Monday, 24 October 2011

Future Plans


Remarkably considering the tough 40,000 miles of our trip down under the van passed its MOT without requiring any work so we are now looking at getting it ready for our next major trip.
The main issue is the canvas roof which has suffered much wear and tear and needs replacing - we are seeking quotes for a fixed roof which would give us a little more space as I can then raise the various units a foot or so, more insulation and an even quicker set up time plus it will be more suited to the wetter weather we expect on future trips.

Meanwhile Sarah is enjoying her time at the stables as well as socialising with friends and family whilst I spent a week in the Cambrian mountains assisting in the ongoing restoration of a bothy for the use of walkers and cyclists. Renamed 'Aberstan' for the purposes of an ongoing military exercise we were joined mid week by the troops with their decoy tanks and other kit - four fit lads made short work of the normally arduous task of returning our mixer to the roadside, assistance which was much appreciated.

We plan a trip to London to meet up with Mary from Perth who made us so welcome there and then head to Cumbria for a fortnight prior to the Christmas celebrations - our first at home in four years.

A few pics appear here, SPOT is on hold and the slide show returns to North Island New Zealand

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Life resumes back home.


Six weeks after an uneventful journey home I thought an update was overdue so ...........

After sorting out mail and related paperwork I set off for the Brecon Beacons to enjoy a long weekend involved with a charity fundraising event held in somewhat wintry conditions whilst Sarah joined friends in sunny Croatia.
I too found good weather too during a brief visit to France joining a friend in his camper on a meander through the centre and along the Dordogne.
Both of us then enjoyed summer's final flurry with a few days in Dolgellau giving us a rare chance to climb Cadair Idris and the Arrans in perfect conditions.

Last week I caught the train to Southampton to collect and drive home our trusty van which had sat patiently in its tin for the 36 day journey via Singapore. After reconnecting the battery it started first time and ran like a watch during the 250 mile trip west - the import procedures including a Custom's X ray went smoothly thanks to the excellent services of JC Shipping and YA Logistics. We now await the results of an MOT next week to determine our next decisions.

In the near future Sarah has plenty of horse riding to look forward to whilst I head to mid Wales to assist in remedial work at a remote bothy in the forests before in late November we both travel to the Lake District for a fortnight.

Christmas will be spent with family before we head to Southern Europe for the rest of the winter with Sarah flying home for Easter whilst I head for the Pyrenees.
As she intends to ride a lot next summer in preparation for a holiday in the saddle in Botswana next autumn I am considering an extended Scottish trip to tackle as many of the 284 Munro's (peaks above 3000') as possible.

Our next major trip will to an extent be determined by which camper we have this time next year - the same old bus will facilitate a trip to the Americas, a newer one will lead to lengthy tours around Europe as the costs of carnets, insurance and so on will be too high in the early years. Either way these will commence in Spring 2013.

Meanwhile some pictures of the last few weeks appear at this link and some irrational locations from when we are out and about should be here

Keep us up to date with your news - we always enjoy hearing it.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

That's It



So here we are with our last day in Oz at the end of two wonderful years exploring this very large country and it's smaller but equally rewarding neighbour NZ. Both have been very different but in both cases the people we have met whilst on the road have been the key to such a wonderful trip. Other highlights are too numerous to mention - a look back over the blog archives rekindles many of them and spares the ordeal of folks at home the spectre of some 5000 pictures.



Since leaving the van at the shippers we have explored the thought provoking Freo prison, enjoyed top Oz hospitality with friends at Kallaroo, cruised the Swan River down to Freo and caught the ferry to Rottnest where the famous quokkas outnumbered the bipeds by a large factor.



Hiring a tandem provided some amusement as we explored the island and finished off with a meal overlooking the bay with Perth shimmering across the water.






So we now start the very last leg with a flight to Heathrow via Hong Kong and then a drive to Coventry arriving rather surreally in just 24 hours time.



Meanwhile our trusty old bus sits in a box awaiting a sail to Singapore and transfer there on to Southampton with arrival in early October.



As our reports cease for a while you can track the van's progress by entering the container number APZU3415020 in to the box at http://www.track-trace.com/



The ships involved - initially the Safmarine Meru and then the APL Norway can be tracked at the fascinating http://www.vesseltracker.com/



We may send a SPOT location or two as well over the next few days - use this link






This link will show you the last few photos from around Perth.




Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Finishing Up



Our journey around Oz is drawing to a close now with the final few days on the road spent dodging some stormy weather around the Capes of Leeuwin and Naturaliste and watching dolphins, whales and seals enjoying the dramatic conditions. The breaking waves at Conto were spectacular - understandably rock fishermen are advised to rope up to anchorage points as rogue king waves have claimed many lives.



We spent our first night for many months in a motel room at Augusta as a cold front brought in chilly winds and heavy rain but things then settled down as we headed north.



At Rockingham we spent time at a car wash getting the van as clean as possible and then giving it a good polish whilst enjoying the hot sun on a campsite and clearing out various obsolete items of kit and clothing. We travelled via Mandurah with its million dollar houses - each with a private jetty and large boat to Fremantle for a meeting with the shipping company. All seemed in hand although we were informed that payment would need to be in cash entailing a run on the ATMs over the next few days that we feared would trigger a security alert. A quick look round Freo itself gave us a chance to wander round the large and vibrant markets before heading in to Perth.



A night at the vintage Melbourne Hotel gave us a chance to experience the buzz of Perth on a Friday night and a good Indian meal before arriving at friends in Kallaroo who had very kindly offered to put us up for the last few days. After a final clean out the van looked as good as new - surprisingly so after 2 years and 40 thousand miles so with everything packed away and cupboards labelled we delivered it to a large warehouse in North Freo where dozens of businesses were dealing with thousands of containers heading to and from the enormous vessels moored nearby.



We took the train back in to Perth for a look round once more before returning to Kallaroo feeling very relieved that there had been no last minute hiccups.



Yesterday we returned to Freo for a pleasant day visiting the extensive prison complex, a tall ship captained by a friend's daughter from Pembrokeshire and arranging to cruise the Swan back from Perth at the start of our final chapter - a two day visit to the island of Rottnest.






A few pics appear here but now we are in civilisation we have suspended the use of our SPOT device.


The slides look back at our time in the Red Centre.







Saturday, 13 August 2011

Deja View

Albany sprang a surprise on us with the excellent Fort complex that had provided military oversight during the port's heyday and has been sympathetically restored in recent years to provide a thorough insight in to much of Australia's 20th century involvement in conflict around the world.

Twenty miles west the stunning camping at Shelley Beach on West Cape Howe provided a prime spot from which to observe dolphins and whales just offshore and a good walk round to pristine Dunsky Beach.


Another short journey west brought us to the small Parry Beach campsite which had hot showers and a sheltered valley location - welcome as strong winds had been blowing all day.

These had eased the following day giving us a chance to get the bikes off and cycle parts of the rail trail either side of tranquil Denmark before a night at Fernhook Falls with the bush site to ourselves after revisiting the tree top walkway nearby.

After a day exploring the coast and more of the tall tree country we have stopped at Pemberton as the forecast heavy rain has arrived - strong winds made a re ascent of the climbing trees foolhardy and we are now enjoying the fire courtesy of hook up and giving our batteries a good charge as they will sit idle for six weeks during shipment.



It has been a different visit to this area for me as there are far less people around than at Easter, spring growth is blooming with an array of wild flowers and blossoming shrubs and the fields are bright green. Lambs and calves dot the fields in an area that could be mistaken for SW England or south Pembrokeshire at first glance.



Our goal is Fremantle by the end of the week via the Capes of Leeuwin and Naturaliste with our food and gas stores being run down, shabby clothing being dispatched and cupboards tidied as we go.






A few photos here catch the highlights of the last week and their locations appear here






Slides top right return us to the further reaches of WA.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Across the Nullarbor 2

South of Alice we enjoyed a night tucked away off the Stuart highway with a camp fire before stopping in the bizarre dusty and pock marked town of Coober Pedy where the hundreds of small opal mines looked like steroidal rabbit burrowings and even the locals lived underground.
Another quiet night in the bush preceded a return to civilisation at Port Augusta where we stocked up on food before heading across the Eyre peninsula to enjoy the limestone coastal scenery of Venus and Streaky Bay. From Coodlie Station's private coastal strip we watched 50 or so dolphins feeding just off shore and then idyllic Steep Point provided a close encounter with a pair of large pelicans and a silent sunset.
The highlights of our long (700 mile) haul across the Nullarbor were the dozens of whales and calves seen from Head of Bight and a thought provoking night alongside a small abandoned cottage where a family had once tried to survive on the arid and treeless plain - a pack of dingoes seemed to be the sole inhabitants these days.
Crossing in to WA we were again checked for fruit and veg. before another night tucked away off the Eyre highway put us in reach of Norseman and then Esperance. We stayed at Cape le Grand on a wild and squally night but things had settled down the following day enabling us to ascend the Frenchman's Cap for its panoramic views.
Two nights in the Stirling Ranges enabled us to walk on the tops again with a visit to the Pongarirups to enjoy the Castle Rock aerial walkway - now officially open.
Here in Albany we have visited the various coastal features that dominate the granite coast and have online access for the first time in almost a fortnight - hence the delay in posting.
Things seem to be in hand for our return with some treats booked in Perth for the last week once we have handed the van over - we are already sorting out various cupboards and throwing stuff out that has accumulated over the last two years. Most of our belongings will stay in the van for the 5 week journey home but we will still bring valuables home in our baggage allowances in case of a mishap - check out container ship accidents on you tube !!
So the last ten days will be a gentle meander round the green and verdant SW coasts once more with Spring in the air.

Photos here and locations here.

Slides revisit WA at the start of what will have been a 12000 mile circuit of an area twice the size of western Europe.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Penultimate Perambulations

After the varied attractions of Alice a day's drive south saw us settling for the night in a roadside free camping area before continuing on and then heading west to Kings Creek Station en route to the eponymous Canyon. 800,000 acres of barren land are used to raise cattle and camels although the accommodation now provided to travellers is the more lucrative enterprise. Friendly staff welcomed us and a Canadian guy on a quad took a lot of trouble to find us a quiet pitch in the thoughtfully laid out and spacious camp area. We walked up at sunset to watch the camels collect at a waterhole and enjoyed a peaceful night with hook up courtesy of the station generator.


King's Canyon was a geological marvel and was enjoyed over a four hour walk which enabled us to see its finer features from both close up and across the dramatic chasm.


We lingered an extra day to enjoy the surroundings before another journey through the arid but far from barren landscape brought us to Yulara the central settlement for visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta - known to most as Ayers Rock and the Olgas.


The camping was not as busy as we had expected and we decided to delay our entry in to the Park itself to get the full benefit of the 3 day ticket validity so walked in to the resort to nose at the accommodation, shops and galleries - amazing to think that all this relates solely to the existence of a large rock.


Our first proper views were under a cloudy sky which failed to reveal the true splendour of the monolith so we decided to visit the cultural centre during which time the winter sun broke through. A walk up to the Mutitjulu waterhole gave us a chance to experience the rock itself close up and the perimeter road took us round to the starting point for the ascent. I decided to tackle the steep climb as it may be closed indefinitely in the future and arrived with bursting lungs on the rolling summit rocks to eventually arrive at a plaque giving distances to the various mountains visible way out on the horizons - I felt that seeing the land laid out below in such an awe inspiring way justified the climb as it really hammered home the generations of skill and knowledge required by indigenous people to live in such a harsh landscape.


The Olgas are an equally fascinating feature with 36 large domes (once thought to comprise a monolith 10 times larger then present day Uluru) providing more unforgettable views, two good walks and a photographer's dream.


The chance to watch Uluru change colour and character as the sun set provided the perfect ending to a remarkable few weeks in the Red Centre which we have found far more diverse and captivating than we had expected - whilst it must be challenging in the heat of summer the almost endless blue skies, warm days and comfortably cold nights of winter have suited us well.



The SA border is a few hours drive away after which Coober Pedy beckons and then we turn west once more to complete the final chapter of what has been a wonderful trip.






Photos of this remarkable area lie here and our locations here - the recent glitch may have been down to user error although I am not fully convinced.








Slides top right look back at our first visit to Perth

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

East and West of Alice

After the spectacle of the camel races we headed in to the East Macdonnell Ranges which stretch seemingly for ever towards Queensland. Trephina Gorge provided good bush camping from which to enjoy excellent walks in the area with the long Ridge walk a particular favourite.


Arltunga further on was a short lived gold town where the extremes of climate and its isolation made the extraction of gold at a rate of 1oz per ton seem a particularly poor return. The lonely graves, abandoned buildings and harsh landscape made for a thought provoking visit with even today the rough access track making it a bit of an epic to get there.



Back in Alice an unusual spell of cloudy grey weather with some light rain put Ozzie campers in to the camp site chalets and cabins whilst we enjoyed the Ghan and Road Transport Museums.



The West Macdonnell Ranges provided a number of highlights with deep chasms and gorges scything through the dramatic ridges. Serpentine and Ormiston Gorges were particularly good and at Red Bank Gorge we found excellent bush camping at the Woodlands. From here with the weather back to sunny days and clear chilly nights we climbed Mt. Sonders in perfect conditions to enjoy the dramatic desert landscape spread out below us.



Back towards Alice the bush camping at Serpentine Chalet provided three memorably starry nights with solar showers, meals cooked on a fire and a good walk to Counts Point for some of the best views we have seen in the area across rocky ranges, dry desert valleys and endless red plains.



Returning to Alice we visited the impressive Desert Park conservation project which imaginatively described and displayed many of the habitats and creatures we have seen over the last couple of weeks.



We now head south to rather more touristy attractions and have attended to a few of the tasks related to our return home in little over a month.






Some pictures lie here and SPOT locations here - although a temporary glitch has meant that some check ins have not been transmitted, watch this space.






Slides are from NSW and the Alps late last year.



Saturday, 9 July 2011

Red Centre

Following our long loop out to the coast we headed south through Tennants Creek towards Alice Springs. The Devil's Marbles provided an interesting break before we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and arrived in the town of Alice Springs. With a population of around 30,000 it provides a central services hub for a vast area of the outback and also acts as a Flying Doctor base and the centre for the School of the Air which provides education to the 120 children spread across 1.2m square kilometres that cannot access conventional schooling.
The logistics facing these two facilities really brought home to us the reality of living in central Australia. More locally the problems faced or self inflicted by indigenous people were reflected by the large numbers hanging listlessly around town and the large amount of alcohol related debris strewn across the parks, Todd river bed and other public spaces. Civic and tribal leaders face a huge task in bridging the gulf between the two Australia's and recently introduced curbs on the sale of booze may be the start of a better future.
The old gaol housed the informative Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame in buildings used until recent times for their original purpose and down at the station the famous Ghan was in town for the day breaking its multi day journey from Darwin to Adelaide.
We enjoyed using the bikes to get around and celebrated Sarah's birthday with a meal out and some light retail therapy leaving the van to rest at the quiet campsite which one evening provided an excellent slideshow by a local expert on the flora and fauna of the area's various habitats.
We return to Alice in a couple of days after heading in to the McDonnell Ranges - the days are still warm but night time temepratures fall to around zero which suits us fine!

Pictorial highlights here and positions here


Back to NZ and the top of South Island for the slideshow

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Kakadu Done - Alice Next

The Kakadu National Park provided a few days of memorable walking in hot sunshine and very warm nights mostly in basic bush campsites. At Cahill's Crossing the road led in to Arnhemland a vast (91,000 square kilometre) Aboriginal reserve that extends out to the coast with some 12,000 people carrying on a largely traditional lifestyle. We enjoyed the rock paintings nearby at Ubirr and further on at Nourlangie - the latter incorporated in to a long walk through remarkable sandstone formations.


Returning to Katherine for Territory Day gave us an evening of fireworks and a chance to restock before the long drive south through the Red Centre.


The Daly Waters pub provided a memorable stop over with a T-shirt donated to their multinational display : the now disused aerodrome used to provide refuelling facilities for Qantas flights to Singapore. We headed east out to Cape Crawford on a virtually deserted road eventually reaching the King Bay Fishing Club camp site which amazingly had several hundred campers in residence mostly intent on catching the famous barramundi from the maze of waterways that led out to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Back at Cape Crawford the even more deserted Tablelands Highway took us over 240 miles south with not a sign of habitation as we passed through a dry flat landscape most notable for a wide variety of birds. An hour was spent helping a couple with a live in bus suffering from water in the tank after a river crossing after which we joined them in a roadside rest area for the evening for a drink and a yarn.

The Barkly Highway returned us to the Stuart Highway where we are now spending the night in Tennants Creek after visiting the excellent museum and mineral display. Perth is some 2500 miles away so we have a bit to do over the remaining six weeks and our list of pre home coming jobs grows daily - Alice beckons and should be much cooler which will be welcome.

The people we meet are very often the highlight of the day - many are also on long trips and are tuned in to our way of thinking with lots of helpful advice and friendly tips.


Photos and locations lie at these links and for slides its down to WA the first time round some 12000 miles but only 3 months ago - the loop round has been a very long but enjoyable way.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Darwin Delights



After Katherine we stopped a night at Edith Falls giving us time to do a couple of good walks along the river to picture perfect swimming pools before heading north to Darwin. Peaceful Mt. Bundy station made a good base from which to explore the extensive Litchfield NP with a range of short walks to various waterfalls and gorges.



Pine Creek a former gold mining town led us on to Darwin the capital city of the NT and subject over the years to destruction by cyclones, WW2 bombing raids and in 1974 almost complete destruction by Cyclone Tracy. We spent a few very enjoyable days at the excellent museums, military displays and newly developed wharf areas and were surprised to learn of the extent of military activity in the area as the nation feared a Japanese invasion. The oil storage tunnels and massive gun emplacements were remarkable and the conditions at Fannie Bay Gaol thought provoking whilst another exhibition conveyed and recorded the enormous destructive force of Tracy which almost wiped the city off the map.

We enjoyed our dose of civilisation including a stroll round cosmopolitan Mindil market and stayed an extra day so now head off to the more natural wonders of Kakadu which will loop us back to Katherine in a week or so.

Latest photos here and locations here.

The slides come from NZ once more.







Saturday, 18 June 2011

Top End Treats



From Kununurra we travelled the short distance to Lake Argyle - Oz's largest man made body of water currently several metres above its normal level and covering a vast area with islands, coves and headlands stretching away in all directions. A massive torrent was pouring down the main spillway as we arrived at the camp ground for a couple of nights giving us time to enjoy the sunset cruise courtesy of Triple J Tours and their knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. A few freshwater crocs were seen plus marsupials on the islands and birds of prey overhead all set against a setting sun and rising full moon. A walk to the relocated homestead provided an insight in to the former station's harsh beginnings when cattle were walked here several thousand miles over three years from Queensland as well as the more recent changes when following the dam's completion the lake filled far more quickly than anticipated during a very wet 'Wet' season.

A night at the excellent Victoria Road House camping area brought us to Katherine and its gorges where we stayed in the national park and enjoyed a couple of good walks out to viewpoints over the dramatic main gorge and down one of the side gorges. A wind had blown away the smoke from bush fires and cooled down the days which were reaching the high 20's whilst at night it was pleasantly cool to enjoy the spectacle of thousands of flying foxes or fruit bats leaving their tree roosts.

Katherine's museum filled us in on much of the area's history and the damage caused by extensive floods in 1998 and 2006 whilst its shops enabled us to fill up with food and fuel, enjoy lunch out and then stay here at Spring Vale Station where Elvis the freshie lives apparently benignly in the billabong - quite a cool character.

The van is booked to leave Perth on August 26th and we fly out the same day so return to the UK in ten weeks time giving us plenty of time to finish off up here, drop south through Alice Springs and meet up again with friends in both the south and west before we leave.


Photos at this link, locations at this one and the slides come from our journey through SA and WA back in May.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Kimberley

Our stay at Barn Hill was topped by a trip in a tinny for some conservation fishing courtesy of Mark and Kerren before we set off on a longish stretch north towards the Kimberley region. The ancient baob prison tree near Derby was fascinating and we enjoyed a night at Birdswood Downs Station which gave Sarah a chance to enjoy a ride early the following morning.




We then skirted south of the Kimberley as the Gibb River Road had only just reopened after twice the usual wet season rains and the crossings would have been beyond our scope. Such has been the extent of the danmage that none of the side trips are yet open and remote Kalumburu will not be accessible until next year at the earliest.
Two nights at roadside rest areas were made memorable by the company which included a night of music around the fire courtesy of four other van based travellers. At Hall's Creek we took a side road to view the Wall of China quartz outcrop before turning on to the northern end of the Gibb River Road to approach the million acre station of El Questro.



The station was reached by a rather challenging crossing of the Pentecost River which was 100 yards of submerged slippery stones with the water at the far end rising above the door seals - a very loose last few yards and a steep climb out nearly saw us scuppered but again the van rose to the occasion and we pulled up at reception with water draining out all round - not surprisingly we were the only two wheel drive vehicle around!


Staying was relatively expensive as the station charged a daily admission fee on top of camp fees and considering that they had a million acres the camp area was small and rather busy. However it was in a wonderful location and provided some good walks over the next couple of days with a memorable last night as we met up with a couple we'd first met in the Pilbara who are on a trip to Europe by dirt bike. Whilst a great place to stay at this time of year the whole place shuts down for the wet season when torrential rain, high humidity, soaring temperatures and damaging cyclones make life much harder.


After safely negotiating the Pentecost River a second time we did both Amelia and Emma Gorges before dropping in at Wyndham to admire the view from Five Rivers Lookout with river deltas, estuaries and flood plains extending way in to the distance and the rugged ranges of the Kimberley reflecting the hot sun off their striking red flanks.


A commercial site in Kununurra has given us a chance to chase up our shipping and flight arrangements and catch up on news from home.




Photos sit here this time and our positions here with slides coming from Tasmania














Monday, 6 June 2011

Balmy at Barn Hill



Following the successful resolution of our braking woes we pushed on northwards calling at Port Hedland to thank the Repco manager and Savannah Engineering staff for their help and stopping down at the waterside to watch two vast ore carriers being loaded and a bulldozer shifting a vast stockpile of salt for export.



Cape Keraudren provided a good spot to stay the night with simple coastal camping on a scenic shoreline - croc warning signs were posted but the beasts themselves remained elusive.

A long stretch of mostly empty road took us via Sandfire Roadhouse to the turning for Barn Hill Station which provided camping at the end of a sandy 9km long track. To our complete surprise it was a large set up with around 300 pitches - many tucked under the shade of trees, others with perfect sea views and for us some quieter spots further along that had good views but no power. The station must have had a good water supply as flush loos, hot showers and a washing machine were available as well as water at every pitch. Hook ups were also available even though the place was off grid and although some 100 miles from Broome an internet signal appeared intermittently.

Just after setting up a couple we had met at Coral Bay hailed us as a result of which we have spent the last five days here enjoying good company, perfect weather, refreshing swimming and walks along the beach. A 200 mile round trip to Broome was required for shopping but that merely reflects the scale of WA where distances between centres are huge.

We have really enjoyed the break from moving on almost constantly and the chance to meet and make new friends but will be on the road again tomorrow and heading for Derby. Local advice seems to be that the Gibb River Road will be beyond our scope so that and many other adventures will have to wait.


A few pics and the spotty Spots as ever.


The slideshow returns to SA.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Down, downs and ups

At Karratha we watched a safety video to enable us to be issued with a permit for the private mines road to Tom Price which ran alongside the railway that runs for several hundred miles in to the Pilbara iron ore deposits. The ore trains are several km long and carry 23,000 tonnes at a time to the huge ships waiting at Karratha and Port Headland. Having enjoyed the peace and quiet of Millstream Chichester NP with good bush camping at Snake Creek and a Park's site at the old homestead, we stayed in Tom Price to give us time to do a tour of the world's largest iron ore open cut mine site - an awe inspiring operation that is driving the local economy at a break-neck speed.

The walk to the summit of Mt Bruce gave us a good view down in to another mining operation before we headed in to Karijini NP to explore the numerous impressive deep and red gorges that cut deep in to the landscape. The convoluted geology of Hammersley Gorge was remarkable after which we stayed at basic and rather over rated 'eco' camp site. This then gave us the chance to explore via ladders, handrails and scrambling the various other gorges that characterise the area. Some wading and swimming was required in the cold waters rendering the experience very similar to caving especially as in places the sky was totally obscured by the towering cliff sides. In the past fatalities have occurred and recue efforts have been prolonged due to the isloation and inaccessibility- the volunteer rescue services come from the mining sites and the roads are rough and slow with very poor communications. However it was all an amazing experience after which we moved on to the Dales camp ground near the Weano Gorge. This provided good walks as well including a sighting of large bats roosting in the trees, some lovely swimming pools and a chance to enjoy the hot sunshine.

After leaving Karijini we drove a fair way to stay at Indee Station en route to Port Hedland where we had ordered new brake pads for the van and spent the night on their workaday yard amidst 400,000 acres of outback running only 2000 cattle due to the drought.

In PH we picked up the pads but discovered whilst fitting them that we had a seized caliper cradle ( the cause of the premature wear) on one side, the same on the other plus a seized caliper itself. Working in a supermarket car park was less than ideal and a sheared bolt added to the fun. A small engineering company managed to remove the trapped shaft and I sourced a suitable bolt to effect a repair but the seized caliper was beyond our roadside ability. With replacements apparently only available from VW in Germany and taking 3 weeks, or from a motor factors in the UK which would need sending by air we were faced with a situation so returned to Indee for a rethink. Today we were able to use their workshop area to dismantle things again and in better conditions than a car park were in fact able to unseize the cradle, caliper and a handbrake cable putting us back on the road again against all expectations. I think the caustic substance used to disinfect the van at Sydney and applied by a powerful jet washer was the cause of the problem as I had overhauled all the brakes prior to the start of this trip.

Anyway we are now good to go so will head to Broome and then Darwin (still 1500 miles away) and see how the access to the Kimberley is following the late summer rains.


Piccies here and locations here.


Slides this month from the Oz Alps.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Coral coast capers.

After the change in plan and an extra night in Carnarvon we reached the delights of Coral Bay in good weather and were soon off to snorkel in the clear warm waters with an amazing variety of fish and marine life just yards offshore. A downpour late afternoon was followed that night by a mighty thunderstorm that tested the repair to our possum damaged roof - watertight thank goodness unlike a number of caravans who had left roof lights open in the humidity.


Moving on to Exmouth and the Cape Range NP we passed hundreds of large termitaria, lunched on the deserted beach near the wreck of the SS Mildura and then booked in at the campsite below the Vlaming Lighthouse.


Cape Range Park gave us the chance for even more rewarding snorkeling with a large ray or skate and a sea turtle providing fascinating images - Sarah also saw a metre long reef shark and now holds the 100m splash and paddle record. The ease of access, warm water and good visibility made for some memorable experiences.


Up in the hills we enjoyed a hot but rewarding 8km walk to Shothole Canyon and then stayed overnight at moving Girallia Station - flattened by a cyclone in 1999 the family rebuilt but have never really recovered and are now living on as hosts to a few campers, fishermen and the very occasional coach party in a vast area devoid of livestock. We were the only guests and were rewarded with a true outback sunset and a full orange moon rising soon after.


A long drive today has brought us near to Karratha in the Pilbara where Oz's resource boom in the shape of large iron ore mines and gas plants is well underway.


We have found a peaceful bush camp area on the coast decorated with the first croc warning signs we have seen so neither of us are likely to venture in to the sea again for a while despite the daytime temperatures reaching the mid thirties.




Finally after much mulling over and consideration of the numerous options we have decided not to return to Oz after this trip just yet. The uncertainty over visa extensions, shipping and carnet issues, expiring passports and the high mileage the van has covered means we will now return to the UK in September 2011, ship the van back, enjoy Christmas with family and then head to Southern Europe for the rest of the winter whilst a new base vehicle is on order.

Then it will be a conversion over the summer and probably another European based test trip before a return overseas in 2013 to include at some stage a return here in what should be a relatively youthful 4x4 that will enable us to do the remote bits of the 'Top End' we will miss this time.





It feels good to have made some decisions so we can now concentrate on our remaining 3 months here - up to Darwin and then back to Sydney via Alice Springs and Adelaide means we still have loads to look forward to.










Fishy pics here (I hope to be able to provide a link to some video I took soon) and the locations here










A slide show covering Tasmania (now a much colder place) is also included.





Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rocks and shells, blocks and wells.



After the harsh but picturesque attractions of the Murchison Gorge we stayed at Kalbarri and spent a day exploring the sandstone cliffs and inlets leaving the bike at one lookout to enable us to do a one way cliff top walk.
A return south briefly took us to gorgeous Port Gregory passing a beta carotene works on the shore of the highly saline and bright pink Hutt Lagoon. Hutt River Province is a legal quirk of circumstance being a principality separate from Australia and exempt from its legislation and taxes. This arose from a dispute over wheat quotas forty years ago and Prince Leonard now aged 86 welcomes visitors to the homestead that also provides camping in the arid outback environment.
Hamelin Station on Shark Bay provided a memorable base from which to explore up to Denham visiting the old Hamelin Pools Telegraph Station and adjacent stromatolites. Also here was the remarkable quarry used to extract blocks of compressed shells used locally in construction. These same tiny shells form Shell Beach where they lie up to 10m deep and stretch around Shark Bay for over 100 km.
The shallow waters of Shark Bay contain huge areas of seagrass that support mantra rays, dugongs and a wide variety of other marine life - 4WD only tracks give the best access so we will have to return one day. However we were able to get to the old Peron Station which used to run thousands of sheep - the old woolshed and shearers accommodation stand by an artesian bore that produces 170,000 litres of water a day at 30 degrees C now used in a free standing hot tub.
A second night on the half million acre Hamelin Station that runs 10,000 sheep (do the math)* set us up for the journey north to Carnarvon where we stayed the night at Quobba Station on the coast with a memorable sunset after lunch in town and a look round the heritage precinct at One Mile Jetty.
Today we set off in heavy rain (a surprise after the last few weeks of scorching sunshine) for the Kennedy Ranges 150 miles inland but decided after an hour that there was every chance of the road being closed behind us as the downpour was torrential.
Thus we returned to a proper site in Carnarvon to do the mundane chores such as laundry, water refills, battery charging, shopping etc. and will shortly watch a DVD with the heater on for the first time in months : the Tropic of Capricorn is less than a hundred miles away so we expect this to be only a temporary unsettled spell........................

* one ewe per 50 acres!

Click for Photos and our Whereabouts.

The slide show returns to the start of this trip with NSW in October

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Perth and North

After a good meal out on the Sunday I used the efficient public transport network to get in to Perth on Monday and visit the Immigration Department. No extension of our current visa is possible but if we return home as arranged in September we will be able to come back in October for at least 3 months and request permission to stay longer so that is the current plan.

I enjoyed the botanical gardens of Perth before returning to Merriwa for a barbie.

Tuesday saw a set of tyres fitted to the van before I enjoyed the good beaches that run north of Perth and then called in on the friends at Kallaroo that we had made way back in NSW last November.
They gave me the locals tour of Freo including the Maritime Museum and Round House, coffee was enjoyed overlooking the harbour and we returned along the coast to admire the exclusive properties that now occupy the land looking out to Rottnest. We dined well at a smart marina and I picked up loads of sound advice for our journey north.
Thursday started with the collection of Sarah's repaired bike, a shop to replenish stores and a trip to the airport to collect the lady herself who arrived dead on time and was soon through the formalities. We then drove to a campsite at Guilderton which provided showers, laundry etc. and a good beach to walk on.

Our progress north took us up the coast with a visit to the remarkable and surprisingly extensive Pinnacles before we stayed the night at Lake Indoon a few miles inland which was completely dry - WA has been the driest part of Oz and is in need of substantial rain. During the night a possum ripped a hole in our canvas roof to steal a whole loaf of bread without waking us!

After visiting the heritage village of Greenhough we called in at Geraldton for lunch before visiting the excellent maritime museum with its displays relating to the sinkings of the Batavia and Sydney.

Coronation Beach was too busy for us but just a couple of miles up the road Oakabella station homestay camping was perfect - only two other guests, excellent facilities and a chance to repair the roof with spray glue and a recycled T shirt.

Today we have walked the Loop Track in very hot conditions at Kalbarri NP with 'roos, lizards, feral goats and a billion flies for company! It was an excellent walk around a large meander in the Murchison River flowing slowly through a deep red sandstone gorge.

Kalbarri itself provides opportunities for more walks and possibly some snorkeling so we may stay a couple of days.

Piccies as ever and locations as usual.


The return of the slideshow commences with the bottom end of NZ's South Island from 2010.


















Saturday, 30 April 2011

Last stage to Perth



Following the extended stay in Shannon which did for Easter very well providing a place to relax, explore the woods by bike and do a number of minor jobs I packed up and moved on.

Nearby Nannup was an appealing place and had a couple of bike routes partly on old railway lines that worked up an appetite for a slice of mud cake in the village before a night in the Park's camping area at Workman's Pool.


Further west I camped by the Blackwood River as the heavens opened on a surprisingly chilly night and chatted to a young family braving it out under their tarpaulin.


Cape Leeuwin lighthouse was visited on a gusty showery day with added interest provided by the arrival of a range of VW's from a club who put on a good display at the base of the tower.


Conto campground provided a stay in the Margaret River area with its many boutique wine, cheese and gourmet food outlets - from the limestone cliffs I enjoyed a good sunset.


Cape Naturaliste was less rugged but provided a few good walks and extensive views after which I turned north to stay at Wellington Dam NP where both there and Mt Lennard provided good single track mountain biking through mixed woodland - with no one else around it was privilege to explore the area.


Marrinup POW camp had a camping area near by and made for an interesting hour's exploration - little remains of the facilities provided for 1250 POW's during WW2, many of whom chose to stay on in a new life.


Today I have hit the freeways south of Perth, zipped through the CBD and dropped Sarah's bike off for repair - once two loads of laundry are done it's off to friends in Merriwa before a trip in to Perth on Monday to look at our visa options.


A few photos here and the Spot check ins here


Sarah is due to arrive on Thursday so the next post will hopefully confirm that all has gone to plan.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Forests for Easter

Leaving Albany I visited the imposing sight of the Verve Windfarm where the turbine blades swished almost silently past at 260 kph before visiting West Cape Howe NP with the small and memorable Shelley's Beach camping area located on a curving beach with salmon to be caught and excellent views back east along the coast. It was a great place but with Easter approaching I wanted to find a quietish spot so carried on through appealing Denmark to visit the Valley of the Giant Trees with its impressive tree canopy walkway that threaded a route through the majestic karri specimens.



Nearby Fernbrook Falls CA was almost deserted and made for a good night followed by Shannon a Park's camping area occupying the shortlived timber milling town's former location. With a couple of good bike rides and walks starting from the site and good weather forecast I decided to stop for several days as the area would fill up rapidly over the long weeekend.


The Diamond Tree south of Manjimup provided an opportunity to climb over 50m up a set of spiralling rungs to an elevated platform - great fun but potentially fatal.


Back at Shannon various family groups have arrived but my shady spot has been cool and relatively peaceful. After a day in D'Entrecasteaux NP on the coast I return to Shannon for one or two more nights before heading via Margaret River for Perth.












A few photos here and the Spot spots here.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

WA y to Go


The beaches, bays and inlets of Cape Le Grand near Esperance were sublime and the Frenchman's Cap provided an excellent late evening walk with the hollow summit something of a surprise with its wonderful views. Esperance itself provided a useful service stop before I stopped the night at Stokes Inlet with a good view of the lagoon created by the blocked river mouth.

Further round at Fitzgerald River NP the bush camping at Point Ann was as peaceful as you could wish for and well worth the rough track out there.

Similarly the Waychinicup NP camping was beautifully located alongside an inlet with a graceful catamaran moored in the shelter and the opportunity to cycle down to Cheyne Beach.

A change of scenery was provided as I headed inland to the hilly ridges of the Porongurup NP for a good walk over Nancy's Peak and the Devil's Slide - a huge variety of birdlife in the foliage and many small reptiles at ground level.

The Stirling Ranges rise out of the flat landscape to around a thousand metres and on two very hot days provided some strenuous walks with panoramic views over the endless wheat and gum tree farming landscape.

Here in Albany I am on a large commercial site to catch up on the internet, a hot shower and fresh water before a drift westwards through Denmark and Pemberton towards Margaret River before the Easter crowds build up.

The list of jobs to do in Perth is getting longer so the couple of weeks until Sarah returns will fly by.


Photos here and my whereabouts ...................over.............................. there.


I've decided to give the slide show a rest for a post or two.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Not a bore.

After the peace and quiet of Lincoln NP more of the same was found round at Coffin Bay and Point Avoid which I explored largely by bike. The west coast of the Eyre Peninsula was very quiet with good bush camping available, some remarkable cliff top views at Locks Well and a large sea lion colony at Point Labatt worth the long trek out there. Dolphins at nearby Venus bay were surfing the swell and a night in Acraman Creek NP provided an impressive night sky.
Ceduna marked the last town before the long crossing of the Nullarbor and a couple of hours beyond that Fowler's Bay provided a remote place to bush camp with a new moon joining the stellar array.

The Nullarbor crossing is around 700 miles of mostly flat road across the world's largest limestone outcrop but in detail is surprisingly varied. Whale watching in the right season is available from a lofty viewpoint over the blue seas of the Great Australian Bight and irregular roadhouses provide food, fuel and accommodation for weary travellers.

I turned off north to a remote and abandoned homestead 'Koonalda' where the deserted house, ancient fuel pump and assortment of rusting vehicles spoke volumes about the harshness of the crossing before the route was realigned and resurfaced in the 1970's. Two other couples turned up and we all enjoyed an evening in the former workers quarters in a place steeped in memory.

Back on the road and after the border quarantine inspection a long day ensued with fellow travellers being mostly caravans and large roadtrains that thunder across the empty landscape.

Lunch at a roadhouse and a refuel - expensive at $2 a litre - saw me fit to carry on for a few more hours through an unimaginably remote scenery that was both absorbing and daunting.

Half way along the 'Ninety Mile Straight' - which does what it says on the tin- I stopped in a lay by as driving at or after dusk significantly increases the chance of an encounter with the wildlife.

Norseman has provided the first Internet or mobile signal for 3 days but has little else to offer before I now head down to the coast to enjoy the parks and scenery between Esperance, Albany and round to Perth. Easter approaches so I will head inland that week possibly to Kalgoorlie although that is quite a long loop back but we are unlikely to return that way in the future so it would be worth it.


Photos here locations here and for this post the bonus slides are from Sarah's trek and ride in Peru.

Friday, 1 April 2011

From there to Eyre

After the vast expanses of the SA Outback particularly in the north of the Flinders the towns of Port Augusta and Whyalla were a great contrast - something Sarah is experiencing to a greater degree as she returns to the delights of Carmarthen and Haverfordwest.
Fortunately for me I was soon heading to the quieter coastal strip of the Eyre Peninsula where a secluded car park enabled me to service the van before spending a quiet night overlooking the sea at Iron Knob.

Beyond Port Lincoln the Lincoln National Park provided a choice of bush camping sites with good walks and bike tracks leading off around the rocky peninsula. At Fisherman's Point I secured a prime position overlooking the bay with an excellent 3G signal bouncing over from the distant town.

Two porpoises, two wedge tailed eagles, a solitary seal and a solo pelican crossed the water in front of me whilst in the distance fishing vessels of various sizes headed out to the rich waters of the Southern Ocean.

I enjoyed a ride along tracks to the lighthouse and returned along the rockier south coast before an afternoon's conservation fishing whiled away a rest day with minor repairs, computer back ups and a general sweep out undertaken.

After 18 months I have decided to refresh the blog's appearance but the usual features appear somewhere.

Thus a few pictures appear here and my location here which updates daily


The slideshow returns to the east coast of NZ's North Island.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Back Out in the Outback


The return crossing from KI was rough but thankfully short leaving us a bit queasy for our journey north to Adelaide - our decision to spend the last night on KI in a decent motel was vindicated as it poured heavily for 24hours and flooded parts of Kingscote and might have left us stranded in a bush camp site.

A commercial site near Adelaide Airport allowed Sarah to pack for her journey and left us only a quick hop the following morning - we said our goodbyes for the next 6 weeks and she has now safely returned to Pembrokeshire after a long but uneventful journey that ran to schedule.

I stocked up and drove north to Mt. Remarkable to enjoy a good ridge walk with views towards the heart of Australia dominated by the vast waters of Lake Torrens - full now after the rains a few months ago.

Heading north I explored the main Flinders NP staying at some very isolated bush camps with magnificent stars during the cool nights and day time temperatures in the mid to high twenties.

The aboriginal art works at Mt. Chambers Gorge were like the gorge itself well worth the long haul to get there.

Miles of empty gravel roads took me eventually to the Vulkathuna Ranges where I stayed at an indigenous run camping area at Iga Warta and joined the family to watch AFL on the telly outside on the verandah.

How homesteads make any living out of the harsh arid landscape is beyond me - some were so far off the beaten track that life at any point in history must be very demanding.

The road north took me to Farina once intended to be a major agricultural town and located on the route of the Old Ghan Railway but the relocation of this and a series of droughts led to the abandonment of the entire settlement.

Leigh Creek with its vast opencast coal mining operation is now the major local industry and operates on a remarkable scale - some of the older smaller plant was on display for exploration.

Meanwhile in the background nature continues to operate with emus, water dragons, colourful birds and occasional flocks of sheep scratching an existence from the land which looks barren but is apparently in better condition than for years - certainly the Google images show a very different picture.

Now its off to the Eyre Peninsula to enjoy the coast before the Nullarbor and Perth which I hope to reach in a month or so.


Piccies here and locations here.


This post's slide show returns once more to NZ.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

KI OK

Kangaroo Island has provided empty beaches, wonderful sunsets, a large full moon and deserted camping areas - just what we like.

The short hop on the ferry led us to follow the north coast before taking a very badly corrugated road out to the lighthouse at Cape Bourda. Flinders Chase NP gave us the chance to observe fur seals in close proximity in and around spectacular Admiral's Arch as well as visit the Remarkables - photogenic granite rocks with a churning sea behind.


At the various lighthouses we visited there were descriptions of some of the many shipwrecks that occurred on this stretch of coast - the first landfall in many weeks for ships from the UK bringing supplies or settlers.


A couple of bush walks took us to deserted wave lashed beaches and we camped the night at West Bay with the place to ourselves, a memorable sunset and nocturnal visits from a bush tailed possum and a small wallaby.


Here at D'Estree Bay we are camped yards from the sea with a couple of pelicans standing offshore in the shallows and mainland Oz visible in the far distance. There have been very few people around as it is a fairly pricey destination for a weekend visit - we were lucky in that they had a special offer on for caravans and rather surprisingly decided that our modest set up would qualify.


We return to the mainland on Monday with Sarah getting started on her long journey home on Tuesday.


Recent photos here and our whereabouts here


The accompanying slide show is a return to New Zealand's Fiordland which we were visiting just over a year ago.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Victoria's Outback

After the floods of January much of the central Grampians' access roads and track network had been washed away and thus the area was closed. However Mt. Sturgeon to the south and Mt. Staplyton in the north both provided good walks - the latter particularly so with an airy scramble to a lofty viewpoint proving to be a highlight. Quiet Parks camping near thought provoking aboriginal drawings was much appreciated after which we headed through the vast Victorian wheat fields with sleepy hamlets dominated by enormous silos.

Occasional clouds of locusts coated the windscreen in a smeary mess but were prevented from clogging the radiator by a smart new skirt as we drove to the Wyperfeld and Murray Sunset Parks which jointly are half the size of Wales and are bisected by just the one major road.
We had got in to Little Desert Park but access to the campground was very silty and with the isolation we did not want to risk getting stuck but Wyperfeld was fine and we spent our first three night stay of the trip there. Good cycling along sandy tracks through the mallee gave us access to a number of walks in the dry desert scrub with occasional vantage points providing views across the endless landscape. The bird life was noisy and varied ranging from large but wary emus to inquisitive superb fairy wrens, raucous galahs and sulphur crested cockatoos.
The mercury hit the 30 degree mark by day and did not fall much overnight but at least we were able to use our solar shower again to great effect and despite the long holiday weekend very few people arrived to share the solitude.
Murray Sunset contains old salt workings at the Pink Lakes where we stayed a night in isolation and enjoyed a ride round the Pioneer Track past the old salt stockpiles which were once carried by Afghani and Pakistani camel teams to a rail head 3 days away. The lakes were indeed a surprising pink hue due to a small organism that can tolerate water 800 times saltier than the sea and is comprised largely of beta-carotene.
A shift west took us in to South Australia where the fruit and veg. police inspected our stores before we headed south to the Fleurieu Peninsula from where we will cross to Kangaroo Island for a few days before dropping Sarah at Adelaide airport in ten days time.
Pics here, locations here

This post's slideshow is a compilation of photos taken during our travels of the trusty van which has now completed 220,000 miles, half in our ownership over the last 6 years. Considering the many months we have spent living in it the degree of wear and tear is minimal with a few cushions and curtains looking tired but otherwise serviceable - perhaps whilst Sarah is home I will get round to a spring clean!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

West, north, south, west again, east and now north again...

We enjoyed the Great Ocean Road with its spectacular coastal scenery but found it busier than we prefer so retreated in to the empty Otway Ranges for peaceful camping, a sighting of a platypus and some good mountain biking at Forest on my 51st birthday. Cape Otway provided a good walk out to the lighthouse and a surprisingly close encounter with koalas out in the eucalyptus forests.

Sarah has managed to rearrange her travel plans to get home a week early on the 23rd of March so she can join in a girls weekend - full marks to Singapore Airlines for free amendments and Qantas for a full refund. Less marks to the car hire company who wanted almost double for an extra week so lost the booking completely.

Thus we have a fortnight to reach Adelaide so continued along the coast via under sung Port Fairy with its gun battery and stumpy lighthouse and on in to South Australia. Here we enjoyed the delightful and empty limestone coast, climbed a few extinct volcanoes and marvelled at the distances we have covered and have to cover - the 1200km indicated from Sydney in a straight line to Cape Northumberland has in reality been 12000 miles ( not a typo ) but of course we did cover all of Tasmania, my route to Perth will be almost as indirect if the outback floods have receded and the roads are passable.

Mt Gambier's blue lake was remarkable after which we returned to Vic. collecting the stash of fruit and veg. we had hidden back over the border as there are strict controls against fruit fly in the region.

Dartmoor was a sleepy village with some clever wood carvings and after enjoying the walk to the top of long extinct Mt Napier where the flat reality of outback Australia unfolded we are now in Penshurst on a campsite near the park - excellent facilities, only one other guest and handy for the village - good value at £6 a night.

The Grampians beckon for this week and the Little Desert, Big Desert, Wyperfeld and Murray- Sunset parks will be our target again subject to access prior to the run across to Adelaide.

The slide show returns to the start of our NZ trip in September 2009.
Otherwise the recent pics are here and our whereabouts here.

We have also added a search facility so if you want to find a place we have been to etc. you can now do so easily.






Saturday, 26 February 2011

Monkeying Around in Tassie and Victoria


After Launceston we headed inland intending to walk the Walls of Jerusalem but low cloud prevented this so a return to the coast put us at Baker's Beach within easy reach of Devonport for a trip to the cinema to see Sanctum in 3D - good film but not sure about 3D. Watching the ferry to Melbourne leave at sunset was impressive given the narrow channel available out to the stormy seas.

A return to the hills and some excellent bush camping at Lake Rowallan enabled us to do our planned walk despite the unusual fall of four inches of snow overnight. We met another Swiss couple on a round the world trip http://www.offintothehorizon.com/ and at dusk saw a spotted quoll nosing around outside.

Sarah enjoyed a days riding in the forests around Lake Barrington before we headed off to the coast for our return sailing to Melbourne. A group of suicidal bikers nearly caused grief on a series of tight hairpins - two came off in spectacular fashion but seemed uninjured despite the damage to the bikes.

On a fast stretch of road whilst heading for the ferry we experienced a sudden and alarming loss of power so pulled off to inspect - all seemed well but we could not get the revs up so limped slowly in to town where I replaced the fuel filter and all was well again.

The ferry crossing was very enjoyable with Tasmania retreating in to a glorious sunset and Melbourne appearing lit up at dawn as we again crossed Port Phillip Bay.

We are now exploring the Victorian goldfields with beautifully preserved heritage towns and villages, warm weather and empty camping areas. We will head down to the Great Ocean Road after the weekend and then to inland to the Grampians over the next week or two.

Pics are here - hope you enjoy the new feature on the blog - a slideshow of other pics we have taken which will change at each new posting.

Locations once again here - we have noticed that Google must have photographed the area during the drought as many of our campsites are unrecognisably greener after the January rains.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Top notch Tasmania

Cape Huay at the southern tip of the Tasman Peninsula provided superb views to the seas way below and after the absorbing remains of the convict days at Port Arthur we headed back through Hobart and followed the east coast north. Freycinet was we felt rather over done and we found scenery and isolation more to our liking on the north east tip of the island with wonderful coastline, camping areas empty now that the schools are back and a large high pressure system ensuring that we have enjoyed the views in their best light. Some conservation fishing off the beach ensured that we enjoyed pork chops cooked on the gas barbie supplied at Stumpy's No.4 campground - it is amazing the free provision of facilities to enjoy life outdoors in the most remote of places.


An afternoon snorkelling revealed hidden treasures beneath the blue sea followed by a remarkable sunset which rounded off a perfect day in the Waterhouse Conservation Area.


We are now in Launceston to enjoy a couple of museums and the impressive Cataracts Gorge before heading inland to the mountains for our final week or so.


We met up briefly with one of the Swiss couples I had met back in October who are engaged in a similar tour and have come away with some good ideas for onward travel plans.





Photos here and updated locations here





Sunday, 6 February 2011

More from Tassie


The island continues to amuse and enthrall us as we continue to enjoy good weather with sunny skies and fresh conditions. Having a dongle here in Oz has so far proved invaluable especially as much of the info about walks and wildlife is available online and downloadable.

It also means we get to post more often although I guess coverage will drop off once we head west in a month or so.

After a rewarding walk in the Hartz NP we headed inland to stop at historic Oatlands which reminded us of stone built Cotswold villages and had a free camping spot overlooking a lake which reminded us of villages in France. This put us conveniently in position to enjoy a combined day at the Tasmanian Cattlemen's Association annual get together and Ross Rodeo with both events providing spectacular displays of horsemanship and stockmanship in very much a no nonsense atmosphere. H&S, fears re liability and an aversion to risk seem to have knocked the stuffing out of similar rural events at home so the approach here was very refreshing.

We have now moved on to the Tasmanian Peninsula once guarded at Eaglehawk Neck by ferocious dogs to prevent convicts escaping the penal colonies of Port Arthur.

The tessellated rocks were fascinating but the blowhole somewhat benign given the current calm sea conditions. Quiet Lime Bay nature reserve is our base for tonight and a daring red necked wallaby has already inspected our set up. The chances of seeing a Devil are slim but we will probe the woodlands with a light after dusk.


A few photos here and the recent locations here which update daily , regards to all.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Edge Of The World


South West Tasmania has rewarded us with stunning scenery, a variety of wildlife and reminders of an inglorious past.

The ingenuity of man was impressively portrayed at Lake Gordon hydro scheme where the 140m high dam held back Australia's largest freshwater body of water. Nature hit back with the wilderness of the World Heritage listed South West National Park where we barely scratched the surface at Lake Pedder.

Bruny Island provided good walks, sea eagles, albatross, tiger snakes, echidnas, dolphins and stunning cliff scenery before Hobart's impressive architecture and dark history filled a very wet day.

Cockle Creek to the south was as far in that direction as we can go in this country with a walk to South Cape Bay emphasising how far from anywhere else we were. The spectacular bay with churning seas was more than half a world away from the next land mass - South America's narrow southern tip.

Sunny but cool weather has been ideal for us and we have met some interesting people perhaps most notably a couple from Devon on a year long trip and just about to head to New Zealand. We now head north briefly to a Cattlemen's event before returning to Hobart to continue our circuit via the Tasmanian Peninsula and the east coast.
Pictures Locations updates daily