One could be excused, having waited so long for our van, for wondering where to start now that the whole country was finally open to us. Funnily enough, there was still lots to do right here in and around Melbourne before we went anywhere else. Darryn ( my nephew) and Rebecca and their kids provided a warm welcome and, as a real bonus, Darryn made himself available to help out with some transitional electrical issues before we set off travelling in a world of 240v when our van was configured for 120v – that and a few other minor electrical odds and ends ! Minor, of course to an experienced electrician ( which he is ) but potentially a challenge to one far less skilled and with a very small set of tools ( me) ! Darryn also took some great drone footage for us ( see below ). Guys, it was wonderful to have such a great place to come for our first few “set up” days – thanks so much for helping us out !

Van now in hand first port of call was to my nephew, Darryn and his family, who live in Melbourne. Oops, I almost forgot, “Pickle” their South American Monk Parrot !

With our rig all unpacked we were able to more accurately assess what had been stolen en route and what had not- hard to recall every item you travel with but I think we got most of it- now to make a claim. With our own wheels available it was time to revisit nearby Mornington where we had some appointments set up for things we needed and then to explore some of the places we’d missed during our first brief foray through the area .

We explored Mornington comprehensively before crossing by ferry to Queenscliff at the end of the week.
We tackled the electrical issue by installing a 240v (input ) charger ( the unit that is ceiling mounted ). Can’t always rely on driving to charge things up, nor the sun, so now we can “plug in” ( in a sense ) to Australian shore power when camping.

Darryn, connecting up our front light bar. Sprinters must have the most inaccessible batteries of any vehicle !

Installing the 240v charger…..
Lois, Rebecca and Eli out for a walk along the Maribyrnong River.
Darryn made a short drone video of our van. Shows some nice footage of us all working together to get the rig ready for some serious travelling in Oz !

It was a huge relief to have all those electrical matters sorted out ( thank you, Darryn ! ) but among the things stolen was the solar controller for our external solar panel, so that had to be replaced. Here the good folks at Retropower ( Victron distributors for Victoria, who’d earlier supplied our 240v charger ) came to the rescue again, replacing the stolen unit with a new Victron one and giving me some sorely needed training in combining these new components with our existing system. The aim was simple – harvest as much energy as we could when driving ( via our DCDC charger ), as much as possible when parked ( via our solar panels – 700 watt rooftop and 300 external ) and when neither of those options was available having a workable mains power solution. I’m confident we now have just that.

Darren, from Retropower took care of our new solar controller and gave me some useful Victron training !
My Victron components lesson 😊

A couple of ladies kept looking at our van while at Retropower, and eventually they came over for a peek. Could not believe it had come all the way from Canada !

While visiting Mornington during our earlier stay in Melbourne we’d seen some great camping spots at the bottom of the Peninsula so vowed to return when we had our own “wheels”. School holidays over, we were delighted to have no issues at all scoring a great site at the Whitecliffs Reserve near Rye. A great spot to rest up, swim, shop and really explore beautiful Mornington over the next week. While there we continued testing and changing a few things with the van to ensure it was configured as optimally as possible for some of the longer, and harder treks that we planned for the months ahead – better to get these kinks out when it was a comfy 25 degrees than when it’s 40 in the desert. Once we were comfortable with it all and had exhausted our interest in Mornington, we crossed the entrance to Port Phillip Bay on the ferry to delightful Queenscliff.

Day 1 camping by a beach in Mornington. It felt very good !
The advantage to a late summer visit – great beaches, water still warm, and almost deserted !
I may travel with Vegemite, but Lois always brings a little bit of Canada with her, too !
We designed the camper so that we could cook “inside/outside”. With the sliding door wide open, cooking inside actually feels like you’re cooking outside ( without having to move all your stuff twice ! ). So far it’s been working as planned !
Beachside spot in Rye. We kept coming back here as it was just a great location from which to explore Mornington. There’s also something very soothing listening to the gentle lapping of waves outside – we slept well.
The classic “General Store” in funky Flinders. Of all the villages we explored around Mornington, Flinders was one of the nicest.
Flinders Pier, with a view across to Phillip Island.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse.
What could be more Australian than a weekend game of cricket ( the batsman was out, caught behind, off that very ball ! ).
Coastal view from Cape Schanck Lighthouse walking trail, Mornington Peninsula.
Relaxing, Rye pier.
Beachside walk, near Rye
Ferry line up, Sorrento. The ferry takes just 45 minutes to cross from the Mornington side to the “Bellarine” side ( the former to the south east of Melbourne, the latter to the south west).
Oddly (😊) it’s mostly the younger crowd that inquire about our van – here on the ferry with some young local guys, curious to look inside. They seemed quite wrapt in the fact it was so big and still a 4×4.
Dolphins entertaining us on the Sorrento-Queenscliff crossing – leaping out of the water, a highlight of our week.
Mornington Peninsula to
….and even doing backflips !
A short video clip….
Classic old buildings, downtown Queenscliff.

Our first night in Oz “boondocking” or “wild camping”. It wasn’t so “wild”, just a nice quiet street near a Queenscliff park where another traveller had already settled in for the night.

Queenscliff ideally positions us next week for our first major Aussie attraction – Victoria’s famous “Great Ocean Road”.

Till next week…….