Being mobile in Australia – a weekend in Canberra.

Catching up on lost sleep was a pleasure, I slept the sleep of the exhausted 😉


Not a Kookaburra but the first bird I saw in Canberra 🙂

Christina and the girls like IKEA. Before it opened in Canberra a visit to Sydney’s IKEA was a rare treat. So to IKEA we went on Saturday. I wasn’t expecting to like it but I was pleasantly surprised and when I win Lotto I will be paying for them to come to help choose my furniture for my new home (which won’t be in Auckland) at the Auckland IKEA, New Zealand’s only one.



Swedish apple cake.

We also had a brief visit to COSTCO. I had fallen in love with COSTCO in America, especially the free food sampling .



COSTCO, catering for everyone!

On the way home we called in to see Christina’s Mum and Dad. It was good to catch up with them too, it had been a long time.


Leah used to climb this tree when she was very small. Now it is Ella’s turn.

Canberra is the capital city of Australia and in my opinion, the safest for raising children. It would be the place I would live (despite being 2 hours from the coast) if I were to live in Australia.


Parliament House (not my photo)


The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation’s capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state and is in it’s own state, ACT (Australian Capital Territory). There was an international contest for the city’s design and construction commenced in 1913. The plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.

suburban layout
The city’s design was influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title of the “bush capital”. The growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, The national capital emerged as a thriving city after World War II.
Canberra consists of  5 distinct residential districts – Civic (the CBD), Belconnen, Woden/Weston Creek, Tuggeranong, and Gungahlin each with its own Town Centre and Shopping district.  There are large area of open land separating suburbs, government owned so can’t be built on.

Lake Burley Griffin

Telstra tower in the background (not my photo).

There are a number of large lakes in Canberra each associated with one of the Town Centres. Lake Burley Griffin is the largest and is near Civic and splits Canberra in half.  The others are Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, Gungahlin Pond and Yerrabi Pond.

Eagle Eye Imagery

Canberra War Memorial

As Canberra is inland and around 600 Metres (2000 feet) above sea level its climate is very wide ranging. Temperatures can be as high as 38C or more (100F) in summer and as low as minus 5C (20F) in winter.  There is no distinct rainy season and rain may fall any time of the year but average rainfall is not high. The area, like a lot of southern and central Australia, has been experiencing a drought for the last 5 years.

L BG.jpg

Lake Burley Griffin

The roading system in Canberra are wonderful, confusing for a Kiwi, who can’t tell north, south, east or west here but well laid out into:
Arterial roads
:These roads serve long distance travellers within or between districts, and support large volumes of traffic. They may be limited access, or controlled-access.
Major collector roads:
These roads serve local area traffic distributing to or from minor collector roads, and also link to the arterial network.
Minor collector roads:
These roads serve neighbourhood traffic, and provide access from the major collector roads into residential areas.
Access streets:
These streets are the lowest road type in the hierarchy, and provide access to the bulk of residential homes.


This is the meeting of many main routes and has traffic lights.



I like this one.

On Sunday we all went to the Belconnen Mall, for the children to spend some time at Skyzone (for trampolining), for Christina and Paul to have coffee and for me to Mall Mooch. Mall mooching is a good way of acquiring some of the 10,000 steps I aim for each day. I had been here on one of my first visits to Canberra in the mid 2000s and it had grown hugely as has Canberra. In 2005 the population was 325,000 and 11 years later had grown by more than 100,000.


We don’t have car park building in Levin



On the way home, a pylon 🙂


 ~~ 4 & 5 March 2017 ~~


Being mobile in Australia – to Canberra via Melbourne

This trip was decided last year and booked in August 2016. It was an important one. I hadn’t been to Canberra since 2011 (home to my granddaughters Leah and Ella, now 10 and 12, my son Chris and daughter in law Christina and her partner Paul. Leah had been to visit me in 2012 and again in 2015.
It was also important in that I hadn’t spent a birthday with family since 2009!


It was always going to be a long day. Catching the 6am flight meant an early morning and that is something I don’t do well.



I didn’t finish work until late on Thursday, had to tidy and pack and was in bed around 11pm. I had set the alarm set for 1.45am and managed 1 hour 51 minutes sleep according to FitBit with 4 restless periods and 5 minutes awake.
I saw Phee before I left, he hadn’t come in to sleep that night, unusual for him.


I’m going to miss waking up to this face ❤

I was interested to see what the new M2PP would look like. This was the new expressway from McKay’s Crossing, south of Raumati, where I used to live, to Pekapeka; an 18km four-lane expressway along the Kāpiti Coast, and is the first of the Wellington Northern Corridor projects completed. I couldn’t see much as it was dark an it will also be dark when I return home. 😦


Flying over Wellington, the  harbour to the rear.

Wellington was calm, the harbour still. It would have made a lovely night photo. 

The time at the airport went quickly, my suitcase was 20.3 kg and I was on the plane, the sun was just beginning to rise.




Preparing for take off.

I could see going over the top of the South and clearly saw the “Kiwi” shape of Farewell Spit.


Goodbye New Zealand

I started to watch a movie, couldn’t really find the concentration, ate breakfast, nothing spectacular. I chatted a little to the lady next to me She was English, had been in New Zealand for a few weeks and was going to Tasmania.


Mt Taranaki/Egmont on the horizon ,left  and Mt Ruapehu just after the wing, right (if you look really hard.)

Melbourne was covered in cloud, down to 300 meters, so when we broke through the cloud we were almost touching down. Australia has a reciprocal agreement with New Zealand to have an easy entry system but I had honey and sauce to declare. All up I would guess I was out in 30 minutes.


I’m not sure what the shadow hill type thing is, maybe a hill, maybe not.


Australia . . . . . . . . .  ❤


Preparing to land

From the international to the national section is an easy walk. I was transferring from Air New Zealand to Virgin Air, as Air New Zealand doesn’t fly in Australia. Easy . . . . . . nope! My 12.05pm flight had been cancelled (I found later due insufficient cabin staff), the 1 pm flight was full (I suggested as they had inconvenienced me they could upgraded me to first class, no such luck) so I had to wait until the 3.20pm flight. I was really peeved off. More peeved off than I had been in a long time. 

So I waited . . . . . . . . . .


Finally in the air to Canberra



Victoria, Australia



Starting to go down through the clouds


The Murrumbidgee river which passes Canberra

I had rung Christina to tell her I would be late, she had taken the afternoon off work and the delay meant that she kindly went and got Leah and Ella after school and they all met me at airport, what a bonus!


I was there ❤

To Palmy for three days.

The familiar drive to Palmerston North was not to be. At the north end of Shannon there were Police cars and a diversion was in place!


Shannon, population 1506.

I later read there had been a serious accident and I am grateful for multiple routes to Palmerston North, in many places in New Zealand there isn’t always a choice. I asked the guy who was directing the traffic where I was going: “Turn right past the dams” was his response. I’m familiar with this road and was not familiar with any dams. I followed the road for some distance with a huge line of traffic behind me, past the sewage ponds, over the Manawatu River and over the flood gates, maybe this was what he meant by dams.



Over the Manawatu River and the dam????????

Sometime later there was another road to the right so I turned, followed by an ever increasing line of traffic. They all turned too and it’s quite a responsibility being the lead vehicle. This was going to be a success or a dismal failure! It was a minor farming road (complete with tractors and harvesters) that eventually joined another road I knew, so I had made the correct choice to turn 🙂



The convoy coming in the opposite direction 🙂

I had some gift vouchers to spend, went to the supermarket and bought lots of expensive tasty treats I wouldn’t usually buy then to The Warehouse to buy a new radio and a couple of DVDs with the other voucher. I rarely watch TV but find talkback radio at night, especially, amusing!


The welcoming committee ❤

I received an enthusiastic welcome Raewyn, one of the managers at the Palmerston North Holiday Park, she is a lovely lady, and settled in for a lazy day reading and people watching. It was quite warm, 26C, no wind or clouds, and I was reminded I needed a stronger fan but it was bearable. I pulled out the awning, opened the back door and had a nice through breeze.



She was a most attentive mummy duck, sheltering her babies from the sun.

I also had a duck welcoming committee. There are still some ducklings, I was content.

 Later on in the day I had the need to oversee some ducklings who were being chased and taunted by a horrible child, the look on his face was malicious. I understand the draw of chasing ducks for small children but this one was about 10. Later on I saw him with some other children at the play area and, yep, he was a bully. I didn’t feel too sad when he was running up the slide, blocking the smaller kids and fell over and hurt himself. He was also a sooky!



The flowers looked pretty after the rain . . . . . . .



. . . . . .  so did the insects!I

I did absolutely nothing, read, ate, listened to the radio and relaxed, although it was necessary to visit the cafe in the Botanical Gardens, next door for a treat. I also went for a river walk on the only night there was no sunset. Typical!
Not the usual me but it felt good.I’m no spring chicken and sometimes feel my age!! And that’s OK.



A Black-fronted Dotterel, my first ever sighting, though it isn’t a rare bird. They colonised here in the 1950s from Australia.



The toilet block had been painted. Although attractive, I think I preferred the original.


My coffee cup fell off and landed in the green bin, where I usually store my laptop and iPad.I am so lucky they weren’t in there.

One thing that has intrigued since I was a child was the “rocket” just outside Palmerston North which I had gone past hundreds of times and was a landmark for me and my children. I believed that it was something to do with boy scouts, that was my childhood memory. My memory was entirely false, not even close 🙂
The Tiakitahuna Rocket was placed on the corner of SH56 by locals wanting to mark the locality after the the Foxton Branch railway was closed.The original rocket was made of 44 gallon oil drums welded end to end. The rocket was rebuilt about the 1980’s with the assistance of a local brewery and painted bright red. In 2014 it had a makeover to commemorate the 150-year anniversary. It was also”earthquake strengthened”. 🙂

28, 29, 30, 31 January 2017


My next Being Mobile blog will be from Australia!!

It’s back; I was preparing to go solo!

It was back and looking lovely, no dings or scrapes and the wide, black strips down each side have been removed. The front and back bumpers have been repainted and it looks (almost but not really) like new.


So with with a few days to spare before I went on my 4 week South Island expedition I had to get it set up and organised; I had removed most of the contents when it went be repaired.
While it had been away I had purchased quite a few (what I hoped would be) useful gadgets, some essentials (like gas monitors) a smaller heater and a whole bunch of useless junk, some of which I was hoping I would use. The majority was purchased very cheaply, through AliExpress.
I had to decide what was the minimum I needed in clothing to cover both warm and cool days and this is difficult for me. I have always overpacked but having minimal storage meant a whole rethink on what was essential.

My expedition, the blog aptly named “Going Solo”  was the first time I had been away for any considerable time in the camper van on my own. I wasn’t phased by that, I am perfectly happy in my own company and as I was staying in motor camps this time there would be people around if it needed  chat. I’m not ready yet to freedom camp, I quite like electricity, also quite like not having to empty the toilet cassette 😉 No, the reason is not feeling entirely safe in a locality I don’t know with people I don’t know. A motor camp offers that touch of security.

I’ve included links to my other blogs. They may be of use to anybody travelling the South Island. I have included paying locations for camper vans or caravan, places I think may be of interest and, in two blogs, my actual experiences and opinions of the places I went.

Planning where we may go in the South Island with my friend, Dasha, from California.

Our experiences in the South Island. 2016

Planning for my solo South Island trip.

My South Island experiences. 2016


Being immobile, the continuing story!

15 October and the Ducato has yet to be painted, though it is ‘bogged’ and primed. Until today I haven’t pushed it;  I figure that there are lots of nice people with only one car who need their vehicles repaired before me. When I spoke to the Boss on Wednesday he said he would do his best to get it done by Friday. When he rang on Thursday night I weakened and said it was OK, I could wait until next week but I HAD to have it by Thursday, I have things to do before I go. I have booked it in for a service on 1 November (I leave on 5 November) and have been to look at and choose a decal for the sides.


They turned around, saw me coming and left! Am I scary 😉


I have problem with the pronunciation of “decal”.  It’s one of those words you immediately recognise when it’s written but rarely have the need to say! I  Googled it, of course, and got some audios to choose from – “dee kal” but in some there is emphasis on the “dee” in others on the “kal”. Then there was the “dek ul” option, especially if you are Canadian, it seems. I gave up and called it a sticker, until today. I went and saw the sign writer to choose one and learned it can be called a vinyl graphic. I’m comfortable with that.


I have chosen a pattern, picked out some colours, 3 shades of blue (surprised?) and the lovely guy will go and measure the Ducato,  magically change it to fit on the Ducato and email me a preview of three colour combinations for me to choose from. Seemingly the pattern was someone’s tattoo! I could have purchased one, ready to go, on the internet. I have no faith in my ability to apply it without getting wrinkles, breaking it or something equally as tragic.


I’ve also been thinking about the fridge, a 3 way gas, power and battery model. It’s far from new, 14 years old, like the Ducato. I’m not sure it runs properly on battery and I would never leave it on gas while I am driving. I had it looked at in March and the auto electrician said she had fixed it. I looked at new ones and was very surprised to learn they are $1700 plus $300 for a new gas certificate. It’s not going to happen.


I have already brought a reversing camera, an absolute necessity without Dasha being with me, and a small inverter. I also need 2 new house batteries. I have been to the auto electrician, who has been to visit the Ducato ‘in situ’ at the panel beaters and sorted it out for me. Everyone has been so helpful.


It’s been there a long, long time 😦 Spiders have taken up residence!



The Ducato has been away since 7 September 2016. Most days I have driven past (only a wee way out of my usual route) to see if there has been any progress. During the day it’s parked outside the panel beater’s yard with other vehicles that are waiting.


Waiting . . . . . . It seems close to the railway line, I hadn’t noticed.

While I was waiting, I had a few ideas. Instead of the black strip down the side (which, I thought was lower down until I looked at the photo) I could have a decal of some sort, to add a little colour.


How about this one . . . . . .


or a bird, I like birds . . . . .


even a black and white bird, even!

I had also bought a new door for the outside toilet door (where you remove and empty the toilet cassette). It was cracked and tatty.


Emptying the toilet 🙂


A new one 🙂


Here . . . . . . . . . .

The ‘hole’ towards the top is the fridge vent.

So when I went past today it was inside, they had begun. As it is the 22 September, I’m not getting it back as previously thought on the 23rd, but I’m OK with that. I wasn’t going anywhere this weekend.


I think it has the funniest little bonnet; for a largish motor, the engine space is minimal. Maybe it’s because it is diesel. I know nothing about things mechanical 😉


Looking at all the primed areas, there was more damage than I thought. I think it is a good thing that I have purchased a reversing camera. I hasten to add (for those who don’t know or remember) that I wasn’t responsible for any the damage 🙂


Somewhere along the top there is a ting dent I was responsible for. As it isn’t visible it can remain.


I’m paying for some of the repair and repaint, including this area of rust at the top of the window. In New Zealand we require a yearly “warrant of fitness” inspection and it is quite rigorous. I got a warrant this time but next year I wouldn’t. This is an expensive repair as the entire window has to be removed. 😦


I quite like this decal. This vehicle is a newer one than mine and has longer windows. Mine is quite boxy (like an ambulance lol) so maybe I will look more racy?

I’m looking forward to it’s return. I have missed my Ducato not being here, missed not taking off on a whim. When It does come back it will be time to think about setting it up for my 4 weeks in the South Island, that’s only 6 weeks away. I will be mobile!


HELP! I am immobile.

During the 4 week South Island adventure in April 2016 the Ducato sustained some damage; I was absent when it happened. I am pleased to say that only twice have I been at the wheel when two minor incidents happened.
The first was a ding when I was reversing (at snail’s pace) unfortunately misjudging the distance and lightly hitting part of the garage. The resulting minuscule ding was only apparent when I observed it with the binoculars (it’s at the top of the rear).

Looking through binoculars
The second was while going over the dreaded narrow bridge at Blenheim with the truck driver misjudging my size and not waiting until I was across to enter the bridge. I had to pull close to the bridge to avoid the truck hitting me; the result a light scrape on the passenger wing mirror. I can live with both.


I am much bigger than the vehicle on the left!

The Ducato has scrapes down both sides, one worse than the other. The insurance company was happy to cover it but as two seperate incidents with an excess cost of $300.00 each. I can’t argue with that I really don’t know what happened. I thought it may have been entering the motel at Punakaiki. We had followed the sign to the entrance but found it full of huge rocks, HUGE rocks to help combat erosion. We had to use the other entrance which was quite narrow, with huge trees on both sides.


My photo of the sea at Punakaiki. The access to the motel is on the far right, the one with the bush in the middle. The HUGE rocks can’t be seen.

There were several similar situations, very narrow entrances or parking spaces, at other motels we stayed, most motels don’t have camper van patrons.

The driver's side (there are more but they didn't show on the photos).

The driver’s side (there are more but they didn’t show on the photos).

When I went to see the panel beater I asked for a estimate to have the remainder of both sides done, at my own cost, and the small area of rust by the front window also done. Although the Ducato is old, 2002, it’s my baby and I’m proud to own it.

The passenger's side.

The passenger’s side. (from the top to the bottom).

Last Wednesday, 7 September 2016, I dropped it off expecting to have it returned on 23 September.

I had ordered a few little gadgets for the Ducato that have arrived in the post since it has been gone. Buying online has become a (cheap) hobby. This week I have received a gas detector, a spare thermometer to add to the first aid kit, an iPhone armband holder and am waiting for more “stuff”. It’s been fun setting it up, making it ready to leave in at a moments notice.

I miss it! I miss not seeing it, I miss not being able to go away, I miss not being able to go out and ‘borrow’ something tasty from the cupboards. We had a storm and I missed not having the reassurance of knowing it was there if I was flooded or we had a power cut. I missed it when I didn’t have water (including the toilet) yesterday when the plumbers came to repair my leaking waterline.

I miss not being mobile. 😦