Final Collection Total: $107,159.85
- Days on the Road: 566 - Total KM travelled: 67,219 - Number of towns visited: 408 - NSW Total: $42,763.40
- QLD Total: $32,560.70
- NT Total: $1,345.15 - WA Total: $5,479.95
- SA Total: $4,612.80
- VIC Total: $10,283.00
- ACT Total: $10,089.90
Todays fundraising total $13.40
Total raised to date $1258.80
Total km travelled since start in Canberra 763
We woke up early this morning ready to leave but had to wait for Garry to return to the auto electrician to check the lights again, although it appeared to be fixed as soon as the caravan was plugged into the campervan the lights blew again. After some further investigation it was established that the lights in the caravan have to be fixed again but the problem is between the inside and outside panelling under the couch so we will have to pull it all apart to fix it. Luckily we are not travelling at night due to the high risk of hitting a kangaroo with the trike.
It didnt take us very long to reach Kempsey, and on arrival we found a park near the river to leave the girls while we looked for somewhere to stay. We had a brief ride around town looking for a suitable location to place ourselves to fundraise. The town was very quiet and although there was a mall, without assistance from the council we were unable to park there. Kempsey unfortunately didnt respond to any of our emails so we had no information at all. We eventually asked a local for directions to the Tourism information centre, which we had apparently passed on the way in to town so had to travel back over ground we had just covered We have noticed that it is pretty common practice for the Tourist information to be located quite a few kilometres outside the town so if you are also travelling keep that in mind. We enquired about caravan parks in both Kempsey and South West Rocks which is our next stop and also for the location of the Akubra factory as we feel Akubra Hats are a bit of an Aussie icon and were hoping we would be able to visit the factory to include in our video Armed with the address we proceeded to visit the factory and ask for permission to visit and video. We were extremely lucky and privileged to be offered a tour and arrangements were made for us to return at about 1pm. This would give us time to do a quick sweep of a few more streets in town to see if we would have more luck fundraising and to collect the girls for the tour. Off we went again, this time looking for the larger shopping centre but still it had nowhere for us to place ourselves and the bus wouldnt fit into the car park anyway. Not finding anywhere suitable we returned to the girls.
We received quite a reception when we returned to the park with the trike as there were several young families there who were totally overcome by the trike and donated about $13 between them. They had heaps of fun and many of them had seen us on the news, one even wanted an autograph in case we become famous. Not very likely that we will but it was a nice thought anyway.
We directed the girls to the Akubra factory where we were given a most interesting tour. We really had no idea at all how the hats were made so were absolutely amazed at the complex process of firstly turning the rabbit fur into felt and then the arduous process of producing the hat. The most fascinating thing to us was the fact that at no stage is any of the felt cut, it is worked out from the very start of the process what size and style is being made and the moulds do the rest. The felt starts out quite weak and the single piece that eventually becomes a hat starts off really large. As the felt moves through each step of the process it becomes smaller, stronger and stiffer through a variety of all natural additives, predominantly water at specific temperatures and then finally it is moulded into the shape of the hat. The machinery is quite noisy and as there is a lot of water involved it must be quite a warm job in summer, even though they have evaporative systems all through the factory. Some of the ironing equipment is amazing and are exactly the same as old irons that we used to put on the stove to heat up, except they are now powered by electricity. This extremely complex process produces a variety of hats available in over 100 colours and styles. Our tour guide advised us that Akubra produce over 300 dozen hats per week, 95% of them sold to the Australian market. What a fabulous place it was and the staff were all extremely happy and had worked there for many years which is an indication of what a great company Akubra is to work for.
When our tour was over we returned to the vehicles and were surprised to find Chris Lawrence and his wife Cindy waiting for us. We met Chris while in Forster at the barbeque the Forster Ulysses group invited us to attend. Chris has volunteered to join us as our driver for the next 8 weeks to allow Annette to return home and sort out all her stuff to enable her to rejoin us for the rest of the trip. Cindy and Chris have never been apart for more than 2 days at a time over the past 7 years so it is a bit of a shock to them and we really appreciate Cindy allowing Chris to join us for so long. Chris and Cindy said their goodbyes and Chris insisted on jumping in at the deep end and took over the driving of the campervan straight away. We had made the decision to go on to South West Rocks as there was really nowhere for us to set up and fundraise in Kempsey and very few people around. We found a caravan park and with some difficulty set ourselves up. We were given the most awkward position to place the caravan with hardly any room at all to reverse the van into the site but lucky for Chris the fence he almost drove into to park the caravan was already demolished. This was the first time the Campervan and caravan were not located next to each other, they were in fact almost at opposite ends of the caravan park. When the Campervan is finished this wont be a problem but without the gas connected in the Campervan as yet we have not cooking facilities so all the cooking utensils etc are in the caravan so things were a bit awkward. By this time it was late afternoon and as we hadnt eaten since breakfast we decided to go over to the local pub for some food. Unfortunately it was a little early so we had a drink and waited until the bistro opened. Annette and Doreen had a glass of red wine and we think it was due to the fact that we hadnt eaten for hours as they were both a little merry on one glass! Both Annette and Doreen become even more chatty when they are merry which is a bit scary as we cant shut them up when they are sober!! We ordered and ate our meals and felt a little better and then decided that we couldnt go on without raising some money, so while people were preoccupied with thoughts of the upcoming state of origin game we did a run around the pub and raised about $59. We firmly believe that every dollar counts so were quite pleased.
Chris and Annette were both interested in the game so stayed to watch it, although Doreen is not particularly interested in football she stayed on and watched the crowds reaction. Garry and Jade set off to find somewhere to buy milk as we had run out, they were not successful so just returned to the campervan. Eventually, when it became obvious that the game was going to result in a Blues win, and Annette and Chris were satisfied that their team had won they decided to go back to the vans and get some sleep.