By keef and annie hellinger, Feb 23 2022 18.31 pm
This diary accompanied the BLOG 167 and an audiobook version of it is available on the BIG TRIPS page on this website. We are now on Soundcloud for all our audiobooks but if you wish to listen to the Diary rather than read it please click HERE
2. New Zealand
Australia, All States & Territories except Queensland, Northern & Australian Capital one visit 6th March to 6 April, 32 days in total
We joined the BIG 4 campsites whilst in Australia which certainly saved us money on our overnight camping. We also signed up with Top Tourists Parks (by 2022 they have been renamed G'Day Parks) Just a couple of tips for fellow motor homers. #hintsandtips
Crossing the wonderful Nullarbor Plain, A great Aussie Adventure
Wednesday March 6th 2013
Summary, Flew into Sydney from Auckland, New Zealand. NZ is 2 hours ahead of Australia.
Got up at 5 a.m. Kiwi time and got motel shuttle bus to Auckland airport. Our flight to Sydney left at 8.45 a.m. 10 minutes late but not bad, the usual airport runway congestion. We flew with QUANTAS, it was a good flight as nice views as we flew into Botany Bay. We arrived 9.30 a.m. Australian time, the flight time was 2 ¾ hours, it should have been 3 ½ hours but the tailwind sped our journey in the skies.
We waited at the airport for Hannah & David to pick us up at lunchtime as they were both at work. No real hassle to us, we read our books and chatted about the fab time we had just had in Kiwi land.
When we met up they drove us back to their apartment in Vaucluse in their car which was very kind of them. They have a lovely flat and Riley their schnauzer doggie is gorgeous. He is a quiet dog, laid back but friendly with silky ears and brown eyes. Hannah and David returned to work, and we unpacked and took Riley out for a short walk. It was very hot and sunny, and he only wanted to stay in the shade, so we brought him back and walked to Coles and got some wine for the BBQ tonight.
We had showers and got changed ready for the BBQ Laura Langthorne came over to join us, H, D & L were friends having met on various travels earlier on the way out to Australia. A huge coincidence for us. But a lovely one.
A very nice evening and lovely to see family and friends again. We went to bed at 11 p.m. very tired understandable.
Thursday March 7th 2013
Summary, Sydney 29 degrees Fahrenheit.
Up at 8 a.m. Annie did some handwashing, Keef checked emails etc. We were notified by the Kiwi motorhome company that we had got a NZ speeding fine for NZ$120 and the company added on a further $35 admin charge, not good news. Later found out it was for driving too fast past a school area in Ahipara, bad boy Keef, think it was when we parked up to relook at 90-mile beach.
We had breakfast then walked along the coastal path to Watson’s Bay. Hot day and very blue skies. It was a nice walk and we saw the lovely homes in Vaucluse and Watson’s Bay. We had cobs (bread rolls) for lunch near Doyle’s restaurant at Watson’s Bay.
We bought tickets for the jet cat ferry to Circular Quay $5 each. It was a long wait as they closed for lunch for one hour, we hadn’t realised this when we purchased the tickets.
When we finally got going it was bliss, such lovely views in the harbour. The Queen Mary two cruise ship was moored at Circular Quay. Sydney centre was very busy. There was the same Aboriginal family as we saw in 2008 at Circular Quay playing didgeridoo etc. We had a chocolate milkshake as it was very hot. We called in at the tourist information centre to get a city centre map and sort out various bus routes.
We got the bus back to Vaucluse before the main commuters had left work, a very wise move as Sydney is a very busy place and more specially so during rush hour.
We had bath / shower and Hannah & David returned from work around 7 p.m. David cooked home made pasta which was lovely and very tasty. We all did a Skype with Brian & Gina around 9.30 p.m. They had enjoyed their remaining holiday in Borneo. Nice to see and talk to them again.
Friday March 8th 2013
David very kindly lent us his car and we drove to Vaucluse house in Vaucluse, the Sydney suburb they live in. This was an early settler’s house owned by William C Wentworth, his wife and 10 children. He was an explorer in the Blue Mountains as well as a lawyer and businessman in the colony.
We had a guided tour around the house which was very interesting. We then drove to Parsley Bay which has a netted beach to protect against shark attack and had lunch there. We paddled for a bit in the bay to cool off then drove onto Shark Bay which has a much better beach with great sand and was also netted. We sawm in that netted area so we can say we have both swam in Sydney harbour and very cooling it was too. A very hot day once again.
It was lovely to see the yachts and ferries in the harbour. We then returned to Vaucluse and did some shopping at Coles to cook Hannah & David a meal. They got home at 6.30 p.m. Keef cooked lamb, kumara chips and sweetcorn (a true kiwi dinner for Aussies ha-ha). Anne did strawberries, cream and melon slices for pudding.
We watched the Hunger games movie on TV, David has a huge Plex library. It was good.
Saturday March 9th 2013
Saw Hannah and David’s wedding photos, and we showed them Doug and Phoenix’s wedding ones in return.
Had a lovely breakfast of homemade banana bread made by David and smoothies and coffee made by Hannah. Since one of Keef’s brekkie staples is Bondi banana bread whenever he needs use up over ripe bananas, the blacker the better for flavour.
David drove us all to Watson’s Bay and then we parked up and caught the ferry to Circular Quay. We then walked to the Rocks area for the market, lots of craft and food stalls, lovely atmosphere with musicians playing. Keef & Annie bought a spray can painted picture of Australia for $40 (£26.19 at the time). We then watched the artist do another painting which he did in 5 minutes, just so talented.
We then caught the ferry back from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay for a splendid lunch at Doyle’s seafood restaurant on the beach, Doyle’s had been operating for 128 years. Laura L joined us for lunch, what fun times. Annie had barramundi and chips , with stuffed jumbo prawns as the starter and a lovely Aussie white wine to wash it all down with, tee hee. Lunch started at 2.45 and finished at 5 p.m. most leisurely, thing they eventually had to throw us out. The restaurant was very busy. K&A treated H, D & L to lunch, it was our treat and especially as H&D were putting us up.
We then walked to Camp Cove beach nearby, we said goodbye to Laura as she was meeting her boyfriend at the time Steve. The four of us continued walking along the beach back to the car. There are some lovely old character cottages in this area.
We then returned to Hannah & David’s flat to collect Riley to take him with us to Bondi beach. Sadly we were all locked out of the flat as no one had taken the keys with them, oops! David went next door and hopped over the fence. We collected Riley and then went to Bondi for a walk on the beach just as the sun was setting, magical. We took lots of photos. Riley loved the beach. We then had a lovely Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone. We got back late, and all went to bed at 10.30 p.m. as needed to get up early the next morning.
Sunday March 10th 2013
Summary, Sydney, and surrounds
Up at 7 a.m. Hannah baked fig muffins to take with us, lovely smell of cooking. We were going in the car with Riley for a day out. Riley sat on Hannah’s lap on a cushion and stuck his head out of the window of the car as we were going along, hilarious but cute also. Annie so loved his fluffy ears. Tick.
We drove through the Sydney suburbs which stretched for miles and headed south towards Wollongong. Went through a national park, Dharawal, nice scenery, then stopped at a viewpoint for the Seacliff bridge at Bald Hill. The sea was very blue, you could see along the coast and the curve of the earth, something you can never really do in the UK.
We then drove over the bridge, parked up and walked back along the bridge walkway with Riley. Further long we stopped at a shop in town for coffee and had some of Hannah’s fabulous muffins.
We then drove through the lovely scenery to Minnimurra Rainforest center in Budderoo National Park. Riley was not allowed to leave the car, so David stayed with him to look after him whilst the rest of us walked to the Minnimurra falls along a rainforest board walk. Luckily for Annie saw no snakes but we did see an Eastern Water dragon and a lyre bird. Interestingly the NSW written guides on the dragon don’t list Budderoo as one of the places to find the dragon, well we did.
It was quite an arduous walk, very hot, humid and a steep path up to the gorge. Once we arrived the falls were lovely and so glad, we made the effort. We took lots of photos and then returned to the car and drove through Kangaroo Valley stopping at a viewpoint. It was a very scenic route.
We stopped at Kiama (the blowhole place) for a Thai meal. We used the princes highway back to Sydney and Vaucluse, in the dark a deer ran out in front of the car on the dual carriageway but David’s lightening reactions saved the day. We got back at about 10.30 p.m. lovely day, very tired.
Monday March 11th 2013
Summary, Sydney 24 degrees centigrade, 67 percent humidity.
We were up at 6 a.m. David and Hannah back at work. They gave us a lift into Sydney centre. 8.15 a.m. they dropped us off at the car hire place. As our hire vehicle was not ready until 11 a.m. we went and had a coffee and sat in Hyde Park opposite watching the commuters going to work and thinking how nice to be retired, we are truly privileged.
Our hire car was a white Holden 4 door. We could fit in all our luggage. We used our Sat Nav take the tunnel under the harbour over to the north shore. We arrived at 12 noon at the holiday rental home in Cromer, a new suburb at least to Annie, a former Sydneysider, near Dee Why. Petrol costs $1.46 a litre in Sydney, not bad.
There was no one in the holiday cottage. There was a golden Labrador in the back garden (we later named him poopie for obvious reasons). Decided after talking to a neighbour to enter the garden by the side gate and enter our chalet at the back of the garden. The dog was ok, just very inquisitive. We unpacked our bags; it was a lovely accommodation and a beautiful, secured pool in that back garden of the owner’s house. They were a couple from Liverpool with 1 son.
We then went shopping, it was extremely humid and hot today, after shopping it was a relief to get into the pool.
The owners returned from work and had a chat. Their dog was called Goldie. He was a very large and overly friendly Labrador. Anne did washing in the machine and Keef did BBQ chicken and salad using the provided Webber BBQ, they are so nice and efficient. Then sorted our emails and photos. There were noisy parakeets at dusk. Thought we should go to Palm beach and Pittwater tomorrow.
Tuesday March 12th 2013
Summary, Sydney 28 degrees centigrade
We drove in our white Holden hire car to see the wonderful Palm beach, especially so now we are again on the Sydney North shore residing at Cromer. We had last visited in 2008. Had to pay $5 ussie dollars an hour to park our car.
We went swimming in the pool next to the beach. The pool like many beach side pools in Sydney and surrounding areas is filled naturally by sea water, it’s a great idea if you are on the coast. School kids were having swimming lessons there as well.
We then drove to see whale beach and around the local area, quite steep and narrow in places and then onto the just lovely, Pittwater. Then it was onto Bay View & Church Point. All very expensive and exclusive areas to live because of the splendid locations. We saw Scotland Island from Church point plus a lady who was clearly a nanny ferrying kids from an exclusive Scotland Island family over to the mainland, see how the other half (or is it 1% ha-ha) live.
We returned to the cottage and went for a swim in our garden pool to cool off, lovely after such a hot day.
In the evening we set off in the car into Sydney for a meal at Laura’s flat. On route Keef wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café to get a T-shirt. Big mistake, rush hour in Sydney is not a fun time. Took ages to get to Darling harbour. The journey was very stressful, and it cost $10 to park the car but Keef thought it was well worth it to get his Sydney T-shirt. We then got lost trying to find Laura’s flat in Rushcutters’s Bay. It was dark by now, so we rang her to get final directions.
We arrived late, Laura, Steve her then boyfriend, and her flat mate, Penny Lane (maybe her parents were Beatles fans, who knows) did us a real Aussie meal, crocodile kebabs, roo steaks with salad and Lamington’s for dessert. It was all lovely and such friendly people. Went for a stroll after the meal with Laura and Steve to get a view of downtown Sydney at night from Rushcutters.
We returned to Cromer very tired, but it was a super quick journey on the way back as no one about.
Wednesday March 13th 2013
Visited North Heads sanctuary to get views of the harbour and Vaucluse across the water, Watson’s Bay, and the city centre skyline. All lovely.
Bandicoots live there but they are nocturnal. Another hot day. Visited Manly and walked along the beach in the water, just so cooling. There was poor surf today, but the beach and promenade were busy. Cost $5 to park on Manly Sea front. We then visited Freshwater beach, a little cove with soft sand. It was far too hot, so we returned to the holiday cottage in Cromer for a swim in the pool. The dog had calmed down and is not so bothersome, but it is sad he never gets taken on a walk.
We then drove to Northbridge near Roseville, north Sydney for an evening boat excursion on the harbour with Steve, Laura, Hannah & David. Lovely evening. We were early as our side of the harbour, but the rest got stuck in traffic.
It was a small pleasure boat, battery powered and owned by Steve. Steve also owned one more of this battery powered boats fronting his eco boat business. It had comfy cushions on the seats. Steve steered the boat out of the marina into middle harbour and surrounding bays. There were lovely homes on the wooded hillsides. We had beer, wine, and food, all very nice and listened to music.
When it got dark, we moved into Bantry Bay and looked at the stars. A lovely evening and one we will always remember.
Thursday March 14th 2013
Summary, Sydney, and Phoenix’s birthday
We went to Ku-ring-gai chase today. A national park near French’s Forest, it cost $11 to get in. We spent most of the day here driving to various beauty spots with views of Palm beach, the Pacific Ocean, and the Hawkesbury River.
We saw some black Cockatoos at west head point. We looked hard for other animals but did not see any sadly. We stopped at a picnic area and saw a bush turkey.
We then walked along a wide bush track to see some ancient Aboriginal rock carvings of men with fish. Interpretive panels explained the carvings. It started to get misty, and we thought it might rain so we returned to the car. Outside the park we saw a dead wallaby on the side of the road. We stopped at a bakery in the Sydney suburbs, to buy the pud for evening meal, on the way back to the holiday cottage.
We prepared a meal for Hannah & David who drove over to Cromer with little Riley, he is such a cutie. We did a BBQ with cheesecake and wine. Said our farewells and thanks as they returned to Vaucluse. David’s brother and his partner were now visiting from the UK, they had done us proud.
Friday March 15th 2013
Woke up to rain! First real rain we have had on this trip and especially in Australia. Keef checked emails and sent messages and did some photo processing / saving. Anne did laundry and a big pile of ironing.
The rain stopped, we had a late lunch and then drove to Collaroy beach, which has quite coarse sand. Amazingly big waves here, lots of surfers, we sat and watched them from the Stanley and Florence Twight reserve or park in English (lovely name for some now long-gone locals). Some of what the surfers were doing looked very difficult.
We then drove to Dee Why beach and visited quite a few smaller beaches in between. We parked the car at Dee Why for free which was quite a novelty , nearly everywhere else in Sydney we have had to pay. New Zealand is the complete opposite so we had been used to bowling up to beauty spots for free.
At Dee Why we walked to the sea water swimming pool by the beach. The waves here were huge crashing into rocks and over into the seawater pool. It looked very stormy but did not rain. The weather currently was the edge of the cyclone that had hit Mackay in Queensland. It was what was causing such huge waves. Perfect for the huge number of surfers as Dee Why. We then drove to Curl Curl beach, which had lovely architect designed individual houses all with fabulous sea views. We could even see Narabeen lakes from the hill tops overlooking Curl Curl beach.
We then returned to the cottage and packed our bags ready for our early flight to Hobart, Tasmania the next morning.
In the evening we watched a Bruce Willis film about an African rebel army attacking nuns and local people whom BW had to rescue, a bit gory and not very good, really can’t remember what it was called as totally unmemorable.
Saturday March 16th 2013
Summary, Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania.
Got up at 5.30 a.m. and left for the airport to get the jet star flight to Hobart at 11.30 a.m. We handed back the hire car at the Kingsford Smith (Mascot) Sydney airport. It was about 42 minutes driving via Warringah Road, and you had to be there 3 hours earlier, who knows why hence such an early start which seemed strange for what in the end was only a 90-minute flight down to Hobart.
Jet star had very cramped seats, no food and you even had to pay for water. Not sure how much we like these budget airlines, but I guess you get what you pay for. Anne had security check for explosives, see looked dodgy ha-ha. At Hobart airport it was pouring with rain. John Terry met us at the airport, it all felt about the same size as Jersey airport, very small and only 1 luggage carousel.
John kindly drove us back to his and Diana’s house in Ranelagh, outside Hobart in the Huon valley. We all had afternoon tea and hot cross buns, and afterwards we unpacked our bags.
We had a lovely roast lamb dinner in the evening. John and Diana have sold their house to some people from Victoria and must move out by the end of April. At the time they believed they were going abroad to live near Diana’s son Steven and his family in Denver, Colorado in the USA. Time subsequently changed their plans and they moved to Swansea, south of Launceston in Tasmania.
They also hoped to return briefly to the UK to visit her daughter and grandchildren as well as other family and friends, they would always be welcome at our house. Subsequently that plan didn’t mature, they did come to us in Derbyshire however back in 2001.
Sunday March 17th 2013
Summary, Ranelagh, Tasmania.
We had a cooked breakfast and then drove in John & Diana’s car to Richmond, a historical town with then allegedly oldest bridge in Australia. Many of the houses and buildings were built by convicts. The town was very busy and hard to park in, so we drove through looking at stuff on the way up to the bridge. We then drove onto Sorell. We then returned to Hobart and went to the Mount Nelson signal point lookout which we had been to before back in 2008. There you get fabulous views of Hobart, the Derwent valley, and the River Derwent. There was a cruise ship , the SS Carnival, sailing in at the time we were at the lookout.
We had a coffee there and then drove to Sandy Bay and walked along the river estuary which had very clear water, it turned very sunny and hot.
John then drove us back to their house. He did a very nice Thai green curry in the evening.
Monday March 18th 2013
Summary, Ranelagh, Tasmania.
Didn’t do much in the morning, sat on the decking whilst Diana was emailing her son about the trip to the USA and UK.
We all went out to a local vineyard for lunch, we treated John & Diana at the Home Hill winery. A had a pork chop and K had wallaby on a pumpkin tart with spinach, a lovely and classy meal very well prepared. K talked to the chef to find out how the wallaby was so succulent and tender, he explained it was cooked in a water bath at a controlled temperature inside a bag for a very long period, real specialist cooking techniques.
We then drove to Cygnet and had tea in a café called the Red Velvet Lounge. The weather was unfortunately drizzly, so we returned to the house and watched telly and had cheese and biscuits.
Tuesday March 19th 2013
Summary, Bruny Island visit, Tasmania
Got up early and had a cooked breakfast. We drove to Kettering to get the car ferry across to Bruny Island. It took 15 minutes on the ferry, John paid $20 return for the car and all of us, great value.
We drove around the island seeing many lovely places but about 11.40 a.m. Diana wanted to sort out where we were going to have lunch as there are only a few places to choose from and she has a gluten allergy so would need to talk to them on arrival, rightly to ensure all ok.
After a lot of driving, we found a pub that did fish and chips, it was indeed the place we had first called in at.
Sunny weather all the way and Bruny island is so lovely. We visited Adventure Bay and spent some time walking along the beach. This is where Captain James Cook (our hero) had landed in 1776 searching for fresh water for the Endeavour and her crew. 2 eucalyptus trees were still there on the beach, a sketch from an officer on the Endeavour had showed them , they are now some 250+ years old.
We had an ice cream at the Berry Farm opposite Adventure Bay, Diana had berry cheesecake.
We then drove back towards the ferry at Robert’s point and called in at a Penguin Rookery at the Neck and climbed the steps to the top to get the wonderful views. The lookout is called Truganini on the Neck Reserve.
Here is some info on the wonderful place. “Bruny Island Neck is an isthmus of land connecting north and south Bruny Island in southern Tasmania and offers stunning 360-degree views. Just 40 kilometers from Hobart, Bruny is Tasmania's fourth largest island. The Neck is an important habitat for Bruny Island's native wildlife. Boardwalks and viewing platforms let you observe short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins (also known as fairy penguins). You'll see these remarkable birds returning to their burrows in the sand dunes at dusk - little penguins making their way up the beach in tight groups and the shearwaters gliding in from the sea. The best viewing period is during the warmer months of September to February.”
Keef took loads of photos. Sadly the penguins only come ashore at dusk but we did see lots of their burrows. We got the 5.30 p.m. ferry back to Kettering and returned to John & Diana’s house. We did our packing . Had halloumi cheese with sweet chilli dip for dinner (fantastic we have it still to this day, but it was our first experience). After dinner we watched Telly.
Wednesday March 20th 2013
Summary, Hobart, Tasmania to Adelaide, South Australia via Melbourne, Victoria
Got up at 5.30 a.m. and set off at 6.30 a.m. for Hobart with John & Diana in their car. It got light at 6.45 a.m. and the roads were very quiet.
We arrived at the airport far too early so had coffee with John & Diana. Keef had the usual security check for explosives, it was now his turn to look dodgy.
The Quantas plane left at 9 a.m. for Melbourne. We were in the transit lounge for 2 hours at Melbourne waiting for our onward flight to Adelaide. We had snacks and coffee and then got the Quantas flight to Adelaide. When we arrived, we got a taxi to the motorhome rental place which was near the airport on Sir Donald Bradman Way.
It took a while to get everything sorted, there was no safe and no smoke alarm in the van so we complained, but on the plus side the van did have air conditioning and a TV, plus sleeping bags and sheets rather than duvets.
Finally checked out with our new home on wheels at 3 p.m. and drove to the Adelaide shores BIG 4 campsite on the suburbs by the beach. It cost $36 per night, and we finally got on our pitch at about 4 p.m. We unpacked everything inside the motorhome and went to the Woolworths shopping centre for food supplies. On return we went for a walk on the beach, which is right next to the campsite, its nice, we came back there in 2017 and stayed in one of the chalets.
Adelaide Shores has huge sand dunes and soft sand. Calm seas and lots of yachts. Watching the setting sun was so relaxing. We had pasta salad and the air con worked really well inside the Britz van and was most welcome. The campsite is very modern and spacious, great for tourists with pools and good facilities. A big tick!
The campervan milage on pickup was 146,816 kilometers.
Thursday March 21st 2013
Summary, Glenelg, Adelaide to Port Augusta, South Australia
Very windy today and waves crashing onto the beach. Visited Glenelg beach and the marine. It is a very nice beach, saw the sailing ship called the Buffalo which doubles as a restaurant at the marina.
There are lots of architect designed houses around the marina area. We got some rain today, unusual. We then headed north on the highway from Adelaide to Port Pirie in the motorhome.
There were some historical houses and public buildings in town, mostly quite old plus a lovely harbour. Anne’s great grandfather and his family called in at Port Pirie onboard the SS Port Stephens whilst collecting cargo. Listen to the audiobooks from the Diary of Gertrude Littlejohn on Soundcloud here to find out more.
We then saw a long goods train that seemed to go on forever. We arrived at Port Augusta Big 4 campsite in the afternoon. We called in at the Tourist Information site at 4.45 p.m. to ask about our intended journey to Coober Pedy, the opal mining town in the outback.
Told the Stuart Highway was ok to travel on but not after dark, currently about 7.45 p.m. oh and ensure you take lots of water with you as there is only an arterial bore in Coober township and water will be limited. Decided we would go to Coober Pedy tomorrow morning and get up early in the dark so we could leave at dawn to give us plenty of time to get there. With this in mind we went to bed early.
Friday March 22nd 2013
Summary, Port Augusta to Coober Pedy, Outback South Australia
We set off at 7.25 a.m. just as it was getting light from Port Augusta on the Stuart Highway. As soon as we left town we were in the outback, desert, scrubland, bushes, and a few trees but a definite desolate landscape.
We saw lots of road trains later in the morning. Some had 4 connected trailers to the cab. We saw lots of dead kangaroos by the roadside, emus roaming, salt lakes, foxes, eagles, and crows. It was cloudy and quite cool at first, ideal driving conditions but as we neared Coober Pedy the sun came out and the clouds disappeared.
Had lunch at a roadhouse called Glendambo. The price of diesel fuel here was $1.72 whereas in Port Augusta we only paid $1.52, not surprising, very remote and transportation costs would have been factored in. As a comparison Sydney a huge city was $1.46.
It was very dry and dusty in the desert, red earth. We had plenty of water in the motorhome, 135 liters. We called in at Woomera, a weird, deserted ex Australian army place in the middle of the desert used for scientific research and rockets.
We arrived at Coober Pedy at 2.25 p.m. and stayed at the campsite named Oasis. It had an excellent modern toilet block, a small round indoor swimming pool basically fashioned out of an old water storage container, great for shade whilst swimming. You had to pay 20c for a shower, due to the water restrictions in force.
We put the aircon on in the motorhome as it felt extremely hot. Annie did some hand washing and then we both went for a swim in the pool. At 5.30 p.m. we walked to the shops selling opal jewelry, there were a lot to choose from.
Keef bought Annie a blue opal bracelet. We saw a lot of orphaned joey kangaroos at the back of the shop where they were caring for them. We fed some roos and saw the babies being fed with milk bottles. They were adorable.
Saturday March 23nd 2013
Summary, Coober Pedy, Outback South Australia, 30 degrees centigrade
We went up the hill in the town called the Big Winch to get views out over the town. Coober is quite a weird place, with mines and large holes in the ground everywhere in amongst homes, motels, shops etc.
It was very dry and dusty everywhere. There are endless mines surrounding the town for miles. We then visited Boot Hill cemetery and a Serbian Underground church. We then returned to town and the Old Timers mine which was an original 1915 opal mine and had an underground house where the miner and his family lived.
There was a good mining museum as well. We had to wear hard hats as the roof of the mine was low in many places. Lots of protected seams of opal in the museum walling which was interesting, shame no way of making off with it though, ha-ha.
We saw a man demonstrate machinery for extracting opal, this equipment cost $30,000 As just so hot in the afternoon we went back to the campsite for a swim.
We loved Coober Pedy an amazingly unique place and we have lots of lovely memories of it.
Sunday March 24th 2013
Summary, Coober Pedy back to Port Augusta
Got up at 5.45 a.m. to set off at 7.25 a.m. when it was dawn’s first light to return down the Stuart Highway to Port Augusta, 335 miles in total.
We stopped for rest breaks and lunch on the return journey, and it started to get really hot around 11 a.m. We took photos of many eagles and we saw another fox.
We arrived at Port Augusta at 1.20 a.m. and the total return took us 6 hours travel. We visited the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens on the way back which was just outside Port Augusta. Went to the Tourist Info Centre for leaflets and bought souvenirs, we then returned to the same Big 4 campsite we had stayed at before in Port Augusta, it was a lovely site with fab gum trees all around and a reasonably arid landscape. It cost $36 a night to stay there.
Annie did the clothes washing and then we both went swimming in the campsite pool, it was very cold water at 17 degrees centigrade, so it immediately cooled us down, yippee, needed that.
We then read our e-books (kindles) and relaxed and had obligatory ice-creams, well someone has got to do it, tee hee.
Flies are very persistent anywhere in South Australia apart from big towns. They crawl up your nose, around your eyes etc. ugh!!!
Monday March 25th 2013
Summary, Port Augusta to Port Lincoln
We set off from the campsite at 9.45 a.m. and got diesel. We stopped at Whyalla, a steel and mining town, industrial and if we are honest and not that interesting apart from the steel ship and cuttlefish craig. The town is on the spencer gulf on the right-hand side of the Eyre peninsular. We saw the harbour and lots of washed-up sea grass on the beach, which disappointingly looked messy.
As we left the town, we got stuck behind an oversized vehicle convoy, a huge mining digger (bit like we had seen at the Kalgoorlie Super pit in Western Australia back in 2008). It took up 2 road lanes and was impossible to overtake. Eventually it turned off to Kimba, there were then 2 more travelling in the opposite direction that moved equally slowly, maybe these things should be moved at night.
We saw a huge iron ore mine in the bush a way off the road. This may have been at Iron Baron township.
We stopped at Cowell, Arno Bay and Tumby Bay, all are little fishing harbours and very pleasant and interesting. This coast produces fish and shellfish to provide about 85% of South Australia’s needs. Some oysters are shipped to Melbourne, Victoria.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at Port Lincoln, once again termed as a city but to us just a large town. A coastal port with a long jetty and grain stores for cargo ships.
The town looked busy and very prosperous with lots of shops. We went to the Top Tourist campsite which cost $31.50 for the night. It had lovely views of Boston Bay. Our pitch was level but on concrete, no swimming pool but great showers. Keef used the barbeque on the van, a pull out at the rear that joined up with the gas tank, such a great idea, do wish this was possible on our van at home. He cooked veal escalope, salad and garlic bread, mouth watering and all washed down with affine wine outside.
Whilst eating our meal we watched the many rosellas and lorikeets chattering in the eucalyptus trees. Plus, lovely views of the sea, Boston Bay is 3 times the size of Sydney Harbour which is saying something.
We sorted out our finances online, emails and Keef paid his New Zealand speeding fine online, $120 kiwi money.
Tuesday March 26th 2013
Summary, Port Lincoln to Elliston plus highlight visiting Coffin Bay National Park.
We had boiled eggs and toast for breakfast, lovely views of the sea but very windy this morning. We set off at 10.30 a.m. back into Port Lincoln town, got groceries and a 10-litre container of water from Coles, fuel and Annie posted postcards to friends and family in the post office there.
We then headed off to Coffin Bay National Park which cost $10 fee only to get into the park. There was 22 kilometers of sealed road along shrub bush and coastline. Fantastic scenery and views, a very hot day again. The sea looked perfectly turquoise, and the sand dunes stretched for miles.
There were supposed to be grey kangaroos, emus and reptiles in the park, but we only saw two dead emus by the roadside. From a lookout point on the cliffs, we saw Golden Island and Almonta beach. Here we saw a pod of dolphins, about 50 of them in the bay from the cliffs. Just magnificent. They were having great fun chirping and playing in the gentle waves and brilliant blue sunshine.
We also visited Yangie Bay by road, but it was a bit sandy and muddy on the road, so we didn’t stay long. We were very impressed by the National Park, a real highlight. We then left the park and travelled to the town of Coffin Bay, named after Isaac Coffin a sailor in the Royal Navy who eventually became a British Admiral of the Navy. We had a snack lunch there sitting outside a general store. It was very hot and windy.
We then drove to Elliston along the highway which was deserted for long distances on it. It was mostly farming area but as usual the grass was dried up because of the lack of rain. We saw a bush tortoise by the edge of the road and a blue tongued skink slowly crossing the road on its very short legs. Keef straddled him luckily. We arrived at the Elliston Caravan Park at about 5 p.m. and immediately after setting up, electrics etc., went in the campsite swimming pool, cold water but wonderful after such a hot day. We both had showers and Keef again used the van attached BBQ to cook chicken parmigiana. The campsite was mainly Aussie campers and fishermen in caravans rather than motorhomes. There were so many mosquitos that we ate in the van.
Wednesday March 27th 2013
Summary, Elliston to Ceduna
It rained heavily overnight and was extremely windy. It was overcast first thing then cloudy but warm all day. We drove to Elliston rocks by the sea, often called by the locals Walkers rocks, there is a campground there as well, we then continued up the coast north to Venus Bay, a small fishing hamlet where all the holiday homes were shut up.
We saw lots of pelicans bobbing on the sea. We then went onto Streaky Bay which was mostly about fishing. We then saw 2 blue tongued skinks crossing the road in front of us. These are lizards with little legs and chubby bodies and quite numerous through out Australia. We took a photo of one of the skinks. We then had lunch at Smoky Bay right by the beach with many palm trees and Norfolk Pines. Very relaxing lunch. It has a fabulous jetty. It was very quiet as again a holiday home area, presumably for folk from Adelaide but currently all shut up.
We arrived at Ceduna at 3 p.m. and purchased fuel and then checked into the campsite. A Big 4 site costing $27 for the night. We did some final groceries shopping in town and visited an ATM at the Westpac bank (ours whilst on holiday) to get money out for fuel on the Nullarbor. We also visited the tourist info to get the weather forecast and purchase the crossing the Nullarbor sheets etc. See the site for image details including our certificate for proof of crossing. The temperature for our crossing was predicted to be between 21 and 24 degrees centigrade so somewhat cooler than it had been of late which was good news.
It was also suggested there would be a few rain showers on the Nullarbor as well, another good sign for our long journey across to Western Australia. It was 38 degrees centigrade at Eucla yesterday which we have to pass and is not good news. We saw lots of Aboriginal people in Ceduna town, sadly many were drunk, with the police patrolling in case of trouble. To some extent the aboriginal issue is a problem of our making, they do not fit in well to a western lifestyle being somewhat more nomadic, the Māori in our humble opinion have integrated much more successfully in NZ that the Aboriginals in Australia.
Anne did laundry and Keef did jacket potatoes in the microwave with a tuna mayo filling. Checked and sent emails. We then watched TV in the motorhome which was only the second time we have done so, preferring chatting, and reading our books. Still, lots of flies around but they disappear at night, thank God. We are getting up at dawn tomorrow.
Thursday March 28th 2013
Summary, Nullarbor Plain Crossing, Ceduna to the South Australian border with Western Australia at Border crossing village.
It was 21 to 24 degrees centigrade. We got up at 5.45 a.m. having set the alarm. We finally left at 7.30 a.m. after taking a shower and eating breakfast. There was not much traffic on the road apart from a few road trains until about mid-morning, so it was a good time to travel, and mostly selected to keep the temperature under control, too hot is just not good. We drove through farmland, much of it wheat which had been grown and cut. It stretched for as far as the eye could see and then we moved into scrubby bushland. 10 kilometers before the Nullarbor plain officially started the landscape changed to low vegetation, sandy soil and few to no trees, hence Nullarbor or no trees.
Then as we got near the cliffs on the coast the plants began to look greener, there were lots of small round hummocks of shrub and hardy plants. We saw an emaciated dingo after crossing a dingo fence / panel grid on the road used to keep them segregated. There was surprisingly very little roadkill squashed on the road and we did not see any roos, camels, or wombats, which was a real shame and something we had hoped to see. There were a few puddles of water at the roadside so there had been some rain via limited showers in the early hours before we arrived. We then stopped at the start and took a lot of photos of the Nullarbor Plain Road sign, a motorcyclist stopped and kindly took a joint photo of us both with the sign behind. We now use this as our HOLIDAY2013 logo.
The motorcyclist was English from East Anglia. He was on a road trip camping from Fremantle across the Plain and Gibson and Simpson deserts. He told us he had been surrounded by a pack of 8 hungry dingoes at night in his tent whilst cooking his bacon supper in the tent and had to use his remote alarm on the bike to scare them off, very frightening, they are ferocious when hungry… remember Cindy Chamberlain and the movie A Cry in the Dark. He also told us he had seen a brown snake under his ground sheet whilst camping in the Port Lincoln National Park, scary or what. His wife had chosen not to travel with him (very wise) and stayed in a luxury hotel in Perth.
We visited the Head of Bight to do some whale watching. We saw nothing, but it was fantastic coastal views from the lookout at the end of the pathway in the visitors’ centre. Much of the cliffs and coastline was aboriginal land owned by the Yalata peoples. We had lunch on a clifftop viewing point and then called in at 2 more on route, just lovely scenery. We arrived at 3 p.m. at the SA / WA border crossing roadhouse which had a campsite at the back of the motels. We paid $25 to stay overnight as a bit tired after 500+ miles of driving. We used the toilets and showers in the portacabins but the “keep the door shut” against snakes and snake themed tiling did not particularly calm us, hee-hee.
We had a power nap, Keef did photos and Annie read her iPad book. We actually drove 481 kilometers today.
Friday March 29th 2013
Summary, Nullarbor Plain Crossing, South Australian border with Western Australia at Border crossing village to Caiguna, WA.
We got up at 8.15 a.m. as less milage to do today. Had wash in the portacabin, breakfast and checked the motorhome for any plant, fruit, or vegetable matter as we were about to go through the quarantine area at the border crossing into Western Australia. It was only 100 meters from the campsite back on the Eyre Highway, highway 1 at this point although the National route A1 starts at Sydney and ends at Esperance, to the border crossing station.
Keef noticed that the front driver side tyre was looking particularly flat, he had noticed in in Port Lincoln first. It was now beginning to cause some stress as we had to keep pumping it up at every roadhouse or fuel stop, we made.
At the quarantine station a man came aboard the motorhome and looked in our fridge and some cupboards. He asked if we had any animals, we said no. He even checked in the van loo to see if we had any stowaways, ha-ha, as if.
Then we noticed a sheep had run across the border, we said aren’t you going after it, he joked you can have it if you want for a BBQ assuming you can catch it. So much for their hot quarantine regulations.
At Eucla on the Eyre highway we saw the monument to Edward John Eyre explorer, and then drove 4 kilometers down a dirt track to the old Eucla Telegraph station, which was now a ruin amongst the sand dunes. It operated from 1877-1927 to link Western Australia with the rest of Australia and the world. It was a key communications station in its time, so sad to see it as just a pile of rubble nowadays. IN its hey day it sent 11,000 messages annually.
We then rejoined the Eyre highway and drove with a high ridge of land on our right and sea on the left which could be seen from the hills. We stopped at Madura pass, which counts as the halfway point between Adelaide and Perth, to get a view over the vast Roe Plains. We stopped at the Madura roadhouse for more fuel. Then off the highway we saw 2 emus. There were lots of eagles eating roadkill kangaroos off the highway. We sadly still hadn’t seen any live roos, camels or wombats which was a tad disappointing, to say the least.
We had lunch at Cocklebiddy roadhouse and watched a man do golf into the hole at Eagles nest, part of the longest golf course in the world, it covers Ceduna to Kalgoorlie, wow with one hole at most roadhouses.
We stopped at 3 p.m. at Caiguna which has 10 powered sites costing $25, we had to turn our watches back 45 minutes as now on western time. We relaxed and read our books.
We drove 347 kilometers today , it was 22 degrees centigrade in Caiguna.
Saturday March 30th 2013
Summary, Nullarbor Plain Crossing, Caiguna to Norseman.
Woke at 6 a.m.as light outside the van. We set off on the Eyre Highway, Highway 1, at 7.45 a.m. having put more air in the tyre of the van as Keef was worried it was low and we may now have a slow flat. The signpost on the side of the road stated it was the start of the 145 kilometers of straight road, the longest in Australia, if not the world.
We saw eagles and a few dead roos, but no other birds or animal life apart from the odd crow eating roadkill. The terrain changed from a perfectly flat treeless plain to a few small bushes and then finally a few trees. We had some rain showers and it looked like this section of the Nullarbor had had rain in the night and early morning. The weather was cool and overcast and very cloudy which for travel was a good thing.
We stopped at Balladonia roadhouse for fuel and visited the museum there. The entrance was through the roadhouse shop and was both free and very interesting. It was about the early explorers, pioneers, camels used for transport, flora and fauna, the Red-Ex road race all around Australia and the Skylab metal debris falling on the Nullarbor plain right near Balladonia.
Near the Fraser Ranges we saw a few billabongs filled with water and even 2 lakes, a real novelty after our very dry journey.
We arrived in Norseman at 12.15 p.m. We had lunch as the Tourist Information Office was closed until 1 p.m. When they opened we got a free certificate stating we had crossed the Nullarbor and purchased some souvenirs of our crossing.
We then drove around town , lots of very dilapidated and boarded up homes with snake fences surrounding them still. The gold mine we had seen on our travels in 2008 was still working. We went to stay in the campsite in town we have stayed at before. It cost $38 for the night. We then relaxed for the rest of the day. The campsite was poor, no dump station and only 2 showers in the ladies. The outback golf course behind the site did not seem well used.
On the Nullarbor crossing from Ceduna we had travelled 1,194 kilometers or 742 miles.
Sunday March 31st 2013 – Easter Sunday
Summary, Norseman to Esperance. 203 kilometers driven today.
We went to the garage to top up air in the front tyre of the motorhome as the slow puncture has got a lot worse. We will have to stop more often for a servo air pump. We arrived in Esperance at about 12 noon and did the fabulous Great Ocean Drive along the coast, which we had done 5 years prior. There are just so many splendid views on this coastal drive. It was all blue seas and skies, sunny and fantastic scenery. Saw lots of vintage cars on the route which were part of an actual Eyre Highway rally, recapturing the old Red-Ex 50s rally spirit.
The road went slightly inland and went past the pink lake. A Salt Lake with microorganisms that give it its pink tinge, very unusual. Read the links in the overview on the HOLIDAY2013 site to see more and understand how nature makes this happen, just a thought if you are interested further.
Here is a quick science write up on why many of Australia’s salt lakes turn pink “The water of some lakes in semi-arid regions turns a pink colour during the warm and dry months of the year, when brine concentrations are highest. In places, even precipitated salts exhibit this pink colour. The carotenoid red pigmentation of halophilic bacteria and algae is responsible for imparting this colour to sodium- and chloride-rich lake brines. The alga Dunaliella salina actually develops its red pigment as the salinity approaches saturation and, in contrast to other organisms, populations of this alga and of halophilic bacteria such as Halobacterium rise as brine concentrations increase.”
We then went to McDonald’s for a late lunch at 2.30 p.m. and withdrew some money at Westpac.
We then drove along the sea front to Castleton beach, the old jetty there was being refurbished. The new jetty (not so nice) had tankers docked there. There were lots of new homes being built so Esperance had expanded quite a lot since our last visit.
We then went to the Top Tourist site at Esperance, which we gave 3 stars, not very scenic and far too cramped, too many trees and grit everywhere. We had pre booked as it was the Easter weekend. It cost $39 for the night which we felt was overpriced for both the site and amenities.
We walked along the beach in front of the campsite, there was a horrible smell of stagnant seaweed / sea grass in mounds on sand washed in from the sea. Not impressed as it was also an artificial beach with imported grit / sand and looked nothing like the picture in their brochure.
We watched telly, Bondi Rescue, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival, pretty good both.
Monday April 1st 2013 – Easter Monday
Summary, Esperance to Albany. 505 kilometers driven today. 24 degrees centigrade in Albany.
8 a.m. called at garage to put more air in the ever more worrying front tyre. Not looking good at all and very stressful as not sure the tyre will hold out until we reach Albany, and it is also the Easter weekend and Britz are not open. Will keep putting air in whenever we can, we are both not very happy with this.
The scenery now was mostly bush and farming country as we headed towards Albany, the farming was mixed wheat, cattle, and sheep. No other animals seen except the usual skinks. They are quite prolific.
We arrived in Albany in the early afternoon and went to the Tourist Information office to find out where the Telstra shop was as needed to get the computer updated with more money and our Telstra phone had also run out of funds.
This means we cannot check emails and use the internet and let people know we crossed the Nullarbor safely and soon more importantly once Easter is over contact Britz in Perth to ask them to sort out our tyre. Keef bought some new shorts in one of Albany’s many shops. We drove around the town and along the sea front, we remembered it well from our last visit. We climbed the hill in the van to get a view of the coast. You could see Middleton beach, the bay where 5 years ago when we were there a man had been attacked by a great white shark whilst swimming, he had been rescued by a lady schoolteacher who was out for her early morning swim and punched the hark in the eye, so it released its grip on the swimmer. Lucky for him, brave of her.
We then went to the BIG 4 campsite at Middleton beach which cost $37.80 for the night. Naively thought it would be empty as Easter was over but very busy with kids and family, presumably on school holidays for the week. By now it was 5.30 p.m., and it gets dark at 6.15 p.m., so we did not got swimming in the pool on the site even though it is a bit of a luxury pool.
This site is excellent, it has space, location and based right on Middleton beach but only has 4 showers for the whole site in the ladies, not enough when it is busy. However, on return in 2017 they had private amenity blocks with showers and loos attached to each luxury pitch for an additional fee, we took this as ideal.
Tuesday April 2nd 2013
Summary, Albany to Bunbury. Fixing the cracked rim on the Motorhome at Britz Perth, it should never have been let out of Adelaide like this, especially as crossing the Nullarbor, Grrrr Britz!!!
Posted off postcard to Doug & Phoenix at the Albany post office, with a picture of the Nullarbor Plain on it. We also called in at the Telstra office to get our pay as you go internet service extended, it cost $30.
We then rang Britz in Perth as Easter over re the tyre problem. Left Albany early and called in at the petrol station for air for the tyre and a fuel fill up. We then drove through farmland, bush land, cows, sheep, plus some grass that finally looked green and water still in puddles on the ground from recent rain. Australia is moving towards Autumn. Sadly, didn’t see any wildlife along the route but you can rest assured we were looking for kangaroos, wombats, and dingoes.
Stopped for lunch by the Blackwood River and park at Bridgetown. Nice area tranquil with good scenery. The river was an olive green colour and flowed quite slowly.
Arrived in Bunbury, a large town to us but in Australian terms it is a city. Went to the tourist info situated in the old railway station, quite quirky, we loved it. The lady there was very helpful about the dolphins in the bay and Peel Zoo at Pinjarra, further up from Bunbury as they had koalas there.
We then drove to Koombana Bay, the local beach and had a walk along the lovely soft sand there, bare footed of course. The sea and skies were just so blue with bright sunshine. So love the Indian Ocean, it was very hot today.
We checked into the Big 4 campsite across the highway from Koombana bay, a lovely modern campsite with great facilities, tennis and basketball courts, swimming pool, jacuzzi. We had a quick swim before it got dark at 6.30 p.m. It cost $35.10 to stay there, well worth it.
Had showers after the swim and Keef cooked a lovely steak on the BBQ attached to the side of the motorhome, we had it with salad and garlic bread and a jacket potato done in the microwave. We watched telly, the Australian version of Who do you think you are, it featured Aussie comedian Adam Hills who at the time we had no idea who he was, now in 2022 he is on UK telly often and despite his family being back in Melbourne lives a lot of the time in England as he is the main presenter of the last leg, a UK comedy programme born out of the 2012 Paralympic games and it champions disability awareness, Adam and one other presenter are disabled.
Aussie programme is on both SBS1 & 2 at 7.30 p.m. on a Tuesday each week, wish we had known sooner, it is a genealogy programme we like back in the UK.
Wednesday April 3rd 2013
Summary, Koombana Bay, Bunbury to Ledge Point, 90 minutes north of Perth. 32 degrees centigrade today and very hot.
We got up at 7 a.m. the tyre was very deflated; we are quite worried. There were speed humps on the campsite which made in doubly difficult getting out, it was almost down to the rim. Drove back into town gingerly to find a garage to put air in the tyre. We then headed back to Koombana bay by 8.15 a.m. to look for dolphins as they allegedly came into the bay in the morning. We had been to the Dolphin Discovery centre yesterday which is where we got the tip. The girls aid they usually arrive about 8 a.m. We saw nothing. We know she was lying as trying to get us on the tourist boat trip which cost $185 each for a half day trip, a lot of money. She offered a reduction down to $149 but we politely declined. This was a con as from past experience and this we knew the dolphins were not often in the Bay but much further out. Annie, Chris, and Allyson did see one from the jetty to the left in 2017.
We then set off for Pinjarra and Peel Zoo, it is north of Bunbury. This was a small independently run zoo with lots of Australian animals and birds. A truly wonderful experience can’t recommend them highly enough.
We loved the parrots and hand fed the grey kangaroos and one of them had a joey in her pouch. We also hand fed goats, deer, and llamas. Annie got mobbed as she held the food bag. A deer tried to knock it out of her hand. The we saw Rusty the Koala and we had pictures taken with him on a branch. The zoo charged $5 for the privilege, well worth it. By 2022 Koalas have been declared endangered, would be horrid if they die out especially as when we were on Kangaroo Island in 2008, they culled 30,000 of them saying they were a farming pest. Sadly, they are tied to the type of eucalyptus trees in their area and cannot be repatriated, or so they say, not sure how this stacks up with zoos around the world.
Rusty was very sleepy; they sleep about 20 hours a day. We then walked through the bird aviary and hand fed with supplied apple pieces rosellas, lorikeets, and many other native Australian birds. It was just so memorable, they were on our heads, hands, and shoulders, not shy at all and obviously hungry, ha-ha. There were so many beautiful coloured birds.
We also saw dingoes, emus, Tasmanian devils, pythons, and wallabies. We really enjoyed Peel Zoo, it was fantastic.
We then drove on to the Britz tyre repair department near Perth airport. It took 1 hour to fix. Conclusion it was a cracked rim. Thank goodness it is fixed, a huge weight off our minds, it could have been a whole lot worse.
We then headed north and arrived at the Big 4 campsite at Ledge Point off the Indian Ocean at 6 p.m. Had a quick swim in the pool which was relaxing after such a hot day, by now it was already getting dark.
Thursday April 4th 2013
Summary, Ledge Point to Geraldton. 35 degrees centigrade today and very hot.
The Big 4 campsite at Ledge Point was excellent with very modern facilities, a spacious pitch with grass, not sand or grit and a pool, gets our vote. So much so we returned in 2017.
Headed north to Geraldton and called in at a few small holiday / fishing towns on route off the Indian Ocean drive, such as Lancelin, Cervantes, Jurien Bay and Dongara. We visited the Pinnacles National Park off the fab Indian Ocean drive near Cervantes. It cost $11 to get in, although you can drive your vehicle around the one-way sand road we decided not to and parked the motorhome in the car park and walked to the desert through the shrub land on a board walk to the start of the pinnacles. They are limestone pillars on a sandy terrain, hundreds of them, the remains of erosion of what was once the ocean floor. It was very hot, Keef took lots of pictures.
We did not see any animals around the pinnacles and we did walk around quite a bit across the park, but just too hot so we returned to the cooler visitors centre which was both interesting and informative.
We then drove on and saw a whole emu family down a side road. There were lots of huge sand dunes along the road and occasional glimpses of the Indian Ocean. We had lunch in Jurien Bay. A small fishing town, our fish and chips bought there were exquisite the fish being so fresh.
We later joined the main state highway to Geraldton. Highway 1. We arrived at the Big 4 campsite which is about 6 kilometers north of Geraldton on the coast. Annie did some laundry and then we went for a walk on the beach at 5.45 p.m. The tide was coming in and we saw both beach runners and a man beach fishing we watched him cast into the twilight. There was a lovely sunset at 6.30 p.m.
Friday April 5th 2013
Summary, Geraldton to Burns Beach, Joondalup. 35 degrees centigrade today.
Drove into the city from the Geraldton Big 4 campsite. Bought some gifts for the family at the Aussie shop. There is a small compact shopping centre based around a long main street. They also had a Myers department store. Then we parked the motorhome near the boat harbour and walked along the boat moorings, ogling the posh yachts enviously.
Very clear waters in which we saw lots of small fish as we ambled along the jetty in the heat. We saw a longboat replica made in 2002 in the harbour named the Batavia, it was based upon the 1641 Dutch East Indies ship that was wrecked 40 nautical miles west of Geraldton, some of the crew sailed in a longboat to Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia) and all survived including 2 women and a baby. The rest of the crew on the island were massacred by a senior officer and his assistants.
Then we saw the old courthouse, the old hospital based around Victoria House which was now Geraldton’s tourist information centre. The HMAS Sydney 2 war memorial, it was an Australian World War two naval war ship that was sunk in battle and 649 Aussies died on board, a huge loss and reverently remembered in the memorial grounds, a lovely tribute.
We both liked Geraldton, beautiful trees with flowers, bougainvillea everywhere, it felt very Mediterranean.
We then drove south on the Brand highway, and did a slight detour / deviation at Dongara which had some historical pioneer homes and Port Denison, where we had lunch overlooking the sandy beach, bay and harbour. It is the lobster fishing capital allegedly of Australia and there were lots of processing factories on the harbour side.
Again, beautiful turquoise water and blue skies, ideal for a lunch break, and we were cooled by the nice sea breeze.
We camped at Burns beach in one of Perth’s many offshoot “cities” this being to the north, the City of Joondalup. The site was 2 star and cost $40. It was our most expensive campsite in Australia and easily the worst for quality. In Annie’s words crap, cramped, poor facilities and hugely overpriced. We went for a walk along the embankment and saw the beach and the rocks just offshore.
Burns beach campsite was 30 kilometers north of Perth as have to hand in the motorhome tomorrow.
Saturday April 6th 2013
Summary, Burns Beach, Joondalup to Perth, Western Australia, and hand in the motorhome by 2.30 p.m. Today’s temperature a little cooler at 29 degrees centigrade.
We were woken up early by women talking and whistles blowing, about 25 women and 1 man doing keep fit exercises on a grassy area just by our motorhome on the other side of a low fence. This was 6.45 a.m. Outrageous!
The path along the coastline was packed with joggers, cyclists, speed walkers, dog walkers, roller skaters and the world and his wife and all at 7.15 a.m., we thought it was busier than Bondi beach, ha-ha.
Keef did dump station, dunny man duties after breakfast and Annie cleaned the van by sweeping the floors, cleaning sinks and loos. We got ready to hand the van back, despite the cracked wheel rim, tyre episode it had been a great way of seeing more of the wonderful country that Australia is.
We then set off on the Brand Highway again to Perth area. We got to our motel, the wattle grove in welshpool having had to drive through Perth city centre as one of the highways was closed. It is only 6.9 kilometers from Perth airport which is why we chose it. We saw the main hospital and arena entertainments centre on route. It all looked very modern.
The motel would not let us into our pre booked and pre-paid room until 2pm, we had been told 12 noon by email last October when we booked online so a little disappointed as we had a deadline on motorhome drop off by 2.30 p.m. so this would be cutting it fine. We went to the Forest Fields shopping mall nearby and bought some batteries for the computer mouse and more suntan lotion. Then we packed out bags in the van, has a KFC lunch, then got to the motel again at 1.45 p.m. They let us into the room, finally, we dumped our bags quickly and drove to the Britz motorhome rental place near the airport. Got there just in time for 2.30 p.m. The van was OK, no damage but we rightly moaned about the cracked wheel rim and got one day’s rental reimbursed, $109. We then got a taxi back to the motel and had a nice cooling swim in their pool. We had showers and a microwaved pasta meal for dinner that we had bought in the shopping mall earlier. We then watched TV in the room. The motel cost $125 a night for the two of us with no breakfast included.
Included spending time with family , Jurong Bird Park, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by The Bay, Raffles one visit 7th-21st April, 14 days in total
Sunday April 7th 2013
Summary, fly to Singapore depart Perth 11.55 a.m. Arrive Singapore 17.25 a.m. Note that got changed read on!
We rang for a taxi from the Wattle Grove Motel, 6.9 kilometers from Perth airport in Western Australia, at 7.30 a.m. and it arrived quickly. We got to the airport in 20 minutes and found that the flight time had been changed to 9.55 a.m. i.e., 2 hours earlier with no notification that we had received from Quantas nor or tour operator. It turned out later when I contacted our tour operator they had sent an email which we never received as travelling for so long. Not even in our spam folder.
We thought we had 3 hours to kill at the airport when in fact we were boarding in less than ½ an hour. Really good job we went to the airport early as we were up already. Not pleased but so happy we did arrive early as we would have missed the flight all together.
The flight took 5 ½ hours to Singapore. Rang Doug as clearly, he was not there to meet us as he had our original time of arrival. So, we got a taxi to their flat instead. They were stood outside to meet us when the taxi arrived and guide us to the lift with our luggage. It was so nice to see them again after the Wedding looking so happy and relaxed.
They took us out to dinner to a local Geylang seafood restaurant and then gave us a brief guided tour of their area around the apartment block. It was very hot and humid. The dinner was very nice with the local Singaporean delicacy, black pepper crab and lots of other dishes. Quite a feast. Doug pointed out their local swimming pool complex, the local library, shops, hawker food centre and then we all walked back to their flat past a Hindu Mosque, a Buddhist Temple, both of which were very interesting and ornate. The Buddhist temple had a monastery attached. Tired as it had been a long day and even though the time zones are the same we were tired from the travel and Doug & Phoenix had work the next day. They gave us the keys to the flat so we could come and go as we pleased in the day.
Monday April 8th 2013
Summary, Geylang, very hot and humid
Spent the morning doing washing and communication with everyone on the internet to say we had safely arrived with D&P in Singapore. We were both dripping with sweat the whole time as our bodies not used to the humidity as yet, maybe they never will be. It is tropical heat as Singapore is on the equator.
We visited D&P’s local swimming pool at 2.20 p.m. Found out it closes on Monday morning for cleaning but reopened at 2.30 p.m. so not long to wait. Now this is lovely, we got OAP tickets 50 cents each for the whole day or 25 pence English, amazing they kindly treat anyone who is over 55 as a pensioner in Singapore.
We had a refreshing swim initially and the pool was empty until a class of school kids arrived for a lesson. Then there were storm clouds and thunder, so everyone had to get out of the pool. No risks are taken in Singapore especially if there is a risk of lightening.
We sat undercover and read our books. We chatted to a friendly local lifeguard who gave us free bottles of chilled water which was most refreshing. We then had a late lunch in the Thai restaurant nearby the pool. We chatted to a man from California who was a tourist. We then returned to the flat and waited for D&P to return from work.
They took us to Geylang East Central, we walked and to a restaurant that did barbeque food at each table. It was a Chinese restaurant, and we had a whole leg of lamb with a spiced outer crust that had been marinated and mostly cooked out the back, along with other dishes they bought to the table. Once at the table we continued to cook it on the table BBQ / firepit, never seen anything like it as good or since as it was charcoal in a pit on the table. Keef still rates this as the best lamb meal he has ever had, praise indeed.
The whole meal was so nice, we both really enjoyed it.
Everyone seems to eat out in Singapore at restaurants and cafes, the city that eats 24 by 7 as the locals say. The streets are all very busy and hectic, thronged with people as we walked back to the flat at 10.30 p.m. We walked past lots of interesting fruit stall and saw some strange vegetables we had never encountered before. It’s what I love about going to different places one should always immerse oneself in the cultures and customs, it’s what is just so interesting.
Tuesday April 9th 2013
Summary, Geylang and then the Hop on Hop Off (HO-HO) Bus Day 1 from Suntec City.
We got into central Singapore by the MRT, Mass Raid Transport system, from Aljunied station which was a short walk from Doug & Phoenix’s flat. The NRT is clean and modern, you are not allowed to eat or drink on the trains or the station platforms and be fined if caught.
We booked tickets at 12.05 p.m. for the 48-hour HO-HO tourist bus. The cost was $39 per person and included a river cruise and coach to Sentosa Island. We got on the heritage tour bus which took about an hour around to get our bearings. It went through the older areas of central Singapore and we had ear phones for the commentary, available in a variety of languages, not surprisingly we chose English, tee-hee.
Then we got on a different hop on, hop off bus which did the city tour including the Central Business District (CBD to all Kiwi’s and Aussies). It went through the shopping districts, Orchard Road, all designer shops, clothing etc. and around the marina, we saw Marina Bay Sands hotel (MBS) which Singapore is famous for, the infinity pool on the top is quite a landmark and a feat of design and engineering, curved and sleek.
There were floating football pitches, Clarke Quay, the Merlion and lots of both colonial and unusual architect designed buildings, all in all a real feast for the eyes and senses.
We had lunch at a café on Olive Grove, Suntec City shopping mall, panini with tuna mayo, cake and a drink costing $8 each. We then got soaked on the bus tour after lunch as there was a tropical storm with thunder and lightning, about the same time as yesterdays at the pool, maybe this will become a recurring theme. We were on top of the open topped bus which had a small, covered section at the back, all customers tried to huddle in there to keep dry, but it just wasn’t a large enough covering for all. Still the downpour certainly cooled the humidity levels.
We had coffee (kopi-c-kosong) in the café next to the tour start and tried to dry off. We then did the included river cruise at Clarke Quay, quite touristy but interesting for the shop houses along the Singapore Riverbank and the old ferries we were carried on. It took us right up as far as MBD , the Art and Science Museum and the Merlion water fountain. We ate in the food hall in Suntec city mall in the evening and got back on the MRT after all the commuters had returned from work., although it was still busy in the evening.
Doug goes to the gym every Tuesday evening.
Wednesday April 10th 2013
Summary, Hop on Hop off bus day 2 including Raffles Hotel & Sentosa Island
We used the MRT to go back into the city centre from Aljunied station to Dhoby Ghaut. We were using day 2 of our ticket for the hop on hop off bus. This time rather than going all the way around, as we now know the route, we got off at the famous Raffles Hotel. We wandered around downstairs and in the courtyards but only guests are allowed upstairs. It is a very old colonial hotel and as it is on Beach Road was literally that once before reclaimed land from the coast moved it somewhat inland.
We bought some gifts and a tea towel for us in the Raffles Shop. We then went to the famous Long Bar and had a Singapore Sling $26 (£13.50 in 2013 prices, £16 by 2022) and a fruit punch $14. We shared both, that’s what love is. Very expensive for a cocktail but lovely and you just have to do it don’t you.
We had fish and chips and lamb satay for lunch there in the Long Bar. Peanuts (monkey nuts in shells) on the tables, traditionally people break them open and nonchalantly drop the discarded shells on the floor. You get that distinctive crunch as you walk around the bar, ha-ha. You also , and this wasn’t hygienic, had birds who flew into the open bar, fans on ceilings and the cool breeze of open windows, to peck at both shells and nut pieces.
The service in the bar was poor, speed wise, but the atmosphere was great. There were lots of tourists there and large groups of American businessmen drinking Singapore Slings all afternoon, obviously on company expenses, tee-hee.
We then returned to Suntec city Mall on the bus and then got a different coach to Sentosa Island which was all part of our 48-hour voucher. The coach went past the Singapore port area, thousands of containers piled 8 or 9 high. Singapore is a very busy port as witnessed by the number of ships moored of Sentosa / East Coast Park.
Sentosa was a themed purpose-built tourist island reclaimed from the sea. Full of mainly Chinese tourists, there are a huge number of casinos on the island which culturally is a huge draw for the Chinese nation. Witness the island of Macau.
There were lots of rides and activities all of which cost money. Fountains everywhere, it was extremely hot and sunny today so dipping one’s hands in the colling fountain waters was a true delight.
Not surprisingly Keef bought a T-shirt in the islands Hard Rock café shop. We walked around a bit and decided not to go into Universal studios, we are getting on a bit now, tee-hee, white knuckle isn’t what it used to be.
We then took the free tram to the man-made beach and paddled in the sea with the background of container ships moored up off the coast. Bit weird.
We then returned to the coach and the driver dropped us off in the wrong place on the way back to Suntec city, so we had to walk ½ mile back to the MRT station near Suntec city. We bought a sandwich on the way back to the flat. Yummy as hungry by then.
Thursday April 11th 2013
Summary, Geylang and Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Did laundry in the morning and then got the MRT and bus combo to the Botanic Gardens. It free to go in, we had lunch there in the café and then wandered around, it is a well-kept and stocked garden, everything is very tropical and very green. The lake in the centre has turtles swimming around. Just lovely.
We then visited both the Ginger and Orchids gardens; they were both spectacular with amazingly exotic plants. We saw a turmeric tree, the spice comes from the root of the tree, it looked a bit like a banana palm. It was hot and humid in both these gardens which is what the plants love to thrive.
We must have walked about 2 ½ to 3 miles around the Botanic gardens as we were there some 4 ½ hours. We then walked back to the MRT along Cluny Park Road with very posh houses and the French Embassy and ambassadors’ houses for many nations. It is clearly an exclusive area but well worth the stroll along despite our tiredness.
We then got the MRT back to Geylang East to avoid the 5 p.m. rush hour but still packed with people and school kids, Singapore seems to always be mega busy.
When D&P got home from work, we went swimming at the local pool at 8.30 p.m. It is an Olympic sized pool. Doug did 20 lengths, we pottered around doing widths in the medium sized pool. There was also a kids play pool with water apparatus. We then all ate in the nearby Hawker centre. Then we went to the supermarket to buy chicken and provisions for the trip to Malacca at the weekend, so looking forward to that. The supermarket was busy even at 10.30 p.m.
Friday April 12th 2013
Summary, Geylang, Singapore to Melaka, Malaysia
Did more laundry including D&Ps in ethe morning. Clothes get very sweaty here in Singapore, but they do dry on those poles hung out of the flat windows very quickly.
We went swimming again early in the afternoon at the Geylang East community pool. We love this place and at 50 cents a go how could you not, the best place we know to cool off apart from maybe air-conditioned libraries. The sun was very intense today so lots of waterproof suntan lotion liberally applied.
We returned to the flat after lunch at our new favourite Thai restaurant near the pool. Keef cooked black pepper marinated chicken pieces and added to salad for our evening meal this evening before swimming. Then after swimming he cooked a whole chicken and baked yam for D&P in their rotisserie oven. All the cooking made the kitchen unbearably hot; K was cooking in just shorts, no top.
Phoenix had management meetings 2-5.30 at work but then rushed home after that. Doug got home before her and then we all sorted out our stuff to the weekend trip away to Melaka in Malaysia.
After eating and a swim we caught a taxi to border control to cross over to Malaysia at Woodlands on the Singapore side and Johor Bharu (JB) on the Malaysian side. There was passport control on both sides with a ridge in between where we had to get a packed bus to get across it. It was totally grid locked with people everywhere, workers trying to get home for the weekend to see family, and it was hot and sweaty and just generally very unpleasant but worth it for our weekend away with D&P.
Hot, humid, noisy, and packed buses and even though it was crammed with people we all managed somehow to get a seat, luxury. Then we got a taxi to the lady’s house Phoenix had been negotiating with to pick up the hire car.
Keef drove the car using our Sat Nav to the guest house in Melaka which we finally reached at 1 a.m. There had been quite a hold up at the car hire stuff. Our Sat Nav helped on the motorway and with which turning to come off at as we headed north out of JB towards Melaka. There were entrance and exit toll booths on the motorway as travel on them we had to pay for, it wasn’t very expensive however and good raid surfaces.
Because it took so long at the border crossing and picking up the hire car it was very late at night when we finally arrived but the Tea House owner, the very kind Mr. Li, had stayed up for us. Exhausted we all had showers and flopped into bed.
Monday April 15th 2013
Phoenix went to work but Doug was off sick as he also had food poisoning and was ill during the night after our weekend away in Melaka.
Annie did more laundry; in this humidity it is endless, indeed eventually (bit like Darwin in Australia) jour clothing just disintegrates. In the morning we stayed with Doug who looked poorly having been sick all night. He rang his work to tell them he was ill and would not be coming in today.
Keef caught up with emails and backed up all our holiday photos for safe keeping. Would hate to lose them. Doug had a nap but still felt ill so went to the doctors for a sick note. Annie did laundry / ironing again.
2.30 p.m. we went to the Geylang pool for a swim, becoming regulars these days, know a few of the lifeguards. Doug rang at 4 p.m. to ask us to buy some eggs and bottled water from the supermarket on the way back.
We met P at the supermarket as she had left work early to look after Doug. He had been sick again in the afternoon and when we got back to the flat with Phoenix he was stretched out on the sofa in the lounge. We think, like P, the food poisoning was either from the street kebabs and / or the shellfish in Melaka, but honestly who knows. Neither K nor A were ill, and we didn’t eat either of those two options.
We had jacket potatoes, grapes and nuts for tea and D&P had steamed fish, rice and greens. He perked up a bit after that and looked much better. He said his body ached from being sick so often, understandably stretching your stomach muscles.
We watched telly together, a Korean channel with a game show and then a programme like Dr Who but set in ancient Korea, very different but educational. Then we had showers, a great way to cool at the end of the day and then bed.
Tuesday April 16th 2013
Summary, Geylang, Singapore, Gardens by the Bay
Laundry and ironing initially for Annie, Keef made cheese cobs and we took apples for lunch. As Doug was recovered and they were both back at work today we took the MRT train from Aljunied station to Gardens by the Bay as Doug had kindly bought us tickets and a river cruise as our Xmas presents.
We got a free shuttle car from the MRT station to the Ticket Office, how cool is that? We had our lunch sitting on a lovely long wooden tree bench under fans at the entrance. Most relaxing and enjoyable.
We then went into one of the two huge glass domes that are Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The flower gardens inside were laid out in different climate zones with trees and flowers from the countries in those parts of the world. Lovely flowers, loved the hibiscus trees in large pots , baobab trees, colourful Mediterranean flowers etc. Just so much to look at and admire, puts our limited gardening skills to shame, tee-hee but I guess we have less of a budget.
They did not have any frangipani trees surprisingly. We loved the flowers and perfumes coming from every section.
We then had coffee in the Pollen café, appropriately named, somewhat expensive in there but very nice and classy.
We met a woman from Adelaide who now lives in Singapore and had done for 15 years. Quite interesting, the average salary was $1,500 per month but many people were on less around $800 per month so she said.
Then we went into the second glass dome which was plants in rainforests and called the cloud forest. It had a fantastic indoor waterfall and lots of water and mist everywhere, orchids, bromeliads, quinine trees, mosses, ferns, busy lizzies etc. all very exotic.
We got the lift to the top of the Cloud Forest and walked along the gantries suspended out of the central garden pillar to the ground floor, the walkways afforded such a close-up view and atmospheric experience. So worth going, will remember the experience forever.
The whole thing looked like the Hanging Garden of Babylon. Back on the ground level we then watched on the big screen a video about climate change effecting the world habitat in the future. This was 2013, by 2022 COP 26 was finally doing something about it, do hope we as a world aren’t too late.
We then visited the Marina Bay Sands hotel, a definite Singaporean icon. From the foyer of the hotel as it was now dark, we walked through to the Marina Bay mall for dinner in a pizza restaurant, it was very expensive but yummy. There are lots of designer shops in the mall, we watched a laser light show at 9.30 p.m. just outside by the Art & Science Museum on the bay. It lasted about 10 minutes and projected laser light streams onto MBS, very atmospheric.
We then got the MRT back to Aljunied station and the flat and chatted to D&P about our day and how much we had enjoyed it. Doug had been to an Amazon works seminar all day.
Wednesday April 17th 2013
Summary, Geylang, Singapore, Jurong Bird Park
Annie did ironing and laundry 8.40-11.20 a.m. after a huge tropical storm had hit at 6.50 a.m. Thunder, lightning and sheet rain coming in onto the floor even though the flat is on the 10th floor. Doug had to shut all the windows to keep it out which increased the humidity inside 10-fold, however once it stopped and the windows were reopened, we really felt the benefit as it reduced the humidity and temperature dramatically, however as ever in Singapore that benefit didn’t last long, we are on the equator.
We then went to Jurong Bird Park using the MRT to Jurong East station. We had to get a bus for a short trip from the train station to the bird park entrance. Arriving at 2.30 p.m. The weather was now full hot and humid again. We saw penguins, flamingoes, parrots, scarlet ibis, and lots of other tropical birds.
We used the parks road train to get around the various sectors. We sat and watched one of the shows which featured a giant hornbill called Alfred, he was a massive bird but well trained. The show also featured a talking and singing cockatoo, parrots flying around the auditorium and flamingoes and pelicans, all very entertaining as well as colourful. We really enjoyed the show.
The park closed at 6 p.m. so we left then and got a combination of the bus followed by the train back to the city centre. We then took the train to Clarke Quay so we could redo the river boat cruise but this time at night, which was very atmospheric. This was another part of our Christmas present from D&P.
After a relaxing cruise and seeing all the lights we returned to the flat late evening, a lovely day.
Thursday April 18th 2013
Summary, Geylang, Bugis Shopping Centre, Little India, Arab Street area, Singapore
Visited Bugis shopping mall and bought 2 towels as a gift for D&P, from a large department store. Bugis Centre is one of the biggest shopping malls in Singapore and take our word for it there are a lot of them. It is on so many levels and you could easily get lost.
We had lunch at Nando’s in the Bugis Centre which was very nice, and in Keef’s case very spicy. Then we went to Little India on the MRT alighting at the Little India station stop. If we are going to Mustafa’s department store, we would get off at the Farrer Park stop, we would highly recommend it for just about everything at a reasonable price, it’s always busy and Keef buys their Samosa’s.
It was very hot and humid again. We saw lots of fruit stalls with exotic fruits and other good and even saw a lot of lotus flowers. Anne bought some fabric and then we walked through the famous Little India Arcade. It was originall