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Traveldiary chapter 10 A [October 2004 - October 2005] as PDF
(Australia, where desert and civilisation meet up)
|West: Cairns -> Darwin -> Broome -> Perth -> Adelaide||Top|
|Photos: Australia, the East||More about Australia: chapter 33 & chapter 16|
The East: we visit cities, national parks and naturist grounds
On our way from
On Oct. 27th, 2004 we got picked up at 05:30 h in the
morning, to fly to
On the 14 hours non-stop flight to Syndey,
United Airlines crossed the dateline and so we lost one precious
holiday... Even though our tickets had cost less than € 600, we
could sit in the "economy plus" section with extra legroom and the
service was very humorous and good. After another hour's flight, we arrived in
Here our new Australian adventure could begin! It's already the third time that we come to see this beautiful country after previous visits in 1987 and 1992 and we loved to come from the Canadian autumn directly into Australian spring, with no winter in between.
By the time we landed in Melbourne, it was
only 10 am and so we tried to get an onward flight to
In our memory, the city had been a pretty quiet place,
but today the streets were bustling with people enjoying the many outdoor cafe's, serving cappuccino and strong espresso, as well as
a good selection of continental style cakes and breads. The most recent
immigrants come from
We really liked the way this city looks now with many
well-restored "turn of the century" Victorian style buildings nestled
between modern high-rise glass towers. The newly pedestrianised
walk along the
After 5 days in
Initially, we looked for a car to buy, but soon we realized that they are quite expensive, most probably more than on the mainland. As the ten hours night-ferry didn't tempt us, we soon decided to take a rented car and then fly out again. We still learned something about Aussie cars and also met Beat on that way. He is a Swiss who immigrated Down Under twenty years ago. We got to talk to him for quite a while and so our discussions deviated from cars to personal subjects and he later took us on a tour around the area with his teenage children. This was our first introduction to the Tasmanian countryside. We particularly enjoyed it, as we didn't need to mingle with the traffic that - English might not agree - drives on the "wrong side" of the road here...
Later on when renting a car, we still needed enough concentration, as the gear stick and dashboard equipments were on the side opposite to what we were used to.
When going out on a discovery tour of the island, we were quite
lucky with the weather, as the sun appeared for a few hours every day. The hills
were green with sheep and cattle grazing, and with big eucalyptus, or gum trees
everywhere. Driving up the east coast, we visited beautiful
Turning inland, towards Launceston, we passed through a very nice area of rainforest with big mossy trees and tree fern.
Launceston was a very pretty little town with many beautiful old-fashioned houses. After another night in a hostel, we drove along highland-lakes into the mountains. It was drizzling, but as soon as we came up to higher altitudes, we drove into thick fog. That was a pity, as there were many special plants growing and we could hardly see a thing. We would have liked to go to other mountains but with this fog, it was just not worthwhile and so we headed south to Bothwell, which was below the clouds. In this village we were being comforted as we got to taste some real good (yummy) and freshly made Aussie-pies, of the kind that probably made them famous but are so hard to find today.
After another two days in
Only now, temperatures rose above 20 degrees and we finally got a chance to wash our long sleeve jumpers and trousers. People started to wear light summer clothing, exposing often wobbly figures. It wasn’t only the big international fast-food chains that make big business here. No, here the same burger- and deep fried stuff is labeled "proudly Australian owned and operated" by small businesses that, however, do not serve any healthy food at all. To cover the needs of the second biggest nation after the US - in terms of overweight, we mean - even the most ordinary department store sells cloths in sizes XL up to 8XL (meaning: XXXXXXXXL) Sure, people try to fight their kilos, concentrating on artificial low-fat products, to calm their conscience, instead of avoiding their beloved greasy fish and chips or battered nuggets and burgers. The industry replies swiftly by advertising not only fat-free yogurt, but also: fruit jam, fruit-shakes or sorbet ice cream, as being 99%-100% fat-free! The 70% of sugar-content are not mentioned at all...
After checking out a 5 km stretch of car-yards (on foot) in
Now we called Zebet and Peter, an
Australian couple we had met 12 years ago on a camping in the
We and our witch were leaving
Our luggage looked so tiny in the big booth, until we stopped by at that big shopping center, when this changed after we came out with some boxes for our kitchen-stuff plus some more camping gear.
We drove south along the
Along lonely roads, we drove through farmland around
We stayed for 5 days at Sunland,a naturist camping owned by an English expat couple. It was situated near the beach, 500 meters behind some very scenic sand dunes. At that time, it wasn’t busy at all and therefore every evening lots of Kangaroos came in, grazing sometimes right in front of our on-site van. It seems that there would have been lots of wombats around, as the amount of new droppings every day was surprising. Unfortunately, we never could spot one of these animals the Aussies call "rocks on four legs". These marsupials are about the size of a small pig but rather look like a little bear, as they are very heavy (up to 30kg) and furry. They have their pouch opening towards their rear legs, as they dig big burrows into the ground to live in.
However, the specie we did encounter more often than desired, was the royal Australian fly. They tended to follow us in swarms and their favorite spots of landing were our eyes, mouth and nose. Some "only" rode on our backs, which was less annoying than those on our "sensitive parts". To get rid of them, we were constantly waving our hands, which is said to be the typical Australian greeting. The walk down to the beach was a real highlight, leading through bushland out across a dried up lake and over the sand dunes, the biggest of which was called "big Bertha". The colour of the water was astonishing in such a bright blue. We were the only ones at the beach, apart from some 4WD vehicle passing by on a Safari on Sunday. A month later, this would have been very different here; we were told that Sunland was fully booked for X-Mas /New Year, but for the moment neither the jacuzzi nor the sauna were heated in the clubhouse.
We continued 400 km northwards to Halls Gap in the middle of
the Grampians National Park . As the first two
Backpackers places were booked out, we tried our luck in a Bed and
Breakfast, advertising on the road. As B&B´s
usually are very expensive in
Of course, we went out hiking to discover the wonders the ranges
had to offer, one is even called "the wonderland range" and
there were many spectacular lookouts to admire the view down to the valley and
over some lakes. There were many stunning rock formations and plenty of
waterfalls. In the end, we stayed much longer than we had intended to
and so we met the two crazy girls from
We left the Grampians towards the coast to enjoy the beauty of the famous Great Ocean Road. Although it was misty and rainy at some places, it was wonderful to see this truly astonishing part of Australian coastline again. As this is one of the big "must see's", we found ourselves suddenly among flocks of overseas tourists that were also "view-point hopping" either by coach, rental car, bike or as we do: with a car purchased for their trip around the 5th continent. Millions of pictures are taken here every year of these countless sandstone formations that are merely just rocks left standing in front of the cliffs, the most famous group of them being called "the 12 Apostles"
As the road led to Melbourne, we couldn’t resist to visit this beautiful city again. It was
just great to dive into this very lively blend of southern European and Asian
culture once more, that had amazed us so much 5
weeks ago. We burnt lots of calories by exploring the city on foot, so we
didn’t need to have a bad conscience about savouring its culinary delights
whenever we felt hungry. Apparently, a survey voted Melbourne and
Vancouver as the two best towns to live worldwide. They both have striking
similarities, especially with regards to its strong Asian influence.
We are convinced this made all the difference. Twelve years ago, the Aussies
were almost afraid to let too many immigrants from
After 4 days, we drove north to the gold mining town of Bendigo, which was a charming old town. Old for Aussi standard, since the gold rush started in 1860. There are still various mines being worked today, probably drilling out more gold than ever, but of course not with low scale methods as the first diggers had.
Only 1½ hours north, we reached Echuca, which once had
We stayed twenty kilometers out of town at River Valley Naturist Resort. This was a very nice place on the knee of a river. It was the 15.12.04 and we were almost the only ones on the grounds, although the owners assured us, there would be 500 people by the end of the month. It seems that Australians seldom holiday between peak-seasons, except on long weekends and we wonder whether there would be more encouragement, if there would be a bigger difference between low- and high season-rates, as we noticed, there is often no difference at all, or if it comes high, up to 20%, not like in Europe, where it can be up to 500%.
We rented a caravan, who was in pretty good shape, but for tall
people as us, the bed was far too small as in most caravans. As it was one
of only two big commercial camps all over OZ (both are for sale by the way),
they had about 25 rental units and lots of camping space, but all
were cramped together too close we felt.
As the weather spoiled us, we jumped in the pool very often and
as X-Mas was approaching, the forecasted crowd
suddenly rushed in and therefore now also the shop, sauna and spa were
operating. On Christmas day, we were invited by the club members to a communal
lunch under the shady trees. We and also the other tourists, which came from
On this place, we didn't see too much wildlife, except from many colourful birds. But there were the Royal Australian Mossies. They were not big in numbers, but in size! Often when we sent one to heaven, (our?) blood was splashing in drops all around, that huge they had been.
After two weeks at
For New Year's Eve, three big roasts were put on a spit,
distributing an irresistibly nice smell all afternoon. For $10 a head, we had a
very delicious meal with 90 other people, celebrating the start of 2005. After
the weather had been very warm for the last few weeks, we suddenly needed
umbrellas and heater. Because of Helios' location in the
Upon leaving Helios, we drove north-east towards the mountains.
We stayed two nights in Bright,
which attracts many skiers during the winter months of June - September. From
there, we explored Mount Buffalo, which had many nice lookouts and natural wonders like balancing rocks. Along the
alpine way, we passed various artificial lakes, slowly moving up to the highest
area of the fifth continent. Leaving Victoria, we came into New South Wales
Territory on a road that requires snow-chains during winter, as it passes
very near Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko with an altitude of 2'228 m.
Overnight, we stayed at Jindabyne, an purposely built ski resort town on
an artificial lake. By chance, we found this Thai restaurant that only just
opened that very day. Although it didn't look too inviting, we gave it a
try, as all the other affordable restaurants we found, served
only "fast-food". Surprise, surprise: we were served by far the
best Thai food since we left
We continued our trip, visiting Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
As the two biggest cities Melbourne and Sydney had not been able to agree
which one should become the capital, the federal government had decided in 1908
As it seemed that all the youth hostels were booked out, we got a room at the Hotel "Formule 1", which was introduced on this continent recently by the French Accor Hotel chain. It really looked alike its counterparts in Europe but for one thing we noticed, they had to adjust to the local habits: Instead of offering a discounted yummy set-meal at a nearby restaurant, here they had installed a machine which dispensed yucky factory processed food packets that only needed to be heated up in the microwave that stood next to it.
On a highway, we whistled ourselves to Sydney, which took us less than three hours. We stayed at one of the many Backpacker's places in the red light district of Kings Cross and we even managed to find free parking in the city center. Internet access was dirt-cheap; some cyber-café's asked for no more than $ 2 (€ 1.20) flat rate for unlimited access. That meant, the budget conscious traveller could use the computer until he fell off the chair - many places remained open 24 hours.
We loved the stroll around the Opera-House, the port area, the harbour bridge and touristy Darling-harbour and
Not far from there, we visited a second family we knew from out
last trip. Louise and Rob and their children that now are no children
anymore. We had visited them in
Continuing our way, we followed a pretty river, which we crossed
at Wieseman Ferry point. As this winding route
took much longer than the Lady at the tourist office had predicted, we stopped
at nightfall in the country town of
We drove along the coastal road up to
Although the weather forecast predicted some more rain, as we had had during the last week, we decided to go to Twin Falls Nature Retreat a Naturist resort not far inland. A couple in our age runs it very personally: Chinese born Yü Jng, alias Yolanda and her Australian husband Ian. They offer B&B, Homestay accommodation, plus for those who want to be closer to nature: camping or a big cabin that formerly was a shed. It was situated near the swimming pool and the covered BBQ. We took that cabin to have a bit of bush adventure, but we did not imagine how much we would be in it! To watch the abundant wildlife wasn't only possible around that hut but also inside. As we were the only guests, we thought we would have a relaxing time, but every few hours we were busy running after a new kind of animal, either to watch and picture it, or to chase it out of our cottage, which still had many possibilities for them to sneak in, as renovation wasn’t fully completed then. Daily, we came across some new species, but the most numerous were the Wallabies, which actually look like little Kangaroos. Dozens of them were grazing around the cabin every morning and evening. When we went for a stroll in the forest, we quickly learned, that we should at least wear some hiking boots, as we were greeted enthusiastically by dozens of leeches that preyed on our blood, now so shortly after the rain. Another day, a small snake was on the pursuit of a mouse, just outside our door - after we showed a picture of our visitor to Ian, we learned that it was a young venomenous snake that could grow up to two meters - at least it had remained outside. A Possum, a mouse and a rat came regularly to check whether they could find our food and some big spiders called this cabin their home before we moved in. Not so a 40 cm long Lizard that crossed the cabin as a morning exercise. Some even bigger and fatter Lizards and a 2½ m long Goanna could be seen just around the lawn. Another morning, we found two Goannas fighting hard for the good bits of a dead wallaby. The whole cycle of catch and prey could be seen at this true nature and naturist retreat.
As our kitchen was outside under the roof, we stored some food in our car. So, one morning, when opening the trunk, a little frog was jumping in out of nowhere, probably to inspect it.
Our hosts Yolanda and Ian invited us regularly to socialise on
their veranda. In
Those who didn't want to cook by themselves could also
order "nude breakfast, lunch or dinner" from the menu. Dinner
was always served on the family table and Yolanda’s original Chinese cooking
was just superb, it was really worthwhile to invest in a freshly cooked
banquet-dinner. No wonder that some guests return just for a "nude
dinner"! Unfortunately, as we had to eat the food we had brought in from
the supermarket 40 km away, we could profit only once, from what was probably
the world's only nude Chinese Restaurant. We truly enjoyed our stay at
(*to us Vegemite is equally horrible to Marmite, but Aussies claim it's much better - religiously).
Ian tries to compile a complete listing of all Australian
naturist retreats and clubs, which would be pretty helpful for the many
overseas visitors. At present, the INF guide lists 30 clubs and resorts, and
the ANF (Australian Naturist Federation)-leaflet and
Website counts 48, but in fact the real number is probably closer to
80 as on every place we have been, we found out about some more. Most seem to
be naturally situated in year-round warm
Continuing our way, we did an inland loop through the
As this tour to the nude beach was held on Tuesday, we couldn't contribute, as we arrived on a Wednesday.
All of the pictures were done in a very artistic way and all would qualify as front cover for the Australian Naturist Magazine (TAN). As that magazine is being sold on newsstands, nipples and genitals are banned to show on the front cover. And so are those pictures in the youth hostel - but certainly more artistic - we found. They would qualify for a nude art exhibition. Unbelievable as it is, this backpacker’s accommodation was certainly more successful in leading people to discover nudism than most of the Australian naturist resorts and clubs, which were normally quite lonely.
Leaving Bellingen, we noticed many tropical trees with big flowers and those flies that had annoyed us all the time before were not around here anymore. Up here, good summer weather was stable again with temperatures around 30 degrees but traffic info radio announced that the roads in the snowy mountains 1'000 km south had to be closed due to heavy snowfall in the midst of summer (on 2.2.05) and barely two weeks after we had been there - staying in an air conditioned room, as it was quite hot then.
Coming back to the coast around
Our next stop was at surprisingly bustling touristy Byron-Bay. This village makes a fortune because of it's long sandy beach, the surf and it's reputation of being alternative. It isn't a place where hippies grow their own vegetable and smoke a joint as we heard is common in neighbouring Nimbin and Lismore. By the way: several operators offer tours just to see the "Weirdo’s" in Nimbin.
Byron is rather the place where uncountable little businesses try to make money out of alternative lifestyles. Probably over 100 practitioners offered courses and healing sessions like Reiki, Yoga, Tarot and Tantra. Spiritual healing-sittings were available in such a variety and density, that it looked to us, as if according to their advertisements they expected everybody to have some problem to solve, but probably the few ones who really needed help were left out, because they might not have been able to afford these rather expensive healing sessions.
Byron was also the place to be for the young party-folks and
therefore, accommodation was plentiful but scarce when we were there. We phoned
15 places and still had to change hostels three times, as we liked to stay for
a week. Finally we managed to stay right behind
For a whole week we enjoyed carefree beach life on Belongil, a legal nude beach, situated just in front of some housing developments which probably helped to keep gawks away. As we were shortly before the Queensland border, we wanted to take advantage of the clear warm water still, as the self proclaimed sunshine state is Australia's only state that does not allow legal nude beaches. In the rest of the country you never had to go far to find one. A second reason was the fact that further north various small jellyfish pose a deadly danger to bathers along the shore from November till April. Some are only as big as a thimble but have tentacles as long as 7 meters, which they can roll out of their body. If they sting you, you'll die quicker than you can write your last will!
We took the hurdle and left the area of the "Mexicans" as the Queenslanders call the people south of their borders. In return, Queenslanders are known as "banana benders"...
Our trip continued to Elephant Rock, a naturist camp run by Sue and her Estonian born husband Jaak. This place had 6 moderately priced rooms ($ 65) all with en suite facilities plus about a dozen campsites. There was a big communal area with lounge, kitchen and internet, where everybody gathered to cook and eat or enjoy the perculated coffee which was being provided. Here, they also served the meals for those who preferred that Sue did the cooking for them. As the pool and spa were situated on a slope, a big wooden veranda was surrounding it, making plenty of space for deckchairs, other garden furniture and space to linger around and mingle with other guests. As they fed the wild parrots there, we got a chance to see and picture the very colourful King Parrot and Rainbow Lorikeet. During the day, some Goannas and in the evening some frogs and toads came visiting.
Elephant Rock was set in the bush on the foot of an elephant shaped hill and there were some nature walks around the property.
As we meanwhile had gotten used to how lonely Australian naturist sites often are, it was a surprise to us that during the one week we stayed, we had the place only for two days all to ourselves. On the weeked, there were even 10 other guests, enough to have a boule competition.
Also here, we had some very nice talks to the owners, and they were so kind to let us use their private computer and oven so we could bake some bread.
From there, we headed to Brisbane diving for 4 days into city life. This fast growing state capital was situated along a riverbend. It wasn't particularly special, neither good nor bad - just another b.f. city, as the Australians would say, in which most streets were named after some English Royals.
The Australian continent is very big, in fact much bigger than
Most Aussies love the beach, the sun and the outdoors, however they are not particularly active and many are couch potatoes resulting in 60% of the population obese or overweight. They love "barbies", (BBQ), with lots of meat but despite the fact that most of the cities are dotted along Australians 36'735 km of coastline, they rarely eat fish, except if it's concealed as "Fish & Chips". Fresh fish was hard to find and it usually had been frozen fillets, when sold in the supermarket.
As a multicultural society, the Aussies are also very tolerant and very easy going.
Everybody likes to party but in order to get pissed (drunk), the bars and clubs often imposed strict dress codes, as no singlets and no thongs. Even in the towns, people could often be seen walking in thongs or barefoot. Do you like a sample how the Aussies use their slang? "When OZ Sheilas and Blokes have washed their ratshit (lousy) tucker (food) down with too much piss (beer), they fear the booze bus (alcohol breath testing unit) but still greet the cop with a grin "G'day mate". Australians also like to surf and the beginners are called "shark biscuits" and "no humbugging" signs mean no begging for food and drink allowed. Aussies also like to brag with superlatives. In Brisbane we stayed once more in "Australia’s best Backpacker's Resort, passed the chain store who advertised it's "rat coffins" (beef pies) as 'the best pies in the world', a secondhand dealer tried to sell his 'moving shit' (Holden) cars as 'the best cars on the planet' and a bakery chain sold it's crap as the 'best bread in the world'. Just bad luck for them that there was often a Vietnamese bakery just around the corner that sold much cheaper and for our taste also much better crusty French-type breads, croissants and pastries!
On sentimental reasons, Brigitte wished to go back to
Our next stay was 5 days at Savannah Park Nudist Resort, near Yeppon. It had only been built five years ago by Heather
and Trevor, a couple from
There were also 3 km of bushwalks during which we noticed termites that built their giant housing units in the trees, bringing all the mud up and glue it to some branches. Then, there was a type of green ants that plied and glued leaves together on the branch and built their nest about the size of a grapefruit.
On our way north, we passed by some very large sugar cane fields
again. This is another plant that takes advantage of northern
Our next home away from home was at Goodys, another
small naturist retreat in Sarina about 30 km south of Mackay. The owners Sandra
a Pom (English) and Allan, a Kiwi (New Zealander) made us very welcome.
They had a very nice swimming pool which superbly overlooks the
surrounding hills. The clubhouse next to it had a lounge, pool table, a
communal kitchen and BBQ area. As accommodation options, they offered camping
and on site caravans all with nice covered verandas with concrete floors and
garden furniture. We opted to pay $ 10 more and rented the 'deluxe
caravan' and this was really a worthwhile decision. Apart from a bigger bed and
AC, this van had something which is very important to us and we hadn't
seen in any naturist accommodation we stayed at Down Under: proper cooking
facilities. Next to the microwave which is standard equipment, there was
really a full gas stove with 4 hot plates and an oven. We just loved it! Less
luxury but very unique was the sanitary block; an experience not to be missed.
It used to be a "pig pen", which was renovated and converted in a way
that you could still see the pigs compartments that
today contain toilets, showers and handbassins. All
was clean but sometimes the loo's were occupied by
frogs, as seen elsewhere in
Goody's was not as isolated as most others - it was situated in the midst of a small hamlet and therefore especially the area where they kept their four cows and where they had their little fruit orchard plus a pond with some ducks, was within sight of some neighbours houses. We were really impressed about the openness of Sandra & Allan, who are new to this hamlet and how they managed to share their philosophy of life and nude style of living with these neighbours. Instead of fencing their property off (difficult on a hillside) they invited the people of the 40 closest houses to a BBQ, which was to become "cloths optional" after 4 pm. Eight families turned up and nobody left after the meal. Exactly at 4 o'clock the first neighbour stripped off and headed for the pool. All others followed so quickly, Sandra and Allan were apparently so baffled; they said they were the last ones to take their cloths off. Since then, more and more neighbours joined in, adults and children, bringing their friends along regularly for a few hours of leisure time.
Allan works as a school bus driver and Sandra at the local doctors, and everybody knows they are "nudies" and nobody seems to have a problem with this. So we were joking, they could soon put up a sign "nude community" at the entrance of the village.
We stayed for a week and were the only overnight guests, but especially on Sat./Sun. it got quite busy, mainly by these newly converted people from the neighbourhood. Nudity became that normal to them, that when we asked Sandra & Allan to be in a picture with us, all the others spontaneously volunteered to join in as well. Another pleasant experience we had thanks to Marcus, one of the neighbours who showed us his adjoining property, a big piece of meadows and rainforest. He and his partner Janine, had bought it spontaneously after their first visit to Goody's. First, he drove us up in a 4WD through 2½meter high grassland to a viewpoint and later we were guided to the rainforest, making our way up a dry riverbed to see some waterholes and impressive strangler fig trees. Of course, as a real Aussie, he purposely tried to find all these scary animals, the fearful tourist tries to avoid. And he succeeded: he showed us big spiders and a scorpion that had been hiding under a stone.
When we left Goody's, we got some starfruits and grapefruit to take along as a last sweat memory.
Only 200 km north, we reached Taylorwood, which was easy to find, since they posted
huge signs on the road leading into
Uns ist auch aufgefallen, wie die Leute hier oft über ihre "winterfesten Feriengäste" aus australiens südlichen Staaten, Neuseeland, Europa oder Nordamerika lächeln. Für die Queensländer, ist es einfach unvorstellbar, mitten im Winter in ein ungeheiztes Schwimmbecken zu springen. Für die Gäste aus den weniger sommerverwöhnten Regionen der Welt, ist auch im australischen Winter ein Bad im erfrischenden Nass eine willkommene Abkühlung; wie kalt "eiskalt" ist, ist eben relativ.
We were a bit puzzled when we heard some shooting at night and
the next morning we learned that the owner was after some goannas or snakes in
order to protect their and their guests pet-birds.
The owners who have previously lived in
One afternoon, we visited
After passing again endless sugar plantations, we stopped right
Oh no, it is not really a business! In
There were plenty of new little resorts opening up all the time, and often those who were not designed to make any money survived, but many others were up for sale or just disappeared after one or two years, as the owners get too old or realise that more money goes out than in and so they feel it's just not worth the effort.
We feel also, that naturism Down Under is pretty accepted, but
not popular at all! Australians seem to prefer to go to nude beaches only,
which are abundant all around urbanized areas, except in conservative
On the other hand, contrary to
But let's go back to Murrigal: Here both partners work full time and five years ago, when they decided to use the 4 acres of garden around their family home as a naturist camping, they added a big swimming pool, five on-site caravans and a cabin. Further, they built a big covered communal area, where they now also barbecue or cook on the wood fired stove every night for themselves and their children, of which they had 5. Jenny and Archie tried hard to attract also people who had not yet been naturists, so they advertised in the local paper, the tourist office and in a backpacker’s magazine.
Jenny and Archie were real Aussie Characters. When we first phoned, every question we've asked was answered by "we will look after you Mate". Now we experienced how much they looked after us; we were spoilt in every respect! Jenny baked lovely scones in the wood-stove oven, tea and coffee was not only provided, it was even prepared. More often than not, Archie also washed our dirty dishes - but we can't promise he will do it for everyone in the future!
As we were now in
Although Murrigal was situated
between the road and the railway line, we didn't have a problem with noise, since
up here there was not much traffic up there. The prices for their on-site vans
were all very low and at the moment they were building some more cabins.
We were now not surprised anymore, that the carpenter that helped constructing,
regularly drove the 40 meters to the house by car. In
On a dry and partly sunny day, we had a wonderful outing to
After whistling ourselves 160 km up along dry roads, which
had floodwater standing on both sides, we reached Cairns.
This town is a pretty touristy place which many people use as a base
for trips out to the Great Barrier Reef, where they go snorkeling or scuba
diving. Apart from many places that sold tourist kitsch, there were also many
luxury boutiques and gem stores that often aimed at rich Asian tourists. Not
all the personnel spoke English as Japanese and Chinese were on higher demand.
They were responding to the advertising that was heavily pushed by the
Australian Tourist Authority, which realised the
big potential these markets bare. They were aiming mainly at
the densely populated countries, as
Cairns is touristy, but the city
has a charming feel.
Also we could take advantage of the exagerated tourist-industry. So, we dined in Restaurants from all over the world and got some crusty and dense bread or pastry from the Swiss and Austrian bakeries.
We were still very lucky with the weather, a cyclone warning had
passed 1 week ago and there was over 700 mm of rain coming down just before we
arrived. In good weather we strolled along the newly built boardwalk above the
swampy beach in front of
Skin cancer was also a big problem here. It was hard to find a sun blocker with a factor less than 30. Although many Aussies had a little suntan, not like 12 years ago, when all tourists were tanned and all the locals were white as snow, giving them no protection and if they were occasionally kissed by a sunray, they turned red immediately. In Tasmania, the government even passed a new law that school children have to walk in the sun for 20 minutes each day (if it shines at all) as their over-protection from the sun resulted in a proven lack of vitamin D. As some movement is also pretty healthy, the government killed two birds with one stone.
During our travels up the east-coast, we mentioned on various nudist places, that we had booked at the "White Cockatoo" in Mossman, which is run as a nudist resort between October and May, but is a textile place during the other half of the year. Whenever we said that we were going there, we always got a meaningful smile and the comment "wondering what you will think about that place"...
On March 20, 2005 we arrived at the ¡±White Cockatoo" that is run by Lenore and Tony Fox. It was by far the most expensive resort we have stayed at, but we paid for a week getting the rate down from 89 to 75 Dollars. Our first impression was very good, as they had nice bungalows and a beautiful garden and pool, and all within walking distance of Mossman with Woolworth, Bakery, Banks, Restaurants and more.
After reading on their information-leaflet: "please join us
for Happy Hour drinks by the pool or in the bar 5-6 pm daily, where you can
enjoy discounted beer, wine and spirits...¡± we asked Lenore whether soft
drinks were also discounted. She answered No, as she thinks soft drinks that
sell for $ 2.50 (What we paid in most places in
After about one hour, Tony the owner, took Heinz aside and said that to him, it was provocative, that we didn¡¯t order anything to drink. He repeated what his wife had said and got quite angry after Heinz said, he felt it was not fair to only discount alcoholic drinks but not soft drinks. The quarrel went on and Tony said that if we were not supporting his business and behave according to his rules, he can no longer give us internet access, bicycle use and other services like airport transfer etc. All these were freebee¡¯s advertised on their website. Getting even louder, he said something like "you can put on the internet that I am an asshole, but anyway, I don¡¯t like guests like you at all!".
Under these circumstances, we decided to leave the next morning but Lenore refused to refund all the prepaid nights, declaring that if it was OUR decision to leave early, she would generously charge us only one night¡¯s cancellation fee instead of two, which was 89 Dollars, the same price she now charged for the two nights we had stayed. No way, she would discuss the matter and after she had asked us four times, whether we would "accept her offer", we felt pressured to do so, as we were afraid, she wouldn¡¯t refund anything at all otherwise.
A few weeks later, we joined a function with some other naturists, during which we came to talk of the "WC" again. There were many stories about that place going around about an unaccountable number of reasons, why an arrogant Tony Fox got out of control and insulted his guests. We even heard about some cases, where he threw them out not verbally only.
After we wrote about our only bad naturist experience we ever had to a local naturist magazine, we got the following reply: "Unfortunately, your story is not unique. I have had dozens and dozens of similar complaints about White Cockatoo over the past 12 months. I will have to check the legality of publishing your letter, but it does seem like a necessary story to tell to warn others".
Apparently, some nudist places around Cairns were considering sending Tony&Lenore Fox a bunch of flowers, to thank them for all the many guests they received, after one or two nights at the "White Cockatoo", escaping with yet another story why they didn¡¯t stay.
After escaping from the W.C. (White Cockatoo), the only bad
naturist experience we ever had, we found shelter at Muzlil
Muzlil is Lillian & Murray's place, they
have a nice house in a quiet residential area and they rent out their new
"granny flat" in their back yard. After our phonecall,
they hastily finished the tailing of the big patio, so they could accommodate
us. As common for most new housing areas in
So, on April 28, 05, we were back in Australia and got another 6 months entry permit
stamped in our passports. When fetching our luggage, sniffer-dogs
were checking whether we were bringing fruit or vegetable into the country and
later on, a customs-clerk gave us a content smile, when he was checking whether
there was dirt on our hiking boots. He didn't get us with that! We knew how
Restrictions of bringing fruit, vegetable and dirty gear apply even between some Australian states.
From the airport, we took a taxi to Lillian & Murray's place, where we arrived at midnight. We found a lovely note on the table saying, "welcome home" and a fridge full with breakfast items. How nice of them. The next morning, they "delivered" our car that had been stored at their son's place. As it had rained a lot during the time we were away (see?), our car looked as washed, but soon we discovered, storing a car in tropical climate can be a tricky matter. When we opened the doors, there were several little frogs and gecko's hiding in the gap's and they immediately took the chance to jump not out, but in, giving us some exercise chasing them. Opening the trunk, we found quite a few of our stored belongings covered in grey fungus. So we had something to do now.
Whenever there is a naturist event taking place in the
surrounding, Lillian and
That outing was held at Emu-Creek
Holiday Station a giant working cattle station on the way to Chillagoe, 2¨ù hours drive
Station is the real Australian outback: beautiful red soil, dry grass and
termite hills, bigger than man. The many Eucalyptus trees smell very intense
after the occasional rain. Depending on the season, Emu
creek that flows through the property, can become a torrent fast moving river
or reduce itself to a band of a few waterholes that are not connected anymore.
When the water level rises, it may have rained somewhere else only. It is unbelievable
how dry the land is out there, especially as
It would have been absolutely worthwhile to go to Emu Creek Holiday Station just for its scenery
alone, but it was twice as interesting to meet all the members of the Barrier
Reef Sun club for their function. We were amazed to find ourselves amongst
60 people and we had never before seen so many nudists together in
In the afternoon, the club organized cricket and croquet games, plus in the evening and morning various jummy communal meals for which every hungry mouth paid a contribution, in order to raise funds. The same was the intention of a raffle and quiz that earned the winners a price. As most of the questions were about Australian TV and sports, we were of no help at all, our only contribution was to name our group "Roving Spirits". More than half of the members we met, were born overseas but they were all Aussies by now. There was a relaxed atmosphere where people sat and talked together under the shady trees and those who preferred, could go for a walk or enjoy to sit on their campsite. As it got cooler here at night than down on the coast, the owners lit a bonfire and those who wished gathered around in a circle, continuing to exchange stories. A fair share of them had been on European naturist grounds and what surprised us even more: we talked to 7 club members, that had been working on some Pacific islands. It was a big bunch of very interesting people coming of all walks of life.
On Monday afternoon, we left with many happy memories, back to Lillian & Murray's place in
It was just the perfect place for us, where we based ourselves again for the next three weeks in their beautiful "granny flat". After intense travelling, it was just great to have the privacy of an own studio-apartment with such a big covered patio and the best of all: we didn't need to wear clothies and all this, only 10 Min. drive away from downtown Cairns, with all its cyber cafe¡¯s, Restaurants and Swiss Bakeries.
Here we caught up with our travel diary about our Micronesia
trip and completed our story for Naturist Life, so there was not too much time
to relax, although you might think, that's all we do anyway. Another thing we
were not too lazy to do, was baking our own bread up. Often we made it right
from scratch and sometimes we baked some dough we had bought in the
supermarket. Thanks to Lillian and
One weekend, we drove up to Kuranda, where the Barrier Reef Sun Club has their facilities and we enjoyed meeting the members again. The club has a big lawn and a river flows through the forest, which is also part of the property. There was a very nice and well equipped open-sided clubhouse. Electricity is produced by solar power and if the batteries are fully loaded, they are capable of running the 240 V neon lights in the clubhouse and the also very nice amenities bloc for 40 hours. Hot water for the showers was made with an open fire underneath a water filled barrel. The hot water pipe runs in several loops through that hot water in the barrel, before reaching the shower. The Aussies are really "clever Vegemites"! We truly enjoyed it to visit the club and chat to the hospitable bares again.
During our stay, the Australian Radio ABC, came to Lillian & Murray¡¯s house for an interview with some of the members of Barrier Reef Sun Club. The members promote that way naturism among the younger Australians, which certainly is a good thing. The interview was recorded in the morning, and already on the same afternoon we could listen to Lillian, Margie and Dave¡¯s voice on ABC, they did a very good job!
We had some cooking evenings with Lillian & Murray and we also got invited by some new friends we had made at Emu Creek. Margie & Neil were so generous to let us use their computer to edit our photographs and we got even invited for dinner.
Another evening, we went to Pat & Dave's Kaikea Bed & Breakfast, 25 minutes
... and after Dave finally managed to convince the skipper to run the nude sailing cruise even if only Tineke and Wim, the Dutch couple who stayed at Kaikea and the tow of us participated, we couldn't resist to prolong our stay.
By the time the boat lifted anchor, also Glennys & Peter, Margarit and Dave himself, all members of the Barrier Reef Sun Club, spontaneously joined in. So we were a group of eight sharing this experience with Cherryl and Bob, the owners and skippers of the 13,5 m yacht called "Bittersweet", for whom it was the first time they run a sailing cruise with nudies. But they didn't get distracted by their unclad crowd and still steered the boat very professionally.
It was a blue sunny day but on the way out, the sea was a bit
rougher than normal, so Heinz felt the urge to feed the fish but all the others
were all right. Whilst enjoying some muffins and tea we
approached a tiny sand island in three hours under full sail. There was
time to snorkel on the
Dave from Kaikea, who had organized this nude cruise and also Glennys, had a different opinion about BYO, so both brought big skies (iceboxes) containing food enough to easily feed more than just the 10 people on board. Those who still could move after that big unexpected feast, were afterwards brought to the little sand island by dinghy.
After another hour, the "Bittersweet" set sail again
and we were gliding back to
|Osten: Adelaide -> Sydney -> Cairns||
|Photos: Australia the West||More about Australia: chapter 16|
To us, by far the best, is the North und the West
Presently, we were at the top of
But now, we are going to explore that 80% of this giant
continent, which is only inhabited by about 11% of it's population, almost 1.5
Million in Perth, and the other 700¡¯000 literally doted over a sparsely
populated landmass consisting of Western Australia (33% land, 1.9 Mio.
people), the Northern Territories (20% land, 200¡¯000 people) and the very
sparsely populated western parts of Queensland and South Australia. We¡¯re going to the red center and the coastal stretch from
This is the most unique part of the
country; the giant section tourists think this is the true
This is the land of their dreamtime, the land of their holy sites Uluru und Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock und the Olga¡¯s), Ubirr Rock in Kakadu, Purnululu (Bungle Bungle¡¯s) and some other great National Parks, many also with a strong spiritual meaning to Australia¡¯s Indigenous people.
This is also the land of the never ever, lonely stretches of road through the "middle of nowhere" with giant road trains with three trailers thundering along streets with no bending for hundreds of kilometres and remote mining communities that dig up Australia's many natural resources. Here we'll find beautiful gorges, bottle trees that adjusted so well to the climate, that they store water in their trunk, wild flowers that survive almost without water and animals that migrate with the seasons. We will probably get close to emus, kangaroo's and even crocodiles. If this is the last time you hear from us, you might think we came too close.
As we like nature, this is the area; we loved the most on our last trip. But from a naturist point of view, it's not an area with many facilities. About 80 of the country's clubs and resorts are situated in proximity to the 4'500 Km stretch of coastal highway from Adelaide via Melbourne and Sydney up to Cairns (including the ones in Adelaide and Cairns), but we know only of 2 (two) along the much longer 10'500 Km stretch leading from Cairns via Darwin and Broome to Perth and then along the south coast via Albany and Esperance to Adelaide!
As we didn't want to stay in Lillian
& Murray's Granny flat until we reach that age, we finally moved on at the
end of May 2005. From
Only after the turnoff westwards to the Outback, we left them behind. Still, it was by far not as lonely as an over-anxious local had predicted. Instead of meeting one car every 5 days, we encountered about 10 fifty meter long Road-Trains and twice as many cars towing caravans within the first two hours. The first night out bush, we stayed in a swag-tent village at Undara, which is famous for its lava tubes. There were about 100 Tourists assembled for the night and most gathered around the bonfire, watching the slideshow offered by the resort. The city-guy conducting it obviously knew less about the animals he showed, than some of his audience. As the peak of the tourist season was still a month away, there was hope he would make use of the time for improvement.
On the next day, we continued west to
Normanton and then up to Karumba on the
Over big stretches, the road was only single-line sealed and therefore small vehicles as ours, had to drive to the side and leave the bitumen, when a big Road-Train came along. For them it would have taken so much more time to break and for us it was also safer, as they would only wrap us in a cloud of dust and flying stones, if they would need to go off the road with their 20+ left wheels.
We were amazed to see that today
Road-Trains often haul 4 trailers and in some states up to 6 are now permitted,
but most still towed three. On the populated east coast, you never see them at
all, only in the interior and in
Truck drivers told us that they hate the winter because then, many retired Australians from southern states take off with their caravans to spend the winter up north. They are often not very used to driving with the trailer, drive slow and hesitate to leave the bitumen to make space for the Road-Trains. As the truckies prefer to avoid encountering them, they often drive at night, when they only encounter big numbers of Kangaroos and cows on the road and this results in an incredible amount of road-kill. For many big birds the carcasses lining the road, provide such an easy prey, they often become victims as well while feasting too carelessly on the road, because sometimes there is no car approaching for an hour but sometimes there are 5 cars in 10 minutes.
The Norman River-mouth at Karumba is teeming with Barramundi Fish, so it's not surprising that many fishermen come to compete with the crocodiles to catch a "Barra".
This big fish, which is only allowed to take home if its size exceeds 75 cm, is not only delicious to eat; it is also a very unique specie. It can live in fresh- and in saltwater and if at sea, each male transforms himself into a female within only one month at the age of about 5 - 7 years and then lives on (more?) happily to about 20 years old.
There was a popular seafood restaurant that required booking, as it was usually full by 6:30 pm. After we had asked if it was possible to make a reservation for the next day at 8 pm, we were told that this is no problem any night, as only a few foreigners want to eat that late and all the others will leave by then.
As we couldn't get any reliable
information on the road condition of the unsealed section between Normanton and
Borroloola, we decided to detour via Cloncurry, Barkly Roadhouse and Tennant
Creek. On the first section till the
At Barkly Roadhouse, our tent which we had bought one year ago in Canada finally got the honour of being pitched up for the first time due to the fact that all cheap accommodation was already booked out - but it was a cold night!
In Tennant Creek there were three Backpackers Hostels, which was surprising for a small country-town in the middle of nowhere. Due to the construction of the new Adelaide-Darwin railway line, the village had grown to almost 4'000 inhabitants, many of which were of Aboriginal origin.
From there we visited "the Pebbles", red round rocks dotted around the landscape. They looked like a smaller, but still impressive version of the famous "Devils Marbles" 100 km to the south.
Having reached the very centre, we now turned north from Tennant Creek. Our next stop was at Daly Water Roadhouse, which stood alone but attracted many road-warriors with its campground, cheap beds, good food and nightly entertainment. It's original pub was decorated with items from all over the world, including walls covered with foreign banknotes, old horse bridle and bras hanging from the ceiling, giving proof of wild nights passed.
Deep fried chips, fish and chicken wings or burgers were still predominant all over the Australian countryside, but for those who preferred something healthier, the food-situation had greatly improved. Simple but hearty country-fare was now available almost everywhere - even here in the lonely Outback. Those pre-manufactured and triangle-packed sandwiches had almost disappeared from the shelves in favour of freshly custom made ones. We wonder, whether this might be influenced by the many Europeans coming here for a working holiday. They made up the majority of the workforce we've met in remote roadhouses. Daly Waters employed up to 13 young foreigners during their peak-season. The government now grants almost all Europeans, Canadians and Japanese or South Koreans below 26 years of age, a one year working-holiday permit. These allow the tourists to stay for 2 months on each job and they get now reasonably well paid. As the Aussi economy is booming anyway, the generous issuing of such working permits to young foreigners killed two birds with one stone, as seasonal jobs like in tourism or the fruit-growing industry can now be filled easily and the black market of illegal underpaid employment disappeared over night.
After the English, Scandinavian and German speakers; now also French, Italian and Spanish can often be found working in restaurants and it seems that they leave some of their culture on the plate; as we got served three times crusty baguettes in restaurants employing French "working-holidayers" and one fish & chips shop did even offer to serve its fish grilled, instead of battered and deep-fried only.
We noticed that Tourist-Offices today discourage non-4WD vehicles to use unsealed roads at all for fear to be held responsible. Twelve years ago, we were normally advised of how good or bad a road-condition was and if a dirt road was heavily corrugated, we were normally told to "fly over it" at 80 km/h and crossing a creek was daily business, even on sealed roads. To get adequate information you need to find some travellers who just drove along a road before you. This is just another example of how exaggerated product liability - here on services - works to the disadvantage of the majority.
Big signs marked the way to "Stuart Tree", which should have been a tourist attraction. What we found, was an fenced old tree stump with a sign reading: "The Explorer John Mc Douall Stuart is presumed to have carved the initial "S" on this tree on 23.05.1862 during his successful journey from Adelaide to Darwin ". Typical Australian historic attraction!
Our next stop was at Mataranka
Hotsprings, which is a real oasis in the otherwise dry and barren land.
Around the water, there was suddenly a jungle of tall greenery with many sand
palms and pandanus trees. Further north, we stayed in Katherine,
from where we visited Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park. There were 13
gorges separated from each other by rapids and carved out by the
Then we reached Kakadu
Today it's proven that the indigenous people suffered even more losses because the missionaries forced them to wear cloths which helped to spread disease even more, as they were not used to wash their cloths and the skin couldn't sweat the disease out anymore.
In the National Park and also elsewhere, controlled burning of the dry grass is now being carried out at the beginning of the dry season, as otherwise uncontrolled fires lit by lightening would destroy everything at the end of the dry season; flora and fauna and often also settlements. The Aboriginal people are right; fire is nothing, it's just cleaning up but it brings new life all over. Many times we have seen how quick patches that had been burned recently, turned green again and there was much more growth and animal life than in the old dry patches next to it. In a controlled and short fire (called cold fire), most animals can escape to nearby that are left to be burned next year. Those animals that can not escape soon become the fresh roast of those who survive.
Beginning of June, sunshine was almost
warranted and it was hard to believe that only two months ago most of the land
around us was part of one big flood-plain and therefore under water. Among the
many tours on offer in
On our barge in the Yellow Waters, we came through a beautiful Lilly pond behind which the tour guide found a way through a forest of big paperbark trees that were standing in knee deep water. She explained that this area will dry up very soon and all the animals will have to contend with just a few waterholes before the next wet season starts in November, and many will die when the water gets hot and evaporates altogether in the end. As it was about 35C hot during the day here, we tried to get up early and did various walks. We visited many viewpoints, walked through wetlands that had just dried up, around some billabongs that were beautifully fringed by carpets of white water flowers, up to some interesting rock formations and to rock-paintings where an Aboriginal Park Ranger explained the art.
After 3 days we moved on to
After four days in
Afterwards we went back to
Thereafter, we drove back to Katherine
and from there; we continued westwards passing through
Due to quarantine restrictions, there was a border check-point for traffic entering WA. They made sure that nobody carried fruit or vegetable and plants and they checked in particular that no cane toads hitched a ride on vehicles or camping gear. This introduced poisonous toad specie became already a pest in all the eastern states and it has caused many animals to die in water and on land due to its poison. People try to catch it and hold its spread and it is common practice to freeze them alive.
We based ourselves in Kununurra
for a few days and visited
What we considered the top highlight,
were our two visits to Keep River National Park just over the border
back in the
Further on, we stayed at Halls Creek,
which had a large Aboriginal
community. While we were checking in at the Motel, we watched an Aboriginal
taking an ice-cream and a frozen Kangaroo tail out of the same freezer and
asking for the price. The Thai lady that was a new employee at the counter,
looked at him in disbelief and asked: "really, you want to buy this?"
Then she looked at us, smiling all over her face. Then the Manager (from
Later, we saw two local foodstores selling the same item for $ 7 - 9, depending on its size. Obviously, in the outback white people have adapted to the local habits and demands of the indigenous population.
On the other hand, the Aboriginal imitate some of the bad habits of the white, like drinking too much. Unfortunately, their bodies have even more difficulties absorbing alcohol than already the bodies of the immigrants have and therefore they get in bad shape much quicker and deeper. Australian society rather accepts drunken whites than drunken blacks.
At least many elders of Aboriginal communities wanted to fend off the bad influence alcohol brought into their villages and therefore banned it, creating some peaceful "dry communities". Wouldn't it be a good idea to create dry villages for other people as well?
We continued to Fitzroy Crossing, where the roads divides to Windyana Gorge with an abundance of freshwater crocodiles sunbathing along it's sandy river. We were there on our last trip but unfortunately this time we couldn't make it as heavy rain damaged the unsealed road two weeks ago so badly, that 14 4WD vehicles and 2 tour busses had to be towed out. Re-grading of the road was not completed yet and so we had to continue straight to Derby.
Here we saw particularly many huge
termite mounds and also boab trees. The most pictured bottle tree is probably
"prison tree", because "it is assumed" that prisoners had
been locked into that hollow tree if they were being transferred to
On July 2, 2005 we arrived in Broome, which had become a popular beach-holiday destination. Therefore it was almost impossible to find accommodation in the middle of the Australian winter- and the European summer-school holidays. Even camp sites and dorm beds were solidly booked out for days and weeks. Today, even for some older Australians and Kiwis it became popular to book into dormitories, which they reserved six months ahead. After numerous phone calls, we finally were lucky because somebody had cancelled his cabin and so we could get it for a few days. Afterwards we could stay in a nice over-flow cabin on the same campground, so that we finally stayed for over 2 weeks.
Broome had become quite touristy, even though it was still a small village and "low key" in comparison to some beach resorts on the east coast, where high rise condominiums dominated the skyline. However, judging from the amount of flights you could believe otherwise. The busy airport was located almost in the middle of the village and the planes could be watched at close range from the mainroad and from the beach.
Everybody flocked to
Another special character was added by the daily camel rides for tourists.
We left Broome tanned in a kitschy
golden brown as our favourite cookies. Then we drove for 600 km through boring
flat country down to equally boring Port Hedland. As most residents now had moved to
Now, we went to visit Karijini National Park, for which we based ourselves at Auski Roadhouse. There were some amazing gorges carved into the hills, not visible from far away, so suddenly we stood on the rim and looked down. The national park department had made some gorges accessible by building steps down to the gorge-floor, where only little water flowed right now. We could follow the stream for kilometres on the flat stones beneath the red cliff walls.
The second day we walked along some little waterfalls that fed several green ponds on different levels, before reaching the dept of the gorge.
After that, we stopped in the mining
town of Tom Price.
This was only one of many places in the
For the third time, our witch had to hoover us 600 km further in one day to reach the next place, as there were only roadhouses in between. This time to Exmouth, which had been established only in 1967 to support a naval communication base. Today, however, it makes a living mainly with tourism, except the plumber who had the following slogan on his service vehicle: "your shit is our bread & butter".
The reason why Exmouth draws so many
tourists is the Ningaloo Reef, which is 250 km long and lies only
100 Meters off shore in some parts. The area is now declared a
As already on the way to Exmouth, we encountered again some Emus on the Caravan park, where we had rented a cabin. They quietly stalked through the grounds, inspecting if something interesting was lying around the tents, before disappearing in the bush again. At the tourist office, a lady explained that there was also a smaller bird very similar to the emu and this one is called Bustard - not Bastard!
About 50 km after leaving Exmouth, carpets of wild springflowers appeared on both sides of the road. First there were only blue Hoveas, a pea flower but later they mixed with white and yellow everlastings and the pink Schoenia. Heinz couldn't count how many times Brigitte wanted to stop and many other by passers did the same in admiration of nature's colourful display.
This area was around the Tropic of Capricorn, which meant the climate further south was not affected by dry- and wet season but got more moderate. It was also quite obvious how the landscape became greener and we could feel how we were approaching the winter as nights got quite chilly.
Next, we stayed at Carnarvon, a pleasant little town with lots of orchards and thus, tomatoes could be bought at 1 dollar per kilo instead of 7-10 as everywhere else.
We visited some impressive Blow holes a fair bit out of town. Especially at high tide and in stormy weather, the waves crushed on the cliff of the rock-plateau forcing their way up through some holes in the rock and appearing like cold geysirs in front of the astonished tourists.
On our way to Denham, we saw a "Thorny Devil", a little lizard-like animal with a thorny looking skin. This protected it from snakes that otherwise would be its predators, whereas he lives of ants.
Then we stayed in Denham,
which was a pleasant touristy seaside village on
Of course, we went also to Monkey Mia, where dolphins regularly appear on the beach. Each adult mammal got rewarded with up to 2 kg of fish per day. We learned that this is only a small snack from them, as they need to eat approx. 12-15 kg of fish each day. We were lucky to see two mothers and their calves and it seemed as if they were as curious to look at us, as we were to see them. On that same beach where the dolphins came in, we also saw quite a few big pelicans.
Shortly before reaching Kalbarri on August 1st, the landscape changed very suddenly from wild bushland to green hills and farmland with different flowers again.
Also Kalbarri had
become a popular seaside holiday destination and there was a very attractive
National Park by the same name (Kalbarri National Park) to be visited. Parts of it
lay inland around some gorges of
From one of the viewpoints, we could observe two Southern Right Whales playing in the river mouth about 150-200 m away. We heard, it was a mother with her small calf and that they had shown up regularly at that spot for a month now.
In Kalbarri, we could finally find a mechanic who was able to find the reason why our car started to shake at high speed. It had only taken him one hour to replace the part, but three days until it was delivered. However, the Mechanic's nerves were probably more stressed than ours, as the courier delivery failed in its first two attempts.
Six months ago, we'd discovered on the
pin-board at Elephant Rock a small note from somebody who intended to open a
naturist place in Geraldton.
We contacted the people by e-mail and now Olly and John welcomed us as their
very first guests at
We enjoyed their in-house accommodation and Olly's delicious home cooking after a good soak in their spa. So we had a wonderful time with this interesting couple who had dropped out in their late forties and who received us as if we were their longtime friends. Thanks to John's knowledge of wildflowers, which only just started springing up in this area as well, Brigitte got some valuable tips before we headed on to see some more.
Not too far from Geraldton, we were lucky to find the very rare and beautiful Wreath Flower that never grows two years in a row on the same spot. There were some locals admiring the signposted round patches as well and they told us they hadn't seen any here for 7 years.
Afterwards we drove along some pastoral
hills that were covered in wildflowers too, but on the coast and south of here,
not many flowers were out as yet. In the afternoon, we reached
But there are also plants and animals that eat each other entirely. On the property of Western Flora, the guide showed us three species of insect-eating plants which we wouldn't have noticed, as they were small and unspectacular in colour. However, after he'd put them under a microscope we could see the magnificent details and clever systems of how they attract prey and reminders of caught insects became clearly visible. Many insect-catching plants drown their victims in a sticky liquid before they suck them out as a spider would do it with its feast. Who thinks still that plants are no living beings? It's so obvious how they are an integrated part of the food-chain with the whole circle of catch and prey. Judging from how strongly a plant reacts on its environment, we believe that it has feelings, including well being and pain, but it is just not able to run off and scream as humans and other animals can.
Continuing our trip; we drove along the
coast down to Cervantes.
Further south, we climbed the huge and impressive white sand dunes of Lancelin, which were surprisingly close to houses. We had the hole dunes to ourselves and we loved to see the windmade sandpatterns with only our own footprints. But hordes of people come here for sand-boarding and the Aussies like to dash around the sand in their 4WD vehicles and motocross bikes, making the dunes look like abandoned skifields. Seems there must be good business in towing those who get bogged, as there was a fair share of advertising placed along the entrance by companies that offered to recover vehicles.
From there it was only 130 km till we
By the way:
During the 9 days we've spent in
Down in the south of
As we continued our trip on Aug. 18, 05
we made a small tour inland from
We then returned to the coast and stayed
two nights at Fremantle just south of
Driving along the coast, we were quite
amazed how populated this area became in the meantime. Apparently this is
From there we went hiking to Cape Naturaliste National Park, which offered beautiful views of the rugged coast and dozens of sealions could be watched from a view point high above on the cliff.
Continuing south, we explored the region
Overnight we stopped Walpole and Denmark. The little
As many parts of south
Very impressive was also the wide
variety of flora on the coastal hills. On approaching them, it always looked as
if there were only small bushes growing, but at closer examination, we
discovered that those were actually very different plants almost on every
lookout where we stopped. Many of them were now in blossom and there were
unusual flowers like the one that looks like Christmas candles on a pine-tree
branch or the sturdy coneflower of the various Banksias that consist of
hundreds of single flowers that make up one big "church candle".
Overnight, we ate and slept very well at Jerramungup, before heading out to Fitzgerald River National Park, which was only accessible on its western- and eastern parts. The centre is closed for the public, in order to contain a plant-disease called "dieback" and every visitor is asked to clean his shoes at the start and end of each walking track. There were no shoe-cleaners at service but at least the National Park put some tools at disposal.
There was a viewing platform at 'Point Ann' from where the tourists regularly can see whales between June and October. We were lucky Buggars too; there were 7 Southern Right Whales 16-18m long and we believe each of them had a tiny calf (4-7 m) playing around it. Sometimes they would wave with their flippers whilst rolling to the side. We are glad that these gentle giants are now widely protected and we learned that their population is growing again after all the years of being hunted around
The next day, we explored the parks' eastern part, admiring its beauty along the scenic Hammersley Drive, down to the cliffs with leaning rock formations on the beaches just before Hopetoun, and that's where we stayed overnight at the Hotel.
Along our way, we came across a very special plant, the Royal Hakea, that looked like outgrown cabbage and had hard leaves in green, orange and yellow succession from bottom to top, which could be up to 5 meters high. Further down, there were
In Esperance we found a very nice Guest House, which was almost like a B&B, but with kitchen facilities, just like every other Backpackers Hostel and breakfast with freshly baked bread was included in the low price.
From there we visited 'Cape Le Grand National Park' where we sighted another whale with a baby that came as close as 5 m to the rocks. There were again some stunning turquoise beaches and rocky round granite boulders that made up a scenic coastal setting.
As the weather finally changed from sunny and cold to sunny and warm, we were very pleased to be able now to take advantage of those beautiful beaches that also surrounded Esperance. As temperatures rose up to 28 C, we didn't need any cloths anymore. In Esperance, this heat only lasted two days, but as we left just when the rain arrived, we could follow it another 4 days.
Before reaching the Eyre Highway at
Norseman, we passed by some white salt lakes
and then, we started the long journey across the Nullarbor Plain driving for 1'200 km through "nowhere land" over to South Australia. No sooner had we turned onto that road, we spotted 3 wild camels on the roadside. What else shall we say about these long hours of monotonous drive? Very soon the flat landscape became very dry, the number of bushes along the way varied, but for a while it was quite an empty plain, living up to its Latin namesake "nullus arbores", which means treeless. The road was very good but boringly straight, every 100 km it was a bit wider with additional markings and the sign announcing that the next couple of kilometres could be used as emergency airstrip for the RFDS Royal Flying Doctor Service. There were not many long road-trains, as only up to 36,5 M vehicles were allowed. A lonely roadhouse offered food, fuel, beds and camping about every 80-180km.
just before the border to the state of
gathered down there. The National park dept. had counted 138 in that particular bay, of which 52 were born here this year. They give birth, feed and play until the calves are fit for migration to cooler waters and too big for sharks. It was really incredibly fascinating to watch so many of these amazing creatures - we could have stayed all day, as some would always give a bit of performance below the view-point.
Back on track, the scenery changed again; about 330 km into
Further south, we admired the unique rock formations named 'Murphy's Haystacks', so called because these about 7 m high granite blocks stood out on the hill, owned by farmer Murphy. We also enjoyed some more spectacular coastal scenery with again different shapes of cliffs and inlets. The most impressive were at
A few days later, when all cottages held reservations, we had to move on and so we drove along green farm hills for 350 km up to Whyalla. We were a bit disappointed about how ugly this iron-ore town looked like, but never the less, we tried to find accommodation as it would have become too late driving to the next place. This prove difficult however and we've asked around 10 different places, but all were booked out by workers currently laying a pipeline for iron-ore. Just before heading on, we found a cheap hotel which was mainly visited by alcohol- and gaming addicts. They still had a grabby room but we didn't mind as it spared us of driving on, now as the night had fallen.
Already the next day led us to another highlight: The Flinders Ranges. Driving through the park, especially after 4 p.m.,felt like on a safari. Especially Emus, Kangaroos and Wallabies were abundant. Caused by heavy rain during the previous days, some gravel roads in the National Park had become swampy and were therefore only kept open for 4WD vehicles. After a night at Wilpena Pound, we drove up to Parachilna Gorge, which was open to all traffic, even though we had to cross the river at least five times in our car, as the track followed that river below the beautiful brick-red gorge walls. Just when we wanted to leave the park on the main-road, Heinz thought we should check and see whether the other off-roads had miraculously been opened again. And really: the miracle had happened: on the turn off, the "4WD only" sign had been removed during the time we had crossed the other gorge. This gave us the chance to explore the famous Brachina- and Bunyeroo Gorges and to our car the biggest challenge it probably ever faced.
During the next three hours, we drove about 25 times through a creek and several times we doubted whether the river followed the road or whether we had missed the turn off and wrongly kept just following the river-bed. Sometimes it could take several hundred meters till we reached dry ground again. We resisted the temptation to capture this adventure on a picture, as we were worried to get stuck if we stopped.
After passing the gorge, the road led up to a crest called "Razor Back" which offered beautiful views down. Some proud 4WD-owners admitted they were quite impressed, watching our "small 2 WD car" braving all this water.
Further south, we stayed two nights in Quorn after which we visited Alligator Gorge. Ordinary hiking boots and not a car were required to access this narrow and impressive red gorge. About 250 steps led down to the floor. Similar however was that the track required several river crossings, so this time we got wet feet and not our car.
After driving through Clare valley and
the large grape growing area of the Barossa valley, we intended to stay
overnight in Hahndorf.
However, as we arrived on a weekend, all accommodation had been taken. This
pretty tourist village, less than 50 km from the city of
We finally ended up staying in
Whenever it was warm enough, we headed
Even though our friends Zebet & Peter were just moving house, they reserved a night to host us in their new property, which we liked even better than their last home.
After 3 weeks at our holiday retreat, we moved to stay at the OZ Backpacker's place in Adelaide for a last week in order to organize the continuation of our trip.
In the meantime, we have progressed a
bit closer to modern life; we bought a mobile-phone. We were quite surprised,
to find that even a cheap 40 Euro mobile phone is capable to connect to the internet.
We could really download our yahoo e-mails, which appeared in a primitive but
readable mini-version on that small screen. The reason why we bought it, was to
be reachable when we put an add in the paper, to sell our car. Unfortunately,
this wasn't the immediate success we had hoped for. Sure, we admit, at first we
put in quite a high price, remembering the mechanic that once had told us, this
car would sell like a "hot bun" and the even higher price, dealers
asked for the same type of car. It seems that Australians (just like Swiss)
rather pay twice or tripple the price and buy from a dealer, than from
private. After three weeks, we were still driving to
Now we were free to leave and we immediately looked for a cyber-caf?to book a flight to Melbourne for the very next day. There we just enjoyed to spend another 4 days in the hustle and bustle of this very cosmopolitan city, mixing with the tourists during the day on the scenic spots and mixing with the locals at night on Ligon Street or China Town in the Restaurants. For the first time we got our drinks served with a straw each, whereas in most places in Australia only the women drank with a straw - blokes drank straight from the bottle (of piss).
Now our Australian trip came to an end. Summarizing: It was just great to travel around this country again and it was not difficult at all, to join into their easy way of life. The diversity of the landscapes, as well as flora and fauna were absolutely impressive. The same can be said about the contrasts between the densely populated coast in the east and the vast and almost uninhabited land in the rest of the country.
It doesn't matter from which part of the world the people have initially immigrated; the Aussies are very friendly Mates and together with the Aboriginals, they form a new and tolerant nation. It was great, that they have shared their continent with us.
The many Australians that have travelled
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