Fremantle Rocks! School Holidays Part 1

Our time in Fremantle seemed to be divided equally between the Little Creatures Brewery and our caravan park at Woodmans Point.

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Little Creatures is the best place to have a pizza and a pint of Pale Ale while the kids play quietly in the giant sandpit and watching the sun set over a pirate ship in the Fremantle harbour.

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Sounds idyllic right? It’s not often we have to drag the boys away from a pub, usually they are the ones dragging us away! We visited each evening just to keep the kids happy!

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The cafe scene in Freo is centered around some big institutional cafes run by the same family of Italians that have been there for generations.

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And that means fricken fantastic coffee! The streets are funky style but there’s a distinct feeling of history and roots here. Of European and Asian immigrants who made this place what it is today with an awful lot of hard work.

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Then there is an emerging sub-culture of hipsters who co-exist with the original inhabitants in a fragile balance of old vs new.

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This is what makes Fremantle such a charming and eclectic kind of place.

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The shipwreck museum was worth a visit

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and it was lovely just strolling around the docks soaking up the atmosphere, on the way to Little Creatures again!

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We changed caravan parks after some cranky old ladies asked us if we were going to put our child to bed because it was 830pm and he sounded tired….

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Actually, the problem was he had had a huge daytime sleep so he was anything but tired, but I wasn’t about to explain that to the rude old biddies. It made me feel like getting on the piss and cranking up the tunes just to spite them. But I didn’t. We were so cranky because of all the times we have wanted to complain about inconsiderate campers who are loud and drunk at midnight, but we don’t. To have someone whinge about our low level of noise so early in the evening was laughable really. I hope they got some really noisy school holidayers with 10 kids after we left!

But, the Karrinyup Waters Resort ended up being one of the nicest parks we have ever set foot in so it was well worth the move.

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We spent our days by the pool or 3,

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checking out the sights, fish and chips by the beach at sunset,

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or just chilling out.  This was the first time in ages we really felt like we were having a holiday!  Perhaps it was the vibe of the hundreds of other campers who had just started their school holidays that we were picking up on.

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We found the Perth City to be a bit corporate and soulless and better enjoyed from afar!

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 A lot of steel grey mining company buildings on the skyline overlooking a wide expanse of the Swan River.  Fremantle was obviously where all the cool kids were at.  But we did find Synergy Parklands at King’s Park to be an oasis, an entertaining oasis with the most beautiful green grass in WA!

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There were dinosaurs, ducks, play equipment and, above all, miles of clean soft lawn for Daisy to explore without little bits of stuff to pick up and eat.

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 That’s her new trick, crawling.  She got so good so fast!  Time to buy a playpen I think!  We have become even busier parents.  As if we weren’t already busy enough!

The Swan Valley Wine Region is the oldest and most established in WA, but we thought it lacked the personality and vibrance of the Margaret River region.

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 The Houghton Winery was pretty awesome though and we checked out the Hop Hog Brewery to taste the ‘Beer of the Year’.

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It was so good we had to take some home with us!

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We have come to realise that the end of our trip is in sight.  And with that, comes a dichotomy of emotion.  Happy and sad, relieved and anxious.  It is still a ways off, but our trip no longer feels like it is never going to end.

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There are still plans to hang for a while in Darwin, but that’s as long as there is any work that Brian can just step into.  Our tenants are renewing our lease until October, so we should end up home in Mackay around about then.  Probably.  Maybe.  We’ll see!

We thought the Rottnest Island cruises were marginally overpriced, and the holiday season also turned us off so we instead did the budget (cheapskate) ‘sunset cruise’ to the Island.

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It ended up being just run out and back on the last passenger ferry of the day so we went over in the twilight, and back in the dark.  The free Corona was a small saving grace.  Could have done with another to deal with Jasper and Dash turning wild on the way home.

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Meantime, we were a bit worried about the Easter long weekend coming up and somehow managed to fluke a spot in a caravan park in Geraldton, Sunset Beach.

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The drive here was about 420kms so it was one of our longer trips but there were a few things to break up the journey, and luckily the boys have mastered the art of movie watching in the car!

We visited the Pinnacles Desert just outside Cervantes.

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What a super surreal landscape dotted with thousands of these limestone spikes and pillars.

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 It was a little bit spooky to be honest!  Do you remember a movie that was The Wizard of Oz sequel?  I think it was ‘Return to Oz’.  It reminded me of that movie.  There were heads in jars in that movie too.  Hmmm.

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At Lancelin we paused for a hot-cross-bun break and were greeted by the sight of about 15 dolphins frolicking right next to the shore catching fish in the seaweed infested water.  They were so close you could have reached out and touched them.  Of course, they had moved down the beach by the time we went back for the camera!

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We arrived in Geraldton and found our place at Sunset Beach.  It really lives up to its name!

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 The families were steadily rolling in with their assortment of vans, trailers and tents to join us this Easter.  My whole family went to Hamilton Island without us.IMG_7697 (800x600)

Sometimes I wish I had a teleporter!  They made me feel a bit homesick.   Happy Easter!

The kids had a great Easter morning of course, and the Easter Bunny did find us luckily.

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 There was a bit of a dodgy playground at the park but the boys still managed to spend ages at it each day.

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The weather is gradually turning cold at night, but warm during the day so Brian has got a new favourite shirt!

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Flannelette: the shirt for all seasons!  Unfortunately, I put all our warm gear away in the vacuum bags while we were in Perth, it seems I was a little premature!

Geraldton was a bit of a wierd town.  It has spent millions of dollars on a war memorial for the HMAS Sydney which was sunk in 1941 by a German warship off the coast here.

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The memorial has so many aspects, it was a little confusing.  But was poignant in its remembering the 645 lives lost, 1 seagull per soldier.  Jasper sort of got it:  “So, did the soldiers all turn into seagulls?”

There is also a fairly impressive foreshore area with a great playground and waterpark, but being school holidays, this was getting feral so we came to avoid it.  Apart from the money spent on these things, the rest of the town was lacklustre with broken down buildings, unkempt and untidy mid-city blocks and a few condemned buildings in what you would think of as ‘prime’ positions.  Odd.  But it was windy, and that kept Brian happy!  And it had a cool retro lighthouse!

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He was even happier when we headed a little bit further north (only 20kms) to the famous (in the right circles) windsurfing hub of Coronation Beach…….   to be continued………

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Nanna Hangover

Nanna Hangover.

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Nanna Hangover

I am coining the term ‘Nanna Hangover’.  It is defined as those few days after my Mum’s visit when we had to adjust to life again post-Nanna.

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We dropped Mum off at the Esperance airport for her ‘red-eye’ flight back to the East coast, then headed West ourselves, on to Albany.  Although it was nice to have our space to ourselves again, we really had to re-align ourselves, not to mention re-organise, back to a family of 5.

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Albany was the place to do it!  We stayed at the Big 4 Middleton Beach with was one of those caravan parks that you just love everything about.

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It was right on the beach; it had a massive and practical family bathroom; pool and heated spa; games room, kid room, and a cafe down the street.  It wasn’t the cheapest, but it was definitely the best place to rejuvenate and prepare for what feels like the second leg of our epic journey.

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We seem to have reached a halfway point.  Emotionally, financially, geographically and chronologically.  Half-way. So that means we are on our way home!  Albeit the long and scenic way home, but it is the downhill run from here and that changes the whole atmosphere.

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We no longer feel like our trip is never going to end, instead are acutely aware of how much time flies and realise we will be back to ‘normal life’ again before we know it!  Whatever ‘normal’ is going to be.

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Brian celebrated his 37th birthday at the local Italian restaurant called Venice.

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The pizza was awesome, and the kids were well behaved so it was a nice easy night.  He loved his new Lego set that Jasper picked out for him!

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Jasper is fairly Lego mad at the moment which is great and we are doing all we can to encourage him so we can draw him away from the DVD player!  So that means we are all getting Lego for Easter!

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On the 1st November 1914, the massive fleet of ANZAC troops left the Albany port en route to firstly Egypt, then on to Gallipoli.  For so many young soldiers, this port was the last view of Australia they ever had so it was quite a poignant spot.  Albany is gearing up for the upcoming 100 year anniversary celebrations which means lots of roadworks and beautification going on.  And no access to the awesome mountain bike track.  Bugger!

We also checked out Albany’s Whale World on recommendations from others.

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It was once a working whaling station, one of many on this coast.  It was interesting, especially the big ship you could climb all over, but it wasn’t worth the $29 per adult admission.  And it wasn’t for the faint of heart either with many gruesome photographs of the poor whales in various states of dismemberment.  Jasper found the grisly displays rather though-provoking which was healthy for a 4 year old I thought.  Dash just delighted in running around, and running off, and playing on the playground.  Which is also healthy.

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The wind kicked in and Brian got a couple of windsurfs in, and then it was time to go.

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Denmark was not very far down the road, and it was a great place to stop and do some laundry and visit a couple of wineries, a brewery and a meadery!

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 The honeywine was the stuff of legend and the jar of wildflower honey we scored continues to delight us daily.

The famous and picturesque Greens Pools were nearby:  an absolutely gorgeous spot while the sun shone to highlight the fairly shallow, crystal clear, naturally enclosed waters.

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We accidentally ended up at Parry Beach camping underneath the peppermint trees for a few days.

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 I say accidentally because we more or less stumbled upon it while we weren’t really sure where we were going.  I love those sort of ‘surprise’ spots.  It was only $10 a night, you could have campfires (WA is under total fire ban from November to April), and we somehow scored the pick of spots in a little glade all to ourselves.

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 It was run by this elderly couple who would do their rounds a couple of times daily on their matching 4 wheelers.  Have ever seen a 90 year old lady on a 4 wheeler?  The stuff of legend.

From there it was a couple of touristy stops at The Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk and the Ancient Empire.

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The Giant Tingle trees had these huge hollowed out roots and back in the old days, (before National Parks) you could even drive your car through them!

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It was a beautiful way to experience the forest; first you were on top of the trees, then you were inside them!  Even if we had to bribe the kidlets with ice-creams at the end. IMG_7149 (800x598)

An even better way to be at one with the trees was to climb the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree near Pemberton.

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It was a challenging and ultra-rewarding climb.  Rather daunting to peer up the 75 meter trunk with the flimsy looking rungs posted in a spiral all the way up to a series of platforms at the top.

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There was a big audience of Chinese fruit pickers down the bottom who were hooting and carrying on as I was climbing up as I was the only one brave enough to attempt it.  The view from the top was trees, all trees but I was at the top of the tallest one and the feeling was so exhilarating!

We spent a night in Pemberton with its mountain bike tracks and wineries and I intended to climb a similar tree the next day – the Gloucester Tree – unfortunately my sore muscles needed a couple of days recovery first!  DSC_0551 (800x532)

We were just keen beans to get ourselves to a little place called the Margaret River Region and to finally start the journey North.

So we are in Margaret River and taking stock, and stocking up.  On wines mainly.  But that is a story for another post!

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Experiencing Esperance

We were looking forward to Esperance for so many reasons.

1. It was to be the start of our WA adventure

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2. Brian came here 18 years ago for a windsurfing event (and hadn’t stopped talking about it since). Observatory Point is a top wave-sailing spot because the wind blows cross/off, and the water is magic.

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3. Mum was arriving for an almost 2 week visit after not seeing Daisy since she was 3 weeks old.  The boys were hugely excited!

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4. What a relief to get some fresh food and fresh clothes after a week of free and bush camping.

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5. Esperance is said to be home to some of Australia’s finest beaches.

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6. The stunning Cape Le Grande National Park just down the road.

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To be honest we had pretty high expectations….  And it didn’t disappoint!

As the gateway to Western Australia and the place most visitors come to after a hard slog across the Nullarbor Plain, Esperance is a small town with a big port and a beautiful caravan park.  The town itself was a bit drab, but they are working on what looks like a fabulous foreshore development so if you come and visit in another 4 years or so, I think it will be significantly nicer.

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The Seafront Caravan Park was such a nice place to base ourselves.  Both Brian and Mum had stayed there before on their respective past visits.  We found this awesome marina-front bar that we visited again and again for its perfect atmosphere, beautiful view, and box of toys.

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It didn’t even matter that the toys were really crappy and the beer was quite overpriced. It was still the best place to spend a Sunday arvo, and a Wednesday, and a Monday….

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We had a couple of days of weather perfection.  A great excuse to hang out at the beaches just south of town on the other ‘Great Ocean Road’.

Nanna was certainly kept busy at West Beach.

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Twilight Beach keeps getting voted the best beach in Australia, and it’s easy to see why:

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The refreshing crystal clear waters are complemented by interesting and beautiful boulders and pure white sand.  The water was pretty chilly, but we still went for a swim because, well, you just had to!  A few years ago, 20 people were stranded over on that small round island which is about 50 metres off shore.  They had all swam over there, then a 7 metre shark was spotted, so they had to get ferried back to the mainland!

Another great attraction in Esperance is the museum.

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It’s one of those things we wouldn’t normally have done, but with Mum being all eager, we went along and were suitably impressed with the huge and very well preserved collection.  It was all set off by the vehicles and farm equipment and this old crane outside.

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Cape le Grande National Park has 2 campgrounds, and, everyone we had spoken to had said they were notoriously hard to get in to as they were so popular.  We heard tales of people lining up from 2am just to be sure of getting one of the coveted and limited sites.

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 Getting there too early was simply unacheiveable for the likes of us as we had to do a bit of a reshuffle to fit Mum and her oversized luggage in.  (Oversized thanks to the mountains of hand-me-downs for Daisy and Dash that I had stored Lisa’s house!  I sent the same amount of stuff in size 000 back with her!  Thanks Mum!  Daisy is loving the Millie collection!)

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So, as we rolled on into the National Park at around 10am, we really didn’t have high hopes of getting a site.  But, luckily for us, there were 4 to chose from on that day!  Woohoo!

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And it was easy to see why the place is so popular!

 IMG_6819 (800x800)We stayed at Le Grande Beach which has the most amazing sunsets over the water.  If you follow our Instagram account, you probably got sick of the sunset shots while we were there but they were just so darn good!

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We did a little bit of the Coastal Trail that runs 15kms along the whole park from Le Grande Beach to Rossiter Bay.

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The campground is just at the bottom of that hill we climbed.  The boys had fun clambering up the rocks but wanted a lift along the boring pathways.  Actually, they were anything but boring!  The scrub here is just so pretty!  It’s like walking through the botanic gardens again.  When you think about the scrub in QLD and it’s all lantana and guinea grass, this just does not compare!

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Hellfire Bay was the pick of the beaches.

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The water was so clear that Mum was able to find her glasses again after a wave had knocked them off.  You wouldn’t get that at Seaforth!

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And what better end to a beach day than a with cup of tea on the beach!

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For Mum, a cup of tea is always worth the (considerable) effort!

Lucky Bay is the famous beach here, it has been voted Australia’s whitest beach.

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And while it was stunning, sorry but it still doesn’t come close to Whitehaven.

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And it was absolutely choked at one end by a mountain of seaweed.

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Rossiter Bay was the same, seaweed-wise.

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We had sunny days, and then we had some rainy days.

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But that didn’t dampen our spirits!

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Brian and I climbed Frenchman’s Peak one afternoon,

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It was one of the most fun climbs we have ever done.  Maybe because it was scaling up the rocks, maybe because we had it all to ourselves and left the kids in the van with Mum.

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We love the kids, but gee we appreciated the couple of hours to ourselves!  The hike was so good, Brian did it again the next morning with Mum!

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There was plenty of wildlife:

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And the scenery was lovely.

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No trip to this region would be complete without a stay in this gorgeous park.

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But, as all good things must come to an end, we finally had to go back to reality and to Mum’s flight out of Esperance.

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Bye Nanna!  Your Grandkids and us really enjoyed your stay, and I know you did too!  And we proved without a doubt that you can easily fit 6 people in the Jayco Eagle!

Here’s a big wave goodbye!

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Go West – Crossing the Nullarbor

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It all began in Streaky Bay.  The biggest ever Great White Shark was caught by hand line here in the 1990s, it was over 5.5meters long.

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It was also the place where, despite the median consumer age of 65, Triple J is played in the caravan park ablution blocks.  I’m definitely not complaining, it was so much more pleasant than struggling to listen to ABC Radio National talkback above the showers and the flushing toilets.  We had a lovely relaxing few days here, but knew it was time to leave when I found this guy as I took the clean washing off the line.

IMG_6413 (800x800) Poor little dude was literally hung out to dry, tucked into the corner of a fitted sheet.  At least he was clean (ish)!

Now, the Nullarbor Plain has long been a fascination of mine, and recently, has been hanging over our heads as we made our way ever closer along first the East, then the South of the country.  It’s one of those things that is just inevitable.  If you are doing the ‘Big Lap’, at some stage you will do the Nullarbor crossing. DSC_0301 (800x532) And as an Australian, it is one of those iconic things that should be high on your bucket list. The launch point is usually Ceduna.  For us, it was more a lunch point! IMG_6415 (800x800) A great place to refuel at normal prices and to a grocery top up.  We did our big shop in the Port Lincoln Woollies, so were stocked up, but had to be mindful of the quarantine restrictions that prevent taking fruit, veg or honey into Western Australia. Our first stop was the famed Cactus Beach.  You turn off the highway at Penong with it’s 45 working windmills, DSC_0213 and drive along an uncertain dirt road, past salt lakes and salt bush to a wonderful camping ground amongst the dunes at the top of the famous break. IMG_6421 (800x800) The place and the surrounding 500 hectares of Point Sinclair is owned by a fellow called Ron. Think ‘Doc’ from Back to the Future but remove the manic excitement, add some chill, and you might be close.  He was a character all right, but he loves his surf and Cactus Beach and he looks after his campground.  It was spotless and so so pretty. IMG_6428 (800x598) I’m sure he would have painted these sunsets for us if he could.

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But we were here to surf.

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 There were finally enough surfers for Brian to have himself a posse and not be too concerned about the possible dangers lurking beneath the dark reefy waters.  He kept researching the fatal attack that occurred here in 2000, and tried to do everything opposite to that guy.  As in don’t surf at dawn’s crack, alone, for 2 hours (it’s all in the coroner’s report)…… Hey, it worked.

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Beautiful and vibe-liscious though it was,

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we knew we couldn’t stay forever.  Goodbye Cactus Beach.  Until next time.

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 The great plain awaited us still.

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The word Nullarbor comes from Nullus – Arbor which literally means ‘no trees’.  Whoever did the naming really got it right!  There really were no trees.  It was much prettier than we expected, and not boring at all.  Though the 146km section with no bends at all was a little bit of a stretch.  Actually, we stopped overnight halfway!

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The plain was spectacular in its arid vastness.  The bluebush and saltbush was interspersed with red dirt and green grass bringing a colour and diversity to what we thought was going to be drab and ugly.  The truth was, it was stunning!

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The Bunda Cliffs are where the Nullarbor Plain meets the Great Australian Bight.

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It was like the edge of the world looking along these seemingly endless cliffs with the sea pounding away at them, steadily eroding away the base.  There was a pod of about 50 dolphins at the bottom frolicking in the waves but we couldn’t get too close to the edge to get a picture without fear of falling in!

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The road followed the coastline for a while before traversing inland again and along the world’s longest golf course, the Nullarbor Links.

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Every 200 odd kms, there was a par 3 or 4.  The fairways were rough, the roughs were extreme, the greens were super fast fake grass, and we had a great time on them!  It helped having a Prado for a golf buggy!

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Apart from losing a few balls along the way and having to cope with thousands of flies and millions of ants, dodging snakes, or juggling the kids, or trying to pick our way down the prickly fairway in ever-unsensible thongs, it was actually a lot of fun and a great way to break up the drive.  I think it was originally an initiative for road safety and it certainly worked, giving us something regular to look forward to, and then to talk about as we drove away from each hole.

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Our campsites each night were also better than expected. DSC_0327 (800x532) We just drove until early afternoon, covering only about 250kms a day, then we were usually the first ones in the rest area, and the last to leave the following day.  A very relaxing way to travel!

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The traffic was surprisingly sparse, we figured there must be a lot of rail and ship transit instead.

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Actually, there were more caravans than trucks.  We even saw a horse and cart making the journey and a gyrocopter filling at a servo.

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With the price of fuel sitting around $2.08, we were happy to have our long range fuel tanks.  Thank you Prado!

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The wildlife was disappointing.  Apart from a couple of dead kangaroos,  we saw none of the fabled 3.

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Oh, there were the dolphins.  And some Wedge-Tailed Eagles, a speckeldy snake, and this guy:

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It would have been cool to see a real feral camel, that’s all.

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We did see a couple of other animals crossing the highway.  I think they were lost…..

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And what were our 3 little cherubs doing in the back while all of this driving and golf was going on I hear you ask?  Well, they were actually being cherubs the absolute majority of the time.

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They watched movies on the laptop with headphones, played the Ipad, read books, or slept.  Or ate.  It seems that getting in the car now provokes a call of “Mummy I’m hungry” from both the boys and by day 3 it was getting harder to please even the most discerning palate, let alone these 2.

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In the old days we would do a 10 hour trip virtually without stopping between Mackay and Brisbane.  Back when we had 1 child, or even 2, I would be able to get in the back seat and breastfeed (yes, while travelling) or entertain the tots, but now, its constant craning around to pick up toys, to do puppet shows and to hand out snacks as there is no room left in that row anymore!

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Between the golf and the dodgy roadhouse playgrounds, we stopped a lot anyway so they all had room to run around and eat plenty of overpriced ice blocks.

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We were reminded why these old style playgrounds have gradually been replaced with the sterile moulded plastic ones.  They are scary, even for grown ups!  I mean, maybe we are lowering the thrilling adventure levels for our kids, but I would rather feel content while they play, instead of have my heart in my throat all the time!

The Nullarbor is unpopulated mainly due to the fact that there’s just no water.  And nothing will grow in the limestone sheet except salt and drought hardy shrubs.  So the only people that live there are the few at each roadhouse.  Very interesting places these roadhouses.  They all had some oddity to check out.  ‘Belladonia Roadhouse’ was the site of the Skylab re-entry back in 1979 – they have a piece of the wreckage on display –  and enjoyed moment of fame when then-president of USA Jimmy Carter personally rang and apologized for the carnage!

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We crossed the 12ookm Nullarbor plain from Ceduna SA to Norseman WA in 4 days.

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It’s definitely one of those journeys that’s all about the journey!

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And the sunsets.

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Excellent Eyre Peninsula

So we headed south from Flinders, all the way down to the Eyre Peninsula and Tumby Bay to a cute little caravan park with a very welcome laundry. It was a big drive.

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The beach was beautiful, the town was quaint.

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Triple J’s One Night Stand was here a couple of years ago if you are wondering why you have heard of Tumby Bay. Not much else going on but the odd Razor Fish! Lookout!

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Port Lincoln is the home of not only Makybe Diva,

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but also the highest number of millionaires per capita of any Australian city! The lucrative seafood trade drives this town; from oysters to bluefin tuna to king George whiting and blue swimmer crabs, those Asians are insatiable! They say the seafood benefits from the super cleanliness of the ocean so it’s better here than anywhere else.

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I guess they forget about the big factories at the top of the gulf and the Whyalla Steelworks when the make that claim. It was very fresh and very tasty anyway and we cooked up a feast by our campsite in Lincoln National Park.

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We paired it sweetly with a Barossa Reisling from Bethany Wines. Ahhh perfection! The little blue swimmer crabs were a bit more fiddly to eat than a big full mud crab and the flesh was really soft so it was a longlasting meal.

It was a beautiful campsite here. Right on the beach again. But the weather was a little chilly so this time the water wasn’t as inviting. Jasper and Dash made friends with a little boy the same age as Jasper named Jotah. Jotah we have your Lightening McQueen if you are reading this!! Don’t worry, we will look after him for you! The boys had a great time being boys in the bush. Within reason.

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It wasn’t until our next campsite at Coffin Bay National Park that we saw a baby Brown snake and a massive Redback spider and we were reminded that the bush isn’t actually all that safe!

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We conquered part of the track between the Wanna-Sleaford dune systems in Lincoln NP.

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We thought we were pretty cool flying up and down the sand dunes and we finally found out what our car can do!

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It took us forever to pump our tyres back up with our tiny 12v compressor that actually is more suited to bike and pram tyres though.

Coffin Bay was full of scenes like this:

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Looks like something straight out of a tourist brochure. Ridiculously beautiful.

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But the campground was miles away from anything and infested with redbacks and brown snakes, so it was only a one-nighter and we had a weary drive to get ourselves here to the gorgeous Streaky Bay.

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Happiness is a caravan park after lots of bush camping. Even more happiness is when said caravan park is right on the beach!

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On the way here, was the odd Murphy’s Haystacks in the middle of a sheep field just off the highway.

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It had a certain ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ sort of vibe and I kept an extra close eye on the boys! I think they are simply caused by erosion though, not left by aliens or anything. The aboriginals might have a different story I suppose…

Today we continued on the search, the Rip Curl Search. Your mission: to look at every surf spot on Australia and make sure there are no waves.

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Actually we did find some surf.

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But there was no surfing done due to extreme remoteness and the not enough surfers/too many sharks ratio.

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Sharks are scary and they are real and they are here. Just ask the sealions at the Point Labatt colony next door to the surf spot.

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There are too many recent documented sightings to not worry about Great Whites. There are other surfers, but if there’s not enough, your odds aren’t that good!

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Just look how beautiful this beach is! Look but don’t touch. Or you could end up sharkbait.

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<p style="text-align:left; maybe we should be more like a shingleback. Without a care in the world.

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We had an epic day exploring the bays south of Streaky Bay.

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Perfect weather for a swim. A safe swim behind some reef in knee deep water. Just try to get these boys to do the same pose at the same time!

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This is the best ‘Loo with a view’ I have ever seen! It even had a perfectly positioned window.

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Streaky Bay is the kind of place we could while away a few days. It’s a great fishing spot apparently but for us it was easier to buy fish and chips for dinner and relax on the foreshore with a sunset beer while the pelicans and seagulls watched us closely.

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The 1970’s Australian movie ‘Blue Fin’ was set here. I might go look it up.

And so ends another day. Mum has just booked her flights to come and meet us in Esperance next week! I am beyond excited.

Everyone is good and happy and beaming. We have our shit days too, just like anyone else, but these are few and far between and it’s usually only after a big hard day of packing up, driving, setting up…. It’s worse when you only have short 1 or 2 night stays. So we plan on rejuvenating here until we head West again and conquer the Nullabor. Tomorrow Brian might try and conquer the other thing, the shark thing, but I don’t mind if he doesn’t

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Fabulous Flinder’s Ranges

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Right now it’s hard to blog about the Flinder’s Ranges and to recall the joy I felt there when I am sitting in a sort of boring National Park at the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula. I have to put myself back there, amid the perfect 30 degree days with the bluest skies and the flies and the kangaroos and the wedge tailed eagles. I have to forget that the Nullabor Plain lurks like a shadow in the near distance, waiting patiently for our arrival and recreate the peace and harmony and beauty that was inspired by Flinders.

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It was beautiful that’s for sure.

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The weather was perfect, and they had just had a couple of days of rain which was enough to put out all the fires and settle the dust. It also had caused a bit of flash flooding and all the creek crossings had been up very recently. This one hadn’t quite gone down yet.

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As we drove nearer, and wondered about where to stay we kept passing some odd looking road kill that looked a bit like a Tasmanian Tiger!

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We later discovered that this was the remains of the rare yellow-footed rock-wallaby as they have a long stripy tail. There musn’t be many left judging by the numbers dead on the highway!  As the wonderful Wedge Tailed Eagle took off from the dead wallaby it made the crows around it look as tiny as finches.

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We had a gorgeous campsite surrounded by those huge old river gums,

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the type that has inspired generations of artists including Hans Heysen who you are reminded of a lot down here.

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You can do a walk in his memory along the 1200kms from Jervis Bay, through the Flinder’s Ranges and beyond.

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Along the way there are these little huts to shelter in.

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We just calculated, if you walked non-stop, it would take you about 40 days. Though for us, trying to coax the boys along, probably without shoes, more like 40 years.

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There’s not enough Freddos in all of the world for the bribes we would need!

At the back of our campsite, there was a stony hill from which you could enjoy a spectacular panorama of Wilpena Pound.

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It was spectacular from every angle, but we suspect that the scenic flights were even more so, due to the constant drone of the single engine planes at dawn and dusk.

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Our hill was good enough for us to climb with a bottle of Barossa red, our Bose speaker with some nice tunes and our beautiful family for a sunset dance.

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It was one of those absurd moments of joy where you just love the ones you are with and you realise the enormity of what we are undertaking, and have to have a moment to soak it all in.

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But right then, it was all about us and Wilpena!

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A scenic drive through some gorges, some more amazing vistas, topped by a picnic lunch.

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Another perfect day. But unfortunately the park was about to undergo some routine pest control where they lay heaps of baits for the foxes so the campgrounds were closing down for a few days.

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We enjoyed one more morning of the most wonderful cacophany of morning birdsong worthy of a massage therapist’s waiting room. The best part of the campsite was, it was totally free! Yeehah!

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The hills were green and red and purple and orange and the atmosphere was perfect.  What a place!

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Arriving on the Yorke Peninsula

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Now, we didn’t know the Yorke Peninsula was going to look like this.  We almost drove past and ditched the whole ‘boot’ in favour of a shorter road to the more famous Eyre Peninsula.

We left the Barossa Valley without any great plan,  just a general direction, and a vague idea.  It often seems to be a great way to travel!

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We came across Port Hughes.  It was a great place to while away a hot afternoon in the absolute crystal clear ocean.

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We had time to train the boys:

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Before a wander along the town’s jetty.

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The jetty was lined with a few stalwart fisherman who showed off their catch.

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The sea was so flat, and it was so deathly still that the jetty seemed to be hovering in mid-air.

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It was here that we decided to continue south, to see what else this place might have to offer.  After another hundred kms or so, we found ourselves a pretty epic free camp spot called Barker’s Rocks.

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 There were a lot of flies, and burrs, but also a beautiful soft white sand dune, and a stunning little swimming hole.

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It was a very nice spot to wake up in!

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But we suspected greater things awaited us down at Innes National Park.  And we were right.

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We had another boring drive to get to Marion Bay Tavern for the famed steak burger.  We were racing the clock as we knew the kitchen closed at 2pm so as we arrived at 1.45pm, I jumped out with the car still running and sprinted inside to order leaving Brian to gather up the tots.  Great success!

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The emus couldn’t stop us from getting to the beautiful campsite at Pondalowie Bay.

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The place was crawling with emus!  And kangaroos everywhere too.  This guy was trying to suicide under Brian’s car wheel.

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I think it’s a shingleback?  Cory would have known.

It even rained for 2 days non-stop but that still didn’t dampen our spirits.  Brian was desperate to try the surfspot out,

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but it was along a 500m track through the dunes and he didn’t want to go by himself due to the possible presence of a certain large fish with lots of teeth….

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So we all came along for moral support.  And the surf was good!  No toothy fish either.  That we knew of.

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The boys finally got to wear their cool new raincoats and we topped up our water supply with the runoff so we had enough water to have proper baths rather than a wet washer!

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The good thing about the rain here is that it comes with warm weather instead of that miserable cold rain we were suffering through in Victoria.

We spent a few lovely nights here, despite the rain.

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The locals were very happy to see it which made for a pleasant atmosphere everywhere we went.  The pub’s always a great place to spend a rainy afternoon and we could nurture Daisy’s new chip obsession while we caught up on some winter olympic viewing!

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The beaches were the whitest sand, the cliffs towered, the waves crashed, the beautiful botanic garden-esque shrubbery abounded, the wildlife was prolific, and we soaked it all up!

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South Australia is full of these remote beaches and beautiful scenery.  I hope they all don’t start looking the same!  You know in Europe how you get ‘all churched out’…..  In SE Asia you get ‘all templed out’…… Here you get a little bit ‘all stunning coastlined out’ ….. If you know what I mean.

Time to hit the mountains again.  Next stop: Flinders Ranges Yipeeeeee.

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Our Barossa Blitz

Ahhh Barossa.

What a legendary spot!  How many times have you cracked a bottle of Barossa Valley wine without even a second thought of from whence it came?

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For weeks now we have been watching it on the map as we edged ever closer.  After Adelaide, it was an easy one hour drive to Tanunda – our Barossa base.

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The caravan park caretakers were anal about their grass sites but it paid off!

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The sites were such verdant green lawn that we never wanted to leave!  We arrived on another 40 degree day, but it hardly mattered in the shade, and in the pool.  We thought, what better refreshment than some wine!!

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So, off we headed on day 1 of our epic wine tour.

Peter Lehman’s was our first stop.  A gorgeous setting in a historic building with a long tasting list.

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The chilled rose was the clear favourite for us here as we sampled each wine with a sleeping Dash, and the other 2 playing quietly behind us.

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Just down the road was Langmeil wines.  Another beautiful old winery with a long tradition.  After sampling the main list we asked if we could try their flagship shiraz which, at $50 a bottle, must be good right?

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Now normally, shiraz is not my drop at all but this one is more than shiraz.  It’s like a party in your mouth!  And the pricetag of the Orphan Bank Shiraz is hefty not particularly for the quality of the wine, but the fact that it is yielded from only 3 acres of over 100 year old shiraz vines.

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So we walked out of there a bit poorer, with a Shiraz and a Rose, but so much richer as well!!

Between the heat and the wine, we were left craving one thing: beer of course! It was fortuitous that the Barossa Brewing company was right next door to the caravan park!

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The Organic Ale was a lovely refreshing drop! Funny thing about South Australian beer is they call a pot a schooner and a schooner a pint and if you want an actual pint, its called an imperial.   Lucky we are getting plenty of practice.

The next day we started early with a visit to Turkey Flat.  They had an annoying dog which mauled Jasper’s toy possum, but also had a nice Rose.

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Rockford Wines was one of the more popular ones, it had a winning Sauvignon Blanc and a gorgeous setting with old stables and barns surrounding a central courtyard.

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 I don’t think they actually make much wine on site these days though.  Jasper enjoyed the jam tasting next door but he was disappointed with our choice of the eggplant pickle!  Yummo!

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Jacob’s Creek was an expansive and impressive property with a creek meandering through the vineyards.

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The wines were only ok though.  For once, we didn’t buy a bottle here!

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Seppeltsfield was a small hamlet where one of the original wine families – the Seppelts had built up their wine dynasty.  DSC_1339 (800x532)

The date palms lining the roads were planted during the depression when wine prices crashed  to keep all their workers busy.

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 They had some nice cider here, Brian ran in while I waited in the car with the sleeping babes.  I was the driver 😦

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We stopped in at 2Hands but they wanted a cheeky $5 ‘donation’ to do the tasting, so we did not partake!

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Whistler Wines had a band playing, a playground and a beautiful Sauv Blanc so we grabbed a couple of bottles, a couple of glasses, and an ice bucket and finished the day relaxing while the boys ran amuck!

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Finally on day 3, it was Brian’s turn to drive so I did the full list at the wierd museum-like Chateau Dorrien where the sweet red Cab Sauv was just delicious!

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They also had flavoured mead.

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We had never tasted anything like the Jaffa Mead, it would be amazing over ice cream, but our freezer space is so small….

The Yalumba winery was perhaps my favourite of all.

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Gorgeous old buildings, a kids corner, and delicious wines.

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 They do free freight if you buy 12 bottles, something to remember for when we get home!  We bought a lovely GSM called The Strapper.  We just cracked this one last night with a steak.  Yummo! But it was a hard choice to narrow it down.

We finished the experience at Bethany Wines which is one of the very original places, they even use a gravity fed technique to make their wine.  Their Reisling was so nice!

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I think the weather again influenced us greatly with our wine choices.  We ended up with refreshing Sauv Blancs and Roses with a couple of exceptions.  It was really nice to be able to immerse ourselves in the district rather than doing a tiring day trip from Adelaide.  We could have easily done another day, but alas, our wine cellar is full to the brim now.

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On the way out of the valley, we went past the property where Macleods Daughters was filmed.  We missed the Gungellan pub though!  The homestead has been turned into a boutique hotel so this is as close as we could get.

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We did find this as well:

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We have parted company with our dear friends the Cooper family.  After Adelaide, they really needed to get moving, while we are in a lower gear.  So Lily and Jasper had a bit of a cuddle, I don’t think Jasper believed he wouldn’t see her again.  He keeps asking ‘why don’t we visit Cory and Jenny and Lily anymore?’

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We will see them again one day!  It was so great to have them with us for the last 3 months.  Now they are almost at the Nullabor, while we are in the Flinders Ranges.

So that was our Barossa.  We will be enjoying the spoils for weeks to come, after all, it’s a long way to Margaret River!

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One Week in Rad Adelaide

Today brings us to the end of our beautiful week in beautiful Adelaide.

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As a city, Adelaide is wonderful.  It has everything you need, awesome foodie and cafe districts, churches galore, beaches, mountains, wineries, a chocolate factory and not a huge population.

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We caught up with our friends Kristina and David who have recently moved here from Mackay, and we reckon they have made a perfect choice!

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We departed Port Willunga on the eve of Russell Crowe and his filmcrew arriving to make a new WWI film.  Doesn’t this place just remind you of the Dardenelles!?

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Talk about a lovely Turkish sunset!

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We booked 7 nights at the Big 4 West Beach, Adelaide.  It’s in the Adelaide Shores precinct which is a mecca of sports and recreation with 3 golf courses, resorts, bike paths, BMX tracks, skate parks, and playing fields.  Needless to say, Brian was pretty stoked!

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And there is plenty of room to play with our new toy….

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Now, as we cruise around the caravan park, everyone we pass says ‘see, that’s what we need!’.  And if you have little kids, it’s exactly what you need!  We got it from Big W for $198.  A bargain compared to the $700 you can pay in a bike shop.  Now, we don’t walk anywhere.  We can fit Jasper, Dash and Daisy in together, but Daisy is a bit precious over bumps.  And the 3 above, Jasper, Lily and Dash, just about break the 45kg load limit and together make the ride a bit of a hard slog!  No hills please!!!

In between bike rides and sightseeing, we have been pretty busy here and I am definitely appreciating having a day off to prepare for our moving day tomorrow.

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We visited Glenelg, where we hit up the cafes, and saw Pauly from Fat Pizza and Housos wandering around with his hot blonde girlfriend.  They must be in town for the fringe festival which starts next week.  We didn’t get a pic of him for fear of a thonging (ha!) but we did manage to snap Shannon from the Biggest Loser in the Mall the next day!

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It was 41 degrees at the cafe in Glenelg,

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We thought a trip up to the Adelaide hills would give us a bit of relief, so we cruised to Hahndorf an old German settlement.  We had a quick beer flight at the Gulf Brewery.

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The 12th beer was a smokehouse flavoured one that just about made me gag.  It was a bit of a rude finish really, so we left with out any purchases.  The German Wheat beer at the Hahndorf Inn was much better!!

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At $9 for a schooner, it would want to be too! We had an enormous roast pork dinner,

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Then had to sit there for a couple of hours to recover, (ah bless them, they had a kids room!)

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before rolling on down the street for a bit of sightseeing.  Problem was, most shops had to close in the 42 degree heat!

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We stopped at the Mt Lofty lookout on the way home.

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This was where 20 people were killed in the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983.

We had to get our car serviced to make it all ready for the big drives we have got coming up.  What better place to do it than the biggest Toyota dealership we have ever seen!

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A few cappucinos and a play in the toyroom cost us $1000, but we got a car service chucked in with that!  And we got to wander around the city without having to pay for parking!

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The museum was free, fun and educational!

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And the library had an exhibition called ‘Brick by Brick’ which involved building your own city out of Lego!

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It was easy to while away some time in Rundle Mall too!

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Shops, shops and more shops!  No more shopping for us for a while!

We cruised through Port Adelaide, which was obviously steeped in history with some fantastic old buildings, but also looked very dodgy with a lot of boarded up windows and closed down businesses.  It was once a hip and happening part of Adelaide, but has become a bit of a cheap place to live.  So they are putting the tram line back there to try to revive it apparently.

The Palais at Semaphore Beach was an absolute winner!

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A 1920’s classic with happy hour all day and $10 pizza Tuesdays!

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Plenty of room for all the family!

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We went to Ikea last night for Meatball Night!  Jasper went absolutely batty from the red jelly

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Daisy was up all night with a belly ache from the chocolate mousse

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And Dash went to sleep on my lap at 6pm in the Ikea cafeteria with a fever from getting a new tooth.

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Brian and I got to taste those meatballs over and over again for the rest of the evening so it was all well worth it really! Thanks Ikea!

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Tomorrow we are heading to the Barossa for a couple of days of 41 degrees.  Perfect weather for beer and wine tasting…. followed by afternoon naps.

Cory and Jen are heading to the Yorke Peninsula before us, they are starting to speed up, while we are more like slowing down so it looks like we will be seeing a whole lot less of them soon!  We just farewelled Linda, Cory’s Mum who came to stay for a few days.  Jasper took to calling her Nonna too.  And she finally made Daisy smile on the morning of her departure, not for lack of trying!

Farewell Adelaide!  If you haven’t been here, I totally rate it!  A pretty city with lots of things to see and do, and very easy to get around.  It’s got to be Australia’s most liveable city!

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