Chapter 3 – New Zealand
Apply here payday loans

We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand this past Friday. Our first afternoon was consumed with logistics. Getting from the airport to the van rental place, going over our new groovy mobile with the rental company, getting groceries, unpacking and finally finding a place to camp for the night…..not too exciting but necessary.

The next morning we started making our way North along the East Coast. Our first stop was Shakespear Regional Park. It is just outside Auckland, and from one of the bays you can see the city off in the distance.

Apply here payday loans

Auckland from a distance

From the top of the of the park we were also able to get this cool shot of Cathy.

Apply here payday loans

I think we should get this one framed

One of the things we have noticed about driving this coastline is the rock spires out in the ocean. There are many of them along this beautiful coast, and during low tide I was able to snap this pic.

Apply here payday loans

One of the many cool sea spires we have seen so far

We ended up spending the night at a campground in Sandspit. As we checked into the campground we were hit with a rude awaking……it is summer here and everyone is off for the holidays…..the campgrounds are packed! Luckily they had a little piece of grass for us, and it all worked out for the night. The next morning we went for a hike at Ti Point to check out a climbing area. It had rained the night before, so we ended up getting pretty muddy and wet, but we did find the crag right on the water. Unfortunately, everything was wet, the tide was high so you couldn’t get to half the climbs…..and I’ll be honest….some of the bolts looked a little manky! ;-)

Apply here payday loans

The hike over might have been a little wet and muddy ;-)

Apply here payday loans

One of the cool formations you could climb.....if it was low tide

We left Ti Point and headed for Goat Island to check out the some of the local snorkeling. It just wasn’t our day, because the weather was starting to roll in. It looked like a really cool place to hang out, but….another time.

Apply here payday loans

Goat Island

After Goat Island we made our way to Langs Beach. We have friends, Glen and Cherie, who use to live in Oxford, MD (near my mom and step-dad) who have since moved back to New Zealand and were spending their holidays with all their friends and family. We would like to say a huge thanks to Glen, Cherie, Mark, Mary, and all their family for hosting us……we had an awesome time! Mark and Mary’s house sits on a hill looking over the Langs Beach…….and the view is impressive to say the least.

Apply here payday loans

From left to right, Mark, Mary, Me, Cathy, Cherie, Glen

Apply here payday loans

Not a bad view from the living room!

While we were there I also gave boogy boarding a shot…….lets just say I need a little more practice. ;-) I think out of all the waves I tried to catch….I was 2 for 40!

Apply here payday loans

Tearing it up....well not really...this is a baby wave

Apply here payday loans

Yep....2 for 40....kind of a big deal! ;-)

Today is New Years Eve here in New Zealand, and we started the day by making our way further North. We made our way along the coastline of the Bay of Islands, and ended up in Russel. Looking at our pictures from the day, we only got one really good one, unfortunately,……we promise to never let that happen again! ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Part of the Bay of Islands coastline

All is good from this side of the world. We just checked into the campground in Kerikeri. No big night for us…..both of us are pretty tired from the drive today, so Cathy is making a great dinner, followed by a movie on the laptop, then an early night…..maybe we are getting old……nah! We want to wish everyone out there a safe and Happy New Year…see everyone in 2013!

Christmas in Sydney
Apply here payday loans

We spent a couple days hanging out with my Uncle in Adelaide. Taking care of all the odds and ends we needed to get done before we leave Australia. Cleaning out the van, turning it back in, shipping items back home, and finally repacking. One other thing we needed to do before leaving Adelaide was have one more BBQ at my Uncles house.

Apply here payday loans

Firing up the BBQ

Apply here payday loans

Cathy and Peter showing me how to get it done at the grill ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Awesome dinner out on the back patio with my uncle Peter

The next morning we headed off to Sydney. It’s a 16 hour drive from Adelaide…not like we hadn’t done enough driving! ;-) We ended up breaking the drive into two days with a stop off in West Wyalong. The next day we arrived in Penrith, a suburb of Sydney where my other uncle and his wife and kids live. We have spent the past few days hanging around Penrith, swimming in my uncle’s awesome pool (it is pretty hot here), Cathy and I managed to get out for a day to the Blue Mountains for some climbing……turned out to be Christmas Eve! Not a bad way to spend it, and for most of the morning we had the whole crag to ourselves, but after a couple of hours the place was packed.

Apply here payday loans

Cathy flaking out the rope

Apply here payday loans

Climbing in the Blue Mountains on X-mas Eve....who knew it would be so crowded!

Today is Christmas here in Australia…..and Christmas Eve for a lot of you back in states. We woke to open presents with everyone, followed by an afternoon BBQ for Christmas dinner. It has been a very different Christmas here in Australia, since it is the start of summer here.

Apply here payday loans

Spending X-mas by the pool

Apply here payday loans

Prawns on the patio....great appetizer for X-mas dinner ;-)

Apply here payday loans

X-mas dinner with our celebratory hats!

Unfortunately, it has been raining all day….we were looking forward to a Christmas swim, but it didn’t happen :-(  We now have only a couple of days left in Australia, because we are off to New Zealand on Friday. We fly into Aukland to start this leg of our trip, and pick up our new groovy mobile that afternoon. Cathy and I are really excited about seeing New Zealand, and I am sure we will have more to pass on soon.

We hope everyone has a great Christmas and we wish you all a Happy New Year! ;-)

We Made It!!
Apply here payday loans

After 3 months and 12,500 miles (20,000km) we have made it around the entire country of Australia!  The last couple of days we finished driving the Eyre Peninsula and made our way back to Adelaide and Uncle Peter’s.

We visited Coffin Bay and Port Lincoln before making the last push to Adelaide.  Coffin Bay turned out to be another spectacular place that took us by surprise like so many other places in this country.  We would be driving along a road with not much to see on either side and then there would be turnoff for a lookout and once again we would marvel at the most amazing cliff line, beaches, and views.  Here are some shots from Coffin Bay National Park…

Apply here payday loans

Almonta Beach at Coffin Bay National Park

Apply here payday loans

Golden Island Lookout at Coffin Bay National Park

Port Lincoln was our next stop and it is a great coastal town at the southern most point of the Eyre Peninsula.  It wasn’t until after I left that I read Port Lincoln is reputed to have the most millionaires per capita in Australia, there was some amazing homes along the coastline and this explains it.  It is also the place to go if you want to go shark cage diving with the great whites.  This is something Jamie wants to do so we checked it out, but unfortunately it’s was a bit too expensive right now for our budget, so we had to pass for now….another time.

Apply here payday loans

Port Lincoln Campground

Apply here payday loans

Cathy, a pelican, and our campground on Boston Bay

A quick stop in Whyalla, north of Port Lincoln, gave us a break from the drive and great views of the Spencer Gulf

Apply here payday loans

Hummock Hill Lookout in Whyalla

Apply here payday loans

Hummock Hill Lookout, Whyalla

One last stop to break up the drive before arriving in Adelaide was in Port Pirie.  We had a great spot at the town caravan park, we also went for a swim at the beach next to the campground, the first swim in weeks since we’ve now returned to the blazing heat!

Apply here payday loans

Our last camping spot at Port Pirie

Apply here payday loans

Another great view from another great campground

We also got a chance to check out the shark exhibit in Port Pirie, and here is a replica of one of the largest great whites caught in South Australia…..they grow them big down here.

Apply here payday loans

Shakka, the longest white pointer caught in S. Australia

The real jaws!!
Apply here payday loans

The real jaws!!

We are now in Adelaide unloading the van and getting ready to return it.  We will get in Uncle Peter’s car on the 21st to make the 15 hour drive to Sydney where we’ll spend the holidays with Jamie’s other uncle, Kym, and his family.

We wish everyone out there a safe and happy holiday. Merry Christmas!!

 

 

Nullarbor Plain to the Eyre Peninsula
Apply here payday loans

After sadly leaving Shane and Nicky’s farm we headed off towards the town of Esperance. This is a beautiful Southcoast town, and if the weather had been cooperating we would have gotten a lot better pictures. We had to deal with some harsh thunderstorms, but as usual, we made the most of it! ;-) Around Esperance there are some awesome picturesque views, and we took some pics, but if the weather had been a little better they would have been great. Here are a few shots from our coastal drive, and Cape Le Grand National Park.

Apply here payday loans

Coastal view near Esperance

Apply here payday loans

Cathy at one of the lookouts

Apply here payday loans

One of the many views in Cape Le Grand....too bad the weather wasn't better :-(

Apply here payday loans

Frenchman's Peak in Cape Le Grand National Park

After leaving Esperance we made our way North to Norseman, which is actually the gateway to the Nullarbor Plain and to start heading East. This is a very famous stretch here in Australia, since you have to drive across the Nullarbor Plain, and past the Great Australian Bite. The highway is very similar to driving in the outback, with long stretches of nothing, but then you get some great views of the coast.

Apply here payday loans

Still not a lot of traffic out here!

Apply here payday loans

In case of an emergency the Royal Flying Doctors Service uses the roads for runways

Apply here payday loans

Some of the cliffs looking out over the Great Australian Bite

Apply here payday loans

Yep, they are out there

Another famous item about driving this stretch of highway is the Nullarbor Links Golf course. It is the longest golf course in the world…some of you might be thinking, how long are the holes? It is not long in that way, it is long in the fact that you have to drive sometimes up to 100km between holes! ;-) We thought about doing it, but it cost $70 per person, so we thought nah, but we did stop off to play one hole for free….nothing like golfing in the outback!

Apply here payday loans

Nullarbor Links, hole #15

Apply here payday loans

After her drive Cathy ended up in the fairway.......yep, that is the fairway!

Apply here payday loans

After my drive, I did not end up in the fairway....but it's the outback....who could tell! ;-)

Apply here payday loans

We only had a 7-Wood (thanks PB!) so we had to make do....and yes...Cathy drained this putt ;-)

We ended up spending that night at the Nundroo Roadhouse. We cooked dinner and then headed into the local bar for a drink. We had a great evening having drinks with a couple of locals who gave us a view into their lives. One was a farmer and the other was a house builder for the indigenous people in the area…..very interesting stories!

The next morning we started to make our way South down the Eyre Peninsula. Our first stop was a small town called Smokey Bay. Not much going in town, but their pier was very interesting, since we are right in the middle of great white shark territory. You can go for a swim very easily at the beach…..and I guarantee you won’t get eaten at this beach! ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Smokey Bay swimming cage....pretty sweet!

Speaking of great white sharks…..our next stop was Streaky Bay. Another gorgeous place right on the coast. An interesting fact about Streaky Bay is that back in 1990, before great white’s were a protected species, a world record was landed on rod and reel here. We stopped off at the local roadhouse were they have the newspaper article about it, as well as, a full scale replica of the big girl….impressive!

Apply here payday loans

Now that is a shark!

Apply here payday loans

The article from the newspaper when she was caught

We also had a pretty nice camp spot at Streaky Bay.

Apply here payday loans

Not a bad spot for breakfast

Today we woke up, had a workout, showered, had breakfast, then hit the road still moving further South down the Eyre Peninsula. Our first stop was Murphy’s Haystacks. These cool rock formations out in the middle of farmland. Check it out.

Apply here payday loans

Murphy's Haystacks from a distance

Apply here payday loans

Murphy's Haystacks up close...too bad you can't climb them

Apply here payday loans

More of the haystacks

Our next stop was Venus Bay. At first when you pull into the town you think there isn’t much to see but maybe the local beach, but then you get to the backside of the town. The pictures of the coast are just awesome.

Apply here payday loans

Coast line at Venus Bay

Apply here payday loans

Cathy trying to stay warm at Venus Bay

We moved on from Venus Bay and stopped off at some interesting cliff formations right on the coast. One of the coolest ones was Woolshed Cave. Really impressive, and easy to get great pictures here.

Apply here payday loans

Woolshed Cave from a distance

Apply here payday loans

Cathy in Woolshed Cave

Apply here payday loans

Looking out from Woolshed Cave

Apply here payday loans

Water level view looking out from the cave

Apply here payday loans

One of the cool pools near the cave

On a final note, some of the signs here in Australia are great, and today we came across a few good ones. We thought we would share….. ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Pretty easy to figure these out ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Apparently if you fall off a cliff.....your buddy is coming with you

And finally…..with all the things that you have to watch for while driving in this country……kangaroos, cows, dingos, horses, camels, sheep, snakes, lizards….and so on….now we have to add this to the list……

Apply here payday loans

HOLY CRAP!! ;-)

 

The Farm Life
Apply here payday loans

We spent the past few days in the Bridgetown area which is where Shane and Nicky live.  Shane and Jamie used to work together years ago in Cairns as dive instructors.  Shane and Nicky are now semi retired with Nicky still practicing as a Vet a few days a week and together they are building their house on the farm they bought 4 years ago.  After a couple days in down town Bridgetown we made our way to their farm about 25km from town called The Sitting Duck Farm. The following days were filled with all sorts of fun activities.  They certainly keep themselves busy with a vegetable garden, a new house to build, 55 cattle, 3 horses, 4 pigs, 3 chickens, 1 rooster and their dog Tigger!

Apply here payday loans

With Nicky, Tigger and just some of the cattle behind us

Apply here payday loans

Jamie and the cows

Shane also took us out shooting with his sniper rifle and M6 Scout rifle which shot 22′s and shot gun shells but not before we sat down to watch him make his own bullets!

Apply here payday loans

Shane making bullets for shooting practice

The shooting was fun, we set up targets and I nailed mine on first go : )

Apply here payday loans

Targets blown up by Cathy!

Apply here payday loans
                   Eyeing up the target
Apply here payday loans

Jamie gearing up for the first shot

Shane has some serious cooking skills so we ate really really well with his farm raised lamb on the barbie, home made pesto and hummus, pancakes with lemon and sugar and eggs with truffle oil, delicious! With all that cattle and pigs there is a lot of meat to be had.  We got to witness Shane at work with one of the cows.  I just watched!

Apply here payday loans

Start by trimming the fat!

Apply here payday loans

Jamie's job was to vacuum seal each piece, again, I just watched.

Shane and Nicky have an awesome set up on their land, they are off the grid in just about every way.  They depend on rain water for all their water needs, solar panels for all electricity and a composting toilet in their temporary digs.  It’s a real eye opener and something we’ve been seeing a lot of around Australia.  It makes me think about our dependence on electricity and electronics, among other things, and the sustainability of it all for survival but what would happen if one day someone flipped the switch and it was all gone? Could we survive, live off the land for a while? Maybe forever?!  We’ve been really into movies lately since the camping life closes out the day around 7pm each night so we watch a lot of movies and trailers too.  I’m noticing more and more of these new movies with plots about the earths future without the things we depend on now.  Anyway, it at least gets me thinking that I wish we had a solar panel on top of our groovy mobile now, we wouldn’t have to pay for so many power sites at all these campsites!

We had a great visit with Shane and Nicky and really appreciate their warm hospitality.

Apply here payday loans

We had a blast in Bridgetown!

Now we’re off again, making our way to Adelaide by December 21 to turn in the van.  There is still a lot to see on the way back.  We hope you’re all well!

 

Denmark to Albany……and more!
Apply here payday loans

As we left Denmark and made our way towards West Cape Howe, we were optimistic in getting some climbing in there, but unfortunately, sometimes you have to read the fine print in the guidebook. Turns out there are only two ways to get to the climbing area (which is suppose to be some of the best on the Southern Coast). First, and the best/easiest, is via a 4WD only track…..and the groovy mobile wasn’t going to be able to handle that. Second, is to hike from Shelly Beach…….an hour and 45 minute slog. The good news is, the guidebook put us on to Shelly Beach, which is where we ended up spending two nights camping for free! As you can see from the pics…..not a bad place to set up camp ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Shelly Beach

Apply here payday loans

Our Campsite ;-)

We decided to at least go check out the climbing without any of our gear….at least we thought it would be a good hike……..it was a butt kicker! Not the worst we have ever done, but just a slog, with a lot of bush crashing, and you have to spend a good part of it walking on the 4WD track…..which is steep and all sand! We finally reached the coast line, and it did not disappoint. We would love to get back there some day…….with a 4WD vehicle of course! Some pics from West Cape Howe.

Apply here payday loans

The gorgeous coast of West Cape Howe

Apply here payday loans

On the edge of one of the cliffs at West Cape Howe

Apply here payday loans

Cathy from a distance at West Cape Howe

The next morning we slept in and took our time getting the day started. Cathy wanted to check out some of the local wineries in the area. We visited a few and met some really nice people along the way. We walked into one and there was no one around except this guy doing the tastings. Turns out he was the owner of the estate, and we got to learn his story and he was curious about ours. He used to have a mushroom farm, and he ended up selling the farm to Campbell Foods in the US, and then decided to get into the wine business….interesting guy.

Apply here payday loans

Cathy at one of the wineries

After our wine tasting we made our way further along the coast towards the town of Albany. Before getting there we detoured off to check out Torndirrup National Park, home to some great formations on the coastline.

Apply here payday loans

We thought this looked like a foot

Apply here payday loans

You almost want to sit there, and just wait for this thing to collapse

We also hiked into an area called Peak Head that has some climbing on it. I thought about climbing one particular line, but once we found it….I thought maybe not.

Apply here payday loans

Peak Head from a distance

Apply here payday loans

The climb we were eyeing up was just around this corner.....but it drops off about 100' into the ocean from there!

The next day we spent most of the day checking out the town of Albany and one of those giant windmill farms. There were 18 of them staged right on the coast, and they provided 75% of the power to Albany.

Apply here payday loans

Enjoying a beautiful day at the wind farm ;-)

Apply here payday loans

A view of the coast from the wind farm

We spent the night in Albany, and after spending all this time on the coast we decided to head inland for a little while. First stop was Porongurup National Park. Home to some huge granite boulders and some cool views of the plains around it. We were racing the weather on the hike up the trail, but we were able to just squeeze it in before the thunderstorms came in.

Apply here payday loans

Balance Rock

Apply here payday loans

Cathy heading up to the summit lookout

Apply here payday loans

Summit view with a wildfire in the distance, and thunderstorms looming

We ended up spending the night at Mt. Barker. The next morning we took off for the Stirling Ranges, and Bluff Knoll. The hike to the summit of Bluff Knoll is a bit of butt kicker, but we both enjoyed it. The views along the way and at the summit were awesome!

Apply here payday loans

Bluff Knoll from a distance

Apply here payday loans

About a 1/4 of the way up the hike

Apply here payday loans

About half away up

Apply here payday loans

Made it!

Apply here payday loans

Chilling at the summit

Oh yeah, and on the hike up we came across our first deadly snake….Tiger Snake! I missed it…but Cathy spotted it right away…..yowzah!!!

Apply here payday loans

Tiger Snake

Today we woke up at our campsite in Lake Grace, and headed off to Wave Rock. This is a cool granite rock formation out near the town of Hyden. Here are some shots from the day.

Apply here payday loans

Wave Rock

Apply here payday loans

Some of the cool boulders around Wave Rock

We are now starting to make our way towards the town of Bridgetown, where we’ll be catching up with some old friends of mine, which we are looking forward to. Then we will start making our way back to Adelaide….life is good! ;-)

Start of the Southern Coast
Apply here payday loans

The past few days, the weather has not been the best…probably some of the worst weather we have had on the entire trip. Basically for the whole day….the wind would blow…..then it would rain (sometimes pretty hard)……then the sun would come out……repeat……for the whole day! The great thing is though, despite the weather, we have gotten some really good pictures over the past few days.

We were on our way to Augusta when we decided to drive through the Karri Forest. It is a beautiful drive through all the these karri tree which dominate this part of Australia.

Apply here payday loans

On the drive through the Karri National Forest

Apply here payday loans

More of the drive through the forest

Apply here payday loans

About 3/4 through the drive you come to this lookout over the forest and ocean

Along the way to Augusta we also stopped off in Hamelin Bay. The wind was kicking pretty good (and the rain was about to come in) at this point, but we managed to get a photo before moving on.

Apply here payday loans

Trying not to get blown off the beach at Hamelin Bay

We finally arrived at Augusta which is the gateway to Cape Leeuwin, which is the Southwestern most point of Australia, and the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Despite the blue skies, the weather was pretty harsh while we were there, but we still had some impressive views.

Apply here payday loans

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse....I don't know if you can tell by Cathy's appearance but it was a little bit windy!

Apply here payday loans

Close up for the Leeuwin Lighthouse

Apply here payday loans

I think this one explains itself! ;-)

Apply here payday loans

My levitation skills have improved....It turns out I can now...FLY!....kind of a big deal ;-)

That night we ended up spending the night in Pemberton. A really small nice town on the Southern Coast. While cooking dinner we had some guests show up….some how they always know…

Apply here payday loans

They just seem to always know when food is nearby!

The following day we drove down the road to see some of the tallest Karri trees around. The first one is called Gloucester Tree…..and yes…you can climb it! Crazy thing is, your not tied in, and there is no supervision anywhere, just start grabbing these ladder rungs they have stuck in the side of the tree and you can get to the top, 90 meters. Crazy! And in no way would you find this in the states!

Apply here payday loans

Just start grabbing!

Apply here payday loans

Cathy about to start up Gloucester Tree

Apply here payday loans

Looking down from half way up Gloucester Tree

We liked the tree climbing so we headed off for some more. The next one was called the Diamond Tree. This one was unique in that they still sometimes use the platform at the top to lookout for forest fires.

Apply here payday loans

View from the summit of Diamond Tree

From there we made our way to D’entrecasteaux National Park and some of it has breathtaking views over the Southern Ocean. Check it out!

Apply here payday loans

Souther Ocean coastline

Apply here payday loans

Another view of the coastline..and us trying to stay warm!

Our last stop of the day was to get our first view of some of the Tingle Trees in the area. These are some huge trees….I am guessing, the Australian equivalent of our Redwoods. They were massive!

Apply here payday loans

This sucker was not even one of the big ones!

Apply here payday loans

Peekaboo!

Apply here payday loans

This one was massive!

After we checked out some of the trees we decided to spend the night in Walpole, and as we were pulling into the campground after yet another rain storm……sometimes you just time it perfectly! ;-)

Apply here payday loans

Nice view to end the day! ;-)

Today, the first thing we tackled was the Valley of the Giants. This is a eco park they have built to get more up close to the tingle trees. They even spent 1.8 million to put in this giant suspension platform, so you can walk along the tree top….pretty cool!

Apply here payday loans

Suspension walkway among the trees

Apply here payday loans

Cathy on the walkway among giants

We left all the tingle trees and made our way over to Conspicuous Cliff. This place had some spectacular scenery. It was a bit cold to go for a swim, but what a place!

Apply here payday loans

Cathy at the lookout over Conspicuous Cliff

Apply here payday loans

Another view of the bay

Apply here payday loans

Some of beautiful scenery of Conspicuous Cliff

We followed this up with a quick stop in Peaceful Bay…..just another small town on the coast with awesome views.

Apply here payday loans

Cathy at Peaceful Bay

We were making our way to Denmark, but we had one more stop, and that was Elephant Cove at Greens Pool which is part of William Bay National Park. This place is just beautiful! We walked around on all the rocks checking out the sights…..and all I can say is…..Western Australia does not disappoint!

Apply here payday loans

Greens Pool

Apply here payday loans

More of the Greens Pool.....can you find Jamie?

Apply here payday loans

Heading over to Elephants Cove

Apply here payday loans

Elephants Cove, because the rocks look like large elephants!

Apply here payday loans

The waves were crashing hard over on the cove side...anyone for a swim!

We have currently set up camp in Denmark. Our campground is just a short walk from the beach. Before dinner tonight we checked it out and we were able to get a couple of cool shots before settling in for the night.

Apply here payday loans

Wilson Inlet and Ocean Beach at Denmark

Apply here payday loans

Cool b/w picture we got of this tree near the inlet

Tomorrow we are going to make our way further West along the coast and check out more of the cliff line….might even be able to get a climb in or two ;-)