After leaving Broke I drove through the Hunter Valley, famous for it's vineyards - well, here they call them wineries - I prefer vineyards - and, yes, it's a pretty valley. With rotten, awful, badly repaired roads, even in the central most touristy spot in the whole Hunter valley.

I was about 30 miles past this central spot when I picked up an email from an Australian relation, David Crosby, who told me that he had been general manager for one of the most famous of these central wineries, Hungerford Hill Winery, when it was first developed in the 1970's. I'd driven right past it, noticed it looked interesting, but then called in at the adjacent airport to see if either of the 2 balloon companies that listed it as their base had offices there. They did not, they seemingly had no address, just a toll free number to ring.

I continued on.

Oh I'll tell you now before I forget. As I write - that's now, not then - I chanced to be outside the van, to start and run the engine for a few minutes, to charge the battery, because my inverter, which I use to charge my laptop, was squealing. Which it does when the van battery gets down to too low a voltage to run the inverter properly.

While I was outside I noticed the stop lights were on. Probably why the van battery as getting low. I'm parked, there should be no stop lights on. Luckily I know the stop light on/off switch is normally located on the brake pedal so I looked. Sure enough, there was a small push switch. I tested it, just by pushing. Seems it is set to be normally on but when the pedal is up it is switched off because it presses against a rubber grommet on the pedal.

The rubber grommet had mostly disintegrated. For the time being the stop lights are switched off because I replaced the grommet with a small stone I picked up off the ground. It'll work until the first time I put on the brake so I think a call at a garage to find a new grommet is an early call for tomorrow.

I have no idea how long I have been driving with the brake lights on but probably only today, I think I'd have noticed last night, or the battery would have been flat this morning.

I haven't been working on these notes for a couple of days either because I've been writing an advert for the van. I've said I haven't had any mechanical problems in my blurb. I don't think that a disintegrating grommet counts as a mechanical problem.........

I'll copy the ad to you when I am satisfied with it. It's tricky writing these ads when you are selling a vehicle. You have to make the vehicle sound great, but you can't lie about it. Heaven forbid.

Back to the story. I drove through Dungog, stopping of course at the tourist office, then on to Gloucester to the next tourist office. Nice lady there. We chatted about crowds. She said she didn't like people. Not lots of them when she was on holiday anyway. The museum was shut, so was the alternative. I said I was planning to stop at Barrington but seems that site there has been closed - people were abusing the free site and staying months on end.

But the site she suggested was OK. More than OK. Nice. Next to a river.

I'll leave you there. And tell you about Thunderbolt later.

Best regards

David Barker
Currently in Australia, exploring New South Wales

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