A Travellerspoint blog

Last day to vote!

Best of 2013 photo competition

Hi everyone

We entered 3 photos into this years Best of 2013 photo competition on Travellerspoint and all three have been short listed! Exciting times :)

If you like any of these photos too please take a moment to follow this link to vote www.travellerspoint.com/vote Voting closes tomorrow 10th December 2013!

Dan took this gorgeous pic at the summit of Mt Rinjani in Lombok
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This the most spectacular backdrop to a playground at Ban Hadkor, a village in Laos where we sponsored a Book Party for the children.
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Finally this is the view that would greet us most mornings over Melbourne.
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Fingers crossed and thanks for your support

Sarah & Dan xxx

Posted by doyledan 00:27 Comments (2)

Port Lincoln to Ceduna

This was it, this morning we would be swimming with sea lions and boy were we excited!

Having seen footage online of how inquisitive they are and the close encounters you could have we couldn't wait to get in the water to interact with the puppy dogs of the sea... I mean look at this guy!

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Sea lion swims are one of the big three underwater encounters that Port Lincoln is famous for, the others are cage diving with Great White Sharks and swimming with Tuna.

We had booked our adventure with Calypso Star charters and as we wouldn't be leaving until 11am we were able to have a bit of a lie in, breakfast over looking the bay as well as finding a chemist for some seasickness tablets (just in case!).

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As we entered the marina Dan noticed he had several missed calls from an unknown number. Unfortunately it was from the tour company to let us know our trip had been cancelled as it was too choppy. You can imagine our disappointment! We were offered to go swimming with tuna in the afternoon as an alternative but opted for the full refund instead as we still needed to make it to Ceduna. In hindsight it probably was a bit ambitious to fit in the sea lion swim and get to Ceduna in the same day... You ve got to look for that silver lining somewhere.

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So with the weather now reflecting our mood we left rainy Port Lincoln behind and headed towards Coffin Bay. As you can see from this pic it was all a bit dreary.

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And I'm not sure what this is but it was huge and looked like it could give you a nasty sting!

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Leaving the rain and giant insects behind we chased the sunshine to get some miles out of the way.

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Having looked at some of the maps we had picked up along the way we decided to break for lunch at Locks Well beach near Elliston, it was great to see the ocean materialise before us as we approached the coast.

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It was a stunning spot for some lunch with some amazing views along the coast.

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We were intrigued to see people climbing up and down nearly 300 steps (I counted them on the way back up!) down to the beach with rods and buckets so we had to go take a look.

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As it turns out that this area is great for surf fishing and you could catch salmon straight off the beach! How cool is that! They definitely would be having a better dinner than us.

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Back on the road again we found ourselves in a strange landscape where it was hard to tell where the cornfields ended and the coastal sandunes began!

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Along the way we would spot the odd farm building but most of the time it was only a random mailbox in the middle of nowhere that would indicate that anyone was living out here and even then it wasn't always clear what path would lead you there, or if there was one!

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We stopped off to check out Murphy's Hay Stacks, a group of Inselbergs, which in German means Island Mountains.

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We were blown away, not by the 'haystacks' but by the sheer scale of this country.

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The land stretches as far as you can see without a single building to break up the skyline. It is one of the few places where you really get to experience land that is as big as the sky but at the same time the sky towers above you in a way that neither of us has ever experienced.

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And all the different colours are delicious!

We hadn't been on the road for long when we had our first near miss as we noticed a Bobtail crossing the road in front of us. We would soon learn that this mid afternoon time was very popular for these guys to be crossing the road as we had to dodge several others a couple of which didn't then go on to survive the other side of the road :(

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We decided to stop off for coffee in Streaky Bay but nearly everywhere was shut apart from the drive through liquor store! A concept that I still can't quite get my head around!

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The local roadhouse was open though so we refuelled the van and ourselves and checked out this sleepy towns claim to fame a replica of the largest White Pointer (Great White) shark to be caught with a rod and reel!

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In 1990 it took a local man 5 hours to pull in all 1520kgs of this shark, breaking the world record!

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We completed the 382km to Ceduna around 7pm and we stayed out of the main town near the airport as other campsites needed us to arrive earlier. As soon as the sun went down we hit the sack as we would need to start early the next day to take on the mighty Nullabor!

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 03:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wallaroo to Port Lincoln

Waking up in the van for the first time wasn't too bad even though it was quite early as we had to be at the port for 7.30am. We had planned the trip to Wallaroo the day before so that we would not have a really early start to catch the Sea Ferry across the Spencer Gulf otherwise we would have needed to get up at 5am. Getting the car ready was a sinch as we knew how to arrange it all and we were off ready to find the port for the 8am ferry.

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The campsite was only 5 mins away and so we got there a little too early so we had some time to chill and take in the morning sun.

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The ferry would take as across the Spencer Gulf over to Lucky Bay on the east coast of the the Eyre Peninsula. The ferry wasn't busy at all, aside from about 8 or 10 other people so we had a choice of seating and even a nice spot for a quick nap . This was a far cry from the last ferry we took in Indonesia which was full to the brim and not at all comfortable. After chilling out below deck we headed up top to take in the sea breeze and enjoy the sunshine. It was about 2 hours before we saw our destination which was a small port with barely any inhabitants.

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Back on the road we started the the 2 hour trip to Port Lincoln. On our way out of Lucky Bay we immediately started to see a new landscape filled with wheat fields and the odd tree with shoes attached bizarrely. (We missed a photo opp)

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On the way down to Port Lincoln we stopped at Tumby Bay to see what was on offer and find a place to have our lunch. It was a quaint little coastal town with not much going on. If not for a strong winds we would have gladly relaxed on the beach. By the coast there was charming rotunda that had in the past been built for the local brass band, today it is an art gallery and has a nice mural painted on the outside showing the life of the early settlers to this village. Sarah got in touch with her inner child on the swings.

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Picking up some tourist guides we visited one of the towns attractions the Chairmans Chair, which commemorates 100 years of the district council of Tumby Bay

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There was also a mangrove walk you could do but somehow we couldn't find it! Instead we decided to stop off at the scenic lookout point where there was a platform from where you could see views over the town and bay as well as see the collection of Islands named Sir Joseph Banks.

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Around the bay on our side there was a collection of bird life. In the picnic area where we stopped for lunch there were many of the 'Flamin Galah's' making a racquet, and also a rather large Seagull who ruled the roost when it came to picking up crumbs!

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You wouldn't mess with this guy!

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Our simple lunch of noodles and tuna proved effective and with full bellies we made our way to Port Lincoln. On route we saw what looked like a greek temple which actually was a wheat silo, a common site around the Eyre Peninsular as farming is a huge part of the economy next to the fishing community.

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We chose to stay at the Tourist Park out of town and weren't disappointed because we had more nature encounters with the resident pelicans chilling out by the coastline a stone throw from where we would be parked up to sleep.

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Despite being content with our supplies for the trip we thought it would be a good idea to eat out and so after asking the receptionist over the phone at the sea lion experience that we had booked we were recommended the Marina Hotel and it was a good choice as the food was delicious!

Next to the Marina hotel there was a memorial for fisherman lost at sea.

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We had to wait longer than we thought for our food though as time had shifted half an hour from Melbourne, which was odd to think we had passed into new timezone so soon. After dinner we headed back to the campsite and on route picked up a connoisseur ice cream as Sarah wanted to try to convince me of its merits. I do like a good magnum but these connoisseur's have taken the lead, in particular the cookies and cream version which we described as the lovechild of a Ben and Jerrys and a Magnum. YUM!

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Needing a bit of air after all that excitement we decided to walk one of the small trails out of the campsite to burn off a bit of food and maybe catch some more wildlife sightings.

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Low and behold we lucked out, when almost instantly we saw dolphins! Sarah managed to pap them and even catch one of the heads bobbing out of the water!

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In the bay there was also the tuna farms that you can actually swim in with the same company we were booked to do the sea lions.

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Day 2 and another 265km was over and we felt pretty good with the decision to take this roadtrip. And tomorrow we were swimming with Sea Lions!

Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 01:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Driving from one side of Australia to the other!

First leg...Melbourne to Wallaroo - 860km

I think most people thought "those crazy Brits are at it again" when we randomly announced that we wanted to drive from one side of Australia to the other. The initial exclamations of "do you realise how BIG Australia is?" and "haven't you seen Wolf Creek?", were soon followed by "I want to do that too" with the realisation that it would be a road trip of epic proportions.

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We would be driving from Melbourne to Perth, crossing through 3 Australian States (Victoria, SA and WA), taking on the vast expanses of the Nullabor Plain, dodging kamikaze kangaroos and taking in the sights along the way. The next 10 blogs will follow this adventure so bare with us as it may take a while to write up but we do get to Perth eventually :)

The icing on the cake was that we had found out about Transfercar, a vehicle relocation website that puts you in touch with companies looking for drivers to transfer a vehicle from one place to another, essentially making the rental of the vehicle free for us (saving approx $550) and saving the rental companies transportation fees... genius! All we had to do was pay for the petrol and the insurance :) although on a trip of this size the petrol costs were still quite a lot (around $1000)!

As fate would have it when we checked the website they had vehicles that needed to be transported to Perth by December from where we lived, Southbank in Melbourne! It was a sign, and so throwing caution to the wind we secured our vehicle and got down to planning our itinerary. We were given an allowance of 10 days and a maximum of 7000 kms to complete the trip, I think if you wanted to you could make the journey in 3-4 days but this way we could take our time and make detours where we wanted to, and also not go insane from the relentless driving. Having already done the Great Ocean Road we decided to skip that section and head straight up to Adelaide and beyond. This way in the first couple of days we would be able to get a lot of the kms out of the way including the Nullabor Plain. Then we could take our time through WA taking the less direct southern route along the coast and up via Margaret River to Perth. Doing it this way would also give us a time buffer incase we came into any difficulties on the road. Apart from swimming with sea lions in Port Lincoln and a wine tour with the Wine Dudes in Margaret River we had no other activities booked anything else we would discover along the way.

We took the time to plan where our final destination would be each day making sure to check that campsites would be open at our expected arrival time. Some require you to arrive and check in by 6pm but others would be happy to leave a key out to get access after hours so its worthwhile making a few calls to check. It also meant we could give our planned route to concerned friends and family (who had seen Wolf Creek) in case we didn't turn up in Perth when expected they would know where to start looking! We also planned where we would be able to get petrol too as running out in the middle of nowhere wasn't something we wanted to experience. With the vast distances involved being prepared for the worst case scenario is the best thing to do so we got a jerry can for spare fuel incase we had misjudged the distances and 15 litres of water too in case we got stranded in the desert!

The van itself was kitted out with all you needed, and could be transformed from seats in the day to a bed at night so you could sleep in the van. It also had a pull out hob to cook on and a pump action sink (although ours leaked so we tended not to use it). All cooking utensils you could need were provided too, along with an esky, bedding, towels and camping chairs. So you could just turn up with your backpack and go.

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Although with all the stuff we had accumulated since living in Melbourne for the last 5 months it would take a bit of Tetris packing to be able to sleep in there but once we worked out the best way to store things and moved the larger bags onto the front seats at night we could sleep in there comfortably.

Once the van was packed and we had noted down any dents and scratches (she'd been through the wars a bit) and had been reassured that the loose bumper wouldn't fall off we were ready to go!

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Our first destination was Wallaroo which is a couple of hours north of Adelaide!

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It would be a big first day of driving that would end up taking best of 12 hours to complete instead of the 9 hours we had anticipated (we slightly under estimated how long this part would take, woops, take times on google maps with a pinch of salt!). The reason we had made the decision to push on past Adelaide so that we could make the morning ferry from Wallaroo across the Spencer Gulf the following day, rather than driving around it.

We waved goodbye to Broomy and hit the road (remembering to call up City Link to get a toll pass of course!)

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As we left Melbourne behind us we took the now familiar route through Ballarat, Ararat and on passed the Grampians, reliving great memories of our previous road trips . This was where we spotted the Big Koala! One of the many 'BIG things' that they have in Australia, we had already been told about the big Pineapple in Coffs Harbour and a few of the others but this was the first one we had actually seen.

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Our first lunch stop was just in a lay by next to a lake just outside of Horsham, where we had a quick bite and tried to move an injured bat away from the patrolling crows before getting back behind the wheel.

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In the afternoon we came to our first border crossing, we were leaving Victoria behind and heading into South Austrlia! Before we crossed the boarder though we had to get rid of any fruit and veg we had so Dan quickly ate some so they didn't go to waste!

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We continued along the Dukes Highway passing through sheep country and corn fields before making a stop at Tailem Bend to stretch our legs and marvel at the huge pelicans flying overhead.

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Here are a few of the classic Australian road signs that made us giggle along the way, straight to the point no messing around!

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Finally we made it to Adelaide around 7pm which was a welcome sight but we still had a way to go before Wallaroo and hoped we would be able to get there before dark.

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As we left Adelaide we started to come across our first road trains, long lorries pulling several containers behind them (I'm not a road, I'm not a train... I'm a ROADTRAIN!) these would be our companions for the rest of our journey and are not to be messed with as they are huge!

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We had been on the road for hours and as the sun began to get lower thought we were losing our minds a bit when we started to see silhouettes of giant rats, spaceships and Ned Kelly of his horse rearing out of the fields. We weren't able to slow down to get photos of them but I found this article where you will see them and find out more about what they are about.

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We had really underestimated how long this journey would take us and with the sun setting and quite a few kms still to go both of us were on high alert of any kangaroos that might decide to jump out from behind the bushes on the roadside.

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It was a draining last leg as we strained our eyes to keep vigilant and slowed right down to be on the safe side. It was a big relief when we finally made it to Wallaroo around 10pm with no kangaroo sightings!

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Day 1 complete!

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 23:05 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bye Melbourne...

What can I say... the last 6 months living in Melbourne have been amazing.

Definitely lives up to the hype as the most liveable city and it is going to be really hard to move on from here. After we had been so long on the road it was great to be settled somewhere that feels like our home and we have been very lucky make a group of great mates that feel like family too :)

I hope that we'll be back some day but in the meantime here are just a few things we'll miss...

Waking up to hot air balloons outside our window

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Stumbling on amazing street art...

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Yummy brunches...

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Early morning swims and Bikram

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The city at night

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Working with some amazing people :) Lets put reunion in London on 'The List' :)

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The trams

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The silliness

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HUGE thanks to everyone who has made us so welcome.

Broomy, Mel, Mary, Stefano, Claire, Ria, Noreen, Phil, Nelson, Shane, Toots, Robyn, Amy B, Andy, Tom, Lauren, Mike, Pauly, Doush, Khan, Tanya, Jimmy, Abe, Cassie, Peter, Frances, Kathryn, Glen, Carola, Nora, Anjanette, Liz, Chris, Rose, Viv,

Dan would also like to thank the team at Bupa and his fellow temp's Alex, Danielle and Natalie.

We couldn't have had so much fun without you!!

Happy Xmas and New Year to you all

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 13:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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