Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From the beginning!

In the beginning there were two people who never knew the other existed!  Born in different states, brought up in different lifestyles & were practically as different as chalk & cheese.  Not an uncommon beginning for any couple really.  But...this is where the fun begins :)
Lyn, born & bred in QLD lived in Virginia travelled periodically - not much beyond QLD for most part - worked in some admin positions, spent some time working across the ditch in NZ before coming home & starting a family & a career change in child care.
Kym, born in SA grew up in Elizabeth when at 15 joined & spent the next 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy.  Spent time travelling both Australia & other parts of the world in quick time or via the sea.


We met on the Gold Coast & after sometime as solo parents, became a blended family.
A chance comment on a drive led us to where we are today.  We realised that we would both love to travel Australia - we loved the bush and camping in the real Australia as opposed to resorts!
Over the next decade, the idea was never far away but we had more important things to take our time.  Kids!  Yes - 5 of them between us; 3 stayed close to us during which time we got them through school, into jobs and leaving home to find their own partners.  They went with our blessing & a "non return policy"!  It works - yeah!!!!



For Kym, the ideas bubbled over and with so much valuable information, and so many interesting and informative contacts (some becoming friendships) gained, it would have been a sin not to put all this together for the benefit of others with mutual interests and ambitions.  So No Boundaries website became a part of our journey as well.  Much a labour of love, No Boundaries is about community, networking and sharing.  To take our place in this travelling fraternity, our search for our own suitable RV began.



Lots of searching through other websites, communicating through forums and the scanning of newspapers began.  The choice was mind boggling.  A serious mind set was required.  A criteria was laid out with "must have", "would be great to have" & "would be nice if it had it".  We also narrowed down our choice of manufacturers to 4.  The short lists proved to be an invaluable  asset. We had direction.  After 2 years of searching, talking & viewing we jumped on an opportunity too good to refuse.  We bought our van.  A 2005 Sunland Longreach.  All it was missing off the criteria was air con.  At the asking price, who cares!  New problem - the Commodore - was not rated to tow it.  Too heavy, even for this 18 and a half footer!  More planning, saving & waiting.  In the meantime we worked and watched our kids grow into young adults & demonstrate their independence. 



Then the Patrol came, was modified with the boat loader, second battery, 110ltr fridge/freezer, seat covers, boat & outboard, fishing gear etc, etc.
Over time, what else was needed to complete the package was discussed, debated, saved for & eventually, our goal was attained. 



We also realised that without a set date, and lots of invites and other opportunities always begging time and distraction, we might not ever get away.  A date was set, in 12 months - we had to have everything together. 



The date was set following Matt and Lu's wedding -  24 October 2011.  Just about everything we did from that time was aimed at this target day.  Work, the house, the van, Patrol, personal admin & what to do with our possessions.  Not forgetting to still place importance on family & social commitments - after all, once on the road, these will be missed!  As the date came closer, we did have to say "sorry" to some - if they have ever had a goal, we know these people will understand!  Our possessions we decided to store in a container.  A container was purchased, loaded & placed on a property in the Hinterland, thanks to Keith and Sheri.



The week prior to our departure, although we had decided to depart very early Monday morning, Lyn felt that we would be running away in the middle of the night.  We decided to depart in the afternoon on the Sunday so the family could say good bye & the grand kids could see us driving off with the caravan.  4PM Sunday, we departed!
We wanted to travel a couple of hours that day, so Wardell, just south of Ballina was our first stop.  Lyn's first action after we stopped, well you be the judge! 



Even took a shot of our first meal, on
the road (compliments of Kelli and Muz).  When we first pulled up at this spot, I noticed a rooster wandering around.  Thought it weird at first then forgot about it.  Our first negative experience arrived.  A "whizz bang" with four guys pulled in opposite us and ate a quick meal of Maccas & departed - leaving their rubbish where they ate.  Thanks guys, we'll clean up after you!!!!


Other than that, a very pleasant night, albeit at a slight angle due to the camber of the road surface.  (Slept at some strange angles since - and yes they are all due to the camber of the surface/van)

Back to the rooster.  At some ungodly hour of the morning, (NSW time - cos roosters start at daylight saving time in NSW!) we were woken by the crowing of the rooster. No, two roosters!  No, there sounded like a couple more!  I stepped out to see what was going on & found not one or two, but seven of them!!  Two standing under our van, two standing outside another van parked at the other end of the stop & three more crowing beside a small motorhome opposite the other van.  All I could do was laugh - what else could I do?  Some local farmer has a good sense of humour.

Though we had "sort of planned" where we would spend our nights on the way down to Melbourne, nothing was set in concrete & so we decided to detour to another stop.  Myall Lakes caught our eye on the map.  A camp site for those suited for "independent camping".  No power or water.  Suits us fine.  A walk, dinner & a quiet night.  Great views too.  A winding road in & out but well worth the detour.  Onto Sydney, well the Windsor region anyway.  Our next night was spent with friends and generous hosts, Steve and Belinda, before we made our way down to Nowra.  By this time, we had become fully accustomed to having the van behind us & attitudes to driving with the van changed accordingly.  Steve's Sydney insights helped us get out as well.  Thanks mate.


Nowra was the spot where Lyn had a moment in the middle of the night of 'what have we done?'  In spite of the planning and discussing, sometimes it takes the emotions to catch up with the actual doing.  It was that moment also of acceptance that our new lifestyle was really happening and in spite of the losses of people and things and the predictability of each day left behind, the adventure and the dream are becoming one!    
  
To recharge and for Kym to take a break from towing every day, we took our first two night stop-over at Kialoa Beach just north of Bateman's Bay.  This gave us our first experience of beaches largely unspoilt by people traffic.  We were in awe of the clarity of sand and water, and the quantity and quality of sea shells and rock life and critters - taking us back to childhood beach experiences. 
Next stop - Nethercote - just inland from Merimbula to catch up with rellies - think they had given up on us ever doing this travel thing and calling by!  As we came down the hill into the Pambula township, we spotted the newsagent opposite the roundabout & there he was, David, Lyn's cousin.  Sprung shopping!  - or was it the Bakery?  We couldn't stop with the van in the middle of town, so drove on through & waited for Dave to catch up.  He guided us through the "mountain range" roads to home.  Unbeknown to us, this drive was to be a small example of what we were to endure in Tasmania.  A real test for both Patrol & driver.  Their driveway was another challenge.  Some lunch and coffee needed to work out strategies to overcome the driveway resulted in our staying in their back yard which used to be their front yard on a driveway that is no longer a driveway - anyway if you know David and Toni all this will make sense.... and Sars the dog looked on unimpressed. 
Another grand gift of hospitality was enjoyed for the next two days and although we're not sure if it was David's doing or ours (I think all were culpable, except Toni) we did leave a number of empty wine bottles behind.  They did show us some of the beauty spots of Merimbula and Eden - can understand why they stay in this area.  We spotted some whales from a headland walk and also got to go through the Young Endeavour at Eden, where the annual whale festival was happening.



Despite intentions, we by-passed the coastal village of Mallacoota just over the Victorian border, for what reason we don't know as it has come up in several travel conversations since as being a bit of a gem.  One to catch up on later on.  We were picking up pace again like we were going downhill passing quickly through Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale and Sale where we turned towards the coast again to the sleepy village of Port Albert.  In Port Albert, we listened to the Melbourne Cup from inside the van with our 'Cup luncheon' of sandwiches, content to avoid the icy whistling winds outside.   The park was literally that - a parking bay set aside for overnight RV'ers.  One local dog obviously gets well fed and attended to from the passing trade and didn't hesitate to invite himself in. 



The next day saw us arriving at "The Prom".  Wilsons Promontory National Park.  We had earlier booked a camp site after hearing of the popularity of this region.  Not cheap!  A powered site costs about $50.00 per night!  So we went with the unpowered option.  Why not, we have solar & don't need 240 volt.  With the weather not co-operating, we had some concerns about how well we would cope with battery power.  In the end, no need to worry.  Plenty to go round.
The drive from the entrance gate to the camp ground was a journey in itself - for the most part we were gob-smacked by what lay before us.  We slowed at one point for a mob of emu going for a casual stroll along the road.  Totally unexpected & another wake up to some of the hazards we can expect to encounter with this new lifestyle.
The Prom, as it affectionately known as by Victorians, is an amazing place.  Our original decision to visit this part of the world was with a goal of standing on  one of Australia's extremities as the southern-most tip of the Prom is also the southern-most tip of Australia.  We were to be disappointed, as due to flooding earlier this year, damage caused had closed the entire area for the previous 6 months.  Only half the park's usual tracks were still accessible to the public due to washed out infrastructure.  The furtherest accessible point was the southern end of Tidal Beach and not the southern-most tip - we had to be content with this for now.  Still we have no regrets as the Prom gave us much more that we thought we were in for, and will take some beating in our list of favourites.  The walks, views and scenery are well worth the trip in.  Our encounters with some of the local wildlife were quite special, and 'close'.  The local parrots seemed to show no fear and were quite happy to share "happy hour" with us.  On other occasions, a wombat decided that our camp was a good site for dinner.  Twice he dropped in for a feed.  Not from us, just to have a chew on the grass. 

First time Lyn had seen a wombat in the wild. We were to see a few more at this stop. Note the Ugg boots!  Yes, it was cold.  Up till now we had only two days without rain since we left the Gold Coast, and the 'cool' was turning into 'cooler'.  I am sure someone had forgotten to hit the "Spring" switch.  When it was fine, we took full advantage and wondered around - only rain influenced our plans, we weren't going to let cold stop us.  We would encourage everyone to take the time to visit "The Prom".  It is well worth the run.

From The Prom, we bypassed Phillip Island as a "place we would come back to" and went onto our next camp - a beachside spot at Rye on Port Phillip Bay.  Rye is a town on the Mornington Peninsular south of Melbourne and one of a number of towns that still have campgrounds right on the foreshore.  All but one of the grounds in this area are open for camping from November to April each year.  The rest of the year, they revert back to public recreation areas (although we suspect that winter sees few visitors - we noticed even some of the local shops carried signs that they were open from November to April only - they probably migrate to Qld).  Some families book the whole six months and commute to and from work, and while traditionally some of these sites may also have been booked years ahead, there are moves afoot now to stop this informal 'ownership'. 
The weekend of our arrival saw the local weekend markets.  Right outside our door!  The van you can see on the left side of the photo is us.  Of course, we had to go and do some shopping.  Fruit and veg was great.  So fresh too.
After Kym's past experience on Port Philip Bay where he spent many hours on the bay on HMAS Vendetta, he was amazed at the calmness of the bay during our stay. The water was "flat" and so clear.  We were hoping the weather would be as kind to us when we were in the Spirit in a few days time.  The bay can whip up quite a storm and is known to get into a very angry state. 




The Rye pier was just across from our peninsula home.  Watching some senior Greek-Italo couples reeling in garfish from the jetty was interesting, and even more so the realisation that their English was limited when we tried to strike up some conversation;  no doubt long time Melbourne residents,  none the less.  There was lots of competition and jollity amongst them -the jetty obviously not only supplemented their dietary needs, but also their social.   There was a walk down to a step mesh platform and although we walked up and down it a couple of times, it wasn't until a young girl pointed out a seal resting just centimetres beneath our feet on the pylons that we realised that,  yes indeed there was - apparently resting and unperturbed by us.  We were told later that the seal regularly rests here - this seal sighting another first for Lyn.


We took a drive around the peninsula checking into some of Kym's old haunts - his previous married life started with his wedding at Rosebud on Mornington Peninsula, so there was a look around to see what had sustained time better than that union - old addresses, a drink at a fav old pub and a look at HMAS Cerberus.  Western Port Bay in our eyes was a mixture of derelict and tired villages, industrial smelter and some very up-market beach-side homes and locations.  In fact, the peninsula was full of anomalies  - farm pastures alongside major shopping centres, step back in time and ultra-new also side by side.  A real surprise this day but was a drive up to Cape Schank - we arrived late afternoon, but couldn't resist taking on the staircase walk that took a vertical ascent down the cliff side - awesome!
It was at the peninsula that we got the early morning news of the arrival of Paysen Daphne Hutton, born 7 November within 15 minutes of Larissa and Matt arriving at Gold Coast hospital.  Well done and congratulations on our first grandaughter - we are grateful that we saw all the family on Skype the next day, and look forward to the time that we will meet Paysen in person.




Thanks to the advice if my good friend, Nan Burnett, we did invest in a GPS before we left home.  'Lee', as we affectionately call him (it was agreed that one woman in the car was enough), has been a god-send in getting us around the big cities.  He led us a merry tour of Melbourne suburbs, successfully guiding us to the home of Lance and Annie.  Until this time Lance was a 'computer'  friend who administers the long running and very successful national Caravanner's forum.   We were so welcomed by both he and Annie - it became a night that could have gone on forever, only they had to work the next day and we didn't.  Lance's other expertise is sign production and we organised a range of signage for our van and Patrol for on-forwarding to Tasmania.   Terrific job - we were well pleased.
Nan, we do love our 'Lee' - most of the time,  he has taken on a character of his own and fills many roles in our 'on-road' lives.   We argue with him sometimes - yell and swear at him - and at others are glad we're in his company.  Sometimes, he gets relegated to the console - and still he tries to have his say - so we pendulate between 'shut up Lee' and 'oh God, let's get Lee'!


There was little more we chose to do in Melbourne and the peninsula but try to watch over and mesmerise the Port Philip Bay waters into staying calm, and await our crossing - except being the nervous first-time 'Spirit of Tasmania' crossers that we were, we had to do a trial run and check out the Spirit being loaded in dock at Station Pier - a good plan except the day we trialled the Spirit wasn't sailing - but she did look majestic, and we learned that if we arrived too early the parking fees would cost almost as much as the crossing.

When we got to Station Pier on sail day, it was (thankfully) an uneventful run in.  Two security searches looking for illegal items (loose gas bottles, fruit and veggies), and a warning about fishing and boating gear being uncontaminated of ‘mainland’ residue.  Inside that majesty, they park vehicles almost touching each other and squeeze every bit of space into use. 



The size and height of our rig made for an expensive ‘freight’ fare, so we opted to sit in what was described as ‘ocean recliners’.  We took a short tour of the ship and found our seats – not too bad,  three rows from the front – only thing being that the front is the back so we are looking ‘behind’.   Nothing mattered - I can say that we were just a little bit excited.   We took to the breeze outside on the deck – very breeze, still not going to dampen our spirits on the ‘Spirit’.   As the ship moved from the pier, we noticed the Young Endeavour sitting in the bay quietly behind us – she seemed to be tailing us – from Eden, to Rye, to farewelling our departure from Port Melbourne.   As the sun dropped off on the western side of the bay, the lights of the eastern side the bay showed the outline of the coast and we could pick out roundabout where we were camped at Rye only a few hours earlier, and from where we had watched The Spirit pass through on the nights before . 
‘Rush hour’ on board caught us off guard.  It astounded us that no sooner had most of the crowd boarded, then they were off to claim ‘trump place’ in the bar or diner.  The ship hadn’t even left the wharf and the scramble was on!  We thought maybe they closed the dining rooms majorly early or something – it is just strange that there is this ‘last supper’ or ‘might miss out’ attitude – there was plenty left and we enjoyed the space a little later at which time we were well out of Port Philip Bay and into the strait.
Sleep was and wasn’t anticipated.  Lyn thought adrenalin and excitement would get her across the Bass, Kym more sensibly was looking for zzzzz.  As it turned out Lyn was surprised to get in about 5 to 6 hours of sleep, the seasoned sailor, not so.  The  ‘ocean recliners’ are not comfortable unless the victim is about 3 foot 15 inches tall, built like a match stick and is named “Gumby”.  It seems Lyn gets the ‘Gumby’ award more than Kym.
About sunrise - view of Tasmania - the coast to the west of Devonport first to be seen from two excited bodies on the top deck.  Why the west??  - we were standing on that side of the ship!  Moving to the other side, we were able to take in the rest of the Devonport coast line.  The port city of Devonport has its own alarm clock – but nobody seemed to jump into action!  The Spirit sounds its’ horn to announce its arrival between 5.30 and 6.30 each morning.  Devonport – where we first felt the ‘stepping back in time’ that we had heard people speak about Tasmania, but there is still the MacDonalds - right across the river, alongside the Tourist Information Centre.    Getting the rig off the Spirit was a bit quicker than getting on, drive-off happened quickly and another pass through quarantine check again.   We’d heard of a camp-site at Devonport that required registration and $10 fee at the Information Centre, so this done (after coffee at MacDonalds), we headed off to the outer beach-side suburb of Coles Beach to take in the fact that we had made it.   
You can read more of our adventures Our tour of Tassie begins.

8 comments:

  1. Hi guys, absolutely bloody great to read your blog. Finally out there doing it. Yvonne and I wish you two all the very best for your trip. Us ,well we have had a bit of a hiccup. I will email you tomorrow. Lol Russ

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  2. Hi Kym and Lyn,
    Glad to see you are settling in, all be it at a travelling pace not overly conducive to relaxation.
    Hopefully we will catch up somewhere along the road one day.
    Now, if I can just convince Belinda to do a quick road trip on the back of the bike I'm sure the Adelaide wineries would be a good place to hang out with you two.
    Cheers, Steve & Belinda

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  3. This is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! I hope to read more of your post which is very informative and useful to all the readers. I salute writers like you for doing a great job! Melbourne Budget Group Accommodation

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    1. Thank you.
      Did you read the Dec edition? It tells of our journey so far in Tasmania.
      Kym

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  4. What an awesome story! And I think your love for travel and adventure brought you together. Reading your story makes me want to drive and visit those places! -==Katelyn==-

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    1. Hi Katelyn. Thank you for your comments.
      So glad you have enjoyed the read. Now for you to enjoy your travels! So many places to get out there and drive to. We hope to be doing this for a long time ahead - can't imagine tiring or it. All the best. Kym and Lyn

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  5. Even a few years later, your post is going to be a guideline for us. We are travelling to Tassie in November and thankfully we have booked a cabin. We will have 4 months there before we return. I have bookmarked your Dec post as one of our primary guides. I hope you are still able to travel even though it seems as though you have given up having a blog. If you like reading travel blogs, then you might like to take a look at ours one time. Thanks again for your comprehensive information that is also entertaining!

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  6. Melbourne is more than just its attractions. You’ll have all that it can offer. I agree with everything you wrote in this blog. I just can tell that you really had fun.I think car renting is one of the most useful things you can do if you are going on vacation. I like it because you can get some really energy efficient cars and save money with Campervan Hire

    ReplyDelete