Day 216 Monday 16th May. 2011
Oh bugger another alarm call before the sparrows are farting.
After a hassle free flight departure we were air-born again….The five hour flight landed on time, as there was no time delay between Malaysia and Perth we only felt as tired as we did when we left. And that was only due to lack of sleep. Not so much due to jet-lag, I think.
Rob met us at the airport with his mother Chris whom had kindly offered to give us accommodation while we were in the area getting our feet on the ground. We headed back to her home about forty clicks out of the city, situated in a lovely wooded area where ‘Roo’s and Possums abound.
The first thing that caught my eye as we were taken through into the kitchen were the place mats on the table. They were from M+S, a department store in England, and my parents have the self-same set, made me feel at home swiftly! While we drinking our third mug of tea Jon, Chris’s husband returned from work, as equally as warm-hearted as his wife. But she swiftly dispatched him to the shower, so our introduction was brief. When he returned we ate a good feed and had a long chat.
Rob stayed for a mug of tea and a chat but had to leave too soon as his toddler daughter had to be fed and possible needed a sleep.
Chris and Jon spoke of the great risk of fire in this area. One recent one, twenty clicks away, was caused by a chap using an angle grinder. Seventy six homes were burnt to the ground…..
We soon headed off to bed to probably sleep till six or if lucky midday.
On a strange note, for people who don’t know me personally, the horse float (trailer) on the drive had a hitch socket on it, that was new, of the same type as my father’s trailer that we found in a horse manure heap some thirty years ago.
Day 217 Tuesday 17th May.
Crawled out of bed at ten thirty to make tea, felt great to have slept that long, a hot shower completed that feel good feeling.
After travelling through Africa using single ply toilet roll, you may be surprised to hear what a difference a quality two ply roll can feel like, in the thickness between your fingers I mean!! Sorry too much info!
Travelling around with Chris today to see the local town. In the mall Diane managed to open a banking account which will be important for her working here.
I managed to find a shop that sold Weet-Bix, hooray! Although in a blue and not beige coloured box, I have high hopes of the quality, sad eh..
Chris lend us an old cellphone with a prepaid local sim card which will cost considerably less than the global one we have travelled with. We went with to attend to her horse at a friends livery stables. ‘fraid to say I was more taken with the new steel frame building in a Dutch style, which was the stables and tak room. A small-ish Banksia tree grew near by with a dozen or so nuts lying about the trunk. They are two to two hundred and fifty mill long and about seventy-five mill diameter. The seeds are set into the skin of the nut. In England the nuts are sold, expensively, to wood turners. They are used to make candle holders and the like. The wood I seem to remember is a deep red, but I’m probably wrong.. The seed pockets give an abstract texture to the surface of the finished work. While working with these nuts in a lathe its best to wear eye protection as the seeds fly out at speed!!
Was great to see the surrounding hillside, there seemed to be as much space here as South Africa, (I promise to not compare the countries too much) and the large houses were well spread out with lots of land with them.
Day 218 Wednesday 18th May.
We must be jet lagged as I woke at two am (seven am SA time) and I reckon my head clock thought time to get up from the siesta, lay awake till five or so then slept till nine. Got to get some sleep pills today.
Diane scoured the newspaper for work for a few hours then we walked the one km to town to get our bearing of the local shops. Mundaring, as its called, had probably all the shops you need, all together in a smart new looking mall area. After ambling round for a few hours, taking in the bookshops and grocery outlets we headed back. We had half hoped that we may find a little work in one of the shop window adverts, but mostly they were offering services.
Chris was at home on our return after having a horse riding lesson and said that our help was needed at her friends stables chain sawing dropped wood for the stove, as long as we left a huge heap for the owner we can take as much as we can carry for Chris and Jon to burn in the coming winter.
Diane and I took the dogs out and on our return, in the middle distance we saw a Roo ambling over the road, our first, on the second full day in Oz, result. A few minuets later a second was spotted twenty meters into the bush, stood very still watching the two dogs. Only a slight movement of the ears gave away any sign of life, being the same colour as the bark-less trees he blended in perfectly.
Day 219 Thursday 19th May.
The day started with one of my favourite pass times, a visit to the local chainsaw shop, where I had the joy of purchasing a shiny new Stihl saw with someone else’s money, heaven.
We visited one of Chris’s daughters, who was hosting friend of her sons, from England. He came with on a drive into town. We had a great walk around Kings Park in glorious sunshine. The park over looked the Swan River and city, the water’s edge was feathered with pleasure craft that sat in azure blue water. There were a great deal of war memorials around this area, huge white marble walls streaked with black and chocolate-brown imperfections, carved with the hundreds of names of Australians who died in two wars. I looked through all of the battalions but did not see our family name, thankfully. One of the park roads was called Memorial Avenue, each tree had been planted by family members with a dedication plaque. One of them had my birth date, but not the year upon it…..
The last portion of the afternoon was spent back at the stables looking for easy cutting of wood. As the property is for sale the idea is to clean up the fallen Eucalyptus and provide some firewood at the same time.
While Diane was on dinner preparation duty I took the dogs out for their walk. Trailing up through the wood across from the house the air was full of evening smells, damp sand, Fir and Eucalyptus. As dusk fell I kept a lookout for Roo’s but saw none. However taking a short cut through the scrub back to the road I heard the crashing of big feet on dry twigs and branches.
Day 220 Friday 20th May.
Woke at reasonably early hour to go-a-sawing only to discover the rain tipping put of a heavy sky. Bugger. Rob had told us on our arrival that it had been mostly dry here for one hundred and forty years or so. So we must have bought it with.
When the ordered logs had arrived so we moved and stacked them in the shed, then drank tea and waited for the weather to break. We managed to get a couple of hours of dry, in which time about one and a half tons was cut, split and stacked. The fallen tree we had planned to clear up was accomplished just as the wet started again. Feeling fairly shattered at the sudden burst of activity, the first for seven months we headed home and drank more tea.
Day 221 Saturday 21st May.
Diane and Chris went off to look at horses while Jon and I went back to the farm to cut more trees. The second victim was also in a horse paddock and although I had sharpened the chain, after two very long slow cuts it was making smoke but no headway. The two pieces that came off the trunk were as hard as a cat’s head so no wonder the chain lost its edge. After another sharpen we set to on a recently fallen eucalyptus which proved to be much easier to slice up as it had not seasoned on the ground. It was a shame we could not cut the older wood as it would make really good burning wood. By three pm we had cut about two tonnes, so we headed back home as Chris had arranged a party with family and friends.
The gathering was strange to me as although we were in Australia there were no local people present. They were all ex-pats from England. It had already been said that birds of a feather. A pleasant evening was had talking of possible work and our trip. I felt very anti-social as by nine thirty I was deadbeat and assumed it was eleven pm. The days sawing had caught up with me and I was flagging fast.
Day 222 Sunday 22nd May.
Chris went out early-ish to a horse judge meeting, Jon, Diane and myself walked into town and had an easy wander about looking at the local shops. Most were closed but window shopping is cheaper….
Met Rob and his girlfriend at his father’s house where we met more members of their family. We walked by the Canning River which was very broad, white egrets and water-skiers made waves of differing proportions. Back at the house a braai was made and the conversation was of different travel experiences all of us had had. It soon got around to the indigenous peoples of Africa and Australia, the similarities that connected the two continents were maybe not that surprising.
Day 223 Monday 23rd May.
We accompanied Chris to Fremantle this morning, she was due at Robs house at ten thirty or so to look after their daughter. The drive took an hour and now some of the roads were starting to look familiar, I did wonder how I would get on when the bike arrives. The same as always I guess, it’s just this time I have chance to view it from a truck and think about it. After a quick mug of tea, a chat and a guided tour of the property we headed off to Freo’.
The old harbour area was renovated into an interesting looking museum. A first world war sub, (which was enormous), was also a walk round exhibit. Heaps of sinister looking water mines and torpedo’s, all labelled with what destruction they could minister from owners of afar. These lay around in quiet corners, brooding their missed opportunities. We earmarked this tourist area as a ‘to do’ area.
Freo high street was an interesting mix of local shops, tourist tat, and wonderful café’s and restaurants. Walking up and down the variety of old wild west type hotels, with smart white and cream painted ornate verandahs providing a walk around in front of sparkling windows, and brilliant white net curtains. These contrasted with modern, colourful shop fronts, but differing from a lot of other towns in that the upper floors that are so often out of sight and out of mind, these also had smart paint and tidy guttering. Maybe more people in Oz look up above the shop front than other countries…..
After returning to Robs and leaving behind a tired looking girl to be fed we headed home.
I left Diane looking for work and took the dogs out again for the evening walk, again I stayed out too long and arrived back at dark. Roo’s are nocturnal, but this was my second walk out without a sighting. The dogs seemed to be on edge though, and possibly hearing what I could not see.
Day 224 Tuesday 24th May.
Woke to familiar sound of logs hitting a wheel barrow, thought for a moment I was camped out at my brother’s place….. Chris was up and unloading the float, work clothes on we were soon out and helping barrow and stack the wood. When done we had a slow day about the house with Diane looking for work in the local papers and ‘web. Chris has had a few positive replies back from friends who need jobs carried out around their homes and land.
We accompanied her to be ‘on hand’ while she rode her horse in the afternoon. While on site we moved the rest of the cut wood and bought a load back with.
On our way back from the shops later a huge Roo was sat in the road, we walked on to him/her. As we got closer I was struck by the size of this animals tail! It lay on the ground like a piece of ships anchor rope, about a meter and a half long not taking into consideration the bit that joined it to the body!!!!
I guess you need a tail this long when your two meters high. It sat still watching us till we were five meters or so away then decided to amble away into the bush.
Day 225 Wednesday 25th May.
Headed into Midland town today on a job hunt and a mooch around. The variety of stores that lined the highway on the approach was amazing. I guess what was different from anything we had seen before were the amount of ‘outdoor’ shops, camping, water activities of all types, four by four truck accessories and general out door living. A few hopeful vacancies were found and we headed back on the bus, a painless and affordable task. Just as well as the docks have gone on strike as of tomorrow so there will be a back log of containers to unload. The bike is not due in for at least two weeks but it could be held up.
A few folks may be thinking, we should have flown it, but at five times the cost and a little more hassle in crating. Flying the bike would have meant no fuel, coolant and certainly no battery. As they are also taboo on the plane as hand luggage another would have to be bought on arrival, to complicated. Also the weight is the issue so we would have not been able to send our bike gear and other stuff as we would be paying for it. Anyhow it was way out of the budget.
Day 226 Thursday 26th May.
We headed into Midland early to scour the mall shops for situations vacant for Diane. Most of the shops said to apply on line and when a vacancy comes available they will e-mail. Not really what we are after. After dropping half a dozen of her resume’s at various outlets we were walking out passed a nice looking café. I said that she might as well try that as a final attempt on our way home. The young lady gave her an application form to fill in, while she did this the assistant manager came over all exited and asked what experience she had, how many hours she was willing to work and when could she start. The manager and owner would return at five pm and would call. Feeling hopeful we caught the bus home.
We went to visit Di, a friend of Chris’s for a chat and to look at horses and a couple of nineteen fifty’s Triumph Commander and Dominator which her husband had restored to a very nice condition. Not that I am very familiar with Triumph bikes but I think they were made for the Australian market as they both had rear disc brakes with under slung brake calipers and oil coolers.
At five o’clock the phone rang to offer the job to Diane, she starts tomorrow at ten am. Result.
Day 227 Friday 27th May.
Diane left for work (ha ha ha) at dawn. I stayed in a warm bed till sensible o’clock then went to fell some more wood on another small holding. The day was warm, clear skied and perfect weather for sawing. Some of the trees were around ten meters tall and near the boundary wire fence I was cautious in where they fell. I was on my own and did not have my arboreal partner with me to pull them in the direction I wanted them to go. So it was down to cutting out a wedge in the correct position in the trunk to get them to drop safely. Reminded me of felling Mr. Barrows trees in Hereford when he was hanging on the end of a rope on the ground and I was fifteen meters up in a cherry picker with another five meters of tree above my head. I quaked in my boots as the cuts were made and he pulled them down to safely embed themselves in his neighbours immaculate lawn. Today it was all down to the skill of the wedge cut, even though I do say so myself… No damage was done to people or property so I may even have the knack of doing it now, well a bit anyway! Six hours sawing produced two hours of collecting and about two tons of nice fire wood. Most of the trees were a gum of some sorts, and as hard as a cat’s head. They were all dead trees so seasoned and ready to burn, perfect as winter night here are decidedly chilly.
While cutting one branch up, a hairy brown and cream stripped spider about seventy five mill across ran out from under the bark. As soon as the saw stopped it stood very still eyeing the saw and myself up! I flicked it away with the bar of the saw but a few minuets later it was back and looking cross. I thought briefly about cutting off its legs but settled for flicking it further away and quickly finishing off what I had started. After finding some gloves, I went to work a suitable distance away from his / her house. I discovered later it was a Huntsman spider that did not spin webs but hunted its prey, the clue is in the name reckon. It did not have a name badge on as thought they should do, but this one maybe a studded collar would have been more appropriate. A while later I had seen two scorpions, both with their tails curled up across their back in a ‘don’t mess with me, even though you have a chainsaw’ kind of fashion.
In the deserts we had crossed we saw none of these cuddly animals, but here the wood are full of them, bugger.
Arriving back at the house Diane was home but I saw no sign of rich chocolate sticky things on the table so I guess the day had gone well and she still had a job.
Jon had good news the dock strike has been called off so the bike is still on track for mid June, hopefully.
Day 228 Saturday 28th May.
Walked into town with Diane in early morning sun, the air was cool but it promised to be a lovely day, again. Not bad for last day of autumn. The air was full of damp woodland smells, earth and leaves. The trees had a plethora of chocolate cockatoos and green parrots in them eating gum tree nuts. It was a little hazardous to walk under as they drop the empty shells and from that height they would hurt. After making sure she had left town for work I went and bought warm croissants from the bakers and went onto Woolworths for cereals for next week breakfasts. The young girl at the checkout was very smiley and cheerful, she asked me what I was going to do on such a beautiful day. I told her truthfully that I was unsure as I did not know the days plan. Having the sunshine does put people in a positive frame of mind, I could not imagine a sixteen year old in England asking the same question and meaning it. Walking through the car lot I heard a lady singing happy birthday, supposedly to an eight year old girl. Upon the girl looking embarrassed, I said how cruel parents can be, the singer called me over and said I must give her sister (young girls mum) a kiss, (birthday girl looked horrified). Being led by one arm to the car I looked at the hapless victim with pity, but being a gentleman, I took her hand and wishing her best wishes for her special day, I kissed the back of said hand. She looked relived, laughed and we parted company. I headed back to Jon and Chris’s for a Saturday fry up.
Later we drove over to Rob’s house and with a mail retrieval card for Diane’s post in hand went to the mail office. The parcel contained the elusive card reader for the internet banking we had been asking for, for ten weeks. Result.
We all went to Cottesloe beach to paddle and lie in the hot sunshine. Returning via a wine tasting farm, my information on that Australia exports the best wine was confirmed. So we went to a coffee tasting emporium where some excellent blends of Ethiopian and Tanzanian were consumed. Strange to remember the coffee plantations of both countries….. Two ladies from SA were next to us and it was already strange and confusing for me to hear Afrikaans being spoken, messed with my head a little!
Diane had a good day at work and an early night was had by all.
Day 229 Sunday 29th May.
Diane had an early shift so I was left to my own devices for most of the day. The day was promising to be another dry, sunny and warm one so I took the dogs for a long walk. As the sun was well above the horizon I did not expect to see any Roos, but when the dogs stopped and listened I did look into the bush and try to make out grey fronted, long faced and pointy ears, but none were to be seen.
On my return the hounds slept in front of the wood burner.
I looked at maps, routes and the climate at this time of year, and in a few months time with Jon. We still are not sure when we might leave here. If it’s sooner than, clockwise makes good weather sense as its warmer north.
Off to Midland to pick up Diane from the mall by mid-afternoon. On the way back we were offered a guided tour of Guildford. Guildford was apparently part built convicts that were brought here when that kind of thing was a good idea.
Looking at the old buildings, and more interesting tourist shops, they were mostly book and curio sellers that line the side walks. The buildings were painted individually, the wood and stone frames around the large plate glass, and some leaded display windows, were carved with different patterns.
Made a mental note of a ‘must return to place’.
It was said upon our return home that we should braai the food for tea as the evenings are getting cooler and soon it would not be pleasant to sit out for much longer.
Day 230 Monday 30th May.
I went in to Midland with Diane on the bus to walk up and down the Great Western Highway. For a main arterial road, and being on the extremity of the town, it was lined on both side with all manner of interesting shops. Some were set in small retail precincts which added variety to the up and down route march it so easily could have been. From hunting, fishing, camping and charity, to frozen sea chow, furniture, equestrian, d-i-y and plant hire. You can get it all here in one road. I wondered what else could be in town!!!
While waiting to cross a major highway two fire trucks came racing down the road approaching stationary traffic waiting for a green signal. Without slowing they almost got airborne crossing the central divide and without slowing, crossed the fourway junction and sped across back into their carriageway. I have never seen the emergency services drive like that in England.
A few hours later saw me on the bus home, it would have been nice to wait for Diane, after meeting for her food break we thought hanging round for four hours was crazy.
The afternoon dog walking was accompanied by the usual flock of parrots and magpies.
Day 231 Tuesday 31st May.
A friend of Chris’s, Di, had a bit a weeding to do in her garden which she find difficult to do, due to a poorly back. So I accompanied her on a visit there to help out while the two ladies talked horses for a while.
Daniel, Di’s youngest son came home at noon and as we talked of bikes he mentioned that he was having a little trouble rebuilding a CR 250 Honda dirt bike. The head-race bearings were proving problematic for him to remove. So the men retired to the workshop to do bike stuff for a while!
Day 232 Wednesday 1st June. Oliver’s birthday.
Had day on my own, this day was not so idyllic. Although still warm at twenty two degrees, while on dog walking duties got soaked in heavy monsoon type showers. The rain blew through the gum trees in great grey sheets of and the trees were rocking side to side in the heavy winds. As they are generally shallow rooted it made me wonder how likely they were to fall, the bush was fairly well populated with toppled trees. What was nice though that unlike the UK when the rain stopped it then was sunny again, with clear blue skies.
Went shopping for tea stuff and on the walk back saw two steel grey parakeets dancing by the roadside. They had bright red collars and under half their wings was the same vivid red. The rear half of wing underside was as grey as the rest of their fluffy looking plumage!!
Day 233 Thursday 2nd June.
The wait for the bike has really set in with me. Diane is OK as she has eight hours work a day to keep her mind of it. I keep busy with a little helping out here and there but not having my own transport is really difficult.
I made flour tortilla wraps for tea, with home made refried beans, salsa and guacamole, its nice to cook and pay our way a little, not to mention it passes the time. As does walking dogs. Took the pup with, when I went to the bus with Diane for her late shift. I stayed up till eleven to meet her off the bus, as she is not keen on the walk back in the dark, with only the sound of feeding Roos in the bush for company.
Day 234 Friday 3rd June.
Went to Lou’s farmstead and chopped wood, while Chris rode horses. Finished dropping the final six trunks of a huge tree gum tree that I started a week or so ago. The trunk still needs making look tidy but the scary stuff is done. Could have done with Mr. Barrow on the end of the rope making sure they fell the right direction. Its nerve wracking when it’s all down to the cut of the wedge whether its glory or shame faced broken fence.
I walked the dog in late afternoon sun, saw lots of green parrots squawking in the trees and two Roo’s breaking twigs with comically large feet. Went to met Diane off the bus at eleven, the bush was very quiet. Not even the white backed magpies were chirruping. They make a call that sounds like two or three birds at once. Similar to a blackbird but a very different warbling kind of call.
Day 235 Saturday 4th June.
We had been answering requests on the internet for house sitting as a means of giving Jon and Chris their house back. Although they have not given us any hints yet, like putting our tent up in the bush over the road and leaving all our gear inside it!! I got the train to a town midway to Perth to looked at one. It was a new build in the back garden of the house that fronted the road. It’s now more and more common to see a house number followed by the letter ‘a’, with ‘b’ out in what was the back yard. It was all very new and lovely inside and out. The exterior was painted battleship grey, which sounds awful but it did look good. It boasted a huge open plan kitchen with stone work surfaces. The floors were all polished wood. We would have had our own bathroom to, but was surprised when she mentioned rent for the time we would be looking after her house while she was in Europe. And a hefty weekly rent to. If she said pay the bills while I am gone that would have been OK, but not a large rent bill as well.
I thought the idea of getting people in to house sit was do each other a favour. We can cease to be homeless for a while and they don’t get burgled.
I failed in finding a bus to the second viewing and walked a hectic amount of sole leather of Jon’s boots. The house was five clicks away. When shown the room by a young black guy from Zimbabwe I said ‘no bed?!!’. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘thought you would have one’! I thought about some of the hard ground we had put the tent up on and reckoned this would be no harder, especially if there was a wooded floor, wood screws instead of pegs, there’s a thought.
Day 236 Sunday 5th June.
Diane working at the soup kitchen all day, Chris was off judging a dressage competition so Jon and I went to see where the freight forwarder was. A kind of dry run for when Chris and I go with the float to pick the bike up.
Walked around Freo, again it really is a great town. I’m not into window shopping but the buildings are really great architecture. They do sell a whole heap of tourist stuff but most are different in the wares they sell. Honest!!
The enclosed market stalls were a great sea of colour and smells. From fruit and veg, (very pricey), to tea towels and sticky cup cakes that looked straight out of a comic book tea party. Huge pink, yellow and blue icing topped cream layered sponge things, that made my stomach roll at all the fat, and teeth ache with the sugar, just by looking at them. Now the fruit cake next to them that was different, those I could have eaten. The meat stalls sold rich red cuts of cow and Roo steak. Wonderful sticky brown topped pies with crust edges that looked like they had been crimped with the cooks false teeth. All kinds of weird and scary looking sea fish, with their scales on and teeth bared to keep casual shoppers at bay, only the serious need apply.
The old Freo prison also looked well worth a look around along with the maritime museum. Reckon to come back with Diane as she likes a museum and pies are her down fall, not so much the filling, unless it is prawns, lobs or crabsters. (ask close friends for an explanation!!!).
Emailed customs in the evening to ask about clearing the bike in when I un-crate it at the warehouse.
Day 237 Monday 6th June.
Went in the morning to reassemble the friends CR250 as he has not much time free. Had a great day as it was a bit of jig saw puzzle and needed a little brain power to re-build, (yeah yeah little brain, I know). It needed new rear swing arm bearings so that stopped play early, bit of a shame but that’s life.
Mid morning a Sydney customs officer called in response to my e-mail, as WA is on a public holiday. I was impressed with them, the guy said he knew WA was on a public holiday, and as he was not busy he would answer my mail request. He gave me the phone number I need to call in the morning.
Day 238 Tuesday 7th June.
Phone calls made to customs people resulted with me heading off to the international airport to have the carnet stamped, all completed in thirty minutes. The officials were very friendly and humane, as most, if not all have been. The only inefficient part of my morning was down to Perth public transport not having ANY buses let alone trains running out to the airport. The bus driver told me I could get to within two to three km then walk, but I would have to go via the city and back out and this would take two to three hours. Time was not on my side so I took an arm and a leg taxi and walked back to where public transport was available. Really missing my bike today….
Back at Midland I thought as I had a travel pass I would go on to Freo and see if I could find the container ship. As the train drew toward the station I saw the ship beside the quay still fairly loaded with boxes. Not a good omen for Friday.
Walking into town from the docks I went into a sheep skin shop. Hopeful of an off cut for the bike saddle, as I had to send mine back due to the stiff quarantine laws here. They had stacks of lovely things however very expensive. They ranged from one hundred to one hundred and fifty bucks, the lower and of the scale being for imperfect items. Bugger.
The blog needed sorting out, and as the internet is fast here, with the bill payers permission I stayed up till one am reading and correcting my terrible mistakes that I should have seen, but in my weak defence sometimes it was uploaded in a rush. When you have written it, read it a few times after, you don’t see the horrendous errors. I also sorted out the European part of the journey as it was even more random than the African part.
Day 239 Wednesday 8th June. Pips birthday
Sat for a few more hours than I wanted to (on the blog site) as it was a lovely day and I should have been outside doing something more destructive with trees.
After talking with the freight forwarders it looks like container will be unpacked on Friday.
While walking to shops I felt a little cold, must be getting used to the hot weather, and now it getting down to twenty degrees, with a little wind it feels chilly.
While shopping for bits and pieces I noticed a trolley full of shopping outside the Post Office. As the windows were obscured with promotions and advertising it was not easily visible from the shop. You don’t often get that trust in the UK?
I picked up a free paper from outside the mall and when walking home noticed with horror it was a special for the over forty fives. I’ll have to read it cover to cover to learn how I’m supposed to behaving.
At lunchtime spoke to unpacking agents where the bike will be delivered to and he said they had double stacked the containers at Freo, probably Monday.
While walking the dogs later I watched a huge grey and black parrot about half a meter high eating a gum nut two meters from us. It never saw the dogs and the hounds never saw it!! until it finished eating and flew off.
Day 240 Thursday 9th June. Dads birthday
Phoned quarantine and they told me an appointment must be made forty eight hours in advance for the inspection on the bike. As they need to photocopy the carnet I hotfooted it back to the airport in a mild panic as bike is due on Monday, so only just in time. Again impressed by Oz efficiency and left the office forty minutes later with a twelve thirty booking on Monday.
Headed off to the stables with Chris, to be on hand while she rode, and I cut the rest of the huge gum tree trunk down. Then cut three quarters of it into logs.
When the horse riding was finished we went food shopping for tea time and general stock. There was a wholesaler of fish that sold to the public just out of town, where we bought a heap of various sea monsters with which I made a fantastic seafood soup thing. Even though I do say myself.
Later I walked the dogs and let the hectic hound off the lead for first time, she behaved impeccably and had a better run about in the bush. High in the trees I saw a plethora of the pink parrots that were on the ground the other day.
After tea I phone dad and had lovely conversation with himself and mum. Dad said that Mr. Tyralls potato chips (name withheld to protect the innocent), has bought a traction engine and wants Dad to steam it up for him, what a great opportunity. I told him to do it as the worst that could happen is it will blow up. But he’s more sensible than me… Keep you posted.
Day 241 Friday 10th June.
After so long of doing nothing in the way of paper work, like since the fourteenth of February, it now is a rush to get it done. The carnet was like old times, just doing at the airport and not at the border post. The quarantine was more or less forgotten about ’till I remembered it late one night and then could not sleep thinking about it! Now I have hit the insurance battle. After spending a while on the internet, it soon became apparent that I would not be able to purchase third party insurance because I was not a resident. When I asked the fourth person what the procedure was for foreigners who want to ride their own transport, the reply was ‘I’ll give you the ombudsman number and you can tell them why we have refused to cover you and maybe they can tell you why’. Great! I did not call, but decided to walk to the local police station and ask them, they will know, wont they? The helpful lady behind the counter said she had no idea what would happen if I was stopped on the road as an alien on an import. The guy on the computer quickly interrupted and said as they were not ‘traffic’ how would they know! I was given the number of the Perth Traffic Department and left none the wiser. I did wonder though if you could bluff your way here as we did in Africa by showing them lots of paperwork, or would that just be a ‘go straight to jail card’? Calling the traffic department was the way to go as the lady said I need to get the bike examined, (as well as my head) for roadworthy upon arrival, and that certificate would cover me for third party liability but did not give proof that the vehicle was fit for the road!! But as the examination was half the price of insurance I did not mind. BUT I may have to do this in every state…
The afternoon was spent in the sunshine with my shirt off, on a high roof cleaning out rainwater gutters, up to my forearms in wet leaf mould, the things you do for friends!!! The steel framed stable was on a farmstead that a lady who is very high in the equine world of WA owned. She gave riding lessons here and herself I believe still is active in the dressage scene. Three and a half hours of watching girls trotting around the arena, on horses, not on their own, saw two huge feed sack of leaf mulch dragged out of two of the gutters, the other two can wait till morning when there will be less of a distraction.
Day 242 Saturday 11th June.
Finished off cleaning in the early morning chill with my top half well and truly covered. Still in shorts though as I refuse to buy long work pants for the days when it’s too chilly. Have borrowed a pair of Jon’s old ‘toe-tector’ boots, think he’d draw the line at letting me into his wardrobe….
Slow afternoon by the wood burner writing this, laughing at Mitsie the hectic hound drag herself from one sofa to another trying to find a better place to snore.
I bulked up the fish dish with more sword, white fish, sweet spuds, various squashes, herbs and spices. Fair play it was delicious, I am a good one pot cook! Even the others enjoyed it.
Day 243 Sunday 12th June. Jon’s Birthday.
An outdoor market was being held today in Mundaring, offering arts, crafts, books by the tree load, fruit and veg and all at real life prices. As the sun was shining as usual it made for a pleasant Sunday walkabout. Diane had to be on the bus at ten twenty and she semi-joked about the drivers leaving up to ten minuets early. As we headed that way, a quarter of an hour early the bus drew to a halt at the stop. As the route number on the rear was not the correct one we ambled over to ask the obvious question. It was as well we did as the driver said the rear display did not work, and he would be leaving in ten minuets, after four minuets he shut the doors and left! So we hurried to the next stop and waited till roughly the correct time for him to arrive. Looks like we still can say T.I.A.!!!!
Jon sings in a choir and we non working folk have been invited to attend the performance this afternoon. As they have been in full practice for at least the last month that we know of, I think a little nerves were about.
Arriving at the venue I was a little surprised to see it was a secondary school. Upon being ushered into the performance hall I was impressed with the smart painted walls, steeply tiered seating and professional lighting.
For someone who a musical concert is not really their favourite pastime it was really well put together. The first half was your more serious opera and Mozart followed by more modern music, including an acoustic guitar solo of Spanish classical music. Half a dozen of the school pupils accompanied the choir with a keyboard, drums and bass guitar to a really good effect.
We knew they had prepared some food afterwards, but I did not expect the feast on three huge tables set in the entrance hall and outside under the eaves of the hall.
Day 244 Monday 13th June.
Woke early with hopes of getting the bike today, but the freight forwarder said no. No bike today. Bugger. Rang quarantine and made an appointment for Tuesday, oddly he was very grateful I had called, appears most folks don’t bother to cancel.
Headed out to Lou’s and chopped the last of the twelve gum tree trunks and raked the ground clean of the bark that had fallen off, like dead skin off white bones, which is what the wood looks like. When you see a fallen tree from a distance it does look like a broken skeleton. While cleaning up a parrot sat in one of the near trees eating gum nuts. It was your ideal cage parrot, green, yellow and blue feathers, brilliant colours, like a simulated picture on a television screen in a shop window to show you how good they would like it to be.
I have never worn a saw chain out so fast before but this one now, only a month old has been filed so often due to the hard wood its teeth are just stumps now, bugger. Cost us fortune in chains here Tony.
Got back to the ranch absolutely bushed only to have two hounds bouncing up and down saying ‘can we walk now?’. An hour later I walked to the mall and bought supplies and visited the bottle store and fell in love with a four litre box of Shiraz. The first cheap wine I have seen. On arrival back home and we all went swimming in it.
Day 245 Tuesday 14th June.
Woke to heavy rain that they had forecast a few days ago. They can predict the weather here. So it was with a little relief that I read the container had not been unpacked by eight am. So Chris and I took the float and went on a rubbish collection for one of her grand children. After dropping it at the ‘Waste Transfer Station’ I checked the net and the container has been unpacked and the goods are ready to collect. So Big Wednesday (make a good film title) looms close. Its gonna be weird riding again after almost six weeks.
Day 246 Wednesday 15th June.
Left the house with Diane and Jon in the very dark of a wet morning. He had offered us a ride to the bus stop. After a train ride and a bus trip I walked the last click to the freight forwarders, as the bus driver was unsure to the direction I should be travelling at the ‘T’ junction, as she had no idea of my destination address, fair comment, she is not a taxi cab.
On arrival at the depot I was told to head to door number four and report to the warehouse manager. When I told him of my mission he started to sort the paperwork, but he soon realized I had not paid the dock fees that were due. ‘No worries’ said I, and called the office and paid by credit card. The fax of proof of payment was sent direct to the warehouse, as I had no broker acting for me. When he came out with the paper work saying it was all paid but not good as a quarantine inspection must be carried out before they are allowed to release the goods. When I told him that I had an appointment made for one pm he became very unimpressed and said that his colleague and himself had wasted a lot of time ‘doing ground work’, on my behalf which was a waste of time as I needed to be inspected for bugs, seeds and the like. When I said that the paperwork still needed to be done he looked a tad sheepish and walked back into his office without a word. Because I could not start to unpack the crate without quarantine clearance I was set to wait the three hours till my inspector arrived. I called the head quarters of Australian quarantine in Perth as told them that I was available for inspection at any time, the friendly guy on the other end of the phone told me that he would pass on my message to the officer that was due to come and see the bike. I sat in for a long wait. However at eleven thirty, an amiable looking young man in a yellow and maroon shirt walked over to me and said ‘you must be Andrew’, I shook his hand and said ‘yes’!
Earlier I had removed the top and one side of the crate and when we got to it, I showed him the screws I had removed and what little else I had done. He said ‘yeah no worries mate’. The bike was wrapped in cling film under the crate and he pushed his hand under the plastic to see how much mud was under the rear wheel fender. As Diane and I had spent three days cleaning the bike it was spotless. He asked who had cleaned it, when I said we had, he commented on how shiny and lovely it looked!! Result. He went off to finalize the paperwork only to return and say there was a problem regarding the broker e-mail address, there was no broker to be e-mailed. I explained that I had not used one and maybe the e-mail should go to me. When he explained the broker will normally forward a copy to the warehouse for release or the consignment I said to ‘mail the warehouse direct and then they would have the relevant documents in hand. He agreed and went off to do his stuff. I asked the manager if I could have some space inside, to put the bike back together, and he said ‘are you planning to ride that thing out of here’? I said I did as I had no other option. Fifteen minutes later saw me unpacking the crate two hours early. Most of the staff had taken bugger all interest in this pom in the building, but as the bike was put together and a heap of gear was spread around they came over one by one and asked what we had done and what was the plan. Three hours saw me riding out of the building with a standing ovation from the yellow vested staff.
It’s hard to explain how such a short (seventy five meter) ride can feel so fantastic. To be on the bike that I had ridden the length of Africa on, and thinking of the test ride in Devon all those months ago when I bought it, was really something special to be reunited with it.
After leaving behind my credit card as security that I would return to pick up the crate and all my rubbish, I set off to get fairly lost in Perth. Thirty minutes of riding around central Perth looking vaguely at buildings that I did not recognise to get my bearings eventually saw me heading for Midland, where I intended to pick up Diane, and save her the bus fare home. Mr. Smoothy me, huh??
The day had been showery, heavy downpours and then blue skies. As I left the city the heavens opened and made the clean bike dirty with a fine layer of sandy grit. I was still enjoying riding too much to be bothered by the rain, but the spray was worse that I remembered. Probably just that I had not ridden in traffic in conditions like these for many months.
Day 247 Thursday 16th June.
We left early with the float to head back to Freo to collect the crate. The traffic was the heaviest I had seen in Australia, and probably since we had left Cairo. I reckon it was the early morning rush as the time was right for workers and most of the vehicles had only one occupant.
While collecting the credit card they wanted for security, the office girls joked about the great night they had at my expense. The warehouse staff cheered as I walked in, (most cheer when I walk out!) one of the guys on the fork trucks offered to take the crate around to the float, nice of him as it was a long way to carry it, and its heavy.
Back at the house much tea was drunk as the whole errand had taken two and a half hours! Jon and Chris had said I could leave the crate at theirs, so I don’t have to make another one when we leave the country.
Our room had become very messy when the bike had arrived as the clothes on it and other gear had now come inside for sorting and repacking. We had been living out of the borrowed suitcase for almost six weeks and now we have to repack the bike to move from Mundaring to Midland to be close to Diane’s work.
Jon and Chris said that we could always go back there if the rented room is a disaster. They both have been really fantastic people to us, helping to get us on our feet, with helping Diane get banks organised, and letting us use hours of their internet time enabling me to arrange picking up of the bike from the freight forwarders.
Chris went out unexpectedly to a pony club meeting and left the three of us sat at the dinner table chatting over a glass of wine.
As the minuets ticked by a musty dog smell became more and more apparent, we all said it must be one of the hounds that was asleep on the sofa, Jon even went over to see which one was the culprit. It turned out to be Diane’s stinky feet. She said it was down to me because Andrew would not let her buy more socks and she had to ware the same pair all week! Yuk. With the dogs apologised to, Diane removed her barking socks the pong disappeared into the clothes washer…
Day 248 Friday 17th June.
The morning passed a little too quickly with both of us sorting out internet stuff
Packing the bike up felt slightly odd as we have not done it for a while. Early afternoon saw us on the road again like old times, even though it was only for fifteen clicks or so.
Arriving at the rental house as dark fell with a little rain we got our gear in, then hot footed it to the mall to buy food as we have none! Stocking up the larder again was not cheap as we had to leave all our herbs and spices with Abri, as quarantine would not allow us to bring them into Australia.
Back at base we cooked a tea of beans with chillies, toast and scrambled eggs.
Day 249 Saturday 18th June.
While Diane worked I went with to the mall and had a mooch about for a pair of boots to wear as I don’t want to trash my bike boots if I have a miss-hap with the saw, or playing with trucks. It’s really too chilly for sandles now…. At the shop were Diane bought her work shoes that fell to bits after two weeks, I found a half decent boot or two. The nice lady at customer service took pity on the whinging pom and knocked off the cost of the knackered footwear. Walking back together I sweet talked the language she likes, and whispered in her ear that we were having a tea of pies, mashed spuds with herbs and chillies, and beans!!(what did you think I was going to say??) Too much chow but a great feed.
Day 250 Sunday 19th June.
Woke early much to our joint disgust as we fancied a slow, late morning. We had the novelty of a clothes washer, as it promised to be warm and breezy the chore was done, when it was figured out that the lid had to be pulled skew to enable it to operate! The cold water feed was shut off, and as I felt my feet getting wet when I turned it on I reckoned it was off for a reason. Ah the delights of rented property, I hope Dave in my house does not have these little annoyances..
After a debate of whether to ride to Freo, or stay local and get ourselves sorted out, we went to the mall and bought more food. Both of us had a craving for fish-fingers, fried sweet and white spuds for tea with heaps of peas. As we ate with the back patio door open it sounded like frogs in the distance, the first since Zimbabwe. But considering its so dry here its more likely to be cicadas!!
After a slow hot bath, the first for five weeks we had an early night.
Set an alarm for half five and did not want to leave our bed as it was chilly and a light rain washed the bedroom window. Stumbling around in the dark trying to find my riding gear made me wish that I had been more organised the previous evening.
While I munched on Weet-Bix and bran I thought I must be mad doing this.
Six fifteen saw me riding off in the rain and the pitch black of a too early morning. Not having ridden in the dark for eight months, it was fairly scary, even though the roads were lit by urine yellow sodium lamps. To be amongst commuter traffic down under style, think I may have mentioned that they tend to drive hard and fast. I found that keeping to just below the speed limit meant that everything over took me, even the road trains.
Arrived at the warehouse earlier than I need, as I did not want to be late, and having no idea of the road traffic. The doors were all open and not a single person to be seen. After familiarizing myself with the place, (finding the kettle) Tim soon rolled in and the first job was to deliver a rental truck back, and buy me some coveralls.
Back in the service bay bit of the warehouse I felt very much the ‘new boy’, shiny new boots and crisp, stiff coveralls. I knew no names of the guys who said ‘hi’ but took no interest in the strange smartly dressed Pom. They raced around in fork trucks loading the day’s deliveries, all knew their place but me. So I busied myself with making tea, for one….
The resident mechanic turned in at nine and we set to relining the rear axle of a trailer. Philip was a nice guy, a little younger than me, twice married, twice failed, with a young son whom he said he wanted to see more of.
We worked hard till mid-afternoon when the repairs were finished and my eight hours were done. It was a sort of golden rule, don’t start what can’t be finished by three or four pm, as they start to load the trailers for the night trunk to Kalgoorlie. I was pleased with my day and relieved that after not working on trucks for four years, that it did come back to me fairly quickly…
It was good to be out and about on the bike, though it felt strange to be riding on my own.
Got stuck in this morning as I now had a clue as to organisation of the workshop. Philip arrived at eight and we relined another axle on a different trailer, but this one needed the trailing arm bushes replacing so we did not get finished till six pm.
Our new house mate arrived at eight pm which was a surprise to us and Lawrence who also lives here. Jess who is from Queensland, works in fast food outlet called Hungry Jacks and is a nice laid back kind of girl. We talked till late and found out a little of each other. The land lady who is twenty years of age and a tad scatty called in to see if we were all fighting or being good boys and girls!! While we listened to her pouring out her heart of life’s problems and her boyfriend issues we passed glances between us meaning ‘maybe you should talk to him and not us!’ Nice to have a genuine Australian here though as lots of folks we have met are from the UK or China.
Getting slightly easier to get out of bed and do the commuter thing. Although I would rather not be doing it, the money will be good and I would go crazy with Diane at work and me killing time on my own. We did consider me heading north on my own and herself flying up to Darwin when she stopped working, but more money is better.
Diane spent and hour making a wonderful prawn Thai supper. The normally expensive main ingredient was discovered at a whole seller of frozen fish and pasta on Gt. Eastern Highway. Result!
All of us lodgers were early to bed, Jess had a five am start and I was not far behind her.
Rob sent an sms and said we had been invited to a microbrewery in Freo, on Saturday afternoon for a get together. As Diane is working I guess I’ll have to go on my own and make up for her absence…
Getting to know the warehouse and driving staff better now. They seem to be a good bunch and all are very friendly and helpful. And no Pommy jokes yet!
Diane called at eleven and said about one of her work colleagues who had gotten floor cleaning acid onto her face, and a little into her eyes on Tuesday night. Now was at hospital having it seen to. Poor her, the offshot of this was Diane can now cover for her. Although she was a bit bored on her day off now had a double shift to do!
Friday is made a little special by Tim buying in filled rolls and some beers for the workers, it arrives around one pm and although no one drinks the beer while working, they do stand about and talk for ten minutes with a roll. The beer gets drunk when the last road train leaves the warehouse
Riding to and from each day has become a routine now and I’m noticing more and more place names that are very English. Perth being a obvious one but we also have, High Wycombe, Bayswater, Welshpool, Belmont and Maida Vale.
I wonder if the names were given by early settlers from those towns and cities, or just adopted or given by local government not that long ago.
The driving here is a little hectic, they all race fast and hard up to the robot traffic lights, even though you can see they are red or soon will be, by the early warning amber lights that are to warn the road trains to start to slow down. Even the road-trains aren’t sluggish, the trucks average six hundred horse power and even with just two trailers hooked up they can really shift from a standing start. A few times I have pulled lazily away from a stop with one behind me and not too much later all you can see in the mirrors are bonnet name emblems!!
A complete road train with three trailers are up to fifty three meters in length, but not in WA. Here its thirty six metres. When they travel like that they must display ‘road train’ warning signs front and rear. Apparently the penalty for not doing so when you should, or doing so when you should not, is a six hundred dollar fine. Same as the UK, the motorist being an easy victim by the government.
A great number of vehicles are bakkies, or ute’s as there known here, or big four wheel drive Japanese imports or American style Holdens, which are made here. They are a General Motors company. Certainly a lot of them look like the Vauxhall’s in the UK. Three and a half
litre engine size is the minimum, most five litre plus, even the cars are huge vee-eights. A few small vee-sixes are thrown in to please the green party…
The small car is unusual to see, but I have noticed quite a few of the old Mini’s here, along with mark one Ford Escorts, and Cortina’s, and being warm and dry they have not corroded to dust as in Europe.
We had an horrendous storm at six pm, with fifty four mill of rain, it all lasted about an hour. As the day was warm and sunny with twenty two degrees, it came as bit of a shock. Well it is midwinter after all.
Till the work materialized I was getting cabin fever and really wanted to get on the road again. But now working and meeting people, the best bit of standing still is getting to know local people. All the folks we stayed with in South Africa and the few we have got to know well in WA. Different than keeping on the road and making a few casual acquaintances.
Went into work today, Saturday to catch up on a large job and ease next week a bit. I started at seven thirty and Philip came in an hour later, unexpectedly he had his son with. We did three hours and I felt that his lad would not be so well behaved for another three, so mid-morning we called it a day.
I got washed, changed and picked up by Jon and Chris at two pm for an afternoon of beer drinking. We collected Rob and went to an old, (turn of the century), pub. Apparently its beer week in Freo and lots of bars had free beer tastings so we stayed in the first for too long…. We eventually got to Little Creatures micro brewery but my taste buds were drunk and I could not really appreciate the good beer or stand up very well.
After being dropped near the house I staggered about and slowly weaved my way back. One step at a time, some of them were in the right direction too…
As Diane is working I went to a stud farm in the Perth Hills area to see Vicky and helped out with some fencing for a few hours.
Called in on the wonderful fruit and veg shop and stocked up on spices bought at less than supermarket prices A lot of the veg and fruit is grown local and sold by the shop for the growers. So it looks and tastes better than the other stuff in the supermarkets.
Headed into work for my second week and by nine am it was looking more apparent that Philip may not be coming in today. By eleven Tim came out and said that he had quit and we would not see him again. Shame as I liked the guy, we worked well together, and we had even arranged going out for beer on his forthcoming birthday, which was the big four zero.
Had a good day anyway. Started to plan the work around one guy, me! Felt like the old days again, when I looked after a fleet of thirty vehicles, trucks and coaches.
Worked an extra couple of hours to catch up.
On the ride back, on the highway there was a bakkie going the same way, and hanging out of the rear quarter window was a huge dog with flappy mouth being blown by the wind. His joule’s were waving about in the slipstream like the hound we saw on the approach to Cape Town months ago. Although this one did not have a wild surprised look in his eye.
Had a nice chilled afternoon and drank too much wine. Verity came around late evening an told of her break up with her boyfriend and how she would like to come back and live but she has let the small room and she wondered how she could evict Jess…. She called a few friends for a place to crash but had no luck.
When I got ready to go to work, a body was on the sofa I thought it was Verity, but it was Jess who fell asleep watching DVD’s.
In the afternoon a hectic rain storm blew in and rattled the tin roof, I was relived I had made a space in the warehouse for the bike. The storm was like the one we had in Kuala Lumpur. Huge rain and crashing lightning.
Riding in this morning the wind blew sand off the overpass roadworks, into my eyes. The roadworks on the junction of Roe Highway and Gt. Eastern Highway were sand built as there is no earth, as Northern Hemisphere dwellers know it. They had piled the sand high and it reminded me of Dune Seven in Namibia. The pile either side of the highway was fairly impressive to see with the sun rising behind it, and it really did look like a dune, honest.
We had thought that tomorrow I could strip the rear two axle brakes on the large ridged truck, which had blown oil seals and trashed the brake linings.
But as one of the drivers had jack knifed it, as he had taken the truck and trailer into a small caravan park after taking a wrong turn. There he had clutch failure and it was unlikely that he would return by Saturday morning, bugger.
Had an SMS early morning to tell me the truck was back late last night so I could go in after all. When I rolled in the truck was abandoned with the trailer still attached, it was dog trailer with double pivot points. For twenty minuets I failed to reverse this combo so dumped the trailer to one side of the turning area and started work later than I wanted to. Worked till four, stripping off the brakes.
Worked till six on the ridged truck, cleaning off the oily, dusty, sludge and rebuild with new shoes and seals.
We have needed a three G modem for months now and Diane picked one up this afternoon.
Jess came back at six really not happy with landlady, thinks she is being picked on due to her age. Apparently she is being asked for two weeks upfront and we are on one. Jess sent an sms to tell Verity that she was going out and to collect money now. When Verity arrived it soon turned into a hectic cat fight with me sat at the table with a mug of tea watching the hair and sunnies flying. Much more exciting than a movie. Jess left with her stuff and left me and a sobbing, hard done by girl surrounded by torn newspaper and scattered hand bag contents on the floor. She wailed at me ‘you could have pulled the psycho bitch off me’. I said ‘why would I, when I could get a pair of scissors in the kidney’. I said ‘it as the worse thing a guy could do was get involved’. Much better to watch the bras and knickers flying… As police had been called if they had walked in and seen three of rolling about on the floor they might have got the wrong impression! Bedsit-land? Never seen anything like it. Police did not show, so I could have rolled around on the floor….
The only thing that bothers me is that the house key went with the ex-tenant and although we are nothing to do with it people’s minds work in strange ways. Reckon I’ll take our valuables with from now on.
Went to mall and picked up Diane and some food, went back and started to look for another room.
Had a day off from everything. Diane worked, I emails.
Looked at a room in a very smart house, not far from where we are but closer to the mall. The rent is quite expensive though. Maybe here is just cheap.
Worked up at stud farm till two as rain stopped play
on the ride back I stopped for veg, in car lot stood a vehicle that looked like it had peened with a large hammer. Truth was not far off that as a few months ago a hectic storm hit and hail stone the size of golf balls had wrecked many vehicles that day.
On way home it really did dawn on me that bikers here are not interested in any other bikers, even one that looks like it may have been out of the state in the last ten years. Not a wave or even a nod, just as it was in Z.A. between KTM and BMW. Bizarre. Although the bike clubs are very strong here with a hefty hells angel influence, you’d think they would still acknowledge you. Even the office workers in soft shoes, nylon pants, no jacket or gloves are Harley riders but no communication, nadda, zippo, nothing.
Verity came around and said she had finished the lease because were off, and Lawrence has to move asap on his return from holiday, nice!
Last day in old house expected grief from Verity, none
Desperate to see something different we went into Perth on the train.
An AC/DC exhibition was on in the museum, and it was a very informative exhibition of heaps of personal stuff and concerts shown on projector screens which was amazing. Later I found out that this was a global tour and we were lucky to have seen it as it was only in Perth for a month.
Had an average Guinness in an Irish bar and walked lots about the malls and shops. Nothing to compare to Freo.
On Roe Highway this morning saw a dog in the back of a bakkie looking pretty cool till I rode up behind. Then it started shaking and shivering, as soon as the robot lights changed it started to woof and growl as if to say ‘I’m tough really’!
Went into Midland at last, to the veg and fruit market that everyone has raved over since we arrived in town. It was an impressive display but not as colourful as the Cairo market stall, maybe they will be in the spring and summer.
A beautiful day developed after a little light rain.
Welding in a roof brace on a trailer in full winter sunshine I got more than a bit hot under the collar. Made me remember how warm we were in Sudan.
It really does feel that we have stopped travelling now. We could easily be back in the UK, working as normal. Not the other side of the world hopefully, soon to back on the road.
Rode back with the threat of hectic weather on the skyline, the warehouse boys had said a storm was heading our way and I should head back pronto. On the freeway the clouds hugged close to the Perth Hills and gathered with menace. With the grace granted by the gods who still do ride bikes or horses I propped the bike onto its stand under the sun port and waited for the lightning to bring the rain, I did not have to wait long for the gusty wind to push the deluge of water close to where the bike and I stood. While I unloaded a bit of food from the boxes the heavens did their best to smote me with a lightning bolt, or drench my poor long suffering Austrian mule with chilly water. We managed to keep from the worst of the wet and I headed in to cook food.
Easy day at work, had a talk with Rob about a little of company politics and the goings on shortly before I arrived. Headed off with a blue sky threatening rain. Once again pulled under the carport as the first drops fell. Beginners luck I reckon.
First task of the day was pulled out of a dusty cardboard box by Phil, Tims father, much as a magician would pull a rabbit from a hat. It was carefully assembled and spread out on the floor. ‘See if you can sort out that and get it working’, it was a boom spray control box with an extra thing plugged into it. The wiring was a mess, and extra bits had been added on the power side, I guessed maybe for a radio or the like. An hour of pochin saw it wired to a battery, with the wires encased in spiral bound, more tidy and it might last a few months longer. Powered up it looked like it was doing what it was made for. When Phil came to collect it I showed him the new leads that would go on the tractor battery, they were just bare ends as I was unsure of the best terminals to use. I suggested maybe ring type would be enable it to fit on the battery post clamps. The response was yeah or just tie them on, or those snappy ‘Gater things maybe’. A true farmer…
I had been parked my bike in the warehouse next to some racking, Tim said that he was replacing it with a six meter high, bigger layout. Would I mind moving the old racking over to enclose the workshop area and to give storage space for tyres and consumables, which at the moment lay on pallets haphazardly around the area. An enjoyable day was spent off the spanners, clean, fork-trucking items around and creating much more of a usable space for the workshop. By fluke at the end or the racking there was just enough space left to get a fork truck through without having to go outside the building, or park an orange motorcycle in. Nice. I stayed later to bolt the rack to the ground, sounds sensible, this is the first to be bolted. The rest is all free standing…..
We were picked up by Chris and Jon at seven to go out for food, meeting up with Rob and Suzy at a Chinese restaurant. We had been sat for half an hour when Tim called asking if I could go in and look at the road train middle trailer brakes as they were not releasing. It was strange as it had been used all day with no fault. I said that we were out and it was not possible. I felt slightly guilty because I always feel that I should help out. I tend to get involved and take the job personally. After my last work in the commercial transport game, which was terminated abruptly, I should know better. This is only temporary anyway. I should chill out a little!!!!!
Went in for ten thirty to service the truck that I had put new brakes on a few weeks ago. It is used constantly during the day so weekend work becoming necessary. With Diane working it keep me busy and it tops up the pig bank.
During the day the rains literally blew in, waving the palm and gum trees in a hectic manor. Before one of these fifteen minute mini storms I was in the shipping container that is the store shed for workshop. I heard a sound like a train coming, steel wheels rattling over the joints in the rail tracks. I stared in the direction of the sound but could not make sense of it. As the first light rain blew through the door, I then realized it was the rain on the tin roofed warehouses across the road.
By six pm the truck was finished and so was I. Arriving back Toni and Sean had almost finished their gardening project, Diane walked in just as I had got my bike gear off. Baked veg with peanut pumpkin, seasoned with garlic and chilli for tea, hot and slightly oily, lovely.
Busy but chilled day replacing head gasket on a eight ton truck air compressor, got it rolling by close of play.
Serviced one of the prime movers today, it is an International Eagle,and a fairly hectic looking piece of kit. It was the first time in many years that I had uncoupled a semi and re coupled it up. Driving it bought back memories of trucking in the UK. As I did not want to make an arse of me-self I left it in third gear and just crawled from the yard to the workshop.
As a detective in Midland has been calling me asking question over the squabble at the last room, and had called at Diane’s workplace, I had to attend at local police station to give a formal signed statement over the cat-fight.
The detective was from Gloucester, UK. In the interview we had a nice chat over common ground, he had lived here for ten years and bought up two boys. They are eight and ten an the last trip to U.K. The boys asked questions like does it always rain here and why is the yard so small. They live in the hills area of Perth and have an acre of land, he loves it here and I reckon he will never leave oz.
On the return to the house Diane an Ellie were trying on a huge heap of clothes between them. Seeing two girls dancing around in night attire was fairly hectic…
On the way in today a bakkie pulled up a little way back on my near side and I wondered if the were looking at the Africa map and flags on the box. At the next robots they sat close behind this time I had no idea what they were looking at as there is not much on the top box. As I left the freeway the lady passenger had a camera through the open window and took my picture. I hope its out of interest and not for sinister purposes.
Rang my parents in the afternoon, as I try to do every two weeks or so. After fifteen minutes of catching up, I was told that a cousin, on my fathers side had died, at reaching the age of fifty years. As we were not in touch or close at all, it was not a heart rendering shock by any means. As I talked with my folks about the trip I was undertaking, I said, that was the exact reason I was down side up at that moment and travelling. While I still had health and the ability to carry out the travelling thing. While I know where the travel bug bit me, I never knew it bit so deep. I am all too aware it’s not easy for folks at home to understand why one should want to travel and subject oneself to the possible unpleasantness of foreign countries. But the rewards of seeing how other nations live, and the relics of the wars they have recently experienced, in my head, out weigh the reasons why I should not travel. Though I never had the foresight to realise that we would ever get this far when we set out. I reckon now its a bit of a roller coaster, and I’m very unsure when or how it will stop.
Always on the lookout for tourist days out we went to Freo prison to take a tour of the tunnels. These were hand dug by prisoners in the eighteen hundreds to act as a capturing and holding tank for fresh water to supply the rapidly growing town. We went in a group of twelve, first we pulled on coveralls gumboots and hard hats. Finished of with a four point safety harness. Then were led to a stainless steel ladder, vertical descending thirty meters into the earth. As Diane is nervous of heights these was going to be a challenge for her. On the left hand side of the ladder was a slotted track, in the shape of a down side up upper case letter tee. On the leg of the tee facing outward was an eye onto which we individually hooked our safety line. The top of the tee incorporated a device that locked up and stopped downward fall if you put weight on it. So if you fell, it stopped you within a meter at most. The descent was split into three ten meter stages with a small platform where we changed over the safety line and continued on down. We walked the dry part of the service tunnels being shown the carved names of the men who dug the labyrinths. Maybe forty minuets into the tour we came to a water filled tunnel where we got into small boats and paddled our way snake like through the water holding tunnels. Some small gratings high up in the roof were visible at the top of drain shafts, these were road side drains that cleared the roads above the catchment tunnels of rain water. Half an hour later we were heading back up the ladders to the harsh intensity of mid day sunshine. After collecting our certificates of bravery we headed to Little Creatures for a beer.
We had arranged to met the guy who had contacted us via a bike travel website. It took us a while to get there via the mostly excellent metro train system. A guy on board made magic with steel hoops that he locked and unlocked in a swift manner, making the Olympic five hoop logo and various other patterns. He repeatedly gave them all to us passengers to inspect and ensure that they were solid and with no gaps. Impressive!! sadly what was not so impressive was he was almost fifty and his chosen transport was a powered skate board, customized. Each to there own. A great number of young party goers were heading for the bright lights of perth. Lots of fat birds or very trim birds, nothing in the middle. At the Garrett’s house we downed a couple of beers and a swift braai. With fifteen of his friends we walked to a nice bar in the north side of Perth. It looked like it was going to be a late night, and as we were both bushed from a hectic working week we left early, at eleven pm, and headed homeward. The train taking over an hour due to its stops.
Diane fancied a ride out and Mandura got rave reviews in a few guide books. We headed out south in warm sunshine. Before too long the wind had picked up. The land either of the freeway was sand, and the gusty wind blew the grit across the road and into our faces. The further south we went the weather looked more stormy. In town we parked up next to a large BMW, with an older couple pulling on their hats and coats, while Diane went into the tourist shop he said they were heading back to Perth as the weather looked bad, bugger, too late again.
For us it was a big disappointment. The town was new build with no small, boaty town feel. Even the fish stalls looked new and plastic. The ‘cosy market’ was situated under apartment blocks and sold tourist tat,
After a pleasant feed of fish and fries we headed back through Freo to look for Bon Scott’s. We walked about for an hour in the fine drizzle that promised to turn nasty with no success as the cemetery was huge.
Nice easy day, went out with Tim to collect parts. As I waited in the Bakkie for him I watched two crows, one with beak wide open and the other pecking inside its mouth this went on for five minutes till the ailing bird strutted off and was promptly sick depositing a small heap of black worm slime on the pavement. Just wanted to share that with you!!!!
I picked Diane so we could go to the costume store to choose our gear to wear at the party on Saturday night that Rob is throwing to celebrate his fortieth birthday. As he was born in seventy one the theme is the seventies. Did we look a sight with our ‘new’ clothes, have posted pictures……
Getting a little lost near to the venue, I stopped to ask directions at a Sheebeen where a few young lads were leaning on bakkies, drinking beer from the bottle. Our own bakkie also sported tinted windows. As I rolled down the glass they looked in our direction and with widening eyes their jaws dropped a little as they started to take in how we were dressed, our afro wigs must have filled the cab window. I asked where the community centre was, one of them replied ‘you going to a fancy dress party there’ I said ‘no I always dress like this’ they all laughed nervously and gave the road to take.
After parking in what we hoped was the correct community centre, Diane went in to check, as the Blues Brothers walked out. I thought they were eighties, but who’s counting, as long as everyone else is in costume that’s cool. We did joke on the way that maybe it was not fancy dress but just to have a laugh at the poms. A great evening was had and very tired I went to sleep a midnight and Diane helped clean up till one.
We woke in the dark, well semi dark as the street lamps shone though the zip on the canopy. The wind was blowing the bakkie side to side, and rain lashed the canvas. We pulled the swag bag over our heads and tried to ignore the raging storm outside. After an hour or so and full daylight we headed out onto the freeway. I was hoping that the traffic would be sparse. We weaved our way through Perth city (yeah missed the turn for our road) and worried about the ocean only half a meter below the road surface on a calm day but now was lapping over the road.
We moved back into Jon and Chris’s house as they are in UK and Sam the dog needs to be fed and watered, felt like coming home when we arrived here. In the evening had a glass of wine sat by the fire and both said together how great it was to have a log burn!
A good friend of Chris and Jon had asked us to live in her home in Carmel, while she went over east with her daughter, for her to compete in horsey things. Diane declined to go as the hoses would make her allergy worse.
Left work on time and went to pick Sam the dog from Mundaring, after getting a little lost we arrived at Lou’s and lit a huge fire. While that started to warm the house I went out to walk the grounds and made sure the horses had water and hay.
The house has a flight of wooden stairs leading to an indoor balcony
overlooking the sitting area. As the house felt chilly to me I though it was an ideal place to sleep, high in the roof, above wood burner. I dozed off with the sound of snoring, farting hounds, not that ideal then..
Woke at first light and headed off into the paddocks. I sawed down dead trees till eight thirty, then cooked fat boy fried breakfast.
Logged all of what I had cut and went to take wood to Jon and Chris’s as I looked back to see if big Gordon (dog) was on his rug, I saw magpies in
kitchen window, went back to sort them. Two of them were trying to fly through the glass. Lou had said this might happen but did I really think it would happen??? Once passed the piles of poop on the floor and work surfaces I threw towels over them one at a time. They really fought back strong and scared. While I wrestled them I could here the bones cracking, nothing I could do as they had made a mess enough and I could not leave them in. Windows closed I resumed my journey.
The evening went like this.
2030 hrs time for sleep.
2115 hrs woke by sounds but not smells of farting dogs.
2230 hrs dogs growling and whistling at each other. Whimpering too, which I detest.
0120 hrs left my lofty perch and went to proper bed, the dogs shut up.
0200 hrs but then the ducks landed in the swimming pool and splashed and quacked. Grief does nothing sleep in the woods any more??
At seven opened an eye to what felt like the movie ‘Night in a Museum’, where all was normal during the day, but at night it came to life and chaos ruled. Topped my night when I found Gordon the huge dog had pissed on the floor……… Hence the whimpering I guess.
Cut and delivered more wood and finished just as the forecast rain swept in, in great sheets. Almost white against the green foliage.
Managed to leave work on time and headed out to the hills, really enjoyed being out of town and the only noise around was the burbling magpies and screeching parrots.
Went whale watching as a birthday prezzie from Diane, fantastic. We headed out into the ocean for three quarters of an hour in brilliant clear blue skies. Then cruised and waited, no whales. On we motored for a while, the stopped and waited. Soon a female and a calf came to see our boat. They nosed about two to ten meters away from us. About six more arrived and they circled the boat and started to stick their noses out of the water at the transom where you could touch them. Made a few sneeze and we were showered in whale snot… It was a fantastic experience, one to which the pictures don’t do justice.
Diane found a job at the mines in the north of WA and headed to Perth to have a very extensive medical, including a supervised urine sample. They would have waited along time for me. I cant piss on demand for nobody!
Should have gone in to service two trucks but as Diane was still off work my enthusiasm waned and we rode to look at a house in Freo, with a room to rent that looked that it should be detonated and certainly not renovated. The day was overcast and rained occasionally, but it was great to be out riding the two of us, even though my intercom headset had packed up and we were shouting to each other to be heard over the wind noise.
Riding passed the bistro where Diane was to attend a trail day on Monday arvo. I thought what a cool place it looked, all open plan, big plate glass doors that were open that let the mass of diners spill out onto the pavement, in a colourful spread of table cloths and bright summer dresses, on the ladies.
In the arvo the sun came out and punched the grey skies away, feeling idle we looked for rooms and had a beer or two. I thought if Diane does go to the mines and takes the lappy for company then I would have no net access, so I made a run to the mall and bought a smartphone. Two hours later it was unpacked with uncertainty as when I looked at it, only two buttons, bugger…..
Went to work till four with Diane giving a hand, saved me two hours.
Vanessa called and asked ‘why are you not up at the mines working as two girls were not coming back next week’? After, Vanessa made a call, she was back on the phone to Diane saying you are working next week if you want. Sure enough ten minuets late the phone rang and she flew out to Karratha five am Monday.
After cooking food and a few beers went to bed, thirty minutes later was up, could not rest at all. sat out and looked at the faint stars due to too much light pollution. tried to sleep again , gave up and looked at my diary of one year ago and thought how life was so very different then, exciting new places lay before us in a great un-charted map that lay new, crisp and clean in the tank bag. crawled into bed and thankfully slept at two am!!!
Public holiday in WA. woke at five, then six, then nine! fantastic. Stayed in bed looking at rental rooms on the net.
Made tea, back to bed, great! At eleven thirty found my leftovers from Thursday tea added more noodles and had them for late brekkie.
Looked at room in Cottesloe, on the ocean,and somewhere else. The first, by the ocean was nice the second, in suburbia, sharing with three young students, not so.
Went to Mundaring to see Raz, Heidi and boys. drank beer outside till it got too cold(!!!!!!!!!). then retreated in to be by the red hot wood burner and watched the latest pirates movie.
Fell onto their sofa at two thirty…..
Woke at seven with the sound of small padding feet on the wooden floor Miles on walkabout seeing who was sleeping on his sofa, next was Heidi picking up their tobacco off the table.
Seven thirty heard voices in the kitchen so hauled my sorry arse out of my pit and went to drink strong black coffee that poured in an endless fresh stream from a wonderful gadget on the counter top.
The sky was clear blue and not one cloud, although not warm yet the day promised to be a nice one.
Went to see Jon and Chris to re-set my crate that had fallen over in the wind. They were going out to judge a dressage competition and poor Mitsie the hectic hound was to be shut in due to her winding up the old guy next door, by barking when he pulled faces at her….
So she came with and had a hopefully better day picking up parts for Sundays servicing of the Frieghtliner.
Looked for more rooms on the net and e-mailed a few.
Took hound back and returned to Raz’s house to chill drink tea, re-fit the battery in his rs100 BMW and generally did not a lot.
He kindly fed me delicious squid in pepper and salt batter with a rich tasting fairly hot chilli sauce, wonderful.
Went to look at house in suburbia, she was a no show, waste of time.
Second one was really nice, had the feel of a backpackers, owned by young guy works off shore gas rigs and his mum managed it for him, no real space for the bike though and nothing undercover. He said about putting it in the garage but I would have to get cars moved to get the bike out, she said no its not practical, and I did have to agree. I thought, she’s the boss even though its his house!!!
Looked on the net again last thing at night and email a heap. Two came back immediately one with two car garage two mins walk from beach the other said it might not be big enough for two, but as Diane has gone walkabout that’s no great issue at the mo!
Looked at two rooms, on six hundred meters from the ocean but unfortunately also was thirty metres from the ground, no not a nest but an apartment, nice people and a nice place but I don’t think sky rise is for me.
The second was situated just north of White Gum valley which is where we always thought would a good place to live as its a short bus trip into Freo. The house had a covered stoop around the front and laundry, braai area and a pool outback. The ceilings were at angles as it was the roof of the building, so tall rooms and nice plasterwork.
Took a drive out to the ocean around midday and looked across jade green water hammering itself on the beach. the sky promised more rain and it was windy enough to pull your socks off.
Arrived at the yard to see one of the guys trying to slave start his truck. A few minuets later he was transferring his load to another truck and said he ‘could not drive that thing, sounds rooted’! I had a drive in the yard and it was making a heavy knocking from the rear. After much head scratching I removed the half shafts, no problem, then took the diff out. As I pulled to out I saw broken teeth in the casing… A total of four teeth had broken off the crown wheel. I have never known one to give trouble before.
A new diff was seventeen grand so a second hand unit was fitted for three. Apparently when the truck would not jump start it was push started with a fork truck, in first gear, with ten ton of flour on-board. That’s why it broke the teeth off…..
Headed up to Raz’s home after a few hours at work, he has a braai organized with a few locals and a kiwi couple. A wonderful arvo passed into a drunken evening with much beer and huge prawns being consumed. At the last call for a beer I asked what the time was as he was demanding to be allowed to sleep, I thought it was maybe midnight and the night was young, when he squinted at his wrist watch and said feck, (not quite) its three am, Christmas morning. I felt tired and forgot the last beer. Stumbling off the sofa I fell over an arm chair into a deep sleep after luckily landing on said sofa.
After many rich flavoured coffee’s from the auto machine most Auzzy seam to have, we headed off to Heidi’s folks for a breakfast. The spread that greeted us reminded me of the Bavarian feast we enjoyed at Martin and Peppies over a year ago in Germany, on the way south. Boiled white sausages, bread rich with spices and herbs, champaign.
Feeling very rude after my very wonderful breakfast and much hospitality I bade my farewell and headed to Perth and met Tim, Leon, Sean, Alese and James. Where we enjoyed a braai my the Swan River of huge crayfish and heaps of crisp salad and Coopers Beer. As the sun sank and chilled the air Sean left and we retired the the apartment that looked over the golf course and on to Perth city CBD. The river water sparkled azure blue in the heat of mid summer sun. (28 degrees, not that warm) The evening dissolved into a plethora of chess games and bottles of beer finished with a gorgeous red wine and pistachio nuts.
I headed into work with good intentions of a servo on a couple of trucks but thought of lying under on the floor with a dizzy head made me think of my bike, and staying vertical and tidying up the welding on the racks and repainting them. Sean and a buddy of his came in and I was shown a bakkie with a supercharged seven and a half litre engine producing six hundred and fifty horse power. My first semi truck produced two hundred and ninety horse…..had a few beer’s with, and went home.
Diane came back from mining gold in the desert, but alas fell into bed snoozing hard. So I sat out till late drinking beer and spirits with Elle and Scott, would have made a good new year eve.
Thought heaps about the last year and the fact we were in Tanzania, hoping to be in Auzzyland next new year
January 1st 2012
Worked till two thirty and headed to huge mall six clicks from work to buy much needed but not wanted cell phone as my trusted Nokia had taken freezing up on me. The mall was shut on Sundays!!! so headed to Wembley to look at a one bed apartment to tied us over till Robs place in Freo hopefully becomes available. The place was small but very OK for us. One other person had looked at it that morning and has first refusal so wait wait wait!!
Phone call at nine thirty to ask did I want the apartment or not, in a nice kind of way. Pad secured I carried on working kinda relived that we had a place nearer to our beloved Freo for six months
Working late peeved me, as Toni, our landlady, had told us that she wanted to give us a farewell supper and I felt rude in not being back earlier. Once through the door a beer was passed to my hot, slightly grubby fist. Toni had prepared a corn tacos meal for the five of us. Scot had made Guacamole, and the corn chips were covered with red kidney beans in a cumin rich tomato sauce, melted cheese… and yes its one of my favourite feeds. We sat out till late with a beers and pleasant conversation.
Moving day!! I had boxed most of our gear and stowed it in the bakkie but when the room was finally stripped bare I was fairly horrified at how much stuff we really had collected by standing still. The flat is going to be worse as its unfurnished.
Diane got her bike gear on (38 degrees, full sunshine) and pushed the go button, nadda, nothing, zippo, flat battery. Bump starting the bike was thankfully swift and we were on our way west.
With our possessions abandoned in the flat we headed to the nearest mall, as we got closer, following the GPS, I realized that it’s the same mall that had the wonderful seafood shop we bought huge prawns and smoked muscles from a while back. We needed to by items that we have taken for granted on the road and at Toni’s home, like kettles, crockery and cutlery. Girls at work had already kindly donated drinking glasses and a set of cutlery so with baking tray, kettle and huge supply of food bought we quickly packed in our new kitchen, washed and headed off to Burswood to my works party.
Tim had laid on a heap of prawns as a starter in a tray about one by one and a half meters and three prawns deep!!!! it was quite a site to behold.
A great evening passed by with wonderful food and drink. A cab home saved my driving licence from the authorities.
I walked have way to Burswood to retrieve the bakkie I jumped on a train as time was disappearing fast and we had lots to do. Diane scoured Gumtree for a mattress as we fell unconscious on the floor last night.
As I walked from the train station toward the car park it dawned on me that a complex as large as Burswood would have many car parks. Forty minutes of wondering around found the vehicle, I had not a clue as to where I had left it as I followed a work buddy.
Diane called and gave me an address of a free mattress, so I hotfooted there and realized the foolishness of trying to fit a queen size into the jumbuck, which was not that clean either, as its a working vehicle. Borrowing a truck from work sorted that out but was a twenty km trip to collect it, fifteen to drop it at the flat and twenty back to work! We then headed a further twenty km south to collect a TV complete with stand. I felt like I had driven half way to the southern ocean but we had started to collect household stuff we will need in the next eighteen months, for free!!
Diane and Vanessa collected a sofa bed and a laptop table from the verge collection. So now had even something to sit on.
Verge collection you ask? This is the day once a month every suburb is transformed from its immaculate or run down normal state to a levelling plateau of really shabbiness. The populous are able to set on the verge or kerb side items they don’t want any more, from real rubbish to, well sofa beds for the poms!! You are able, free, and possibly encouraged to pick any thing you want from these piles of treasures and tripe to take as your own. No vehicles to be left out though, and boy can these guys collect old vehicle in their yards and gardens
Richard, contract driver at work asked me if a table was on the wanted list as he knew of one going begging. Result.
Today is a public holiday so had a beery day with the possibility of going to to river to see the promised hectic firework display
Call me ignorant, but I did not know what Australia day was all about. For those like me, I’ll tell it’s to celebrate the day the first white man set foot here. (I think that’s correct). Well what a piss off for the Aboriginals that were here setting feet down sixty thousand years prior to the white men!!! no wonder they get grumpy when this is shoved in yer face. Anyhow, as we watched the top most of the fireworks from our stoep in front of us the sky had gone from night sky with stars to solid black with a hectic lightning storm flashing arcs of light outlined in purple that sizzled with horrendous thunder claps that rattled the windows. Made me think maybe someone was succeeding in out doing the Australia Day fireworks…..
Said table arrived at work. Its really warming when folks go out of their way to help out
Went to work for a few hours but could not complete many jobs as needed a hand so took the top off the table and carted it home along with more food as I had a yearning for fruit and more sea feed, but not together!
After reassembling the table I heaped all our news papers and free magazines I had collected from various truck dealers and made it look a sight! But I do like a bench. A big criteria for me on the trip through Africa was to make camp next to a bench, something to sit at to make our world a little more three dimensional..
Freightliner lost its rego plate so I hot footed to the Licence and vehicle examination department to obtain a replacement set of plates. I think at this point I should outline how folks down under pay for the use of a vehicle or trailer. Initially the vehicle is subjected to a roadworthy test over an inspection pit, the cost of this is dependent on the type of vehicle, motorcycle, truck, trailer, car etcetera. When successful, a rego plate is issued and they are fitted to the vehicle or trailer yep trailers pay to. The upkeep of the plate is subject to paying the annual fee, three per cent of the said value of vehicle. Yes you could lie but they do have a data base to the values, and if your silly they will tell you. If the fee is paid when required then that vehicle never goes back in for inspection. So some of the gear on the road looks fairly rough, although they do pull stuff over for road side checks, and they red sticker the bad ones, cant move, only by recovery. Yellow sticker for the less serious, but they all have to then go over the inspection pits. So at the office of rego plates I take a ticket and go to start reading the wall literature to make the long wait less tedious. Ten seconds later my number is called and ten minutes later I’m back out in the sunshine with new Rego plates. Once again impressed with the speed and efficiency of Aussie efficiency. Even though the lady behind the counter was a grim faced old boat. Oh yeah the cost? Twenty four bucks and only one form to fill in.
Went into work at eight and showed Diane how to remove road wheels and hub bearings on three axle truck. While I servo’d a prime mover she stripped the six hubs. I gave a hand to remove the hubs as they all were tight on the bearings and required a puller to get them to move. Looking at the brake shoes, they showed evidence that the brake drums were way oversize. By five pm we were finished and headed home for shower and a feed
Slower start to the day and arriving at the yard at ten I servo’d another prime mover in three hours while Diane, who had ridden there cleaned her bike.
After a wash at the flat we headed to Cottesloe to find a bar we had been told of that had music most nights and certainly would have at the weekend. As we received our drinks at the counter I raised a glass and toasted to drinking Stella Artois on a Sunday while the band played. This was our weekly treat in England in an three hundred year old wharf side pub. But here we over-looked, through open floor to ceiling windows, the width of the bar, a blue Indian ocean flecked with kite surfers. folks swimming and playing in the surf and huge container ships on the horizon waiting for permission to enter Freo docks.
A poster advertised a hairy, long moustachioed man playing there next Saturday. He was billed as ‘Donovan’, I asked the bar tender if it was Donovan or a look-a-like, as I thought he was long dead. No I was wrong, it is the man being sponsored by a beer company to tour W.A. and possibly all of Aussieland.
After a paddle in the shallows we headed back and commented on how bizarre to see so many bathers after a great number of shark sighting and one man being taken and another vanished from the beach with no other explanation than shark feeding time. This last month they have sighted forty four sharks over two meters long in the shallows around the Freo / Cottesloe area. The beaches on this part of the coast drop off very steep so in five meters out you can be in two or more meters of water, deep enough for biting fish…..
Took the brake shoes in to be relined and the main man there confirmed my thoughts, the drums were scrap. As the hire truck to replace this one has to be returned Tuesday night I strongly pushed that Diane comes in tomorrow and helps as I will need a hand in fitting the new drums to the hubs as it’s a two person job. With the shoes refitted I left.
Last valentine’s day we were in Springbok South Africa, there I bought Diane a bag of toasted muesli as a present, and we sat in the sunshine and had breakfast. Today I took her out for the day, back to the yard to fit new brake drums to hubs….. We were working at six am and the nuts were removed at eleven thirty, sixty nuts, very tight to the end of the studs, five and half hours. Hectic!!!!
We both work hard till it was finished and I drove it out at eight pm. Oh yeah were also changed three tyres on a semi-trailer. As we sat, filthy dirty drinking a cold beer, the warehouse guys said how rooted we looked and it was time to wash and sleep.
Diane had been to a Chinese food market similar to the one I Kuala Lumpur last week so we headed off after a slow morning to food shop for the week. There we found an ample supply of dried beans and pulses to make the ‘beany thing’ that we often ate in UK. The so called super markets don’t really sell dried pulses, strange when they are trying to gain a healthier Australia. I guess seventy per cent of the population are overweight and some are seriously in need of medical help. Both indigenousness and white. With a heap of food bought, as its difficult to resist good ingredients, we headed back for a slow arvo.
I was waking often during the night with an excruciating pain in my left hip which kept me from sleeping. Only getting up and walking was the way to gain relief. During the day, being active gave me no problem. After a week of this I registered with a Medicare centre and talked with a doctor who was baffled by it all and sent me for x-rays. When he called the department they said yep, come now. I arrived with the expectation of waiting for a few hours. However I was in and out in thirty minutes. The x-rays showed bugger all wrong with my hips, knees and anything else. On my consolation the following Monday he told me he was suspecting bone cancer!! As apparently this starts off at night when you are asleep waking with excruciating pain… so beware of the night pains.
Went round to Mark and Vanessa’s to collect a fan to make our warm night a little more bearable and they mentioned a music festival at a small town called Nanup, about three hours south and inland of here. Sound a great way to spend the long weekend as it was Labour day and a public holiday on Monday. I had not ridden for almost four months and Diane had not ridden a long distance yet so we are going to ride to the festival!
Since having the fan the night temperatures have plummeted to seventeen degrees so now we feel a little chilly. Sorry those in the UK….
Rode the bike home from work today so we can pack in the arvo and leave at a reasonable time. Felt strange to be amongst the traffic again but was wonderful to be riding again.
Packed up towels and clothes at first light, well after breakfast!
Vanessa and Mark arrived at ten thirty as they had a drama with Bernadine as Rubin was set to look after her but was stranded in Paris.
We set off following with me last, they had given us directions to get on the right highway but I paid not much attention as Diane was good at that sort of thing. Fifteen minutes later we had followed the wrong white estate car into a suburb. With GPS set we were soon heading south.
I had a three quarters full fuel tank and Diane had filled up. As the KTM covers around three hundred clicks on tar I had no worries that I would get to Busselton…. About thirty k’s from Bunbury the fuel light came on which surprised me a little. We pulled into our first road house which was an oasis. Full of life supplies and hot fried food. An American muscle car club was in for fuel and fries and the corrugated tin canopy shook as they rumbled to and from the pumps. Regrouping, we set off as a convoy of three again.
We parked up within sight of Busselton jetty, this eighteen hundred meter long wooden spectacle was built to load ships with timber bound for UK and Europe two hundred years ago. It is reputed to be the longest in the southern hemisphere.
North of the peninsular of Cape Naturaliste the coastline was ideal for surfing, with green rolling hills down to the ocean and white sandy beaches.
South of the peninsular at Yallingup the coast was a turbulence of waves crashing into steep craggy cliffs.
We stopped for beer in a very English country pub with a rose garden and lawns that looked as they led down to a sparkling river. Pushing through the undergrowth no river was found but sand and scrub bushes stretched out to the forest beyond
Riding south to Margaret River we stocked up on food to cook on the Braai that were provided in Warren National Park we were set to camp in.
As the sun sunk the trees turned a dark yellow and gold.
Five km of gravel to camp twenty seven clicks later we hit the camping area. Mark came and told us we were nearly there (again) but the next bit was a tricky bit…. ‘Steep down hair pin left then up, oh if its damp it’ll be real slippery. As it was getting dark we did not relish the thought. But you just have to do it and with a lot less wieght on the bike it felt good, enjoyable even..
It was getting very dark when we arrived. No fires or braai were allowed so l cooked on the trusty petrol stove that other folks said I should leave at home. So camped up and cooking on old faithful felt great. And great to be in the tent again, last time was Grayton at Fire and Shannon’s home.
The magnetic flash light was covered in small stones in the morning which puzzled me, till it dawned that the earth is so red due to the iron content of the rock and that’s why its red!!
The river was only five meters from the camp site and looked more like a pond than a river, only the wild life on its surface made the water move, thick, and sluggish. I had boasted to Mark about the water filter I bought and how excellent it was. But I did not fancy drinking this pond water at all.
Rode out of the tall trees and got onto a gravel road which felt like tar after the forest track. Headed into Pemberton for a fat boy breakfast, cereals, eggs, bacon sausages, tea, coffee and orange juice, then felt slightly ill.
Headed to Nannup and camped in mid-day heat at the local park which had been given over to festival goers.
We were really too late for festival so stayed in the hotel where great local bands played music and lots of draft Coopers was consumed.
Camp packed away sharp, after finding an egg roll we headed back home hopefully before the rest of Perth did. At Busselton stopped for gas and wanted to stop for a break but it made sense to keep going to miss the traffic. No places to stop on the highway. The road houses were few and very far between. As in Sudan we would have to watch the fuel and water when we do travel out of here. Had great afternoon with a warm shower and cold wine
Tim called at six thirty am with the news that the trailer I have been trying to get into the workshop for the last few weeks to replace the rear axle brakes had finally given up. The Z cam that pushes the brake shoes onto the drum had rattled itself loose and cut through the drum to leave a disc bolted to hub and the drum lying halfway down the axle.
Went to Denise’s son Paul’s home for a braai, which unknown to us was her birthday, arriving at one, we had no idea that the day and early evening would pass so quick. We thought we would be there for a few hours! Fantastic food spicy rice prawns crabs and home-made chutneys and sauces rich with tomatoes and chillies.
Arriving at work at eight thirty we stripped the mess off the rear axle ready for new parts on Monday and replaced the shoes on the offside front axle.
When the two small trucks were serviced we headed home dirty and weary.
Fitted a clutch in a truck, got the ‘box out in an hour but struggled getting it back in as the transmission jack visibly dropped as we tried to align it back to the engine. After much bad language it was in and we went to Cottesloe to look at ‘The Sculptures by the Sea’.
These varied from what I call modern art to stone carvings of wood screws that were a meter long and six hundred mil wide. All of it was good if only for the skill of the manufacture. Art is a personal thing after all.
Went to Rockingham to visit a blues music and craft and art show, the poster showed a really alternative looking one day festival. We walked round for thirty minutes and found that it seemed to be aimed at children which was good but not much there for us so we headed back to Perth to the camping and caravan show. Was interesting to compare the differences and a few similarities to the caravans in the UK. We asked a lady working at one of the major companies why the ‘vans were all less than two meters wide she told us it was due to the roads being narrower here. This surprised me slightly as the trucks are two and a half meters wide, maybe it’s the same as the UK, where behind a passenger vehicle you are restricted to seven feet and nine inches.
Saw two items for sale that appealed to us both, the first was a cooking stove called an ‘Oz-Pig’, the second a thirty eight litre fridge that runs off a car battery, ideal for the trips out we want to do. The ‘pig I can make, so I bought the fridge and gave us a project.
A year ago we were woken to a Happy birthday song by Dale, Maloney, Max and Jorden. They sang as a milk tart was bore into our bed chamber.. Long time since.
This year to celebrate Diane’s birthday we went to a Seafeed bistro that had been recommended to me. We dined on a vast variety of char-grilled octopus, poached fish and fat boy fries. Feeling over full, fat, and tired we headed home to lie in bed and lament we ate too much, but nice feed.
At an outdoors living shop we spent the value of our ‘free’ voucher that came with the fridge on a four litre pooitjic pot and a small cast iron griddle plate. At the checkout I saw an Oz-Pig on display and asked the young lady on the register if they had empty, scrap gas bottles, result! Walked out with two. Project pig is go!!!!
Went into work and spent five hours hacksawing the ends off each gas bottle, I wanted to use the disc cutter, but with the residue gas, it’s not a good idea!
With the middle cut out of one and the second in half, welded together we went home.
Turning into the drive someone had left a heap of marque poles out for vergo pick up, excellent, all I could see were pigs legs….
Stayed late to finish the pig as were going to Wave Rock tomorrow and we need to cook on that pig.
On the road by ten am heading for Brookton. We passed through the sourth most tip of Mundaring state forest, which broke up the otherwise bland landscape. Brookton Roadhouse offered hot fries and gravy, and although a little to salty for us they were delicious. Onward to Hayden and Wave Rock. With camp set and wood collected for the pig, called Pickles, after the pot bellie pig in Worcester ZA, we walked to the rock. Fair play it does look like a wave. Apparently water eroded it, over a few millennia, seeping through the overlying gravel undercutting the top two or three metres into softer rock beneath. Hence leaving an overhang with gradually harder rock at the base of the curve. The photos explain it better.
With supper ate we fire gazed into a raging stove
Went to Hoptoun on the coast and camped at a site which boarded the beach and the ocean, which softly crashed with hypnotic rhythm. There were roughly half the camp places occupied by folks obviously living there, as the caravans had long been built onto and bricked in and up.
We considered going as far as Esperance but that would give a seven hundred clicks drive home in one day. So we headed west to Albany. This town boasted being second oldest next to Perth, on main street the houses, now shops were timber framed and painted black and white as are the cottages where I come from, so it felt homely. Sad to be heading home to Perth and not travelling on, we consoled ourselves with the Fairbridge Music festival coming up soon
Left at eleven half day for Fairbridge, were were mostly packed the day before. The bakkie full of food and wood for the pig and a fridge chilling ale and wine.
Pig now had been christened proper as I wrote (his) name on side in weld.
The arvo was hot and sunny so with camp set we waited for Mark an Vanessa to arrive.
We all had a great weekend wondering from venue to venue to enjoy all types of music. The trading stalls were slightly different from the normal, with one exception.
This lady, with her husband went out to the old gold field sites near Kalgoorlie and amongst the ghost towns that still remain, picked up pieces of broken pottery. Back home she shaped them and sent the items to Bali where a silversmith set them so they could be worn as jewellery, finger, ear rings, broaches. The variety was huge, and cleverly done. Diane called in her owed birthday gift and had ear rings, unique.
Felt like the first day of winter. Driving to work eastward, the dawn was no rose pink or stunning golden shafts streaking from behind the hills, but a solid grey. The only features in it were darker lower cloud. The rain fell without interest in vertical lines, not even a breath of wind to make it more dramatic. For all of daylight hours it rained….
Had a mad thought that I may be able to buy a passage to the UK to see the offspring, my fathers birthday and catch up with friends and paperwork. Work carried on til gone five pm so that buggered up getting to the flight agent
Made sure I left on time and got a ticket sorted, for tomorrow! So I booked a cab for four thirty am from work as its better to leave the bakkie there, safer and its not mine anyway!!!
Arrived at work with a mouth like a Quokka’s arm pit, so amid the hectic unpacking of the vehicle a hot mug of tea was thrown down while chatting to Steve as he unloaded his back freight.
Cab arrived, and by five twenty I was sat with long wait till eight am depart.
All went smooth, arriving in Guangzhow on time, late in the afternoon, with a six hour wait. It was thirty four degrees and sunny, I remarked to a fellow passenger how nice it was to feel the warm sun on your face.
Not travellers now, just sheep like passengers. Herded from one desk to another. Sure it was a little like that with boarder crossings on the
road, but there we went in our own time and had black market money changers to barter with. I guess it was just more fun!!
We left on time thankfully as its a twelve hour flight, and my time is tight enough as it is. After four hours or so we had been feed and watered (like sheep) and I had an hours snooze. On waking I watched a couple of movies, the later one being Ground hog day. In this the guy is stuck in a time loop, reliving the same day until he makes himself a much nicer person, and not such a poop. It felt like that on this long flight, sleep, eat, movie, and then do it all again, three times. I asked a hostess if I could get off as I had had enough. She did not smile and just said No.
Dropped out of a thickly clouded sky over Paris and waited for four hours to be herded into another silver sausage bound for London.
On time, at last, I was able to walk free from the confines of public transport and start to move on my own pace. Heading north on the circular highway around London I felt hemmed in by other vehicles and bullied into travelling faster than my ninety clicks per hour. I stuck to my guns and ambled on…
Late, not used to deadlines, I mostly sorted my finances out and then bought some real beer. After the Auzzy and Chinese drinks this was heaven.
Caught up with folks in St. Ives. Nice evening.
After a visit to my new dentist, alas Mrs Rogers who looked after my teeth for fifteen plus years had retired last Easter, I went to my old caravan left in
James’s barn. I was delighted and surprised to find that all our clothes and other gear were in excellent condition. For those of you in the southern hemisphere, you may not realise how much damp and condensation can occur.
Braving Friday afternoon commuter traffic I headed west to find my family.
I sat on Elizabeth and Patrick’s drive and dialled her cell phone. She sounded pleased I was back for a while but not that surprised. Maybe she guessed. Pat soon arrived from friends house and we went for a feed.
Elizabeth reintroduced me to my parents and we talked till late.
Spent the morning with Pat organising our banking with the very bubbly and efficient Ms. Jones.
Three pm was Dad’s eightieth birthday party at my brother, Tony’s farmstead. He provided a huge braai and steak that equalled the feed we had enjoyed in Botswana. Heaps of relos were there and it was great to talk with folks I had not seen for years
Stayed over at Tony’s, sat by a fire, drank beer, like old times.
Day 606 Sunday 10th June
After breckie we renewed a few roofing sheets on the vehicle garage, sat on the roof looking over the camping orchard I recalled in fast forward some of the camp grounds we had slept at in Africa. Its true that you can travel the globe but life for those not moving on, stays the mostly the same, I hope!!!!
Day 611 Friday 15th June
Departure night. Check in was achieved with little hassle, although I would not recommend commercial flying with steel toe capped boots, at every metal detector I had to remove them for x-ray.
The thought of the thirteen plus hour flight filled me with dread. But it was ok, aided by starting and finishing Ozzy Osbourne’s life story.
Day 613 Sunday 17th June
Perth was a wet and dark morning. The cab to work was warm and when I discovered my bakkie had a flat tyre. I really felt worn out.
Day 729 Wednesday 10th October
As the carnet expires on the twenty fourth of this month I took bike to be examined for road worthy. After waiting and paying due cost I waited a long while more. Eventually yer man came over and said ”your bike is on a carnet, when does it expire?” I told him and the reply was obvious now but not until that moment. When the carnet expires the bike has to leave and all paperwork for Australia ceases to be valid. The only option is to import the bike. How do you do that? I thanked the inspector and rode back to work with a head full of questions.
Day 731 Friday 12th October
The best place to go for help was to Customs House at the airport, after all it is a customs issue. But I knew time was not on my side, and the prospect of having to crate and export the bike to probably New Zealand, go there, sort paperwork, send it back to Aussie. In the mean time apply for a new carnet from the UK was daunting to say the least! We were attended to by a very helpful gentleman who explained the whole process to us very clearly, and even drew us a flow chart of what lay ahead for us and our bike. He impressed on us the importance of using a broker as we did not have time to get it wrong. He said ”when you have been successful bring your bike here so we can see it with the WA Rego plate on it”, positive man. With a photocopy from the white pages giving a list of brokers and a business card from a company not far from work, we went home.
Day 734 Monday 15th October
I called Securities in Brisbane and was asked to e-mail, giving details of the circumstance of why the bike was still here and how.
Day 736 Wednesday 17th October
I decided to use the guy who had taken the time to deliver a card to customs house. He was in absolute agreement with our friend at customs house, we should use him as a broker, surprised? As he outlined the process of importing a vehicle, and the four figure sum involved for his services. I thought I could do this myself, if I had time to get it wrong. As I was prepared now for a large invoice but not having to export and reimport the bike this was the cheaper option. Then my cell phone rang. Unknown number. It was a lady from Securities in Brisbane, she told me she had discussed with her colleagues and was giving me an extension on the carnet of sixty days!! Enough time to get a VIA (Vehicle Import Approval). My broker asked to talk with her. After a few minutes he gave my ‘phone back and said “you don’t need me, do you know her? Because she is going to help you import your bike”. Slightly confused I thanked him for his time and left his office. On looking at my e-mail that night, sure enough there was the letter giving me time to get a VIA, and a link to the form to apply.
Day 738 Friday 19th October
Had a reply from VIA people stating the evidence they required, that I had owned it for at least one year and it was mine to use every day etcetera etcetera.
Tried to scan documents at work but did not have much success, so left and bought a scanner/printer on the way home, more clutter into our previously clutter free lives. We are blown away by how you gather STUFF of all sorts when you stand still.
Tried for an hour or two to down load the software. Failed.
Day 739 Saturday 20th October
On the way home bought a DVD reader and a lead as the blue tooth connection did not work for me either, more stuff!
Day 740 Sunday 21st October
Spent all day scanning relevant documents and attaching it to two e-mails as can I can only attach twenty five MB to one ‘mail. Had a notice of failed delivery back on both of them. Checked my ‘sent’ box and they both had been sent???
Day 741 Monday 22nd October
Called VIA people and was told “Oh were you unaware of the fact we can only accept eight MB of attachment in any one e-mail, I don’t believe that info is on the form is it?” “No its not I replied” Spent the evening splitting up the docs. Into said eight meg-a-bits attachments and then sent all ELEVEN of them off, and received e-mails back stating that they all got there.
Day 796 Monday 17th December
Have not heard from VIA people so grovelled for another extension on carnet. Had a bad gut felling that I was pushing my luck. Also VIA wanted proof that the bike in Australia legally as the carnet was long expired. I asked for written conformation of this from Securities.
Day 798 Wednesday 19th December
Securities sent a mail giving me another sixty days to get VIA, also a phone call saying that she had told VIA that an extension had been granted. She sounded annoyed that they had not realized that vital piece of information.
Day 800 Friday 21st December
Woke as usual at five am and started to pack our gear, heading away from Perth, now such a great idea. The only loss were our bikes, and the looming threat of coming back.
Our cab arrived, driven by Belay, an Ethiopian gentleman. While he drove we asked about his homeland and why he left. Our journey to the airport resulted in an exchange of cell numbers and an invite to supper..
Eight am saw us air borne, heading east. Soon we were off land, heading out over the Southern Ocean. After a shabby meal we descended into Melbourne. (Virgin flight). As the bag was checked into Hobart we had four carefree hours to have a look at Melbourne.
We ducked into a cab and headed into town. Dropped off in the café strip we walked up and down the main drag, looking into the book sellers and independent retailers of weird stuff. At a Chinese tobacconist I haggled for two ‘roo skins for our saddles. At half the price of ‘Freo I paid her and left, very happy with the deal. When many shops offer the same skins a four times the price I wonder what do they buy them in at….
The road our cab driver left us on was fantastic, a myriad of café, bars and independent retailers of tourist wanna buys. On our return trip he said as he was off shift he would run us around the tourist areas to enable a few pictures of areas we would have missed. Good guy eh??
The flight out was delayed by fifteen minutes, not a lot , but three gate changes made for a thirty minute walk in total, but hey I need the exercise!!
Landing in Hobart late/dark, we headed to the car rentals, only to be told, “all sold out till late February”. So a cab to town to pick up some festive cheer, as we were thirty clicks out of town. Then out to oldest Richmond, another fifty clicks.
At half eleven at night, we arrived. We were buggered if we could find the flash light to illuminate the key safe to enable us to get in. After asking a “still awake neighbour” we were key rich and in. Many thanks the our cab driver Paul, and next door. Good eggs!!! We said we could meet for a drink in the village later maybe. Home at last….. “No!” She said ”I think I need a glass of wine now”, while I poured her a tumbler full, Diane explained we were tired from travelling all day, pushing the tumbler at her she moved off back to her house.
Day 801 Saturday 22nd December
Well with no hire vehicle, we woke late, (three hour time difference) and hot footed the the bus stop, fifteen minutes late saw me calling for a cab, missed the bus! In town we waked the very worth while Salimanca Market.
Our landlady kindly hounded down a vehicle for us at a lesser cost than at the airport, so after our market experience and purchasing seafeed for Christmas day, we headed home.
Day 802 Sunday 23rd December
We drove the ninety or so clicks to to penal colony of Port Arthur, although the G.P.S. Said one hour it tool one thirty, due to the windy Herefordian roads.
It was a fantastic site, with a guided walk and a boat ride booked we were free to roam the grounds
On our way back we stopped at a Tasmanian Devil sanctuary with only one and a half hours before closing we had a good mooch around. We were slightly surprised how small they were, twelve kilos for a grown male. There were tame ‘roos which would let you rub their flea infested, slightly oily fur. How ever much we did not want to, we did because we might not get another chance.
A few clicks down the road a sign pointed to Blow Hole Bay, so we diverted back and looked at this natural wonder, what the power of the ocean, given enough time can do. It had eroded a tunnel through the softer rock and made a cave when the rock grew harder again. Eventually made a hole up to the surface, over time worn away the roof till it collapsed, now you have large bowel into which the ocean rushes and if time and tide are correct you get a huge tower of salt water heading skywards, which alas we did not see!!!!
For compensation we bought wonderful potato fries, battered scallops and perfectly chewy calamari from a three axle trailer that sold all thing unhealthy.
Like iced cream, full fat coffee and dough nut rings, we stuck to our fishy fries.
Had a call from vehicle rental man in Hobart, as we have to give back our car tomorrow. He said “er, ehm, do you mind what you drive, at all…… as I have a bakkie available, if you don’t mind” he added quickly. As he thought this was a lowly form of transport I would say no. He added to finalize my refusal, “its not a crew cab either”! That’s fine I said as long as it is cheaper and it can be left at the air port. It was and it could be dropped there. Result. Strange things come to those who wait.
Day 803 Monday 24th December
We got our shopping sorted for our Christmas feed, swapped posh car for bakkie.
Recommended to us by our cab driver was the MONA Museum, of new and old art. A clue in the name!!!! It was a private art collection owned by a very successful gambler, it ranged from the “normal” to the outright bizarre.
(see pictures). The museum its self was a marvel, it was built on a cliff edge, so you went into reception, then down four floors, which felt like the bowels of the earth, but you were one metre above the waters of the bay. As you walked through the exhibits, you made you way up to ‘ground’ floor. I don’t do modern art stuff but this was a fantastic assembly of weird and the wonderful. Stayed for four hours!
The Neighbour returned with an apparently odd boyfriend in tow. I was in the bath so heard little of the exchange, thankfully as what I did here was not all good. Diane explained later how they had been barred from the food shops in the village and unsurprisingly the bars as well. The bars in the two closest villages did not want their money either. Also they had ‘lost’ their car, or maybe licence. They were keen to come for a drink tomorrow, we were not.
As we had a heap of food, and don’t really eat much at once we decided to cook tonight our ocean fodder and finish it tomorrow. Rock Lobster tail, salad and crusty bread.
Day 804 Tuesday 25th December
Woke late and did bugger all really, cooked lobster remains up with scallops, bream and muscles into a good warming broth. Just what you need on a twenty seven degree Christmas day. We did manage to have a nice fire in the afternoon, without having to open all the doors to let the heat out!
Just as well as our neighbour who is fond of a drink came back. After beating on the door then rattling the handle she wandered up and down the street shouting obscenities at the top of her voice for half an hour. Happy Christmas.
Day 805 Wednesday 26th December
Packed our gear as we have to leave our lovely big fire place, (and cottage)!!
Walking across the oldest still used bridge in Australia, (1825) to the oldest still used Roman Catholic church. The bridge was build by convicts.
We headed to a bar to play pool and a few wines for Diane. Watched the locals enjoying their boxing day, while we played pool, badly, thinking of visa complications.
We got on board our plane and headed to Melbourne, as our plane to Sydney left one hour after we landed, haste was made.
After a fruitless search for the rail stops at Sydney airport, (plenty of direction in the airport, but none visible outside), we hailed a cab and paid a premium again! But he was quick to offer us a diversion as an accident in the tunnel would add on “much more time”
We have acquired a knack of arriving late, did it a few times on the road in Africa too…. The reception was on the tenth floor which was bizarre in my book, but Trevor was very welcoming and we were soon making our new place untidy (unpacking).
Day 806 Thursday 27th December
Water taxi to the Circular Quays saw us motoring under the harbour bridge, with the opera house emerging from the steel work as we rounded the bend in the river.
Spent three hours walking the opera house and a tour to the off limit places, well worth while.
Onto Manly, (so named by the white settlers because they thought the Aboriginals looked manly on that particular headland), again by cheap public water taxi. At the Tourist Info we were given a walk through the national park for five clicks. Its was good to walk the high cliffs with the blue ocean far below. Headed back to town for a few beers in a German bar. It was so refreshing to drink chilled Wiesbeer. Long time ago since Martin and Peppi bought us a Bavarian breakfast. Arriving back in circular quays it was discovered that the connecting ferry to our district had stopped at nine thirty so another cab saw delivered home.
Day 807 Friday 28th December
Headed to the Hard Rock Café for a hectic amount of Nachos corn chips. Later later walking around the street markets of Sydney feeling decidedly bloated.
Talking to locals about the etiquette surrounding the new year fireworks, it soon become evident that if you want a good place generally its best to be there around midday! So one has to carry your provisions for a twelve hour wait. Where do you go to the toilet? How does a stranger find their way back? Will my place still be there? So we booked a ferry/show-boat for our viewing of the fireworks from Sydney Harbour.
Day 808 Saturday 29th December
I walked over the harbour bridge, I wanted to do the bridge walk over the top. When we flew in neither the bridge or opera house looked that large, but I guess when your three hundred metres high nothing will. Walking the footpath and being under it gives you a different perspective of its enormity. Watching folks going up the first ladders in a safety tubes you can tell from their body movement they were fairly worried/terrified. Maybe next time…..
More street markets at The Rocks area adjacent to the bridge, were enjoyed and a Irish bar with traditional music played by traditionally red nosed Paddies.
Day 809 Sunday 30th December
We caught a bus to the famous surf beach, Bondi!! Well it looked nice, and surfy, and like a lot of other beaches both here, and a few other places I’ve been. Probably the shape of the cove that makes so Bondi. Took the coast walk to Coogee, which took longer that we guessed due to the amount a pedestrian traffic. Not surprising as it was a beautiful walk. Strangely enough had few beers in another Irish bar and more music.
Day 810 Monday 31st December
took bus to Newtown to catch the famous street market, only to find out its on Saturdays. I said to Diane not to worry as we had a travel pass and it would not cost, only our time as I was sure the bus would head back to town and terminate there. Nope, soon the bus was empty and we were heading out of town, big time. Our kindly lady bus driver asked where we were going as although she was heading back she was not going to town, but to the terminus. She would advise us, “when to disembark, to enable you to catch your return bus” Soon she was close to bundling us out of the door as our other bus had appeared earlier than expected!!
Spent a couple of hours in the apartment, walked to the jetty we found our boat. As soon as we were on board we made a friendship of an American family, they invited us to share their table and put our bag under. The boat motored out into the harbour, pausing by the Oprah house for the uninitiated. As darkness enveloped the surrounding higher ground the drinks and canapés we flowing freely, and the whole of the passengers were talking to each other like we old friends at a party. Soon it was close to midnight and the firecrackers started. They were a little to to rear of our boat, the another display on the other shore then the bridge display. All up probably fifteen minutes and fairly spectacular, although a little disappointing to what we had seen on TV in the years before we got here. We reckon they play all the displays one after another and obviously from the best vantage points, the air. Also a good zoom would get you in amongst it all. But a great night and great company.
Day 811 Tuesday 1st January 2013
Woke late, again, (still on WA time). Had a short walk to another Irish bar, few beers, back to flat, early night as we leave tomorrow.
Day 812 Wednesday 2nd January
As we tumbled out of the sliding glass doors that were the main entrance to the apartment block I laughed to myself at the enormity of our luggage, probably twice what we travelled Africa with, and that included camping and cooking gear!!!!!
The Taxi Cab squealed to a halt and a big Ghana built gentleman got out and said to the airport Mr boss? He lifted the case in like it had little weight and he made good time to the terminal. He talked about how much he has enjoyed his twenty six years here, he missed his home land but Australia was better for his family.
Once inside the building, finding the end of the crazy long conga snake that wound around the roof support pillars in a thousand person plus queue, we realized that early was good! As we made our way the same faces kept reappearing, going the opposite way. At first a little reserve and slight embarrassment, but after three passes we were exchanging silly grins at the absurdity of it all.
Two short hours later we sat waiting to head to the strip. Another hour later we headed out to the short road west.
The captain was pleased to announce that after burning an extra three thousand litres of fuel, a carbon footprint the size of Italy, we would be landing two minutes early, so we were only fifty eight minutes late…..
I love motorcycle travel.
Had a letter granting the KTM a V.I.A (Vehicle Import Approval) waiting to welcome us home.
Day 813 Thursday 3rd January
Five thirty alarm, seven am start, back at work. Nuf said.
Day 814 Friday 4th January
Four am alarm, Diane flies out. Nuf said
Day 815 Saturday 5th January
Spent till three on Internet gathering info on residency.
Walked to works Christmas party, good evening. Arrived back at flat around one am. Not sure how…….
Day 816 Sunday 6th January
Woke at two thirty pm feeling awful, not drink, just ill.
Day 817 Monday 7th January
Our plane delay was caused by faulty air conditioning, and as we had none on the way back I reckon we now have a mild form of Legionairs Disease….
Day 819 Wednesday 9th January
Took all my bits of paper to Customs House for judgement. Forty minutes later I headed east to collect parts for Diane’s bike. My head in a spin with how easy it all was becoming. The lady sorted it all into piles, told me where to write, and pointed to a ledger a bit bigger than the ones used by the Hobbits’ in the bank, in that Happy Snorter movie. In said volume I found the correct identification number for the bike. All documents filled in she smiled and said “keep an eye on your email, I’ll probably be in touch tomorrow”!!!
Day 820 Thursday 10th January
Phone call, “come to the customs this arvo, you need to see AQIS (quarantine), no worries though, it’s all good”
So picked up a rake of paper, rushed off to another building, spent too long answering interesting questions of the trip, spent more money on a release form (daft as the bike had “been released” a year and a half ago). But that computers for you, “something has arrived, or not, at a point (or port) in Australia. Therefore it has to clear quarantine. Regardless that it has done it before and has not left. Anyway it was great to meet the guys there and talk of travels, long time ago…..
Hot-footed it back to customs to show said release form, paid my dues for the bike and left with a firm demand, again, that I bring said bike with new Rego plate on, when its issued.
All the to and fro from building, to collect a bit of paper to take back to get a rubber stamp to show the first guy that I had the bit of paper from him in the first place. Well it felt like that in Waddi Halfa, Sudan and does so again today!
After nearly two years stood still in Perth we finally made the decision to quit the jobs and move on at last. We have made some great friends and will be sorry to travel on, but we are sure we will be back to see them all when we can.
Diane has bought a Honda Transalp 650 as she is tired of looking at the back of my head.
Day 909 Tuesday 9thApril
As now we are on two bikes the wired intercom on the KTM was for now redundant, we bought a bike to bike intercom and hoped it would be as good as the box said.
Day 910 Wednesday 10th April
A friend of Dianes’ had asked us to stay over and spend the evening, so they could catch up before we headed off. It felt odd to be out of the apartment, but it did mean we were on the move at last.
Day 911 Thursday 11th April
Our morning was spent under a very humid sky, with the sweat running down our skin, fitting the new intercoms, so we could throw the box away and free up some pannier space! As usual it all took a lot longer than planned. With bikes packed we headed to Richard and Trishs’ home.
He had prepared a fantastic fish curry and a fish soup. Our evening passed lubricated with red wine and great company. As was becoming a little bit of a habit of ours we left a small box of our possessions, which they kindly said they keep safe for us.
Day 912 Friday 12thApril
The panniers were packed in a careless manner as now we have more space, also helped by the clouds still a menacing dark grey, threatening rain. Trish had left for work while it was still dark and I was sleeping so only Diane got to say thank you and see you again in some months time. While eating more delicious fish soup for breakfast and copious amounts of tea we chatted with
Richard of our mish mash of non plans and ideas. Riding out of their drive the few spots turned into a steady drizzle, either wet with sweat or rain. No pleasing some folks!
While trying to purchase head nets we talked for an hour, with two couples who were very interested in our travels. We bade our fair-wells to our friends in Perth and headed later than planned to Colms’ home.
Day 913 Saturday 13th April
A lovely Irish breakfast was served by Sandra in their homely kitchen. It was a glorious long drawn out affair with much tea drinking and conversation. For a family we had been with for only twenty four hours, we felt a great friendship had been made.
Colm managed to procure two plastic oil containers to replace the last ones from the UK that had finally corroded through. Many bike riding folk here, as in the UK said we would not need to carry fuel, but as we cook with it I will feel more at ease carrying five litres. Even stopping a short distance out of a fuel station would mean one of us sitting in the heat while the other fetched the fluid.
As Colm considerately cleaned the containers for me I felt a deep regret at not visiting this kind and genuine guy sooner. He lived fifty or so clicks north of us and as with modern life one can always find a true, (or lame excuse) why one can’t take the time out today to visit…..
We packed the bikes for the first time in almost two years, like we did before. i.e. making damn sure we did not leave anything behind, as we now were on a one way trip. The air was humid and heavy, moving the bikes out from under the porch soon had the delightful memory rekindled of sweat running down my back. No I kid you not it really was good, it meant we were on the road again, in a warm country, reminded me of central Africa.
Colm and I briefly shook hands and said “see you later mate”, neither wanting to say “goodbye”, it’s to final.
We rode down the gravel drive and onto the tar, waving fair well. Taking the directions off the map he drew, I turned left, as told at the “T”, then at the next turned left again. As I accelerated away Diane said “Colm said to turn right”! Bugger, Deja vu from when we left James’s farm at the start of our very first day, turned left and fell over due to too much weight and extreme road camber!!!! Without falling I made a swift “U” turn to cover my embarrassment, hoped Colm was not listening to the engine noise from the bike as he would know what I had done and laughed!!!!
Meekly following Diane we rode off on our first proper day on the road, in light rain!
Stopping to replenish the fuel tanks after fifteen km. Although we still had half a tank left we did not want to stress over finding it later. Usually at the pumps in the past we created a little interest, not here though, just as well maybe, we needed to be with Terry and Dorianne before dusk, and it now was early afternoon, with four hundred km to go.
The drizzle soon stopped and we rode the single carriageway chatting away on our intercom. It worked well up to around one hundred k/h, but much beyond that the wind noise was too great.
Diane found the buffing from the road trains a little disconcerting, I did not really experience it in Africa as there was little traffic in comparison. In Europe the main roads are two lanes in each direction with a central divide so the trucks are further away.
After two hundred clicks my arse and arms ached so at this given halfway house we stopped for fuel and a walkabout for twenty minutes. An hour into the second half the sky’s ahead turned a solid dark blue and it felt like evening was coming in early. A few fat dollops of rain hit the visor and wind shield but that was all for now. Some of the tar had been scoured from the road surface thirty km out of Geraldton leaving behind a red mud slurry which to ride on. Thankfully these stretches were only several hundred meters long, but the back wheel still squirmed about a little.
It felt fantastic to ride into Terry and Doriannes’ garage with the last of the fat rain chasing us into the dry shelter, even better to see this lovely warm hearted couple again. We showered and talked for hours about their plans and our developments of the last few months.
Day 914 Sunday 14th April
Woke to a clear blue sky, showing no sign of the rain that had hastened us into Geraldton the night before. Dorianne read of a veteran military air display about thirty clicks east of town so in an air conditioned vehicle we headed out in comfort. The show was a delightful variety of bi-planes, stunt air craft, trucks, tanks and a model aero club. A lady flying in one of the more manoeuvrable aircraft climbed to an impressive height and threw out what appeared to be a toilet roll. As it slowly fell, the weighted end drew it out into a long white ribbon which she proceeded to cut into maybe five to ten metre lengths with the wings, managing to make four cuts before it was too close to the earth.
In true Australian style the small flies that pester you relentlessly finally drove us back to the vehicle where we sat and watched a Centurion tank make short work of a few targets. The final one was a white car which unfortunately blew up a second or two before the tank fired.
The afternoon passed with a siesta for some and book reading for others.
Day 915 Monday 15thApril
Poor Terry has to work so Dorianne took us to town to look for a few last minute, must have camping gear items. We were left to our own devises and explored the town and its mostly independent shops. Whiling away a couple of hours saw us at the edge of town and walking back home on the white sand, with a turquoise ocean making small white topped cresting waves. The five km walk made us feel better as we reckon we don’t get enough exercise, even the steep last one km climb felt good.
Day 918 Thursday 18thApril
The big departure day for us, as we bade farewell to Terry and Dorianne and headed north. Waking naturally felt better than an alarm call, even though it was still very dark. We said a heart felt “see you later” as, as Colm said “goodbye” always seams a little final! It was surreal to think that Terry was off a normal days’ work and we were on the brink of our Australian “leg” of our journey.
Packing our many belongings with care as to maximise space and distribute the weight took the customary one and a half hours. On filling the fresh water cans I found one to be leaking, so second stop after gas was a hardware shop. Talk about a stop start departure. By nine thirty we were well and truly on the road again, nearly two years later than our intended date. We rode steady and the clouds cleared the sky for us to make it horizon to horizon pale blue, with the temperature to match. The Billabong Roadhouse make a welcome shady stop for fuel and water. The highway signs told us the place was actually called that and not what an owner wanted to call it. I had know idea it was a true settlement and not just a generic name for a watering hole.
We failed to wild camp but found a very cheap but pleasant camp ground close to the Stromatolites that we detoured to see. These single cell organisms developed a billion years after the planet first formed and their ancestors are still here today. They were the first oxygen producing life form of any kind, giving vegetation a chance to develop. So it’s possible, without them we might not have been….
Day 919 Friday 19th April
On the road early we made Monkey Mia by a very agreeable ten am. With tent pitched a walk on the beach was made exciting by a meter long sea snake, a pod of dolphins and a half submerged turtle making an appearance in the shallow waters near us.
An hour or so was enjoyed paddling a couple of sea kayaks into slightly deeper water in the hope of spotting more wildlife. Our efforts rewarded with a half meter Ray flying out of the water after a hapless airborne morsel.
It was a shame not to be wild camping but nice to be in the backpacker scene again. More than a few passers by stopped to look at the bikes as we did our laundry. One guy came and introduced himself and said “you must be the travellers I was told were here on site”. Wow. Fame. Will fortune follow?
Day 920 Saturday 20th April
First off we a chance to not exactly swim with dolphins but to stand in the shallow water while they came and begged for bribes, in the form of fish. While the guide kept telling us how wrong it was to feed the dolphins as it keeps them away from their young, they continue to do it. Apparently it used to be a lot worse, the park guides kept them there all day, while their young did not learn to hunt with the mother. This show was now strictly limited to thirty minuets.
We had booked a boat tour into the bay to search for Sharks, Manta-rays and other elusive marine life. We headed to the beach in what was a much cooler day than yesterday. Motoring out into the ocean leaving the shore far behind we thought that even if we saw nothing it was great to be out in a boat for a few hours.
The boat was a catamaran and strung between the rear hulls was a substantial looking fishing net. We were somewhat taken aback when the skipper asked if any one would like to ride for a while in the net while he moved at an appropriate pace, but not fast enough to pull off your bathers he promised us!
Well I doubted that we would get the chance to do such a bizarre thing ever again so we stripped off with a few others and climbed down. Apart from the initial shock of the cool water it was an exhilarating experience, but when asked a few hours later would we like to do it again we declined as we had only just really dried out and you can have too much of a good thing. We cruised around the semi deep water looking for wild life. A fare few dolphins were spotted and then a sea cow and finally a Manta-ray a little bigger than the one we saw near Cape Agulhas.
Day 921 Sunday 21st April
Heading up coast calling in to Carnarvon for groceries we made a free bush camp eighty clicks further on, an hour before dark. Pitching the tent and getting supper under way, we were in peaceful solitude, for a while.
Day 922 Monday 22nd April
Packing away as the sun came up to avoid the first onslaught of flies, we made Coral Bay by ten am. On the way up Diane stopped as said “did you see the sign?” We had crossed the Tropic of Capricorn for a second time on the trip. The last time being in Namibia.
Coral Bay camp site was a typical family camp with roaming gangs of young children and adolescents, all very good natured but very hectic and very close camping. We were lucky to be just a tent as we were on our own little patch.
A short walk to the the ocean across the white sands took us into the turquoise then azure blue deeper water. It surly is a postcard view. Walking up and down the shore for an hour was wonderful with a few pieces of coloured coral being found but not kept as we thought it was not right to remove it from the beach.
Day 923 Tuesday 23rd April
The day was booked to be spent on a snorkelling boat, but as I collected necessary cameras, water and sun oil Diane came back from the booking office, not looking happy. She had gone to rebook us in for another night, the day before it was fine to book before ten am, today it was not and our pitch had been let from under us. We managed to rebook our boat outing and filled our day with moving camp pitch, walking and playing chess.
Day 924 Wednesday 24th April
Today we got out snorkelling. On Monday we had hired the mask and fins and in a long panic filled morning we more or less got to grips with it. I’m not confident in a bath, let alone the ocean. However on the first snorkel site I took one look at the ocean floor ten metres below and swam/paddled back to the boat. Diane went with the group and saw heaps of multi-coloured coral, a turtle and generally had a good time but was made nervous by the swell and waves. The second dip was to watch Manta-rays swimming. This one I managed to do. It was a bit unnerving as we were split into three groups, the skipper dropped the Manta finder (a crew member who can swim like an eel) into the ocean, when he found them the first group were dropped by him and swam to him and watched the Manta swimming. Then the second group dropped and the first collected, then the third (us) and the second collected. And so on for two swims for all. It was great to see these huge fish at relatively close range.
It was described to us as a shark cleaning station. Beyond the reef the ocean currents were strong enough, near a type of coral where “cleaner” fish live for the sharks to stay still in the water, the current strong enough over their gills to keep them oxygenated. While the sharks literally stood on their tails with mouths open the small cleaners came out from the coral hide-a-ways and picked the barnacles and debris off the killer fish. Quite something to observe, I have heard about it and possibly seen it on T.V. In the past but to watch underwater for me was amazing.
The last swim was in shallow water (three to five metres) over coral with turtles, rays, a puffer or box fish! and a plethora of colourful fish like I have seen for sale in the UK.
Day 925 Thursday 25th April
Left Coral Bay and made Maitland River by four pm. The area you can free camp at was idyllic, on the river bank, under trees. So we cooked, put our tent up and lay and gazed at the star filled sky. The southern sky was full of lightning, but a long way off on the horizon. Later as we lay in a pool of sweat in thirty degree heat Diane said “ahh great” as a stiff wind blew threw the tent cooling us remarkably. A few minuets later she was holding it down as I furiously hammered the new steel tent pegs into a concrete like ground whilst the howling wind covered me with fine red dust. Half an hour later we tried to settle but thought it better that we stayed awake till it calmed down. When I have dived out of the tent at the onslaught of the mini cyclone I chose the wrong side and tripped over a log and slid down the bank, breaking a tent pole, crushing our hurricane lamp and dislocating my knee cap in the process, well almost.
Day 927 Saturday 27th April
Day break was looking grey and a little foreboding as we packed our damp gear, streaked with dirt blown up by the hoard of four by fours that saw fit to rush through our camp in the dead of night, (seven p.m.) before the storm.
The short ride to town was welcomed as neither of us felt like going far due to lack of sleep. The oil filters were at the Honda shop but the ‘O’ rings were not. I hoped the old ones would be OK.
In their car park I changed the oil and filter on the KTM as the km’s had snuk up on me.
Red dog memorial at Dampier was well worth the detour.
In town at the mall the bikes drew plenty of attention and we met and chatted with many different folks. Some had travelled and some not so but they were all keen to talk for half an hour or more.
A kind invite from Alan to stop over at his saved our day as with the errands we had to achieve by the close of day in Karratha meant we were running late to get out of town and find a site camp for the night. A great evening was spent talking bike travel. Alan had ridden many thousands of km’s around Australia, so it was gems from a velvet bag for us to hear his tales.
Day 928 Sunday 28th April
Alan worked as a line boat skipper on the mine wharfs and we had a great day being shown about the area. A detailed narrative of his work and the mining industry in Karratha made the day more enjoyable.
He took us to a ghost town, now a museum, called Cossack. This was the pearling meca for this part of the world and it told of the Asians and Japanese who worked these waters with Europeans. It was common for the Aboriginals to dive as well some as gainful employees and some as not. The women and girls made better divers than the men for a reason I never discovered why.
Day 929 Monday 29th April
Stayed with Chris’ family and Bob who seemed genuinely bowled over with the trip we were doing. Had a great night and wonderful food.
Day 932 Thursday 2nd May
Walked to Gantheaume Point along the beach. At the point we saw a cast of one hundred and thirty five million year old dinosaur foot prints. A cast copy as the original ones are under water a few meters away.
The walk back to town was now five clicks, no mean feat in forty degrees. We were a third of the way when offered a ride by two lovely samaritans in a car. Walking the town of very individual stores, collecting a few bits and pieces for the flat hurricane lamp and got bus back to camp as totally tired.
Day 933 Friday 3rd May
Decided to stay another day to up-load pics and diary to the blog, and repair the lamp.
Talking with a fellow camper reminded me of the incident in Perth a few months ago. We were walking along the pavement along a parade of small stores and a KTM similar to ours went by. Half an hour later it came down the hill with no engine running and stopped in the shade at the end of the block. Looking at each other we said we said lets go and offer help. The guy had very little mechanical knowledge and was only too happy for us to poke our nose in. he had fallen off it whilst manoeuvring it and now fuel was poring out. As he held the offending fuel tank as I removed the fixings he said calm as you like “oh look there’s a frog”. Looking with disbelief between the tank and frame was a frog, a little wide eyed but a live frog. With the tank off I tried to pick it up and put it in a box as it would not survive where we were. Frog had other ideas and made a leap an a hop for the road and certain death. Diane was helpless with laughter as I hopped after the wayward amphibian. The owner of the bike looking on with bemusement as to why anyone would go to such lengths to save a frog. With frog in box we found a fractured fuel connection which could not be repaired on the road side. The bike was re-assembled and poor man started to push it three clicks home and we found a lake to set frog free.
Day 934 Saturday 4th May
We made good time to Derby arriving mid-morning. While we were filling the bikes a guy talked with us about the travelling we had done and asked if we would like coffee and to talk more as he has plans to undertake a trip early next year.
After a short two hours we were off again. This time we were heading onto the Gibb River Road that linked Derby with Kunninara. It was only going to be a short stretch of it for us as our destination lay at Windjana gorge.
Before too long a Queensland registered BMW had overtook us, only to stop a few clicks further on. Paul, who had bought us coffee decided to come with.
He had taken an off road riding course and advised us a little on dirt riding, of which neither was very keen on doing, but here we were.
Making camp at the gorge under a million stars was a spectacular feeling as we had never really been away from artificial light before.
Day 935 Sunday 5th May
Walking the gorge as the sun came up was made special by the promised fresh water crocs warming up for the days fishing.
The days riding proved interesting for us as we have never ridden the gravel properly before. And although we coped with it, we did not find it that enjoyable.
The sky was pale cloudless blue with heat, as I felt my front wheel start to wander and shake the handle bars…. With the two bikes side by side a plastic sheet was tied over the tops to give shade to fix the puncture.
When fitting the tyres new at Abri’s I struggled with the front and pinched the tube so here in the back of beyond, way passed the black stump, we tried our best. Two hours of careful work saw us under-way again. A few folks stopped and asked if we were OK, and we given three litres of water by a two French girls. We had drunk four in the first hour and a half and only had five left. I get worried when the water gets low.
By now we were exhausted and struggling to focus, the lack of food and heat took its toll on us. Paul had gone ahead to Fitzroy Crossing trying to get help but had no luck, but he did return with chocolate and sandwiches!!
Sixty clicks from the tar saw us both drop our bikes. Diane was five hundred metres in front so when I lost control on deep soft sand I managed to pick it up and carry on. As I rounded a curve in the track she came into view on the right hand side, I thought she had waited for me, until I saw her bike on the floor on the left side of her. I took a few moments for me to register that the front right hand side was fairly well damaged, but still ridable. Shaken she cautiously rode on, looking as dead beat as I felt.
We parted company with Paul at the start of the tar road as he has work in the morning and we continued to head east. Finding a camp ground to carry out make shift repairs to the Honda and cold showers to bring our overheated bodies back to earth.