The end of the trip, home safe & sound and some wrap up stats.

After Adelaide we drove to Mount Gambier, and spent some time looking around the Blue Lake before we headed off to Port Campbell via a great lunch stop in Portland (Trip Advisor scores again!).  In Victoria we started to drive The Great Ocean Road and managed to visit The Grotto, London Bridge and The Arch before sunset.  The next day we visited the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.  We were spending time on the Great Ocean Road (another iconic Australian drive) as we were meeting friends in Lorne to join in a birthday celebration weekend with Nola, who turned 99.  Had a great evening and a lovely meal with Nola, Andrew, Clare and Hiliary.  Then two days of driving to get home with our last overnighter at the Ettamogah Pub campground near Albury.

 Amy says that I am anal, but I prefer to say ‘analytical’.  I have kept fairly detailed notes on this trip about all sorts of things so will wrap up with a summary of some key stats about the trip.  Who knows it might help someone else in planning such a venture.

Distance travelled 22,500 km’s (14,000 miles) over 157 days (average 144k’s or 89 miles per day)

Overnight stops were: Caravan Parks (40%), National Parks (25%), Stations/Resorts/Private Camps (23%), Free Camps (12%)

Our expenses were roughly 60% essential items and 40% discretionary items with the top items being – Tours 16.5% of total spend, Groceries 15%, Fuel 14%, Camping 14%, and Eating Out 11%.  If anyone wants more detailed numbers let me know.

And in any such venture not everything goes exactly to plan, so I also did a list of lessons learned (which could also be called a list of all the stupid things we did).  Thankfully we stopped adding to the list at the end of August.  It includes travel basics (eg-get fuel when you can), 4 WD basics (eg-get out of 4WD before the bitumen), Explorer Motorhome basics (eg-shut all hatches before driving), and communication basics (eg-skype video uses lots of data$$$).  Three of our best online friends were – Wiki Camps (for where to stay), Trip Advisor (for restaurants and cafes) and Fuel Map (for cheap fuel).  In his normal fashion Dick ended up helping lots of fellow travellers get the most out of their travel technologies.  All part of the experience!

Before we left someone said we would meet lots of interesting people.  I sort of dismissed that idea as it wasn’t the reason for the trip.  Well, not only did we meet lots of interesting people all the time, we invited lots of people into our van for coffee, drinks, cards, tea etc.  In fact we hosted 18 different people and 8 of those visited in our place twice or more.   We felt fortunate to have our van which was a comfortable place for getting together.  We also had a few meals out with some  of our new friends.  All in all it was quite a social trip as we also caught up with old friends in Perth, in Adelaide and on The Great Ocean Road.

Speaking of the Lestervan, it performed beyond our expectations; especially on rough corrugated roads and in giving us great comfort in remote locations.  We were very happy with it.  So much so that we spent every night away in the van.  Dick does have a list of 30+ improvements he wants to do, but thats all about increasing the level of comfort.

Thanks again to all who gave us input before the trip, and to all who gave feedback and comments or said they enjoyed doing the trip with us vicariously.  It was nice having you along with us ‘in spirit’ and doing the blog gave me a project to focus on!

Love to all from

Pat and Dick

 

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier

The twelve apostles on The Great Ocean Road

Celebrating Nola’s 99th birthday at Lorne 

Back at home, safe and sound!

 

Crossing the Nullarbor and exploring the Eyre Peninsula

 Our last views of Esperance were the beautiful beaches along the Great Ocean Drive.  We then embarked on four days of driving across the Nullarbor Plains (Null arbor = no trees) and three nights in free camps.  This is one of the famous great Australian driving trips. Along the way we saw the Norseman Camels (tin ones), Caiguna Blowhole (just a dirt hole leading to underground caves), the Travellers Cross, the John Eyre memorial and the old Eucla Telegraph Station Ruins (now reclaimed by advancing sand dunes).  We drove on ‘The Ninety Mile Straight’ – Australia’s Longest Straight Road (146.6k’s).  Did a big cookup of fruit and veg (to meet quarantine conditions) before we crossed the border into South Australia, and then the views picked up significantly.  A series of lookouts showcase the Bunda Cliffs and one of our free camps was on the edge of the cliffs.  Great sunset views and enough motivation for me to do my second sunrise photo of the trip.  

We stopped at the Head of the Bight only to be told that we missed the whales by two days.  The Great Australian Bight Marine Park was initially declared in the mid-90’s to protect Southern Right Whales and is now one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, protecting many species and habitats.  That four days of solid driving plus a 2.5 hour time change really tired us out so we spent two nights in Ceduna.  We then saw a bit of the Eyre Peninsula coast – Streaky Bay for lunch and Point Labatt, home of the largest mainland population of Australian sea lions.  We saw about 30 males, females and pups from the viewing platform

Then we headed inland and had a day of seeing ‘rocks’ (Murphy’s Haystacks, Tcharkulda Rock, and Pildappa Rock) on our way to camp in the Gawler Ranges NP. There we visited the Organ Pipes, orchre red rock formations forged by volcanic activity more than 1500 million years ago.  As we were sort of in the area, we next went to Gairdner Lake NP to see Lake Gairdner, Australia’s fourth largest salt lake and the site of numous land speed record attempts when the lake is dry.  We walked about 2.5k’s on the lake in a vain attempt to see some water or something but its impossible to get any sense of the distances involved in crossing such a flat, white surface that blends into the horizon.  We camped there on our own and in fact didn’t see anyone else for almost 24 hours.  It was very remote! Then had another long day of driving with a stop in Kimba where we learned more about John Eyre (the first man to cross the continent from Sydney to the Swan River, heralded as a courageous explorer) and managed to watch a live streaming of Amy’s frisbee nationals final.  Ended up camping in Mount Remarkable NP before we drove to Adelaide.

Adelaide was also a social stop; dinner with Tim, lunch with Erica, a bit of shopping and another wash for the van.  One final post  coming to finish off the series.

 

 

Esperance beaches

Norseman Camels

 

Old Eucla Telegraph Station ruins, engulfed by the sand dunes

 

90 Mile Straight – on the Nullarbor

 

Lookout views of the Bunda Cliffs

Highway signs on the Nullarbor

Our campsite on the Bunda cliffs at sunset

Sunrise at the campsite on the Bunda cliffs

The original Nullarbor fuel station

Driving to our cliff-top camp on the Nullarbor

 

Head of the Bight

 

Point Labatt sea lions

Murphy’s Haystacks

Pildappa Rock

The Organ Pipes, Gawler NP

 

Marching across Lake Gairdner

A selfie photo on the lake, taken by the Apple watch

Looking down on the lake from a hilltop

Predawn view over Lake Gairdner (from the window in the van)

 

Kimba, features a John Eyre statute

 

Emu visiting our camp in Mount Remarkable NP