Sunday, 24 June 2012

On the Road to Tom Price 21st and 22nd June, 2012

We took two nights to reach Tom Price, both nights being spent in really good roadside camps. The second night was at Beasley River roadside stop which we reached by lunch time. We were the first to arrive and so had the pick of the camp and settled in for an afternoon of sewing and reading.

Halfway through the afternoon Ian decided on a campfire which was made possible by some kind person leaving some firewood behind.  We also had tiger prawns brought from Exmouth and to go with them Ian decided to make a very tasty damper and was able to make use of our new firestand which hasn’t had any use on this trip as there are no fires allowed in the National Parks. 

As you can see from the pictures we were able to enjoy a very happy evening with our friends the two doves who arrived during the afternoon and decided to settle in and enjoy the sunshine. There were also a large number of Major Mitchell Cockatoos who are taking on the dusty appearance of the red dirt here. We have well and truly traded the sand from Exmouth for the red dirt now.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Exmouth 22nd May to 5th June, 2012

We travelled from the Blowholes to Exmouth and spent the night in the Big 4 Caravan Park prior to travelling out to Tulki Beach at the Cape Range National Park at Exmouth. Having powered up, food shopped and filled the water tanks we set ourselves up at Tulki where we spent the next 8 nights as planned. The weather was great except for the wind which was unrelenting and on the advice of our terrific camp hosts we tied our awning down to the posts surrounding our site! Still the wind blew, keeping us awake during the night as we heard the awning flapping and straining against the ties until we couldn’t stand it anymore. Despite knowing that putting the awning down was not wise (at all!) in the wind, we did it anyway and I was pleased to be able to hold on to the ropes as we waited for a lull in the wind to put it down and secure it back on the van.  However ……. We did it and then didn’t have to worry any more about it.

We went for a cruise up the Yardie Creek Gorge and saw the Black Footed Rock Wallabies which are really unique and so different from the kangaroos which are throughout the park. We have to be very careful about leaving any water containers about the van as the kangaroos come around in the evening and do their best, sometimes succeeding in taking the tops off to get at the water.  Crafty little buggers!

 Despite all of that we had an absolute ball at Tulki, enjoying snorkelling at a number of sites twice a day, finally settling on Turquoise Bay as our favourite. On one snorkelling adventure we saw a very large octopus sitting on a rock with a large number of small fish hovering around.  We only notice the octopus initially because the fish move as a group whenever the octopus moved.   Each evening we enjoyed chatting with our fellow campers and watching the sun set. We had planned to move back to the Blowholes after our 8 nights at Tulki but having decided that we were having such a great time here we were able to secure another site in a different camp within the National Park. There are no sites available in the pre booking system until August so it certainly is a very popular place. Once you are in the park there is a process each morning of the various camp hosts communicating via radio and discussing any vacant sites which campers already in the park can transfer to. Then any remaining (!) sites are made available to the cars waiting at the entrance to the park which have been waiting there since 4am! So the best plan is to do as we did and book ahead where you are able to and then transfer once you are in the park. Happily for us we are now staying at Lakeside Camp with two other campers from Tulki and have new camp hosts Bill and Hazel who are just as helpful as Patrick and Barbara from Tulki and we can stay up to 28 days in total at Cape Range National Park.

We have continued to snorkel every day and the wind has largely disappeared so we are very pleased with that.  The fish we are able to see here has been fantastic and we are having a ball.  We have seen fish up to 2 feet long and some miniscule. The only thing we had wanted to see and not been able to, was a turtle as it was not the time of year when they are seen in any number.  Yesterday we went back for a second snorkel and low and behold there was a beautiful turtle who was more than happy to stay with us for quite a few minutes, coming up for air and paddling just below the surface whilst we followed him. When he decided he had had enough of us he retreated down amongst the coral and we left him in peace. I’ve called him Harold for absolutely no reason.  We also came across a very large sting ray, which I could have done without.  They stay on the bottom covered with sand except for their eyes and when they decide to move they are quite disconcerting I think because they rise up from the sand and are very large.  We had seen a number swimming which is fine because they are just like any other creature in the ocean but when they come up from the bottom that is another thing altogether for me. We are so lucky to have had wonderful weather with lovely sunny days and warm nights.  Each evening we take our chairs down to the beach to watch the sunset with our fellow campers and discuss the day’s activities and plan what we will do the following day. The photo Ian took was from our chairs and just shows how tough it is!!

Today is the first day we are not swimming as the weather is drizzling and very windy so it is a good opportunity to blog, clean and set ourselves up for a few more days here if the weather improves. If there is no improvement we will probably move on on Thursday to Tom Price and then to Karijini National Park.

We heard ourselves described at the weekend on the radio as “The Grey Haired Stimulus Package”. We’re happy to be of sevice!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Peter Denny Lookout Friday 11th May 2012

On the road towards Geraldton we stopped at the Peter Denny Lookout for the night which turned out to be a very nice surprise. From the road it is hard to see the back of the camp but as we drove back we found a spot right beside what we can only call a canyon . There were high walls around on three sides and an almost flat bottom. It would have been a great place to keep cattle secure if only as is so common hereabouts, there was water. We had a lovely night and watched the roos early in the morning which you could hardly see until they moved and then there seemed to be many groups.

The following morning we set out to our next overnight stop at Indarra which was OK but uninspiring except that we thought we had skipped home to Dookie, the country looked so similar with a field freshly cropped in front of us.

Niagara Dam 9th and 10th May 2012

We had dinner in the pub at Menzies on our last night and besides its almost untouched charm and interesting people we met the publican who shared with us a book on the statues and also some very useful information on the road ahead.
He suggested to us that we should go and have a look at Kookynie and Niagara Dam which we had looked at on the map and assumed the road surface would be unsuitable for us. However the road has been sealed and so off we went. Kookynie is in some ways similar to Menzies except that there are fewer inhabitants and more building which are now derelict. We were able to read about how this town had developed rapidly with the discovery of gold and then when the gold became too hard to mine. Now all that remains are the plaques which tell their stories.  At its height there were eleven hotels, a Town Hall which housed the regular Saturday night dances as well as plays and official ceremonies. There were also the first public baths on the goldfields, seven brass bands to entertain the population, the Kookynie Turf Club which held 3 annual meetings, its own brewery and two soft drink manufacturers. At the Red Light area the plaque relates that this establishment was conducted by the Japanese ladies and that as there was no contraception, some wives were using their meagre coins to send their men to see the ladies. One poor woman had three sets of twins, and ten children in all, bet she sent her husband to the Japanese ladies!

We then drove on to Niagara Dam and found it to be a beautiful place where we decided to stay for one night and then as we are often found to do, two!  Our first night was spent at the edge of the dam which has magnificent views all round.  We walked around the dam and marvelled that it could have been built in 1897. It was built to provide water for the nearby town and the steam engines working the line that was rapidly extending north from Menzies. As we walked around the area we chose to camp in we noticed this beautiful rock painting which we know nothing about but was quite beautiful.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Menzies 8th May 2012

In the afternoon after we had been to the sculptures we decided to do as the Visitors Centre advised and ‘take a walk around town and explore “our place” on foot’. This is truly an amazing town, although really now only a main street with a few diversions. Although not at its prime now the town is still very proud of what remains of the history and has displayed and told of the history in a fantastic way with a series of rusty steel figures reflecting just some of the folks who lived here long ago.  We have found it really hard to decide which ones to put on the blog as they are all fantastic and tell a tale of the prosperity of the town now a little faded.  There were 13 hotels and 3 breweries when the town was in its prime as well as newsagents, stores and a post office employing over 20 people.

As with all the areas we have seen so far water has played a role in the demise of the prosperity, either because they couldn’t sustain stock or as in Menzies because water was critical for the health of the people who worked here.  In some of the information ‘food famine’ is mentioned as a reason for some people either leaving or dying. Gold was the reason for setting up the town and development of the railway, and of course as it became harder to obtain people moved on to other hopefully more successful places. We visited the cemetery on our tour and you can see from all the children and adults who died that it was not an easy life at all.

Our visit here has been a wonderful experience and if you are going through Menzies – stop. Now for our photos -
the first one bears a plaque:  "How on earth do I STOP this infernal Machine" - Local Mining Warden, William Owen, test riding the first motorcycle in Menzies.
Next we just couldn't resist a poke a Local Government - apparently not too much has changed either!
This one, located outside the town hall  says "oooooh - my head! But gawd, those councillors can go on and on and on and on ........" . A bored onlooker taking a break from the public gallery.

 This is a little sad but an indication of how hard life was here.
"Carry him carefully, young Joe Wright - the fever is enough for him to deal with .....: Matron Andrews, first nurse appointed to Menzies Hospital in 1895
 And last, but the funniest of all - just to show the oldest profession went everywhere. the plaque accompanying this gem read :"Step inside, you handsome man - my sheets are clean and my price is keen ....." The Red Light Lady.
Off tomorrow to ......

7th May Goongarrie National Park

After Kalgoorlie we headed out to Goongarrie National Park and former Goongarrie Pastoral Lease which had been recommended to us by the camp hosts at Lucky Bay. The lease for the 100,686 hectare was taken up in 1924 however due to difficulty in establishing sufficient water points it was always marginal pastoral country and was only partially developed around 30% to run sheep.  It is amazing to us how much effort was put into this station considering the doubtful water supply.  Still on the site are numerous buildings and infrastructure such as shearing sheds and dips for the sheep as well as shearers quarters and various outbuildings.  There are also a number of vehicles in various states of decay and even a grave for ‘man’s best friend’.  The Park is available for people to stay in the quarters or camp but we only stayed for lunch and drove on to Menzies.

Norseman Photos

Lucky Bay Photos

How beautiful is this? Have many more beauties but at last you can see what we loved so much.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Thursday 3rd May to 4th May 2012

After we shopped back in Esperance we travelled on to Norseman which is where we have stopped for two nights (with indifferent internet, hence no photos for this one either!)

The camp hosts at Lucky Bay had told us of the great scenery here and we had to confess that we had driven through both on this trip and last year without giving it a good look so today we have made up for it.

We are in a park, unlimited lights, water, heating,  mmmmmm all good! Today we set off early on our tour of The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail which we started in Norseman and travelled 115km each way. We had been told that you could take the caravan and stay at some camps along the way but Peter and Colleen from Lucky Bay had advised against it as the road is unmade although well maintained. As we started out we met the grader doing just that and a sterling job of it, but as the day was drizzling all day we were glad not to have towed the van along the red mud roads. We did see a couple of vans and were doubly pleased, the cleanup would be horrendous. It sticks like … fill in the gaps people.

We stopped at the signposted viewing sights along the way but our first real stop was Disappointment Rock which advertises richly interpreted walk trails. That’s one way to describe this one.  They are fairly careful not to have too many signs along the way you could say.  In fact Boy Scout Ian was lost for a while and kept on telling me ‘interesting, interesting’. I always worry when he says that and after quite a lot of scenic routes (lost) we did get back on the trail which was supposed to be 1892m (we think twice that for us!) and really enjoyed the view from the top, several times!! Along the way we were able to appreciate the magnificent rock formations and ever changing plants which seem to manage to survive in the tiniest crevices.

We then drove on to McDermid Rock and had lunch before tackling this walk with some trepidation in view of the previous experience.  However it was so much better and we only covered the area as the map prescribed, a mere 1271m with quite a bit of mountain goating to begin with then a pleasant walk around the bottom of the wall to see the fantastic wave formation which we will put up on the blog tomorrow.

On the guide brochure there was a story of a pastoralist who came out here and took up a lease for country immediately west of Lake Johnston in 1954. He was unsuccessful, which is no surprise as this is not the sort of country you would find easy to have cattle on as the water supply is poor and the country very scrubby. He built a house however which was located about 7km off the road off a bush track.  My curiosity got the better of me and we set out to find it.  Big mistake, me thinks about 6.5km in with the track seeming to get narrower and not even sure if we are on the right track as it isn’t signposted. The small (1m) trees are growing up in the middle of the track and we are going straight over the top, not to mention the branches which have probably removed all the duco on the sides.  However Ian is determined and on we go. We all know how he like to use the four wheel drive for the purpose for which it was created don’t we? Anyway we had plenty of water on board and two muesli bars so I figure it can’t be all bad.  

We finally have to admit defeat when we really really run out of road at 7.5km and reluctantly (not for me, I can see we’re going to go off the end of the earth if he has his way!), turn back. About 200m on the way back I let out a scream and see some old tree stumps which have been house stumps and lo and behold an old stove.  Eureka we shout!  This is the place and I have to admit it was worth it, now. How on earth this man J.O. Magee thought he was going to make a go of it in here I will never know.  I just pray he didn’t take some poor woman with him.  I can’t believe this was only done in the year I was born. It seems far more plausible to have been one hundred years ago.  As I said photos tomorrow (I hope!).

Thursday 26th April to 3rd May 2012

We drove from Esperance to Cape Le Grande National Park and one of our favourite places, Lucky Bay.  We loved our short visit there last year so made a diversion from our inland plan to spend some time enjoying the magnificent scenery of the beach. As you can see it is absolutely glorious. The sand is so white and the water so blue you really have to be there to appreciate it. The sand is so fine and squeaky that it doesn’t even cling to your feet and it is lovely to walk upon.  It was a tad windy but otherwise most days were warm and sunny in patches.

Ian had picked up the flu I caught from Norah so was feeling pretty average for the first couple of days so spent his days reading while I had a lovely time with my patchwork.  We had a walk each day which we thoroughly enjoyed and after a few wistful paddles decided to take our lives in our hands and have a swim. At first we couldn’t decide if the water was so cold that we were numb or if it wasn’t too bad.  Anyway we went all the way in just to be able to say we swam at Lucky Bay in the Southern Ocean. Hooray for us, even if everyone else at the park thought we were certifiable!

The National Park is really great as it has toilets that flush --- try long drop toilets for a week if you’re laughing at us, and even showers which are warm if the solar has any luck!  They also have fresh water available which is great as we were able to use our own showers and fill the tank, although we were very pleased with how long our tank lasted.  We don’t have any power in the park and now that we have made some alterations to the lights our battery power lasted for the whole week even with watching DVD’s at night so we are very comfortable.  There is no phone or internet which was fine for the week.

Ian was chatting to the ranger who called around twice a day until the camp hosts settled in a relayed a horrifying yet amusing story. Ian had been asking about the little birds who are in abundance, together with the roos, but that’s another story. Anyway the ranger was telling Ian about the birds and what a great job they are doing controlling the flies which in previous years had been a great problem. He then told Ian that recently he had picked up a domestic cat in the park and was taking it back to his vehicle when two male French tourists rushed up to him and said ”You have found our cat, thank you!”.  The rangers eyes grew wide and wild as he said “So this is your cat?”, “Ah, yes it is”, they replied.   “Don’t you know you can’t bring a cat into the National Park” he asked askance that they had been so pleased to see him holding their feline, in a non too friendly way as he was just about to ‘dispose’ of same. “No”, they said full of innocence, “we saw the sign that said no dogs, but it didn’t say anything about cats!” Sigh, from the ranger as he patiently told them it meant ALL pets. He then told them they had to take their …… cat with them and leave immediately, at which they asked if they could have a refund on their camping fees.   He assured them they could not and that they were lucky he wasn’t giving them a $200 fine for their trouble and that they had better leave NOW before he changed his mind.  Ah dear, the life of a ranger is not all beer and skittles!

One of many stories the rangers and camps hosts have I’m sure but the great majority of campers are great we are assured.
I will keep you waiting for the photos - poor internet connection here!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Saturday 21st April to Wednesday 25th April

Before we travelled on to Port Lincoln I mentioned that we had stopped overnight in Tumby Bay and we enjoyed a walk along the foreshore which has many historic markers to read.  One of these which rather amused us talked about the history of the police stations of the area.

The Police Station was built in 1908. Prior to this time the policeman lived in a tent or boarded with a local resident. If a person became difficult to control there was no jail to keep them overnight. They were known to be tied to a jetty pole and released the next morning before the tide came in!  How’s that Kate, makes the cells in Shepparton look like a palace! It’s to be hoped the policeman on duty remembered the poor sod before his feet got too wet, bet there weren’t too many reoffending in that area.

After Tumby Bay and a purchase from the local patchwork store, which, instead of having paper or plastic bags has complimentary shopping bags made by the local CWA, a really great idea. We stopped overnight in Port Lincoln in a park in pouring rain, making setting up the van very difficult and soaking us through.  The next morning was considerably brighter and we set off having done the obligatory load of washing and charging up of power and water tanks full for a few nights on the road.

Our decisions are based on how we feel when we wake up or how we think the weather is going to go over the next couple of days.  We went on to Streaky Bay and then Ceduna. In Ceduna we stayed at the Airport Caravan Park, unexpectedly as we couldn’t find a suitable roadside camp so another night on the power and water which was nice. 

Off on the morning to the Nullabor with a couple of caravans preceeding us and giving us a rundown on the CB radio of every notable and not so notable point they noticed along the way.  It was really hilarious to hear their chatter, one wonders if they realise the whole world can hear them!  We knew in advance of every truck and unusual tree on the road and such questions as ‘why are there all these solar panels set up?”  Could it be to facilitate new technology Ian pondered and was tempted to reply but I suggested that he should shut up and just enjoy! Any way it passes the time and the Nullabor is verrry long!

One thing which is always interesting along the Nullabor are the roadhouses which are uniquely Australian both in their appearance and the staff who work in these truly remote situations.  The price of petrol is also truly awesome!  The first we stopped at was $1.99, the next $2.02, $2.03 and finally $2.04. Thank goodness we have 180litres in our tank so we can afford to be choosy.  One place we did get fuel at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse and Motel, Ian had a very interesting conversation with the manager who relayed the story of a phone call she had had from Canberra from the people who monitor satellites to say that the satellites had identified a flare having been fired off south of the roadhouse and asked to speak to the mayor.  She replied that she didn’t have any idea who the mayor was and the guy asked her what was the population of the town.  Six, she replied to which he said the whole town not the place she worked at. She then informed him that the roadhouse was indeed the whole town.  He then wanted to know did she have a boat and could she take it down to the water to have a look for the flare.  She said she did have a boat but it had a hole in it and it would take two hours to get to the water most of which was four wheel drive and she would then have to throw it about thirty metres off the top of the cliff! He then decided to follow it up by some other means!  God help the poor people who set off the flare, because Canberra certainly couldn’t.

We stopped for the night on the Great Australian Bight and it is awesome. Truly the end of the world and straight down with no forgiving ledges to catch you if you stray too close.  We parked well back, unlike the Winebago which perched right up close to the edge.  The wind blew all night, enough to blow out the gas on the fridge so in the morning it was not as cold as it should have been but as we travelled along it soon came back up. During our stop I cooked up all our vegetables and froze them to ensure we didn’t give up too much as the quarantine checkpoint at Eucla on the South Australian/West Australian border. They are very thorough and even checked out my knitting bags and under the bed in the van as well as all the cupboards and fridge.  One lettuce was all they were given. I’m getting good at utilising things.

After crossing the border we spent last night at a roadside camp Domblegibby. Not flash but we were only sleeping there. However we were treated with a beautiful sunrise and one of us was indeed up for it unlike most of you. No Anzac service but we were thinking of them.

 Our lunch spot was named Bay 13, so I couldn’t resist a photo, but as I later found out it was a bad day for the Bombers so a bad omen after all.

We had hoped to be somewhere for an Anzac Day service but it was not to be and we are now in the same park in Esperance that we stayed in last year prior to going down to Cape Range National Park which we loved so much on our previous visit.  The weather looks good so we’re hopeful. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Promised Photos!

Now aren't you glad you waited for these!  We're off today after a very rainy day on Port Lincoln - the tuna capital of Australia.  Guess they were out there yesterday somewhere but we couldn't see them!  Quick update "Go Bombers" and "What a shame Hawthorn!". Who's on the top of the ladder I wonder!!!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Thursday 19th and Friday 20th April, 2012

We stopped in a park at Murray Bridge, our first park stop for this trip. We haven’t had the opportunity to use our water waste pipe since Ian modified its storage after seeing the idea on another van. So as you can see it is a success! Our water waste pipe is now stored in a conduit pipe under the van which saves Ian rolling it up, getting dirty and having to secure it with the water hose on the front tray of the van.  I know, small things amuse …….. but we’re pretty pleased with it anyway!

After Murray Bridge we drove on to Mannum, Gawler and Clare before we stopped near Gulnare at the James Ainsworth Horrock Monument Rest Area for the night. It was beside the road and the trucks and cars were thundering through, but Ian as usual assured me that it would quieten down at night (yeah right!), but it was a very pleasant outlook nonetheless with a magnificent sunrise.

On Friday morning we set off onto Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Whyalla and Cowell before Tumby Bay which is where we are stopped for the night in a council roadside stop. No power or facilities, but cheap and cheerful!

The weather has been beautiful, each day 30 degrees although the weather is due to change over the weekend and perhaps be cooler next week. Certainly the local farmers will be very happy to see some rain, as they are all starting to sow crops.

Tomorrow we’re off further around the coast to Port Lincoln for some fresh fish we hope!  The pictures of Ian's magnificent engineering achievements will not upload today so don't worry I'll put them up tomorrow!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th 2012

After we crossed the border we went on to a small town called Tantanoola where we stopped for lunch thinking it was a pleasant place for a break and then we decided to stay the night and have a relaxing afternoon when I was able to complete one block of my Baby Jane quilt and Ian finally started to catch up on his reading. Every year he says he will read when we get home and has a great stack of books ready but other things happen and the books lie idle until we travel again and we forget to turn the TV on and instead enjoy music and sewing for me and reading for Ian.

However Tantanoola was an intriguing place which you wouldn’t glance at twice until you sit and look around. For example there is the famous Tantanoola Tiger. There was an enormous dog and we do mean enormous dog nearly 100 years ago which travelled around the district having as many jumbucks as he wanted. According to the newspaper cutting in the dining room, he ended up with the local constabulary from Mount Gambier ‘on his tail’. Finally they brought him down and a taxidermist did his work and he is now interred in the Tantanoola pub dining room where we had a cooling ale in order to learn of the story of the Tantanoola Tiger. So this was not an idle drinking night ---- pure research!

There is also a plaque to remember some servicemen who crashed nearby in WW2 after running out of fuel on a mission to look for a submarine that had been reported nearby. Very sad, as the pilot killed was only 27.

The first attraction for me to Tantanoola was the old railway station and building which certainly added charm. It is quite a busy street as it is only ten minutes from Millicent which has a large Bowater Scott factory there and close enough to commute to Mount Gambier.

They also have a ripper footy team who were premiers in their league in 2006 – more knowledge gleaned from the pub, great fonts of information. We heard the fellas training in the evening as the surrounds are very quiet and they certainly employed some forthright language to encourage each other for the next match!

On Wednesday we set off to Millicent, Kingston SE and had lunch at Salt Creek. Then to Meningie, Tailem Bend and tonight a park at Murray Bridge for our first night with power.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

First Days – Sunday 15th and Monday 16th April, 2012

Well we finally departed after lunch on Sunday after a traumatic episode of plumbing failure in the caravan before we even drove out the drive.  Thank God for Craig Collins at Solar City Caravan Services. Once again it seems vans are prepared to last for the period of warranty and not much more and they need to look good! As Craig says van manufacturers should not be allowed to use silicone guns – they are not a fixit for everything as we have discovered.

However we left confident that we are right now which is the main thing. As we got to the top of Gordon Drive and turned right into Kialla Lakes Drive, those fateful words were uttered by Ian “now do we turn right or left!”. Goodness, have we not had this discussion every year. Beats me how we make it to the other side of the country, but we always do! So I made the decision, one of many I intend to make, having decided navigation can’t be so hard, to turn left.

Onwards through Murchison and ending up at the end of the day in Ararat! Those who know us will remember a not so memorable year we spent there when Ian was the Town Clerk. Well we stayed the night at Green Hill Lake which was great.

Today we explored during the morning and visited some old haunts including Ararat 800 Primary School which Kate will remember fondly as a very friendly place to start school. We also took a photo of our house which honestly has not fared so well. We found some interesting shops too and made a purchase of fabric (there goes that resolution!).

We also found a really interesting project in the window of one shop which was an enormous woven basket made by 100 school children from Ararat, Stawell and the wider regional community with the assistance of basket maker Cherree Densley. The theme behind the project was “We’re all in the same basket” and on the information sheet we were given there is a photo of a number of children sitting in the basket so you can get some idea of the size.

We also walked up to the top of the town and photographed the Edith Cavell Memorial Gardens which I should have done 26 years ago when we lived there, but there you go mum, this is for you. I’m proud to say my mum is related to this very fine nurse who was executed in 1915.

So on we went and we find ourselves now right on the S.A. border, cooking onions, apples and bananas (yes you can cook them!) because I’ll be damned if I’m giving them up at the quarantine station (again!).

Tomorrow we’re into S.A. and gaining half an hour too!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Nearly off!

Well it certainly doesn't seem like a year since we set off for our 2011 trip to Western Australia and other parts, but we left before Easter last year and this year it will be after Easter before we are on our way.
Since we came home in August it has been very busy and the phrase "I don't know how I had time to work" has been used nearly every week! 
Firstly, there was the wonderful arrival of Olivia Katherine Martin in August which we were thrilled to celebrate with Pete and Dawn on the day of her arrival and for a few days afterwards.  We have since made three further trips to Gosford and now Narara where they have recently settled into their new house and have had a wonderful time on each visit watching her grow and begin to know who we are.  We're guessing the visits will continue to be frequent!
Norah, of course continues to be a joy and grows more adorable all the time.  We are very lucky to have her on Wednesdays for the whole day now that Kate has returned to full-time work.  On the other days she trots off to Family Day Care equally happily.  I take her for her swimming lesson and its a bit like water aerobics with weights but ably supported by Megan the swimming instructor ensuring we all have a great time.  Of course baby chinos at the coffee shop are an important part of the routine as well,  and at the moment Grandpa is spoiling her with Easter treats of chocolate. Ah the joys of grandparenting as we often tell the children its much better than parenting and if we'd known we would have skipped having kids and gone straight for the grandkids!
All of this makes you think how will we leave, and I guess that is partly why we are a bit late leaving this year, but there have been other reasons. Mundane things like needing to do a bit (a lot actually!) of maintenance around the house and getting the garden in order and making sure we will come home to some order around the place. We also decided we would like to avoid the Easter panic and we do have plenty of time to do what we want to.
Which brings me to the plan of what we are going to do.   Actually, its a bit like every year, we have no idea!  Tonight Warwick asked where we were going and Ian said "no plans, yet". We do know we are going back to Western Australia as you would realise from last year we fell in love with that part of the country and know we barely scratched the surface. Beyond that, well we'll get to the end of Gordon Drive and decide on how we get there.
So when we do I'll put it on the post, and no, I do now need any corny remarks on my ability to navigate or tell where I am. I'm going to be much better this year I've decided, so we'll see how that plan works!!
The van will be packed early next week, the patchwork, knitting and books loaded, clothes in the wardrobes, and food in the pantry and fridge, NO honey this year, couldn't stand the worry at the checkpoints thank you and we'll be off!