Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | February 19, 2013

FOR SALE: Off Road 4WD Camper Trailer

After much indecision and reluctance to part with her we have decided that it’s time to sell the camper.  With our new adventures well under way we are just not making the most of the camper any longer and it’s time she went on her merry way to take another family on some incredible journeys.  If you or anybody you know is interested in coming to take a look (we’re in Wamuran, QLD) or have any questions please let us know.  You can call Ben on 0431011887 or post a comment here for us to contact you.  Pass the word along!

Off Road 4WD Camper Trailer

Bulloak Outback Explorer

$13,000 ono

Top of the line completely Australian made 2008 model. 12ft off side tent with 18ft Annex including all walls and 9ft add on Kids Room. See photos for examples.

If you are looking for the toughest camper to take off-road and see some of this wonderful country, then this is the camper for you. We spent 12 months living in this camper with our three children in 2011 and there is not one thing that we would change about it. It’s tough and has all of the features that a camper trailer needs to make your camping easy and enjoyable. The specs of the trailer are all of the highest quality and listed below. If you are reading this blog you know what adventures you could get up to by owning her! We’ve had our fun, now it’s time for another family to do the same.

Packed and ready to goWith annex and kids room up. Annex walls not on.DSC_0128 (2) (850x1280)Easy to take a quick lunch stopInside main tent - our set up for three childrenBasic set-up with annex onlyFull setup for a longer stay - Annex with walls and kids roomWithstanding torrential rain

This trailer is not new – it’s been tried and tested in the harshest conditions that Australia could throw at it and has proved itself beyond a doubt.

All canvas is Australian made 15oz heavy duty and totally waterproof – see the photo of the tent withstanding some of the rain in early 2011. We have sat in campgrounds and watched every camper around us putting up tarps and we didn’t need to do a thing. All windows are midge screened and have zipped canvas covers. Heavy duty PVC floor in main tent and kids room.

* Fully galv and dipped body (has never and will never rust)
* Heavy duty steel throughout
* Raised 50mm Body for clearance
* 10 leaf military Rebound springs and shock absorbers.
* 33″ Mickey Thompson ATZ’s on 16×8″ ROH Alloy Rims
* 10″ Electric Off Road Brakes
* TREG hitch
* Swing up jockey wheel and extra removable jockey wheel for additional stability
* Trailer stabilisers
* 110lire water tanks (2x 55lt) with electric water pump over kitchen sink and second hand-pump tap accessible when trailer is packed away.
* 2x120AGM Deep Cycle Batteries (we never needed to plug in for 12 months!!)
* Redarc DC to DC charger to boost charging performance
* 120watt Solar Panels
* Wired with both 12V & 240V outlets
* True Charge 20i 3 stage battery charger
* 1200w Pure Sinewave inverter
* Anderson plug to facilitate charging from vehicle
* 4 x Jerry can holders
* Stone guard and spare tyre cover (cover not shown in photos)
* Heavy duty checker-plate lockable tool box on drawbar
* 3 large lockable storage compartments (plus battery cupboard) all accessible when the trailer is open or closed
* Queen size bed with inner sprung mattress
* Led lighting strips inside tent
* Rear slide out full stainless steel kitchen with under sink storage
* Two burner gastop and grill with more storage underneath
* 2 x 4kg gas bottles in holders
* Slide out pantry cupboard with a huge amount of storage
* Slide out space suitable for a MTF-C 60 ENGLE Fridge/Freezer
* Shallow slide out drawer to keep all those often-used things easily within reach, can also be accessed from inside the tent by lifting the bed (on gas struts)
* Overhead 12v kitchen lighting
* Car grade rubber seals around all cupboards and tailgate for complete dust and water proofing
* Zipped heavy duty PVC trailer cover for dust and water proofing
* Poles, pegs and ropes included
* Step ladder to access bed included

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | May 1, 2012

The Book

It’s been a while, but yes, I am still busy tapping away on the computer – I have just been concentrating on a different project for a while.  In response to overwhelming encouragement by you to my blog entries I have written a book that showcases the top 10 destinations of our year away. The Big Loop. It was a difficult task whittling the list down to the top 10, but I had a great time looking back over the thousands of photos we had taken, remembering the places we’d been.  I hope that you too will enjoy my images and facts of this great country.

Click to preview book

If you are interested in purchasing the book I have a few copies here at a reduced price (just a few for the first in) or you can purchase directly from the Blurb website at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3138855.  Just email me or post a comment if you would like one of the copies that I have.

I hope you are all enjoying life coming into winter and to those of you still out on the road… lucky buggars! Incidently, this time last year we were in Charters Towers panning for gold!

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | February 12, 2012

Number crunching and reflection

We’ve been under our solid roof for a month now with all of the boxes unpacked, the children off to school and Ben having a shock sudden start to work last Thursday. We’ve hauled the camper out again and have given it a spring clean before being packed away for who knows how long – this rain has to stop before I’ll feel like camping again anytime soon.

So, I thought it was time to look back on the year, the things we “missed” by being out of the loop with news, what the highlights were for each of us and the statistics of our journey – did we meet budget (I’m very doubtful), how many times did we do this, that and the other – you know me… the girl can leave the accounting, but the accounting never leaves the girl!

2011 was certainly a memorable year for the five of us, we had all made a lot of sacrifices in the couple of years leading up to leaving so that we could save enough to go. Although the children found the sacrifices hard at times we’re trying to remind them (whenever the opportunity arises) that we all worked to make our trip happen and that they can make amazing things happen again if they put their minds to it and work towards a goal.  Lets hope the lesson makes an impact and that they don’t just remember how they missed out on new toys and a skiing holiday because we were saving!

2011 was a very memorable year for the rest of Australia (and the world) for a whole host of different reasons too.  It was the year that began with devastating flooding through Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and before Queensland could catch their breath Cyclone Yasi struck. Still in the region Mother Nature continued her fury when the massive Christchurch earthquake struck in February (with after shocks still continuing now, 18 months on from the first quake in September 2010) and then of course the Japanese Tsunami.  Further afield there was Hurricane Irene in the Caribbean, flooding in Brazil, fires in Texas and the Chilean volcano.  With this type of news I was very glad we were far from television screens so we were not able to witness what must have been sickening scenes.

Indi's new bike - reward for the two wheeled demon!The TV and the usual July late nights were sadly missed though when Cadel Evans won the Tour de France and it was brilliant that he timed his win for the day that Indianna mastered riding her bike on two wheels! Other great sporting moments that I wouldn’t have minded catching were Sally Pearson winning the International Athlete of the Year alongside Usain Bolt and Sam Stosur winning the US Open.  But of course we saw the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup, thanks to a mad dash down the west coast of WA to get to Perth by the middle of October.

We also missed Wills and Kate tie the knot in the Royal Wedding, although I’m sure I would have tired of hearing about that if we’d been in civilisation. As it was we were far from civilisation, camped just out of Winton in central Queensland trying to dig our first bush toilet in ground that was as hard as rock – very un-royal indeed!

The world lost a few famous faces in 2011, most noticeably for me were Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse and Elizabeth Taylor. There was news that we felt a million miles removed from such as Osama bin Laden being killed by US troops, Gaddafi’s death at the hands of rebel soldiers, riots in London and the News of the World collapse.  Then there was news that felt very close to us like the discovery of Daniel Morcombe’s remains, an event which feels even closer to our hearts now that we live less than an hour from where Daniel went missing and Jake is now not much younger than Daniel was when he disappeared.

The Aussie dollar soared at stuck at highs not seen since the early 1980’s, the Carbon Tax became a reality – whatever that will actually mean personally and most brilliantly for us maintaining a mortgage, interest rates started to drop… may they continue to do so!

So we missed a few of the world events in 2011. What is it that we will remember most about the year?  There were so many memorable places and times, but if I was forced to choose a top memory, aside from the fairly obvious time with family – Lightning Ridgeand the highs and lows that go with that! – I’d have to say that the north of the country was by far the most amazing, those remote places that have two distinct seasons and change so much every six months. The areas of Cape York, Kakadu and the Kimberleys are icons of Australia for a reason, being there forces you to think about the land. Especially when living under canvas you are at the mercy of Mother Nature and as you learn about the environment in these regions you have such a better understanding and feeling for it.  My number one place which everyone must go to would have to be Kakadu, I say that because much of Kakadu is so accessible to everyone or you can really get away from the beaten track. Sixteen years ago Ben and I hired a little two-wheel drive car from Darwin and camped in a tent off a sealed road and this time we camped along 4WD tracks and motored up the croc-infested rivers in our new dinghy – both times were amazing.  I will also never forget seeing the crocodiles surfing the incoming tide at Cahills Croassing with their mouths wide open hoping to catch dinner – just incredible. You feel an attachment to the land and the indigenous people in Kakadu that is unexpected.

Ubirr, Kakadu NPPlucking magpie geese on the Animal Tracks SafariCrocodile swimming near the dinghyNature's infinity pool, Gunlom Falls

Ben Malpass - 40 years old, or is that Broome is 40 kms away?Ben says that there was no favourite spot for him, that he loved being with the family and that each day was an adventure to see something else new.  He loved Tassie, the east coast, Cape York, Uluru, Ningaloo Reef, Karijini, fishing along the south coast…the list goes on.  He loved meeting so many different types of people that he just would not have had the chance to meet in his usual life, some of those people will remain life-long friends and some of those people he’s happy not to have to meet again!  Most of all he liked wearing his thongs rather than his suit.  Personally I think Ben spent his 40th year loving putting the Landrover though it’s paces and was thrilled when she stepped up to the mark!

DSC_0567DSC_0449

When I asked the children what their favourite thing was about our holiday here’s what they had to say: Jake said “I enjoyed spending time together with the family and learning about Australia and going to new places and going to places I would never have been able to go if I hadn’t been camping.  My favourite place was definitely the 4WDing on the OTL in Cape York because it was heaps of fun and at every stop there was something different.  It wasn’t just a boring road trip and every day was like going to a theme park.”

Cape York, OTLOvernight Hike, Piccaninny Gorge, Purnululu, WAManning Gorge, The KimberleysSpider Walk in Hancock Gorge, Karijini NP, WANatural rock slides at Big Crystal Creek, Nth of Townsville, QLD

Indianna said “My favourite spot was Tasmania because we got to see Tasmanian Devils and being in Perth with my cousin Anastasia and I loved it when Nanna was travelling with us.”  Personally I think she liked Tasmania so much because it’s where she met her future husband, Joshi!

Tasmanian DevilsIndi and JoshiDSC_0375Fraser IslandCape le Grand NP, Southern WA

Tobey said “My favourite spots were Cape York, Fraser Island and Perth. Cape York because I liked travelling with a whole big group and swimming in the creeks. Fraser Island because it was good fishing and Perth because we got to see Uncle Tony.”  I have to be honest, I am surprised that the theme parks at the Gold Coast didn’t rate in Tobey’s top memories – they have been on the top of his list almost every time anyone asks, I’m pleased!

The Top, with our travelling buddiesFraser Island fishingUncle Tony's mowerUncle Tony's go-cart

We ended up being away in our canvas home for a grand total of 340 nights, Ben and I slept all except three of those nights in the camper (thanks to family) and the children did about two weeks less than us (at my brother’s in Perth where Ben and I slept in the camper and they slept inside).

340 nights away and we set up camp 153 times!  Although we’d got pretty good at the set up and pack up by the end, taking us around half and hour or so either side, it’s still 153 times we unzipped and hammered in pegs!  That’s one thing I will not miss too much.

Very wet home, Geehi, NSWDSC_0062 (4)

We most commonly spent two nights at a stop (41% of our stays were for two nights) with the quick one-nighter coming a close second (33% of the stays) and three night stays at 14%.  Our longest stop was in Perth for 15 nights and we had a handful of 6-8 night stays.

Middle Creek Campground, Mt Buangor State Park, VICWe plugged into power for 68 of the 340 nights (20%), most of those plug-ins were because there were no unpowered accommodation options available, the remainder of our power needs were amply provided for by solar and charging from the car when in transit.

The most surprising numbers to me are the toilet stats. We had 238 nights (70%) where we had access to a flushing toilet (although let me tell you there are many different standards in flushing toilets), which means only 81 nights (24%) where we used a pit toilet and 21 nights (6%) where we had to dig a hole.  Had you asked me what I thought the number of flushing toilet nights were I would most definitely have picked a number nearer to 50%!  So, 21 nights where we had to dig a hole and I reckon Free camping on the banks of the Fitzroy River, WAat every single one of those stops all three children had to do a ‘number 2’ within minutes of the car stopping.

Now to the bottom line. Our budget for the year was $1,000 a week, this was our savings target (and a little extra for safety) in the period leading up to our departure last year.  Over the 48.5 weeks we were away we averaged… drum roll please… $1,250 per week.  So we were over budget (as I suspected), but not horrendously and well within the safety zone that we’d saved for.  This total includes $2,300 on the “big ticket” events like snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef (twice!), the most brilliant Animal Tracks Safari in Kakadu and a helicopter flight at Mitchell Falls, it also includes all of the car servicing (three times) and a new set of tyres because we’d not have had those expenses if we weren’t travelling, but it doesn’t include registration or insurance because we would have had those expenses anyway – if you follow my logic there I’ve applied that to a few other things as well.

Animal Tracks Safari, KakaduHelicopter Flight, Mitchell FallsStinger suits, WhitsundaysQuicksilver snorkel cruise, Port Douglas

The big costs come as no surprise – food accounted for a third of our expenses (just over $20,000) and fuel was around 20% ($13,000). Diesel pump in SeisaThe cheapest fuel we bought was $1.36/litre in Canberra at our second fill-up in February and it went down-hill from there – the most we paid for diesel was $2.24 per litre in Seisa on the Cape York Peninsula in June.

We had budgeted an average of $20 per night for accommodation and came very close to the mark there, on average we spent $22 per night.  We had 86 nights where we had no accommodation costs, 17 of those thanks to family and the remainder at free camps.  The most expensive accommodation was at Ashley Garden’s Big 4 in Melbourne, this park is fairly convenient for a stay after the ferry ride from Tasmania, but at $70.20 for the night it is a total rip off.  The next most expensive accommodation was at the Whitsunday Adventure Big 4 in Airlie Beach, but the $68 per night charge here was well worth it with loads of brilliant things for the kids to do – this was our resort holiday for the year!

So that’s about it for the round-up of our year, we have around 9,000 photos to remember our journey by, so hopefully the memories will not fade too soon.

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | January 6, 2012

Could this be The End?

I have been putting off writing this post, with our journey coming to an end and Heading homehaving so many “last” things over the past few weeks I suppose I’m delaying the inevitable. We made our way from Adelaide along the Barrier Highway in two big driving days hoping to head to Yamba via Bourke, but with flood waters still blocking the roads around Bourke we took the more southerly route through Tamworth. Our journey really started to feel it was coming to an end as we drove the 95kms The Golden Guitarfrom Gilgandra to Coonabarabran – this was the official ‘closing of the loop’ as we had driven this road earlier in the year.

Our stay in Tamworth coincided with their Carols by Candlelight evening so we enjoyed some quality singing by the town choir, unlike the not-so-quality singing of the Quorn carol singers.  Of course we made the obligatory stop outside the Big Golden Guitar, but other than that we did a fair amount of relaxing and a bit of swimming – just like everyone else having their holidays now.

Ebor FallsWe made it to our Christmas destination of Yamba on the 20th December after driving past Chaelundi National Park – some of you may recall our drama here two years ago – and the weather conditions were very similar, with recent rain and likely a very slippery road, needless to say we weren’t game to give it another go in those conditions.

So to Yamba… well really Palmers Island, a little out of Yamba on the Clarence River.  It’s a brilliant spot here, away from the more crowded township of Yamba, but still close enough for a bit of retail therapy if you like.  We canoed on the river, Ben fished, we swam, the kids bounced on the jumping pillow, gave the water slides a good workout, stalked the wildlife, watched movies and made some more friends.

Salty's Cove, Yamba SaltwaterMy eyes are bigger than yours!

It wouldn’t be a Malpass post recently without a birthday and we had two over the week of Christmas. Ben clicked over another year on the 21st and I entered a new decade on the 27th. They were both pretty low-key events (disgracefully both without birthday cakes!) and I was so fortunate to have my birthday fall on pack-up day from Yamba – now that’s a way to spend your 40th birthday – packing up camp and driving 400-odd-kms!

Ben's birthdayBirthday lunch at KingscliffWhile in Yamba Indianna decided she’d go ahead with getting her ears pierced after talking about it for so long. What a fiasco! I none-too-wisely did not heed the advice of a neighbour who Pretty little earringsrecommended we find somewhere who pierces both ears at the same time. She said we may come home with only one ear pierced… and we did! After preparing Indi to expect a little pain the ear-piercing lady pierced ONE ear without the help of any numbing agent and the whole shopping centre heard all about it.  Our The biggest lollipop for our brave girlpoor little girl got one heck of a fright and immediately clamped her hands over the un-pierced ear and used the full force of her lungs to let us know that there was no way we were going to get to that ear anytime soon. After about 15 minutes of trying to calm her down and get the second ear done I gave in and left with the offer from mad-ear-piercing-lady to come back tomorrow if we could. We did the best we could to persuade Indi to go back the following day (read: begged, bribed and pleaded!) and to her immense credit she returned to the scene of the crime, this time we’d plastered her ear with every type of numbing cream we had in the first-aid kit and she made it through with hardly a peep – the worst part was the waiting in the chair. Ahh, the things women will do for fashion… an early life lesson!Santa found us!

I have loved not being involved in the lead-up to Christmas this year, we managed to mostly avoided the over-commercialisation of December which was fantastic. I did have one mad afternoon in Grafton doing ALL of the Christmas shopping in a few hours, but we have vowed to do everything we can to miss the mayhem as much as possible in years to come.  That said, and although we have spent several Christmas’s by ourselves in the past, this one did feel a tiny bit of a non-event.  Once the present unwrapping was done and aside from the lavish lunch, Christmas day was much like any of the days of the past 11 months – maybe we’re really missing our family and friends or maybe that’s just saying something about how special our last 11 months have been.

849 pages... should keep him busy for a few daysAs close to real as we can manage at the momentThe longest Toblerone in the world... good ole Santa!Tent all ChristmasseyChristmas lunch

 

From Yamba we Indianna with a yet-to-be-named bundle of fluffmade our way to Woodford (north west of Brisbane) to stay on a property which belongs to the parents of some friends we have met travelling. Marion and Chris happened to be home for Christmas as well, so it was good to catch up with them again.  We were able to get a sense of what living on a little farm felt like too and we all agreed that this is what we want to do! Crunch time had come for us, we had thought this was the general area that we want to settle in, but had not really had a good look around when we passed through here in April.  To help us make a decision we spent three days driving around trying to get a better feel for the area and deciding on exactly where we’d like to live.  Our timing was not great with real estate agents being closed during Xmas and there being very little availability of rental properties in the area, but after an anxious four day wait we have a house to live in.

Cruising on the damWith Marion and Chris again

Four days to fill in on the Sunshine Coast… now there’s a dilemma!  There is so much to do around here and we have some friends and family close by too.  My cousin Lisa and her family are half an hour away and the boys have already had a sleepover there.  You’ll never guess who we bumped into in the aisle at Woolies… Wendy Cullen, so our reunion with our Tassie mates came sooner than expected – on New Years Eve – everyone was SO excited, the kids picked up their friendships of 10 months ago and I am sure there will be a whole lot of Cullen/Malpass fun in the future. There are still a few other people we are yet to catch up with, but all in good time.

Hanging out at the Cullen'sLittle buddies together againLook who I found at the supermarket!

Wednesday the 4th of January officially marked the end of our journey as we moved into solid-roofed accommodation, albeit with only our camping gear at this stage. As I struggle to finish the last post of our fabulous year we are preparing to make a mad dash to Sydney to collect some belongings (including Millie the cat!) and to catch up with as many of our friends there as possible.

Our new homeCamping when you're not camping

I want to thank you all for being part of our journey, the idea for this blog started as a way of recording the trip for ourselves, but knowing there are others out there reading my blog made me more conscious of ensuring I carried on with the job when there were times I’d rather not.  On the whole I have really enjoyed getting our story down in words and pictures and it makes it all the more satisfying with your comments coming through whenever I post.  I hope our journey has inspired some of you to get out and see a little more of this (or your own) magnificent country, or maybe to set about doing something out of your normal life – we know that you will truly love it.  We still have a lot of changes ahead this year, first things first though with starting new schools and jobs, but with our eye firmly on buying a small farm before too long.  Hopefully we will have lots of visitors, there is loads of room here and I know of a great camper trailer that we can set up for extra beds!

So for us, now – perhaps this is not The End, but just a new beginning.

Last night of camping - Yandina

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | December 15, 2011

The Big Tow

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Now I know this doesn’t look good at all, but it’s not nearly as bad as it seems!  The Disco started having a hissy fit with unknown error codes on the computer as we came out of the Flinders Ranges, we had a few options and mostly because we were covered by Landrover Roadside Assist and party because we thought it would be a different kind of adventure for the kids we decided to get a lift from Quorn to Adelaide on a flat bed, not a small distance you realise – it’s some 350kms down the road.  After four hours riding in the tow truck we all appreciated how spoilt we’ve been with the smooth ride of the Disco over the last 45,000km – that tow truck sure did bump down the road.

But I’ve digressed, before the excitement of ‘The Big Tow’ we spent aTrezona Campground, Brachina Gorge wonderful few days in the Flinders Ranges. We headed to Wilpena Pound thinking we’d camp there but discovered that the campground and resort at Wilpena are privately owned and the South Australia National Parks passTrezona Red River Gum that we have ($65 for all the camping and National Park entries you can do for two months) was not valid there. We decided to head up to the national park to camp at the Trezona Campground in Brachina Gorge. The campgrounds all through the national park were almost deserted, we stayed at Trezona for three nights and barely saw anyone.  Campers in general have been getting fewer over the last couple of weeks, I guess as people head home to spend Christmas with their families.

We are certainly in rural South Australia now, as evidenced by the huge number of rabbits around the place, there was a massive warren in the bank opposite our campsite at Trezona and the kids were fascinated with watching their activities.

Cooking pancakes, Trezona campgroundLooking for Rabbits, Trezona Campground

We had a little taste of the wet weather the east coast is having on our first day in the Flinders, although in all honesty it barely wet the ground.  We opted for a drive through Brachina Gorge and up to the Aroona Homestead ruins rather than any hiking that day though. The road through Brachina Gorge winds over the Brachina Creek in various spots although all bar a couple were completely dry, the same couldn’t be said to the roads though – the small amount of rain that had fallen made the roads very sticky, the car’s mudguards were plastered with mud and our shoes felt a few inches higher when we stepped out of the door of the car.

"Slippery Dip" in Brachina GorgeBrachina Gorge

The ruins at Aroona were worth the visit, you can quickly climb the hill behind the old homestead to Ben looking down Aroona Valley between the ABC and Heysen Rangesget a great view down Aroona valley between the Heysen and ABC ranges and if you continue on the trail there’s an 8km loop weaving through the ABC Range, but I couldn’t find the enthusiasm in the Malpass crew to do that with the possibility of rain – funny that. There are a lot of emus all around this area, some who hang around if you get near them. Indianna was a little too friendly Mr Angry Emuon the day of our Aroona ruins visit and the emu arched his neck and started stomping his feet at her – you have never seen a little girl run so fast and scream so loudly, I’m not sure who ended up getting the bigger fright – Indi or the emu.

The birthday celebrations continued in the camper with Jake turning 11 while we were at Trezona.  Unfortunately his birthday gift of new scooter bits and pieces couldn’t be put to the test here – there’s a distinct lack of skate parks in Flinders Ranges!  So we opted for a 7km hike instead – as you can imagine Jake was not all that impressed by this birthday option.

Birthday boy - 11 todayJake's birthday

We climbed up Mount Ohlssen Bagge to the rim of Wilpena Pound for Jake’s birthday, it was a pretty steep climb up and with still 1.5kms to go to the top Ben and I were wondering if everyone was going to make it… but we did.  It’s been a while since we’ve done any walks and I think we were all a little out of practice!

Birthday boy starting out the Mount Ohlssen Bagge ClimbOur destination - Mount Ohlssen Bagge in the backgroundClimbing Mount Ohlssen BaggeAt the top!We made it!Indi catching a lift up the steep partsTobey dragging the chain on the walkhome through the Red River Gums

Wilpena Pound is a massive natural amphitheatre of mountains in the southern part of the Flinders Ranges National Park.  From the top it looks like it could have been formed from a giant meteorite falling to earth, but apparently not, it was formed from folding land masses a few hundred million years ago. The mountains that encircle the ‘pound’ reach as high as 1170m (St Mary Peak), Mount Ohlssen Bagge, which we climbed is 923m high and is obviously a great place for mountain goats to hang out.  We saw a herd of feral goats on the mountain side as we hiked up and they’d moved their hang-out as we descended. Along with the goats there were a lot of lizards sunning themselves on the climb and when we made it to the top Tobey spotted a racing lizard! A lizard with the number 74 marked on his back in white paint, obviously part of some sort of research or monitoring program, but the people at the Information desk in Wilpena were not all that helpful in telling us exactly what it was about.

Kids overlooking Wilpena Pound from the top of Mount Ohlssen BaggeFeral goats on Mount Ohlssen BaggeDSC_0106

We had another wildlife treat in the carpark at Wilpena where Old Man Emu was supervising his babies having a drink and a bath.  It was very cute. Daddy and baby emus bathingThere is so much more to do in the Flinders Ranges area that we just have no time for now, we’ll certainly have to return here again one day.  One thing we had rally wanted to do  was the “Skytrek” on Willow Springs station.  This is a 4WD trek around the station taking about a day, but includes driving to the highest point you can drive to in SA.  With the recent rain and our shortening timeframe it’s something that we’ll have to leave until next time.  We left our campsite at Trezona and headed north to the little town of Blinman.  Blinman was established as a copper mining town in the mid 1800’s and today you can take a tour through one of the old underground mines.

Feral AntipastoWe carried on through to Parachilna on the main road north in search of a birthday lunch for Jake of a different kind. The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna specialises in ‘feral food’, with goat, camel, kangaroo and emu on the menu as well as a whole load of other bush influenced food such as rosella flowers, quandong, lemon myrtle and saltbush.  The menu certainly has a sophisticated feel to it though with the likes of Red Goat Curry, Chunky Kangaroo Tail Soup with warm ciabatta and Quandong Crumble Pie with cream and quandong coulis.  We opted for the Feral Antipasto which included red gum smoked kangaroo and camel, roo mettwurst, emu pate, goats cheese, chargrilled vegetables with bush tomato chilli jam and warm ciabatta.  You wouldn’t even know the meats were ‘feral’ unless you were told. It was all quickly gobbled up with requests for more.  The hotel itself is a plush haven in the middle of nowhere with the interior having been revamped recently and displaying some beautiful modern indigenous art. Obviously not having a huge local clientele the hotel organises all sorts of special events which look like they’d be well worth making the effort to get to.

About to eat lunchPrarie Hotel, ParachilnaGet some feral on your plate!Our drive from Parachilna into Quorn was where our car started playing up so we decided to make an unscheduled stop in Quorn. Our stay in Quorn coincided with the Quorn Christmas Carols – hmmmm, that was an unusual event which seemed to be largely a vehicle for the lead singer of the town choir to order everyone around in front of a captive audience.  As she continued to screech away we decided to cut our festivities short, but could unfortunately still hear her wails from the caravan park across the town!  So much for the early night to wait for the tow truck.

Jake with Quorn's SantaTobey with Quorn's SantaIndianna with Quorn's Santa

So, the car has had a holiday at the Landrover dealer and we have had a holiday at the biggest caravan park we have ever seen (Adelaide Shores Big4) all thanks to the very worth-while extended warranty that we purchased a year ago.  Thanks Allianz! Now we’re back on the road again trying to make it from Adelaide to Yamba for our Christmas booking.  As we make our way towards rural NSW there’s a feeling of deja vu with flood waters closing some of the roads, this is the same situation we had at the beginning of the year as we travelled from western Victoria to Queensland. I only hope we’re as lucky this time as last with avoiding any major delays.

Jake and new scooter at the skate park in AdelaideIndianna mini-putting in Adelaide

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | December 11, 2011

The Eyre Peninsula

Our journey around the edge of the Eyre Peninsula was kicked off by a very special day for our little girl… six years old! Lots of dolls and pink things were the order of the day. Happy Birthday to our smiley speed-girl!

Pretty in pinkIndianna turns 6Happy Birthday Indi!Tobey thought he might feed his sister to a model of the largest White Pointer Shark caught in the world as a lovely birthday present.  The shark was caught in 1990 off-shore from Streaky Bay, it was 5 metres long and  weighed in at a massive 1520kgs.White Pointer - Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay looked like a great spot to spend some time, but as has been the case so often lately, the wind meant that we couldn’t get out in the boat so we had a Mark and Ben returning from fishing - Sceale Bayquick overnighter in the caravan park and moved onto Sceale Bay for a couple of nights. Ben and Mark took the boat out a couple of times (first ours and then Marks) and caught a few fishies for dinner. While the boys were out fishing Indianna and I went on the hunt for the (tame) brumby horses in the neighbouring paddock from camp and after a hike through some very prickly  spinifex we managed to find them.  They Indianna feeding the horseswere just as friendly as Peter (the camp owner) had promised, coming up and getting their treat of a slice of bread.  The bush camp at Sceale Bay is certainly worth a stop, just down the road from the bay with flushing toilets and shower facilities – the showers are basic, pump showers, but certainly do the job if you need one.

Sceale Bay can also lay claim to the fanciest public toilet that we have seen on our travels.  For tall people you get a marvellous view of Sceale Bay as you sit on the loo, for those of us a little too short you have to wait until you stand!  Camelot is certainly an appropriate name for this throne!

"Camelot" public toilet, Sceale BayView from 'Camelot'Not far from Sceale Bay is Point Labatt, home to a colony of Australian Sea-lions.  The view over the ocean from the lookout is spectacular enough and to see the sea-lions sunning and swimming below you is a real treat.  The sea-lions breed at Point Labatt and we saw bulls, cows and pups on the shore, mostly lazing about in the sun, but also several of them heading off or coming back from a swim.

Sea-lions lazing in the sunSea-lions getting friendly?The view from Point LabattPoint LabattOn the road out from Sceale Bay, near Flinders Highway are yet another unusual rock formation.  We’ve seen many strangely shaped rocks jutting out of the earth in this vast country and these are called “Murphy’s Haystacks”, named by an Irish horticultural expert when he saw them far off in the distance and mistook them for stacks of hay. The ‘stacks’ are formed from Hiltaba Granite and worn away by wind and water over thousands of years.  Tobey was more impressed by the fields of wild rocket that the haystacks were in, all in flower at the moment the rocket was unmistakable and he had a bit of a munch along the way.

Murphy's HaystacksFields of rocket at Murphy's HaystacksMurphy's HaystacksWe left Mark and Sue at Venus Bay after they limped in with wheel bearing problems and had to wait for parts to be delivered from Port Lincoln. We headed to the bottom of the peninsula to Coffin Bay, but on the way called into the very cute roadside bread stall at Colton. You can buy wood-fired bread from the stall via an honesty system, all loaves are $3.50, just pop your money in the box!  We must have been beaten by the rush as there were only two loaves to choose from when we stopped in – really delicious though, polished off the whole thing dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for afternoon tea – not just me you realise, I did share it with the rest of the family!

Colton road-side bread stallColton bread stall, pay by an honesty system

The town of Coffin Bay is situated on a very sheltered part of the harbour with brilliant public facilities such as the playground, public showers, boat ramp and boat and fish cleaning areas.  We decided to head out to the National Park though, to Yangie Bay campground. Although there is a boat launching area here it’s a little muddy getting down to the water, so decided just to fish from the beach at Avoid Bay.  Another beautiful blue water bay, but Ben had no luck catching anything… that could have something to do with the seal which was playing in the shallows near where they were fishing!

Ben at windy Gunyah beach looking out to Golden IslandSeal playing in the shallows at Avoid BeachWith our time on the road very quickly coming to an end we headed off from Coffin Bay to stop in somewhere else further up the eastern coast of the Eyre Guinea pigs at Glen-Forest parkPeninsula. In an effort to find a mini-putt as promised to the children we found ourselves at Glen-Forest wildlife park… don’t ask!  The kids had a great time though, patting rabbits, guinea pigs, kangaroos, a koala, pigs, cows, sheep, a goat and plenty of parrots. The highlight for Jake's birds nestTobey had to be seeing the new born guinea pigs, so new they had no hair yet – very ugly if you ask me. Indianna came away with an ostrich feather, so she was happy and Jake managed to make his hair into a nest for the birds, so all good there.  No mini-putt played today though.

As we made our way up the eastern coast of the Eyre Peninsula we Whyalla Marinapulled into Tumby Bay and Cowell thinking that we’d stop and camp, but everywhere was still so windy that we ended up moving on. I’m sure with different weather conditions both of these little towns would have been great to stay at, but we just needed something a little out of the wind after battling it for so long.  Before we knew Dolphins playing in Whyalla Marinait we were in Whyalla, almost at the top of the peninsula, but found a site at the Foreshore Caravan Park away from the wind – woo-hoo!  By now Mark and Sue had caught us again with boat trailer all intact, so there was more fishing on the cards.

The caravan park was nice and close to the marina and the town so we were able to ride our bikes around for much of the time.  Ben and Mark had a couple of days fishing and the kids raced around on the pedal cars at the camp, then we checked out Pedal cars at Whyallathe leisure centre and had a visit to Santa.

On the  foreshore in front of the caravan park, into the Spencer Gulf, the sand-flats go for miles at low tide, so we headed out one afternoon ‘raking’ for blue swimmer crabs. Indianna was extremely reluctant to tag along and let the whole world hear about her problems. We were just lucky that the wide open area of the sand-flats ate up her noise!  Little Miss Sadness going crabbingThat as well as Mark coming to the rescue with a shoulder ride!  She quickly changed her tune once we started catchingAll smiles now the crabs though – very much a smiley face then!  To catch the crabs you use a long-pronged rake to rake around and through the indentations left by the crabs and if you’re lucky enough one will grab hold of your rake and you flip him into a bucket – voila! After a slow start we managed to catch a bucket full, but after setting the undersized ones free we had just enough to cook up for dinner. I’m not usually that fond of crab, I find it’s a lot of hard work for nothing spectacular, but these were not like that at all – sure there’s not a whole lot of meat on the crab, but they were really nice – certainly worth all the effort.

Mark, Indi and Tobey bucketing a crabMeasuring the catchWe also met “Sunny” the puppet at Whyalla Caravan Park – Sunny and his “Dad” tour around pre and primary schools promoting sun safety. The kids had a Singing along with Sunnysing-a-long with Sunny, his “Dad” and our neighbours Bob and Cheryl.  I have to say that I think perhaps Sunny’s Dad may have had a little too much sun on the head prior to now… strange man!

There’s really no way of avoiding Santa either is there, the Lions Santa rolled up in his Holden-drawn sleigh one evening handing out lollies, although it Santa in Whyallalooks like we’re the poor family in a detention centre here with a wire fence between us and the outside world.

By the way, I haven’t mentioned the oysters that we’ve been eating over the last week or so! Grown all along the coast of the Eyre Peninsula they are really delicious and priced from $5/dozen you really can’t go wrong! The seeds for the oysters grown here come from Tassie and I’d have to say that from what I remember of the Tasmanian oysters in St Helens they were the pick of the two, but it’s a very close contest indeed and I’m happy to be judge at any time!

We leave Whyalla to head into the Flinders Ranges National Park and at this point say farewell to our fishing buddies Mark and Sue as they make a mad dash to get to a special birthday celebration in Queensland.  So we’re all on our own again and heading away from the fishing grounds… what will we do with our time?

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | December 3, 2011

Esperance and across the Nullarbor

The beautiful blue of Esperance

When we had originally been planning our itinerary (back in Sydney around a year ago) we had intended on heading north from Kalgoorlie to check out Lake Ballard, near Menzies. There are a series of sculptures in the salt lake there which are supposed to be fairly impressive, but now that we have decided to make the big move to Queensland we are more and more keen to get heading there and less keen to make side-trips of a few hundred kilometres.  Lake Ballard will have to wait for another day.

The drive from Kalgoorlie south again to Esperance is fairly uneventful, we passed through Norseman where most travellers head east across the Nullarbor and continued to the coast.  Our Nullarbor drive would start a few days later, cutting off the first 190kms as we cut through from Cape Arid up to the Eyre Highway.   We camped overnight near Bromus Dam, built in the mid 1920’s for a reliable source of water for the steam trains plying between Coolgardie and Esperance.  There were a few yabbies in the dam, but a couple we caught had eggs so we let them all go on their breeding way.

Hanging out with the camels in NorsemanFreeing the yabbies, Bromus DamBromus Dam overnight campEsperance is truly stunning, those blue seas, blue sky and white sand views were everywhere. The flies had gone too, replacing by a bracing southerly wind.  Any swimming along the coast here was fairly brief and refreshing, those southerly currents are certainly more suited to the seals and whales than us humans.

EsperanceThe girlsSammy the seal - Esperance JettySammy the sealAfter checking out Sammy the Seal at the Esperance Jetty we headed out to Cape Le Grand National Park to set up camp, we’d been advised to camp Cape Le Grand beachaway from the popular Lucky Bay to get out of those prevailing winds and I’m pleased we did.  We had a great sheltered spot at Cape Le Grand beach just back from the beach and Ben was able to launch the boat there very easily. We bumped into Sue and Mark again so Ben, Tobey and Mark went out a few times in the boat and bought home more than enough fish Fiahing at Cape Le Grandfor dinner. We’re becoming accustomed to eating fish now, and even have some in the freezer for those days when the fish may not be so friendly!

The beaches all around the Cape Le Grand National Park coast are amazing and it’s at Lucky Bay that you get the famous shots of the kangaroos lazing on the beach. They come down to drink the fresh water that seeps up through the sand if you dig a little hole. We saw a mother and joey mooching around when we were there and Indianna was beside herself with excitement when the joey had a drink of milk.

It was too cold to swim at Lucky Bay, but just around the corner at Hellfire Bay was perfect. We even had a quick visit from a seal playing in the water.

Kangaroos of Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand NPKangaroos of Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand NPHellfire BayNana, Indi and Tobey at Hellfire BayInspecting Hellfire BaySeal in Hellfire BayMum’s time travelling with us had come to an end, before we cross the Nullarbor and put a whole load of extra miles between ourselves and Perth she boarded the bus and made the 9 hour journey back to Tony’s to spend Christmas there before heading home.  It’s been great having mum along with us and after about 4 weeks of constant attention Indianna in particular found it very hard to say good-bye.  There were floods of tears that went on for hours after the bus departed and we had several relapses over the coming days. “I miss Nana!!”

Perhaps the timing for a long car journey on the day mum left wasn’t so wise in retrospect! We’d been set on making it to Israelite Bay while Jake's opinion of Israelite Baywe were in the south west of WA. You hear the place mentioned so much on the weather reports that it seemed an intriguing place to go, so we set off on a three hour journey down a sandy track to get there, got out for 5 minutes to take a photo and get blown away by the wind and drove for another three hours back to camp.  As you can well imagine the kids were not impressed!  Neither were Ben and I really, but by the time we’d realised what an arduous journey it would be we were over half way there and we weren’t backing out!  Anyway, we can say we’ve been there now and we’ve had our first glimpse of the Great Australian Bight, but we’re unlikely to go back anytime too soon!

Israelite Bay signage - a little windy here!

Salt lake flats leading to Israelite Bay, Ben trying to set a land speed recordWe were pretty excited about starting our journey across the Nullarbor and as I mentioned previously we’d planned to take a short cut, coming out at Balladonia. From everything we’d read about the track it seemed as though we’d have no trouble, maybe a bit sandy and rocky in places, but if we take it easy we’ll be fine. Just to make sure Deraninya Homestead of the Condingup-Balladonia Roadwe asked around the camp hosts and ranger at Cape Le Grand and they had a totally different opinion, they weren’t recommending the road at all. So we were really undecided, the short cut meant 200km less, but we all know that a short cut is not always a short-cut and after our journey to Israelite Bay the previous day we were a little weary. The scales were tipped by the advice from the guy who ran the fuel station/store at Condingup who actually sounded like he knew what he was talking about.  He said we’d be fine, the road was definitely corrugated, but if we take it easy we’d be ok – well we’d seen plenty of corrugation!  And he was right, the road certainly was corrugated, but we managed the 260km in 4 hours, so not too bad going.  We even bumped into an English couple we’d seen in Hyden who were riding their bikes on the same route – now that would have been tough going, I wonder if by the end of the track they thought the 200km saving was worth the rough road?

DSC_0046 (3)The end of the Balladonia RoadSo now we’re on the Nullarbor!  Well, strictly speaking we’re on the Eyre Highway and the journey through the Nullarbor Plain is only a very small part of the journey, but everyone refers to the whole trip as the Nullarbor and so will I. About to start the straight driveThere’s not a lot to say about most of the journey, the whole Nullarbor route from Norseman to Ceduna is 1200kms and we’d knocked 190kms off that coming out at Balladonia, but until you get to the South Australia border there is very little to see unless you take the time to get off the highway and explore either down to the coast or inland further.  Because we’re keen to get going we did neither of those.  You do get to travel on the straightest piece of road in Australia though – 146.6kms without a turn, it looks like this all the way:

Been thereGoing there

Other than that there was a lot of not much and a few road signs to pass the time away. I’d never given the name “Nullarbor” much thought before, named by a surveyor (Alfred de Lisser) in the 1860’s, Null-arbor literally means “No-trees”. It seems so obvious now!  The Nullarbor Plain certainly lives up to it’s name, but the rest of the Eyre highway is relatively treed it comparison.

DSC_0079 (3)DSC_0052 (4)Around 3,000km to goWe still have a little way to go before we make it to our destination though.  The signpost at Eucla, on the WA side of the border makes it just short of 3,000kms to Brisbane. And that’s direct no doubt, I’m sure we’ll be making a few detours on the way yet.

Once you hit the South Australia border the main road runs right next to the coast for quite a way and you get your first look at the spectacular Bunda Cliffs. Bunda CliffsThese remind me a lot of the cliffs along the Great Ocean Road, but seem to go on for miles and miles. We were a little late in the season, but during winter this is supposed to be a great vantage point to see the whales in the Great Australian Bight as they nurse their calves and prepare to journey north again.

Our first stop in South Australia was at Fowlers Bay and although we’re not at the end of the NullarborBena nd Mark with the big catch yet we have certainly done the long hard section – 1159kms over two days were a couple of the longest days we’ve done in the whole year. We arrived at Fowlers Bay hot on the heels on Mark and Sue (stalking them now!) who had left Cape Le Grand a day earlier but taken the Norseman route – so our short-cut had paid off. Mark launched his boat at Fowlers Bay and boys had a very successful day of fishing.  Throwing back just as many Spotted Cod as they bought home and they bought home about 30. South Australian fishing quotas are certainly generous and we were pleased to be able to freeze a little fish for another Fowlers Bay sand dunestime. Tobey reckons he was responsible for most of the catch, but Mark and Ben say otherwise… perhaps Tobey’s learning that fisherman’s skill of exaggeration very quickly!

The other highlight for the kids at Fowlers Bay were the sand dunes and especially for Indianna, a local dog who would come into the caravan park to see if he could get a few pats and cuddles.  Of course she was very obliging.

Ceduna marks the end of the Nullarbor journey and for us the first stocking point after we prematurely threw all our fruit and veg out on the border (if coming from the west you have until Ceduna to dump any items not allowed to cross the border).  We stocked up on food and water, bought a whole lot of Smoky Bay Oysters, went to see the Ceduna weather balloon being released and carried on through.  With so many brilliant spots on the Eyre Peninsula to get to we wanted to make tracks.

Indianna with the deflated weather balloonTobey about to flick the switchUp, up, up she goes

For the first time this year we’ve made a forward accommodation booking. We’ve been worried for a while that we’ll end up with no place to stay over Christmas, but have never been sure about where we’ll be to commit to a booking.  With a more certain plan about the new year in mind we’ve managed to decide on (and more importantly have been able to get into) Yamba for a week over Xmas.  The kids are very excited at the prospect of a caravan park with great kid facilities for a WHOLE week.  How they can make you feel like you’ve had them living the hard life!

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | December 1, 2011

Whales and a Wave of Rock

The beautiful beaches and blue waters along the south coast of Western Australia Emu Point, Albanycontinue to surprise me as we make our way east.  I’m not really sure why I hadn’t expected this type of scenery here, but I hadn’t and every turn in the coast to another beautiful scene is an unexpected delight.

We checked into a caravan park in Albany to get on top of a little washing and have the luxury of a few long, hot showers after five nights of tepid showers at Parry’s beach – the kids even soaked in a gigantic bath tub until they had granny fingers, which was an absolute treat!  Albany was the first European settlement in WA, so it has an enormous amount of Anzac memorial on Mt Clarencehistory associated with the town. The town is situated on the edge of King George Sound which makes a brilliant sheltered harbour from the wild Southern Ocean. It is easy to see why this location was chosen as WA’s first base.

The Whaling station was the main industry in Albany for many years but in 1978 Albany’s whaling station ceased operations due to the reduction in the value of whale products, the increase the the price of crude oil (which was used extensively in the steam operated machinery in the station) and of course because of the pressure on eliminating the international practice of whale hunting.  The whaling station was very soon converted into a museum after it’s commercial operations closed and we spent 3 or 4 hours looking around the old buildings and gaining an understanding of what was involved in whaling.  It was all very educational and portrayed a fairly balanced view of whether it was the right or wrong thing to be doing, killing these beautiful creatures of the sea.

Aboard the "Cheynes IV" whalechaserSkeleton of a Pygmy WhaleWP_000302

We learnt some amazing facts at the whaling museum, but for Jake the most memorable would have to be seeing the size of a sperm whale’s penis and learning that there are times when they get snapped off… ouch!

The whaling museum is expanding it’s operations into a wildlife and flora park (rather odd complementary attractions, but there you go), the wildlife area is in it’s initial stages and we were able to wander through, right into many of the enclosures that the animals were in.  It’s the closest we have ever been to a koala which was pretty special and there were the mandatory kangaroos, plenty of natives to WA and one of Indianna’s favourites – the pademelon from Tasmania.

Super toothy KoalaHanging out with the 'roos

Albany has a brilliant network of cycle tracks, many of them are Albany cycle trackcompletely off the road, away from all traffic.  We took a ride one day from the caravan park at Middleton Beach down to Emu Point with speedy Indianna leading for much of the way and when her little legs got a bit tired good old Dad would give her a push along.

After a few days in Albany we were ready to get going again, although the children could have stayed in the caravan park with swimming and spa pool and recreation room for the rest of our time on Dog Rock - ALbanythe road.  We have a couple more months until we have to be settled again and I think that the children will be pleased to finally get there.  They are getting more and more reluctant to move on each time, getting a little road-weary I think, so we are tending to spend a little longer in each spot before travelling on.

We had had many recommendations for Bremer Bay, so even though it’s 60kmsLunch at Bremer Bay off the South Coast Highway we decided to make that our next stop and we were not disappointed. Bremer Bay is a long way from much, so to think that in the mid 1880’s there was a grazier based here with his family is quite amazing. The town later became a holiday spot for the grazing families of the area but the roads out to the coast here were not upgraded and sealed until the 1990’s, making it far more accessible now.  There is a lot of property for sale in the area, some beautiful coastal blocks in amongst bush settings and with magnificent views over the Southern Ocean.  Bremer Bay is likely to be a very different place the next time we are able to visit here.

Bremer Bay

Unfortunately some of the roads in the Fitzgerald River National Park There's a happy fishermanwere closed from the Bremer Bay end so we were not able to make it through to Point Ann which is supposedly a highlight, so we set up camp in the caravan park.  We bumped into Mark and Sue again who we’d first met in Cape Karaudren on the Northern WA coast and who we keep running into. Mark and Sue are mad keen fisher-people so are always pointing us in the right direction of the elusive finned creatures. Ben managed to get the boat in at Fishery Beach for a short period one day before the wind blew the sea into an unpleasant chop and he had to come in… with dinner!!!

We were at a bit of a cross-roads after Bremer Bay… do we continue along this glorious coast or head inland to check A few hitchhikers - look closelyout the famous Wave Rock and the golden town of Kalgoorlie? We’d always intended to do the inland route and as the coastal winds were still buffeting we decided to take a break from those.  Winds are one thing, but you know what you get in inland Australia if there is little wind – flies – and plenty of them! The relief of being out of the wind was quickly replaced by the frustration of the flies everywhere, we soon perfected the good old Aussie wave!

We are on the very southern edge of the WA wheat belt as we drove to Wave Rock and passed some truly huge grain fields and storage facilities. Grain storage near RavensthorpeMany of the storage areas seem pretty open to anyone walking in, so we stopped to take a look at where our weet-bix come from.

We’d made a fairly significant detour to visit Wave Rock, lets face it, any visit to Wave Rock involves a reasonable detour and we did question whether it was worth all those miles, but hey – been there, done that now! The town of Hyden relies very heavily on tourism to Wave Rock and the surrounding granite outcrops to complement the wheat industry after the decline of the Sandlewood cutters and I have to say they do a pretty good job of getting you there.  There are quite a few interesting things to see and do in the area, but in my opinion Wave Rock itself is less impressive than I imagined, still we took the obligatory “hang 10” shot.  More impressive for me were Lake Magic, the views from the top of the rock and the walls built along the edges to catch every single drop of water run-off for the town water supply.  We are certainly getting into dry country through this area and are starting to learn about some of the ways that the early settlements dealt with having next to no water, but more about that later when we approach Kalgoorlie.

Wave Rock, HydenThe great wall of Hyden - for water catchmentHyden street sculptureDSC_0058Tobey with Nana on Wave RockFlowers everywhereL1000796Indianna soaking up the serenity of Wave ROckWhile around Hyden we also checked out Hippo’s Yawn and Mulka’s cave.  Hippo’s Yawn named for obvious reasons and Mulka’s cave was the legendary hideout for a disgraced Mulka, the illegitimate son of a woman who fell in love with a man for whom marriage was forbidden according to Aboriginal kinship laws.  There are some fairly basic hand rock paintings in the cave, but nothing to compare to the rock art of the Kimberley and Kakadu regions. At Mulka’s cave we also saw one of Mother Nature’s water storage devices.  These “Gnamma Holes” are holes in the granite rock formed from a crack or split in the rock. The one that Ben has his arm in in the picture below went about 40cms deeper than his hand.  The aboriginals used to cover the holes to keep the water a little cleaner and to slow the rate of evaporation. In this bone-dry part of the country these holes were obviously a vital water supply for both the aboriginal people and the local wildlife.

Hippos YawnMulka's CaveGnamma holes - Mulka's Cave area

 Moving on from Hyden we headed towards Kalgoorlie.  We have been pretty good this year with timing our fuel refills and One thirsty car!have never been close to running out of diesel, although often running very low because we’ve been too lazy to stop and  top up with the jerry can, but the drive from Hyden would have to rate as the closest call yet! Still with 15kms to the next fuel station the car started showing 0kms of fuel remaining, the car lost power within sight of the service station, but thanks to our weight we managed to literally roll into the station… whew, for a minute there we thought we’d have to get the jerry can out across the road!

Kalgoorlie is the city of HUGE mining operations.  Gold fever hitThe water pipeline into Kalgoorlie ‘Kal’ in the mid 1890’s and at the height of the rush there were around 30,000 people living in the town.  This many people here with the sole purpose of looking for gold and without a good water supply! The early settlers of the town relied on saline or brackish water that they would condense to make it drinkable for around a decade.  A grand scheme of piping water 560kms from the Mundaring Dam near Perth was suggested by theHaving a drink of water on Mt Charlotte, 560 kms from where it originated in Mundaring Dam engineer CY O’Connor and the rest, as they say, is history!  Since 1903 the goldfields have had their water piped from the Mundaring Dam, the water taking one to two weeks to reach the reservoir at the top of Mt Charlotte in Kalgoorlie. It’s still one of the great engineering feats in Australian history.

Gold of course is the main industry for Kalgoorlie and for us the main attraction was for the kids to see the Super Pit.  Alan Bond was the driving force behind creating the Super Pit, buying up the individual leases during the late 1980’s to allow this large scale cost effective operation to be formed. Everything is big around the Super Pit, there’s the eye-boggling pit itself, the massive trucks and diggers and (on our very rough estimations) the approximately $400,000 of gold going out in each truck. The pit will eventually be 3.7km long, 1.5km wide and 660m deep (it’s currently just as wide and long, but only 460m deep), the final pit dimensions will make it almost twice as deep as Uluru is high and three times as long as the Sydney Harbour Bridge! We were fortunate enough to be in Kal on an explosion day in the pit so we went to see what Tobey’s dream job looked like.

Big bucketsBig, but not the biggest tyresBig pitsBig explosions

           The museum in Kalgoorlie was really interesting, showing the complete history of the area, not only the mining, although to be fair most of the white history of the area is about mining.  To put this massive industry a little into perspective there is an information panel there entitled “The True Cost of Gold”:

Gold is not vital for human life. Yet, we continue to search for new gold. For all its attraction, gold comes with social and environmental costs. It produces more waste rock per gram of metal than mining for any other metal…. Gold mining has bought wealth and jobs to Western Australia. It has also meant the loss of traditional indigenous lands and the pollution of local environment. In other parts of the world, poorly regulated gold mining still sees hazardous conditions and the use of child labour.

Think about the process involved from mining gold to wearing a wedding ring and weigh the costs and benefits. The gold produced for a single gold wedding ring may require the removal of over 20 tonnes of rock.

Now there’s something to think about.

Anyone home!?With all those mining men there has been a long running profession in Kalgoorlie of a totally different kind. The services offered by the ladies on Hay Street are legendary themselves! Unfortunately for Ben he missed seeing what was on offer as we cruised down the street in the middle of the day – office hours start at 6pm!  There was nobody answering the door when he went knocking.

We head off back to the coast now, hopefully away from these relentless flies – can’t wait for that!

We always intended this year away to be a chance to reassess what to do in the future and after months of thinking about the possibility of a change we have decided not to return to Sydney to live.  We are going to try a move to the Glass House Mountains area north of Brisbane.  We have no precise plan at this stage, but by the time early February rolls around we will hopefully have found somewhere to live, somewhere to go to school and somewhere to work!  It all sounds like a little too much to organise in two months… especially at our current work rate! Once we have a base we’ll head back to Sydney to sort out our belongings and catch up with all our wonderful friends there.

Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | November 17, 2011

Big Tree Country

We had had a taste of the big tree forests of southern WA around Margaret River, but once you hit Pemberton you are really in amongst the forest giants.  We stayed at the only caravan park in Pemberton, but it was brilliant there, backing directly onto the mountain bike tracks and a very short ride to a BMX circuit and the Pemberton Pool. Having Mum with us meant that Ben, the boys and I could leave Indi behind and do the downhill mountain bike circuit – “Relentless Blue Cross Country”.  It was brilliant fun, but the heart and legs wondered what all this exercise was about after such a long time of doing very little.

About to tackle "Relentless Blue"Jake about to finish the downhillBen on some of the turns down Relentless BlueThe home stretch past Pemberton PoolThere was a lot of birdlife around the park too, parrots came in in the morning and evenings for any little snacks that you may have and there was a family of ducks wandering around with mummy duck hissing her disapproval when the kids got too close.

Parrots in PembertonParrots in Pemberton

Pemberton PoolPemberton Pool is in such a beautiful setting, but the water doesn’t look all that inviting, it’s a little tannin stained and when you look closely you can see a few small marron swimming around in there.  Still, Jake had a swim to cool off after a bike ride and Indianna managed to get in waist-deep before the thought of the marron nibbling her toes and the cold water forced her out.

This area of the country is very proud of it’s marron so we felt obliged to sample a few. We were out of season to attempt to catch any ourselves, but they are available all year around from the local marron farms. They were delicious! Maybe even better than their ocean dwelling cousins – the crayfish. We were lucky enough to team our marron with smoked trout, caught that day by neighbouring campers from the trout farm and smoked on the fish smoker which we have been carrying with us all the way from Toowoomba and have not yet had a chance to use! Thanks Katie and Tilly.

Pemberton Marron cooked and ready to eatThe feast

Around Pemberton there are several very tall trees that you can climb to the top of. The Gloucester and Diamond trees were originally “pegged” as fire look-out trees with platforms situated at around 60 metres from the ground.  A third Ben and boys on 25m platform of bicentennial treetree which you are able to climb was pegged in 1988 as part of the bicentennial celebrations – the Dave Evans Bicentennial tree has it’s platform a dizzying 75 metres from the ground. The health and safety officers certainly have not been out to these trees.  In our current world of wrapping everyone in cotton wool it was My limit for Indianna on the Gloucester Treepretty amazing to see the lack of safety barriers, nets or harnesses on these climbs.  You climb up the tree on pegs driven into the trunk which have a little bit of netting on the outside of the pegs, but there’s a free-fall to the ground if your foot slips off a rung.  Indianna was far too keen to climb very high and had to be content with going to the 25m platform on the bicentennial tree with me.  We waited there as Ben and Jake went a little higher before Jake turned back.  Ben was the only one brave enough to make it to the top of the bicentennial tree.  Tobey needed a lot on convincing to get very high, which I was quite surprised at, but he managed it in the end making it to the 25m platform.  The boys, Ben and I all made it to the top of the 60m Gloucester tree to a fabulous view over the tree tops, it’s certainly a brilliant vantage point to spot a fire.  Indianna climbed the Gloucester tree until I made her stop and come down and Mum managed 10 or so rungs just to say she had!  Go Nanna!

View down from bicentennial treeClimbing the bicentennial treeTop of the Gloucester treeDrivign to Big Brook DamThere are plenty of sights around Pemberton, we took a drive through Warren National Park and then lunched at the Big Brook Dam, all the time driving amongst those huge trees.

Unlike the rest of WA everything in the south My favourite sculpturewest of the state is so close together, we found ourselves driving not much more than 100kms to our next campsite at Walpole, passing through Northcliffe on the way to take a look around the forest sculpture there.  The walk is a self-guided audio with 4 or 5 different tracks depending on your interest.  The children had a series of stories to listen to at different spots and Ben, Mum and I listened to the artists talk about their different works.  If you are into art and sculpture it’s certainly a good way to spend an hour or so.

Listening to stories at the Northcliffe Sculpture Walk

The Great Tingle TreeThey have some mighty big trees in Walpole too, this area is probably most famous for it’s Tingle trees. You see many of the Tingle trees hollowed out from fire and fungi, but so long as the live layer of bark just below the surface of the outer bark survives then the tree can continue to live for many years.  There were times when tourists would drive their cars into the holes of theDriving through a Tingle tree, 50 years ago trees, but this practice has been stopped to help preserve the shallow roots of the Tingle.

Because the weather has still not really improved lately we’ve done a fair few ‘drives’ to entertain us through the days.  Around Walpole we went to Circular Pool, where the heavily tannin stained Frankland River flows over a small waterfall and creates a circular motion in the water below. Because the tannin water froths up as it goes over the waterfall you can really see the circular movement of the water.  There is a huge about of froth on the water – depending on your preference you could have imagined a huge pool of coffee, coke or Guinness! We also went out to the coast, to Conspicuous Cliffs – no prizes for guessing the origin of the name, the cliffs would certainly have been conspicuous from a passing sailboat.

Frothy waters of Circular PoolWalking out to the beach at Conspicuous CliffsThe girls at Circular PoolConspicuous CliffsWindy at COnspicuous Cliffs

The Bibbulmun walking track passes by Conspicuous Cliffs, the Bibbulmun stretches almost 1000kms from the Perth hills to Albany on the south coast. In this southern part the track crosses Tobey walking the 'blimmin' trackmany areas where we have done little walks into the bush, as you can imagine walking this track would be Tobey’s idea of hell, so every time we come across the now familiar Bibbulmun walking track sign he says “There’s the ‘blimmin’ track again”.  Got to love his enthusiasm.

We had another massive driving day from Walpole – a full 50kms to Parry’s Beach near Denmark, but we’d been recommended this spot and were due to meet my brother and his family camping there for a few days. What a great place. The campground is run by the Denmark shire so is very cheap – $7 for two adults a night, kids free and extra adults $2 more.  There are flushing toilets and (solar, so not always) hot showers, it’s situated right on a safe beach where the kids could fish, swim, snorkel and do a little surfing.  Ben and Tony took the boat out and managed to catch dinner one day, although the following day the sea came up and they had to cut the anchor free before making a dash for home.  The boat got a further work out towing the boys around on the donut and every single dog – big or small had more than their fair share of pats and cuddles from Indianna and Anastasia.

Surfer dudeDonutting at ParrysDonutting at ParrysThe camping crewFishing at ParrysOff to the beach on the back of Uncle Tony's uteAnastasia, Tony and Indi at Elephant RocksDenmark and the area around here is so beautiful, there are endless spectacular coastal scenery spots and a surprising number of wineries and gourmet food places around.  There’s a much less intense atmosphere than the likes of Margaret River though.  We stopped in at one place that seemed to hold an attraction for everyone – wine, chocolate, cheese and especially for the girls… dogs. These were big ones, Burmese Mountain dogs, but oh so gentle and just looking for anyone to give their tummies a rub. Burmese Mountain dog at 'Picnic in the Paddock'Burmese Mountain Dogs

 Denmark also has a really new hospital… how do we know?  Well despite thinking that we’d get accident-prone Tobey around the country without the use of our Medicare card I L1000609had to whip it out at Denmark hospital so he could get his head glued up! Nothing really major, just a run-in with the playground gate which resulted in a small (but deep) gash to his head and as we were close to the hospital we thought we’d make use of the services. Now we just have to keep him out of the water for a couple of days.

Despite the cool weather the kids managed to take a dip at Greens Pool, a beautiful sheltered, natural sea pool.  Our photos on this cloudy day don’t really do the place justice, it would be absolutely stunning on a blue-sky day. Just around the corner from Greens Pool are the Elephant rocks. These are huge rocks which look just like a herd of elephants from above, again there is really sheltered swimming around here.  The rocks are irresistible to two young boys though and of course they had to climb on them.  Tobey got into a little predicament when he realised that his legs were not quite as long as Jake’s, he was stranded with no way up or down and daddy had to come and rescue him!

Greens PoolElephant RocksElephant RocksTobey stuck on Elephant Rocks

We had such a great time camping with the Breach’s and Indianna in particular will certainly miss her cousin, but it was time to move on and for the Tony and Tash to get back to work.  Hopefully we’ll make it across this side of the country a little more frequently than in the past!

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Posted by: Malpass Oz Adventure | November 14, 2011

On the Road Again

In the words of Willie Nelson, who I was subjected to so often as a child… we are “On the Road Again”! I’m not going to say it was easy leaving my brother and sister-in-law’s place in Perth. We had two fabulous weeks living a stationary life, spending time with family and generally just hanging about in between schooling sessions. The kids really loved the time in Perth for all different sorts of reasons, but I have to say that the instant access to television had to rate pretty highly for all of them.  Jake in particular hardly had that TV off in the time we were there! Tobey couldn’t get enough of all the things that move – the buggy, the ride-on-mower and the horses. Indianna loved being with her cousin Anastasia, and because they are five year old girls I think their relationship certainly benefitted from Anastasia having to go off to school through the week!  Both Indi and Tobey loved the dogs, but I am certain that the dogs are a little relieved to see the back end of Indianna, there is only so much cuddling and patting and walking that any dog can stand.

Go-cart mayhemGo-cart mayhemGo-cart mayhemMore TV pleaseIndianna grooming the ponyTobey astride 'Fletch'

Tobey and Indianna were both lucky enough to tag along with Anastasia to her pony riding lessons and a pony fun-day which they absolutely loved. They both have big plans for the menagerie that we’ll have once we’re settled again.

Anastasia, Indianna and Tobey about to go out on Pony fun dayIndianna playing pony gamesTobey racing the pony

We did very few touristy things while in Perth, an afternoon at Kings Park and a few hours at Fremantle was about the extent of it, but we did have some more regular outings – like the movies, barbeques, bike rides, car servicing, Saturday night motor-cross and I even made it to the hairdresser for the first time in ten months.

Tobey at the Roundhouse old Goal in FremantleFremantle wharf with Nanna

Mum has also come to stay while we were in Perth, it’s Nanna and her offspringthe first time in eight years since Mum, Tony and I have been together – the definite downside of living at opposite sides of the country and Mum being across the Tasman. We’ve managed to squeeze a space in the car for Mum to travel with us for a while, so as we set off from Perth Ben has his wife, three children and mother-in-law crammed into the car… he’s not so sure he’s currently “living the dream”! Any wonder he spent so much time with Tony in the shed while we were in Perth, just preparing himself for the next leg of the journey.

Our first stop Moths at Contofrom Perth was the Margaret River region and because everything is so close here we decided to set up camp at Conto campground in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, about 20kms south of Margaret River itself. There are a huge number of campsites at Conto, set out in four different loops with camp kitchens, fire rings and wood on-site. We ended up staying here for five nights with the only down-side being the millions of moths that came out at dusk and hid in any partially dim space when the sun rose in the morning. Our morning ritual was to flap the moths out of the folds in the chair before sitting down for breakfast.

We had a few sunny days in the Margaret River region, but on the whole the weather has definitely been a lot colder and wetter than expected at this time of the year.  Apparently unseasonably cold too… brilliant that we time our visit for an unseasonably cold year!  None-the-less we did manage to get a few rays of sunshine and the kids managed a swim or two, even I managed to get in one day at Prevelly for a brief dip while the boys surfed a few little waves.

YallingupPrevellyPrevelly

 The Whale cruising at Meelup Beachwhales are still moving around the edge of the country and we were fortunate to see many water spouts from the shore. One day we even saw a mother and baby very close into shore at Meelup beach near Dunsborough. Such a beautiful sight that you always feel very privileged to see.

We spent an “a-maze-n” day at the A-Maze-n Maze just out of Margaret River getting lost in the hedge maze and playing all sorts of games. The entry fee was fairly steep, but the facilities were really good and when you consider that they have been growing the hedges for 17 years before opening the maze you get some appreciation for the invested capital needing to provide a return!

Which way?More gamesOur little angelWe rounded the DSC_0055bottom of the Cape Leeuwin Peninsula to bring our visit to the Margaret River region to an end.  You certainly could spend a whole lot of time here visiting all manner of drinking and eating delights, but your food and drink budget would certainly need to be a lot heftier than ours!  We settled for ice-creams, nougat and chocolate and shockingly steered clear of the wineries – a decision I’m sure we will look back on in disgust.

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