The mystery of the raw bone – Travelling with dogs

This morning, the kids walked out of the annex to see our beautiful and well mannered dog… sneaking out of another couple’s caravan awning!!

“Wait, is this our dog?” I heard Mr7 ask.
“NALAAAA!!!!” Yelled Miss5.
“Nala! Go back!” Said Mr9 firmly and she actually listened.

She did the walk of shame back into our annex, where I saw her. I saw her and I saw the monstrosity of a raw bone she was holding in her mouth! There was still some meat on it. It looked like something that would have made a decent roast… Continue reading “The mystery of the raw bone – Travelling with dogs”

Fowlers Bay – South Australia

A couple of days ago we took a detour from the Eyre Highway to visit Fowlers Bay. It was just a 30kms unsealed track down to the shore. On the way there, we saw some beautiful scenery! We also visited the Yalata Homestead Ruins, which were sooo worth the stop and hike up to them.

Travelling Family Fowlers Bay

Travelling Family Fowlers Bay

Travelling Family Fowlers Bay

When we got closer to Fowlers Bay, we were amazed by the sand dunes on the horizon!

The little town had a few cute houses and massive sand dunes just behind those houses! We had lots of fun climbing the dunes and sliding down them! We wished we had taken our sand board with us for this trip, as this would have been the perfect opportunity to use it!

The beauty of standing on top of the sand dune and being able to change our scenery by turning around was incredible. One direction there was the town of Fowlers Bay and the jetty. Another was the beautiful view of the bay. The third way we looked was just sand dunes, making us feel like we were in the middle of a desert, when in fact we were right next to the ocean.

Travelling Family Fowlers Bay

Travelling Family Fowlers Bay

Travelling Family Fowlers Bay

There is a caravan park at Fowlers Bay, but as we are lovers of free camping, we travelled back to a Rest Area at the Eyre Highway instead, which ended up being a peaceful overnight spot at the Cohens Old School Site.

There were small remains of the old school there and the site had reception, which was a bonus!

Travelling Family Cohens Old School Site

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Crossing the WA/SA border – Eucla and the town of Nullarbor

When you drive onto the Eyre Highway from Norseman, there are warning signs that water is limited until Ceduna, so you need to stock up. Those signs aren’t lying! We saw just two spots with rain water along the whole stretch – both still in Western Australia. While it could be life saving, the water from those water tanks needs to be boiled before consumption. We stopped for a quick break yesterday morning at one of these water spots (just before the town of Mundrabilla) and while rough looking, we were impressed by the site and grateful for the jerry can of water we took away.

Rain Water Tank Nullarbor

We then found the most picturesque spot for lunch, where we cooked up all our veggies in preparation for crossing the border (no fruit or vegetables are allowed across the border).

Nullarbor Travelling Family

Nullarbor Travelling Family

Travelling Family Australia

Eucla – the WA/SA border

Crossing the border was easier than expected – we literally just drove into South Australia! No checks, nothing! Perhaps we didn’t need to force ourselves to have 3kgs of mashed potatoes for lunch… But better safe than sorry, as fines apply! The Border Village had a cool distance sign and a large mining haul truck! Check out it’s size with our car and caravan for comparison!

Border Village SA/WA Eucla

Big truck at Border Village

Mining haul truck size Border Village

South Australia

The best part about arriving in SA was being able to see the coast! We’ve missed the beach and can not wait to camp near one and spend a few days just lazing in the sun!

The Great Australian Bight is pretty spectacular, and the addition of a wombat on road signs is pretty cool, too!!

Travelling Family - The Great Australian Bighy

Australian Road Signs

The Nullarbor Roadhouse was a fun place to stop at as well, with a quirky historical petrol station next to it and some great information boards. Homeschooling – tick!

Nullarbor Plains Travelling Family

Nullarbor Travelling Family

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The Nullarbor continued – Balladonia, 90 Mile Sign, Caiguna Blowhole and Cocklebiddy… and a bit beyond!

90 Mile Sign

Yesterday we crossed the longest stretch of straight road in Australia – the whole 90 miles (146.6km) of the Eyre Highway.

Australian Animal Road Sign

90 Mile Sign Nullabor

Balladonia and Caiguna Blowhole

Before that, we filled up at Balladonia Roadhouse, where we also stopped for a play at the playground and let the dogs out for a run. The downside to the Balladonia playground was that the slide was from metal, so it was too hot to use… and the slide was the only thing at that playground! Also, the petrol and the coffee were ridiculously highly priced, even compared to other towns on the Nullabor. Taking our coffee machine on this trip was one of the best decisions ever! The upside was that there were toilets and they were in excellent, clean condition!

When we hit the 90 mile stretch, the change in scenery from trees to shrubs happened within a split second. We couldn’t believe it! At one point the horizon was so flat, it seemed to just drop off. We even remarked how possible it was for people to think that the world was truly flat all those years ago.

We stopped briefly at Caiguna Blowhole, it was right next to the highway. It would have been very easy to accidentally drive right past it, down towards the ocean – where we expected the blowhole.

Caiguna Blowhole Nullabor

 

Though a scenic drive down to the beach would have been lovely, with the amount of water we can carry, we really need to get to Ceduna in a couple of days.

So a big “thank you” goes to the traveller before us (who obvioulsly did that extra 80 or so kilometres down to the beach looking for the blowhole) for writing in big letters that this is it, the Caiguna Blowhole, on a rubbish bin with an arrow!

Highlight: a desert cockroach the kids got to hold! Check out this video of Miss5 having a cute moment where she kind of wants to hold it, but not really!!

Cocklebiddy and busy bees!

Finding a place to sleep was not an easy feat – we stopped at three rest areas before settling in for the night. The first place, near Cocklebiddy, was filled with swarming bees. The moment we realised, we decided to move on to a place another 12kms down the road… only to have the same problem! We ate dinner at the second location though, before it got really bad and we decided to move on.

Cocklebiddy Nullabor Travelling Family

Whoever wrote the sign in the above photo forgot to include, right underneath those kangaroos:

“BEES 9,999,999”!!

We ended up staying the night at Maduna Look Out, which was beautiful and bee-free.

We set off very early in the morning, driving towards the sun and Eucla.

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The first days on the road! From Kalgoorlie to Fraser Range

Finally we are on the road!

After the car troubles from Monday, and the poo disaster within 20 minutes of driving out of Kalgoorlie the day we finally left again, we are finally on the Nullarbor!

Hot tip: Line your boot with a tarp when travelling with dogs! Ideally one of those cheap, pretty much disposable ones! And carry a spare!

We had two stops between Kalgoorlie and the place we decided to stay at for the night.

One was just a quick stop for petrol at Norseman, where we realised that we’re about to hit the Nullarbor! A very exciting milestone in this trip for us – we are officially travelling across Australia now!

The second was a rest and lunch stop at Muddy Waterhole, about 30kms out of Norseman (sans the water and the mud, because… summer! Bonus attractions: decomposing camel carcass and a lizard the kids got to traumatise by trying to catch!)

Travelling Family Nullabor Australia

Travelling Family Nullabor

Traveling Family Nullabor

We then drove to Fraser Range Rest Area which is located on a salt lake and was an absolutely stunning place to see a sunset at! Though we certainly do need to skill up on our sunset photo-taking skills, to truly capture the beauty! Fraser Range Rest Area is a 24hour rest area with toilet facilities. Dogs are permitted to stay there, but there are warning signs about the 1080 poison being used in the area, so they need to be on leash at all times and very closely supervised.

Fraser Range - Nullabor

Fraser Range - Nullabor

Fraser Range Rest Area

Going to bed when the sun goes down and waking up when it goes up meant that we were up all rested by 5:30am. We had a lazy morning, enjoyed a coffee outside, walked the dogs, the kids got to ride scooters and play soccer, and we were still packed up and on the road by 8:30am!

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The first speed-bump: how we ended up camping on our verge!

The last week before we headed off was filled with social engagements! We wanted to catch up with all our friends before we left, so we were seeing people every day up until the departure day.

Everyone was asking us if we were excited. In our heads we knew we were. But did we feel all giddy, jumpy and thrilled? No, I don’t think we believed it was true, after 10 years of dreaming this trip up! The kids still saw daddy going to work, he was working right up to the day we were leaving, and I had a neverending to-do list.

“I have imagined this moment for so long. Is this real?”
The Matrix Revolutions

Finally, the day came

It was a beautiful, sunny, 33’C day. We packed up, hooked the caravan up and drove off… only to smell a weird electric smell out of the aircon vent! We hadn’t even left the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder yet, we were maybe 10-20kms out of town. We pulled over, popped the bonnet and saw nothing unusual. The smell was gone, so for a moment we thought that it must have been coming from the car in front of us. It was only when the smell reappeared, that we pulled over, popped the bonnet again, and realised that it was definitely us!

The air conditioner compressor’s clutch pulley bearing went bah-bye. We had a crazy thought of bypassing the air conditioner and continuing on, but the thought of crossing the Nullabor without the airconditioner did not seem appealing, and we were less than 30 minutes from home. So we turned around, parked the caravan up on our verge, bought a new bearing and pulled the car apart.

*Insert a million phone calls to family for advice*

We were going to be back on the road within a couple of hours.

Air conditioner compressor's clutch pulley bearing

Then we broke the pulley while trying to remove the bearing.

Let’s be honest: we were not at our finest after that. Trying to get specific car parts in Kalgoorlie takes time. We wanted to be on the road, not camping on our verge!

Everything happens for a reason

We learnt quite a lot from this situation. Or, more accurately, we learnt quite a lot from our kids in this situation. We all hear that life is whatever we make of it, but to kids, making the most of every situation comes so naturally. When a mother yells out “We’re leaving in 5 minutes”, a child will see it as an opportunity: “I have 5 minutes to get as many jumps in this muddy puddle as possible!”. Am I right?

The day we broke the pulley, I heard Mr9 talking to hubby:

– Daddy, will you play with us?
– Not now.
– Why not?
– I’m not in the mood.
– But if you’re going to sit there being miserable, you may as well play with us being miserable.

The holiday has started. The kids were ready to have fun despite the circumstances. To them, the fact that daddy is home every day is all that matters. So holiday activities ensued: a trip to the local swimming pool, park and playground trips, and lots of board games.

It took three days for us to get the part sorted and shipped from Perth. We installed it and decided to leave the following day. Lets hope this speed-bump at the start of the trip means smooth-sailing from now on! Lets also appreciate the fact that I now know what an “air conditioner compressor’s clutch pulley bearing” is!

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