The final post – wrap up – year well spent

It’s almost done and dusted – our year of making good ‘living our dream’ is now floundering in its last days as we are drawing closer to the home address.

Although there are some tangible things that give an introduction and some evidence to the truly, madly, wild and wonderful time we have had (like the 30,000klm extra clicks on the odometer and references and photos made to you within this blog)  you won’t really  know what this country can do to your senses and soul unless you have experienced it for yourself.

We believe the best of and most profound discoveries we made and experienced during our journey could not be captured by our words or photography. As so many moments of natural living beauty and surprises occurred – in the darkness of night; the rising and setting of the sun; submerged beneath the water amongst coral reefs; in the smell, temperature and sounds of a diversity of landform;  or attached to the darting of brilliant coloured and sounding birds; and for the most part was from the dynamically changing vision seen through the window of our rig as it hurtled its way through the rocky and dusty tracks of the outback and around the pristine coastlines of our less civilised highways.

Added to these naturally occurring discoveries, our adventure has exponentially added to our knowledge and understanding with respect the geological and social anthropology that has given shape and definition to this country.

What an advantage to be present in and see with our own eyes and learn from the educational references available on site. It has increased our awareness for the historical sequence and placement of events in regards to Aboriginal ancestory and culture, European visitation and exploration, our Colonial heritage and our participation in each of the World Wars.  We found ourselves emotional at times as the implications of the impacts on people were made all the more real and chilling. Generally this was in the manner of monuments, museums or storyboards, and other times it was by people who took the time to share their special places, cultural practices and personal insights with us.

So our message is…if you are a citizen of this great and lucky country, there is no time like now to begin to plan your next or first trip into this your big and broad backyard.  If you are from abroad, well it’s time you came and joined the thousands of others from across the globe who we observed taking up the seats of special tour busses and choppers to get better access into the far flung wilderness areas. There was also hundreds of young backpackers in campervans doing it their way, on the cheap in the free camps with the freedom of time on a working or travel visa.

We can live now with ‘no regret’ having taken our curiosity away for the year, only a renewed and calculated passion to take up any future opportunity to explore some more.

We thank all of you who have taken the time to read and view this blog, particularly our family and friends who gave us a reason to stay in touch and accountable to share and communicate our travel learnings and whereabouts.

We also want to acknowledge and thank the team at Kimberley Kampers Ballina and Express Tools and Camping Unanderra who assisted in providing us with the most awesome home away from home. Their attention to designing a truly off- road and robust, fully self-contained Kruiser has been our freedom, comfort and pleasure all the way. After sales support second to none. Big Thanks!

It’s time to say our final goodbyes, from a year that was a gift to us.

Thankyou all for your interest, encouragement and support.

Ros and Dean

Yes…this is the end!

ps. For last lot of snaps as we made haste across the Nullarbor and a mosaic of Kimberley Kruising Header snaps, please go to home page of this site and click on bars at top left of page.

We wish you all a safe and happy time wherever you are this Christmas.

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Far South West Corner – Waves – Wine – Roses – Remembrance

The satellite map seen on the tele for the daily weather watch may well define what you might expect to find when travelling into the different regions and climes. Having marvelled for years at what looked to be quite an intense green velvet pocket in the south west corner of WA, I now understand why it equates so. It’s a much cooler region with many more days of cloudy skies and rain – similar to Tasmania. Combined with the deep layers of nutrient rich soils accumulated from thousands of years under an expanse of heavy forest  makes for a pastoral and agricultural rich region.

We perceived ourselves as miniature when we walked through the undergrowth of the giant Jarrah and Marri trees. We clambered up some 67 meters of a Karri Tree. We enjoyed a birds-eye perspective as we strolled the skywalk through a canopy of Tingle trees. All these magnificent species have to be experienced first hand, as no photos will reveal the power of their presence in these giant southern forests.

Where the land is cleared gives way to the farms and vineyards this region gets it’s reputation for.  It’s good dairy, fruit and wine. It certainly has become a gourmet travellers gustation with all sorts of new and creative industries adding their touch to the tapestry. The cultivation of roses seemed effortless, a common feature in most gardens and vineyards, so blooming lovely all over the countryside.

The Margaret River beaches were truly a secret surfers paradise with little crowds, a lot less hype in relation to the size of the wave,and so far …without any tourist strip tackiness and skyscrapers.

Lucky us were given the secret coordinates to find the location of this perfect beach break …a locals only hotspot.

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Remembrance Day this year was made all the more meaningful and memorable in our visit to Albany – the birthplace of the first Dawn Service tradition. A tremendous effort in the building of a ANZAC Centre which opened last year to commemorate the 100th Anniversary. Together with some well designed Memorials and Monuments amidst this physical landscape where 41,000 Australians and New Zealanders left for the first world war, this important history comes alive and falls into places not felt before. An unexpected addition to this occasion was to be there during the visit of Prince Charles and Camilla.

Having turned the corner around the southern most point of the south west we now travel east and are on course for the homeward bound journey. But alas! Esperance it is, for a beach goers escape, we have found ourselves trapped, surrounded by fires. Our delay is immaterial, and as we learn of the sudden and tragic loss of lives and livelihoods consumed by these raging fires our hearts go out to this community of hardworking people who are showing incredible unity in adversity. We pray for the farmers who have lost everything, and the families whose loved ones have been taken. As an aside, we are impressed with the investment the Esperance Shire has made to provide and maintain such innovative and pristine community and tourist facilities along its bayside and coastal foreshores. The best of all shires we have seen.

West Coast -Wild Flowers-Reef and Beach Sundowns

Its a daily question and quandary as to which road to take when making your way down the great Western State. Usually overwhelmed by the many options, and the time required to ‘properly explore’ we usually defaulted to the road most southward bound and as close to the coast. This would then be followed by the statement. “Oh well, another area that we must come back to do next year! ”

Its a wild and wonderful coast between Port Hedland to Perth, and with hundreds of coastal townships and thousands of beaches. We decided to focus our attention on just three areas.

The first of these was Cape Range National Park, with the brilliant Ningaloo Reef. This is the reef where those spotty whale sharks come to visit each year between May and August. Although we were outside this time we were not disappointed with the other multitude of underwater fish and corals seen whilst snorkelling in this pristine place. With no underwater camera – you are just going to have to put it on your  own bucket list and see it for yourself. Closest town is Exmouth. Easier then the GBR when all you have to do is walk 10 meters into the water and put your head under. Absolutely Awesome.

The whales could be seen every day, as they made their way down the coast, and a great place to catch them against the backdrop of the sun sinking into the sea was up at Point Vladamigh Lighthouse, along with some other colourful characters.

The second was the world heritage listed area of Shark Bay. On the  map of WA,  this can be seen as the finger like projections which includes the most westerly point of the Australian continent. It is also home to some fascinating 3,400 million year old Stomatolites – microbial mats which were once earths earliest ecosystem producing oxygen into the atmosphere.

We tucked ourselves away up into the Francoise Peron National Park, having had a brief encounter with the tourist trap of Monkey MIa. This required us to tow the Kruiser for some 20klms on a soft sand dune ttrack through some fun bends at pace with 15psi in the tyres.

It was well worth the trek, as we had a prime position where we could kayak, fish and enjoy such a special wilderness.

I am satisfied I have my balance right now, having seen the sun emerge from one ocean and dissolve into another on the same line of latitude, my lifelong infatuation with visiting Geraldton has been now achieved. This was the third area of attention and there was plenty of smaller seaside towns that had some resemblance to places  like Lennox and Yamba on the east coast.

And those of you who know how much I love gardens and flowers…I can report I have been spoilt beyond belief. The roadsides and landscapes have been ablaze with so much colour and diversity. Rare to me flowers  prevalent in one place, not to be seen again in another.

Going Solar — kiss big power bills goodby– AAsolar

This is for any of my readers who are interested in battery storage of solar in domestic use. You may also have seen or read the claims made by the Climate Council in an ABC report yesterday where there pricie research shows it to be a competitive alternative in Australia by 2018. Well here is a friend of mine I met on the road who on returning to NZ has taken the leap by configuring a set up in his own home. Now if a bright kiwi can take the plunge with the amount of sun hours there, imagine what more efficiency can be achieved here in our more intense sun belt regions.

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Been an interesting week or three setting up our new solar system. Consists on 30 — 270 w panels ( 8.1 KWh array ) .

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Panels round the back of our place

Inside I decided to use part of my virtual cycling room as a battery store house. Has this pretty impressive and very heavy set of long life agm batteries . All up 1.2 ton. Was a major effort to locate — took four big guys and lots of huffing and puffing.

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All the kit has been supplied by an Auckland business called “AAsolar”. They are a great bunch of helpful guys– good to deal with.
Have used a sophisticated Swiss brand of programmable inverter charger . We are presently testing this system. My design spec is that we will be able to store up to 20 KWh ( useable ) that we can draw down on overnight. This…

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Beautiful Broome Roebuck Bay and Cape Leveque

August was a great month to find the sea again having been in the middle of the Kimberley for the previous two. The colour of the water was a stunning splash of aqua in the eye – both the ocean and that in the bay.The beautiful thing about the Broome-scape is how it continues to hold onto the deep red and signature hues from the inland of the Kimberley whilst fringing it within a coastline of pristine white sand and turquoise sea. It is understandable why this place is the destination of thousands of well seasoned (and tanned ) grey nomads who make their annual migration from across every part of this continent. Cable Beach for the obligatory end of day sundown and Roebuck Bay to observe the incoming and outgoing 9 metre change of tide along with the stairway to the moon phenomena, makes this place a seismic success for just sitting.

It was nice to get the van and vehicle cleaned up from the dust of the Gibb River Road, and get the kayak back into a salty sea. The view of and from what became our campsite for the month was very, very nice. So was meeting up with some friends from home and also made along the way. The lovely Maryanne here from Mt Barnett on her way back home to Harvey Bay. x

What made the experience so much more, was to have much missed son Taryn, come and join us for an exhilarating week of adventure further north into the Dampier Peninsular. We took a flight on a seaplane up to the Buccaneer Archipelago, covering the area that we would be driving over the following few days to the top of Cape Leveque. Having been taken through the Horizontal Falls on a high powered boat and getting up close to numerous feeding sharks it will remain as an unforgettable day in our memories – and for Dean, having been given the pole position as co-pilot.

Back in Broome, we were treated to more interesting events which included a visit to the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile farm, some wonderful Aboriginal performances, film and art during the Shinju Muzuri celebration of Broomes multicultural history, and sculpture by the sea.

There is only a few times during the year when the tide goes out so low that the remains of five Catalinas that were bombed during WW11 in the bay become exposed. We were fortunate enough to be there at this time to make the early morning walk to see and reflect on this event in our history.

Along with the tides, this western side of the Kimberley has a profound effect on those who come by, as witnessed by the people who make a habit of returning year after year, or those who find they resign to stay.

Shaking it out along the Gibb River Road

When we entered the Kimberley’s from the east of Kununurra at the end of June, we thought we might take about two weeks to complete the 700 Klm long Gibb River Road. Two months later …we have reluctantly emerged from what has been a life away from the everyday. There is so much more then 700klms of corrugated and rocky road that passes through Aboriginal lands and cattle stations. But for now here are some views from the passenger seat. Vibrations included.

With time and permission to get side tracked, we did just that. The climate was consistently kind and predictable; cloudless blue skies for more then 60 days, daytime temperatures maxing out at 30*C and evening dropping to 15*C. We were graced with an endless supply of Kimberley sunrise and sunsets with hues of pink, amber, and blue behind silhouettes of elegant boabs. Every range and gorge held unimaginable spectacles of landforms and rock types and contained bio- diversity that just kept surprising.

And then some more…as the sun played upon these millions of years old land forms, leaving us motionless as the red majestic rock became orange and metallic before folding into a rich magenta against the violet of the closing sky.

An opportunity to stay and work awhile with an Aboriginal owned service was a welcoming and appreciated experience to have. It also allowed us to set up camp for a month alongside a pristine flowing creek while the busy influx of 4WD family camping from the three states on school holidays, swarmed the waterfalls and holes.

The gorges are all different, regardless of the claims of some ‘seen one, seen them all’ we heard some say.

We have learnt, experienced and now safe keep some new understanding of the local people and their dreaming stories.  The connection they had to this land and its preservation for thousands of years prior to European settlement seems very rationale in relation to conservation of the environment and species that are now extinct. Something European arrival and countless governments since have not given due to and have instead prevented the ecologically sound management that occurred prior. We were lucky to see thousands of year old rock art. These things are sacred to the people who continue to maintain their cultural linkages and law, so we respect this by not photographing and telling outside the context it is best understood.

However, the following story and painting by Jack Dale a Kimberley man that hangs in a gallery in Derby depicts some of the harsh treatment of his people in the early 1900’s is something we do have some responsibility to acknowledge and give recognition for the ongoing harm it has caused.

As dark was this past, there is plenty of inspiring things that keep the spirits light and high in this vulnerable but proven to be resilient Kimberley country.

And to finish this very long post of our time on the Gibb River Road I will reveal how Dean taking time to manoeuvre the Kruiser into particular campsites usually pays dividends.