South We Go

Week 7 First adventures in the van

This post in Francais

Learning how to live in our van, making a mistake and letting thousands of mosquitoes into our Baby Hippo, visiting the Pinnacles desert, fighting with flies, seeing our first Kangaroo and Emu in the wild, sleeping on a beach with turquoise water, playing with penguins on Penguin island, heading out into outback alone for the first time.

Day 42 (13/10/10) Kitting out our Van

Today, after waking up from our first night sleeping in the van, which was very comfortable and quite, we headed off to the camping store we did not get to yesterday to try to finish filling up our van. Sadly once we got there we found out that they don’t do second hand stuff anymore, and they only sold brand camping equipment, which is too expensive and good for us, so we returned to of new friend Kmart to buy the rest of the things we needed. Our van now has a 35l esky, a 6 person tent, a table and 2 chairs, a gas stove, a sink, 4 sleeping bags, a bed made from a form mattress placed on top of a inflatable mattress, we have a sunroof we have to put up, a kettle, cooking and eating utensils, some maps, and our personal stuff so now we are just waiting on our bank and then we are off. I am so excited I can’t wait!

Day 43 (14/10/10) Mosquitoes

Today we went back to Perth again to try and pick up the things we are missing from the bank, but we didn’t receive them so we have to go back tomorrow again, it is getting very boring  having to go in to Perth each day. The good news is we found a name for our van, after arguing about if it is a male or female van, we decided it’s a male and call him ’Baby Hippo’.

In the evening we went to camp at a campsite near a lake about 30km from Perth called the Baldives, they are famous for holding wake boarding competitions.

As a novice camper I made a classic mistake, I turned on the light at the back of the van and left the door open, went to get something in the front, taking my time. When I got back to the rear of the van, I found thousands of mosquitoes had entered the van because of the light, they were everywhere! I did the only thing I could think of doing and grabbed a hold of the bug spray and blasted them all. The good news they all died, the bad news they fell down, onto our bed, kitchen area and everywhere, so we had to take everything out to shake of the dead mosquitoes. One important thing I learned is never turn on the light and open a door hen staying near a place with lots of bugs!

Day 44 (15/10/10) Hitting the road at last!

After almost 2 weeks of running between the banks the post office, and camping shops we are finally ready to hit the road!! Whoo! Now the question is where should we go? It’s Friday and we have until Wednesday to kill, when we will go and visit a farm in the outback. We have all the essential guides you need for travelling Australia, the camps 5, a road atlas, and a lonely planet guide. Having looked over them we decided to head 260kms north of Perth to see the Pinnacles desert and the turquoise coast, as it was already 2pm we would not have time to visit anything today but we planned to stay in a campsite near by so we could take advantage of tomorrow. Along the road we sadly saw a few dead red kangaroos, the poor things, no doubt hit by a truck last night. After driving for two and half hours we find our campsite for the night. Let me describe the location first, you turn off the Indian Ocean highway and drive about 5 km, there you see a sign that says turn here for the XX campsite, you head down a dirt track for another 5km then you reach the entrance of the site. We enter the reception but no one is around, after looking around for a while we find a note telling us to help ourselves to a camping spot and to come back later. We set up our kitchen, this means we set out our table and put the gas cooker on it, and started cooking, the first time I cook in the wild. As I am cooking the sunsets and the sky turns colours that I could not believe, orange, into a light pink, then a light purple to a darker purple before the sky turns black, but stays clear because of the moon. Its so natural and amazing, its hard to believe I have the chance to see all of this.

Day 45 (16/10/10) Pinnacles Desert & Sandy Beach

Today was the earliest start since we have started our trip, we set an alarm for 6:30am, we have agreed that it makes sense to be awake while the sun is, as after the sun goes down we can not do very much. Despite waking up early we take our time to cook ourselves a full English/OZ breakfast, we fry some bacon, eggs and raisin toast, make some coffee and pour some orange juice.

By the time we are ready to leave the campsite it is already 9am, early than the other days so far, but not early enough. Pinnacles Desert is our first stop; on the way there we pass Emus and some lizards: Australia is wild wherever you look. The first thing you are encouraged to do when you arrive at Pinnacles Desert, is go to the discovery centre to understand the history behind these rocks that seem to grow straight out of the ground in the middle of nowhere. After learning about the history we head off to see them, there is a walking path of 1.5km that takes you around the formations, its very interesting to see, rocks growing straight out of the ground where everything else is flat and sandy, with a few shrubs growing in-between.

Out here we do not have phone signal so we head into the closest town in hopes to find a internet connection, we find one, in a bottle shop, 3$ for 15min, we send a quick email to our families to tell them we are fine and not to worry if they can not get a hold of us, and then get down to the important business of buying a case of Emu (beer).

We then head to our campsite of tonight, Sandy Beach, this time it’s a direct turn of the highway onto a dirt road even longer then the one of yesterday, after about 7km we reach the site and it is amazing. We are right on the beach, the beach that has as promised turquoise water and fine white sand dunes. This is the most popular campsite we have been to so far, it’s hard to find a spot, so we are squatting on the edge of someone else’s spot. New challenge this campsite does not have any water, power or facilities; this is camping in it purest, apart from the fact we are in a van and not in a tent.

Day 46 (17/10/10) Kangaroos in the wild

Today for the first time since the start of this trip in Australia we saw kangaroos in the wild; the first one which we named Andy came jumping out in front of our van as we were driving to the Lemare national park 15km down a dirt track from the town of Jurien. It was really cool and totally unexpected like all the amazing things we have seen so far on this trip. We then spent the morning in the national park looking for wildlife and we were lucky enough to see 6 more kangaroos and even get some photos of them, they are not easy to take in picture.

In the afternoon we went to a supermarket and brought some food for tonight and our third bag of ice, we have decided to keep track of how many bags of ice we buy over this trip. We then went to the beach in Jurien, and watched the wave’s crash up against the shore.

In the evening we returned to the same camp site we were in last night, Sandy beach, and set up camp. We put out our two hammocks, sat in them and read a book for a while before starting to cook tonight’s dinner: stir fry beef with veggies and rice; you can cook almost like you can at home when you are camping. Now we are sitting outside at our camp table using the laptops. Life in the wild is very wild, but modern at the same time.

Day 47 (18/09/10) Back to Perth

Today we woke up early and left are lovely camp stop by the beach. It has been great being out in the wild for the last few days, taking solar showers and living without any connection to the rest of the world, but we need to pick up some more supplies. Tomorrow we are heading inland for the first time so we need to prepare our van a little more. It is strange to go back to a big city after being in the middle of nowhere with just a small general store at the petrol station to pick us supplies at, the strangest thing is that less than 1 hours drive Perth one of Australia’s largest cities, you find unspoiled wilderness, this country never stops amazing me.

Day 48 (19/09/10) Penguin Island & Beverly

The little penguin is the smallest penguin in the world and is the only one that lives off the Australian coast line. Today we visited Penguin Island, a 10 minute boat ride from Rockingham in Western Australia, where we got the chance to meet theses really cute birds.  The Island itself, is a haven for sea birds, with many different species living on it, including pelicans, and seagulls. Today for the first time I saw seagull chicks and I have to say they are ugly looking, think baby swan, they are brown, fluffy and look nothing like there majestic white parents. The water around Penguin Island is the classic turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean which I know I will miss once we leave this side of the coast.

In the afternoon we climb back into Baby Hippo (van) and start the journey inland that will take us to Beverly tonight, about 100km from Perth. On the road we watch the landscape change one again; here we are in the middle of farm country with fields of cows and sheep all around us. Every so often we pass mailboxes on the side of the road which mark the start of a path that leads to a farm house. People out in the country are very friendly tonight we will go to our first country pub, which I will report about tomorrow.

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