Saturday, January 27, 2007

Montana 1 year old/ improvements to the car

Montana had a huge birthday party and Tim and Leah went out of their way to make something special out of it. Lieke sent us this picture. We also saw pictures of a "mechanical bull" set up in the street and Montana riding it with one of Tim's friends. He was dancing to the music most of the day...!

It is great how we keep in touch with text messages and email.

Tanneke was not happy with the "1.5" seat on the left; officially made for two people, it has gained a reputation of being uncomfortable for the left person, who virtually sits on the seatbelt buckle and tends to slide off towards the door and the centre person who has no room at all. So off we went to the wreckers and swopped the seat for a decent (one) person seat and got the centre console with it. The luggage in the back was also not ideal with three large boxes and heavy tools secured with a seat belt and a fishing net. I found a company near Adelaide and they made a double drawer unit which was freighted to a depot in Melbourne. One drawer now holds all the tools and only the table and chairs will sit on the top with a fishnet securing them. The added bonus is that the drawers can only be opened when the doors are unlocked and even the drawers have a HD lock on them. It is all made from marine plywood and proper bearings, all surfaces are carpeted and on the sides are more storage areas with lids. The back seat will still fit in the car when we return (after removal of the fridge of course).
We will board the ferry to Tasmania tomorrow morning (Sunday) and it may be a while before we have another opportunity to upload photos.

Staying with Father David/ Melbourne/tennis

Here is another shot of one of the huge wind generators in South Australia.

Mount Shank, just south of Mr.Gambier is another volcano but this one has lost its water for a while.

Father David, whom we know from Lesotho (he worked there for more than 30 years) runs the St.Michael's Priory at Diggers Rest, half an hour's drive NW of Melbourne. Nearby we see "zebra" cows, only one stripe.....
We spent one day in Melbourne and I was lucky to obtain a centre court ticket for the match between Serina Williams and Peer, the Israeli girl. Then Andy Roddick and Marty Fish played. It was awsome to be amongst the cheering and very rowdy crowd and sit about three metres from the court; how I got that ticket is another story..... because everything is sold out. You can still get a general pass which will give you access to the grounds and all the other courts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

closer to Melbourne

It is amazing how many tourists are on the road and in Victoria there are many signs near camping or roadside viewing areas where they remind European and US visitors of the "keep left" rule after they have been distracted by some awesome sights........
Father David Wells shows us around the area north of Melbourne where he lives and where we can stay for a week.
"The birthplace of the Ashes" is the Holy Grail of all Aussie cricketers.

The builders of Melbourne's (until recently) tallest building (The Rialto-253 m high) were so kind to refurbish the Cross on Mount Macedon after rust, rain, fires and lightning destroyed the original structure built in the 1920's, at their own costs.

Visited by the first prospectors on their way to the gold fields in the 1800's we find "Hanging Rock" which became famous after a book written in the 1970's called "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and later filmed in the 1990's. It is a vulcanic uprising and the story describes some school girls disappearing at the top after a picnic. I was surprised to get myself lost at least 6 times between the many rock formations with rain channels running in every direction, before finding the path downwards again.

Adelaide to Melbourne

If you think we have "computer enhanced" the picture of the Blue Lake near Mt.Gambier, then you are wrong; it is a volcano filled with water and the colour at certain times of the day is just incredible!
In the Otway Ranges near Apollo Bay in Victoria we find the Beauchamp Falls in one part of the rain forest.
There are 3 treetop walks in Australia, one near Walpole in WA, one in Tasmania and here we see one in the Otway Ranges, which is the largest one with tower and canterlever walk, some 60 meters above the forest floor.

Near Meningie in South Australia we find a huge wind farm. They are just adding another 80 wind generators and here is a picture of the crane which was used to fit the three blades. Note the 3 men near the hook at the end. There is a lot of discussion here regarding the cost and energy needed to build them and how much they can produce while running costs and maintenance need to be paid for as well.

The drought has been so bad here that the farmers resort to irrigation, if they have access to water. This circular pattern is quite a sight from the air.

Most places we visit have seen at least 5 months without any rain and farmers have to irrigate to keep crops alive. Here is an example of circular irrigation, quite a spectacular sight from the air.

The south coast is pretty wild and hundreds of ships have come to grief here over the last two centuries.
Camping in Victoria is restricted due to fires and also for administrative
reasons; we still find some nice spots but again the weather is not kind to us: wherever we go, we end up with wind, rain or sand storms. (see picture of collapsed tent of another family)
Before the next 40 hours of heavy, constant rain that kept us locked up in the tent, we visited the Beauchamp Falls, part of a subtropical forest.

The Kampertrailer was delivered with one gas bottle and yes, it ran empty, of course when we needed it. Introduce our "Companion" a single burner unit with "spraycan butane" cylinder and automatic ignition. Very hot and useful when the weather is so bad that the thought of cooking outside is not attractive, or let's say, impossible due to high winds and rain. This little beauty can actually be used inside the camper tent. Highly recommended for anyone considering camping, cost about $22 plus $2 for a cartridge, if you shop around.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

We visit the Coorong

Kingoonya has 4 inhabitants, one family of 3 and one old man living by himself. The pub/motel/restaurant is open 7 days a week and they make a terrific meal. Never judge a place from just the outside! Colin and his wife and kids bought the place 6 months ago and hope that changes to the roads will bring them more business.

At Wilpena we camp next to a hill with kangaroos and beautiful views.

Another beautiful camping (started in 1946) in the centre of Adelaide allows us to take their last spot (school holidays, everything is full). The caravan next to us has airconditioning and it is quite noisy. That evening we spotted two possums, one with a baby. They run straight up the tree and then jump on the caravan's roof to drink from the water dripping out of the aircon unit, waking the owners......hehe. In the morning we hear the monkeys in the zoo next door.

We are now in the Coorong, the waterways at the mouth of the Murray River. There are 200 different bird species, many of which make a yearly return journey to northern Alaska. The main lagoon is 140 km long and only 4 km wide. The name comes from the Aboriginal word Kyrangh, which means "the long neck". They have not had rain here since April 2006, so they have welcomed us, the rain makers. We are the first of a whole lot of campers who suddenly decide to use the Lake Albert Motel. I am trying to get a second night free if we can produce another day of rain, but the clouds are clearing this morning.

We bring rain to Meningie (Lake Albert)

The people of Coober Pedy (maximum 57 degrees!) live mostly underground, including a church, complete houses, swimming pool and camping. They are not allowed to do more mining in the town, but within your area, you can add more rooms (particularly if you find more opals...).

When you travel through a remote area and find two airplanes mounted vertically, what would you think?

The owner of the property checks out two uninvited visitors hiding in the bush. Her name is Kaeli and she is 15. Tanneke found some carrots and the horse is happy. Kaeli's family runs sheep and their neighbours are 15 km away. The total area of their farm is 40,000 hectares, about 1000 times more than our original farm in Groningen.
The Northern Flinders Ranges is a geologist's paradise because the earth is tilted and raised and shows history of the last 560 million years on the surface. You can actually drive for 10 km and cross 80 million years......It makes us realise how insignificant we actually are.

The weather is playing havoc

Back in Holland??? Complete with a working windmill, a Dutch couple re-created in WA their own familiar place. They run a restaurant now.

More sand dunes at Christmas. There are always people with sense of humor.
The weather has gone funny everywhere. A cyclone in Geraldton, extreme rains in the southern part of WA, flooding in Esperance, then cold and rain on the south coast in South Australia and cool weather in Coober Pedy, then hot and now wet in Adelaide. All this has happened before but not at this time of the year.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Crossing some very lonely places

The manufacturer of our trailer claims that it will go where the car goes; here is an example of the extreme offroad swivel hitch capabilities, not a scrape or groan!
We were thinking of Renee and Bas in Namibia when we came across these dunes, not far from Lake Eyre. Kangaroos and camels complete the picture, but you have to click on it to enlarge it and find some....

What about the piece of space junk that came down near Balladonia? It is now mounted on the roof of the road house (a replica, NASA took the original in a hurry and did not give it back); so much for foreign junk being dumped in Australia........

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