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Our Story

Reading some other stories about how travelling came to be, it occurred to me that there are lots of you out there in this spectacular world who have no idea who I am nor how I came to be a nurse and travelling Australia.

So this is our story.

Tim and I met way back in 2010 and I moved in with him in 2011. Initially we decided we would like to buy a few acres and a house somewhere on the outskirts of our hometown Albany in Western Australia.

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I was working as a personal care assistant in aged care and Tim was (and is) a boilermaker working for a locally owned company. In 2011, I was offered a scholarship by my then manager to become an Enrolled Nurse. Working towards this goal, I also worked full-time while studying part time. As is required for many areas of study, I was required to attend clinical placements at hospitals so I used all my annual leave attending these full-time placements.

Tim and I loved to go away on weekends (or whenever I had a few days off, working shift work and all) and one particular weekend in 2012, we camped at Bluff Creek, a beach further up the coastline from Cheynes Beach WA. Sitting under the black sky scattered with bright stars and a warm campfire burning next to us, I realised I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in Albany paying off a mortgage having never travelled. I told Tim that I wanted to travel when I finished studying (both my Enrolled Nursing Diploma then Bachelor degree in Nursing). Tim said he would do it with me, so that night, we decided that when I had finished my degree and Tim was due his 10 year long service leave, we would pack up and become nomads. That year, so far in the future, was 2018.

For the next 6 years, I finished studying my Enrolled Nursing Diploma then my Bachelor of Nursing all the while working full time. I spent every hour of my accrued annual leave to attend clinical placements which left me feeling really exhausted and pretty burnt out.  However I left aged care and began working in Mental Health, an area I have and always will be passionate about. I was extremely lucky to have a brilliant manager who encouraged and supported staff studying so I was able to attend clinical placements when offered and even travelled to the Northern Territory for a full 2 months of clinical placements in various Aboriginal communities. I had the best time of my life in those 2 months and it ignited a deep and profound respect and passion for providing health care to Indigenous communities. I had wanted to be a Remote Area Nurse for a long time and this placement cemented my goal to become one and work all around Australia.

We set a date of 17th August 2018 when we would be driving out of our driveway and on the next part of our lives. This date was quickly creeping up and we had heaps to do.

We listed all our furniture on Facebook Buy & Sell groups and were surprised at how easily and quickly we were able to sell everything. The house became more and more empty until the final night was spent on a mattress on the floor.

We had saved money and added the dosh from selling our belongings to our travel kitty. I had paid off my debts over the years and Tim had chosen a real estate to lease his house through.

I didn’t have much furniture, having given away or sold a lot of it when I moved in with Tim. However it was harder for Tim emotionally as he was selling everything he had worked hard to buy especially his beloved motorbike, couch and TV.

We had a cat Leila and dog Izzy as well. Leila has gone to live with Tim’s dad and reports back are saying Leila is loving being a lap warmer and spends her days snoozing on ‘Grandad’s’ lap or under his bed covers! Izzy is staying with Tim’s sister until we settle in Alice Springs. Tim’s sister has 4 kids, the two younger ones being at home more and are loving playing with Izzy. We feel so comforted and grateful that our pets are being cared for so well and in homes full of love and attention. Of course we could have taken Izzy with us however we really wanted to see a lot of National Parks and decided it would be kinder for Izzy to remain in Albany rather than having to spend time in random kennels while we are on the road.

So that was how we came to travel, in a nutshell. Of course there were a lot of emotions going on. I had been living back in Albany for 12 years and Tim had lived there all his life (apart from stints living away) so we were leaving friends, family and pets behind, not to forget stable jobs! However now we are on the road, we keep in touch regularly via social networking, phone calls, texts and postcards!

I’m sure many people who travel, both overseas and around Australia are often told how ‘lucky’ they are. But luck has nothing to do with it. Travelling and having the funds to travel requires a lot of work, sacrifices and dedication. For seven years while I studied both my EN and RN I never had a holiday, not to Bali, not over east, not one holiday. Tim and I took little breaks for a day or two but otherwise I was either working and studying full time and/or attending clinical placement in hospitals (full time shifts).

We both had our sights set on becoming free from the daily grind and worked hard to achieve it. Once I finish my grad year in Alice Springs, we will be back on the road picking up nursing/welding work to fund our travels.

I am sitting at my laptop at a place called Cygnet Bay on the Dampier Peninsula. It is a balmy evening and I’m sipping on icy cold apple cider, looking forward to what tomorrow brings. In a couple of days we will be doing the Gibb River Road then heading to Darwin for my graduation ceremony on the 12th October.

So if you want to travel, anywhere in the world or around your own country, you CAN do it! It doesn’t need to be expensive and you can do it on a budget. Just work hard and save as much as you can, you can always pick up work on the road if you need.

There are heaps of Facebook pages that are really informative and helpful. I have found quite a few really helpful, here are some links:

MY RIG Adventures

Not Grey Nomads

Trekking Downunder

Seeking the Serenity

Thanks for reading! – Rachel xoxox

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Bluest of blue!

Hi! I’m writing this under our annexe overlooking the blue water of Cape Keraudren, north of Pardoo. I have never seen such turquoise blue water and we can’t wait to go swimming tomorrow! We have set up and relaxing after a week of no-so-great holidaying!

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We packed up from Shark Bay and were hoping to check in at an AirBnB in Coral Bay but alas, ’twas not to be (for the fact Coral Bay has bugger all AirBnB’s) so we decided to camp at Warroora Station. We stocked up on supplies in Carnarvon and one of my brother’s rang and suggested we visit Gnoolara Station so we set off there.

Turning right at big sign saying ‘KING WAVES KILL’, we drove the second most corrugated road we had ever driven! Arriving at the camp, we looked around in dismay at the dusty, windy, crowded campsite swarming in surfies while overlooking reefy, rough ocean. We’d come this far, it was getting dark and had to camp the night. Not happy Jan.

The place was interesting if wind surfing, surfing and whatever else is your cup of tea. But for Tim and I, give us swimmable water and beach access any day of the week. So we stayed one night listening to the howling wind batter out camper, packed up the next morning and took off like a bat out of hell. Our number plate ripped off so Tim had to tie is back on with zip ties! That’s how corrugated the road was!

The blowholes down the road were awesome and we had a look at the lighthouse and humpy camp over the other side.

Planning on camping at Warroora Station, we stopped at Milynup Roadhouse where I made the executive decision to drive straight through to Exmouth and stay in a cabin for a couple of nights to feel a bit more civilised!

Exmouth is a gorgeous town with amazing crystal beaches and so much to do. We had plans to snorkel, go on a glass bottom boat, fish and swim swim swim! However that afternoon I started to feel lethargic and achy. Over the next two days, it developed into a stomach bug where I was left with horrible abdominal cramps and … let’s just say, ‘the tummy bug stuff’. We did go for a drive to have a look around and watched the sunset one night which was beautiful. Tim went out by himself one afternoon and saw whales breaching in the ocean.

After three nights in Exmouth, I started to feel slightly more human and we set off to Miaree Pool for the night on our way to Broome. We left there this morning and are now at our current spot.

The place we are camping now is pretty quiet with beautiful views overlooking the ocean. The tide comes in and out regularly, with the next high tide due, according to our neighbours, tomorrow around 2.30pm. We’ve just had a walk down to the water with the tide out and the sand feels like that magnetic sand and really sinky! Tim and I had a race back which was hilarious with our feet sinking deep into the sand with each step!

It was nice staying in a chalet for a few nights but it’s also nice being back on the road especially in such glorious weather. And feeling well and healthy is not something I will take for granted! We have just over 3 weeks to make the trek to Darwin in time for my graduation ceremony and there is a lot we want to see on the way so getting north of Broome is something we’re keen to do. But until then, we’re just enjoying each day and night.

Tim and I get along well, most of the time. Spending 100% of our time together can wear a bit thin and we have our moments, but overall we know we’re stuck together (plus Tim says he keeps the car keys in his pocket so I don’t do a runner! haha). Snappy words are often just left to dissipate in the air rather than arguing over. Travelling and camping together, just the two of us, has taken co-existing to a different level and as much as we can irritate each other, we rely on each other, both for our skills and company. Trying times are overcome when we find somewhere that is paradise and we celebrate pushing through the annoyances of getting there.

We have both gone through the feeling of ‘gee it would be nice just being in a house for a while’ but when we spent time in the chalet, it was nice being back on the road camping under the stars and listening to all sorts of bird life, crickets, frogs and random cars driving past in the middle of the night!

I have found camping/travelling pages on Facebook really helpful and have made a couple of new friends who I will meet when we start our grad programs in Alice Springs.

One FB page of a new friend is: Seeking the Serenity – Travelling Aus which is an awesome and inspiring page of travelling! Check it out!

Keep in touch and stay posted! Love your comments and support xoxoxoxo

 

 

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Dilly the Dolphin

It’s a bit of a cloudy day here on Double Beach, a secluded paradise on the southern peninsula of Shark Bay, on a station called Tamala. On the North peninsula, almost at the end, is a town called Denham which reminds me of a mix between the coastal towns in the TV shows Sea Change and Home & Away; sunny, friendly and beachy.

The last time I wrote, we were staying at 40-mile beach around 50km south of Karratha. It was a pleasant campsite with warm sunny weather and plenty of space. However, the tide went out in the early morning and didn’t come back until later in the evening so swimming wasn’t really possible. Tim and I spent the first day exploring via 4WD along the sand dunes and reefs. We loved looking at the rock pools where brightly coloured crabs would hear our impending company and scuttle away. Slow or sleepy crabs weren’t so quick and made a mad dash around the edges of the rock pools when we approached; one crab even leapt through a hole landing right at my feet causing me to squeal!

Due to the magic of geocaching, we found a beautiful billabong called Miaree Pool only 20km north of our campsite. It was obviously a favourite place for motorhomes to pull up but there was plenty of space. The water was deep and dark green, a rope swing hung still from the branch of a grandfatherly white gum while ibis, black swans and the odd willy wagtail would swim and scoop up fish. We swam for about an hour, floating in the coolness and appreciating the landscape sharing this refreshing part of itself with us.

We stayed three nights at 40-mile beach then made the 4.5 hour drive to Carnarvon where stayed at one of six caravan parks. We did the usual load of washing, showering and I made use of the swimming pool. We visited the Carnarvon Space Museum which was fantastic and very interactive. The best bit for me was getting pat Buzz, the resident cat who managed to sleep on the front counter while hordes of people came bustling through!

We were itching to get going to Shark Bay and hopefully find a piece of beach where we could swim and relax. Thanks to WikiCamps, we chose a place called Double Beach on Tamala Station. We rang before we arrived at Shark Bay and were directed to go to a cottage on the station where we would pay for our stay ($17 per person per night plus $50 key deposit for the gates) and they also gave us a small load of fire wood.

Yesterday (9th September 2018) I had breakfast then read/snoozled until around 11am. We then swam, kayaked, fished, walked, read and swam again when the tide had come in. When the tide is out, the water is about thigh deep for about 500m but when the tide is in, it is about neck deep so you can have a good swim without touching the ground.

Today (10th September 2018) We watched a dolphin slowly swim by, up and down, up and down. We were hoping to see him while we were kayaking but he dilly-dallied away before we got out there. Sting-rays, some sandy coloured and some darker, skimmed the ocean floor creating circles of sandy dust when they would flit away. We are careful where we tread and make waves to warn them of our impending soft-footed steps.

The sandflies here are horrible and despite covering ourselves with loads of Bushmans Plus, they still manage to find somewhere to torment us especially when we’re sitting on the loo!

The night sky here is a matte black velvet blanket, draped over the highest points of the earth with different size pinpricks letting in the light of Heaven. It is encompassing and commanding, your eyes take longer to adjust to the thick blackness and every rock looks like a creature waiting in the dark. The walls of stony sand-dunes amplify the ocean and bird noises creating an ampitheatre of nocturnal audio theatre.

Earlier, as I was writing this, a mahogany fox ran out of the scrub about 5 metres away from me. His tongue hung out the side of his mouth and he trotted away, with a cheeky look on his face as if to say ‘I’ll be back for morsels or your shoes!’.

I have just returned from ‘the hill’ where I can get phone signal. Sitting quietly uploading photos from my phone, I looked up to see a baby King Brown snake peering at me less than a metre from my feet. It slithered quickly away while I leapt up and wobbled away over the rocks as fast as I could. I looked back to see I had left my towel where I was sitting. Tim called up to me and made the trek up to retrieve my towel while I stood perched on a rock in my sturdy granny sandals, fly bitten legs and clutching my laptop bag, pointing to the last place Mr Brown was seen. I followed Tim with trepidation back to where I was sitting until Tim points down and says ‘Oh, there he is’, the snake lying about 20cm from my foot, Tim had walked right past him. That was it, I clambered away and sang my Mum’s ‘Go away snakes!’ song (complicated lyrics: “Go away snakes! Go away snakes! <repeat>) to warn any other slitherers that granny sandals was on her way!

11th September 2018: We are now back in Carnarvon topping up fuel and supplies then heading to Gnaraloo Station as suggested by one of my brothers. Bring on more swimming, fishing and relaxing! Oh it’s a hard life!

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Take Care!!!!

Books I’ve read since we’ve left:

  • A Man Called Dave by Dave Pelzer
  • The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl by Tess Holliday
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
  • Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
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The ocean beckons!

I’m sitting at our trusty camp table listening to the canvas of the camper trailer get tickled by the wind coming off the ocean. We are back on the coast and it feels wonderful!

We had a really nice few days in Tom Price, a nice little town which likes to have green trees and grass and plants because the residents seem to constantly have their sprinklers on, even in the dead heat of the day. The Tom Price caravan park we stayed at was brilliant. We paid $32/night for an unpowered site which was directly across from the amenities block. We chose a site with a beautiful shady tree at our door step which helped with the heat. The facilities were clean and the crystal clear swimming pool was just divine!

We did some touring, drove past the house I lived my first 4 years of life in and generally relaxed. We drove up Mt Nameless which is the highest point you can drive a car in WA at 1016m. The views were beautiful and we even tried to find a geocache hidden there but no such luck.

After spending most of our last day in Tom Price doing laundry and sorting the car, we left after three nights to go to Hamersley Gorge. We had envisioned another Wittenoom Gorge where we could meander along the gorge until we came to our own little spot but Hamersley Gorge is more like the gorges in Karijini park; you can’t camp anywhere except designated spots and then hike down to the gorge. Too touristy. So we had a look at the gorge and decided to drive to an abandoned homestead called Tambrey Station and call that home for the night.

The campsite at Tambrey Station was very dusty but flat and open with a camp fire ready to go once we found some firewood. We arrived mid-afternoon so set up and relaxed. I made spaghetti bolognaise in the camp oven which was delicious (if I do say so myself!).

The next morning we were up at 6.30am to pack up the camper before the heat kicked in. Then we walked around the ruins of the old homestead. The house was made of red mud-brick and was solid. Even the fireplace was made out of mud-brick. There was a grave on site for three people, the farmer Thomas Cusack who died aged 43, his wife Dosh who lived until she was 90 and their youngest daughter Prudence Leake who only died 6 years ago. On Prudence’s grave plaque was written ‘I must go back to the Tableland, Where life can be rough and hard, Let me return to the mud brick house, Of heat & drought & the worry of debt, Then the joy in the coming of rain, I must go back to the Tableland and have my share of it’.

The Roebourne-Wittenoom Rd is the worst road we have driven on so far! Diabolical! The corrugations were deep and constant and the road had so many small floodways which you couldn’t see until you were almost upon then and had to brake sharply to slowly cross. The Karratha – Tom Price Rd wasn’t much better but it at least turned into bitumen.

We left to head north to Karratha and as we were listening to an audio book we rattled past a sign saying ‘Python Pool’. Anything that sounded remotely like it has water in or near it was much needed. We drove east for 20km to the most beautiful and inviting waterhole we have seen so far! Neither of us had our bathers but the site of the water drew us in and we leapt in fully clothed! The water had a lot of minerals in it and was very buoyant. Tim and I floated around on our backs looking up at the gorge walls rising high above us. As we swam, we chatted to another couple who had travelled from NSW.

We got to Karratha and had lunch at a tavern. We found a car wash and hosed the car and camper off. I used the BP toilet and was unpleasantly surprised to find there was no toilet paper anywhere. And this wasn’t a shake and shimmy kind of dunny trip either. So I sat poised, waiting for another customer to leave the bathroom before I jimmied my pants and scooted into the next cubicle! God help anyone who walked in in the middle of my crab-walk!

We then headed to a place called 40 mile beach which is a 53km drive south of Karratha. The caretaker is very friendly and we are now set up in a beautiful private campsite with our very own access to our very own part of the beach!

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Wikicamps is actually coming in handy despite us doubting it when we first started. And as usual, talking to the locals is the best way to find great places. We are now heading back south until we reach Shark Bay then we’ll come back up the coast to Darwin exploring the coast further north of Karratha.

I’m writing this in a Word document because I only have one bar of reception and it’s just too damn slow. Ugh, first world problems!

Talk to ya soon! Xoxoxo

P.S Check out the Outback Traveller Magazine on Facebook! It’s starting up and will be amazing!