We are Mike and Nita currently living in Dorset.
Having decided we would like to do some travelling and not really the backpacking or camping type we decided to try our hand at house swapping. We joined a couple of web sites for the over 50s - www.seniorhomeexchange.com and www.homeexchange50plus.com and we are off!
We travel to South Africa on February 11th. We move onto Perth, Western Australia on the 5 March, not returning to Dorset until 28 May. Rather than send lots of emails we thought a blog might be a better way of keeping in touch with friends and family.
Joining us on the first part of our trip is my sister Karen and Brother in law Bill. They are going to fly to Cape Town and explore that area for about a week and then drive up to join us in Kynsna where we will be based.
May 17th 2011
Our friend Lorraine kindly took us to Perth airport to catch the 2hr flight to Exmouth. We were excited at the prospect of seeing whale sharks and had bought masks and snorkels for the trip. Sea Breezes used to be part of an American Naval Base (600 US personnel were stationed there). It still operates but on a smaller scale now run by the Australian Navy who have 100 personnel stationed at the communication centre. The rooms are self catering, clean and functional and are the nearest to the reef and national park . Exmouth itself is an interesting place. It takes its name from the ocean adjacent to the town, it was named by Captain Phillip Parker King in 1818. Its renowned for being one of the most treacherous coastlines. The wreck of the Mildura ... read more
May 11th 2011
Another great week. We have been up into Perth Hills. Its north-east of Perth, an area of orchards, farms and vineyards. We met up with another couple of house swappers, Don and Sue. They have a lovely house overlooking the hills. Don and Sue have travelled the world mostly house swapping and travelling in a campervan. We also discovered "Scoopon" its an online bargain centre. We bought a package which included a round of golf at Kwinana Golf Club, cart and drinks for $59 - we had a great day out for under 30 pounds. If you come to Australia log on to Scoopon it's fantastic; you can buy packages for all sorts including todays bargain of plastic surgery!!! I wish we had found out about it earlier. Jim Bray, Mikes golf pal, suggested we go ... read more
April 13th 2011
Due to the opening of the new Indian Ocean Drive (Sept '10) it is now only a couple of hours drive from Perth to the mid west of WA. Although only 250klms from here it is a different world. Before the road opened these small towns existed due to the Rock Lobster and fishing industry. After the first 100klms there is nothing but open roads and bush. Our destination, Cervantes - population 503, named after an American Whaling Ship which went down in 1844. The wreck was later discovered (1969) by a local diver, called Laurif WALSH - I kid you not (my maiden name). Cervantes sits alongside 505 hectares of the Nambung Reserve and has some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. We stayed in the Cervantes Holiday Units. They are what ... read more
April 9th 2011
Golf is hugely popular here in WA with a multitude of both public and private golf courses, all of which are always well supported. The public courses are run by the Council with a Pro shop providing lessons and equipment; they cost the equivalent of 15 to 20 pounds for 18 holes, great value, Nita and I have played 3 so far. Membership of the private clubs is similar to back home but you have to pay huge joining fees and stick a wedge behind the bar. At my club it is $4,500 to join plus around $2,000, thankfully I didn't have to pay that. In our region we are within 20 minutes of four private clubs, two of them allow a temporary membership for overseas visitors or service personnel. My application for the Western Australian ... read more
April 4th 2011
Still very hot, not a day below 32 but this week it is set to change. By Thursday it should be 28 and the forecast includes showers, which the Aussies are crying out for. We have been to the Swan Valley this week to the histroric town of Guildford. A settlement was established there in 1829 by Captain James Stirling. As it sits on the banks of the Swan river it soon became a busy river port and trading centre. We did a couple of Heritage Walks along the river and round the town. The chapel of St Mary and St George was consecrated in 1914. All pretty old for Australia!! We are now into our Aussie life and go nowhere without a picnic and water. We sat in the park with the parrots for company ... read more
March 24th 2011
A busy week - Saturday we went for tea with our Aussie friends Keith and Lorraine. They live very close to the Swan River. Keith is a keen "paddler" and offered to lend us a Kayak. However, Bull Sharks have been seen in the river (this week) due to the hot weather so we declined! They introduced us to another couple of house swappers from Vancouver, Keith and Robyn. They are staying up in the hills where there have been quite a lot of fires so they had decided to go south for a while to escape the heat. On Sunday we headed south to the Margaret River area (350K) from Perth. What we didn't know was that once a year they close the freeway for a charity cycle ride. It was Sunday and we had ... read more
March 23rd 2011
We have settled into life in Western Australia and thought it was worth mentioning how we are getting on, on a day to day basis. The first thing is the Australians themselves. Before getting here I had the impression that (gleaned mostly from sports programmes in the UK) Aussies were a bit loud, and a bit full of themselves. That isn't the case at all; the Aussies are warm, friendly, polite and helpful all the time. Whether you meet them in a shop, golf course, on the beach or public transport they just seem happy to chat and answer questions. They are often fascinated by the concept of house swapping and seem to think it is a wonderful idea, which had previously been unattainable for them. The heat here has been pretty much relentless. Every day ... read more
March 16th 2011
Mike and I made it to the rugby by public transport, a combination of bus and train. Its cheap, easy and very clean but made more complicated by the fact part of the train line was having new points installed. The whole transport system is called 'transperth' and you buy a ticket that includes all the different elements. Even with the line closure we didn't have any trouble and all the staff were efficient and friendly. The game was a part of the 'Super 15' rugby with teams from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa competing, so a very good standard with planty of international players. We saw the local Perth team 'Western Force' draw 22 - 22 with the 'Blues' from New Zealand, who had coincidentally travelled on our plane from Jo'Berg, although they had ... read more
March 10th 2011
Once again we have been very lucky, the house is great. Modern, 4 bed detached bungalow north Perth, not far from the coast. At first we were a bit shell shocked by how busy it was but we then found out it was BH week end! We are now much more orientated. The great thing about the houses here is that the vast majority are single storey with lots of trees around them. So although you are in a built up area it doesnt feel hemmed in. In our "yard" we have a tree full of parrots, australian magpie and kookaburra. The noise in the mornings is all the alarm you need! There are two public courses (about 15 pounds for 18 holes) within a short distance of the house but we decided that it would ... read more
March 8th 2011
Here are some photos from South Africa.... read more