Published: May 20th 2012May 14th 2012
Enroute to Bullara
G'day Bruces and Sheilas!
M has finally allowed me to put pen to paper (or finger to touchscreen) and write about our latest adventures – about time I hear you say!
Hope you're well and a special shout out to our friends Kel and Woody on the birth of their daughter Erica. When will we succomb to the joys of parenthood? Never at this rate – all our dosh is going on this travel malarkey, especially now as my tourist visa has been extended to a year, meaning M and I can stay in Oz til next February, though only M can work – sounds good to me! Also Happy Birthday to my sister Clare for Monday 21st May, this blog is your birthday treat!
So we left our cosy caravan and relaxed lifestyle in Perth once more to experience the delights of the north Western Australian coastline! Our time with Leeann and companions in Perth was again idyllic, with tai chi in the park, numerous visits to coffee shops and the odd bit of work all featuring in the mix, not to mention Easter and chocolate goodies as well as a fair bit of netball (playing and
watching). I definitely had a 'bliss' moment when one afternoon I was painting a design on some louvre doors in the back garden with latte in hand, late afternoon sunshine and some soothing melodies in the background thinking - this is the life, this is what I came here for and what I want to do! We've been so lucky being able to come back and forth to Perth, staying with Leeann and using her gaff as our base. She is like our Aussie mum and she calls us 'the Kiddiewinks' so home from home it is (though we do do our own washing)!
Anyway, we hired another car and spent about three days driving to our next wwoofing destination, about 900 miles north of Perth, through mainly flat and remote landscapes with the odd roadhouse and small town for company. After all that driving we were still just under halfway up the country! On the way up we couchsurfed in Carnarvon with a really easy going ex-copper from the UK. Hard to believe he was ever a copper as he had well and truly adopted the cruisey way of life that is the norm over here – beers,
There were thousands of these dotted around the landscape near Coral Bay
bbqs, outdoors lifestyle, living in shorts and flipflops (or thongs according to the Aussies) and generally believing nothing is a drama in life. Good to meet such people, especially when they give you a free bed and meal for the night!
Our wwoofing placement this time was Bullara sheep and cattle station (near Exmouth and Coral Bay), complete with tourist campsite and accommodation. The reason we chose to go all that way was because the station was situated close to the Ningaloo Reef, a less well-known but equally stunning rival to the Great Barrier Reef (which we hope to also see). Bullara is run by a cool Oz couple (Edwina and Tim) with three kids, dogs, horses, chooks and half a million acres of bush scattered with cattle and sheep, and there was also another wwoofer there from Germany (Anni).
The further north we headed the hotter it became and sure enough when we arrived at Bullara it was pretty damn hot every day. We thought we might get involved in something exciting like cattle and sheep mustering, where using cars, motorbikes and helicoptors is the norm (picture M a la Brokeback Mountain!). But unfortunately we were too
early for that so instead we did the usual wwoofing jobs like shovelling dirt, painting and lots of cleaning (F is an expert at keeping those bogs sparkly, lol - M)! We had a room to ourselves though, in old shearer’s quarters, and the use of an outdoor bathroom where you could shower (and pee!) under the stars, and there were many great sunsets witnessed from our veranda. We were def getting a taste of the iconic Aussie Outback, complete with red dirt and big lizards/snakes, so worth the drive we think. Although the work wasn’t particularly exciting the food served up was pretty fantastic – huge succulent T-bone steaks served as your average weekday meal, not for the fainthearted! There was also a real coffee machine, which I sneakily used when no one was around!
We also met some great people at the campsite, especially a group of seniors (grey nomads as they’re known) who were touring Oz on their children’s inheritance – they were a good laugh singing, dancing and drinking and showing us ‘youngsters’ how it’s done!
The family were good fun too, the children (three girls - Olivia, Lucy and Mimi) entertaining us most
...another iced coffee!
days as it was school holidays. We even helped organise and attend one of their birthday parties and my donkey for ‘pin the tail’ was the highlight for the children and adults (I thought it was the free beer lol - M)!
Of course, we managed to just about get some time off inbetween cleaning bogs and showers so we duly drove to the nearest towns of Coral Bay and Exmouth (30 minutes and an hour’s drive respectively) for a dose of civilization and snorkeling the Ningaloo Reef. The snorkeling was really easy in places as the reef was only a few metres out to sea and many colourful fish and coral could be seen easily. The highlight of my trip though was swimming with whalesharks, the largest fish in the world, where for a tidy sum you go out on a boat with about 19 others donning a snorkel kit and eagerly jumping into the sea once one has been spotted. You had to be a pretty good swimmer to keep up with the fish itself and jostle your way into the best position but I managed to avoid most people’s flippers/elbows and got some great views and
One of many beautiful skies seen most nights at the farm
photos! The size of the fish we swam with was only about four metres, which is still big, but considering they can grow up to 18 metres it would’ve been nice to see a giant but musn’t grumble! M opted out of this as he is not as confident in the open water so he spent the day snorkeling and relaxing on his own (bliss - M).
I was def tempted to do a scuba diving course, which takes place over four days and costs about 400 quid. Something I’ve always wanted to do, but it seemed apparent that the snorkeling is so good at Ningaloo you don’t really need to dive, so I left it this time and perhaps will learn at the iconic Barrier Reef.
After spending two hot, sweaty and dirty weeks at Bullara we had one week left to tour the attractions on our way back to Perth. We did wonder if we should continue going north as we were already almost halfway up but decided it was still too hot and therefore better to go in June/July (deep winter) when the temp is below 30 degrees! After spending another night couchsurfing at Rob’s
place (the ex-copper) who wasn’t even there (he left us a key) we ventured to the town of Denham, gateway to the world famous (is it?) resort of Monkey Mia, where dolphins swim right up to the beach daily to be fed by the rangers and lucky members of the public. We couchsurfed with a lady there who was actually one of the dolphin rangers. It was lucky we found her house because we (I) lost her address so we only had a rough idea of street name/number, and when we were cruising along said street we spotted another car doing the same thing with what looked like fellow travellers, and lo and behold they were a couple of Belgians also staying with her for the night. So all of sudden there was an invasion of foreigners in her house being put straight to work by chopping veg and helping cook/prepare the evening’s meal (cottage pie) followed by a movie and sleeping in the front room – another awesome and bizarre experience (even more bizarre was that the Belgians were couchsurfing with Rob the copper the next night and we were heading to their previous host!).
The next morning
This was in our room on the first night at the farm, needless to say we relocated it outside!
we hot-footed it to Monkey Mia to see the first dolphin feed, there were quite a few people on the beach but we got great views and they came within feet of our feet! There were two other feedings in the morning and with each the crowd got progressively smaller so by the third time we were being spoilt with unrestricted views. Michael and I also got picked separately to feed the dolphins, which was pretty cool. We stayed there for most of the day and had a picnic on the green, and had great views of the dolphins just cruising by, and by this time most people had disappeared, so it was pretty special except for the marauding emus, which kept approaching and hassling us for food!
Next stop down was Kalbarri National Park, and for the first time we had a sense of awe at Australia’s scenery, approaching that of what we experienced in the US (Oz is one of the flattest countries/continents in the world). There were stunning views of gorges and rivers from on high, and by this time the weather had cooled and clouded over substantially so I loved it! We spent the night
Feasting on flies in the horses dung - tasty!
in Geraldton, the second biggest ‘city’ in WA after Perth, even though it’s half the size of Basildon! We couchsurfed once again with a really easy going girl who didn’t get back from work til 11pm so told us where to find the key so we could shower and get comfortable after a long day’s travelling – I can’t express how wonderful this is for travellers after a hard day’s driving and sightseeing!
From Geraldton, we drove on to Perth via the Pinnacles desert, an atmospheric place where finger-shaped rocks protrude out of the desert, and we were lucky that it stopped raining (!) just long enough for us to walk about them (see pics).
And then here we are back in Perth, back with Leeann and the cosy caravan in the garden. She always seems pleased to see us so don’t think we’re outstaying our welcome, and have been getting on with odd jobs here and there for her. Have already visited some coffee shops and played netball again so all is good!
Michael is once again hitting all the job agencies in Perth looking for work, and going to explore the state sponsorship scheme in
Noisey things too!
more detail. If he manages to get some work here that’d be great otherwise we are thinking about and planning our next move – we will likely stay here til end of May/June then head back up north to Broome on the north west coast, gateway to The Kimberleys, Australia’s most remote and unspolit region full of towering cliffs and gorges. I have already contacted various wwoofing places up there and we are looking to either fly up or do a one-way rental for car hire companies who need their stock shifting for a peppercorn rate.
So needless to say we are loving it out here and can’t imagine coming back to the UK anytime soon, you get a sense there are real opportunities to be had here re work, study, making friends and generally staying for a while, though our finances may dictate otherwise!
We do of course miss friends and family and hope some of you might take a holiday over here and come join us for part of the adventure – what are you waiting for?! Things I like about Oz
: iced coffee (though has to be made from real beans, not yucky syrup!),
M digging the veggie patch
With his fetching pink hat!
outdoor showers, colourful and interesting wildlife, outdoors lifestyle (you can have that planned picnic or bbq!), people and attitude, weather (promotes healthy eating, drinking of iced coffee and more active lifestyle), popularity of netball (on mainstream tv and lots of clubs to play with) Things I don't like
: roadkill (esp big animals like kangaroos), quantity of insects, be it spiders, caterpillars or millipedes! Weather (too hot at times, promotes lethargy and inaction, as well as the odd spot of moaning and sunburn!), currency/prices (makes M more stringent than usual!), the fact that One Direction (cheesy UK boy band) are huge out here – why??!
Finally, there's loads of photos on here, click on them to see a larger image and scroll through the pages at the bottom of the blog - it takes us an absolute age to post them so would hate to think they go unnoticed!! There's also some panoramic pictures on facebook, which we couldn't upload on here. Cheers folks, take care xx
There are more photos below