Bill and Glenyce’s Caravan Trip to Cairns, 2016 – and blogs following our lives after that …….

bill&glenyce_w300px_2_cream&blkbdrPLEASE NOTE:  Please check the <—– LH SIDE among the butterflies for further Recent Posts.

Hello and welcome from Bill and Glenyce Leithhead,  from Glen Waverley, SE suburb of cosmopolitan Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria, Australia. This ‘sticky’ Header was used in 2016 as part of a Blog, recording our caravan journey as a round trip from Melbourne to Cairns and back, from July 13th, to between the middle and the end of September. We aimed to escape the cold southern winter into the warmth of the tropical northern Queensland dry season, and to see more of this wonderful country of ours. It was an excellent trip, but too tiring to keep up the Travel Blog, so I ditched it.  But I’ve left this part in.
And so our lives continue on … we both turn 80 in 2018, but try to keep going in the face of arthritis and other challenges to our well-being ….

 Comments are moderated.

Still CPAPPing OK.

I’m persisting with a new CPAP mask I  bought from a hospital after a sleep lab night, where they said I needed 15 cmH2O pressure to control my sleep apnoea. Its a Fisher & Paykel nose and mouth mask, and feels quite different after 13 years of my old nose mask.

I’ve increased the pressure gradually from 9 cmH2O to 10 cmH2O, and it seems quite strong.

But I’m persisting, trying to find how best to seat the mask on my face. AND I’m drugging myself with 2 Temazepam nightly, or one Temazepam plus a Valium (Diazepam) as well.

The sedatives help to keep me asleep until I get used to it.

I cannot see any way that I could use 15 cmH2O pressure. It just blows out of the mask onto my face! Most unsatisfactory state of affairs.

Perhaps the pressure indicator on my old Remstar Plus is not  calibrated correctly. That means I traipse over to Brighton  to have it checked out. Worth while to do before I launch off into Tassie, I guess. I’ll phone them up.

Goodnight, sparse readers, if any at all!

Blogger Bill

Me and a rubber mask.

Last Monday night I did a Sleep Lab. That’s where you sleep overnight in a hospital suite, where you are wired up by dozens of wires  – especially from the skull – for the different patterns of brain waves during sleep- and also over the body, to pick up other muscle movement.  And you get monitored by a nurse in an observation room. They can see you by infrared light camera, plus via all of those wires. They go through the wall to a computer, and you are watched by nurse. They do this to a group of people, each in separate rooms.

That goes on all night. In a later appointment, the sleep specialist discusses the ways you went into various levels (4 levels) of sleep, plus REM sleep. As well, snoring is monitored, and the breathing pattern. They’re looking for the occasions where the soft palate collapses, blocking the airway and causing cessation of breathing – that’s sleep apnoea. As well, they monitor the level of oxygen in the blood.

All of this is in order to check my performance using the CPAP  (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure) device  that I’ve been using most of the time since 2004. Yes – that’s a long time!  I’ve been using a CPAP pump which delivers slightly pressurized air through my nose to my lungs when I sleep. It was set at 9 cmH2O, meaning the pressure of a column of water 9cm high. The current doctor, whom I met when a different illness put me into hospital, picked me up as a “likely customer”  when I was using the CPAP device in hospital. He does sleep labs. I hadn’t been checked for just 13 years!   So I did a sleep lab!

It was OK – I sleep well with my own mask, which covers only my nose, into which the pressurized air is delivered at 9 cmH2O.

BUT … they found that to prevent the collapse of my soft palate, they needed to increase the pressure from 9 cmH2O up to 15 cmH2O.

BUT again … they found that at that pressure, the air escapes from my mouth! That wasn’t happening previously, but is undesirable because it reduces the pressure applied to the soft palate .

HENCE .. they needed to use a different mask which cover my nose AND my mouth. That cost me the tidy sum of $280. The Sleep Lab itself cost me zilch – I suppose because I have a high level of private hospital cover. SO … they gave me a free sleep lab, with free supper and breakfast, and  close attendance of a nurse during the night.

Here’s the problem! They adjusted up the pump pressure of my own pump to 15 cm. —————–

BUT … when I tried on my expensive mask the first night at home, it was hopeless! The pressure was tending to blast it off my face, making farting sounds. I just couldn’t use it!! What to do???

I found that I didn’t have any instructions in my booklets with the REMSTAR Plus pump from 2004 which enabled me to reset the pressure back to 9 cmH2O, so that at least I could operate at a pressure I was used to. There had to be some trick that enabled the nurse to change the pressure of my own pump back and forth.

Google! That’s the trick. I soon found that I could get into the control settings ONLY IF I held the unplugged it, and held down all 3 of the buttons it has, then plugged it in again! BINGO!

So far, I’ve had a night where I’ve set it from 9 cm to 11 cm, but even that modest increase tends to cause my new mask to leak at the edges, with those “farting” noises! I could only sleep if I tied the mask down quite strongly against my face. So that was last night. not a lot of fun. I got to sleep about 1 am, woke up for the toilet at 2:30 am, then woke up again at 5 am, to a freezing house. I toileted again, and gave away the mask and pump for the night.

Not sure what I’ll do tonight. Might fiddle with the adjustments and loosen them up a bit to see if I can work out some position on my face that sits right without pressure escaping with those peculiar noises. You can’t sleep like that, and neither can my wife! These masks are sold all over the world – surely there’s some way of using them properly!

Perhaps I’ll Google onto a user’s group … good idea!

More to come.


Well, that was a bloody useless attempt at a new start, wasn’t it?

Almost 3 weeks have passed since I started a new train of blogs. And now I’ve just run out of energy and ideas. But I’ve been overwhelmed with all sorts of things to do around the house, and am plugging away at HTM/CSS code  towards the display of all sorts of good stuff from our trip from Melbourne to Cairns and back in 10 weeks.

But I’m getting there, and am sure it will be worth it. I’m looking forward to a month’s caravanning in Tasmania starting October 19th. Any tips about what to see? That would be much appreciated.


Making a new start! Late winter, 2017, recovering from a serious illness, I’ve revived this blog, and will attempt to keep up!!

I started this blog late 2015, and planned to keep up a commentary during our derring-do adventure caravanning up and down to Cairns over a 10-week interval from mid–July until the end of  September, 2016. But, as you will see if you glance back, I ran into fatigue barriers I’ve never struck before, and was unable to keep up with my intended pace and standard. I found that a bit shattering, because I tend to set myself too high a standard sometimes.

I tried to write too much, and also try to include too many images. That’s all well and  good, but by the time we settled in each night, either from driving on a leg of the journey, or from doing tourist or sight-seeing activities during the day, I was overwhelmed by sleep, and just not up to the task I has set myself.

So I finally apologized to my probably all too few readers, and said “barley”! Do kids even say that these days, or is it just one more cultural fragment that has been crowded out? In my childhood in the 1940s and 50s, one could call out that word during a chasing or tigging game, to call it off if one had the stitch, and untied shoelace,  or some other legitimate excuse to call off the chase. A quick search showed that it was a word that was common in Australian states, and maybe came from Scotland. Often it became Barley Charlie, and during the 50s there was an early TV show (in B &W) with that name.

Well, here I go again with this missive. I recently suffered a shatteringly serious dose of viral pneumonia which stunned me into delirium for a couple of days in the ICU unit and I shall have to make it known initially through my face book page  (Bill Leithhead), and perhaps if it’s sufficiently interesting, become self-sustaining. Not that I’m that desperate for friends, but it was nice for an earlier version of this blog, from 2005 onwards to be reasonably Googled.

That included a spectacular image of an attack of  ‘hives’  (urticaria), of unknown origin,  which apparently turned out to be one of the best images of that condition on the internet. In fact, I received a request from one nurse educator for permission to use it in a course she was running!

For the sake of history,  I’ve decided to show it here – in a form suitable for the family, of course.

I Give Up – Sorry

Sorry everyone – or more realistically, one or two of you! I had hoped to keep this travel blog going, but there is just not time left after I deal with travel, housekeeping, companionship with Glenyce, FATIGUE, and diary writing, maintenance of cameras and computers, and so on.

Sooooooooo ….. this is the last entry in this travel blog as we travel. We’ve taken almost 7,000 images so far, and there are many excellent stories to make, but I’ll do it myself on my own web site, some time after we get back.

I can’t believe the physical and psychological limits I’ve run into in doing this long trip.

I’m not sure what the future holds as regards caravanning and trips and photography and writing.

Goodbye all for now

Is my face red? Way, way, way behind on my blog!!

Going on 3 weeks since my last blog! Tut tut!! This is not what I bargained on – the sheer fatigue of writing and especially on how long it takes preparing pictures to make it more interesting.

I am afraid that I was quite unprepared for the slowing down of my poor old body. Not so old at 77 – but, nevertheless, damnably slowed down. My fingers go at snail’s pace, even though my mind still feels mercurial – in patches, anyway. I am sometimes full of ideas, but my body lets me down – especially my mal-typing fingers.

Oh, why do I make so many typing errors? I wish I could touch-type. “One day I’ll take the time to learn”, I often tell myself. Anyway – there’s all sorts of reasons why I’m not keeping up with my intentions. Probably my psychiatrist (yes, I do have one) could tell me, but he never would – he never tells me anything but leads me to my own therapeutic pathway – or some such guff But it seems to have worked over the last 15 years.

In truth, we have taken so many terrific photos, and had so many intersting experiences, that I am just bursting out to tell it to the world. But that’s where it slows down and my intentions are more or less stuck in molasses.

I can see that the solution to a lot of my problems is to do a lot of text editing and image preparation off line, and then go on and complete it.

I’ll be back!!

Aspects of Caravan Life on a Long Trip

The caravan is a Viscount Ambassador, bought by my father in about 1967, and now regarded as a vintage caravan, with a club following. Even for just the two of us, it takes a lot of effort to fit our stuff in, and to work around each other in the cramped confines of the floor space. Here are some more or less random shots I’ve taken on our way from Melbourne up to Cairns.

Taken from between our beds, a view of Glenyce cooking in the kitchen, on the gas stove, accessed by sliding across the bench top. This bench top was originally chip-board, but over the years it started to disintegrate, and finally collapsed when we were in Merimbula, NSW. We found that a workshop in nearby Eden was prepared to manufacture a new, better one for us within a day or so. That was lucky, and we are grateful for their kindness.

a_glenyce_cooking_602px_1_IMG_3889General view taken from the kitchen table, viewing the kitchen bench (not extended), with storage for plastic crockery, and cups and mugs and some foodstuffs, and my bed with a light over it (Glenyce seated on it). The bed – not the light.

Inside the refrigerator, which is the original one, from about 1967, and is quite small. To replace it with a modern one would require very extensive remodelling of the interior, which is not justified. We only ever run it on electricity, and just keep it closed on trips in between stops. It can run on gas, but that requires the pilot light to be extinguished when we refuel. In fact, it might even be illegal, or voiding the insurance to travel with it on. I’m not sure. We NEVER use the van without being on power, anyway. That’s for refrigeration, heating or fan, and electric blankets for back pain. And of course, for the laptop and cameras and phone recharging.

This is my drawer with underpants, socks, handkerchiefs, electric razor, a jumper, some medications, etc. For this long trip I packed 8 each of pairs of socks and underpants. And about 12 shirts, and 5-6 pairs of trousers. Things get grubby on the road, and we might not wash clothes all that often. It varies, and we’ve been lucky so far. The facilities in modern caravan parks are pretty good. d_bill's_socks_and_undies_etc_602px1_IMG_3732

The main wardrobe is pretty full because we need clothes to last over a week, in case we can’t get washing done and dried. The above-listed supply of clothing can be seen in the wardrobe. The rod has been stable for many years, and usually holds up. But not this time! When we arrived at Lightning Ridge, the rod had come out of its holders, and all of the clothes collapsed into a heap. But some deft work with a screwdriver and rolling the rod underneath Glenyce’s feet straightened the rod up reasonably well, and we hope it will be OK for years to come! Or maybe I had better get a length of new rod when we get home. Or even in Cairns – it’s a big city!

Here’s Glenyce reorganizing her packing of medications, and socks, etc. We each take a variety lot of prescription medication, and made sure we have a forward supply of enough of everything to last about 8-10 weeks. We’ve seen our GP, who has printed out a list of prescriptions and the disorders for which they are prescribed. This will make it easier for getting new scripts if we run out.

This is my main drawer with many of my prescriptions, plus Beconase, and other over the counter things, plus odds and ends like a selection of pens and pencils, erasers, nail files, scissors, etc.

Here I’ve contrived an arrangement of two power boards which feed the rechargers for 3 different cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, a spare phone battery, the  6″ Tom-Tom navigator, a Comsol 7800 mAh spare power battery, a charger for a pair of Uniden 5W walkie-talkies, etc. Oh – and a powered USB hub  with 7 sockets (4 USB 3.0 and 3 USB 2.0). Sheesh – what a tangle!

A wider shot of the previous junk doing those various tasks which the high-tech idiots like me tend to surround themselves at these times. It includes the laptop, plus one of two 2 terabyte portable hard drives I have which contain most of our life hitherto, in the sense of most files from the desktop back home. I’m also backing up all of the images I’m making on this trip, plus the contents of the supposedly interesting blog in which you are reading these words. The blog and images actually reside in my web site,, which is somewhere in an air-conditioned, backed up, secure data farm (rooms full of disk units) in Sydney, or perhaps Melbourne now, as I (that is, myself as a customer paying to be hosted somewhere) have been bought and sold several times, amongst 4 different firms.


Pictures from Moree Artesian Baths

Back on 19th July we stayed for several nights at Moree, at the Gwydir Carapark, which is a pretty big caravan park with lots of cabins, as well. Very popular with the grey nomads such as ourselves. Some people just come here and stay for weeks!

Well, the first thing that happened was that I was backing in the caravan, aided by Glenyce, when the bloke next door yelled out “Aye!!” or something like that. What had happened was that they had placed the tap for our water supply low down on the ground, so that it’s easy to miss. Which means that it’s easy to hit, because it was only wrapped with a little bit of white plastic bag. In any other caravan park, when they do this, they mount the tap at waist height, usually attached to a stout white post. And even then , I’ve observed another unfortunate caravanner, in Merimbula, years ago,  knock the whole lot over and break off the tap, causing a fountain and water loss for the rest of us, for a while, util they plugged it.

Anyway, I did hit the bloody thing and didn’t hurt my van and slightly bent over the tap, which did work, as you can see, because our white water hose is attached to it in this picture:-

watertap i hit
Low-placed water tap I hit and bent – no damage to me!

We had quite a good time at this caravan park, as you can see in a picture I’ve already placed in a previous post in this blog.

I’ve taken pictures of the various pools at four different temperatures, not including a long, lap pool, which was at a  comfortable 28 ℃. Here is the pool at 34 ℃, as the sign says:-

34 degC pool
34 ℃ Pool

Here’s the one at 35 ℃:

the 35 degC pool
The 35 ℃pool

And here is the slightly more uncomfortable pool at 37 ℃:

37 degC pool
Warming up a little at 37 ℃

And the hotty at 39 ℃. This one has a sign warning you to not use it for very long, especially if you have problems with heart or circulation.

39 degC pool
More challenging pool at uncomfortable 39 ℃

At Lightning Ridge, there is a hot artesian pool open 24 hours a day. We didn’t go there because we were tired from another tour, but they say there are a lot of warning signs, because the water is well over 40 ℃.

All of this region of NSW and Queensland has hot artesian water. In many regions it is full of dissolved salts from the underground regions it has traversed. The water IN the Great Artesian Basin has originated from rainfall on the Great Dividing Ranges, and Wikipedia tells me that much of it has travelled underground for up to 2 million years before emerging from the ground. It travels through water-bearing rock such as sandstones which have  been capped by later laying down of marine sedimentary rocks impervious to water.

I did notice that the artesian water in which we luxuriated has not been chlorinated, so I hope it has been sanitised by some method such as ozonation, etc . Or maybe not!

As a matter of interest, I might add that this particular blog item took over 2 hours to do, including the graphics and such things as looking up how to do the ℃ sign in HTML code, because this laptop keyboard doesn’t have a separate numeric keypad of numerals which I usually use together with the Alt key to get non-standard characters.  It all adds up, and my bum is aching – the chair in this  caravan  is not the most comfortable. Hope you enjoy reading it – I wrote it here in Rockhampton, where we’ve had a 3-night rest. Now we have to decide whether to go up the coast to Cairns, or inland a bit, such as to Emerald, then up to Charters Towers. Oh well – the weary life of the traveller …

In for repairs at Rockhampton for 3 nights

Yah! sheeeez!! Zounds … and such-like appeals to the universe to spare me. Nothing serious has happened, except that my laptop’s hinge has broken  somewhat – actually, a lot – and I’m cautious about the possibility that the screen might fail, which does worry me greatly. That’s because my sodding phone has turned out to be opaque to my logic, and major actions such as banking and emailing haven’t worked there, in my hands, anyway, so the loss of my contacts with the outside world in the manner to which I have become accustomed would be highly regrettable, to say the least!

To catch up: in the last episode I said we were heading for Injune. But we got there at 3 pm,  so we decided to drive a further 174 km to Rolleston, where we arrived to claim almost the last overnight powered spot! The 456 km we drove was quite testing, and I came up OK, except that again I was too sleepy to do anything more than back up photos out of phones and recharge batteries, etc. The previous night was when the laptop hinge failure occurred, and after Glenyce and I inspected it,  we decided that, as we are dependent upon the damned thing, then we need to have one that is not likely to fail. As it is, the data lines could be cut at any moment. Who knows….?

So we need to buy a new laptop, and set up sufficient software to run it in the manner I have become used to. This means bloody Windows 10, and Office 365, etc., etc. Anyway, today, Saturday 23rd, we headed from Rolleston to Rockingham – a fair way –  not measured yet. So we need to shop for a good laptop on a Sunday. That’s because after phoning a lot of caravan parks in Rocky, we finally got on for only 2 nights powered site. Must have power!!

The drive through the Queensland countryside was very interesting, and because I put into my 6″ Tom-Tom navigator the address of the place, it took us there unerringly. The Voice is called Karen (according to the book), and she makes some funny mispronunciations of names. “Leichhardt Highway” came out a real hoot! The system really works quite well, in general.

Anyway, here we are, in Riverside Caravan Park, on the banks of the huge Fitzroy River which runs through Rockingham. It’s beautiful, with the lights of the CBD buildings twinkling across the river, reflected in the water. But although I’ve taken some interesting night shots, I’m just far too tired to resize them, etc. Everything from today is still in two cameras.

It’s nearly 11 pm, and it’s 27 degC in the van with the fan on and the screen door open. Apparently this is unseasonal – a heat wave, someone said. Anyway, I MUST get to bed NOW, because I have to find Officeworks and/or Harvey Norman, and make a purchase of a laptop somewhere over $1200, and then arrange for Office, and so on, as well as get to grips with bloody Win 10. I have no wish to use touch screens, incidentally. Gahhhhh!!

G’night from a healthy but tired Bill and Glenyce Leithhead. We’re OK but a bit frazzled by problems and heat. Have to be in Cairns for booking next Sunday, but know that getting powered sites all the way up will be a real problem. All these grey nomads – like a mob of sheep!!

Brief progress report

I find myself embarrassed by riches, that is, today we’ve taken a lot of good images, just like yesterday, and although they’re in the laptop, I’m /we’re just too fatigued to make the image suitable for use in this blog.

This is contrary to my initial aims, but I have to recognise the inevitable onset of physical and mental barriers contrary to my aims. My apologies, dear reader – or even, for all my hopes, dear readers!

Summary: Today we travelled from Lightning Ridge through Hebel, where we lunched and photographed a quaint 120-yo pub, and café. No, we hadn’t heard of Hebel, either. It’s worth a visit. It also had a children’s play area with astro-turf under the swings. Get this, dear reader: some individual had deposited a classically-coiled turd directly under those swings! I reported it to the shop/café, and she said she’d get the council or someone she knew onto cleaning it up. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get into the head of someone who does that. The shop lady said “You’d be surprised what happens around here – some people have no pride in their community or themselves!”

Anyway, off through Dirribandi (got fuel there), then off to stay overnight in our caravan in St. George, which is distinguished by having the Balonne River, which feeds into the Darling, so who’s waters ultimately empty into the sea in South Australia via the Murray-Darling Basin. St. George is also distinguished by being probably the most regularly flooded town in Australia! In 2012 the town was evacuated for a week.

But they do a lot of fishing here, and have competitions, and catch huge Murray Cod, as well as bloody carp. Tomorrow driving 236 km north through Roma to Injune. No, I hadn’t ever heard of it, either, but it does have a caravan park, and enables us to drive on Saturday through the Carnarvon Gorge area, which is pretty spectacular, and then up towards Emerald, which is a gateway to Rockhampton, on the Tropic of Capricorn, and on the coast of the Great Barrier Reef.

Catch you later!!!