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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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13 – 21 October 2013 – Australian Caravan Club Muster at Mudgee NSW

Twelve months ago, “He” had just retired and we had embarked on our first trip with the caravan to Canberra where we looked after our grandson whilst his parents attended a wedding. Over the past twelve months we have had several weekends away with a CMCA Chapter and we have taken a fairly long trip where we enjoyed our own company plus a week with special friends who joined us at Uluru.

In April when we attended the “Stone the Crows” festival at Wagga Wagga, we decided that we would join the Australian Caravan Club (ACC). We have full voting rights with the ACC (who also allow motorhomes and other RV’s to be full members as a result of a recent change in their constitution) whereas we are only associate members of the CMCA with no voting rights. We are very lucky that the CMCA Chapter that we are members of welcome caravaners with open arms. The CMCA also restricts caravaners in attending rallies.

After joining the ACC, we also joined the Sydney branch of the ACC known as the “Sydney City Slickers” where we became aware of the annual “Muster” that was to be held in NSW at Mudgee. Having never been to a rally/muster, we decided that we would attend.

So, on a sunny Sunday morning, we departed our home and headed over the Blue Mountains to the site of the muster at Mudgee, some four (4) hours north west from our home. We had some concerns about potential traffic on the road as we were travelling in the direction of Bathurst where the annual V8 Super Car race was taking place. How wrong we were as the traffic was very light and we had an amazing run across the mountains without any traffic problems.

By the time we arrived at Lithgow, the wind had started to rise and soon we were heading into a very strong headwind. The wind coupled with the winding and hilly road made the trip memorable and far from boring. On one occasion we crossed the crest of a hill and started to accelerate down the other side. Immediately we noticed that the wind appeared to have changed direction and it felt through the steering wheel that the caravan had started to sway. What sway there was stopped very quickly and “She” commented that there was no evidence of any movement with the caravan that could be seen in the side mirror. We can only assume that the AL-KO ESC had done its job. We were later told by AL-KO that the activation of the ESC would feel like we were experiencing a slight headwind.

Upon arriving at the muster site at the “Australian Rural Education Centre”, we were welcomed and guided to our camp site. One of the organising staff assisted with the placement of the caravan on our site and it did not take long to setup. We had both power and water available. Due to the wind, the decision was made on to extend our awning and we had also heard that the wind had already caused some awning damage.

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The muster was run by our ACC branch and we had agreed to assist as required during the course of the muster.

The muster was actually very “full-on” with activities planned for all days. Unfortunately the wind hung around for several days but had little impact on the muster. The muster was also attended by several vendors including Dometic, B.E.S.T Water filters, Hose Bag, AL-KO, Ozlinked and Tow-Ed. Fred and John from Caravan & Motorhome on Tour magazine were also there as well as C and M’s recently appointed “Editor at Large”, Marg McAlister with her husband Rob.

“He “attended several information sessions whist “She” was participated in two craft sessions constructing a bag. There was some very useful information gained from the seminars.

We had planned a visit to the local observatory however due to cloud cover on the night of our booking we were unable to attend and we will have to wait to visit the observatory until our next visit to Mudgee which will probably in the latter part of next year (2014).

As part of our “volunteering”, we were involved with supervising several of the sporting events as well as helping with the Alfresco BBQ which prepared about 470 meals.

We stayed on site in Mudgee for eight nights. We also had the opportunity of meeting old friends during our stay and enjoyed a visit to their home for a wonderful lunch on the Sunday before we left for home. We did have some luck during our stay when we had the fortune of discovering the local Jaycar agent. It was there we were able to find 12v spotlights that we had not been able to locate in Sydney and we also found a solution for an additional light we were looking for to install in the caravan bathroom.

We attended the club’s AGM on Saturday where we enjoyed listening to the guest speaker, Ken Sutcliffe. We also had a good deal of luck during the closing ceremony on Sunday when we won one a prize in the major raffle. We had been considering purchasing a Dyson digital vacuum on our return home but good fortune turned in our direction and we won one.

Whilst we were visiting Mudgee we became aware of the fires in the Blue Mountains and a forecast of severe weather conditions in the days around our intended crossing to return to Sydney. Fortunately we had other options to return home, option one was to head east towards Muswellbrook and then home via the Hunter, option two was to head towards Lithgow and if we were unable to cross, we could head to Bathurst and then to Goulburn to return home via the Hume Highway.

On our last evening in Mudgee we prepared for an early departure on the next day (packed all hoses etc) in the hope that we could cross the mountains before the daily temperature rose and the high winds intensified the fires,

We departed Mudgee just after 7.00am on a clear and fine Monday. Any wind that was blowing was behind us and we had a quick trip through to Lithgow. It was not until we were about 20 kilometres from Lithgow that we saw any evidence of the fires. There was a fair amount of smoke visible in the mountains to the north of the Lithgow township. Closer to Lithgow we saw small pockets of smoke but no flame. There was no chatter on the CB regards closure of the Great Western Highway so we decide to continue home via the mountains. We saw a single fire truck whilst climbing Victoria Pass and other than several fires vehicles heading west up the mountains, it was a normal day on the roads.

According to the news reports we had watched, we expected to see evidence of fire destruction near Mt Victoria, there was none. We did encounter severe smoke just before Springwood but we saw no fire. We actually travelled all of the way home in the smoke haze with limited visibility. We are truly sorry for those who lost property and possessions during the fires but we must question the accuracy of the news reports as some of the items reported on we failed to see as they did not exist.

We enjoyed our first muster/rally and will probably attend future musters.

 

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