The lights are now behaving themselves and the road condition is reasonable. I'm pushing on towards Renmark. It's well after lunch now, so I'll have to find somewhere to eat. As I come to the end of the Goyder highway and turn left onto the Sturt highway, I remember numerous road trips where we would stop on the way back to Adelaide and buy some fresh fruit. This only makes me more hungry…
Finally cruising into Renmark and up on the left in the distance, I see a large familiar red sign. I ease off and work my way down gently through a couple of gears and park in the side street next to KFC. Once inside I wash up and order a twister combo in an attempt to keep it somewhat healthy. I'm paranoid about my belongings in the cab for some reason, so I take my late lunch back to the truck. Much to my disappointment, there's a huge puddle of diesel under the front. I quickly have my feed, restart the truck and check out the leak. It's dripping quite badly now. So I quickly dip the tank and turn the motor off. Google says the nearest hose repair shop is ENZED in Mildura. I won't make it in time today. I ring and the friendly helpful guy listens to my problem and asks if I'm confident that I can make it there for first thing in the morning. I'm sure I can, so I made a booking.
After winding my way gently through Renmark and over the river, I'm surprised at how unfamiliar the area has become to me after numerous car trips between Adelaide and Mildura back in the mid to late ‘80s. The Dunlop bridge comes into view at the border and I smile that here's something I do remember. The roads seem quite good up through here, but I'm in for a rude shock…
The last 30K’s approaching Mildura are an absolute goat track. So much so, I'm forced to slow down to between 70-80K’s to stop being thrown out of the cab. It's infuriatingly bad! It's dark now, so I just keep signalling cars and trucks to overtake. I notice though that even the modern semi's aren't pulling away once they get past. They too must be feeling it.
It's starting to drizzle again, the wipers still don't work but at least I'm now easing into Mildura. Once again a place I knew so well, now feels totally unfamiliar so I pull up in the Main Street. I remember staying at the Chayfee a few times all those years ago. Google shows it to now be 4 star and with very reasonable rates. I ring and make a booking and the friendly young lady tells me what landmarks to look for. I drive slightly past, do a u-turn and park out the front. They have a nice bar and restaurant, so after checking in I went back for a light dinner and a nice cold refreshing beer. A mate of mine down in Benalla rings after dinner and asks me to detour down his way. I have to decline as I'll be delayed here for the repairs and the have plans for Wagga on Thursday morning.
The room is quite large with a really comfortable king sized bed and heating that came on automatically whilst I was out at dinner. A nice long hot shower, cruise Facebook and its lights out, as I need to get up early to be first in at ENZED the next morning.
Darryl at ENZED had given me easy to follow instructions on how to find them. I arrive just as they're opening and once I introduce myself the helpful technician guides me to a parking spot out the back as I'd already made a mess of their driveway. I help him lift the cab with the aid of a forklift, as the torsion bars are out of adjustment. Another item for the to do list.
He explains to me how he used to be a diesel injection mechanic which is really comforting and gives me easy walking directions to a nearby bakery for a much needed large coffee and hot breakfast. As I come back, both the air compressor hose that I had repaired on my first day and the diesel supply lines are off on his bench. Both lines are remade and fitted soon after. He then guides me into the wash bay, soaks the whole truck in truck wash foam and hot washes off all the diesel and road grime. She looks pretty again.
I pay my bill and am soon on my way through town and pull into a service station to refuel and check the tyre pressures. Ok, onwards to Balranald for lunch. The journey is uneventful and I wonder how much better my fuel economy might be with the new hose in place. It's also reassuring to have a new main compressor line made out of the latest stuff, to well and truly stand up to the task at hand.
The roads are generally crap now, so at times I'm travelling much slower than hoped. I pull into Balranald and grab a couple of sandwiches. Back on the road and onto past the Ouyen turn off. I took this picture there years ago on my way back from Adelaide.
In my ute and other cars, I've always found it to be a nice smooth ride. The F Model didn't agree with my memories. Once again at times I had to pull the speed back. I came across a broken down semi heading the other way and stop to see if I can help. The driver is somewhat surprised but thankful that I stopped. He's thrown a belt and doesn't have a replacement, help is on its way and after to checking that he's got some bottled water I head off on my way.
To ease the pain, I've been listening to Jules Vern – From Earth to the Moon. It's a great way to make the hours pass by on long drives.
The ride is becoming better as I drive on into the early evening. I come across Waddi Truck stop that for some reason I've never noticed before. There's some beautiful modern rigs parked there. I park u, fill in my log book and go in and order a huge serve of chips and gravy. The dining room is warm and about half full with friendly staff. The rough ride is taking it toll on me, so I want to get going again and find a place to park up in Wagga to have a decent sleep.
Narrandera is next and Google maps tells me to turn left at the round about. It doesn't feel right, so after a couple k’s I find a place to do a u turn and get back on track. It's an uneventful drive on reasonable roads to Wagga and I get to practice some hills starts and up shifting getting mostly red lights. I'm most of the way through town and find a fuel stop on the left. I drive through, but it doesn't really lend itself to overnight parking, so I elect to continue on in the hopes of finding somewhere more suitable. On the right on the outskirts, I find an old small roadhouse and pull into the very back corner, facing into a dark paddock. I go to the loo and ready the cab for a much needed sleep. There's a couple of stock crates with restless loads out front and as I settle into the bunk I'm hoping they don't stay all night.
Thankfully after 15 or so minutes, they both start up and leave and I'm left to a quiet nights sleep. I awake at 6am as David Willis who is a local old Mack specialist has kindly agreed to meet me for breaky. I want to get showered before he arrives, so go grab a key and make the most of the dodgy old shower block.
David rocks up not long after my shower and he shows me some of the old Mack stuff he had scored at a good price on his trip the day before. I had the original air cleaner intake off my truck onboard for him, as he needed it to finish off one of his trucks. I actually prefer the more modern stack and intake on my truck. We go inside where it's nice an warm, order our coffees and breaky and sit down for an extended chat. One of his mates spots us whilst he's refuelling and comes and joins us. Also a top bloke, he's into older Kenworths and is building up a collection as well. His name escapes me at the time of writing...