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!