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James Smith takes up residence in PigPen

Bruce Willis does his stuff

I declare, PigPen has a resident ghost!
And this is how it happened…

On a recent trip to the South West, during our stay in Hamelin Bay, whilst watching  the sun drown itself in the Indian Ocean, we were invited on a “Walk of Death” by some dubious character who is a dead ringer for Bruce Willis. Sufficiently relaxed by one’s sundowner brews, a group of ten or so of us followed him in the dark through the scrub and forest, until we reached the lonely grave of a one “James A Smith”, 19 August 1897 aged 40 years.

He accidentally drowned whist working, apparently after drinking too much of the local illegal brew. The company he worked for invoked the “unfit for duty” clause and refused to pay for his burial, so his mates, in true Ozzie spirit, buried him and erected this tombstone inland from Hamelin Bay.

Having been lonely too long, I am now convinced that Mr Smith took a liking to the Sparewheel, and followed us home – see picture below is green ‘monster’ next to her.

There is solid evidence of this haunting – on several occasions since then, spoons and forks have mysteriously moved a good 10 metres from our campsite overnight. Some might say possums, some might say crows, but I say “Welcome on board, James Smith!”

Lonely grave

James Smith in the shadows

Trip to the Tip

It’s done – the trip to the top end and back.  Click here for a picture story.

A walk in the park

A walk in the park

I left home at the beginning of July for a chilly trip across the Nullarbor and then followed a dirt track along the Darling River visiting the iconic pubs at the old ports at Tilpa and Louth, camping on the riverfront.

The SpareWheel celebrated her retirement by flying via Brisbane into Roma.  From there we spent a few days in Carnarvon National Park – doing two consecutive 22 km day treks into the gorge.  We then ambled via Mackay and Cape Hillsborough to meet up with family for a week’s charter in the Whitsundays.

After a few days in Cairns, we headed north up the Cape York Peninsula – doing the usual tourist stuff.  We were lucky with our stay at Captain Billy’s Landing – hardly any wind so could camp on the beach edge.   Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Falls, Twin Falls etc. were fantastic and required us to take on some of the Overland Telegraph Track – rather timid stuff compared with the macho places!

The Jardine Ferry was a shambles – it didn’t start operating until after 11am with the consequent long queues.  We stayed at Punsand Bay which is ’a beaut’. , and there ventured to the Tip, and lovely Somerset Beach.  Pity about the crocs!

On the journey south we overnighted at a lovely free camping spot on the Steward River, birthday in Lakefield National Park at Kalpowar Crossing (where we sighted the only Saltie on the whole trip), then at Elim Beach.

A Saturday night at the iconic Lion’s Den pub was fun, and then followed the magic Bloomfield Track down to Cape Tribulation.

We used Port Douglas as a base to have some work done on the Prado and trip out to the Barrier Reef, before heading into the Tablelands, then dirt track down to Winton, to start the World’s Longest Shortcut back to Perth.  After ruining 2 tyres on the Donahue/Plenty Highway heading from Boulia to Alice Springs, and 3 days in Alice, we tripped through the West Macdonald ranges, then to Kings Canyon via Mereenie Loop Road (Red Centre Way) and Uluru.

Highlights

  • The week’s charter in the Whitsundays
  • Iconic pubs
  • Fruit Bat Falls
  • Lotusbird Lodge (near Lakefield)
  • Staying at Eddie’s  Elim beach
  • Daintree Area
  • Day trip out of Port Douglas for some scuba and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Waltzing Matilda Museum (Winton) – serious!
  • Alice Springs Desert Park
  • Kings Canyon
  • Gosse Bluff crater (Tnorala)
  • Missing all the election hype

On Rednecks

On the road one meets many interest folk – on this trip I am not sure who to give the “Redneck” award to:

  1. The turkey who said “no it’s not owned by aboriginals, its owned by real Aussies”
  2.  The idiot found walking in thongs, no hat, no water down a dirt track to get petrol from the nearest town 50 kms away
  3. The bloke who carves his name on every tree where he camped up “It’s my brand, just like Burke and Wills”

So the score this time – 13,700kms, 2 tyres, broken Ipod and great memories

Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Island

Whitehaven Beach – Whitsunday Island

Paper, Scissors, Rock

Paper, Scissors, Rock

Outback Way

Outback Way

Banjo Patterson

Banjo Patterson

Lilies in Lakefield

Lilies in Lakefield

Corrugation Bar

Corrugation Bar

Two at the Top

Two at the Top

Virgin Airlines - cheap seats

Virgin Airlines – cheap seats

Why do the call it the OTT?

Why do the call it the OTT?

Hansom guy at Fruit Bat Falls

Handsome guy at Fruit Bat Falls

Palm Creek - OTT

Palm Creek – OTT

Bramwell Station

Bramwell Station

Original Pub with no beer

Original Pub with no beer

The amazing, shrinking SpareWheel

Cape Hillborough

Cape Hillborough

Tilpa Pub

Tilpa Pub

Gosse Bluff crater (Tnorala)

Gosse Bluff crater (Tnorala)

Hello world!

“Don’t think of it as dust. Just think of it as the dirt and dust of far-off lands blowing over here and settling on “Pig-Pen”! It staggers the imagination! He may be carrying the soil that was trod upon by Solomon or Nebuchadnezzar or Genghis Khan!”

Inspiration

Dirt don’t hurt