Tuesday, September 23, 2014

All Change??

As you may have noticed I've been a bit unmotivated at updating this blog recently. It's been 6 years since I originally started and 4 years since restarting it in late 2009.

It remains to be seen where I'll go from here but it feels like time for a change of direction —WHERE, HOW or WHEN I'm not sure but when things clarify will let you know here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tasmania ahoy!

We travelled on The Spirit of Tasmania 1 a roll-on/roll-off passenger and freight ferry with a displacement weight of almost 30,000 tonnes and a length of 194.3 metres. The 429 kilometre trip across Bass Strait takes around 10 hours at a cruising speed of 27 knots (50km per hour) and I usually take a night crossing so most of the time is spent asleep!

This was Levi's first trip "overseas" and he approached it in his usual nonchalant but curious manner.
No cage jails for this little fella - it was luxury all the way on the Spirit of Tasmania as he reclined on his/my bed.

We departed Melbourne at 7.30pm and arrived in Devonport at 6.30am after a smooth crossing apart from the usual rough patch as the ship goes through "the heads" of Port Philip Bay.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Southern Ocean Road — Hopetoun to Esperance

As well as keeping close to the Great Australian Bight the other reason for travelling the Southern Ocean and Springdale Roads was the abundance of wildflowers in this uninhabited area of WA with it's many nature reserves and small lakes.

View Southern Ocean Road in a larger map

Friday, September 13, 2013

Last few days in WA

After a very quick trip through Esperance which is the first place I've ever encountered with "No caravan or motorhome parking" signs (I was so shocked forgot to take a photo). It wasn't only that you couldn't camp there — they were actually forbidding PARKING!!

In the end I did actually park in that carpark as it was the only large open parking area that had room for a big vehicle AND it was completely empty, apart from a food van. I had to pick up a parcel at the Post Office, otherwise wouldn't have stopped. Needless to say I was all prepared to have a long discussion with the local council if by any chance someone had actually booked me … unfortunately, in a way, on my return there weren't any pink slips on the windscreen.

Friends had told me about a gravel pit parking spot about 10kms north of Esperance which I ended up spending the night at. There was a lovely local man (in his 80's) spending a few nights there to see how he went motorhoming on his own after his wife's death 3 weeks before — he was a typical retired farmer, although he and his wife had obviously been extremely close he was pragmatically getting on with his life and love of the great outdoors.

Travelling further north the next day we camped (on the farmer's recommendation) at Bromus Dam, just south of Norseman. Because of the recent rain the dam had overflowed and so we had a lovely water view from our camp.

This is an enormous camping area, part of the Great Western Woodlands, well treed and with quite a few wildflowers.

Levi found a special treasure at Bromus Dam and of course had to bury it = brown nose

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Travelling south to the coast I saw a town called Hopetoun and just had to go there because when we arrived in Australia back in the 1950's our first home was in the town of Hopetoun … not this one but in Victoria's north east. Interestingly both Hopetouns are in Mallee country.

On the way down I called into the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre which had some interesting information on the birds and district and there are two large fenced areas one with a male and female and the second with a lone female (her partner died a couple of weeks ago). Malleefowl are a bit like bush turkeys in that they build a mound nest from dirt and leaf litter. They keep the nest at a steady 32-34ºC by adding and removing sand and using their tongue to monitor the temperature. When the chicks hatch after 60-90 days they are completely independent — no parenting required!

Hopetoun was such a friendly town, on the the beautifully clear Southern Ocean, that I decided to stay there for a few days. Another incentive to stay was the Shipwrecked Gourmet Bakery. Levi and I enjoyed a 20 minute walk into town each morning and our reward of an excellent, buttery, ham and cheese croissant with a large cafe latte, the latter served with a tiny, tiny Éclair. These were enjoyed in the morning sunshine on the sidewalk where we met quite a few locals also enjoying these pastries. One man had actually managed Cobungra Station which is just to the north of where I used to live in the Victorian High Country.

Hopetoun main street in the morning rush hour!  I imagine it gets pretty busy here in summer though. There are actually 3 cafes in town as well as the hotel which has a restaurant, a couple of gift type shops as well as real estate agents (2), an IGA supermarket, hairdresser and police station. Most of the town's electricity is generated by wind turbines, they certainly get plenty of wind down on this wild south coast.

Nickel mining is carried on here as well originally by BHP who sold to FQM Australia Minerals in 2008, but I wasn't really aware of it. It probably accounts for the general feeling of contentment in the town as around 450 people are employed by them in the area.

The other "tourist attraction" in town is Mickey the magpie who was hand reared by some locals and spends his day at various spots around town, one popular spot is on the door to the IGA or outside the bakery where he was happy to sit about 6 inches above Levi's head.

Yesterday I saw 3 boys of about 12 years of age gathered around a bird lying on its side with one of them apparently putting his foot on the bird's leg! I rushed over to save the bird but it turned out to be Mickey playing with his shoelaces! It was lovely seeing how fond of the bird these boys were.