Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 25 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Renmark - Mildura
Kilometres          29163 – 29789 km

Christmas time this year has felt a little surreal to us, being on the road away from family and friends and with limited media influencing our lives, the hype of the festive season has been lost in the bigger picture of travelling, so reaching Renmark has meant a lot to us. We’ve decorated the van in lights, put up the Christmas tree and its really starting to feel like Christmas.
Kids in the Water Park - Renmark
We only had a few hours drive on Monday morning after leaving Murray Bridge before reaching the Riverland region of Berri and Renmark. The kids were excited as we crossed the mighty Murray River a number of times on our way to the caravan park. The Riverfront Caravan Park in Renmark was recommended to us as a perfect spot to have Christmas. Its only one of a few times we’ve had to pre-book our accommodation on this trip and it was easy to see why! We hadn’t even stopped the car and the kids were gone.  There were swimming pools, a water park, playgrounds, a jumping pillow, tennis and basketball courts, canoes and so much more to keep them entertained….. Having setup, we picked up some mail from the post office which was filled with presents and cards from loved ones and we soon found ourselves slipping into the festive spirit. By nightfall our van was a sparkling array of colour with Christmas lights and decorations.
Red Cliffs of the Murray River
Tuesday started at a very relaxed pace, that is unless you’re our kids who were quickly out the door and off to the waterpark, where they soon made friends. By lunchtime our cherubs had returned with hungry mouths. After lunch we headed out to do some sightseeing around the area. We stopped off at one of the many locks that manage the Murray River water levels, along with an impressive lookout that highlighted the orange/red cliff walls that descend into the Murray. The region is teeming with fruit plantations and wineries and with this at our forefront our last stop of the day was at the Banrock Station winery. For many years Leonie and I have enjoyed their wines and today was no exception as we left the winery with a few more bottles to add to our collection….. Once again our day wasn’t done when the sun went down, the kids went to the “movie night” giving Leonie and I the perfect opportunity to enjoy our first dinner for 2 in almost 6 months.
Christmas lights on our van
Christmas Eve was the perfect lead up for the BIG day, we spent much of the day lazing around the park, either at the water park, in the pool or relaxing by the river. At one point Dave headed downtown to grab a few last minute groceries and regretted ever leaving the park, the shops were chaotic. The kids weren’t seen (figure of speech), for most the day as they played with their friends which really added to the relaxed atmosphere of the day….. By early evening the excitement on the kids faces really shone as they prepared for the arrival of Santa. As they went to bed food and drink was left out for Santa, then the real work begun!
Christmas lunch
Christmas day started way too early with our kids tapping on our curtain just after 6am, the excitement they shared was priceless and we soon started to open all the presents. Across the park kids could be heard screaming and laughing as they saw what gifts they’d received. We enjoyed a beautiful morning playing with the kids as they pieced together various Lego sets or other games…. By mid-morning and for the next few hours the aroma of peoples lunch cooking could be smelt across the park, for us we had a beautiful roast with all the trimmings (camping style). The traditional afternoon siesta was a must as the kids headed off to play with other kids and by mid-afternoon we were all at the pool enjoying a refreshing swim. As with most Christmas’s there wasn’t much urgency to eat dinner having gorged ourselves at lunch but leftovers provided ample pickings for us, then to complete our day we had drinks with another family in the park..…. Our first Christmas away from family and friends had certainly felt a little strange at times but with so much fun and excitement in the park it was easy to have a nice relaxing day.
Victoria border crossing
If Christmas was a slow relaxing day in the park then Boxing Day was the complete opposite. Over the course of the day there must have been 50-60 new arrivals, vehicular movements, bicycle traffic and pedestrians in the park was incredible and in some respects “not as enjoyable”. We spent much of our day slowly packing things away that seemed to have multiplied over the course of a week. Presents were packed away and throughout the day we frequented the pool numerous times to cool off then it was back into the packing/culling of things. At one point in the afternoon Ethan and I headed down to the local BMX track to do a few laps and jumps….. To finish our lovely stay in the Renmark we had dinner on the banks of the river with the sun setting over our shoulder.
Lock 11 with a houseboat preparing to go up-river
Saturday saw us on the move and heading east. It wasn’t long and we were crossing the border, we stopped for the obligatory photo, passport inspection and money exchange as we entered Mexico (Victoria)…… Jokes aside the SA/Vic border could easily be missed if it wasn’t for the one sign. An hour down the road we were in Mildura, our home for the next few days. After setting up we spent a few hours seeing Mildura, our first stop was Lock 11 on the river which operates daily as paddle steamers and houseboats traverse the river, the kids watched in awe as a houseboat came up the 3.5m lock. We saw a few more attractions around town before heading back to the van to enjoy happy hour in the afternoon sun.
Orange World - Mildura
The last day of the week was a typical Mildura summer’s day – very hot with temp peaking at 35deg. We spent the morning around the van catching up on a few domestic chores. Leonie took the kids to the shops for a bit of retail therapy while I watched a bit of cricket. In the afternoon we went to Orange World for a tour of their plantation. For 90min we learnt about the various fruits grown and processes used on the farm, followed by a delicious sample of their product. We returned to the van where the owners put on a sausage sizzle for all their guests. The night provided a nice opportunity to interact with others doing similar travels.

Next week is a New Year. Have a safe and enjoyable celebration.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 24 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Adelaide – Rapid Bay – Victor Harbor – Murray Bridge
Kilometres          28674 - 29163km

The week started with us having our last full day in Adelaide and after our previous late night we all enjoyed a sleep-in. Most of our day was spent around the van pulling down Xmas lights or packing up extra gear that seems to accumulate after spending so long in the one spot. The siege in Sydney seemed to dominate the chit-chat throughout the park with people unanimous on the fact “it had to happen sooner or later”…. At some point during the day we ducked out to grab a few supplies for the days ahead, but generally it was nice to have a relaxing day.
Camp site - Rapid Bay
It was sad to say goodbye to Adelaide, but under dark cloudy skies we headed south down into the Fleurieu Peninsula. We had a few stops at various coastal villages, but every stop was very short lived as the howling southerly winds had plummeted the temperature and made life outside the car unbearable.  About lunchtime we pulled into the tiny town of Rapid Bay and instantly agreed this is where we’ll stay the night. A small campground right on the water’s edge, a fishing jetty and no more than 10 houses in the town made for an idyllic postcard and a great place to stay. By the time we’d setup the sun was shining and the wind had dropped to a tolerable gale. We spent the remainder of the day exploring this small bay, which once boasted a limestone mine, 400 workers and shipping movements to other parts of Australia.
Old Limestone mine and disused jetty - Rapid Bay
Wednesday dawned with no hint of the previous days wind, with clear skies we decided to stay another night. We headed out mid-morning to see some more of the peninsula. Cape Jervis was only 10km down the road and its from here that the ferry leaves to go across to Kangaroo Island. The island can be easily seen from the mainland and we watched 2 ferries load and unload their cargo of passengers, cars, trucks and motorhomes. Unfortunately at $700 return (2A 2K car/van) we opted to spend our money more wisely and somewhere else….. Continuing our exploration of the peninsula we checked out the Deep Creek NP and the wind farm before returning to the van where we spent the afternoon relaxing. The kids had made some friends and were off playing cricket & footy for most of the afternoon.
Kangaroo Island ferry
With only a short distance around to Victor Harbor there was no great urgency to our Thursday morning. We’d packed up and travelled to Victor Harbor before lunch, unfortunately the wind had returned along with the rain so we headed to the nearest shopping plaza to kill a few hours so we didn’t have to setup in the rain…. After a few hours of retail therapy for the girls, the rain had blown away allowing us the setup in dry conditions. We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing by the van or down on the beach.
Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in the background
There was no wind or rain on Friday so under beautiful sunny skies we headed out to the nearby Granite Island which joins the mainland by a 600m long jetty. A horse drawn tram takes passengers out to the island as a tourist attraction, like many others we chose to walk out and ride the tram back which the kids loved. While on the island we visited the fairy penguin colony which houses sick or frail penguins. These cute little guys drew plenty of ooh’s and aah’s from the crowd of onlookers….. Returning to the van the weather was warm enough for the kids to have a swim while Leonie and I managed to get a few last minute Christmas presents wrapped and posted.
Fairy Penguins - Granite Island
On Saturday Dave woke to one of those “lightbulb moments” when you realise you’ve missed an important date or you haven’t paid a bill. For us it was both, the lack of a rego sticker and with no regular mail we’d forgotten to pay the car rego. Luckily after a few phone calls our mini crisis was everted. Phew! Nothing like a stress free morning to start your day..... About lunchtime we headed out to do a bit more sightseeing of the area. To the NW “The Bluff lookout” provided fantastic views of Victor Harbor and the coastline right around to Kingston S.E.  From there we headed around to the coastal towns of Port Elliott and Goolwa. The area seemingly a buzz with holiday makers setting up for their Christmas camping trip….. Back in Victor Harbor we had another walk out to Granite Island simply to bask in the afternoon sun, oh and to find a few more caches. By late afternoon we’d retired to van for a relaxing happy hour…..
Horse drawn tram - Granite Island
Our 3 nights in Victor Harbor had gone way too fast but it was time to head north towards our Christmas destination. We left the caravan park timing it perfectly to watch the Cockle Steam Train arrive in Victor Harbor for its Sunday excursions between VH and Goolwa….. Pushing north we quickly felt the effects of moving away from the coast, the temperature soared to 37deg but we were glad for the warmth after the blustery coastal conditions. It didn’t take too long to reach Murray Bridge where we opted for a 1-night stopover. After setting up, the kids were soon cooling off in the pool while Lee and I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and the end to another great week.
Victor Harbor and jetty
By the time we write again Christmas will be over for another year. To all our Family and Friends, have a wonderful and Merry Christmas with those close to you. Stay safe over the festive period and hopefully Santa brings you something special.

Merry Christmas from the Bere’s

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 23 Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Kilometres          28025 - 28674km

The start of our full week in Adelaide couldn’t have been more relaxing. Well at least it was for the kids and I, Leonie on the other hand had decided it was time to get most of our Christmas shopping done, so just after 9am she headed off to the biggest shopping complex in Adelaide to get her shopaholic fix for the month…. For most of the day the kids and I did it pretty tough, the kids either rode the pedal carts around the park, swam in the pool, played pinball, ate ice-cream, went for a ride on the cycleway, had a picnic lunch and we did a few domestic chores…. Meanwhile the barrage of text messages from Leonie meant she wasn’t having the best of days. How could a shopaholic not have a good day doing something she loves? Apparently she couldn’t put her hand on the right gift and she kept getting lost in the huge shopping complex. At least by days end most of our Christmas shopping was complete.
Adelaide skyline
Tuesday was one of those days I’ll remember for a long time to come. Our holiday schedule coincided with the cricket test match in Adelaide and the unfortunate death of Phil Hughes placed great sentimental significance on this match and I wanted to be a part of the day 1 action. My first time inside the Adelaide Oval was amazing. There were 23000 people on hand to witness the tribute to P.H and throughout the day the emotional tributes continued. The weather was perfect, the Aussies piled on the runs and I had a great day. Late in the day I caught up with another old school mate who was in town on business, we made a quick dash to a pub where we downed a few bourbons…. Meanwhile Leonie and the kids had a relaxing day getting a few more presents, the kids had Santa photos and generally had an enjoyable day.
1st ball Adelaide Test match
On Wednesday the weather was more conducive to staying indoors, constant light rain swept across the Adelaide region. We chose to head to Glenelg where we jumped on a tram and headed into the city. The kids had a ball traveling on this form of transport for the first time. Once in the city we meandered up and down the Rundle Mall, while the rain may have dulled the brightness it didn’t dull our enthusiasm with the sights n sounds of Christmas providing a most enjoyable buzz. We had lunch as we watched the buskers entertaining the crowd…. Returning to Glenelg we had a brief look around the surrounding mariner and jetty before heading back along the coast to the van.
Rundle Mall - Adelaide
Thursday saw us up early and heading north to the Barossa Valley. We opted to only go for a day-trip as our previous visits to wine regions have proved very costly, so to reduce the temptation we thought it safer to only stay for the day. Heading north we drove past the Holden manufacturing plant where we stopped to take a historical photo. Our first stop in the Barossa was the “Wolf Blass” winery where nothing is done by halves. The kids were well looked after ensuring the parents could dedicate their time to tasting and spending money. We spent most of the day zigzagging through the valley, stopping at various wineries and shops such as Penfolds, Peter Lehmanns, Jacobs Creek and the Maggie Beer farm shop just to name a few, with each of them offering their own speciality….. With the kids nagging us to see some Christmas lights we made a full day of it by spending a few hours of our return journey driving around the suburbs checking-out Christmas lights.
Penfolds winery - Barossa Valley
With us having such a big day on Thursday there was no urgency to get out of bed on Friday morning, but by late morning we were heading across town to catch up with some of our traveling friends who live in Adelaide. Meeting at a park the kids were quickly enthralled with the skate bowl and playground equipment leaving the parents’ time to relax and chat. Before we knew it a few hours had lapsed and it was time to head for home. We had a few shopping stop-offs on the way before spending the remainder of the afternoon relaxing by the van.
Henley Beach sunset - Adelaide
Saturday was predicted to be a scorcher, the temperature peaked at 35deg. As we didn’t have anything planned for the day we spent much of our time lazing by the pool or at beach, even the shade offered minimal relief as a hot breeze blew across the area. Late in the day with the temperature dropping we headed out for a leisurely drive into the city where we checked out the V8 supercar track, china town, some of the parks that surround the CBD and a few of the picturesque church’s that are dotted across the city. We ended our day by having dinner at the beach with a fantastic sunset backdrop.
BIG Rocking Horse
On Sunday we had another busy day planned. We drove across town and up into the Adelaide Hills where we spent a few hours visiting the small villages of Lobethal, Gumeracha and Woodside. We stopped at the BIG Rocking Horse and the Melba’s chocolate factory, the latter being very dangerous with so much yummy chocolate on offer….. By mid-afternoon we were heading back to the city as the kids had a birthday party to attend, once again the good friendships made traveling were evident. While the kids played at Jakobs party Leonie and I took the opportunity to do a bit of retail therapy….. To wrap up our beautiful day and great week in Adelaide we had dinner with friends and then both families went to “Carols and fireworks” in Modbury.
Fireworks at Christmas Carols
Another great week on the road!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 22 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Point Turton – Clare – Adelaide
Kilometres          27187 – 28025 km

It was another lazy start to our week as we attuned ourselves to the lifestyle of the Yorke Peninsula. The kids had a small amount of school work to do on Monday before we headed out for another sightseeing drive. We headed south through the golden fields of wheat. Many of the farmers in this area are working from dawn to dusk 7 days a week in an attempt to harvest their crops before any heavy rains make their paddocks unusable. On numerous occasions we stopped by the road to watch the big combine harvesters slash the wheat or tractors and semi-trailers cart the wheat off to the bulk storage facilities. We bounced along the coast from one fishing town to the next. Many of the towns looked like ghost towns with the majority of them being holiday havens….. At one point we stopped at a massive wind farm where 50+ wind turbines generate electricity for much of the peninsula. At another point on the peninsula we stumbled upon the grain terminal of Port Giles, here the semi-trailers queued 10 long waiting to unload the wheat while ships were loaded for overseas export.
Golden fields
On Tuesday it was sadly time to leave the Yorke Peninsula, we’d fallen in love with this area, its relaxed lifestyle and beautiful vista were hard to leave. We headed north towards the wine region of Clare Valley. Along the way we detoured into the small town of “Snowtown” which is synonymous for the 1990’s “bodies in the barrel murders”. Having read the book we soon spotted and stopped outside the bank in question for the typical touristy gawky photo of this morbid crime. Pressing on we were soon arriving in the picturesque town of Clare, this part of SA is the home of Riesling wines and our base for the next few days. We grabbed some info on the region and a few supplies before checking into the nearby van park where we once again caught up with some of our traveling companions who’d come from the Flinders Ranges. We spent the rest of the night swapping tales of our recent travels.
Wheat harvesting
As we’d planned a day of wine tasting on Wednesday there was no urgency to our morning. I don’t know about anyone else but drinking wine before lunch has all the wrong conjugations so we waited till just before lunch to head out. Our first stop was one of the yummy bakeries in town. From there we visited a one or two lookouts and a few wineries. The heat of the day meant we spent more time trying to find relief in the shade than tasting so by mid-afternoon we were back at the vanpark using their pool. A few hours by the pool proved much more relaxing and a nice way to finish our day.
Wind Farm - Wattle Point
On Thursday our friends Karen and Stuart and their boys moved on leaving our kids fumbling for play mates. The weather was a lot cooler so we headed out to sample a few more wineries and on a number of occasions we walked away with a bottle of their finest red or white. Throughout the day we visited some of the other delights the Clare Valley has to offer, all the time being surprised by how localised this wine region is, a kilometre either side of the valley meant we were back out in the wheat country.
Welcome to Bodies in the Barrels
All too soon it was moving day (Friday) again, but this time there was an “air of excitement”. This was our 3rd capital city of the trip and we were all looking forward to spending an extended time in the one place. We’d scored a last minute deal with our booking and were happy to be situated on the coast in suburban Adelaide. Just after lunch we were setting up, Sam was super keen as it was her job to put up the Christmas tree and many of the other decorations she’d made, the solar lights were strewn all over the annex and for the first time it started to feel like Christmas….. The kids quickly made friends in the park and we had a big game of caravan cricket happening out the front. While the kids played some of the parents enjoyed a festive happy hour. We finished our first day in Adelaide with some homemade pizzas as the van park had 2 pizza ovens for use.
Sevenhills Winery - Clare
Saturday dawned as our first full day in Adelaide and after a slow start we headed out to make a dent in our Christmas shopping. We headed into Rundle Mall where I’m sure everyone else in Adelaide had decided to go, or was it that we hadn’t experienced any Christmas crowds to date. Either way, we got the one gift that we’d had on hold and headed out to find a suburban Westfields. It was here that we battled the car park crowds for 30min simply trying to find a spot to park. We both wondered was it really worth the effort but eventually we joined the hordes of other shoppers as we browsed the shops for a good few hours. Obviously with the kids in toe we didn’t get too much but we now have a list of things a mile long…. Returning to the van we had a quick bite to eat before I took Ethan out to watch our first A-league soccer match. While we were keen to see Western Sydney win, Adelaide were too classy and we quietly blended into the crowd not wanting to show our true colours.
Adelaide United V's Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday turned out to be one of those days where there was never enough hours in the day. We joined other geocachers at the Adelaide Geocachers Xmas party, the kids got some lollies from Santa while I got to catch up with a few old caching friends and an old school friend who is also a fellow geocacher (small world). From there we headed to Mt Lofty witnessing the spectacular views of the city where once again we met up with another school friend who I hadn’t seen for 30+ years….. After an all too brief catch-up we were on the move again, we headed across town for dinner with some friends we’d met back in Perth and Albany. They’d been home for a few weeks and were keen to hear of our travels, the kids played like they’d known each other for years and we all enjoyed a beautiful bake dinner (our 1st in 5 months)….. The day’s activities had been a lot of fun with us not returning to the van till late in the night.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 21 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Whyalla – Wilpena Pound – Port Broughton – Point Turton
Kilometres          25997 – 27187 km

We opted to have a stopover in Whyalla on Monday, unfortunately the weather wasn’t too favourable as it spent much of Sunday night and all of Monday blowing a gale. The van constantly shook and our few loads of washing either dried in minutes or ended up on the ground and needed re-washing. For a few hours in the morning I headed for a bit caching while Leonie used a few hours in the afternoon to start our Christmas shopping. We quickly realized how hard it would be to keep presents a surprise from the kids, but so far they are none the wiser…. Once again we took advantage of the vanpark’s oven with Leonie baking some cookies and muffins while cooked dinner in the oven. Its funny how you miss the simple things when traveling.
Wangara Lookout - Wilpena Pound
Tuesday we headed north to Port Augusta and onto the Flinders Ranges, much of this area we’d visited some 11 years ago when Sam was only 3 months old. As we passed through Quorn we snaked alongside the Pichi Richi rail line which is famous for its steep steam train ride up the mountain. Another stop along the way was the township of Hawker where the kids learned about a seismograph and earthquakes. Apparently the area is renowned for having one of the highest earth movements in Australia. We saw how the needle had recorded a very small tremor only 24 hours earlier. By mid-afternoon we were at Wilpena Pound and were soon setup for a few days. While Leonie took the kids for a quick swim in the nearby resort pool, I walked out to the rim of the pound and took some beautiful sunset pictures of the area.
Flinders Ranges
On Wednesday morning we were heading out for a walk into the pound. The kids were intrigued to read the story of the woman who lived in the valley homestead with her 4 brothers and 3 sisters helping look after some 20000 sheep. Walking to the nearest lookout we were amazed by the views and the various rock formations which make up the Flinders Ranges…. Back at the van the kids had a quick swim before we headed out for a bit of 4WDriving through the Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges. Once again the sheer magnitude of the area was hard to comprehend…. We finished another hard day sightseeing with a beautiful BBQ and a bottle of our Margaret River wine.
Hughes Enginehouse - Moonta 1865
It was moving day once again for us. Our 2nd visit to Wilpena Pound had been so much fun. We had a good laugh last night as the couple only 50m away from us decided to let their animal instincts get the better of them at 10pm ensuring the whole camp ground heard them…. Heading out of the Flinders ranges we freakishly bumped into some of our traveling friends as they headed into the pound. After a quick chat/catch-up we were both on our ways again. After reaching Port Augusta we headed south detouring via the Mount Remarkable and then down into Port Pirie where we’d intended to stay the night, however with the smelter shutdown happening accommodation was tight so opted for the more relaxed, more picturesque Port Broughton…. After setting up we all had a swim, the kids played in the park while we enjoyed an extended happy hour.  
Port Broughton foreshore
Friday was predicted to be a scorcher so we planned a lazy day by the water. We had a beautiful morning walk along the foreshore precinct and boat ramp. Many of the locals of this sleepy hamlet were taking to the water in their boats and we wished we could be part of it… The early morning conditions were perfect. For us we spent most the day by the water, either the van pool or the peninsula foreshore. We took the kids for a spot of fishing but we’d missed the best time as an afternoon breeze pushed across the bay making fishing unpleasant, but the kids never seem to mind….. By days end we were all a little red from a day in the sun.
Point Turton harbour
Saturday saw us moving further south into the Yorke Peninsula, there was no respite in the hot weather as the temps hit 35deg. We spent much of the day sightseeing through the towns of Walleroo, Kadina and then Moonta where we took the kids to a geocache we’d placed there some 11 years ago. Continuing south we had lunch at Port Victoria, while we were here the local fire brigade were activated to a nearby bushfire. The kids were amazed to hear the old fire activation siren ring out across the town. Somehow technology hadn’t reached this sleepy hollow…… Heading further south we made our way to Point Turton where we decided to base ourselves for the next few days. This picturesque town sits on the Hardwicke Bay with the caravan park having water frontage and views over the fishing jetty. Once setup we took the kids fishing off the jetty where we spotted numerous stingrays, squids and a plethora of fish…… It certainly was a nice way to finish the day.
Towering cliffs of Cape Spencer
Sunday saw much of the van park empty out as the local holiday makers headed for home. We spent the morning relaxing by the van as once again temperatures sawed into the mid 30’s, but just as we headed out sightseeing the south-westerly wind and clouds were blowing in cooling the day. We drove through the various fishing hamlets before heading to the most southern point of the peninsula. Cape Spencer has a number of lighthouses and spectacular beaches, but the weather had deterred our enthusiasm for a swim or simply for being outside the car….. Returning to the van we decided to finish the week sampling the local seafood at the nearby tavern.
Sunday night dinner view
It’s been such an enjoyable week.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week 20 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Whyalla – Port Lincoln – Whyalla
Kilometres          24915 – 25997 km

Monday promised so much, we would finally get some appropriate treatment on Leonie’s busted finger. The fracture clinic in Whyalla didn’t open till midday so we spent the morning grabbing a few caches and sightseeing around town. At lunch time we dropped Leonie off while the kids and I headed for a dose of plastic food as they’d been pestering for some since we left Perth. With their fix complete we spent the afternoon catching up on some laundry as we patiently waited to hear from Leonie.  After a few text messages and some 4 hours later we picked Leonie up from the hospital. She was furious!!! The specialist, who’d been so keen to see her, now fobbed her off suggesting a couple of weeks rest would suffice……3 hospitals, 2 orthopaedic surgeons, 2 sets of x-rays and 1800km later we have decided to use traditional healing methods and simply splint the finger…… Grrrr! Needless to say, we spent the rest of the day staying out of Mummy’s way. LOL
Port Lincoln
It was time to put the events of the past week behind us and get our holiday back on track. We decided to see a bit more of the Eyre Peninsula, it’d been 11 years since we’d been to the peninsula so we headed to Port Lincoln where we thought we’d spend a few days adjusting to the more relaxed lifestyle of a traveller…. After a couple of hours driving we were in Port Lincoln and setting up right on the water’s edge. The kids were keen for a spot of fishing and as there was a jetty nearby we spent a brief time satisfying their urge, but they’re quickly learning the art of fishing requires patience. Needless to say we didn’t fish for long. Back at the van we had a few hours r&r before heading into Port for a few supplies.
Old Mill - Port Lincoln
On Wednesday we had a bit of a lazy morning around the van, the kids had to get their schoolwork up-to-date which seems to be a constant battle. Eventually we were able to head out to do a bit of the sightseeing around Port Lincoln, the first thing you notice is the huge grain silos and port facility which occupies much of the town. Nearly all the grain grown on the peninsula is exported via this facility. We had a look around town, saw the Makybe Diva statue and the Old Mill before heading up to “Winters Hill Lookout”. From here the view looking south over the nearby islands and the Spencer Gulf is spectacular… As our day ended a huge westerly change rolled in bringing with it howling winds and a couple of thunderstorms.
Fur Seals - Whalers Way
The severe weather persisted all night and at times we wondered whether we’d be blown into the bay. As Thursday dawned we woke to rain scrawls which blew in one after another. The kids were soon snuggled up on the lounge and watching a DVD as we prepared for our first wash-out day of the trip…. However to our surprise and delight by late morning the skies were clearing and we were able to head out to a privately owned property called the “Whalers Way” which is the southernmost point of the peninsula. This area was once used as a refuge for whaling ships, but today it boasts a colony of fur seals which sun-baked on the rocks and playing in the water only metres from us, it also features a number of spectacular natural formations and towering cliffs.
Theakstone Crevasse - Whalers Way
Friday should have seen us on the move again but for the sake of a 45min drive to our next destination we opted to stay in Port Lincoln and simply extend the distance of our day trips…. After having breakfast overlooking the bay we headed off to Coffin Bay. This sleepy fishing hollow is renowned for its oysters and fishing. The resident population of 400 swells to over 4000 in the peak summer months and we could see why. We stopped at the town jetty where we watched some locals bag fish after fish straight off the jetty. At one point the fishermen had to fight with shags as they duck dived for the baited hook or stole the fish off the line. We continued following the coastline around to Farm Beach and onto Gallipoli Beach, so named as it was used to film the above mentioned movie. We sat high on the cliffs having a picnic and pondered how difficult but brave our diggers must have been 100 years ago in Turkey…. Heading back through Coffin Bay we were fortunate enough to catch up with our regular traveling friends as they setup in Coffin Bay. The kids played for a few hours while we relaxed enjoying some oysters and a cool drink. We completed a great day by having dinner out on the town in Port Lincoln.
Gallipoli Beach SA
Saturday started really early for us, we were woken by numerous thunderstorms that caught many of the van owners off guard, we were up at 4.30am grabbing anything we could to bring it in out of the rain as the sky was lit up by a spectacular lightning show. When we resurfaced later that morning there were clear skies and no hint of the previous nights downpour. We headed into town about mid-morning to do a bit of shopping and check out the nearby marina which is where many of the large fishing trawlers dock. It was amazing to see so many trawlers docked in the one spot. The money sitting idle was incredible, there’s certainly money to be made in deep sea fishing. No wonder Port Lincoln has more millionaires per head than anywhere else in Australia…. We came back to the van by mid-afternoon where the kids once again caught up on some schoolwork. The afternoon breeze made for a beautiful afternoon to laze around and watch the many boats out on the bay.
Tuna Trawlers - Port Lincoln
Sunday was moving day, so there was no lazy Sunday mornings at our abode today. We’d packed up and were on the road by 9am. As we headed back to Whyalla we stopped at a few of the small fishing towns that hug the coastline on the Eyre Peninsula. Tumby Bay, Arno Bay and Cowell were a few of the ones we stopped at with Tumby Bay being one of those havens where we could easily spend a few months relaxing. By mid-afternoon we were back at Whyalla and had checked in to the same park where we’d stayed last week. We quickly setup in an attempt to beat the afternoon storm. With nothing planned for the rest of the afternoon we spent the time relaxing and enjoying an extended happy hour.
Tumby Bay Jetty
As another week draws to an end we’ve certainly enjoyed our relaxing week. Leonie is coping well with her finger in the splint and by this time next week we hope to have the splint off and start using a buddy strap.

Until next week, ciao! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week 19 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Esperance – Nullarbor (x2) – Ceduna – Whyalla
Kilometres          22893 – 24915 km

What a week!
At the end of last week we were hopeful Leonie’s broken finger would have a simple outcome and we could share a few days with friends at Cape Le Grand NP, how wrong were we? Early Monday morning Leonie was at Esperance Hospital for an x-ray and the results weren’t good. There was a clean break in the pinkie finger just above the hand but the bones hadn’t re-aligned properly. This resulted in plenty of discussion between patient, nurses, local doctors and an orthopaedic surgeon in Perth. The short story being Leonie’s hand was placed in a half hand cast requiring another x-ray in 3 days to check bone alignment. This could be done in Esperance and then possibly surgery in Perth or we could dash across the Nullarbor and try our luck in Ceduna SA, some 1400km to the east. We chose the latter….. We paid for another night in Esperance while preparing for our trip across the Nullarbor, we bought food and fuel and stocked up on water ready for the demanding trip.
How exciting
Tuesday we were up very early and on the road, the plan was to do as many kilometres as we were comfortable with and then bush camp somewhere just off the highway.  We would still try and squeeze in a few sightseeing stops as who knows when we’d be back over this way. Reaching Norseman by mid-morning we restocked with fuel again before heading east onto the Nullarbor Plains. The heavily wooden areas either side of the road soon gave way to the flat grassed plains with barely a tree in sight. In parts the road seemed to go straight on for miles and miles, rolling over hill after hill, till we reached a sign saying the next 90 mile stretch of road was the longest straight stretch in Australia. That proved to be the highlight of our 1st boring day on the Nullarbor… Towards the end of the day we stopped at a blowhole, not as we know them, but an earth blowhole where cool air rushes out of a 1m round hole in the ground…. Just on dusk we found a very nice bush camp and were happy to call it quits for the day.
One hole on the Nullarbor Links course
Wednesday started with us feeling a little flat. Driving the Nullarbor to meet a deadline isn’t fun but we put this behind us and were soon on the road with no change in the scenery. We had a couple of stops at various Nullarbor Golf Links holes, these make up the longest golf course in the world simply because it’s a few hundred km’s between each hole and it stretches right across the Nullarbor. We’d soon reached Eucla and the WA/SA border where we stopped for the obligatory photo and to reminisce on our 2½ months in WA. Soon afterwards we got our first views of the Great Australian Bight. This continued for the next couple a hundred kilometres, culminating at one stop where we saw the towering cliffs of the Bight and the Southern Ocean smashing into the base some 100m below. By days end we’d found another bush camp just near the “Head of the Bight” and setup as storms threatened to lash the area.
WA/SA border
We were now on SA time which meant the mornings were a lot darker and more conducive to sleeping except we needed to be on the road. The remaining 200km into Ceduna passed uneventfully. Seeing civilisation slowly approach felt funny, first there were a few fences, then sown fields, power poles, a few farm houses and finally the township of Ceduna….. The Nullarbor Plain had finally been conquered….. We checked into a Ceduna caravan park and waited for Leonie’s appointment time, the kids did a bit of fishing off the nearby wharf. By late afternoon Leonie had been to hospital to see the Dr and once again the news was bad, however this time it was the doctor’s inexperience and her reluctance that deterred us. She advised us to come back tomorrow after which time she could consult with an Adelaide specialist.
Bunda Cliffs - The Great Australian Bight
It was back to the hospital on Friday and once again the Dr was full of suggestions but with a glaring lack of experience to perform any of them so we err’d on the side of caution and with a nurse’s suggestion we would take our case to Whyalla…. We spent the next few hours seeing a few sights around Ceduna. As its wheat harvesting time the Ceduna port is a buzz with ships queuing to transport wheat offshore…..Our friends from Esperance had arrived in town which gave the kids an afternoon of playtime and the parents an enjoyable happy hour. We all shared fish n chips by the wharf as the sun set over the bay.
Ceduna Jetty
Saturday saw us on the road again, we’d deviated from our original plans and were heading straight to Whyalla where hopefully Leonie could get her finger attended to by a specialist. The drive to Whyalla is another one of those inland boring highways with very little to see, the endless wheat fields is a stark reminder of how much wheat Australia produces. Strong winds buffeted our drive and on numerous occasions we drove through huge dust bowls that blanketed the highway reducing visibility to less than 100m. Once in Whyalla we took Leonie straight to the hospital where finally a positive outcome was agreed upon, but as it was the weekend this couldn’t be achieved till Monday…… Ahhh! The country lifestyle and facilities can be so so frustrating sometimes….. We were soon setting up the van but with the wind still relentless we spent the afternoon tucked away cosy in our van.
HMAS Whyalla
For the first time in quite a few days we could spend Sunday lazing around the van. We caught up with family and friends electronically and really enjoyed the morning just relaxing. At lunch time we joined a tour of the HMAS Whyalla which is beached high n dry some 2km from the coast. This Navy ship served in WWII before being returned to its name-sake. From there we took in the views from Mt Laura, this unofficial lookout provided some 4WDriving and offers sweeping views of the Spencer Gulf and the industries which use it to transport steel and grain around the world…. Returning to the van, Leonie and the kids spent some time baking. We haven’t seen or used an oven since leaving home and as the van park had one the kids were keen for some cakes and cookies. They were a yummy way to finish a busy week.

Let’s hope next week brings us some joy with Leonie’s finger and we can get back to enjoying our holiday at a more leisurely pace. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 18 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Bunbury – Kwolyin Bush Camp – Kalgoorlie - Esperance
Kilometres          21444 – 22893 km

As Monday was Leonie’s Birthday we’d planned a day of leisure which included a few things that she loves to do. Naturally we started with a sleep-in and a hearty dose of bacon rolls. For most the morning we lazed around the van, the kids hired the pedal karts and zoomed around the park for a while…. By about lunchtime we headed into Bunbury to check out a few of the local sights. The Rotary Tower offered great views of the area with the black n white chequered lighthouse provided a contrasting backdrop. Naturally our day wasn’t complete without a bit of retail therapy and a coffee with the family. By late afternoon we’d returned to the van where we enjoyed a lovely dinner.
Bunbury harbour
Tuesday was the start of a reluctant milestone for us, our trip back east had begun, we were heading towards Kalgoorlie. There was no more coastal greenness or heavily populated suburbia, it was replaced by Merino filled paddocks and endless golden wheat fields. It was harvest time and on number of occasions we watched the big combine harvesters flanked by tractor trailers as they filled and made their way to many temporary stockyards that spring up at this time of year. By mid-afternoon we’d driven halfway to Kalgoorlie and were happy to find a bush camp for the night.
Moving in a north-easterly direction away from the coast brought an instant change in the temperature, the cool days and nights of southern WA were replaced by the warmer temperatures that we’d experienced and loved for much of our trip. On Wednesday as we pushed on to Kalgoorlie where we experienced temps of 36deg and once again the scenery changed to a much harsher arid landscape…. With two solid days driving behind us we finally arriving in the mining town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder where we soon found a caravan park and setup for a few days. We headed into town for a few supplies and a quick look around, the enormity of Kalgoorlie caught us by surprise. The supporting infrastructure that accompanies a mine is amazing. It’s similar to that of Wollongong or Port Hedland but there is no shipping port out here! We soon found ourselves at the life-blood of Kalgoorlie – The Super Pit. This massive open-cut mine is beyond comprehension, its 3.7km long, 1.55km wide and 600m deep. At the bottom, cars look like ants while people are nearly unrecognisable and what are normally huge bucket loaders and monster tippers are dwarfed against the scale of this hole/mine…. By early evening the temperature still hovered around 30deg with Thursday expected to peak at 40deg.
The Super Pit
Thursday started out hot and got hotter, we spent much of the morning by the pool at the caravan park but with things to see and do we couldn’t afford to sit around all day. There was plenty of mining history to see with a few old mine headframes still standing in place and the nearby lookout provided a great view over the town…. Each day the Super Pit blast a new section of rock for the next days excavation and at 1.30pm we were lucky to witness the explosion. The ground rumbled and the noise vibrated through us as we stood at the visitors lookout…. The culmination of our day was a tour of the Questa Casa brothel which opens its doors to the public each day, an hour and a half later I was  very informed as to the way a madam makes her money.
Friday started early for us as we joined a tour of the Super Pit. The operators of the open-cut gold mine KCGM, provide a very informative tour bus ride around the mine, from excavating the rock, to the crusher and mill through to the electrolysis process, its all done on site. The mine produces approx’ 15 gold bars every 3 days or about $1.2 billion/year. There are 40 dump trucks each costing $4.4 million running up and down the hill each day while there are 4 face shovel excavators each costing $18 million removing the ore and to be up close to these heavy machines was amazing. Ethan didn’t know which way to look as he continually spied a new machine or process….. After the tour and lunch we finished the day by seeing a few more sights of Kalgoorlie.
Ready for work Boss!
Saturday was moving day and we were on the road by 9am. We were heading to Esperance where we’d hope to catch up with some friends we’d met earlier in our travels. The day was pretty uneventful until we stopped at a small town just north of Esperance for a pee-break when Leonie trips on a small step causing her to fall to the ground, resulting in a broken pinky finger and a bit of bark off her knee. After some onsite 1st aid we headed to the Esperance Hospital where they strapped the finger, but they couldn’t X-ray it as it was the weekend (typical small country town). Hopefully by Monday we’ll know the full extent….. In the meantime we’ll spend a couple of days relaxing as we look around Esperance at a slower pace…. Late in the day we caught up with some friends we hadn’t seen since Perth, we spent the next few hours catching up on our respective travels.
Big, bigger, biggest
A grader, a water cart, a tipper
Sunday is meant to be a day of sleeping, tell that to some of our neighbours who thought it’d be good to be packing up and chatting to anyone who’d listen at 5.45am. That aside we did have a lazy morning around the van, it was nearly lunchtime when we headed out to see some of Esperance. We stopped by a local festival, checked out the Pink Lake, a few lookouts and beaches before returning to town where we stopped at a fish tannery. It was here that we learnt how they turn unwanted fish skin into very valuable leather products which we all thought was really interesting….. Our week concluded watching some cricket and enjoying some liquid refreshments.
Esperance Bay
By this time next week we’ll be somewhere on the Nullarbor, getting very close to South Australia.
Ciao for now