Published: February 10th 2010February 9th 2010
Big eroded rock on granite island.
Welcome to this weeks edition of Bloggers digest.
Firstly we want to give a big welcome to our newest subscriber to the blog, Banj’s Mum, Lesley. Also a BIG Happy Birthday to Dad/Bryn/Uncle Bryn and a congratulations to Sarah Robinson on the birth of your new daughter, thanks for the message.
So what’s been happening on the Oz tour 2009/2010. Well, we have been to one of the best beaches thus far on our trip, and you know we have been to 100’s so it really was a goody, we were back to 3 in the van for a night, but the unwanted guest was from the rodent family, we were awoken in the middle of the night when we were miles from anyone or anything and we have crossed the Nullarbor Plain, so all in all it has been quite an eventful week.
So when we left Adelaide last week we headed towards Port Augusta some 300ish km up the road. We got there and saw a McDonald’s, now yes we do enjoy the occasional burger, but for those who don’t know, you can in fact get free WIFI with your dinning experience. We usually opt for
2 out of 3 aint bad!
a 50c ice cream which are in fact pretty good. So we Skyped (internet based webcam phone) a few people for an hour until we felt a 50c ice cream didn’t warrant another hour on the internet, so we went back to the van. We decided to camp there for the night as it was starting to get to late but unfortunately there were no free camp spots around so we had to head into the wilderness. We headed for a free camp spot 25km out of town in the middle of nowhere. We got there and nobody was to been seen, not just at the camp spot but for miles and miles so with the light fading fast we decided to drive to the next free camp spot another 10km down the road. When we got to the second spot again no one was around so we decided to go back to the original spot as it was a little closer to the town. So we parked up Harry, cooked dinner and settled down to sleep for the night.
Well after falling asleep we were awoken at 2:30am by a car racing past Harry in the gravel camp
area we were in. The car was doing “doughnuts” right next to us on the gravel/dirt, I looked out of the window to see a drunk Aboriginal man shouting at the van wakey wakey time to get up, and wake up wake up. In total there were 4 drunk Aborigine guys in the car, it was pretty nerve raking as we were in the middle of nowhere, no phone signal and in a van that is probably the slowest vehicle on the Australian roads. So, after frantically trying to get changed (I just could not find any of my clothes) and confirming with Kate “no definitely do not to turn any lights on I will find the clothes in the dark” or draw more attention to ourselves we needed to decide what to do. Drive and risk them chasing us on the road. Sit there and see if they try to get in the van or start hitting the van, or get out and confront them and tell them to be quiet as we were trying to sleep. Well my initial reaction was to push Kate out of the van to have a quiet word with them, but she wasn’t
Harry ready to hit the road after a couple of weeks rest
to keen so we opted for the “let’s just sit here and hope they go away” approach. Well we sat and watched them carry on like loonies in the camp area until they got board and moved on. We saw them stop at a lay-by about 100m from where we were and start to race around again. We at this point were no to sure what to do, if we drive away from them there is literally nothing for 100s of km, if we sit there they know we are there, or if we drove to the closet town 25km away it would also mean we had to drive past them. So whilst deciding on what to do we saw a large truck come along the road, stop near the other lay-by and switch the lights off. We thought the lorry and car may have collided or something, so was this our chance to get to the local town, we thought so. We had made sure the middle seat in the front was down so we could jump through in an emergency so I put the theory in to practice and jumped on through, Harry started first time (as always)
A big wind turbine arm. Near Streaky Bay
and we drove, but on passing the truck we could see that he had pulled in for the night along with another truck and the drunk gang had gone. Wooo, so we quickly pulled in, got in the back and lay there listening to the trucks refrigerator system trying to sleep.
In the morning we were relived to be alive (does that sound dramatic?) so we headed to Streaky Bay, this is where all the Australian streakers come from (really??) it’s like a nudists paradise. Anyway, we got there and went to a great beach, it was called Back Beach, worth a visit and after that we decided to opt for a real campsite for the night to gain a good night sleep.
The next day we decided to start the mammoth journey to cross the Nullarbor plain. For those who aren’t up to speed with Australian geography the “Nullarbor” is the road which joins South Australia and Western Australia. It is one long road which starts in Ceduna and finishes in Norseman the total distance is about 1300km and there are no real towns in-between. (to be totally accurate the Nullarbor plain in actually less than 100km
Just the 2 of us again!!
as that means “no-tree” in Aborigine but the whole road is 1300km)You can drive for hours and see nothing and the weather sure can get hot in the middle. So we thought what better way to spend our holiday, driving for miles, seeing nothing and getting really hot with no escape from the sun. I joke, it was actually a great experience, one which only a small percentage of Australians ever do, let alone people from over seas. We had been warned from many people along our travels about the dangers of crossing the Nullarbor, particularly in the summer months and in an old van. We were advised to tell a number of people when we were crossing and when we should be finishing, we were also advised to take enough water to last more than just the time it takes to cross just in case we broke down and also to make sure we had enough food. So anyway, I checked Harry’s water and oil before we headed off and he only needed al little top up of oil, we stocked up on lots of water, about 60 litres in total and did a big shop to ensure that
Kate could prepare lots of snacks along the way. We did meet one guy in his 60’s back in Sydney that actually broke down in his campervan whilst crossing, he was stuck half way across for three days before any mechanical help turned up and even then the price of the help was extortionate. So, we really didn’t want that to happen and it made us a bit nervous about the possibility we could be stuck in the middle of the plain.
So we loaded the van with supplies and headed to the fuel station, filled up with diesel and were set to go. As I was about to set off an Australian chap decided to start chatting to us, once finding out where we were from he asked if we watch EastEnders. Well ok we do watch it a bit back home, so he told us the whole story line for almost every character that has happened since we have been away, he was talking for a bout 40 minutes before I could squeeze a word in, and that word was “thanks for all the info, we had better hit the road” and with that we were off.
We were pretty sure everything was present and correct, fuel, food, water and maps so we started to drive. We got to Ceduna about 150km away from streaky bay which is the official start of the Nullarbor plain so we again topped up with fuel “just in case” and spoke to some local drunk Aborigines being over friendly one shouted out to me “like your t-shirt mate”, thanks very much I said and off we set. We shared the driving on this part of the leg as it is pretty hard going in the heat, especially when the wind is coming down from the north which makes it feel like a really big hairdryer blowing into the window constantly. So we chugged along at 80kmph (speed limit 110 kmph) and soon realised it seemed to be pretty standard practice to wave every time an oncoming vehicle goes by, so being keen to keep spirits up (not just ours) we decided to not only wave at campers and caravans, we extended our waving to truckers, but not just any wave, Kate wanted to “cheer the truckers up” as they have such a lonely drive a head. So, when we saw
Not much in front.....
anyone we would over exaggerate our waving to try to cheer them all up. We averaged about an 98% wave back score which we thought was pretty good.
To help the time pass we also had “movie time” in the van. We hooked up the laptop so we could hear the films coming out of Harry’s speakers so we watched some films we knew quite well like Cool Runnings, Mrs Doubtfire and Wimbledon (Orchy!) along the way, 100’s of km would fly by watching a film, we’ll apart from when we watched “Sex in the city- The movie”, that made the journey drag, but it was Kate’s choice and she was driving……..After all the films we decided to pull in for the night at the start of the Great Australian Bight (Bunda Cliffs), that’s the bit at the bottom of Australia that starts to go inland like a shark has bitten it. We pulled into a free camp area on the cliff edge looking over the ocean, a caravan with a chap and his wife was already parked up so we made sure they were staying, funny enough they were from Plymouth in Devon originally. Once we stopped a
couple more campers pulled in for the night. We had a walk along the cliff tops (see pic) and dinner before hitting the hay. In the morning we got an early start as we wanted to get to the other end, we started about 7:00am, but before we really got anywhere the wildlife seemed to be coming out to wave at us (they must have heard of our waving the day before), we saw two Emus, (see pic) a dingo (took the pic at speed) and lots of Kangaroos (all dead unfortunately, but I‘m sure they were waving). We filled up Harry again and got our heads down for the run, we currently can’t find the ipod so we listened to some really old tapes for a while, a particular favourite of Kate’s which we listened to for hours was Kylie and Jason’s “especially for you” which we both now know word for word. We stopped for lunch with about 500km to go and had a power hour in the back of the van to recharge the batteries. We tended to drive 200km each and then swap, it seemed to help the journey go faster taking it in turns to
drive. One time (at band camp) Kate had just about completed her 200km and a roadhouse came up so we decided to pull in and swap, I jumped in and drove straight off, as I was pulling out of the roadhouse a massive sign appears “90 mile straight, Australia’s longest straight road” (see pic), so at this point I tuned and smiled at Kate and forever more we can reminisce how I drove the straightest road in Australia, what a good time to swap drivers!! We didn’t overtake a sausage on the journey, but we did get overtaken by everyone, the road trains were particularly favourites to pass us, they made Harry pretty scared as he would shake vigorously every time they went pass. We also saw some of the most peculiar trees with things hanging from them. There were a few strange sights on the way which included a sock tree, bra tree, hat tree, pants tree and flag tree it was quite surreal to see these in the middle of nowhere. There were supposed to be camels out there which I found strange but we didn’t see any, they must have had the hump or something. ………..
So after 1300km, 16 hours driving and numerous bad songs and films we made it safely across the Nullarbor Plain without a hitch, we wanted to publicly say well done to Harry, he did a tremendous job getting us across without any dramas. When we got to Norseman we collected our official “I crossed the Nullarbor” certificates and headed another 90km to our camp spot.
We found a $10 a night camp ground which was one of the cheapest camp sites so far. This place was run by an oldish couple who lived onsite in their caravan for 6 months of the year, the other 6 months they went gold prospecting, but not very successfully by the sounds of it. We were pretty tired so we had dinner (Nachos, with the lot, I think) and went to sleep for a well deserved rest…..Now, I was pretty tired but at 2:30am I woke up after hearing a noise. What’s that I thought? Oh god, it’s coming from inside the van, it’s coming from underneath the bench seat I am lying on. It sounds like something is eating my cereal…….so with that I awoke Kate and. just to clarify it
Si and Monica
is pitch black where we are, no light whatsoever. Kate, Kate “What”, can you here that? Nope. Come on, listen, hear it? Oh yes. As I pulled the duvet off and headed over toward Kate’s side the van wobbled disturbing whatever was down there enjoying a meal and it shot up onto the bed, ran past my head, down to my feat and under the fridge………good god, what the hell was that? A spider? A mouse? A rat?
We turned the light on to find some mouse droppings next to Kate’s pillow, well we laughed at that and them some more on the floor and well quite a lot, it obviously was enjoying the Nesquick cereal. We looked underneath the bench to see if there were any others mice but we just discovered that our new companion liked cereal and ritz biscuits. We wobbled the fridge a bit and could not hear it anymore so we got into the duvet cover and slept through until morning. When we awoke it was like we were in a hamster cage, there were little mouse droppings everywhere so we had to have a massive clean out which took some time. Kate also
Natch NIght in Adelaide
got her wish as she was looking forward to a hot shower the next morning, in fact it was so hot it literally felt like it scolded her back and shoulder so there were a few tears but once Kate could see there was no long term scarring or huge scold mark she began to feel better!
When we started our journey in Cairns a chap came over to me and started talking and said if you go across to WA then you must go to Esperance. So only being a few km away we decided to go and see what all the fuss was about. We drove into a medium size town, had lunch and headed towards the beach. Well, when we saw the beaches we could not believe it, the sand was whiter than anything we had previously seen, the water was the most turquoise one could imagine and the sun was shining, so without hesitation we both donned our swimming costumes and snorkels and jumped onto the beach and into the calm blue waters of Esperance. Now as I mentioned in the first paragraph, this was one of the best beaches so far, it was the
same degree of beauty as Whitsunday’s Whitehaven beach, but it was right there on the side of the road. We snorkelled around for a while, lay in the sun/under the parasol and really relaxed before completing the Great Ocean Drive around the Esperance area stopping at every beach on the way (and we saw a pink lake Salt Lake), so it was just like Phil Divito’s beach crawl a couple of weeks ago. As a point of interest (there needs to be something interesting in here) Esperance won the award for the “best beaches in Australia” award in 2009 which really came as no surprise to us. After tracking down a new parasol (ours broke) we headed to an official camp ground for the night……..
Well that’s all folks, another week passes by in the blink of an eye, but the memories will be with us for a lifetime.
Matt & Kate
p.s Also some pictures we forgot to put on from last time. Victor Harbour, Granite Island & some others from Australia day.
There are more photos below