Our last few days on Farm 3 we’re spent scurrying around in 40c heat packing up our lives once again. I did manage to get to Perth for some last minute Christmas shopping and of course the requisite massive pre-festive season supermarket hell.
We hitched up the caravan and as we left Farm 3 we set the mileometer back at zero launching ourselves on the long journey home to Dunkeld on the other side of the continent.
We had a couple of detours to make.The first one was on Christmas Eve with the massive occasion of the Kiwi’s scarey significant birthday which he shared with Grandson No1 having his first. A picnic was planned at Bibbra Lake in Perth beside the best children’s playground we’ve ever seen and the place was packed out with happy families enjoying the sunshine, numerous climbing frames, sandpits and swings.
Unable to resist one last swim in the Indian Ocean we parked up at a caravan park close to the beach at Rockingham, just south of Perth. The dogs and I were back in seventh heaven on Christmas morning splashing about in the waves and Margot was especially pleased with her Christmas present of a floating rubber stick. Later we all descended on our sister-in-law in Perth for a slap-up traditional Christmas lunch with much festive trimmings and cheer.
Bright and early on Boxing Day we left Perth behind us and set off down the Great Eastern Highway towards the mining town of Kalgoorlie 600kms away. No sooner had the Kiwi put the ute into cruise control, around a bend we got nabbed by a cop with a speed gun. We were doing 90kmh in an 80kmh zone and after a breath test (passed) we were slapped with a $100 fine. Not a great start!
We spent the first night in a bush camp off the road along with several other caravan and camper trailer dwellers. It was fascinating watching them all set up for the night; they all had so much clobber and actually used so little of it! The term kitchen sink comes to mind.
The next day our destination was Lake Ballard about 250kms to the north of Kalgoorlie. We had heard about a sculpture installation by English artist, Anthony Gormley who did the Angel of the North on the A1. I have a slight claim to fame with him as he once tried to buy my parents house! Lake Ballard is not easily get-atable as it’s down a 30 mile really rough, dusty and bumpity dirt road. By the time we got there every orifice, surface, nook and cranny was covered in red dust but the vista of this extraordinary, weird, eery place soon made us forget about the mess in the ‘van.
Widely and individually spaced over the vast, dry salt lake were 51 of Gormley’s trademark metal figures starring out into the distance. We waited for the temperature outside to come down to something more manageable than the high 30’s when we arrived and stepped out onto the slightly muddy salt lake with all the dogs. Letting the canine’s go, the young pups couldn’t believe their luck and raced each other as fast as their little legs could carry them whilst the big girls stuck by our sides I think feeling a bit intimidated by the vastness of the landscape. Walking around the figures in the utter silence was incredibly moving and we quickly became lost in our own thoughts. It truely was the most outlandish dog walk imaginable.
Next day it was back down the bumpity road to Kalgoorlie as I had a hankering to see the Superpit open cast gold mine which is right on the edge of the town. Sceptical of it’s size and significance, the Kiwi didn’t seem all that keen on the slight detour, wanting to get on with our journey. Well, was he blown away in awe! Raptures of delight burbled from his lips as he watched the huge dumper trucks wend their way from the bottom of possibly the biggest hole in the world each carrying a load of 250 tonnes of rock.
A last night in a caravan park at Norseman saw us cleaning the caravan of all the red dust and filling the water tanks and fuel cans before setting off on the long, long drive across the Nullarbor. A lack of a certain standard of facilities means that most travellers choose to either sleep in their cars enroute or like us in a well appointed caravan. The 3500km four day drive was thankfully uneventful save for one near miss with a road train (lorry with 3 trailers) nearly wiping us and another car out by overtaking on a blind bend and yet another breathalyser test (passed)! We parked up at night in lay-by’s, well off the road. Days were spent with Daphne and Margot snoozing on the back seat and the two pups in their crate in the back of the ute whilst we listened to 20 episodes of Desert Island Disks and ate several packets of Mentos chewy mints.
Finally yesterday, the end of our long journey and not just the physical drive, but the metaphorical one of the last two years was in sight. Along the extremely bumpy Victorian Roads, I rather wished I’d put on a more substantial bra but all was forgotten as we came across a huge painted grain Silo which took our breath away.
During the last few miles I played all our favourite tunes on the iPod which brought huge lumps to our throats as we reflected on everything we’d been through. Then suddenly there they were, around a bend was the sight we were waiting for, Mount Sturgeon and Abrupt. We stopped at the lay by where we first saw the mountains exactly two years ago to the day when we realised that this is where we want to be. Now at long last, we’re here and we can hardly believe it. Although all we have at the moment is a ute and a caravan, we have all sorts of plans for our future life here in the Southern Grampians.
We were royally welcomed by some kind friends who have allowed us to park the caravan in their paddock for a couple of nights and we’ve had a very restorative time not doing very much. The dogs are loving their new lives, Daphne and Margot rolling in the cool, green grass and the puppies had their first experience of rain this morning. As I write they are all chasing one other round and round the caravan.
The Kiwi starts a new job on a livestock farm nearby tomorrow and I’ll be busy as ever, keeping the show on the road, as it were. Happy New Year and I wonder what 2017 will bring for us all?