View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Friday, June 7, 2019

First paid camping in Australia

And it's not really "camping"... it's just somewhere to park for the night and be able to use some nice hot showers!

Friday morning, we tried to get an earlier start. It was a great spot to overnight in the village of Tantanoola! Still, it was probably 9:30am before we actually got on the road!

And, we didn't have that far to drive...

Scenery along the way.

We had a couple of things to try to accomplish on Friday. We were going into the small city of Mount Gambier (pop 22,000) because the area offers quite a few sight seeing opportunities. But we also needed to get some laundry done and Bundy was due for an oil change and maintenance service.

On the way into the city, we stopped and filled the diesel fuel tank at $1.46 AUD per liter ($1.36 CAD per liter, or $3.86 USD per gallon).

Then, we stopped at the local Ford dealer where I figured that service might be pricey, but I just wanted to get it done. Didn't matter because they were too booked to do it.

Next up, we found a laundromat. One large load, washed and dried including detergent cost $8 AUD ($7.50 CAD, $5.75 USD).

While the laundry was being done, I looked up some nearby auto mechanics. There was a guy across the road, located behind two different auto parts suppliers and I walked over to talk to him. Sure enough, he could book us in at 2:30pm in the afternoon. When talking about the price, he suggested I could probably save some money by buying the oil and filter at the auto parts place and he would just charge the labor. Good enough for me!

So I went to buy the oil and filter, to find out that our 3.0 liter diesel takes 7 liters of oil. And, here in Australia they use mostly synthetic oil, which of course costs more money. The oil alone was $83 AUD ($77.50 CAD, $58 USD) and the filter was $12.75 AUD ($11.90 CAD, $9 USD). Tax included.

Oil changes are not cheap in Australia. I actually had a good idea of the cost ahead of time because I had seen the service invoices from the last two times Bundy had this work done.

We had some time to spare before the appointment, so we headed up to Blue Lake... the beautiful volcanic lake here at Mount Gambier.

A superb fairywren.

This bird just wouldn't sit still! I took about a dozen photos in order to come up with this one!

A red-browed finch.

Blue Lake at Mount Gambier.

Blue Lake was caused by a volcanic eruption about 5,000 years ago. There are a couple of other smaller lakes and sinkholes in the area as well. Blue Lake has a road and walking path around it that is about 5 kms (3 miles). We decided we had enough time after lunch to do that walk.

The other side of the lake is farmland.

And more farmland. 

Sometimes it's tough to remember this is June!

Many of the deciduous trees are changing color. 

We went back into town and dropped Bundy and Joyce at the mechanic. They asked us to return around 3:30 or 4:00pm.

Just down the road, we visited the Cave Garden Sinkhole, located right downtown.

Hmm... where do those stairs go?

Way down there!

But that's as far as you could go. I wish we could have gone exploring down below.

Main Street, Mount Gambier.

The old hotels in these towns are beautiful.

The old railway yards have been transformed into a park.

We stopped and did a little shopping on the way back to the mechanic. Including buying some real Canadian maple syrup!

Nice dark Quebec maple syrup!

It was a little bit expensive, but we love our maple syrup!  It was $6.30 AUD for 250 ml. That's the equivalent of $23.50 CAD per liter... almost twice what we pay in Canada. But hey... you can justify anything you want!

Back at the mechanic shop at 4:00pm, and Bundy was ready to go. They did the oil change, lube job, a complete inspection, and fixed a squeaking noise I had asked them to look at. Something to do with adjusting the clutch bearing. Total labor and tax was $98 AUD ($92 CAD, $69 USD). Not bad, and now it's done. Bundy should not require any more service or maintenance during this trip.

Mount Gambier is a bit of a tourist town and there is no free camping as such in the town area. We probably could have risked an empty parking lot somewhere, but we both were in need of good hot showers and the fairgrounds have unserviced sites available at $15 AUD ($14 CAD, $10.50 USD) per night.

So that's where we went.

And the showers were FANTASTIC. The outside of the bathroom building looked about 50 years old. So we didn't have high expectations. But the inside had been recently renovated and they were super clean! And nice hot water and lots of it, flowing from rain water shower heads. Even Ruth was impressed, and it takes a lot to impress Ruth with clean bathrooms. After all, it should be the norm that bathrooms are clean. Very nice.

And so we are happy here with our first paid overnight spot. Might even have another shower in the morning!

Here's our approximate route so far since we picked up Bundy and Joyce just north of Adelaide...

The odometer says we've done 575 kms (357 miles) so far.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will see some more things here in town. Then, we will make a detour north towards Grampian National Park. Several people have said we will love the hiking there, so we think it will be worth the extra drive. Then, we will come back down to do the Great Ocean Road.

Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set with Silicon Handle Holders. Record low price for all four sizes in one package deal!

And in Canada...


  1. Maple syrup makes me wonder : don't you ever get homesick? Or tired of always being on the road? What do you do then -- to find comfort and chase the blues away? Just wondering ...

    1. Nope. I don't find there is anything in Canada that I can't find somewhere else in the world. Maple syrup is probably the one thing! For the time being, we return to Canada for our children and grandchildren. I don't think we've ever had "the blues" while traveling. If we did, we would make some changes. But I think it's because we vary our traveling style.

  2. Always nice to treat yourselves to some creature comforts.
    DIL's BIL is Australian so we knew the prices were high. Just call it Maintenance.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. The only real extra we had over what we have been having was fact that we got the use of the showers and boy did ever enjoy our showers. :-)

      Not everything in Australia is expensive, in fact we find most of the food to be on par with Canada's pricing providing you shop around.

      Maintenance is a necessary thing and we are fine with that. This is the first time that we have had to do maintenance on a diesel though, and it is quite a bit more than a regular gas vehicle plus that fact that this is something that IS much more expensive than our Canadian prices.

  3. Shame they have stopped you going down into the sink hole. We used to hand feed the possums down there at night. Generally washing machines are very cheap on campsites, better than laundry places. Enjoy The Grampians

    1. This isn't the same sinkhole that you are thinking about, this one is right in the centre of the city, the other one is the Umpherston Sinkhole and we went and saw in the next day and the possums are still there. :-)

      We will keep that in mind about the washing machines being cheaper at the campgrounds and the campground at the showgrounds had a laundry, Kevin just didn't think of it, or didn't realize that it even had one.

  4. love the small towns and open spaces . Safe travels. You would not miss the rain and mosquitos this spring in Canada

    1. We do too! :-)

      We are getting the rain here but thankfully not the mosquitoes. You guys haven't been having the greatest of springs this year.

  5. The maintenance cost is worth the expense will save you issues in the road. enjoy your Maple syrup we get our fill here in Ontario .

    1. Yes, we totally agree with you on maintenance being worth the expense because without the maintenance when there is a problem, guaranteed it is going to cost way more than the preventative maintenance would have.

  6. This is fun following along, what beautiful a wonderful, all the strange birds.... Am a happy camper to visit and see what all and where all you are going!!!

    1. We are so happy that you are enjoying our trip through our pictures and our blog. We are glad that you can feel like you have seen and experienced what we have. :-)

  7. You smell better already, I can't imagine tomorrow! You're being a bit liberal with your wallet.

    1. Thanks Chris, glad you noticed our nice fresh aroma. ;-)

      Yes, our wallet has taken a bit of a beating the past few days and that one night of camping really put us over the limit, lol!

  8. I enjoyed sharing your trip today and love seeing the walks and birds! Enjoy the rain head showers..aww! !

    1. Thank you, we are glad that you enjoyed the post. :-)


There are more comments on our facebook page at

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.