Another no from Nissan

I have just had another call from Nissan in reference to the chassis rails. They have once again denied all liability. Their representative stated that my D22 chassis failure is not linked to the D40 chassis rail failure. They would not put anything in writing, their representative saying that they only answered such queries/complaints by telephone call.

I would have to advise anyone wanting to tow not to use a Nissan, the risk is just too great.

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Snow, hail and rain

On friday we went back to Zeehan to pick up the caravan now that the Navara had been repaired. Mikayla came with us as she was heading home after spending the school holidays in Hobart.

Those who know the West Coast of Tasmania know how changeable the weather can be. Sam and Molly suggested that we shouldn’t sleep in the caravan Friday night as it was forecast to get down to -2. That was enough for us, we slept in their house warmed by a log fire. The storm front came through about 0200 bringing high winds, heavy rain and hail. Weather wasn’t all that bad in the morning, it was cold with showers but we thought the road over Mount Arrowsmith would be okay.

So after Sam fixed a few more things for us we said goodbye to everyone and started off. The west side of Mount Arrowsmith was okay, just wet roads, which isn’t unusual for the West Coast but to the east of Arrowsmith around Derwent Bridge it was snowing with snow piled up on the roadside. Not much on the road though.

It was a long drive from Zeehan to Orford towing the caravan, it took us just over six hours. By the time we had the caravan manoeuvred down the side of our cottage it was 1730.

I wrote to Nissan re the broken chassis rails but they declined to offer any recompense. However they have just recalled all Navara D40’s fitted with a genuine Nissan towbar because of the exact same issue that I have experienced. I have written them another letter in somewhat stronger terms. Don’t expect much of a response but I will wait and see.

Location:West Shelly Road,Glamorgan/Spring Bay,Australia

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We decided to have a week on the west coast of Tasmania with our friends Ros and Ike in our caravans. Had a great camp for our first night at Bradys Lake. No facilities but no charge either. Could have stayed there for several days but owing to only having a week we moved on to Ocean Beach, just out of Strahan. Good campsite. It was then on to Corinna.

The ferry across the Pieman River can take a maximum nine metres front to rear wheels, luckily our car and van just fitted. Next morning we went for a cruise on the Pieman River. Absolutely fantastic four and a half hours. The boat is a piece of history being constructed of huon pine before WW11 and saw service in that war, she is now a very comfortable river cruiser. We then decided to leave Corinna and make camp closer to Arthur River that night. About five kilometres north of Corinna a loud noise came from behind the car. Vicki got to have a look. When she didn’t come back after a couple of minutes I called to her. She came back and said in a strained voice “the back of the car has fallen off”.

I went and had a look and she was right! The main chassis members had fractured and the hitch was on the ground. We were not going anywhere like that.

We disconnected the van and using some ratchet straps Ike had we lifted the towbar clear off the ground so the car was drivable. Ike and Ros took their van back to Corinna with Ike returning in his ute to help. Because we have a Treg hitch on the van it was not simply a matter of hooking up our van to his car. Whilst we were endeavouring to do this some staff from Corinna Lodge came by. They were fantastic, going back to Corinna to get a ute so that my Treg hitch could be fitted to it. They then towed the van back to Corinna. Absolutely brilliant help!

So we had a car that was drivable, but only just and a caravan we couldn’t tow. Once again Corinna staff came to our aid giving me use of their satellite phone, the only means of communications available in the area. My nephew who lives on the west coast turned up the next morning and towed the van back to his place. Vicki, very carefully, also drove our car to his place. At last all was secure. Thank heavens for Sam, and this isn’t the first time he has got us out of trouble.

This is what the left hand chassis member looked like after we had stripped the tow bar and rear bumper. The right chassis member was similar. It was obvious this was not a sudden failure, some of the cracking was rusted and looked years old. We left the caravan in Sam’s yard and brought the car home to be fixed.

Insurance did not cover the damage as the assessor called it a structural failure which is not covered. The chap I took the car to for repair said he had been in the car repair business for 27 years and had never seen anything like it. Anyway he did a great job fixing it and with the reinforcements he has added it is now much stronger than the original.

I have written to Nissan with some photos of the damage but don’t really expect any sort of response from then. Now however I don’t have much faith in Nissan vehicles!

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We spent an enjoyable night with Jeff and George in Melbourne. We had meet Jeff and George previously at Alice Springs and it was great to catch up and talk about our travels. They are leaving soon on a nine months trip. From Jeff and George’s it was an easy 40 kilometre drive to the Spirit of Tasmania.

The security check before embarking seemed stricter than usual. A packet of fire lighters was confiscated as being prohibited onboard and our small camping axe was removed and we had to claim it at Devonport. We had never had these happen before.

The crossing was one of the best we had enjoyed. There was around a two metre swell in the northern part of Bass Straight but as we approached the Tasmanian Coast this dropped away to almost nothing. We spent most of the time on deck ten, the top deck. Not many people on this deck as most people seemed to prefer to stick close to the bars, restaurant and shop on deck seven. We berthed at 6:15 but the quarantine inspection was fairly slow and it wasn’t until 7:00 that we managed to start the drive home.

It was easy to tell we had arrived back in Tassie, hardly any traffic on the road and no shops or service stations open. It was just as well we had filled up fuel in Melbourne! We finally got home 11:00 Sunday night.

We had travelled 24,711 kilometres and used 3,552 litres of fuel.

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The weather hasn’t been kind to us since we got home. 16c and raining. At least we can start planning this year’s trip.

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To Melbourne

Leaving Christoper, Robyn and Edward at Sussex Inlet we moved down the coast to Bergalia to catch up with Mick and Jenny who we had travelled with during our trip to Cape York in 2010.

Genoa Rest Area

Genoa Rest Area

Stayed overnight with them and then headed for Genoa. This is just over the border in Victoria and has a great rest area for overnight camping. A large grassy area with shady trees, toilets and showers and all for the cost of a donation. About ten or so rigs camped here.

From Genoa we headed to Willow Bend Rest Area. This is another great rest area and is just before the town of Rosedale, about 150 kilometres from Melbourne.

Not a great lot of traffic on the Princess Highway however the road is not in good condition and it was a bumpy drive. We avoided Lakes entrance by going inland via Bruthen. This is a much better road with less traffic. Anyway why go anywhere near Lakes Entrance, it has more “no camping” signs per kilometre than any other town in Australia. Certainly not an RV friendly town.

Camped at Willow Bend

Camped at Willow Bend

Willow Bend is a great free camp. There is a one and a quarter kilometre walking track to town, with interpretive signs along the way. The camping area is maintained by the local community as they recognise the economic benefits that result from a free camp area.

Tomorrow we head to the Frankston Peninsula to overnight with friends before getting on the Spirit of Tasmania Sunday morning. By 9:30 Sunday night we should be home after being away for around seven months.

Willow Bend Rest Area – 27 January 2012

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After the Taree showgrounds we found it hard to find camp sites. Camps6 showed two overnight stops, one had “no camping signs” and the other just did not seem to have any camping area at all.

St Ives showground

St Ives showground

We were heading down to Sydney to meet friends Roelof and Amanda whom we had met whilst camping two years ago. They suggested we camp at the St Ives showground which was not shown in the Camps6 book. This turned out to be a great camp. Shady trees, power and hot showers for $20 per night and only ten kilometres from the CBD. From St Ives it was an easy fifteen minute drive to Roelof and Amanda at Narrabeen.

The Narrabeen caravan park wanted from $70 per night and they were fully booked!

We had a swim on Narrabeen Beach where the lagoon empties out to see. Lots of people making use of daylight saving and enjoying an evening swim.

Next morning we headed south to Wollongong. We decided to miss inner Sydney and went via the M2 and M7. Whilst these swing west around Sydney they have the advantage of no traffic lights and an easy drive. Now the western suburbs of Sydney have been in the news lately with all the shootings taking place but we were reassured that we would be safe as the M7 has tall barriers on each side. Supposedly erected to deaden noise to surrounding homes but really erected to keep motorists safe from stray bullets when passing through outlaw country. Well that was our interpretation anyway!

It was an easy drive to Wollongong to meet up with Robyn, Christopher and Edward. We left our caravan in their warehouse and stayed overnight with them.

I have never seen so many multicultural restaurants as Wollongong seems to have. I was introduced to a person who reckoned he was the token Aussie in Wollongong but I think he was exaggerating as I saw at least a dozen more!

It was then down the coast to Sussex Inlet where we will stay with Robyn, Christopher and Edward for a couple of more days before continuing south.

Sussex Inlet – Sunday 22 January 2012

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On the Way South

With the suspension and hubs on the caravan serviced it was now time to head south as we only have a little over two weeks before we are due to catch the Spirit of Tasmania home. It has been great catching up with family and friends on the Gold Coast and Brisbane but all good things must come to an end (apparently) so Saturday morning we hitched up the caravan and left Craig and Pauline’s.

AsĀ  usual the traffic was thick as we headed down to the NSW border. Every year we see huge changes in the roads, more bypasses and divided roads, however the traffic just seems to get worse. No particular destination in mind, just a free camp somewhere down the road. Now the Pacific Highway is not renowned for camping areas and it is a boring drive. Just a method of getting from A to B, everyone in a hurry with lots of fast and aggressive driving.

Eight kilometres south of Grafton we made camp in a grassed paddock alongside a 24 hour Shell roadhouse. Not a bad camp which we shared with five other travellers and numerous kangaroo’s. Some light rain during the night. In the early hours of the morning we had to upack the doona and use it on the bed. A first in six months. Not good, probably a portend of things to come!

Left our camp Sunday morning continuing south. We thought we might overnight on the beach front at Trial Bay Campground in the Arakoon State Recreation Area however a phone call elicited the information that not only was the campground full for the duration of the school holidays but they charged $52 per day per site!

Heavy rain on the Pacific Highway

Heavy rain on the Pacific Highway

We had forgotten that in NSW camping fees for National Parks and State Recreation Areas usually exceeds caravan park fees. So after looking at Camps6 (our free and low cost camps guide) and not finding much we headed, in heavy rain, for the Taree Showgrounds. If it had not been for the very heavy rain we would have camped in the Coopernock Forest Park.

Heavy rain continues as we settle in for the night at the Taree Showgrounds. Only one other traveller here. I suspect this is because, like most towns now, Taree is on a bypass and you have to leave the Pacific Highway to reach it. Will overnight here and then move on. We still have a number of friends and relatives to catch up with before boarding the boat.

Camped at the Taree Showgrounds

Camped at the Taree Showgrounds

Taree Showgrounds – Sunday 15 January 2012

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