Location: South Africa/Australia
Date: July 2011
July 31, 2011. I've been getting a bit lazy lately so I decided
to go for a walk around the block - a habit I really need to cultivate.
Half way around I spotted a Winnebago parked by the Manning River at
Taree so, being partial to a bit of a chat, I wandered down there.
After taking a few pics, I said g'day to the bloke relaxing inside the
motorhome. A few minutes later, his wife popped her head around the corner
and joined the convo. And that's how I met Pru and Mike. I was standing
at the driver's door window while they were seated at a table just behind
It was a gorgeous day, sunny and not a breath of wind. The glassy surface
of the Manning reflected Martin Bridge and the clouds like a mirror...
the perfect spot to enjoy a cuppa before heading off to Newcastle on their
way back to Sydney after spending a month touring the Queensland coast.
I mentioned that I'd just bought an old Toyota campervan and that I intended
to travel Oz once Das Busse was fit to go... that it was my "project".
Pru and Mike have been traveling Oz for many years. In their younger days,
they roughed it in tents but now they enjoy the luxury of the Winnebago.
They've already done the big round Australia trip so these days they settle
for a few weeks to a month at a time traveling to various places such as
Queensland and Victoria's east coast from their home base in Sydney.
They mentioned crossing the Nullarbor and how fascinating it was. Rather
than trying to cross it quickly, they took five to six days, taking side
roads and camping overnight along the way. They said the countryside was
fascinating, and couldn't understand why so many people were in such a
hurry to cover as much distance as possible. They said there's a lot to
see and discover, and it's worth taking your time. Mike also said that
wireless phone and internet coverage was quite good even in remote areas
when near a main road. The Winnebago is fitted with solar panels, air-conditioning
and carries a portable generator. Oh yes... and there are lots of wild
camels roaming the Nullarbor... sometimes becoming victims of speeding
Tasmania is another place Pru and Mike recommended... a very beautiful
place to visit and discover, and very friendly towards travelers. We talked
briefly about the trip across Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry,
and how that is also part of the adventure. In fact, Mike used the word
"adventure" quite a few times as he talked about traveling Oz.
When I quoted a young traveler from Sweden I met a few months ago as
saying "do what you can while you can", Mike said touring Oz was more a
matter of health than age, and that he and Pru had met quite a few gray
nomads in their seventies and eighties, as well as young families with
kids. He said there are lot of travelers "out there" and that campers regularly
formed small communities - safety in numbers. Pru said they had only one
bad experience when a bunch of teens rocked their van at night - silly
young kids. Otherwise, public camping grounds were quite safe and friendly.
The Winnebago is self-contained so they rarely stay at caravan parks...
too expensive for one thing, and who the hell wants to travel Oz to see
tennis courts, swimming pools and golf courses?
One time they visited Lightning Ridge and met a wonderful character
there... an author who visited the town some years ago and decided to stay.
They said country people are very friendly and approachable, much more
so than city people. Also, there are lots of fellow travelers to meet,
not only Aussies but people from England, Germany, France and other European
countries. Not so many Asians although there's been an increase in Chinese
visitors lately. Asians mostly travel in organized groups anyway because
of the language barrier. Also, the high Aussie dollar (currently at 1.10USD)
is keeping some tourists away. If I remember correctly, they said you don't
see many Americans but occasionally meet Canadians.
By the way, when I first spoke to Mike I noted his cultured accent.
I thought he might be Engish at first, but changed my mind... he's more
likely a well educated Aussie. He'd need to be worth a few bob as well...
those Winnes don't come cheap. Anyway, it was very nice to meet Pru and
Mike. "We might see you again on your travels," they said before heading
off to Newcastle. Click
here for the photo album.
July 20, 2011. Yes, folks, I've cheated again. I pinched a bunch
of pics I found on a newsgroup about the very first caravan made in Oz.
to be precise. You might not be able to read the text postings attached
to the display, so I've transcribed them for you:
1922 Model-T Ford "Woody" Station Wagon. Built in Tasmania, the
Woody was used to tow the Bailey family's caravan. According to Model-T
historians, the Woody wagon was most likely assembled in Tasmania from
parts shipped to Australia from Ford Canada. The original body frame may
well have been made from shipping crates. Modeled on American-built Woodies,
this vehicle was re-built 10 years ago by the Antique Motor Museum's Martin
Morris. Its body construction is now predominately Tasmanian oak. According
to experts, the four-seater wagon would have been a 1920's version of today's
four-wheel-drives. Model-Ts were very competent off road in their day.
Their narrow wheels sank down through mud and found hard ground underneath.
The cars were strong too - Henry Ford used Vanadium steel in his axles.
The steel was such good quality, the first Australian Sidchrome spanners
were made from melted-down Model-T axles. Model-Ts also had a substantial
250mm ground clearance, and the steering gear and ignition were mounted
high in the engine bay out of harm's way during creek crossings. The bullet-proof
2.9 liter, 17 kilowatt four-cylinder engine delivered strong torque for
its size. The engine and transmission in this Model-T Ford were overhauled
in November 1997 and it has traveled very little distance since then. The
Woody runs well and was driven here to the show, towing its caravan.
Australia's First Caravan. No records show evidence of a caravan
having been built in Australia prior to this rare example of caravanning
and camping. It was delivered as a "hunting caravan" and was built by a
boatbuilder in the mid 1920s for the Bailey family of "Lyndhurst", a property
near Deloraine in Tasmania. The family used it for regular hunting and
fishing trips and towed it behind their Model-T Ford Station Wagon. A check
of the inside roof will show construction akin to boat building. The Tasmanian
Oak frame has then had canvas stretched over it and then this surface has
been painted. The small opening windows in the roof show that a lot of
thought was put into this design. The two-piece rear door (who said rear-door
caravans were a recent development?) gives access to 3 seats/beds, a folding
table and a folding seat. There is storage under the seats. A special axle
and springs were fabricated along with a semi spring coupling. T-model
wheels to match the tow vehicle were then fitted. Earliest records show
that Australia's first production caravans were built by R J Ranking in
Sydney's Newtown from 1929. The unit is now owned by The Caravan Trade
and Industries Association of Queensland.
here for the photo album.
July 8, 2011. Strictly speaking, this entry doesn't belong here
on the Journal but I didn't know where else to put it. My mate Art from
North Carolina sent a bunch of pics of a new South African airline that
"doesn't take itself too seriously". I can't vouch for the authenticity
of all this, so don't blame me if it's a practical joke. Actually, I suspect
it is a joke. But what the hell... it's amusing anyway.
Check out the album
here and then come back to this page to read some of the anecdotes.
Or you can read the notes first and check out the album later... dozen
Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg. Kulula
airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture"
and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples
that have been heard or reported:
On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where
you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when
a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture
here, find a seat and get in it!"
On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot
said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be
turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance
the appearance of your flight attendants."
On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your
belongings.. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something
we'd like to have."
"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways
out of this airplane."
"Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business
as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone
voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo,
a flight attendant on a flight announced, "Please take care when opening
the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell
everything has shifted."
From a Kulula employee: "Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth.
To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull
tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know
how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."
"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend
from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your
face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before
assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child,
pick your favourite."
"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but
we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember,
nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."
"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of
an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our
"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings.
Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants.
Please do not leave children or spouses.."
And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Kulula Airlines is pleased
to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry.
Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"
Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landingin Cape Town : The
flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump
and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the
airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight
attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."
Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town, on a particularly windy
and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight
it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies
and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats
with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our
airplane to the gate!"
Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We
ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."
An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered
his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required
the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile,
and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline". He said that, in light
of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye,
thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had
gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said,
"Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot.
"What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"
After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came
on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain
Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against
the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are
silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage
to the terminal.."
Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like
to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get
the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal
tube, we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."
Heard on a Kulula flight: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke,
the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light
'em, you can smoke 'em."
If you haven't seen the photo album yet, click
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