Cockatoo Lake, SA

Sitting on the foreshore of Cockatoo Lake in South Australia I am just starting to relax on our current holiday. The first few days have been great but it usually takes awhile to get into the slower pace. The phone calls and texts from work stop and getting away from everything and everyone, spending time with just the family is when I start to really chill.

The lake is very quiet, the type of quiet only nature can bring. The rustle of the wind in the trees, the chirp of the tiny finch’s and budgies. The distant squawk of a cockatoo. Even the girls are quiet. Sitting on the grass discovering all sorts of things.

The sun is starting to set. Not a word is being spoken. Just quiet.

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This is why I like to get out here in the bush. No bullshit. Just the real deal.

Gellibrand

After our recent Australia Day trip to Johanna Beach we invited some friends to join us for another weekend.  We suggested Johanna beach as it was a normal weekend and we were sure there would be no crowds.  We were to meet there on Friday.

At about 4pm I recieved a phone call.  Our friends had arrived at the camp site only to find that there was a fishing comp on and the place was packed again!

We were only leaving Melbourne at that stage and with a 2.5hr drive we would have been guaranteed to miss out on a spot.  What to do???  A quick search on wikicamps and our friends suggested a caravan park they had passed on the way to Johanna Beach just out of Colac called Otways Tourist Park.

Otways Tourist Park

What a little gem.  This is the sort of place if you blink you will miss it.  Only about 20 kms south of Colac in a little town called Gellibrand.  This camp is a labour of love of the owners and they built it up from scratch over about 15yrs.  Lots of green grass and shade. They allow dogs and you can hire fire pits ($5) and a wheelbarrow load of wood ($20).

Since starting this post we actually went back and spent another weekend.  It really is that good and will most likely become one of our go to spots being less than 2hrs from home.

We took the opportunity to ride the Beach Forrest to Gellibrand Rail Trail (twice) on the second visit.  We went in the downhill direction and it was an amazing ride through rainforest and farming land with an array of history boards and relics from the past.  The ride is approx. 18kms mostly downhill so little pedalling was needed.  My type of bike riding.  It’s not really one for the kids unless they are experienced riders.

There is a great little cafe across the road that does good coffee and the food looks good too and the Otway Estate Brewery is only 10 kms away on the road back to Colac.  So if you are in the area don’t hesitate to stop here.  It would make a nice base camp to visit the nearby beaches on day trips.

Johanna Beach

I’m a bit late on this post as we spent the Australia Day weekend at an amazing spot in the Otways called Johanna Beach.

A free camping spot that is very popular in the summer months and long weekends.  It gave us a good go and testing out the recent solar panel addition which worked brilliantly for the whole five days we were there.

The view from our van.

We were lucky enough that we could arrive there on the Thursday before the long weekend to get a spot.  By mid afternoon the place was full to the gills. Standing room only which meant anyone with a tent or caravan had nowhere to stay.  Only backpackers with a desire to camp on the side of the tracks in and out of the camp ground braved the overnight stay and then scurried off early the next morning.

The Girls at the lookout

Johanna beach is a gem.  If you get the chance to go when the crowds are gone on a normal weekend out of the summer months you would most likely have the place to yourself.  It could be wild weather but it’s a beautiful spot.

The beach from the lookout

With only a short stroll to the beach, it may only be your footsteps you see in the sand. There is so much to do and see in the area or it’s a great place to just waste the day away.

The mist rolls in.

If you decide to visit the campsite and your towing a van, make sure you drive in on Red Johanna Rd.  Blue Johanna Rd is not good for vans.

Sunset

Solar Modification Pt. 2

It’s been incredibly hot this week in Victoria.  We have more days than I’d like to remember above 40 and I’m so glad I was able to complete this job before the heat hit.  In fact the amount of sun we are getting is powering up the battery perfectly.  I just wish I had the van out camping to give the setup a good run. Anyway onto part two of the install.

I did this in two steps.  I mounted the panels to the roof first.  I used a whole tube of Sikaflex 252 to ensure they aren’t going anywhere.  That stuff is amazing and should do the job.

A couple of days later we took the plunge and drilled through the roof into one of the wardrobes.

I drilled a 1 mm pilot hole so we could make sure that it was going to go exactly where we wanted it to go.  The wardrobe has a “channel” that the cable could run down and never been seen or get in the way.  

As always measure twice and cut once.  We confirmed we had the correct spot but I needed to cut away quite a bit of the original silicone in order for the cable entry box to fit snugly. 

Then it was just a matter of drilling the large hole through the roof.  As always it’s a little daunting drilling into your van but we had made sure it was the right spot.

Cable entry

The cables were inserted in the entry box and threaded through the hole in the roof.  We then ran the cables all the way to the battery and connected it to the battery so that we didn’t need to move them any further and we could silicon up the entry box.

I again used another heap of sikaflex to ensure no leaks and no movement of the entry box.  Placing a brick on top of the box also ensured that while the silicon cured it didn’t move.

Brick Weight

The next day the brick was removed and the cables tied and clipped to the roof to make sure it was all neat.

Cabling

The two 50w panels mounted on the roof.

Fitted Panels

All up it cost less than $150 to put our panels on the roof.  Obviously we already had the panels and we had the REDARC BCDC 40A unit which has solar input.  I am very happy with the result and it’s keeping the battery completely full.  Within one day the REDARC unit had gone from Boost, through absorption and is now constantly on float.

Due to the REDARC unit being able to convert a lower voltage to a higher voltage it starts charging the battery a lot earlier in the day and stays charging later in the day.  I really don’t think we will ever need to increase the size of the panels.

Now I want to add another battery to the system. Ssshhhhh….don’t tell the better half.