Get out the hankies as this will be our last travel blog in the Gibbens-Johnson 2016 Oz Trip.
Between Ceduna and Adelaide, we passed through many little towns including Kimba -marking the half way point across Oz and Lochiel- which has built its own Lochness monster in a pink salt lake- weirdo.
We were planning to stay awhile in Adelaide after the trip across the Nullarbor but crazy weather and school leadership elections beckoned.
We setup up in the Adelaide Shores caravan park not far from Glenelg. Mandy and Ava were hunting and gathering supplies (maybe even a pedicure), when a crazy storm hit Jack and Joel, bringing down the annex and causing havoc. Luckily the hail missed us but the savage winds and rain bent a major internal pole. After a very windy, sleepless night with Joel getting up hourly to check and reinforce ropes and pegs etc, we hightailed it the next morning. We spent a few hours in Rundle Mall and Adelaide CBD before travelling to Renmark SA for the night. We stayed in best BIG4 caravan park of the whole trip located on the Murray River, NSW. It was very new and had lots of kids activities (jumping pillow, water play, pools, xbox/games room, TV cinema room).
The crazy winds followed us across OZ - dust storm at Neds Corner west of Mildura.
L-R The Big Murray Cod at Swan Hill and the kids favourite cry
How many ways can you make/stack hay in Bungowannah?
Another wet and windy night this time in Deniliquin. The next day we arrived in beautiful Albury which had lovely tree lined streets. The out lying areas south of Wodonga to Tallangatta were magnificent. Rolling Hills, green pastures surrounding the picturesque and magnificent Lake Hume. Being only three hours from ski fields- Mandy thinks she has found the place where she wants to retire. Find a little hobby farm for the summer and during winter Mandy pretends to be a ski instructor and Joel manages a faulty towers ski lodge in Thredbo.
Lake Hume between Wodonga and Talangatta- Mandy's screen saver.
We then drove through the beautiful Kosciuszko NP up and over mountain ranges. We found our last camping spot by chance- Geehi Campground on a flat between the mountains. You can camp for free right on the snowy river, with snow capped mountains behind you. There were a few other tents housing many fly fisher people dressed in the whole catastrophe (waders, hats etc).
We finished as we started- camping in a lovely national park with the kids toasting marsh mellows on a camp fire. Ahhhhh..This was the best feeling.
We were there for the Supermoon in November
The cottage of former pastoralists and ducks (our mascot) visit our campground again.
Final words from camper Joel.
Our very last stop for lunch at Lake George north of Canberra. Have not seen water in it for years. Next stop Maroubra.
The last three months travelling around Australia has been a great adventure. Mandy has driven 21,000km without crashing the car, jack knifing the trailer or getting bogged (on a road). Joel kept his promise and cooked almost every night and the kids have packed away special experiences and memories that will last forever.
A few of our favourite times are: walking the Kings Canyon ridge, NT the ranger guided walk and light installation around Uluru NT, the snapping crocodiles of Windjana Gorge, NT, eating freshly cooked clam and yarnin with indigenous elders Frank and Maureen Davey and family at their Gumbanan Bush Camp (Dampier Peninsula nth of Broome, WA); swimming with the manta rays at Coral Bay, WA; crashing down the Yeagarup sand dunes at D'Entrecasteaux NP in the Southern forests of WA, the azure waters of Rottnest Island and Esperance WA; Tallangatta's (near Albury) beautiful landscapes VIC, freezing in Abercrombie Caves, NSW and our last night in Kosciuszko NP, NSW with the supermoon, snow capped mountains, camp fire and the snowy river.
Thanks to Mandy's sister Sue and brother-in-law Peter Langston, and other family and friends, for helping to plan this adventure- providing much needed knowledge and advice to us novices; Aunty Annette Johnson for looking after our cat 'Ginger Ninja", cleaning up and preparing our home for our return; and our family and friends who have kept in touch, reading this blog and cheering us along. Coming home is a bittersweet experience- we miss people but also miss the adventure. We eventually got into a routine and staying in the same place feels odd. However the kids don't miss their camp stretchers. The camper trailer was hard work but we now dream about the next time.
We have learnt to be more grateful for the riches we have: our beautiful home, loving friends, family, opportunities and our coastal environment- lucky us.
Its been a blast. Thanks for reading. Love to all.
Mandy Gibbens, Joel Johnson, Jack and Ava.