Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Day 75- 80 Adelaide SA, Kosciuszko NP and home to Maroubra NSW

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.

The next morning, we travelled over the mountains to Thredbo and reminisced about skiing- having a coffee and looking up at the slopes longingly.

Our very last stop for lunch at Lake George north of Canberra. Have not seen water in it for years. Next stop Maroubra.

In closing...
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.  

With thanks
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.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Day 71-74 The Nullarbor WA-SA

After leaving Esperance we stopped at Norseman, the so called beginning of the Nullarbor. When we put the next destination, Madura, into the car's Navigation, it said go straight ahead, no turns for the next 525km-great. The Nullarbor is 1200km from Norseman to Ceduna and the kids got a certificate at Ceduna just for making it across (tourist info centre gimmick).

Yellow lakes outside of Norseman due to Salt and Limestone

Most of the towns along the Nullarbor are just road houses where you can camp out the back on dry dirt or get a dodgy hotel room. They have a bar and restaurant. Our first stop was Caigunna- a third of the way across. The laundry (where the kids washed up) had the following sign on it.
Like how the spell Management

We stopped at Eucla for coffee. It is a place where you can see whales and the Old Telegraph Station. The hotel has undergone a great renovation with good views of the Australian Bite from the backyard.
L-R still a long way from home, no soft fall or OHS in this playground, the Old Telegraph station long buried and abandoned- they days of morse code and telegrams.

Border Village where you're frisked for vegetables. They don't really care about people going east- just west. No idea why there is a Kangaroo holding vegemite.

Stayed overnight at the Nullarbor Road House- a remote place.

 A great board walk down to the head of the Great Australian Bite at Yalata, where there is a new cafe/info centre.

Stopped at a place called Penong SA, just before Ceduna. It is renowned for its Windmill museum.

Finally arrived at the Oyster capital of Australia- Ceduna- bought yummy oysters and the owner gave us smoked shark-  an interesting taste. We made it just in time to grab a cabin with a TV to watch the historical US Election results. Kids were sitting on the lounge shaking their heads saying "I don't believe Donald trump has won". Out of the mouths of babes.

The bay at down town Ceduna- and yet another long pier. We will miss WA. A big diverse state with no road tolls and you can drive 130km p/h - not that it helped us. We will return.

Onto Adelaide.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Day 70-71 Wave Rock, Lucky Bay, Esperance WA

During the four hour trip west of Perth to Wave Rock and afterwards to Esperance, you drive through the amazing wheat belt of south east of WA. Expansive landscapes and a great way to show the kids where bread comes from.
Silo at Ravensthorpe. Hear the wheat sway in the breeze near Lake King, south west of Wave Rock.

Welcome sign on right at Kondinin before Wave Rock.

Wave Rock is just at the back of the only caravan park in town, so its an easy one minute walk to see this amazing granite formation.

Could not help ourselves to the obvious analogy

It was pretty hot at Wave Rock however it was the flies that were in abundance and driving people crazy. Mandy wore her fly net, thanks to her sister Judy, while the others jumped into the pool to escape. In the morning we had flies on toast, the kids ate breakfast in the car and we left as fast as we could.

We didn't use the camp kitchen- listen to the video above to find out why.

We then drove to Cape Le Grand NP via Esperance and camped at Lucky Bay. This is a beautiful place. We loved the Kangaroos jumping on the beach and into our camp site. Amazing azure blue ocean and rocky outcrops. It was named by Matthew Flinders when he was circumnavigating Australia in 1802.

We wished we had stayed longer to do more walks. The camp ground is being renovated and we can highly recommend this place for a quiet stop. No power but has basic amenities.

Walking down to a neighbouring bay called 'Hellfire' 

L-R View of Lucky Bay from camp and Frenchman's Peak

We drove along the west coast of Esperance to check out the surf breaks for Jack. No surfing today but beautiful beaches with azure blue waters again- magic.

Next- the Nullarbor!