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Day 10



   Saturday 14th April

   This morning I had a reasonably late start being up and around at 7am and the first item on today's list is my laundry. So far, I have had only a few days between stays at places with laundry facilities. Later this will not be the case. I have decided that today I will  wash everything that I have even if it is not in the "dirty clothes" bag. I decided to do this because I often throw any socks and jocks into the shower recess when I have a shower and give them a quick soak, wring and rinse in the shower runoff. This freshens them up a bit but they need to get done "proper" when I next have access to a washing machine.

   Even so, "everything" is not much. A "sports" towel which is very light and only 60cm X 40cm but is worth the weight penalty being much better than a shirt which I had considered. Besides, the towel was given to me by one of my friends at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast as a "going away" present. This towel is also used to wrap up my radio transceiver to provide some protection in my pack.

   I have three "T" shirts printed with the DeafBlind logo on the front and the finger spelling alphabet on the back, one blue and two white. Then there is my "walking" shirt. It is also a going away gift from a (different) friend at Paradise Point. It is khaki and has a multitude of pockets and much loved. And I carry a "town" shirt, which is a light weight, open neck, short sleeved print shirt that I can wear when I am "out and about" town.

   My two pair of light weight shorts allow me to have a change if one gets too grubby and I also carry a pair of bathers so that I can put both pair of shorts into the washing machine at the same time and still retain my modesty.

   With 7 pairs of socks and 7 pairs of jocks that just about completes my washing load. Oh, if I remember, I also throw in my floppy hat as it gets a bit sweaty and I use it as a fly swatter. Although I carry a pair of woolen gloves and a beanie for the expected colder nights, I have not used them so far so they escape this wash load.

   Now, I've stayed in a few caravan parks and the ones at the bottom of the "best ever" list will not be described here as this is a family show. But this park is the best of the best! One example will tell it all.

   Next to each hand basin is a soft soap dispenser sitting on a bloody doily.

   (Encarta ® World English Dictionary. DOILY  A decorative lacy mat that is put on plates under cakes or party food to display the food attractively)

   I had to go outside and check the sign next to the door. Sure enough it said "Mangoes" (the ladies says "No Mangoes") and a pretty good painting of a kookaburra dressed in men's clothing. The whole caravan park was set up and maintained to this standard and in the laundry there was a special, plastic lined rubbish bin for "food scraps" for the chooks. Please no bones. As expected for this 4 1/2 star park, there was a laundry trolley and basket provided to get my washed and spun dry clothes out to the line. And I was not surprised to find a bag hanging on each Hill's Hoist full of pegs.

   John & Corrie Sitters, take a bow.

   Ablutions and laundry completed, I headed into town for some shopping. I had set up my tent right next to the camp kitchen and this was also of a very high standard. There was a stove, two fridges, electric jug and toaster, a microwave oven and a bar-b-que, a cupboard with pots and pans and a couple of drawers with knives, forks and spoons and larger cooking implements. There was a large stainless steel wash up area and two bench tables to seat 16 - 20 people. And there was also a fly-proof room with a further table with 8 chairs and TV. The on-tap water was not suitable for drinking but there was a large tank filled from rain water run-off from the roof of the extensive camp kitchen building. In spite of being in a low rainfall area, John tells me that they have never ran out of drinking water.

   First stop in town was the Post Office and this time I had a win. Without needing to give my name or even ask, I was handed a parcel from Bill. I sat down on the steps outside and felt like a two year old at Christmas, struggling with the tough plastic post-pack satchel. It contained my new glasses and the 240V plug pack. I could see (clearly) again without squinting and the new, light weight frames felt very comfortable. I put the old glasses in the case the new ones came in and I would post them back to Bill as spares. The 240V plug pack would be great "in town" when I could use its multiple outputs to ensure that I left town with all my batteries fully charged.

   From the Post Office I headed for the service station where I had been told that a soldering iron was available to do my repairs. I went through the same sequence of events with the same (non) result. I decided to give up and try John back at the caravan park.

   At the general store I stocked up with meat, onions (what's a BBQ without lots of onions), tomatoes, bread, margarine, BBQ sauce and I saw some packets of Continental soup so I got one of those as well. And for good measure I got an Almond Magnum choc coated ice cream (for the extra calories, of course).

   While I was sitting outside the store devouring the ice cream, a couple of fit looking, well tanned aussie blokes came up and asked "You the feller walking up through the centre? We saw you here yesterday. Was that a solar panel round your neck?" It turned out that these two blokes had been planning a walk over part of the Flinders Ranges for a fair while. One of them was nearly retired and the other just had to find the time for them to "do it". We discussed all my preparations and they asked lots of questions about the solar panel. I told them of the hard time I had crossing the Flinders but they went away well and truly enthused to make sure that they did their walk "real soon now".

   Back at the caravan park I was hailed by a grey nomad bloke who was sitting with his wife under the annex of the biggest motor home I have ever seen. It was huge. And it had a mural filling all of one side. This had to come up in the ensuing conversation as I recognised the scene as Knobby's Head, on the Southern entrance to the Hunter River and the city of Newcastle. Bill lives at Stockton, which is on the Northern side of the entrance of the Hunter River, and Knobby's Head is easily seen with its lighthouse. Sure enough, Stuart and his wife were from Stockton and we settled into an hour or so with biscuits and a nice cuppa. I caught up with them again the next morning as they were preparing to leave and got a "guided tour" of their home and his extensive "workshop" full of "essential" tools. When he even displayed a soldering iron, I had to tell him of my efforts over the last few days trying to get the attention (and assistance) of the local service station for a small soldering job. Quick as a flash, he has some electronic grade solder and an extension lead and  I'm off to my tent to find the solar panel. Within minutes it was done. I think he is just one of those blokes that can't be too far from his "shed". We parted with a hearty "thank you" handshake and a donation of $10 from them for "the cause".

   TECH ALERT Non-technical readers may skip to the bottom of  the page.

   I went into the camp kitchen with the newly acquired 240V plug pack and my 12V NiMH rechargeable pack. I set the output to 15V which was a bit high but the next one down was 12V and that would not charge into a 12V pack. Bill included five 1N4004 diodes which have a voltage drop of .75 volt, so I included two of these diodes in series to give me 13.5 volts which was perfect for the job. So with a couple of clip leads and the diodes ends twisted I had a charger I could use whenever 240V was available. I checked with the multi-meter to make sure that the charge rate was not too high.

   While I am being technical, the next task for the new plug pack was to charge the internal battery pack in my Yeasu 817 amateur transceiver. It is a nominal 9.6 volts, 1700maH NiMH so I set up the plug pack with 12V output with one diode in series and checked that the charge rate was not too high.

  The radio sched this afternoon was a lesson in preparation, or in this case, the lack of it. I set up the radio at the arranged time and frequency and tonight I could hear Roger's call sign coming through reasonably clearly in morse code. Remember that Roger is highly experienced and professional in the workings of amateur radio and I am, well, an amateur. I am writing this as I consult my day-to-day diary and I will try show you what I wrote (scribbled) down during this morse code session. This is not going to be possible in text on a web page so I will generate a jpeg image.

           Some morse "takings"
 
   That is not too satisfactory either as I "manufactured" it with 3 separate programs and it is only 2 of 10 lines. I will photograph the part of the page from my diary so you can see it "warts and all". My writing is basically illegible and add in the pressure of taking down the message, it aint pretty. If I was going to need morse to communicate, I sure left it a bit late to gain sufficient skill to make it useful.

   How I recorded my morse code in my diary     Click on the image to see it larger in a new window.
   
    You can see that I sometimes read the letters ok without writing down the morse. This is the way it should be but if it was coming in faster than I could interpret it, I had to write down the code and go back later and sort it out.

   Very highly unsatisfactory. And when I tried to send I made mistakes. It is very hard to correct a mistake without creating confusion, specially as I would make yet another mistake while trying to explain what I meant in the first place. Yikes. This is much harder than I thought it was going to be.

   It is a good thing that the cell phone is still within range. I called Roger and apologised for my lack of preparation and we discussed whatever was needed and to leave it for another day. Maybe I could get in some practice while I was here in Hawker.

   END TECH ALERT

  I BBQ'd all the sausages and the couple of chops. I put the left overs in the fridge and I'll either warm them up or eat them cold later.

   I was cleaning up when a family joined me in the camp kitchen. I had spread out a bit so I moved my stuff up to one end of the long table and they settled in. It was Don and his wife plus Cathy and her husband, four kids between them and two grandparents. As they prepared their dinner I joined in the conversation telling them about my walk and they showed lots of interest in my 'T' shirt with the finger spelling diagrams on the back. By the time dinner was over, one of the kids, Jessica, had learned to spell her name on her fingers and the other kids were trying.