How to Check for Gas Leaks in Caravan

How many times when travelling have you thought you smelled gas.  If you have a gas leak then you could be in big trouble.  I have personally seen two fires because of a gas leak.

One was in Coral Bay when a brand new van pulled in and the husband was on the roof of his van attaching his annex.  To this day I am not sure what happened exactly whether the wife opened the front window (letting in the leaking gas from bottle outside).  The thing is there was a big bang and the husband was catapulted off the roof. Within minutes the van was completely burned to the ground.  The wife was taken away by the flying doctor.

Another time a Volkswagen’s roof lifted with the force of the explosion in a caravan. Luckily no one was hurt in this one.

Beware when opening front window of caravan if your gas bottles are on the tow hitch. Gas will enter through that open window if you have a leaky gas bottle.

Checking for Gas Leaks

These accidents can be avoided if owners of caravans and RV’s took the time to check for leaks each time they change their gas bottles.

Brush for checking gas leaks

How to  improvise when traveling  if you find you left your brush home.

What you need

  • Liquid soap
  • 1/2 Cup  Water
  • Brush

Mix small amount of liquid soap into cup with water.  Dip brush into this mixture and dab all over the leads and fittings on your gas bottles.  If bubbles appear you know you have found the leak.  Tighten all fittings until no bubbles appear when more liquid applied.

Personal Experience

We were camped at a free camp many years ago when a guy next to us decided to check his new gas extension.  The trouble was he decided to do it with a small bun-son burner. We took off very quickly.  Never ever use a light of any sort to check for gas leaks.


Grey Nomads Stay Safe-Avoid Extra Stress by Staying Home During Major Holidays

Last weekend we celebrated a four day break for Easter and I was thinking about all the traffic on our roads trying to find a way to reduce some of the congestion. Sadly we lost more lives on our busy roads over these holidays.

I thought that if all us grey nomads stayed home during these holidays, it could make a big difference. It would not only keep us safer but it would leave the caravan parks and many other camping spots free for the hard working people that cannot travel any other time to enjoy those precious holidays.

How many times have you heard people moaning because there are no vacancies at the most popular holiday spots? We hear it all the time.

I believe that if we all tried to stay home or with friends it would not only help others to stay safe it would lessen traffic and the load on our busy roads. Let’s face it there are thousands of grey nomads travelling around Australia all year round.

Let me know what all you guys think about that idea. Do you think it would help?

Expect the Unexpected In Northern Australia

If you are thinking of exploring Australia then I hope you have several spare months to enjoy its beautiful landscapes and beaches.  Although it is often the unexpected things that can open your eyes to its many dangers too.

Narrow roads, huge machinery, and road trains is a real experience if you normally live in the big cities.  Expect the unexpected on Roads in the North of Australia

In the Northern part of Australia, you will be amazed at the rugged and often desolate countryside.  On some roads, you could often travel 200 k’s and not see another vehicle. Therefore, you need to be prepared and take plenty of water and extra food and fuel.

Deep Ravines and Gorges

Keep an eye open for our beautiful Wedge-tail Eagles.  These may be hovering close to the road or even feeding of the road-kill on the road.  Although, if you are lucky you may see a group of them high up in the trees.  Make sure you have your camera ready when traveling through this beautiful country.3 wedge tailed eagles

Here is part of another family of big birds. Although they had five chicks they were too quick for me to capture them all with my camera.  These birds can also do a lot of damage to your vehicle, just like our Kangaroos if you hit them on the roads.  So drive with caution at all times and return home safely.

Another family of big emus

Frugal Caravanning – Save Money by Making Your Own RV Stabilizer Pads

How many times have you pulled up in your caravan and found one of the stabilizers pads broken or missing altogether? It is so frustrating. The worst thing is you cannot buy one, you have to buy a complete set of four each time. Why do the manufacturers make things that do not last long and always need replacing?

We have bought and replaced our pads several times. Then, we sell the caravan and buy another one, then find we have to buy new stabilizer pads again.

Sand Blasted Plastic Feet Pads


Caravan Plastic sand Blasted foot

 The above picture shows the front worn away from sand-blasting on road

Why do they make these out of plastic? I know it makes them lighter, and we have to watch the extra weight when packing our caravan.

To prevent this from happening, why not make your own from steel and leave a couple of extra tins of baked beans home.  It will save you money.

How to Make Your Own Stabilizer Pads

Broken cradle on Plastic foot

The above image shows the broken hanger which attaches to the leg

If you have a handy husband like mine, then you too can make your own stronger pads.

Yes, it takes a lot of work and patience doing the welding and grinding. The result is well worth the effort.  Especially if have retired,because you will find yourself with time on your hands. Therefore, this will keep you active, doing something instead of sitting around watching TV, reading books or worrying over things that you can not change. Remember, it is important as a senior to keep yourself active.

How to Make Steel Pads

To be honest, he used an old bit of steel with two sides already turned up at the edge. Then, cut two more pieces to make the other sides and welded them on. He then made the two U-shape pieces to hold the bolts and welded them in place.

First rough build

The above image shows the first rough build before grinding and cleaning.


He wrapped insulation tape around the bolt to prevent it from rattling. There is nothing more irritating than little rattles when traveling in a vehicle. It drives you mad.

He then ground and painted with anti-rust paint.  Once it is dry, spray with the color of your choice, we used silver paint.

Test fitting before finishing off

 Testing to make sure it fits right, before the last finish and paint

Now all you have to do is bolt the foot on to the leg and you will never have to replace that worn stabilizer pad again.  Although, you will still have to make three more the same.

TIP: This may not sound nice, although this is a frugal article right? So if you decide to sell your caravan or RV then take these steel pads off and put the plastic ones back on. Now when you buy your new van or mobile home just fit your steel ones on to it, and save money.

Conclusion: If you cannot weld or make these yourself, why not ask a friend to make them for you. In return make something for them. If this option is not available, try a small welding shop. It will cost you less in the end and save you time and money by not having to keep replacing them.


Free Wi-Fi -Travelling in the Pilbara in Australia

The worst thing about travelling throughout Australia is the lack of network communication in many areas. Telstra says they have 97% coverage- although I believe that refers to metropolitan areas not way out in the bush.  Optus also has a similar coverage.  Even Dodo has a bit of coverage although many places it does not matter who you are with – there is no coverage at all.

The problem is not having a lack of coverage to talk to friends on Facebook or similar, it is because you or a family member may have an emergency.  While away I had this problem, one of my relations needed a critical operation and they could not contact me.

I was so surprised and pleased while travelling through the Pilbara to find free Wi-Fi coverage at a free campsite. That Shire has used there head and initiative setting up coverage at many free camping sites.  If they can do it, why can’t the other networks and Shires do their bit.

This is the area that you have Wi-Fi coverage

The Orange dot on map shows areas for Wi-Fi coverage
Yellow dots show the locality
The Shire has set up shaded picnic tables for the travelers with the Wi-Fi antenna fitted on the roof.  The best part is that you do not have to sit right close to it either.  The worst thing for us was that we did not realize that we had free Wi-Fi until the second last stop on our trip.  Although it still allowed me to update my computer.  So it was great.
Lovely shaded picnic table with Wi-Fi antenna on top
Lovely shaded picnic table with Wi-Fi antenna on top
I understand that many towns supply free Wi-Fi at their libraries or similar places.  My problem is the Australian Outback without network coverage for emergencies.  If you have found similar places that offer free Wi-Fi please let me know in the comments below.
Beautiful Sunset at on way to Port Hedland
This is one of our beautiful sunsets that we saw while on our way up to Port Hedland

Traveling around Australia with Birds

Did you know the rules and regulations for traveling in Australia vary from state to state? I believe that Western Australia is very strict on their regulations, which is what they are there to do, protect our state against unwanted diseases and pests. Before you think of traveling with a bird it is wise to check with the agriculture department on the rules before leaving home.  This will save you time and money traveling to different places, and then find you cannot enter that particular state with your pet bird.

Monk Parrot Photo compliments of Dianne Wilson which is her pet bird
Monk Parrot Photo compliments of Dianne Wilson which is her pet bird

The monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) Also known as Quaker parrot can be a very friendly and entertaining pet bird. Because of their early speaking ability, it is actually overtaking the cockatiel as the favourite bird to teach to talk in Australia. This bird was originally introduced into Australia as a pest from South America. The female is often smaller than the male, sexing is done with a DNA feather test. Colour: upper parts normally bright green. Forehead and breast, pale grey while underneath is light green to yellow, with a long tapering tail. Can often be a noisy and screeching bird.

Our Sulphur crest Cockatoo sitting on our shower
Our Sulphur crest Cockatoo sitting on our shower

Other birds not allowed into WA

Sulphur Crest Cockatoo – Plus Corellas, galahs and other cockatoos become very destructive as they flock together chewing their way through plant roots and trees. ( We do have thousands of Galahs in Western Australia)

Galahs often flock together whether eating or drinking
Galahs often flock together whether eating or drinking

A flock of any of these cockatoos can destroy your front lawn in a matter of hours. I have seen our neighbours lawn destroyed while out watching a football match. At the same time these can be beautiful pets. We had a Sulphur Crest Cockatoo that my daughter brought through the checkout legally many years ago.  His name was tank and he was beautiful. He had never been in a cage, and when he made his home with us he had the run of our home and back yard. That is until a friend, notified calm.  They came out and said he had to go into a cage.  We were devastated, but decided to comply not wanting to break the rules. Within a few weeks, Tank was a completely different bird.  It sent him mad.  He screeched all day long. In the end we sent him to Perth to a large bird sanctuary where he could fly around in a very large cage. I hope this article will give you something to think about before buying your next pet bird if ever you want to travel around Australia with them.

Indian Ringneck parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

I did not know that the beautiful Indian Ringnecks that I bred for years, and hand trained could be a pest in Western Australia.These are not native to Australia, although often kept here like I said as a cage bird.  It is when these birds escape that they become a risk for establishing breeding populations in the wild.  Therefore we need to prevent them from escaping and breeding in the wild as they can be very destructive.

Our breeding pair of Indian Rick-necked Parrots
Our breeding pair of Indian Rick-necked Parrots

Be prepared before  thinking of taking your next Holiday road trip 

Here are some tips you may need to think about before choosing a new cat or dog for a pet

Prepare your House and Garden Before Taking Your Next Trip

If you are thinking of travelling then security of your home while away is an important factor to consider when planning your trip.  It is getting harder than ever to be confident that your home will still be there when you return from a wonderful holiday.  When you see on the news every day how people are being attacked while in their homes, it makes it  even harder still to secure your home if no one is their to protect it.

We have spent many years travelling, and we are still learning new ideas that other travelers have shared.  Therefore I have compiled a few things that you can try to help make your home as safe as possible so you can enjoy your holidays with a little more piece of mind.

Things to do

Garbage: It is best to wait until the garbage man has gone so as not to leave any rubbish laying about. Or you can ask a neighbor to put your rubbish bin out and bring back in for you.

Newspapers: Cancel the delivery of all newspapers.

Mail: Fill in a hold on your mail or have it re-addressed to a reliable person. Place a No Junk mail notice on your letter box. This is a sure sign of no one at home if your letterbox is full of junk mail. Plus talk to the normal deliverer if possible. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your letterbox.

Pay the bills: Pay all your bills before you go and start off with a clean slate.

Garden: Have someone mow the lawns while away and water garden. If going for any length of time place newspapers or cardboard between your plants to prevent the growth of weeds.

Place newspapers and cardboard between plants
Scatter Newspapers and cardboard between plants to prevent weeds from growing
Garden not protected from weeds growing
Garden not protected from weeds growing

Lighting: Set up lighting in your home with timers. A house with no lights showing for a month is a dead give away that no one is home. Set your lights to come on and off in different rooms at different times.  If your home is lit up until midnight every night, then make sure a light is burning in that room until that time.

Blinds: Never close your blinds if you don’t close them when at home.  Instead rig a curtain up so people cannot see inside without making it obvious that no one is home.

Washing: If you have a helpful neighbor ask them to put something on the clothes line from time to time.

House Insurance: Make sure your house and contents are insured.

Notify the Police: It could help if you live in a smaller town to notify the police that you will be away for a while. They could drive past to check.

These things will not prevent or stop the determined burglar, although it may help deter them a bit.

If going away for longer periods of time-

House Sitters

Many people employ a house sitter to stay in their homes these days, while away for lengthy holidays. This can benefit both the house sitter and the home owner.

Benefits the Home owner – This will give the home owner more confidence that there home and pets are being looked after.

Benefits for the House sitter–  Many people enjoy house sitting as it allows them the chance to live rent free – or at least very cheap.  In return they have to keep the house clean and do the odd gardening or mowing the lawns and looking after pets.   This will depend on the individual requirements of the owner.

It also gives the house sitter a chance to see and travel.  Many take this opportunity to travel all over the world living with virtual free rent and accommodation.

Before organizing a house sitter you need to check out their references from other satisfied home owners. Then set out the guidelines so both the home owner and house sitter knows what is required and have it written down and signed on paper.

Hope this helps you to have an enjoyable and happy holiday and keep your home and garden safe.