We're Off at last ~ December 2004
Friday 3rd December 2004
Tomorrow is the day, the day we have awaited so
long. Tomorrow we set off on our trip around Australia.
long will you be away? people have asked. Well the answer is,
long as it takes.
The delays were inconvenient but we had some good moments. Whilst in the
UK we managed to catch up with some relatives. We spent some very nice days
with Peter's mother. This time saying goodbye to family was much more
difficult, especially to Peter's mum. I guess as we get older we realise
how fragile life is.
My niece, Julie, had been reading Down Under by Bill Bryson. At
the very same time we were visiting the places described in the book while
on our shake-down trip to Shark Bay and Julie was comparing the book to
our website. She very kindly gave us a copy of this book which Peter has
thoroughly enjoyed and I have yet to read.
We enjoyed our time with the UK relatives coming over here for a niece's
wedding as well as spending time with the Australian branch of the family
and friends. The wedding and the activities that followed were enjoyed by
Also the timing was right for Nicholas Paul to move into our house and look
after things for us.
So . . . delayed we were, but so many positives came from the delays that
you really have to wonder whether it 'was meant to be'
Saturday 4th December 2004
We left home at 9.00 a.m. It is about 19° C. but it feels
much hotter. Peter is getting used to towing Bessie (our caravan) again.
He decided to drive for as long as he was comfortable doing so. We stopped
at Merredin for lunch then pressed on to Southern Cross for a cuppa. We
decided we would travel through Coolgardie and stop overnight at a roadside
picnic spot - our first attempt at 'roughing it'. The roads
in Coolgardie are very wide to allow camel trains to turn around. We didn't
see any camels but later we sure did see a train!
We arrived at the campsite with the light fading fast, set up camp and cooked
dinner. It was still very warm so we decided to eat outside. I got quite
a shock when I saw lights fast approaching us, we did not realise we had
set up camp alongside a railway line!
Sleep was scarce that night, what with heat, the road-trains and the other
sort of trains. We were up early next morning and back on the road.
Sunday 5th December 2004
We watched the sun rise from our beds, then it was up and
away for us seasoned campers. We went into Norseman to fill up with fuel,
water and a cup of coffee.
I checked out showering facilities at these roadhouses. We can shower in
the caravan but did not want to cross the Nullarbor short of water. Anyway,
it seems you can shower at roadhouses for about $3.00.
We weren't too impressed with the town of Norseman. We decided to
have more stops today so it was on to Balladonia, two hours away. The people
there were very friendly and helpful. The lady that served us works in London
- she was just helping out.
Next stop was Caiguna for lunch. It amazes me that these roadhouses are
in the middle of nowhere yet can provide you with a decent meal with fresh
veggies at reasonable prices.
The scenery varied as we travelled across the Nullarbor; sometimes we would
have trees and scrub, other times just scrub. The landscape changed yet
again when we approached Madura, this was very hilly and also very pretty.
Once again very friendly people. Refreshed and refuelled once again we pressed
This time we camped overnight at a spot just outside Eucla. The night sky
was absolutely fantastic, so many stars. I looked at them though the binoculars
and was surprised how much clearer the stars were. We quite like the idea
of camping at these picnic spots. Usually there is a caravan or campervan
already there. As long as we have water we managed very nicely without having
to book in at caravan sites all the time. People we meet along the way also
do this as it stretches the budget that bit further.
Monday 6th December 2004
I slept well but Peter didn't. We were up early again
and on the road by 7.00am. We were going to go to the next roadhouse and
have a shower but as we expected to be in Ceduna tonight, we decided to
use the water in the caravan tanks and have showers 'in house'.
We set off thinking how early we were then realised we had lost two and
half hours when we crossed the border into South Australia. (They are two
and half hours ahead).
We bumped into a nice couple admiring the Australian Bight as we were. The
man gave us some advice - take your watch off and take your time.
Good advice for us as were feeling very tired. Next beauty spot we stopped
at we took time out just to sit and admire the view. I sat outside the caravan,
coffee in hand looking at a million dollar view and knew at that moment
why we decided to do this trip. Nothing like it!!!!
We decided then to take it easy and just travelled a little way down the
road to the Nullarbor Roadhouse for the night. They have a 'caravan
park' which is a clearing at the side of the roadhouse but we had
power. No water mind, as you can appreciate water is a precious commodity
in the middle of nowhere. You could have a shower here but it was a $1 coin-operated
affair for 5 minutes only. The toilets and showers were clean and the people
very nice and friendly. We enjoyed an excellent meal with a good drop of
red. Not bad for the middle of nowhere. Watching the trucks come and go,
it brings home to you how isolated we are in Western Australia and how everything
has to cross the Nullarbor in these huge rigs.
Tuesday 7th December 2004
We arose a little later than usual after a good nights rest
and headed off down the road yet again. We had one stop at Nundroo then
travelled on to Penong where we refuelled and had lunch. It was only a short
way into Ceduna from there.
We arrived in plenty of time to set up camp and check out the facilities
of the caravan park. We bumped into a lady who had also stayed at the Nullarbor
roadhouse the night before. Strange how we all see things differently. We
enjoyed our stay there, it was different, very windy but had something about
it. This lady did not like anything about it, but we discovered very quickly
that she didn't really have a good word to say about anything!
Wednesday 8th December 2004
We decided to have a walk around the town today and check
out the tourist centre. The town is not that big and it is full of Aborigines
just hanging about. Apparently they have an alcohol problem here and wine
in casks is only sold at certain times; bottles of wine have to be sold
in sealed bags. I guess if that's the way they can handle it, we can
all fit in. We did not really like Ceduna and are looking forward to moving
Thursday 9th December 2004
We went back into town today to update the website and check
our emails. We had the same problem accessing our ISP as we had in Kalbarri
and now have to seriously consider moving to Big Pond. In the afternoon
we drove a short way to Thevenard. We saw the wheat silos - huge -
and had a bit of a walk along the beach. We then went up to the lookout.
The weather wasn't the best but it was nice there. Back to base for
Friday 10th December 2004
It rained a lot overnight and is still pouring down. We have
decided to stay another night here. Getting ready and hooking up we would
be absolutely soaked. We just read for a while then the rain eased enough
for us to walk into town. Whilst on the way back from town the sun came
out and it was really warm, so we decided to walk out to the weather station
for a tour and to watch the release of the weather balloon. We had a quick
lunch at the caravan and set off for this 'short walk' which
was much longer than we anticipated. We arrived in plenty of time for the
activities. It was very interesting but a lot of it went over my head. Now
for the walk back. We should sleep well tonight.
Saturday 11th December 2004
We were up fairly early and got ready for the road. Weather
still not the best but better than yesterday morning.
We stopped off at a small bay called Smokey Bay, had a walk and a coffee.
I always find there is something extraordinary about parking up and making
your own coffee in your own 'home'. Then back on the road.
We have now stopped at a little bay called Perlubie Beach for the night.
We are practically on the beach but the peace has been broken by four trail
bikes. One or two people are staying here, including an Aborigine woman
who is a little mad; she keeps shouting and swearing at anything and everything
- including the ocean. Takes all sorts. I don't know which concerned
Peter the most, the mad Aborigine woman or the born-again Christian who
might try to convert him!!!! We had a very pleasant time here but have decided
to move on in the morning.
Sunday 12th December 2004
We headed off towards Streaky Bay where we arrived in plenty
of time for lunch, made friends with our next door neighbours and enjoyed
the feel of the place as well as the scenery. What a jewel, we are parked
on the edge of the beach; what more could you ask for?
We were initiated into the art of catching crabs, cooking them and, more
importantly, eating them, courtesy of our next door neighbours who were
We sat outside enjoying the last warmth of the day, sipping our wine and
taking in the ocean views. Life is hard but someone has to do it.
Monday 13th December 2004
Today we have woken up to some blue sky amongst the clouds.
We did our washing, packed our lunch and headed off for a day out doing
the touristy bit. It was a lovely drive, stopping at several different bays.
We had lunch overlooking one bay - perfect. We carried on to look
at sea lions at some remote headland that took us ages to get to on rough,
unsealed roads, much to Peter's delight. All that know him will know
how he hates to take his beloved four wheel drive off the bitumen! We finished
this tour at some stones that look like haystacks and therefore are so named.
We had a really lovely day taking in the sites, then headed back to 'camp'.
Tuesday 14th December 2004
We took our time getting up this morning as we had a lazy
day planned. We wandered across the road to the library where we checked
our emails. All for free, wonderful. After lunch we went into the town to
the Power House Museum. We took one look inside and Peter's heart
started to race with excitement whereas mine sank. What was I going to do
for two hours? Certainly not stand and look with delight at smelly engines.
I went to the shop for essentials - coffee and wine. That being safely
stored in the car, I wandered back inside the museum. One of the nice gentleman
asked if I was interested in the engines.
Not really I said
in a kindly manner, not wishing to offend as he was obviously hooked on
the things. He suggested I went to the other museum which was within walking
distance and 'more interesting to the ladies'. And since 'himself'
was in another world, in animated conversation with another engine junky,
it seemed like good advice.
So off I went - I needed the exercise anyway - and it was well worth the
walk. Very interesting, some relics were not really relics, but on the whole
most of the museum housed true museum pieces. A lot about the pioneering
days; they even had a pioneer's cottage. I will keep the caravan,
thank you very much! As in all these museums, they have a section on the
first and second world wars, and again the dates of the first world war
ending vary. Sometimes it is 1918 and other times it is 1919. If anyone
knows the answer then please email me because we cannot find out why.
After the museum jaunt we headed off to the carwash to wash Billy -
a coin operated rip-off job. Well at least a little of Billy got washed
and the rest - well it was a bucket and sponge job when we got back to camp.
There is such a shortage of water in South Australia that you are not allowed
to use a hose pipe.
When I compare Streaky Bay with Ceduna I try and figure out why we prefer
Streaky Bay. People have said,
Well, there is nothing at Ceduna.
But then there is not much more at Streaky Bay. It is the feel of the place
- the atmosphere - people here are a lot more relaxed. When I went into
the wine shop I had to find a bell to ring. It took me a good five minutes
to find the bell. I said to the lady serving me,
trusting, I could have run in and made off with a bottle before you knew
it. She assured me that they would have seen me on the security camera.
But would there have been this scenario in Ceduna? Not on your life. Difference
being, the natives are nowhere to be seen here. But in Ceduna, well . .
Wednesday 15th December 2004
Another day in paradise. Up early this morning. Well, early
for us retired people anyway. Reason being I had to be at the hospital for
the ol' blood test. No problems - which is good as this is the
first blood test since we left home. A little shopping and then back to
camp. Check emails at the library and then read my book for a while. Ah
well, what next? Yes, we will go for a walk. Very enjoyable apart from the
flies which seem worse here than in WA. I barbecued steak for dinner and
we sat outside looking at the ocean whilst eating it. What a life!
Nice couple arrived this afternoon, they are on holiday from Holland. They
come over here for their holidays, hire a motor home and tour around. They
have been doing this a while so know a lot more places than us.
Thursday 16th December 2004
We set off at a reasonable time for our next 'camp
site'. It is very hot and the flies are worst than ever. We stopped
for coffee at Port Kenny - very little there - then onwards to Walkers Rocks.
There is no caravan park at Walkers Rocks but camping is allowed in the
dunes near the beach. We arrived after travelling down an unsealed road
very slowly as it was a little uneven to say the most.
When we arrived we heard this very loud singing and thought,
no, what do we have here?" But they had their sing-song
and then we didn't hear them again. We found out later that they were
four young men who's car had broken down at Elliston, were sorted
out by the RAA, and then were camping at Walkers Rocks, a popular surfing
beach. The surfing part we found out later in the afternoon when ute after
ute arrived with young men and surf boards. It was very hot (38° C.)
and as we did not have any power, we could not use the air conditioner.
We decided that these off-road camp sites were okay but when it is hot we
prefer the caravan sites.
* Ute: Short for 'utility'.
A small truck or pick-up version of a passenger car. Very popular with young
Friday 17th December 2004
We were up and away early as it was going to be another hot
day and we wanted to set up at our next stop as soon as possible. We arrived
at Elliston Caravan Park about 9.00am, set up and then got the air conditioner
going. This is more like it, Campers! Nice place here, the people are friendly.
We ventured out into the heat in the afternoon but survived as the car aircon
worked beautifully. We did the recommended tourist drive along the coast.
It was very impressive with the rugged cliffs and deserted beaches.
We then found our way to the tourist bureau for more information but they
had none. The building which housed the tourist bureau had been painted
by local artists, it was excellent, apparently being the largest mural in
the southern hemisphere. We started to wend our way back to the caravan
site but decided to check out the pub (as you do). Nice enough.
After we had dinner (back at camp) we had a walk around the park and bumped
into a couple who had been at Streaky Bay. They have been travelling for
three and a half years but also house-sit as they travel around. They had
even been house-sitting in Roleystone, within sight of our house, so knew
the area well. We are meeting up tomorrow evening for drinks.
Saturday 18th December 2004
Another hot day after a hot night. Well the hot day didn't
last long - only until lunch time - then we had a dramatic change in the
weather. Cloudy, windy and cold, oh sooooooo cooooooooold. We went to the
Telecentre to update the web page and check emails. Called in at the pub
on the way back, just to check if it is still there. Off again tomorrow
- Coffin Bay this time.
Sunday 19th December 2004
A lovely day, nice and sunny. We packed up fairly early and
headed off towards Coffin Bay. It was only about two hours but we stopped
after an hour and half for a toilet break and lunch. Coffin Bay is a really
beautiful place, the caravan park is nice apart from 'roo poo' everywhere.
When we arrived I cleaned up our area with a dustpan and brush as I didn't
want it treading into the caravan. This amused Peter greatly. He wasn't
so amused when I found water under the carpet coming from a leaking pipe.
We saw a lovely scene later when I nipped out to the loo - heaps of kangaroos
grazing around the caravan park.
Monday 20th December 2004
First we checked in at the medical centre as I am due another
blood test on Wednesday. They couldn't be more helpful. So far I've
found having the blood test whilst travelling no bother. To anyone with
the same medical problem I would say, "Get on with your plans and get
It was then off to Port Lincoln for us, to tour the caravan repair place
and the plumbing suppliers. We really loved Port Lincoln, so beautiful and
clean and friendly. We picked up our mail from the post office, courtesy
of Nicholas Paul. We sat overlooking the bay whilst we enjoyed a lovely
lunch and opened all our mail.
After lunch we had a walk around, did some shopping and headed home so 'the
man about the house' could repair the pipe. No luck, wrong sized pipe. We
had a lovely walk alongside the bay and intend to go again tomorrow.
Tuesday 21st December 2004
Another lovely day. Haven't done much really, just
washing, sorting out cupboards and reading. Walked over to the Post Office
to use their computers.
Wednesday 22nd December 2004
Off we went to get my blood test done first thing this morning,
and as it wasn't far and we were in need of some exercise, we decided
to walk. All went well - or so we thought.
After lunch we decided to look at the National Park here. It is a lovely
place to be, lots of secluded beaches and blue ocean with foamy white breakers.
Peter decided we would take a drive on the wild side and we headed down
a four wheel drive track. After a fair way we were faced with nothing but
We are not going up there, are we? I asked, trying
not to sound as if I was in a state of panic. My dear husband decided, why
Well, to cut a short story even shorter, we got bogged. Right at that moment
the phone rang; Nicholas Paul to bring us up to date about something. Very
short call! My instruction from the now 'experienced four wheel driver'
was to go up those sand dunes and see what is on the other side. Like a
good little wife I did. On the way I was thinking to myself, "He should
have taken Mike Morley up on those four wheel drive lessons at Lancelin".
Good thing at this point in time I didn't know Peter's only
instruction in 4WD was from a magazine in the dentist's waiting room.
Anyway a short time later I turned around to see himself following me. He
had very quickly become 'unbogged'. For some reason I did not
hear him until he was right behind me. It was very eerie walking amongst
the dunes, not a soul in sight. At this moment in time I was thinking to
myself it would be a good idea to turn back. But no the 'fearless driver
of the sand dunes' was game for more. Luckily we did not have any
more concerns, that was until he decided later to go on a beach, but this
time he had it under control and we got off that beach in a flash. Back
on the bitumen and, yes, I sighed a sigh of relief. The phone rang again
- the nurse from this morning had botched my blood test. So tomorrow,
guess where we are off to again? This time to Port Lincoln as the Community
nurse is not in Coffin Bay tomorrow.
Thursday 23rd December 2004
Went into Port Lincoln as planned, no problems at the hospital.
We had a wander round the town centre then had coffee. Peter then took Billy
off to the car wash and to have the wheels balanced whilst I did some major
browsing. It was nice just to wander on my own, look in all the gift and
craft shops etc. We met for lunch then went off to do the shopping for the
Christmas period as most places around here are closed for the four days.
Friday 24th December 2004 - Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve and we are on the move again, this time to
Tumby Bay. We arrived about lunch time, set up camp, had lunch and then
walked into the town. We called in the Post Office for our mail as we were
expecting the new pressure hose from Jayco. We weren't disappointed.
When we first arrived at the caravan park we were given a voucher each for
the pub. A free drink or $2 for the 'pokies'. No contest, I
like to see something for my money, so we wandered into the pub for our
free drinks. They were very friendly so we had another drink and booked
a table for tonight. The meal was nice and very reasonable. On our way out,
who should we bump into but an old colleague of mine, Bernie. We knew he
lived here but didn't expect to bump into him the first night we were
here. Everyone who lives here knows everyone else.
Saturday 25th December 2004 - Christmas Day
A strange day in a way. It didn't feel like Christmas
Day . . . yet it did. The day started off well for me as my friend Pat phoned
to wish us a Happy Christmas. Peter not so good - whatever he ate the night
before did not agree with him so he had a very quiet Christmas Day. I went
for a walk around the town which was very quiet, just the odd person wandering
about. Just missed Nicholas Paul phoning so phoned him back. We had a very
light lunch and then I cooked our turkey for the evening. Very nice too!
Peter, by this time, was fine to eat and drink, so I guess he enjoyed it
It was nice to receive text messages of good cheer and the phone calls to
and from friends and relatives. It was a very relaxed Christmas Day, more
relaxed than other years.
Sunday 26th December 2004 - Boxing Day
A beautiful sunny day - much brighter than yesterday - and
warmer I would say. After breakfast we went for a walk into the town and,
as the coffee shop was open, we stopped for one. Whilst drinking our coffee
we had the local map out to plan what we were going to do in the next couple
of days. We agreed that, whilst this idea of not planning anything, just
doing what we please when we please, is fine in theory,
you can end up doing nothing.
We were engrossed in our map when a lady approached, introduced herself
as a local, and proceeded to tell us all about Tumby Bay and the surrounding
areas. A very nice gesture which made us like T.B. even more.
Monday 27th December 2004
Walked to the Mangrove boardwalk. It was very interesting,
we had not realised the importance of the Mangroves. Afterwards it was only
a short walk to the lookout. The lookout was a white tower on the top of
a small hill. No way Hosé, I don't do towers! Peter climbed
to the top and took photos. I just surveyed from a lower position.
Early evening we decided to walk to the local pub and check out one of the
locals we were seeking out. We did not see him but enjoyed the wine, then
as the Fish and Chip shop was next door, how could you walk past? 'What
diet?' Before returning home we had another drink at the other pub
just to prove we weren't biased or anything. We had a long chat with
a local who gave us a few ideas for sight-seeing and more background on
the local chap we were seeking out.
Tuesday 28th December 2004
We did a round tour of local beauty spots today. We started
off at Port Neill where we visited a very interesting museum. The museum
is privately owned by a very nice couple, Vic and Jill Fauser. There were
items of interest for both male and female. Peter, of course, was taken
with the old steam engine and other mechanical things. I was most impressed
with Vic's grandmother who rode a bicycle down the main street when
women were expected to ride horses side saddle. The locals were so appalled
they threw stones at her. Did she give up? No she joined a cycling club.
Another victory for women.
Before moving on we sat and had lunch on the sea front and froze to death.
Yes, it is summer but it was damn cold. We then had a look at Cowell but
we weren't too impressed with the town. Cowell is famous for its jade
mining. The jade which they make into jewellery is 1,700 million years old.
As we have a grand daughter named Jade, how could we resist buying her something.
Anyway, after Cowell we headed back and called in at Arno Bay. We enjoy
seeing these places but they are beginning to look very similar so we feel
we have seen enough of the Eyre Peninsula and on Monday are heading off
to Port Augusta.
Wednesday 29th December 2004
Walked into the town to use the internet at the library.
Library closed until after the new year. Not to worry, we will go into Port
Lincoln tomorrow and visit the library there. Nothing for it now but to
visit the . . . no, not the pub this time of day. It is too early even for
us! No, we went to the coffee shop, which we rather like, nice coffee and
friendly people with a view to die for.
Thursday 30th December 2004
On one of our visits to the pub a local told us about this
museum that would interest us. As it was on the way to Port Lincoln and
we were going there, we decided to give this museum the once over. Very
disappointing - they had so much 'stuff' but did not make
the most of it. Tractors that could have been restored were just left to
rust. The stationary engine shed that boasts that it has working engines
was silent. No one around to ask questions and so on. For me, what they
had on display from the so-called pioneering days wasn't very interesting
at all. The Fausers' museum at Port Neill was far better displayed and a
lot more interesting.
Anyway, off to Port Lincoln. Guess what? The library there was closed too.
Never say die, off we went to the information centre and had to wait 40
minutes until the computer was free. We then went for lunch - very nice
too. We had a walk around the place and did some shopping then headed home.
When we arrived home we found the caravan park bursting at the seams. There
were people, tents and caravans everywhere. A lot of young people had arrived
for the New Year's Eve celebrations as there was a couple of bands
playing at the pubs. They all seem well behaved and very pleasant to talk
to. We had a very nice evening socialising with our neighbours who are from
Friday 31st December 2004 - New Year's Eve
Lazy start to the day today. Had a lie-in then took coffee
back to bed and read for a while. Too hard this life. After lunch we walked
into town to do a few errands and boy, was it hot! Hot and humid.
We were very glad to get back to the caravan and the air conditioner. In
the evening we sat outside with our neighbours. Considering it had been
so hot during the day, it became very cold very quickly. We talked
and drank and ate and drank and drank
and drank . . . and suddenly it was five past midnight! We all
felt a little deflated that we had missed the magic moment. So we all wished
each other Happy New Year and birthday wishes to Peter (who discovered his
legs had stopped working), said goodnight and went to bed.