The tent!

The tent!
Two men!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I thought long and hard about this post's title, so I hope you are all as pleased with it as I am. Creativity is quite a strong suit in my formidable armory!

Needless to say, but I will say it anyhow, John and I arrived in Perth at Liz and Vern Reid's in Freo late Monday pm after a final morning's mustering a few mobs of sheep at Cunderdin, at times in the rain (very welcome of course to Cunderdinites but not so much to yours truly on his motor bike). John really appreciated my plight and was awfully considerate in offering me a hat from the warmth and dryth of his Land Cruiser! We work together so well!

So it was with very mixed emotions that we left for the airport at 4.30am on Tuesday for John's flight home at 5.45am with Virgin. These are awkward moments. Do we hug each other to say good bye, burst into tears, fall down in a swoon or what? No, it was a firm handshake, stiff upper lip and then tata. Unfortunately for John, that was the easy part. As it turned out, he was not to be on his way for another 5 hours or so as Virgin decided to cancel the flight. And as he said, he is still pretty embarrassed about running down a competitor in a wheelchair sprinting for the last seat on the next flight! He left a stream of pensioners and others in his wake in his quest to ensure he would reach Sydney some time that day. As he would say: "Well done that man!"

So for now, this blog will have a well-earned rest for a little while until the trip proper recommences in about 2 weeks. If anything newsworthy, funny or rip-snorting occurs in the interim, you readers will be the first to know, I promise. Until then...........



Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cunderdin here we come!

So anyhow, we left Geraldton after an early morning conference over a steaming cappucin, capucin, cappo, cup of coffee and headed south then east bound for John's cousin's sheep and wheat property at Cunderdin, about 2 hours east of Perth. Rod and Wendy Carter made us very welcome on arrival 8 hours later after we had travelled through some spectacularly green and prosperous country of wheat and canola and wild flowers (see photos). Rod is a man of many talents, one of which includes being more than a dab hand on the keyboard, so it was with great interest and curiosity that we departed 2 hours later for Quairading, 60 ks away, to attend a rehearsal of the forthcoming blockbuster production of Rome Sweet Rome. This production is to have its world premiere in about 5 weeks and the repertory got stuck into rehearsal with a vengeance. For those who are able to come on out to Quairading to see the show, we can recommend the trip as being extremely worthwhile. On our return to Cunderdin, we were treated to a real bed (each that is) as well as a bathroom and toilet! Back in heaven! Camp sites can tend to be rather communal.

During the next 2 days we made ourselves invaluable additions to the Carter team by performing a multitude of tasks, including readying the shearing shed for shearing tomorrow, shifting mobs of sheep from paddock to paddock, collecting a stray ewe that had done a runner 20 ks away and had been reported and collected by Rod's cousin Alan, 2 crutchings with Rod, swinging a front-end loader into action to remove an ugly container eyesore, mowing, gardening, and finally, helping Rod, a W.A. gliding champion, assemble his 15 metre wingspan glider in readiness for the gliding season. (For those interested in securing our services, please send us an email and we'll see if we can fit you in!).

This pm and tomorrow, we will be mustering and drafting sheep to be shorn, then heading to Perth to stay with Liz and Vern Reid prior to John's departure on Tuesday. Many many thanks to Rod and Wendy for their great hospitality and good luck for the upcoming wedding of their first daughter, Dee, in Freo in 2 weeks. (Wendy is an avid and passionate scrapbooker and has been busily scrapbooking and fascinatoring for the wedding since we arrived. Kate and William, watch out!)

More later and TTFN.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Exmouth to Geraldton

It is Chinese Dentist on Wednesday afternoon and I am writing this blog update from a poorly enclosed BBQ area at the beautiful two star Bel Air Gardens caravan park in Geraldton.

The cobber that runs this joint is nick named the Fresh Prince.

For the first time on our trip we have experienced a cathartic epiphany; it's raining.

We left Exmouth on Monday morning heading towards Carnarvon where we walked the one mile jetty ( see photo ), had a look at the old Carnarvon museum and held the finals of our snooker competition at the Gascoyne pub which was built in 1898. Rump steak and vegies on the BBQ plate at our caravan park and then to bed. Normal bed time is between 8 and 9pm.....hmmm.

Tuesday saw us arriving at Kalbarri just in time to play a round of golf at Royal and Ancient Kalbarri.

Kalbarri is a pretty, unspoiled quaint holiday town with intrinsic natural beauty and a laid back approach to life. If HMRI wanted to do some research into blood pressure, this would be the starting point.

Today saw us drive, via the pink lake ( see photo ) to arrive in Geraldton in time to do our 11am interview with the ABC here in Geraldton. Glenn interviewed us for 13 minutes, we were entertaining and fascinating in what we had to say, so much so that we may have to do another interview in Perth.
Glenn was fortunate to have us there to help him out of his ratings slump.

The rain has stopped but another extraordinary thing has happened for the first time on our trip - it's cool to almost cold.

Tomorrow we head to Cunderdin to spend a few days with my cousin and his wife, Rod and Wendy Carter. They have a 10,000 acre wheat and sheep farm; our timing is impeccable; sheep crutching.

Now comes an important part of this blog; perhaps a little poignant.

Ian and I have have spent, thus far 82 days on the road; 82 fantastic days that neither of us will ever forget.

When we set out originally our trip was going to be for four months ( approximately ) but in recent discussions with the perfectly formed Mrs Henderson, it is clear that my services are needed back at the Pelerin precinct which Christine has been looking after for the last 3 months single handedly.
A stirling effort.

As a consequence I have decided to fly back to Sydney next Tuesday, 27 September and Ian will drive Morrie back after looking futher around WA and possibly SA.

So I say to Mr Dear, thanks for putting up with me for three months, a tremendously successful and enjoyable 3 months and an experience I will always cherish.

To our followers, please continue to read the blog as Ian will be continue with it until he actually finishes the trip.

To all the supporters of HMRI and Cure Cancer goes our heartfelt thanks - you have been marvellous.

I will hand the keyboard over to Ian......

Well, another emotional moment as we finish our odyssey. What we originally set out to do (Sydney to Sydney) will now not happen but the trip has been an absolutely wonderful experience for John and me alike. Once in a lifetime you get an opportunity like this one and we really carpe diemed. My thanks to John especially and our wives for making/allowing all this to happen. It has been a blast of the first order. I will really miss sharing the following sort of camping area notice with John: "Do not wash your pets here. There is a pet-washing facility behind this amenties block. Feel free to wash yourself there." Or: "Please do not take the hot or cold water handles. They are expensive to replace."

Back soon.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Broome to Exmouth via Dampier

When we last said tata we were about to go ashore to Broome from the MV Christine after a wonderful 19 days aboard. What an experience! Well, we did go ashore along the somewhat lofty wharf as seen in the above photo. That's what 10 metre tides do apparently!

Anyhow, after refinding our land legs in Broome we departed south having been awoken somewhat early (3.45am I think it was) by a rather happy indigenous group who seemed to be celebrating something significant. Needless to say we were unable to share their pleasure or enquire as to who was getting married, had just won Lotto, etc. We travelled past Sandfire Roadhouse (aptly named!) along a strip of licorice splitting the vast floodplains, thru Port Hedland and South Hedland (excuse me, could you tell us the way to Dampier? Yeah mate follow the signs to Roebourne. Yep!) and arrived 750ks later in Dampier. Here we erected the tent (we are pretty good at it now!) in a site just across the way from a monstrous port facility that services the iron ore and natural gas operations. It is here we learnt a lot about the NW Shelf Gas Project and what a truly impressive thing it is.

The next day, after an obligatory photo with Dampier's red dog (see photo), we pressed on to Exmouth and immediately booked a snorkelling trip for the next day. We were, probably fortunately, unable to watch the Oz v Ireland rugby as the tv screens were all tuned to the WC Eagles. What don't these Westralians understand?!

So today we did the snorkelling thing on Ningaloo Reef viewing coral and all sorts of marine life including turtles, colourful fish and a sneaky stingray.

I had earlier sensed a strong collective intake of breath amongst our fellow snorkellers when I  suggested that Humpback whale calves made good eating but they seemed to relax when they realised I was only kidding! We also saw a huge communications station with 13 towers which is the largest VLF station in the world for transmissions to and from mainly submarines. It was originally US-run and manned, so much so that it used only US$, drove on the right and had its own baseball diamond.....and US food on site.

In the distance we could see 2 oil platforms on the horizon reminding us of the huge envirnomental issues when nature clashes with commercialism.

Tomorrow we crank up Morrie once again heading for Carnarvon.

Thanks for listening............

I & J

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to Broome we went

Now where were we before last leaving you? Ah yes, Darwin. That's it. Well, we left Darwin on 3 September bound for Broome in a voyage that ended 10 days later. In that time, we became seasoned mariners (or marinated seamen) and experienced the extraordinary beauty of the Kimberley coast. It is an absolutely unique experience to be in the ship's wheelhouse on watch from 0200 - 0500 sliding through a silvery sea under a full moon with speckles of silver cascading over the surface in a light you could read a book by. By contrast, every hour you descend into a marine hell that is the engine room as part of your watch to check on the bilge, gauges, pumps etc amid noise, heat and a generally hostile mechanical interface so as to be able to report back on the ship's log "Engine room check ok". In between these experiences, we were able to have a go at some fishing (no luck), play poker with some of the crew (limited success), win a few rounds of Smart Ass (a board game!), manage to catch a bbq and the Argentina v England world cup rugby match (curse you J Wilkinson!) on board one of the Paspaley accommodation vessels, see lots of wonderful sea life including whales, dolphins, turtles, sea snakes (yellowy orange with a toxin far worse than their terrestrial cousins), sharks, you name it. We also managed to check out Kuri Bay which is one of the last land-based (accommodation that is!) pearl farms and hear of the plans to turn it into an up-market fishing/eco resort. And finally, marvelling at the most spectacular scenery along the way as we hope the photos will show. We are now preparing to leave the MV Christine tomorrow to resume our southward trek down the west coast to Perth and will be in touch again along the way. Stay tuned!