Bus Conversion: Frustration sets in

We started to lose heart and thus momentum when it was taking forever to source a fix or replacement for the morse chain required to get the bus to move anywhere when the bus conversion was finished.

Morse Chain

What was the point of the conversion if we couldn't drive it anywhere. It became a real sticking point.
Many, many phone calls  trying to find someone who knows something. Even though it is a Mitsubishi  bus, Mitsubishi Australia didn't want anything to to with it. We ran into numerous promises of return calls that never eventuated. Oh why do people do that to you? Doesn't a person's word mean anything now days?

Days turn into weeks and then months. Finally we contacted one company in Melbourne.  They were helpful and belived they could get the chain made for us. Yay!

Rob insisted on going down to Melbourne to talk with them face to face! He would have been happy to do the trip in a day or two but I insisted on taking the Robbiebago caravan down and combining it with a week off to relax and catch up with friends in the beautiful lakeside town of Nagambie. We also found a lovely free camp in Toolangi. By happy co-incidence we traveled on the same day as Rob's brother and his wife who were on their way to catch the Spirit of Tasmania, so we free camped together on the old Hume Highway just north of Albury.

We anxiously waited a bit more than a week for a quote to come back. Even though it is a Japanese bus, the chain had to be made in USA and part of it has to be put together by hand. We knew it was going to be expensive, but the bus literally wasn't going anywhere without a chain to drive the motor! What choice did we have?

Thankfully we filled some of that time enjoying this beautiful country on our relaxing drive back even though the temperature was unbelievable hovering around 36-38 degrees every day!

Now we know the chain is coming, we are keen to get back into the bus conversion!

Keep safe

Michelle (and Rob)


Every time you smile at someone,

it is an action of love,

a gift to that person,

a beautiful thing.

Mother Teresa

We've booked a South Pacific cruise

Rob has been dropping hints for a South Pacific cruise for quite a few years! We listen to friends who love cruising and each time, Rob is enthused and I am not. I can't be selfish and say no forever, so when some friends notified us of a good price on a South Pacific cruise and they encouraged us to consider joining them, I felt compelled to give it a shot and so I booked us both in!

Next thing I do is hop onto Trip Advisor and see what people have to say about our ship, the Carnival Spirit. Umm, the first couple were not complimentary. I recall that some people were negative when we looked up the Sunland Caravan Park in Cairns, yet we found it to be a great caravan park. So I persevered and found a forum on cruising on Trip Advisor and through them learnt a lot of positive stuff but also what to expect on board such as how to tip, what to take, etc. The forum coordinator even has a profoundly deaf wife who has gone cruising with him and enjoyed it which is encouraging too!

So with a whole lot more enthusiasm, I am now looking forward to some time floating on that great big hotel. It might not be the same as traveling this wide land we call Australia in our own RV, I can't have it all my way. We are surrounded by the ocean, so I may as well try cruising too! You never know, I might love it!

Out of fun I will send you this post by Rick & Paulette, who found on 6 reasons why you should forsake cruising.

I will write another post on my experiences, but it is a few months off yet, so do be patient!

Have you gone on a cruise? Let me know of your experience.


Bus Conversion: Cutting walls

After lifting the roof, it was time to start working out where everything would go. Rob had it all in his head, but making me see his vision was another matter entirely!

The bus after welding in extra braces

Now we had the fun of physically working out the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc so that we could leave or make holes for the window placements. Telling me or even drawing it down on paper just doesn't work for me. I need to actually see it in 3D real life.

Rob asked me if I can make do with a shorter but deeper bench in the kitchen. The only way I could decide was to take his measurements and go back into the caravan in which we have traveled extensively and mark it out on the kitchen bench there with the hotplates, sink and a cutting board etc within the space he suggested. His shorter bench space was do-able! It still took ages for me to understand what he wanted to do with the deeper part of the bench... but I sort of worked it out eventually. Rob can get so frustrated that I can't 'see' things like he can. Rib doesn't even draw up a plan, he just works off the top of his head. I think that he is so clever. Admittedly I see him sitting at various times, working it all out in his head!

A hole is cut for the slide out yet to come

We decided to have the main slide out on the driver's side. It is to extend the lounge area and hold a two seater lounge. We wanted this to be close the entry to utilize the captain's chairs which will be able to swivel around and be used as lounge chairs when camped. Also I don't like the idea of any visitors going through the bus to get to the lounge area.

We also needed to work out where the windows are to be placed and what size each are to be.

Looking through the walls, deciding which spaces will remain as windows!

When all this is decided, then Rob gets stuck into strengthening the walls by welding in extra braces in appropriate places. Most buses do not have much strength in their walls.

Rob back on the job of welding

 Now we have lots of open spaces. We will have to cover these to protect it from any rains!

Thanks for visiting, do drop a line to let me know you have been by.


Life is like a bicycle

Sometimes I don't need to embellish anything with words, the image is enough!
Have a lovely week.

I would love to hear where you are on your travels. Drop me a note. I respond to every comment.


Top Ten Free Camping Etiquette Points

  1.  Slow down & relax! You do not need to be in a hurry to enjoy your holiday, even if your time is limited! You will not enjoy your time on the road if you are up tight, trying to cram in as much as possible each and every day. Find a nice camp and then stay in it for a while! Take the time to listen to the wind in the trees, and breathe in the air. Stop and listen, the wildlife is there all around you. When the world is not rushing by, then you will see and hear nature at its best.
  2. Do your research & talk to other free campers. Use your common sense. Scout the road before you turn down it! Don't just turn off blindly especially if it narrows two wheel track! Finding out 5 kilometres down the track that there's nowhere to camp and nowhere to turn your RV around resulting in you reversing all the way out. Ask a local first or stay in an accessible campground for a night or two while you scout the area in your tow vehicle or bike.
  3. Keep your camp site clean. In fact plan to leave it better than you arrived. Good "camp hygiene" goes a long way toward avoiding conflicts with the neighbours and councils before they start.
  4. Do not dump black water under any circumstances. Be prepared and then remove black water from site and dump in approved facilities – especially not down a bush/pit toilet. Don't dump your grey water on the ground either! Convert to bio friendly detergents, cleaners and sanitizers.
  5. Properly conserve and manage your water. Utilize wet wipes for quick cleanups and paper plates to reduce the need for dish washing. Regularly sanitize your fresh water tank to avoid illness from a contaminated tank. Study up on all the ways you can stretch your water supply!
  6. Be considerate and polite. Treat your camping neighbours with respect. Do not run your generator for hours at a time. Never run your generator before seven or eight in the morning or too late at night (7pm winter or 8 pm summer). The sound of a generator droning on endlessly is a severe agitation for many people trying to find some serenity out in far country. Invest in solar power and more batteries if at all possible, leaving the generator for continuous overcast days.
  7. Continuing the considerate theme, keep your noise level down. Not everyone enjoys the same music as you, even if it is terrific music! Even loud conversations especially at night can be impolite.
  8. Do not park too close to your neighbours especially without consultation depending upon site size. 4-5 metres would be the minimum if room allows. In some large areas, even 10 metres might be deemed too close! Always ask if in doubt!
  9. Join in & enjoy happy hour with your neighbours. It is a great way to build friendships. This is just as important when traveling in a group! Don’t be exclusive or cliquey: they might need your company!
  10. Remember tip number One! 

I would love to hear your tips for better camp etiquette to make camping pleasant for everyone.

What sort of things annoy you?

My camp menu for 3 weeks

We recently went on a 3 week camping trip in our LandCruiser. We were part of a large convoy of 8 vehicles, driving for long hours nearly every day and so not much flexibility re time for lunches and too tired by dinner time to put much effort into our meals.

When considering our menu I had to take in various factors:
  • our limited storage capacity
  • No shops for perishables
  • Hot weather - though it was winter we were up in the tropics
  • Our cookers - we bought another butane gas cooker to give us 2 cooking rings. We weren't confident we'd be able to have campfires everyday!


Our food storage capacity

Pantry: We used 4 shallow cardboard boxes, for pantry food storage at the back of the Land Cruiser.  (since we rarely camp without the Robbiebago, I didn't want to spend the money on boxes, nor would we have the room for them after the trek. I tried to keep my frequently used items in the box on top. The larger boxes and heavier items such as milk went into the big pull out drawer, which doubled as my cooking bench!

Michelle preparing food out the back of the Land Cruiser on the 4WD trek!

Cold Food storage:  We swapped a smaller Waeco for a much larger one just weeks before our trip, increasing our cold food storage.We now have a large 110 litre Waeco (portable esky style fridge) which you can see behind the black cooker. It is a fridge and freezer, to keep food cold whilst on the road. We  also used a smaller Waeco as a drinks & vegetable fridge. Both run on battery power though driving nearly all day, every day most certainly ensured that the batteries were kept charged up.
We also have a 120Watt solar power panels on top of the car, adding charge to the batteries esp when we were camped in one spot!

Butane gas cooker
For cooking we used 2 butane gas burners though occasionally we joined some others in camp fire cooking, but that was rare! We kept the campfire for group socializing mostly! Though toasted marshmallows were frequently on the supper snacks!

Below is what we planned for the 3 week 4WD trek without shops and power!

My actual menu plan for 3 weeks!



We are not big on breakfasts and as such ours consisted of weetbix cereal and milk most mornings. We prefer fresh milk when we can get it, but long life milk is a boon for remote camping.


Our lunches had to be made on the run. We generally stopped for maybe 30 minutes and as such our choices were based on salad sandwiches whilst bread was fresh enough and then toastaed sandwiches with the staler bread. After this we occasionally we had pancakes or instant cup a soups, but mostly we had the tortilla breads. Sometimes we had the tortilla breads as wraps and sometimes we had them toasted (fried). As mentioned above, we didn’t end up making the bread or damper as planned.


Chicken Schnitzel
Generally speaking, I do not like tinned or packet meals though I don’t mind some jars of sauces. I find that fresh salads don’t keep well other than coleslaw, potato salad and pasta salads. As such the fresh salads were generally left out. Fresh salads also take up a lot of storage room in the Waeco.

Here are the list of menus I had designed my shopping around. I am not generally big on meat but we did buy a small whole rump and had it cut into steaks for meals. My hubby was very happy to have so much red meat for a change! I also found that eggs are a great main meal ingredient. Tinned tuna and salmon are also great standby ingredients.

My dinner menu

Obviously the fridge ingredients were used up first but other than this it is in no particular order as I tend to cook what ever I feel like on the day.

• 8 Steak meals in various presentations including marinated or straight BBQ’d was the most common with various vegetables accompaniment with the occasional packet sour cream noodles or fried rice on the side.
• Spaghetti bolognaise
• Left over bolognaise meat as stuffing for baked potatoes with coleslaw & sour cream
• Sausages
• Crumbed Chicken Schnitzels
Bamie A simple and fast dish involving mince and 2 minute noodles
• Tomato Risotto
Salmon & Pea Frittata (fabulous for camping – all comes out of the pantry and it is quick & easy to make)
• Baked potatoes with bacon, coleslaw, grated cheese and sour cream.
• Curried mince with cabbage, carrots & boiled rice
• Sweet chilli chicken & rice
• Salmon Potatoes
• Tuna Salmon a la king (fabulous for camping – all comes out of the pantry and it is quick & easy to make)

Stir Fries such as Bamie were ideal. We found that long days on the road were not conducive to fancying up dinners, even something as simple as marinating the steaks required time and to be honest, the easier and faster we could get the dinner done, the better we liked it on this particular trip. Had we been traveling on our own, we would have slowed down a bit and stopped earlier each day and then maybe we would have put more effort into food preparations etc.


We are not big on desserts and don’t eat it often at the best of times. Because we had happy hour nearly every evening, the nibbles with this and/or the campfire after dinner negated our desire for dessert most nights especially once the yoghurt had run out. We had tinned peaches & packet mousse as backup if we did desire dessert.

In hindsight, I noticed that we had a lot more dishes accompanied with potatoes than I would have in a normal weekly diet. I guess my love potatoes in whatever form they come in took over! LOL.
The steaks were fantastic. They were fabulous quality meat: they were nice and tender even without marinading. They were quick and easy to cook and clean up afterwards! 

 I love comments and would love to hear what works for you.

Planning your RV Camping meals

Your trip preparation can make all the difference to your holidays.
A trip camp checklist is my ideal tool for planing my camping trip or holiday.

Plan your menu before you hit the road

Spending some time planning your meals before the trip is absolutely essential for a stress free time. It will also make your meal preparation a quick and easy task. Consider meals you can quickly and easily prepare. Remember, the cook (you?) usually is on holidays too!

Several things you need to take into consideration when planning your menu:


What type of camping trip are you planning?

Are you planing a fishing trip, a 4WD trek, hiking, a leisurely RV trip or what? Each type of trip requires different considerations.

Why carry it when you have a donkey?

My recent Cape York trip up to the tip of Australia was a 3 week planned 4WD trek through some very remote areas where we did not expect to encounter many stores and those we might come across would be limited in their range and be very expensive. So we had to plan to take everything we might need with us.

For one trip, we are planning a 1 week trip down to Melbourne with a couple of overnight visits to friends along the way. We will be driving through many towns along the way and do not need to stock up at all. We could even buy dinner most nights if we so wanted to!

Both trips require a much different approach. You will need to do so according to your destination  and the resources you will have available to you.

One thing is for sure: None of us can survive without food!

Camp cooking method

The types of meals you plan with depend upon your cooking methods such as camp fire, gas burner, oven or even microwave oven. Maybe you can vary it for added interest thus widening your choices of meals. Maybe one of you will be catching your meat or fish. Don’t forget to have a backup just in case the weather stuffs up your plans, or they are not always successful in their endeavours!

Camp Food Storage and Shopping List

Consider your storage capacity esp of foods needing refrigeration. Write down your menu for the time away and then break down the ingredients list and make your shopping list from this. Don’t forget to include seasonings and other ‘little quantities in your packing list at least, especially if you do not add it to your shopping list. A shopping list can be made from your menu plan and most if not all supplies can be packed away in readiness for your trip.

Keep a duplicate of your ingredient/shopping list and check off each item as you pack it.


  • Pack your seasonings, herbs and spices and other “small items” in tiny zip lock bags with a label. These take up less room and if you pack them as you write your shopping list, you are less likely to leave them behind! 
  • Prepackage dry ingredients for each meal into separate bags. Sort of along the lines of a cookies in a jar idea! I have yet to try this suggestion myself! 
  • Precook a meal or 2. 
  • Freeze any precooked meals and meats etc BEFORE placing in your freezer. Even if you do not have a freezer, freeze it and place in your fridge or esky to keep cold longer as well as to keep your fridge or esky cooler.
  • Pack any ‘spare’ space in your fridge or freezer with ice. I like to use Long Life juice packets for blocks of space and then smaller ziplock bags of broken or crushed ice to fill in those odd spaces. You will be amazed how much longer your fridge, freezer or esky will stay cool if it is fully packed. 
    Chicken Schnitzel

Next week I will publish my actual menu plan for a 3 week camping trek with no expected access to shops or fresh food! This might help you plan a menu for longer trips or at least give you a starting point. I sure wish I had one when I started!

I love comments and would love to hear your hints in the comments below..

Toolangi Recreational Reserve Camping Spot

This campground is one of the closest free camping grounds to Melbourne, Australia, yet it is still about 80km from the CBD district. It is listed as 230 in the Camps 6 Australia Wide Book.

Where is it?

Located just south of Yea, about 5km east off the Melba Highway, it is tucked away inside a little pocket of land, surrounded by magnificent, tall gum trees and has a delightful little creek alongside. It is actually the car park for the recreational reserve and next to a creek.

Facilities & Amenities

There are toilets and a covered picnic area with one large table with 2 free electric barbeques next door. (The BBQs were quite slow and inefficient as is common with electric BBQs).

You will wake to the happy chattering of the birds fluttering around in the trees.

Your solar panels will not be able to charge up your panels very much whilst here except right on midday in summer due all the wonderful straight gum trees. Sometimes you just have to trade off one thing to gain in another area.

Watching the cricket

Any down sides?

If you wanted a quiet Saturday sitting amongst the gum trees, you will not find it here when the car park is full of sportsmen and women’s cars as they participate in their chosen sport. Cricket was 'it' on the Saturday in February we visited. I hear the adjourning sports field is well supported by various sporting clubs throughout the year.

My sweet husband brought me this flower after wandering around the reserve after the cricket had finished.

One of the local native flowers

Miscellaneous info or advice

You will need to arrive on the Friday to be set up or else wait outside the car park until about 6.30pm (when summer cricket concludes) on a Saturday for the car park to clear before setting up camp. You can always while away the time by watching a game or 2 with the friendly neighbours. It wasn’t busy at all on the Saturday we turned up, with just one camper alongside of us, though we heard from the locals that possible 3 caravans came in the morning and turn away rather than wait to late to set up.

On the Sunday, we just happened to be there when the local Country Fire Association had their maintenance and practice run and needed access to the creek for their practice. There are signs stating not to park due to emergency access. Now we know what for. We were warned about an hour before they turned up and we could have 'escaped' if we wanted to. We decided to stay and watch as they were only going to take less than a hour!

Attractions nearby 

It is worth stopping at Yea Wetlands for a cuppa at least and longer particularly if you are a bird lover. I have only only been able to hear birds since my cochlear implant three years ago, so it is a real joy to me. I also have the advantage over most of you is that I can turn it off if I want peace and quiet! LOL

Yea Wetlands

We noticed that there were other places that might be worth a visit if you have more time. These include the Whistling Gardens,  the Kiwi Fruit Winery which is right next door to the  camp grounds and a pottery place I didn't catch the name of. Also we are just on the northern end of the wine district of Yarra Glen.

Prioritize your life

I love to read inspirational stories and quotes that make you stop and think for a bit. I will share some of these as 'Sunday Reflections'. Rarely will any of these stories or quotes be my own original thoughts. If I have not attributed anything correctly or need to take any other action, then please contact me via email and I will address the matter immediately. Michelle

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty glass jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

 The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full... The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

  • The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. 
  • The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. 
  • The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of drinks with a friend.

The Russian Orthodox Convent

We have had the blessed fortune of meeting Abbess (Sister) Maria of the Russian Orthodox Church's Our Lady of Kazan Convent at Kentlyn, near Campbelltown, Sydney.

Abbess Maria, the Mother Superior, is in charge of the convent and the nuns within. Next door is a retirement home that also falls under the auspices of the Kazan Convent.

The entrance to the monastery is adorned with a beautiful concrete arch gate. The short road leads you to the relatively plain looking temple. Do not be deceived by the outside, it is absolutely beautiful inside.

The most outstanding feature is the magnificence of the small temple on the property. There is gold leafing everywhere inside. There is lots of dazzling beauty in the various artworks and alters and lots of relics and icons of which I am totally without knowledge of but are an integral part of their worship.

The All Saints Church is the home of a small, but dedicated congregation which uses English in their worship, the only Russian Orthodox congregation in Sydney to do so. The name for the convent is named after a magnificent icon that is believed to be holy and is revered by all Russian Orthodox members.

Abbess Maria on the right carry the miracle working Our Lady of Kazan icon

The nuns, as is typical of old order nuns, wear black habits. They are vegetarians and lead a quiet life serving their church through various ministries and activities such as preparing for special feast days, baking, embroidering, sewing and other worthy pursuits.

So even though we are of different denominations, and worship in different styles and our building is basically a modern auditorium without religious adornment, it is easy to see that we serve the same God. I wish Abbess Maria and the convent where she serves God, all the blessings that God can bestow upon it.