Sunday, 7 March 2010

Cleaning up in Adelaide

I approached this with trepidation as it was the first time I had dragged a trailer 1250km in a day and the small dogs health was dubious .  Neither concern  turned out to be a problem.  The aim of the trip was to clean out the remaining stuff from Frances’ mum’s estate which we expected to be fairly trivial.

We got off at close to the time of planning (ie 6am).  This was the first chance to try my driving lights and they duly lit up a mob of roos hopping over the drive.  Getting to Captains Flat Road and there was a convoy happening!  It seemed from the type of truck involved that they were mainly brickies etc heading off to work.  This continued right in to Canberra.

Out the other side and it was still marvelous  how many people were coming from Yass into the ACT – presumably all wage slaves.  On the far side of Yass the RTA had commented about an accident involving a B-double and a right mess it was.  A non-mess was the Coolac By-pass which is now finished and cut about 10 minutes off the drive rather than during the build, adding 20 minutes on!

The RTA had also commented about road works going in to Wagga.  None evident!!  They were on the far side of that fair city but no biggie.

Heading further West Frances announced a competition of predicting where we would first see emus.  I said up to 100km West of Narranderah and Frances said between that point and Hay (70km further on).  In fact the first we saw were 99.8km west of Narranderah.  They were the last we saw for about 150km, leading to a view that the water lying all over the paddocks had scared the birds off.

The rest of the drive was uneventful.  Small dog was ensconced on a pile of bedding so could see out without further buggering her back and seemed to have a great trip.  The trailer behaved well and just added 1 litre per 100km to fuel use (say 12l = AUD16.)

There was one small point of interest towards the end of the drive.  After plugging through the Adelaide Hills just before Blackwood there is an evil uphill RH turn on to quite a busy road near a rail crossing.  When we got there someone was already at the turn and missed several chances to go.  The traffic coming from my right was heavy as was that from the left - they seemed to be taking turns to flow.  Que pasa?  Also a number of other folk, with right of way wanted to turn down the street we were in,. Having a trailer - even empty - doesn't make hill starts easier but eventually I got across and all was revealed: the rail crossing lights were out and traffic was being controlled by a couple of lollypop men (ie school crossing monitors)!

After an average nights sleep we started on the process of schlepping the (rather more than we expected) stuff around.  First step was getting the biggest (ie 9 cu metre) skip we could.   This came from OZminibins who were marvellous: price OK and did everything on time and as requested.  If you need to get rid of rubbish in Adelaide they are your folk!

I also started putting stuff out on the sidewalk for the vultures to have a go at.

 The first few items vanished in less than 90 minutes so I put out some water colours.  They went in less than 30 minutes!  The next lot of stuff – small garden items was not popular and didn’t shift all day (so into the skip).

I took 2 car loads of stuff to a Salvos (for non-Australians, that is the Salvation Army) op-shop.  This included a lot more ‘art’ and about 80 vinyl LPs.  They were pleased to take it but asked if I not return until Friday!  This was quite reasonable as they only had three staff on duty and I had just about filled up their delivery area! 

In the op shop car park I discovered why Tasmanians are allowed on the road: it is to make South Australian drivers look good.   She didn’t hit me, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying!

Back at the house I really got to work on the skip – I was feeding direct from the junk filled garage using a wheel barrow, and just about everything was going into the skip.  Frances was n the house, finding somewhat more op-shop potential stuff, so contributed less to the skip.

I quite enjoyed destroying some of the wardrobes in which tack had been stored.  I commented to Frances that I wish I had been in a really bad mood as a bit of catharsis could well have been expended on this task.  Clearly Hilda’s focus on buying stuff she didn’t need had been around for a while (as it hasn’t been possible to get into the garage for about 12 years).   To my surprise when I got to the bottom of the last one I found a family of possums nesting under it.  They all bolted off to another heap of crud in the darkest corner of the garage, so I guess I will be meeting them again on Friday, and they will be really pissed, as there will be nowhere  else to hide.

(Given that the little sods made a ruckus most of the Wednesday night I was not feeling too sympathetic towards them on the Thursday morning.  However I did take a couple more piccies before chasing them out of the garage.)

In the afternoon of Wednesday – yes the time line is all over the place:  tough -  we went to order our Gourmet snags (fancy sausages for the linguistically challenged) at Glenelg; get some nice metwurst form Harbourtown, and a very quick visit to Gaganis Bros to top up our spice collection.  The journey home was marked by me making more daft route choices (other than the very good one of avoiding South Road).  I dropped Frances off at the house and then went and made a very good decision to get a 6-pack of James Squire IPA.   Very tasty.

South Australia is having an election sometime soon – possibly the day we leave (Saturday 6 March - oops update, it is 20 March, by which time I predict every vertical surface except the walls of the Cathedral and Police stations will be covered with political posters) – and it has been instructive to look at the posters around the place.  The Liberal Party seem to have decorated about half the stobie poles  in the city with standard photographs of their minions.  This is far more than the Labour Party ALP – although that may be a function of the areas we have driven through.   The ALP did fight back by getting the Premier’s face and name on the wrapper of the local newspapers but I am worried that they are not organized well enough to win.  It is curious to see the number of odd-ball candidates:
* Family First – complete morons (SA’s answer to Sarah Palin) but likely to get a few folk elected in the Upper House;
* Save the RAH Party- I didn’t realize there was a threat to the Royal Adelaide Hospital;
* Some anti-abortion party who are so smart their website is – I’d have thought unabortSA would be better;
* Some dude running as an Independent Climate Sceptic who seems to have run his posters off on a John Bull printing kit.
This calls to mind a description of California being like granola – take the fruits and nuts out and you’re left with a bunch of cracked corn!

On the Thursday morning Francie’s sisters turned up to help with the cleaning out and to assist a nephew who had been living in the house to pack up his stuff and move out.  This was a large help except for the horny handed sons of toil with a removal truck playing the radio in the truck at a squillion decibels with an appalling station.  If I had been employing them they would have been told that they could listen to the radio or get paid.  I like to offer people choices.  As prophesied we re-encountered a possum at the bottom of the last area of dross removed.  It was not sure what the was going on

More stuff got left on the sidewalk.  A Weber barbecue lasted less than 10 minutes which I thought was pretty good but the TV and VCR didn’t actually make it to King George Avenue before a lady with a ute took them!  One clothes drying rack went very quickly, but a few other odds and sods seemed to be hanging around.   They did go by late afternoon.  Two very large and decrepid wardrobes were also put on the street but didn’t move.  As a neighbour was muttering in his usual demented manner about them visually polluting the street I aurally polluted the street for a few minutes with the assistance of my hammer, and the wardrobes, in many parts, entered Skip World.

For reasons that escape me I had a bad nights sleep on the Thursday.  Possible explanations were the impact of a couple of medicinal stubbies of IPA taken in the afternoon and a couple of glasses of rehydration water not taken in the afternoon.  It certainly was not helped by (now) homeless possums galloping up and down the roof, and a small dog galloping up and down the hall in response to the first clause of this sentence.

Whatever: it was really 9am before I was hot to trot.  So I loaded equivalent of 16 wine cartons of books into the car and waved goodbye to the skip.  Then off to Adelaide to go to the Market for cheese and nuts after dropping the books off at the OXFAM bookshop.   They were delighted to get the donation and we were pleased to see how the pace looked following renovations.  My guess would be that this was the 5th load of books (all of this size) that we have dropped off there over the last 2 years.

A few more books were dropped off at the Salvos opshop together some more routine crud.  It was nice to see that a firescreen we had donated on the Wednesday was positioned for sale at $40.  Fair enough, as it was at least 50 years old.

The penultimate step  was loading  the trailer with a bed base which Frances desperately wanted and a dining room table for Ingrid. As Murphy would be delighted to record the table was about 2 cm too wide to fit in the trailer so a far less fuel efficient option was employed.   However  it is all together. 

As with the trip over, the return leg was approached with trepidation since the weather was not looking good with rain forecast all over the place, the lights on the trailer not being exactly of the son et lumiere status;  and being uncertain what speed/fuel consumption would be possible.  We were both awake at 4am so got up, put the remaining few things in the car and pulled out of the drive for the very last time at 4:30.

As expected the considerable extra weight made the car a tad grumpy on the hilly bits of the road out of Adelaide.  However we madeit  along the twisty Upper Sturt Rd, with the extra weight on the back of the car – in combination with my new spotlights – ensuring that the koalas were woken up.  We then bowled along the Freeway to Murray Bridge – working on travelling at posted limits rather than adding a bit as usual - which we reached about 5:45 and headed off across the Mallee.  We found evidence of rain for about 100km, but nothing actually fell, and in the absence of any other traffic had no problems.

We stopped for our first refuel at Pinnaroo (about 260km from the start) and found it was returning about 10l/100km (28mpg) which was quite acceptable.  Onwards across NW Victoria and into NSW, noting that the salt pans along the way had water in them.  Second refuel at Balranald and out on to the Hay Plain.  We had set up the emu location game again, and as Frances was driving at the time she had first go, picking “within 50km from Balranald”.  There were large numbers of them in this stretch and over the whole of the plains.  I think we would have seen at least 50 birds in several flocks.  No babies however.

We also decided to monitor the proportion of people coming towards us who had their lights on.  A summary of this follows but does not include the person who came towards and after we had passed swung round and followed us.  The lights he had on were red and blue flashing ones on the roof of his car.  Nothing more than a RBT thing (although I did notice him take a squizz at rego labels and possibly the security of the trailer etc as he went about the business).    I think this is the second time I have provided a sample in this area.
The results were:
  Cars:      8 lights on, 24 lights off
 Trucks    2 lights on, 15 lights off
  Bus        0 lights on, 1 lights off
  Mcycles 2 lights on, 0 lights off
This also shows that in 130kms we crossed with 52 vehicles.  This seemed about normal density. 

A couple of brief stops were made to stop the tarp over the table flapping around but basically roll down the road to Wagga for the final fuel stop.  We took the rural cut (I can’t call it a short cut as it is about 5 km longer) from Murrumbateman to Bungendore as it would be a more pleasant drive, avoiding Canberra. 

We got home about 7pm local time making it about a 14 hour trip.  Given that at least half an hour was spent on extra stops for fuel; changing drivers ; and tarp fixing that meant dragging the extra load (and my decision to drive a few kph slower) cost us about 30 minutes over the trip.  Zip.  I haven’t calculated the fuel consumption precisely but think it was about 28 mpg throughout the trip back (as against the 31 mpg we usually achieve): in contrast to my fears that is rather good work by the car .  As far as I could determine the biggest source of variation between fill-ups was in the sensitivity of the cut-outs in the fuel nozzles at the various service stations we used.

As a final comment, we had fine weather all the way apart from damp bitumen in the early stages.  However on rechecking the RTA site there seems to be flooding on major roads just South of our route.

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