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Blue Snoopy is a 2012 Nova Vita Caravan pulled by a 2012 Nissan Navara ST Dual Cab Ute.

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Jenolan Caves, Bathurst & Narrabeen – 1 Aug 2009

We mentioned in our Aberdeen post that after our return trip we intended to have a front wheel alignment. That has now been done and it feels like we are driving an entirely different vehicle.  There is a message there and that is as soon as you fell anything strange through the front-end, have it checked!

The first weekend in Sydney (NSW) in August is normally a long weekend for “Bankers” (NSW Bank Holiday) and as “He” has an association with the finance industry, the opportunity presented itself for a couple of nights away.

Our original intention was to travel north from Sydney to the Barrington Tops, however we decided to use Monday as an opportunity to have the annual “house” service on “Blue Snoopy” completed by Sydney RV Centre.  With the service booked, we decided that we would return early from our long weekend and stay overnight on Sunday at Narrabeen Lakeside Caravan Park and remove the pressure of a trip across Sydney early on Monday morning in peak hour traffic.

Where would we go for the weekend?  One of our favorite places in Australia is the Blue Mountains located to the west of Sydney.  As this location is only a couple of hours away, we decided to spend Saturday night at Oberon which is a small town located between Bathurst and Jenolan Caves and known to be bleak and cold.

We packed the motor home on Friday night and for once the packing process was completed quickly and efficiently and the signs are now evident that we finally have this aspect of our weekend travel totally under control.  Even our departure on Saturday was uneventful and we were soon heading west down the M4 motorway.  As mentioned earlier, it was now very apparent that we were driving a different vehicle as the changes made to the front alignment had made the vehicle so much easier to handle (well done Pro-Axle at Smithfield – you guys are the best!).

With no real plans in place for what we would do during the trip to Oberon, we decided to approach Oberon from the south and detour via Jenolan Caves.  After what seems ages, the road work over the mountains is nearing completion and we had an uneventful trip on what was simply magnificent morning weather wise.  After refueling at Lawson, we determined that the fuel consumption average after our recent “high speed” trip down the freeway from Newcastle was about 14.5 liters per 100k’s.

After descending Victoria Pass, we turned left on the road to Jenolan Caves.  The final stage of this road (after Hampton) is not suitable for caravans as the road is steep, winding and very narrow.  For some reason we were of the opinion that the road is one-way down in the morning and the reverse in the afternoon.  This proved not to be the case when we met a tourist coach heading in the opposite direction about 2 kilometers before the caves.  At the point we met, the road was only suitable for a single vehicle.  We now had a problem as the road was totally blocked and it was apparent it would be very difficult for either of us to reverse to a location where we could pass.  We don’t know how but the decision was made “that the Winnebago would have to reverse up the hill until the bus could pass”.  A second bus had remained further down the mountain and in a position where you could easily pass it.

Under the guidance of “She” and both of the bus drivers, “He” reversed “Blue Snoopy” a fair distance back up the hill, hugging the left side of the road until arriving at a place where it appeared it would be possible for both vehicles to pass.  A few minutes later and with the side mirror pulled in, the first bus passed “Blue Snoopy” with what must have been a few centimeters to spare.  We then headed down the hill passing the other bus on a wide corner and then allowed all the other vehicles behind us to pass so we could follow them down the final stages of the road to the caves.

We arrived at the Jenolan Caves Grand Arch without further problems and then carefully passed through the Arch into the Jenolan Caves Village.  Going through the arch was more dramatic that the bus incident as you go through a very narrow opening with the majority of the rock above the vehicle and not luminated with the vehicle lights.

As far as the road being one way, the following has been extracted from the Jenolan Caves web site and copied as written. “If you are visiting Jenolan from the direction of Sydney, Katoomba and Lithgow, the last section of the road into the Jenolan Valley is one way from 11.45am to 1.15pm every day. This allows coaches to enter Jenolan safely on the narrow road. Visitors can still leave Jenolan during these times – via the Oberon Road which is now fully sealed.” Based on our experience, we strongly recommend that anyone visiting the caves in a motor home wait until 12.15pm (or thereabouts) to commence the final descent to ensure that there is no traffic coming from the opposite direction.

After arriving at the caves, we headed to the second car park and parked “Blue Snoopy”.  After a quick lunch, we headed off on foot to head back to the village to see if it was possible within our time constraints to see a cave.  Rather than using the road, we took a walking track which took us past Carlotta Arch and then down a well maintained track that finished adjacent to Caves House.  Unfortunately most of the cave tours were sold out so we decided to explore the Blue Lake, then the Devil’s Coach House and finally the start of McKeown’s Valley before climbing back to the track that returned us to the car park.

We departed Jenolan Caves via the Oberon Road.  This road is also unsuitable for caravans and larger vehicles as it involves a steep climb on a narrow road with several “climbing” hair pin turns with little or no visibility as to what is coming towards you.

We stopped in Oberon for some shopping and then decided to travel on the Bathurst for the stopover.

After arriving at Bathurst, we took “Blue Snoopy” on a lap of the Mount Panorama racing circuit and “She” took video of the event and provided suitable commentary.  With plans to attend the 12 hour Production Car Race next February with the Winnebago RV Club, we wanted to see where we would be camped for the three nights we would be in Bathurst.

We spent the night at the Big 4 caravan park and had an early night in bed.  Once again, courtesy of the Webasto heater in the motor home, we had a more than comfortable sleep.  Much to our surprise, we are still using our summer doonah with additional blankets.  Unfortunately we were woken at 4.15am when it sounded as if our smoke alarm made two “beeps”.  Must remember to check the battery when we return home!  (Edit – battery OK in the smoke alarm – determined later that it was the work mobile that was running out of battery)

We had set the alarm for 7.00am but we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed at 8.15am.  We departed for Sydney at 9.45am.  “She” had a drive on the way home and noted with surprise the change in the vehicle as a result of the wheel alignment.

We detoured at Blackheath and stopped at Govetts Leap and then made a final stop near Linden for an early lunch.

After stopping in at home to see the family, we finally arrived at Narrabeen just after 4.00pm.  This is a nice caravan park and will be the venue for a future weekend.  Local fish and chips for tea washed down with a nice white put us in the right frame of mind before watching a bit of television (via the satellite dish).

We were up at 6.30am to prepare for delivery of the motor home to Sydney RV at 8.30am for the service.

After refueling at Lawson, we have averaged 13.31 liters per 100k’s which we consider excellent taking into consideration the roads we have travelled and a trip back up the M4 at 100k’s per hour.  It looks like the fuel consumption is improving however, “He” is now driving the Iveco manually and not using cruise control.

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