Posts Tagged With: SDEPS

Ten of the Fifty Toes gives a 5 minute trip summary (#1)

Time for a few short interviews with the family to reflect on the trip. Starting with the kids, X up first. If anyone wants to ask a question please send a reply to the blog and it will be added.

“What were your three favourite places and why?”

  1. “Cape Le Grand National Park, WA. Our campground at Cape Le Grand was full of kids all the time we were there, and the road was safe and great for cycling around. The beach was close and the beautiful white sand and small waves made it perfect for swimming. At the end of the beach were great rocks to fish from, though we didn’t catch much. I liked the fact that there were plenty of snakes around. We found highly venomous Dugites, harmless pythons, and three other species, all around the campground. Great to watch and keep a safe distance.”
  2. “Swimming with Whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef. We took a boat from Exmouth to see the largest fish in the ocean. Our crew were fantastic, very knowledgeable about the whale sharks but also friendly and very helpful to the swimmers as we had fairly rough weather. We swam right alongside the huge fish, the largest was almost 8m long. It was very exciting.”
  3. “Gem hunting was a favourite activity we did at several places. I love to fossick and being able to dig up your own gemstones was particularly exciting as you never know what you may find. It is an addictive hobby. We found garnets on the Plenty Highway in NT, Opals in Coober Pedy in SA, sapphires near Sapphire in QLD, and thunder eggs at Mount Hay, QLD.”
“What was the best thing you took on the trip?”
“My dad gave us a pocket knife at the start of the trip and I used it until it finally broke and I was given a new one for my birthday. I used it often for whittling wood, making cubbies, cutting fishing line, and many other things. It was so useful that Dad even borrowed it quite often.”
“What did you miss most, or just couldn’t take with you?”
“I would have liked to take more books on the wildlife and gems and rocks but we only had one drawer each in the camper trailer to put everything in. More books would have meant less storage for clothes and fossicking finds!”
“Would you do it again?”
“Yes. I have already asked Dad to take me back on the road for a fossicking trip to find gemstones. Dad wants me to be a bit bigger and stronger so I can do my fair share of the digging”
“How did schooling on the road go?”
“We enrolled in Sydney Distance Education Primary School (SDEPS). Mum and Dad were our supervisors. We had to send our work back every few weeks. It was hard to finish so much work every two weeks, especially when other kids were around playing, or if there was a great new place to explore”
Categories: Adventure, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Road trip | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

And so it ends….for now

I knew that once we crossed the border into NSW again psychologically everyone would be thinking of home, and once you do that travelling it’s hard to keep going. Across the border Amanda and I knew we could just drive home in a day, though neither of us aired it openly. We had had to kill a week getting home on a trip that would normally be done in a day. We had deliberately tried to take our minds off it by visiting people and getting to some more out of the way places but with a couple of days left it was increasingly hard to plan.

We had planned to visit Barrington Tops but some navigation errors saw us turning off towards Tom Creek, shortly after Mt Seaview, and before we knew it we were switch-backing our way, in 2WD, up a narrow unsealed road, over 1000m again. Once again the road less travelled rewarded us with magnificent views of remote farmland and national park forest but it wasn’t in the plan. At the end of the day we stopped overnight in Barrington, kicked a footie around to let off some steam and got to bed early.

Over 13 months since we had left Sydney, and 56,000km later we realised the next morning that it was time…..we couldn’t delay it any more, and with that we waved goodbye to the outback and the countryside and crawled back into the slow traffic that congests Sydney’s streets every day.

Arriving home again was a bittersweet experience. I knew Amanda needed to get back to see her family, and a fair bit of maintenance was required on the car and belongings, but it also meant the dream was over. The kids needed to invest some time re-acquainting with school friends too, so we arranged for them to attend the last two weeks.

Sydney Distance Education Primary School were fantastic with their support, understanding and flexibility with the teaching as we travelled. Often having no telephone reception for days, even weeks, created challenges but the kids teachers were always willing to adapt to our needs and this was appreciated. It wasn’t always easy as we found being on the move so often meant we didn’t get into a daily routine. Lack of that discipline made it more challenging for us and the kids.

Our Camprite trailer was a workhorse that never faltered, and with the support we got from Perth for a few minor things, on a couple of occasions, it was one less thing to worry about. Having a trailer that can be set-up and dismantled easily in under 5 minutes (I timed it) is great, particularly in adverse weather, and being able to house 2 adults and up to 4 kids in bunks off the ground (no worrying about snakes or crocs required) is something few camper trailers can provide.

The Mitsubishi Pajero did us proud too, never shying from its job to get us into remote and rough terrain, as far off the beaten track as I dared. The scratched and dented paintwork is testament to this and if anyone knows how to get rid of bulldust please let us know as even the interior has a red tint throughout.

Everyone asks “What was the favourite place?” so I might get Fifty Toes Walkabout members to answer the obvious questions in a few more blogs to follow – just in case you’re wondering, and if anyone has a burning question or two let me know and I’ll include them. Hope you enjoy the quick recap of some of the photos from some of the great places we visited.

Back home we can now start planning for the next trip, whilst looking for work, and who knows where that might be!

Categories: Adventure, australia, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Road trip, Sydney, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Cape York, The Tip (Part 1)

Firstly thanks to all the responses helping with my computer. It probably won’t be fixed until we get home which means blogging will be less frequent and probably fewer photos for a while.

After decamping from the beautifully tranquil Jardine River a short but very corrugated drive brought us to the ferry crossing where the 20m crossing costs you $129 and lasts barely a couple of minutes. It sounds expensive but is a return fare and does include the permit to enter the indigenous area as well as camping in designated areas around the tip of Cape York.

Bamaga is a sleepy township in the far north, offering a decent sized supermarket, post office, tavern, bakery and general store amongst others. A hasty re-fuel and restock and we headed 35km to the north easterly point of the Cape, to a campsite called Somerset. The Somerset Homestead is now in ruins, established in 1863 by John Jardine, farmed cattle, copra and had other commercial interests that included involvement in the pearling industry. Near to the campsite there are some old cannons, gravesites and some derelict ruins providing the inquisitive with a glimpse into the hardships of the past here. Fragments of old hand-blown black glass bottles can be found scattered in the bush, many dating back to the late 19th century.

Along the shoreline, behind the mangroves you can also find the remains of an old freshwater spring that was pooled as salvation for shipwrecked sailors, and graves of Japanese pearl divers.

Also along the shoreline, after negotiating crocodile infested mangroves and climbing the sharp rocks some remarkable indigenous art can be found in a cave, considerably pre-dating the homestead. Figures of fish, crocodiles and turtles, as well as other unidentifiable shapes were all clearly visible.

Some 900m away the large island of Albany offers fishing charter holidays, but has untouched beaches covered in turtle tracks with crystal clear water. The island also offered some protection from the prevailing onshore winds that greeted us all the way up the east coast of the Cape.

We explored the neighbouring coastline taking the five beaches track that weaves southwards through the bushland between beaches. We met another family with kids at SDEPS (whom we hadn’t seen for months) and took the photo at Fly Point of all the 8 kids. At the end of the track we found tracks that kept going and we explored at least two more beaches, the kids finding plenty of their new favourite shell, the chambered nautilus. Surprisingly there was less rubbish on the beaches here, probably because of the protection from Albany island.

Yellow-bellied sunbird

Yellow-bellied sunbird

The abundant and unique birdlife at the tip of the Cape York also provided an interesting diversion at dawn whilst everyone else was still waking up. The tally is now fast approaching 300 species on the trip and favourite birds have been changing regularly. Here the yellow-bellied sunbird was a welcome treat around the trailer.

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The next day we had a challenge to meet, the third compass extremity of the mainland, Australia’s most northerly point. The dirt road wasn’t too bad, weaving at times through lush rainforest, before opening up at the beach. A short walk over the craggy headland past enormous rock cairns brought us to a very unimpressive simple sign at the northerly tip. Three down one to go!

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Journey Narrative, Natural World, Photos, QLD, Queensland, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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