Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Recent pics

Buggies at Wye River

The Big Lobster!

Coastline at Robe

The Blue Lake at Mount Gambier

Bay of Islands, Great Ocean Road

London Bridge

Twelve Apostles

Local koala at Wye River

The last bit!

Hello All,

Reluctantly, we left the Barossa Valley and headed to Victor Harbour.  We were lucky enough to catch up with our friends, Justin and Neri, who own a pharmacy there.  The last time we saw each other was at West Cumberland Hospital in the UK around 8 years ago, most likely at the pub!  It was lovely to catch up and introduce the kidlets, we all agreed that life has changed significantly since we last laid eyes on each other!  The boys had a ball playing at their house and we are hoping to shorten the duration between drinks next time!

We enjoyed Robe however the weather was not kind which was a shame, it looked as though it would be a fabulous spot in the sunshine.  However we still enjoyed a drive around the marina and surrounds.  From Robe we tackled the Great Ocean Road on our way to Wye River.  We braved the rain and tour buses to take in the sights, it really is a beautiful part of the coastline.  Wye River was a good stop off point for us with a great caravan park.  It was nice to have a rest prior to the more functional leg of our trip, the way home!

We made our way to Melbourne so the van good have a good once over from the manufacturers, the blokes who worked on it for the day all agreed that it has had a good workout over the past few months - indeed it has!  We caught up with another friend from our UK days, Lizzie, which was lovely, and then headed for our next destination, Club Woods at Sanctuary Point.

We have had a fantastic break from caravanning life here,  I think we all needed a little rest from the Goldstream!  We have had a great time catching up with family and friends, eating way too much and enjoying the five star digs with inclusive six star baby sitting facilities!  Christmas day was lovely and boys were delighted with the whole occasion.  Lego building and consumption of extensive amounts of food were the main activities, then an early night for Charlie and Gil who were on the go all day.

We leave here tomorrow for Blueys, and can not believe it is over!  It was an amazing experience for all of us and we are so glad we took the plunge and jumped on board.  No doubt it will be a bit of a shock to the system to return home and settle back in to a routine however we are also looking forward to Charlie starting school and a less stressful work load as employees rather than business owners.  The locum work is coming in so hopefully there will be enough to keep us busy whilst we plan our next business venture, wherever that may be!

Take care all and best wishes to you and your families for a happy and safe New Year!  We will be based in Blueys in 2012 so make sure you look us up if you happen to be in the area.  Enjoy and if you ever have an opportunity to leap outside of your comfort zone and jump in a van - go for it!

With Love,

Chippy, Woodsy, Charlie and Gil xxx

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Snaps!

Jetty at Esperance

Boat ride to Woodsy Island

Captain Charlie

Blue Haven Beach, Esperance

Frenchmans Peak

Kite flying at Le Grand Beach

Thistle Cove

Thistle Cove

Surf's up at Cactus Beach

Tuna feeding

Memory Cove

Here's cheers at Hahndorf!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Esperance to the Barossa Valley

Hello all, I hope the festive season is treating you well!

We chose a beautiful day to drive to Esperance which is a pleasant place in it's own right however our main reason for the visit was to take a trip out to Woody Island in the Recherche Archipelago.  Woody Island is just off the mainland and home to a variety of wildlife.  It also, practically, has our name on it so we felt compelled to visit!  On the boat trip (which was a little  choppy) we managed to see NZ fur seals, sea lions and an eagle or two.  The island itself was a little disappointing however it has an interesting history of family ownership and the tour guide was full of tips for our upcoming travels which was very handy.

From there we visited the stunning Cape Le Grand National Park.  We camped out at Lucky Bay and I think it rates as one of the most picturesque places we have laid our weary heads on this trip - beautiful.  See below for the view from our site - not too bad, eh?!

We loved it here and enjoyed visiting the numerous beaches, each one seemed to be more stunning than the next.  Weather was hot, water was cold however that didn't stop us taking several refreshing (chilly is really a more realistic term) dips in the crystal clear water, it was just looked too good to resist!  Thistle Cove was probably our favourite although the boys loved flying their kites on Le Grand beach.  We also managed to climb Frenchman Peak which gave us great views over the national park.  It was good timing to be somewhere so beautiful and relaxing before tacking the dreaded Nullarbor Plain.

In essence, the Nullarbor was fine and that is purely thanks to modern technology keeping Charlie and Gil entertained for a 750km day of driving.  It is a long, straight road and although Woodsy will disagree with me, I thought it was extraordinarily boring.  Perhaps I was not appreciating the changes in vegetation and occasional bends in the road, and concentrating more on getting from Norseman to Ceduna in good time and in one piece.  We stayed just out of Cocklebiddy the first night in a rather ordinary free camp which was full of flies.  The boys, on the other hand, were thrilled as we were able to run around, get dirty and light a fire!

Another long day took us to Fowlers Bay via the Head of Bight.  We thought we would try and find a free camp and managed to get horribly lost amongst the sand dunes.  I am not sure that caravans are meant to be towed through dunes however I think I earned another 4WD stripe that day!  Streaky Bay for some copious oyster consumption was the next stop on the way to Port Lincoln.  We enjoyed Port Lincoln which sustains a large tuna industry.  Despite the cool and rainy weather, Jase went swimming with these giant fish and hand fed them pilchards!  We visited Lincoln National Park, an extremely rough 4WD track took us to Memory Cove which was yet another beautiful spot.

The weather fined up and was perfect for our visit to the Barossa Valley - WOW!  A 25km -long stretch of undulating hills with more than 80 wineries, Jase had found his motherland!  I loved it too!  Gorgeous towns dotting a beautiful, rural landscape.  Amazing fresh produce and a lovely, local feel to the area.  We based ourselves in Tununda which was beautiful and close to the Novotel where a good school friend of mine, Sarah, runs the show.  It is was so great to catch up and we always love a few local tips on eating and drinking.  The Barossa markets was the best tip from Sarsie, I was (again) in food heaven.  Jase was in wine heaven as he attended the Penfolds Grange tour at the Magill Estate on a day trip to Adelaide.  He was so impressed that he decided that we needed to attend the restaurant there and booked us in for a 10 course degustation menu.  Needless to say, it was amazing and significantly better than our recent travel fare!  

We also enjoyed a trip to Hahndorf which is Australia's largest surviving German settlement.  Jase has always been a big fan of the beer and sausage culture so it was a perfect opportunity to indulge in a super sized lunch accompanied by the traditional stein of beer.  It was so big that the completion of the meal earned him a t-shirt!  In true Woodsy style he left and went straight up the street for a pallet cleansing ice cream!

The Barossa and surrounds have definitely been a highlight, hopefully we can return for a less rushed visit soon.  We are on the home stretch now!  Off to Victor Harbour next and then shoot over to Melbourne via the coast.

Take care all,


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Latest pictures

Gil driving on Tash's farm

Charlie in the truck

Eagle Bay

Train at Busselton jetty

Amongst the roses at Voyager Winery

Jase and Chris enjoying an ale at Duckstein Brewery

Happy Birthday, Gil!

Captains Charlie and Gil on the Brig Amity

Sailor Gil

View from Whale World in Torndirrup National Park

View from Marine drive, Albany

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Corner Country

Corner country = fabulous!

We were lucky enough to be invited to a family farm owned by the parents of my beautiful friend, Tash.  The boys had a great time catching up with Sienna, Max and Fletcher plus, there was the added bonus of the large quantity of machinery to climb on.  It was so nice spend time with Tash again and see where she grew up, a lovely farming area around Narrogin which reminded me quite a bit of where I grew up near Cumnock.

From here we traveled to Bunbury via a tiny place called Donnybrook.  Although there is not a lot in Donnybrook it just so happens to be the home of the largest free playground in Australia - how about that?!  Expectations were high and thankfully they were completely satisfied, I thought Charlie's eyes might pop out of his head as we rounded the corner and spotted the mass of coloured play equipment! We all had a great time there and managed to get a good dose of play in before the rain set in.

Unfortunately the rain stayed however our spirits were not dampened as wine country was in our sights!  The Margaret River area was beautiful and we had a great week based in Busselton exploring the surrounds.  The food and wine was excellent however we were not expecting to enjoy such beautiful scenery along the coast line.  Eagle Bay and Canal Rocks were stunning, even in the dodgy weather.  We were lucky enough to spend some time with our Gibb River Rad friends, Anita, Mick and Annie who were only too happy to join us for several lunches an ice cream or two and the mandatory trip to Margaret River Chocolate factory!  We also enjoyed a wander through a giant hedge maze (1/2 ha with 1.5km of paths, it is a wonder we made it out at all!), several wineries, two breweries and the markets at Margaret River.  In an attempt to counteract the common Margaret River side effects (namely weight gain, post prandial somnolence, compulsive purchasing of alcoholic beverages), we hired bikes for the week and enjoyed the kilometers of bike paths around Busselton.

We wrestled ourselves away from Margaret River and drove to Pemberton, a small town in the heart of the Karri forests.  Jase and I both climbed the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, 68m to the top! Great view over the canopy of the karri forest although my legs were a bit sore the following day!  We celebrated Gil's third birthday in Pemberton. Large quantities of cake followed by a trip through the forest on the scenic Pemberton Tramway which was good fun.

Albany was the next stop, yet another extraordinarily beautiful place.  We could not get enough of Torndirrup National Park with it's numerous bays of crystal clear water and white sandy beaches and wished we had some more time to spend exploring the area. Albany itself had a lovely feel to it, plenty of scenic bike paths along the coast, great farmers markets and so much to do in the surrounding area.  Charlie and Gil's favourite Albany experience was exploring a replica of the Brig Amity, a ship that sailed the first European settlers from Sydney to Albany in 1826.

We have loved this part of the trip and could certainly see ourselves revisiting the area.  We were very sad to hear of the devastating fires that have destroyed so many properties in the region.

Next stop is Esperence, Cape Le Grande and then tackling the Nullarbor.

Take care and hope you are all enjoying some sunshine, happy snaps to follow,

Chippy x

Friday, 11 November 2011

Recent pics

View from the pub at Monkey Mia

Catamaran cruise, Monkey Mia

Francois Peron National Park, Bottle Bay

Stromatolites on the way to Kalbarri

Nature's window, Kalbarri National Park

Jason rock climbing.....

Z Bend, Kalbarri National Park

Nature's bridge, near Kalbarri

War Memorial, Geraldton

Charlie's Birthday, Jurien Bay

The Pinnacles Desert

Sightseeing in Perth with Aileen and Floyd

Bath time at Tash and Anuj's place with Sienna, Max and Fletcher 

Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island

Jase doing the hard yards on Rottnest

Parakeet Bay, Rottnest Island