A Travellerspoint blog

April 2013

Summary of our Australian Big Lap

Thank you and goodbye

We have arrived back in Fremantle and have come to the end of our almost 14 month long Big Lap of Australia and wish to post this last page on our blog. It has been a once in a lifetime experience with many highlights and adventures.

We started preparations in Fremantle at the end of February 2012 and departed on 18 March 2012 travelling towards the Coral Coast in the north of Western Australia to enjoy Ningaloo Reef. We loved the Kimberley with its vast remoteness, magnificent gorges and stunning waterfalls. Purnululu and the remote Mitchell Falls were highlights in their own right. The Top End in Northern Territory was also special with Arnhem Land, the extremely remote Cobourg Peninsula and parts of Kakadu the highlights. From the very top of NT we travelled south to the Red Center to visit the iconic Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. We paid a short visit to Southern Australia travelling through Coober Pedy and around Lake Eyre to Queensland on the Oodnadata and Birdsville tracks. We spent almost four months in Queensland and the highlights were Cape York Peninsula and Fraser Island, where we also met our most serious challenges on rough tracks, deep river crossings and boggy sand dunes. My diving trips to the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and to the Yongala were unforgettable. Our four day trip to Heron Island was also memorable and a nice break from camping. We visited dense rainforests and hiked the highest mountain in Australia in New South Wales after paying short visits to the other two territories, Jervis Bay and the Capital. In Victoria we visited family and many coastal delights like Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom. The seven week visit to Tasmania was a big highlight with its rugged west coast, remote south-west wilderness, remote Bruny Island, idyllic east coast, especially the Bay of Fires, and the magnificent Cradle Mountain in the center. South Australia’s southern highlights were Kangaroo Island, Coffin Bay and the Flinders Ranges. On the last leg of our tour we crossed the endless Nullarbor, enjoyed stunning Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park after camping on our piece of land we own in Esperance. We finally arrived back in Fremantle on 15 April 2013 after a brief visit to the stunning Stirling Range.

It was a great privilege and an exciting adventure to explore a whole continent and some of its major islands and I must admit, Australia’s diverse landscapes, vast wilderness areas and stunning beaches pleasantly surprised us. This is a beautiful country!

We travelled 43,000 kilometers with only one flat tyre and absolutely no problems with the Land Cruiser, except for having to replace the fuel filter myself in the Kimberley. The Quantum was the ideal camper for the trip and served us well, especially where it mattered the most in remote sites and on rough off-road tracks. We camped at 163 places and visited 118 national parks and conservation areas.

This blog got more than 110,000 views and we want to thank all our subscribers and everybody that commented on the blog entries and photos. It was nice and encouraging to receive comments and compliments along the way.

The time has come to get back into mainstream life and we will settle somewhere south of Perth with both of us hopefully getting jobs soon.

I have chosen a few photos of us having fun to enhance the final blog entry.

Thank you and goodbye!

Northernmost point of Australia at Cape York, Queensland

Northernmost point of Australia at Cape York, Queensland


Washing day in the bush, Cape Range National Park, WA

Washing day in the bush, Cape Range National Park, WA

Red Dog and Lorraine at Dampier, WA

Red Dog and Lorraine at Dampier, WA

Framed at Middle Lagoon, Dampier Peninsula, WA

Framed at Middle Lagoon, Dampier Peninsula, WA

Kimberley Beef Burger at Drysdale River, Kimberley, WA

Kimberley Beef Burger at Drysdale River, Kimberley, WA

Swimming at Tjaynera Falls, Litchfield National Park, NT

Swimming at Tjaynera Falls, Litchfield National Park, NT

Golden Snapper at Cobourg Peninsula at the top of the NT

Golden Snapper at Cobourg Peninsula at the top of the NT

Coral trout in Garig Gunak Barlu, NT

Coral trout in Garig Gunak Barlu, NT

Coober Pedy Old Timers Mine

Coober Pedy Old Timers Mine

Greg and I on the Great Barrier Reef

Greg and I on the Great Barrier Reef

Friendly Alexandrine Parrot

Friendly Alexandrine Parrot

Me in my favourite position on the Great Barrier Reef

Me in my favourite position on the Great Barrier Reef

On top of Australia at Mt Koscuiszko

On top of Australia at Mt Koscuiszko

The End of the Road in Tasmania

The End of the Road in Tasmania

Remarkable Rocks in South Australia

Remarkable Rocks in South Australia

Welcome back to WA! Nullarbor

Welcome back to WA! Nullarbor

Posted by KobusM 18:22 Archived in Australia Comments (8)

Stirling Range National Park

Our last stop on our Big Lap

sunny 28 °C

Our last stop before returning to Fremantle was the spectacular Stirling Range National Park. I have always maintained that the mountains on the Australian mainland were not as spectacular as in South Africa, but after visiting the Stirling Range I can admit that I was wrong. The mountains are breathtaking and they are reminicent of the Western Cape mountains in South Africa.

We camped in the only campsite in the national park at Moingup Springs where we saw the biggest flock of Black Cockotoos that we have seen so far. We hiked halfway up the highest peak, Bluff Knoll, to enjoy the panoramic views of the peak and the other peaks in the range in the distance.

This was a nice conclusion of our trip and we will return to Fremantle almost 13 months since we departed for our Big Lap of Australia.

Stirling Range

Stirling Range

Stirling Range peaks

Stirling Range peaks

Black Cockatoos

Black Cockatoos

Mountain flowers

Mountain flowers

Great views!

Great views!

Bluff Knoll

Bluff Knoll

Bluff Knoll track

Bluff Knoll track

Bluff Knoll lookout

Bluff Knoll lookout

Posted by KobusM 05:24 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Cape Le Grand National Park

Lucky Bay

semi-overcast 30 °C

Wild coastal scenery, rugged granite peaks, sweeping heathlands and attractive bays with white sandy beaches set between rocky headlands characterise Cape Le Grand National Park.

Lucky Bay is famed as having one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and it is locally claimed to have the whitest beach in Australia. The same claim is made for Hyams Beach in Cape Jervis. After seeing both my vote goes for Lucky Bay beach as not only the whitest bu the most beautiful as well.

Lucky Bay was discovered by Matthew Flinders when he sailed into a storm in the hazardous Archipelago of the Recherche in January 1802. He found found his ship surrounded by islands and rocks with nightfall coming on. They eventually found shelter in the bay before nightfall which he named Lucky Bay.

Thistle Bay around the corner is named after Flinders' ship's Master who drowned at Memory Cove in South Australia. The next bay, Hellfire Bay is a good contender for the second best beach in Australia.

From Lucky Bay we will travel back to Esperance and then on to Stirling Range National Park as our last stop on our 14 month tour of Australia.

Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay kangaroo

Lucky Bay kangaroo

Splendid views over Lucky Bay

Splendid views over Lucky Bay

Source of the Lucky Bay campground water

Source of the Lucky Bay campground water

Whitest beach in Australia

Whitest beach in Australia

Northern lookout over Lucky Bay

Northern lookout over Lucky Bay

Friendly visitors

Friendly visitors

Crystal clear water

Crystal clear water

Frenchman Peak

Frenchman Peak

Thistle Cove

Thistle Cove

Hellfire Bay

Hellfire Bay

Whispering Rock

Whispering Rock

Posted by KobusM 01:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Esperance

Home of Australia's best beaches

semi-overcast 25 °C

Esperance is a beach and nature-lover's dream and is blessed with squeaky-clean beaches, turquoise waters, untouched islands and a pink lake. The town itself was named after a French ship, the Espérance, commanded by Bruni d'Entrecasteaux (Bruny Island in Tasmania is named after him) who visited here in 1792.

We own a piece of land on West Beach and used the opportunity to camp on it for a few days. We had to get permission from the local council to do so and the neighbours didn't seem to mind that we were there. Twilight Beach is just around the corner and it was voted best beach in Australia in 2006. Further along the Great Ocean Drive is Blue Haven, Nine Mile Beach and Ten Mile Lagoon, all stunning beaches with huge Southern Ocean waves breaking onto the shore.

From Esperance we will travel east to Cape Le Grand National Park to camp at the famous Lucky Bay.

Our property on West Beach

Our property on West Beach

West Beach

West Beach

Twilight Beach

Twilight Beach

Ten Mile Lagoon

Ten Mile Lagoon

Southern Ocean views

Southern Ocean views

Blue Haven

Blue Haven

9 Mile Beach

9 Mile Beach

Pink Lake

Pink Lake


West Beach

West Beach

Posted by KobusM 20:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Nullarbor

Treeless arid plain

sunny 32 °C

Crossing The Nullarbor is one of Australia's most iconic road trips. The Nullarbor Plain is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world’s largest limestone karst landscape covering an area of 270,000 square km. Nullarbor literally means 'no trees'.

From Fowlers Bay we travelled west through the Nullarbor and our first stop was in the Nullarbor National Park just short of the Western Australian border where we walked down to the coastline to observe the Head of Bight and the start of the Bunda Cliffs. We continued west and camped on the awesome Bunda Cliffs overlooking the Great Australian Bight. The sheer Bunda Cliffs extend for around 200 km along the Great Australian Bight and are between 60 and 80 meters high.

The next day we crossed the border from South Australia into Western Australia (WA) and we made sure that we have used all our fresh fruit and vegetables as the quarantine laws are strictly enforced by WA. We also had to change our clocks back 2.5 hours because WA is not on daylight savings time. This relatively big time change was easy to adjust to, as now suddenly the sun set at 16:30 instead of 19:00 and sunrise is at 6:00 and not 8:30. Finally, after almost 11 months we were back in WA!

The road crossing the Nullarbor is long with lots of long straight stretches. From Caiguna to Balladonia is the longest straight road in Australia, all 145,6 km of it. Our second stop was at a rest area on this 90 Mile Road, 50 kilometers east of Balladonia. We briefly stopped in Balladonia to refill and to look at the Skylab debris that crashed here and in the Shire of Esperance in 1979. The Shire of Esperance facetiously fined NASA A$400 for littering, a fine which remained unpaid for 30 years. The fine was paid in April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio raised the funds from his morning show listeners and paid the fine on behalf of NASA.

From Balladonia we took a 'short cut' to Esperance along a 200 km 4WD track which proved to be shorter in distance but not in time. The track was very rough and corrugated for most of the distance, but two interestingly decorated gates allowed nice breaks in the journey.

We have now arrived in Esperance after travelling 1,140 kilometers along the Nullabor from Fowlers Bay and will stay here for a few days, camping on the piece of land that we own on West Beach.

Nullarbor Plain

Nullarbor Plain

Head of the Bight

Head of the Bight

Eastern end of Bunda Cliffs

Eastern end of Bunda Cliffs

Bunda Cliffs

Bunda Cliffs

Bunda Cliffs camping

Bunda Cliffs camping

Awesome Bunda Cliffs campsite

Awesome Bunda Cliffs campsite

Camels, Wombats and Kangaroos

Camels, Wombats and Kangaroos

WA-SA Border Village

WA-SA Border Village

Welcome back!

Welcome back!

90 Mile Straight Road

90 Mile Straight Road

90 Mile Road camp

90 Mile Road camp

Skylab debris

Skylab debris

Balladonia Road gate

Balladonia Road gate

Posted by KobusM 16:46 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Fowlers Bay

The edge of the Nullabor

semi-overcast 24 °C

From Streaky Bay we continued our trip around the Great Australian Bight and drove past Smoky Bay and through Ceduna on our way to Fowlers Bay.

Situated on the edge of the Nullabor, the small township of Fowlers Bay nestles at the waters edge against a spectacular backdrop of magnificent towering sand dunes. It was in the sand dunes at Fowlers Bay that, in 1840, Edward John Eyre set up his base camp before setting out on his epic overland journey of exploration to Albany in Western Australia.

European discovery of the Fowler's Bay coastline was made in 1627 by Captain Francois Thyssen, the Dutch commander of the Gulden Zeepard. In 1802 Matthew Flinders made detailed nautical charts of the area in the sloop HMS Investigator. Flinders named the Fowler's Bay in honour of his First Lieutenant, Robert Fowler.

We took a drive over the sand dunes to the rugged coastline and along Scott Beach. We saw a blue tongued skink in the dunes that was exposed enough for me to take a few photos of him.

From here we travelled west accross the vast Nullabor to Western Australia.

Fowlers Bay jetty

Fowlers Bay jetty

Seaweed on Fowlers Bay beach

Seaweed on Fowlers Bay beach

Sand dunes next to Fowlers Bay

Sand dunes next to Fowlers Bay

Rugged coastline

Rugged coastline

Fantastic Views

Fantastic Views

Building a cairn

Building a cairn

Blue tongued skink

Blue tongued skink

Posted by KobusM 23:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Streaky Bay

First stop on the Great Australian Bight

semi-overcast 23 °C

From Coffin Bay we started our trip around the Great Australian Bight and our first stop was at Streaky Bay.

Streaky Bay is a small picturesque town of approximately 1000 people. The town itself serves the local wheat farming community and a significant fishing industry specialising in crayfish (lobsters), abalone and shark.

The first European to sight the area was Dutch explorer Pieter Nuyts, in 1627. in the Golden Zeepaard. In 1802 Matthew Flinders named Streaky Bay whilst on his voyage in the Investigator. He describes in his log that the water was discoloured in Streaks...and therefore named in Straky Bay. It is now known thought these streaks are caused by the release of oils by certain species of seaweed in the bay.

We camped on the beach at Streaky Bay Foreshore Holiday Park and enjoyed the views of the bay and their seafood in the local restaurant.

Our next stop is at Fowlers Bay at the edge of the Nullabor.

Streaky Bay campsite

Streaky Bay campsite

Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay

Posted by KobusM 19:07 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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