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Jim and Debbie's Australian Sojourn

Wandering about with no real purpose, with no real aims and with no real idea!

Diary Entries

Monday, 20 August 2007

Location: Australia


Unloading the van was a bit of a mission I have to admit. All of you will know that we (well I) am quite good at accumulating stuff. And stuff we accumulated! Luckily the hostel room was uncharacteristically huge so we had plenty of space, and as luck would have it that very evening we met a couple who were hiring an identical van to ours doing pretty much the reverse journey that we had done. We very generously let them have all our superfluous stuff (for a small fee) and were subsequently back to the small(ish) amount of gear that we arrived with. I like Perth. But it’s a strange city where the suburbs seem to be more popular than the actual centre. Luckily we met up with Jim’s second cousin a local lady who took us out to 1 such suburb for a lovely lunch one day. We also met up with a guy we met on the Kakadu trip for a few drinks. Another night we even went to the opera, preceded by a lovely dinner (belated birthday celebration for me seeing as we were in the back of beyond on the actual day). So since we hit the bright lights we have actually been social butterflies. None of the 9pm lights out we had developed in the van and we’ve even been able to sleep past 8am some mornings! There is hope for us yet, we are still young at heart.

So here we are. Our last night in Perth, Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. I’ve finished my book and packed my bags already and now I’m twiddling my thumbs. Jim is trying to pack and finish his most recent essay due any day now but still insists he doesn’t leave everything until the last minute!

So that’s just about all folks. We have a couple of days in Singapore en route home but frankly I don’t think they are going to be entertaining enough to write home about. I’m sure we have some more photos to upload and we will get them on as soon as possible but we took less and less as we headed south and the scenery became less interesting. So I guess this is bye for now.

Try and keep in touch, all be it sporadically like myself, and you never know when we will meet again, for some it will be sooner than others.

All those in New Zealand will be thoroughly missed and thanks for making our time there so enjoyable. All those in England we look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Location: Australia

Heading North

Well you will be pleased to hear that the weather picked up somewhat for the remainder of our time in the South of WA. We explored Jewel Cave, a huge underground limestone cave. Jim climbed 61 metres up a tree on a ladder type structure to see the view, Debbie politely declined. We visited the loudest Blow Holes we had ever seen/heard, thankfully the weather went downhill that day so they were roaring like a dragon. Then we started to make our way back to beautiful Perth.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Location: Australia

Rain, Rain and more Rain

Kalbarri was our last sunny day. The next day we set off south amidst rain and hideous winds, stopping briefly to change the wiper fuse (Thank god for Jim really) and then longer than expected because of the flat battery that neither of us will take responsibility for! (Although Debbie was driving and left the lights on when we stopped - neither of us will take responsibility for it!!?!?!) Cervantes was our next stop to see the mighty Pinnacles. Loosely described as the Aussie Stonehenge they are by no means as big but as far as the eye can see there are stones randomly clustered everywhere, ranging from 1 foot to 10 foot high! Try and spot me in the photos when they eventually make it online.

The rain continued as we headed across to New Norcia, a monastic town famous for it’s bread, and followed us all the way to the Swan Valley just north of Perth. That’s OK, you don’t need good weather to wine taste but apparently here you need a very good map. It has to have been the strangest wine region we have been to, vineyards interspersed with bankrupt petrol stations, café’s, mechanics and factories. As you can imagine we struggled through and managed to find some lovely wine and somewhere for a slap up lunch.

We come back to Perth for a few days before we eventually depart this hemisphere so we decided to head straight through it to the popular Freemantle, where it kept raining so we had to take refuge in the bookshops and café’s. It was awful I can tell you! The rain again followed us the next day to the beautiful Margaret River region where you find us now. Tasting chocolate, cheese and wine from dusk till dawn. It’s just such a shame that we can only buy enough to last us the next week or so.

Now I shouldn’t complain about the rain really, god knows Australia needs it but this late in our travels after 2 months of Dry it is starting to wear us down a little. We have stopped enjoying the delights of cooking out in the open and started searching for caravan parks with good camp kitchens to huddle inside (if the grey nomads don’t hog the place all night when they could be in their nice warm vans which they are doing as I try and write this with numb fingers!)

Never fear we have sussed out a fancy shmancy hostel in Perth to move into in a few days and are busy enjoying the delights of the south before we head back.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Location: Australia

Heading South

So after enjoying a few warm but windy days in Coral Bay still trying to get a tan and scaring all the fish away with the pretty much still translucent skin it was time to get back in the van and do the most dreaded leg of the journey. South into the cold!! A short stop at the quiet Hamelin Pool to look at the Stramatolites…..enter Jim’s scientific explanation here….then we hit Kalbarri. It sounds awful to say it but another lovely National Park with beautiful gorges (It’s hard to believe that you can almost feel like you have seen enough already). The best thing there really was dinner. This “restaurant” started life as a Ice packing warehouse, then moved onto be a fish exporters. Forced to close in the 80’s from a pilot strike they decided instead of shipping the fish to the punters they would bring the punters to the fish. Hardly done up from the original building they merely added a few BBQ hotplates and some mismatched wooden and plastic chairs. Serving whole fish with a side of chips (and randomly stir fry rice and veg?!) Jim and I gamely ordered 1 each (they were cheap as) and a side salad (trying to be good). Big mistake. We tucked into 1 and barely made a dint in the other and the salad just wilted on the plate! There must have been about 100 people there and there was room for 4 times that. These guys must make a mint on a busy night. The short walk back to the van attempted to alleviate some of the food but we were still full the next day.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Location: Coral Bay, Australia

Well we left karajini after visiting Tom price and one of the largest open cut iron ore mines in the world (photos uploaded). We spenty a night in the worst campsite in australia called the nanutarra roadhouse!

The next day we woke and drove to Coral Bay and luckily got the last site in the campground. Not too much to say about this area and up to exmouth, we spend our days sunbathing and snorkelling and thats about it! Apart from one day where it rained constantly, the reef has been our daily call and what a reef it is. Not as famous as its east coast cousin, the ningaloo reef is 100 times closer to the shore so you can literally wade out, flop forward and it is there in front of you! We have seen turtles. sharks, sting rays and 000's of fish!

We are getting our last little dose of sun as from here on its due south and back to the australian winter!!!

Friday, 27 July 2007

Location: Australia

Don't forget it's Debbie's birthday tomorrow (28th) all her presents can just be sent to her Melton address for convenience!!! Sentiments can be sent via the website!!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Location: Australia

Karajini National Park

We stayed 2 nights in these beautiful surroundings, the second night was a “luxurious” campsite with flushing toilets and a shower! We spent the first day investigating the beautiful Dales Gorge, we did the usual; walks and watering holes. Jim went for an early morning dip in fern pool and had his toes nibbled (by the fish not Debbie).
We finished early luckily because that afternoon it rained!!! Only for about an hour but this is supposed to be the dry season, it isn’t supposed to rain until November! The Dales Gorge is easiest to get to so it was busy and there were lots of families around and for some reason they only choose to seal to road to that gorge. We went to the Weano Gorge the next day. Along a 4WD track (something we aren’t supposed to do in a rental van) and through a ford! (something we definitely aren’t supposed to do). We made it safely through (thanks in part to jims superlative driving skills)(as the Visitor Centre lady had assured us we would) and didn’t really worry about it until we met some people who had abandoned there vehicles and hitched in, coupled with about 5 attempts to actually get the van into reverse gear on our return journey.

The walks were amazing though. As you can imagine Jim insisted we do the hardest walks and it was well worth it. The walk to Kermit’s Pool was hard, lots of edging and bridging along rock shelves and through gulley’s, but it was well worth it. We didn’t see anyone until we were half way back which was good because Jim enjoyed a dip in the very cold pool at the end and if they were faster they’re may have been some embarrassing faces all round (well the water was very cold!). Someone had to stay dry to take the photos for evidence!

As always the national parks are beautiful in their remoteness but it is nice to get back to a campsite (and smooth roads!) and have a shower and cold food from the fridge!

On a separate note we realised tonight that we still have a piece of cheese that we bought in Adelaide over a month ago and its still fine!!!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Location: Australia

On the Road Again….

So as much as we enjoyed relaxing and sunbathing in Broome (and we really enjoyed it!) it was time to get moving again and with each stop we are gradually managing to reduce what we leave behind. This time it was only the washing up liquid and it is amazing how long you can go just borrowing off your next door camper. We might not bother replacing it!

The next place we were aiming for was Karajini National Park. It is 1000kms+ from Broome so we decided to break the journey at a beautiful little campsite at 80 mile beach. A popular spot for fisherman the brochure said and it wasn’t kidding. We found our site and quickly nipped over the sand dunes for a stroll on the beach. Every metre for as far as the eye could see were fishermen (and women) casting off into the surf (literally you couldn’t see a stretch of beach fishermanless and we could see a along way!) and yet in our admittedly short 15ish minute stroll we didn’t see anyone catch anything!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Location: Australia

Geike gorge or not

We awoke at 5.30 to drive for 4 hours to catch a boat ride through Geike Gorge. We had been told it was pretty special and not to be missed. Despite our best efforts it seems we arrived two minutes too late for the boat (4 hours for the next one!) so we thought bugger this for a game of soldiers and kept driving all the way to Broome! 900+kms in a day.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Location: Australia

Professional bunglers!

We arrived at Turkey Creek to set up camp for a couple of nights, the following day we were heading into the Bungle Bungle National Park for a 10 hour day walking and exploring. Later that evening we were joined in our camping exploits by another couple, a rather curvy girl and her man who we guessed were joining us on the tour the next day. Obviously, she arrived wearing her driving clothes, a very short skirt and tight top. When we awoke at stupid o’clock the next morning (4.45am!!!), we got ready for the tour and jumped on the bus with the young lady nowhere to be seen. After a quick dash by her man she arrived at the bus in the same miniskirt and tight top, and spent the next ½ hour complaining that she only needed another 3 minutes to finish her make up and put on her lippy and that he shouldn’t have rushed her! Luckily the lack of lip adornment didn’t unduly prevent her or us from enjoying the day’s activity!

The Bungle Bungles are an amazing collection of eroded banded sandstone lumps. They have this amazing structure, see the pictures as they are hard to explain, but for those that want to know, the red bands are clay poor, the black bands are clay rich. The cyanobacteria can only live in the clay rich bands as they hold water for longer and allow the bacteria to survive and produce the colour. Clay-poor is like a drought for the bacteria! We did a couple of beautiful walks into two of the most picturesque chasms and all tried to snooze on the way back as it was a pretty long day and we both needed our beauty sleep!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Location: Australia

Lake Argyle

After spending our day in Kununurra stocking up on lovely fresh food straight from the farm and trying the Kimberley’s only Rum producer, we headed out to Lake Argyle for a tour. It’s the biggest man made lake in Oz, and we had luckily timed our tour to coincide with the grey posse! We spent the morning cruising the lake with them, Lake Argyle was pretty impressive not very deep but huge. Enough water to supply all the farms in the Kimberley with water for three years even if they don’t get another drop of rain. About 21 times the volume of Sydney harbour!

From there we drove back through Kununurra and on to Wyndham. Nice lookout with five major river systems in view but pretty dull apart from that (and the bakery!). We didn’t stay long and headed straight to Turkey Creek, our gateway to the Bungle Bungles!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Location: Broome, Australia

Hello All.

Sorry we have been out of touch in a while. We've finally arrived in Broome (info on our route here to come, oops left if behind when i came to the internet cafe). It is soo lovely and Oz's favourite holiday destination so we decided to have a little holiday within a holiday ourselves. We're staying here in a campsite near the beach and generally just lazing around. It's pretty busy here but Jim prefers the clothes optional side of the beach which is a little less crowded but unfortunately the view isn't as good!! It's super hot about 29 degrees celsius most of the time. Almost a little too hot for little old me in the middle of the day so we tend to seek some shade and take a siesta after lunch.

You finally get to hear from me for a change as Jim is studying hard. He has a essay due for his philosophy degree in about 7 hours and has pretty much just started it. He insists that he doesn't leave things to the last minute but that doesn't explain why I have to amuse myself for the afternoon while he crams to get it done! Having spent 2 months in each others pockets though it's not such a bad thing to have some time apart and I'm using it well.... yes I'm going shopping, with his money!

So bye for now.

Sunday, 08 July 2007

Location: Kununurra, Australia

Back on the road again.

After a few chores in Darwin we got backed in the van (we do miss her when we are away) and headed to Litchfield National Park (about an hour south of Darwin). Much of the same but easier access. Gentle walks and therefore slightly more crowded waterfalls and pools but just as lovely and refreshing. We discovered that we had left about 5 items in the hostel and of course they had mysteriously disappeared when we rang up to enquire, so we have vowed to remain in the van for the rest of the holiday. At least then everything stays where it should be. We saw our guide, Grady, at Litchfield. Who after only 1 day off was back on a trip again this time for 5 days covering much more ground. Don’t know how they do it, I was knackered.

After a brief stop over in Katherine we headed to Western Australia. We had heard all about what food you can and can’t take in so we had had honey on toast for breakfast everyday for a week and chopped peeled and sliced the veges just as requested. When we get to the border the guard politely stated that the rules had changed and he had to take everything of us!! The little bugger, all that effort for nothing. No wonder the shelves in the supermarket in Kunnunurra (the next biggest town) were empty.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was playing at the drive-in that night (just one showing a week). So we made up some pizza for dinner, wrapped it up and took it to the cinema. We had our own wine and chocolate so decided to forgo the sachets of popcorn they were cooking for people in the microwave! We got out the deckchairs and watched the shooting stars till the movie started! And then again half way through as the projector had a little fit!
As we crossed the border the guard told us of the time difference, 1.5 hours from NT! This makes a lot more sense as about 1,000Kms west is the coast and the vast majority of people live over there. Unfortunately it means that here in Kunnunurra the sun sets about 5pm and rises about 5.30am which only compounds our already sun influenced sleep patterns and now it feels like bedtime at 6 o’clock!

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Recent Messages

From Mum(soon to be Gran)
Aaaaaah nearly time to come home. Enjoyed the photo's they were really good. Everytime I read your blog or look at your photo's I think oh you are so lucky, lucky, lucky!!
Enjoy your last week.
Mum xxxxxx
Response: Thanks off to the opera tonight, they said debbie wasn't civilised enough but i managed to convince them to let her in!
From Tonstar!
Hello my leetle sandfly. I think you are having too much fun holidaying and you should come back here and work with us. We miss you and we now have a spanky new staffroom...oooooh...ahhhhhhh. xxoo
Response: No no fun has been had Jim said we weren't allowed any cos it was too expensive just boredum and hum-drum here in Oz!!
From Kathryn
Hi guys!
I'm just sitting at the computer feeding Charlie and
thought I'd catch up with your adventure ... It sounds like you're having the most amazing time.
Deb - I hope you had a fab birthday and scoffed lots of cake!! ;o)
We're all fine - looking forward to seeing you both at the end of the month. Charlie is very excited about finally meeting Auntie Debs and Uncle Jim!!
Enjoy the rest of your trip xxx
Response: I'm eating so much cake it's great but not for mum who might have to do more adjusting on that bridesmaid dress! Hope you have a good birthday too and fun in Bacton. Can't wait to see you all soon
From Ken
Love the photos! And the truck! Wouldn't mind spinning that around. The mine looks like that of "A Japanese Story" with Toni Collette. Anyhoo...on my holiday starting tomorrow, woohoo!! Lol Ken
Response: Ooh holiday, wish we knew what that was like!!! where you going???
From Ken
Happy birthday!!!! We all miss you very much!
Response: Thank you I had a lovely day. I miss you all too
From Neal
Hey guys
Sounds like you're havin fun. I have been slack with emails, been pretty busy but will explain all in email. Still hoping to get there for B'Day but am starting new job soon so will have to see.
Take care and have fun


Response: good to hear you're still alive, congrats on the new job
From Steve
Hi Jim & Deb

Haven't heard from you for a while, just wondered if you were both ok.
Response: Sorry been very busy. Sunbathing can't be rushed you know!!!
From Mum
Hi you two,
Not heard anything lately. Is everything ok your end? Tried to phone you but not going through.
Same rotten weather here.
Love & xxxxxx
Response: Its been rotten weather here too. Last wednesday we had clouds!!!!
From vera
hello you two. greetings from the very damp northern hemisphere bring some of those sunsets back with you.
Response: we will certainly try although it hasn't been that dry up here! Kununurra had 10mm of rain in June, thats over 10 times its usual supply you know!
From susie
Hi Guys, Think I had that canoe when I was there!!!! Isnt Mindel beach the best, hope you treated yourselves to a massage. All is good here in Blighty apart from the rain!! Stella is doing great, crawling and snotting every where. I am working 2 days a week v important job filing!! When is your party thingy Debs?
Have fun enjoy Kakadu - Remember you insect repellant. I got over 100 bites on my bum when I was there - It must have tasted good:) p.s Do what heather and Ken say and Join FaceBook. Its the best xxx
No we didn't have a massage but we tried heaps of yummy food. I put heaps of insect repellent on but it didn't seem to deter them I have bites everywhere! Bum arms shoulders legs and even my face about 20 all over. I look like a spotty teenager! It was worth it though. Kakadu was amazing, my new favourite part of the trip!
From Annette
Hi there
Glad to hear that you are both enjoying your trip homewards but I am sorry you are leaving NZ!!!
Have loved having your Mum and Steve over here and of course your granddad.
Take care of yourselves,
All the best
Your Mums penpal in New
From Gran to be
Hi to you both,
More pics please!!!
Ann was over from Oz. Got together with her, Audrey & Grandad for lunch. She has gone to Italy now for 6 days of operas & then will be back in Perth so don't forget to call in & see her if you have time. She'll be pleased to see you.
Weather still awful here.
Glad you made it ok to Darwin. Did you go to Alice Springs?
Take care.
Love & xxxxxxx Mum.
Response: Check out the blog, it is stinking hot here It fact you could almost say "It aint half hot here, mum"
From Nic
Hey guys,
Sounds like you're having a great time. We are living in Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands now. I'm working at the ASB and dave is working at the golf course. Take care, drive safe, look out for snakes and spiders!
Response: Wow great to hear from you. Bet it's a bit warmer up there and still not quite back in the rat race either.
From Mum Haff
Sounds like you're having great fun but I think you'll be ready for a few home comforts when you get back. Don't know whether you have heard but we are having the most horrendous weather. Rain like you've never seen before for the last 3 weeks. Unbelievable floods, sports pitches etc unusable. Just as well you didn't come straight home. Barnes weekend at Bacton this weekend looks like it will be a washout!!
From Dad
Liked the photos,the van is bigger than you intimated. Now I can see the exploring developing,the ayers rock sounded great. Did you meet any Abbos or did the racists drive them away. Imagine Grandad, though in their own country he didn't mind them. Mind the crocs!
From Mum(soon to be Gran)
Hi, Interesting reading all about your trip. Thought Debs might have grown out of cutting the cheese by now!!!! LOL or at least got quieter. Vic wants to know if you got photo of her scan of the 'bean'. Ian's wife has just had a little boy called Bobby who looks very cute in his pic. So that's a nephew & another bldy Xmas present!!! Think I may be allergic to Freddie so don't know what I'm gonna do about that. Would you like a cute puppy as a homecoming present???? Having terrible floods over here & Sheffield is awash. Lots of places in the North have succumbed too.
Vicky sold the Megane so there's room on the driveway again. I, however, still have to park in the road.
S'end Highs Headmaster finally retired.
Take good care. Love & xxxxxxx Mum.
Response: Debbie may never grow out of cutting cheese, if anything she is just developing new and exciting ways of doing it!! (like in a silent echo-ing waterhole with another family there enjoying their lunch!!!)
From Heather
Hey guys,
Sounds like you are having heaps of fun!! I am back at Shottie now which is fine. A bit of a shock to the system being a worker again. Ken and I really want you to join Facebook! It's the latest craze sweeping Shotover Jet so everyone is hooked up with it. Make sure you sign up, okay? I have put on some photos of the kids. We just had a huge dumping of snow last Thursday. I got stuck at Kim's for 2 nights cos they closed the road to Cromwell. Finally got home on Saturday. Me and Bay made a snowman and threw snowballs at Corey. Had lots of fun! I put a pic of Bay with her snowman on Facebook.
Me and Ken are having lunch together in the staffroom. I had ham and cheese toasties and Ken is having Beef Stroganoff with Pasta!!! We miss you! It is really strange being at Shottie without you. I miss your chatter.
Well must go back to work now. Big cuddles to you both. I have included my email address just incase you have misplaced it!!!!!!!! (Hint hint),
Love you
From Doug Bourne
Hi Jim we have your mother with us today 23rd June.. Sounds like a ransom note!!!
The rain has stopped and we shall be out and about in Norfolk.. May get her to put somthing on tonight When we get back. ps the rude words have all been removed...
From susie
where are the photo's, sorry can't read it all, should be working, so have you got a camper van then? Its lovely adn warm here, not long and you will be home bound make the most of it, you certainly do get views here like you do there - lucky bastards
From Mum(soon to be Gran)
Glad you're both having a good time. Vic got picture of baby bean today so we've all ooohed & aahhed over that. Not sure if it's the right way up but still........
Weather has turned nasty & having big thunder storms at the mo. Freddie had probs after his castration so still wearing his lampshade bless him. Having Steve done next!!!
He's been driving Ferrari's & Bentley's this week so he's still floating!!!
Take care & have lots of fun but don't eat anymore skippy!!
Love & hugs Mum xxxxxxxxxxxx
Response: I'd just like to point out to everyone that freddie is a dog... not sure why he is wearing a lampshade tho' maybe he's a bit metro!!
From Pam Chappelear
Sounds like you are having a whale of a time. Can't wait to see you in September. It will be me, Craig & Ala. We will ariive on September 7th & leave September 15th. Short, but better than nothing.
Take Care & God Bless.
Love Auntie Pam
Response: CAn't wait to see you all again soon
From sis
Hi jim & debs!!

I now have read all ur diary blogs, its wierd there was only 1 on there til today!
I have my scan tomorrow so if i get a picture on my phone, i'll try and send it through to u!

Take care

Speak to u soon!

From kimbo
Where are the photos??? or am i just blind???
From kimbo
i did too leave a message! YOU don't reply!
miss you
Response: Mmm remember the saying you can't be pretty and clever, well jim and i have been very pretty for a while now. Just found all your messages the other day though. Sorry everyone
From Ken Kong
Hi guys!! Love the writing! Keep it up I have been checking on a weekly basis and for the longest time nothing. Just checked again and it's all here!?!? I thought you actually had gotten munched on by crocs but I didn't hear anything on the news. I look forward to the photos of course, and I'll keep track of you both. Lol Ken
Response: Yeah we're a bit of fits and starts but it's always big gaps between places with decent internet and nowhere will let us plug in our laptop! Will try to keep it more staeady from now on.