Western Australia finally.

When Cam and I traveled back 1999-2003 W.A. was the only state we never made it and now we have finally gotten the monkey off our backs!

The land scape was not what I was expecting. The escarpments (our new word of the week) were amazing. It felt at times like we were in Arizona (not that I’ve been there), going from flat plains to all of a sudden hills with big cliff faces, I was pretty amazed by it, as was the rest of the gang, except Sprout, he was chilling out in the aircon under my seat, his usual spot in the car.

We spent a night, free camping at the base of one of these mighty escarpments. It was 40ยฐ+ when we pulled up and thought the temp might drop at least 5-10ยฐ but there was no relief. The temperature barely budged, it was cooler outside the van than in! It gets so hot out here that the guide posts literally melt!๐Ÿฅต

We decided to give the generator a whirl. This relieved us, but only until we turned it off to go to bed. Within minutes it was hot and sticky again, this made for an uncomfortable nights sleep.

It was the following morning we crossed the boarder. With a big cheer and a photo at the crossing sign of course, we went through quarantine and headed for Lake Argyle, a man made lake built for hydro electricity.

Pulling into the van park, the view was already great, but from the infinity pool was even better. We decided not to camp the night as the fees were a little $$ but we were able to unhook and drive down to the dam wall and around to the boat ramp where we could have a swim. Thinking we would relieve Sprout from the heat, we chucked him in for a swim and within minutes of this he found himself a nice patch of red dirt to roll in ๐Ÿ˜ซ. Not real smart on both behalves, as he got thrown back in, washed off, dried and put straight back in the car when we were ready to go. He was a nice shade of orange for a bit.

Arriving in Kununurra, we decided we needed power for the aircon and went straight to a caravan park to set up.

So off we went to do the touristy things starting with Ivanhoe Crossing. The water floods over the road, so only making it 4WD accessible. Cam had a quick unsuccessful fish on the road, while we croc watched and then took a quick drive over to the other side through the water.

We went in search of a shop that had the infamous Zebra rock, which is mined locally. It’s one of the only places in the world where it found and the rock itself just looks like ceramic that’s been painted on. The jewellers in town was open and not only did they have some, they also had the very rare pink diamonds pricing from $2000 (not even set in a piece of jewellery) up to $880,000๐Ÿ˜ณ. This diamond was no bigger than a match head and again not set in a piece of jewellery. Apparently the better the colour the more valuable the diamond. I left empty handed but maybe a Broome pearl might be better ๐Ÿค”.

The Hoochery was pretty cool, it’s a Rum distillery, bar and cafe, it’s very rustic and we tried a few types of rum, one being an aniseed flavour, which neither of us wanted to sample after the previous week of drinking ouzo ๐Ÿคฎ. The lady insisted that we try some so gave us one for free. We politely tried, but I could feel it sitting in the back of my throat trying to swallow it down!

They also grow sandalwood trees and make a lot of products from it, a very productive town Kununurra is.

The following day we were off to the Bungle Bungles and were very lucky to be able to stay at the caravan park just off the road heading in. It was closed for the wet season and was the only place we could have a dog . We made contact with the caretakers who let us camp for the night (especially after Cam mentioned he was a gas fitter, funny how that seems to change the dynamics a lot, needless to say he done a bit of work there) and plug into power allowing us to leave Sprout in the van, he needed the aircon, it was to hot just to leave him in the van, even with the windows all opened and being a National Park we couldn’t take him in.

We unwillingly got up at 2am to try to make sunrise. A 2 hour trip in there and on a rough road we wanted to allow plenty of time as the sun would rise at 4.50.

Driving off in the dark at 2.30am it was very quiet until we had our first flat tyre. After a quick repair, in pitch black dark, we were off again, well not for to long because within another 20mins we hadi another flat โ˜น๏ธ. Luckily Cam is always prepared, he fixed that puncture aswell with a little assistance from myself and had us back on the road. Luckily both punctures were in the same tyre. We nearly turned around and went back as the tyre was not looking the best. We had a spare but if that punctured aswell we’d be in trouble. One more try and thank god we did. We made it just in time to see the sunrise, not exactly where we were hoping, good thing we left early.

We really enjoyed it, especially Echidna Chasm. The walk in was narrow in some places and the scenery was picturesque, even though it was just rock wall either side of us. The height of these walls made you feel so tiny in comparison.

After a careful drive out, tyre half flat and needing another bit of inflation we made it back to the van, hooked up the van headed down the road to another free camp, up on the cliff of an escarpment, it was a beautiful view, wasn’t it Cam ๐Ÿปโ›บ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ญ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช.

We saw many Boab trees along the way, but nothing like the jail Boab tree in Derby. It was where they used to chain the aboriginals on their travels to prison. It was quite sad the way they were treated. There was also a 120 metre water trough, built back in the early days to water the hundreds of bullocks in the area.

Derby was not our cuppa tea, so we continued onto Broome to set up camp for a few days.

Coincidentally, friends from Sydney were there holidaying, so it was great to catch up with Gazza, Lea and of course the very cute Eden. We watched the sunset on Cable Beach, very iconic with the camels walking past.

We toured around Broome, but probably our favourite place was Cape Leveque, the water was like a bath and so blue. We saw Dolphins, turtles, fish and sharks swimming within a metre of the shoreline ๐Ÿ˜ฌ, the only thing we didn’t see was a croc. There had been a sighting the day before however.

Cygnet bay pearl farm was worth a look, we had a coffee and swam in their infinity pool. We were also lucky enough to meet Bruce Wiggin, the last aboriginal born on Sunday Island and the owner of the land that was past onto him from his father. A bit of a character, he told us next time we’re up that way to come stay with him and bring our dog ๐Ÿถ.

We swam at the Cape, found heaps of Cowrie shells and there was barely a site of another person, one good thing about traveling off peak. It was magical.

Our return trip was an interesting one as it had poured with rain before we left. It was like a river flowing down the middle of the road. It would’ve been ok if it wasn’t a red dirt road that was now looking like a mud run ๐Ÿค—. Someone was a little unimpressed as they had just washed the car but it was a little bit fun and I was giggling a little ๐Ÿ™Š.

With a last minute decision, we packed up on the Monday, after getting the car serviced, deciding to start high tailing it to Exmouth, there was surf and someone was hanging out for it.

We drove off late arvo, heading in towards a storm, a little daunting, but pretty cool also. On one side of the road it was a beautiful sunset, however the other was dark clouds and an awesome lightning show and finally a bit of rain.

We arrived in Port Hedland…………what can I say………….. best I say nothing.

Our next free camp was beautiful, on top of an escarpment, the view was amazing and we enjoyed the nights air, chilling with a nice cold beer, not a care in the world.

It was another early start to the day, for a couple of reasons, the first one being trying to beat the heat in at Karajini National Park and the other smuggling in an illegal immigrant into the park by hiding him into the van. There were no kennels close by and we didn’t want miss it, mind you he’s not the best stow away, as every time anyone goes the near the van he barks his head off!๐Ÿ˜ซ

There were some beautiful swimming holes and Hamersley Gorge was one of them. Cam and Marcee went for a quick dip and we all had a quick look around, jumped in the car and off we drove, phew.

We filled up at Tom Price and had our biggest drive of the trip so far, heading to Exmouth about 700km, probably about 8 hours of driving, with a few stops along the way. We were welcomed by Paul at his home and enjoyed a nice refreshing beverage, well deserved I reckon. The girls coped very well, but the ipads did assist us in that.

So here we are in Exmouth, we’ve been here for nearly 3 weeks now and have had a ball, but too much to include in this post. So stay tuned and hang around for our adventures in Exmouth/Ningaloo Reef area.

Queensland to the Northern Territory

With the car all washed, polished and mostly red dust free, it was time to move on and explore some more of this beautiful country.

The Atherton Table Lands did not disappoint. We had been through there previously on our first travels back in 2000. The waterfalls were still as beautiful especially the Mila Mila Falls and the surrounding landscape was green with lush pastures, how soon that would change.

We were heading to Cobbald Gorge for some work that Cam had teamed up with our Cape York friends. Josh has been doing some mechanical work out there and they had spoken about it and told us to drop in, even before Cam got work there. It’s funny how you picture something in your mind as to what it might look like but it was certainly nothing like what I had thought.

I was expecting a farm stay type place, but instead it was like an outback resort that catered for caravans, campers and had cabins aswell.

With a bar, restaurant and infinity pool, what more could we ask for. There were kayaks to paddle around on the dam and tours of the Gorge with an educational walk in which the guide spoke about the bush tucker food that could be eaten and the ones NOT to eat. There was even a tree that you could pick the leaves and use as soap, a natural way to have a wash without hurting the rivers etc.

We took a ride on the boat to explore the Gorge, It was pretty amazing to see, but we still didn’t see a croc.

On our last day we went down to a dry river bed to hunt for Agates, a fun little excursion and to our surprise we found a few, nothing extraordinary, but it was interesting and I can understand how fossicking could become addictive. Once you found one you were determined to find another.

We then headed off, destined for Lawn Hill, via Normanton and just when we thought we had overcome ruts and red dirt, there was more, ALOT more.

It was my turn to drive, so at the turn off at Gregory Downs, I jumped in and off I drove, caravan in tow. The gravel road began and it was a little corrugated but I’ll be right, (so I thought) I’ll just take it easy, 5 minutes in and I pulled up and thought that it would be better if I was a passenger again. It was like driving on marbles. It did improve but I was not confident.

Arriving safely at Adels Grove, Cam checked us in and I thought I’d take a peak in the van to see how it handled the road. I wish I’d never looked. Hmmm the microwave had jumped ship and was on the floor, narrowly missing the glass lid for the stove top. The shower screen panels had come of the runners and had fallen into the shower unbroken, broken drawers strewn across the floor and just a bit of dust๐Ÿ˜ซ. It could’ve been worse, it could’ve been better too, but no point stressing.

We set up camp, Cam put the van back together (thank god he’s got all his tools with us) luckily nothing too major. Finally time to grab a beer and go and have a look at the swimming holes at the park down in the Grove, Omg, it’s so beautiful, the water was emerald green and up close it was the clearest water I have ever seen. If your ever going to Lawn Hill np, I recommend staying at Adels Grove. It’s beautiful.

Cam did a few hours of work at the park to cover our accommodation and he must have impressed as we got free kayak hire thrown in as well. So after lunch we traveled around to the Gorge. We decided to do the walks that day and kayak in the morning. The scenery on foot and by water was beautiful. Climbing up the steep escarpment we got full view of the Gorge, it certainly is a site to be seen, however by water was just as good.

The next morning we headed back into the Gorge to make the most of our free kayak hire, Cam and Marcee in one, Ilueka and I in the other. It was a little intimidating knowing there were crocs out there but, only fresh water Crocs which apparently aren’t to dangerous. I didn’t particularly want to test that theory mind you..

We paddled up as far as we could go, then dragged the Kayaks over the rocks and around a waterfall to paddle up further to the end. It was magical, the water with the lily pads and flowers set the scene. We had a swim at the little water fall on our way back down, the water was so warm but kinda eerie knowing there were crocs around.

We returned back safely, still no site of a croc.

After speaking to some other campers and locals, we decided to go the back road through the station to get back onto the Gulf road as it was a short cut and in better condition than the one we came in on.

The land was so dry, the Brahman cattle huddled in together under trees and around water troughs, they didn’t appear to be in to bad a condition though.

BULL DUST…….I hadn’t really seen it before and I don’t care to ever again. There were stages when we hit big patch’s of it that we couldn’t even see our van behind us. We pulled up at Hells Gate Roadhouse, it was everywhere and it was at this point I kinda cracked it a little.๐Ÿฅบ

Hells Gate, it’s in the middle of nowhere but was still quite busy with other tourists. That evening a guy put on a performance with fire twirling and had some LED Poi’s for the kids to twirl around which was quite entertaining, there were a few hits to different body parts ๐Ÿ˜‚.

Cam managed to do a few hours of work here, paying for our stay and for a few beers.

The next morning we headed over the Northern Territory boarder and into Borroloola, then onto King Ash Bay to catch up with Mick and Andrea McCullogh and Luke and Mika Shackleton. Their 3 kids and our girls hit it off, I think they were all pleased to have some different faces to hang out with.

We can’t thank Mick and Andrea enough for taking us out on their boat fishing, we may not have caught a truck load, but the adventure was great. We saw a huge grouper and at long last a few Crocs.

We stayed there for a week in the end, it gave us time to clean out the red dirt from the van and try and seal up a few openings where the dust was coming in. We also caught up with another traveling family the “Geatches.” They invited us for a BBQ and some fishing off the bank at their camp site. Marcee was the winner this night with the most amount of fish caught. Cam and Joe got a nice Bream and a Grunter as well.

We stopped back in Borroloola to fill up with Diesel and in the shop was a cute baby crocodile. I’m sure it would be great…..as a short term pet……..๐Ÿ˜ณ๐ŸŠ

Not sure if you’ve heard of the Daly Waters Pub but it’s something you need to check out if ever up this way. The memorabilia is unbelievable. Hundreds of pairs of undies and bra’s hanging everywhere as it is tradition to leave a pair behind, business cards, photos, crutches, antiques the list goes on. Live music just about every night and a nice relaxing pool that was the perfect temperature to relax in.

The next morning we stopped in at Mataranka hot springs, its like a bath. I could just walk straight into it, none of this easing in. The girls got in trouble from a couple of grumpy old grey nomads for jumping in and doing bombs!๐Ÿ˜‚

Katherine springs were amazing also, if not better. We had a swim in the arvo and then a quick dip in the morning to freshen us up for our final stint to Darwin.

We set up in a van park in Coolalinga and Cam got a weeks work there helping with plumbing repairs as the new owners are in the process of doing up the park.

We weren’t planning on staying much longer than a week then doing Kakadu and Litchfield parks then head West, but as fate has it, when we caught up with a guy we had met 20 years ago in Cairns that hunts and taxidermy’s Crocs, Mick Pitman, he just happened to be a plumber and was going overseas the next day for 4 weeks and asked Cam if he wanted to fill in for him, which worked out perfect as Johnny and Carol wanted to come up to Darwin for visit around the time he finished.

We had a night with them at Coolalinga then headed off for Kakadu, they stayed back in Darwin to catch up with some other friends before meeting us at Litchfield np latter that week.

We loved Kakadu, the remoteness, the landscape and the adventure, including some fairly rough roads and decent walks into some of the places, over rocks and rugged ground in 40 plus temperatures makes for quite a few “how much further” comments from the girls! The swimming holes at the end make it all worth while though.

Watching the Crocs feed at Cahills crossing on high tide, Jim Jim, Maguk and Gunlom falls along with the view and Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr was all a highlight. The caravan parks in Kakadu are beautiful too.

Then onto Litchfield np to meet up again with Johnny and Carol. It just so happened that the owner of the Banyan tree caravan park where we were staying was good friends with a few people we know back in Tassy, needless to say, this had set us for big night. Johnny on the guitar, all of us the shots (compliments of Johno the park owner) and eventually me dancing on the table in the dining area at the bar…… then eventually passed out on the chair later that night, surprise surprise!๐Ÿ˜ฌ Needless to say we were all a little slow off the mark the next morning.๐Ÿฅด

Then eventually after eggs and bacon and few cuppa’s we headed off to check out Litchfield, Buley waterhole first, then Florence falls, which we all said was probably the prettiest swimming hole we’ve ever been to, a beautiful walk in, a beautiful waterfall and warm, crystal clear water. It’s stunning. We finished off the day with a trip into the Lost city which is a formation of ancient sand stone pillars and quite interesting.

That night was a bit quieter and the next day a stop at Wangi falls for a swim and then back to Coolalinga. The next day Cam and Johnny went on a fishing charter with a couple of other mates, lots of fish caught and a bit of banter too apparently.

It’s now time to say goodbye to the NT as we left this morning bound for WA. It has definitely been good to us and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Top End.

Our trip to the tip

Time to do the Tip! We packed up our caravan with all its comforts and we’re ready to rough it, in the tent for the next two weeks. No en-suite toilet or shower, no makeup (except mascara, just incase we went somewhere special of course), just a hand held mirror, to do my hair in, some roll on deodorant, and a pair of thongs. No fancy shoes or clothes for this trip.

We met up with the Stattons at Mossman and much to our delight it was raining. Six girls and four adults huddled under awnings, we were off to a great start ๐Ÿ™„.

The convoy began by traveling up to the Daintree and it didn’t fail us. It’s truly a beautiful part of the world whether it’s raining (as it was for us), or sunshine the greenery is amazing.

The track in there was pretty good a couple of exciting hills but nothing compared to what was to come.

We called into the Lions Den, a pub in the middle of nowhere on the track, had a beer, before reaching Cooktown. We considered staying there, but with a bit of time up our sleeve, we headed to Elim Beach, a very casual van park, no pool or water slide here, but a very pretty colourful beach. With different colours of sand, it was similar to Rainbow Beach near Fraser Island. The only issue was there was no swimming unless you want to risk your life to the crocs.

We had a lot of kms to cover so we were up and off making our way, a few pit stops for lunch and snacks, when we thought we’d try out some free camping. Our first was an interesting spot. Next to the road, in a large mowed area, away from the river beds. The first issue was the ground it was like straw and after trying to flatten it down a little, we ended up with a few holes on the floor of the tent and hoped and prayed the lilo’s would be fine.

Settling in for the night, I was woken by ALOT of noises which made me nervous. There was something treading around the tent. I nervously laid still, a little concerned, but realised it was probably just cows. Falling back to sleep only temporarily to be woken again by swooping and screeching, bats. I wasn’t worried by them, but the noise was making it hard to sleep. I’m pretty sure I blinked and it was time to get up.

Next stop was Bramwell Station, time to stay somewhere to shower. Well this was an interesting stop. We decided to go over to the bar area and yep we ran into some locals from home, not just one lot, but two separate lots also traveling the cape, we were starting to wonder if anyone was left down home.

When we first decided to head to the cape we were unsure about doing the infamous Tele Track, but now that we had the Statton family with us, we were more confident, we could help each other out if need be.

We started on the South track and were only at the entrance when we had herd there was someone ahead stuck. We finally arrived and I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard there was a chicken track. Palm creek, it was probably a great one to start us off as when we got there we couldn’t see what was on the other side of the bank. Cam of course had inspected it and didn’t let on how steep it was on the other side. When we came around the corner my eyes did widen and I did hold back a swear word or two. It was awesome fun. We laughed and giggled and were quite happy with our first achievement of this crossing. No help required.

Now I did join the Cape York FB site, so I had a bit of an insight to what to expect on some of the crossings.

We plugged along following our fellow Tasmanian friends and then here it was Gunshot. If you haven’t seen or heard about this crossing, google it and watch some of other peoples mishaps or goals. We stood and watched a couple but decided it definitely wasn’t for us and instead went around well not all of us did. One young lady wouldn’t get in the car to cross, infact she rather liked the idea of crossing through the water where a croc was sighted a couple of days earlier and being the good mum I was, walked her through. It was only knee deep and plenty of others standing in it, I’m pretty sure they were tastier than us.

The crossing wasn’t to bad, it was just getting up the bank on the other side that was the challenge, mind you the water was over the bonnet in one spot! The trusty land cruiser p@&$ed it in and Marcee, who was the support crew, got front seat and smiled the whole way up.

After a short break and a couple of other minor water crossings we pulled up for the night just off the track, South Tele track completed.

Off and ready to go we did some sightseeing first, with a trip to Fruit Bat Falls and then Elliott Falls where we went for a morning dip. The girls were jumping off the rock wall into the water and we swam up to the waterfall as far as we could and let ourselves flow back down with the current. Very refreshing and beautiful. Lunch was had and then it was on again.

This track was even bumpier and more challenging. We started off with a little creek crossing and came across a very interesting bridge. Josh in his Iveco crossed first, his car was much bigger and heavier, so if he could cross we could too, or was he just weakening it and would it break on us? I walked across to take much needed evidence photos, not because I was nervous (I’ve never been a fan of bridges).

I was always a little worried when we came to a crossing and there were people standing around, it was either because someone was bogged, or wanting someone else to go first to see how bad or easy it was.

We crossed a few more creeks but nothing too major before getting to Nolan’s Crossing, another one to google as there’s been a few mishaps on this one aswell. It’s very deep and can be soft, many a vehicle had been drowned in this creek, a couple while we were there watching and waiting to cross! The drop into it in a couple of spots is steep so this can make it hard also. Josh and Cam sussed it out and decided to take a different track which turned out to be the right one. The Iveco first across successfully and then us without any hesitations. A beer or two was well earned, the North was fought and won, no winches required.

It was an excellent spot to camp at Nolan’s, the six girls had a ball, splashing and swimming in the creek in their clothes, we couldn’t get them out.

We finally hit some half decent road the next day and by half decent I mean there were no more crossings, just kms of corrugated road and red dust.

We were nearly there, crossing the Jardine river on the ferry before arriving in Bamaga and stocking up on some food, very expensive food, a cooked chook was nearly $20. We camped at Loyalty Beach, Cam paying for our stay at the van park by doing some plumbing work came in handy for the budget. At one stage he had five young, girl apprentices, not sure how they went on the tools though.

The toilets/showers were a delight, with a beautiful green frog sitting in there, on the window seal. I sat there watching him waiting for him to jump on me, no time for mucking around, I was up and off, still pulling up my pants as walked out the door nearly. He was cute but I didn’t particularly want him on me unexpectedly.

Finally the tip of Mainland Australia. We had done it. It was a pretty special spot, especially thinking because we live right down at the bottom of Australia.

We spent a few more days exploring around the Tip and camped at a place called Somerset, virtually right on the beach, only to find out a few days later that it’s renowned for Crocs!

The time had come for the journey back down the dreaded corrugated red dirt track, camping at Elliot falls for a night and then calling into Cook town on our way home for a night.

Many thanks to the Statton crew for a great trip and lots of laughs and certainly a highlight of our trip so far.

We all definitely loved Cape York.

Fraser Island or โ€œDingo Islandโ€ as someone else called it…

After leaving Brisbane we ventured to Toowoomba where we stayed a night with a new friend of Cams, Griffo from the Islands, yes another new friend. I should be keeping a tally as we owe all these lovely people accommodation and a feed. Sprout again made himself at home on the couch and the girls were treated like royalty and were very spoilt. Maree loved them so much she cried as we were driving out the following day.

Next stop was Coloundara where we called into some new friends we made while in Japan, Mick and Justine and their daughters, where we got spoiled and treated like royalty at their beautiful place.

Noosa was the next destination, but only for the night, we were dropping off our van and packing the car to head to Fraser Island for 5 nights, mind you Marcee wasn’t too keen after hearing all the talk about Dingoes that night and saying before bed “I don’t want to go to Dingo island!”๐Ÿคฃ

It was a bit of a change from a house, to a van, to a tent and with only the essentials, a test for when we head north to Cape York.

We got up at the crack of dawn and caught the first of our ferry rides at Tewantin which took us to Double Island Point then to Rainbow Beach. A bit of beach driving then to Inskip Point to the next ferry to cross over to Fraser Island.

After driving up the beach a few Kms we pulled over and waved down another couple who were heading in the same direction and decided to tag along (safety in numbers of course), low and behold she was from Tassie and of course there was someone we knew that she knew.

We decided to camp in the fenced off areas as we were in tents and both girls were freaking out about the Dingoes, last time Cam and I were here we had our pop top troopy so we had no issues, but better to be safe.

A bit of beach fishing and Ilueka caught the first and second fish and the rest of us went empty handed, but we had one very excited young lady with bragging rights.

No sight of a Dingo yet but we saw lots of other wildlife, a sea snake, a shark a porpoise, goanna, possum and some whales, very exciting.

Finally on our way up to Sandy Cape we saw a lone Dingo. The girls were very excited. When we got to the tip and turned around we found a spot to look for sand worms, waving dead meat over the sand waiting for them to pop their heads up, the only thing that popped there heads out was an inquisitive dingo who sort of cornered Cam, the girls and our travel buddies. They made a dash back to the car and decided we didn’t need sand worms that desperately.

With only a couple of days left we headed over to the other side of Fraser, Wathumba, a beautiful inlet and beach where we went for a swim, a little fresh to start off with but it soon warmed up and was quite refreshing.

Next we headed to Lake Mackenzie, another beautiful spot, the water was like a tropical oasis but certainly not as warm, Cam was the only one to go for a swim here, brrrr.

There was so much to see and if we had more time we would’ve but our fury friends time was up in the kennels (prison๐Ÿคฃ) and we had to collect him. We did feel for sure that we’d get a phone call to come and collect him but apparently he was “well behaved??”. He does surprise us sometimes.

We headed back to Maizie and Tan’s place at Eumundi for a couple of nights, having a few drinks around the fire pot, infact believe it or not the guys wanted to go to bed before us girls, strange I know, especially in my house ๐Ÿค”.

After a good look around Noosa and Eumundi, we ventured to Hervey Bay to catch up with an old friend, Mince. We had a few drinks and the following day we were invited to his boat and home for a cuppa. A beaut boat, the girls were saying maybe we could sell the van and travel in a boat………๐Ÿ˜ณ

We packed up our trusty home and headed to Paronella Park an amazing place that I would highly recommend to visit if you’re able to. The story behind it is one of hard work, sadness and happiness. The couple that run it now have done it justice and we left there in awe of it and touched by its history.

Another place that Cam and myself visited years ago was Etty Bay. A very small place. The van park was on the beach, but due to our little friend Sprout we could not stay there because of the Cassowary’s, which we were lucky enough to see when we drove in. An unusual bird, similar to an emu in a way.

Next stop was Airlie beach, another beautiful place, the girls loved the bird feeding at the park where we stayed. We only had a few days here but wished for more.

Cairns was our next big stop, ready for a visit from some familiar faces.

Johnny and Carol, great friends from Tas arrived and we treated ourselves to an Air BNB as it was actually cheaper for all of us to stay there than a van park, also less likely to get kicked out for noise levels ๐Ÿ˜ฌ.

We had a look around the out skirts, up to Karunda to the markets and the butterfly sanctuary.

Booking a reef trip can always be a tough call but rain, hail or shine we were going. There was no hail and the sun popped out a couple of times, however our attitude was well we’re gunna get wet anyway, so off we went in 1-2 metre swell, all of us traveling ok to begin with, but then one by one we had people go down. Now I won’t name names (ahem Johnny), but the only ones who weren’t affected were Cam, Mazie and Ilueka, I kinda figured Ilueka was ok because she kept herself occupied by her constant conversation, omg I don’t think I’ve heard her talk so much. I did find myself go out for fresh air but that was because it was getting stuffy and well I wanted to check the view but not quite over the side ๐Ÿ˜ฌ.

The snorkeling was great fun and we saw a lots of different species of fish. It was a great experience for the girls, something they hadn’t done a lot of. The smiles on their faces was worth the rain and rough waters.

It was time to say goodbye to our beautiful friends and Cairns as we were off to Mareeba for a stint. Cam was off to the Torres Strait Islands again for a 2 weeks Which soon became 4 weeks ๐Ÿ˜ฉ.

Cam was very stoked with this trip to the Torres straight Islands, as he was getting sent to Murray island this time in the eastern cluster and what a beautiful place it is….. lucky him!โ˜น๏ธ

He got to catch crays and sharks straight off the beach.

We waved goodbye to him and our life in the van began.

Andy and Keely, who’s place we camped at, were awesome. We felt welcomed, very safe and comfortable. Mareeba had everything we needed and for my birthday outing the girls and I took ourselves to the local rodeo as we had never been before.

We arrived in time for the comedy part of the show which was great and entertaining but when that finished we went for a walk around and just for old time sake, had a ride on the Gee Whizzer. We got an extended, faster ride as there was no one in the line but from all the laughing and screaming we possibly created some interest as there was a line up when we got off.

Now no show is complete without a dagwood dog and the taste is as I remember them, great at first but that greasy feeling afterwards but you only turn 44 once.

We went back to watch the bull and horse riding but after the girls were making comments about the cruelty of the steer wrestling I felt it was time to leave before we got thrown out for being animal activists.

School started back and was very testing with internet dropping out every now and then, but we’re getting by with very patient teachers, students and a mother who has more grey hairs and has started drinking more coffee (and wine) just to get through, I’ve spent a few moments in the only private room in the van, the en-suite, door closed, head in hands think what the f$&k am I doing!!๐Ÿ˜ฉ

But on the upside, not too long and Cam will be home and we’ll be making our way to Cape York, a part of our country that not many can say they’ve been to and all the experiences along the way and it’s all worth it. I’ll just make sure I have a bottle of something on hand for those bad times, thank god for a mum that listens to my whinging.

Well it’s goodbye for now. I can’t wait to see what lays ahead.

We made it….

We made it, yes that’s right we ventured further than NSW and are now in “where else but Queensland”. It only took us a year but, we got here.

After leaving Canberra, once again, we headed to Nowra to visit long time friends of the Conroy family Darren and Sandra. Darren was great mates with Cams dad and the girls were super excited to meet him and hear all the funny stories about their poppy with a beard. Darren can be a practical joker and had a few up his sleeve for Ilueka and Marcee by showing them his pet spiders, we went and had a look but stood well clear of them, not a big lover of the little critters, especially when they can’t be found in their web.

After staying a couple of nights, Sprout had made himself at home and with Sandra’s offer of leaving Sprout behind and instead taking Darren with us, we thought long and hard about it but, our budget wouldn’t allow for a man of his stature, plus he wouldn’t fit in the bunk. We again decided to keep Sprout and soldier on as he seemed to be a changed, dog…… we hoped.๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

After a couple of horn toots and a birdie flipped at us we were off traveling again.

We left Nowra to make our way to another one of our favourite towns Port Stephens, stopping a night at Norah Head, a beautiful little spot. The girls had a swim in the pool at the park and Cam a surf, at the local surf spot. We only stayed a night here but were pleased we did.

Port Stephens, we highly recommend this place. The beaches are great and you can take your 4wd onto Stockton Beach, or take a camel ride through the dunes if that’s what takes your fancy.

We stayed with friends Clarky and Rexelle, who were very hospitable and didn’t seem to mind our furry little friend, who again made himself at home in their bedroom. Sprout seems to be making a good impression every where we go! We know, we can’t believe it either! Clarky gave us some Japanese cooking lessons and Cam went for a trail ride in Bulahdelah, 35 degrees and almost died, he was quite happy to spend the next day at the beach with us!

Next stop was with an old friend of mine that I worked with in my younger days at Rockmans, Christine and Joe Griffiths. They live in a little town called Harrington. Not a town we would normally have called into but pleased we did. A little fishing village on the coast I’d say half way between Sydney and Brisbane, so a great location and not over run by tourists. Again we were greeted with great hospitality and generosity, the girls left sporting new beanies made by Christine, Marcee sleeps with hers on. She’s one of a kind that one, a bit like the dog….๐Ÿค”.

Crescent Head was another stop over. Another surf for Cam and a chill out for the girls and I. We caught up on some school work why we had the chance. We found some interesting holes in the ground and when the ranger came around, he informed us that no, they weren’t spider holes, a sigh of relief was breathed, they were crab homes. A little bit of poking at them and the crabs came out, a very crabby crab!

Back on the road after a nights stay and we were off to South West Rocks for quick visit. The water was still warm, about 24ยฐ and we ALL went for a swim, yep even me. It was beautiful, jumping and surfing the waves in.

We kept travelling towards Scotts Head for a night. Watching the budget a little we decided to find a cheap or free camp for the night. We came across Gamma Reserve, $20 a night and on the river, it was a great spot . There was a clean toilet block, but no showers, nothing that a quick dip in the ocean couldn’t fix anyway. We stayed a couple of nights here and checked out the area a little more. Apart from the mozzies it was pretty good.

Driving up the coast going through Nambucca heads, also an old favourite and then through Coffs Harbour, eventually arriving at Iluka, with a very excited daughter in tow! We had to come here of course and what was supposed to be a 2 night stay ended 4 nights. We loved it as much as Ilueka (if not a little more ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ). The surf was great and the fish and chips were yummy and cheap, this is where we met some local sugar cane farmers who invited us to come on a tour of their farm. A great educational experience for all of us. We learnt a little about the process of growing and harvesting the cane and tasted it fresh from the crop. We chewed on the husk to get the flavour of the sugar, it wasn’t like the commercial where it drips out though. We took a cane to chew on and collected some fresh macadamias to nibble on aswell. They were a friendly and inviting couple.

Iluka the town itself was beautiful and the surrounding National Park was pretty, Cam got some amazing surf while we were there and we could’ve easily spent more time there discovering and also at the coolest pub we’ve ever seen, Sledgers reef hotel, but we needed to get back on the road again. So far though on our travels, this little lost in time town is by far our favourite place.

Byron Bay was next on the list for a few nights. More swimming and surfing and a trip to a macadamia farm inland of Byron bay, they were having an open day and we got to do tour of the entire farm, it was fantastic, they employ a lot of disabled people as well. Then back for some more time in Byron, but no sign of Chris Hemsworth, I left disappointed, next time Chris, next time.๐Ÿ˜

Much to Cam’s delight, it was one time when my bad eyesight was actually amazing. I did have my prescription sunnies on but I know a good looking man when I see one, just take a look at my husband hey…….๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคฃ “That looks like Kelly Slater, omg it is” I said, We quickly pulled into the car park and doubled park for a photo opportunity with this legend, but someone needed to stay in the car incase, no guessing who ๐Ÿ˜ฉ. I can’t believe what I did, I’m such a good wife.

We got to watch some of the best surfers in the world at the WSL surf comp. Sprout was even aloud on the beach, at times he had more spectators than than the surfers with his over enthusiastic hole digging antics! More surfing was done and swimming aswell, the water had been beautiful.

We got to Brisbane just before Easter as planned and the girls received a beautiful surprise from their uncle Matt and cousin Seb, turning up after a late flight from Tassie, when the girls were fast asleep, then sneaking into their room in the morning to seeing their faces going from shocked, to smiles, to tears of joy, a well pulled off plan.

We did the tourist thing and went to Movie world, without Cam as he was doing a few days work in Brisbane, but my brother Matt, his son Seb and my good friends Roz and Sharon joined us with their children.

Straight after Easter it was time for Cam to head off to the Torres Strait Islands to do a 6 week stint plumbing. Exciting but nervous at the same time he set off on the Tuesday after Easter and flew to Cairns and then to Horn Island, where he then took a helicopter ride to Duaun Island for two weeks, then a boat ride to Saibai island where he spent another 2 weeks then a small plane to Boigu Island for the last two weeks. He said there were lots of tough moments and boredom at times, but overall he seemed to really enjoy the experience and made some great friends in the process.

We kept busy while he was away with the girls doing Eschool. It is a great program as I’ve said before, but boy it can be hard work. Saying that, I’d like to thank the past teachers who have taught one of my little angels (Marcee), omg, is all I can say.๐Ÿ˜ฉ

I caught up with some old friends while we were there, Roz, Lorinda who gave me a much needed makeover and can’t thank enough for it, and Helen in Redcliffe, someone I hadn’t seen in over 28 years, it was great to see her.

I also enjoyed spending time with my sister Kelly, we can’t thank you and Russ enough for having us for all that time. I hadn’t spent that amount of time with her since she was living at home, and no arguments. It was also great for the girls to spend sometime with their cousin’s Karla who also help out heaps by looking after them at times. Thank you Russ, Kelly and Karla.

A highlight for Cam was catching up with a close mate from primary school Shannon King, who moved away midway through high school and they hadn’t seen each other since. He’s gone on to become a Muay Thai kick boxing world champion, multiple Australian boxing champion and owner of one the most successful chains of gyms in Australia. He invited us to his place and we all got on fabulously with the girls disappearing inside with his girls while he and Cam relived many old stories and memories over a few beers.

So here we are back on the road heading further north making our way to the top of Australia. It’s getting exciting, but there’s a lot kilometres and car singing to be done yet.

Our final week in Japan

So finally our time in Japan was coming to an end and it was time to move on from Myoko and embark on our 10 days of exploring some other areas of Honshu, Japan’s South Island. Kyoto was our first destination for a quick overnight night stop, unfortunately not for longer as it seemed like a great city and we had heard lots of great things about it, but Hiroshima was calling and we were excited about visiting this infamous city.

Accomodation…….Can’t believe we done it again!!๐Ÿ˜ฉ

I looked up a booking site, entering the details, 2 adults, 2 children ages 11 and 8, so a room that sleeps 4, yep can’t be to hard. The pictures of accommodation came up with prices, better change the price range to tight budget price, click, ok that’s more our price range. Up comes the symbol of 4 people ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง next to the hotels that are available and so the researching began.

I studied the rooms bed sizes and when I saw two beds both with two pillows side by side I thought yep that’s perfect. The location was excellent, right on the river and a room with a view. The price was right, so after about an hour or so just looking in Hiroshima I selected our hotel and paid for it.

We arrived mid-afternoon and were greeted by the lovely staff, it looked upmarket, so far, so good. We walked into our room and we had 2 king single beds, arghhhhhh not again, we couldn’t even sleep side ways this time. After talking to reception we came to the reality that unless we wanted to fork out more money and not just a couple of hundred we were going to have to sleep two up, one adult, one child.

It seems that that’s just the Japanese way, children the same age as ours co-sleep with their parents or siblings, also they are smaller than us so probably is more comfortable. I suggest if you book accommodation put in an older age so you can get bigger or more beds. Oh well character building/bonding time, something like that ๐Ÿ˜ฉ.

That was the only complaint about the hotel, the location was perfect, only a 15 min walk to the peace memorial park and on the way there, we walked up some authentic Japanese streets. There are a lot of little restaurants and to some people’s delight strip clubs, yes that’s right. I even saw one club advertising for some new girls, I know what you are thinking and yes I would’ve been great but my legs were a little hairy and My eyebrows needed some detailing, so I decided my interview wouldn’t go to well at this time and was best left to the younger, well groomed girls that hadn’t had two kids and looking a little stressed, besides I’m also to old for a working visa, so that definitely would have been the main reason for not employing me. None the less, Cam was very impressed with my booking……. right in the middle of the red light district!๐Ÿคฃ

People: Wow, I can not say one bad word about the Japanese people, they are the most friendliest and generous people. You may have seen Cams posts and in my last blog about our 60 yo friend Tet. He and his wife delivered us the biggest spread for both dinner and breakfast, we left there not needing to eat for a day. The generous amount of time he gave to the girls and especially Cam giving them lessons with their skiing was unbelievable. Taking Cam back country on two occasions was quite an adventure and experience. We visited his shack again with friends Glenno the “Oil King” as Tet called him due to where he works and his mate Ray. Handing out drinks, sake, beer, shochu, and then giving the girls a bag of treats to eat on the train rides to Hiroshima. He even said to Cam that the girls could come and have a home stay with them in 2nd school.

Another example was an older couple cooking egg rolls on the street in Kyoto who stopped us and wanted to cook us all a sample, not for any money or expecting us to buy just because, he gave the girls a small tomato each to try saying they were super sweet and they were very delicious and sweet.

Dinner that night was at a bbq place that cooked chicken and pork skewers in a variety of bodily parts ๐Ÿคญ๐Ÿคข, the ones we ordered were yummy and when we left, again the generosity of the owner as she chased us out the door offering Ilueka and Marcee an ice cream each.

The people really are amazing.

Transportation: Our first day in Japan was very daunting but now after being able to communicate a little better we are finding it a lot easier.

The trains are amazing, spot on time every time. All the staff are helpful and will direct you to the right platform if you need help and if you miss your train there will be another one in 2 mins or so.

Food: I’m loving it, the variety and the element of surprise as sometimes we have no idea what we’re eating, like Conga eel, wasn’t overly fussed on that one but we gave it a try.

Most places have English menus, if not there are pictures and you can guesstimate what your ordering. Most dishes are also huge. Cam an I ordered a Ramen ๐Ÿœ to share, it was a perfect size for 2. We also ordered an Okonomiyaki on Miyajima island and it was plenty big enough for us to share.

The sashimi was was delicious, but Cam was not overly fussed for it, his saying is “if it’s not cooked, it’s bait” at least he tried it.

Hiroshima is a beautiful place, but very humbling. The museum was confronting but, very interesting as I don’t think I realised the full impact of the bomb. The girls found it sad and Marcee was quite taken back by it, commenting that “I hope it never happens again”, we all hope this is never repeated again. The following day we went to a small island called Miyajima island. It’s a beautiful place.

We left there and endured a 5 hour trip on the bullet train, reaching a speed of 280km/hr, they’re amazing machines, we could’ve sat an egg on our table and it barely would’ve moved.

At last every kids dream came true and we went to Disney Land, a belated Christmas present for Ilueka and Marcee but worth it. We arrived at 8.30am and quickly made our way to book fast passes so we didn’t have to wait to long in line.

Our first major ride was thunder mountain and the line was already nearly a 2hour wait at 11am but with our pass we waited about 20 mins. The line ups for nearly anything were amazing, even to buy the flavoured popcorn was about a half hour wait, very testing for Cam but we were very proud of him, mind you he did say “nah, we’re skipping that one” quite a few times!

The whole day was amazing, the parades and the grand finale I felt like a little kid again hearing the Disney music.

The following day was spent at Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku. We went to one of the busiest streets I’ve ever seen, Takeshita St, it was shoulder to shoulder with people and nothing in particular to see. We also went to one of the busiest crossings in the world in Shibuya, we possibly contributed to the number of people by crossing it 3-4 times just for the experience and to try and get that right picture.

The next we went to Ueno and our first stop was the Ameyoko street market, one of Japan’s most famous markets with lots of stores, street food (chicken gizzards were accidentally ordered but not eaten) and fresh produce.

The Ueno Zoo was a little disturbing, some of the animals were in poor health and very little room to move in their pens. I’m not sure about most people their but my face was pretty well screwed up the whole way around and kinda wished I wasn’t their. We unfortunately didn’t see the panda ๐Ÿผ the line up was 50 minutes and I’m sorry but I was not lining up anymore, and even I did it wouldn’t of mattered as Cam had already said “nope, we’re skipping that one”๐Ÿ˜‚

Overall our time traveling Japan was a great experience for all of us. We met some beautiful people, to many to name but you know who you are and we thank you again for your generosity.

So now we are home back in Oz, reunited with Sprout, (I’ll fill you in on him next time) and traveling north. We’re very excited to be on the road and can’t wait for our next adventure.

Over half way……

Well we are over the half way mark of our Japan holiday and alls going well.

We left Richies for a 2 week stint in some other accommodation, our first time living in shared staff accommodation with a bunch of young guys and girls. Mind you we barely saw them due to their work hours but, were awesome when we did. Cam built them a fire pot and cleaned up the front deck and porch area the day we arrived so I think they were actually quite stoked to have us there after that. They were very accommodating to us old folks, age was no barrier…..we think.

We also had the pleasure of having Hasko and Jo, our friends from Canberra come and stay with us in the “Tree House” it was great to have them there and I’m pretty sure they enjoyed their time here in Myoko, with Hasko making quite a few “That’s the best days skiing I’ve ever had” comments, we’re pretty sure they did!

The snow has been great incase you hadn’t noticed from Facebook/Instagram posts, smiles all round, looks like Myoko is on track for its average of 14m of snow each winter. I’m pretty sure I’ve also heard the same words from Cam “that’s the best day skiing I’ve ever had” on several occasions as well.

Powder, powder and more powder snow and take it from someone who didn’t know there would be much difference, there certainly is. It’s so light and fluffy, when you kick it, it just turns to dust. It’s so dry, there’s no chance of building a snow man out of it as it won’t compact, you have to wait for it to warm a little so it’ll stick together.

Cam has progressed with his friendship with Tet, a 61 y.o. Japanese, ex ski instructor of 40 years who has become a great friend. A very generous gentleman who offered to give the girls private ski lessons for a whole day, taking them through powder snow and tree runs, their skiing ability and confidence has improved so much it’s very noticeable, we are very proud of them. He has also been given Cam many tips from Tet aswell but he has not approached myself as yet. Jo and I both figured that this was because you can’t improve on perfection and he left us alone!๐Ÿคฃ

Tet also took Cam back country a week or so ago, lending him all the gear and sharing his wealth of knowledge gained from skiing this area for over 40 years.

Cams ability to make friends even when they can’t even speak the same language is amazing to watch, I saw it with my own eyes. We got off a lift and all of a sudden another 70 odd year old Japanese man was following us around, talking to the girls trying to teach them how to count and following Cam around like a lost puppy dog, it’s quite humorous. I asked Cam what he said to him and he said “nothing really, just smiled and tried to talk to him”. You really only have to say hi or thank you in Japanese or even English and they seem to just appreciate the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them and just gave them some of your time, they really are amazingly friendly people. Oh, and their food is amazing too!

I had my 1st real powder skiing day last week and it was a bit of fun. Ploughing through it like it was dust and watching my skis disappear under the snow was an amazing experience, but after a face plant and a twist and turn smacking the back of my head I decided to stick to the groomed runs, just aswell it was a soft landing.

We then moved around the road with some guys from W.A. (more friends Cam made) that bought a lodge here and just so happened to have a couple of beds available for the remaining few nights before returning to our original accommodation. Again another great bunch of great guys. We had our first blinder in Japan with them for the JJJ Hottest 100, was a great night and the way they looked after us and the time they gave to the girls was fantastic. Thanks Ryan, Jamie and Jordan and co if you happen to read this.

We’ve just had another big dump of snow Thursday just in time for Paul Viney and his crew. It’s been great seeing familiar faces from time to time with some more friends, Stu from Sisters Beach and then Glenno from Vic coming in the next few weeks, with a bit of luck one of them may happen to have some spare room in their suitcases to squeeze in some Cadbury hazelnut chocolate and in return I will be your forever friend!๐Ÿ˜ฌ (thanks Jo).

We had a great day skiing yesterday on a rare Bluebird day with, yep you guessed it, some more new friends Cam has made on the chairlift once again, Jake and Marry-Anne from Oregon, US. Cams now planning a holiday to the US to stay with them!๐Ÿ˜ซ got news for him, won’t be for a while!

We hope all you guys back home aren’t sweating it out to much and keeping safe from all the fires.

I’ll try to make you all feel a bit cooler and keep posting some more snow pics. to help you get through (secretly I’m a little jealous as guess what……. it’s snowing AGAIN arghhhh).๐Ÿ˜ฉ