Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Melbourne Albury and East Gippsland

Well did I get a bit slack on the blogging once we hit Tassie !!

Tassie was overwhleming with surprises and beauty, leaving me with an ocean of things to write.

I thought once I got back to the mainland I would be able to blog away. Once we got to Melbourne it was all go go go. We were back to where there were many people to meet and share time with and the blogging took a back seat again.

In Melbourne we had the chance to catch up with dear Wendy, and a pregnant and radiant Liv - two inspiring social ecologist friends, then it was off to CERES and to experience Fitzroy Community School. Next we had a chance to catch up with another Social Ecologist - Jane at Daylesford and the land of springs, we then headed up to Yackandandah to spend some time with Mish and Matt who were building their stawbale house. This was an incredible break for us as they their friends down the road had their house available while they were traveling France and Itlay on push bikes with their children. So We got into repairs and maintence. Before we knew it a week had past, or more?

We got all nervous with Kaiden and jamala running all over the house of people we did not know, and shifted into Anna's at Albury for nearly 3 weeks !! where did that time go? It was great to catch up with our friends Anna and Justin. Living with Anna, Eligh and Lily (7 of us in the house) was really relaxing and rejuvientating. There was so much to catch up on, and share particularly with parenting, we both love Aware Parenting. While hear I was also able to catch up with the many aware parents around the country through emails, and am looking forward to meeting many of them in person.

Well we are back in NSW, and shocked to discover a $27 camping fee in a remote National Parks and Wildlife Service camp, the surf break is good but geeezzz !!???

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tassie - Draft

Amazing country !!

This is one part of the blog that has been difficult to keep up with - so many experiences so much to see and do !!

Thus, I am keeping brief as I sit typing watching the sunrise at Recherche Bay.

This follows the general direction we travelled (and I will fill in the gaps when I get a chance) -

We were first stunned camping in the Walls of Jerusalem area, stunned by the awe of it all and that we had only booked a short two months of time here - what had we done? .... As one local said "oh two months - you won't be seeing too much then"
Cradle Mountain was next. We had a perfect two days of sun and about 27 degree heat. This was not what we expected in this part of Tassie. One the first day we walked around Dove Lake. The following day we walked a little further, from Ronny Creek to Marion's lookout. Kaiden hiked all the way in barefeet !! It was a moderate hiking track with some steep chained section near the top. The lookout had perfect vistas all around and the clarity added to the exhilaration of being in this wild place.

Hellyer Gorge and Dip Falls were the next couple of camps, and we were thrown into the results of clear felling The Tarkine - either as regrowth, plantation or recent levelling of the forest floor it was disappointing to see. What ever happened to the old ways of selective logging, and why old growth chip for paper?.

We climbed 'the nut" at Stanely before making our way back into the Tarkine at south Arthur's loop. Marrawah, Tassies premier surf spot was next, we arrived on the last day of the Rip Curl Classic surf competition. While the coastline was impressive the surf was dead flat. Not a wave to be had anywhere.

We moved on south of Arthurs River and saw numerous Aboriginal middens and even some rock carvings at Sundown Point. It was a sad reminder of what had happen to the Aboriginal people of Tasmania.

By the time we crossed the Pieman River at Corrina and nearing the next surfing location - Trial Harbour, I heard the weather report saying there was a 9 metre swell !!!! .... From flat to humongous !! Still no surfable waves - well for me anyway !!

We decided to try and head for Montezuma Falls from the west side. Apparently it was a 14km medium graded 4WD track. shortly after heading into the forest, we meet a fork in the road. The right looked easier going, so there we went. Before long with no other way around I eased the car into a large waterhole. I just couldn't get the car up and out on the other side. The exit was steep slippery clay with large polished tree roots on odd angles bumping the car around everywhere in all directions. Disappointing I put the car in reverse and tried the other track a steep rutted clay hill. Nicole was not so confident, halfway up Nicole suggested she would not like to continue. Hmmmm part way up a rutted slippery hill - no easy task to reverse !!...We decided the best way back down was to drop into the ruts and to do some road building in the deep sections before proceeding. It was a cinch. disappointed by our failed attempts we headed back to camp at Lake Burbury. The next day we did some short walks around Strahan that were far more successful and enjoyable !!

We camped near Lake St Clair during Nicole's nicole's 40th birthday. What a place to celebrate and in perfect sunny weather too !!.

Lake Pedar and the Styx
Support to the protesters holding the old growth ground !

Mt Field

Tahune state forest propaganda and Mt Hartz NP
The Tasmanian State Forest has littered the Tahune forest areas with some unusual propaganda. One interpretive sign suggested environmentalist protesters deserve the violence against them in their attempts to protect old growth forests !!
Mt Hartz National Park was a welcomed scene.

Cockle Creek (population 3)
wild windy and wet weather in paradise

"When they walked peaceably into Hobart town in January 1832, all that was left of the Big River Nation, which had once numbered 400 to 500 people, were 16 men, 9 women, .... and one child"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SW - Vic

We crossed the border to Victoria the second time after crossing it accidentially the day before when I missed the turn off to our camp at Picaninie Ponds. These ponds were spectacularly clear, and unfortunately we did not meet the requirements for a snorkelling permit - primarily that we needed to snorkel together, rather than take turns, and Nicole did not have a full length wetsuit. After crossing the border we explored Glenlg River and set-up camp at Mt Eccles - another recent volcano crater (about 20,000 years old with the last volcanic activity some 7000 years ago). It was fasinating to read the local myths of the area, imagining what a different landscape it was when Aboriginal people lived around volcanic activity.

The coastal parks are impressive from the border onwards, although we missed the opportunity for bush camping as in other areas around the country as there are no camping areas. I guess it is because it is closer to populated areas again. Port Cambell National Park was amazing, the dramatic coastline promoted by Victoria's tourism, is certainly that. It was a sensory indulgence, no escape from it's wild-ness, the arches and rock stacks, including the infamous London Bridge and Twelve Aposles were inspiring.

If this was not enough, we were soon in the Otways - wow... rainforests, waterfalls, Mountain Ash, Myrtle Beeches and beaches. We camped at the peaceful Johanna. In my Austrlian Surf Atlas, it described Johanna as Victoria's answer to Byron Bay??? .... This was certainly far from the images of Byron Bay. There are still a lot of intact forest (outstanding Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech forests), there are no shops, and only a handful of farm houses. There is peace and quiet, and the ecology is ever present in the senses and safe from development - for now. The bush camping here is still unbelievably free. Perhaps it is the rainfall here in Johanna that the author of the surf guide made connections to Byron Bay because all else seems like a stark contrast to what Byron Bay is, and even what Byron was many decades ago. Sadly, there are people keen on developing this spot as a caravan park, this no doubt would create an opening toward an uninspiring 'resort' styled town as are found elsewhere on the coastline in the region.

From Joanna, We camped in the bush up the hill from Lorne, where we found one of the dirtiest beaches we have experienced so far. In such a beautiful part of the world, it was dissapointing to go down to the beach for a play in the sand with Kaiden. We dived into an area to build sand castles, and immediately noticed we were surrounded by ciggarette butts and bandaids... urrrgghhh, we ran further along the beach dived into the sand again, it was no different, cigerette butts and a huge bandaid stuck out the of sand..... we move along again to an area with a little less cigerette butts and no bandaids. Lorne is a very popular resort town and not what I imagined it to be - I guess we are approaching the large city of Melbourne. In repulsion, We were very temped to go back to Joanna. The waterfalls however are a saving grace for the Lorne area - away from the busy-ness and rubbish.

Next we camp out the back of Anglesea, and went to a local playgroup. We loved it and connected easily with the families, a few who are very keen on unschooling - hoooray ! The towns Airey's Inlet through to south of Torquay were fairly low key and in parts seemed in tune with the environment, I am sure this has contributed to a relaxed atmosphere. Even in the surf at Winkipop, I was welcomed in the line up by the locals and enabled me to be surfing way on the inside, no-one was hassling or snaking for waves.

Winkipop was fantasic to surf, I managed to catch it breaking 4-5 foot with 6ft+ sneaker sets. I was puffed at the end of each wave, so many turns off the lip and sooo much fun. I looked at Bells bowl it was breaking ok, but did seem to have a few slow sections, unlike Winkipop which raced faster and faster down the line...waaahhoooooo !!! I think perhaps Bells only really turns on during huge swells and a bit of a mal wave otherwise? I would love to have a Winkipop break on my doorstep, and jump on a long righthand reef everyday. This area certainly has many drawcards as a potential place for us to live !

From here we catch a ferry to Tassmania from Port Melbourne on the 28th.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adelaide to the Near Vic

wow how'd we get here so quickly !?

Port Lincoln National Park was fantastic, easy fishing, swimming and relaxing. Nicole was hoping to soon meet some kindred spirited people as we entered this park. we drove past an old Mercedes Benes before setting up camp (thinking to my-self the owners to be driving on vege-oil - they are great cars for conversion) and I wondered down to play on the rocky shores with Kaiden. On my return I found Nicole with a couple from Whyalla who owned the Merc. Nicole hit it off with them, and it was not long into discussion that the Merc was waiting for conversion to run on waste vege oil. John had been stock piling the good grease for sometime now. It was exciting to meet this couple, they were very present in conversation including with Kaiden and Jamala. I am warmed to find more people in our travels who relate to Kaiden and Jamala in compassionate and humanistic ways, no coercion or telling, just respectful listening and sharing.

A cafe at Port Lincoln seemingly as a matter of course for passing travellers gave us 180 litres of their very clean waste vegetable oil. I was grateful for this as we had no vege oil for our trip across the Nullarbor - meaning we used a lot of dinosaur fuel to make the trip :-(

Heading north we stopped by Fitzgerald Bay for an overnight camp. Before leaving in the morning a couple invited our family out to catch some crabs. Kaiden loved it. We simply wondered around scooping them up. Mt Remarkable NP was our next stop, a fantastic campground set among old Red Gums and Emus - with solar hotwater showers !! wow !! luxury. we floundered around this park for a few days, a bit unsure what we did, other than relax, shower and feast on great food.

Nearing Australia Day, we arrived in Adelaide. Nicole was very excited and taken by the city, claiming it was the only city she has been drawn to. I had been in Adelaide previously for a 'work' conference and decided to take Nicole straight to Glenelg having an inkling that she'd love it there. We arrived at Glenelg and there certainly was a buzz in the air - people were diving off the Jetty, playing ball games on the beach, playing music on the grass, a caporaro (sp?) group was in action, and buskers had a circle going in the cafe strip. Kaiden picked up on the energy right away, he was in a world of fun and laughter.

Adelaide was also a place for us to collect parts for repairs and maintenance, and though I was looking forward to meeting two families connected through the practice of Aware Parenting (www.parentingwithpresence.com www.awareparenting.com) and unfortunately missed each other before leaving.

Australia Day celebrations in Adelaide were refreshing, a parade of many cultures that make up Australia lead to a park. There were many families decked out in their cultural traditional/symbolic dress and the park was filled with flags flying from many nations/cultures. There was of course some Australiana thrown in, James Morrison and his band did a jazz version of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell". We sat ourselves on the grass in the centre of the crowd and meet a Hungarian family, the three year old girl was excited to teach me some basic Hungarian language....this is the stuff I love about cities.

Some new tyres were thrown on the car and we headed south, we have been reading a fair bit up on Kangaroo Island and could not find anything that convinced us to pay for the ferry ride over there (plus camping fees because our National Parks pass excluded Flinders Chase) - The tourist information highlighted a pure breed population of feral bees (protected), and fairly tame wildlife like kangaroos were big attractions. It did seem to have many nice beaches, and I am sure that they are. The most disappointing part about skipping this part of Australia was not catching up with a family we met in northern WA who call Kangaroo Island home.

Travelling along the coast toward Mt Gambier, the beaches have been spectacular, I seem to say this about all the beaches, LOL. Also Nicole made her visit to the mouth of the Murray River, a pilgrimage for her. As mentioned in media the mighty Murray is a mere dribble at the mouth these days, requiring some 6 million dollars worth of sand pumping to keep the mouth open and the associated coastal lakes alive each year. It is dire, the Australian iconic river is on life support. The local ABC radio featured many stories on the push for recovery, and a great interview came over the air with Carmel Flint from NPA, pushing to save important remnants of River Red Gum along the Murray. I am amazed by this woman's level of drive to hold back further damage to the environment (much wider than the Murray River system) - Go Carmel !!

The Limestone Coast is full of interesting and rugged coast line, and like some parts of WA dotted with small and quite crayfishing towns. In one of the larger towns, I was offered waste vegetable oil at a cost. This is the first time I have ever paid money for waste vegetable oil (after all I suppose it was at a fuel station where I asked). The going price was 50 cents a litre - there is competition for the oil from boat owners as well as cars. The fuel station owner boasted he has about 5000 litres at his home (he owns all the fryers in town). So 50 cents a litre it was - still cheaper and cleaner than diesel. I wonder is this where things are heading for waste vegetable oil users?

Nicole was taken by a place called Beachport where we stayed for a few days, thinking we may simply overnight it here. There was something about the place, where relaxation was contagious ! Next was the world heritage Naracoote caves, known for their vast fossil/bone collection. The caves here acted as a trap for animals roaming Australia up to 200,000 years ago, they'd fall in and have no escape. There are many generations of palaeontology work to do here and much to dis-cover about climate change and past life from these snap shots in time.

We are now in Mt Gambier - the Blue Lake is very impressive, as is there library. The library is noisy, busy and full of people, it is a vibrant place and certainly a progressive community facility. We also meet with another family practicing Aware Parenting - Hooray !! I love how easy it is to be with families who share compassionate ways of relating to children.

Mt Gambier was also a great spot for waste oil collection, and after pouring 75 litres of oil from the Thai restuarant our car smells like a mix of curry puffs and spring rolls ! yum !!
NYE in Esperance.

A little disappointed we drove on from Point Ann and past, I am certain, many beautiful beaches and camp grounds. All which were full, this coastline has the closest beaches to the mining areas to the north and everyone given the chance heads south for xmass and NYE. We found ourselves camped in a football oval for the overflow camping !! While not reaching anywhere near our top rated camping grounds, we were relaxed, waiting for the crowds to the east to dissipate after the ny's day holidays, in the hope we can find a space to camp at Le Grand NP. Also camped here in the footy oval were other wanders, people who did not prebook accommodation because they are travelling relatively unplanned, like us.... so the camp ground had similar values most people more akin to the bush than town caravan parks, and like us most were waiting out the nye holiday.... how I wished we were still at point Ann.

For NYE Esperance probably is one of the only towns not to have much going for families, no fireworks, no activities, no fan fare events, nothing going on. The tourist information centre suggested that our family may enjoy a night of karaoke at the local lawn bowling club for an entry fee. I considered, wondering if they had some waste vege oil, then decided to stay in the football oval, cook some delicious food, and buy some exquisite chocolate to celebrate with.... we were in bed by 9am - that'd be midnight on the east coast !!

After exploring the amazing beaches in the region, we prepared for a trip through Cape Arid and the Nullarbor. We stocked up with much food and water, and headed eastward. First we encountered the spectacular Cape Le Grand, more beautiful coastline, it seems endless in these parts. unfortunately the camp ground was packed, and although there was a single vacancy next to a caravan connected to a generator that took up half the ute tray that was towing it, we thought, no not for us. There were also a high number of Australian and eureka stockade flags flying in the campground here. Campground hosts (volunteers who help manage the campground) said the general attitude of campers here was a disregard to the ecology and fellow campers, an attitude that where they stake their flags nobody can interfere with what they want to do. Bumper stickers on cars read "Australia is full so piss off" and "Australia love it or fcuk off" etc.

Happily we drove on to Cape Arid National Park, to find a quiet and pleasant campground over looking stunning beaches. We spent the day further along the beach and disappointingly discovered the best bush camping we had come across so far, disappointingly because we set up camp some 30km away. Further down the bay were numerous rocky headlands, protected bays and empty surf breaks! We loved it in Cape Arid.

One hot day arrived in Cape Arid, and we spent the day laying around in the shade and in a cool rock pool at the beach. I surfed in a steamer in 48 degree heat ! It was a strange sensation to be in the cool southern ocean with a fierce wind blowing on my face like a furnace. I wondered up the rocks later to catch some fish for dinner (easy to do in these parts) after about 15mins reeling in six fish and filleting them, I staggered back to the car and needed to lay down. The heat fishing on the granite rocks was intense and I imagine to be easily above 50 degrees.

Later that day speaking with the ranger, he relayed a story about a couple who had driven down near the beach we spent our day. They drove a suburu/rav4 type car - ie not really made to drive across the track conditions, and they got their car stuck. They then decided to leave their car and only having 600mls of water in the heat of the desert found themselves in trouble. They were in terrible condition when the ranger discovered them and were trying to dial 000 in their desperation. It is really frightening to think that people travel out into the desert with such little preparation or knowledge about the seriousness of the place. The ranger said it happens every year in holiday season at least once. The 4wd guide we have explains the trek through Cape Arid as Extreme, this is not just because the driving at times is difficult, it is because of the remoteness, lack of water, and climate. Recovery gear and water are essential in these parts.

With a cool trough we decided to make our way to the Nullarbor via Balladonia. The drive was slow and spectacular. Nicole and I are always so surprised how quickly the hours pass on such remote and difficult drives. It is such a contrast to the highway driving. Before long (hours and hours) we stopped at Balladonia where Kaiden was excited to find another huge chuck of Sky-Lab in the roadhouse museum. From here we drove the 90mile straight into the Nullarbor, we passed by many colours of flowers and hues of greens, and before we knew it we had passed the cool trough fo weather and back into intense heat. We had mis-timed our trip across. The only way to easily escape it was to keep cruising on the Highway in the air-conditioning.

By the end of the day we setup camp at a look out above the Roe Plains, just before the highway descends. The view was stunning, the Roe plains are covered with a bluish saltbush and so flat Nicole was convinced she could see the curvature of the earth. It was still hot. The following day we spent most of the time in the car stopping by the many amazing lookouts, it seemed even hotter. We were disappointed that the heat was so oppressive we preferred to keep driving, unlike the slow scenery soaking trip across the Nullarbor we imagine to be. Nonetheless the Nullarbor is certainly one of Australia's greatest drives, very enjoyable.

Soon we were at Cactus the surfing mecca of SA. We were low on water and food and another 80kms or so from the nearest supplies. We spent a short while here checking out the breaks (only 2ft at the time). So considering the bush camping was $20 a night and we could only really stay one night being low on supplies, and small waves likely to be crowded by all the campers, we decided to move on. There were many more SA desert surf breaks yet, which are either free or with a $2 honesty box.

Surf on the Eyre Peninsular

I am amazed at the amount of quality breaks here, absolutely amazed - nearly every one of them empty. Hard hitting slabs, pealing reefs, point breaks and big wave bommies litter the coastline. On arrival, it is hard to fathom why this coastline is not one the highest must surf areas in every surfers mind. It is the most wave rich coast I have ever seen, outside crowded Indonesian surf breaks. There are reasons for the emptiness; they are the desert with harsh climate conditions and Great Whites. The later had enough fear for me not to enter the waters on my own. Frustratingly I travelled past many perfect peeling waves, my intuition was telling me to leave these waters be. There is also another reason for emptiness - the surfing community here fiercely defends off 'outsiders'.

There is a 'hard nut' surfing community in the SA desert. Outsiders are treated with suspicion and signs of video footage or photos are met with violence or malicious damage to cars. In one town a drive by shooting has occurred after some video footage was taken, other remote breaks can involve things like slashing of all four tyres - this becomes more serious if you can imagine that some of these less known surf breaks are a long way from anywhere and in desert conditions - no-one carries four spare wheels. There are many stories of fights, guns, tyre slashing and other deterrents. This is a place to tread carefully, particularly if you have number plates on your car from interstate (or should I say 'outer-state')

Back to the other major deterrent, Great White Sharks. It took me awhile to pluck up the courage to go surfing on my own at a remote break (~50km along a four-wheel track from the nearest town). Other places we travelled through like Streaky Bay area had exceptional waves, though I heard from fishos about 15ft Whites circling their tinnies. Whites are a confronting reality here.

A person who had done her PhD on Great Whites spoke on the local ABC radio. She assured listeners that there is not much to really be concerned about, explaining that Whites rarely go in for the kill when it comes to humans, later she explained most of the attacks are simply soft bites and that unfortunately soft bites are very traumatic for the human body. I am sold !! Not .... None the less it was this talk that helped me get in the water, alas a very short time. Nicole is still teasing me about it, though she admits there is no way in the world that she would be in those waters out behind the reef breaks..

Talking to other surfers who have regularly come to this region to surf, said that they see at least one great white shark every trip to these parts. They said there are many many times surfers here have their boards bitten or are knocked off, or at least chased into shore, and it was not that uncommon for a 'soft' bite to occur. Because these incidents are so common they barely are mentioned in the media - it is part of surfing in this region. They also confirmed my suspicions about the Streaky Bay area where I was too scarred to go out. They had been up there on this trip and came across a white pointer, and said on their last trip to the Streaky Bay area they saw a Great White breach out of the water chasing Salmon only some ten metres from where they were sitting in the water. One of the main tourist draw cards to this area is Tuna, Seals and Great White cage diving - where you are almost certain to witness “monster size” Great Whites on your dive. Nearly every beach there are warnings about 'natural hazards' and always include the great white.

While still being a little apprehensive about surfing on my own, the short surf the other day has given me some confidence.... The funny thing is if there was only one other person out, I would hit the waves without hesitation, interesting how statistics can change my whole attitude. I would love to come back to these shores with a few friends on a surfari (preferably with SA number plates!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009



the majestic tall forests of the south were certainly inspiring as were the communities living nearby. The land and its people were an instant attraction for us here. To get a feel for the height of the giant trees we started by venturing into the Pemberton tall forests where there are 3 trees with fire towers that can be climbed - with care !

The first of the climbing trees was the bicentennial tree, 75 metres to the top and I mean the top - the tower extended just beyond the canopy of a Karri (Eucalyptus jacksonii). I choose to go first. The bottom 25 metres were a little daunting as I have never climbed much higher without protection of a rope and harness. To climb the tree it had metal spikes driven into the trunk in a steep ladder like spiral up onto a series of platforms at the top. One simple rule to climbing the tree is 'do not fall'. So after 25 metres or so, it no longer matters much between the degree of outcome should a slip occur, after 25 metres it would result in a very nasty end to the day. And so the climb to the top there after is a breeze. Never-mind there was a view at the top to be seen !!

I was glad to reach the first platform - I am guessing at around 60metres high, inspecting the bolts at the base of the tower after encountering a loose spike, it seemed ok to move on. I was surprised at the enormity of the steel tower attached to the top of the Karri, and ladder after ladder I eventually came to the top all the while wondering how much weight the tower was bearing down on a handful of bolts on the last decent sized branches. Swaying in the wind it felt as if I were at sea, though the ocean surrounding me was awash with green leaves. The views were spectacular to say the least ! Later I learnt this tower weighed about two tonnes, the physics and logic of sticking a two tonne structure ontop of a very tall swaying tree still has mystery for me.

After soaking in the majesty of the wilderness, I began the decent, my legs were pumped by near the bottom and began to ache not too long after reaching the bottom. whooaoa, I need to do some more walking !! The climb gave me a great sense for the height of these trees. It had me reminiscing being under the canopy of Eucalyptus nobilis in Cunnawarra National Park in NSW which reach to near 70m or so. Although the Karri/Marri/Jarrah didn't have the rainforest understorey of the nobilis, the shear enormity of how much tall forest with occasional patches of old growth existing across the landscape was awe inspiring.

Nicole's turn, when she arrived at a small platform at 25 metres she was not convinced that climbing this tree was for her. It was a long way to the top. Somewhat disappointed on leaving the bicentennial tree, Nicole was determined to climb another tree before leaving the Pemberton area. We enjoyed camping in solitude on the Warren River the night before coming to the Glouster Tree - another fire tower that was 61 metres in height. Nervously Nicole ascended the tree with ease.

We enjoyed the rest of the day travelling through fantastic forests including old growth and made our way to a vastly different landscape at Windy Harbour in the heart of the D'entercasteaux National Park. The landscape was stunning a diverse heathland meeting the Southern Ocean at the base of dramatic limestone cliffs - WOW. A wonderful place.

From here we stopped in at Northcliffe where there was an audio self guided forest walk put together by a local community of artists inspired by the forests and the tensions that arise in the community relating to the forests. We were so impressed with the art in the forest, we were wanting more around the country, and imagining how great it would be to have such places in areas like Coffs Harbour and northern NSW. Places where people can connect with the landscape and the stories imbued within the place.

With the trailer coming close to becoming unregistered and requiring an inspection we kept up our pace toward Albany. Although we do not have any concrete time constraints, they do still seem to arise - vehicle inspections were difficult to arrange from Margaret River onwards, some places not having space for 3-4 weeks and smaller towns not able to do official vehicle inspections. We figured a place the size of Albany we would have choice, and hence the pace of our story here.

A stop in Walpole to restock on food was fruitful in terms of waste vegetable oil and unexpected. I gathered a region diverse in culture and rich with sustainable living practices, waste vegetable oil would be a prized resource. No, it was easily accessible and 100's of litres available. Yiiippppeeee

We camped at Fernhook falls a pleasant and quiet place, with only one other solitary camper, a young buzzing woman from Perth who loved to camp out in the bush as often as she could. She was full of life, vibrant and easy to connect with.

On the way to Denmark and the giant Tingle Trees we encountered another display of art in a forest of Karri at Swarbrick - a celebration of the success to protect the last remaining patch of old growth Karri in the region. Although the number of sculptures did not meet the number we encountered at Northcliffe, the stories attached to them were still moving. A mirrored wall of perceptions had many quotes from the region over time... plenty to 'reflect' upon. For example John Ednie-brown who worked for the Department of Woods and Forests WA in 1904 said "The best crop for jarrah forest soil is jarrah trees...the wastefulness of trying to grow grass for possible short-term pastoral needs is suicidal and reprehensible in the extreme".

I really enjoyed our stop in Denmark, the town had plenty of signs of happiness and wellbeing - and not surprising with the diverse healthy landscapes surrounding the town, estuaries, rugged coastline, old growth forests, tranquil bays, surfing beaches. Denmark is also home to the Valley of the Giants and a 600metre wheel chair accessible tree top walk - impressive! The Tingle Trees were inspiring all nobly and old looking, some trunk diameters reaching around 20 metres.

We setup camp on Shellys Beach in West Cape Howe National Park before venturing into Albany for supplies and booking our trailer in for inspection. We were greeted with more dramatic coastal scapes and impossibly clear waters of the Southern Ocean. I was pleased to be here for my 40th birthday.

We are very impressed by the Albury region and could be easily tempted to move to the region to live. There were many areas in the region that seemed to grab our attention. Like the school on the edge of Cape Howe National Park - It read at the entrance, 'a school where I can be me', perhaps a true democratic school? or an other non-coercive? The school buildings even reflected uniqueness and fitting with it's surrounds more than being imposed on the land. It had us wondering ... www.woodburyboston.edu.wa.au ....

Albury city itself was full of frantic xmass shoppers, and us frantic campers running amongst it all chasing food, water, car maintenance supplies, camping equipment pieces, and 3 loads of washing at the laundrymat! We enjoyed the city, it had a mix of buildings old and new... there was something about it I can't put my finger on, something unpolished and exposed about it that I liked. Kaiden was most surprised to find Santa in a shopping mall and explained that he'll be in the bush, this surprisingly unconditional Santa assured Kaiden he'll make it out to the campgrounds. I was happy Kaiden found the other version of Santa - without the typical manipulations and bribes. Another hooray for Albury.

Back to West Cape Howe we felt more at home. It was a wild place, to move anywhere beyond the camp ground were narrow 4WD tracks needing high clearance and low range driving most of the way. Nicole with some reluctance came along for a drive out to the southern point, with a few hair raising sections we discovered awe-inspiring cliff lines and wild coast. I felt like we were very remote, the heath and scrubland was dense, the dark grey dolerite cliffs contrasting with the luminous blue of the crashing southern seas before us left me almost speechless and a bit stunned. Climbing out of the car into swarms of flies still did not take away the coastal bliss.

Xmass was upon us very quickly, on the 22rd we opted to head for Sterling Ranges NP to setup camp there, WOW, the craggy peaks were a stark contrast to the wheat fields it abruptly stood among. Checking out the walks I was disappointed to have lost our macpac child carrier, the walks were hard, probably a little difficult and dangerous for Kaiden on his own. One 2km walk was suggested to take around 4 hours return, requiring high level of fitness agility and a number of rock scrambling sections. Still perhaps Kaiden would be fine if we stretched it to a full day hike and took it slowly?

We setup at camp, which was more like a road rest area nearby the main road with road trains passing by and a couple of caravans using generators .... One night camping like this was enough for us to move on to search for more peaceful surrounds. After taking a scenic drive through the Sterling Ranges it was a little disappointing that there was no other alternative 'quiet' camp site available. The park was really stunning, an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot. A few campervans took the advantage of sleeping in their vans within the park - just can't easily get away with that having an 18ft campertrailer !

Earlier I enquired about the camping along the coast east of Albany at the tourist info, it was suggested many of the camp grounds near Albany become very full and somewhat rauchus for xmass/NYE. We decided to try our luck at Fitzgerald River National Park, some 400km East of Albany, though not as far from Sterling Ranges. The park was massive, an hour down the road from the entrance we rounded a corner to find a sparkly turquoise bay and mountainous coast in the distance, where the point Ann Campground was. Perfect. The campground was small, the sites were nestled privately amongst the bush with shade and close to the beach. Aaahhhhhhh we sighed.

We enjoyed a peaceful and unconditional xmass, mild temperatures, great food in moderation (probably my first time), Kaiden and Jamala were both joy-full. I felt at home among the other campers here probably seeking similar atmosphere for xmass. We connected easily with a neighbouring family they were so relaxed, and enjoying the travel as a family. We stayed for awhile, Kaiden and Byron a 4yo boy from across the way made a great connection, and played in the bush many creative and imaginative games. Byron told his mum "I really really love Kaiden". This gave me plenty of time to reflect about how many people we have connected with along the way, who enjoy connecting with children compassionately and unconditionally. I am really inspired that these connections are in abundance on the road. Watching the kids these values really come out in their play, and is a joy to witness.

The neighbouring family has been enjoying home-schooling and spoke a little of their journey, they seemed to be finding their way toward unschooling. When I mentioned it they were very excited to here that such a concept existed, and are looking forward to investigating it more. We exchanged contact details and hope to meet with them again someday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Margret River

Jamala's first birthday was spent on the road and a roadside campsite and I am begining to wonder if my 40th will be much like this too ?!

First thing in the morning we were off to explore the Margret River coastal region before settling into Contos campground just to the SW of Margret River township. The coastline here is magical, so many bays and beaches, reefs and rocky outcrops, with stunningly crystal clear water. Time flew by us here - not too sure what we did in the 10 days? I did manage to surf, sip some wine and finish reading some books.

Margret River region reminded me of Bellingen on the mid-north coast of NSW - only different in that it seemed busier and was surrounded by wineries and nearby exceptional surf breaks. On the surface it seemed that we could easily slip into the community here and settle in, I have not a clue what I would do for work in a place like this.

ahhh some things are coming back to me.... I am sure my brain looses some functioning every time I slip into my camp chair ! .... There were two massive highlights for Kaiden - first a visit to the Margret River Chocolate factory, where Kaiden and the rest of us watched chocolates being made anc we all indulged in tastings too !! It was superb chocolate - absolutely delicous ... perhaps it was a good thing that the price matched the flavour or else our trailer would be full !! YUM. Second was a visit to Leewin Lighthouse, the tallest mainland lighthouse in Australia. Kaiden and Nicole climbed the lighthouse to take in the views accross both the Southern and Indian Oceans. under 4 years were not permited to climb no matter that Jamala is adept with climbing. Jamala and I sat in the cafe eating chocolate muffin. Kaiden has loved lighthouses ever since he started noticing them, so he was delighted to find one he could climb up !

The intersting thing having the southern and Indian Oceans converging, strange weather events occur. Leaving the lighthouse we noticed a huge cloud like formation on the horizon, was it rain, was it smoke, we were not sure. Then it came in, fog at 1pm on a summers day !!!.... I had the warm sun on my back and a cool southerly wind blowing fog in my face. It was as if someone just switched an jinourmous airconditioner on.

to side track: An event I am mindful of that I unfortunately will miss is Drew Dellinger's tour of Australia while here in WA.

Video - http://drewdellinger.org/pages/video/187/hieroglyphic-stairway


It's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling

surely you did something
when the season started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do

From many of his gems influenced by elder's like Thomas Berry. I wonder what it is that happened for some people to cast their eyes to the ground and say it is not their concern, it is beyond their life span when things will get real tough, it is not their concern.

None-the-less Nicole and I have been inspired by some older generations on the road, Nicole nicknamed them the "Silver Nomads" - they pride themselves on their sustainablity achievements, efficent transport, going solar, converting cars to run on hydrogen (one guy did it to his diesel - I must look into this !!!), etc. Perhaps there will be more elders like Thomas Berry's and Joanna Macy's to come? look forward to meeting more on the road !

Off to the great southern coast to dip into inspiring wildscapes of tall forests and windy seas.