Thursday, 23 September 2010

Nullabor and Beyond!

The owners of the campsite at Coolgardie appear to be kleptomaniacs!   The wife goes off to the tip to collect whatever she can to decorate their home and the campsite - but it really is amazing what they’ve done with bits of junk!  Anyway, as well as collecting bits and bobs - they also take in orphaned joeys whose mum’s have been killed on the roads.  Truck drivers drop them off at the site and she looks after them - even having them in their bed at night to keep them warm!  I was able to nurse one baby joey - called Elsie - it was fantastic!  They also had about 22 other kangaroos - many of which they had nursed through to adulthood  - one such kangaroo, Biscuit, would come up to the owner and give her a hug every time she went into the field!

One night at Coolgardie and we were off again - this time we travelled 166kms to Norseman for our final fuel and shop before travelling another 50km where we stayed overnight on the Fraser Range working sheep station. 

We now know we have a problem with the car - exhaust blowing and a stiff head wind equals 3kms per litre - ouch!  And petrol was now costing $1.75 per litre as opposed to the $1.09 it was in the larger towns!  We were stopping regularly to fill up - but we had to carry on.  So across the Nullabor we went.  Part of the Nullabor includes the longest stretch of completely straight road in Australia at 146km - we actually got excited when we saw a bend!   Passing through Cocklebiddy and finally making it to Madura Gap where we camped in the woods for the night.

Next day we made it into South Australia where we were warned about the stiff penalties of taking fruit and veg through the border.  Some spectacular views along this road where the highway meets the coast - and we stayed at a little village called Penong - Geoff was shattered after several full days driving and the car playing up.  We drove a short journey to Ceduna the next morning where we had a new exhaust fitted - car (and Geoff) sounded much happier after that!  We’re through the border, driven over the Nullabor - big sigh - a long journey - but really glad we’ve done it! 

Decided that we would travel a little further to a seaside town called Streaky Bay.  A lovely site where we overlooked the sea and had a lazy day - I even managed to persuade Geoff to go for a walk! 


The following day was another long one travelling - from Streaky Bay to Woomera - which is the area used for the Cold War rocket testing  but now RAAF base - rockets everywhere!  (the rockets are dummy ones but the mozzies are real!!)  Weather fantastic - getting warmer.

We now know we can comfortably travel 500kms a day - so today we have travelled up to Coober Pedy - the home of opal mining and underground houses, and also famous for the film set of Mad Max (Mel Gibson) - much of the area looks like you’ve just landed on the moon .  We went to look around one of the homes built in the rock - totally amazing!  Faye, a young lady of just 21, came to Coober Pedy in 1961 when opal mining was just beginning in the area.  She worked in the kitchens at a cafĂ© for a while until a cyclone blew it away!  One of the miners showed Faye how to mine for opals and she was able to buy a small hole in the hillside which had been used as a garage in the 20’s.  She continued to dig out using a small pick to make her home (photos) in her spare time as she was working fulltime mining for opals.


So now you’re up to date with our Ozzy Travels - sorry this has been such a long one but we've not had much internet connection while we've been travelling.
….  To be continued ….

Thursday, 16 September 2010

And We're Off !!!!

Thursday 16 September

……….   “Continue straight for 555 kilometres”  …..
That’s what the sat nav said - so that’s what we did today!  Left Perth this morning following a weekend (‘shakedown’ as it’s called here … apparently!) getting everything finalised.  Completed a few jobs at John and Judy’s at Mandurah and this is where it starts…

We’ve changed our planned route - having taken into account the weather which changes dramatically after Christmas in Cairns - so now we will spend a couple of days here at Coolgardie - go looking for gold tomorrow at the gold mines - then onto Norseman which is the start of the Nullabor Desert track.  At 1200 km it’s the longest track and known as a ‘great drive’ which holds a certain amount of prestige to those who have driven it and of envy to those who would like to …. we’ll let you know when we’ve done it!  On the other hand some people just think you’re totally nuts to even attempt it!

Once over the Nullabor we will head up the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs and Ayeres Rock (Uluru) then to family in Georgetown, far North Queensland, The Atherton Tablelands and Cairns.

Geoff has been a star at driving coz I’m not keen on pulling the caravan - and he’s got an awful lot more to go yet!  The car is drinking petrol like nobodies business at the moment - so praying for a change in wind for our next long haul!

Things we’re missing ……. Family and friends.  Marley.  My huge Bath!

Things we’re not missing …….. Work.  Petrol prices.  Miserable weather.

Things to ask Geoff about ……. What way up does a tow bar go in Oz????

PS - probably no contact for few days from Saturday as we’ll not have phone or internet coverage across the Nullabor.  

Saturday, 11 September 2010

And so the trip begins ....

So ..... the caravan was amazing .... well so was the car.  The guy we bought the caravan from told us about a car auction and contacted his friend who worked there to get us a good deal - told him we were travelling around Oz so we needed a decent car to pull the caravan.  We were a bit apprehensive - thinking of the typical car dealer back in the UK (no offence to any car salesmen!!).  Anyway, the car they'd earmarked for us was a Ford Falcon Wagon 4.2 litre - plenty of 'grunt'!!!  It was up for sale at AUS$8000 and he let us have it for AUS$4,250!  It needed a bit of work doing - a full overhaul etc to make sure it was safe for the thousands of miles it's going to travel - but a friend of Steve's (John's son) did that for us at a fraction of the normal garage cost!

And so - just a week after we arrived in Perth - we were ready to leave - how amazing is that?!!! 

We decided to do a shortish trip to begin with to get us used to towing the van and setting up etc - and to check everything was working ok - so tonight finds us in a little coastal town called Dunsborough on the south west coast of Western Australia.  We're staying on a camp site to help get acclimatised to this camping lark - but so far everything is really good. 

Hoping to download some pics (but same as facebook if you're looking at both!)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Our new home

On Sunday afternoon John and Judy took us out for a drive around the local area.  It was beautiful.   And I dipped my toe in the Indian Ocean - bit cold.

As John took a wrong turn on the way home, Geoff saw a caravan for sale on a driveway.  “Stop! That’s it!” he yelled.  John dutifully brought the car to a halt and we all piled out to look at the caravan.  Just happened to be the one that Geoff had been watching on ‘Gumtree’ for weeks while we were still back in the UK.  We knocked on the door of the house and the guy let us have a look at the caravan.  Seems he’d actually sold it a few days before - but the man hadn’t been able to raise the finance so it was back up for sale again.  Within our price range, immaculate condition, and everything we needed.  So we bought it!  It was just so ‘meant to be’ and we thank God for guiding us to the caravan.  We really thought we’d be a week or so before we found the right one and there we were, falling on it by mistake on our first day!  We picked it up today (Monday) and are now looking for a car to pull it.  Oh … and today when we went to buy fishing rods etc I found a deck chair/lounger for sale - with “Foxy Lady” written on the back - again we just had to have it!  So - we have the caravan, fishing rods and chairs - all we need now is the car and we’ll be off to start our camping adventure around Oz.  

Singapore & Perth

Two nights and one day in Singapore - where it was 32 deg and not even sunny!!! Very humid.  But an amazing city where old and new buildings mingle together.  We just had to sample a Singapore Sling cocktail (or 2) at Raffles … little did we know they cost AUS $ 29 each!!!  (approx £14 each).  Anyway .. they were rather nice!   Raffles is a fantastic building - you could just imagine the wealthy in years gone by in their posh dresses enjoying a Singapore Sling or two and dancing the night away.

We walked to the river and took a boat trip before heading back to our hotel.  The night time market was a great experience - some odd smells, hundreds of people and loads of stalls selling some amazing handbags. J

Saturday morning we flew to Perth where John (my cousin) met us to bring us back to their home in Mandurah. Weather a bit cooler - about 21 deg - just nice. Amazing to see parrots in the back garden coming down for their daily pieces of apple.

Sunday we went to the local church with John and Judy’s daughter, Janine, and her daughter Eleisha - it was Father’s Day - and the service was taken by the youth - it was totally fantastic!  A powerful message about how God can transform sinful, messed up people into beautiful creations as He intended us to be - all illustrated by a guy actually riding his motorbike into the building and down and round the aisles.  A father’s day competition including ironing shirts, flower arranging and chopping vegetables; lively singing; a really friendly welcome and to finish it all off - a ‘sausage sizzle’ sandwich.   What more could we ask for??!!!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

1 September 2010 - ‘T’ Day …. No more sleeps!

Today is Travel Day!  The day we’ve been counting down to for weeks now - from about 21 sleeps.  It’s been a hard slog at times, packing the house up, getting rid of some stuff  (sometimes a bit emotional) and asking people to ‘look after’ furniture etc for 12 months for us!  Sean and Lisa are moving into our house today so it’s exciting for them too - and Marley has a new mam and dad and best friend in Bronson!  Sure he’s gonna be spoiled rotten!  Saying our goodbyes has been hard - especially to family and special friends - gonna miss you all so much!  We’ve eaten so much in the past month or so having farewell meals with people - the diet’s gotta start very soon!!!

We’ve been awake since about 4am, finally packing  - yes we left it ‘til the last minute to pack our bags - but to be honest there wasn’t a lot left in the house to pack!!   Final clear up, putting the last bits and pieces in the attic and leaving the house as empty as possible (except for Marley) for Sean and Lisa.  Helen took us to Newcastle airport (thanks Helen!) and a quick flight through to Heathrow.  The first of several flights in the coming days.  Only one hitch so far when the bag containing all my insulin was pulled to one side for ‘inspection’ … but nothing to do with my insulin … Geoff’s fishing jacket had scissors in it!  So not my fault for once!!!

So … as I write we’re at Heathrow airport - the trauma of finding terminal 3 - but now safely settled in a bar having a pie and pint - we now have about 4 hours to wait before our flight to Singapore.  But - so far so good.  And so our adventure begins …..