The Scribbling Nurse

Lost one, gained one

We are now Territorians!! Goodbye Western Australia!

We’ve arrived at our first major destination of Darwin! Getting in yesterday in the late morning, we splashed around in my brother’s pool until it was time to pick my mum up from the airport who has come up from Albany especially to see my graduation ceremony.

We’ve had a great time on the road the past couple of weeks since my last post. We stayed in Kununurra for one night before making our way to Lake Argyle. Swimming in the infinity pool, we looked out over the ‘inland sea’, Australia’s second largest man-made  water reservoir on which we would be sailing the next day.

Tim and I hiked down the 400m rocky zigzag to a pontoon where we met and chatted to a guy who was from the town of Denmark, only 40 minutes from Albany. He had picked up a Russian girl who was cycling her way around Australia or as the guy said ‘hasn’t done much cycling since I picked her up!’. It was beautiful swimming in the deep clean green water surrounded on one side by steep rocky walls and lightly scattered with houseboats and a million dollar yacht, all of which would never leave Lake Argyle after the rigmarole of getting them there in the first place!

The sunset tour of Lake Argyle was beautiful with two tour guides who gave a great informative tour as we sailed around the enormous dam. The highlight was the swim while we watched the red bushfire sun set over one of the islands.

We stayed for 3 nights and were all packed up and ready to leave on the third day to be told me Lake Argyle employees that the road to the Northern Territory was closed and there would be an escorted convoy back to Kununurra. As we couldn’t be bothered unpacking and setting up the camper again, we decided to join the convoy to Kununurra and stay in a hotel for the night (or as it turned out, a couple of nights! The air-con and great swimming pool at Kimberley Grande hotel were too inviting!).

Before the convoy started, a long line of cars waited at the Lake Argyle road turn-off and we all watched as flames licked and gnawed at bushland right across Victoria Highway. Willy-willy’s took smoke and turned it into a dark grey spiral high into the sky as we stood mesmerised. It was a strange but great opportunity to have a chat with a few people before we all moved onto the next legs of our journey.

Once the road as open through to the Northern Territory, Tim and I made the 4.5 hour drive to Katherine and rocked up the Shady Lane Caravan Park where we planted ourselves next to a mango tree laden with hard green mangoes. Night time crept around the corner, actually it was sprung upon us because we lost 1.5 hours due to the time difference, bats came out to play; shrieking and throwing themselves into the branches of palms and mango trees creating a racket. We shone our torch into the trees and watched them hang upside staring right back at us until they flapped loudly and crash landed into a another tree, away from prying eyes.

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We went on a 2 hour boat ride along Nitmiluk gorge where you ride on one boat, get off at the end of one gorge, walk past some beautiful and intriguing ancient Aboriginal art, then hop onto another boat to ride down the second gorge. We were lucky enough to spy a freshwater crocodile nestled in a crevice under one of the gorge walls, his beady eyes looking at us with a ‘bugger off’ expression.

We moved onto Adelaide River and stayed at Mt Bundy Station only a few km’s from the little town centre. Staying at the unpowered camp area along the Adelaide River, we were never along with wallabies, cane toads and a menagerie of birds all rustling, squawking and at one point, getting into our rubbish AGAIN! The swimming pool overlooks a paddock where we swam watching donkeys, horses and buffalo nibble on hay bales and probably eyeing us off jealously as we cooled off in the 40 degree celsius heat!

The next day we visited Douglas thermal springs where sand and water were super-burney in the hot hot sun! I splashed across one of the streams in my thongs, lost a thong stuck in the mud so turned back, picked up the thong, dropped it and swore like a fishwife! We then went up to Butterfly Gorge with us both hoping it would be a cool oasis, opposite of Douglas thermal springs. However we are at the end of the dry season so the river was murky and stagnant. The walk was beautiful however!!

Arriving at Adelaide River Inn, we met Charlie the Buffalo who was the buffalo Mick Dundee hypnotised in Crocodile Dundee. He died in 2000 and was stuffed to be forever looking over 303 Bar in Adelaide River!

So now we are in Darwin and I’m about to go and get beautified for my graduation ceremony tomorrow! My little 4 and a half year old nephew is currently playing an Elsa ‘Let It Go’ birthday card on repeat right next to me while Tim encourages it. My determination to finish this blog entry is stronger than any mind-numbing Disney song arrggghhhhh!!!!

Talk soon! Rachel! xoxoxo

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We swim anywhere!

In the wise words of Hanky the Christmas Poo: ‘Hooooowdy Ho!’

We are in Kununurra WA after spending 6 days doing the Gibb River Road. But let’s start back to… Cape Leveque?

We drove along a shit of a road from Broome to the Dampier Peninsula and turned up to Kooljaman Cape Leveque caravan park to be told there was no room at the inn. So we drove up to Cygnet Bay and checked into a cute little campsite a couple of kilometres from the main reception/pool/reception.

The next day we drove back to Kooljaman Cape Leveque, determined to swim at the iconic beach. We paid $35 to access the beach in our car so we made the most of that by soaking up the sun (a little too much), drinking apple cider and swimming until our skin macerated.

We were keen to get going to start the Gibb River Road so after two nights at Cygnet bay, we zipped along to Derby arriving in 39 degree (celsius) heat. So what did we do? Checked into a cheap motel with an air conditioner and swimming pool just to relax and ‘luxuriate’ before we headed off again!

Our first stop on the Gibb River Road was at Windjana National Park where we visited the start of Tunnel Creek; a tunnel and creek in the pitch black. I say the start because we clambered over the rocks to the entrance, stood oohing and aahing at the striped granite and dark green pool of water while the buzzing of bees filled the entire cavity THEN realised that the one and only torch we brought along with us was almost on the blink. We had searched for Tim’s powerful headlamp but couldn’t for the life of us find it so we settled on sharing the torch. Tim was still keen to give the tunnel a crack with the dodgy torch but I envisioned us sitting in thick pitch blackness waiting for a good samaritan (AKA a tunnel visitor with light) stumbling across us. So we erred on the side of common sense and turned back.

That afternoon we visited Windjana gorge which is home to heaps of freshwater crocodiles. I forgot my camera so you’ll need to take my word that I counted at least 40 freshy’s floating around in the gorge.

The next day we drove to Silent Grove camping area and set up in a circle of trees. The campground (like Windjana campground) had flushing toilets and hot showers which was fantastic. The next day we visited Bell’s Gorge which was gorgeous.

We use a big plastic tub filled with a squirt of woolly wash and water and the corrugations of roads act as an agitator to ‘wash’ our clothes. As we were hanging out the latest knotted mess of clothes, Tim reached into the bucket of murky water and pulled out his headlamp, dripping but very clean and smelling of eucalypt! Miraculously the torch, once dried and sweet-talked, actually works again!

We decided we want to spend 4-5 days in Lake Argyle so zoomed along the corrugated road to arrive at Home Valley Station to spend the night before the piece de resistance of El Questro Station. Home Valley Station was nice but nothing much there. We camped at the riverside camp about 4km’s away from the main area. Saltwater crocodiles inhabit the Pentecost river and we were told to camp on the west-side of the camping area. We unfortunately (or fortunately?) didn’t see any salty’s but the next day saw too much of bitey ants absolutely bloody everywhere! Standing to wash the dishes resulted in bites until I got absolutely fed up and declared we would pack ‘all this shit up now and get out of here’. Well, in the time it took Tim to have a shower, I had finished packing up the camper trailer, reversed the car and hooked it all up ready to get the heck out of there as soon as Tim’s squidgy thongs hit the dirt. Tim said he should have taken a few bitey ants to let loose at future camps so he can sit back while I flit about packing everything up!

We wanted to check out El Questro Station and see if it was actually as great as what we had been told. We paid $120 for 2 nights unpowered camping and what they call a ‘Wilderness Pack’ which gave us a weeks access to all gorges etc on El Questro Station. The campground was beautiful with tall trees and plenty of space. We set up our camp and went for a swim at a ‘croc-free’ area of the Pentecost river.

The next day we were up early to visit Zebedee thermal springs which are only open between 7am-12noon. The springs were beautiful and quite intimate with a sign in the carpark saying ‘If the carpark is full, the springs are full so come back later’. Tim and I found a nice deep little pool and sat in about 25 degree celsius water.  Small waterfalls tumbled over the edge and a few people climbed higher to other rock pools.

After Zebedee springs, we went straight to Moonshine Gorge where we had a wonderful swim and met some great people with whom we chatted while floating around in the deep green water. There was a sign warning of fresh-water crocs inhabiting the area, however they were turned off by the sight of so many people in bathers so they hid the entire time!

In the evening, we drove up to pigeonhole 4WD lookout and watched the sunset which was just beautiful. Every Saturday night, El Questro holds a ‘Gourmet BBQ and live entertainment night’ which we attended. It was great and really laid back.

We were told about a place called The Grotto which was apparently amazing so we went up there before Kununurra however it must be better just after wet season because the gorge had all but dried up. We are now in Kununurra in a cabin enjoying having a TV and couch before we head off to camp in Lake Argyle!

Goodnight!! xoxox

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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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An itch to scratch

Tim is on a couch. This may seem unremarkable but it’s the first time he has been on a couch for 5 weeks and for Tim, that is a lifetime…and a half. Thanks to a person very dear to me, we are spending the night in a really nice apartment suite in Broome WA before we leave for Cape Leveque tomorrow. One of the prerequisites of booking a hotel/motel/apartment was that it HAD to have a couch, lounge, settee, sofa, a rose by any other name. For me, a microwave. Not that I’ll probably use it but it’s the things you just don’t have when camping.

Moonlight Bay Suites
Moonlight Bay Suites – A beautiful place to stay.

ANYWAY, we are in Broome WA and Broome WA has impressed us hugely. We have spent every evening swimming at Cable Beach in calm inviting turquoise water, floating around, chatting, diving under the water and constantly appreciating being here swimming when 5 weeks ago we would be working, or studying, or just still entwined with the daily grind. I’ll get back to Broome.

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We spent two nights at Cape Keraudren, a coastal reserve north of Port Hedland in East Pilbara. We camped overlooking oyster reefs where the tide came in and out twice a day. We saw a little octopus with a few missing limbs who seemed really friendly. We also loved watching the hermit crabs scuttle slowly around.

We would like to have more fond memories of Cape Keraudren but every time I look at my arms and lower thighs, I see sandfly sores, multitudes of them. We got eaten alive at Cape Keraudren! Yes, we did have Bushmans spray on but they got through the mosquito mesh of the camper trailer and attacked us as we slept. They are nasty nasty nasty little buggers! They are the itchiest itchy’s we’ve ever ever had!!

We did walk around the beach and had a beautiful swim in the water and also listened to our neighbour gently sing along with his ukulele as the sunset which was a real bonus. The view when waking up was just beautiful! So maybe Cape Keraudren wasn’t all that bad!

We aimed to get into Broome on Tuesday 18th September and were making good time until we came to Sandfire roadhouse where the rest of the highway was closed due to a bushfire. We joined truckies and other tourists who were all waiting around and hoping they could get on their way sometime soon. We sat around for a few hours but had enough so went back 40 km’s and stayed at 80 Mile Beach for the night.

Eventually we arrived in Broome and checked into Cable Beach caravan park. We’d recommend this caravan park because of the beautiful shady trees and decent size camping sites. Upon request, we were given a site directly across from the amenities. After lunching at Zander’s on Cable Beach, we went for a drive and swim at Cable Beach then back to camp.

We got our car fully checked-over and serviced as we are doing the Gibb River Road in a week so we know it’s all schmicko to go!

The weather here has been just divine, ranging around 30-33 degrees. The past couple of days Tim and I visited Malcom Douglas’ Crocodile Farm, had a game of mini golf (which I WASN’T thrashed in, like SO WASN’T beaten by over 20 points!) then wandered around Chinatown and each had a neck/head/shoulders massage. We then had a swim again at Cable Beach and went off to the Town Beach Markets yesterday evening.

This morning I was booked in for a deep tissue massage and was slightly nervous as I’ve never had a proper body massage before. The lady led me into the room, asked me to take my shoes off then pointed to the mattress on the floor. She then left me there. I took my shoes off then stood awkwardly waiting for her to come back. I felt like Mr Bean, wondering if I should take my clothes off or wait until she tells me to. The masseuse returned, looked at the mattress then at me and laughed ‘please, take off your clothes and lie down’ and scuttled out laughing and talking in Thai about the idiot client she has to massage. The massage was amazing and I felt as loose as a goose when I left, although it hurt like fuck at some points! I think I walked like Mr Bean once it was done!

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Broome has one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever encountered. It is just so chilled out and is a really nice place just to slow down and enjoy. There is so much to do during the day and in the evening. We are sad to leave but we are travellers now so must move on! Plus, I’ll apply for nursing posts here so we can enjoy it more one day!

Tomorrow we are off to Cape Leveque then will get ready to do the Gibb River Road so I’ll have some adventures to write about then!

Lots of love to you all! – Rachel xoxoxo

 

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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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Dongara to Meekatharra!

As Kevin Bloody Wilson once sang ‘I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been to Meekatharra Meekatharra Meekatharra…’ and here we are in…Meeka-bloody-tharra.

It’s not bad, I’m not saying it is. We’re just spending the night here because after two nights of no phone reception, Tim and I had to speak to each other and that was weird. So I read a shitload of my book and Tim contemplated the complex issues of the world, like ‘Could he swim in the dam if he doesn’t put his head under the water’ and ‘Should he really have to flip a coin to empty the chemical toilet seeing as Rachel kind of agreed to be in charge of that’.

So we left Dongara AKA Port Denison on Thursday 23rd August. It was an uneventful pack-up until Tim got in the car to drive off, handed me his bathroom key and asked me where mine was (we had been issued one each). I declared that the one he gave me was mine and he had lost his. Adamant the key was his because he ‘had it in his pocket the whole time’, I searched for mine then remembered it was in my pants pocket of which I had put in the plastic ‘washing machine’ bucket, filled with water and woolly wash and Tim had hammered down the lid for a few hours of on the road agitation. We spent another 15 minutes while Tim prised the stubborn lid off the bucket, cursing me and my lack of checking pockets ability under his breath. Key retrieved from a sodden pocket and me murmuring a ‘sorry’, both sets were returned and we were on our way.

We got up to Geraldton to stock up on some vacuum sealed meat from a friendly butcher called Mick Davey Butchers (hit him up at 165 Marine Tce, Geraldton). There he told us about Wurarga Dam which is a cool place to camp.

I’d never been to Geraldton and in my little haven’t-been-further-than-Perth brain, I didn’t realise how big it actually is. And how cool it is. However we didn’t stick around long because we were determined to ‘go bush’ and get as far inland as we could.

So after stopping in Mullewa (99km east of Gero) for Tim to ring his Dad to check on the cat (she is fine) and his sister to check on the dog (she is being a brat) we went onto Stockman’s Pool to find a geocache then onto Wurarga dam!

I made damper for the very first time in our camp oven and it came out perfectly! we had some with our tea then I had it toasted with peanut butter for breakfast.

24/8/18: We had a great sleep. Tim placed the chemical toilet outside overlooking the side of the dam out in the open so using the toilet at night gave us a ceiling of stars! I even watched a shooting star in the middle of the night while on the throne!

We went for a walk around the area and came across an old railway bridge long since abandoned. We appreciated the solid construction and engineering of it. We had a drive along the bush tracks then onto one of the main roads to a demolished homestead.

In the afternoon I had a read of my book and a snooze. When I emerged, Tim suggested we play with the drone for the first time, so we got it all ready, I read the instructions (albeit very briefly) and I got it up and flying. And that’s where the fun ends. Anyone who knows me knows I am too impatient to thoroughly read instructions and as such, once the drone zoomed into the air and away from us, I got frazzled and couldn’t figure out how to make the drone stop ascending and return to base. Further and further it went into the distance until it was just a speck in the sky! I started hollering to Tim “I can’t bring it back! How do I bring it back!?” with Tim replying “I don’t know! You’re the one who read the instructions!”. We watched helplessly as we lost sight of the drone and chased it along the red dirt in a last ditch attempt to somehow magically use the controller correctly for it to zip back and land safely. In a panic, I thrust the controller at Tim who marched onwards where we had last seen the flying dot. I skulked back to camp still wearing my slippers which I, for some reason, thought would be perfectly fine to wear while flying a drone in the Australian Outback.

Tim returned some time later and said the drone battery had gone flat only 600m from where he was so we headed back the next day to look for it. Unfortunately the drone has succumbed to the desert and despite our efforts to search, we left empty handed.

Leaving Wurarga dam, we went through Yalgoo, Cue, Mt Magnet and have now arrived in Meekatharra before we do the trek further north to get to Karijini national park and to the home of my birth, Tom Price.

Stay tuned!

P.S Tim emptied the chemical toilet because, in his words, he couldn’t be bothered with the ‘hoo-hah’ performance of me gagging and carrying on if I did it. Not that I would do that…!? My time will come!