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.