GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #071



There have been a lot of changes in the Graynomad household of late, well not so much "in" the household, but "to" the household, meaning that although we are still technically living on the road in a motorhome in practice we have dropped anchor.

We're still living in the motorhome but getting close to moving out into our new house for all facets of life except sleeping, and in another few weeks — when the bedroom part of the house is done — that as well.

At that point we will move the truck out into the sun and it's primary function will be just as a power supply for the house...with a secondary function being that of guest accommodation should we ever have anyone visit without their own house on wheels.

So, as you can see we are less nomad and more homesteader these days, that's not to say we'll stop traveling, but I'm thinking 3-4 months per year in the Cruiser.

We'll see.


Till next time then, and remember,

Sun 07 Dec 2014

It's raining and I can't do much outside so I elect to sit in a comfy chair and watch the wildlife.

Before long a large male wallaby turns up, I know what wallabies do in the rain so get my camera and wait.

 Shakin' all over.

Tue 10 Feb 2015

More brush cutting today. We had a drought last year and although everything looked brown at least we didn't have to stay on top of the growth in the areas we have cleared.

But for months now it's rained constantly, couple that with me house building and a general unwillingness to get out with the whipper snippers and we have acres of really high weeds.

Actually they are in flower at present and look OK, but they will eventually die off and look like crap, and as it is it's all but impossible to walk around.

So we've been making an effort.

 Looking down the driveway with some clearing done.

One bad thing about the drought was that the trees got stressed and dropped leaves, this meant that we could see our neighbours much clearer than we are used to, and indeed much clearer than we would like.

The nearest one is maybe 500 metres away so it's not like we are living in each other's pockets, but I still prefer not to see them and also not have them see me. In fact driving around the district I could see all sorts of structures and houses I never knew existed.

But now everything is recovering we have all disappeared again.

Wed 11 Feb 2015

We have possums living all over the place these days, sometimes up under the roof of the house, sometimes above the truck's cab, and sometimes in the new kitchen.

It varies from day to day but we have three possums who regularly spend their days up on the shelves of the new kitchen. There is a male, a female and a young one.


 Mum and young'n.

I don't know if they are married or not but there was a big fight the other day, so I'm assuming they are.

We just love the little guys but don't quite know what to do about them when we start using the kitchen ourselves. I don't mind ceding some shelf space and they seem happy to live with us big noisy humans as even while I've been hammering and drilling they haven't been worried. So I guess the arrangement can continue.

Tue 24 Mar 2015

For ages I've had a workshop on the plans for the house, but I'm getting more and more over this building stuff so I started thinking about an easier way to make a workshop.

I know, let's buy another container.

It won't be as large as the workshop I had in mind but really, how much do I need?

So I get in touch with the guys we bought the last two containers from, this one doesn't have to be a "new build", just in reasonable condition will be OK. They have a few so we go to check them out, settling on a blue one.

That was a few days ago, this afternoon I phone to say we'll take it, with the idea that it will be at least a few days until they deliver and I will have time to get some large round logs to help roll it into position.

"We have an empty truck passing your place tomorrow morning, we can deliver it on that if you like"

Yikes, so much for having a few days.

With $100 off for them being able to use the empty run, and more off for cash we finally settle on $3800. But that's cash, how can I get cash by 7:30 tomorrow morning?

One of the good things about dealing with the same people is that some trust builds up, he says we can pay after the delivery and Chris is going into Bundy tomorrow so she can sort that out sometime during the day.

Wed 25 Mar 2015

The new container (to be known as C4 or "the workshop") arrives this morning. They said it would be early so I was up at 5:30, three hours later it arrives but no matter.

Unfortunately the driver cannot drop the container where I would like it, I was remembering the size of the truck they used last time but it seems that they have now got a new, and much larger, truck.

So he does the best he can. I'll have to figure it out for myself.

 Where it was placed.

 Where I need it.

As you can see I have to move the container about six metres and rotate it as well. Time for the trusty Tirfor winch (well my cheaper clone). I will also need my snatch block from the truck as there's not enough room to set up the rig for a straight pull.

 Pulling C4 sideways to align it with C1.

 Close up of the rig.

 Even closer up. That's one big snatch block, weighs about 15kgs.

 The first pull is done.

I get the container roughly aligned with C1 then re-jig the winch to do the main pull, this will also improve the alignment as the container will swing around slightly while being pulled.

Man it's hard going. The lack of any round logs (I do have a couple of small treated pine "logs", but they just get crushed by the weight) means that the container is scraping along the sleepers with varying degrees of success. Some of the sleepers don't allow the container to slip over them at all, preferring to gouge their way through the dirt instead. I find that the winch isn't quite up to the job, or at least the amount of tension on the wire is more than I an comfortable with, so I get into a rhythm of doing 3-4 strokes on the winch to apply as much tension to the wire as I am happy with, then getting a crow bar under the container and prizing it with all my strength.

This normally results in the container moving a few inches, sometimes just one or two.

Repeat 100s of times until done.

 At 3:53PM, about half way there.

As the container starts to cantilever over the drop it really digs into the ground and I have to jack it up and place more sleepers underneath.

At about 5:30PM the container is almost in place, I re-jig the winch again to pull one end sideways a couple of feet. By 6PM we're done, it's not level yet but that can wait, I'm knackered and anyway it's beer o'clock.

Thu 26 Mar 2015

Time to get the new container level. I use my normal "jack and pack" technique, simple enough it just takes time.

 Jack 'n' pack.

At least I landed the container on a few blocks so I don't have to dig a hole for the jack.

I don't have the required concrete blocks yet, so it can sit on some pine off cuts for now.

Mon 30 Mar 2015

As I'm sure you have noticed there hasn't been much activity here of late. Well we all get a little burnt out at times but also I changed computers a couple of months ago and it's taken me ages to get everything running on the new one.

As of today I can do most of the stuff I used to do on the old one. I still can't get PHP running on my WAMP server which means I can't preview my own site locally. If I can't get this fixed I may have to change my modus operandi with regards to how I develop updates and other material for the site.

Truth is I'm backing out of computing stuff, as mentioned before the blacksmithing is one aspect of that, but I've taken up another non-hi-tech hobby of late. More details later.

Tue 31 Mar 2015

I finally finished the kitchen plumbing today. Well when I say "finished" I mean that you can use a tap and that the water goes from either of the sinks through S-traps, and down a 50mm PVC drain pipe...right on to the ground under the container.

So OK it's not quite finished, but if we ignore the growing wet patch under the container the kitchen is finally functional.

Sun 5 Apr 2015

Well I alluded to a new hobby a few days ago, here's where I spent the Easter long weekend.

 The view from my Easter campsite.

That might give you a clue as to the nature of this hobby.

Mon 13 Apr 2015

Finally got a shade sail up to use as a car port. We need something here because the trees drop all sorts of gooey gunge on the vehicles. I don't much care about the Cruiser but Chris is a little precious about the Jimny.

 The new carport.

It still needs stretching a bit and I will have to make a centre support, but that's pretty much it.

Now for my new hobby

 My new hobby.

Does this help?

Sat 18 Apr 2015

Been working on the lounge and kitchen. It's 99% done, a few little jobs to finish but they can wait.

 Lounge room is finished.

Tue 19 May 2015

I need to cut a door in the back of C1 to give us access from the laundry/bathroom to the outside area. But before I can do that I really have to build at least some of the roof so the new door is not open to the weather.

So I build some of the roof framework and add a few sheets of roofing material, just enough to protect the rear wall (and new door) for the time being.

 The back wall of C1 with small roof.

Now that's done I can cut the door. I weld an inner and an outer frame directly onto the wall, then weld three hinges in place, and finally cut the container steel between the two frames.

Et voilà, the inner frame becomes the door, and the outer the door jam.

 Now has a door.

Simples...except that C1 is an old container and it's taken a hammering in it's previous life. That means that there are a lot of stresses in the structure and when I make the final cuts the door "springs" a bit, this causes it to jam on the jam.

Not enough that I can't fix thing with a grinder, but bear this in mind when you cut apertures in a container. With new boxes It's not a problem I think, certainly the last two holes I cut (in C2) did not spring but that was a "new build"  container, meaning that it had only done a single trip before I bought it.

C1 probably did 30 trips and got bashed around in the process.

Thu 21 May 2015

I don't like to remove trees but the two at the end of C4 (the workshop container) are a bit dodgy and also stopping me from building the roof as large as I'd like.

So they have to go.


 Trees gone, to make more space for the workshop.

I leave about 1.5 meters of trunk though, these should make good stands for my two large vices. And thanks to my neighbour Gary for cutting the trees, with my invaluable help of course, I do know how to do it but haven't had much experience and am bit worried that they were so close to the container.

Mon 8 Jun 2015

Now I can finish the roof for my sheltered workshop area. Here we see it almost complete.

 Most of the sheltered area roof is up.

Note the overhanging sheets, I planned to cut them off but on seeing the extra space they provide I've decided to keep them.

You normally build the frame first and then add the sheeting, but now I find I have the sheeting already in place, so how to add some more frame?

I set two short lengths of steel into position.

 A short piece of vertical 3x1 RHS ready for concrete.

Then I build a frame rather like that of a soccer goal post, snig it up under the existing roofing sheets (with the help of Mark who is staying with us for a couple of days) and weld it to the short lengths of steel that are fixed in the ground.

When finished the sheets are supported out to their ends and I have another 1.2 meters or so of sheltered area.

Fri 21 Aug 2015

Been back working inside, specifically on the bedroom and bathroom in C1. All done now, well like the lounge/kitchen there are still a few things, but it's near as dammit.

In fact we have officially moved out of the truck and are now living in the containers full time. The only purpose the truck serves now is providing power from it's solar system.

So, having done all the boring fitout, shower install, bed making etc I can get back onto the interesting bit. Making big stuff.

I've decided to extend the sheltered area a bit to give me somewhere out of the way to put the forge.

 Retaining wall and forge extension

And as you can see the roofing sheets are now supported as mentioned above. I have also started a retaining wall so I can extend the flat floor area under the roof.

Most of the retaining wall is made from two off cuts from C2, the pieces removed when making the window and door through to the kitchen.

These look a bit rough but I think we'll be adding some raised wicking beds in front of this area, so they will cover the steel.

Sat 29 Aug 2015

Bit more work done on the wall, the bottom three planks (and the steel) are the actual "retaining" part that will be built up behind to give me a level floor. The five planks above them take the wall up to bench height and there will probably be a long bench built on the inside.

 Retaining wall is mostly finished.

And just getting back to my new hobby, yes I've taken up target shooting, I use black power muzzle loaders and just about everything else you can think of including modern high-powered rifles, revolvers, pistols and even a cannon (although only the owner fires that).

 The cannon belongs to one of the guys at the range.

Here is my first purchase.

 My new muzzle loader.

It's a Pedersoli Tryon Target in 50 caliber, cap and ball. It's not actually new, I bought it second hand, and it's a replica of a popular 1800s rifle.

I just love it. It will drill a perfect 1/2-inch hole through 2-inch pine at 50 meters, and if I can get the video of me firing it from a friend I'll post that.

Mon 14 Sep 2015

I've built an extension at the rear of C1, this will hold the composting dunny, general storage, and also be an enclosed access into the rear of C4.

Then I needed some steps to allow access from this extension to the workshop area.

 New steps.

Thu 24 Sep 2015

We love living here in the bush with the wildlife...and I do mean WITH. In the last week or so we've had a goanna (see pic below, that's Chris' feet) and several bush turkeys walk into the living room.

We also occasionally get a wallaby stroll in, usually one of the females with a joey poking out of the pouch but the other day "Notch" (a large male) walked right in, hung a left and moseyed on down through the lounge room to inspect the kitchen.

There was a brief kerfuffle when he got his tale caught in some furniture, then he wandered out.

And then there are the gorgeous possums. They come and go but there's almost always one of them living in the kitchen. At present there's a young one living in the slide-out pantry, he rearranged all the spice bottles to make a little home and every time we pull the pantry out he peers at us with big sleepy eyes. To help compensate for the rude awakening I usually give him a piece of apple.

Then at around 6 or 7 he wanders out into the living room while we're watching the news, he briefly inspects our feet, or the fire wood, or something else of interest before squeezing out through a hole under the container to go do his nocturnal possum thing.

Just another day here at Wallaby Ridge

 Say hello to my little friend.

Wed 11 Nov 2015

Time to do some more on the forge area of the workshop.

I built the lower part of the wall the other day and now it's time to backfill that and create some more level floor area.

 Backfilled with rocks.

 Then 'rendered' with dirt.

This is where the blacksmithing gear will live. Man is it over a year and a half since I bought that gear? (Don't bother looking, it is, I checked).

Next thing is to trim the two trees we cut down way back on the 21st of May. I always had in mind that they would be used to mount my two large vices and that is still the plan.

I could just grab the chainsaw and hack away, but really the cuts need to be both level and straight and my eye ain't that good. So I rig up a poor man's version of a chainsaw mill.

Using two of my aluminium trestles and some lengths of wood I bodge up the mill, level it both ways and it's show time.

 Set up ready to go.

Two minutes later, job done.

 All done, nice and square and level.

Tue 24 Nov 2015

For years now I've wanted a nice layout table for my metalwork tinkering. Normally such a table is large and dead flat and made from quite thick steel, 12mm is nice but on my budget and with no forklift to lift it something thinner might have to do.

So today I drive into Bundy and drop into one of the steel scrappies.

All I can find is a long length of 6mm tread plate, but if I cut it in half and weld it back together the other way I can make a table top about 1100x700, not as large as I'd like and probably not as flat as I'd like by the time I do all that. But hey, beggars can't be choosers, not long ago I did find a nice sheet but it was $500 so that put a stop to the idea at the time.

So I ask the guy how much. He in turn asks me what I want it for and I tell him.

"Oooo I'd hate you to have to weld up a layout table top" he says, "let's have a look around".

Before long we find lovely big piece of 8mm plate, it's an off cut and has had many bits cut out of it but after trimming to square I can still get 2300x730. And it's only just over $100.


At 2350 long it will just fit in the trailer, we use the forklift to load it, throw in a few secondhand gal fence posts for legs and I'm off.

Later at home Chris and I manage to manhandle it from the trailer and onto the ground.

 About 150kgs of steel plate.

I'll build the table upside down and we'll figure out how to flip it over when it's finished.

Fri 27 Nov 2015

The table will be a fun project but meanwhile it's back to house building.

For some time now we've figured that the large door on the eastern side of the living room should have some shelter. As it stands you have to close it in the rain and even in the sun during the morning as in both cases the elements comes straight into the room. And around here just because it's raining doesn't mean it's not also hot and you don't need good ventilation.

So as we have a few roofing sheets left over and a large sheet of glass (an unwanted shower screen from a neighbour) we decide to add some more roof. In time we will pave the area and so from this day forth it shall be known as the patio.

 The beginning of the shelter for the patio area.

Sat 28 Nov 2015

The weather is a bit crappy so it's back onto a fun (and indoors) project, a large workbench.

We clear all the junk from next to C4 in preparation for the new bench.

 Area cleared for the new bench.

That's C4 on the right and the dunny extension from C1 at the back, all clad now and it even has a real door.

A few hours later and I have a nice large (3600x900) bench to store junk on.

 The completed bench.

For over a year we've had an outside sink for washing hands etc, it's been mounted onto a temporary frame and moved about ten times but finally it has a permanent home. I've just had to cut a piece out of the bench to allow proper access.

Overall I'm well happy with the result.

The bench is made from a single sheet of Yellow Tongue flooring, as such it's waterproof for several months but I seal the top anyway.

Turns out that is a good idea because tonight we get the mother of all storms and the rain comes horizontally right up to the dunny extension door, about 10 meters from the end of the roof.

I hadn't planned to fully enclose the workshop but it looks like I will have to because as it is I couldn't leave tools or a job out for fear of them getting drenched. On the other hand I want the place to be open, especially in the summer.

So a few shutters will need to be built. Another project for the list.

Fri 4 Dec 2015

Yay, finally I get to make my layout table.

I get some logs under the 8mm plate and roll it under cover.

Then mark it all out, cut more steel for the legs and gussets and start gluing it all together.

I get most of it tacked in place, the main welding can wait until tomorrow.

 Mostly tacked up.

Sat 15 Dec 2015

Show time, let's finish this sucker. I cut a couple more gussets to add strength and weld it all up properly. I also add some feet to the legs, they are cut over size, welded on, and then bashed on the corners with a large hammer to turn them "up".

 welded, cold gal'd, and ready to flip.

Now I have to flip it over. There's no way on earth I can lift the thing so with Chris' help (and a large crow bar) I slowly lever the top up an inch at a time and pack under it with wood. When it gets to about 30 degrees I put on my big boy's panties, I huff and I puff and whammo, it's upright.

A little more coercion and it's in the right place.

I test it with a straight edge, as far as I can tell the surface is dead true, certainly good enough for anything I'll ever make.

Another half hour with a steel wire wheel to remove the surface rust, and a couple of rub downs with diesel and it looks a treat.

 The final product.

As mentioned I was going to trim the top down to 2300x730, but now that I see the finished table I quite like the odd shape, and having an internal corner on a bench can be useful at times, so for now at least I'll leave it as is. I will just trim a few rough and sharp edges.

You may also notice that my two large vices have been mounted to the tree stumps as well.

Mon 7 Dec 2015

Over the last day or so I've been back onto the patio roof and I'm pleased to announce that it's finished.

 The new patio roof.

Note the glass panel and the open door, these create a nice area mostly sheltered from the weather. As mentioned, in time this area will be paved, and I think we'll be adding a Webber-style BBQ/cooker so we can still cook with wood in the summer.

And just for fun here's a new photo showing the overall look of the place as it stands right now.

 The house from the east.

Gee the timber cladding has changed colour, it used to be almost orange but as you can see it's weathering nicely. That was the plan and I like the look.

Note that a few weeks ago we moved the truck from under the trees and back out into the sun. As you would expect this has made a huge difference to the solar energy we get, we still have to run a generator more than I'd like though so some more panels are on the wish list.

Given that when we hit the road we lived just fine on 400W of solar panels, and now we can't make it on 1700W I have to wonder what has changed. I think the main culprits are our computers, 15 years ago I had a small laptop and Chris didn't have a computer at all. Now we both have large desktops and they are on 23 hours a day, well almost. And to make it worse my computer has a huge 4k monitor plus a second monitor, and half the time I have the large laptop running as well.

I dunno what happened to the simple life.


Date  ::   10 Apr 2015
Name  ::   Peter & Ros
Location  ::   MANfred in Cecil Plains
Comment  ::   Looks a bit like Biggenden??
Date  ::   10 Apr 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Yes it does doesn't it, at the end of Range Road as if another clue is required
Date  ::   13 Apr 2015
Name  ::   Peter & Ros
Location  ::   MANfred near Condamine
Comment  ::   Playing Bows & Arrows???????
Date  ::   13 Apr 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Close Peter but no cigar, see today's entry.
Date  ::   18 Apr 2015
Name  ::   Helen
Location  ::   Iluka
Comment  ::   Clay target shooting
Date  ::   18 Apr 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   I'd be pretty lucky to hit a clay target with a 44 revolver, but yes you are half right Helen. Target shooting of all types, including clay "birds".
Date  ::   25 Apr 2015
Name  ::   Anton
Location  ::   Adelaide
Comment  ::   Hi Rob

Is there an email list or something when you post an update? I like following along whether its about your house/truck projects or about travel ...

Date  ::   16 May 2015
Name  ::   Kevin
Location  ::   Canada
Comment  ::   Heh Mate,
You are getting ready for a US trip, I knew you would get over here sooner or later. You will need a bigger gun, and more of them!
Date  ::   30 May 2015
Name  ::   Tony Geci
Location  ::   Liverpool NSW
Comment  ::   Hi Rob,
Has your 'New Hobby' crossed paths with your computer and WAMP server issues yet?
I was web searching 'container home designs' and came across a site where you posted a couple of years back. You mentioned that your homestead design incorporated a vertical container. Are you still considering that? From memory the last siteplan you posted here was single level.
Any chance of you posting your current design concept for the homestead?
Date  ::   31 May 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   No mailing list I'm afraid Anton, I did have one years ago but it never survived me swapping email clients.

Yeah Kevin, I think I would need more and bigger guns to fit in if I come over to the US.

There are times when my new hobby could help a lot with computers Tony, but it's cheaper to go for a walk and cool down

Early plans did have a vertical container, but the logistics make that too hard I think as I'd have to get a crane in plus get engineering advice on wind loading etc. Now things are really just growing organically as I add stuff. But I have to stop before I wind up covering the entire block.

I'll see about posting some plans.
Date  ::   06 Jun 2015
Name  ::   Mads Kroyer
Location  ::   Canmore, Canada
Comment  ::   Hi Rob.
I'm just spending time with Kevin Keldson, who introduced me to your photos.
We share the passion of the Australian outback. My wife and I are going to Alice Sprigs for 5-6 days in November. Is there anywhere you can recommend other than Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Warrtaka and western Mac's for photography, which is one of my passions as well?
Regards Mads
Date  ::   07 Jun 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Mads,

It'll be pretty damn hot in November. Honestly in 5-6 days you already have too much to see with those places, anyway that pretty much covers it for that area. They are all great for different reasons.
Date  ::   30 Aug 2015
Name  ::   Jesper Hansen
Location  ::   Algarve, Portugal
Comment  ::   So, did you finish the containers? They look GREAT so far - it's a really nice and sturdy solution. Did the shade sail ever get it's support? Anxiously waiting here! Take me out of my misery, pleeeease! ;)
Date  ::   31 Aug 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Jesper,

Sorry, I've been pretty slack here eh?

I'm working on some new stuff now.
Date  ::   09 Dec 2015
Name  ::   Ted Wrathmall
Location  ::   Near Gatton
Comment  ::   Great story, Rob, love your steel work table, good job!
Cheers and Merry Christmas!
Date  ::   18 Dec 2015
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Yeah the table is fantastic, been using it for a week or so now and dunno how I got by without one. I think I'll add my 7" Dawn woodworking vice to it as well.
Date  ::   18 Jan 2016
Name  ::   cees beers
Location  ::   dronten netherlands
Comment  ::   Hi Rob, how are you doing and for 2016 all the best wishes and lots of health!
Since we met and i bought a large USA Rv we travelled a lot at least 25000 km a year in europe, and as so much in USA love traveling and see the world
We plan to over again to australie in about 2 years and travel australie for at least 6 month.
He we even try to get a round trip with a camper through China.
Although my wife wish to explore Japan
Any way keep up the good work, and good idea for you to open a youtube channel to share your experiance in the bush

Cees and Ada
Date  ::   19 Jan 2016
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Cees,

Gee you get around eh? I've always wanted to do an overland trip through Mongolia etc but it will never happen now. No matter I like it where I am

Speaking of which when you come back to Oz please drop in, you can camp here with the wallabies.

I should do some videos eh? But then I don't do much these days.

Date  ::   25 Jan 2016
Name  ::   cees beers
Location  ::   dronten netherlands
Comment  ::   Hi Rob
Well we i go there i certainly pay you a visit,
So your setle down now, tired of traveling seen it all?
Or you just tired of it all
Well i think would love to see video of the bush there so a you tube channel woul be a hit of things your seen in your travels,
And guide people to the best places when they visit australie
Date  ::   08 Feb 2016
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Sort of tired of traveling I suppose, for now anyway. Happy living here with the wallabies and possums.

So it's too late to do a video now, should have started 10 years ago.

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