to Macquarie Woods in the Vittoria State Forest

Thursday, 18th April. Continuing our trip through this area we travelled in part on roads we had travelled before. We fuelled up in Grenfell not far from the railway station that I mentioned in a previous blog. Very reasonably priced and super friendly service. Enquiring for a good place to have a coffee, the girl at the service station recommended The Loaded Dog Cafe.

This is Lesley’s post on facebook about the origin of the name:

Lesley Nussbaumer And for those who are curious about the cafe name, check here. Author Henry Lawson was born in Grenfell. Henry Lawson – the Loaded Dog. Australia – Down Under. All things Aussie & Doggy, Australian cultu

We spent a bit more time in Grenfell – it is an interesting place. It could also deserve the title ‘The Veranda Town’ as verandas are prominent here as well.

Other old buildings in Grenfell.

Not sure what this little building is? I tried to decipher the writing on the bricks. Can you make it out?

We parked in a side street just behind the Salvation Army building. Parking with a caravan is not always easy – you certainly can’t do the angle parking so often seen in New South Wales towns.

I took all the photos in Grenfell with my Android phone as I had left the camera in the car.

Soon after Grenfell, the scenery changed. We were now heading into the hills – or should I say mountains? The higher we climbed the more we saw beautiful autumn colours on the trees. The town of Orange is in a lovely setting among the hills. We didn’t stop there, another largish town with lots of traffic. Soon after Orange we arrived at Macquarie Woods. This is a lovely park with many campsites and very few campers. We had a bit of difficulties finding a level site and finally settled for this spot overlooking this little lake.

Our caravan in the background (Lesley’s photo)

We walked around the area. At one point you have an excellent view.
(Lesley’s photo)

The recreation area is part of the Vittoria State Forest, which mainly grows pine trees for sustainable wood production.

Poplars in their autumn colors.

We will be staying here a couple of nights, despite the cold which keeps us inside, even at 9:00am despite beautiful sunshine. Finally up to date with the blog.

Lithium (LiFePo4) batteries
Erich Nussbaumer <>
14/04/2013 12:52 PM

As mentioned in previous posts I wanted to set up the caravan and LandCruiser with LiFePo4 batteries. There were different reasons for the LandCruiser and the Caravan.

Springer gave me a quote of nearly $900 to set up an 80AmpHour AGM battery in the engine compartment for the Engel fridge/freezer. I had heard that AGM batteries should not be fitted near the engine due to heat problem. Also I figured for that kind of money I should be able to get a LiFePo4 battery providing considerably more usable storage. I decided on a 100AmpHour LiFePo4 battery and installed it prior to arriving at the Castlemaine gathering.

The 3 x 120 AmpHours AGM batteries are 8 years old and definitely have lost storing capacity. Replacing these batteries with similar AGM batteries would only give me similar capacity. In my opinion the most significant disadvantage of AGM batteries is the fact that after they have been charged to 80%, the charging rate is reduced to almost nothing. Especially when charging with the generator, it takes forever to charge to 100%. In contrast, charging of LiFePo4 batteries can be pushed at full blast until they are completely charged. Of course LiFePo4 batteries can also be discharged a lot deeper than AGM. The cost of LiFePo4 batteries is higher but for me the advantages far outweighed the additional cost.

We didn’t have much experience with the new system before we arrived in Castlemaine. However from this limited experience, I was not happy with the charging rate from the alternator. Terry investigated the problems and after many hours, the battery charger was replaced with a soft start charger: a CTEK charger. This resolved the problem and everything went fine.

One of the main problems of replacing the AGM batteries in the Kedron with LiFePo4 batteries was the removal of the now dysfunctional AGM batteries. These batteries are so heavy that it seemed impossible to just lift them out. There were 4 of us discussing many options – these included star picket fence posts and a lever system to lift them out. At this stage a farmer from up the road stopped and talked to us. We explained what we were working on. He had a look at it and said ‘at this angle it is impossible to remove the batteries’. We removed the hatch cover to give better access to the batteries. Once the access was easier, he grabbed one of the batteries, lifted it up and handed it to one of us. This was more than what the person expected, almost dropping it to the ground. At last the first battery was out. Not much later the second battery was out. The farmer now had a nick-name: The Crane!

Fortunately my setup already included a Plasmatroin PL40 regulator. This regulator is programmable and can be set up for the requirements of LiFePo4 charging. Together with Terry’s black box, the charging can be set up to cut off all charging (solar on roof, foldable solar panel,battery charger and from alternator in car while driving) if the cell voltage gets too high. Once the LiFePo4 batteries were connected, it was relatively simple to set up the system.

We now have two independent systems: The LandCruiser and the caravan have their own batteries and each system can control the charging of the batteries in that system. But if the two systems are connected, they act as one.

All my testing proves to be successful. The two systems work well individually and they also work well when connected together.

– when the car is connected to caravan, the solar charges both systems
– when the car is connected to caravan, the battery charger in the caravan charges both systems
– when the car is connected to caravan and no input from either solar nor battery charger (at night), the two batteries end up with the same overall voltage.
– when caravan is not connected to car, battery charging works well
– when caravan is not connected to car, solar charging works well
– when car is not connected to caravan, alternator charges battery in car
– when car is not connected to caravan, the 100 Amp battery seems to keep Engel running for quite a few days.
– when the car is connected to caravan after either of the systems has been fully charged, the system that has higher voltage charges the system that has lower voltage.
– regardless whether the two systems are connected, I can use a foldable solar panel to boost charging either or both systems.

All in all I am very happy with everything. Many thanks to Terry for all his help.

This entry was posted in 2013 - 7 months zigzagging across Australia and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to to Macquarie Woods in the Vittoria State Forest

  1. Glinda says:

    Hi, Nice blogging you have here! Also your website loads up fast!
    Which helps a lot. Please continue this gratifying work. Thanks.

  2. Hi! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?
    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had
    issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform. It’s much appreciated!

  3. Hello Erich,
    I would like permission to use a few photographs from here for an orienteering website: we are running the Aus Schools Relay Champs in Vittoria Forest in 2017. I am happy to attribute the photos as yours. Our Champs web page looks a bit empty at the moment – none of the organisers live close by – and I would like the schoolies to get some impressions of the terrain over the next 6 months or so. Can you get back to me please?

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