assuming
you have considered things
such as power needs, toilet, personal hygiene, water requirements, garbage disposal when you bought your RV. These need to be taken into consideration esp if you are free camping as it will affect how long you can free camp and even what type of free camp sites you choose. Eg with or without toilets. Most don't have showers. Will you have enough power to run your appliances or can you exist with a billy can and a fireplace? Don't forget that not all places allow open fires! (Especially at certain times of the year.) A butane gas cooker is an ideal backup and cheap, especially if you stock up on the cans in the bigger cities. As a basic guide, I found that we use 1 can per day for brekkie, (We usually have cold cereal), lunch and dinner and a few cuppas.

Questions: If you have specific questions then ask in the comments below and I will answer you as soon as possible.

What tips or hints have you discovered to be helpful?  What did you find to be the most helpful when you were on the road.
Most of all, enjoy your travels


Bus Conversion: Fiberglassing the front

After lifting the roof, Rob then needed to start to fill in the gaps created.

The gap above the windscreen needed filling in.
He wanted to start on the part above the windscreen first. He used polystyrene blocks to fill in the shape as much as possible. He asked and was advised to wrap the polystyrene in cling wrap. However we found that the chemicals of the fiberglass just ate right through the cling wrap.

A view of the foil wrapped styrofoam & the welded roof support (from the inside of the bus)

I had the idea of using common cooking aluminium foil to stop fibreglass resin from eating into it and lo and behold it worked! (As I like to remind my very practical husband that once in a blue moon I do have an idea that actually works. - I just have to think up about 100 to get that one decent idea LOL).

Getting started on the fibre glass

It is a long, slow, boring, messy and smelly job and took several days. It also needed curing time for the resin to harden along the way.

Applying yet more fibre glass
One of those days was a stinking hot day, Bob erected an outdoor umbrella to shade the area he was working on or was it to give him shade whilst working, either way he needed it! I just thought it 'cute' to have the umbrella up on the back of the ute! I will have to watch out, I might get into trouble if he reads how cheeky I am being LOL.

A bit of shade is required!

When all the fiberglassing is done, it required a bit of bog filler for a bit more shaping. Once that had cured then there was a lot of sanding which also is a long slow and boring job. Thank goodness for electrical tools that make it faster than doing it all by hand!

Bogging done
Once it is all sanded smooth, a few layers of 'FlowCoat,' type of resin needs to go on. Three layers of this goes on over 3 days with more sanding required before we can begin the removal of the scaffolding which we hired for the job.

Sanding, sanding and more sanding

FlowCoat done