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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!

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The place of birth

G’Day from Tom Price! I’m sitting here in clean clothes with clean hair after having my first shower in 4 days – ahhhhhh heaven!

But let’s start back when we left Meekatharra.

26th August 2018 (Sunday): Due to our campsite in Meekatharra being so close to the main highway, road trains barrelled past constantly, some sounding like they were heading straight for our camper!

We packed up and decided to drive to a place called Bilyuin Pool, a campsite we found on WikiCamps. We took a turn-off as directed by Apple maps and drove along a dirt road until we came across signs saying ‘KEEP OUT!’, ‘TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED!’ and ‘NO UNAUTHORISED ACCESS!’. By the third sign we felt maybe we shouldn’t keep going, not sure why, gut feeling perhaps, so we turned around and headed back to the main highway. We decided to just drive straight to Newman.

Newman is a fairly bustling mining town with most cars carrying orange lights and every second person wearing hi-vis uniforms. We didn’t want to stay at another caravan park so found a free camp at a place called Rhodes Ridge Rest-stop, 50km north of Newman.

Rhodes Ridge is a wide open area slathered in fine red dust and scattered with low scrub and spots of campfires. We set up our camp for the night, by now our process is well-oiled and now, well-dusted.

27th August 2018 (Monday): The next morning I went to the loo, the chemical toilet of which Tim set up in the open air down the side of the camper. Looking up from my book, my eyes met the eyes of a dingo standing directly in front of me merely 10 metres away from where I was sitting in all my glory! After hesitating for a second, I leapt up, my book flew into the air and landed in the dirt and I scarpered into the camper still trying to pull my pants up! Tim thought it was funny and said the dingo would just be hanging around for scraps and they are more dangerous in packs. We both peered out the window to see the dingo still standing in the bush, patiently waiting for any remnants of last nights dinner.

We packed up the camper and headed north to Wittenoom where we set up camp in Wittenoom Gorge. Our campsite was absolutely beautiful with the gorge wall on our right and a short but turquoise clear waterhole all to ourselves. We spent the first evening practising our ‘Coo-ee!’ bounce around the gorge walls and echo back to us from a different direction. It was amazing!

28th August 2018: We were awake early listening to the birds greet each other good morning.

Pressure points on each corner of the camper trailer canvas had become unstitched leaving gapes on either side. If not addressed, they would soon tear open leaving an entire front wall missing. Tim spent the morning patching up the seams with spare canvas and kwik-grip with me as his trusty, yet day-dreaming T.A!

In the afternoon we paddled our kayaks up our waterhole admiring the slate slab construction of the wall, all intricately pressed together. There were some gaps in the slabs resembling a half-played game on Jenga. The colours of ochre, maroon, slate grey and, dare I say it, dark asbestos blue, made up the colour scheme of this part of Wittenoom Gorge.

Willy wagtails, finches and ibis danced on tree branches around us welcoming but unsure of why we were there. As we lay back in our kayaks, the sun warming our sunscreen lathered legs, we watched at least 5 other 4WD’s lumbering up the track, through the water crossing and roaring up the hill and away from us. This is our campsite for today.

29th August 2018 (Wednesday): After breakfast we packed up and got going to have a look around Wittenoom then venture into Karijini National Park.

Wittenoom is a ghost town. During the 1940’s-1960’s it was Australia’s only supplier of blue asbestos used in items such as roofing, fences and when woven or mixed with cement, would be resistant to fire and heat. The use was extremely popular however it was eventually found to be a direct cause of lung diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. The mine was shut down in 1966 and the status of it being a town was removed in 2006. Tim and I (both aware of the risks) looked through some vacant houses, many often left as if the tenants put their knives and forks down, the children put their boardgames pieces to the side and they all just walked out.

According to Wikipedia, there are still 3 people living in Wittenoom and although a few houses looked like they were inhabited, not a soul was seen.

In Karijini National Park there are only two campsites (known to travellers), Dale’s Gorge Camping ground and Karijini Eco- Retreat. We were, perhaps naively, hoping we may find a secluded area to camp in rather than either of the two main camping grounds, but no such luck. It was becoming late afternoon so we decided to head to the Eco-Retreat.

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On the way along the very corrugated dirt roads, I heard a bumpity bump bump and in the rear view mirror, a flash of green and yellow shot away from the car – the kayak’s fallen off! Fortunately it was undamaged but just an inconvenience.

We wandered into the campsite paying $40/night for an unpowered campsite. It was really windy when we were setting up our camp with canvas flying everywhere and seemingly aiming at Tim to add to his already jolly mood.

30th August 2017 (Thursday): Packing up once again, we drove to some of the gorges to have a look around. Tourists scrambled everywhere and most carparks were full. The gorges however, were gorgeous haha.

We are now in Tom Price, the town where I was born almost 35 years ago and left when I was 4 years old. I wonder if anyone recognises me? We’re staying here for a couple of nights and going to have a game of 9 holes of golf tomorrow. 9 holes of golf in the town of my birth. Fore!

I wrote a poem:

13 Days

Rough starts, unforeseen and grating, although every box we drew we checked. 

We wanted someone or something to blame for our troubles, a culture inside us we’ve not let go.

Kilometres of bitumen, gravel and dirt. Corruated, smoothed or firm. 

We have no-one’s company but each other’s and our own.

The drone of an audio book keeps the drivers mind active; alert. While the sleepy passenger comes and goes between what is real and what isn’t. 

Red dirt, ochre dust fluffs and billows behind the vehicle. When it is idle, the dust gently lays on every surface like an ethereal permeating cloak. 

Two bodies flop out of the car, stretch and take in the scenery. Before long, hitches are unhitched, trailers stop trailing and a house is unfolded.

Methodically and purposefully the two bodies work in unison. Then planting bottoms in chairs, wiping perspiration from the brow.

Eyes watch as the Australian sun settles behind the hills. The moon is anticipating its nightly return for all who admire it. 

The sky is red, orange, purple, pink then grey. Dingoes lift their heads, noses twitching at smells of steak and onions frying. 

Should they creep later and check for morsels?

Bodies retire, one by one and the loud zipper shatters the outback silence. 

It will all be done again tomorrow.

 

Catch ya soon! 🙂

 

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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!

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Bunbury to Dongara

Hi!

We haven’t travelled very far and there is a good reason for that. Because we are taking it easy. Our lives leading up to these four months of travel have been really busy, with deadlines, places to be, people to deal with and the same Groundhog Day feeling of doing the same old, same old, day in day out. Not anymore!

Tim and I decided that we would meander and explore as we make our way to Darwin and we’ve been doing just that!

The past two nights we spent in Cervantes, a quaint little town two and a half hours north of Perth. Cervantes is near The Pinnacles so we went there twice, once at dusk on Monday and during the day on Tuesday. The Pinnacles are structures that look like they are made out of sandstone and range in size from very small to around 8-9ft if not taller. Scientists still aren’t exactly sure of what they are or how they were made with theories ranging from volcanic action to forming underground and only being exposed again a few hundred years ago for the first time in 6000 years.

See the time-lapse of the sunset I filmed using one of Tim’s empty stubby’s to prop the phone up!

It was spooky at night time as we drove around, especially since Tim had one of Pink Floyds weird psychedelic songs playing! Taller pinnacles resembled people standing there, in the dark, just watching…

On the Tuesday, we visited Hangover Bay and found a geocache, a hobby we’ve been doing for around four years now. Lunch was indulgent at the Lobster Shack back in Cervantes and the rest of the afternoon was relaxing back at camp.

Today (Wednesday) we drove to Lesueur National Park and did one of the beautiful walks around Mt Lesueur where the wildflowers were in abundance and just gorgeous!

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We then drove up to Stockyard Gully National Park where we visited the Stockard Gully limestone cave, a 300m tunnel with a shallow stream through the centre. Don’t mind our gorgeous facial expressions!

Fat tadpoles wiggled around in the puddles and we came across a lone little mushroom which we hoped no-one would tread on.

Turning off our headlamps in the middle of the cave, we stood in absolute matte blackness with no sound except for our breathing and the odd droplets in the distance. It was a blackness so thick and oppressive, we couldn’t see our hands right in front of our faces. I could imagine the tricks one’s mind would play spending more than an hour in that purgatory.

We kept walking, enjoying the power of Tim’s headlamp lighting up the intricate nooks and cranny’s of this amazing tunnel. The quality of light my headlamp threw out was almost like a candle so I splashed along behind Tim borrowing his light.

As we emerged from the tunnel, it was a beautiful sight of lush green trees. We made our way along the track and back to the car where we made salad wraps for lunch.

We are now in Dongara for the night and plan on going through Geraldton and up to Meekatharra then Tom Price however may go straight up to Kalbarri from Geraldton.

We are members of a Facebook group called Aussie Big Lappers and have received some useful and thoughtful advice about all sorts of camps, tips while camping and sharing stories. If you are travelling or are thinking of travelling, I’d highly recommend joining this Facebook group.

We are looking forward to seeing the town I was born (Tom Price) and exploring Karajini National Park!

Stay posted! 🙂

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Get to the sun!

We have left Albany! We left last Friday the 17th August 2018, 45 minutes later than we anticipated. Who cares, all good. The car took ages to fill both tanks with 270L of diesel but while doing so, we met a guy who was about to cross the Nullabor to Victoria.

I spent a gorgeous day with my oldest brother and his family in Busselton. I watched my nieces netball game and had a 9 holes of golf with my brother, nephew and my nephews friends. And I won! woooohooooo! It was also nice sitting up until 1.30am on the Friday night just talking with my brother of whom I don’t get to see that often.

So I am sitting here with the sun beaming down on me as the afternoon progresses into the evening, tapping away on my keyboard in a destination that I thought we would simply pass through rather than spend the night in. What happened?

We got to Bunbury Farmer’s Market and the car wouldn’t start. RAC was called who diagnosed that the regulator on the alternator is buggered. So we have checked into a caravan park in Bunbury to get it sorted tomorrow.

After initially feeling really bloody pissed off, especially on our very very very first day of our adventure, we’ve both calmed down and just relaxing. It WILL get fixed and we WILL be on our way to get to the sun!

I’m having a glass of wine while I type and Tim’s having a beer while he watches me type. Forge ahead we say! Next update will be north of Perth!

Keep posted!

The Scribbling Nurse

And then there was 8

Eight. 8. acht, huit, otto, nane. Eight weeks until Tim and I will be pulling out of our driveway towing the bonky old camper trailer and our sun-glasses clad bonces focussing on our new future.

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But that’s still eight weeks away and we still have a bit to do to get there. Our shower is almost finished and apart from getting the place painted, we don’t really need to do much else (yay!!) We are showering using a gas instant hot water system in a shower tent in the backyard which is actually really nice! Maybe not so much for the neighbours… haha!

It’s been a lovely time since I returned from the NT. I had an amazing opportunity to meet my favourite comedienne Urzila Carlson after seeing her live at the Regal Theatre in Perth. Her humour is ‘out there’ but HILARIOUS and hits the nail right on the head! Have a watch of the clip but beware; lots of curse words!

Urzila and Me

Izzy has a new collar with superhero logos on it. She wanted me to tell you that.
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I had quite a bit of a response about my last blog post on suicide. I feel so honoured that some of you shared your story and I appreciate the encouragement from others for writing a piece that was very difficult yet something my heart wanted to say.

There is a new website called http://www.study101.com which allows visitors to research education providers and determine which course and provider is best for them. You can review the uni you are using or read reviews others have written. I was asked to write an article about being a nursing student and am thrilled it is now on the site!  MainLogo

I also want to give a quick thank you to the following blogs/websites who have featured my blog and helped reach out to many more people: Charles Darwin University ‘LaunchPad’, Australian College of Nursing ‘NurseClick’, NurseUncut & feedspot.com

Anyway, better get back to doing stuff, whatever that is! Thanks for reading!

Take care

-Rachel