A Travellerspoint blog

Back to reality

Lessons we have learnt..

rain 26 °C

Sadly, there is not much to say when you come thudding back to reality as we did a few days ago, so I will not dwell on it. Suffice to say, we were delighted to see our kids again and the homecoming crazy dance that Bella did for me was hilarious!!
Looking back at the last 5 weeks, we have loved every minute of it. Already I am being asked what was my favourite place, but that is proving very difficult to answer. Australia has so much to offer both on the coast and inland, and I enjoyed both areas for their uniqueness. So, I guess all that's left to say is what we have learnt on our holiday that others may be able to use to help prepare for a trip across the Nullarbor.

1. If in any doubt about fuel, always fill up at every roadhouse you see, or carry extra fuel with you. Particularly as we were travelling over the Christmas holiday period, some roadhouses were going to close for sometimes 24-36 hours. Ring ahead to check if they will be open, and don't rely on Nullarbor Net for up to date information on roadhouses. The Yalata roadhouse, for example, at the start of the Nullarbor, is completely boarded up! A much more reliable and contemporary source would be Exploroz.

2. Don't be too scared of road trains. The truckies that drive them are professionals, and also very courteous. They always indicated to us when it was safe to overtake, making it a much easier proposition. Treat them with the respect they deserve.

3. Following the last note, ALWAYS have your headlights on. We found it extremely difficult to see any car which did not have its' headlights on, mostly because of heat haze, and the long stretches of road ahead of us. You could not be sure on the long stretches whether the road was clear, or whether you just couldn't see a car that had no headlights on. Hence our gratitude to the truckies who had a better view.

4. Say g'day to everyone! They are a friendly mob in country Australia, and we had some great conversations and experiences (for example, Nicks' boat trip) by chatting with the locals and also our fellow travellers. You can get some great hints for great places to stay, or things to do, or just learn more about how our country cousins live their lives.

5. If you possibly can, take the opportunity to camp in one of the free camps along the Nullarbor, in country Western Australia and South Australia. The government has done a pretty good job of making comfortable camping areas off the road, and sometimes in some really beautiful places. This trip it didn't suit our itinerary, but we look forward to doing so next time.

6. Yes, there will be a next time! The most important thing we have learned is that we would love to see even more of Australia, but next time we think it will have to be in a 4WD vehicle in which we can be self-sufficient most of the time. There are so many camping areas that we could not access due to our 2WD car, even though sometimes they seemed achingly close. Nevertheless, that is us. Don't be put off driving across the Nullarbor if you own a 2WD car- the road is absolutely fantastic!

7. Finally, make sure you have a Telstra phone - no other network has anywhere near the coverage of Telstra, and we were pleasantly surprised with how much coverage we had, even in the middle of nowhere. This is not to say that there won't be areas of no coverage, but we did pick up reception much earlier than anticipated.

So, I hope that this blog has whetted your appetite for touring Australia. It truly is a magnificent country, and surely it is good for the soul to get out onto the wide open plains once in a while. Next time, though, I will have to bring the Best Dog in the World with me...

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Posted by NickandCathy 22:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Are we there yet???

Homeward bound!

sunny 31 °C

It's a funny thing, no matter what length of time you've been away, you only get really homesick when you know you are on the homeward stretch, and then, nothing can take you home fast enough. Coffin Bay was really the last leg of our time away, and what a great place for a last hurrah! Although Nick has been underwhelmed with the fishing over on the Eyre Peninsula, our neighbour in the unit next to us in Coffin Bay generously asked him out on his boat on our last day in the Bay. The sulks vanished in an instant, and I was more than happy to let him have a days' fishing if it would improve his mood! In the meantime, the in-laws and I had a leisurely mornings' retail therapy in Port Lincoln, followed by a scenic drive on the Port Lincoln coast. We were rewarded with more dazzling coastal views, and we were very excited to see a very large pod of dolphins just off the beach, schmoozing their way along, enjoying the sunshine.
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Luckily, Nick returned semi-triumphant, having caught at least 25 fish, but having had to throw back around a dozen for being undersized!! Never mind, he was happy, had made a new chum, and we had enough fish for our last supper- delicious King George Whiting. Off to an early start the next day, taking the in-laws back to the airport, then back to Coffin Bay to pack the car and make our way up the coast towards Lucky Bay. We investigated a few other towns on the way, and were very taken with Port Neill, another gorgeous bay with white sand and aqua waters, a jetty to fish from (quite sturdy, too) and most important, a caravan park which allows dogs- I SHALL RETURN!!!

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We had decided to save ourselves some driving, and invested in a ferry ride from Lucky Bay to Wallaroo, on the Yorke Peninsula. Unfortunately, the trip took a little longer than the usual 2 hours due to rough seas, so we only managed a short drive from Wallaroo to Auburn, a beautiful historic village in the Clare Valley. Our arrival was fortuitous, snagging the last quiet room away from the main road, and also grabbing a delicious meal, all at the Rising Sun Hotel, before the staff closed the kitchen early to celebrate Christmas- sounds like where I work! This hotel started business in the late 1800's, and the rooms were lovely, built with hand cut stone bricks. We were also delighted to find complimentary port awaiting us when we returned to our room- a great end to a long day.

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Today, another big day of driving, 10 hours at the wheel, leaving South Australia, travelling briefly through Victoria and then into New South Wales, our home state. Not too much to get excited about yet, however, as we still had 1000 Kms to go at this point! We enjoyed again the vast plain of nothing that is the Hay plain, observing from over 70kms away a bushfire that looked a little out of control..

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In spite of wanting to get as close to home as possible, the length of driving today, and the shadows that start forming on the roads in the late afternoon, certainly have caused us to be fatigued. And might I just mention the worst cappuccino in the world from the Mobil service station on the Highway at Hay- almost pure milk, no coffee- why do you think we ordered it, for our bedtime drink?!? We called it a day at Narrandera, and have found a motel off the main road so that we should get a good nights' sleep. Home tomorrow!!! Stay tuned for the final instalment..
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Posted by NickandCathy 00:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Coffin Bay via Baird and Venus Bay

It's deadly quiet here...

sunny 25 °C

I know it has been a few days since my last entry, we have had some very full long days, resulting in a blog being the last thing I felt like doing. Following our epic day of driving to the beaches and bays south of Streaky Bay, we had a lazy morning hanging around the campsite. Nick then got talking to a bloke who was cleaning a very nice haul of large flathead, and found out where this magic fishing spot was meant to be, so into the car we hopped in search of fishing Nirvana. Unfortunately, someone (not me) read the map incorrectly, so when it was realised that we were 40 Kms away from where we should have been, we made the serendipitous decision to continue on to check out Venus Bay. What a beautiful spot!! A very beautiful bay with an interesting jetty, where you could look down and see hundreds of fish darting around the piers. I was so enamoured with the place that I went straight to the caravan park to see if they had a vacancy. It was obviously meant to be, as the only vacancy they had was a cabin, which suited me down to the ground! We returned to Streaky Bay for our final night, packed up at the crack of dawn, and went to Venus Bay after we had our sealion and dolphin encounter in Baird Bay.
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Yes, you read that right, we went out on a boat, jumped into open water, (that same water that Great Whites like to frequent) and cavorted with dolphins, and then sealions in a slightly more protected bay. What a blast!! The dolphins were a little disappointing- there was a big swell outside the reef, and the boat captain thought most of them were having fun surfing the waves, although we still did have 10 or 15 minutes of being eyeballed by 2 dolphins. The sealions were enchanting - like playing with a puppy, they liked to come close and look you in the eye, would mimic you if you twirled and somersaulted, and were not concerned if you hovered right next to them.

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After a fabulous morning communing with nature, and then a relaxing afternoon, evening and then morning at Venus Bay, we made our way down to Coffin Bay, our home for 5 nights. We arrived to sweltering heat, but quickly unpacked the car and bolted into Port Lincoln to pick up the in-laws who are joining us for a mini-break. After hearing that their plane had been delayed leaving Adelaide due to A/C problems (this was the 46 degree day!) I took the opportunity to have a pedicure whilst Nick endured the wait in the pub. Finally, family safely arrived, a quick trip to buy supplies ( I hadn't realised we were feeding the forty thousand, but my mother-in-law has ensured with her generosity that we will definitely not starve!) and then back to our unit in Coffin Bay. Luckily, the southerly came through to cool everything down, and we spent the next morning touring the Coffin Bay National Park, again, gobsmacking views of beaches, cliff faces and a sadly missed photo opportunity of emu daycare, with one adult emu and what seemed to be at least 10 babies!

As you may have guessed, my mother-in-law enjoys the same love affair with food as myself, so we have been having fun taste testing the local oysters, the culinary delights produced by the local butcher who is trained in producing Bavarian small goods, the local "foodies" restaurant, and the local pizza/pastry shop. Just quietly, I have developed a bit of a crush on the lady who owns the pizza/pastry shop- not only does she make the most delicious, mouthwatering sweet and savoury pastries (world's best oyster pie!), her prices are unbelievably low and she is a delightful person to talk to, who obviously loves what she does. Look out weight watchers, I could be waddling through your doors when I return...

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Posted by NickandCathy 22:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Streaky Bay

Aka Shark Bay...

sunny 29 °C

After another rainy day of driving, we successfully crossed the Nullarbor yesterday, having had a few close(ish) encounters with rabbits and dingoes on the road, looking, we think, for puddles to drink from. After a quick wash for the car in Ceduna, as it was covered with oily residue from those close encounters with the road-train carwash, we finished up in Streaky Bay, a cute little town with all the necessities (you know, pub, supermarket, pub and seafood co-op). Aahh, the serenity!! We set up camp on a waterfront site looking out to the calm waters of the bay, relaxing as we watch children, dogs and horses(!) cavort in the water. This will do for a few days! 35FE2CC42219AC68172F8B87973A7C61.jpg

Today was spent touring the coast to the South of Streaky Bay. This encompassed Yanerbie beach, Smooth Pool (not very), Sceale Bay and Point Labatt, the only permanent sea-lion breeding colony on the mainland. Again, we saw spectacular scenery, each beach or bay surpassing the previous one for "wow" factor.

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We also gave back to nature today, saving hundreds (well, three to be exact ) of bobtail lizards that obviously feel the grass is greener on the other side of the road, but take a VERY LONG TIME to cross it. They are South Australia's version of the blue tongue lizard, that is, lots of huff and puff, but harmless, unless you were silly enough to let it latch onto your finger - that would be a different story and might I say very silly indeed! Anyway, we felt good, and know that at least one was saved from CERTAIN DEATH as a car came around the corner and drove just where Mr Bobtail would have been.
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So to finish on my thoughts on Streaky Bay, and coincidentally, to continue on a theme which seems to have developed on this adventure, we visited the replica of a Great White Pointer Shark which had been caught on a 24 kg handline in Streaky Bay in the 90's. This monster was nearly 6 meters long and weighed 1500 kgs!! And caught on a hand line!! Nick has just been chatting to our campsite neighbours, who have come here for the last 3 years, and guess what? There has been a shark in the bay out front here every year they have stayed in Streaky Bay. Like I said, I value my legs, and I am quite enjoying bathing in the shallows...3764A9072219AC6817BD02F8075E8CB3.jpg376B6BDB2219AC68176AAA705A9BA79C.jpg

Posted by NickandCathy 02:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The rain on the (Nullarbor) plain!

Death defying driving.

rain 23 °C

Having decided to depart Esperance a day early, we embarked yesterday on a leisurely drive up through Norseman (another gold rush town- a horse is credited with finding the first nugget!) and onto Fraser Range Station. This is a sheep station which is being resurrected as a profitable sheep station and is also adding to its' repertoire by offering quality accommodation of all kinds. Best of all, it was 2kms off the main road, so no sound from road trains thundering past. Unfortunately, my dream of being out in the country, looking up at a billion stars, was shattered by a storm front which obliterated the night sky. We woke this morning to a small puddle inside the front of the tent, thanks to the centre pole having dislodged in the high winds during the night. Anyway, all good, Fraser Range has a huge undercover area where we were able to dry off the tent before packing it away. The rain was forecast for 48 hours, so needless to say, we are staying in a motel tonight!

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So today we have had a bit of a tiring day driving through constant rain. Not too bad except for when the road trains approach from the opposite direction. They throw off so much spray that you are driving blind for a few seconds, which is rather scary at 110km/h. Consequently, we decided the safest way to handle this was to back right off on the speed, put the windscreen wipers on full speed in anticipation, grip the wheel as if your life depended on it,(and it does) and say 10 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers before impact...

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Our destination for today is Eucla, where the Nullarbor meets the coast (or comes very close-we can see the sea). Tomorrow we shall go and investigate the ruins of an old telegraph station down in the sand dunes, and we have just been told by one of the workers at the roadhouse, that he does not recommend swimming at the beach "if you like your legs"!! More sharks!! Until tomorrow...

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Posted by NickandCathy 03:11 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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