Melbourne to Perth
9/1/13: We are still in Melbourne, doing odd bits to the van. I'm doing 6 shifts at work for some extra spending money before we head off. Most likely we'll be on our way in the last week of January.
27/1/13: We're off tomorrow, but only for a week or so. Part of me being able to work when I want (which isn't very often) is that I maintain my training and keep up to date with any changes to work practices. That usually equates to one day a year of training. This years training is running at the moment, until May, so if I don't do it before I go, I'll have to come back to do it. I'm booked in to do it 6th February. I worked 4 days last year, and I've already done 6 this year, so the training day really will have to be the last one.
We're going back to Johanna Beach on the Ocean Road with some chums for a few days, back for training, and then off towards Adelaide after that.
We're looking at buying a house down on the coast for when we get back. We'll do that while we are down at the beach. We're not sure what we want, but my favourite at the moment is a 10 acre block with 6 natural springs feeding a trout lake. There's no house, but we could build one. How hard can it be? And it'd take ages. If we drag it out, we'd be far to old to go back to work so we'd probably have to retire permanently. Probably need some money at some point though...
19/2/2013 : Well we are well on our way now. We had a few days in Johanna as planned, and ended up putting an offer in on a house. In the end, we didn't buy it as someone else wanted to pay more than us. It was a bit drawn out, but in the end we are happy. We've since looked at a couple of others and are happy to bide our time.
We headed back to Melbourne again and I did my training day at work which was easy enough. We stayed a few more days for a couple of birthday parties before getting ready for the big off.
We went back to Johanna again as its a good base to have a quick look at properties. A mate came down for the night, and we stayed a couple of nights. From there we headed to Terang to stay a night with one of Janines friends. This is the reverse direction to our run home last year. It was our intention to head inland from Terang to Adelaide, but there are a few wild fires blocking the way so we decided to hug the coast.
Last night we stayed at Killarney reserve again, and it was boiling hot. 39C with strong winds. It was too hot even standing in the sea. Thankfully it cooled down before bedtime, although our new fans did make a difference inside the van.
Today we drove back to Mount Shank, another place we stopped at on the way home last year. In a couple of days we'll be back into 'new' territory although we've both been to Adelaide before (I lived there for 7 long years).
From here on in, I'll update things a lot more regularly. We've been a bit caught up in 'normal' life for ages, so it didnt seem worth typing it up.
20/2/13: We left Mt Shank this morning and headed further along the coast line towareds Adelaide. Its quite a nice drive, but it was very smokey from the fires. I'm glad we stayed on the coast because its a little windier and clearer. We made it as far as Granite Rocks; a place we have stayed before.
21/2/13: We left Granite Rocks and didn't need to stop for much, so we drove on through Meningie to Wellington. We decided to turn off here and head inland through smaller roads than stay on the freeway into Adelaide.
We were surprised to find we needed to cross a river on a ferry at Wellington. It was free and ran every few minutes.
Also, the road signs are pretty unique to South Australia. Most states have signs relating to not speeding, or drink driving. But none quite like South Australia (see pics).
We stopped at a free camp at Frank Potts Reserve just beyond Wellington. Good toilets and fairly busy. A nice treed area. And the TV tuned in off the small antenna, so Survivor for us!
22/2/13: We got up a bit early today as we wanted to have a bit of a look around Adelaide. I lived there for 7 years and Jano has been there a couple of times, so we didn't intend to linger.
We drove in via Mount Lofty, which is in the hills looking over Adelaide. Adelaide was purpose built and the CBD is 0ne square kilometre surrounded by parks. We stopped in town for a walk along the river which was nice. Very hot again today - about 38C.
We drove out to the suburbs, and I showed Jano my old house. Looked quite good - new lawn and roof. We went to the shops for a few supplies and a new milk frother, before headed through the burbs and north. We are staying the night at another free beach camp at Port Parham. Theres not much here, except other cheapskates like us. The tide is out at the moment, to the point where you can't see the sea from the 'beach'. Good toilets though, and free water. Solar bags are filled and heating, curry for tea, and TV tuned in without getting the satellite out. Perfect.
23/2/13: We left Port Parham this morning after refilling our water tanks and headed north up the A1 to Port Pirie. A lot of the northern towns in South Australia are pretty industrial and not that pleasant. We got some supplies at Port Pirie, and drove on to Port Augusta, which if anything is worse. We didn't stop.
Its fairly grassy around this part of South Australia, and quite nice to drive through. There are heaps of salt flats.
We decided not to go around the Eyre Penninsula, and set off across the top off it. That will save us a few hundred kilometres. We stopped for the night at a small town called Kimba, which is designated as RV friendy. They supply somewhere to park, toilets and water. There were a couple of other vans there. It was stinking hot still, but it eventally cooled off during the night.
24/2/13: This morning we continued along the Eyre Highway westbound, taking a detour to Streaky Bay. Its called that apparently because of the seaweed oils in the water. We didn't see any. It a smallish town and we stopped for a walk and lunch.
Next stop Ceduna. it's starting to get 'outback' ish around here. A bigger portion of the population is aboriginal, although those we saw were horizontal lying in the street. 60000 years of no alcohol, and alcohol don't really mix. We stopped for some food supplies at the supermarket and left.
We spent the night 150 kms west of Ceduna by the side of the road. There was no one else there. Its a good night on the telly tonight so we set up the satellite (eventually) and spent the evening drinking tea and watching our shows.
There is a lot of driving to do, and its pretty repetitive. Plus you have to wave at every passing car to be polite which wears thin pretty quickly. I made a splint out of a Magnum icecream stick to permanently hold my waving finger in the air. Might patent it.
25/2/13: Another day of driving in a straight line today. After about an hour we stopped at the Nullabor Roadhouse. It was great - we had a coffee and some chips, and had a hot shower for a dollar. We even filled up a spare container of water so I could wash the solar panels later.
The nullabor is a flat limestone plain that's risen out of the sea. It covers 200,000 sq kms. There are no trees, just low shrubs that survive well in arid areas. All very interesting, but makes for a pretty boring drive!
After leaving the Roadhouse we set off for the border with Western Australia. They are very big on quarantine and you have to give up your fruit and veg, honey, and wash soil off your car. We decided we'd stop at a road stop just short of the border and eat everything we've got. Hopefully we can do it in a day.
On the way, we stopped at a couple of lookouts. We weren't expecting much but it was about as spectacular as you'll see anywhere. Made the day.
26/2/13: This morning we drove a few miles west to the Western Australia border. There's a roadhouse there, so we refuelled and had showers. Diesel hasn't been as expensive as I'd thought it would be - about $1.90 / litre rather than $1.50 or so in the cities.
We handed over our left over apples and honey at quarantine, and drove along Australia's longest straight road - 145 kms without a bend. It was boring before! Not much happened really. The scenery didn't change, there was nothing to stop and look at, so we just drove. And then we pulled off the road and made our camp.
The dogs have got it sussed out driving in the front with us. They used to be in the back, but they didn't like it. They're not tied up or in a cage or anything but we figure if we crash, we can all go out together.
27/2/13: More of the same today although there were a few bends in the road. And we made it to Norseman - the first town for ages. It's not much - just an outback town. We bought some bread at the supermarket, and kept going. We drove about half way to Esperance.
The are some gums in this area which are salmony in colour. They're called salmon gums. I think there might be a fish named after them. They look pretty good in the sunshine. Photos don't really do them justice. Anyhoo, we camped off the road again.
28/1/13: We made it to Esperance today, and treated ourselves to a 'brew and poo' at Macdonalds. We als restocked at the supermarket, and filled up with diesel.
We have decided to pay for a couple of nights at the cheapest caravan park in town ($28 per night for an unpowered site!!). Australia really has become ridiculously overpriced. We just fancy some grass under our feet, and need to do the washingand have a general clean up. We also have to pay a $50 bond for the dogs which we lose if they get caught off lead. It is pretty hot and windy today, so all the washing got done and dried. The TV tuned in off the small ariel, so Survivor here we come.
2/3/13: Still raining today. We've decided to move on. All our water is topped up, and we headed to the supermarket and filled up there too. Our batteries are at about 80% full at the moment. There are no breaks in the clouds, and it has been drizzling for a while and will for a couple of days yet apparently.
We took the Great Ocean Drive which is a circular drive out of Esperance. It was a really great drive - as good as the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. It was a pity the visibility was down to not much as it didn't do it justice. There are a hundred or so islands just off the coast in Esperance but we didn't see many of them.
Once back in Esperance we drove along the main highway towards Albany. After 150 kms we turned left back down to the coast at Hopetoun, and left again along a beach road. We found a free camp at 12 Mile Beach and parked up. It took ages to set up the satellite again. Because it's upside down, Im getting the angles all wrong. Plus both the compass and iphone compass are pretty inaccurate, swinging around everywhere. Now its set up, I can see where i went wrong (I think), so we'll see for next time.
3/3/13: Still parkedup in the same place. It rained a lot today but the cloud was higher, so the batteries went up from 70% this morning to about 90%. We had a quick walk on the beach and then cooked a roast in the bbq. It was ok. A full night of TV viewing tonight. We haven't told the satellite company we're in Western Australia, so all the shows are in Melbourne time zone - 3 hours ahead. So instead of having to stay up til gone midnight to watch, we're done by 9.30. Much better.
4/3/13: Woke up to blue skies and sunshine today. We went down to the beach again and it looks totally different. Tropical almost. The sea is coldish, but there's a shallow channel at the beach that is quite warm. Even went for a swim. Clive had his first swim today. He wasn't sure but he didn't drown. The batteries are topped up again which is good. We're thinking we'll try and stay here til Friday (8th) if the food doesn't run out.
6/3/13: After a few days at the beach, we decided to move on. We drove back into Hopetoun, and found a tap, a dump point, and a supermarket, so filled up and emptied our tanks and headed off. We drove back north to Ravensthorpe on the main highway and continued west. For about 5 kms. Then we got hungry and stopped for lunch at a roadside stop. We got talking to a few people there, and everyone decided to stay there for the night.
7-10/3/13: Today, our aim is to get to somewhere around Albany and have a good look round. The weather isn’t the best, so it was nice to be on the move. The road is a fair way from the coast, so the drive was much the same as all the other drives recently. By mid afternoon we started looking for a roadside stop, but there wasn’t anywhere suitable. So we decided to find a caravan park before or in Albany. We ended up turning off the highway looking for a couple of parks that were signposted from the road. After much ado, we found them but none took dogs. Survivor is on tonight, so we were starting to get frustrated. Our next option was to go past Albany, and stay at a free camp called Cosy Corner. Fortunately, our ramblings through the countryside brought us into Albany the back way, so we stopped for some more food, and kept going. Albany looks very nice. Quite upmarket, with lots of nice shops and cafes etc.
After 20 minutes in Albany (to be fair we did see the main centre 3 times while Jano worked out the map) we left, and made it to Cosy Corner. This site is amongst the dunes, and is very sandy. It was also quite full, and we nearly got bogged finding a place out the back. We got set up in time to see the second half of Survivor.
The next day, we moved to a different pitch which was flatter and out of the wind. We got chatting to another couple of couples which was good, and had a pleasant social few days. We didn’t do much as usual, just beach walks and chit chatting. The sand here is very dark, and its pretty hard to stay clean.
11/3/13: Today we left Cosy Corner, and drove to Denmark. Denmark is very nice. Just a small village really but with good coffee and shops. It was pouring down, and we had a couple of looks at the caravan parks because we still needed a shower and had some washing to do from last week. In the end, we decided to move on and look for something else. There is a caravan park on a farm near Margaret River, so we aimed for that, with a freecamp on the way. We drove and drove, and none of the roadside stops were any good.
We turned left at Manjimup, and after 20 kms or so, we drove into a forest at Greens Island. There is a camp there, and it is advised as for small vehicles only. And it is – there are two trees next to road in which aren’t very far apart. We got through but only with a few inches to spare. The camp is a great place. The road circles a grassed area, with parking bays for vans off the road. Each bay has its own camp fire and picnic table. There are also smell free toilets, but no water.
12- /3/13: As planned, we made it to the farm stay today. It’s called Big Valley Campsite and its very casual. We are paying $24 a night which good nowadays. We have showers, and washing machines and water, and lots of acres to run the dogs around in. We’ve paid for three nights, but we think we’ll stay longer, and maybe nip into Margaret River for supplies and a look around, and come back.
On the way to the camp, we had a look around Augusta on the coast. It’s where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. You’re supposed to be able to see the different colours of the water but we couldn’t. Very wild and windy though.
22/3/13: Today we left the farm camp. It has been a really good few days. Most of the people staying there were friendly, and we got to know quite a few different couples. Some were even younger than us! We spent most evenings having social drinks, and it was great to hang around. We didn’t leave the camp much, but did venture into the town of Margret River which was nice enough, and went to a few of the wineries in the area with some chums. All in all it is a great place to stay.
From the camp we drove back south towards Augusta and out to the coast road. We stopped at Jewel Caves. The whole area is full of caves; this one is about 40 metres deep. Well worth a visit. The photos don’t really look as good as it is. We continued up the coast road, through Prevelly and Yallingup, and out to Sugarloaf Rock. We also looked at Eagle Bay which was very nice.
The last big town before our campspot was Busseltown. Much like many others, but it has a 1.8 kilometre wooden jetty which is impressive. We didn’t pay the fees to walk on it because we’re tight, but it looked god from the beach. Once done, we drove into Tuart Forest to a free camp. There were a couple of others there and we had an uneventful night.
23/3/13: We had breakfast and left the forest for Perth. One of the couples we met (Beryl and Peter) at the farm camp had a whippet, and they invited us to stay at their house in Perth. So we headed there via the coast road and parked outside their house. They are great. They made us very welcome, drove us around the sights in the evening, and fed us well. We’ll get them something and restock the fridge, but they insist we won’t. We’ll win. Its just nice to meet people who are so welcoming, although their family worry we might be axe murderers! Off into Perth tomorrow on the train. We did take a few photos of Perth from a lookout on our ‘guided tour’ but it was Earth Hour so they didn’t really come out which was annoying.
25/3/13: Today we spent the day around Beryl and Peter’s place. We took the dogs for a walk around the suburb and got a few bits from the supermarket. Apart from that it was a fairly quiet day which was nice.
26/3/13: Today we went into Perth on the train. Unlike Melbourne, its easy to buy train tickets, and the whole thing works well. It only took 15 minutes or so to get into the centre. Perth is quite small, but nicely positioned on the river. It’s much the same as other cities I suppose, but there are some nice old buildings in amongst the newer stuff. We walked to the river, and had lunch at a pub there. It was nice having no dogs to with us to worry about. After lunch we bought a couple of new dog beds, and headed back out to the ‘burbs. We were provided with another nice dinner and had a relaxing evening.
27/3/13: After breakfast today, we left Beryl and Peter’s, and went to the local shopping centre to get some food and a new phone. We’d already stocked up on water and we set to go. After an hour or so, Beryl rang to say we’d left the dog leads, so we popped back to get them, and seeing as it was lunch time….
After lunch, we left again. We had decided to go back south a little bit to a large foresty reserve area near Dwellingup. It’s about an hour away, and inland a bit. The Camps book says there are several camping areas, and its supposed to be quite nice. When we got there, we found that most of the camp areas were ‘reserved’ for people over the Easter long weekend, so we drove further in to a camp area called Nanga Townsite. We missed it twice because we were looking for some sort of historic town site. As it turns out, it’s a parking space by the side of the road, with a bin, and a sign saying Nanga Townsite. It was all a bit disappointing really, although the forest was nice. It was quite late, so we cooked dinner, and watched a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey before bed. It was a cold night which was a nice change.
I'll start a new section from Perth up to Darwin to save on the scrolling down. Details of that are here