Diary—September 2006




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03 to 09 September 2006

Clare–Adelaide–McLaren Vale

Almost a week in Adelaide, catching up with old friends (and some new ones). Good timing too, as the weather was cold and wet and windy. Adelaide thanked us for the rain they desperately needed and we sheltered in shopping centres and restaurants. Not too many pictures this week as we lived here for many years and the weather was miserable.

It was an odd week too in the deaths of three Australian celebrities. It certainly provided a talking point. Interesting too how we rewrite the collective view of the individual after they die.

We had a fun week doing city things and doing the very Adelaide thing of eating lots. It was great catching up with the some of our old crowd, we even ran out of time and missed a few people.

Robin finally got to go to the 'Bombay Bicycle Club' pub and restaurant—a very eclectic place and well worth the visit (but book ahead). On the spur of the moment we went to a play with John Waters as one of the two actors—excellent. And enjoyed immensely a jam session of Irish musicians at a North Adelaide pub—superb.

Adelaide has changed a lot in the past ten years. The Glenelg foreshore is unrecognisable. They have replaced the eyesore of 'Magic Mountain' with another eyesore of high density beach side apartments. Marion shopping centre is huuuge. We spend hours there (including a movie).

In the south, it is all new housing and new vineyards. We even drove past our old house—the trees in the front look just like we planned 15 years ago.

Our favourite wine area around Adelaide has always been McLaren Vale. We started the week in Clare but ended it down in the vale and just a few tastings from the region.

Week 23

Hancocks Lookout on the way to Clare

Gorgeous tree at Hancocks Lookout

Hutch couldn't resist doing a little moonlighting :)

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10 to 16 September 2006

McLaren Vale–Mt Gambier—Torquay

Finally we have updated the last section of our trip, four months after getting home—after many comments that we seemed to be stuck in Adelaide!

 It was tempting just to finish off with “…then we went home and lived happily ever after”—the last bit is true so far, but a little more on the “went home” bit…

McLaren Vale was familiar territory and slowly raises the spectre of returning to 'normal life'. It shows, in little things like fewer photos taken because we have seen it before. Nevertheless we are going to enjoy our last few weeks.

We visited the Monarto Zoo (an open air zoo similar to Dubbo Zoo). Unfortunately the lions were asleep. They have been in the habit of swiping at the tour minibuses as they pass but didn't for us. The exhibits are good but seem a little less complete than Western Plains zoo. But we did get to feed a giraffe—they have such long lashes :-)

Overnight, where we were the only customers at the Kingston SE pub before heading off the Mt Gambier for a few days. But the 'yet another sunset' was great.

In Mt Gambier we did a few things we hadn't done before and took a tour of the Aquifer at the Blue Lake. Then we went down memory lane with dinner at The Barn restaurant. It was just as we remembered—good wine and the biggest meals with steak overflowing the sides of the plates.

Then we wandered along the Great Ocean Road—wild coastlines (London Gap and the 11 Apostles) and windy cliff top walks. We had the chance for Hutch to revisit childhood holiday spots at Warnambool. In an exceptional park, Tower Hill, we met a baby echidna. This park, in the bowl of an old volcano, has lots of life and magnificent birds.

Further on we continued our aerial exploration on another tree top walk on the 'Otway Fly'. We camped in a free camp under big trees. We know we are in more populated areas as the ranger tells us that all the fire wood, some of the furniture and the pickets from the railing to the toilets have all been stolen!

In Torquay we got to catch up with Baz and Julia (ex Adelaide neighbours) for dinner. We only get to see them every few years and it is always a joy—even when Baz is exhausted having returned from a trip to Asia that morning!

And we went to a friendly Anglican church the next morning before we headed out.


Week 24

Gorgeous giraffe up close—Monarto

Wild animals at Monarto

Sunset at Kingston SE

Baby Echidna at Tower Hill

London Gap

Otway Fly—treetop walk

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17 to 22 September 2006

Melbourne—Lakes Entrance—Mallacoota—Mimosa Rocks and home

Raced through Melbourne on the tollways—the E-tag still works despite getting drowned! The Phillip Island races have just finished, so there are bikies everywhere! To escape, we camped at 'Dismal Swamp'—which was actually a beautiful camping spot, despite the foot-long man-eating ants near the toilets (according to Robin).

It was still raining a bit but the rain eased enough for us to (brave the ants) collect firewood and cook our last camp oven roast. As always it was excellent and warming against the continuing cooler weather. When we examined our surroundings we found the place to be not so dismal with little floral delights in unexpected places.

Then, as it continued to rain we checked into a motel at lakes Entrance for a few nights. It was our 19th wedding anniversary! Robin had a massage and we both sipped champagne in the spa—little luxuries that I haven’t built into Tim yet. We had dinner at Nemo’s restaurant (a floating restaurant) where we could feed the black swans in the house boat lights between courses. The meal and service were superb.

Then further up the coast and camping at Mallacoota, we met new Ultimateers Howard and Sandy and another couple with brand new trailers 641 and 645. We felt like old pros as we set up Tim in double quick time and then sauntered over, with a glass of wine in one hand, to assist them and spin tall stories of our travels.

Our last night of camping was at Mimosa Rocks—a great place but full of kangaroos and ticks! The roos were so friendly and barely moved as we walked among them. The camp site was fantastic with the beach a few metres away, fire wood provided and fire rings for each campsite. We'd love to go back and spend more time there but Robin would want to take the dog! As it was Hutch picked up a tick!

And now we are driving through the familiar country of the south coast—all our diving haunts and the ever so well known roads back to Canberra. And thankfully it is getting a little warmer as we head north.

Week 25

Dismal Swamp camp

Dismal Swamp flower

Signet on the water at Lakes Entrance

Hutch and wallabys

Yellow fronted wallaby


Home at last—170 days and 24,191km after starting out.

…and we all lived happily ever after…

Best bits

I suppose we should put something like this in. The whole trip was a blast but a few highlights were:

Time together—wow, what a woman. Even better that when I first met her so many years ago, before the busyness of life swamped my appreciation. (Hutch) Yep—what he said (Robin).

Coongie Lake—camping on the banks of Coopers Creek, morning swims, flocking pelicans, sandstorms and dingos.

Ruby Gap Gorge—absolute isolation and dingo howls echoing down the gorge at midnight.

Cape Leveque/Middle lagoon—a week of rest in a stunning location, an unexpected surprise that the locals told us about.

Yoda Swamp—nothing quite gets the adrenaline going like being neck deep in a swamp where you expect crocodiles! On the positive side we had a great fire side story, made good friends, and got to learn all about the truck and God's rich provision for us even when wet. We are so thankful for a waterproof trailer!

YODA—unstoppable, bomb proof, but not so water-proof! And not one to hold a grudge as a further 15,000 km attest!

TIM the trailer—made life so comfortable, even in the midst of sand storms, mozzie storms and rain storms. We spent a total of 5 nights out of Tim and the bed in Tim was more comfortable than the others!

Next trip

Cape York in '08 or '09—approximately six weeks from Canberra—any takers?

Home again

Sarabi at rest