Car

Postcard from Oscar

Oscars journal

Oscars journal

We dropped the car off for a service (in Townsville – editors note) then walked around town until we arrived at Reef HQ. As we walked in and paid we looked at a coupe of tanks with fish, saltwater crock and mud crab.

Then we walked into the aquarium, then we sat down and watched the dive show with Dyan. She talked about a green sea turtle called Treeny. Then she swam to go and give Cuddles, the tawny nurse shark, a big hug.

Then we went through the underwater tunnel. Then we walked to the Discovery Lagoon. There are starfish you can touch, then they fed a stingray, then we walked to the predator feeding. They feed all the fish, sharks and turtles. They feed them big fish heads, prawns, and little fish.

Then we went to a turtle hospital where they help turtles.

Categories: Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Big Lap, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Queensland, Road trip, School, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

East Arnhemland (Part 4 – Cape Arnhem)

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A special permit is required to enter Cape Arnhem, over and above the transit permit required to travel there. Only 10 vehicles are permitted at a time with no trailers, width, height and weight restrictions also exist due to some of the tracks passing through low hanging bush, between trees or over soft sand. This meant having to abandon our beloved home, the Camprite trailer, and pull the emergency tents from the roof pod. We even bought an esky for the trip to keep our food cold.

The trailer was parked at Chris and Emi’s house in Nhulunbuy and Amanda was excited at their kind offer to do a clothes wash for us while away.

Entrance to the Cape was via a rugged dirt road along an escarpment with glimpses through the forest of beach and mangroves below. A lookout several kilometres in is where the fun starts. Having taken in the views up and down the coastline the road drops steeply down the escarpment into the forest below, weaves through narrow gaps between tall trees before becoming sandy. Taking no chances I dropped tyre pressures below the recommended 20 PSI and pressed on. Without a map there were a surprising number of trails leading off, though most of them return to meet, and without too much difficulty we headed in the right direction. There are over 50 sacred sites on the Cape, the main one known as Twin Eagles, where visitors may drive by but not stop to picnic, camp or fish. The drive north up the Cape involves beach and dune work, sometimes particularly soft and there was plenty of evidence of “boggings” along the way.

The sandy beaches looked attractive on approach but our hearts sank somewhat at the volume of sea-borne debris and detritus that littered most of them. Then sadness turned to dismay when we spotted a bottlenose dolphin washed up on the beach. We pulled over and dashed to see if we could save it but it looked like it had only recently died. Not knowing what had killed it (no obvious visible cause) we paused and walked down the beach collecting thongs (flip flops for those reading in the UK) that covered the sand. Over one hundred were recovered and placed on the car roof. Most of the debris has been brought from Asia by prevailing winds and ocean currents, or dumped from ships passing.

We found a campsite known as the Penthouse, at the furthest point north that visitors are allowed, set up camp and then found a dead turtle on the beach below. Some rangers had obviously stayed prior and had enjoyed a feast of mud mussels and turtle eggs, judging by the discarded remnants on the edge of the camp.

A small crocodile swam in to shelter behind the reef as the rough ocean was still being stirred up by strong easterly winds.

The hammock was brought out and we switched into relaxed desert island chilling mode. The kids explored, we fished (Oscar was happy to catch a queenfish) and Amanda sat in the hammock reading.

The next day we wanted to make a further impact and we chose the same beaches, this time targeting cigarette lighters. Over 300 were retrieved and disposed of. The children were somewhat distracted by their search for Chambered Nautilus shells that they had started to find but all helped fill the bucket. We noticed the difference but we couldn’t collect all the ghost nets, toothbrushes, light bulbs, and a plethora of miscellaneous glass and plastic bottles, jars and other items. And all the time the winds were bringing in new items. We found two more dead turtles too on the beaches. Others had obviously tried before us and had left the debris in a tree. We chose to dispose of it.

On returning to camp Xavier found a fossilised chambered nautilus in rocks nearby making us all ponder how long these animals have been around, long before humans polluted these beaches.

The sandy tracks allow a couple of days exploring. To the south there is another camp near caves beach and whilst folk do swim the crocodiles are there as we saw so extreme precaution is recommended if entering the water.

Despite the rubbish on the beaches this is a great place to escape and experience the beauty of Arnhemland.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Fishing, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, Natural World, Northern Territory, Offroad, Photography, Photos, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steep Point – Most westerly point of the mainland

A long dusty unsealed road took us from Wooleen Station back towards the coast.

Almost six months into our trip and over 23,000km later we finally arrived in the proposed Edel Land National Park with our sights set on completing the second compass point challenge from our good friends Pete and Zoe. The first one to South Point had been a gruelling two day, 40km hike for the kids, but this looked like a straightforward 35km drive from the unsealed road turnoff. Sure it said 4WD but we’ve had a bit of experience by now. We looked for a campsite around the Zuytdorp Cliffs (named after the Dutch ship that sank nearby in 1712), near False Entrance, found a lot of sand, enjoyed the blowholes, but then decided to go straight for the campsite at Steep Point.

Fifty Toes voted the track the “most corrugated and bumpy ride” ever. Then we turned off at the wrong house (1km before the ranger’s house) got stuck, lost two mudflaps reversing back, and found out from the ranger that all campsites were full and needed to be booked in advance. Given that it was after 5pm they found us a single spot that was available for one night only. An osprey nest sits perched atop a communications tower 50m from the rangers house. Swallows were flying through the house and the kids spotted a mouse running around inside, clearly a common occurrence as the ranger enquired whether the mouse was the “fat one”.

Shelter Bay was aptly named and we settled in for a calm pink sunset, looking out towards Dirk Hartog Island to the north east.

Rising early the next morning we headed straight to Steep Point. The visitors book was signed, photos taken as proof, then we drove down to the nearby camp at the Oven / Faultline where hard-core fishermen camp on the cliffs. This is one of the best land-based fishing spots in Australia, particularly for Spanish Mackerel. Lures are carried out on prevailing winds by balloons filled with helium. If a big fish is caught it needs to be hauled up the cliff and the fishermen have plenty of ropes and devices to do this. Brown helium cylinders, generators, fishing rods and swags were scattered around the craggy limestone cliffs, looking like a great venue for a lad’s trip, but less so for a family friendly vacation.

 

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, National Park, Natural World, Offroad, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure, West Australia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exemplary Customer Service in Perth

We had to head to Perth to get the Pajero and Camprite trailer serviced before we commence the journey north and possibly the most eagerly awaited part of our trip. Both have performed excellently to date but I had a list of items to follow up with for both.

I wanted to ask further questions about the problems with had with fuel consumption in South Australia and had been tipped off about possible carbonisation of an inlet manifold. We had also recently become aware of a recall notice on the model. I finally wanted to resolve the issue with our towbar being too low, and Mitsubishi Melville instantly gave me confidence with their understanding of each issue and ability to address them. We also needed to perform a tyre rotation having just clocked another 10,000km.

The Camprite trailer went in first and it was great to meet the team in person, as we had only had spoken by phone from the east coast. Matt patiently listened to my list, had a quick look at the trailer and spotted a couple of things we had missed, again assuring that they were all fixable. We left it in his capable hands and I took the boys to SciTech in the city.

The next day was the Pajero’s turn. They kindly agreed  to complete the service by 2pm (so I had time to pickup the trailer on the other side of the city) and went through my list of items. They couldn’t put in a second battery, but I was less concerned about that. Phillip from Mitsubishi drove me back to the house, where we were staying and also picked me up promptly at 2pm. Everything was fixed up and the spare tyre lift meant we were set to fix our towbar issues.

Being the afternoon before Easter holidays, traffic crossing town was heavy and Matt at Camprite was patiently awaiting our arrival to pick up the trailer. It looked like new! Our damaged rear steps had been replaced with the new design and all the other items on the list had been addressed, leaving us a little time to fix the towbar. Matt optimistically thought it would be a quick reversal of the towbar, but that proved more difficult requiring some heavy duty hardware and hammering for quite a while to remove. Reversing it didn’t solve the issue as the tongue was not long enough so Matt quickly drove up to get one. He returned empty-handed and we jumped into the car at 4.40pm to try a different place. Success!

The tongue then needed machining the edges of the tongue to allow it to be inserted easily – more time passed.

Finally by 5pm the job was complete, Matt was still smiling, but we were so grateful that he had stayed back to help prepare us for the next stage of our journey.

Thank you very much Camprite – your attention to detail was probably the best we have ever encountered and thanks also to Melville Mitsubishi for your prompt, friendly and efficient service.

Categories: 4WD, australia, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, West Australia | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

West Australia – here we come

Just as we approached the West Australian border a wild dingo calmly crossed the freeway in front of us. It was our first on the trip. We pulled over for lunch to eat some residual items that we knew would be lost through quarantine. 25km short of the border the coastline becomes a sloping descent rather than precipitous cliffs. Whilst a dirt road to the beach beckoned we gave it a miss and the kids had fun catching desert cockroaches in the car park. These insects were of herculean stature, buzzing past slowly everywhere. We swatted a couple for closer examination.

At the border we decided to play another Nullarbor Links hole to relieve the boredom of long straight roads. The straight par 3 hole looked a doddle, but when the clubs were handed over without balls, “because everyone loses them”, we noticed the fairway was largely rocks and dirt and it wasn’t long before balls were ricocheting into the bush in all directions. Armed with two clubs, one for striking the ball, the other for defence against abundant brown snakes, we zigzagged our way up the fairway several times, as we all wanted a go and we only had two balls. Best score of the day, two over par, 5.

50m away as we crossed the border we had a good chat with the quarantine officers who spoiled the kids with chuppa chups. We surrendered the few remaining items we hadn’t been able to eat then drove through. Here we are in West Australia after almost 15,000km on the clock.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Car, Challenges, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure, West Australia | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Port Augusta and car conundrums

Ever since our car was serviced at Portside Mitsubishi the fuel consumption has gone from 15l / 100km to 17-20l / 100km.

We stopped at Port Augusta for a check up. The pre-filter had worked a treat and air filter was as good as new, so I had the fuel filter checked. Port Augusta Mitsubishi were excellent, provided us a loan car to visit Wadlata cultural centre while they had a look. The told us that the software had been upgraded (thanks Portside Mitsubishi for warning us) that results in degradation in fuel consumption. It wasn’t good to hear that it was not reversible either. I’m sure they could change a chip somewhere! Despite cleaning the oil filter fuel consumption still remains much poorer than previously. Anyone got any thoughts on this.

Nevertheless the Wadlata centre was very interesting covering aboriginal heritage and dreamtime stories in South Australia, through to the early explorers, Sturt, Eyre, and co, then on to more modern developments such as the European pioneer farmers, pushing the overland telegraph line and rail development, even through to modern mining. We spent several hours digesting it all and it was very hands on for the kids.

Categories: australia, Car, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, South Australia | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Leaving Adelaide

Adelaide was a very welcome change of pace. We spent some time on Glenelg beach with friends Amanda, Dan and their kids, and caught up with our new friends we met in Stokes Bay, James, Liz, and their kids. Xavier kept leaving items of clothing and hats behind (possibly intentional) so we kept returning to collect them giving the kids further time to catch up.

Kids at Stokes Bay, KI

Kids at Stokes Bay, KI

We needed to give the Pajero a 150,000km service and our close friend, Deb, from Sydney insisted we stay with he parents Michelle and Ken for our last two days as it was near the garage, and we were very grateful once again for the hospitality.

Pigs in Rundle St RundleStMall

Being close to the city we decided to visit some of the sights. Amanda was keen      to revisit Central Markets so that was our first stop in the city. Tasting the produce was the order of the day and with our senses tantalised we then caught the tram to Rundle St Mall, watched some buskers, and headed to the museum.

Adelaide museum has to be one of the best we have ever visited ! Not only is it free entry but the exhibits are immaculately presented. The kids even managed to get on a holiday session on how to prepare butterfly and insect specimens. They got to pin their own butterflies and take them home. Whilst they were doing this I explored the Aboriginal, and Pacific galleries. The kids loved all the South Australian fauna sections and the information centre was quite hands on with items to place under microscopes, live creatures and some extremely enthusiastic staff who were very interested in Xavier’s fossilised whale tooth, that unfortunately we had neglected to bring with us. They did think from the photos though that it could be a sperm whale.

Before we knew it the car was serviced and it was time to move on again

Categories: @travelaustraliawithkids, Adventure, Car, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Douglas-Apsley National Park

A short drive north found us in the town of Bicheno, the biggest we have been in for a while and the first where we could top up the gas. First stop was the famous blowhole, for a photographic opportunity, then down to the Gulch! None of us were quite sure what a gulch was so we had to go and have a look.

 

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It was the narrow channel of water between the boat ramp and islands inhabited by hundreds of birds, particularly the crested terns. The office near the boat ramp where the glass-bottomed boat trips can be purchased caught the kids eyes and a showcase of Tasmanian underwater secrets drew them in. With giant crab pincers as long as your arm, sperm whale jaws, urchins, abalone shells all displayed randomly in a big glass showcase the kids noses were pressed against the glass trying to find some new treasure previously undiscovered – it turned out to be the piranha, and only alien in the tank. After a very informative chat with the man in the office we drove to Chain of Lagoons to camp. This lies just to the east of the Douglas-Apsley National Park, just behind the beach. All day the hills in the national park were masked by low lying clouds that constantly drizzled, and periodically this stretched down to our camp.

Waterhole at Douglas-Apsley NP

Waterhole at Douglas-Apsley NP

Next day in pouring rain we decided we couldn’t miss a trip to the famous waterhole in the national park, and somewhat reluctantly the kids agreed to come along too. It rained, and rained but that didn’t stop Xavier from finding a frog!

Frog

We then decided it was a good day to focus on schoolwork until the rain stopped.

 

Categories: Australian Outback, Beach, Camper Trailer, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Location, Mitsubishi, National Park, Photography, TAS, Tasmania, Travel, Travel Adventure, Twitcher, Walks | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Freycinet National Park

Heading for calmer and warmer conditions we drove straight back up North, through Hobart with only a brief lunch stop at Richmond to see the oldest bridge in Australia, built in 1823. Then on to our next camp at Friendly Beaches, close to Coles Bay. Here we captured photographic evidence of Xavier completing an easy challenge of patting a local animal, we think it is a Forresters Wallaby – let us know if this is right or not.

XwithForrestersWallaby

Friendly Beach saw the first landing of an edible, legal size fish, with a salmon and wrasse caught from the rocks. Xavier and I had an early morning jog to the end of the beach and back.

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A trip into Coles Bay saw us visiting Honeymoon Beach, Lighthouse Lookout and Sleepy Cove. Once again the crystal clear waters and colourful landscape is hard to capture in photos, especially when you have a speck of dust on your sensor! Hannah seized the moment, donned springsuit, mask and snorkel and dived in, whilst everyone else was still feeling the cold a little too much.

At the lookout we discovered Freycinet was the place to find lizards in Tasmania and we saw two different types, everywhere!

Hannah and Oscar lay down to measure how long a Bluefin Tuna is, and Oscar eyed up how hard his challenge to catch and eat one is!

The twitching highlight was the scarlet robin and green rosellas but we also found what appears to be a small dead possum by the track.

Categories: 4WD, Animal Action, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Location, Mitsubishi, National Park, Photography, TAS, Tasmania, Travel, Travel Adventure, Twitcher | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Huonville to the end of the road

From Huonville we drove through Franklin and Geeveston and shortly afterwards the road became gravel once more. We passed through a few sleepy settlements, Lune River, Ida Bay, and Moss Glen before entering the campgrounds at Cockle Creek. This is the furthest south you can drive in Australia. Crossing the bridge into the National Park the road turns North for a kilometre then ends. A short walk takes you to an impressive sculpture of a Southern Right Whale. From here if you want to walk further south you can, but we took the short walk to Fisher Point, where the ruins of a cottage mark the point where a pilot used to reside. Back at Camp the Roaring Forties blew their best and showed us how bleak the weather can be.  The fresh oysters from the rocks were as large as I have ever seen and they tasted beautiful. Whilst there the winds blew, it rained and then the glimpses of sun we got showcased what a fabulous place the whole area of Recherche Bay is. It was still cold though, barely reaching 17 degrees during the day.

Categories: Australian Outback, Beach, Camper Trailer, Car, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Location, Mitsubishi, National Park, Photography, TAS, Tasmania, Travel, Travel Adventure, Walks | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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