I shot this in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 15th 2015.
Antelope Island, Utah, USA. August 23rd, 2014.
Watch A Sunset at Uluru/Ayers Rock Australia
My wife Dorothy and I recently went on an epic 35000 Kilometer trip around Australia in a Van. During the trip I wrote a little guide about travel in Australia. I hope to make life easier and more fun for other people planning to do a similar trip.
This is the exact guide that I wish existed before my trip around Australia.
This guide didn’t exist so I wrote it. The guide includes everything you need to know about driving around Australia on a relatively limited budget. It will save you money, time, headaches, and let you focus on what’s important, enjoying your trip. You won’t have to waste time doing as much research and ideally this guide will get you excited about your trip and help relieve some of the anxiety you might be feeling about it.
This guide is free because I think everyone should do their part to contribute to the internet.
That said, if you want you can buy this guide and take it with you:
Or to buy me a coffee for writing this massive guide please send your contribution via PayPal to DuncanRawlinson@gmail.com
If you find typos or errors in this guide please contact me.
INTRODUCTION Why Read This?
Australia is absolutely massive. Let me repeat that, Australia is MASSIVE. It’s actually hard to believe how big it is really. If you haven’t been to Australia you won’t fully be able to appreciate the size of this nation. In fact many Aussies don’t even really know until the’ve actually travelled around.
This simple guide is for the free spirit who wants to “go have a look” as they say in Australia. The guide assumes you’re on a relatively limited budget and you plan on doing a lap of Australia. If you plan to drive a long way in Australia you’ve found a great resource here.
This guide is NOT for people who are just taking buses and backpacking around with their ridiculously large backpacks. I seriously hope you’re not doing that. Being stuck on those buses with hungover backpackers for like 30+ hours isn’t really my idea of fun. But I digress.
Also, if you want to go off-road with your ‘mates’ across the red center this is NOT the guide for you either. I’ll probably do that type of a trip in a few years myself. Maybe you can write a quick guide for me like this?!
Let’s get on with it shall we.
If you’re about to embark on an adventure you’ll have some anxiety. It’s totally normal and in fact after you’ve done a few trips that sense of anxiety will be a welcome feeling. It means you’re about to do something fun! You’ll get excited when you feel the butterflies of uncertainty. You’ll realized later how irrelevant and irrational your concerns we’re. Here are some of the rather odd concerns we had before we embarked on this trip and some answers.
INTRODUCTION Some questions we had:
What are some potential routes?
See the section on routes!
What is bush toilet etiquette?
If you absolutely cannot find a toilet and you need to do more than juts pee always bring a shovel. Dig a good size hole in the ground and do your business. It’s really not cool to do this at any time but if you absolutely can’t wait until you hit a service station than do the right thing. Cover up your waste and do NOT throw your toilet paper on the ground. Throw it out in a proper rubbish bin. If you make a mess you just give backpackers and travellers a bad name. Be respectful and do not do this unless you have absolutely no other choice. Just think about it, how would you like travellers to be taking a crap in your back yard? It’s not nice at all and I DO NOT recommend doing this, ever.
How much water should we carry when driving in the outback?
This is really a tricky question. To be safe I would say bring as much water as you can possibly carry. Water is a precious resource in the outback and it’s not that easy to come by. So fill up all your jugs and refill them when you get a chance. Take a look at the section that handles the Outback specifically for more detail on this.
What items should we bring when camping Australia?
Take a look at the equipment list.
Do we need some kind of heater or blankets?
You probably won’t need a heater but make sure you have plenty of blankets. On television in many parts of the world Australia is portrayed as a hot dry dessert when that’s not the case at all. There are extremely arid and dry parts of the country but it can get bloody cold too! We had three “doona” (blankets/duvets) in our van and we actually had to use all three quite often because it got so cold at night. We even had to wear clothes under the three blankets at one point it got so cold. So yes, it can and will get cold. Take note!
What about snakes, crocodiles, and dangerous animals? Is they as bad as they make it out on Television?
No, actually as a general rule with travel nothing is as dangerous as it’s portrayed on television. The wildlife in Australia is no exception. During our entire year long stint in Australia we saw two snakes, no wild crocodiles, a bunch of small reef sharks while snorkelling, and one dingo. It’s just like anything else, it’s sensationalized in the media because that makes for better entertainment and ratings. Of course you just have to use common sense and you’ll be fine. If you see a snake assume IT IS poisonous and stay away. The same goes with crocs, sharks, or even dingos. Show them the respect they deserve and stay the hell away from them.
How do we get online so we can work?
It’s pretty simple, expect to over pay for internet in Australia and have bad coverage. Just go with Telstra because they own the cell phone towers and have the best coverage. Although the “best” coverage in Australia doesn’t mean much. Australia is way behind when it comes to cell phone coverage, data speed, and free wifi. It’s just harder to get online in Australia than most places, so plan accordingly. We spent a month in a very remote place in Australia and actually had to hike up to the top of a nearby hill with an antenna so that we could download email and deal with clients.
VEHICLES The Vehicle
One of the first major considerations you’ll have to think about is which type of vehicle to choose. Like most things in travel, your budget will be the main thing to consider. Whatever you budget you’ll be able to find some kind of vehicle. If you’re on a strict budget like us, you’ll probably want to look at buying a relatively small van.
Here are some of the various vehicles to choose from from a small Van right up to a full on massive 4wd motorhome.
All the vehicles have their various advantages as disadvantages. For us the small size of the van and it’s respectable fuel economy we’re deciding factors. We also knew we weren’t planning on going off road really at all so we didn’t need a 4WD vehicle.
VEHICLES Renting Vs Buying
Before we look at buying a vehicle here is a quick word on renting. A rough guideline would be that if you’re going to travel around Australia for about 3 months or more your should buy a vehicle. Just take a look at the rental prices. If you’re like us you’ll probably be stunned at how expensive it can be to rent a vehicle in Australia for any amount of time. They are remarkably expensive to rent for longer periods of time. We looked at renting from the legitimate outfits (rvans without graffiti on them) and it would have cost us something like $5000/month to rent and that does not include fuel, insurance, etc!
If you’re on a short holiday renting is obviously the way to go. Or maybe you’re an heir to an oil empire and have a gazillion dollars and you don’t care. If that’s the case go with the helicopter, yacht, and private jet combo.
Here is a handy list of rental companies for those of you on short timelines.
- Wicked Campers
- Travellers Autobarn
- Back Packer
- Around Australia
While we’re on the subject of rentals. Please take note that the company “Wicked” Campers doesn’t exactly have the best track record. Many of their vehicles have been super “dodgy” in the past. In the past they have been know to be totally unreliable and they’ll just quit on you. Not to mention people from Australia generally frown upon them. Also if you’re desperate for a place to park up for the night you can’t just hide your vehicle because the attract so much attention due to their colorful nature.
If you haven’t seen one, Wicker Campers are really crappy old rental vans that have been spray painted with um “designs”. You’ll see them when you get to Australia, you can’t miss them. Some of them have pithy quotes on them that a teenager might find amusing. Other quotes printed on them are downright offensive. Whatever the case, the company has cheap rates and some people would say their vehicles are not that safe. Other people swear by them and just love the compaby. To each his own. Anecdotally at least I can report that in some of the remote places in Australia we saw junkyards that had heaps of these Wicked Campers piled up in them…
Of course if you can’t afford anything else than a wicked camper is the way to go. Just be ready to use a crowbar to open some of the doors. I’m not even joking, we actually saw some folks who had to use a crowbar to open their Wicker Camper. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for.
VEHICLES Buying A Van
For the purposes of this guide I’m not talking about some big fancy thing like a massive Bush Tracker caravan or a ‘flash’ Landcruiser. I’m talking about a very common utility no flash no frills vehicle like the mighty Toyota Hiace Van. The Toyota Hiace van is one of the most common vans on the road in Australia. This over abundance is great for a few reasons. For one, they’re everywhere and you blend right in. Also, there is a big marketplace of people buying and selling them. Finally, it means parts are very easy to find if you have a maintenance issue.
I know you had your heart set on the aesthetic of a VW Kombi van but it’s just not a good idea. They break down all the time and aren’t that easy to fix because they are so old and parts aren’t that common. Case in point: Take a look at the website: bodeswell.org
They did an epic trip around and they travelled in a VW Kombi. I love followed their website but half of their posts feature photos of the father Jason repairing the van because it broke down regularly. Of course that doesn’t stop them from really having a great adventure! Keep in mind if you’re handy and you enjoy that kind of thing than it doesn’t really matter. You just have to been keenly away of the vast distances between places in Australia.
When you’re doing this kind of a trip it’s function over form. If you just can’t live without the hippy aesthetic of a Kombi van be prepared to overpay and have plenty of maintenance issues along the way. Don’t get me wrong a well maintained Kombi van will get you there but you’ll have a very hard time finding those for sale at all let alone at reasonable prices.
If you can’t afford a simple Hiace van (or similar) you should seriously reconsider planning a trip around Australia because it can actually get quite expensive when you tally it all up. If you still want to proceed with the very low budget you can always look into the Ford Falcon station-wagon type vehicle. Many backpackers use these and just toss a bed in the back. This is not recommended for people who are claustrophobic though!
I met a German couple who was “going the wrong way” (heading north to the heat at the wrong time of year) and they had their stuff all piled into one of these. We spent about 48 hours with them and they literally had to organize their things like Tetris in order just to live. From our perspective it appeared as though they spent more time moving things around then they did enjoying themselves. They looked positively miserable. I would really advise you avoid this type of vehicle.
The best resource we could find when looking to buy a van was a website called GumTree. Most people have never heard of Craigslist or Autotrader in Australia so GumTree is basically their Craigslist. They also have many local AutoTrader style books. I believe the most popular one is called the Quokker. I just used GumTree and found plenty of vehicles on the market.
I recommend you spend some serious time on this and don’t just buy the first thing you see. I was tempted to do this but I’m really glad I didn’t. We put together a simple spreadsheet to organize our buying process.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy or complicated spreadsheet. It can just be a simple notebook with prices and specifications. Although the beauty of the spreadsheet here is you can then sort by various features. For example you can sort by mileage or by age or by price. This should give you an idea of who is trying to “take you for a ride” so to speak… It’s probably the simplest way to sort of which is the best vehicle for your needs.
If you think this is a bit geeky and too much work, trust me, DO IT. You will spent countless hours in your vehicle and having a good one can make all the difference.
VEHICLES Our Van Gerty
For your reference we bought our van for $4600 AUD. She was a 1988 Toyota Hiace (petrol) and had ~250 000 KMs on the odometer, brand new tires, a well maintained engine, and everything we could possibly need for our trip. The van included a bed, a gas stove, tent, snorkelling gear, fishing rods, spare parts, you name it, she had it!
We literally walked up (or rocked up as they say in Australia) with our backpacks on, exchanged the cash, and drove away on our epic adventure. I HIGHLY recommend this strategy. It will save you loads of time because this approach doesn’t waste time getting all kitted up. You just “rock up”, and drive away fully geared for fun and adventure.
If you can, find backpackers or travellers who have done their trip and now are in hurry to sell their vehicle because they have a flight to catch.
The french couple that sold us our van were in a BIG hurry to sell. Of course we knew that so we took our time… We got them to take 800 off the original price because they needed the money. In the grand scheme of things 800 dollars isn’t much but it’s a bunch of tanks of fuel!
Don’t get me wrong. Our van had some SERIOUS issues. For instance, you can’t stand up it in and that gets old really fast. Beyond that it needed some work. The French couple that sold it to us forgot to disclose a few minor issues ranging from a leaky brakeline (glad I spotted that one) to more general maintenance issues.
VEHICLES Petrol vs LPG vs Diesel
Petrol in Australia is what people from Canada and the United States usually call gas. Petrol is simply unleaded fuel, LPG refers to Liquified Petroleum Gas, and Diesel is well, Diesel! There is some debate about what is the most cost effective of the three for running your vehicle. Some people will tell you to run diesel, others will say petrol, and yet others will say LPG. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Diesel vehicles are simpler to run and maintain and whereas Petrol vehicles are slightly more complicated to run and maintain yet more common. I’ll spare you the mechanical geek speak on this and trust that you’ll have a look at the type of drive you’ll be doing and decide what is best for you.
For some reason I dislike insurance and insurance companies in general. Maybe it’s the fact that I rarely claim any insurance and when I do it becomes a major pain in the ass to deal with. For our trip we bought some insurance with AMMI. Insurance sucks and it’s boring so that’s all I’m going to say about that!
Vehicle registration or “REGO” as they say in Australia can be a massive headache. Well at least it was for us. I positively hate bureaucrats and bureaucracy in general so this was the least fun part of our adventure. For some reason when you don’t fit the profile of the standard customer/client/user people who work behind desk freak out and try to cover their asses. For some reason they think you’re trying to do something illegal?! Just make sure you know what you’re getting into when you buy a vehicle.
We made the MASSIVE mistake of buying a Victoria registered vehicle in New South Wales. This was a huge screw up and we ended up having to drive to victoria to get it sorted out. We totally blew it.
Do some research on how easy it is to transfer ownership of vehicles between people in the various places in Australia. We’ve been told that Western Australia is the easiest to use but cannot confirm this because opinions vary heavily and we only used VicRoads.
Some things to consider.
- Do you have a local address you can give the registration office?
- Do they have to send you a rego sticker in the mail? (A flat out stupid process and a waste of time, resources, and money. It makes you wonder if the people who set these systems up have ever even left their home state or territory.)
- How much rego is left on the vehicle?
- Do you have to transfer it in person at the registration office or can you do it online or by phone or by mail?
- How much is a year of REGO?
Just a final note on this. If you’re getting information from one of these registration bureaus you might want to double check the information.
Someone at VicRoads told us we absolutely had to visit a VicRoads office in person to verify our identity or we’d be breaking the law. I’m not a scam artist or someone who ever breaks the law. So we drove 800+ kilometres to the nearest VicRoads office. When we arrived at VicRoads another person behind the counter said that in order to verify our identity we had to send a form in the mail! Only in the bizarro world of bureaucratic morons would you have to send a form in the mail to “verify your identity”. We we’re standing in front of the people who verify your identity holding every piece of identification known to man. I had my passport, my birth certificate, my drivers license, my credit cards, a copy of my working holiday Visa and this idiot was telling me we have to mail a form in the mail to “prove who we are”. I’m lucky my girlfriend was there because I almost punched the man in the face after driving 800KMs to have him tell me that.
It was like monty python it was so ridiculous. It was slow, inefficient, stupid, and generally a big waste of everyones tax dollars. If you can avoid dealing with VicRoads DO IT! I mention all of this because you should always double check what somebody tells you. That 800KM detour took about a week to straighten out because different people at VicRoads told us incorrect AND conflicting information.
The best part is that there are totally different rules and procedures in the different territories and states in Australia. It’s very inefficient and more complicated. So do your homework and be very cautious when dealing with these people. Like all bureaucrats they only want to cover their own asses and get you off the phone as soon as possible. Double check the information they give you so you don’t make similar mistakes. Just because it says so on their website doesn’t mean it’s reality! And just because someone told you something on the phone doesn’t mean they have a clue what they are talking about.
With that out of the way let’s move on.
VEHICLES Roadworthy (RWC – RoadWorthy Certificate)
Speaking of headaches… You’ll probably have to get your vehicle certified as safe and “roadworthy” before you can transfer ownership or renew your registration. This obviously has the advantage of making sure the vehicles on the road are safe. Unfortunately the reality is the “certified” roadworthy locations may try to take you for a ride so to speak.
Just because they tell you you’re going to fail the roadworthy doesn’t mean you have to do everything they tell you. If they say it will be like $2000 in repairs just fail the roadworthy and walk out the door. If you think you’re being taken, or scammed, just fail the test and take the test at another testing facility. It only costs you $90-110 bucks to fail the roadworthy but you can just take it again and get a second opinion.
Don’t be in a rush and make sure the work that needs to be done actually NEEDS to be done! Can you tell we made this mistake here as well? When you’re starting out on your trip you’re in a rush and the excitement of getting on the road makes is palpable. If it feels like a scam it probably is. Just walk away. Worst case scenario you go to another shop and they tell you the same thing and you’re out $90-110 bucks for the test. Not the end of the world, but at least you have a second opinion. Take your time.
To add to the confusion, the RoadWorthy process works differently in different states of Australia so be aware of this when you get your vehicle. From what I can tell registering your vehicle in Victoria and dealing with VicRoads is a huge pain. Other people have told us that Queensland and Western Australia is much easier for REGO but everyone has a different opinion. Of course it’s tough to buy vehicles in different parts of Australia so you’re usually forced to buy local.
When I travel I always think of these problems as “hoops”. Meaning, it’s just one more little hoop you have to jump through before the fun stuff begins. The REGO and RoadWorthy issue are painful by normal “hoop” standards because it’s out of your control. The best part is that once it’s complete you can get on with having one of the greatest adventures of your life. So don’t worry too much about this and just get it done as soon as possible.
VEHICLES Drive On Left
There is a good chance you drive on the right side of the road. If that’s the case get ready for some fun. I come from Canada and we drive on the right side of the road. This made buying our Van just that much more confusing. I not only did I have to figure out all the idiosyncrasies of this model of vehicle, but I had to remember to drive on the left. Also, everything is backwards from where you shift gears, to where you hit the turn signal! Craziness! It didn’t help that we bought our van in downtown Sydney, the worst place for traffic in ALL of Australia. It’s all part of the adventure!
If you’re coming from the correct side, er, I mean right side of the road I recommend you do a couple slow laps around the block or even better drive around a parking lot first. Familiarizing yourself with a new vehicle and driving on the other side of the road and trying to test drive a car is all a bit too much.
A final note on driving on the left. I’m very embarrassed to admit that during our entire yearlong adventure driving around Australia I drove on the wrong side of the road one time for about 4 seconds. We’d been driving pretty long hours to get to Uluru and I pulled over to get something out of the back. I pulled back onto the road and Dorothy said very calmly “You’re driving on the wrong side”. My response was “OH SHIT!!!” and I promptly put us back on the correct side of the road. It’s super embarrassing and not funny at all. Many people are killed in incidents like this every year. Don’t be a stupid tourist like me and keep on the left at ALL TIMES.
Here is a super handy little trick to remember where you should be:
The driver is ALWAYS closer to the middle of the road.
For more information about driving in Australia visit this very useful link. It’s “chalka” with information on driving in Australia. Pretty much anything you’d want to know is on this page.
VEHICLES Servicing The Vehicle
One way to save money on your trip is to keep your vehicle in tip top shape by learning how to service it yourself. You’ll want to keep the fluids in check and do your oil changes on a very regular schedule. A happy vehicle makes for happy travellers. If you’re not a mechanical type (like me) you’ll be amazed at how simple vehicle maintenance really is. I always thought oil changes we’re more complicated than they really are. In the past I’d always had my vehicles serviced by a “professional” so I thought it required some kinds of specific knowledge or skills when in fact they’re dead simple.
Our fits “tune-up” and oil change cost us $125 dollars so we said “stuff that” and started to do it ourselves. When you learn how to do it yourself you’ll probably even do a better job than the pros. The point is, if you learn some basic vehicle maintenance you’ll save money and your vehicle will run better.
You may feel like you need to do an oil change in the middle of nowhere. I’m not sure why people do this but we saw several several people leave their used oil at rest areas. That’s just not right. How would you like it if tourists we’re doing oil changes in your back yard and just leaving the left over oil behind?
We did a few oil changes at random places ourselves but we didn’t leave a single drop of dirty oil behind. We always disposed of our used oil properly.
If you’re going to be a douche and leave your used oil somewhere why not be a little cheeky about it? Take your dirty oil down to your “favourite” gas station and drop it off as a gift. Maybe BP could use some extra dirty oil lying around? Karma is a bitch. In all seriousness I’m not suggesting you do this. Find a proper place to dispose of your used motor oil. Don’t be that guy or gal.
Some simple things to think about when maintaining your vehicle:
Regular oil changes
Regular air filter changes
Regular oil filter changes
Check all fluid levels regularly
Check brake fluid as well
Maintain good tire pressure
Aussies love to go on about how you can let the air out of your tires to improve off-road traction. This works because it increases the surface area of the part of the tire that is in contact with the ground. In fact, this could save your life if your vehicle gets stuck and won’t budge. If you do let the air out remember to put your tires back to normal air pressure levels when you go back on the main roads.
The list of things you can do to maintain your vehicle goes on and on really. I have a tendency to over think everything so I’ll leave it at that. Just respect your vehicle and treat it properly. It will be doing lots of work to get you around Australia safely.
A little hack to help you remember to treat your vehicle with respect is to give it a name and treat it like a living thing. This might sound kind of crazy but it works. Our van was named Gerty because she was old and frail. Of course we’d never say this in front of her. Oh look Gerty is thirsty! Let’s give her a drink. Her feet are hurting, let’s check the air pressure in her tires.
VEHICLES Breakdowns And Problems
It was about 5AM and we we’re just getting going for the day. We pulled over to use a public toilet at a park in Melbourne on our way out of town. Nobody was around at this ungodly hour so I pulled up like I owned the place and parked like, well, a jackass. This is fine if you’re stopping for two seconds on a quick pit stop. Or so I thought! It’s not so funny when your car won’t start though. So there we we’re double parked with the ass of the van sticking out into the road waiting for three and a half hours for the service people to arrive. The hill made it impossible push the van into a new spot either. This was the only trouble we had with our vehicle in 35 000 KMs of driving. Well except for that time when I almost killed Gerty by driving through somewhat deep water. The point I’m trying to make here is twofold, don’t park like an idiot (me!) and having some kind of road side assistance plan can help you out. Our “points” had gone bad on our Van. Contact points are an old technology that predates electronic fuel injection. The RAC guy luckily was old enough to know what they we’re and to even have the tiny replacement part we needed. The part was so small he didn’t even charge us for it. If course it took him three and a half hours to arrive and this was in the middle of Melbourne. Again, another lesson here is that having some kind of support is nice but if it takes three and a half hours for them to arrive when you’re in the middle of a major city how long do you think it will take them to arrive when you’re out in the countryside?
If you’re from Canada or The United States you may be familiar with the AAA organization. They are a motoring group that offers roadside assistance in Canada and The United States of America. In Australia roadside assistance is a little different. Each state (and territory) has it’s own outfit that does roadside service. Like many things in Australia the system is very strange. Here are the 7 different groups with different names including the following:
- New South Wales: NRMA
- Victoria: RACV
- Queensland: RACQ
- South Australia: RAA
- Western Australia: RAC
- Tasmania: RACT
- Northern Territory: AANT
Oddly, when you purchase an annual membership with one of these groups you get service with all the rest. So why is there is 7 different groups? I have no idea.
During our whole trip around Australia we had to use roadside service only that one time mentioned above. That was because we maintained our vehicle properly, we bought a good van, and had some luck. Expect you will have problems and have a plan for how to deal with them before you have the problem.
VEHICLES Selling The Vehicle
When you buy a van instead of renting one you’ll eventually want to sell the damn thing. That’s actually one of the few disadvantages of buying a van instead of renting and it’s a pain in the ass.
Before you get into selling your van let’s do a little thought experiment. What makes more sense to you out of the options below:
They spend several weeks at the of the end of their trip trying to sell their van for the highest possible price. They detail the vehicle, they post incredibly detailed listings online, and work really hard at selling the vehicle. They sell their van for $5000.
They post their vehicle for sale at a ridiculously cheap price a few days before their flight home. They spend no time or effort on anything and only sell their car for $2000 in two days.
Do you think it make more sense to waste time selling your vehicle for a higher price or does it make more sense to just get rid of it in a hurry? You could be actual paid work and making more money by just selling it quickly. It depends how strapped for cash you are and how easily you can make money with your work. It’s something to consider though.
GumTree is probably the best place to sell your van. Do yourself a favor and post as much information as you can about the vehicle. When you create a really detailed listing it will limit the number of questions from tire kickers who aren’t real buyers. Take some good photos of all sides of the vehicle and the interior. Spending a few extra minutes on your listing could make the all the difference between getting lots of interested people and none at all. Also, it’s just form. How many times have you researched something you want to buy online and found the listing was crap? No pictures and a bad description? Come on people, we should do better for fellow users of the internets!
Here are the photos we used in our listing:
The main thing to remember when selling your vehicle is that you’ve already had an incredible journey and your vehicle doesn’t owe you anything. You’re probably completely wiped out physically, emotionally, and maybe even monetarily. The best thing you can do is get some cash and be on your merry way. Don’t worry too much about it. Enjoy the process and the last moments of your time in this great country. Your next adventure awaits!
Pro tip: don’t tell everyone how much you bought your van for. You never know who will want to buy your vehicle. ;)
In our case, we put almost exactly 35 000 KMs on our van and we ended up selling Gerty for the exact same price we paid for her. Crazy right? In almost every other used vehicle market this wouldn’t happen. In the market for backpacker vans in Australia if you buy a good van you’ll find that it won’t depreciate much at all. In fact some people sell their vans at a profit. Or rather, for more than the purchase. Of course the fuel companies still win… They always win! Damn them!
We tried listing the site in several different places including Craigslist, eBay, Carsales.com.au, and GumTree. In the end the only one that worked was GumTree which was the free one that we originally bought the van from.
VEHICLES Saving Money On Fuel
This one suggestion alone will save you a nice little chunk of change in short order. It’s a simple tip that will save you hundreds of dollars on your extended trip around Australia.
Many grocery stores have a partnership with “servos” (service station/gas stations) that allow you to save a few cents per liter. To be fair, saving a few cents per liter does not sound like much money at all but hear me out.
It works like this, you buy groceries and get a “docket” (receipt). Keep that receipt and then present that to the servo when you buy fuel. Woolworths was offering savings of 8 cents per liter last time we we’re in Australia. If you’re going to drive a “lap” of Australia you’ll probably do around 35000Kms in total so that piddly little 8 cents per liter will save you a nice little chunk of change. You can do your own back of a napkin calculation to figure out what it will save it. Obviously it depends on the size and fuel economy of you’re vehicle. Whatever the case every little penny counts when it comes to buying this much fuel.
EQUIPMENT General Equipment
Here is a very rough list of equipment that we used at one time or another on our year long trip around Australia. If anything, this gives you an idea of what you might want to think about. It’s by no means a complete list or an authoritative list. I’ve included it because you might get some good ideas of items to bring with you. Your list should be different and probably include less stuff than what’s on this list. If anything you should bring less stuff with you if at all possible.
EQUIPMENT General Stuff
windshield sun shade/visor
first aid kit
small mirrors (for shaving)
Resealable plastic bags (ziploc)
storage containers (Tupperware)
shovel (army shovels fold up nicely)
shower tent thing
jerry can (spare fuel tank allows you to bypass expensive gas stations and can save you when you run out of gas by mistake)
Camps Australia Wide book
batteries for LED lights / flashlights (torches)
EQUIPMENT Camping Gear
2 fold out chairs
1 small table
first aid kit
two burner lpg gas cooker
water bassinet (washing dishes, clothes, your face)
why am I listing this? (I don’t know)
EQUIPMENT Electronic Equipment
extra car battery
telstra mobile broadband thing (USB)
antenna for mobile broadband internet
temperature gauge (fun to watch the temperature skyrocket and plummet. We saw it go from 8 to 42 in the same day)
EQUIPMENT Vehicle Equipment
Bull Bar or Roo Bar
extra gas can (jerry can)
toolbox full of common tools
gps navigation system (what you’re going to use paper maps? what is this 1950?)
EQUIPMENT Miscellaneous Gear
magnetic led lights
dustbin and sweeper
EQUIPMENT Customer Service In Australia
This is one of those topics that revolves around re-aligning your expectations. Customer service in Australia is just different. For instance be prepared to bang your head against the wall when trying to buy things in many parts of Australia.
Here is a little anecdote to explain what I mean. I tried to buy an underwater camera near Exmouth and it was an exercise in futility. I went to ALL of the camera shops in the city. Invariable in each and every store the customer service person would say “sorry we’re sold out and everyone keeps asking for them.” I’m not kidding this happened to me like five times in one day. I finally just gave up and bought one of those garbage underwater cameras.
Clearly that’s an opportunity for the businesses to sell these products but somehow that logical step just isn’t made in many parts of Australia. I heard that phrase probably 20 times while traveling around Australia. What’s more, if they do carry the item you want they’ll be out of stock. When you ask them when their next batch is coming in they’ll say they don’t know because they haven’t placed the order yet. As I said, sometimes it’s like banging your head against the wall. Just don’t expect the level of customer service you’ll find in many places around the world.
Speaking of underwater photos.
Here are some photos I shot with that crappy little disposable camera:
*Note to self, never go to Australia again without a better underwater camera.*
A Quick Message To The Businesses of Australia:
If “everyone keeps asking for them” maybe you should stock that product! Another suggestion would be to improve the moral of your employees. The overall quality of customer service in this country is abysmal compared to the 35+ countries I’ve been to in my travels. When travelling in Australia don’t expect basic customer service people to be polite, friendly or knowledgeable at all. You can expect stores to be staffed by people who are completely uninterested in working there or are just disgruntled. I don’t know what this is all about. We’re probably the friendliest and most polite traveling Canadians you’ll ever meet. We always smile, try to make conversation, and be polite. Always! Often you just won’t get that in return. Obviously there are some exceptions and you’ll get some great service from time to time but it’s rare.
To be fair this is a very poor representation of Australia but this kind of thing would happen all over the country. I have literally nothing against Aussies, I love 99.9999% of them. The problem is they just suck at customer service. I wouldn’t blame them though, they’re just too busy enjoying their lives and going to the beach. I would behave the same way if I was just waiting for my shift to end so I could go surfing!
EQUIPMENT Solar Panels
Trust me, you’ll want to stop at some of these ridiculously awesome places you’ll find on your adventure. Perhaps you’ll want to spend 3 weeks at Cape Range National Park like we did. Or maybe a month at a super secret locals only beach living off the sea like we did. You might have cameras, cell phones, laptops, and all that jazz. Did I just say all that jazz? I’m sorry, I won’t do that again. Promise.
If you can, buy yourself a solar panel or better an array of small solar panels. It will take you one step closer to being completely off the grid. In fact a photovoltaic unit will free you up from the need to plugin anywhere. If you’re on a budget you may want to consider the amount of money you will save because you don’t have to use overpriced caravan parks or cafes just to plugin and recharge.
A single 80 watt solar panel was enough to power everything we had. We didn’t power everything we had at once but then again you never want to power everything at once. We ran all this off the solar panel:
1 DSLR Camera Battery Charger
2 Mobile Phones
1 Garmin GPS
1 Small Fridge
1 DVD player
We bought our setup at the 12 Volt Shop. Despite the fact that they sold us a solar kit without a fuse in it and one of their staff members was extremely rude to us (that customer service thing again) their store offers some great 12 volt gear. The 12 volt shop has batteries, solar panels, LEDs and pretty much anything you could need for this kind of thing.
Here is their website: http://www.12volt.com.au
DRIVING: Levelling The Van
If you have a small van with a bed in the back you’ll want to ensure the van is level before you try to sleep in it. Otherwise you’ll be slanted in bed and you won’t sleep well at all. On some kinds of uneven terrain levelling the vehicle is quite a challenge. Other times it’s a breeze!
The easiest way to level your van is to find a spot that is already level and just park. Done! At paid caravan parks and campsites this is usually the case so it shouldn’t be an issue. Levelling your vehicle may seem painfully obvious but I’ve seen many people park on bizarre angles when there was a perfectly good flat spot nearby. Thirty minutes later they have to re-adjust because they can’t sleep and only then did they realize they we’re not flat. The problem is now it’s dark and hard to figure out.
When you’re boondocking you’ll likely be on slightly crooked terrain and you’ll want to “level” you van out. The best thing do to here is to think about this problem in advance. A tiny bit of planning will go a long way here. All you have to do is buy a bubble level specifically for this purpose. They look like a regular level but they’re usually designed for RVs and caravans.
In our case we just bought a magnetic carpenter level from the dollar store and stuck it on the dashboard of our van. It worked really well because sometimes you think the van is flat and it’s really not. Remember, being level means front to back AND side to side. So you will have to check both axis.
If one corner is low, simply find a suitable flat rock and drive up onto it. Alternatively you can carry around chocks to put under the wheels. (this is the kind of thing that causes fights between partners, like setting up a tent. Beware!) They also take up space in your van and cost money…
An elegant solution is to use your shovel and dig a small hole on the high side and drive your van’s wheel(s) into the small hole you’ve dug. The simplest and cleanest solution is to find flat ground the way you would for a tent and park there.
Another little tip here would be a how to test your front to back level easily using neutral. Just leave the vehicle in neutral as you come to a stop and let the vehicle settle for moment. (Make sure your foot is hovering over the brake in case you start to roll). I’ve found this technique lets gravity do the work and your van will be as flat as possible in that spot front to back. If you are rolling you’re on some kind of an incline. As obvious as this sounds, there is some subtlety here and you won’t know what I mean until you’ve tried it yourself. If you haven’t embarked on your journey yet, you won’t know how important this is until you get out there. Just take a minute or two when you arrive and do it properly.
The worst part about levelling your vehicle is that you have to do a good job when you are at your hottest, most tired, and least blood sugar moments. Fights with your friends or partner can and will happen here. Once you’re level you can get setup and enjoy the magnificent surroundings knowing you’ll probably sleep well.
DRIVING: Driving in the Outback
Driving in the outback of Australia isn’t like driving in most other places. In the Outback you will find yourself in extremely remote places and there will be little or no traffic. If you stick to the main highways you should be fine and don’t need too worry about much because there should be people around.
You should NOT venture too far off the main highways unless you’re comfortable being completely self reliant and you’re ok without having any communication whatsoever. In fact you should know more than this simple guide provides.
That said here are a couple things you should consider. For instance, the temperatures in the outback are very extreme. They can be 45°C (113°F) or even above 50°C (122°F) on really hot days. If you’re going out into the true outback dessert you need to be ready for anything and be completely self reliant. You have to assume there will be no communication at all and that you may not see people for days or even weeks. You’re completely on your own out there. Which is to say if you’re not travelling in a caravan or with a group you’re probably an over-confident moron. To put it simply do not take the outback lightly and do not travel alone. Always tell someone what your exact plans are and when you will arrive at your destination.
If you do venture out there you’ll probably want to carry at least ten liters of water per person per day. Given that, you can figure out how much water to bring depending on the remoteness and distance of your travel plan. Then beyond that you’ll need to supply enough water for a 3 to 5 day wait in case of a breakdown. The same goes for food.
You have to assume there will be no cell phone reception at all. So if you aren’t a brilliant mechanic and have Bear Grylls survival skills you’ll absolutely want to have a satellite phone, an HF radio, and or a PLB. A PLB is basically an emergency transponder that transmits a distress signal. You can read about them here.
If you’re planning to go on a potentially dangerous track tell you friends or someone who isn’t a flake when you should arrive and what route you plan to take. One option is also to police station and talk to them.
Almost all safety and search and rescue people agree that if you have a breakdown and your vehicle stops working completely and you’re stuck DO NOT LEAVE your vehicle and try to hike your way out. Since you told your friends when to expect you they’ll know you’re missing and will send a search party out. The search party will see your vehicle much easier than it will see your vehicle.
Whatever the case driving in the outback is beyond the scope of this little guide but I thought I’d say a thing or two about it.
Be extremely careful and very prepared. Of course if you’re the type of disorganized moron who would get themselves into trouble you probably aren’t reading this anyway. Again, do not go anywhere near the outback if you’re not prepared. It’s an unimaginably vast and extremely dangerous place if you don’t know what you’re doing.
One advantage of travelling in a small nondescript vehicle is that you can pretty much camp anywhere. When you’re camping somewhere that is not a designated campsite you’re doing whats called boondocking. And if you’re on a limited budget, Boondocking will be yet another way to save money on your trip.
A friend of ours likes to tell the story of a friend of his that owned a caravan park. This caravan park owner was retiring. When our friend asked the park owner (who was about to go touring in a caravan for his retirement) whether he’d stay in caravan parks along the way. The owner responded “Are you crazy? Caravan parks are way too expensive!”. If that’s not a revealing little anecdote I don’t know what is.
It’s really a shame that the caravan park owners charge such exorbitant rates in Australia. The prices are flat out ridiculous in some places. In some places caravan parks cost $60+ per night and that’s not even for a full hookup. Those fees apply to any type of vehicle no matter the size. All the way from massive buses to small cars and vans. So this obviously won’t work if you’re travelling on a budget for an extended period.
You may have to go into what we lovingly call “stealth mode”. We call it “stealth mode” when the town clearly doesn’t want tourists like us to come and spend money in their town. They put up no camping signs EVERYWHERE and are generally unwelcoming to budget travellers. When that’s the case we go into “stealth mode” and camp out in a quiet place anyway.
Your best strategy for boondocking is this. When you get to a new location and you decide to stay the night you’ll want to scope the place out. Look around during the day, find your spot and come back to park up later that night. Always, always, always, arrive late and leave early when parking somewhere that you may not be welcome. Do not under any circumstances bother the locals and you’ll want to keep a low profile.
This goes against the “no driving at night” rule but since you’ve already checked the place out during the day you should be familiar with the area and it will be safer.
You will also want to avoid staying multiple nights in the same spot. People will start to notice if you don’t move around night after night. If you’re travelling in a “wicked” van you’ll probably have a much harder time with this because you stick out like a sore thumb and they’re generally frowned upon nationwide.
Make sure your spot is flat, dark, and out of everyone’s way. If you’re not drawing attention to yourself nobody will even know you’ve come and gone. We arrived and left before most people we’re even aware that we’d been there 99% of the time. Do NOT make noise or disturb the area at all. If you’re not doing anyone or anything any harm nobody will care.
Think to yourself, does my vehicle look like it belongs here? Do not break out the chairs and start cooking a BBQ when you’re doing this kind of thing. As ridiculous as that sounds we’ve seen this happen. Just use common sense.
Whatever the case is be respectful of the area you’re staying in. Do NOT use the street as your personal toilet or garbage disposal. Do not leave any trace that you we’re even there in the first place like we did every time we did this.
Some good places to park and not bother anyone include:
Residential areas with lots of cars parked on the street (blend in)
Residential areas with construction sites
In front of empty homes with for sale signs
Public parks on the edge of town
The vast majority of the time we stayed in places that we we’re allowed to camp like national parks, and other designated areas. We often stayed with friends as well. Although we did come across local authorities and shire offices that we’re completely unwelcoming to tourists. For some reason they did not want to accept my tourism dollars and welcome us?! Pretty stupid if you ask us!
I’ll make special mention of the Shire of Esperance in Western Australia.
They we’re complete jerks to us and kicked us out of their town when we had just arrived! It’s hard to believe how stupid this is given that foreign tourism is a direct injection of money into your community… Since the Shire of Esperance we’re total jerks to us this is what they get. Please skip the town of Esperance! Esperance is completely unfriendly to tourists and backpackers. Not to mention there is nothing worth seeing in the town itself.
Oh and as a special note to the Shire of Esperance, here are some statistics on backpacker spending in Australia:
“Backpackers, who spent $3 billion in Australia last financial year, are “worth their weight in gold” and must be encouraged to keep coming, Tourism Minister Fran Bailey says. Spending by international backpackers had grown by $495 million, or 20 per cent, in the last financial year, with the number of such visitors expanding by 555,900, Ms Bailey said today.” #
When a town or ranger is unfriendly to us we just stay the night anyway in a different spot. Except we stay and don’t spend a single dime in their town just despite these unfriendly, unwelcome, and downright rude people. When the ranger is friendly we’ll stay for a long time and spend money in grocery stores, at bars, buying fuel, at restaurants etc etc. Backpackers still eat and spend money like everyone else. Most park rangers and shire folks are friendly and understand how much money tourists bring into their communities.
For example, the rangers at the Cape Range National Park outside of Exmouth were extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and polite (unlike the Esperance ranger). As a result we ended up staying at the National Park for 3 weeks and paid every night for the duration. Friendly people, and reasonable prices?! What a concept?! We also went grocery shopping four times and spent LOTS of money in Exmouth at the local cafe, shops, and general tourism businesses. By the way, did I mention that you should skip Esperance? I think you get the picture…
There are whole swaths of Australia that shun van-based travellers from staying in their community. This is a bit short sighted because we bring lots of money into their little towns. All of that aside, one of the best things you can do to find a great spot is to do some old fashioned reconnaissance.
The simplest way is to drive around a little bit and look for out of the way spots where you won’t bothering anyone.
If you’re more technical you can use your mobile broadband internet and fire up Google Maps satellite view on the area around you. Find an area that looks good and then use the “street view” mode to get an even closer look. This is a great tool for finding little parks that would be completely hidden otherwise. You can find some great spots that are completely off the beaten path this way. We did this a bunch of times and found places we would have never be able to find any other way. What’s more you can even use the google street view to actually see the street or road in many places.
In cities look for grid patterned streets near the beach (residential areas). Most of the time residential areas in big cities are a good bet because there are tons of cars parked in the streets and you won’t be noticed. As always, arrive late, and leave early and leave no trace.
In small towns look for roads that lead out of town near the ocean. Whatever the case be ready with a backup plan in case your main spot goes bust. Always have a backup location programmed into your GPS and be careful doing this kind of thing.
One of the biggest questions we had before driving all the way around Australia was which way should we go?! If you’re in a two wheel drive van the geography of Australia limits your decisions to a few options. You’ll mostly be sticking to the “bitumen” (paved roads) and the main highway. That said, most people just go up and down the East Coast of Australia because of budget or time constraints. If you don’t have either of those constraints you will need to spend some time look at the weather, the season, and the things you want to see and do. For some going diving is important to them, for others free campsites are important. Whatever the case the route you choose is really up to you. I don’t want you to follow what we did but you can certainly get a sense of the type of route you can can plan by looking at ours. If you’re like us and you love the ocean you’re in for a treat. Here is the exact route we took city by city.
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
The route you choose to take has more to do with your budget and how much time you have than anything else. All you need to do is buy a map and figure it out. I have deliberately left this section wide open. I want you to take some time and look at it yourself. There are only a handful of possible ways to go.
The Right Way And The Wrong Way
Over the course of our travels around Australia We noticed that we had chosen the “right way” based on the people we had met and the experiences we had. Everywhere we went the weather was always getting better because we we’re following the summer around. Of course this was by design. Sadly we ran into many people who we’re “going the wrong way” but most Aussies wouldn’t tell them because A) it was none of their business and B) they’re too polite. When I say wrong way I mean driving right into a heavily flooded area. Or heading into an area where the weather is changing, for the worse and fast.
If you want to optimize your trip and your route you should consider the following:
The heat (does your vehicle have Air Conditioning and do you even want to use it).
The rainy season up North.
Overall weather at various times of year.
The vehicle you have.
How much time you have.
How much money you have.
Clockwise or counterclockwise.
School holidays (campsites and parks get very very busy during these times).
Where to begin.
Where to end.
For example if you have limited time and limited money you may just want to check out the East Coast. If you have a whole year and a good chunk of change on your hands (or you’re prepared to work as you go like we did) than you could do the whole lap and follow our route.
If you have a few months maybe you should consider just doing Western Australia. We much preferred WA to the East Coast of Australia.
The only time someone is actually going the wrong way is when they haven’t done any research at all and they’re heading into trouble. For instance, driving right into a cyclone.
We we’re quite afraid of the ‘rainy season’ when we embarked on our trip. We read that many areas in the north of Australia get heavy rain and flooded roads. Our fear was confirmed when we saw all these 4WD vehicles with the “snorkels” so they can drive through deep water (flooded roads).
For the most part this wasn’t a concern for us since we we’re driving a van that was two wheel drive. That meant we pretty much stuck to the main roads (the bitumen!) and hit dirt roads only for campsites. We really didn’t have problems with flooding like we thought we would. Of course, that’s also because we planned our whole route around the idea of avoiding the rainy season in the north which turned out to be wise.
For some reason when we started out on our trip we had a hard time finding information about the weather in Australia. We never realized that the BOM (Bureau Of Meteorology) has all the data we needed on their website. To save you some hassle here is some rather useful weather data for you.
Average annual rainfall across Australia:
Average rainfall by month throughout the year:
Data source: BOM – The Bureau of Meteorology
This data should give you an idea of just how much rain you’ll get at various times of the year in the different parts of Australia. You can clearly see the when the rainy season is in the North. You might like the rain and the flooding and choose to be there at that time. Just be ready to deal with impassable roads and the like. With the weather data from BOM above, your budget, and your timeframe you should be able to pick a route fairly easily.
According to the Bureau Of Meteorology in Australia:
“The Australian cyclone season officially runs from November to April, although very few have occurred in November. The earliest cyclone to impact the northwest coast in the season was on 19 November 1910 when the eye passed over Broome. The latest cyclone was Herbie that formed near Cocos Islands and passed over Shark Bay on 21 May 1988. In the beginning of the cyclone season, the most likely area to be affected by tropical cyclones is the Kimberley and Pilbara coastline. Later in the season, the area threatened extends further south including the west coast. The chance of experiencing an intense category 4 or 5 cyclone is highest in March and April.”
Monthly frequency of cyclones off northwest Australia 1988/89 – 2003/04 for all cyclones (red) and intense cyclones (category 4 and 5) (blue).
If you can, buy a van that has an immobilizer. I had never even heard what an immobilizer was until we arrive in Australia. It’s basically a hidden switch that prevents someone from stealing your car because the car won’t start if the switch isn’t in the correct state. Our van had three, yes three, immobilizers. Which turned out to be a bonus and a curse. The previous owners of our vehicle got themselves into trouble with this because they didn’t know about the third immobilizer. Some ‘genius’ installed an immobilizer in the glove box of the van that switched to the “your van won’t start” position when you pushed something into the glove box. In other words you could easily set it incorrectly by accident and if you don’t know it even exists this is a recipe for trouble. The previous owners we’re very clear about this. They told us about how they we’re stuck for three days in some remote location because the vehicle wouldn’t start. Somehow they eventually found the immobilizer and went on their way. Be careful with these!
Depending on where you come from you may find it hard to believe that the vast majority of the geographic area of Australia has absolutely NO CELL PHONE RECEPTION at all. As previously mentioned Australia is geographically massive and it has a relatively small population like Canada. This means the cellphone companies have very little desire to install cell phone towers everywhere like they do in more densely populated countries. You can drive for days and not have any cell reception. This means many times your own your own if something bad happens. So the trick is to minimize the chances of something “bad” happening… Of course the cell phone companies will tell you this fact in another way. They’ll say 99% of the population of Australia has cell phone coverage. That’s because everyone lives in cities. But who wants to spend their time in cities when you’re traveling like this? So do yourself a favor and buy an external antennae for your wireless broadband modem from Telstra. These aren’t as easy to find as you’d think. Not to mention you’ll have to buy a patch cable which is even more difficult to find.
A friend of ours who has driven “the lap” around Australia seven times over the period of 18 years recommends that you always have an exit strategy. You can think of this as always having an escape route or simply parking nose out. The beauty of this concept is that if something potentially dangerous or shitty starts going on you can hop in the front and drive away. If it’s really ugly then you can drive to the police station. If you’ve parked nose in and some drunk idiots start harassing you and block you in, you could be in trouble. So always park “nose” out with space to get out.
SAFETY Avoid Drunks
If you see a bunch of guys drive up who are clearly half cut, just be polite, ignore them and leave if you have to. Don’t engage with them at all. To this day I find it quite shocking how many people we’re openly drinking and driving in Australia. Groups of guys would drive up and get out of the driver’s seat with a beer in their hand and then proceed to urinate on a bush in front of everyone else in the parking lot. Where I come from people call the police and douchebags like that get arrested immediately.
SAFETY Driving At Night
Whatever you do, do NOT drive at night in Australia. This is probably the most important safety tip I can offer. By driving only during daylight hours you dramatically reduce your chance of hitting kangaroos, falling asleep at the wheel, getting hit by a drunk driver or a massive road train. The best way to avoid this is to just start waking up earlier and going to bed earlier. An added benefit of this is that you’ll see more of the countryside! Trust me, do not drive at night. We learned this lesson quickly on our trip. The “truckies” (truck drivers) and the animals own the road at night and you’ll want to avoid both groups for many reasons. Obviously there will be certain circumstances where you have to drive at night just be extra careful. In urban environments it shouldn’t be that much of a problem because there are always people around.
SAFETY Keep A Low Profile
There is nothing to be gained by attracting attention to yourself as a traveller. Keeping a low profile is always a good way to avoid trouble. If nobody even notices you’ve come and gone you’re less likely to get into trouble. In fact this really applies to all travel, not just driving Australia. Avoid being flashy, loud, rude, or noisy and you’ll most like be safer. Being humble goes a long way in all forms of travel. If you’re trying to park up overnight at a place that you shouldn’t be parking overnight, you probably don’t want to setup a freaking campsite. I’m looking at you Germans! More on this later.
RESOURCES Great Spots
Here are a few of our favourite places to stay on a budget with a van in Australia.
Lakeside Campsite, Cape Range National Park, Exmouth, Western Australia.
Cape Range is one of the most spectacular National Parks I’ve been to. The Ningaloo Reef that borders the park offers some of the best snorkelling anywhere in Australia. You don’t even need a boat to snorkel on the reef. Nor are there any “stingers” like there are on the East Coast of Australia. You just rock up and snorkel to your hearts content.
Cape Range is an extremely popular place for people to go camping so competition for sites is positively fierce! Competition for sites is actually a bit out of hand here because people literally camp out overnight at the gate to the national park just to get in. We arrived at the gate at 3AM and we’re first in line. About 5 minutes later two more vehicles showed up behind us. Those 5 minutes made all the difference because they didn’t get in and we did. We preferred the Lakeside Campsite to all the rest.
Here we are first in line!
Lakeside Campsite was one of our favourite spots in all of Australia. It’s a small paid campsite that has a great feel to it. There are 7 sites and a camp host. Every night we had “drinkies” or “happy hour” and sat around and told stories and got to know one another. We spent 3 weeks here it was that good. I will remember that for the rest of my life.
Here is a photo of the friends we made there. I’m not in this photo:
The snorkelling here was out of this world. Here is what the beach looks like. The dark spots in the water is the actual reef!
Of course there are plenty of other camping areas in the Cape Range National Park and you may prefer another site to Lakeside. You can always switch sites once you’re in, just ask your camp host.
Another incredible spot that is completely off the radar of any guidebook you will find is a place called XXXXXXXXX Bay. I’m going to let you figure out how to find it and how to get there because I don’t want to ruin it. The only hint you get is Esperance. And you know what I think about Esperance… So the rest is up to you. You’ll have to meet some locals and get them to tell you about a free camping place about 80K out of town. It’s like a treasure hunt! But in all seriousness if you want to know about this place get in touch with me personally and I will point you in the right direction. I might even send you some GPS coordinates. ;)
We spent an entire month at XXXXXXXXX Bay and it was totally free. Well, that’s not exactly true. We did make a donation to the local shire. We fished every day and essentially lived off the sea. This was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. We we’re welcomed with open arms by the community of campers there. This is the spot you want to be if you have some time on your trip to just relax.
RESOURCES Books And Guides
If there is one thing you should take away from this guide it’s that other people have already done what you’re doing and it’s going to be an awesome adventure! Make it easier on yourself and learn from people who have already done it. It will save your money and could even save your life. With that in mind here are a couple of fantastic resources we’ve found.
CAMPS Australia Wide
This book was probably the single most useful tool for us on our entire trip. The book which is essentially a database of thousands of campsites in Australia and it is AWESOME. They list both free and paid campsites.
This book will easily pay for itself after a couple nights free camping so it is a MUST HAVE item. Oh and I just saved you a gazillion dollars now that you know where all the free campsites are. It’s called the Camps Australia Wide 5 or 6 or 7 (or whatever edition they’re on now) and you can buy it here.
This is one of those things we we’re lucky to figure out relatively early in our trip. Other people we met on our journey didn’t know this book even existed and we’re literally floored when we showed them. They had been just driving around without knowing where anything was and struggling to find free spots all the time. Now you know too.
The Camps Australia Wide book also lists the features on the various camp sites. For example, if you need a place to use mobile broadband internet (like I did) you can just find free sites that have the little cell phone icon that indicates that you should have cell phone reception. Or if you need to know if the site is pet friendly or expensive etc…
Cover of the generic Camps Australia Wide 6 book.
Cover of the Camps Australia Wide With Camps Snaps book.
Be aware that this book (like anything printed on dead trees) goes out of date the moment it’s printed… That means some of the campsites may no longer exist or they may have changed. This happened to us once or twice during our trip. They have a website where you can download updates for the book as a pdf but I found that we never even looked at them…
If you really want to make things smooth (like we did) you can actually buy what’s called a POI file for your GPS navigation system with the Camps Wide database in it. The POI file or “Points Of Interest” file allows you to cross reference your book and the navigation system. You just look at the campsite number in the book and type that number into your GPS and bam you’re on your way there! Simple as that. No maps, no fighting over navigating, just pure travel fun!
I’m a big fan little hacks like this because you can spend your time enjoying the ride instead of constantly worrying about where you’re going and struggling with paper maps. When I last checked the POI file is $19.95 AUD and worth every penny.
The only problem with the POI file is that it’s accuracy isn’t always spot on. So it will take you to the campsites but sometimes it can be a a little off. For instance on our way out of Sydney it told us there was a rest stop on one side of the highway when in fact it was on the other side… You don’t need to worry about this because it will get you close to the site, you just have to use common sense when you get very close.
Cooks Tours Books
This is one of those things we discovered along the way on our trip. A friend we met told us about them. They’re simple little guidebooks that tell you a little information about each town in a certain geographic area. The best part is that they’re free!
These books are advertising supported and that’s a little bit annoying because some of the descriptions of the towns and cities read like advertisements. Nonetheless they can be really handy if you know nothing about the town your about to visit.
These books are a hot commodity and you’ll be fighting with all the ‘grey nomads’ to get your hands on a copy in each region. Sometimes they are on display in gas stations and in some information centers. Other times you’ll have to ask for them because they like to keep them for people “in the know”. Meaning, the people who even know they exists.
Most backpackers have no idea these exist.
They look like this:
Other than that I don’t really recommend any guidebooks but if you still feel like you want a guidebook check out the lonely planet guides.
RESOURCES Awesome Australian Sayings, Slang, and Jargon
Here are some relatively common Australia sayings that you might want to get to know. When someone invited us for a “cuppa” we had no idea what they we’re talking about. So this section will help you decode these strangely awesome sayings.
How you goin mate? Wanna come over for a cuppa or some grog? Grab a stubby out of your whizbang’s eski and use your push bike to come over. It’s just down the track at the end of the bitumen. We’ll have a roast for tea and watch out for the roos on your way. Oh and the dunny is around back.
If someone said this to you, you’d have no idea what the meant. This handy mini-guide will decode these incredible Austrlianisms for you.
How you goin mate?
An extremely common saying in Australia that basically means hello, how are you?
A cuppa means a cup of coffee or tea.
Refer to to delicious cookies that you usually have with a cuppa!
This type of tea actually means dinner. So when someone asks you what you’re having for tea you would say fish not Earl Grey!
A meat based meal that could refer to anything from Roast Beef to Roast Chicken or even rabbit. the meat is bound with twine and stuffed with herbs and spices. They’re delicious!
A push bike is just a normal bicyle.
This can be a type of push bike or even what’s known as a “cattle catcher” in North America. A series of bars that traverse a roadway to prevent livestock from escaping. It’s like a fence that crosses the road. If you have a vehicle that has bad suspension like our vehicle did you will come to HATE the grids almost as much as the corrugations.
Usually refers to a motorcycle.
Um, there is really no polite way to write this. It’s bull@#$%. You get the idea.
A whizbang refers to most of the vans that backpackers drive around in. It’s specifically refers to the sound the sliding doors make when shut. Whiz BANG! Many caravan owners don’t like the wizbangs for obvious reasons…
BullBar / RooBar
An extended bumped on the front of a vehicle design to protect the vehicle upon impact with a Kangaroo or bull (or anything really)
Just down the track (or road)
Australians have a highly distored sense of distance because everything is VERY far apart in this country. When they say just down the track or road it could mean literally hundreds of kilometers down the road. So be careful when someone tells you directions and it includes the words “just down the track”.
Refers to dirt roads, walking paths, or really any designated area that you can travel on that isn’t a bitumen road.
What do you do for crust?
This means what do you do for a living.
Still don’t have a clue what this means!
Toilet, or rather outhouse.
A form of a vehicle that is generally called a truck elsewhere.
Refers to something being completely full. A parking lot with no spaces left in it would be considered “chockablock”.
Ripper / Rippa
A word to describe something excellent or great. For example, “we had a rippa of a time.” In other words, we had a great time…
In fact if you’re so inclined you can check out this entire dictionary of Australianisms.
Also here is a quick Australian Business to North American Business Name Conversion:
Shoppers Drug Mart Or CVS/Rite Aid = Timothy White / Chemist
Pharmacy = chemist
Canadian Tire without the auto section = bunnings
Beaurepairs for tires, batteries etc.
Car stuff = onset auto, autobarn,
Best Buy = Dicksmith
MEC Mountain Equipment Coop in Canada and REI in the United States = Anaconda or Rays Outdoors
No frills, Lawblaws Loeb Safeway etc. = Coles or Woolworths
RESOURCES How To Speak With Rangers
Most Park Rangers are really good people and they shouldn’t be a problem. They will be polite and treat you with respect so long as you do the same. That said, if you come across a Park Ranger that is giving you a hard time try doing this. First be as polite as possible and treat them as if they have some kind of authority (which they don’t). They’ll enjoy that, trust me.
Now, tell them you weren’t planning on spending the night here but you ran into trouble in the most polite way possible. Tell them your vehicle won’t start and then prove it to them. The best way to do this is to have an immobilizer on your vehicle. Flick the immobilizer on (so your vehicle won’t start) and then show them how your “car won’t start”. Turn the ignition and let the car try to start. Obviously it won’t work…
The ‘loveable’ park Ranger will go from ‘Mr. tough guy ranger’, to ‘Mr. tough guy car mechanic’ ready to prove his manliness to the lowly backpacker! The trick here is to make them forget they we’re trying to kick you out. And they will. It’s one of the things I love best about Australians. They just can’t wait to use their winch to help someone who is bogged. They’re just itching to do it. It’s such an awesome macho man culture. They love stuff like this. But I digress…
Next, mention that you’ve called a friend to come help you. Except that he’s coming from the next town (preferably a random town somewhat far away) so it’ll be a few hours before he arrives. Using a name here really sells it.
We’ve used this technique several times and they’ve even kicked out other vehicles and not us. People must wonder, why do they get to stay?! Obviously I don’t condone staying in places that you shouldn’t. Of course, I also don’t condone Rangers harassing tourists… I think you get my drift.
The main point here is to have your story straight when they arrive and start chatting with you. Just be polite, show respect for “authority”, and do what you have to do to make them let you stay there for the rest of the night.
It’s the mushroom theory: “feed them shit and keep them in the dark…”
Another tip worth mentioning here is that if you’re in a place like this you should always have a backup spot in case you do get kicked out. In fact having the backup spot already dialed into your GPS will be a lifesaver if you do get kicked out. It’s hard to find spots at night in unfamiliar territory. When you’ve preloaded something into your GPS all you have to do is follow it like a zombie.
If all else fails you can try to scare them away using something like this:
RESOURCES Public Libraries
Public libraries are a great place for you to spend the day if you’re stuck in the rain somewhere. They usually have free internet access and offer a variety of services. We’ve been known to spend an entire day at the library using our own mobile broadband internet and the libraries’ power outlets. Obviously they have toilets and there is usually cafes nearby as well. Why not take a day to just relax and read? Ideally I hope you’ve booked enough time on your trip to do so.
Librarians are vey helpful and most of the time they just want to be useful. So use them as a great local resource. Again, you just saved some money!
RESOURCES Visitor Centers
I have a love hate thing with visitor centres. On the one hand I love that they provide great free local tourist information. On the other, I hate how they try to sell you tours and things you don’t want. Whenever you visit a new place take a couple minutes and hit the local visitor centre. If only to use their washrooms and to take a break from driving. They’re way better than the filthy gas station washrooms you’ll find all over Australia, and well, the rest of the world.
RESOURCES Public Pools
If you need a quick shower you can often find free showers at the beach in public toilets. I highly recommend taking a cold shower after you’ve gone for a run. It will make you feel fantastic. No joke, it just makes you feel totally alive.
Failing that you can find the local public pool as we did several times on our trip. We would do our daily workout (have a nice swim) and then hit the hot showers and emerge totally energized and ready to hit the road again. Most public pools have reasonable prices. Although avoid the Aquatic Center in Adelaide! That place was terrible. The roof was leaking, it was a filthy, and the staff we’re beyond rude to us. Maybe it was just a bad day for them? Who knows, we just had a terrible experience there.
On the Northern part of the East coast of Australia many of the towns offer free lagoons. This is mainly because the local residents want to swim without worrying about stingers and the like. They are beautiful places and during the week they’re mostly empty. Take advantage of these pools to take a dip, cool off, and shower up. Trust me, they’re fantastic when you’re hot! We found totally free lagoons or pools in Cairns, Mackay, and Townsville. What better way to enjoy the day that lounge around at a free lagoon?! We enjoyed the lagoon in Mackay the most of the three and the Townsville one the least.
If you’re in the middle of nowhere another option is to purchase what’s known as a solar shower. It’s basically a plastic bag with a tube a faucet. The sun heats up the black material and that in turn heats up the water. These are quite handy but you’ll need to bring lots of water if there isn’t a water source nearby. You can also make your own solar shower out of a big water bottle and some tubing. Just cover it with black material to heat up the water!
RESOURCES Wifi In Australia
If you also have mobile broadband internet like we did this will save you from trying to use wifi at local cafes and McDonalds. On that note, out of the 35+ countries I’ve been to in my travels, Australia has some of the worst wireless internet. It is next to impossible to find free Wifi and the paid Wifi is generally slow and overpriced. You’ll want to invest in a mobile broadband USB stick or hotspot. Unfortunately you’ll have to go with Telstra because they own the most cell phone towers and they have the largest network. They have the most coverage by geographic area. Every single thing about Telstra is terrible from customer service, to the staff at their retail outlets. It’s just one of those awful companies to deal with. The only advantage to choosing Telstra is that they have good coverage (which is exactly what you need). Some companies will try sell on you the notion that “we have 99% of the population covered with our network”. Well, that’s because the vast majority of people live in cities. You’ll be spending 80%+ of your time outside of the big cities if you want to explore the country. This was a bit of a headache for us to figure out but just trust me, go with Telstra. Of course by the time you read this things may have changed in the mobile landscape in Australia. The trick here is that if you plan on moving around the country take a look at the coverage maps and ask who owns the network of towers. Having your own internet connection however slow and overpriced is very very useful for this kind of trip. Especially if you’re working from the road like we do.
If someone tries to tell you McDonalds has free wifi don’t believe them. Excuse me while rant for a moment. Free wifi at McDonalds is not wifi. McDonalds blocks every port except port 80. So all you can do is basic web browsing. Beyond that the McDonalds “wifi” is so throttled (read slow) that you’d be better off driving all the way across town to find a public library. It’s not WiFi. It’s an excuse to get you into the store to buy some “food”. There are some things that just aren’t worth being cheap about. Your internet connection and your food are two of them. When you try to use McDonalds wifi you’ll be doing both. You’re eating disgusting food and you’re wasting your life waiting for the horribly slow connection.
Enough about that, the bottom line is get some pay as you go Telstra internet and be done with it. Just be careful, the bandwidth is ridiculously overpriced so no YouTube or Torrents! Of course if you’re on this kind of adventure you shouldn’t be sitting around watching YouTube. You should be swimming in the ocean or meeting new people right?!
RESOURCES TRIP LOG
The purpose of including this log is so that you can see how quickly or slowly we went from place to place. The original idea was to just keep track of how much we we’re spending on things but I figured we would include it here as well. It includes 260 days of our trip. You can see at some points we felt the need to be in a hurry while at other times we slowed right down and stopped for long periods. The log was taken by Dorothy on her iPhone while driving along so it may not be formatted perfectly. Speaking of Dorothy, you can check out her website here: DorothyRawlinson.com Or follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/DorothyJS.
Day 1 – August 12
-start in Sydney
-gas 2 stops $95
Day 2 – August 13
-morning 4 degrees, afternoon 13 degrees
-gas stop- less than half a tank @3:15pm =$36.60
-night stop @ Wallan
Day 3 – August 14
-morning 10 degrees
-gas stop w/half tank =$34.15 @ 9:30am
-$9.00 for food
Day 4 – August 15
-morning 10 degrees
-no gas needed and stopped on beach
Day 5 – August 16
-morning 9 degrees, afternoon 15
-grocery shop =$67.33
-got $119 parking ticket at hobson bay council for parking near Coles. Wasted two hours having them cancel the ticket at the library
-had to call RACV because Gerty wouldn’t start
-replaced contact points =0 cost
-brought car to Toyota for roadworthy 11am – need to come back Thursday
-made appoint at advanced mechanic for 8 am we’d for roadworthy in one hour=$90.00
-spent $1180 for fixes plus $90 for roadworthy certificate
-met with Michael R and did not need gas
-spent $20 food
-leaving Melbourne to torquay to stay at Tony’s place
-got gas $39.09 she was just under half
-rays outdoors and filled cook propane for $16 needed 4.5 kg
-drove near 1000km today
-stayed at zeally bay saw surfers and rainbows
-stayed at Tonys las night
-saw bells beach- famous surfing
-great ocean road
-stop apollo bay for gas $34.96
-woke up at 6:45 walked on beach and took pics for 2 hours
-stayed at Sawpit camping ground
-got gas $44.34 she has a little more than a quarter tank
-we drove 1475km
-gas stop $48.57
-topped up oil
-woke up near the beach @ 6 am
-took shower at adelaide aquatic centre (terrible facility)
Day 14 – North Adelaide
-gas $53.60 @ almost empty
-Serviced van at Kmart (Kmart is an auto service company in Australia)
-oil change @248700 km next at 5000km
Day 15 – August 26
-called Vicroads and paid for rego transfer $72.90
-drove to Rundell Mall and saw famous silver balls and pigs
-clutch still leaking so back to Kmart
– took showers and waited 5 hours for our clutch to be fixed (People at Kmart we’re very very slow)
– drove to Glenelog and stayed overnight at the beach
-$14.75 for grocery
Day 17 – August 28
-leaving Adelaide, last night got kicked out of Glenelg
-gas stop $24.11
-stopped at port Augusta for gas $37.73
-stopped for gas $34.97 (1.539 for unleaded)
-will drive for 5 hours today….we’ll see
-Saw our first live kangaroo 2653km into our journey OMG!!!
-stopped to fill backup gas tank due to distances between stations =$40.12
-stoped at Coober Pedy and got gas $45.41 @caltex Coober Pedy
-talked to a weirdo American who said he hated Australians. He was nuts.
-stopped for gas @Marla= $45.22@Marla travelers res
-we are now in the Northern Territory
-stopped for as @ Kulgara roadhouse PT=$34.00 & 1.70/L most expensive so far
-will see Uluru Rock in approximate 3:32 hours
-woke up at 5:30 and took sunrise pictures of Uluru rock!
-stopped for gas almost empty =$67.37 @mobile 11013 ayers rock NT
-walked on Uluru took 2 hours
-had to wait due to wind
-walked valley of the winds at the Olgas or Kuta Tjuta
-staying at a camp site outside uluru
Day 23 September 3
-woke up to rain in the dessert and amazing rainbows
-woke up to million bugs in bathroom and shower as well
-stopped for gas $44.85
-stopped for gas in Alice springs BP $41.52
-did 9 hours of driving. Crazy!
-grocery at woolworths $23.19
Day 24 September 4
-on the road at 7:00am
-stopped at UFO Wycliffe well NT for gas $46.41@ 179
-$71 bought oil castrol 20w-50 @ Bp in Tennant creek
-met an electrician at the camp site and he taught us about electrical stuff
-we need to buy a new battery 130
-change covering 5 + 15 labour electric mechanic
-he made us dinner: roast, potato, yams and beans=amazing!
-we left him a note thank you and our email. He was from Victoria Biblong
-he used an awesome cooker stove called a HillBilly
Day 25 September 5
-off to Mataranka thermal pool
-5014km saw our first dingo on the side of the hwy.
-saw 5 kangaroo or wallabys (not sure) near banks banks camp site before 7am
-gas @ mobile Elliott @ $49.28
-stopped at Daly Waters Pub where they had bras, patches, hats, jerseys covering the walls. Really cool!
Day 26 September 6
-off to Mataranka thermal pools at 6:30 am
-saw wallabys near our campsite and near hwy enroute to pools
-petted a walaby and took pictures
-the thermal pool was awesome
-stopped for gas at mataranka mobil roadhouse @ $54.01
-bought grocery $16.69
-gas at noonamah $52.62
Day 27 September 7
-made it to Darwin SOOO HOT
-went swimming aquatic centre to cool down
-stayed at crap camp site
-gas at BP nightcliff $15.45
-bought battery pieces $13.15
-bought inverter can $64.85
-bought battery $118
Day 28 September 8
-leaving Darwin an heading as far west as we can
-it’s way too hot
-will have to stop at katherine for oil change and see if they have camera battery
-grocery stop at Katherine $29.62
-gas stop at BP Katherine $44.59
-gas stop at timber creek Vic river pty
Day 29 September 9
-on the road by 6:30am
-great night sleep at 205 NT
-happy with tent
-oil change and camera recharger needed
-stopped at Kununurra ord river rh 4700 for gas $41.13 (1.609)
-bought ice first time using cooler $11.35
-went through quarantine check point at border crossing WA and NT took away my potatoes, onions, and honey
-found out time was 1:30 behind so we thought it was 6:30am but it was really 5:00am hahahah!!!
-$11.60 for water and Ginger beer at halls creek Coles express an gas $55.00
Day 30 September 10
-crazy windstorm last night forced us out of the tent and into the car
-many peoples tents fell down
-Some had to park their vehicles in front of tents to block the wind
-woke up early and on the road by 6:30am
-should be in Broome before or around noon today
-gas at fitzroy crossing $43.01 (1.489)
-took pics of birds eating porridge
Day 31 September 11
-happy anniversary to us!
-got oil change $100.00 @ broome auto 254418km +5000km next oil change
-swimming at cable beach from 11-3pm rented an umbrella “r18″ for $10.00 for 4 hours
-drove back to camp site 10 minutes from broome
-went swimming and went body surfing
-bought dinner and drove to Gauntheme point
-Duncan drove on the beach and we had burgers on the beach with our van
-went home and had a cool night sleep
Day 33 September 13
-Worked all morning
-went to mall to charge laptop and buy stuff
-bought a camera battery recharger
-bought a sun shade thing $109
-went swimming then bought dinner and went back to campsite
Day 34 September 14
-rained last night just a little
-cloudy today so we are working in the van
-in the mall charging stuff
-met country singer Evan
-took pics of camels on the beach
Day 35 September 15
-woke up felt lazy went to the mall
-did some photo processing
-might go to beach
-went to the beach, a little cold cause little sun but it was fun!
Day 36 September 16
-rainy start of the day
-phoned via Skype with monika
-sun came out and went swimming
-will probably stay the weekend and then off to the 80 mile beach
Day 37 September 17
-found receipts for groceries: 13.58,18.50,18.01,18.87,30.36
-sunny morning so we are going to the beach
-beach was fun had some tacos for dinner
-totally a vegetarian
Day 38 September 18
-went to beach
-Duncan went to mall and got kicked out for plugging in. Lol.
-met guy who has been walking around the world since 1998
-walking all the way!
-we made him dinner and got his email
Day 39 September 19
-got ready to leave Broome
-shared watermelon with our new friend Rida (who is walking around the world)
Day 40 September 20
-on the road to the 80 mile beach
-groceries $71.32, $17.60
-gas $70.34 @ bp central Broome
-gas $60 @ sandfire RH 6308
-walked on 80 mile beach and picked up shells
-10 km unpaved road was not fun though
-saw 2 snakes: one crossing highway the other near campsite
Day 41 Tuesday September 21
-en route to port hedland
-$50 gas Woolworths petrol port hedland
Day 42 September 22
-$32.85 gas bp Roebourne 6315
-found cool campsite near river
-girl camping next to us “Cath” is funny and bit nuts. Probably out in the bush too long.
-tomorrow full moon!
Day 43 September 23
-caught zero fish
-full moon tonight
Day 44 Friday September 24
-wicked full moon last night took pics
-woke up to a cool moon set while at the same time as sunrise
-heading to exmouth
-exmouth is wicked
-stayed at caravan park $30.00
-saw humpback whales at sunset from the lighthouse above the
Day 45 September 25
-decided to book one more night at caravan lighthouse park $30.00
-will drive to beach later after photo processing
-went to bundegi beach and saw humpback whales
-snorkelled and saw a turtle and manta ray and some fish
-we also went fishing and it was fun!!!
Day 46 September 26
-had a great sleep
-off to the cape range national park
-saw 2 kangaroos on the way to park
Day 47 September 27
-woke up and drove to park at 3:30am and were the first ones at the gate to the park
-saw about 50 kangaroos on the way and two cars were close behind us
-we got the camp site we wanted which was Lakeside
-going to book for 1week (7days)
Day 48 September 28
-booked 4 nights but will stay probably max 28 days
-going into town for supplies
Day 49 September 29
Day 50 September 30
-wicked day again at ningaloo reef
Day 51 october 1
-visiting turquoise bay
-Duncan not an uncle yet
Day 52 oct 2
-watched the castle…funny
Day 53 oct 3
Day 54 Monday October 4
-going into town for supplies
-paid rego for one year
-changed address to post office exmouth for sticker 5-7 days
-last night for Jon and Shirley
-Jon wrote a poem to say goodbye abs it was amazing. David will make copies for all of us
-Jon lent us little britain …. Funny show
Day 55 Tuesday October 5
-another day in paradise
Day 56 oct 6
– steve and Di leave lakeside
-very windy night and morning
– heard on the news that a boat at 5 am hit a whale and sank
-people on board were all ok
-watched the stars
-grocery shopped 65.00
Day 58 October 8 Friday
-calm morning great for snorkelling
-saw sharks and took pics of turtle
-underwater camera is finished
Day 58 october 9
-5:07 am woke up to 2 kangaroos drinking the fresh water we left out for them
-7am went snorkelling with Craig, son Bailey and Kie, Duncan and Dylan
-saw 4 sharks, a turtle and a lot of fish
-went kayaking and took pics of dolphins and saw huge loggerhead turtles
-paid $42 for three more nights
Day 59 October 10
Day 60 October 11
-our last day
-we go to the lighthouse tomorrow to charge up and shower
Day 61 October 12
-we said our goodbyes and left lakeside this morning
-we are currently finished laundry and charging all of our stuff
-$28 for campsite
Day 60 October 11
-our last day
-we go to the lighthouse tomorrow to charge up and shower
Day 61 October 12
-we said our goodbyes and left lakeside this morning
-we are currently finished laundry and charging all of our stuff
-$28 for campsite
Day 62 October 13
-went to Coral Bay but bot nearly as nice as exmouth
-Duncan went snorkelling and I went swimming
-we are staying at a free campsite between coral bay and Carnarvon
-postcards to family
-had dinner with a million flies and For the first time we used our mossy net. Great buy even just for this one occasion!!!
-$31 to send postcards and packages
-$44.91 grocery, $48 gas, $69.67 grocery, $36.45
Day 63 October 14
-made it to Point Quabba. Great free site
-Ran into John and Shirley and they have been here for 6 days
-supposedly good whale watching
-the blowholes are super cool
-Phil and Trisha are here now too
-Phil and Trish hated coral bay and quabba station
-this is fun!!!!
Day 64 October 15 Friday
-snorkelled and swam this morning
-a bit cold but refreshing
-John and Shirley left and we traded movies with them
Day 65 October 16
-Phil and trish left for the carnarvon fruit and veg market
-we will be going in tomorrow
-no wind this morning so we are going to hang around and snorkel/swim
Day 66 October 17
-met christina and ikey the dog
-met Morris and Rex both have bus caravans
-had drinks with Rex and talked about solar power
-June let us charge our laptop for a few hours
Day 67 October 18
-called rebecca and Rick
-Went snorkelling with Rex
-leaving tomorrow for carnarvon
-no more water and no more food
-point quabba is a great place
-watched a movie called “the fastest indian” about a kiwi who has the world record for under 1000 cc motorcycle at the salt lake flats. Pretty good.
-Rex was a gold prospector at one point and he showed us a nugget of gold
Day 68 October 19
-borrowed cliffs solar panel and we are charging everything!!
-we want to buy rex’s solar panel
-snorkelling and writing post all day
-will jaw snapper with Rex for dinner
Day 69 October 20
-leaving today and jumped into the ocean for a wake up this morning
-drove to bush bay and saw a dead whale on the beach
-we are just staying one night
Day 70 October 21
-left Bush Bay
-decided to skip Monkey Mia.
-moving on south fast to hit cliff head and meet Rex
-$37 gas caltex starkest
-$24 gas wooramel Wa 6701 PA young and SA young
$63.13 grocery carnarvon
-battery meter read 12.09 at 10:05 am
-when we stopped a few hours later the meter was 12.10o
Day 71 October 22
-we saw the monkey Mia dolphins and they were actually worth the trip, although a bit touristy.
-we stayed overnight at Eagle Bluffs and it was really windy. Had to call in for permission to sleep here.
-Duncan couldn’t sleep though.
-now were headed to Kalbarri to meet Phil a Trish for a few days
-monkey Mia fee $15.00
-$59.61gas overlander Roadhouse 6772
-bumped into Rex at 8:30am. He was just going down the road trying to get a goat…..hahaha he’s such a character
-stopped at 9:30am to cook the best fried egg ever :)
-met Phil and trish and John and shirley in Kalbarri
Day 73 October 23
-had happy hour with Phil and trish and John and Shirley and Duncan
-said goodbye to everyone
-did laundry, gave myself a haircut and Duncan shaved his beard off
-now off to Hutt River Province the guy who has his own mini sovereign state, money, and will stamp our passports
-met Prince Leonard and got our stuff stamped!
-Interesting to meet him but the road we took out there was corrugated, hot, and long
-$63.01 for gas at northapmton
-$38.71 groceries at Geralton
Day 74 October 24
-met up with Rex and Morris at cliff head
-a lot of seaweed on the beach and overall not great place….smells like eggs would not come back
-hope to only stay the night
Day 75 October 25
-spent the day with Rex
Day 76 October 26
-Rex took us on his boat and we went around
– then we rode on his quad
– might go fishing tonight or tomorrow
Day 77 October 27
-Duncan went fishing with Rex and caught some fish
-we had the fish for lunch
Day 78 Thursday October 28
-more fish for lunch
-walked with Cristina and ikey for 1.5 hours
Day 79 October 29
Day 80 October 30
-we leave cliff head
-caltex leeman gas $30.40
-camping at sandy cape national park for one night
-tomorrow we hit Perth
Day 81 October 31
-leaving sandy cape
-damn flies ruined it
-$27.77 gas at Lancelin roadhouse
Day 82 November 1
-going to Perth
-groceries $23.00 Lancelin
-made it to Perth
-showered at city beach
-bought a solar panel $570
-bought antenna $63
-had dinner at Brighton beach
-groceries Woolworths $112
Day 83 November 2
-swimming at City Beach
-went for a jog
-playing with solar panel
Day 84 November 3
-City Beach again!!
-jogging again :)
-fixed the solar panel
-they forgot to add the fuse on the panel
Day 85 November 4
-city beach again
-olive oil in my hair 45 minutes
Day 94 saturday November 13
-weather is getting nicer so we are staying in Rockingham
Day 95 November 14
-went into Fremantle for photo processing underwater camera
-going into Perth tomorrow for battery charger for camera
-staying at kwinana beach
Day 96 November 15
-skipped with Arthur and monika
-alarm went off at kwinana beach warning of toxic chemical spill
– going into Perth to buy camera battery charger!!!!
-beached for the afternoon at Scarborough Beach in Perth
-Kwinana for the night and we are off tomorrow
Day 97 November 16
-jogged and swam at Kwinana
-$24.83, $29.30, $2.75, $112.61,$3.60, 5.90,
-$20.15 gas meadow springs gull
Day 98 nov 17
-stopped at a rest area before Bunbury
-did oil change
-went jogging at Leschenault Waterways
-heading to find a beach where we can chill and work
Day 99 nov 18
-slept at the jetty in Bunbury
-did not feel well yesterday or overnight but went jogging and swimming and feel fine
-Chillin and working
-spent the day at the beach playing ball
-right ovaries hurt during making of dinner
Day 100 nov 19
-took a dip in the ocean and leaving Bunbury! The cleanest cutest town we have seen…
-I liked the checkered lighthouse and sleeping on the jetty
-staying at Tuart Forest National Park just before Busselton
-beach is nice but there are small stingers in the ocean
-beach is called forest beach
Day 101 nov 20
-left tuart Forest national park at 6:25am as it’s Saturday and fisherman were coming…too busy to pee and poop ;)
-off to busselton!
-cannot sleep in the car in Busselton
-having coffee at the Equinox cafe near the 2 km jetty, which is closed :(
-at cape naturaliste for the night. Saw a whale and people jumping off a chartered boat
Day 102 November 21
– woke up and went on a trail run
-swam and went fishing
-caught zero but saw a huge sting ray
-still staying at point piqeut in busselton but we saw the ranger so we may get kicked out
-had rolled oats, peanut butter and honey and scrambled eggs w/onions and baked beans with cauliflower
Day 103 nov 22
– ranger came over night but bought our broken down car story
-went swimming for exercise this morning, gave Duncan a haircut as I won the bet that the ranger would come and took showers
-leaving shire of busselton and off to Margaret river via the coast
-texted Rex a few times and still no response
Day 104 nov 23
-$10.63 grocery Coles dunsborough
-stayed over night at Leewin National Park around Margaret River
-no ranger came…yay!!!
-walked around Margaret river town
-cute but after we see the caves tomorrow we will move on
-not feeling great. Both of us are looking forward to routine and are tired of trAvel.
-no ranger came again last onight….wicked
-drove to Mammoth Cave and spent $40 for entry
-great cave and great tickets
-off to the cape leeuwin lighthouse and Augusta
-saw lighthouse and water wheel….not that exciting
-stopped just half way before pemberton for the night
-had pasta with olive oil, basil and garlic with ketchup
Day 106 nov 25
-great quite sleep for both of us
-off to Gloucester tree
-cool tree! We made it to the top!
– $100 bank withdrawal, $10.05 grocery, $33.00 gas
Day 107 nov 26
-great night sleep…very quite
-we left our site at 7:44am…late for our standards ;)
-off to Parry Beach to see if we can take a swim
-$34 gas Walpole pioneer store
-stopped at the most southerly point of western Australia
-parry beach was not great but we did walk up the valley of giants tree walk…cool!!!
Day 108 nov 27
-staying at west cape national park the most southerly point in western Australia
– ok sleep…cold and cloudy today
-good day to work on blog and relax
-took a cold outdoor shower yesterday. Did oil treatment for my hair
Day 109 nov 28
-leaving cozy corner at west cape national park
-grandma has arrived!!!
-plan is to visit the wind farms
-wind farm was wicked but Albany town was fail as no grocery stores were open and beaches stunk
-gas $52.13 and filled our second gas tank
-bought oil can $31.94
-we are at emu point and will stay the night
-quite nice for a run and swim in the morning
Day 110 nov 29
-met a nice couple from NSW Lois and Richard at the wind farm and bumped into them this morning
-we were invited to stay with them and we found a lost horse
-we went for a jog and a swim
-gorgeous at emu point and Middleton beach it’s 35 degrees in the van
-life is good
Day 111 nov 30
-jogged and took showers
-cleaned the van
-checking emails and then we are off
-it’s 9am and it’s gotten so freakn windy in the last few minutes…great for the wind farm
Day 112 dec 1
-OMG it’s December!
-stayed at a rest area near pallingu river
-going into Bremer bay for a run and toilet
-we have a few days 5 at least to get to Alexander bay
-nothing in bremer bay… Don’t bother driving down 60km to it
-$50 for gas
-didn’t run today and staying at hopetoun
-dinner:cashew, garlic, carrot,bok choy over rice and quinoa
Day 113 dec 2
-Steven seagal movie last night was funny and sorta good
-woke up to rain and it was lovely
-leaving hopetoun heading to a Quagi beach just before esperance
-went for a jog at 2pm
-great free or honor system camp spot
-hope it’s sunny tomorrow
Day 114 dec 3
-leaving quagi beach camp site ($2 per person)
-leaving cause no Internet
-heading to esperance
-gas $40.27 caltex woolworths
Day 115 dec 4
-we stayed at a boat harbor in esperance and a lot of dick heads last night drove by and honked and acted like ass wholes
-we are off to cape le grand national park- lucky bay campground
-$11 for our vehicle and $9 per person ( don’t add to what I owe Duncan as we paid by cash)
Day 116 Sunday dec 5
-great silent night
-we watches star trek…great movie
-we woke up and Duncan went running first on the beach as I was still in bed
-when I went running Duncan had left a note on the sand “I love DjS”
-we then went on the coast trial walk and climbed some rocks
-after 1 1/2 hours of walking we went swimming..well Duncan went snorkeling (saw nothing) and I walked in the water
-we took warm showers….solar!!!!
Day 117 dec 6
-we watched “sex and the city” the movie last night. Duncan hated it but he would
-it’s 8:28 and we are going to stay one more night at cape le grande
-I want to drive around and see other parts of the park cause it’s cloudy and. A blah day but Duncan doesn’t want to
-it’s 1:46 and I’ve been sleeping the whole day. Duncan went for a hike and i woke up to eat a sandwich and then went back to sleep….so tired
Day 118 dec 7
– leaving cape le grand national park
– going into esperance for Internet, laundry and grocery shopping
-grocery $10.50 iga
Day 119 dec 8
-slept at summy’s park
-plan to resupply with water, lp gas cooker, buy fuel filter, and groceries, area map
-going to Alexander bay today….hope we find it
– got a warning ticket from ranger serves Leanne. Beoutch!!!!
-lp gas fill $17.00
– groceries $209
-we made it to Alexander Bay and it’s gorgeous! Just like cape le grand but free (or donation)
Day 120 dec 9
-we had the greatest sleep last night. Watched a movie and it was soo quiet.
-we said hi to Morris yesterday and he will try to catch a fish for us for dinner and even come by and see whas wrong with ‘gerty’. She stalls or wants to sometimes
-we might also move closer to the beach when Rex comes. Im scared we will get bogged in the sand so we will wait
Day 121 Friday dec 10
-great night sleeps. Nice and quiet and we snuggle for warmth
-Morris caught and gave us 2 abalone and 1 shnook
-I didn’t like the abalone but Duncan did ad the fish should have been battered but I didn’t take the skin off so I just threw it in the pan…still good tho
-I’ve been sneezing and may have a cold
-Duncan is going fishing with Morris this morning…it’s 9:30 and we are waiting for Morris
-Morris came at 11:30 and after 2.5 hours of fishing they came home with nothing
-Rex arrived at 4;00pm yay!!!!
Day 121 dec 11
-we had a BBQ last night and Duncan had chops and steak
-we met Ken and Maurey who work on a farm 7 km away
-we slept like babies
-we jogged this morning and went for a swim
-we saw a pod of dolphins and they came over and checked us out. It was unreal.
-we had porridge and coffee and tea with Rex
-we might move spots buy we’ll wait until after the weekend
Day 122 dec 12
-we swam and jogged this morning
-I washed my hair and Duncan will go fishing with Rex and Ken and maurie will come over and we will have a BBQ
Day 123 dec 13
-we jogged and swam and doing laundry
-no fish yesterday cause no one went fishing and today it’s to windy so no fish again
-I’m doing laundry
-I got jeans from Rex that for perfectly…the length is perfect
Morris leaves Wednesday for 6 weeks
Day 124 dec 14
-we caught a lot of hearing and shnook and Rex cooked it with his beer batter
-Ken and Maury came over and we all had dinner
-this morning we jogged and swam as usual even thou Duncan wasn’t feeling it but we feel great for doing it
-I’m going to work on work stuff and Duncan is goin to do a back up
Day 125 dec 15
-we had a few pieces of fish last night cause Rex was grumpy
-I jogged ad we swam this morning
-we all went fishing and had it for lunch (I had peanut butter)
-gorgeous day 29 degrees and sunny
-Duncan a Rex will go fishing again and I’ll go for a swim …it’s 2:19pm
Day 126 dec 16
-we jogged ad swam with Morris
-Morris left today
-the boys went fishing but didn’t catch anything
-did laundry and Morris gave us a small frigde for drinks and I washed it and it works!!
-will have sausages and veggie burgers for dinner tonight
Day 127 dec 17
-went into esperance with marry
-jogged and swam this morning
-had coffee and zucchini for lunch
-did groceries $90
-filled 3 of our water jugs
Day 128 dec 18
-i cooked fish last night that Duncan and Rex caught during the day
-they also fixed the car so it doesn’t idle or stall when we slow down
-we had 2 games of rumminkub as well
-we watched a movie and then to bed
-this morning we jogged and swam
-cloudy morning and we are just chillin and maybe do Internet later
Day 129 dec 19
-we had a big fish dinner last night cause Ken and Marie stayed and slept on their caravan
-I made quinoa and she loved it
-Rex was grumpy but we all had a great time
-we found out that beryl left Rex and she died in new zealand and he didn’t go to the funeral
-also his 30 year old Swiss girlfriend is actually 40 and from Bali with a 14 year old. A total gold digger and he’s that guy that we saw in the philipines
-we jogged and swam 2 so far today
-it’s sunny and 32 degree
-the fridge is working really well but we don’t use it all the time
-the camps ate getting pretty full as school holidays started on the 17 until feb 1
-we will try to do Internet later
Day 129 dec 19
-we had a big fish dinner last night cause Ken and Marie stayed and slept on their caravan
-I made quinoa and she loved it
-Rex was grumpy but we all had a great time
-we found out that beryl left Rex and she died in new zealand and he didn’t go to the funeral
-also his 30 year old Swiss girlfriend is actually 40 and from Bali with a 14 year old. A total gold digger and he’s that guy that we saw in the philipines
-we jogged and swam 2 so far today
-it’s sunny and 32 degree
-the fridge is working really well but we don’t use it all the time
-the camps ate getting pretty full as school holidays started on the 17 until feb 1
-we will try to do Internet later
Day 130 dec 20
-no jog today but I did some ab work and upper body work then went swimming
-it was very windy and hard to do laps but still fun
-we added chia to our breakfast again and it’s funny that we are eating the ingredients of a chia pet…hehe
-just writing some posts and maybe go for a jog later
Day 131 dec 21
-we played soccer with Rex las night and it was fun
-we watched a few animal movies and went to bed
-I did some Abe and arm workouts and I was hurting last night and this morning
– we went jogging and swam
-Duncan has been working on the computer for a few days now
– he’s trying to do a back up but it keeps crashing
-it was cloudy yesterday so we had to stop it but it’s nice and sunny today
-I did some laundry and put oil in my hair
Day 132 dec 22
-went jogging and swimming
-Duncan and Rex went fishing and caught 3 snook
-I cleaned the van
-Duncan fixed the computer and everything is backed up…yay
-we picked some photos to add to our Christmas emails
-Duncan is processing photos
Day 133 dec 23
-went jogging and swimming
– can’t believe tomorrow is christmas
– sunny morning and at 8am it’s 28 degrees
Day 134 dec 24
-last night Rex gave us small abalone for dinner and I battered them and fried them up….yummy
-we ha tea and bikkies at Ken an marie
-I fell of a chair last night and hurt my left calf
-we did a short run (cause my calf hurt) and a swim this morning
-Arthur arrived on Toronto but his plane was over 5 hours delayed
-I can’t wait to skype with them tomorrow
-Duncan is fishing with Rex but it’s been raining all day
-I split tea on the bed and it’s trying to dry out in the rain….geesh I’m clumsy
– I took out my Santa hat today as it’s my Christmas…hehehe
Day 135 dec 25
-we ran and swam and called my family
-I spoke with everyone including babcia and chloe and pepper
-we had a fantastic lunch with Ken, Marie, Rex, Karen and Pete
-karen and Pete have two dogs named max and minmin….soo cute
-we watched bad boys
Day 136 dec 26
-we ran and swam and called duncans family
-we are so happy that skype worked
-we miss everyone but we are happy traveling together and being together
-we are going to have a fantastic lunch again at Ken and marie’s
-they have great neighbors Tom and pat and we have really enjoyed meeting everyone here at Alexander bay
Day 137 dec 27
-rex’s friends came last night beryl and Eric with 20 of their kids, grand kids
-it’s seems busy today with all the people
-we ran and swam this morning and the water seemed colder this morning for some reason
-we went to sleep early last night and we had a cozy sleep
-people say it’s Gina thunderstorm later
-we were invited to pauline’s for dinner tonight ad they are having roast
-we’ve almost been here for 3 weeks
– dinner at pauline’s was delicious and Pete and Karen came to visit as well
Day 138 dec 28
-we ran and swam this morning
-had a great dinner at pauline’s
– super sunny today
– Rex is in a mood and doesn’t want to fish
-I did ask if we had fish left and he said yes…we will have fish for dinner tonight
– I used the Internet today and posted a new years resolution and called and spoke to mom and babcia and left a message for monika…Arthur was visiting a friend in Toronto
Day 139 dec 29
-we ran and swam this morning and we are running even further past the lake
-we had our last porridge :(….need to go grocery shopping
-cloudy day but it’s already 20 degrees at 9:05am
-Duncan is in the computes and I’m just chillin
-we saw a blue dead penguin on the beach yesterday
-Duncan and I went to the rocks and he went snorkeling and then we laid on the rocks and got warm and cozy
Day 140 dec 30
-i went running and swimming while Duncan and Rex went fishing
-last night we played rummikub at rex’s and we got eggs for breakfast
-cloudy start of the day it’s 22 degrees at 7:30am
Day 141 dec 31
-it’s new years eve and I ran and swam
-it was so calm this morning so Duncan and Rex went out to fish
-Duncan caught some fish and I fillet them on the beach
-it’s so nice we are going snorkeling and I put oil in my hair
-Ken an marie will be here early today and we are going to have dinner on the beach with pauline’s family
-the hangy was amazing! Great food and great company
-we were home by 10:15 and we grabbed coffee and teas and chairs ad sleeping bag to sit on the beach
Day 142 January 1, 2011
-we slept in until almost 8am
-still got our run in and then had breakfast at pauline’s before our swim
-breakfast was left overs from the “hangy” last night
-Ken and Marie have the day off so they came down and chatted with us
-I was real lucky to go to esperance with beryl yesterday cause we have a lot of food
-it’s just 1:34pm here which means it’s 12:34am in the eastcoast of Canada
-everyone is celebrating new years except for Arthur on the west coast
-I did some laundry and we are just enjoying another beautiful day
-Rex hasn’t been out of his van or a few days cause he’s sick, which I don’t believe at all…oh well
-I’m reading a great book called The Pact by Jodi Picoult
Day 143 january 2
-we ran and swam
-we got invited to pete’s farm to look at his memorabilia when he road horseback from Perth to Sydney
-after that we are going over to Ken and marie’s for dinner
– saw Rex this morning around 5:30ish . He looked fine and then went back to his bus.
-dinner at Ken and marie’s was amazing
-Duncan shot a rabbit with a riffle….wicked
-we did not go to pete and karens and will go tomorrow morning
-Marie wants a wolf something for her birthday
Day 144 January 3
– we ran and swam
– got picked up at 8:30 by Karen and we headed to Orleans Farm where Pete works
– Peter Logan has a great collection of newspaper clipings when he ride Perth to Sydney
– Rex gave us fish cause he’s to lazy to cook it
– we exhanged emails with karen so we will keep in touch and maybe help Pete when he does the canning stock route in 2012
-Rex age us our fish and we gave it to Ken and Marie
-Ken and Marie came over and I cried when they left
-we exchanged contact info
Day 145 Jan 4
-ran and swam
-very warm wind so it feels really hot
-we are leaving Alexander bay
-we said good bye to Rex and had to put the solar panel on the car battery before w left
-we left at 8:15 and texted ken to say good bye
-we are feeling good to leave and continue our adventure
-getting supplies in esperance
-$17 gas cooker
-gas $86.26 we filled the van and 2 20 litre containers…..for the nullarbor
-we are staying the night at a rest stop about 20 km south of Norseman called dundas rocks
-it’s 6:41pm and we just ate and cleaned up for dinner
-it’s sunny and freakn hot….no wind so there are a few flies we want to kill
-we miss Alexander Bay. I want to jump in the ocean!!!
Day 146 Jan 5
-hot day yesterday and hot night
-really hard to get to sleep and cooking an cleaning was a pain cause of the flies and ants
-we need to get used to all the flies and ants again….funny that we forgot that they were annoying
-we woke up at 5:30 am and off we go to a rest stop with a shower
-we are thinking 5:30 maybe still late and we will have to get up earlier
-it’s 2:26pm and 38 degrees…super hot
-we are stopping for the naught in about an hour
-the nullarbor is definitely flat but interesting
Day 147 Jan 6
– we woke up to rain!
-it’s only 19 degrees at 5:50am
-we are off to the quarantine check point….I need to hide apples and honey
– 261911 km so far
-we took pics of the great Australian bite
-we are officially out of WA and in south Australia again….I’m going to miss WA
-we just passed the sign that states that the next 96km you will see camels, wombats and kangaroos
Day 148 Friday Jan 7
-we stayed at an ok place last night….we both had shirt sleep and got bitten mozies
-off to perlubie bay, which is a place Roger from Quabba recommended
-we need to pass the strict interstate quarantine first….whatever….it’s a stupid system that works for the farmers at each state
-we passed the check point and it was too easy….we hide apples, honey and garlic
-we stopped at Perlubie beach near streaky bay and had a run and shower
– @ Elliston Duncan noticed that I put the wrong alligator clips on the battery….the solar panel was not working!
-I quickly went on the Internet and we figured out that we blew the fuse
-Duncan found the extra fuse and fixed the solar panel….yay! Lesson learned…positive to positive, negative to negative
Day 149 sat Jan 8
-we found the nicest place to stop last night….Lypson Cove
-it looks fake…the backdrop is farms and then a few campsites and then a beach similar to Alexander bay
-we went swimming last night and Duncan took a pic of the landscape
-we also saw almost 12 rabbits on the way in
-we would stay another day but it’s pouring rain today and we don’t have internet….it’s a sign to move on
Day 150 Jan 9
-we stopped at port lowly where Craig and Lisa stopped
-we ran and then took free showers
-it’s a cute place and you can only stay max 14 days and then not come back for 4 weeks
-it has a cute lighthouse…..after we ran it started to rain and we just read and did Internet stuff
-it was windy this morning so no run but I washed my hair
-we are off to port Augusta
-we passed port Augusta and got groceries and gas
-we stopped at port broughton for lunch and a swim and found ourselves in a rescue situation
Day 151 Jan 10
-last night we stopped at a rest stop just before Snowtown
-we were very tired and slept well
-this morning we will drive almost 6 hours and will pass Adelaide
-it’s still hot 22 degrees at 7:28am already….I think it’s cooler in Tazy
-we made it passed Adelaide and I saw a dead koala on the side of the highway…so sad
-we are staying the night at “the granites” a place we stayed 6 months ago…funny
-we ran on the beach and went for a swim….more of a dip since it’s too shallow and wavy to swim…still nice tho
-Duncan downloaded the gps tracks and I finished reading Marian Keyes ” anybody out there ” book. Sad but good
Day 152 Jan 11
-we ran and swam yesterday and ran and swam this morning
-I made two porridges to go and a coffee for my baby
-we slept in until 7:45 which duncan needed but we still left
-it’s cloudy and totally feels like a travel day
Day 153 Jan 12
-we had the crappiest sleep….it rained all night long…boracay hard rain
-I though we would be washed away but we were fine this morning
-Duncan had to finish the oil change which succeed cause the ground was totally soaked and it was still raining so he got a cold shower
-he did it tho like a trooper
-we booked our ferry to Tasmania last night; leaving Friday 14 @9am -28@9am it cost us $458
Day 154 Jan 13
-we arrived in melbourne yesterday and we parked and slept near st. Kilda
-we ran yesterday and we ran and swam his morning
-it’s 26 degrees at 7:49am and it’s humid….we were drenched after our run
-last night we were attacked my a million mozies….they kept getting in the can somehow and Duncan tried to kill every single one but couldn’t
-we put up the mozy net and finally got some sleep…it was still freakn hot in the van and outside…no wind=hot humid weather
-it’s 11:23 and we finished laundry…some of it’s drying in our van and Duncan is working
-we had lunch and will go to Coles for some groceries
-it’s raining and I skype chatted (not video) with monika.
Day 155 Jan 14
-woke up at 5:30 to get ready to get on the “spirit of Tasmania”
-we left port at 9 and arrived in Davenport at 6pm
-we drove 15 minutes to port soeilel to sleep
– it’s beautiful
Day 156 Jan 15
-had a great sleep. Listened to the ocean
-now we are off to explore Tassie
-18 degrees at 8:09am….really perfect weather.. Sun is shining :)
-some roads are closed due to flooding
-we made it to mount Williams national park
Day 157 Jan 16
-we woke up and its sunny
-we are headed to St.
Helena hope the road is not flooded
-at 8:40am we saw a wombat!! He was so cute like a tiny little bear :)
-$76.86 grocery Coles
-$50.52 Coles grocery
-$200 cash out
-$24.00 gas at st Helens
-we went to st. Helena and got a hot shower!
-we are spending the night at the Bay of Fires. Gorgeous water, beaches, granite rocks and even temperature
-the flooding definitely has subsided, which is good
Day 158 Jan 17
-woke up to a lovely sunrise on the beach
-we drove to St Helena and went for a run
-we both took nice hot showers and I bought a patch
-we are off to scamander a fishing town at 9:12am 18 degrees and sunny
-we stoppered natureworld and saw Tasmanian devils, koalas, tiger snakes, wallaby, kangaroos, and birds
-$18.95 each to get in
-we made it to Coles bay. It’s absolutely beautiful I know I say that all the time but this place has mountains and beach
-we are staying at river and Rock campground. It’s pact!
Day 159 Tuesday Jan 18
-we hiked to wineglass bay
-we saw Coles bay
Day 160 Jan 19
-we left Coles bay and off to Port Arthur near Hobart
Day 161 Jan 20
-A stayed at lime bay nature reserve
-the fee was $13 for two people but we didn’t pay cause of the honor system
-we walked on the beach and had a great night
-off to Hobart
-Hobart was great! We went to the top of mount wellington (1227m) the view was amazing
-we ran and Duncan swam at sandy bay at long beach
-we are now heading to south port
-we are camped outside of a town called Snug
Day 162 Jan 21
-we went for a quick swim in the ocean this morning. We overlooked South Bruny Island
-we are off to southport our next campsite and the most southern place will be in our whole trip
-we made it to Finn’s campground. We are right beside the ocean and in the middle of a forest.
-we went running on the road…very hilly
Day 163 Jan 22
-we left Recherché Bay nature recreation area
-we woke up to only 7 degrees
-off to spend the day and night at Hobart
-we stopped at Kingston
-we found a cool trail run that we did for 40 minutes and then we swam in really cold water. We swam at kingston beach
-we drove to Victoria port where we saw the other sea shepherd boat…weird
-drove around Battery Park and saw a flea market
-then off to our night spot out of Hobart
-I got my patch and magnet too
Day 164 Jan 23
-stayed the night in central Tasmania in a town called Hamilton. It was a great spot and we went for a walk…a platypus walk!…no sighting
-we drove pretty much right across and up the west coast
-we saw and filmed an echidna…cute elephant feet
-the drive was very windy…too windy
-we are stopping at Ocean beach campground
-we ran and swam….nice place….long beach
Day 165 Jan 24
-rained last night so getting out was tricky this morning
-we headed to Tullabardine Dam where we did some internetting until 11:35am
-now off to our night spot just passed cradle mountain
-we will hike cradle mountain tomorrow….it’s a 6.5 hr return hike
-tomorrow should be warmer ….it’s only 13 degrees now
Day 166 Jan 25
-we woke up at 6am and to cradle mountain and dove lake at 7am
-we hiked to Marions point then around dove lake
-it took us 4 hours
Day 167 Jan 26
-happy Australia day!
-we stayed the day at Green point campground
-we ran and Duncan swam and I took a shower
-we relaxed and chilled all day
-we worked on my blog and I have my newsletter up and running
Day 168 Jan 27
-we had a great sleep!
-I skipped with mom and we are going to stay with them for 2 days
-we are off to davenport which will take us 2:48 minutes
Day 169 Jan 28
-we slept great! A lot of free parking around the terminal
-we are in line to the Spirit of Tasmania
-we are back in melbourne at 6:30pm
-we met Bruice and Janine from bC who have travelled everywhere on boat and van
Day 170 Jan 29
-we went for a run and showers this morning
-now we are going to do laundry
Day 170 Jan 29
-we went for a run and showers this morning
-now we are going to do laundry
-we went to the chadstone shopping centre mall and then to Coles for groceries
-then off to the beach where Duncan swam and we just laid on the beach…so tired
-tomorrow we leave Melbourne
Day 171 Jan 30
-we had a slanted sleep but we couldn’t help it
-we are off to the beach for the washroom and breakfast
-then off to the coast heading to Sydney
Day 172 Jan 31
-we swam and used our body boards at cape conran coastal park
-we woke up this morning and in 2 hours driving we will be in new south wales
-we need to call vicroads because Tony said he got mail that our trNsfer of rego was not enough
-$20.07 Coles, $21.00 gas, $53.09 gas, $43.89 gas, $30.71 gas, $42.95 gas, $21.45 gas, $24 gas, $37 natureworld , $53 gas, $57.07 gas , $49.59 gas , $103.56 grocery Coles need to divide by 2
-10:15am and we are in new south wales
-it’s 32 degrees at 10:18am and sunny
Day 173 feb 1
– we stayed at Mystery Bay and it cost $15 for two people but no one came so we got a free night again..yay
– we body boarded and the water was fantastic
– body boards, pink and blue care of family that left it in Tasmania at oceans bay
– off to batemans bay and we néed to call Vic roads
-12:07 and 31 degrees while the car is moving….stopping at seven mile beach for the day
-46 degrees from gerty
-we body boarded and have decided to stay here for the night
-we will jog in the morning
Day 174 feb 2
-mozzies killed us last night
-we stayed at the seven mile beach day spot and it was quiet
-Duncan killed mozzies but they pretty much bugged us all night
-beach day today
-we jogged for 20 minutes this morning but at 7:30am it was already hot 26 degrees….we were sweating
Day 175 feb 3
-it finally rained and at 9am it’s 22 degrees…still warm but not as hot as the last 2 days
-we slept well with no mozzies
-we are off today and will probably pass Sydney without stopping
Day 176 feb 4
-we stayed at Norah head near the lighthouse
– great spot for a swim and warm shower
– we went for a run and swim this morning
– off to Newcastle today
9:41am and 29 degrees partly cloudy
Day 177 feb 5
-found a great beach called bar beach south off Newcastle
-day 2 for us here
-we ran and swam body boards this morning
-had breakfast and texted Rex
-I dropped my phone into a bowl of wAter yesterday so it’s not working well :(
-beach day today
-8:18am and it’s 32.3 degrees
Day 178 feb 6
-beaching again :)
-slept near dixon beach
-woke up at 6:10 and went for a great run then swim
-had to buy more sunscreen and some apples, bread, sausages for later
-hot again and sunny
-Duncan fixed my phone and it works better then ever
-2:49pm and it’s pouring rain!
-$13.50 gas cooker refil,
$35.77 Coles, $68 gas, $34.71 Coles, $47.86 gas, $27.14 gas,
Day 179 feb 7
-finally we had a great night sleep
-woke up at 6am and went for a run and dip in the ocean plus nice warm shower
-it rained all night and it’s a nice cool cloudy day…21 degrees at 8:53am
-leaving Merewether, nSW today
Day 180 feb 8
-we stayed at Crowdy national park for 27 dollars
-it’s still cloudy but warm not hot
-Duncan went body boarding yesterday and we slept really well again
-we ran this morning on the beach and took showers
-the water is to cold for me to swim
-I will put oil in my hair today as this place has showers
-we are just chillin and doin some internet
Day 181 feb 9
– we stayed at Crowdy national park for a second night for free! We scammed them and didn’t pay….hahaha
-we left @ 5:30am this morning and heading to port Macquarie
-7:15am partly cloudy but it will clear up cause I said so and 20.5 degrees
-port macquarie was great! Cute but small lighthouse and tons of great beaches
-we saw some rocks near the beach that are all painted by folks…”RIP Dad” etc
-fun park that was made by the French
Day 182 feb 10
-stayed at hat head national park -smoky cape campground ($7 for vehicle $5 per person)
But we didn’t pay :)
-it’s raining and 19 degrees
-stopped at Coffs harbour and spent the afternoon at the library
-went running before dinner ad saw a crazy big spider in the womens washroom and a black widow
-spending the night at the jetty
Day 183 feb 11
-went running and showers
-off to the library, which opens at 9:30
-spent the day at the library
-went back to the jetty for dinner (Asian stir fry)
-geo tagged all photos on memory cards but need to off load them
-it’s Friday night so the hoonds will be out
-overall sunny day and 30 degrees
-it does call for rain on Monday :(
Day 184 feb 12
– had the shittiest night
– stupid drunk Aussies rocked our van and Duncan chased them off but cut himself all over :(
– I went running for 45 min and we both took showers
– off to the library for some recharging then we leave Coffs Harbour
-took a pic of the banana sign and off to yambi
-we are the walking wounded. Duncan is all cut up an bruised and I have a cold…the a/c in the library didn’t help
Day 185 feb 13
-had a great sleep at a rest area that had good toilets and a mirror which is rare….it was near an Italian/Australian museum
-off to Byron bay ( famous surf spot in the world)
-stopped at Lennox Head to take a swim at another seven mile beach…water is so warm
-saw a man get helicoptered to hospital after he broke his neck..surfing accident
-1:31pm sunny and over 30 degrees…rain possibly tomorrow
Day 186 feb 14
-valentines day and as usual we are fighting
-swam and ran in byron bay and went to cape Byron lighthouse, which happens to be the most easterly point in Australia
-I got a patch today
-we are staying the night at a reserve 15 minutes from Byron bY
-if the weather isn’t too bad tomorrow we will rent some surf boards and try surfing
Day 187 feb 15
-did laundry, bought 1 t shirt for duncs $10
-went 30 min running on beach and it rained on us…kept us cool
-Spent day playin in the waves
-will rent surf board tomorrow and play around
-going back to the reserve for the night
Day 188 feb 16
-ok night…I couldn’t sleep due to me still being a little sick
-off to rent our surf board!
-we surfed and both caught waves
-surfed for over 4 hours and at one point it poured rain
-I am bruised but feel fantastic about actually standing up on a surf board
– the waves are mushy…good for me as a beginner who needs to learn how to stand up on a board but not good for Duncan. Other waves are too big for Duncan or for semi beginners
-back to the reserve for the night which turns out to be a nude colony and a gay meet up place
Day 189 feb 17
-Duncan surfed a bit this morning but I was too sore
-he returned the board at 9:00am with no problem @byrons surf
-we are just making it a down day and working a little in the van
-the cafe people were rude so that’s why we are in the van
-sunny and warm 32 degrees at 11:50am
Day 190 feb 18
-had a great sleep
-woke up and left to the beach to watch the surfers and sunrise
-I ran for over 40 min
-we beached and then left to our sleeping reserve place at 3pm
-this will be our last night and we will leave and move on tomorrow morning
-fun beaching today
-made veggie sausage fajitas today…yum
Day 191 February 19
-Chloe turns 8 months old today
-we had a great sleep and leaving Byron bay today
-only 2 hours to Brisbane but we will take small roads so will take us longer
-7:43am 23 degrees mix of sun and cloud …light drizzle
-we both hope to find a proper shower today…good goal to have
-stopped at kingscliff for a quick jog and shower….shave in bathroom and took a shower in open shower near beach
-10:20am 25 degrees and lightly raining
-3:44pm and we’ve been hanging out at the gold coast in Queensland! We’ve visited palm beach
-we lost an hour for daylight savings….we thought it was 4:44pm but it’s now 3:45pm
-we beached and will stay the night in a city called Miami….weird
Day 192 February 20
-went for a run and now watching burleigh breaker pro 2011 surfers competition
-8:36am hot and sunny
– taj burrows won the surfing competition for the second time
-we beached at burleigh beach in miami and now we are hiding out for the night in a residential spot
-off to surfers paradise tomorrow and maybe Brisbane
Day 193 feb 21
-had a horrible slanted and hot sleep
-woke up at 5:30am and went to
Miami beach again
-went for a run and swim
-had weetabix for breakfast and off to see more of the gold coast
-passed surfers paradise and looked more like a realtor paradise….a lot of construction
-now headed to Victoria point very close to brisbane
-hot ad sunny with some cloud relief 34 degrees at 9:20 am
-stopped at IGA and bought a Ginger beer. Duncan is dying of heat and wishes he could open his window :(
-5:00pm just had dinner (avocado wraps)
-arrived in Brisbane and swam in the Valley Pool…$4.50 each
-it poured rain and we had to get out of the water but we took hot showers!!!! Yay
Day 193 feb 22
-had a great sleep
-paid for parking near the pool in the CBD and decided to stay overnight (paid parking enforced between 7:00am-7:00pm)
-walled around the botanical garden
-a lot of clean up due to the floods
-it’s 12:03pm and we are leavif Brisbane and heading to beerwah where steve irwins zoo is
-tough day of driving
-stupid hound also threw an egg at Gerty but Duncan thinks they ment to hit another car…who throughs eggs?
-we are ten minutes from the Australia zoo…we will go tomorrow it opens at 9am
Day 194 feb 23
-spent the day at the Australia zoo
-cost $58 each but totally worth it
-it was a mix of sun and rain all day but it kept it cool
-shows we saw: elephant feeding, famous croc show, tiger temple, birds of prey
-we saw and petted koalas, tazmanian devils, elephants, wombats, euchidnas, wallabys, kangaroos, birds
Day 195 feb 24
-had another great sleep at a lookout just out of beerwah.
-rainy start of the day but should get sunny….7:30am and 19 degree
-off upwards the sunshine coast
-at Caloundra in the sunshine coast
-found a shower and at 10;10am it’s mix of sun and cloud and 30 degrees
-we stopped at woolworths for done groceries $35
-golden beach isn’t nice so after our showers we will move on
Day 196 feb 25
-had a great sleep at the sunshine coast
-went for a run and shower at sunshine beach
-called and paid my CRA notice of reassessment $445.38
-9:14am 25.6 degrees sunny with some small clouds
-made it to Hervey Bay a famous place for whale watching
-we just took a dip in the bay and now will make dinner
-4:00pm 37 degrees mainly sunny with some cloud
Day 197 feb 26
-got turfed last night by a security douche but it didn’t seem to bother us
-we drove to our plan B spot and woke up feeling great
-went for a run and a shower
-9:16 sunny and hot at 27 degrees
-leaving Hervey bay
-arrived in bundaberg 11:11am
-went on a tour of the bundaberg factory $12.50 per person
-turned out it was a museum tour and not the factory
-we got to taste test 14 flavours; lemon, lime bitter, lemonade, grapefruit, apple, guava, cream soda, pink orange, peach, sarsparilla, ginger beer, some weird cola and 3 diet versions
Day 198 feb 27
-stayed at a rest stop in Gin Gin
-did the oil change
-had a great sleep
-met a guy name Joe from Cairns…he pointed out some good rest stops
– off to Gladstone and then Rockhampton
-6:45am 18 degrees beautiful blue sky…it is going to get hot today
-stopped for gas in Gladstone a coal mine city…not as bad as port hedland
-off to Rockhampton 9:46am 30 degrees
-there is supposed to be a Spire to represent the Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton but we couldn’t find the bloody thing
-we went swimming at emu park
Day 199 feb 28
-we found a great hiding spot in emu park and had a fantastic sleep
-woke up drove to washrooms, took showers, had breakfast and went on Internet
-now heading to Mackay
-cloudy and looks like rain at 7:15am 28degrees
-put oil in my hair yesterday….hair feels amazing!
-found a great free campsite called camila beach….you can only stay here for 3 days max
-we will stay here all day tomorrow while we figure out what we are going to do in the whitsundays
Day 200 march 1
-rained this morning
-we cleaned the van and fixed the fan
– we made a plan to go all the way up to cookstown and then on the way back we’ll visit whistsunday and great barrier reef
-we will drive all the way down to Merewether and sell the van in NSW
-2:11pm 31 degrees
-we walked on the beach and the water was out so we walked a long way….I found a cool shell
-tomorrow we go to Mackay
Day 201 March 2
-another great sleep at camila beach camp site
-it rained lightly last night and we put on our a/c, which is a fan we cleaned…it was perfect
-we ran on the blue lagoon trail
Then went swimming for free at the bluewater lagoon, took showers and ate lunch
-we left Mackay at 2pm and headed north guthalungra rest stop
-we made it at around 5:30pm
-ate dinner and watched some long vehicle trucks park next to us
-off to Townsville tomorrow
-the day started off rainy and cloudy but by the end it was sunny and hot almost 40 degrees hot
Day 202 march 3
-guthalungra rest area wasn’t the best Especially the washrooms….tons of bugs!
-we are off at 6:45am 25 degrees party sunny and cloudy to Townsville
-we might even drive all the way to Cairns today…we’ll see
-we are one hour south of cairns and it 1:25 at 33 degrees while Gerty is in motion! F@$& hot!!!
Day 203 march 4 Friday
-babindo rest area is one of the best! Showers and water and quiet
-I cleaned the van yesterday
-we ran this morning and took showers
-now off to cairns in 48 minutes
-we will be back to this rest area tonight
-7:57am sunny! 25 degrees Its going to be a hot one
-cairns was nice
-we bought some patches (yes more than 1) and sent some postcards
-we hung out at the esplanade lagoon…just like the bluewater lagoon in Mackay….free!!
-we are back in the great campsite and off to Townsville to book a day trip to the great barrier reef…hope it doesn’t rain but if it does oh well
-we are loving our fan…don’t know how we lived without it for this long
Day 204 march 5
-we both had a shitty sleep…I blame the cappuccino
-we still woke up at 5:45 and went for a run, breakfast and shower….it is already 31 degrees at 7:30am so a shower was heaven
-we are headed to townsvile to cook a day on the reef and we have two campsite options both with showers
-stopped at mission beach but cyclone yassi has stopped all trips going to the reef
-mission beach is the closest point to the GBR
-off to Townsville and then book a trip from airlie beach
-we made it 30 min outside of Townsville
-it’s hot! 37 degrees
-people are swimming in the river so we might jump in as well
Day 205 march 6
-bushy park rest area has a river running beside it and locals were swimming in it yesterday
-I was worried about crocs but Duncan went in
-the area is very white trashy but once everyone leaves today it will be fine…. Really hate weekends
-we had a rough sleep due to the locals but we decided to chill and stay here for the night
-it’s cloudy, humid and off and on rain today….great for just chilling
Day 206 march 7
-we woke up to rain…not a surprise
-we headed to Townsville and are working in the library
-we found pioneer park where there was a free riverway lagoon
-we swam and took showers
-now off to our night spot 1:25 hours away
-it’s been pissing rain all day but I think tomorrow and the rest of the week should a lot better
-we had red pepper fajitas and our rest area (comfort hill)
-has great private showers and clean bathroom, it is near a railway track so that sucks but a shower means we can go running tomorrow
Day 207 march 8
-we ran and showered this morning
-met a couple from isreal who were starting there Australian adventure
-we gave them our spare water containers
-we decided to stay at comfort hill because of my london 2012 interview later today and it has a plug for our computer and showers, Internet
-it’s been sunny all day…hope it continues for our trip o whitsunday and great barrier reef
Day 208 march 9
– London 2012 had a problem calling me so we had to reschedule for Thursday
– took a shower and now off to airlie beach
-when we went o mission beach visitor centre we got 2 parches and a magnet for $2 each….sweet deal
-I did a getto version of my oil hair this morning…approx 25 min
-we made it airlie beach and got some quotes on some sailing trips
-it’s supposed to rain all weekend so we’ve decided to stay at a nudist colony called Taylorwood
Day 209 march 10
-still at the nudist campsite
-I ran this morning on the hwy….with clothes
-the sun is shining at 29 degrees 10:09 am
-we are just chillin and hanging out
– locog interview tonight at 9:00pm
Day 210 march 11
-I think the interview went well and I’ll probably hear from them on Monday
-we did two loads of laundry and we went for a swim
-it’s Friday and we don’t need to worry about hounds….I love it
Day 211 march 12
-we ran and swam NAKED hehehe
-the day flew buy
Day 212 march 13
-poured last night all night
-rains this morning too
-we had breakfast and Duncan showered and im doing the oil treatment in my hair
-watched crouching tiger k
Hidden dragon last night…haven’t watched a movie on months
Day 213 march 14
-raining like cats and dogs
-took a swim and doing some work today
Day 214 march 15
-no email from London
-went for a run
-we are off to town for groceries, purchase Internet
-hot and humid and scattered showers today 9:53 and 23 degrees
Day 215 march 16
-Duncan went for a run this morning
-weather is looking good and think we need to book something right away for the next few days
-currently sunny with some clouds at 7:17am 24 degrees
-we booked our great barrier reef snorkeling adventure for friday with Fantasea only $195 for both of us..they are having a 2-4-1 deal
-we may also visit whitehaven island and Hamilton island for only $170 for both (again 2-4-1 deal) but that would be on Saturday and we’ll see how Friday works out
-I saw a cute frog at our neighbors place, Anne and Terry, they knew John and Shirley and they showed me the frog, spiders and lizards….and yes all in our birthday suits
Day 216 march 17
-no word from london
-we both ran this Morning and I cleaned both of our running shoes as they were smelling funky
-sunny outside should have maybe booked to go to whitehaven beach today but will probably go on Saturday
-9:05am and 28 degrees
-we have also seen a few times the rate Ulysses butterfly. IRS beautiful and it has blue wings…such a gorgeous blue
Day 217 march 18
-no word from London
-great barrier reef day!!
-it’s 4:12pm and we are still on the boat but exhausted
-we snorkeled for hours and saw amazing coral and millions of fish
-the sun was out and it was a PERFECT day.
Day 218 march 19
-we are both exhausted
-we are just going to have a chill day
-Duncan’s going to off load gps and geo tag pics
-it’s cloudy but humid 8:31am and 26 degrees
-$100 cash out, $27.50 underwater camera, $150 Internet, $55.36 Coles, $60.73 gas, $53.47 gas, $59.22, $43.88, $44 gas, 200 cash out,
-it’s 12:12pm and it’s hot and humid with the sun blazing
-just chillin near the pool
Day 219 march 20
-it’s Sunday and we are off to whitehaven beach and Hamilton island all for $140 for both of us :) (fantasea cruises 2-4-1 deal)
-it’s 7:09 and 25 degrees, humid with light rain and cloudy with some blue spots
-it’s gona be a wicked day!!
-hanging around Hamilton island at 10:35am sunny with some clouds and humid
-Duncan is swimming in the ocean, without a stinger suit as there are no stingers
-lunch at 11:30am on the boat and off to whitehaven beach on whitsunday island at 12:00pm
-we stayed on the catseye beach
-it’s 4:02pm and we are back on the boat headed to Hamilton island
-it’s cloudy but whitehaven beach was lovely
-we are having Sarah lee cake and coffee….nom nom nom
-we even got to see Pentecost island….cool
-we have decided to leave on Tuesday so we can do laundry, power stuff and sleep in :)
Day 220 march 21
-did laundry, cleaned out car, cleaned car seat covers
-leaving tomorrow owe $190
Day 221 march 22
-we left Taylorwood at 6:30am on the nose
-we took showers…nice hot shower
-it’s crystal clear with no clouds in the sky at 25 degrees already so it’s gona be a hot one today
-off to Mackay
-we swam at the bluewAter lagoon, got groceries and got gas
-it was a hot day!
-now we are driving to st. Lawrence stop for the night
-it’s 3:34pm and 32degrees it is sunny but a storm came in and rained for a little bit….now sunny again
-6:14pm we just took showers and ate dinner
-our back door handle broke today……argh
-we tried to glue it with super glue and plastic sealant so we will see in the morning
Day 222 march 23
-I didn’t get the London job :(
-we ran and took showers at st. Lawrence rest stop
-saw a cute white frog
-off to Rocky!
-$102.42 grocery, $65.58 grocery, $49.64 gas, $84.06 grocery
-34 degrees in the shade during lunch time 12:40pm
-stopped at bound river rest area and took a quick shower, ate lunch and now we are off
Day 223 march 24
-we tried to fix the door handle but failed
-we stayed at gin gin rest are again
-we woke up early and on the road by 6:40am
-sun is shining and no clouds again at 22 degrees at 7:06
-off to the sunshine coast and Brisbane
-we ended up stopping at Tiaro rest area for a shower
-we ran and took hot showers and decided to stay for the night
-we are meeting Rex in Brisbane actually bald Hills tomorrow
Day 224 march 25
– we made it to rex’s!
-met michelle and Pete and Lucy, the dog
-had egg and bacon pie (filo dough, eggs and bacon cooked in oven)
-Rex is not feeling good
Day 225 march 26
-cleaning and fixing van
-we like michelle Rex daughter and Peter
Day 226 march 27
-cleaning fixing van
-made egg and bacon pie with michelle
-Duncan fixed her iPhone and cleaned up her computer
Day 227 march 28
-Monday! Can’t believe it’s April in a few days.
-going to make fajitas and tacos for dinner
-played pool with Rex
-went for a run and took Lucy for a walk
-myfun.com.au dream world, movie world, sea world
Day 228 march 29
-played more pool
-duncan did some work
-Michelle and Peter will come with us to dream world this weekend
-we watched top gear UK vs Australia
Day 229 march 30
-there has been so much rain in prosperine and whistsundays that they got flooded and had mudslides
-tourists were stranded and again we are so lucky that we left when we did and it didn’t effect us
Day 230 march 31
-another day of running, cleaning and cooking
-called and spoke to Arthur last night
Day 231 April 1
-4 weeks and we will be in LA
-ran this morning
-sunny and warm
Day 232 April 2
-went to Dreamworld today
-walked a lot and had fun
-$160 for tix + gas
Day 233 April 3
-smoke-o :snack/coffer break
-Aldy: cheap grocery store in Queensland
-made our gumtree add for van
-emailed Lois/richard and Phil/Trish to visit before we leave
Day 234 monday April 4
-a young couple came and saw our van
-they said they want it at $6800 and don’t need it until next year so we can probably sell it so they can have it on April 30
-I went running and made lasagna tonight
-everyone seemed to love the lasagna
Day 236 April 5
-went for a run
-28 year old french guy wants to see our van
-getting a lot of interest…wicked!
-the young couple left his wallet in our van and came and picked it up..asked about roadworthy and we said it’s upto them to do it
-watching scary movie “the collector”
Day 237 April 6
-went for a run
-did some laundry
-off to visit Lois and Richard near Byron bay, NSW
Day 238 April 7
-had a great sleep in Lois and Richards house
-woke up went for a run then went swimming
-went to a coffee house
-now fixing her Dell computer
-will be going to eat out at Indian tonight and meet some of there friends
239 April 8
-had great Indian food last night: duncan had mango chicken and I had plaka with spinage
-we had a great run this morning and we will be going to Evans head for a swim for lunch
-we didn’t end up going to evans head and that’s good cause my knees hurt from running up and down hills this morning.
-I’m making lasagna today for everyone
Day 240 April 9
-I had a horrible night because of my left knee
-i was in so much pain that it woke me up at 3:15am
-I took some panadol and went to sleep thanks to Duncan
-today my right knee was perfect but my left knee was still hurting
-I am still icing it
-we went to the shore and did a 1pm swim. I only did half due to my knee ad Duncan ran 5 km
-tomorrow is a 6km run that is planned on the beach in the morning
-I hope to run it but we will see
-another great day meeting Lois and Richards triathlon friends
Day 241 April 10
-we ran track with Lois and Richard this morning
-Lois, Richard and I did the 3 km and I walked a bit of it due to my sore knee and Duncan did the 6 km
-we then jumped in the ocean
-it was an amazing day
-got home and I made bolognes sauce with vegi meat
-we chatted for a few hours and Lois really wants us to stay here until we leave
-we are going to try to sell the van here
Day 242 April 11
-I had a great day
-I met Lois and Richards friends Julia Jerome and Hannah
-Julia and Hannah both want to start a website of their own
-I went for a run with duncs
-we swam at shores bay then grocery shopping at woolworths
-I made quinoa for dinner with salad and pavlova for dessert
-got some great emails from the Rawlinson gang, which was sooo nice
-Lois and Richard got me a beautiful card, a bird pin and a souvenir patch (running shoe) so sweet
Day 243 April 12
-went for a run
-now doing some receipts and Duncan will help Lois with her website later
-love meeting l&r friends
-I feel physically amazing
-we had pad Thai for dinner thy I made
-we also made signs to put in our car to sell
-we will be going to Byron bay to sell the van and go swimming
Day 244 April 13
-went for a run
-now off to Byron bay for a beach day and to put our flyers for the van for sale around
-we visited hostels and notice boards
-great beach day
Day 245 April 14
-need to post van add on Carsales dot com, which costs $60 but we think it’s worth it as no one really knows about gumtree
-I ran in the morning and Duncan worked until about 12pm
-we had a fight about him being selfish and he said I was moody cause I’m getting my period
-we went to the beach and duncan posted our add to a few sites
-we are just reading and chilling this evening
-I made yummy risotto tonight
Day 246 April 15
-omg only 2 weeks left in oz!
-went for a run with lois today
-worked a bit then went to Lenox head and beached
-it was cool and the sun was out and was warming us up
-I think I caught a cold
-we had vegetarian lasagna with apple/pear vanilla ice cream for dessert
-I hate these mozzies
Day 247 April 16
-rainy and cloudy day
-went for a run this morning
-stayed in and worked all day
-we watched “deadliest catch”
-had a lovely salmon dinner
Day 248 April 17
-did a short run this morning
-still cloudy and sprinkling
-will be running a 3 km run for track today and duncan will try to beat his time in the 6 km
-during cross country it poured rain
-Duncan beat his time by 1 minute…awesome
-I got lost cause I was following someone who I thought knew where to go but didn’t
-I ran my 3km in about 17:30 where Duncan ran his 6km in 30
-we stopped for breakfast and coffee and it was sooo nice
-we worked all day cause it rained all day
-watched deadliest catch with Richard and went to bed
Day 249 April 18
-went for a run…feeling great
-going grocery shopping with Richard while Duncan and Lois work
-will make lentil burgers with mango quino salad tonight and lasagna tomorrow
-it’s another rainy day so we are just gona run errands and cook and we will definitely go to evans head tomorrow rain or shine
-we leave Wednesday morning to Sydney :(
Day 250 April 19
-I ran this morning
-we cleaned out the van and left it near the oval with a for sale sign with Richards car
-we all went to Evans head and duncan and I went swimming
-we packed a lunch and also bought some fish and chips
-great sunny day
-we also visited friends Terry and Cheryl Crowe
Day 251 April 20
-we ran in the morning
-left Lois ad Richard
-off to Sydney but will stop half way for the night
-it’s 4:00pm and we found a great camp spot at coopernook forest park just before the town of Taree
-we stopped at a woolworths and got chips, fajitas for dinner, yogurt and stuff
-now we are just chillin and we can’t wait to see Phil and Trish tomorrow at narabeen
Day 252 Thursday April 21
-woke up feeling pretty good
-our night spot wasn’t bad…neighbours beside us had a bat in a cage and it made a lot of noise last night
-we drove off and then stopped at 7:30 am for breakfast and washroom break
-approx 255km to Narabeen and Trish an phils place
-we had a great lunch with Phil and Trish and met their son
-we are parked at their beautiful home and now sleeping in our van
-we ran around 5pm
-we are going to run tomorrow, Do laundry and hope someone calla for the van
-we set up a eBay post today
Day 253 April 22
-we had a great sleep and ran this morning around narabeen lake
-took showers, breakfast and now did laundry
-10:35am cleaning van
-Trish and Phil had friends over so we all had lunch
-Marc and duncs and I went swimming and chilled
-we then had a nice walk around the escarpment
-ken and Tara had their wedding ….sad we missed it
Day 254 April 23
-no running this morning as it was pouring rain
-we got dropped off at manly and we are looking around
-it’s still pouring and we are not sure we should take a ferry anywhere
-movies theatre is out cause crap movies
-we ended up watching the movie Rio at warringah mall
-we went home at 7pm and watched mad men
Day 255 April 24
-one week left!
-chilling and working
-I called arthur and we chatted for a little….things are good
-we had a great lunch…brushetta and fruit and chocolate…I’m stuffed
-it’s 2:28pm and I feel sleepy…maybe we’ll go for a walk
-sun is behind clouds so it feels chilly…approx 20 degrees
Day 256 April 25
-pouring rain on Anzac day
-Phil is marching downtown
-I want to go running but will wait a little until the rain stops
-we went for a 32 min run and it poured on us
-now we are just watching tv and working
-3:13pm watching Anzac stories
Day 257 April 26
-we ran this morning ad now doing laundry
-Phil and Trish will be out for the day
-we made our $5000 reserve for our van on eBay. We emailed the bidder ad waiting for response
-partly sunny and cold today
Day 258 April 27
-I ran this morning and missed the rain
-now off to manly warf to take the ferry and headed to paddy’s market for souvenir shopping
-10:52am cloudy rain and 20 degrees
-same weather until we leave
-got some souvenirs at paddy’s market!!
-$5000 bid for our van was withdrawn due to incorrect amount placed….bulldust!
-Postage/stuff sent in advance Ottawa
-Rex keys sent to Brisbane
Day 259 Thursday April 28
-woke up to rain
– Trish birthday
-got a job lead with think HR we’ll see what happens
-receipts for last couple of days
$40 (ferries all day pass), groc $18.72, gas $46.65, groc $23.48,$17.00,$11.88 gas $24.34, $45.18, $64.58, groc $32.87,$ 42.39 movies $36 groc $46.93
-met Alison and Daniel
-eBay bid was a bust at $2550 but jenny and Paul just arrived from Vancouver and will buy our van
-we meet them tomorrow at 9am and they will buy it
Day 260 April 29
-we ran in the rain again
-cleaned the van out an moved into the house
-driving to meet Jenny and Paul and we are at 274776km at the end of our trip
-sold the van for $4600!!! Can’t believe she’s gone at 10:39am
-taking the bus home…weird
-we had lunch and now I’m exhausted at 2:25pm….nap time
-our van australia adventure ends.
-time to hop on a plane!
-off to our next adventure!
1. Veggie Sausage Fajitas
-1 pack of BBQ veggie sausages (6 in a pack)
-1 green pepper
-4 large wraps
-1 package of fajitas seasoning
-oil for cooking
-Cut the sausages in small pieces. Cut the green pepper same size as veggie sausages. Sprinkle tablespoon of fajita seasoning and 1 teaspoon on oil. Mix well.
-Add some oil to pan and heat. Throw the pepper and sausage mixture into pan and fry for a few minutes. Until brown.
-Put mixture in the middle of wraps and fold wraps so all corners are closed. Put on grill or camp toaster for a few minutes on each side. Serve with ketchup.
2. Indian rice wraps
-banks Indian seasoning
-can of corn kernel
-can of 4 mixed beans
-Cook one cup of rice with a package of “banks” Indian spice. Once cooked add can of corn kernels and can of mixed beans.
-Spoon mixture into wraps, fold and toast (optional).
3. Shepherds pie
-can of corn kernels
-can of 4 mixed beans
-2 cloves of garlic
-oil for cooking
-Cook potatoes until fork ready. Mash potatoes with a fork and add a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
-In a fry pan drizzle some oil and lightly fry thinly sliced garlic cloves
-Once lightly brown throw in corn and beans and let sit and warm up.
-Spoon corn, garlic, bean mixture onto plate and then cover mixture with mashed potatoes
-Sprinkle with some ground pepper and enjoy
5. Basil pasta
-dry basil leaves
-pasta (any shape)
-Cook package of pasta as per instructions, drain and set aside
-Add 4-5 tablespoons of oil in a medium pan.
-Throw in thinly sliced garlic (full clove).
-Cook until garlic is lightly brown and then add salt and 2 tablespoons of dried basil.
-Mix pasta and oil,garlic,basil and let set for a minute so the pasta absorbs the oil a little.
-Serve with ketchup and whole grain bread.
6. Rolled oats
-chia seeds (optional)
Cook rolled oats to the consistency that you like.
Spoon onto dishes and add a dollop of raspberry jam and mix. Add chia seeds (optional).
7. Veggie bolognes sauce and pasta
-veggie minced meat 1 package
-pasta (any shape)
-salt and pepper
Cook pasta as per instructions, drain and set aside.
In a fry pan heat and cook the minced meat.
Add crushed clove of garlic, dried basil and enough ketchup so the consistency is more like a think sauce.
Mix sauce over pasta and enjoy.
8. Fish beer batter
-fish: herring or snook
-beer (or water)
-oil for frying
Fillet and take skin and any bones off the fish. Put in fridge to keep cool.
Take bowl and put half a cup of flower.
Add enough beer or water so the consistency is similar to think pancake mix.
Add fish to mix and refrigerate (optional).
In a large deep pan put enough oil so the fish will fry but don’t need to be completely covered.
Fry fish until badder is brown, should only take a few minutes.
Once cooked sprinkle with salt and lemon wedge.
9. Simple fajitas
-whole wheat wraps
Cut pepper, onion and zucchini to roughly the same size.
Put in fry pan and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of fajita seasoning.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and stir and cook until peppers have softened a bit.
Cut tomotoes and cucumber roughly same size as other ingredients and put a few pieces on each wrap.
Add the cooked vegetables and fold wrap.
10. Egg wraps
-whole wheat wrap
Put 1 tablespoon of oil into fry pan.
Heat until hot and fry one or two eggs at a time.
You can scramble or have them sunny side whichever you prefer.
Add salt and pepper to taste and then add to wraps and fold.
Ketchup is optional but you can add them to wraps before folding.
11. Hot Dogs and Fried Potatoes
-6 pack of veggie hot dogs
-5-6 baby pre washed potatoes
Cut potatoes in half and boil in some water until fork tender.
Drain potatoes and then place cut face down onto fry pan with some oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
When golden brown remove and add 6 hot dogs. Turning and cooking all sides of the veggie dogs.
When cooked, which should take you just a few minutes place on dish with fried potatoes and cover with ketchup.
12. Vermicelli Noodle Stir Fry
-2 packages of vermicelli noodles
-can of baby corn
-soy sauce or any stir fry sauce
-can of bean sprouts
Open and drain both cans of baby corn and bean sprout.
Cut carrots in small thin disks an set aside.
In a small fry pan add some oil and scramble and cook one egg.
Take out of pan and set aside. In the same pan cook carrots with a little oil and water.
In a separate pan bring a saucepance to a boil and drop both vermicelli noodle packs in.
Stir and let simmer for 2-3 minutes until vermicelli noodles are cooked (follow package instructions).
Once cooked Drain with colander or remove noodles from water using tongs.
Once carrots are tender throw in baby corn, sprouts and noodles.
Mix all together and add soy sauce or your favourtie stir fry sauce.
Once mixed add to plates and top with fried egg.
Note: if you don’t have a strainer and we didn’t you can use BBQ thongs to fish the noodles out.
Takes a little more time but you get all the noodles
13. Nutella wraps
Spread 1 tablespoon on nutella on wrap and fold like a traditional wrap enjoy.
Enjoy, but not too much ;) !
14. Tomoto and cucumber sandwiches
-Whole wheat bread or wraps
Toast bread and slice cumber and tomato pretty chunky.
Put both ingredients on toast and sprinkle some dry basil, pepper and salt.
Take second piece of toast and make a sandwich.
Cut in half and enjoy!
15. Cous Cous and chick peas salad
-Can of chick peas
Dice a small piece of onion very finely.
Dice a half a cucumber.
Drain a can of chich peas.
Cook 1/4 cup of Cous Cous as per instruction.
Once cooked combine all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.
Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Great with veggie burgers!
16. Cous Cous and baked beans
Cut garlic to whatever size you like and cook until brown with some olive oil.
Add 1/2 of one onion finely diced and cook until soft.
Once done add one can of baked beans and heat through.
In a separate pot cook cous Cous as per instructions and when ready mix Cous Cous with baked beans, onions and garlic.
Eat while warm.
Also good with a piece of whole wheat bread (toasted).
17. Cucumber and honey sandwiches
-Whole wheat toast
Toast two pieces of bread.
Peal and slice as much cucumber as you like onto one side of toast.
Drizzle honey over the cucumber slices and add second toast on top.
Cut sandwich in half ad enjoy!
One of my favourites!
18. Veggie minced fajitas
-minced veggie meat
Dice onions, garlic and cumber and cook in pan with a little olive oil until tender.
Add tsp of fajita seasoning and mix well.
Add 1-2 tablespoon of mixture to each wrap with some ketchup and fold.
I genuinely hope this guide was useful for you and that your adventure is full of wonder, excitement, fun, and great people. If your trip is anything like ours I’m sure you’ll have one of the best times of your life. Say hello to the Aussies for us, stay safe, and have fun! If you’re as lucky as we we’re you will have an incredible adventure, meet amazing people, and you will have a smooth ride. All it takes is some planning, common sense, and a sense of adventure. The rest is up to you!
Balina Australia Photos
Dreamworld Australia Photos
Tropic Of Capricorn Photos
Whitsunday Islands Australia
Queensland Australia Photos
Emu Park Queensland Australia Photos
Burleigh Beach Australia
Miami Gold Coast Austrlalia Photos
My Thank You Note To Australia.
Dorothy and I just finished an ~35 000KMs (~22,000 Miles) almost year long trip around Australia. We drove the entire way around Australia and right across the middle of the outback.
As a Canadian I found that Australia is a land of remarkable polarities and extremes.
Upon arrival in Sydney we purchased a 1988 Toyota Hiace Van. She came with everything including camping gear, fishing gear, cooking gear, a queen size bed etc etc. You name it, she had it, including giant blue hippie flowers on the side! We bought the entire setup for only $4600 AUD. (Which we sold the vehicle the day before we flew out for the same price 11 months later.)
We chose the Hiace because they’re the most common and reliable vans on the road in Australia. And she didn’t let us down even with all the abuse we put her through including off-roading, driving on beaches, the salt water/air, and the most extreme heat. She only broke down once and we just had to replace a cheap little part on the contact points. Other than that she went and went and went some more. Other backpacker vans we’re left on the side of the road to die but not our van. Her name was (and still is) Gerty.
Australia has the most remarkable culture. An interesting oddity of their culture is that Aussies seem to have a somewhat affectionate animosity toward people in Australia. “Oh they’re from so and so that place sucks…” Or the “heat has gotten to their heads” or it’s “just sand there”, or “those damn city people.” I even heard one guy say they should burn Melbourne to the ground. I couldn’t imagine saying that about any city in Canada. It’s sort of shocking because many times there is downright disdain for people from other geographic regions within the same country. Most of the time it’s just lighthearted but it’s certainly odd.
Speaking of geography, boy do the Aussies know their local physical geography. Talk to an Aussie and within two minutes she’ll be drawing you what’s known as a “mud map” on the ground or in the sand. They’ll tell you how to get to place down the the tree by the river or whatever. It’s awesome because most of the time we lose track of what they’re talking about in the first few seconds but we always just let them go out of the sheer entertainment value. Watching an Aussie draw you a “mud map” is quite a treat but I think I’ll stick with Google Maps and my GPS! They’re so connected to the land, so present, it’s fantastic.
Something else I completely understand now is the epic vastness of this amazing country. If you haven’t driven around Australia you have no idea how big it is, you just don’t. The guys who are cycling or walking around the nation would say the same to me though. Driving it is the lazy way! Australia is absolutely staggering in size. There is something like 60 000 KMs+ of coastline alone. If you overlay Australia over the united states it covers the entire thing easily, well except for Alaska…
Sometimes you’d swear Australians don’t even speak English. Dorothy and I would often get left behind in conversation when locals would speak to one another. Dor and I would look at each other and shrug our shoulders. We have no idea what these people are saying and they’re supposed to be speaking our language! It’s awesome. They have entire books full of Australianisms that you can use to decode what they’re saying if you’re so inclined. To make matters more confusing the slang varies wildly from place to place but that’s all part of the fun. Dorothy and I just tried to learn as many of the sayings as possible.
You get the feeling that around every corner there is a guy with a Landcruiser who is just itching to use his winch to save someone who is “bogged”. And boy do these guys know their off-roading. Our friend Rex once did the Canning Stock Route which is like 1900 KMs+ of off-roading through the most remote part of Australia with no gas stations or any support at all. Oh and he did it alone with no sat phone or EPIRB. Kind of crazy if you ask me but certainly extreme!
Another friend we met named Pete road a horse across Australia from East coast to West coast. Take a look at a map of Australia to scale and you’ll know how mission impossible that is. He almost died of dehydration doing it. He did it to raise awareness for sexual abuse and he’s a freakin champ! Good on ya mate!
Some Aussies can be so entirely full on awesome and yet others are well just flat out lazy. There just isn’t much middle of the road. They’re flat out intense or flat out um, not intense. I’m getting tired and this is way too long… Bear with me…
Take some of our other friends who’d regularly polish off about 15 stubbies (beers) between the two of them every weeknight. That and the smoking certainly made for a very unhealthy lifestyle but that’s just who they are. Who am I to judge when they’re ‘happy as’?! In Australia you don’t have to finish your comparisons, you just say that person is “lazy as” or it’s “hot as”!
Another ‘extreme’ example was an Aussie friend of ours who casually mentioned he’d go for a bike ride. Many hours and 120 Kilometers of peddling later he returned. Did I mention he’s over 60? As I said the Aussies are FULL ON! They make us Canadians seem positively docile.
It’s not all puppy dogs and ice cream though, Australia can be downright backward in some places. There is almost no “design thinking” in many parts of the country. To make an awkwardly forced comparison, Switzerland is like Apple products of the world, you’re constantly impressed by their incredibly elegant designs. Things run like clockwork, Swiss clockwork if you will. You’ll find yourself thinking ‘wow someone really spent some time on that’ more often than not. The story is quite different in Australia where you’re more likely to be frustrated by something poorly designed. This is the case from the simplest things like public toilets all the way up to major infrastructure.
For example who thought it would be a good idea to build roundabouts on freeways? They’re called overpasses (or underpasses)! You’re clickin along on the highway and all of a sudden there are roundabouts!? You often have come to a complete stop. One area had 17 roundabouts in a row! To be fair there are no good beaches in Switzerland. Why spend time crafting the perfect design solution when you could be surfing or fishing with your friends like many people do in Australia? They’re not behind, they just have it so good they don’t care.
This may very well be an actual problem for Australia. They have it too good! I wonder if they’ll fall behind other nations because they’re just having too much fun? They don’t have that hustle that you see in other countries. That fire. Once the exports to China are run out, what then?! Or maybe they just have a better work/play balance than we do in Canada and the United States. That lack of design thinking is totally irrelevant if you’re camping or surfing. So who has their priorities right? Only someone like me who has been thoroughly indoctrinated into the protestant work ethic of American culture would even care about any of that at all but I digress.
Where I come from it’s totally normal to go to a cafe and spend a couple hours reading, or having a conversation with a friend on a weekend. Not so in Australia. You get your coffee and you go do something else. Coffee is not thing like it is where I come from. Not to mention good coffee is few and far between in many parts of Australia. There are some fantastic coffee places in the major cities but leave town a the quality goes downhill fast. When you come from the Pacific Northwest of North America like us, you get spoiled with great coffee. The fact that we we’re in Italy and France before Australia didn’t help either. Our standards we’re pretty high…
The climate of Australia is also quite something. In some places the climate is quite volatile and it influences everything. Serious flooding occurs practically every year in the North during the rainy season. There is so much flooding up north during the rainy season that most guys’ vehicles have snorkles on them so water doesn’t flow into their air intake. There are often depth indicators in the highways to denote how deep the water is flowing over the highway during floods. We have seen indicators that go up to 4 meters! Imagine 4 meter deep water flowing over a national highway…
You can literally follow the summer around inside the country and that’s just what we did. We weren’t alone either. There is an entire group of people called the “grey nomads” who drive around the county following good weather and staying at their favorite spots. They have reunions with friends all over and seem to have a really fun lifestyle. It is a great lifestyle because we just did the same thing, the same thing minus the flash landcruiser, the massive caravan, and the grey hair.
Australians are the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. One evening Dorothy and I found ourselves at a rest area on the side of the highway hundreds of kilometers from anything. We we’re done driving and decided to just stay there overnight. (rest areas in Australia are often more like campsites than the drug and prostitute ridden rest areas of north America). A guy rocked up and we got to chatting. We casually mentioned our electrical problem with an auxiliary battery. Before you could say kookaburra he was in our van fixing it. When he was done he said “let’s have a roast” and walked off. We looked at each other as if to say “is this guy for real”? He then proceeded to literally cook us a roast with potatoes, veggies and everything. He had known us for less than ten minutes. This happened to us a few times so there is statistical validity to this claim! Thank you Bendigo Chris!
Many Australians have this personal charm that is seriously laid back and disarming. Strangers coming up and talking to us at length for no apparent reason often sketched us out. We probably weren’t that receptive at first because as “city slickers” we had defense mechanisms in place to avoid the “crazies” of the world that would come up to you and just have a conversation. Pretty sad that big cities do that to you eh?!
I’d love to go on and on about Australia but suffice it to say if you haven’t been you should go. I will remember our adventure in Australia for the rest of my life and we will certainly be going back to Australia in the future.
Thank you to all our friends who invited us “call in” to see them. Thank you to all the drivers who put up with our slow van. Most importantly thank you to Marie, Ken, Pete, Michelle, Rex, Craig, Lisa, Chris, Phil, Trish, John, Shirley, Steve, Di, Tony, and everyone else for your friendship, your hospitality, and all the adventures!
Thank You Australia! I hope to see you again soon!
This is what it looks like when you set off across the Nullarbor in a crappy old 1988 Toyota Hiace van. There is virtually no cell reception and hardly any people at all for like the next 1500KM. Photo taken on Highway 1 at 32°2’52” S 122°57’10” E in Western Australia. January 5th 2011. View on Flickr, Photo.Duncan.co, Imgur, or download the full resolution version.
My Garmin Forerunner GPS watch tells me we’re doing 52.4 kilometers per hour on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry en route to Tasmania. Life is good and I’m really enjoying the adventure. I fire up Hootsuite to tell people I feel good about helping save a young girl’s life a few days earlier. I brag about how I helped in saving her life. I thought I was “all that” for helping out… Then I started searching the web to try to contact her and, um, well let’s go back to the start:
We we’re at a beach in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere called Port Broughton. It was “hot as” as they say here in Australia so we wanted to go for a swim. Just as I reached the water I see two women yelling at me from a floating platform about 100 meters out in to the ocean in waist deep water. They we’re hysterically screaming “call an ambulance”.
Like an idiot I yell back “I have no phone?!”. It wasn’t the time or the place to explain I was a traveler and I use Skype for voice communication… Luckily someone had a phone and was already calling an ambulance.
I raced out to the platform as fast as I could throwing my frogskins on the beach. I don’t know why I did this but you don’t think straight in a panic. (The sunglasses broke…)
There were two panicked ladies trying to resuscitate a non breathing and very purple young girl. Her name was Hayley and she looked like a healthy young girl except that she wasn’t breathing. Hayley’s friend said she was just lying on the platform tanning and then she stopped breathing. (Hayley had a heart surgery before so this is probably why this happened)
She had some nasty vomit (or fluid or something) blocking her airway so I took it out. She was totally unresponsive, didn’t appear to be breathing, and purple at this time. We made sure her airway was clear and tried to get some air into her lungs. I was positively freaking out on the inside but trying to remain calm on the outside. Little kids screaming, crying teenagers, and adults yelling made for all out chaos.
Before I knew it there was a whole group of genuinely freaked out men and women on the little floating platform. So many that it was almost tipping over. People we’re literally falling over themselves in sheer panic trying to help this little angel. Hayley’s mother appeared and was trying to talk to Hayley and help out. Then a man stepped off a tin boat and almost wiped out completely but I caught him. He behaved and sounded like a doctor.
We realized that she’d have to be transferred to shore before the ambulance could do any good. It wasn’t one of those spinal cord injuries or anything like that so we decided to move her. A local man (who later had a fireman’s uniform on) brought his tin boat and we lifted her into the boat. I felt strange physically lifting her because people we’re standing around and they weren’t doing anything. Just staring. Not to mention lifting a little girl who was purple and didn’t seem to be alive was actually quite scary.
Three people continued to perform CPR on Hayley as she was taken ashore in a tin boat. It was quite precarious.
I made it to shore before the boat did so another bystander and I lifted her out of the boat. We didn’t have anywhere to put her down. There we’re rocks, weeds, and crap everywhere. We first tried to lay her down on a kids inflatable boat but the doctor yelled out “too soft” as he disembarked from the tin boat. Too soft, meaning for the chest compressions of CPR. Someone else grabbed a wooden plank and we laid her down on that. All of that happened in about 4 seconds.
The three gentlemen from the boat continued to perform CPR on her and at this moment the first ambulance arrived. It looked like a volunteer ambulance and the poor folks seemed positively overwhelmed and immediately called for backup. You have to understand we’re in the middle of nowhere and having an ambulance there within minutes was pure good luck because they must have been in the area.
They took out the machine you see in the movies where they “shock” the patient and yell “clear”. Turns out a defibrillator is another thing that is quite terrifying in real life. It’s robotic voice will haunt me. They shocked her several times and her little body twitched violently. The machine would sometimes recommend a shock and sometimes not recommend a shock. I think that meant her heart was starting and stopping. I don’t know, I wasn’t going to ask questions either. Not exactly appropriate.
At this point I felt like a useless person just standing there gawking so I waited on the road and directed the other ambulance and rescue vehicles into the area. It was hard to find the little spot and it turns out they needed some guidance.
After that we just waited, and waited, then waited some more. There wasn’t anything I could do to help. We tried to be respectful and stay well back.
After what seemed like an eternity a helicopter arrived and landed right on the beach. Then they airlifted her out (to Adelaide I think) and people told us that “she’ll be fine”. Everyone seemed to think she would be fine. I thought she would be fine as well because none of the rescue people seemed to be in any kind of a hurry. I thought that meant all was ok.
When she flew off in the helicopter I wasn’t sure what to feel. I was just hoping she’d survive.
Five days later and Dorothy and I are on the ferry to Tasmania and I’m trying to contact her.
“Ladies and gentleman this is your captain speaking. Dolphins have been spotted out the starboard side of the ship. That’s the right side”
We see dolphins playing in the bow wave of the massive ship and at that very moment I find a Facebook page with Hayley’s status and discover she had passed away after five days of fighting for her life in hospital. It was like a kick in the stomach. It was an awful feeling and I had never even met her.
:( :( :( This is me, after reading about her passing. :( :( :(
From all accounts she was a very special young lady. I should also mention that I don’t yet know how she died but it may have been related to a previous heart surgery she had.
There isn’t really much more to say than this. Let’s just be thankful for every single day we have together.
Also, just know that CPR is super important. I could have WAY better prepared for this situation by taking some simple life saving classes. I could hardly remember anything since I last learned CPR when I was about 13 years old. Spend a couple minutes and give yourself a refresher on CPR.
Here is the only photograph I could find of Hayley:
♥ right back at you Hayley. R.I.P
My condolences go to Hayley’s family and friends. I’m sorry we couldn’t do more.
UPDATE: here are some better links and resources regarding CPR: