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Chris and Charly Down Under

a travel blog by chrischarly

Bye bye tuk tuks
Bye bye negotiating
Bye bye, 'Hello Mister'
Bye bye long bus rides
Bye bye heavy backpacks
Bye bye savings...
And G'DAY 'down under'!

After plenty of time spent in South East Asia, we have just left Australia after having an amazing time driving around for almost 3 months in a camper and are now in New Zealand doing the same :)

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From 40 degrees to 5 degrees... ouch

Perth, Australia

The pilot announced that it was 5 degrees in Perth just before we landed. Not ideal wearing shorts and t-shirts… We had no idea it would be that cold! We stupidly thought it would be nice and toasty! As we declared our Kampot Pepper and spices, we thought that being honest would save us time and hassle. No it didn’t. Being honest obviously doesn’t earn you any brownie points in Australia. Anyone that declared anything went straight through to customs to get their bags x-rayed so we thought we might just as well kiss goodbye to our cigarettes now, and anyone that said they didn’t have anything went straight through to the exit! Bummer. So after queuing up for ages, a lady called us over and asked us what we had, we tried the ultra-smiley and friendly approach and straight away got out our food items out to show her. Unfortunately the supervisor walked passed and said that the pepper would definitely have to go, and being apparently the best pepper in the world, and as it was red impossible to buy overseas, Chris was obviously heartbroken! But being friendly obviously helps as she took pity on us and sent us on our way, without screening our bags! Yay, we got our cigarettes through! So, after power-walking as fast as we could for the exit just in case they turned round and changed their minds we waited until a bus arrived for the other airport, which we got on, then caught local transport into Perth and changed buses into Fremantle. Definitely the cheapest way of getting there, but also the most time consuming!

Then we set up camp in a café until Gill woke up and came and got us. We then went for another coffee to help us stay awake before going back to hers. Staying awake was a struggle for the rest of the day as we didn’t really sleep much on the plane, but somehow we agreed to go out and watch Gill’s son, Jo DJ at a club down in town, but as he was the last one playing we didn’t leave until gone midnight.

I managed to fall asleep standing up a couple of times, but Chris was fuelled on beer so he was fine, but $10 a pint is a bit steep! Then came back and had the nicest exhausted sleep in a long time.

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 24, 2011 from Perth, Australia
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Relaxing in Fremantle

Fremantle, Australia

After having the most amazing sleep I woke up at about midday and we went out to a street market just down the road where they promote sustainable living and recycling. It was a great market and we had a great time wandering around. I even managed to find a new jumper to replace my old battered Cardigan that is so full of holes; it almost looks like it was designed that way (but badly). Then chilled on the beach at a little café in before it started raining so went back and Chris cooked a tasty pumpkin soup to warm us up in the evening.

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 25, 2011 from Fremantle, Australia
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WE HAVE OUR VAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fremantle, Australia

Even though we weren’t 100% sure we were going to buy the van off Gill’s friend, we stayed positive and went shopping for stuff. Although it comes pretty much equipped it’s surprising how any extras there are to buy! Then after shopping in Fremantle we went to Mike’s to have a look at the van. OMG it’s amazing and practically perfect.

We knew we would be in love with it at first sight and that we were! So after finalising things with him we drove away very happy people! Can’t wait for our many adventures! Then after driving back Chris cooked dinner for us, Gill and family. Tasty Chicken and beef, delicious!

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 26, 2011 from Fremantle, Australia
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Out on the open road

Collie, Australia

Did some last minute shopping in Fremantle to buy groceries and another spare battery for the campervan. Of course spent far much more than we intended or expected before coming back and sorted out the van for our first adventure! Then at 3pm we finally left, far behind schedule, headed for Collie as we left it too late to make it down to [[Australia/Margaret-River]]!

It was so nice to be out on the open road and Australia truly is gorgeous! As we brought the new Camps 6 book we had many camp sites to choose from so picked the nicest free one and by the time we turned up and parked it was dark so had some tasty vegetable fried rice cooked inside the camper to warm us up. But I have to say, the bush loos are something to get used to…

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 27, 2011 from Collie, Australia
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Plenty of wine tasty :) and a dead whale :(

Augusta, Australia

Still not seen any kangaroos, so got excited when seeing a sign for them; my beady eyes on lookout. 3 dead ones spotted though on the side of the road; not exactly what I was expecting?! Very sad for my first sighting. Freezing cold 1st night in the campervan but part of the reason was discovered at 7:45am when we got up to see the passenger door open, oops!.. At least nothing was stolen. Anyway, we left Collie to head to [[Australia/Margaret-River]] and after stopping at many wineries along the way (Chris of course spitting his out until I start driving!) we didn’t make it!

But still had a great day stopping occasionally along the coast and enjoying the fantastic scenery, but also saw a dead whale which was pretty sad.

Too many dead things seen today, but still an awesome day! We set up camp in a little forest for the night and luckily the Ranger didn’t come along so it was free and we started a BBQ to keep warm and save our gas, we didn’t have any meat to put on there though unfortunately, but Chris still cooked a delicious warming dish of corned beef, carrots, onions, potatoes and baked beans.

Then we tucked up in bed to watch a film, blissfully unaware it was only 7pm!

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 28, 2011 from Augusta, Australia
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A fantastic day

Augusta, Australia

What an awesome day! Chris woke me up at 6:45am all excited to go on our next adventure. First stop was to go to Hamelin Bay where you can see loads of stingrays in the shallow water just off the beach.

Unfortunately we couldn’t see any but that could be because it was a cold morning and we didn’t want to wade up to our knees in the freezing sea. Still it was lovely to walk along the deserted beach at 7:30am dodging the washed up blue bottle stingrays. Then driving through the trees headed for the lighthouse in Cape Leuwin just south of Augusta 2 kangaroos hopped along the road just in front of us! Such an amazing sight to see them alive! Luckily we weren’t just a second faster otherwise we may have hit them! The lighthouse was a non-starter though as they wanted a $17 each entrance fee, so we thought we would give that a miss!..

But we did go and see a really old water wheel which was pretty interesting.

We then made a quick stop to see a water wheel before stopping for a coffee at a café called the last stop before Antarctica! Whilst waiting for the slowest and most expensive coffee Chris spotted out the window a dolphin! We couldn’t believe it! So after downing our drinks we went outside and was amazed to see about 10 of them right up close, about 15m away from where we were standing playing about!

Amazing! So, we sat and ate our muesli by the side of the River watching them swimming for an hour before we continued our journey. All this before 11am in the morning!

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 29, 2011 from Augusta, Australia
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Trees which you can live inside!

Albany, Australia

This morning we headed to see some ting ting trees which are famous for having large holes in the bottom near Nornalup.

People even used to live in the bottoms of them, supposedly. We chickened out of going up the tree top walkway, but after speaking to a couple of others about it, they said it was amazing, so we kinda wished we were braver!

Then we went and found a lovely beach to have a walk on, which isn’t hard to find as the west coast is simply beautiful.

Then, after exploring around Denmark and Albany today quicker than intended we decided we might as well head back up to Gill’s in Fremantle a day earlier than planned and along the way we saw loads of kangaroos lounging in the sun!

So had chance to take a few photos, amazing animals. Getting to Gill’s was a long a boring drive up the freeway and by the time we got there we were exhausted but stayed up and chatted for a few hours before passing out.

permalink written by  chrischarly on September 30, 2011 from Albany, Australia
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Bye Gill! xx

Fremantle, Australia

We left Fremantle once again but this time heading North. It was sad to say goodbye to Gill and Jo as we have no idea when we will next see them again! We’ll miss you! Unsurprisingly we left a lot later than planned and did some more ‘essential’ shopping for the van along the way.

(I swear Chris has an addiction with spending money!) We arrived at a little rest stop outside of Cervantes just before dark and parked up next to 2 friendly French guys and supped a little wine and shared travelling stories with them until falling into a blissful sleep.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 1, 2011 from Fremantle, Australia
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The amazing Pinnacles

Cervantes, Australia

Woke up at 6am this morning and left straight away headed for ‘The Pinnacles’. We had read that the best times to see them are either at dawn or dusk so we decided to bite the bullet and get up first thing,
1) So we could make the most of the day and
2) So the Ranger doesn’t find us parking somewhere we shouldn’t be.

The Pinnacles are limestone structures made from compressed shells and natural erosion has made them into the jutty things they are today. No idea how old they are, just very old. It really was fantastic. It kind of reminded me of ‘The Plain of Jars’ but it is completely natural and in the middle of a dessert. Then after the pinnacles, we made our way in Cervantes the town close by made ourselves bacon sandwiches before walking along a few beaches.

We then made a brief stop off to see some stromolites which are the first living known to create oxygen.

Then, on the way to find somewhere to camp up for the night, I even decided to take the van for a test run! It was ok to drive once I got used to it, but having not driven for 15 months, it took a little getting used to again especially a vehicle of this size and no power steering!

Just before finding somewhere we spotted some strange looking trees that were completely bent over! Pretty impressive, and after reading up on it discovered that it was due to some sever winds that force the trees to grow this way.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 2, 2011 from Cervantes, Australia
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Rainy day, broken convertor & broken shower

Geraldton, Australia

Woke up again early leaving the North of Geraldton headed straight to Horrocks, but nothing was particularly interesting there so we headed to Port Gregory to see The Pink Lake, which was pretty amazing. But unfortunately it was raining and the sky was pretty black and if it was blue the lake would be a lot pinker. But it was still pretty fascinating. We then headed up to Kalbarri but as it was raining we didn’t do a lot and the 2 main roads we wanted to go along were closed. So we then continued driving and made our way up to Carnarvon.

Long day and a lot of driving. Oh yeah, our invertor broke as well along with a few fuses, so that also put a dampener on the day.

Also, when we pulled up at a campsite we tried out our solar shower for the first time and managed to put it up in a sharp tree so it put a little hole in it. Not the best of days but at least we covered a lot of ground.

permalink written by  chrischarly on October 3, 2011 from Geraldton, Australia
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