Friday, October 26, 2012

Our around Australia trip comes to an end

Well it seems just like yesterday that we wrote our first blog post on this trip and we have now reached the end of our trip around Australia.  Just what have we done:-

·         51,158 Kilometres

·         9721.31 Litres of Diesel (total cost $15,622.74) Average price per litre $1.607

·         348 days on the road with an average cost per night $20.98 per day made up of:

·         Caravan was used for 279 nights

·    Tent was used for 31 nights

·         House sitting for 23 nights

·         Motels for 15 nights

·         We spent 221 nights in caravan parks or national parks where a fee was payable

·         We free camped 89 nights

In addition to the above nights (348 in total) we took two breaks totaling 128 days spent in New Zealand and Melbourne

We left Melbourne on 4 July 2011 and having completed our trip we returned to Melbourne on 22 October 2012.  We set a budget for our trip and came in slightly under budget however there was unders and overs in various budget categories.  It pays to expect the unexpected and have contingency monies set aside for these. The big one that you will never expect is R&M, we had a near new Nissan Patrol so had only allowed for normal servicing and a set of tyres – wrong, when you set this budget then treble it and you might be close, you see those outback roads will break what would seem to be the unbreakable!  Be prepared to be ripped off, whilst 99.9% of the population that will either service your car or supply you with goods are honest and very helpful there are also some real rogues out there as well.

It’s been fantastic.  We have met people who are on their 5th and 6th time around Australia.  We have met people who have sold their home to buy their dream rig and travel.  We have seen people out there in all shapes and sizes of caravans, fifth wheelers, motor homes and tents.  We have met people of all ages from young families travelling and doing odd jobs to survive through to 80+ year olds.  We left with a fantastic caravan that we really enjoyed and arrived back with a trailer – the caravan does not fit next year’s plans and a good offer was too good to pass up.   We have had a ball and I must say have absolutely no regrets.

If you have read our posts during our travels and it’s made you decide that it’s something that you would like to do, then stop dreaming, set a date and get out there and do it.

As for Gill and I, we are going to enjoy being in a house for a few months. She is probably going to enjoy being a little way away from my singing and I for one are going to enjoy spending some time with family and not having to continually be conscious of the house or as some of my American friends refer to it, the snail that we are towing.

Anyway I will as per usual leave it up to Gill to have the final say TTFN


It is hard to believe that I am typing the last installment of our “Around Australia” blog.  We had dreamed and planned for this trip for a number of years and always knew that before we eventually returned to New Zealand on a permanent basis we would like to travel the lap around Australia.  Even with all the planning, I don’t really think that we knew what we were actually letting ourselves in for.  We retired from paid employment and within days had set off.  We had gone from working full time roles and the social interaction that provides, and living in a suburban three bedroom home to being together every day within the confines of either the Patrol or the caravan.  We have survived!  We are still best friends and would we do it again, yes and we are already planning what is next for us.

Peter has driven a mighty long way towing a large caravan and never complained.  I would have towed about one thousand kilometres of the total distance.  We never received a traffic infringement or came near to having an accident.  We got to within four hundred kilometres of home before we were pulled over by a Police team conducting a drink/drive check and Peter was squeaky clean.  He is an expert at backing the caravan and could put it exactly where he wanted.  He did most of the setting up and packing up.  We will not miss the red dust from Central and Western Australia – it got into everything and in fact we have had to put the sheets and towels into the rubbish as we just couldn’t get them clean even though they had been soaked for days in Napisan!

We met some very interesting individuals as we travelled through the various towns and settlements.  We had very little interaction with the Aboriginal people which is a bit of a shame.  We would love to have had the opportunity to spend some time on one of the outback stations and meet the folk that call them home.  We admire the work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air – what a great support they are to the people of the outback.

So what is next – like Peter has said we will now take some time off the road and return to New Zealand for family time.  We will enjoy “living” in our own home and not having to be constantly on the move and visiting new places.  It can be tiring being a tourist.  In 2013 we will again hit the road for a few months and the plans for that time are still in the early stages – perhaps some of the outback tracks like the Simpson Desert and others, spending some time in the warmer states in northern Australia.  Who knows time will tell but we do know that we still enjoy travelling and each other’s company and before too long we will be ready to hit the road again.

Thank you for sharing our lap of Australia with us – we have enjoyed taking you along for the ride.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Back in Melbourne

After walking the board walk at The Nobbies we headed for Melbourne - it
seemed sad to think that we were on the very last drive of our trip around
Australia. However, in other ways it was good to be back.

We are house sitting for three weeks in Wheelers Hill and about an hour
after leaving Philip Island we were here - we purposely pulled over as we
came off East Link to take a photo of the GPS showing that we only had 750
metres to go. After close to 50,000 kilometres we were safely back in

We had the ceremonial turn off of "Spot" the EPIRB which we have named
Malcolm after our good friend who kept a regular track of our travels -
thanks Malcolm it was always good to know that you were checking up on us.

Of course at the end of any journey is the task of unpacking - we are
fortunate to be able to housesit for our friends Jocelyn and Greg who have
returned to NZ for a month. This has meant that Peter was able to back the
trailer into the garage and unload into three piles - goods to be returned
to NZ by freight, stuff to be retained in Australia for our travels next
year and stored until then and then the pile which needed sorting to give
away, sell or dispose of.

We have had an amazing trip and we will do a separate entry with some
statistics of our trip and learnings etc. We hope that you have enjoyed
following our trip and that it may give some inspiration to others to
undertake something similar.

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria

The Nobbies is at the southern end of Philip Island with the nobbies being
the two small islands off the coast. There are wooden steps and walkways
around the cliffs to give vantage points to look out. We have visited a
number of times and there have been large colonies of seals present but
there were no seals at all on Monday.

Some of the walkways were closed off as protection for the seagulls which
were nesting - there were certainly heaps of seagulls swooping around and it
was a matter of watching your head for any droppings coming your way.

Under the walkways there are also nesting boxes for the penguins and at
times you can see the penguins sitting on the nest. We couldn't see any but
there were tracks leading into the nesting boxes.

The last time we visited The Nobbies the information centre and café were
closed and we understood this venture had been a financial failure. It
still looked as though it was closed with very little activity around, but
closer checking found the souvenir shop open and the café had been open but
was by then closed for the day.

There were a few tourists about but everyone was very windblown - not a
pleasant place to be but at least it wasn't raining. Obviously from my
photo I looked rugged up against the wind, have the cares of the world by my
frown and generally keen to get going and not stand to have my photo taken!

Philip Island

Philip Island has been a favourite spot in the years that we have lived in
Victoria and we have visited a number of times. As we are uncertain when we
will next be in the area we decided we should take the opportunity and stop
off. From San Remo there is a bridge creating a causeway to Philip Island
and it always looks quite impressive. We have never stopped in San Remo
before, as we always want to get to our destination on Philip Island, so
this time we did. There are a number of shops in the village and a nice
foreshore area. As it was Monday, and not the best weather, there were not
too many people about.

Up and over the causeway and we were on Philip Island and headed to Cowes.
There are a number of new shops in the village with a large new Woolworths
all finished ready for the influx of visitors over the summer period. We
made our way straight down to the jetty and took some exercise walking along
the coastline. There were a few walkers about and a large school group but
the cold wind was still present so not that pleasant really. We had
initially thought we would book into a motel and stay over but it wasn't
that appealing and as we have visited a number of times there wasn't
anything new to explore so made the decision that we would drive on to
Melbourne which is only about one hour away.

Before moving on to Melbourne we drive down to see "The Nobbies" area once
again. It is near here that the popular penguin parade is held each night.
We didn't see any penguins but we did see a family of ducks out scavenging
on the roadside.

There were some mighty big waves crashing the coastline and lots of black
bodies bobbing around as the surfers tried for the best waves. They
certainly needed their wetsuits to retain their body temperature!

The south coast

We woke to a cold windy morning in Lakes Entrance and it didn't encourage us
to stay on. A brisk walk along the esplanade was more than enough of the
conditions and we decided we will pack up and move on towards Melbourne
deviating at Sale and taking the southern coast road via Inverloch.

We diverted again so that we travelled through the rural areas of Middle and
Lower Tarwin which is where friends have a holiday home and we have enjoyed
a number of great week-end retreats. It was lovely to meander through the
rural roads which were quite familiar. Although we didn't see any live
wombats every few kilometres we saw the road signs warning us to watch out
for them and unfortunately there were a few as road kill on the side of the

Wilsons Promontory is the most southern point of Australia. We chose not
to divert down to "The Prom" as we have visited and stayed there a number of

Lunch stop was at the beachside town of Inverloch. Again the wind was not
pleasant so we didn't stay around for long. There were only a few people at
the beach - a couple braving the conditions to fish, some dog walkers and
two young couples who thought it was the middle of summer with skimpy

The highway soon follows the southern coast of Australia and we stopped off
at Kilcunda. This coast always have huge waves and it was no different
today. There is a caravan park high on these cliffs but it wouldn't have
been pleasant staying and fighting the wind. Just a short stop for us and
we continued on towards Philip Island.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Historic Genoa bridge, Vic

We stopped off at Genoa as we rejoined the Princes Highway. There is a
heritage listed bridge which was built in 1905. This bridge would have
transported many people by foot, horse and horse drawn vehicle, and cars
over the years. It was taken out of use and many of the local people
petitioned to retain the bridge rather than have it demolished by the road
board. It was heritage listed in 1995 and restored in 1997.

The first section of the bridge has been lost during a flood and there is
now a steel ramp to the original bridge. It is showing significant signs of
age and wear but has been reinforced with concrete and steel. Still it was
a bit creepy walking across it especially when Peter said I would be dead if
the bridge collapsed and I fell into the river! He is so kind.

The village of Genoa did not look too impressive - an old but still
functioning hotel, a café which was closed today, a block of old motels
which didn't look as though they had been in use for years and two or three
old houses. Apparently there was quite a village here in years gone by.

We have now moved on to Lakes Entrance and the cold wind has remained with
us but fortunately no rain. We have booked into another motel right on the
esplanade. We took a walk along the esplanade to see the many fishing boats
tied up. All the walkers were rugged up in coats and jackets and winter
clothes - do we really want to be back in Victoria? What has happened to

Mallacoota, Vic

We stayed overnight at Mallacoota. We had heard about Mallacoota quite a
bit as good friends from Box Hill holidayed in the area each year.
Mallacoota is about twenty five kilometres off the highway and is on the
coast and there are many lakes in the area also. Unfortunately there was a
cold wind so we didn't do too much exploring.

There is a large council caravan park in Mallacoota bordering the
waterfront. Apparently there are over 800 power sites at this park and we
were surprised to see it was nearly full. We then learned that there was a
caravan club muster on and over 300 caravans had arrived on Friday and more
were arriving each day. This would be a great financial boost to the area
in an otherwise quiet time of the year and it is just a shame the weather is
not being kinder.

We went to Bastion Point and then to Bafkta Beach before going to see the
WWII bunker. Unfortunately the bunker museum wasn't open as it only opens
to the public on Tuesdays. It is very well maintained and Peter would have
enjoyed going inside.

Welcome back to Victoria

It is now very obvious to us that our trip around Australia is nearly over -
it is sixteen months since we left Montmorency on the 4 July 2011 (we have
taken a few weeks off from our travels since then).

Soon after leaving Eden we were greeted with the "Welcome to Victoria" sign.
We are now back in our home state and we will soon be in Melbourne. We have
about 550 kilometres to go if we go directly down the Princes Highway.

We have visited every state during our travels and in some ways it was sad
to see the Victorian sign as it means our trip is nearly finished. We will
provide further details on our trip once we return to Melbourne.

Eden, NSW

Continuing south we stopped off at Merimbula and then Pambula. Both of
these areas are popular holiday spots and there were a lot of people
wandering around. It was really windy so although we had initially thought
we would stop overnight in Merimbula we decided to move on to Eden.

We were keen to stop off at Eden as our nephew, Danny, is planning on rowing
a double Pacific crossing from New Zealand to Australia early next year. At
this stage he plans to commence his return row to New Zealand from Eden and
we will try and be there to see him leave. This was a good opportunity to
familiarise ourselves with the area.

We also had another reason to be pleased we stopped at Eden - we went up to
the lookout. There we joined about a dozen other people and we soon had
the binoculars out as the whales were out playing off the coast. They were
much easier to see from this vantage point and if you look really clearly in
the photo you can see two whales. We would have seen about ten whales from
this area and it was great to see them as we have missed them in the west
and also at Hervey Bay. We can at least now say we have seen the whales
during their migration north.


Saturday morning we were on the road again heading south. We followed the
scenic drive from Batemans Bay and then stopped at Narooma on the coast as
we had been told this was a likely place to see the whales migrating north.

We were in luck. From our position near the golf course which is on the
highest cliff section we could see the whales in the distance. We had to
use the binoculars to be able to see them as they were quite a long way off
sure but at least we could see them. I did try to take some photos but
unfortunately the whales couldn't be seen in them.

From here we continued on to Bega - it was here that for the first time we
were directed over by the police and Peter had to blow in the bag. It was
mid-afternoon and he hadn't had anything to drink so we were allowed to
continue on our way. I did think of quickly getting the camera and taking a
photo as Peter as blowing but wasn't sure that the policeman would be too
keen so didn't.

Bega is a well-known town in Australia due to the brand of cheese named
after it. There has been a cheese factory in the town of Bega since the mid
1800's and the cheese is widely available in Australian supermarkets. The
factory was closed but the popular museum and café is open seven days a week
so we were able to visit. Tasting in the cheese shop then upstairs to the
museum. One of the original cheese factories in the area is now on display
- it was operational from 1869 to 1910 and there were about forty similar
factories in the area. The buildings had slab walls and shingle roofs.

There was also a historic cheese wagon on display - do you remember these
wagons or cans being in use?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Surfside Beach, Batemans Bay

It was tempting to just stay around our resort in Batemans Bay however we
decided we had better go a little further afield. As we would be travelling
south we headed back north a little to visit Surfside Beach. Again there
were a few people in the water and others looking around the rock pools.

Our main point of coming to this beach was to visit the reserve at
Cullendulla Creek. We had been told about the walk to the reserve when we
had visited the Information Centre. The walk is a board walk, and not long
in length at all, but meanders through the mangroves to a beach area. This
area is chenier dunes which are ridges of sand which form parallel to the
retreating shoreline. The notice told us that the area is of outstanding
scientific interest and has been studied by scientists from around the
world. To us it didn't look any different from other rock/sand pools by the
sea but at least we visited.

Batemans Bay

As the name suggests, Batemans Bay is a coastal town and is a popular
holiday spot. Our villa was near the marina and there was also a boat ramp
where the fishing boats, and other leisure boats, were launched. Walking
through the villas took us to a jetty and then a lovely beach area. The
weather wasn't great - it was fine but windy at times and the temperature
was only around 22 degrees each day. Certainly not warm enough for us to go
swimming but there were some brave ones in the water.

At the end of our villa street there was an inlet which was dry sand when
the tide was out. There was a volley ball net set up on this area and this
is possibly very popular during the summer months with holiday makers.

It is not all holiday

Peter has a small business which requires a limited amount of his time but
often not when we had planned it and good customer services requires the
phone to be answered. This is Peter setting up business at a table setting
in the middle of K Mart in Batemans Bay. You will see that it looks as
though he had work documentation with him but that was only for show - in
fact he had just bought a new folder and inside it was blank!

So while I wandered around the shop checking out a few items Peter spent at
least fifteen minutes on his call and assisted his caller rectify a problem.
It just goes to show you don't have to hire an office, you can conduct
business anywhere. No one took any notice of him and after his call he
packed up his notes, put the chairs straight and off we went on our way.
Another happy customer! Thank you K Mart for the use of your facility.

Staying in Batemans Bay

As I have said in an earlier blog, we have chosen to stay in motels during
our trip from Sydney to Melbourne via the Princes Highway. It is very easy
to drive this distance in one long day but we have chosen to do it over six
days so we are driving relatively short distances each day (about 200 kms)
and having the opportunity to divert as we want and get to our destination
early in the day.

Our next stop was at Batemans Bay. We booked into the Coach House Marina
Villas - this is a facility offering about one hundred individual villas of
various sizes plus restaurant and pool etc. We had a lovely one bedroom
villa and it was so nice that we decided to stay for two days. It was a bit
of a shame that a large group of guys arrived for a golfing week-end and
were booked into the villas near us on the second night. They forgot that
their deep voices travelled, had the music up far too loud and after being
up half the night were up again at 6 am getting ready to go to golf for tee
off at 7 a.m. Not great neighbours! It certainly put us off staying a
third night - we must be getting old!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hyams Beach towards Jervis Bay NP, NSW

Our travel today was only about 150 kilometres following the Princes
Highway. We extended this trip, as we often do, by detouring a few times.

Jervis Bay is a national park on the coastline. We detoured off the highway
and made our way to the National Park but never quite got there but instead
stopped off at Hyams Bay. What a pretty holiday spot. It seemed that most
of the homes (of which there were only say a couple of hundred) were holiday
homes and shut up. There is only one shop, a café, which was popular for
the travellers.

The sand on the beach is nearly grey/white and it reminded us of walking on
the sand at Squeaky Beach at Wilsons Prom in Victoria. With every step on
the sand there was a squeak. We wandered down the beach and Peter kicked
off his shoes to go wading, but soon changed his mind. He said the water
was freezing. No wonder there was only one person game enough to get in the
water. Mind you there were only two other groups and us on the beach so it
was lovely and peaceful.

After a short visit we moved on visiting some of the other bays and then
back on to the highway and made our way to Bateman Bay which is a much
larger holiday area on the coast. Again we are staying in a motel / villa
and will stay for a couple of nights.

The weather has been pleasant but much cooler than up north. The
temperature over the last few days have been around 20 - 23 degrees.

Wollongong and Kiama, NSW

On Wednesday it was time to pack up again - we are so used to it now that we
can complete the task very quickly. We were not in a particular hurry to
leave as the house owners were not due home until early evening and we
didn't want to leave the dogs alone all day. So after some housework and
grocery shopping we gave Cleo and Patra a final pat good-bye and commenced
our journey leaving Stanhope Gardens at around 1 p.m. Again, we have had a
great experience house sitting.

The GPS took us via the M7 which is a toll way but was only about one
kilometre from the house so our departure from Sydney was really easy. We
had a long trip ahead of us! We planned initially to drive to Wollongong
which is about 120 kilometres. However, after wandering the coastline and
seeing the lighthouse we decided to continue south a little and stayed
overnight at Kiama which is still in NSW.

Kiama is a pretty small seaside town and at this time of the year seems to
be inundated with "seniors". We had made the decision that we only have six
nights between Sydney and our planned arrival in Melbourne so we will forget
about putting up the tent, and we will motel. So we booked into a motel and
then walked the coastline. From our motel we had a lovely view of one of
the bays and the surfers were out as the waves were a decent size. From
here we followed the coastline north and walked to see the blowhole. It was
about 6 pm and with the big waves there was a reasonable display from the
blowhole. Apparently when the weather is rough it is pretty spectacular.

Along the coast a little further there is a natural rock pool for swimming.
It didn't look inviting that day but would be great on a nice day. The
waterfront opposite the shopping centre is set out with parklands and there
were groups enjoying BBQ's and picnic tea - very pleasant.

We only stayed one night and next morning after a leisurely look around the
shops and enjoying the holiday atmosphere we hit the road yet again. Next
stop Batemans Bay.

Our last day in Sydney

Tuesday was our last full day in Sydney and was a mixture of business for
Peter (and waiting around for me) and pleasure. We caught the train to
North Sydney where Peter had one appointment (and I wandered the shops) and
then caught the train again to St Leonards where he had a second
appointment. Fortunately these were all on the same train line so it was
very easy. After his appointment we took the train back to Circular Quay
and caught the ferry to Watsons Bay which is the home to the famous
restaurant - Doyles Seafood Restaurant. It was a lovely day and quite warm
so the trip on the ferry was very pleasant stopping off at Double Bay and
Rose Bay.

Once back in the city we had an hour to fill in before Peter had a third
appointment. We decided to take a further ferry ride under the harbour
bridge to Luna Park and then to Balmain and Darling Harbour. Fortunately we
have both been to Darling Harbour previously so we were not concerned that
we didn't have time to go ashore and eat in one of the many restaurants.

I headed home by train and bus and left Peter in the city to complete his
appointment. We are old hands at public transport now and at $2.50 per day
for a senior (sometimes embarrassing to admit that we have reached that
status!) it is excellent value covering all the trains, buses and ferries.

Tomorrow we say good-bye to our doggie friends, Cleo and Patra, and will
commence the final week of our trip around Australia. We will travel the
coast road to Melbourne and plan to reach Melbourne by Tuesday, 23rd