Here we are back in Perth after many
years. While here Australia suffered the worse floods in history
and Bundaberg (our "home" town in as much as we
have one) copped it pretty hard.
Thanks to all those who emailed to
check that we are OK; we are and about as far from the floods
as it's possible to get. Our land should be alright as well
as it's up in the hills and also the highest point in the
What exactly happened to it of course
we have no idea but I confess to thinking a lot about going
back there lately.
Wothahellizat for sale.
Bet that got your attention. Yes for
$5500 you can own what's left of Wothahellizat Mk1, Brian
(the fellow who bought the remains of the house body) has
decided that he'll never get around to doing anything with
it and has put the truck up for sale.
here on Ebay.
If you want to see some more about
it see this
NOTE: Last time I looked it wasn't
there, maybe it sold.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Tue 28 Dec 2010
It's up to Harvey Norman today to get Chris a
new computer. We settle on a Toshiba that will be OK for me to use
as a backup if necessary.
Then it's on to the La-Z-Boy store to look at
some recliners, and we walk out of there nearly two grand poorer.
Being the Christmas break though we won't see our chairs for a while,
but they are cheaper then we saw up north and have swivel bases
Wed 29 Dec 2010
Chris goes to the doctor today so see why see's
been having dizzy spells for a few weeks. It turns out she's got
Viral Labrynthitis. The doctor prescribes some pills and on reading
the pack we see that one of the possible side effects is DIZZYNESS!
Tue 4 Jan 2011
A friends of John's delivers a caravan today and
parks it just behind the truck. Chris is leaning out the window
when the caravan owner acknowledges her.
"G'day" she says with even a hint of
Finally, after 30 years she is talking like an
Later we drive into Fremantle (Freo) to meet up
with Anna & Mike, Chris's sister and bro-in-law.
Wed 5 Jan 2011
Another day in Freo with Anna & Mike.
Fri 7 Jan 2011
Back into Freo today to spent a bit more time
with Anna and Mike before they fly out. Then we do some exploring
down to Rockingham and up into the hills to have a look at the Jarrahville
sports ground where we hear you can camp.
It's a pleasant enough spot and there's a working
tap so we may come back. Then we drive down the Serpentine dam and
back via a different route that takes us past a prison farm and
a great campsite at a lookout opposite the Buddhist monastery.
All in all a pleasant day.
Sun 9 Jan 2011
I started installing the software I normally use
onto Chris' new Windows 7 based computer today. I'm doing this for
two reasons, firstly to see if everything works so I can migrate
my machine to 7 with confidence. And secondly so we have a backup
machine on "hot standby", ready to use if mine dies.
Wed 19 Jan 2011
Yay we pick up the new recliners today. It takes
a while to get them installed in the lounge room but it's worth
it, they are great. Being a slightly different shape to the old
chairs they don't swivel all the around but they go far enough,
Thu 20 Jan 2011
While on a roll we laid new carpet in the truck
today. The old stuff was great but after just a year or so it's
threadbare, hopefully this will be better.
Thu 17 Jan 2011
I change the oil in the truck, we've had the 20ltr
drum in the cab since Geraldton and it's good to get rid of it.
We planned to leave today but my boxes (for a
gadget I'm making) should be here tomorrow so we'll wait.
Fri 11 Feb 2011
Today I drive up to the north side of town to
meet Alice, my half sister I've never met. We obviously share one
family trait, that of being hard to shut up, and we chat for hours.
I have a half brother in Tasmania as well, I've
met Ben but it was years ago and I'd like to spend some time with
him. Maybe when we go back to the apple isle.
One thing we all seem to have in common is a desire
to be out of the rat race, Alice spends about a week every month
in a cabin out in the bush, Ben regularly disappears with his camper
or backpack, and you know what I do.
Mon 28 Feb 2011
So how's the new "regular" postings
It's been a while but really we've just been sitting
here near Perth doing almost nothing so there's been bugger all
to write about, unless you're interested in electronics (which is
what has been keeping me busy) which is unlikely.
So I'll comment on a political issue instead.
To wit the current troubles in Libya.
It's pretty bad but our government is doing it's
best to help, we've imposed an arms embargo.
Umm, were we selling arms to Libya? I would hope
not, or are they referring to that shipment of boomerangs and nulla
nullas for the embassy gift shop.
Yep I reckon that's got Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi
(can I call you Al?) shaking under his turban.
Oh and we've also imposed a travel embargo on
him and anyone in the upper levels of his regime.
So I guess big Al's much heralded snorkeling trip
to Dunk Island is off then.
All-in-all I think we've done a sterling job helping
to rid the world of another bastard dictator.
Wed 9 Mar 2011
After nine weeks we finally leave Perth. That's
really slack even by our standards.
We had planned to go south for the summer but
there isn't much summer left now so we go north instead. We separate
and while Chris drives up to the Carousel shopping centre to get
some more of those nice chicken schnitzels from Woolies I top up
with fuel in Byford and go straight north.
The route is simple, up the Tonkin Hwy, onto the
Roe Hwy, then turn north onto the Great Northern Hwy. I'm heading
for Drummonds reserve and will meet Chris there.
After a few hours I drive over a crest and see
the Emu Plains wind farm, nearly there. Just before the turnoff
onto Bibby Rd for the last 4k to the reserve I see a familiar white
Jimny come up behind me. That's pretty good synchronizing.
Minutes later we have the truck nice and level
under some trees, although this is not our first choice. The spot
we used before now has a bed and an electric organ there, no doubt
dumped by a local.
Any one for some chamber music?.
Campsite tucked away in the bushes.
Thu 10 Mar 2011
We drive into Cervantes to get the mail today.
A pleasant 100k round trip.
Tue 15 Mar 2011
I go for a drive to get some photos of the wind
The Emu Plains wind farm.
Thu 17 Mar 2011
Time to leave Drummonds Reserve and head up to
Ellendale Pool, a really nice spot about 30k from Geraldton.
Chris is behind me but at some point I lose track
of her in the mirrors. Right then I feel a strange vibration in
the truck, it's not much and has gone in a second, but it was there
never the less.
I pull into a rest area to have a look.
There's nothing obviously wrong and by this time
Chris has caught up. We chat for a minute then head off. However
I within a few metres I can tell that things aren't right. I reverse
back into the rest area and we have another look.
I now have my suspicions and feel the universal
joints on the front tail shaft. The back one is warm but the front
uni is too hot to hold. I look closer and see bright metal. Yep
we have a buggered universal joint.
We're only about 70k from Geraldton though and
I've driven with a lot worse for a lot further than that, I elect
not to do anything for the time being. In a week or so we'll be
camped just out of Geraldton, I can fix it there.
We continue up the highway, turn east about 30k
south of Geraldton and make our way out to Ellendale Pool, a nice
spot we remember from the first time we were around these parts
nine years ago.
The area hasn't changed much and we find a good
spot to camp.
Thu 24 Mar 2011
Leave Ellendale pool and drive up to Geraldton,
going first to the BP depot to fill fuel and water. Then we park
the truck and drive into town to pick up our mail.
Having done that we have a cruise around the dock
looking for the spot our friends camp when in town. I think we find
it, certainly we find the most obvious place and earmark it for
Then drive out to the rest area in Chapman Valley,
about 12k east from the big roundabout on the northern side of town.
Fri 25 Mar 2011
I suppose I have to pull that bloody tail shaft
out. It's not a big job but there's quite a wind and I spend half
my time fighting the tarp I lie on.
Anyway before long it's out on the ground, wrapped
up and in the car. I take it into Road Runner truck repairs and
impress on them that I've got a lot more time than money and that
if it takes a week to get a cheaper part then I can wait. After
all it's the front tail shaft and that hardly ever gets used.
It should be ready early next week.
I could buy a uni and change it myself, and if
I was in the bush that's what I'd do. But without a large enough
vice it would be a pain that probably would involve jacks, lengths
of pipe and bull bars, so I'll let the experts do it.
I drop around to the visitor's centre and fill
the car with water (well I fill the tank in the car, but you get
the idea), then it's back out to the rest area for a well-earned
Mon 28 Mar 2011
Today we both go into town, mostly to see about
Chris's license. Her Queensland driving license will run out soon
and it's way too much of a pain to get it renewed when out of state.
So she'll just get a WA license.
As always you need a local address, and as always
we don't have one, but they say that a receipt from a caravan park
is all that is needed. So we'll have to book into a park for a night.
We get more water and return to the truck.
I then decide to ring the Department of Transport
to see what the official story is in on having a local address.
Well the official story is worse. You have to
get someone to sign a statutory declaration to the effect that they
have known you and that you are living in WA.
But what if you don't know anyone?
It doesn't really matter, just get the caravan
park owner to fill out the stat dec form and sign it in the presence
of a professional person. What profession? Well all the usual culprits
such as JPs, doctors, police, chemists, public servants, in fact
just about anyone except a bricky's labourer.
I had to stop him from reading every vocation
out aloud or I'd still be on the phone.
"So let me get this right" I say. "I
can get anyone to say they have known me for 20 minutes and that
as far as they know I plan to live in the state".
"And furthermore I have to drag this unfortunate
down to a chemist to have his signature witnessed?"
"And exactly what does this prove to you
about my living in the state?"
"Well it tells us where you live".
"No it doesn't, it tells you I forked out
$30 to stay in a caravan park for a night."
"Yes but if we have to get in touch with
you we can."
"No you can't, I'll be a 1000 miles away
camped next to a creek in the bush."
"Well it's all to do with stopping terrorists
from getting false IDs".
I haven't given him any of my details so feel
free to openly laugh at this gem, you know I wouldn't mind if the
public servant at the other end of the line saw the funny side,
but he is serious.
However, looking back on it now maybe that's why
we don't really have a terrorist problem here in Australia, the
terrorists are either too poor or too dumb to spend $30 for a caravan
park receipt and a stat dec.
Yep, with the Department of Transport on the job
we can rest easy in our beds at night, safe in the knowledge that
all the bad guys have a caravan park receipt.
Wed 30 Mar 2011
We have to brave the bureaucracy today so Chris
can get her licence. First stop is the caravan park on the way into
town. She books in for the night (of course there's no question
of us actually staying there, we have a 9-year no-caravan park record
to maintain) and we drive into the Department of Transport office.
We somehow neglect to tell the local office about
the stat dec and rigmarole the head office told us about and it
actually goes well. Before long Chris is a real sandgroper (West
Australian), at least as far as the transport authorities are concerned.
We pick up the tail shaft, get some more water
and return to the truck. That will do, it's been a big day.
We never get free stuff. Why I don't know as I've
met people who get generators just for putting a bloody sticker
on their motorhome.
So imagine my surprise when I get an email from
Peter at Kitchenware Direct offering a free set of saucepans in
return for my thoughts on them. We picked them up the other day
when we got to Geraldton.
So what do I think about them?
The first thing and best feature is what they
don't have, handles. This is really handy in a motorhome because
the pots stack inside each other, thus requiring less space in our
limited storage areas.
For years now we've been cutting the handles off
normal pots (I kid you not) to get this exact feature. Remember
the Subaru TV ad where the farmer has just finished cutting the
roof of a station wagon to create a ute only to have the new Subaru
ute drive past?
That's how I feel.
Another neat feature is the knob for the lids,
it's magnetic so once again the lids stack properly because you
just leave the knob on the top lid for storage.
And finally they are more non-stick than a mafia
Don in a New Jersey courtroom. The food just slides right out.
Have a look at kitchenwaredirect.com.au
for more details. At the time of writing they are $119 which to
my untrained shopping eye is reasonable, especially as they are
made by Tefal (Chris tells me that's good).
Thu 31 Mar 2011
I put the tail shaft in and while under the truck
decide to grease everything. I find a missing grease nipple on the
main drive shaft, so it's back into town to buy one (I thought I
had spares but can't find any). While in town I load the car with
another 40-odd litres of water, we should be nearly full by now.
Wed 6 Apr 2011
We move to Devlin's Pool, a nice spot on the banks
of the Greenough River about 8k south of Geraldton.
Fri 8 Apr 2011
I've decided it's time to get back into scanning
of old photos. Apart from the fact that many of the negatives are
getting on to 40 years old now we've storing them in all sorts of
places for years, and while most seem OK this isn't helping with
their longevity. Also one leaking water pipe and I could lose the
So today I get one of the neg folders out and
make a start. To be honest without the right gear this would be
such a huge task I wouldn't even consider it, fortunately I have
a you-beaut Nikon scanner from my film days. It will take a strip
of negatives and scan the lot in one go. Unfortunately most of my
old negs are cut into lengths of 3 so I can only do 3 at a time.
Still it chugs away in the background while I'm
doing other stuff, every few minutes I have to swap windows and
load another neg strip, but I'm getting a lot done.
Another reason for doing this now is that I'm
worried that either the scanner will shit itself before I get around
to it, and/or when I move to another version of Windows in the future
the scanner will not be supported. That would leave me with 1000s
of photos to scan, a $3000 scanner, and no way to do the job.
Sat 9 Apr 2011
Over 500 photos scanned so far. Many I won't keep
but it's easier to just scan an entire strip than do a preview and
select the good ones.
Mind you when I say "good" ones I'm
not talking good aesthetic or even good technical photos. Most of
these are just from fooling around in my youth, and as such are
in fact worth more to me that my best-selling photo. They are mostly
covered in dust and fibre which will need to be retouched, but I'll
only do that for the very best ones, for the others it doesn't matter,
as long as I have the memories preserved.
Sun 10 Apr 2011
About 900 photos scanned now, I think that will
do for the moment. Great though it is to see these old images again,
it's also a bit depressing. So to cheer myself up I decide to listen
to some music, let's see, some Moody Blues should do the trick.
Well that makes it worse, apart from the fact
that much of their music is a bit melancholy it's also from the
same era and it drives me deeper into a nostalgic funk.
So I decide to work on the lyrics of one of their
songs (with apologies in advance to the Moody Blues). To the tune
of "The Balance".
After he had scanned,
And his back was sore,
And his eyes were tired,
He lay upon a recliner,
And he rested,
And while he rested, he took to himself a beer,
And it was good,
So he took to himself a another beer,
And that was also good.
And he thought of those images he had scanned,
And he thought of the places he had been,
And he thought of the faces he had seen,
And he thought of the decades that had passed.
And he understood,
He understood that he had wasted a lot of time,
He also understood that he had not wasted a lot of time,
And he understood that what's done is done,
And cannot be undone.
And he understood that when he knew hurt, or was weary, or
It was because he was not young any more.
And he was sad,
Sad for a youth lost,
For it is said that youth is wasted on the young,
But he wondered if middle age be also wasted on the middle
And he wondered if his time was being well spent,
So he asked what really mattered,
And he asked how best to spend his time,
And he asked if indeed he was wasting his time,
But he was not answered.
So he took to himself another beer,
And it was good.
Fri 15 Apr 2011
After a run in with a ranger we decide to leave
Geraldton and head inland. We've had a good run with rangers over
the years but occasionally you meet an arshole and today is one
of those occasions.
I swear if you don't get out and about soon there
won't be any point because you won't be able to camp anywhere.
To be fair the problem is mostly on the coast,
once you get inland nobody really cares what you do. Fortunately
for us we like the inland and aren't that interested in the coast.
We drive about 80k to the locality of Tenindewa,
there's nothing here but an obelisk to mark the location of an old
school and a few remnants of a previous settlement.
We'll spend the night here then head off.
Wed 29 Apr 2011
We thought we'd leave here today and drive to
a waterhole that sounds nice called Camel Soak, but my computer
is playing up again so we'll sit here for a few more days in case
it has to go into Geraldton to be fixed.
This will mean we're running out of time to get
up to Karijini by late May so we'll give Camel Soak a miss this
time and head straight out to Mt Magnet then north.
Normally we don't "have" to be anywhere
but every few years we make a commitment for some reason or other,
this time we have organised to meet three photographer mates of
mine in Karijini, they are flying over from the east to photograph
the national park.
Tue 10 May 2011
We finally leave our spot in the bush. Nearly
a month in a spot we thought we'd stay one night.
It's been about 6 weeks since we filled up with
water, we're still good for a couple or three weeks but it's time
to start looking around. Just outside a town Chris spots a cemetery
sign and drives down the track. I wait out on the road. Within a
few minutes I hear on the two way "Plastic flowers", that's
a dead give away that there's no tap, no need to water plastic flowers.
We carry on, eventually pulling into a patch of
dirt right near the road.
Another nice quiet spot in the bush.
Almost, note the car on the left, we're right on the highway.
One thing I love about this type of vehicle is
that even in a spot like this we're quite comfortable. It really
makes no difference to us where we camp at the basic level, naturally
a nice view and some piece and quiet is better, but anywhere will do for a
night or two.
Wed 11 May 2011
We leave early and drive into Mount Magnet. No
luck finding a tap in town but then we drive out to the roadhouse
on the north side of town and ask if we can fill up with water after
we buy fuel. They say yes so I return with the truck.
After fuelling up I park near the tap and precede
to fill the tanks.
A two-up road train pulls in for fuel and the
driver and I get chatting. He's a big bloke and pretty rough looking,
somehow we get onto the subject of rangers and he recounts a tail
of an encounter where he threatened the ranger with being bounced
down the road.
Apparently that did the trick and he was allowed
I always seem to attract these rough types, and
strangely enough I get on really well with them, if we hadn't been
going different directions Nightmare (yes that's his nickname) and
I would probably have broken out a few beers right there. RedDog
up in Port Hedland is another example, big as a house, with bright
red hair and more guns than you can poke a stick at, yet we yapped
and drank until late at night and it would have been early next
morning if he didn't have to go to work. And yet had I just met him
a couple of hours before.
I'm not sure why that is, partly I suppose with
a #2 haircut and full beard I look the part, and I can generally
talk the talk. Thankfully I've seldom had to walk the walk :).
Nightmare has trouble with one of the bowsers,
it won't go over 999 litres and that's nowhere near enough, the
truck will take 2400 litres when dry. That sounds like a lot but
when you consider these trucks work on "metres per litre"
you realise that 2400 litres doesn't get you that far.
This is one of his last runs in the truck, he's
going back out on the oil rigs soon. At $180,000 a year on the rigs
I don't blame him.
It takes ages but eventually our tanks are full,
we pack up and get back on the road.
It's 122k to the small town of Cue and a further
20k to Lake Nallan. We've read about this lake and it sounds nice
so we plan to camp there for a while.
On arrival we see the obvious places to camp but
I checked out the lay of the land the other day (using Google Earth)
and it seemed at the time that the best spots would be around the
southern part of the lake so we explore around there.
There's a bank that obstructs the water views
and I'm about to give up on finding a really good site when I spot
a break in the bushes. We drive through the break and up the bank
to find a great spot with water frontage. As it happens I think
the bank is actually a dam wall.
We move the truck into place and settle in.
Sat 21 May 2011
Our phone shits itself today, well actually it's
just the USB connector the phone is working OK. But without the
USB connector we can't charge the battery and therefore can't use
The connector has been dodgy for a long time,
well over a year ago the pins that handle data failed and we bought
a separate modem. I did that rather than buy a new phone because
I didn't want to have too many functions in a single device.
Thanks goodness I did because at least we still
have the internet connection, and frankly we almost never use the
phone whereas I use the internet all day every day (when we have
it). We still have to have a phone though, as to how we'll get one
out here I have no idea.
Washing day at Lake Nallan.
Sun 22 May 2011
Chris decides to defrost the fridge today. We
have a standard domestic fridge but it's been converted to DC and
in the process they disable the auto defrost. As I understand it
auto defrost works by actually heating the interior somehow and
of course this is bad use of energy.
So, just like the old days, we have to defrost
manually every few months.
The interior is packed with frost and ice and
after a period with the doors open (and fridge turned off of course)
we proceed to break off huge chunks of ice. It doesn't go to waste,
we put it in the washing machine, when it melts that will be about
5 litres of water we don't use from our tanks.
Now 5 litres won't make that much difference in
itself, but it's the practice of thinking about every litre that
saves a lot of water in the long run.
For the second time in about 6 months I've got
really sore eyes, last time it was spring and I thought maybe it
was hay fever. But I've never had hay fever in my life, maybe there
is such a thing as "Adult-onset hay fever".
This time we apply my extensive medical knowledge
(supplemented by a quick Google search) to diagnose conjunctivitis.
There's nothing to be done about it out here,
I'll just have to grin and bear it.
Tue 24 May
We drive to an old (now decommissioned by the
look of it) rest area 12k south of Meekatharra. Then we get in the
car and drive into town to find the Woolworths I thought was here.
There is no Woolworths, just a local IGA store
which we don't normally mind but in this case they have nothing
but soggy and rotten vegetables.
Chris is not impressed.
There's no Telstra shop either, despite the Telstra
web site saying that there is. There's a cabinet in the IGA with
a few phones, that's what passes for a Telstra shop in Meeka.
Oh well, we'll have to wait to replace our phone.
Chris buys a few vegetables at amazingly high
prices then we go looking for water. Eventually we find a tap at
the local sports centre. I have a drink, it seems OK. We'll be back
in the morning.
This is information (about water supplies that
is) sadly lacking in all the travel/camping books and web info.
We need a comprehensive list of taps accessible to the travelling
public for all towns. Often the local visitors centre will say that
water may be available at the caravan park even when there is a
tap in the main street, so you can't rely on their info.
Wed 25 May 2011
We fill up the water tanks at the sports centre
then leave town. It's about 430k to Newman so that's a two-day trip
The Great Northern Highway is just chocka block
with massive trucks, talk about the land of the long white road
train. Many have wide loads like dongas (temporary accommodation)
or earth-moving equipment, presumably all destined for the mines.
We do around 250k then pull over into the bush,
right next to a cattle grid which for some reason we didn't see.
All night it's brrt-brrt as cars cross the grid,
if a road train goes past.
Thu 26 May 2011
It's early in the morning, I've been awake for
ages and my eyes are killing me. Chris rouses and consults the clock.
It's 3AM, as I can't sleep anyway and we want to get into Newman
we get up and hit the road.
By mid morning we are camped at a nice billabong
just 5k from Newman. We head into town to do some shopping and see
about a new phone.
As it happens the Woolworths is good and the prices
not much different from what you would pay in the city.
The shopping centre even has a passable Telstra
dealer (part of the Retrovision store) with staff that know their
I ask about the cheapest no-frills phone, they
recommend the Telstra T100 for $49. Done, I'll have one. Sorry they
have none in stock, but I could try the post office.
The post office has none either so I return to
Retrovision and ask them to save one when the new stock arrives.
We'll be back this way and can pick it up then.
We return to the truck and I find my mouse has
died, looks like we're going back into Newman tomorrow.
Sat 27 May 2011
Back into town to buy a mouse from the retrovision
store, while there I tell them to forget about the phone, we've
organized for one of my photographer mates to buy one and bring
Mon 30 May 2011
We're off to a spot we know near the Karijini
National Park, a trip of 185k. As always I don't really want to
move but as soon as the wheels start rolling I'm eager to get on
Over the years we've mostly had a cordial relationship
with the truckies on the road, like today for example I see a road
train approaching so when he is close (and seeing a long clear run
ahead) I pull over as much as I can and slow down when I see he's
committed to passing.
As our cabs align there's a toot-toot and I look
across to see him waving. When he's past he alternates his indicators
to say thanks.
And then there's this.
Same as before only this time, despite having
most of the road and a clear run ahead he barely moves aside thus
forcing me further onto the shoulder and eventually with nowhere
to go I clobber a white post.
I get on the UHF.
"You there arshole?" (Well I think it's
important to start off on the right foot don't you?)
"Yeah, what's the problem?"
"What's with cutting me off?
"What's your f'ing problem, if you're gunna
pull over then pull right over"
"Listen mate I pulled over as soon and as
far as I could, you had room for two rigs"
"Why don't you #$%$ get back to #@$(&^
At this point I figure there's little point in
continuing the discourse, fun that it is, and I switch back to our
Note to self: Dang I hate having Victorian number
We continue and eventually arrive at the Albert
Tognolini (aka Mungina Gorge) rest area/lookout. We scoped this
spot a few years ago and know that there are many great campsites
to be found if you drive along the ridge line.
We do this and set up camp on a large flat spot
with great views over the hills.
If we get phone reception for the internet this
will be the best campsite in the Pilbara.
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