Filed under Oz Trip

Adelaide – Nullarbor – Norseman Pics

The latest batch of travel pics can be found at http://www.jameses.org/photos/perth-trip3/

It was only 5000 odd kilometres into our trip when we saw our first roo, about 10m away whilst travelling at 120km/h. Needless to say, my heart jumped as high as the roo did when it realised he was about to contribute to the mass of animal and bug matter on our front grill…

You are now entering a Wave Friendly zone…

It was an interesting phenomenon, and one of the quirkier elements of our long drive west. We’re not even sure at what point it commenced but once we became aware it was omnipresent. I guess this is the nature of many phenomena – seemingly nowhere, and then {BAM} everywhere – think corduroy in the 70’s (and mid-90s), pop-balls in the late 80s, and bluetooth headsets in the neo-wank era.

And, like most fads, trends and taste defying fashion phases (think Normanby hotel on any myriad of Sunday afternoons in 2008 – I mean maternity dresses and fluoro-vomit-patterned-dress-boardshorts?), it ceased, abruptly.

At some point past Whyalla – maybe Wudinna, Ceduna, or in the proximity of one of the many silos, wheatfields or turnoffs that guide the way – drivers starting waving as we went by. As we progressed closer to the edge of the Nullarbor, the habit became much more consistent. By the time we were fixed on our black line to oblivion, with nary a spot of shade for hundreds of kilometres around, the probability of being waved at approached 1.

Like all things in life, there were a large number of variations:
* Hand held on the steering wheel with any number of fingers raised;
* Includes the single-digit salute, two finger peace sign and, rarely, the full fingers/thumb combo;
* Hand removed from wheel and held up but still;
* The enthusiastic ‘yeah man, we’re crossing the nullarbor!’ wave with jolly sideways oscillations;
* The driver & passenger combo; or
* Any of the above with a head nod or wink.

Regardless of form or gusto, the wave held a symbolism for me. It basically said,

‘We are aware that things go wrong out here and we’re just checking to see if everything’s cool with you; on the flipside, everything is cool with us.’ Or in some cases, replacing the latter half of the sentence with ‘Yeah man! We’re crossing the Freakin’ Nullarbor Dude! In a wicked camper with no aircon and a punctured spare tyre!!’

If I’m even remotely near the mark, I think it’s cool that the ‘perceived’ dangers of the Nullarbor (whilst only seldom experienced) help to establish a camaraderie amongst travellers of all ilks and destinations.

Then again, it could simply be something to break up the monotony of staring at a black asphalt, dotted lines and vast skies for as far as even the most long-sighted eye can see. Most feasibly, it’s a mixture of the two.

All I know is that past Norseman, when trees abound and water is plentiful, the phenomenon ends… Whilst most phenomena in the realm of fashion and pastimes are ended due to the passing of some point on the time (or common sense) continuum, the Wave Zone appears to have finite and well defined geographical limits.

So, if you should ever be heading out west, or into the desert (or into the heart of Lakemba) to a place where there is a collective awareness of a latent danger outside the chassis of your automobile, see if you notice the Wave Zone. Do as Storm and I did, and see how many fingers you can average, cursing the lazy beggar with a one-fingered go…

And take a can opener, because you never know when your girlfriend will get a hankering for tuna and tomato corn thins on the way….

Trip Photos #2 – Adelaide

The aim is to keep the photos coming in small attention-span sized chunks. So, without further ado, the photos from Adelaide can be found at http://www.jameses.org/photos/perth-trip2/

Perth Sundries…

Well, after the rapid pace of Nullarbor driving (including a mammoth 930km jaunt between Eucla and Esperance) we decided to slow it down as we neared our destination. Enjoyable beach days, as documented in the last post, were supplemented by a 3 night stay on a small vineyard in Margaret River, courtesy of our friend Vicky. Aside from a few blustery beach swims, the main highlight was a day’s sampling of the local wares – wine, fancy snacks and tucker, and beer. Our little afternoon trip included the Margaret River Venison farm, Howard Park/Madfish Winery, Vasse Felix Winery, Providore (Deli and Winery), Woody Nook boutique winery, and Bootleg Brewery – with 7 beers fallen straight from heaven.

A final 300km drive north and we arrived in our final destination, Maddington W.A., ready to unload our poor car, eat some healthy food, and do some darn exercise. Finding an internet cafe has been a monumental undertaking in its own right; however, when we are firmly established in our new abode next week, that will be quickly rectified.

So far we’ve visited Storm’s campus which is quaint and pretty, eaten out in Northbridge (like Brisbane’s valley district), had coffee in Highgate (our new suburb, similar to New Farm), gone swimming at Cottesloe, been shopping in Maddington (Perth’s version of a Logan/Ipswich hybrid), and driven a good three quarters of the city and surrounds. Storm is in fact teaching her first classes, having been snaffled up by a dance school somewhere between Sydney and Wagga Wagga. Turns out, if you’re good enough, jobs will find you.

It is hot and very windy here, and staring down vast quantities of golden sunshine reflecting of the ocean of an afternoon will take some getting used to. We’re yet to glimpse the sun sink beyond the western ocean; however, there are three years for that.

There’ll be a new batch of travel pics up soon, but for now, after 6299.7km, sufficed to say we’ve arrived safely and happy.

Lots of Love, especially to Mum and Dad who are about to undertake an amazing 8 week adventure in South America and Ian, Michelle and Annabel, who will be indulging in the many delights of Buenos Aires with them. Travel safe guys and have fun!

W.A. with a capital Wow!

So, Storm and I have crossed the Nullarbor; the photos and stories from that part of the trip will be dealt with soon, but I just thought I’d leave a two-paragrapher to say we’ve arrived safe and sound and find ourselves currently in Albany, recently in Esperance and soon to be in Margaret River.

I have to say that I was, and continue to be, amazed by the beauty of the coastal regions here. Cape Le Grand National Park, near Esperance, was a breathtaking introduction to the flora, fauna and scenery of the region (save for a few unsightly remnant scars from a December brush fire). Similarly, the beaches and coves in and around Albany have been first-class, front-page tourism brochure material, with blue topaz water – as refreshing as a mango Wiess bar on a summer Sunday – stunning backdrops and verdant plant life. I have always been partial to Bonny Hills and Bartlett’s Beach (a.k.a Little Beach) in particular, but I do have to say that the marble white sand and (again) blue-topaz water here places the region in very high esteem. For those fortunates that make their way to our new abode, please be assured that we’ll make a weekend of it down here for you… with as many trips as visitors!

Lastly, two observations –
* Rest days don’t really result in much rest, especially when they’re spent climbing headlands, swimming and watching 4-5 hour marathon tennis matches. Tonight’s final must go down as one of the most frustrating episodes of viewing I’ve experienced, especially considering I was rooting for the guy that incessantly hit the ball out and missed countless first serves. That Roge stuck in there till the 5th was in itself frustrating, in that it did nothing to shorten the torture!
* Coffee snobbery does not travel well Westward. When I politely enquired as to the coffee grind in a small coffee shop in Wagga Wagga, I was informed – in a manner that did little to instill consumer confidence – that it was “Ummm… coffee?”. The ‘Coffex’ brand name plastered on proximate signage did nothing to assuage any lingering fears, sounding more like a coffee-scented industrial solvent than an enjoyable morning blend. Given the long drive that was to follow, however, and through the Hay Plains no less, perhaps we should have tried our luck…

Jimmy…

Perth Trip: Brisbane to Adelaide

Brisbane -> Grafton -> Bonny Hills -> Glebe -> Wagga Wagga -> Mildura -> Adelaide

Wow, well how do you sum up eight odd days of driving and sightseeing in 8 minutes and a couple of paragraphs? I honestly thought I’d have more humourous anecdotes to share with people after 2,000 odd kilometres of travelling; however, the trip has been fairly routine in terms of driving and all things car related. There have been some fantastic moments of friendship and family spliced into long hours of staring at the dotted line, but on the main, it’s been, well, normal.

Perhaps I’ll let some of the pictures we’ve taken along the way speak for us; mine are up at www.jameses.org/photos and Storm has put a collection up on Facebook.

A few minor highlights and observations thus far,
* Bonny Hills – it’s always nice to go home and see family and this time was no exception. With the parents about to head to South America for multiple weeks, it was nice to get one last visit in before a lenghty hiatus. P.s. I do love Little Beach…
* The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk – a beautiful walk around numerous coves and bays with shimmering crystal-clear water and bronzed Glamazons. If it hadn’t been 35+ degrees, you might’ve said it was pleasant. A well deserved swim at Tamarama went down very well…
* Friends and Family along the way – quirks and coincidences have enabled us to catch up with more people than we might’ve originally envisaged. There’s even talk that one cousin will be heading across the Nullarbor in the opposite direction at the same time as us! Now that’s kooky…
* Wagga Wagga and Renmark – lovely towns on the Murrumbidgee and Murray, respectively, that had a lovely relaxed feeling. Staying in an hotel in Wagga that was established in 1885 and was full of old world charm was nice, until drunk patrons began getting rowdy after closing time and interrupting our beauty sleep. Luckily no patrons thought detaching a pod from the roof racks of our car was a good substitute for entertainment.
* Finally organising ourselves in Wagga Wagga enough to buy a ton of fruit for the the day’s driving, only to have to scoff what we could and dispose of the remainder 65km down the road. Damn fruit fly exclusion zones. Turns out that eating 2 nectarines, a peach, 1/2 of two apples, and a fistful of grapes in quick succession will give you a tummy ache…
* The Hay Plains – now specialising in 8 different types of nothing. Good preparation for the Nullarbor and with hot, hot sun and seemingly endless bitumen, it was a good test for Norman (our car) too… With the temperature needle firmly planted in the middle of H and C, either he’s humming along just fine or we need to check our display panel wiring.
* The Barossa Valley and Peter Lehman Winery – what a nice way to wind down. Save for the many verdant vineyards, the Barossa is a dry, tawny brown and comprises quite an enchanting juxtaposition of colours and textures. Speaking of colours and textures, the many wines we tasted at Peter Lehman winery were very much to our liking, as was the delicious platter of cheese and goodies. It was a toss up which winery we were to visit, having passed many well-known (and hugely commercial) wineries and smaller, quaintly-named ones. In reflection, I think we were very happy with our choice!

So, we’re not sure what next, although we have given ourselves 3 days to get to Norseman in WA. We do have a rest day up our sleeve should it be necessary; however, we are hoping to save that for the South West and Margaret River region. Hopefully Norman continues along in happy and high spirits and we stay sane and happy!

Happy Australia Day to all as well… it’s the first in a number of years that I will be able to remember with any semblance of clarity in days that follow!

I hope you are all well and enjoying the heat and happiness of Jan ’09. With expected temperatures of 46 degrees in Ceduna tomorrow, I can only dream of how good our truckies’ arms will be…

Lots of Love, Jameses, Storm and Stormin’ Norman!

Perth Trip: Bit of fun in Bonny Hills…

Well, after a unexpected layover in Grafton last night – largely due to the late getaway (who ever gets away on time anyhoos?) and crazy antics of late evening truck drivers – we’ve arrived in our first destination, Bonny Hills.

Fortuitous timing has enabled Storm and me the opportunity to catch up with a number of rellies and say some fond farewells to family and friends. Fortuitous weather also enabled us to head to the beach and catch a few waves in pseudo-antarctic waters… Borrowing my cousin’s waterproof digi-cam, I was able to make a stupid videos of mah bodysurfing stylings! So if you’re bored at work or home, have a squiz and hopefully a chuckle 🙂

Next stop, Sydney, tomorrow!


Video 1


Video 2

Westward Bound

It would be easy to wax lyrical about the notion of heading west into the sun and the unknown; chasing gold or dreams or dance degrees; searching for one’s soul in the vastness that is west. Dammit…

So it’s practically set in stone. The guy from WAAPA (Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts) told Storm (and by association me) to start packing. Only a few weeks after settling into our Kelvin Grove abode, we are off again. Our piles of disorganized stuff need to be sifted, moved, and re-sifted into further piles of take, sell, give away and bin. We have a date – Monday the 19th of January – and a proposed route for driving from coast to coast. The most direct route between Brisvegas and Perth (as calculated by Google Maps) is 4258km and involves a lot of inland driving. With a desire to see my folks once more before we shoot west and they shoot to South America and a mandated stop in Sydney, our route will sit closer to 5748km.

With 13 legs and a few rest days, after 74 hours’ worth of driving we should arrive at our new abode, happy and ready to settle. All things considered, we should arrive a few days before Storm has to begin her orientation week for her 3 year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) degree. And with a few weeks’ free accommodation already lined up, there should be ample opportunity to delve into all things Perth – where we might live, which beach we might call our own, and which bars and coffee shops we might frequent. All very exciting!!!

So please feel free to comment on our proposed journey, the map of which I have embedded here.


Email readers, or those wanting to view a larger version, might wish to click on this link).

9 more days of work, 1 garage sale, a few trips to the dump and we’re away!!! Woohoo!!