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Monday 4 to Wednesday 6 November 2013, Kuala Lumpar,

Our 2 day lay-over helped tremendously with jet lag. We certainly slept a lot, especially on the day we were due to leave! We had to vacate our room by 12:00 noon. A phone call at 12:30 woke us. We showered, packed and made it to reception by 1:00 pm. Not bad going. It did mean that we had to leave for the airport almost immediately. We were on time for our flight to Singapore but could not get a boarding pass for the flight from Singapore to Sydney. I was on tenterhooks for the hour long flight. You see, we had an hour at Singapore airport to change planes. Unfortunately our flight to Singapore was delayed by over half an hour and Singapore is a very large airport. No boarding pass for the next flight meant we hadn’t checked in and Singapore closes check in an hour before departure. Heeeelp!!!

The staff at Singapore were on the ball. Just after the plane from KL stopped there was a request for us and another couple to report to the ground staff. We were whisked away on one of those dinky people carriers straight to the check-in counter and thence to the boarding gate. It took almost half an hour but the plane was still loading so we weren’t the last ones on board. What a relief! Many thanks to the airport staff who were aware of the problem and made sure it was resolved.

We didn’t just sleep in KL. We walked around China Town and took a hop on hop off bus tour as well. We may have been to KL before but we hadn’t actually done any of the tourist things.

Thursday 7 to Thursday 21 November 2013, Sydney

At last we are in Australia.

Pieter, Carol, Bruce, Ann, Toots, AlisonChristmas Parade at Roselands Shopping Mall

As always we were very welcome at my sister Carol’s house. We caught up on our lives since the last time and Bruce ferried us around to various places. Pieter had done some research on Toyota Land Cruisers and had tried to contact people without success. He continued the search. There was only 1 in NSW, some in the Northern Territory but most in Western Australia. That is where we found our new Troopie.

Friday 22 November to Wednesday 4 December 2013, Perth

Arrangements were made to pick the car up and we flew to Perth. Another balls up. The flight was to leave at 8:00 pm, we just made it to the airport on time. Traffic was bad because of the wet weather and of course we left at the last possible moment. Thankfully planes were delayed for the same reason. Gates were changed, boarding times were changed  but we were kept informed. The plane took off 3 hours late and arrived at 1:00 am. It took another hour to get a taxi at the very well organised taxi queue to take us to the hotel 5 minutes away. At that time of night a taxi is the only transport available. Surprisingly we were up at 7:00 am.

Helen arrived at 8:30 am and after driving around for a short while we finalised the purchase.

Now it was a matter of settling in. This troopie is an ex-rental and has a high roof and the standard layout that we had already seen in Sydney. Space could be better utilised e.g. the bench area is low, 10 centimetres higher would prevent having to stoop slightly when cooking or washing up plus provided more storage space. Storage is in cupboards or on top of the cab. Drawers are much easier to use than cupboards but we resolved that by buying containers which can be pulled out. They do take more space than a proper draw though. Under the seat is never easy to access but there are side openings as well as a top opening so it is better than most. The mats and wooden platforms for the top bed are stored above the cab and take over half the available space.

We tried sleeping downstairs on the width not taken up by the cupboards. It is very narrow and we spent the night trying to stay out of each others way. Next we tried sleeping on top. First we had to remove everything from on top except the mattresses and wooden boards before setting the bed up. Next was getting up. The climb is easy but once up you have a choice of placing your head over the cab - not for the claustrophobic, or turning around and putting your feet over the cab. Since the moveable platform is slightly higher than the platform over the cab it is better to have the feet down there. To achieve that you have to turn around once up there. Extremely difficult with very little height to manoeuvre under. It is even more difficult for the second person going up. The width was great. We tried downstairs again with Pieter sleeping on the seat and me on the floor. A coffin is wider than the floor space! We have returned to sleeping downstairs together.

I don’t like making the bed every evening. Now it will be a daily chore.  We do this together and we soon had a routine going for making it of a night and dismantling it of a morning. Helen did leave us 2 fantastic down sleeping bags. Unfortunately they are way too hot so we now have sheets, blankets and light throw instead. It is cold at night, something people in houses don’t realise. . The sleeping bags are stored. No way will they be thrown out.

Then something always goes wrong. We were in a shopping centre that said it had 3.8 meter clearance. It did - on the ground floor! Once up stairs it is down to 2.00 meters. But there is a high exit. Unfortunately that is 2.7 clearance and our car is 2.8. Bye bye roof vent! Pieter thought the 2 way radio aerial was flexible. He discovered tree branches can break it. While obtaining a replacement part we were made aware that the bull bar was not firmly attached. Two bolts had broken off some time in the past. This was fixed by welding the other bolts. When we tried to fill the water tank, the water just poured out. The hose underneath had deteriorated and had at least three large rips in it. Four things to fix.

Sometimes ignorance plays a part. Pieter tried to access the gas bottle. This is in a compartment only accessible from outside. He could not open it although Helen had opened it before. The hinges were dismantled to give us access. We then took the lock to a locksmith to fix the barrel. Except the lock was working fine. There is a button to press after turning the key!

Once the transfer of ownership papers had been handed in we were ready to leave the big city.

The weather is different. Besides being cold at night it is hot during the day, wind is constant and dust is everywhere.

Thursday 5 to Monday 9 December 2013, Brookton and Hyden

We only went about 100k east and stopped for a few days to sort out the final bits. This is where we discovered what the problem was with the water tank. The local hardware store was very well stocked and Pieter was able to obtain a new hose. This was installed and the aerial fixed. The camp ground manager helped tremendously by taking Pieter to the hardware store and allowing him to use the manager’s tools. There is still a problem though as the air is not escaping easily when filling the tank. The 2-way radio still needs attention as we can’t get a signal check although we can hear people talking.

The next town from Brookton is Hyden, famous for its wave rock. It is quite a sight. I went on the walk on the very large granite rock. The designated short cut to return to the parking area had a large sign saying it was steep. It was! Admittedly most of the track was OK, it was just the last 3 metre drop. This could only be traversed by sliding down the rock face.

Wave Rock, 15 metre high is concave granite rock wall streaked with green and orange algal remains. It is part of the large Hyden rock one of many granite rocks in the area.  Small walls have been built on top to direct rain water into a dam. Turning the rock into a catchment area.

Tuesday 10 to Friday 20 December 2013, Esperance and around

Esperance is the last large town on the coast before the Nullabor. It has several campgrounds and a McDonalds with atrocious wifi. The library also has wifi which is where we managed to do some updates. The shops are well stocked and there is a locksmith who can cut a new ignition key. Ours is very worn. The key had to be ordered in so we went to the National Parks while we waited, something we intended to do anyway.  The 2-way radio needed a small part to be replaced. This is a common problem with EMC radios apparently. Pieter found that the air outlet for the water tank was completely blocked. Now everything has been fixed.

Cape le GraCamping in the dunesnde NP is a park with magnificent beaches, brilliant white sand and pristine blue waters. The 4x4 route took us along Esperance Beach to the National Park. It was late and we weren’t sure where the entrance to the NP was so we slept blissfully in the dunes. The turn off from the beach to the park entrance is easy to find if you go to the very end of the beach. From there we headed for Lucky Bay. Flinders sheltered here from a storm during his 1802 circumnavigation of Australia. Our next stop was the campground near Wharton Beach. The photos show the beauty much better than I can describe. We stopped to look at a Bobtail Lizard sunning on the road. Eventually it got fed up with us pointing a camera and showed its aggressive side.

Man on motor bike, Little India Presidential Palace China Town Harry and Hilda - one of the community sculptures Ornate Dragon Lizard Wave Rock The last part of the steep track

Cape Arid NP is more about fishing. When the salmon are running it is apparently very busy. It is an area of extensive dune heath vegetation interspersed with fresh water pools. The only wild life we saw, apart from birds was a lizard and wallabies. We passed 2 cars on the 60+k road in and none on the way out. Camping out in the wild is very relaxing. Pieter felt as if we were really in the middle of nowhere. He hasn’t been to the outback yet!

It can also be scary. We managed to get totally bogged in soft sand on our way out. We had to get ourselves out with just a normal jack and one very short sand track. It took most of the afternoon and next morning but we finally managed. I guess its all the practise we’ve had over the years. We couldn’t call for help either as the 2-way radio is not working properly.

First thing we did on our return to Esperance was to buy a high-lift jack, the wheel attachment and a special large base. It is difficult to carry sand ladders so we have left them for the moment. We will have to make do with lifting the wheels and filling the holes with packed earth.

And the weather turned. It had been warmer than in Perth, now it was boiling. At 42 degrees even the grass was too hot to walk on with bare feet. Next day it was very much cooler dropping to 12 degrees the day after. We stayed in Esperance waiting out the wet and the cold.

Angry Bobtail Lizard Fishing at Lucky Bay Lucky Bay and Flinder's memorial Esperance Bay Another lizard Nothing like a relaxed breakfast to start the day Bogged again Old Jetty, Israelite Bay Old Telegraph Office, Israelite Bay Little Wharton Beach

Saturday 21 December 2013 to Saturday 18 January 2014, Albany and surrounds

A lazy drive along the coast meant we spent Christmas in Bremer Bay, a small community half way between Esperance and Albany. Whenever we have been in a campground over Christmas everyone has joined in a communal meal. It didn’t happen this time probably because the campers were young couples with small children. It ended up being a quiet non-festive day for us.

More lazy drives brought us to Albany. This is a reasonably large town with campsites charging high season prices. But facilities are good. Again the festive season was a non-event for us. The children had a great time. There was music, glow lights were handed out, Albany put on an early fireworks show and they stayed up very late. By midnight everyone was either asleep or quiet.

The cruise on the Kalgan Queen was a highlight. Our host, Jack , talked non-stop and kept us interested and laughing. His father started the business and gradually introduced various wild aquatic creatures into the show. There are the Giant Eagle Rays, fish by the pier at the vineyard and a Sea Eagle (Fish Eagle) who all come for their daily snack. The sardines are not enough to feed the animals so they still have to fend for themselves and therefore remain wild. The stars are the pelicans. They all come for a sardine. Then there is Percy. She was totally tangled in a fishing line. Captain Kalgan freed her and then kept her in a bath until she had recovered. During this time she learnt to twirl or dance. Now she dances for her fish. She has also taught her daughter to dance. Another of her tricks is to take a sardine gently out of Jack’s hand while the boat is moving.

The blowholes were a disappointment as there was insufficient swell. The bridge and the gap made up for it. Patrick Taylor Cottage was interesting. The original two rooms were made of wattle and daub, supple branches are woven together and filled with mud mixed with straw or equivalent. The outside is then coated with dung to improve waterproofing. Wattle is an English name for this woven wood construction and gave the acacia tree now called wattle it’s name. The roof had wooden shingles. The cottage was built around 1832 and is the oldest wattle and daub house in Western Australia possibly Australia.

The Stirling Ranges and the Porongurups were a change from seascapes. Any mountain is relatively unique in this area and mountains only go up to 2,000 m. Of course ‘mountain’ is always a relative term. They make for lovely scenery though.

Sea Eagle taking it's snack Pelicans looking for a snack The bridge The gap, more awe inspiring than the picture presents

Pieter has observed the “Australian walk”, One step, two step, wave the hands to chase away the flies, one step, two step, wave the hands to chase away the flies, etc etc etc. Poor things they are always hungry and thirsty.

Meandering past more scenic coastline brought us past Cape Howe. This has the farthest point south on mainland Australia. Next stop Antarctica, 3,000 k away. Darwin is further away in the other direction. Entry is through a magnificent Karri Forest. One of the lookouts is the staging area for paragliders. We were lucky to be there at the right time. It was fascinating to watch them take off and land. Later watching the waves crash against the rocky shore was mesmerising. Perfect after lunch activity. As usual the trails are very well organised. You do need 4x4 to get through soft sand but the steeper slopes have rubber matting. The lookout points have railings sometimes there are board walks to lookout points further away and quite often drop toilets. Life is made easy here. I hope it doesn’t get too boring!

The Stirling Ranges Lunch on the forest The Porongurups

Rocks can be used for sunning or jumping fromFor some there are private rock pools

Denmark is another lovely small South Coast Town. It has a magnificent natural ocean swimming pool called Green Pools. Rocks away from the shore create a wave barrier leaving a relatively calm shallow swimming area. Absolutely perfect for young families or just a lazy day at the beach.

We loved Albany and the area in general and ended staying quite some time. Mostly we camped wild with only occasional campground visits. Camp Grounds in Australia must be the most expensive in the world!

We also spent time applying for a visa extension for Pieter. The form included questions on parents, siblings, the extended family and friends. It took a few hours to complete. There is still the medical exam in Perth to come. At least Pieter could have applied for a longer extension than 3 months.

One very noticeable aspect of the area is the number of properties for sale. Signs are everywhere. I spoke to an agent who explained that it took around 3 months to sell a property. There must be buyers somewhere.

A paraglider who just took off. Rubber mats make life easy Rocks and waves Karri Forest entrance to Cape Howe.

Sunday 19 to Monday 27 January 2014, Margaret River area

This area has many vineyards, forests and the inevitable lovely beaches. Pieter is not really interested in wine at the moment and I can’t drink alcohol so our major interest was the eucalyptus forests. The main species we saw were Tingle, Karri and Jarrah.

We started with the Tingle Trees in the Valley of the Giants.  These trees can grow up to 70 metres with circumferences of 20 metres. They have a very shallow root system and use the thick trunk for support. The trunk is often split into buttresses with nutrients passing up just under the bark. There used to be a tree you could park inside. People taking photos of their car in the tree killed it over time. The tree top walk allowed you to see just how tall the trees are. Naturally it is well laid out with perfect facilities. This is Australia.

The Pemberton Tram meandered through Karri Forest for about 9 kilometres on a rail road that is no longer used by the state and is maintained by the tram company. It was interesting and very relaxing. Unfortunately the wild flower season is finished so only the kangaroo paw was in flower.  

A favourite camping place near Albany Second Instalment Back to 'Turkey to Holland' Next to West Coast Second Instalment


Pemberton Tram line Showing a buttress trunk A tall Tingle Tree There are still plenty you can stand inside. Most of the root area is fenced off.

The jetty trainColourful soft coral

The Busselton Jetty is 1.8 metres long. Originally built to allow the export of Karri and Jarrah wood. It now houses an underwater observatory at the end. The jetty has been added to over the years as ships became larger. Geographe Bay is very shallow, it would empty if the tide rose and fell over 5 metres. The jetty is the longest timber piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. The wood used was Jarrah. The under water observatory is fascinating. I particularly liked the colourful soft coral.

There was a train to take us along the jetty. Many people walked, others use the jetty to swim or fish from.


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