Saturday, December 10, 2011

As far as the East is from the West

Esperance is the kind of place that would be amazing when the sun is shining. We spent a week huddled into the tent, sheltered against the battering wind and rain, and putting fallen tent poles back up at regular intervals. Daniel was working each day, so Karen and the kids managed as best they could, watching movies, reading books, and getting on each others nerves in the enclosed space. They did manage a few walks along the waterfront to see the resident Sealion that displayed himself every day, and performed if anyone looked like they might be fishing. Finally, Saturday rolled around and we enjoyed meeting up with Daniel’s cousin Catherine, Greg, their son Kyle, and friends Matthew and Nathan for breakfast. We had already packed up our tent in anticipation of travelling for the day. And then the sun came out!

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As anticipated, Esperance is beautiful. We took a few photos and left to head for the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The drive is 4,300km and we want to get there in time to spend Christmas with the family. It’s already the 11th of December, so time is running out. Daniel has lined up work on three properties across the Nullabor, so we set off for the first on the list.

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We passed through Norseman and camped the first night at a free site along the 90 mile stretch. 90 Mile is the longest expanse of straight road in the country, so it was nice to break the drive up with an overnight stop. The next morning we introduced ourselves to Peter and Marg from Arubiddy Station, near Cocklebiddy. Whilst on the station Karen and kids mostly relaxed, reading books and playing around the buildings. We managed to get “Tour Guide Karen” to show us through the shearing shed, with all its fascinating machinery. Daniel completed the electrical job was in one and a half days, and we were on the way again. The next two jobs didn’t pan out. One property wasn’t ready for another week, and a roadhouse told us they didn’t need us when we walked in the door. So now it looks like we are going to make it with time to spare.


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Sunset over Arubiddy Station

Moon rise over the shearing shed

We stopped overnight at another roadhouse, and then headed for Arno Bay. Daniel wanted to get some assistance from The Travelling Mechanic in servicing the Troopy. Arno Bay was another place that would be fantastic when the sun is shining (which it did as we were leaving). It was great to meet Robbie and Sharon and we would have liked to stay longer, but we are on a mission! A few days later, many of the caravans and vehicles were severely damaged when a freak hailstorm hit the area.

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PC154504 < Cormornts queueing to get off the jetty as I approach.

Along the GAB.

^ Nullabor means No Trees.

Arno Bay Jetty.

> Waves crashing on the jetty

On the way to Arno Bay, we blew another tyre, the new one that was just replaced in Perth. Aaaarrrggghhh! Fortunately Bridgestone agreed to replace the tyre AND tube under warranty, so after a quick lunch break (with Beth and Jason) in Port Augusta, we headed for Melrose. Here we spent the night camped in the showgrounds beside Mike and Sarah, and their seven children and four performing dogs. It was an excellent evening, and we forgot to take any photos, but the next morning the rush home continued.


Next stop was with Jodie in Merbein, near Mildura. We had met Jodie and her husband Andrew earlier in the year. Sadly, Andrew passed away from bowel cancer in October, and we thought it was time to visit again.  We all had a really enjoyable evening INDSIDE THE HOUSE! No camper set up and pack up. Meals cooked on a HUGE BBQ. Excellent company with Summer, storm and Beau (the kids). Most enjoyable, thanks Jodie.

The longest travelling day we’ve had on this trip was 740km from Nhulunbuy to Mataranka in the Northern Territory, so the next days agenda looked impossible. Dubbo is over 800km from our departure point, but Karen wants to visit the zoo for her birthday. We changed tactics for this part of the trip. Normally Daniel does most of the driving, but this time we alternated approximately two hours each, and made it safely, but tired, into Dubbo at 7:00pm. When Daniel went in to check into the Dubbo City Caravan Park, he contemplated setting up the tent and then getting dinner under way, and booked a six berth room instead. The kids (and Karen) were surprised, and delighted at this turn of events. The trailer was plugged into a power point to keep the fridge cold, and we enjoyed wandering around the Western Plains Zoo for the whole next day. Our last visit to the zoo was in 2006, and some things have changed since then, but others haven’t. We also enjoyed an award winning pie from the Village Dubbo Bakery for lunch that day.

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On Guard, Meerkats


“Kiss me quick”

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Hiding Cheetah

Click on this photo to blow it up, it looks great!

Siamang Apes

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Clean your teeth time!

“Happy” really is!

“Catch me if you can”

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When being chased by a Tiger, DO NOT climb a tree


New born baby

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Otters are SO cute!


Mum and bub

(awake for a change)

To vindicate Daniels cabin accommodation decision, it rained heavily that night, and we were tucked away warm and dry. And so was our tent! It was a week for breaking records, so we left at 6:30am the next morning with Maleny as our destination. At 940km away, there was much distance to travel!

There is not much to report about this part of the journey, we alternated drivers again, and made it into Maleny at 6:00pm that evening. Karen started to get excited when we drove through Toowoomba, and the kids were amazing: Not one call of “Are we there yet?” was heard. They enjoyed some Nintendo DS time (limited to a half hour each), read some books and played happily (mostly).

In 9 days we had crossed five time zones (our bodies are still adjusting to what time it is), and five states. It was an amazing journey, but one that we are not planning to repeat any time soon. 


Mike'n'Sarah said...

Wow! You guys sure did some big days driving! It was great to meet you guys, thanks for taking the time to stop in on us.

Merry Christmas from us in the bus!

Jenny Johnson said...

What an epic journey. This is something the children will talk about all their life, you certainly have built some memories in there. Sorry to hear that Karen has twisted her ankle now that you have reached the east coast - hope it doesn't take too long to heal.
Christmas blessings to you and yours and enjoy your time with family over Christmas.