Night Crawlers

Published: January 3rd 2015
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Mouse SpiderMouse SpiderMouse Spider

Invaded camp, look closely the spiders hair is covered with sand from the environment.
Happy New Year to all our readers, we hope 2015 brings you health, happiness and travel.

New Years Day, and time for me and Andy to break camp and start our journey back to Perth. Andy, Karen and Naomi are staying another night and will do their journey in one day, I was happy for us to take a nice and easy trip home so we allowed ourselves a couple of days and a rough idea of what route we wanted to take.

So as soon as we were out of bed we started to pack up, we have been here for a while so packing up takes slightly longer than an overnighter. We popped around to Andy and Karen's and ate jaffles for breakfast, then got back to it. We were ready for the off by 10am, said our goodbyes, thanked everyone for a truly memorable Australian Christmas holiday and headed off down the track.

The morning was warm and quite cloudy with the promise of a shower, it had rained overnight so no doubt it will keep the dust down a bit.

Andy takes the first stint at the wheel, and drives us to Esperance whilst I reflect on our truly Australian Christmas holiday. This Holiday ticked many boxes for a typical Australian, we were on the beach, we were camping, we swam in the ocean every day, lazed around on the beach enjoying the environment and not to mention we had a proper Christmas dinner with Turkey and all the trimmings, courtesy of the barbecue!

It was a lovely relaxing trip, I have read 5 books, it was great to have a complete wind down, but one of the most important things for me is to spot the wildlife, we were not too disappointed, plenty of lizards, goanna's, frogs, a red back spider, a rather large Huntsman Spider who decided to make home underneath the cover of the awning, I would not have minded (honestly) but it was a little bit too close to the door for comfort and I would not have been happy waking up with the Huntsman giving me a hug.

A Wallaby was content to hang around our camp and in fact both Karen and Naomi had the pleasure of seeing her take a drink from
Cape AridCape AridCape Arid

Another lovely view.
the pool of water by the tap outside the bush toilet. If the Wallaby was not there then the family of frogs would be. It seemed to me that you needed a camera constantly by your side, just in case the opportunity arose, I usually keep mine handy but sometimes you have to make a run for it!

There was a lot of bird activity, in particular Wattle Birds, they liked to feed on the Banksia, of which were also in abundance, being that the individual campsites were separated by deep patches of Banksia, meant plenty of birds.

One evening Andy and I were on our way back to our camp, it was bedtime and had just walked back onto the track when Andy shouted at us to come back, we ran back and found that they had a mouse spider sitting on their floor mat under the awning, it would appear that it was making a web in their camp kitchen.

If you are a regular reader, you may remember that we spotted a red headed mouse spider on our travels in Kinchega National Park last year, this one was
Thomas RiverThomas RiverThomas River

Shrank everyday
all one colour and it looked just as menacing. So Andy found a saucepan, no, not to whack it as I know some of you might be thinking, but to extract it from camp and somehow managed to get the spider in the saucepan and off into the bush. We shuddered at the thought of this one sharing camp, it is venomous and has a deep and painful bite which can cause severe illness, so don't aggravate them!

Clearly the food provided by the Banksia is in great demand, a delicate little marsupial creature known as the Honey Possum is synonymous with the SouthWest of Western Australia, they feed on the pollen and nectar of the Banksia with their long tongues. I wonder if all the insects, birds and Possum want the same thing? I often watched flies, bees and the occasional Bull Ant with its backside in the air taking the nectar! Just a couple of facts that I stole from Wikipedia, the female is slightly larger than the male and can weigh anywhere between 8 to 16 g, about half the weight of a mouse. The Honey Possum is not considered endangered, however thought to

Hiding under the awning.... it had to be moved on.
belong to a large family of otherwise long extinct marsupial creatures. The females are promiscuous and competition has led to the male having very large testicles relative to their body weight.

I was lucky enough to see the Honey Possum on the first day of our camp and as they are so tiny I figured I would be very lucky to see anymore! Well let me tell you that luck does not come into it you just have to keep your eyes peeled at the right time of day. We were thinking that they were nocturnal creatures and thus did not look until late afternoon early evening, they were difficult to spot and then it became apparent that they came out during the afternoon, the only problem then was getting close enough to get a decent picture. Since getting onto Wikipedia I find out that they will come out during the day in cooler weather, which is surprising as we were having some pretty hot days when they appeared.

One afternoon I was sat around camp with Andy and Karen so had my camera there, I popped around to our camp site where Andy
Cape Le GrandCape Le GrandCape Le Grand

Jack enjoying the beach drive at Cape Le Grand, it was very busy
was working on something in the back of the truck and right behind him a fresh Banksia revealed the tiniest of Honey Possums, but of course my camera was in camp next door, typical!

Eventually patience was rewarded and I captured the perfect image of this tiny, tiny Australian native, if I had to compare it to anything so that you can gauge the size, I would say that perhaps around the size of a Dormouse.

The Honey Possum has a long snout and big ears that look as if they are stuck in the top of its head as an afterthought, they are very light and with some nimble agility traverse the leaves and stalks of the Banksia to get from one to another.

You can drive onto the beach if you cross the Thomas River, when we first arrived the crossing was shallow and wide, however day by day the crossing withered away to almost nothing, we were quite happy to drive onto the beach, it was very busy most days and a lot of vehicles continued up the beach right up to the other end. Because we wanted

Just one of the lovely views
to take a dip we stayed close to the rocks where the waves were less violent and we knew the water was shallow for a fair distance.

There felt like nothing better to sit on the beach under the shelter of the awning from Jack, this was the life!

Otherwise I walked to the beach a few times, there was a path from the National Park campsite down the hill and flanked by dense Banksia, Palms and Black Boys (I cannot remember their real name, but when we first came over to Australia that's what we were told), in fact I frequently walked up and down the path to get some exercise but being particularly mindful that this is also good territory for snakes, however one day still being mindful I was boldly striding along at quite a pace when I saw something move.

I lifted my sunglasses just in time to see a snake evacuate the path, it had a pretty large girth and looked brownish in colour but I could not identify the markings, it was too shady, without seeing its head and the markings I could not tell
Another Visitor to CampAnother Visitor to CampAnother Visitor to Camp

couldn't find anything to eat so off he went
you what it was but could have been Python, Dugite or Death Adder! I carried on when the coast was clear, but felt more wary and wondered if I should have taken the long way round to the beach, which in fact I did on the way back.

I was reviewing the map for our journey today, plotting some potential overnight stops and which route I wanted to take us back to Perth and what additional sites were worthy of seeing en route, the phone suddenly sprang into action and I see a familiar name come up on the screen. For our regular readers you may remember the group of people we hooked up with at Dalhousie Springs and crossed the Simpson Desert with last year, when we became an honorary part of their "Mud Crab" team, well, Pete was giving us a call to wish us a Happy New Year!

Pete tells me that on their last years holiday found themselves in Birdsville again and decided that Big Red had to be done again, so they did!

We had a chat about life and travels and promised that we would
Kite SurfingKite SurfingKite Surfing

Just one of the many activities that people came to Cape Arid to do
both get around to swapping photos of the Simpson trip this year, better late than never!

A stop in Esperance to fill up the tanks on the truck, the water tanks in Roobie and of course our tummies! Esperance was quiet today, being New Years Day barely anything was open.

I navigated us out of Esperance and on the road to Ravensthorpe, it would be another 190k's before our next turn off, I suggested that I should drive for a while so that Andy could rest so we found a suitable parking place and switched over. I let a few vehicles come past, the road was perfectly clear so I gently pulled out and gradually built up speed, the road is quite uneven in places but despite that can still get up to a reasonable cruising speed, less than 5 minutes into my drive I suddenly became aware of a sudden and heavy pull against the truck, looking in my wing mirror I couldn't see the trailer and then it suddenly reappeared, in an instant I realised that the trailer had started to sway badly and I knew I had to keep control otherwise I risked losing the whole rig, alerting Andy who was nodding off in the passenger seat, I took my foot off the accelerator and let the truck slow down naturally and held tight on the steering wheel. My heart was in my mouth and I knew not to panic, my adrenaline was pumping and almost as quickly as it started the drama was over and I was back in complete control. I pulled over onto the roadside and we both jumped out to check that everything was ok.

Neither of us could work out what happened and how, we hadn't blown a tyre, I was not speeding, but we were aware of fairly high winds across country and I had just come through a fairly open section of road. Although one factor alone may not have been the cause, it could have been a few things that contributed. Weight distribution would not have been one of them as apart from clothes and food, she was not carrying anything to unbalance her. Was it just one of those things?

One thing was a fact, it shook me up and being that this is the third trailer of ours that I have towed and the first time that anything like this has happened, it has made me wary. I need to look into the potential causes and learn from this so that I can avoid it happening again. It happened I almost an instant and I need to know why. I had mentioned to Andy early on in the trip that I noticed she seemed to be rocking a fair amount on the uneven road surface and maybe we were just unlucky and caught a freak gust of wind.

Andy offered to drive again as he knew I was shaken by this incident, but I knew I had to "get back on the horse", I did not need or want towing to be a nemesis, I need to get on with it, so a few deep breaths later and we were mobile again, I went back up to a reasonable cruising speed, kept an eye on my mirrors and on coming traffic, the wind from passing road trains can be an issue, but this time she held fairly steady.

Eventually, we stopped again just to check everything out and all still seemed to be ok, I cast my mind back to the last few weeks before we left England in 2008, coming back down the M3 one day I saw a caravan on its side and a car was still hitched and hanging off it. Maybe it happens too easily and if that is the case then perhaps we need to look at preventative measures.

We turned up towards Lake King just on the other side of Ravensthorpe, we have another 200k's before we get to Hyden so we pull into Overshot Hill Nature Reserve for a free camping night. There are a few campers already set up for the night, it is a fairly large area so we find a spot so as not to encroach on anyone else and in no time at all, we are set up, the kettle is on and dinner underway.

A beautiful sunset, and a quick shower before surrendering to an early night!


4th January 2015

Caravan stability
Congratulations on staying calm and bringing your swaying caravan to a halt. It is not easy to keep your wits about you under these circumstances, and the consequences can be a lot more than beating heart and rushing adrenalin. You have mentioned that the van has 2 water tanks, does it also have a grey water storage tank? Whilst you may have taken all care in packing the interior of the van properly, is it possible that in the normal course of a longer camp, some of your water has moved from forward of the axle to behind the axle? It is something that would not be seen, and therefore not often considered when setting off. Water is incredibly heavy in the scheme of things and 30 or 40 kilos moving from "down weight" on the tow hitch to neutral or even "up weight" would make a huge difference. I pose the question because we lost a van through (essentially) filling 2x20lt jerry cans with fuel that we had on the back bumper of the van. It was the first time we had filled the cans and while I could control it, but my wife was not ready for the change and subsequently the rig jack-knifed.
8th January 2015

Rocky road
Caroline, that sounds unnerving, when the camper got the wobbles! Other than that episode your break away sounds awesome. I just love beach time.

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