|News from Downunder 2004
Introduction and Schedule
Australia is so big it is difficult to know where to start when you plan a first visit. In common with our trips to New Zealand, Wines and Winery restaurants featured heavily in our planning as did our interest in Gold, which in the case of Australia extended to Copper, Silver and Opal mining. Rivers and Riverboats formed another theme in our plans. Nothing however had prepared us for the native animals and birds or for the Outback and some of the walks and scenery.
We started on the West side in Perth where we were entertained in style by Di, a friend from college days, and as the Australian say, 'had a ball'. We went to the Swan River and Margaret River wine areas, good choices for our introduction to Australian wines. Being based in Perth and visiting nearby Fremantle was again a good introduction to Australia and the way of life. Di was waiting to go into hospital so was not working and we went out together, much of it with Pete driving her car.
We then flew across to Adelaide where we picked up our Wicked Campervan. The vans are liberally decorated on the outside, some being quite erotic although ours fortunately was fairly restrained. They claim they are 'Wicked' because they have a huge bed space in the back, which is big enough for three - they even supply three sets of cutlery etc. We slept in it most of the time and it was remarkably comfortable with two. One side was graffitied "No Worries" and the other "G'Day Mate". It was only after a week when we were buzzed by a second Police chopper that we realised there was more on the roof!
We covered a tremendous mileage, over 8000 kms in five weeks, in our van but could only sample a range of what Australia has to offer. We saw underground houses, shops, restaurants and even churches in the heat of the Outback at Coober Pedy, yet days later we had left the arid centre and were walking in rain forests. We camped in the Snowy Mountains with Kangaroos watching us from only a few yards away as we prepared and ate our supper. We spent a lot of time deep underground in Silver, Gold and Copper mines and climbed high up through the snow in the National Parks. We spent time in the cities such as Sydney, where we stayed with our friend Kristy for a few days, Canberra and Melbourne as well as Adelaide where we started and ended. We are not really city people so it was the many vineyard areas, the National Parks, the Murray River, and the scenery along the Great Ocean Road which stand out along, of course, with the wildlife - so different to anywhere else.
We had known before we arrived in Australia that we should investigate the Murray River but again we were not prepared for the scale of it - The Murray and Darling River Systems feature throughout the last few weeks because the area they cover as well as our interest in Rivers and Boats. It is one of the four largest river complexes in the world about 4500 kms being navigable. It is critical to the economy of much of the inhabited parts of Australia as it provides a vast power source from hydroelectric, and it provides most of the drinking water and water for irrigation critical for much of the agriculture. It also played a critical part of the transport system and had hundreds of steam paddlewheel driven riverboats serving inland ports, later linked to the railway system.
We first saw the Murray as a tiny stream when we camped at Tom Groggin in the Snowy Mountains (where we had our memorable encounter with the Kangaroos) and shortly afterwards walked up above the snow line onto the Kosciusko Range, the source of the Murray. We saw the huge Hydroelectric Lakes and power stations of the Snowy Mountain Hydroelectric Scheme. Later we saw strange lakes at Mulwala where whole forests had been submerged when the weir was built. We saw the inland port of Echuca and travelled on one of several vintage paddlewheelers there. We continued our investigations, heading downstream, of the River and the Riverboat story at Swan Hill, Robinvale and Mildura where irrigation and salt issues entered the picture with further pieces added to the story at Renmark, Banrock Station (nice wines), Morgan (the big bend), Mannum and Murray Bridge.
We have now got our photographs sorted out and have added them to the 60 or so pages of notes from the trip that we uploaded to our web site as we travelled - we ended up doing so much in the time that on occasion Pete resorted to typing up the notes as we were travelling and Pauline posted 4 full CDs of pictures back to Di for backup in case the computer fell over. We bought so many books and collected so much information that we had to send two shipments of papers totaling over 20 kgs back by sea to the UK.
We have gone one step further than previous years and add some pictures from Pauline's Digital Canon A75 Camera as we travel and also to re-use some of the best previous pictures from Film and stills from the Peter's digital video camera. All the pictures on the pages provide details of where they were taken if you hover the cursor over them and they can all be clicked to open a larger version in a popup window or Lightbox style overlay.
The schedule below is still a mix of our initial plans and what we actually did! It will be updated as we work our way through the pages. Enjoy what is available and any comments, information or corrections are always welcome if you would like to Send us a quick Message
Thu 14 October Fly into Perth ... .. ....... Western Australia (based in Perth) Tue 26 October Fly to AdelaideAdelaide and South Australia
Tue 26 October Adelaide - Marion Holiday Park Wed 27 October Adelaide - Marion Holiday Park Thu 28 October 50 Adelaide Collect Wicked Camper and to Barossa Valley. Fri 29 October 50 Barossa Valley Sat 30 October 50 Barossa Valley to Clare Valley and Burra. Sun 31 October 170 Burra to Flinders Ranges Mon 1 November 170 Flinders Ranges to Port Augusta Tue 2 November 546 Port Augusta to Cooper Pedy Wed 3 November 470 Cooper Pedy town and to Roxby Downs Thu 4 November 400 Andamooka, Woomera and on to PeterboroughBroken Hill, New South Wales and Sydney
Fri 5 November 300 Broken Hill Sat 6 November 60 Visit to Silverton Sun 7 November 396 Broken Hill to Cobar Mon 8 November 300 Cobar to Dubbo Tue 9 November 320 Dubbo to Bathurst Wed 10 November 230 Bathurst to Blue Mountains Thu 11 November 200 Blue Mountains to Hunter Valley Fri 12 November 200 Hunter Valley to Parramatta Sat 13 November Parramatta area Sun 14 November Parramatta/Sydney areaCanberra, Snowy Mountains and Victoria
Mon 15 November 300 Canberra Tue 16 November Canberra Wed 17 November 300 Canberra to Snowy Mountains Thu 18 November 400 Snowy Mountains to Albury Fri 19 November 200 Albury to Echuca Sat 20 November 100 Echuca to Bendigo Sun 21 November 140 Bendigo to Daylesford Mon 22 November 100 Daylesford to Ballarat Tue 23 November 240 Ballarat to MelbourneMelbourne, the Great Ocean Road and on to Adelaide
Wed 24 November Melbourne Thu 25 November 200 Ocean Road - Apollo Bay Fri 26 November 200 Ocean Road - Peterborough Sat 27 November 300 The Grampians National Park Sun 28 November 300 Ouyen (en route to Murray River) Mon 29 November 400 Murray River Tue 30 November 100 Murray Bridge Wed 1 December 200 Fleurieu Thu 2 December 100 Fleurieu Peninsula to Hahndorf Fri 3 December 50 Hahndorf to Adelaide. Sat 4 December Return campervan Sun 5 December Adelaide Mon 6 December Fly Adelaide to Heathrow Tue 7 December Arrive Heathrow