Lambert Geographical Centre: smack bang

Heading north from Coober Pedy towards Alice Springs we found ourselves back on corrugation. The flat and rocky terrain was devoid of trees, grass and pretty much anything between us and the horizon. After a few hours we came upon Arckaringa Station and an outcrop of mountains known as the Painted Desert. Under vast blue skies we were stoked to be able to take a walk through this beautiful place with Ned by our sides.

A welcome respite from the flats

Little Jono, little Ned, big mountain

Big Ned, little mountain

Tiny jumping Laura

So many cool rocks!

We spent that night in the small town of Oodnadatta. Although the town provides a great little free camp near its iconic pink Oodnadatta Roadhouse, we couldn’t sleep for the howling and barking and woofing and screeching of what sounded like hundreds of dogs. While Ned was unperturbed by the cacophony, to our human ears it was almost unbearable – we’ve never heard anything like it and hope never to again!

Next day, the plan was to tackle the western section of the Oodnadatta Track. However, at a crossroads we made the spontaneous decision to turn right instead of heading straight. This changed our route all together, taking us through Witjira National Park and condemning Ned to a long and boring day in the car. Happily, he’d already had fun that morning chasing his ball on a clay pan and a ginger cat up a tree. We’ve encountered so many wild cats in South Australia and can only imagine the devastating effects they’re having on the native wildlife 🙁

Ned’s clay pan

While in Witjira we spotted a sign for Dalhousie Springs and stopped expecting to find a little puddle. Instead, we were amazed by huge, lush oasis. While we found it more refreshing getting out of the 38-ish degrees water than in, it was an awesome experience all the same. We would have loved to camp there for a few days if only Ned was allowed.

Dalhouse Springs: more than a puddle

As it was, we continued north-west to Mount Dare Hotel, a common endpoint for travellers who’ve completed or are about to start the Simpson Desert. Boasting the distinction of being South Australia’s most isolated pub, we were pleasantly pleased to find Coopers Reds set us back just $7.50 a pop – cheaper than most Sydney pubs. We felt a real sense of accomplishment getting to Mount Dare Hotel and look forward to visiting again one day, hopefully after a successful Simpson Desert crossing.

Better beer prices than Sydney

… but fuel was a little more expensive!

The road west from Mount Dare was the bumpiest and rockiest of our trip so far and chewed up our tyres good and proper. We were happy to make camp that night just because it meant the jolting would end. Setting up and watching the sun fade across the plains we were shocked to discover we were inside the Northern Territory border and had made the crossing without realising.

The next morning, keen to make the most of our first few days in the Northern Territory, we set course for the Lambert Geographical Centre of Australia. As the name suggests, Lambert’s is the smack bang centre of the country (we’ve written a post about Lambert’s for Outdoria which you can check out if so inclined). We enjoyed a fun few days camping here with the experience marred only by a gust of wind slamming our car door on one of Jono’s thumbs.

Had the door caught his poor digit on the joint instead of the nail, our trip would probably be in tatters right now while Jono recovered from surgery. It was a scary moment followed by a very uncomfortable day for Jono and reminded us just how fragile plans are. Unshowered, dusty and dirty as we are, we’re so grateful and happy to be on this trip and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

Lambert geographical centre point

Smack bang

Lambert geographical centre camping

A hot day

Lambert geographical centre camp fire

Coober Pedy: an opal in the rough

From Kingoonya we headed east to the Stuart Highway and then a couple of hours north to Coober Pedy. We were happy enough to be driving on smooth dust-free bitumen until a road train blew past and threw up a rock which cracked our windscreen. We knew it had to happen at some point!

Cooper Pedy sign

Welcome to Coober Pedy

Neither of us really knew what to expect from Coober Pedy. As it turned out, it is one of the most weird and wonderful places we’ve visited. The town shimmers with weird and wonderful characters and, of course, the opals which have made it famous.

Coober Pedy birds eye

The sun beats down, a spaceship lies abandoned in the main street, caravans clog the road and dust swirls all around. On one occasion we watched open-mouthed as a whirly wind lifted a sheet of corrugated iron from the roof of a building and crashed it into the street, missing a parked car by an inch. No one batted an eyelid, so we guess it must happen regularly.

Coober Pedy spaceship

Are we on a Star Wars set?

Highlights included finding an opal in the public “noodling” (read: opal fossicking) area in Jewellers Shop Road (bonus points because Neddy Noodle felt so at home here), the Coober Pedy drive-in cinema (Laura had never been to a drive-in), and the underground Umoona Opal Mine and Museum which was a cool insight into the history of the area and a welcome respite from the sun.

Coober Pedy noodleing

Laura and the Noodle go noodling

Coober Pedy Opal

Our opal! Photos do not do it justice

We also really enjoyed heading out of the main drag and driving around the residential area. It’s hard to imagine how these little houses (and their inhabitants) can withstand the unrelenting sun and dust day in, day out, year after year. Given the caves remain a comfy 23 degrees no matter the outside temperature, we can see why many prefer to live underground.

Coober Pedy Abodes

Underground abodes

More than any other place we’ve visited, the harsh climate really made us reflect on the traditional owners of the area and to contemplate the connection and kinship the Aboriginal people must have had with the land to allow them to flourish here. Take away the cushiony comfort of our troopy and we know we’d struggle to last a day.

One afternoon we took a short drive north to the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park where we enjoyed the most breathtaking sunset of our trip. We made the very most of it, throwing open our rear door and cooking dinner on our little stove as we watched the daylight slip away.

Coober Pedy Breakaways

Family portrait at the Breakaways

Coober Pedy Breakaways

The land before time

Coober Pedy breakaways

Enjoying the last rays of light

We also had to allocate a portion of our time in Coober Pedy to figuring out what to do about our dead-as-a-doornail inverter, which had given up the ghost on Goog’s Track. After chats with our auto-electrician and the company the inverter was purchased from, it was decided that a new inverter would be posted to Alice Springs. In the meantime, laptop and camera charging won’t be happening unless we stay at caravan parks. Ahhhh damn.

Coober Pedy Camping

Camping in Coober Pedy

Goog’s Track: a good day to have a Goog day

We were doing so well at posting our blogs on time until we got to Goog’s Track. Then it all kind of fell off the rails, partly because we’ve been moving around so much we’ve barely had time to scratch ourselves. It’s a full-on gig, this travelling life – we need a holiday! [Insert the swish sound of us ducking to avoid the abuse you’re now hurling our way.]

In the interim between finishing the track and being late in posting this blog, we’ve written a Goog’s Track how-to guide for Outdoria which covers the ins, outs and all abouts of the track as well as the route we travelled, so if you’re interested in reading it we’ll let that tell part of the story along with our photos below.

Goog's Track entry

The very start

Goog's Track salt lake

Salt lake vista

Goog's Track salt lake crystal

Up close and personal with salt crystals

Goog's Track campsite one

Night one campsite

Not much beats a campsite with a fire

Goog's Track downhill dune

A lot of day two looked very much like this

Goog's Track Mount Finke

Mount Finke in the background

Up the goat’s track on Mount Finke

Goog's Track clay pan

Day three clay pan

A few personalised notes left out of the Outdoria article include just how much we loved the little gecko who visited our campsite on the first night. So inquisitive and so entirely unafraid of us, we couldn’t get enough of watching him lick his own eyeball. Who needs TV, right?

Goog's Track beaded gecko

Our gecko mate. Funny little fella

We also probably didn’t emphasise just how much rain we received, despite a promised clear forecast on the morning we left Ceduna. It was so heavy that we had to end our second day of driving early. Whatever our expectations of Goog’s Track, they certainly did not involve rain to the point we could barely see through our windscreen.

Contemplating a downhill dune on day two, rain clouds looming

Another fun little thing that happened was our inverter battery going “pop” and not recovering, even though we’d only had it put in just before the trip. For the uninitiated, an inverter converts our car’s 12-volt power supply into 240 volt, which allows us to charge appliances such as laptops. Until it’s no longer an option you don’t fully appreciate what a luxury it is to have constant power from the “grid”.

The morning of our inverter breaking also marked another milestone of the trip – our first proper fight. As fights usually are, this was a ridiculous one involving a suspected tripped fuse which ended up not being tripped at all and exacerbated by a lack of spare fuses we didn’t actually need. We’ll leave it at that except to say it was ridiculous and strops were had.

In all, the 154-kilometre Goog’s Track took us three days and two nights, and we were stoked to complete it without a single bogging, despite the sandy road and the 360+ dune climbs. There were big pats on the bonnet for Tennyson at the end, followed by a delicious and well-earned drink of diesel (for Tennyson. We stuck with regular human drinks).

Goog's Track end point

The Trans-Continental Railway line marks the end of the track

On our first night out of the track, we found ourselves well and truly in the desert. It was with pleasure we came across a town called Kingoonya, which is maybe a settlement more than a town as there’s pretty much just a pub there. That said, Kingoonya is a great little place which offers cold drinks, meals, a fire and an awesome free campsite with an actual flushing toilet. Bit of a novelty these days, the old toilet – let alone one that flushes!

Next up, Coober Pedy and beyond.

An all-too-common sight in the outback

Eyre Peninsula AGAIN: big barrels in a dust bowl

After crawling out of Eyre Peninsula dunes a few days ago, we were both well and truly desert hacked. Dusty beyond belief, neither of us had any clean clothes, Jono was surfed out, sore and limping from ulcerated flipper sores, reef cuts and unexplained foot rashes, Laura was sporting unevenly tanned hands from long shifts of filming, and Tennyson and Ned were as dirty as they’ve ever been.

That said, the recent days have been an epic time with a truly epic crew and we can’t believe how lucky we are that the stars aligned to make it all so. Even better, we are writing this fresh and clean after recently enjoying our first hot shower in more than 30 days. We imagine the shower drain feels less fresh and clean and will probably remain clogged for some time.

Anyway, back to where we left off on our last post. After leaving Port Lincoln, we headed back in the direction we’d come, stopping in Streaky Bay overnight where we enjoyed a pub feed with Callum, Sam and Cohen. While the town is picturesque and probably has many things to recommend it, Jono’s biggest thumbs up go to the public toilet which he gives a solid 5-star rating.

A photo on the Streaky Bay pub wall: a constant reminder of what lurks beneath.

Who cares about sharks when there’s waves like this breaking?! The cold alone would keep most people away.

The next day, we had a bit of a scare after greedy guts Ned scoffed some of Callum’s out-of-date mince and managed to inhale everything in the packet, which we thought might include an absorption sachet. After Googling the possible ramifications of this and calling the closest vet (located four hours away), Callum had the genius idea to call Coles and ask what they put in their mince packets.

Luckily for Ned, and for us, it was just some kind of wax paper. So, rather than taking an extremely long drive in the wrong direction, we were advised to keep our eye on him for any signs of ill health, none of which appeared. As Jono always says about Ned, “if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough”.

We also actually thought about taking Callum to a health and/or psychiatric specialist after he knowingly ate mince patties bought four days previously and left unrefrigerated in his car thereafter. He claims to have guts of steel and we guess he proved the truth of this since no ill effects appeared for him either. Perhaps the Ned saying applies to both parties.

Not a bad spot.

The how-to of wood hooking. Thanks Callum for the photo.

From Streaky, we headed into the dunes where we spent eight amazing days chasing swell, meeting awesome people, listening to Callum rap by firelight, marvelling at Sam’s battered old Camry as it slithered around putting 4WDs to shame (and only got bogged twice), pissing ourselves at Cohen when a mistimed breeze and broken tent flap caused him to wee all over his sleeping bag, spotting dune cats, shnacking, day trips, stargazing and so much more.

Wake up and check the surf.

Photo of a photo.

Laura on the job. She is wearing five layers and three hoods.

Desert tracks.

Jono on one of the bigger waves he has ever caught.

Ned had an excellent time making friends with other crews and would routinely disappear to their campsites for pats and treats – he ate better than we did! He did disgrace himself on one occasion when implacable hatred for his nemesis, the drone, whipped him into such a frenzy that he gave Laura a fat lip.

The lads.

Waves for days.

On Sunday, after the boys had one final surf in a continuously barrelling 4-6 foot lefthander, our time together was up. A quick photo and footage swap later, we all said our farewells, parted ways, and the three of us beelined for a dog-friendly cabin in a Ceduna caravan park. Here we’ve spent the last couple of days showering, cleaning, doing laundry, washing our car etc. etc. Next up, the Googs Track and beyond!

We want to know …

Eyre Peninsula continued: more is not enough

Our fourth week on the road – also our third on the Eyre Peninsula – has been one of bad weather, epic sunny days, catching up with old friends, boggings and chasing waves. Pretty much all the usual ups and downs of life on the road.

After the most amazing sunset on Thursday night, we spent Friday hiding in the car at Drummond Point while wind and rain gusted. Thankfully, Ned was so worn out after a few days of full-on activity he was pefectly content to chill. In fact, every time we let him out of the car he’d cower so pathetically (he hates wind) that we’d take pity and let him back inside.

One day in the car was more than enough and we were stoked to wake on Saturday to amazing warm sunshine. We made the most of it by airing our bedding over bushes and enjoying pancakes at our five-star car brekky bar. Right around the time of the full moon, Jono also gave an unsuspecting ute-full of guys a moon they hadn’t bargained for when they drove past our campsite just as he was standing butt-naked in the sun. To Jono’s credit, he didn’t run for cover when he realised what was happening but instead remained frozen (he says “dignified”) until the ute disappeared from sight.

After Jono was finished flashing strangers and we had packed up our camp, we headed north to Elliston to catch up with a couple of mates. First up was Neil, an Elliston local who we bonded with on our last trip over our similar vintage Olympic caravans. Then we watched Callum – one of the three Tassie boys who we know and love for their fondness for frothing, frothies and schnacks – play in a local AFL game. It was cool to see such a big turnout in such a small place.

That night, Callum took us to a local roadhouse which is a real icon in the area. A fire took the edge out the freezing chill in the air, the owner kept us entertained with a running commentary and we all marvelled at Heidi, a rescued baby wombat whose mother had been killed by a car. Hats off to Bel who is doing an amazing job of looking after her around the clock. Fun fact: in the absence of their mother’s milk, a baby wombat’s beverage of choice is reduced-fat soy milk. How hipster.

Heidi the wombat

Shout out to @barbershopmedia for letting us stay on his land one night

Eyre Peninsula dune hangs

After nooking into a good camp spot in the dunes, the next few days were a blur of surfing, or, in Laura’s case, taking photos and filming, chores (there’s always so much that needs doing when you’re camping!), and freezing evenings spent sitting around a campfire. Crews came and left, but there was always plenty of legends to have a chat with.

In there somewhere…

On one day, after we’d fed a few of the boys some leftover pancakes (yes, we eat a lot of pancakes!), Callum told us we were the “mum and dad of the campsite”. It was a bit of a slap in the face to realise we are the oldies but we take heart from the fact that he at least didn’t call us “grandma and grandpa”. Maybe we’ll graduate to that by next trip?

We spent one arvo on the beach with Callum, Sam and Ollie who fished while we walked Ned in the dunes. We were pleased it only took us ten minutes to lure Ned away from racing between them, chasing their lures. Unfortunately, Ned’s fishing etiquette has not improved since our first trip.

Twilight fishing – pre-bogging

Eyre Peninsula sand dunes

While trying to drive off the beach, Callum’s ute got bogged in the sand and it took a bit of digging and the use of our MaxTrax to get him out again. We thought we might get bogged ourselves, and so were happy when trusty Tennyson managed to get out of there on the first go.

With the forecast looking distinctly average for the next couple of days, we made the call to backtrack to Port Lincoln to wait it out and replenish our supplies. Laura took the chance to get a filling and we spent tonight at a local pub showing the Tassie boys just how good we are at pool (read: not good at all).

No Jonoisms to report this week, although he did get very excited about a “shooting star” which he watched for 30 seconds, and then a minute, and then longer before conceding that, yes, it may have been a satellite.

Laura’s wallet-slash-phone almost came to a nasty end after it fell out of her pocket and into a deep hole which she had filled with something we won’t talk too much about. Barely able to bring herself to view the carnage, she clamped her nostrils firmly closed and peeked in with just one eye – and could scarcely believe the wallet/phone had somehow lodged in the corner of the hole, just one centimetre above the steaming contents. Pockets are now always zipped closed.

Also, no Eyre Peninsula shark stories to relate (hurrah!) although there have been a couple of heart-in-mouth moments which ended up being dolphins, seals or things which remain unidentified but at least didn’t bite anyone.

The locals dropping in

Nervous moments

Hot showers have still not been had. Send help. Or Gernis.

Port Lincoln and beyond: beauty EYREwhere

Our last post finished up at Moonlight Bay on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula, just north of Port Lincoln. We stayed there a couple more nights, enjoying all it had to offer – which was plenty.

Moonlight Bay

Ned enjoying Moonlight Bay

As well as ocean views, dolphins and seals, on the Friday night, we also spotted what we – applying our extensive knowledge of the universe and interplanetary behaviours – can only describe as a meteor.

A fiercely bright, orange light whizzed across the night sky before flaring, breaking in two and fading away. It was spectacular and we can’t help but wonder if our star-gazing has peaked very early on in the trip.

Staring at each other in silent amazement in the seconds following, we were very quickly brought down to earth again, when, out of the corner of her eye, Laura spotted another movement.

Somewhat smaller in scale than the intergalactic pyrotechnics just witnessed, this action turned out to be a scurrying mouse heading directly for the troopy. Tiny and cute as it was, Laura felt little desire for it move in with us and so headed it off in an extremely graceful manoeuvre which definitely didn’t involve knocking over camp chairs.

We thought this was a good chance for Ned to show his worth. After 10 minutes of us pointing and shoving Ned in the direction of the mouse, he finally caught a scent and sat dutifully at the wrong bush until bedtime. We don’t think he would survive in the wild.

The meteor and the mouse also coincided with a rather momentous occasion in our own puny existences in that Laura awoke on Friday to her final uni assignment results. She is officially going to graduate. Woo. Hoo.

A cheers to graduating and the newly-born Forrest Hollonds

On Saturday evening with the wind picking up and major storm clouds brewing, we made the call to pack up before going to bed so we wouldn’t have to deal with wet stuff in the morning. We were running out of food and water, and so a trip into Port Lincoln (the Eyre’s largest town) was required.

Port Lincoln

In Port Lincoln we achieved many of the fails we always manage in towns: getting lost, turning up at places before they’re open, after they’re closed, or on the wrong day all together, going shopping and forgetting what we need only to remember after we’ve left that we wrote a list etc. etc.

However, we did also wash our car, get it serviced and the windscreen checked for leaks, launder our clothes, and from Vinnies purchase a mixing bowl to replace the one we recently broke and buy Laura an awesomely bright shirt. Win.

Oh, and we can’t neglect to mention Jono’s overly enthusiastic purchase of a bargain-priced family-sized custard tart (“it’s only $4!”). It took just one slice for Jono to realise just how much tart he was in for. To his credit, he did get through it (Laura helped out with a couple of pieces). So far on this trip we’ve not wasted or thrown out one skerrick of food, which is something we want to continue.

Port Lincoln custard tart

Before Jono realised the level of tart ahead

A big night in Port Lincoln with our big screen

It was also while in Port Lincoln, wandering the streets with Ned waiting for our car to be serviced, that we finally christened our troop with a name. Everyone, meet Tennyson. Troopys have their own kind of poetry.

Tennyson, son of Russell

Drummond Point

From Port Lincoln we headed north-west to Drummond Point where we overnighted on cliffs overlooking a wonderful sunset.

Drummond Point

We also just about wet our pants laughing on the way in, when, in his haste to be first out of the car, Ned vaulted into the front and somehow landed face-first between the two seats and got stuck. We really can’t do the scene justice but suffice to say we’ll never forget the sight of his wiggling bum sticking up in the air.

Waking with the sun at Drummond Point the next morning was our first proper realisation that we are camping in South Australia in winter. Yes, Laura has already been wearing about five layers a day plus a blanket as a skirt over jeans, but this was the first morning the cold really slapped us around.

Hard to leave a warm bed

The wind stung our eyes and burned our faces and made our hands so cold they hurt. Getting dressed hurt, packing up hurt, jamming our fingers hurt much more than usual. And when things wouldn’t fit in their places, Jono snided Laura’s shoes, and then his ears hurt because she got the strops at him. But all was ok once we’d defrosted. Then it was time to find Jono some surf.

Desert style

We headed into some sand dunes and in our enthusiasm to reach the waves, immediately got bogged like the city gronks we are. Then followed laughing, digging and tyre deflating which, happily, didn’t take too long.

Pulling up at the water’s edge where Jono wanted to paddle out, no one else was there. The combination of freezing water, stabby rocks and lack of people to share in the white pointer lottery (no way was Laura joining him on that shallow reef break) meant that some amping was required before he felt ready to go in.

So, while Jono watched the waves, Laura took advantage of the sunny weather and made French toast, a batch of burger patties, and chia pudding. She also made a huge mess. Getting used to our kitchen layout is definitely a work in progress.

By the time she was finished, Jono was suited up and jittering about. After being shown the ins and outs of the camera set-up and forcing Jono to listen seriously to her instructions (scan water constantly, double-arm wave = “get the hell out of there”), she and Ned watched nervously as Jono paddled out.

Thankfully, no sharks were spotted, although an enormous pod of dolphins swam past, some of whom came right up to Jono and jumped out of the water just metres away.

Laura and Ned were very glad when Jono returned unscathed. The next morning, they were confused as to why he would go in on his own again (in a wet wetsuit, no less), on an overcast, even sharkier looking day with much less favourable wind.

As the not-so-favourable wind was set to continue, we decided to pack up and head back to Drummond Point for a few days, which is where we are now, bellies full of burgers and having witnessed a gorgeous sunset.

Spot the tiny Laura

No Jonoisms to report this week, probably because he’s been too full of tart. Laura has made peace with the fridge and is happy to say they’re getting along quite well. As for showers, our last hot ones took place in Melbourne and are but a distant memory. Two weeks and counting, folks.

eyre peninsula whyalla

Into camp mode: RADelaide and the start of the Eyre Peninsula

We are writing this perched on the edge of an Eyre Peninsula sand dune overlooking a calm, clear ocean without another human in sight. The sun is shining, the wind is gentle, and we are relishing these moments because this is 4WD travel at its best.

For those overcome with envy, take heart from the fact that we’re surrounded by storm cells looming closer with each passing moment, we’ve got sand in our bed, our car and every crevice, Neddy has rolled in something we’re pretty sure is poo, and we haven’t showered in eight days. Ahhhhh, life on the road.

Anyway, back to where we left off … Driving out of Melbourne we could see a huge cloud front gathering force and knew we were in for some rain. It sure delivered and at one point we had to pull over because we couldn’t see through the waterfall to steer safely.

We stopped that night at a rest stop we didn’t fully appreciate until the morning when we awoke to see a picturesque little lake complete with a working windmill. After taking Ned for a quick walk, we continued to Adelaide.

windmill outside adelaide

The windmill is very, very hard to see. Actually, it may not even be in this photo!

We were driving into the city, listening to the Presets, when, in one of those serendipitous life moments, Jono made an offhand remark about how good it would be to see their new album played live.

Employing the marvel of mobile technology, Laura discerned they were playing in Adelaide that night. Nek minit, we’re in a crowd of heaving bodies at the Thebarton Theatre. This was an experience we hadn’t been anticipating!

Presets in Adelaide

We spent one more night in Adelaide and completed a few little shopping forays including buying a second set of MaxTrax, visiting Snowy’s because it’s awesome and we could, looking in op shops for a steamer basket to fit our saucepan and, when that failed, braving Ikea.

Into the Ikea vortex

We also treated ourselves to banana and salted caramel crepes from a cute little café in Mile End and watched the World Cup Australia v. France match in a little sports bar with an excellent array of craft beer.

At the end of our last day, after doing an Aldi shop, we were on our way out of Adelaide when streets started looking familiar and we realised it was near here that we’d had the best burgers in Australia (yep, we’re calling it).

We agreed that if the Hema took us past Barry’s in Semaphore, it was fate and we’d have to have a burger. However, on reaching a turn where the Hema said to take a right, Jono went left. And then straight when it again said to turn right. Lo and behold, we were outside Barry’s.

Laura felt some cheating had gone on but apparently Jono’s understanding of the arrangement had been that we could have a burger if we reached the shop without any wrong turns. As we were there, we decided it was pointless to piddle over technicalities.

Seriously though, if anyone reading this ever goes anywhere near Semaphore, go to Barry’s! The burger ingredients are locally sourced with vegan options available, and both times we’ve been there our meals have blown us out of the water.

Barry's in Semaphore

Greedy Laura had already taken a bite of her burger before the photo got taken, which is why one burger looks a little squished

After Barry’s, it was well and truly goodbye Adelaide. We pointed our bonnet to the Eyre Peninsula which had been one of our favourite places from the last trip. We were excited to see it again.

While driving through Port Augusta we stopped in at a carwash place to spray off the small amount of mud we’d accumulated on the troopy. This turned out to have been a waste of time as the drive into our campsite on Whyalla’s Spencer Gulf (made in the dark and rain) was a sketchy, slippery, sliding affair that left our poor troops with an inch of mud on his tyres and his body well and truly splattered.

Mud aside, we were stoked to awake the next morning at an amazing new campsite. We could see the southern Flinders Ranges across the water and dolphins cruising past, which turned out to be a regular occurrence during our time there.

Highlights of this stop included our ever-burning masterpiece of a campfire which kept us toasty warm, Neddy going nuts off lead absolutely loving life, nudey splashes in the freezing water, and Jono stepping on a huge stingray (no injuries were sustained, except maybe to Jono’s voice box which emitted a very high-pitched noise).

A rare moment of Neddy not going nuts

Some curious local emus also came a-visiting. A stroke of good luck saw Neddy tied to the car when they arrived as Jono had the drone in the air. We’re not sure what emus would make of a barking Ned.

Eyre peninsula Spencer Gulf

Spot the emus

There they are

We did have one day of whoopsies when we broke our favourite bowl, cracked a rotten egg into our pancakes, dropped a bag of rice and burnt the bottom of our pressure cooker. We took it in our stride though. Hard not to, with views like these.

After three nights it was time to move onwards and downwards along the Eyre. We decided to visit a place we’d previously stayed and loved called Moonlight Bay because we remembered it had some neat little camp spots accessible only by 4WD.

And that’s where we are now (sun shining, gentle wind blah blah blah).

We’ve only been here one night but we’re pretty stoked on life, especially because we’ve successfully set up our RV tent which has turned out to be much more rainproof than we anticipated (it rained overnight) and provided good wind protection for our little stove while we cooked dinner.

Moonlight Bay

So ugly

Aerial of Moonlight Bay on the Eyre Peninsula

Some classic Jonoisms this week include him not knowing where he was “in the scheme of the [bed] sheet,” which was also apparently “tight like a screw”.

For her part, Laura has been hating on the fridge, the lid of which doesn’t stay up and is like a Tetris puzzle to get anything in and out of. Jono says soothing things like, “imagine how lucky you would feel to have this technology if it were 100 years ago,” and Laura wants to kill him.

Our home

On the road again: Geelong and beyond

Seven days into trip two and we are still finding it hard to believe we’re really on the road again. This first week has been one of settling into our new home, compiling a never-ending list of things we’ve forgotten, catch-ups with old friends and some hardcore urban camping.

Leaving home was hard! As we drove out of our street, Laura’s dad said (caught on camera by her sister), “I have never seen such disorganisation in my entire life”. We think that pretty much sums up the shambles.

Ned’s not sure

Physically, it took us 10 extra days than planned to get ourselves packed and out of there. Emotionally, Laura’s family hijacked the send-off and injected way too many feelings into it. Thanks to them, instead of cruising joyously down the road, grinning with glee, Laura spent the first five minutes of the trip sobbing despairingly. Even Jono shed a sneaky tear.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. We’ll forget about those losers soon enough 😉


The funniest moment of day one was pulling up at a red light next to a large, reflective window and seeing our handsome rig in all his glory. Totally mesmerised, we both sat staring in silent admiration until the car behind beeped to let us know we were supposed to be moving. Troopy owners will understand.


After overnighting at a rest stop, we set course for Geelong to see mates from our last trip, Hilary and Rylan, who took us camping in the Neddy-friendly Otway State Forest. What an awesome night it was: a camp fire, red wine, burgers for dinner and most excellent company.

The Rylary wine bar

Next morning, we woke to full-speed turbo Neddy going nuts on the front seat. We let him out of the car only for him to bark non-stop at a log floating in the lake. How good is travelling with a dog?!

Otway State Forest

After an amazing Hilary-concocted brekky of tea-infused pancakes with roasted muesli, sautéed strawberries, bananas, maple syrup and frozen Greek yoghurt that tasted like ice-cream, we headed up the road to Bambra where the Rylarys took us foraging for saffron milk cap mushrooms. We made these into a delicious risotto that night and a mushroom soup the next. Thumbs up for free, locally harvested food.

We’ll skip over the part where naughty Ned got into a fight with a dog on Point Addis dog beach. Other than that, it was a perfect day, capped with craft beers at a cool Geelong café called Cockatoo.

Point Addis

Point Addis

A shout out must go to Hilary’s mum and stepdad, Sue and Graeme, who opened their home to us, plying us with comforts including freshly baked goods and a hot shower.


From Geelong, we headed back up to Melbourne to visit Shell, Dan, the beautiful baby Arlow and a bonus Sandra. Here, we spent a couple of nights indulging in city delights including gourmet food, a second hot shower (we’ll get spoiled if we’re not careful!) and use of their washing machine.

Dan memorably scared the bejesus out of Jono on our first night by coming up behind him in the dark and saying aggressively, “I hope you’re not planning on parking that car there overnight, mate”. Thanks, Dan.

More bejesus scares were had on the second night, when, at about midnight, there was a knock on the car, and a booming voice said, “It’s the coppers”(!).

Laura, snuggled up and asleep, had no idea what was happening. Jono, awake, had his faculties about him and opened the back door to a policeman who told him some concerned citizen (Dan?!) had reported our car as possibly stolen.

He’d run a check on our rego – thankfully, not stolen – and so Neddy got a midnight pat from a nice policeman and all was well. But, yeah, there’s an example of why we prefer staying out of cities where possible.

While in Melbourne, we also picked up our mattress and did a few odd jobs to prep ourselves for the weeks and months ahead … We have no idea what’s in store and we can’t wait!

It fits!

Jono is very proud of this little mod

Geelong dog walks

Red Bluff, Gnaraloo Station and Carnarvon: the wild west

Jono has dreamed of surfing Red Bluff and various Gnaraloo Station breaks since his teenage years, and so was looking forward to the Carnarvon portion of our trip almost more than any other. Keeping an eagle eye on the surf charts in the weeks leading to our arrival, he watched as the swell he was hoping to materialise … didn’t.

We determined to visit both places anyway, even if only to see them in the flesh sand. Arriving in Carnarvon after the 325 kilometre drive from Shark Bay (you can read our Shark Bay post here), we checked Claude into storage, filled our car with diesel, did a shop and departed again post-haste.


Shark Bay: how west can we get?

The drive between Kalbarri and the World Heritage listed Shark Bay featured kangaroos, a mob of emus, numerous herds of goats, two echidnas and a huge wedge-tailed eagle feasting on a carcass, so we thought we might be in for a good time.

Arriving in the isolated town of Denham (pronounced “denim”) on Shark Bay’s Peron Peninsula we dithered for a while as dithering in Denham sounded like fun but also because we hadn’t figured out where we were going to stay. (more…)