Home across the Nullarbor
Thursday 4th January 2018
Sure enough the purser loves his job of waking up a boat full of folk to disembark! I knew before his voice boomed out that we were safely docked, after a lovely smooth night of sailing. Despite the early start and without a dose of coffee we were keen to get back on the mainland. So keen in fact, we lead the entire pack off the boat, being directed to start the procession! Not a huge life milestone, but a very cool thing to do. Follow us guys, we know the way!
Next stop, and urgently, was a good place for breaky which we chose to enjoy in Werribee, just at the mouth of the Werribee River. Over breakywe hatched a plan to extend our bed, changing it from a small, fold down double, to a large king size, moving us from sleeping east / west with The Newby scrunched in against the end and having to climb over me in the night, to north / south toes to the door. We figured that with the extension added we would have about one foot x two foot of floor space left. Basically, the bed will be the size of the camper. The plan was carefully thought out, measured and drawn before we headed to Bunnings (no holiday is complete without a trip to Bunnings) to buy the materials and tools to construct this extension.
Being early in the day and with our overnight spot booked away from Bunnings and Clark Rubber, we decided we needed to build this under the shade of a tree, in a park in Belmont. Now you have to imagine 2 adults with a sheet of plywood, fortunately cut to size by my mate in Bunnings, a tube or 2 of glue, a few nails and screws, a very small hand saw and a hammer, confined in a space about the size of a king size bed. Despite getting in each other’s way and having different ideas on how to make this extension, we managed to build it, with curious looks from a few others using the car park. I am fairly sure the council officer came back later to check that we had moved on and not set up a permanent camp!
We were both very pleased with the build and our efforts, given a complete lack of equipment or workshop. We sashayed up to Clark Rubber and got ourselves a mattress to fill the gap and bought a new, BIG doona and cover in Spotlight, ready for me to try the whole bed out tonight at our very expensive camp site in the Jan Juc caravan park. I say me because The Newby has to fly home for a couple of nights to attend the funeral tomorrow. Love life, live life while you can and make the most of everyday.
Friday 5th January 2018
What a lovely nights sleep in the new BIG bed. I think The Newby is going to like this, once I train him on the set up and installation of the slip prevention device (SPD). He should find the head banging prevention device (HBPD) a bit of a godsend too. This mornings goals are to go to Bells Beach, restock on shopping for the rest of the trip home, hit up the surfing museum and get some washing done.
Now Bells is a bit of an institution here in Australia and on the international surfing circuit. Most people know that but perhaps you don’t. So listen up folks. Bells Beach is the home of the world’s longest continuously running surfing competition – now known as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. The event was formerly known as the Bells Easter Classic (among a variety of other titles). The competition was first held in January 1962 and then at Easter every year since. Got it?
So for me, a water sign, a beach baby from the day I was born, an Aussie through and through (despite what the artist at The Wall might think), this was like going to heaven. Apart from the 1000 tourists taking 17.5 selfies each, including the young Japanese girl who accosted a surfer for his board so her bf could get her picture. Deary me. So many people spending so much time with their backs to the beach and their mugs to the camera. Turn around people! The attraction is behind you! Enough, I’m going down to the sand to sit where none of you are. And collect a few Bells shells. Stay right there, out of my way!
After Bells I polished off the first chore, food shopping and headed to the museum. I thoroughly enjoyed this little place that captures so much history and tells so many stories. It is the sort of place to go with someone else so you can do the “I didn’t know that. Did you know that?” If only I knew an old surfer to walk these rooms with … And just like that, another day of holidays is over and a mans life is celebrated and remembered. The Newby will be back tomorrow to clean clothes that are washing as I write this, enjoying one of his beers. He’ll never know.
Saturday 6th January 2018
With The Newby back it’s time to start the fair dinkum journey home to Perth. The drive will involve following the Great Ocean Road and crossing The Nullarbor with Australia’s longest stretch of straight road. For these reasons it is considered to be one of the worlds great road trips. We’ve got 8 nights and 9 days to conquer it. If we survive the predictions for today’s heat …
And goodness me, it was hot day. We started it with a walk up to Anglesea lighthouse where I managed to severely cook myself in the heat. We should have thought this through a little and realised how busy this area would be. I think Lorne is a likely to be a pretty place and well worth a stop but today it was just a car park! When we finally got through our next stop was at Kennett River to see the Koalas in the local trees. We did get lucky and see one but this was a disappointing stop, crowded with quite a few other people. I hope we see more koalas somewhere else on our drive. So, we kept on to Apollo Bay and stopped at a beach called Mounts Bay for lunch before we decided on a swim to try to cool down. As luck would have it, right as we got into the water, the weather god also decided it was time to cool the world down and sent a huge and instant southerly change! The sea changed from a pleasant place to swim to rough and choppy, so we ran out only to be driven back into the water by stinging sand! How the heck did that change so quickly? At least we’ve swum in the Bass Strait.
Time to roll on and catch sight of these 12 apostles (with the crowds of tourists and their selfies). My favourite part of this afternoon, with many stops, was the walk down Gibson Steps. It’s great to get to sea level and see the formations from the bottom up. The science behind these formations is also interesting. The erosion isn’t just from the sea. In fact sea erosion won’t cause these formations. You also need water falling on the ground, creating top down cracks that weaken the earth and then the waves can do their thing. Hence the reason these types of formations aren’t seen elsewhere, including across the Great Australian Bite via the Nullarbor.
After checking out the last of the formations for today, Loch Ard Gorge which looks like a great place to spend a day next time and swim in safety, we agreed to try the low cost camping in Port Campbell. It took us a wee while to find the right spot (read – me sending The Newby crazy making him move the MazStar more than once). We shared our little posi with a cute Possum as the sky turned on an amazing light show just before the sun set. And now it’s time for the 2 of us to see if this big bed makes the difference to our sleep. ‘Night.
Sunday 7th January 2018
Today’s mission is to complete the GOR. But first The Newby has just returned from the shower, reporting puppy dog eyes being batted at him in shower. Literally! The guy in the next cubicle was showering with his Labrador. Expect the unexpected when you’re camping, including a dog poking its head into your shower.
Back on our road trip we completed the rest of the GOR. This morning’s favourite formation was The Bay Islands on our way through to Warrnambool which is a very pretty place. So much so we decided to have our lunch at the break wall and had a lovely walk, deciding we would like to come back here to stay and maybe work here for a while. We also thought Port Fairy was pretty too but time is against us all the time and other than getting a loaf of bread we hardly spent any time in these towns.
With the day lengthening we finally left the coast road and decided that given we would gain some time by crossing the border, we would head for Mt Gambier in South Australia. On our way we stopped by the shoe fence, a bit like Bradrona in NZ. Who starts these things and why? Just a little further on we noticed a couple of cars stopped on the side of the road, with a few people staring into the trees. Having seen a couple of dead koalas on the road I suspected these folk might have found a good viewing spot. Sure enough after we parked in the truck bay and wandered back, we got to see more than one koala and even spotted some back in the safety of the truck parking bay. Turns out The Newby has a good eye for finding these inconspicuous creatures.
Finally we have crossed the border and an unmanned quarantine point. I wish I’d thought of that before I stocked up on fruit and veg. There’ll be no avocado with the chilli tonight! It was nice to see the welcome Emus I ordered, strutting off into the pine forest as we covered the short distance to our camp spot at Mt Gambier Showgrounds where the key deposit was more than a nights stay! I should have kept that avo but a threat of ending up with my face on Border Security put me right off.
Monday 8th January 2018
This morning we headed to both of Mt Gambier’s attractions, the Umpherston Sink hole and the Blue Lake. Both are just amazing natural phenomenons in what is an otherwise unremarkable town. First stop, the sink hole. Now how does this happen? On land, a fair distance from the ocean, the land suddenly sinks about 30m and across a diameter of more than 60m, creating a big hole in the ground! Firstly the ground is made of limestone. The limestone was deposited when the ocean dried up and the marine animals died and became the ground. Then, over time, with rain falling on the ground, water seeps into it eroding it without the people knowing it’s happening. Then all of a sudden the roof of a watery cave that no one knew existed, suddenly collapses revealing a big hole in the ground. Dear me! What will we do now?
In fact, this sink hole was already there when white fellas came along and claimed the land. So Mr Umpherston decide to turn it into a sunken park, complete with a lake. It’s long since been donated to the city and is open to anyone to wander up to, into, around and through. It’s a lovely spot on a hot day, with long weeping plants draping the outer edge, hydrangeas flourishing within the hole and many spots to stop and take it all in. You can walk around the rim or descend into the hole, both of which we did. Simply, this is a sink hole and they happen all the time. Superbly, this is a little piece of paradise in the middle of no where with a fabulous name. Umpherston’s sink hole.
Our next stop was up the hill at the Blue Lake. Ok, all lakes are blue. But this one is cobalt blue. Not all the time, just from November to March. Lucky for us we were there to see it blue and the sky and sun were helping us to enjoy it. There are a few interesting things about this lake. It turns blue rapidly in November and then in March just turns back to grey. No one really knows why it does this but it doesn’t affect the water quality, with water being pumped from here for the town to drink. How cool would it be to turn on the tap and fill a drinking glass or the bath tub with this vividly blue water?
The rest of today was about getting us safely to Adelaide with The Newby driving us to our lunch spot at Pinks Beach before I drove the rest of the way to Adelaide, while he observed pelicans. “Observe”. He also had the nagivators job of finding us a home for tonight and tomorrow night as we have tickets for the cricket at the oval tomorrow. Finally we rolled into the big Adelaide Hills and then the Big4 at Marion. We try to avoid these types of places but in this town there was no choice so we parted with lots of dollars in exchange for wrist bands allowing us access to everywhere and wandered off to buy and drink some well earned wine by the bar. Our evening on our little patch of grass, opposite the amenities block, was spent watching the Cricket on tv, with both games won on the last ball. Don’t tell The Newby but I might have slept through the 2nd innings of 2nd game.
Tuesday 9th January 2018
Good morning Adelaide. It’s nice not to have to move occasionally but even this morning we were forced to pack up a little, just to move from one site to another. We won’t be here all day or even this evening so it doesn’t matter where Maz spends the day. But first we need to get a load of washing done and hing out to dry while we are gone.
With the chores done we wandered done the road to catch a train to the city. It seems to be a lot like Perth with boom gated railway crossings and small, quiet stations. We arrived int he city centre o find their are significant road works blocking our path. Because of this we were lead down towards the river and back up Memorial Avenue, into the war memorial. With only one coffee on board we decided to find a cafe and indulge in some lunch that should tide us over to the cricket game tonight. In our search for a good spot we wandered almost the entire width of the city, past the Tour Down Under set up, ending up at T Bar, a tea outlet! We don’t drink tea and were craving coffee, which thankfully, they also do along with an all day breakfast. As we ate and drank we spotted Senator Penny Wong with her shopping bag over her shoulder. I have commented before on my regard for Penny and would have loved to meet her, but she looked like she wanted to be left alone that day. Smile Penny, it’s holiday time.
After lunch we wandered back the way we came, stooping to have a look inside the Catholic Church. This is the city of churches afterall so no trip to Adeliade would be complete without peeking through the doors. We then moved on through the University of Adelaide grounds and the Botanic Gardens, with a huge bat colony and a great rainforest area in a massive, humid glasshouse. Our meanderings lead us straight to The National Wine Centre. Fancy that! The wine god had taken our hand and was showing us the way to heaven. After a look through the display and information we found ourselves at the wine bar and swapped our ID for a charge card, to enjoy tastings of a variety of drops. We both had 5 tastings and tried wines we know we liked and others we thought looked good. As it turned out, I found I thoroughly enjoyed a Rousanne, a grape variety I have never tried before. I hope I can get it elsewhere now. Not quite tipsy but certainly on the way I dragged The Newby out and onto a city bus.
Our destination was the Adelaide Oval, which is an impressive venue, to watch our second game of T20 cricket. But first we had a friendly encounter with the local constabulary when I asked then about the church across the road. The Newby nearly pee’ed himself with anxiety that I would even approach the police. I guess that may be because it’s not the done thing in downtown Glasgow. But these two officers were more than happy to assist, pulling out a phone and googling it for us. Turns out it’s the Anglican cathedral, but the doors were firmly closed. Perhaps the ministers have already taken their seats at the cricket. Finally we made it into the oval and took our seats, with The Newby sitting next to the biggest man you have ever seen. I shoved my bum slightly over so he could share my space and we thoroughly enjoyed watching the Strikers win. And, I even stayed awake to watch it all!
Wednesday 10th January 2018
Palindromes really interest me. My kayak is called Bob kayak Bob because he does. Glenelg is a palindrome and a place with a beach in Adelaide. A pretty beach at that, with a lovely walk out into a jetty to give you a nice view back to the beach front and the building scape. After checking this lovely town out we grabbed a take away coffee and started the exit from the last big place before Perth! It was here, just driving out of Adelaide that I noticed large bird nests in the trees along the roadside. I have deduced that these must be the nests of the highway patrol, the crows or Australian ravens that guard the roadside. They clean up all the road kill yet never seem to fall victim to the same fate.
What started the conversation about buying a unit like the MazStar and the camper was when we saw one for sale on the side of the road in swan valley. We didn’t actually look at it but we did find an ad for it on gumtree and it was old, not a slide on and the vehicle had a lot of kms. 5en we went through the process of buying our two, MazStar and camper and the one in Swan Valley stayed on the market awhile then we forgot about it. Today, on the road all the way over here in SA we saw it again! How cool is that? We recognised it straight away and confirmed it, as it still had the same number plates. There aren’t many for sale in WA, hence we had to buy ours in Vic and have it trucked over, so it was an easy spot. It’s a small world on the road.
Our lunch stop today was Port Pirie to secure a cache then do one last food shop at Coles and stock up on wine and beers. This lifestyle makes you thirsty. The port town is far from pretty and also felt a little unsafe but we got what we needed and headed onwards to wiz through Port Augusta on to Iron Knob. The Newby was keen to have a look here because of the comedy sketch that Billy Connelly does about the place so we pulled in and had a look at the campsite which would more than do the job. But in the interests of making hay while the sun shines we kept on going to Kimba (like the white lion) and stopped in the excellent, by donation camping area. It had everything we could possibly want including tv reception for the cricket, flushing loos and a coin operated shower, loads of stars and no check out time! Happy days on the road home. We are halfway there.
Thursday 11th January 2018
Kimba itself has loads to keep you occupied if you make it here. For a start, it’s halfway from Sydney to Perth and has a great sign telling you as much. There is a big galah, in keeping with other big things around Australia and out on the hill there are a couple of sculptures of Edward John Eyre and an Aboriginal man . It looks to me like Eyre is giving visitors the bird, but that may just be my interpretation, affected by the heat! The lookout is a great place to appreciate the painted silo from a distance, in the heat haze. We did try to find a cache here on the golf course with black greens, but the heat and the fear of Joe Blake’s (that rhyming slang for snakes) both conspired to drive us back into the cool of the car. In fact Kimba did not want to share its caches with us today. We couldn’t find the nano at the silos either (I hate nanos). We will have to stop here again on our next trip and see if we have better luck. Hopefully we also have more time to explore the Gawler Ranges too.
Onwards in search of The Nullarbor we came across some uniquely Australian sites like Darkes memorial. Darke was a failed farmer who turned his hand to surveying and explored this area of South Australia. It seems he was a good bloke, despite what his Uncle though of him, and got on well with most folk including the Aboriginal people of the area. Despite this, he met his maker on the end of a spear and is buried out here in this dry and dusty place, under the peak that bears his name. We also stopped for a look at the farmers monument in Wudinna. This is a stunning 8m high sculpture depicting the 4 seasons on each face along with both masculine and feminine imagery. “Australian Farmer” celebrates the spirit of Australian farming communities from pioneering days to the challenges of rural living today and is worth a stop. Just mind the traffic …
Our next amazing stop was The Matthews family home, now a free camping site. Mr and Mrs Matthews built their house along the roadside, in the days when no more than 6 cars went past their front door. When it become busier the family abandoned the house and moved back from the road, further onto the property. Mrs Matthews eventually had to move into care in Kimba, while Mr Matthews stayed on the farm and in the house until he passed away. That’s not really that unusual a story, but what is special is that the key is still in the back door and travellers are welcome to enter the house. Much of the furniture and other belongings are still there, including a picture of Mr and Mrs Matthews. It’s a great time warp, free to anyone, with lots of character and a little eerie feel. Not spooky though. We loved it actually and the bonus was the cache, inside the house. Pioneering, colonial Australian history was made here and now it is preserved here too.
Having travelled a few kms, but not breaking any records, our next stop was Poochera where we had a loo break and lunch. It was hot by the time we arrived, too hot even for the flies, so we enjoyed the fans and agreed to eat inside. After lunch we ventured into the heat to have look at have a look at Pete’s place. Pete was a lifelong bachelor, who could turn his hand to whatever was needed, when he was around. His wandering nature meant he didn’t need much in the way of accommodation. Although locals offered him a bed and looked out for him, he wanted his own place, so he built a shack, what Australians call a humpy, from flattened oil cans. In his later years he lived here reclusively, under the pepper corn tree. And we thought it was hot in our little insulated aluminum camper, with the windows open and the fans on. Man, it must have been hot as heck in that humpy made metal!
The other exciting draw card for Poochera is an ant. Not just any ant, a tiny little, unique to one spot, hard to find ant. A living fossil in fact. In the picnic shelter just by Pete’s place you can read about this ant, but I’ll give you the abridged version. The wee tiny ant is called Nothornyrmecia Macrops. They are extremely timid, nocturnal, only 1 cm in length and a golden honey colour. They only come out when the temperatures are below 5 degrees Celsius (not today!). Not only is it the world’s most primitive living ant, apparently it is also the second most primitive creature, even when fossil records are included. Populations have been found around the Great Australian Bight and now there is concern for their future, given global warming. Wouldn’t it be a shame if an insect with a 100 million year history died out.As we left town we topped up the fuel and took the opportunity to snap a pic of the Big Ant. I wonder if it makes Australia’s list of big things? It’s many times bigger than the real thing.
Our next stop was Ceduna but only to buy $1 worth of fresh drinking water, that filled our 200 litre tanks sufficiently for the journey across The Nullarbor, before we agreed to head to Penong caravan park for our overnight stay. This has been the only place we have needed the flies nets, that we discovered severely hamper drinking and eating, so we were forced inside to enjoy our delicious roast dinner as we watched the cricket. The skies are looking grey out there, and not because of the million black bugs drawn to the camper light while we were showering. I bet the town of the windmill would love a good drenching.
Friday 12th January 2018
This morning we woke to the clean that is always evident after a big storm. Fortunately all the folk in tents and swaps had been given spots under roofs and awnings because that was a cracker of a weather system. But the ground id dry, the water having soaked into the water table, ready to be pumped back up for the folk around here to use. Today’s the day we should be able to cross the Great Australian Bight and start the journey across the Nullarbor. But first we discussed the reason it is called the Nullarbor – null meaning “no” and “arbor” meaning trees. Is it really a treeless plain? The Newby is about to find out. We also had a conversation about the Bight. My theory is that it looks like it’s been bitten. The Newby doesn’t have a theory so I must be right. Actually I mused that a Bight is bigger than a bay or a cove or a harbour. When we get some internet access I’ll look it up.
Our first stop, just 100m outside the caravan park, was the Penong wind mill museum. As you can appreciate, windmills are big, so the museum is outside. The reason for the museum is to pay homage to the mighty life saving windmill. This town, Penong, doesn’t not have a town water supply, nor a consistent rainfall (despite last nights downpour) so it relies on ground water. Each dwelling has a windmill on the flat at the eastern part of town that brings water to the surface and delivers it to the house. Hence the homage to the windmill. The Newby had a go at being a windmill on the swing and managed to pump the water to the surface before we hunted around for and secured the cache. Great spot!
Our next stop was our first look at the Nullarbor links. For those that don’t know, the worlds longest 18 hole golf course spans the Great Australian Bight, including holes on the Nullarbor and in fact all the way to Kalgoorlie. I’m not a golfer, I think it spoils a good walk, but there were golfers at this hole this morning so we wished them well and headed to the last shop for 1000kms for some milk and bread. Imagine if you lived 500kms from it – “just going for the paper” would see you gone before breaky and back after dinner. The distances put here are vast but it’s certainly not deserted and the people we have encountered are friendly and helpful.
Before hitting the Nullarbor we encountered a spot where the road crosses the Dog fence. It’s really a dingo fence but we don’t want the tourists to think we are mean. The fence runs from the Queensland / NSW border at the coast (or where the Tweed River is narrow) all the way to the SA coast. It is designed to keep dogs on one side and their supposed prey on the other side. It traverses over 5 and a half thousand kilometres and has been there in one form or another for about 140 years! That makes it one of the worlds longest structures. But don’t blink or you’ll miss it. No we are in dingo, camel, emu and kangaroo country.
Finally we come across the Welcome to the Nullarbor sign and stop for lunch at the roadhouse. Definitely not one of our more picturesque stop but that what happens when the driver chooses instead of the Nagivator. Back on the road we stop at all 3 of the signed lookouts to view the Bight and the clean ocean and towering cliffs. The are no apostles or bays here thanks to the lack of rainfall. But there is a storm coming, or brewing in the area from where we came, so we kept plugging westward in the MazStar.
In the late SA afternoon we stop to watch some crazy paragliders and overhear the comments of a passing Truckee, describing how he thinks his luck would go if he were to give it a try. As he passed he tooted his horn, no doubt to the paragliders, but I gave him a friendly wave anyway and then not 5 minutes later we are chatting in the Border Village roadhouse! He had a distinctive and colourful truck, painted in jellybeans. Time for another imaginary hole of golf before crossing the border and gaining 2 and a half hours. Actually, as I’ve written about before, we gained 1 and three quarters, as we came into Central Time. Around these parts there are three clocks on the wall – 1 in SA time, 1 in central time and 1 in WA time. Then to confuse all your calculations, you need to be mindful of daylight savings, observed in SA but not in WA. Are you confused yet? Lucky time doesn’t count for much out here, and even less so when you are on holidays.
Before stopping for the night we headed down for a look at the almost destroyed Eucla telegraph station. Between the sand, the weather and the vandals there is almost nothing left. Tonight we are camped at The Watering Hole, a par 3 hole of the links with a tee to hole distance of 140m. The Newby gave it his best shot but I think the bubbles killed his game a little. Good night from just inside the WA border.
Saturday 13th January 2018
We are down to the final two days of our trip home and The Newby heads back to work on Monday so we can’t dilly dally. There’s still well over 1000kms to go so we need to make good time.
Our day started and finished with some sort of car problem. Even as I write this we have no idea what is wrong but it hasn’t affected Maz’s performance. Yesterday I mentioned to The Newby that I thought the car sounded different and this morning it was very different. A bit like a loud air rushing noise. So we pulled over and straight away I noticed that a couple of clips had come loose around the cover from / to the snorkel. With those closed we restarted the journey, and while the noise decreased there is still a whine when the car gets up to speed. So we stopped for some oil at Madura, which temporarily made it worse (someone left the empty oil bottle under the hood) but ultimately didn’t help with eliminating the noise.
With nowhere to go but forward we kept on going and traversed the longest stretch of straight road in Australia before stopping for lunch and to wash off the dead bees. I had forgotten about the possibility of a bee swarm and just like the last time I crossed The Nullarbor, we stuck them and were through them before we even saw them. The Newby was driving and didn’t know what had happened! poor bees. He didn’t need to hit them that hard!
In the Nagivator seat I had the task of finding us a spot for the night. Our choices were slim and with little alcohol on board we decided to pass Fraser Range homestead as it seems like a single night won’t do it justice, and head to Norseman. We eventually rolled into town to find everything except the pub closed but we did mange to secure a site in the caravan park for our last night on the road. It’s hard to believe this trip is almost over.
Sunday 14th January 2018
And just like that it’s our last day on the road. The have had an amazing trip again and been so fortunate to have the vehicle, camper and health to be able to complete this journey. We’ve seen some amazing things along the way and ticked more than a few things off the bucket list. Now it’s time to finish where we started, back in Perth, at home. But first we had a final chance to spot the same white van we have been overtaking all the way home. The drivers are a young couple who seems to be nursing the van along. We have passed them the last 3 mornings, and passed them again after each of our stops. A bit of a hare and tortoise story, and there they were at the petrol station this morning!
Today we chose to push on through, stopping only for a quick loo stop in Coolgardie, where it was raining, and for lunch in Southern Cross. We made it home in good time and have unpacked and floated around in a space that’s many times bigger than our little camper. In fact the room you’re in now is probably bigger than the camper! From tomorrow we will be working towards our next trip. There will be little local ones throughout the year and a bigger one planned to see in 2019. For now, if you want to know what it all cost, have a look here. Otherwise, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this adventure.
Post Script: We have been home a while now and have had the opportunity to have Maz serviced. The noise remains but the mechanic can’t find a cause and isn’t worried. We’ve had a hole in the muffler fixed but that doesn’t seem to have made a difference.
I’ve also had a chance to get the piece of Huon pine polished up. David at Perth Woodworking School did an amazing job and its hanging in pride of place above my dining table.