I finally took the plunge and booked a trip to Oz!
cheap flight (cheaper than train OR bus!) to Heathrow from NCL and an overnight stay at a nearby hotel on the 2nd Sept. left me with a short trip and a couple of coffees for the Saturday morning and a loooong flight to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. Twas a pretty uneventful flight and I arrived pretty well shattered in HK airport: I wwalked away from everyone in the terminal to find a couple of seats to sleep on ….Gate 66 seemed good enuff, so I slept there for a little over an hour and then walked all the way to the centre of the terminal to try some airport noodles (velly nice) …only to then find that the gate I needed for the connection to Perth airport was back at …yes, you guessed it: gate 66!!!! dammit!
Another fairly long flight and a chat with a Malaysian fella next to me and lo and behold we’re in the land of promise – I was a little concerned about customs (thanks TV’s Border Patrol) but in the event, the guy never even spoke a single word to me as I passed thru! Once at the other side, I met Shaun and Maria who drove me in a Ford Falcon back to his mum’s house.
It took us 2 days before I REALLY saw a Kangaroo ……I’d kinda seen glimpses, but then me and Shaun had a walk up the hills behind his mums house and there was a the grey fella staring at us before bounding off into the bush! ..YAY!!! a ROO!!!!!
few days later and we had one (Fred, apparently) asleep in the garden!
damn things are EVERYWHERE!!! …a drive after sunset is a dangerous thing with them bounding all over the roads
the 3 of us (Shaun Maria and myself had a roadtrip down to Hyden to see Wave Rock …very nice rock…shaped like a wave. then we drove down to Hopetoun to met up with Shaun’s bro Chris (seeing a Echidnae on the way) …and a bit of a heavy drinking session (Newky Brown!). Next day we drove to Esperance to pop in to see Chris’s wife and then on to Esperance which has the BEST beaches!!! ..incredibly blue water and incredibly white sand!…pertickly in Cape le Grand’s Hellfire Bay.
Next day we drove north to Kalgoorlie/ Boulder towns in the Goldfields ….we ahd a quick trip to the Big gold mine to see Tonka toys which were actually 240T trucks …just WAAY down in the depths of the mine. Then a couple of beers in the bar that night …served by a ‘skimpy’ ..basically a chick in not a lot (or less if you pay)
Next day and we were heading back to Perth …fairly uneventful …unless you call a $700 fine for speeding, an event :$ I also bought a CAN of Latte coffee ..it self heats when you open it! …it wasnt nice tho
Maria was at work the next day, so Shaun and I headed north on our own – driving the Indian Ocean Drive thru Lancelin and on to ‘the Pinnacles’ an amazing place with pinnacles of ‘calcified tree roots’ or summat (they havent really decided what they are yet) Then we wer off again as far as Geraldton, where we struggled to get somewhere to stay ..until we got a crummy old caravan in a park for an extortionate price (dont like Geraldton) Still, it was only a one night stay on our way to SHark Bay. We stopped a night at Hamelin Farm Stay which was very nice (nice chat with the manageress, about where to go travelling) we went fishing and caught little fishies, walked shell bay (5m deep in shells!) and spied on the Stromalites.
The final leg of the trip was to Monkey Mia where we watched the dolphins come in to the shallows and get fed by some tourists ..then me and Shaun walked a few metres away and started swimming…only for one of the dolphins to come over and swim past us! …fantastic!!!
We fished the nearby jetty and had a ray jump out of the water near us and then a turtle swam around the jetty legs below us for a while! …we caught a few little fish too and I almost caught a monster fish which swam past us but while ‘sniffing’ at the lure, wouldnt chew on it We stayed in the ‘resort’that night – MUCH cheaper than we thought it would be and very nice it was too!
After an Egg Benny breky the next morning we were off again down to Dongarra where we popped in to the ‘puzzle cafe’ again before staying at hostel where we chatted to a local electrician who’s family come from South Shields!!
The very next day, Maria dropped me off on a long road full of car shops and after about 3 hours of trapesing up and down I found a nice Toyota Surf 2.4TD SSR Ltd for $5800 …well ….nice apart from the dodgy roo bars, auto gearbox and a tailgate that doesnt open! …still …..shold be right
Due to problems in banking (again) Shaun and Maria lent me the money to pay the guy, till I can get the money out of the bank and pay them back (arent they nice!)
…after giving the car a service, sorting out the 4×4 ADD system plumbing and swapping the rear passenger window motor for the one in the tailgate, I have a fully functional car! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!
Our first road trip was the 3 of us, driving down to Busselton: a nice safe, slow trip down there and all is good. a good walk along the old jetty and a bit of fishing…paying £6 for a pint of beer(!) and a cheap brekkie after a night in a motel and we drove the long way home ….a success! ..the car is genuine!!! I celebrated with a ‘veryberry mud cake’ …nice
After waiting a week for the Oz version of the DVLA to send me a registration reminder (I have no other way of proving my address in Oz) I drove in desperation to their office…..to find out that its already IN my name and I only have to pay the $100 tax for the purchase! …kewl
with registration docs in hand, my roadtrip can start tomorrow: 29th Sept 2011
Up at 3:15 to say goodbye to Shaun and Maria on their way to work (yikes) I then set off at 6:30 heading south, past Busselton and on to Cape Naturaliste lighthouse, and watching dolphins, seals AND southern Right whales from the cliffs! ….lovely
On the way south from there, I headed along a gravel road and spotted a group of tricked up 4×4′s coming out of another adjoining track ….so I tried it. OUCH! …twas a PROPER 4×4 track! ..driving over felled trees and their roots, down a cliff made of rock steps and along a deep soft sand! …about 40km of it! ….my poor car …but it survived (kinda …see my time in Point Lowly)
I continued down to Contos beach and camped near the beach in a lovely spot with beach and rocky shore. – though I did freeze overnight in my ‘summer’ sleeping bag.
Further south the next day to Leeuwin lighthouse and then across inland a little looking for somewhere nice to camp ……eventually finding a site which is also a roo refuge so I got to see them close up complete with Joey’s in the pouch.
I froze overnight again.
back south to the coast and onto Albany where I bought a Doona (OK, OK …a duvet) YAY! ..no more freezing (when used in conjunction with my sleeping bag) … a timely purchase as I stayed in beach camping at Point St. Annes where it was “bla’ain a hooley” and freezing cold – though I did get to see whales again in the bay.
Time for Esperance again …more photos at the beach and a good walk along the sands. However I had to stay in a cabin in a holiday park as its school holidays and theres no spaces anywhere! ….still, I had a nice chicken Caesar to celebrate getting there
An early start in rain and poached eggs on toast at a cafe, saw me fit to drive north to Norseman and the East on the famous Nullarbor highway…which is actually very boring (it includes Australia’s longest straight section of road at 146km!!) and incredibly expensive diesel at £2.05/litre. I got to the Cocklebiddy roadhouse after 641km and slept in the car overnight as it as too windy to pitch the tent.
Still on the Nullarbor I passed lots o Emu, Roos and 20+ police cars in convoy (apparently they were escorting ‘bikees’ out of the state) I rolled into the ‘head of the bight’ which is another whale watching location, though now I’m in South Australia (and in a new time zone…for the 2nd time today!)
I stopped for the next 2 nights at Fowlers bay…a tiny little place with a nice jetty and big dunes which are threatening to bury the town.
….I also found that I had a snapped shocker on the front left of the car …presumably from the off-road escapade a few days ago :O
Next stop was Streaky bay …just after Smokey bay! (named after bacon perhaps???) I bush camped on the edge of some cliffs in a really nice place …very happy night there.
Port Lincoln was next where I managed to buy a pair of new shockers for the car. stayed at teh foreshore holiday park and got some great photos of the pelicans there. I managed to change the one shocker but couldnt get the other one off! …and neither could the local garage (I got there late and he didnt have time to get the cutting torch out) I also bought an mp3 FM transmitter for the car so I can now listen to my phone mp3′s on teh car CD player!! YAY!!!!!! happy days!!!
At Point Lowly – a great place RIGHT next to the gas/oil terminal (but its fine if you dont look that way) and I stayed 2 nights here…I also cut off the other shock with a handheld hacksaw blade, on the beach and replaced it with the new one.
I also had my first proper fishing success here, catching a lovely little Australian Salmon from the rocks, which I duly cooked on a hot rock in a driftwood fire on the beach …….very happy evening.
Very strange place Point Lowly …it ‘misses’ tides! every now and then it has a high (or low) tide for a full day! …apparently theres only 2 other places in the world where this happens.
A long drive now, thru Port Augusta and down to the winelands, stopping at Morgan (famous ferry crossing and all)….not much else to report: lots of vineyards is all.
Next day I headed further SE to Boundary Bends …a great little spot of bush camping on the banks of the Murray river ….no-one else around and lovely bird-life …and great mist on the water in the morning.
Still further SE and stop at Castlemaine for the night: quite a nice little town but NO BREWERY!!!!!! dammit!
another chicken caesar and coffe for lunch and a HUGE apricot danish thingee too, mmmmmmm
Next morning I woke at 6 …thats o-clock AND Celsius!!! so cold that the butane in my stove wouldnt light!!!
not too long a drive today: I’m only going as far as PHILIP ISLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MOTOGP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I paid a fortune for 4 nights camoing trackside and obviously entry to the track too. Feels great to be here and the weather is good too!!!! I bought a slab of beer and then shared it with ‘John’ a BMW rider who was camping a few metres away.
first practise day on teh Friday was SOOO hot! ….blazing sunshine all day ! …great to see the bikes here and how fast they are at the end of the straight…. its a great track ..pertickly turns 1, Siberia and 10 & 11.
More beers that night with JOhn
Qualifying day and still great weather: not quite as hot but warm. great qualifying with Sic falling off 3 times at turn 10. that night we had a bit of entertainment with 125cc riders and Wayne Gardner…… and more beers
RACE DAY! ..u[ early and as soon as the track opened I walked around to turn 10/11 …there was already a crowd there when I got there, but I got to the front with my chair and settled down with a coffee. Gale force winds today and shockingly cold rain as well ….very unpleasant – obvioulsy not suiting the riders judging by the amount of fallers too. Lorenzo fell off due to rain at the end of warm-up and lost the end of his finger! …..meaning he couldnt race!!!
Tho the race was mainly dry, with 3 laps to go, it rained and quite a fw riders struggled: Bautista fell off in front of us as did Rossi(shame, he was doing well) Stoner won the race by a country mile …..meaning he also won the championship AND it was his birthday! …Sic came 2nd with a great performance too