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Beginning of a Great Adventure On the road for a year with Nik, Dunc, Maeve (6) and Ella (4): 8 months in Oz with 4wd and Campertrailer, 6 weeks in NZ and 3 months in Asia.

Pert to Broome June 4th 08 to July 13th

NETHERLANDS | Sunday, 13 July 2008 | Views [914] | Comments [7]

Perth to Broome
June 4th 08 to July 13th 08
What a month! So much seen and done its hard to know where to begin but  i'll try...Perhaps the moment of greatest panic was before we even left.... arriving at Schipol to find that i had forgotten BOTH laptops, and cursing my stupidity but thankful that for the first time in my life i arrived at least 3 hours before take off, thus giving me enough time to grab a taxi back home and still get back in time...moments of pure panic and enormous relief! The other hickup was my acoustic guitar did not make it through the luggage transfer within heathrow's new terminal, so did'nt arrive with us! She came through a week later, thank god!
We picked up “Rosie”- as in “whole lotta Rosie”, our 94 series 80 landcruiser and everything was fine with her, and then “Reg”, our super duper camper trailer. We spent almost a week in a caravan park in Perth, during which time we experienced a major windstorm, which Reg handled with ease...that was very reassuring. Felt like if he could take that, he coud take pretty much anything. The wind howled and the rain lashed down, tree branches broke around us, but we were snug and dry all night. The camper is super cosy: the girls have a little bunkbed that fits up one end and Nik and i have a kingsize bed that is permanently placed over the trailer...we quickly got into a very simple routine: early to rise and early to sleep, and we all found ourselves sleeping 12 hours a night, so were quickly recharged after the long flight, and we all felt great. Bed time feels like we are living the closing scene of the Waltons:)
The 4 wheel drive course was fantastic, and really opened our eyes to what Rosie could do. It was also good to hear the trainer praise the reliability and strength of the series 80 landcruisers, and we certainly put her through her paces...on one of the tracks, we were the only car to make it through without getting bogged down...there were some brand new toyota's and nissan's there too, but only Rosie managed to get through; i think in low 1st, it would take a lot to stop this girl...those days of research had been well spent. 
We had almost zero time actually in downtown  Perth, and thus have very little impression of the city apart from the fact that it aint much of a cbd, it seems very spread out, and was expensive! The mining boom has impacted on everything in WA, and a cup of coffee and a sandwich were certainly more than you'd pay in Amsterdam. Milk, cheese, wine, some fruit and veg were all more costly than back in Adam, not to mention property! Half a million buys almost nothing from what i saw in a couple of real estate agents windows, and this story has been the same the whole way up the coast! Thankgod meat is insanely cheap,and petrol, though crising sharply in cost, and considered by all aussies as being insanely expensive, is still half the cost as in Europe.
We left Perth on the 10th- Quntas finally delivered the guitar and we headed up the coast. Our first overnight stop was a little town called Gilderton, a couple of hours outside Perth that had been recommended to us. We stayed in an almost emty caravn park where the river opened into the ocean: it was a beautiful little place, and we speant 2 nights there before heading off to Geraldton. 
We had been recomended a book (Camps 4) by at least half a dozen people in Perth that lists all the free and low cost camp areas including national parks and farm and station stays, which we bought and it has been a great tool. As you drive along the major highways of Oz, every couple of hundred k's, there are rest areas set up for overnight stays. Some have bbq sites, gas and/or wood fired, toilets, picnic tables....some have nothing, and the book lists them all and what they have.  We stayed in our first one on the way to Geraldton, and it was lovely. It was the first time we could light a fire (prohiobited in all caravan parks) and it was magical to sit under the stars around the campfire playing guitar, having a glass of red,  the kids tucked away in bed. It was a  good 3 or 4 hundred meters off the highway down a gravel road, so not too noisy and by 6 pm, there was at least half a dozen caravans and campers pulled in, set up in the large space available, so it was not cramped at all. Most of these were “Grey Nomads”: retired Australians, who travel, some perpetually, round the country, and there are thousands of them out on the roads of Australia. They particularly like the free sites, not just because they are free, but because most caravan parks and all national parks do not allow dogs, which many of them have. Often they travel in in small convoys, or constantly run into people they know as they move around and we have met some lovely people in them, who also have been great sources of info. Unfortunately, There's also a hell of lot of aussie flag waving types- geez i hate the aussie flag-all i see is the bloody union jack, just soooo past its use by date- got to be time for a new one- who quickly get onto thinly and not so thinly veiled racist/xenophobic views....just the sort of bastards who kept Johnny bloody Howard in power for so long...they also seem to think they are the only ones who "deserve" to be travelling round oz.....i've found out telling them i have retired seems to piss them off, so that what i tell them:)
We spent a couple of days in a caravan park outside Geraldton, and had our first day on the beach, which was lovely. Our time in “the towns” is focussed on stocking up the fridge and dry foods: it always seems to take ages, and after doing that, we never have any desire to sit inside or the kids are driving us nuts to get to the campsite or beach, which is why our internet activities have been very limited. And though of course we realised it before we left, the distances in WA between towns are vast...road signs warning that the next petrol station is 260 kms away, and all there is there is a roadhouse, with another 300ks to the next town...we've done 5000km's already! 
Two definite highlights have been Cape Range national park, which is near Exmouth, and from  where you access the Ningaloo reef,and Karijini National Park, in the heart of the Pilbarra region with its ancient red,red rocks and surreal gorges.
Our campsite in Cape range overlooked a beautiful beach and the sunsets each evening were simply magical. Unlike the great barrier reef, the Ningaloo reef sits between 50 and 200 meters off the coast and is about 200 kms in length. Within the national park there are about 5 or 6 campsites, each with about 8-10 spots, so there is really hardly anyone there: it is a pristine environment, and super basic camping: all supplies, including water you need to carry in yourself, and only a drop toilet is provided. Our shower is a black bag that holds 20 liters of water that you lie on the ground in the morning then hanng from a tree in the afternoon by which time the water is lovely and warm- simple but effective! The whole sea area is protected and the sea life have never really had any humans to be scared of, and with the reef just off the coast, the walk-in snorkelling is simply amazing....turtles, lobsters, 6 foot reef sharks, fantastic coloured coral, and fish abound, and dont bat an eyelid when you swim amongst them and all one has to do is walk into the water. Definitely a place i would love top go back to, and the way it is managed, one can imagine it wont be ruined by development, so hopefully will always be the wild and wonderful place it is now.
Karijini is 500 plus kms inland, in the red, iron ore infested Pilbarra region. BHP and Rio Tinto have huge operations in Tom Price and Newman, but thank god the mining cpompanies have been kept out of Karijini so far. At 500,000 square hectares, its a big park, and the view driving through is dominated by the ancient rocks and rolls of the Hammersly range, and exposed rock here is dated at 3500 million years old, which is some of the oldest in the world, and makes the alps or rockies new born babies in comparison. You can feel it too: it just resonates with this ancient feeling, and is really quite amazing but its real jewels are in the gorges and water holes that are “hidden” thoughout the park. We had some great walks down rocky paths through the ancient layered red rocks to pristine waterfalls and swimming holes. It was just so wonderful to sit and have lunch, then swim with the girls, the water absolutely sparkling clean. Some of the gorges were just to difficult to reach with the girls, so this is also a place i would definitely like to return to with them when they are older.
I'll wrap it up for now....i've been doing the laundry in the caravan park while i've been writing this, and it's now all done and time to get down to beautiful cable beach....sure its touristy, but it still is one hell of a beautiful beach, and it is kind of nice to be back in civilsation for a few days. We will be leaving here on Tuesday to head 250kms up a 4 wheel drive road to Cape Leveque....we will be staying at aplace called Koojiman Resort  which sounds fantastic, and we will spend a week there....hopefully i will update you all when we are back from there before heading onto the Gibb river road and into the heart of the kimberlys. Maeve and Ella are in great form, and there english is getting better by the day....Maeve could chat for australia if it was an olympic sport-wonder where she gets that from:), and will start rabbiting on, especially to any older “grandparent” types any chance she gets. Nik and i are doing great, and with the 12 hour sleeps and the simple meals and physical activity, and almost no booze, i've already lost a couple of kilos and i feel super good! 
Till next update, peace, love happiness to all, and as the aboriginal sign in karijini said, respect the earth and the earth will respect you.
Dunc, Nik Maeve and Ella.

Tags: cape range, karijini, ningaloo, perth



Great read Dunc, all our love to you all

  Patrick Phillips Jul 14, 2008 6:36 PM


Sounds nothing short of fantastic. I envy you guys a lot, and I am very happy for all of you. Keep the novels coming, great reading! Today is my first vacation (3-weeks...) So I am getting there too.
Say hi to the family and enjoy (sounds like you are..) Every minute of your journey.

  Joalkim Jul 14, 2008 9:34 PM


Hi Dunc and everyone. It sounds just fantastic. What happened to the earlier pics? I was just going to show Alex the photos of everyone and they are gone. Em and Pops had a look and were just amazed at how grown up the girls are. It's freaky but Maeve looks very much like Alex at the same age.

love to everyone

  Helen Jul 15, 2008 3:46 AM


What a read! Not sure I will read the next one though... it starts an itch hardly bearable here in the grey city of Amsterdam ;) Keep up the good fun and great reports, chrs rich

  Rich Jul 15, 2008 7:34 PM


Hoi Dunc en Veronique en kids,

Mooi verhaal om te lezen. Lees dat jullie enorm genieten en daar gaat het om. Fijn dat de kids zo op hun plaats zijn. Foto's maken jaloers, regent hier pijpestelen en doet dat al een paar weken. Zelf net met de kids 2 weken in de ardennen gezeten.
Zie graag uit naar het vervolg van het verhaal.
p.s. raak wel uit shape zo zonder squash, moet maar gaan hardlopen of zo.


  jurjen Jul 18, 2008 4:22 AM


Hi to you all,

Sounds like you're having a great time down under!!! Hope all is continuing as well as things started. Look forward to the next update....

Take care, enjoy, and struth Ruth, throw another steak on the barbie will ya ;- ))


  Tim Jul 31, 2008 12:45 AM


Keep up the journal Duncan we all enjoyed reading it. I hope that you, Veronique and the kids are all well.

  Alister Aug 12, 2008 3:39 PM

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