Thursday, 15 March 2007

Waving goodbye to Wave Rock

So here we are at Wave Rock in Hyden, WA.

Wave Rock is one of those things that I've seen so many photos of. It's one of those iconic images, like the Sydney Opera House that becomes part of the identity of Australia. A bit like whenever you see photos of England you're sure to see pictures of Stonehenge, or of the Statue of Liberty when viewing photos of New York.

The difference is that the first time I visited the opera house I felt a rush of excitement when I first saw the "sails" of the roof, and I thought "wow, I'm actually here at the opera house!" Not quite the same feeling I had at Wave Rock. My thinking was more like .. "ok, it's a rock.. an unusually shaped one to be sure, but still, just a rock". The pictures and the lead up had somehow built it up in my mind to be a lot more than it is in reality. Add to that the fact that it's meters away from a caravan park and that there's a wall at the top of it in sections (they never show that in the photos!!) which was built in the 50's to capture water run-off, and it wasn't exactly what we had anticipated.

We're both glad that we took the time to visit, as we would have felt like we missed out being so close and not having a look. My advice to others travelling this way would be to have a look if your travels bring you within a reasonable distance of Hyden, but I wouldn't go too far out of my way for a visit.

Today we are off to Kalgoorlie.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Perth Prattle

All is well with the car, and we have spent the last few days in Perth, the most isolated capitol city in the world. We are now closer to Jakarta than we are to Canberra.

We went to the Perth Caravan and Camping show, did a bit of touring around Perth City and Freemantle and spent some time in the Swan Valley (yet another wine region! - HIC!) We also caught up with some old friends of Mike's as well as some people that we met on our travels. The weather hasn't been nearly as bad as we feared and the cool breeze at night has made sleeping great.

Tomorrow we are planning on heading toward Wave Rock, and from there we will probably visit Kalgoorlie. I don't know what connectivity will be like for the next few days but we'll be in touch when we can.

This evening we took down our annex so we could have a quick and early departure in the morning. As we were pulling down the walls we noticed that we had a visitor...

Thursday, 8 March 2007

It's All Part of the Adventure..

That's what we keep telling ourselves anyway...

It all started while we were out with the boat. It was a beautiful day on the long weekend with lots of holiday makers at the water in boats and wave runners, people swimming and picnicing on the foreshore, and we had just come in from a few hours on the water and had brought our boat out onto the ramp. We put the boat up on the trailer and got in the car to pull it out of the water and head off. Mike turned the ignition key and well, nothing.

Hmmm.. tried a few more times. Still nothing. Mike thought it seemed like a fuel issue because it *almost* started, but would cut out just as the engine turned over. Mike opened the bonnet and had a look but couldn't find anything wrong. So, there we were broken down, on the boat ramp with the boat attached and still in the water and people bringing in boats and launching next to us. At least we were to one side and not blocking the whole ramp. What a mess! And, to add insult to injury, we had taken the car in for a routine service only three days prior!

Mike called the RAC who said someone would be there within the hour. It was more like two when they showed up and tried a couple of things (basically the same things Mike had already tried) to no avail. I admit, although annoying, we still thought it was a pretty comical situation we were in, but it soon turned much less comical when the RAC guy suggested that he'd arrange for a tow, and that it could be a couple more hours. Ugh!! We were in no mood to spend the rest of the day on the ramp, not to mention that since we're travelling the car is full of all manner of personal crap that we weren't keen on handing over with the car.

As a last ditch effort the RAC guy decided to try one more thing before giving up. He took a rubber mallet and banged on the fuel tank while Mike turned the ignition key. Viola! It started! They concluded that our fuel pump had bit the dust which we've been told is to be expected once you have over 200K kilometres on the clock. (Can you believe that we put over 150K kilometres on the car since we got it 3 years ago?!?). The RAC guy said that we'd have to take care of it asap, because although the rubber mallet trick will work a couple more times, after that we're up the proverbial creek. Apparently we (the male half of we anyway) knew that this was coming eventually, but was hoping that "eventually" was a bit further off.

Tuesday morning we decided we'd head toward Perth (which is where the nearest Land Rover dealer is anyway). Being only 80 kilometres away, we thought we'd be okay and could have the car looked at from there. We packed up, the car started fine, but cut out twice while we were backing it up to the camper. The camper was all hitched up and ready to go when we decided that it was probably foolish to get on the road and risk getting stuck, especially since we've been experiencing a heat wave here, and sitting on the side of the road waiting for RAC in 40 degree heat wasn't sounding like a good time to either of us. We set ourselves up again, and the park owner was nice enough to pick up some milk, coffee and dog food for us when she went to the shop.

Mike rang Land Rover in Perth and arranged for them to send the part to a local shop to be fitted. I won't bore you with the agonising details of getting the part into the mechanic's hands. But, I'd just like to say that surely it shouldn't take several phone calls by Mike prodding things along for what should be a routine transaction. The mechanic sent a tow truck yesterday afternoon and we should have the car back in a day or two.

In the meantime, we are still at the caravan park camped in the owners front yard! Since it's been hot as hell I could think of worse places to be stuck. We've been spending the days taking full advantage of the pool, and for the most part enjoying ourselves.

Hey ... it's all part of the adventure - right?

p.s. Mike is looking really fit lately, and it has taken at least ten years off him. He also got his hair cut the other day and his beard cut VERY short. He's looking scrumptious and will probably make me delete this bit if (when?) he sees it. :) I'm going to have to lift my game before the caravan park ladies start circling.. heh!

Saturday, 3 March 2007

No Room At The Inn

We've been in Dawesville the last few days which is a seaside town just south of Mandurah. The first day we got here it was very hot and we were starting to wonder if we had headed north too soon, especially after the heat of Busselton. Luckily there is a pool here so we were able to cool off and the following day the weather took a turn.

The past few days have been cool with occasional showers. Great sleeping weather, and we spent the days exploring Mandurah and getting a few things done to the boat. Mandurah is the fastest growing regional Australian city, and you can see evidence of that in the building that seems to be going on everywhere. Some of the homes here, especially those along the canals are absolutely stunning. Beautiful homes, each with backyards backing onto the canals that lead out into the estuary and rivers. Of course everyone has boats. A great lifestyle if you had a spare few million dollars lying around.

Before we left Augusta friends said they were having trouble finding somewhere to stay this weekend as it's a long weekend in WA. We weren't too worried, and figured we'd figure something out when the time came. Well, when we arrived at the caravan park in Dawesville they had a place for us up until Friday but were booked solid throughout the weekend. We were also told that we wouldn't have any luck anywhere and the whole area was sure to be booked out. A few inquiries that we made confirmed this.

Luckily the Caravan park owner saw our camper and offered to let us camp in a grassy area beside their house at the caravan park. So, Thursday night we packed up and shifted and are now camping on the owner's front lawn :). Well, technically it's a front lawn, but as it's in the park it doesn't really feel like it. We are a few metres further from the toilets, but close to the tennis courts and pool which will be great with the hot weather predicted over the next couple of days. We've got plenty of room to spread out here - far more than in an ordinary site, plus we are away from some of the ruckus of the long weekend holidaymakers. Mike and I think we ended up with the best spot in the park!

Today is Mike's birthday and so far we spent most of it out on the water with the boat. I've gone crab mad - it's so much fun to go crabbing, and Dawesville/Mandurah is known for their blue swimmer crabs. Next week is the crab festival, but we don't know if we'll still be here for that. We didn't have any luck this morning, but we have a spot in mind to try out either later today or tomorrow.