Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Day 77-87 - Kalgoorlie- Nullabor- Streaky Bay- Mildura- Howlong- Home

Day 77– 17th September – Tuesday –Kalgoorlie.

Vin woke up with the motivation to finish the catch up of the blog (to do his last posting on the net before arriving home). Since he was doing this everybody else had a lazy morning. The kids eventually had some friends Ben and Sean return from their mine tour so they went to play on the playground with them whilst we spoke to their parents Liz and Gary.

We eventually went to see some of Kalgoorlie. Initially we went to the tour office to book our Super Pit tour for the next day. Then we went to the Information Centre to get maps/ Booklets about where to go, also venturing to the Town Hall which was an amazing old building. It had an art show on there which we all really enjoyed. Finally we went to the museum which was interesting, before going to the shops to purchase things for dinner. When we returned it was times for the Atkins to arrive.
This is the water fountain in Kalgoorlie, which is a statue of Peter Hannan. Abbey having a drink or giving him a kiss, while Riley was checking the temperature first.

We had dinner before we had a catch up with the Atkins while the kids played at the playground before heading to bed, with the adults being up rather late (some even getting in trouble with the neighbours for being up so late- not Vin of course).

The three late owls causing trouble again!!!
Day 78– 18th September – Wednesday –Kalgoorlie.

This morning was again a fairly lazy morning with Vin actually finishing the blog and posting it (Yeh, what a relief). The kids played on the playground with many other kids from the park while this was happening. We even had time to shave Vin's and Riley's head this morning with our new clippers! 
Kids and Mum shaved Vin's head again.

It wasn’t quite as late for us to get going, about 11am heading for the Mine Museum. We met the Atkin’s there and ventured around this quite interesting place. The most fun was actually getting to climb up onto a mining truck (huge) and of course doing some gold panning (unfortunately nothing found- have to come back to work after all)! Also looked around at the grounds which had an original miners cottage and miners tent, it was a bit like a mini Sovereign Hill. After we left there we went to the Super Pit look out. Wow this mining pit was enormous and over 600m deep. They have been mining at the Super Pit since the 1940’s and the size of the pit has changed drastically over the years. 

 Pictures from our Super Pit tour!

 Pictures below from the Mine Museum!
 Kids in digger!
 Searching for gold- no luck!
 Kids in BIG TRUCK!



We then quickly went back to the caravan park to get changed, as we were going on a tour of the Super Pit in the afternoon. For the tour you had to wear long pants, long sleeve top and closed in shoes. The tour took off from the main sheet and we went on a bus out to the mine. On the way the tour guide filled us in on the history of the mine and some very interesting facts. For example the tyres on the BIG mining trucks cost $38,000 each and the actual vehicle cost around $4,000,000! The miners’ work 7days straight from 5am to 5pm or 5pm to 5am and then they have 7 days off. The Kalgoorlie Super Pit only employs local people from the area. The Mine will continue to be in operation until at least 2021 with the possibility of being extended to 2028. It will be interesting to see what will happen to the Super Pit when mining finally ceases and also to the town of Kalgoorlie. The tour was very informative and we got to see the Monster trucks in operation, however we didn’t get to go right down into the mine.

A quiet evening tonight as we were starting to pack and get organised for our big trek across the Nullarbor!


Day 79– 19th September – Thursday –Kalgoorlie- Eucla

It’s time for the exciting but dreaded Nullarbor trip which hopefully will only take us a couple of days to complete (900km’s). Obviously we needed to get off early so we left by 7.45am, Fred had left by 7am, however with his bigger van it takes him considerably longer to get anywhere. It was freat that we were having 2 other families doing the trip across with us, the Atkin’s who were at Kalgoorlie with us and the Ellis’s who were coming up from Esperance.
After several hours of travelling we met both other families at the at Blowhole at Caiguna for lunch. Although the actual blowhole was a little disappointing as a sight, it was just a casual fun way to spend our short 20 minute lunch break. It was then off for the crux of the trip to Eucla, the Snell’s and Ellis’ eventually arriving there by about 5-45pm local time (we’d had to move the clocks 45 minutes forward), the Atkin’s arrived about 30 minutes later.

Families meeting at the blowhole!
Typical siting along the Nullarbor. at least there was greenery!

We set up at Eucla Caravan Park which was nothing special to look at, however good for our means. We were able to spread out from other campers and pick our own site. Only one unfortunate thing was again a little bump into the back of the car from the caravan when we tried to adjust the level of the van (handbrake not on tight enough).
 A hit for the kids at Eucla!
The campsite!
We didn’t let this dampen our spirits and headed off to dinner with the other families at the only place in town, a bistro which had a good variety of meals.  The meals didn’t disappoint with everyone enjoying, along with fantastic company it was very enjoyable. After dinner we at last were able to have another open fire which Vin had been hanging for! He’d actually been carrying around a box of wood that he’d acquired in Exmouth in the hope of soon getting an open fire. Although we didn’t have the marshmallows the ambient atmosphere it provided was awesome, particularly when Fred shared his coal trick under the seat which kept the ladies particularly happy.

 At last Vin and the kids enjoying a special fire!
It’s amazing how in such a remote, nothing place you can have such an enjoyable time.

Day 80 – 20th September – Friday – Eucla- Streaky Bay.

Today was to be another big day of travel, confronting us was the other half of the Nullarbor (only 600km’s).  After a lazy morning we departed at about 9-30am for a quick explore of Eucla. We went and had a quick look at the old Telegraph Station ruins with the Ellis’ , deciding not to venture into the amazing sand dunes that were there as it was still quite a hike for the day.

 Ruins of the Old Telegraph Station!
We were advised of the many great lookout points along today’s travel, although as the first one was just down the road we decided not to stop, heading past 2 lookouts before eventually stopping about 100km’s down the stretch at the Great Australian Bight Lookout 1. Wow! I think we should’ve stopped at the other lookouts. What an amazing coastline we have, like nothing I’ve seen before. The magnitude of the cliff faces is amazing, not to mention how clear the ocean waters look.

Shortly after we stopped at the Head of the Bight where we had been advised that there was more amazing coastline and whales to see. We weren’t disappointed (except for the price of $35-), with heaps of whales (about a dozen), including a few calves, with one in particular giving us a show and performing lots of breaching. We caught up with the Atkin’s here and the Ellis’ arrived soon after us. They stayed to eat their lunches here but Vin was keen to push on so we ate in the car as we had another 4 hours of driving.

 Photos of the Great Australian Bight- AMAZING!

 At the Head of the Bight to see the whales!
Everybody hanging out at the Head of the Bight.
On the journey we had to go through the quarantine at Ceduna, fortunately this was a much more pleasant experience than when we went into WA. The bloke was very relaxed, even taking our rubbish bag (we’d been eating fruit all day to finish off all our supplies). We were first to arrive at Streaky Bay just before 6pm. This gave us enough light time to set up and get ourselves organised with dinner before the others arrived about 40 minutes later.

That night the kids explored the caravan park, playing at the playground for quite some time before finding the damn games room. All parents gave them a couple of dollars each which somehow kept them at the games room all night!! That night the adults sat around watching the Geelong V Hawthorn preliminary final which was a classic match, typical of these teams. Hawthorn eventually got over the line by less than a goal, much to the disgust of Corbin who went off to bed (an Essendon supporter who has been scarred for life in the 80’s by the Hawks).

Day 81 – 21st September – Saturday – Streaky Bay.

After 2 big days of travel it was a restful morning for all, although Britt and Leanne did dust off the cobwebs and went for a run. The Ellis’ of course went off exploring while we bumped into Jo and Derm who were 2 sites away. It was nice to see them as we hadn’t caught up since Broome (although being Blues supporters Vin and Riley were glad we hadn’t seen them). Eventually we had enough energy to head to the shops to restock supplies’ after Nullarbor. We just got to the local fish shop and butcher as they were closing at lunch time Saturday (still behind the times, lucky them)!

We planned to go for a drive but children had a big group playing together and we were all happy to stay at the park, particularly as although it was a windy morning it settled to be a beautiful sunny day. Vin was the only one who braved it and went swimming, the rest of us adults were happy just relaxing in our chairs on the beach. Fred cooked damper for afternoon tea (Willie Creek farm recipe), and it didn’t disappoint. Vin then cooked up beautiful scallops and fish for dinner. Very yum, I think we are all getting use to this seafood.

The adults and several of the children spent the night watching the footy, barracking for Swans for Fred. The children lost heart half way through and went to watch a movie, while there was a huge group of adults who stayed watching footy. A good fun social night!

Day 82 – 22nd September – Sunday – Streaky Bay.

Today Vin woke up with a brainwave to change our travelling plans, which he knew Leanne wouldn’t be so excited about at first (adding another 400km’s), although she was amazing receptive to the idea. The only sad part for all was the decision to detour away from our original plan of heading to Adelaide to catch up with the Lawrie’s again (who we visited on the way through), as this would add another 300kkm’s.

Riley at last got a teddy from the machine at the games room in the morning. Yeah, at least he won’t have to spend any more of his money on the challenge of actually getting something.  We then decided to join the Ellis’ and Atkin’s in an adventure day. We even succumbed to allowing kids to all swap cars. On the way out, Corbin stopped along the road to pick up one of the many lizards found scampering across the road. He gave it to Riley, who was very brave to hold onto it. We continued our 50km drive out to the Sea Lions Look out. It was quite amazing to see so many (about 50) of these beautiful creatures lazing about. Although we did see a couple of the young ones play fighting in the small rock pools.

 Riley holding this Shingleback lizard! He looks so comfortable- NOT!!
 Sea Lions lazing about!
 Nice group shot of Ellis', Atkin's and Snell's!
 All the kids, particularly Corbin the big kid, exploring at the Smooth Rocks!
Leanne trying to make her way up the sandhills. Good for the calves!
We then did a loop of off road driving to different beach points. We explored on the rocks at Smooth Pool before venturing to the Sandhills, following the Ellis’ lead. Here we had great fun sliding down the sand dunes on the skimmer boards, even the adults had a turn. The most hilarious was the race back up the sand dunes between Fred and Vin. Oh what a sight to see as these massive creatures wrestled each other to get that advantage, eventually Vin winning the wrestle (Fred covered head to toe in sand) and the race!

Fun at the sand dunes!
Upon our return the kids were able to buy their Adelaide favourite (Mini melts). The other families kids joined in as we didn’t want any fights. Vin, Corbin and Fred then decided to go exploring to Hayley’s Head Surf beach and the Blowhole, while the ladies and the kids were happy to stay. The ladies lazed around on the beach while the kids went back to the park to play. That night we started to pack as we had to move on tomorrow. Quite sad as we were all going our separate ways for the journey home.

Day 83 – 23rd September – Monday – Streaky Bay -Mildura.

Final goodbyes as we had a big day of travel (970km), the kids were up for the challenge. We left at 7.45am  and the kids were fantastic as it was a very long boring drive, although there was some scenic areas through Peterborough. Leanne having one of her rare drives for the trip suffered through lots of road works, travelling at some stages at only 25km (about 10km’s of this).

We finally arrived at 6.15pm and it was a warm 30 degrees. We set up for 1 night stay, so whilst Vin was finishing setting up Leanne went to the shops to get some fillets for Vin to cook for our barbeque dinner. We ate this outside while watching some of the Brownlow Medal. As much as Riley wanted to stay up to watch the whole lot we got the kids to bed fairly early (9pm). Vin and Leanne stayed up watching the Brownlow, which was quite exciting (good job Gazza!) During the night Leanne put it to Vin that we stay an extra night so she could visit Red Cliffs which was where she use to go for family holidays as a child. We just had to find out in the morning if we could get a site and swap our booking at Howlong.
Novelty trip across on the barge- across the Murray River to Waikerie.
Day 84 – 24th September – Tuesday -Mildura.

Needed to until 8.00am to see what our plans were going to be for the day, as this is what time the park office opens. Firstly, we had to see if it was possible for us to stay another night at the Big 4 in Mildura before ringing the park at Howlong to hopefully change our booking. The Mildura Park could put us up for another night, but it meant changing sites! Also the Howlong Caravan Park could move our booking back a day, so it looks like we were going to stay another night much to Leanne’s excitement!

Team Snell got into action again and we moved sites really quickly, not even winding the van down this time. Once we were set up again, we headed off to Red Cliffs, only a 10 minute drive from where we were staying. Red Cliffs is a small town where Leanne and her family use to spend their Christmas holidays for many years. We spent the morning driving around revisiting all the places Leanne use to go to when she was younger. The Red Cliff Pools was where Leanne and her family spent hours swimming over the years. The pool was closed due to the time of year, so we couldn’t go in, but not much had changed except that the diving board and slide had been removed from the pool. We then drove to the caravan park where she used to stay. Other places we visited that were significant to her time in Red Cliffs were;  the grass tennis courts where they played most mornings, the bowling club where her dad use to often play, St Joseph’s Church where they would attend Mass and the famous Big Lizzie, a steam train they use to climb on. Vin, Abbey and Riley were most disappointed that you could no longer climb the old steam train! Leanne took lots of photographs and is excited to share these with her family when she returns home.
Photos from Historic Red Cliffs- Great memories for Leanne!

Back to the Caravan Park for lunch and even a swim in the pool as the weather in Mildura is 30 degrees. Even though the weather was warm the pool was rather cold, but Abbey, Riley and Vin still braved the conditions and went for a swim. That afternoon we played Rummikub and Sequence, which was some quality family time after we have been all very busy socialising with our travelling friends.

 Our last swims of the trip!

Relaxing, playing games as a family for a change!

A relaxing night, Leanne and Vin even watched some television which has been a very rare event on this holiday (apart from watching the footy finals). A very memorable and emotional day for Leanne going back to Red Cliffs and being able to share all the things she did there with her family when she was a child.

Day 85 – 25th September – Wednesday –Mildura - Howlong

Woke up in our own time today as we knew there wasn’t too much of a drive today. We’d packed up and left by about 9am, being quite seasoned with packing up by now. How long to go to Howlong was of course the continual comment, (joke) of the day. We travelled through some beautiful scenery and very cute little towns. Balranald was a very cute town in the fact that they obviously were in the grand final and playing out of town somewhere, so on the way out of town they’d put up encouragement posters on the signs, then on every second post coming out of town they had posters with players names and numbers on it (pretty inspiring- how to do in a small town)! Go the Roos (that’s what they were called).

Beautiful Wildflowers along the way- Canola flowers!
Thankfully Dylan from Mildura Caravan Park had given us directions to get to Howlong quicker, so even with the stock crossing the road a couple of times on the way there (cows and sheep), we managed to arrive at Howlong by 2-30pm. We actually managed to have some reception so we called the Ladd’s who rushed outside and were our welcoming party. It was a moderate day weather wise so we were able to sit outside and have a catch up with afternoon nibbles before taking a walk over to the local sports precinct (quite impressive). The Ladd’s advised that this was the hub of the town’s activity, with sports being the main weekend activities for everyone.

That night we were lucky enough to have the Ladd’s cook up dual meals for us, being Taco’s and Beef with Black Bean. Oh how nice to be waited on! A nice relaxing evening chatting while the kids watch tv for a change (x-factor).

 Day 86 – 26th September – Thursday – Howlong

After a windy night in a town that is never windy (Kez and Ian told us this the day before), we were entitled to a sleep in. Eventually having the Ladd’s knocking on our door at about 8-30am (only because they’d already seen Leanne at the showers, as she never sleeps in). The kids went over and played at the Ladd’s cabin while Vin was getting himself organised.

We finally decided due to the crappy weather this day to head into Albury to play laser tag. Riley was the only Snell to have done it before so we were quite excited. In the first game the boys went on one team while the girls went on the other. We had a few other people in the game including these three older boys who obviously play this regularly and they were dressed to match (future commandos. It was good fun in the first game, however the commando’s smashed us, Leanne and Vin (last place) were the worst of anyone. Mitchell was best scorer of our families.

Because we were matched up to play against these boys again in the next game we at the last moment asked if we could have our own game after their next game. It was ok, so the kids decided it was to be them against the adults. This obviously fired Vin up who top scored in this game (being the bully that he is)! It was great fun but the kids were no match for the firepower of the adults. In hindsight we should’ve probably made the teams Ladd’s v Snell’s which of course the kids wanted in a third game, but we’d decided that was enough adrenalin for one day.

Laser Play for everyone- Ladds and Snell's.

We then headed to the main park in Albury for a play around as the sun had decided to shine (still windy in Albury/ Howlong though).  After a couple of hours kicking the footy/ throwing the Frisbee and playing on the swings and flying fox it was time to head back to Howlong. Ian and Kez became the tourist guides, driving us around Howlong, showing us houses that they’ve been looking at, and general areas where they’d like to buy. We then dropped in at Kez’s parents place (Eddie and Lesley). Had a chat with them out in the backyard, while they picked heaps of fresh vegetables for us (pumpkin, lettuce and spinach). Wow, what a garden! It was nice to catch up with them. We headed back to freshen up as we’d decided to go to the golf club for dinner.


Playing at the park with Ladd's in Albury!

It was a two minute drive to the club where they had Chinese on the menu. We decided on the banquet which was a beautiful meal. The kids enjoyed there’s as well, finishing quickly so they could go and play at the chocolate machine- oh, what a waste. Vin and Ian eventually at the end of dinner went to show the kids how it was done (not that we did so well). We headed back to the caravan park around 9pm. When we got there the kids went to watch a movie in our van while we stayed in the comforts of the Ladd’s van to watch the G/F footy Show. A relaxing and fun evening had by all.

 Night our for dinner with Ladd's, and above Ian trying to get the choccies for the kids!
Day 87 – 27th September – Friday – Howlong - HOME

Didn’t think or want this day would come, the day to travel home. Very mixed emotions for all of us today as it’s been such a remarkable journey for us all, however we’ve all missed the comforts of home, and of course family and friends! One thing we can say is that we haven’t missed the rat race pace of life at home, although busy on our trip, it was busy when we wanted it to be.

We said goodbye to the Ladd’s around 10am, which was a little emotional for all! It was going to be a 4 hour drive to arrive at our destination. Vin was quite sure he was going to make it home without any accident or incident (speeding ticket) for our whole journey on the road (we forget those incident when setting our van up)!

 Saying goodbye to the Ladd's!
Leanne was waiting for some news from her sister Linda who’d been getting some medical test results, unfortunately getting them part the way home (being not great news). This dampened the mood somewhat, however Leanne did well to hold it together, considering! We decided to stop for a bathroom break at the dreaded servo in Seymour. This had been the servo that we’d stopped at last year in the Magna on the way home from Lake Hume and the car had broken down. Saw the man (Brian) who’d helped us last year and again said thanks. Fortunately the car started again and we headed towards home. Although a relatively slow trip through the city we made it home by 2pm. The sun was actually arriving for our return! Now it’s time to unpack!

Thanks to everyone for supporting us in our trip and for those friends we developed along the way. It certainly was always great to hear from people (anyway we were constantly out of range- damn Vodafone). Look forward to catching up with you all now that we’re home and back to reality.

A particularly huge thanks to Leanne, Abbey and Riley who made my trip everything I wanted it to be and more! Can’t wait for our next adventures! Thanks Leanne for helping complete our blog to our friends along the journey too! Signing off for now, VIN!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Day 60-76, Kurrajong- Coral Bay- Carnavon-Denham-Kalbarri- Perth- Kalgoorlie

Day 60 – 31st August - Saturday- Kurrajong- Exmouth- Coral Bay

We departed Kurrajong fairly early, although we had to wait a little as it had rained (can’t believe it) overnight. We’d had a great time at Kurrajong but it was time to leave. We had to drop into Exmouth to resupply, which took about an hour and a half as we’d certainly drained the cupboards dry.

We then headed to Coral Bay, trying to get there at a reasonable time as we had a date with the Ellis family to watch the last game of the season Richmond against Essendon. We listened to the Saints on the way, actually winning their last game against the half team of the Dockers.

 After arriving in beautiful Coral Bay we set up, shortly after we had the Ellis, Bean and Atkin kids on the doorstep wanting to catch up with our kids, so that was the end of being with the kids that day. We then organised ourselves to go to the resort pub to watch the footy game, and it was worth it the tigers having a good win- never mind Corbin, Lachie and Darcy, at least Julie enjoyed the game with the Bean’s and the Snell’s and even the Atkin’s came along to support the tigers!

After the game we headed back to the Bean’s for drinks with the Ellis’s, Atkin’s and Bean’s whilke the kids watched a movie. A very enjoyable night for all, with many laughs!!!

Day 61 – 1st September - Sunday- Coral Bay

Happy Father’s Day Vin! Leanne and the kids organised for the family to do the glass bottom boat tour, which included some snorkelling. Kim had also booked for the Bean’s to do the same thing. As much as Vin is always appreciative of gifts, when asked by the kids the day before about the tour (secretly), he indicated he didn’t really want to do it, that he’d prefer to do the quad bikes. After morning bacon and eggs which Vin cooked (we wanted it done properly!), we rushed on down to the departure point for our tour at 10am.

We headed off across the coral which was amazing- realising that this stuff on the bottom of the ocean was so prevalent and so important to the ocean world. The kids were amazed and so were we, the driver even had to avoid some coral on the way out as it was so shallow. About a half an hour in we had our first snorkel at a clear water section just on the outskirts of a whole lot of coral reef. It was fairly deep so Riley wasn’t keen to snorkel so actually helped throw in some food. Leanne, Vin and Abbey had a snorkel which was quite good, especially when the tour lady and Riley fed the large Spangled Emperor out the back of the boat. This was quite amazing as these large creatures came in among other fish and had a feed, although this was a little overwhelming for Leanne as she wanted to board the boat again. Leanne actually got the lady to feed them to the side of the boat so she didn’t have to swim through these fish to board the boat again. After about half an hour snorkelling we ventured to our next destination which was about 20 minutes away.

Vin and Abbey snorkelling.
The large fish around the boat.

Vin the big fish under the boat.

With the Bean's on the boat.
The next snorkelling spot was even better as it was shallower, the variation in coral and fish species was quite amazing. Vin was like a fish, not wanting to get out until the last minute possible, he certainly was enjoying his father’s day present. The rest of the family enjoyed it very much as well.

We then went back to the Bayview Caravan Park with the Bean’s to veg out at the pool. After a few hours of swimming around there Vin headed back to our caravan park to try and have a nanna nap while Leanne and Abbey went to fish feeding and Riley went fishing with the Bean’s.

Later that evening after dinner we dropped at Ellis’s for the kids to watch a movie while the adults enjoyed some after dinner drinks. Fred and Leanne encouraged Vin to perform his rendition of Footloose where he unfortunately sprained his ankle. I think Vin’s footloose dancing days are over, at least he’s got Riley to take over the mantle (who actually danced with him on the night).

Day 62 – 2nd September - Monday- Coral Bay

A relaxed morning, especially for Vin as he had to elevate and ice his sore ankle!!! While Vin was doing this he saw it as a good opportunity to catch up on the blog. Abbey and Riley went to visit the other kids at their park. Today we had an early lunch as we were going on our Quad Bike Adventure with the Beans; we were really looking forward to this.

We met at the booking office just before 12pm as our tour was from 12pm to 3pm. We had to be decked out in our helmets and shoes before heading down to the bikes where we were given a quick rundown on how to operate the Quad bikes and then we were off!! Riley was the passenger on Vin’s bike, Abbey with Leanne, Will with his dad Cameron and Mitch with his mum Kim. Some of us were a little bit more conservative at driving initially than others, but we all got the hang of it fairly quickly.

After about an hour we stopped at a supposed awesome snorkelling spot called the Lagoon. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations, although there was several awesome fish/ sharks including a wobbegong and many other fish that we hadn’t seen before.  It was just too rough out there, particularly for the kids, but even for us adults who weren’t sure of the currents. When we were about to leave this spot we looked up into the dunes only to see the Ellis’s and Atkin’s stalking us!!! Still, off to the next venue we must go, which was called Oyster Bay.

It took about 20 minutes to get back to the next venue. It was fun along the way, coming across the other quad bike company who weren’t impressed with our driving skills (more to the point, that we were having some fun doing burn outs!), where they drove very slowly (even slower than Leanne)!!! When we arrived at Oyster Bay Kim got into trouble for doing burnouts on the beach (C’mon Kim you are suppose to leave that tin the dunes- although I know you were following Vin’s bad example)!!! Unfortunately again the snorkelling wasn’t very good as it was just too rough. The most awesome part was at the beginning we saw a turtle and then we followed it, so it freaked and swam out of there quicker than you’d imagine. After that we stayed there for about 40 mins, however the crashing of the waves over the rocks just made it too hard to see in the water properly.

We departed there with changing of quad bike partners, Vin- Abbey, Leanne-Riley, Cam- Mitch & Kim with Will. The Snell kids had changed at the previous stop no worries, however Will only changed at this top reluctantly. After about 15 minutes Will couldn’t cope with his Mum’s driving and so he swapped back with Mitch to his Dad. After this we had a really awesome experience of going down and then back up this awesome steep hill. We all loved it, particularly Leanne on the way back up (particularly pumped and happy with herself)!!! Unfortunately this part was also too much for Will, hence Kim and Will went around the other way to return. We ended up getting back 20 minutes late, because I think our guide Lorenzo was having a really good time!!!

Riley and Abbey posing on the quad bike.
Riley holding on for dear life with Leanne.
Mr cool Vin on his quad bike.
Leanne being very happy with herself after having done the big dipper!
 After a great day we decided we had to meet up at the Ellis’s that night to have farewell drinks for the Ellis’s and Bean’s as they were both taking off in the morning. We thought it may be our last time where we’d be all together so Fred brought out the cigars and Blue Label Scotch for all to enjoy. The ladies were quite subdued, however Fred, and particularly Vin and Corbin made a late night of it!!!

Typical night of the kids in the van playing around. (Ellis, ATkin, Snell and Bean kids).
Vin enjoying the blue label scotch.
A typical night for the parents sitting outside the van chatting.
Day 63 – 3rd September - Tuesday- Coral Bay

Once we’d reluctantly woken up in the morning (Particularly Vin), we had to move sights to the other caravan park just down the road. This is when we’d realised the Beans had stayed an extra night just to party on again!!! Once we’d set up again at the new sight (next to Aitkin’s), we went down to the beach and went snorkelling.

We mostly just snorkelled at the main beach, before the ladies decided to do the drift snorkel, followed by the boys also doing the drift snorkel later on (after fish feed). Riley also involved himself in many other people’s games on the beach during the day – volleyball/ bocce.  After this we returned to the caravan park for the kids and parents to have a hit of tennis, before having an early night for all.

Day 64 – 4th September - Wednesday- Coral Bay

A lazy morning just relaxing around the caravan park, however Riley was keen to have one last hit of tennis with Mitch before the Beans head off. Said good bye to the Beans again, but this time looks like it will be our last catch up as they need to back in Melbourne before us. We have loved catching up with the Beans and getting to know them better. We have enjoyed sharing many memorable moments with them.

After lunch we decided to walk along the beach to the Shark Nursery with the Atkins. It was about a 2km walk around the rocks to an inlet where baby sharks live until they are large enough to survive in the sea. You could walk into the water a few metres to get a really look at the many baby sharks swimming around. There were also stingrays hiding in the shallows of the sand. While we were there a group of people came along with their snorkel gear and went in and swam with the sharks! We thought they were rather game and there was a sign stating no swimming or snorkelling with the baby sharks as they can hurt you and also are interfering with their environment.

Hard to see baby reef sharks!
Fred and Vin braving it in the water where the reef sharks were.
On the walk back Abbey cut her foot on the rocks and went and told Vin who very casually said you’ll be right, without looking at her foot. As Abbey continued walking she noticed quite a lot of blood on her thongs and she noticed her foot was quite badly cut!!

When we arrived back to the caravan park Riley was book into have his first haircut of the holidays. We went to the only hairdressers in Coral Bay and she did a good job. Booked tennis again for this afternoon, this was very enjoyable. We had another relaxing evening with the Atkin’s.

Day 65 – 5th September - Thursday- Coral Bay

Leanne started the day off with a run with Britt to the Jetty, it was a bit windy but good to get a run in when you can. Sadly this is our last day in Coral Bay; it is such a beautiful place.

Decided to go for a drive to the jetty to try and see ‘Merv’ the giant cod fish that hangs around there. This was the first time we have driven our car in Coral Bay as everything is in walking distance. Unfortunately when we were there Merv was nowhere to be seen. Although we did see many other fish and many crabs crawling around the rocks. It was very windy at the Jetty and Abbey’s hat flew off and Leanne was able to catch it before it went over the edge. After the Jetty we drove to Maude’s Landing which is a popular fishing spot. Vin was keen for final snorkel here and went to a spot that was recommended to him. The rest of us headed down for the fish feeding again, where Vin was going snorkel down to meet us. Abbey and Riley were more game today with getting closer to the fish and they both even plucked up the courage to let the fish swim between their legs! However, Leanne was still happy to stay at the back and be the photographer, while Vin was the King of the fish feeding!

Fish feeding time, where the fish swim between your legs.
We headed back to the park for a swim and then more tennis. We have really enjoyed our time at Coral Bay and will head off tomorrow morning looking forward to our next adventure, but sad to leave this great holiday destination.

Day 66 – 6th September - Friday- Coral Bay- Carnarvon

We got off to an early get away thanks to the great team effort of packing up. We were heading to Carnarvon today with the Atkin’s. On the way we stopped at Quobba along the coast to see the blow holes. WOW this was amazing and definitely worth the stop!!! We took lots of photos and even got splashed at one stage while posing for a photo. The way the water spurted out of the holes in the rocks to make large fountains was amazing!!! It was fascinating to watch and we stayed here for quite a long time.

Braving it at the blowholes. We eventually did get a little wet. Amazing coastline there!

Back into the car and onto Carnarvon, this town is famous for its fishing and fresh produce. Unfortunately our day went downhill from here. Firstly Abbey unfortunately pressed a wrong button on the Ipad and accidently deleted her whole holiday Blog!!!!! Abbey had spent hours on typing her Blog and was very proud of what she had done and in one quick click it was GONE!!!! Then we finally got phone coverage which we were very excited about until the few messages that we received were all bad news: our sister in law Sandi had left a message to inform us her Dad had sadly passed away and then the next message was about the health of a very dear friend. So much for being excited about having phone reception!

Then when we arrived and were backing the van in onto the blocks (safety lock on van wasn’t down), our van came off and rolled into back of car. Then another brain melt down- took off from caravan park with extension chord connected to fridge through boot, so snapped extension chord! Anyway, off to the shops and looking forward to buying some of the great fresh produce that is available here. At one market place we bought some fresh fruit and veg and they also make pure fruit icy poles so we got a mango one, which was very tasty. We also bought some chocolate coated frozen strawberries. This place had so many yummy, healthy things. A quiet night watching the AFL finals with the Atkin’s, Fred hoping his Swannies can win against the Hawks, but unfortunately not!

Glad this day has ended, not quite sure what we had done to deserve this day. Looking forward to a new day tomorrow!

 Quite picturesque town of Carnarvon! Went for a short walk while kids played at play ground.

Day 67 – 7th September - Saturday- Carnarvon- Denham

It was time to pack up and move on again. This was our first one night stop over since Halls Creek back in early August. Before leaving the town of Carnarvon, Leanne, Abbey and Riley went to the market while Vin to went to buy some fresh seafood. We then were on our way to Denham; it was about a 3 ½ hour drive. On our way into Denham we saw the Ocean Marine Park, which we had been told was really worth a visit. We decided to go to the Caravan Park first to set up quickly and then return to the Ocean Marine Park. As the children were really excited about going there it was our quickest set up for the entire trip (10 minutes)!

At the Ocean Marine Park they have a circuit you follow around with all different Marine creatures. The guide explains in great detail about each of the ocean creatures, which we found really fascinating. We saw the sharks being fed, sea snakes, stone fish, cat fish, a wobbegong, squid, and a large variety of different fish. Abbey’s favourite though was ‘Bob’ the Loggerhead Turtle.  We all learnt lots at the Ocean Park. We all loved watching the sharks being fed, especially ‘Sarah’ who was the most aggressive shark and ‘Linda’ the biggest shark.

Shark feeding time- awesome to watch.
Lion fish- beautiful but venomous!
Abbey's favourite Bob the loggerhead turtle (the same sort Vin saw at Turquoise Bay!
After leaving the Ocean Marine Park we decided to drive to Monkey Mia (26km) from Denham to see were we had to come tomorrow morning for the famous dolphin feeding. On the way to Denham we saw the Ellis driving the other way; we pulled over for a quick chat. They were staying in Denham for 1 more night at the same park as the Atkin’s and us.

Crumbed and cooked up our fish and calamari we bought in Carnarvon for dinner, it was really tasty! After dinner the children went to the Ellis’ van to watch a movie while the parents had a catch up at our place. We had a great night and a much more enjoyable day than yesterday!

Day 68 – 8th September - Sunday- Denham

Excellent started to the day- went to Monkey Mia for feeding of dolphins. Sienna and Abbey both got to feed Nicky (absolute highlight for Abbey). Then we went 4WD at Cape Peron National Park which was certainly a bumpy ride for about 100km return, Vin just not quite understanding the need to slow down some times. The most exciting part of this trip was up at Cape Peron where we saw a Dugong- amazing!  
Abbey's highlight of feeding the dolphin.
Monkey Mia- a highlight for the kids.
Wildlife from our trip at Cape Peron- very funny chasing the ostrich in the car!
Came back to watch the footy at the pub, Richmond V Carlton- moved pubs from old pub as it was too cold and went to Harbour Side Pub where we had an exciting first half (Vin the pessimist could see the writing on the wall at half time though), only to be proved right in the second half. Riley was gutted!!! Very early night to bed after a long and exhilarating day! At least there is no more footy to worry about watching on our holiday. A very windy night was had by all- Leanne had a shocking night’s sleep.

Day 69 – 9th September - Monday- Denham

A late morning wake up and a lazy morning for most, although Leanne went for a run with Fred and Britt.  Vin cooked a nice brunch with bacon and eggs before heading out to Shell Beach which was quite an amazing place with millions of shells, particularly heaps of little shells making a picturesque beach.  On our return we stopped at Eagle Bluff to enjoy the spectacular view of the coastline in addition to the amazing ocean life through the clear waters. Could easily spot the shovel nosed ray and many reef sharks below. We then went to the Little Lagoon where Vin thought he was a chance to snorkel, only to be disappointed as it was just too shallow. Beautiful Shell Beach!

We headed to the Homestead Springs where they had an Artesian Springs with a spa tub. We saw the Atkin’s leaving there who advised that it was stinking hot (40degrees) and you couldn’t stay in there long (5 minutes). Vin of course was first to try it and his reaction made us think that nobody else should bother going in (it was burning!). After a couple of minutes Vin was completely in and suggested to the others to be careful getting in. Everybody braved it; eventually we spent up to 20 minutes in there.

Enjoying the very hot tub!
A relaxing night with the Atkin’s again, fortunately it was a lot more pleasant night than the night before. Leanne even enjoyed a good nights sleep.


Day 70 – 10th September - Tuesday- Denham- Kalbarri

9am departure for a few hour drive to Denham. Our tour guides the Ellis’ who were ahead of us advised us to stop at Ross Graham Gorge and Hawks Head Lookout in the Kalbarri National Park on the way into town. It was another beautiful looking gorge, so we ventured down in to see the rocks which had an abundance of beautiful colors! We again came across the Atkin’s here (I think they’re stalking us- just joking).

Abbey at Hawk's Head.
Vin and Leanne sharing a moment at Ross Graham Gorge!
We arrived to set up in the early afternoon, the kids being most excited as the park had free Wi-Fi (the things that kids care about)! On the way into town Fred had turned the wrong way, however it turned out to be fortuitous as he found some fisherman who had come in with some beautiful pink snapper for us to enjoy. Fred scaled it as Vin watched, not wanting to get his fingers dirty. We enjoyed the fish with some of our left over fresh vegies from Carnarvon. Don’t think we could be enjoying a meal as good as this at home. Only thing was that the weather came in and became rather cold and windy for all (oh we are so precious now!). 

Day 71 – 11th September - Wednesday- Kalbarri

We woke to quite an overcast morning with a horrible wind to confront us. After some morning deliberation we decided we would brave it and go to the feeding of the pelicans. Unfortunately when we arrived, there was only brave pelican there to be fed, along with several annoying seagulls. Both of ours and the Atkin children got a chance to feed the pelican, with a second one eventually turning up once the show was almost over. A fun but very chilly experience this morning, however I think this is a sign of things to come.

Riley feeding the pelican!
We returned to finish our breakfast before lazing around for the rest of the morning. Although Fred, Vin, Paris and Riley ventured over to the local oval for a kick for an hour at about 11am. Leanne also came over for a short time to make sure they were doing it correctly!!!

After lunch we ventured to have a look at various points along the coast, initially Blue Holes and then Red Bluff (which was spectacular), then it was decided that the kids wanted no more of that so we took them to the Rainbow Jungle.

One of the beautiful wildlife birds that the kids saw.
The ladies and the kids went into there, whilst Vin and Fred decided to go to more lookout points along the coast. They went to Eagle Gorge, Natural Bridge, Island Rock and Grandstand, which were all quite spectacular, before returning to pick up the kids at Rainbow Jungle. The kids had enjoyed an entertaining time with the variety of birds there, particularly with Baz the Corella who performed a merry dance for them.
Island Rock and Natural Bridge (not unlike Great Ocean Rd).

We then returned to the campsite before deciding to have take-out pizza and pasta which we all shared together, it was a most enjoyable and relaxing evening.

Day 72 – 12th September - Thursday- Kalbarri- Duncraig- Perth.

Today was going to be another long drive, deciding not to stop at Jurien Bay but instead going all the way to Perth. We did however decide on Cheryl’s recommendation to go to the Pinnacles on the way through.

We left about 9-15am (same time as the Atkin’s who stated they would be leaving at 7am- good work Fred). We’d done all the sightseeing along the route (around Kalbarri National Park) so we passed through everything until we arrived at Geraldton where we bought some petrol. It actually looked like quite a decent town with beautiful beaches, not to mention quite large and hence cheap petrol. Headed on from here along the coastal route, this was due to our desire to visit the Pinnacles, and to enjoy the seaside scenery.
The Pinnacles!
 Leanne showing off with her favourite one!!!

At about 2pm we arrived at the Pinnacles which were quite a sight to behold. It was great as it gave us the chance to get out of the car and walk around, as well as seeing these amazing creations. It was so bizarre to see these many forms of rock formations scattered amongst this little desert. Your driving along amongst green landscape one minute, only then to turn into the Pinnacles. All of us decided to have a photo at our favourite rocks, Leanne’s selection not leaving much to the imagination. Just as we were about to leave there we received a phone call from the Ellis’s who’d funnily enough just left there 10 minutes ago (we’d somehow just missed them).

Continued our travels before arriving at Cheryl and Marty’s at Duncraig around 4-30 before having a nice roast dinner, then a couple of relaxing drinks with Marty and David (the girls had gone out to a play- Cheryl, Lara and Phoebe), before a relatively nice early night for bed!

Day 73 – 13th September - Friday- Duncraig-Perth

This morning was a relatively lazy morning, getting up and having breakfast before taking some time to decide what we were going to do for the day. Marty had to head off for an hour or so doing an errand, so the Snell’s and David headed to King’s Park. Wow, what an amazing place to go to; amazing features and amazing scenery as well, beautiful wild flowers, looking over the Swan River, great kid’s attractions as well. It seemed like we could spend the whole day here.

After spending a short time looking at the memorials at the park the Harris’s arrived. We then had a relaxing walk amongst the many different landscapes and scenery’s, before arriving at the DNA tower for everyone to let off some of their excess energy. Then we ventured to the Rio Tinto playground for kids; which were very different but good. It allowed the children to be children in a natural environment, climbing ropes and making cubby houses being some of their activities.

Abbey posing as a flowerpot girl!
Beautiful wildflowers at the botanical gardens.
Kids having fun with the Harris' kids at the ropes at King's Park.
It was now time to separate from the Harris’s who had some family activities to undertake. We found it hard to decide what to do, eventually deciding to head to Swan Valley to tour various places. First of all we had to head into Subiaco to get some lunch for the kids who were starving by this stage, even heading past the famous footy ground of Subiaco.

The first place we visited was Houghton’s where we tasted some nice wines and Leanne particularly liked the sparkling, so she purchased a case. Then to keep the kids happy we went to a chocolate factory called Whistlers, the kids (incl Vin) enjoyed the tasting here. We then went to another chocolate place called Margaret River Choc that was just a buzz of excitement with hundreds of people in there just trying out lots of chocolate. It was good tasting but just too expensive, so we had to just keep trying them!!! After so much chocolate we went next door to try some wine and jams, the jams were good but the wine was average. Finally Vin had his say and we went to a brewery called Elkers! It was based on German beers and we tried 3 beers, 2 were great and 1 Vin even gave back (that’s how bad it was). After this we headed back to Duncraig.

We decided the least we could do was treat the Harris’s to take our Chinese with us on the last night with them. It was a very nice meal with them, followed by a relaxing night chatting with Marty and Cheryl.

Today was a really fun day, in the morning with the Harris’s, and then it was particularly nice to have some of our own family time in the afternoon. We had a great time, thanks heaps Leanne, Abbey and Riley for making it such fun!!!

Day 74 – 14th September – Saturday - Perth-Fremantle.

Woke to rain and wind, followed by more rain and wind!!! Unbelievable day, particularly as we’d experienced so little rain our whole holiday. Never mind we won’t let it dampen our spirits, well we’ll try. It’s pretty hard though, with crap weather and the thought of heading home; oh well just suck it up I say!

Thanks Harris' for having us!
After packing up in the morning in between rain spells, while the kids played and did painting with Cheryl, we headed off to Fremantle. We took it very slowly as it was bucketing down, deciding to take the slow coastal route so the weather might flow through by the time we need to set up the van. Eventually arriving about 1pm and getting just enough of a window with the weather to set up our van. Then it was time to head back to Freo to see what our friend Fred recommended, Little Creatures Brewery. It was bucketing down and 40 knot winds so what better place to be.

Little Creatures Brewery was quite a funky place to go, serving nice beer, having great settings, and funky dude (Tobe- Riley loved) waiters. We only stayed there for an hour, Fred and Sienna joining us for the last 15 minutes. It was a really nice experience. Left there for a short drive around the very picturesque Fremantle. There are some amazingly beautiful buildings there. Then we did some grocery shopping as we had left ourselves pretty empty by this stage.

After we arrived back we cooked dinner before heading to the games room as we’d hired the pool cues for some family games of pool. The girls winning 2 games to 1. The best thing was also watching the Blues go down to the Swans, as they’d beaten the Tigers the week before.

Day 75 – 15th September – Sunday - Fremantle.

This morning was quite distressing as we woke to the realisation that we had to do something to fix the spring coming out of our van raisers. After speaking to the office and to other people around the park, also liaising with Marty from Perth, Leanne fortunately got speaking to this person in the laundry. His name was Ron and he was a very determined individual. It took about 2 hours for Vin and Ron to manoeuvre the spring and to temporarily fix the van (hopefully at least until we get home). We can at least wind it up and down without any hassle.

After that stressful morning we relaxed for an hour playing some basketball, our children’s first real attempt to practice whilst on holidays (no bball rings anywhere). We then ventured to the Fremantle Shops where we had a little look around. The streets were abuzz with thousands of people walking around, shopping and watching entertainers in the street. Riley wasn’t feeling fantastic, that was until Vin said he was going to watch the WAFL preliminary final. Riley perked up particularly because it was East Perth playing (Matthew Blackely- Blackas from Broome’s son plays for the Colts of East Perth).

By the time Vin and Riley  got to the footy it was half time and the Royals (E-Perth) was winning by 23 points. Claremont kicked the first couple of goals in the second half which made the difference only a goal, thus quite exciting. Fortunately the Royals went away with it after that, eventually winning by 63 points. We sat amongst the main Royal fans, several of them giving Riley many great laughs. Oh for local footy!!! Whilst the boys did this the girls went shopping at the market, returning with several gifts for our homecoming. Leanne met with the Atkin’s at the market  and so organised for a drink with them at the pub while waiting for the boys to return.

Riley at three quarter time after listening to the coaches address!

The boys met them there and we organised to go out for dinner at Pizza Bella Roma in Cappuccino Drive in Fremantle. We’d walked past there earlier in the day and noticed the beautiful looking pizzas. They didn’t disappoint, being a relaxing evening with delightful food and enjoyable company. We then returned to the park for bed time.

Day 76– 16th September – Monday – Hyden (Wave Rock)- Kalgoorlie.

This morning the deliberation was whether to go to Wave Rock and stay there, or whether to continue all the way to Kalgoorlie. We left just after 9am and dropped in at the shops and servo before heading to Wave Rock. It was to be a 4 and a half hour drive or about a 7 and a half hour drive or 9 hours. The problem was we weren’t sure whether the road from Wave Rock to Kalgoorlie was a good enough road for us to travel on (Unsealed road- bad experiences before- Karijini).  We  fortunately found out later on that the road through was good enough to go on.

At Wave Rock we checked at the Information Centre to find out about the road, all good to travel on! We checked out the rock which was pretty amazing, the pictures on brochures were not telling a lie. There was also Hippo’s Yawn, the Humps and the Caves which were okay but not enough to have us stay there overnight. After about an hour and a half there we decided it was time to get going to Kalgoorlie via the unsealed road. Heading along the road Vin had to avoid several lizards, fortunately along the 110km road we only saw 1 other car on the road. We decided to stop part way along the road to tape up the vents of the van, hoping for no dust throughout the van.

We arrived at the park around 6-15pm, right on dark for only the second time. We quickly set up, noticing unfortunately that some dust had seeped through to the van (Vin’s pillow case was covered). Not too bad considering the amount of time we’d saved going through that road. Lovely chicken schnitzels were cooked up and we had an enjoyable family dinner before watching the X factor and going to bed.

The spectacular Wave Rock! 


Taping up the vents on the car- Better late than not at all!