travel

Musings from the road

Geraldton 

Geraldton was really good to me. I parked my van in an old mates driveway and spent a few weeks in this beautiful part of the world.  

With a big inground pool in the backyard, the beach only a block away and good people to crack a cold beer with of an evening, I spent a couple of weeks in paradise. Even Leo had a little buddy, Patch, to play with and he loved the pool and having the run of the place. 

It’s always great to catch up with old friends.  Having not seen Jason in nearly ten years, it was really good to hang out again.  I also loved meeting his partner Corinne, we hit it off really well. Thanks for having me guys, it was awesome to stay with you. You all made me feel so at home and I’ll definitely be back over this way again some time soon. (And I’m still having Ark withdrawals!)

Geraldton was a great place to spend Australia Day.  We all had a really enjoyable day around the pool and barbecue, cold drinks in hand.  Good way to meet some locals too. It was a very hot day, but that’s always a good thing for Australia Day and we all utilized the pool throughout the heat of the day and beat the heat. 

A highlight of Geraldton was a day out with the girls, on a little roadtrip up the coast to Kalbarri. What a beautiful place!

We also had a look at the cliffs around Kalbarri. A bit reminiscent of my Great Ocean Road adventure. 

On our way up the coast, we dropped in to check out the Pink Lake.  Sadly, it was a bit overcast, so the lake wasn’t as pink as it can be, but it was still good to have a look.  I’ve seen the Blue Lake in Mt Gambier and now the Pink Lake.  I’ve also heard whispers of a Black Lake further down south, so I’ll keep an eye out for that. 

It was a good day out.  Thanks Cassie, Corinne and Taylah for showing me the sights. 

So thanks again Geraldton.  You’re all so friendly and welcoming.  Until next time, stay cool. 

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Perth, Western Australia 

I’ve enjoyed my little break in Perth the last couple of weeks. Definitely a very welcome break from all this driving! I’ve been camped in the backyard of a friend in Thornlie, a suburb of Perth.  

Jo and I have been longtime online friends, so it was high time I paid her a visit to meet in real life.  I felt so welcome and right at home from the moment I arrived. Leo and Kiara also hit it off and were soon very firm friends. 

Thanks a lot Jo, Reg and Kiara, it was awesome to meet you all. I had a great time and truly felt at home. I hope to see you all again soon. Thanks for being my West Coast home base.   

I had a great time looking around Perth.  It really is a nice little city.  It is rather small, for a capital city, and very laid back.  Fremantle was a highlight. It was good wandering around there soaking up the colour, especially with locals to guide me around. 

Freemantle by night. 

Perth city skyline by night. 

Beautiful big tree wrapped in fairy lights in Fremantle. 

Walking the sandbar.

By the sea. 

This is the sun setting over the ocean.  First time I have seen this, being the easterner that I am.  It was really something to see.  Up there as one of my West Coast highlights. 

Perth skyline. 

Perth is very colorful by night.  Lots of beautiful attractions to be found. 

Next up, I’m moving further north up the coast to Geraldton. 

Until next time Perth, stay cool. 

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Across The Nullabor 

I’ve spent the past two and a bit days driving the iconic stretch of road known as the Nullabor.  The Eyre Highway runs 1675 kilometers from Port Augusta to Norseman. It runs across some of the most remote country in Australia. 

The Eyre is a highway of contrasting landscapes.  From the desert of the outback to the ocean of the Great Australian Bite.  It’s been a hell of an adventure and a lot of long haul driving. 

The distances and isolation of the Eyre can be a little overwhelming and intimidating at first, but it didn’t take long for the Eyre to start to feel like home.  I love nothing better than to drive a highway such as this from beginning to end. 

The only thing to break the monotony of the Eyre are the roadhouses. These function as fuel stops, bars, restaurants and a place to shower and rest.  They’re often a welcome relief from the heat and dust of the Nullabor, especially the showers! 

There is a surprising variety of wildlife out here in the desert, but so far I’ve only seen a few big goannas, lots of crows and quite a few wedge tailed eagles. These are some very impressive birds! I was really hoping to see some camels, I’ve never seem them in the wild, but no sightings so far.  

Crossing the border into Western Australia felt like a real achievement after coming all this way.  I’ve never been in the state of W.A before.  I’m happy to add another border crossing selfie to my collection.  Only states left unexplored now are Tasmania and Northern Territory.  

The 90 Mile Straight was arduous! Driving such a long distance in a entirely straight line is harder than it sounds. I found I fatigued a lot faster and needed more regular rest breaks.  But that’s the advantage of towing your home, I can always pull over for a feed and a comfy nap.  

Once I crossed the W.A border, the roadtrains got bigger, from two trailers to three.  They are a little intimidating, but you soon get used to them.  They need a lot of room and you don’t ever stop suddenly, because these large trucks take a long time to stop.  If I’m turning off into a rest area, I start indicating a kilometer up the road.  But you do hear them roaring up behind you. Being a slower car towing a van, I generally pull over at the first opportunity and just let them go.  You don’t hold these guys up! 

Time has been strange for me out here.  I’m traveling into the sun, so I’m going back in time.  Having had no mobile phone service since leaving Ceduna, I haven’t known the time in days.  I crossed into Western time today, but knowing my clocks were already out, that wasn’t much help.  Not that it matters, as on the road the only time that really matters is nature’s time.  I live by the sun, rising at dawn, sleeping at sunset. 

As I write this, I’m just under 200 kilometers from the end of the Eyre.  Still a bit of a drive to Perth, but the Nullabor will be behind me.  And to think, I’ve got to cross it again to get back! 


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Outback South Australia

What an adventure! 

I’ve now clocked up 1372km, from Young NSW to Kimba S.A.  Kimba’s claim to fame is ‘Halfway Across Australia’. Not quite halfway for me though, it’s a long way to Perth!  It’s taken me a week of straight driving to get this far.  

South Australia is new territory for me.  I’ve dipped my toe across the border on a previous trip, but it’s been really good to drive clean across the state.  I’m also quite fond of the outback.  I love the solitude and isolation.  The desert also has a real beauty of its own. 

My favorite thing about the outback though, the night sky.  You have not seen the stars until you’ve seen them from the outback.  

I’ve spent Christmas out here at Kimba. I’ve grown a little fond of this town.  The local free camp is even equipped with a shower! That is total luxury for this life and a real blessing in the extreme heat.  Today has been a welcome relief as it has cooled off significantly, after the high temperatures of the previous week.  Poor Leo struggles with the heat and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to keep him cool. 

I’ve found wrapping him in wet towels helps him a lot, between wet downs under the tap.  

It’s been nice to stop and relax for the couple of days over Christmas.  We explored a walking trail today and came across a shingleback lizard. 

They lay very still and just hope you don’t see them.  It works, Leo walked straight past him and I almost did too.  

We’ll be back out on the road tomorrow. Coming up on the Great Australian Bite, which I’m really looking forward to.  Then it’s on to Ceduna, our last stop before we head out across the Nullabor and on into Western Australia.  

 

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Riverlands and Outback NSW

I’m making good progress on my epic journey to Western Australia.  Today has been a long day of driving.  I was making for a campground tonight, but with only 30km to go, I just could not drive any further and found a handy gravel pit to park up in for the night.  

I crossed two borders today.  I cut through the north west corner of Victoria and then on into South Australia.  

The Riverlands are quite beautiful, there is so much water down here.  It’s been nice to follow the Murray River for a ways.  

I’ve still got a long way to go and the Nullabor is ahead of me, I’m looking forward to that.  The Great Australian Bite is also a highlight I’ll be very happy to see.  

I enjoyed passing through the bottom of the New South Wales outback.  I fell in love with the outback when I went out to Lightning Ridge and on into the depths of NSW and a little of Queensland.  There’s something very healing about the desert.   

I’m definitely keen to see more of it.  

I’ve been following the Sturt Highway for several days, only turning off from it this afternoon.  I tend to get quite attached to a highway when I ride it for any length of time.  Different highways have different characters and it can be almost like leaving an old friend when you turn off of them, or they come to an end. 

I became very attached to the Great Ocean Road when I drove it.  I’d wanted to drive that road since my teenage years and the day I finally drove onto it was quite emotional for me.  I had a great time on that road and it was my initiation into the gypsy life.  I was quite sad when it came to an end.  There have been a lot of highways since then, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Great Ocean Road and the lessons it taught me.  

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On The Road Again

After spending a week with my daughter and son-in-law, camping in their backyard, I’m now back out on the road.  I’ve had time to recoup, stock up on supplies and make some repairs to my setup, but it’s always good to hit the asphalt again.  

This trip is a big adventure, even for me.  From Young, NSW to Perth in Western Australia. 

3602km. That will take me through the Nullabor, the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, possibly the world.  My route through the Nullabor runs for 1199km of desert.  It will also take me past the Great Australian Bite.  So stay tuned for some spectacular photography to come.  

My first day back out on the roads has been a good one.  Not far into my journey, I came across a brother riding his thumb on the side of the road.  Yes, I pick up hitchhikers, and have met some of the most interesting and inspiring people in this way.  Today’s ride was no exception. 

This is Keith, a self proclaimed ‘old hippie’. He is 68 and rides his thumb around the country.  He is a free spirit and an artist.  

His turn off was only a couple of km’s further up the road, but when he told me he’d waited five hours for this ride, in the heat too, I decided to do a good deed and take him to his next destination.  It was a 120km detour for me, but meh, what’s that compared to the many miles I have ahead of me! I really enjoyed his company to, so it was a good deal.  

But this is why I gave up on making travel plans after my first ever trip, driving the Great Ocean Road.  Stuff happens, people and attractions pop up.  I prefer to just let the road take me where and when it will.  I find being spontaneous opens the way for a lot more adventure and some pretty amazing finds along the way. 

Tonight sees me camped in the tiny little town of Weethalle.  Not much here, but the locals are very friendly and the stars are so bright and clear. 

But tomorrow, onwards and westwards we go.  

Happy trails. 

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Roads and Rivers

This is my backyard tonight, a reserve just outside of Benalla. I prefer to get off the highway overnight and by the river is always a goal.  

I’m currently working my way back up north to Young, mostly to pick up my dog. He had to stay with my daughter, as no dogs allowed at Earthcore, which was my main reason for venturing down into Victoria this time.  

Living like this is quite different to just taking trips, as I had been doing.  I’m always thinking about where to go to next.  Half the time, I have no idea! It’s nice to be this free and be able to please myself where and when I go.  

It does have its downsides though. What would be a relatively minor problem at home, can become a major hassle on the road. Two days ago I was informed, by a surprisingly kind policewoman, that my car was unregistered. I’ve been driving an unregistered car for weeks! Whoops! What I thought would be an easy fix, turned into a major hassle.  Apparently renewing registration across state borders is just not done. It took a morning on the phone and the kindness of a few strangers, before I got it sorted and was back on the road.  It was a hassle, but I’m still thankful to that nice copper that took pity on my major oversight and didn’t book me.  

I’ve found mechanical problems can really turn things upside down too. On my last trip, I ventured out into the outback. All was going well until I blew a trailer bearing just outside of Wilcannia, of all places.  I’ve never been so glad to have traveler grade NRMA cover.  If you travel like I do, it’s certainly worth the relatively small annual fee.  I would have paid a lot more than that then, the tow truck alone was a 600km round trip.  Thankfully that one was on the NRMA and they had me back on the road within a few days.  

You really need to think ahead living as a gypsy.  

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Fear Vs Freedom

​There are a few things I get asked a lot while I’m on the road.  One of them is “Aren’t you scared?”

 
No, I’m not scared, I’ve never been scared.  As a woman traveling alone, sometimes through some very remote areas, I have never once felt frightened or in fear of my life. Actually, I’ve found the opposite to be true.  Traveling alone like I do, I often have to depend on the kindness of strangers. I am mostly self-reliant, but on occasion, fate dictates that I need some help along the way and I’ve never been let down.  On the contrary, I have a deep faith in the inherent kindness of people. The overwhelming majority of my fellow man are kind, giving and always ready to help out a woman in distress. This is something valuable I have learnt in my travels.  

I could live my life, or not live my life, based on some intangible fear.  I could spend my life safely ensconced between the security of four walls. I could own a stockpile of guns to protect myself from these imaginary foes. I could live a life dictated by fear, in which I am miserable and untrusting of people and the world in general.  I could then walk out to put out the bin one evening and get kidnapped and raped. I could be held hostage in the supermarket. Masked bandits could burst into my home and shoot me dead. I could die having been ruled by fear and not having ever lived.  That scares me more than anything I may encounter out here. 

    I’m not silly.  I am aware I am a woman alone, often far from home.  I take precautions. I usually camp among others and I do carry a machete, just in case.  Though the machete has only ever been used to cut a path through to the river! I know I can look after myself and I have common sense.  

    I am not the only woman out here doing this.  I’ve met many a solo woman traveler. Ask them too if they are afraid and you’ll get the same perplexed look and the same answer, “of what?” 

    But I will not let fear dictate how I live.  I am friendly and talk to strangers. This has only ever bought me good things and I would never have met some of the amazing people I have if I kept to myself, afraid of those I don’t know. If you aren’t willing to meet new people, I feel sad for you.  Strangers have helped me along the way many a time.  From pulling me out of a bog, lending me a phone when I had no service, lending a helping hand with mechanical issues.  I’ve found community, fellowship and friendship among my fellow travelers. I’ve found locals that have offered their showers, a home cooked meal or a little patch of their yard. I’ve met so many good people on the road. 

    Of course there are bad people in this world, but you can cross paths with them anywhere.  I just don’t see the point in not living my life as I need to in fear of the rare few.  That does not make sense to me. 

    I choose to not bow to fear. 

    Pray not for me, for my gods walk beside me. Pray instead for yourself, that that fear may be lifted from you.  That you may someday roam as free as I and have faith in humanity and your god, without the taint of some nameless fear in your heart, because all it equates to is a fear of living your life on your own terms. It holds you back from the many wonderful experiences I have had on my fearless travels. 

    No, I am not and will not, be afraid. 

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    Finding Freedom

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted. 

    A lot has changed for me in that time.  

    I’ve left my home and all that I’ve known for over fifteen years, for a life on the road. 

    I have my car, my van and the few belongings I can carry.  

    I’ve always wanted to do this, for as long as I can remember. To travel, to live simply, to explore far away places and to keep moving. So here I am.  

    I’ve done a few trips leading up to this, which gave me some experience. But living like this full time is different from knowing you have a home to go back to. Now, my home comes with me, home is wherever I am.  

    I’ve already found I get asked where I’m from a lot, and no one is ever satisfied with the answer of ‘anywhere and everywhere ‘. Being this transient is hard to grasp for the majority of people.  

    I went to Melbourne for a few days to visit my best friend and found the city drives me crazy.  The traffic and fast pace of city life is just too overwhelming for me now.  I love the peace of the country.  I left the city craving the peace and solitude of the bush.  

    Today I came to a quiet little campground beside a river.  Apart from the bees and cicadas, I have the place to myself.  Hot, sweaty and craving a shower, I went down to the river, stripped naked and bathed in the cool fresh waters.  I washed my dreads and just floated awhile.  Reveling in having this moment to myself.  

    The river spoke to me, and here I found my direction , why I am doing this.  I choose this life of freedom, of no anchor, to learn to be at peace with myself.  To find contentment in my own company, to enjoy being alone.  Also, to become closer to the earth, to nature. To become less and less reliant on civilization and to know I can survive, even thrive, outside the constraints of everyday society. I’m not looking for something outside myself, I’m finding myself both out here and within. 

    So now I wander, no fixed home, no fixed address. I’m full of goodbyes and not only do I learn to let go, I must.  I put my faith in the road and what lays beyond the next bend.  I open myself to adventure and all that comes my way.  

     

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