Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 22

We had run out of excuses for not getting ourselves into gear to sort the punctured spare tyre so today we packed up once again, removed all the bedding from Winston's penthouse suite, folded our chairs, packed the one ring cooker away (all we have now saying as Winstons's two ring gas cooker has no gas left), sorted the cameras etc.  All buckled up and ready to go, Alan gently inserts the ignition key and gives it a quick flick.  Winston was still asleep and no sign of life.  Another try, just a click and nothing.  Now we have noticed over the past few weeks, when Winston is quite happy with his resting place he is rather temperamental when it comes to moving him on.  Today was another of those days, this time his foot ware was in tack but his battery was dead.  Alan tried everything, even to removing the battery for the fridge and trying to use that to kickstart Winsotn into the land of the living but he was having none of it.

With no mobile signals where we are it was out with the satellite phone again to call Britz.  No problem, recovery vehicle on it's way to give Winston the kick he needs to wake up and start moving.  Not a long wait, only about half an hour, sitting in glorious sunshine, we heard the pickup arriving to sort the problem, then it was follow the recovery guy back to his garage so he could check the battery over properly.  All fine so our next stop was onto Munjinup to find a new inner tube, upload the blog, find a yummy coffee and then ponder on our next move.  Should we continue north-west towards Perth and hope we find somewhere nice to stop on the way, or head back to our very comfortable, scenic, leafy dwelling for another night or two saying as the sun is shining.  The latter choice won hands down and we turned Winston around to head back.

In need of a story for the blog and saying as we have driven past every winery so far, we decided to stop by one and buy a bottle of wine to go with our ham sandwich for dinner.  Which one to choose, now that is hard.  The easiest decision was to stop at the first one and taste their wines, well me to do the tasting while Alan looked on in anticipation saying as he was the driver <g>!!!  Remember what I said before, it does not take much wine to start sending me loopy <g>, this could be a very interesting journey home :).  The first winery we came to was called 'Lost Lake Wines', we were going to be quite choosy, the wine had to be red, fruity and non-acidic.  What a posh looking place, hope they sell bottles not casks <g>.

The first thing we noticed was their rather large vats with clear tubes coming out of them, and yes they were tinged with red.

This to us was a good indication they sold red wine.  Now for the tasting.  A very sweet young lass was serving us, could I have some fun here or should I behave. I decided to behave and admitted we were not wine drinkers just in case she was expecting me to do the three S's - smell, swill and spit.  I also mentioned most wines tasted the same to me and sent shivers down my spine while I shuddered with the acidity.  Her face fell, she did not think they had anything that my pallet would enjoy but best I taste them anyway.  Wine number 1 - shudder, wine number 2 - shudder, wine number 3 - shudder again.  Now they did have another wine, Honey Merlot, it was not on the list but had a flyer all of it's own.  Was this a good sign, was it so special it was streets above the rest in flavour or was it an experiment or was so bad it was not worthy of being included with the other wines.  Only one way to find out, this wine was naturally sweet like honey, still full bodied with juicy raspberry flavours, and it was yummy, instead of a shudder it was a tingle, that will do us just fine.  We ended up taking two bottles of wine and it was out with my almost empty purse.  The girls face was classic when she saw me tip all my small change onto the counter and bless her, there was not enough there but she was going to let us have the wine anyway.  No need for that, the notes were tucked but still easy to access <g>.

Back in our peaceful spot amongst the Kirri trees we enjoyed our wine with a ham salad sandwich, oh what a life.

One thing I have not shared with you this blog is an image of the inside of Winston's penthouse bedroom so here you are, our bed for the night almsot made, only the sleeping back to take up with us as we clamber into bed for the night.  What can one say, a tent on top of a vehicle with comes with 5 windows and electric lighting, not hardship at all :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 21

Deciding to stay another day here, listening to leaves rustling, little birds tweeting and the river passing by over some rapids on our front door step, there is not much to write about.  Our plan was to take a couple of walks in the forest and lots of photos.

Sun - where are you, we waited and waited.  Nothing but low cloud overhead, the sun made no effort to break through.

The only bit of blue sky we saw all day!!!
We waited so patiently with our cameras at the ready but nothing and we could not be bothered to pack up and move on.  Knowing the closer we get to Perth the harder it is going to be to find a quite spot to hide away in.  With plenty of supplies still at hand there really was no need for us to move.  We could hear small birds in the trees but seeing them was a different matter.

Just a pretty picture of the river.
By mid afternoon it was out with the wine, if for no other reason than to warm up <g>.  Now folks who know me often hear me say, "one glass of wine and I am almost anybodies, two and I am".  With 'hamsterfication setting in (that's when you cheeks go numb and feel like you are a hamster with hordes of peanuts in them) some of the ever present in sound only, little birds came to earth.  Oh what beauties, the males have iridescent blue feathers on their heads and orange on their backs, the females are the usual no need for show browns.  Now this is bad timing, wrong lens on my camera, hands unable to hold the camera, brain cell unable to work how how to take a picture, I missed every shot of the males but did manage to get one in focus of a female.  Thankfully Alan was a little more compus-mentus and managed to capture one little beauty for memories sake.

And finally, a sort of sunset to end the blog for today.

November 20

With it being Sunday we know it is going to be impossible to get Winston's spare tyre fixed so we dared not venture too far from tarmac today.  It was a shame, there were so many tracks that were shouting at us to turn off tarmac and explore.  We had to be sensible, it was only last Sunday we shredded two of Winston's tyres and there was no way we could call Britz up again this Sunday with the same problem!!!!  Starting to head northwards - just a little bit and still heading west we hunted out a National Park with the perfect name - Janes National Park.  We can't come all the way to OZ and not check out a little gem like this when so close <g>.

Now, it is hard to know if one should be disappointed or not. Jane's National Park does not allow camping - boooo, it does not even have a proper sign giving it's name, only a couple that say national park.  It is quite a small national park of natural forest surrounded by forests of planted trees for commercial use.  How do we know this - the trees are all regular, planted in straight lines and are tall and skinny, just perfect when fully mature to be cut off at their bases, relocated to another bit of land and replanted, not to grow as they should but become a big stick sticking out of the ground with electric cables uniting them with their equally, similar looking neighbour.

I got to thinking, should this national park be called "Plain Jane", should I be offended that a national park with my name be given so little notoriety?.  No, not in the last, the park was basic, honest, non-commercial, had no frills attached and unaffected, pretty much words I use to describe myself, so I think it is perfectly named and I am proud to share my name with this National Park.

With no place to hang up our boots here we continued driving by in search of Winston's home for the night.  Maybe heading back to the South Coast would be a good idea.  It was not a long drive to a place called 'Windy Harbour' - now that does not sound too appealing but who knows, maybe it's name is hiding another little treasure for us to enjoy.  Alas no, this place is obviously a weekend get away location for the lucky residents who lived near by, it was made up of dirt roads with signposts and wooden ramshackle buildings with windows, curtains and little gardens.

A big rock at the end of their beach!!!
The unlucky tourist planning on staying here was chucked in a field!!!!  No, not for us <g> even though a shower was provided at the campsite we did not linger long.

Turning Winston around we headed back inland and up the South Western Highway where the map showed a bush camp not far from the road, a safe drive for wounded Winston who has no spare tyre if we get another puncture.

What another pretty spot, in natural forest at a place called Moons Crossing.  Even better, if we run out of wine there is a winery just on the other side of the road.  We parked Winston under a tree, daring not to cross the river, although it was shallow it would be a crap place to get another puncture <g>.  Out with the kettle, on with the kikoy's/sarongs and time to take a look around.

We must have been here for about an hour when Alan, having checked out the river crossing and explored the other side returned with the idea we should risk it and take Winston swimming to cool his hot feet.  There was and even prettier campsite just on the other side.  And that is exactly what we did <g>.

Up until now nobody else has passed by but suddenly we were overrun with traffic.  The occupants of first vehicle over the river stopped for a chat, "had we caught any fish?" they asked.  Now come on, we are sitting here with cameras not fishing rods <g>. They were soon on their way when another vehicle came in from the opposite side, they got to the river and turned tail and left.  We heard them attempting to put up a tent but they obviously decided to move on.  Two trail bikes then passed us by, again getting to the river and turing round to depart the same way they arrived.  Next another Toyota, a posh one <g>.  The couple drove past us, got to the river and reversed to can you get where - our camping spot.  How come, with so many places they could stop they chose to park a few feet away from us.  Oh well, I guess I have to learn to share <g>.  The couple came over for a chat, I think the female just wanted to know who we were and what we were doing.  The conversation got round to bush camping and she came up with the strangest of things, she said 'It takes a certain type of person to understand bush camping.'  I am not sure what she meant but it got my brain cell to thinking again - what is bush camping to us.  It is not going totally native and self sufficient, having to make ones own shelter to keep dry and warm and catching dinner or going hungry.  For us, bush camping is finding an unspoilt place where nature provides the most beautifully decorated room, ever changing in light and sound, a place where humans tend to back away from in preference for a TV, cosy chair and every amenity they require a few feet away.  Bush camping is about not having to remember to lift/lower the loo seat (saying as there isn't one, only a spade to make your own hole); not having to remember to brush your hair in the morning or making sure what you wear matches as there is nobody around to judge you by appearance; bush camping is about finding yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, about learning to stand still and look around you, about learning to breath deep and relax.  And with those thoughts I end today's blog :)

November 19

Oh so soggy, it rained again last night, at one time I must have been dreaming and spilt a whole jar of Jelly Bellys onto a hard floor, this woke me up enough to realise the sound was not of Jelly Belllys bouncing off the floor, but rain bouncing off Winston's head.  We hoped that was the end of the rain and the big blue skies would be returning and we were right as it turned out.  A good decision to pack up and move back to exploring OZ.  Still on a Westerly route, Perth is only about 450km away so we were not in any hurry to find the quickest route it was back our first mission of the day, was to hunt down an egg and bacon toastie again.  Packed up and off the sandy tracks it was up with Winston's tyre pressure and onto tarmac.

Now it was not long, maybe only about 15 minutes when we saw a sign for 'The best coffee', would that also mean a bacon and egg sandwich we wondered.  This best coffee place was in a small village called 'Cosy Corner'.  With a name like that it defiantly needed our attention and we turned off the main road to investigate.  Oooooooo and glass art gallery, 'Torbay Glass Gallery', yep, forget the coffee for now and check out the possibility of purchasing some art work as our holiday pressie to ourselves.  What a dream business, I could quite happily remove their glass work from their studio and set it up for my cards <g>.  Big glass windows letting in so much light with views of trees etc when looking outside.  Although they had neighbours you could not see another building no matter how much you hunted.  We chose a couple of lovely pieces (now they are going to have to travel as hand luggage and this is a problem I will solve later but don't know how.  All the camera equipment also has to travel as hand luggage along with the laptops and oh so heavy).  I can't show you a picture of what we bought because by the time I thought of it everything was bubble wrapped so instead here are the pictures of where our newly purchased prizes were on show <g>.

Mark Hewson and his wife Paris Johansen both design in all things glass, stained glass work, glass etching, kiln formed glass etc.  Their work was stunning and it was so hard to choose.  The pieces we chose were not signed so that was arranged for us, unfortunately Paris was not well so her hubby Kevin did the honours.  Then it was out to the verandah for a free cup of coffee and a chat.  Bless Kevin, he offered to sponsor our entry into OZ if only he could afford it <g>.  Mark told us of a funny story as to why he and his wife do not share the same surname.  They have been married for 32 years and his wife has won numerous awards for her work.  On more than one occasion, while being called up to collect her prize the announcer has called her by her wrong name and in the end, getting rather peeved with this she changed her name to Paris Johansen, saying that they could not get that wrong <g>.  The name does have connections with her past but I can't remember what they are.

Now, the other day, while trying to find the most southerly point of Australia/Western Australia we ended up in the wrong park and running  out of time stopped over for two night somewhere else.  It turns out we were just round the corner from where we wanted to be.  From Cosy Corner on Torbay Hill it was 8km to, what we now know, is the most southerly point of Western Australia.  Got to go get the picture <g>.  What a drive, it was into West Cape Howe National Park, down with the type pressure again and what a ball Alan had, this was the most challenging drive for Winsotn this trip.  Steep sandy tracks, tight corners, deep ruts etc - fun, fun, fun.  

We had only entered the park a 100 metres or so when we had to reverse out to let another vehicle escape, then it was on our way again.  In the 8km trek to the end of the track we only saw about 3 passing places.  What a blessing on some of the steep inclines that rubber mats had been laid sometime in the past or this place would have been inaccessible.  

A view of one of the tracks of the six or so hill sand dunes
we crossed to get the where we wanted to be.

With 75 metre sheer cliff edges and waves pounding the sides, big blue skies and a cool breeze we stood/sat at the most southerly point of WA absorbing the most wonderful mixture of colours and sounds.

Alan gazing out to sea on the most southernly point
of WA
And then it was my turn to have a pic taken <g>

View of the water crashing off the rock below us
Looking further west
 Still no bacon and egg toastie to satisfy our grumbling tummies we left the park in search of grease <g>.  A little shop east of Denmark sated our hunger.  Moving onto Denmark for some more water etc I also picked up a bag of sweeties in the IGA store.  They looked interesting, I had no idea what they were and always looking to try something new thought they were worth purchasing.  How disappointing to find they were made in the Netherlands, well I guess it is only a short hop from Holland to Denmark <g>.  The sweeties were not bad, a sort of mixture of honey and liquarish in case you are interested.

Driving around is very reminiscent of East Australia when we arrived last year, tall straight trees creating a very pretty, tree lined avenue to drive on.  We were very close to what the Lonely Planet describes as one of the top 10 must see places in OZ so we will go and have a look, can't come all this way and miss a major attraction.  The Valley of the Giants, big trees and a tree-top walk.  Now a place like this also deserves the purchase of a shots glass or two <g>.  Nice staff, very pretty but the trees were not that big, we have seen far larger in Ghana so that was somewhat disappointing.  What was surprising was the lack of birds in the canopy.  Would I do it again, I don't think so.  It was a clever bit of engineering that created the tree-top walk, a suspension bridge thing forming a 3D kite shape with the highest point 40 metres above ground.  I don't like heights at the best of times and although I know suspension bridges are safe they make no sense to me, hanging structures from steel cables to allow you to walk (or in most cases drive lorries across) seems rather precarious to my brain cell.  This bridge contraption bounced and quivered under foot (I think Alan was deliberately jumping on it to see what I would do <g>).  

After completing the circut and returning to ground level we decided to make the most of the 11 bucks each we had paid to enter and check out the ancient forest walk.  Alas, only holf way round and loud speakers hidden in the trees informed us the place was closing so it was back to Winston feeling a little disgruntled at being kicked out.  It was obvious Winston was feeling the same, he put his foot down, quite literally, with yet another flat tyre!!!!!!!!

Still on our mission for free camping and finding it harder and harder in the populated west end we cam across a state forest - Gladstone State Forest, not sure if we can camp here or not but knowing it is late on Saturday evening and most normal folks don't work on a Sunday we drove in and found another 'cosy corner' for Winston and us to lay up for the night.

No sunset again, I guess the light pollution is getting in the way, shame but never mind we have seen a feast of colour as the days draw to a close this trip.  Something we have noticed over the past week or so is the dramatic drop in temperature at night.  When the sun is shining it is wonderfully warm but, quite literally, as the sun vanishes over the horizon little warmth is given off by the land and suddenly, and I mean suddenly, it is time to look for anything warm to wrap yourself in.  We have been so cold these past few nights that bed has been a welcome action and star gazing does not even get a second thought.  Even the window flaps in Winston's penthouse bedroom have remained closed!!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18

As promised, a picture of our back garden to start today's blog, lots and lots of little flowers, bugs and an odd bird or two, very peaceful indeed, so peaceful we decided to stay another day in the hope the sun would come out to play.

Lookie lookie, the sun has come out, long enough for us to have a wonderful shower, oh and how spoilt I was.  Alan boiled two kettle full's of hot water, the shower was so hot we had to add more cold water.  Then it was a natural dry off using the suns rays instead of a towel.  What a beautiful bathroom <g>.

While the sun was out and checking the skies to see when the next lump of clouds would be overhead we reckoned we had a good hour so decided to check out the beach which was just over the dunes, not a kilometre away this time, just a couple of hundred meters or so.  Winding our way along sandy tracks we eventually reached the beach.  

No wonder we could hear the waves crashing as a background sound at our campsite, they were vicious, but do make for a good picture.

And time to make our way back to the sheltered spot we have left Winston in.  Well I say sheltered, the wind still managed to howl and swirl around us, sooooooooo cold at times.

By 6:00 p.m. we had tried everything to get warm, including once again bring out the sleeping bag to wrap ourselves in but nothing was working so it was off to bed in our luxury penthouse tent <g>.  Hence we missed whatever sunset there might have been!!!!  Sorry this has been such a short blog, obviously with us taking a day out to relax I don't have much to write about.  Heading back on the road tomorrow so fingers crossed I will have another story for you <g>.