January 2003 Travelogue


1/1/03 Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone! We left you off last when we were in Adelaide, well, we are back again! Just passing through this time, though. Well, on with the story...

On December 27, I had some more work to do in Adelaide, so I dropped Donna off at Rundle Mall to do some shopping and send out the last travelogue update and went out to do some more work. I also took the opportunity to change out the akaline solution in the radiator that they had put in in Alice Springs. I drained it and installed new coolant. The work took a long time, so I didn't get back to the hotel until late.

Light's Vision
On the 28th, we did a few errands around town and then a little sightseeing. I took Donna to Central Market (a huge market filled with all sorts of stalls selling fruits, vegetables, flowers and other items), where we had lunch. We also did a little driving tour of Adelaide, visiting Light's Vision (a viewpoint of Adelaide from the top of a hill, where the original designer of Adelaide stood, surveying the area) and driving through the CBD (Central Business District) and Universities. Then, we headed South. We had decided to go and visit Kangaroo Island. We were able to get tickets for the Ferry the next morning at 6:00 AM. So we decided to drive down to Cape Jervis, where the ferry departs, and camp there for the night. The drive was nice. We had fish and chips for dinner, which is very common here in Australia and washed our clothes while Donna did some more scrapbooking. We found a nice spot to freedom camp that night that was only about 1 km from the ferry dock. We had to be at the dock at 5:30 AM to catch the ferry.

The next day (12/29) we took the ferry to Kangaroo Island. The crossing was uneventful (a good thing) and we arrived in Penneshaw. I (Kirk) had been on Kangaroo Island before, but Donna had not. I had taken a 2 day guided tour at the end of one of my business trips here several years ago. We arrived on the island very early in the morning so nothing was open yet. We decided to go for a drive to the west end of the island and see the Cape Willoughby light house. The drive was over very corrugated dirt roads. Many of the roads on Kangaroo Island are paved, but most aren't! We arrived at the lighthouse over an hour before they opened, so we just looked at it from the outside, and drove back to Penneshaw. We arrived back there still way before the Tourist Info Center was to open, so we went on to see some sights on the way to American River. Finally, we returned to the Info Center at Penneshaw and were able to puchase the Island Parks Pass, which gives you entry to several of the attractions on the island and entry into the national park for a single discounted price (a good deal if you ever go to Kangaroo Island...and it's good for a year!).

Look at that Grin!

Cuddly Koala


Kirk & the Emus

The laughing Kookabura
Next we drove West and went to Paul's Place (paulsplace@kin.net.au). This is a wonderful petting zoo/wildlife refuge/sheep shearing place, etc. You get a tour around and get to pet and feed many native Australian animals including Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Sheep, Echidna, Birds, Deer, Angora Goats, Miniature Horses, Cows, Wallabies, Possum, Snake, etc. They also do a sheep shearing. It's a very fun and lively place. We both loved to pet and feed all the animals. They open at noon, and it looks like that is the best time to arrive. I even had the unique experience of having an emu eat off of my head! Paul's was, of course, up another one of these wonderful dirt roads. Somewhere along the road...one the way up or back...we lost a hubcab. Has anyone seen it?

Pelican Feed
That evening we drove back to Kingscote, and looked around at some of the local attractions there. There is even a Mulberry tree that was originally planted by some of the original settlers in the area from a seedling that the settlers brought with them from England. We also went to a pelican feeding on the Kingscote Jetty. The man who does the feeding gives a rather informative talk about the pelicans and is quite humorous, as well. Apparently, he does the whole thing on his own time and own dime. We quite enjoyed the display.

That evening, we stayed at the Kingscote Nepean Bay Tourist park. It was VERY VERY full. We had been able to get our site only due to a cancellation. Apparently, there was a junior sailing competition on the island over the holiday weekend. Many of the campers had trailers with small sailboats on them and lots of kids running around.

The next morning (the 30th), we got up and immediately called to see if we could get in to the campground on the west end of the island for that evening. Just as Donna placed the call, and was told that they were full up for the night, the woman put her on hold. When she came back, someone had JUST walked in and cancelled for the very campsite we were trying to get into! Praise God!! We would be spending the night on one of the "Group Campsites" at a campsite in the Flinders-Chase National Park.

Seal Bay Sea Lions
So, after we had breakfast and packed up the car, we headed off to tour the Southern Coast of Kangaroo Island. First, we went to Seal Bay, a reserve protecting a rather large sea lion colony. They have it protected so as not to disturb the Australian Sea Lions. A guide takes you down to the beach and makes sure no one gets too close to the sea lions, which can be quite fierce and move much quicker on land than you might imagine (they can actually outrun a human). The sea lions were mostly sleeping on the beach, but there were a few squabbles and challenges amongst the males.




The Route
After Seal Bay, we drove on to Little Sahara, a set of Sand dunes a little ways West. We hiked up to the top of the tallest dune and I rolled down it. (Kirk) Donna, of course, took lots of photos of me rolling down!

Strange Hook formations in Kelley Caves
Next, we were off to Kelly Hill Caves. These are limestone caves. The caves are dry and were discovered by a horse (Kelly) who fell into an entrance hole. The tour of these caves and the Seal Bay tour are covered on the Island Parks Pass. The tour was good and very informative. We were able to ask whatever questions we liked, and take whatever pictures we wanted. These caves were much different than the other caves we had been in on New Zealand, since they were dry; therefore the formations were no longer growing and there was virtually no living things in the caves (no bugs even).

After the caves, we went on and stopped at a internet cafe in a lodge on the way to the National park. Well, they call it an Internet Cafe, but two coin op computers (only one of which was functioning) above a bar is a stretch, but it worked.

Serene Kangaroos
On to the Flinders Chase National Park. We found our campsite and set up for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner of BBQ Kangaroo. (Sorry Hoppy!) I liked it. Very lean. After dinner we took a bushwalk to the Platypus Waterholes. On the way, we went through a beautiful field of grass, bush, gum trees, with kangaroos serenely munching away. We didn't spot any Platypus in the pools, but it was getting dark and was kinda sprinkly. It was very dark when we headed back and we couldn't see the posts that marked the trail for a section of it, but since I had been here before several years ago, I was able to navigate us back to the trail head.

Remarkable Rocks

Good thing Donna was there to hold it up!
The next day (the 31st), we headed south to see the Remarkable Rocks. These are Granite Rocks sitting on top of a dome of granite by the sea shore. The rocks have been weathered and shaped by the wind and sea into fantastical formations. It was raining again today and extremely windy. So much so that in certain spots in between the rocks, you could lean against the wind and it would hold you in place. We were able to try out our new rain pants (the ones we got to replace the pants that were stolen in New Zealand) and they worked great. Thanks Mom!

Next, was Admirals Arch. This is a little further down the road to the west. There is a lighthouse here built in 1909, but the big attraction is the Arch (a bridge carved out by the sea and the fur Seals. Many, many, MANY fur seals. There were both Australian Fur Seals and New Zealand Fur Seals. They also have the occasional Sea Lion at this location, but the fur seal rules for the most part. The wind was still very intense and the seas were very big, but even in all that weather the seals were out frollicking in the waves. We stayed for a while and got to see 3 male fur seals fighting. This time, they even drew blood.

We drove North back into the park, and along a dirt road to the car park for the Platypus Waterholes. We wanted to try again to see the platypus. Well, no luck. Donna thinks she saw a nose but all I saw were a few bubbles. The platypus is very shy and any sound will send it back underwater or into its burrow. It was raining on and off most of the time too...maybe it doesn't come out in the rain. It was a nice walk, though.

We continued North on the dirt road and then West to Cape Borda . We just made it in time for the last tour of the day. The tour was quite interesting. It was sad to find out that many of the lighthouse keepers and their families were sickened by the use of mercury for a bearing for the lights before they figured out about mercury poisoning.

Happy New Year!
Next, it was back to Penneshaw to catch our ferry back to the mainland at 7:30 PM. Unfortunately, things were delayed due to the inclement weather and our ferry didn't actually depart until about 8:30 PM. The crossing was a little rough, but not bad. Once back on the main land, we drove back North to Adelaide once again. We arrived around 11:30 PM and found a place to park near Victoria Square. They were having a New Years celebration in the square. It was great -- a live band called "Banana Republic", lots of celebrants, fireworks, even the Lord Mayor spoke. Only one small scuffle among the celebrants to mar an otherwise wonderful time. After that we found a nice place to freedom camp just North of Adelaide. Upon our arrival, we found that our rear license plate and its holder had fallen off our car enroute. I had previously glued it on with Liquid Nails after it fell off once after closing the hatch. Guess the liquid nails gave way. Ooops!

Next we will head North and West into Western Australia.

We wish all of you the most Happy New Year of all.

1/8/03 New Friends and New Places
When we last left you, we were sans license plate. We got up on New Years Day and prepared ourselves for the "Great Search". We were determined to save ourselves from the pain and suffering associated with ordering a new one and trying to get it shipped to us (especially since we have no address)! We drove at about 1/2 speed from our camping place north of Adelaide down to Gepps Crossing, where we deviated briefly to drop some things off at Jonathan's house and pick up Kirk's missing Christmas gift (the Australian postal service is apparently not that notorious for its reliability). We also called the police and reported the plate missing just in case.

We then resumed our search, driving ALL the way back to Victoria Square. Nothing. No license plate. So, we turned around (now on the correct side of the road...the side we would have lost it on) and drove, still much below the speed limit, looking for our elusive plate.

Finally, after driving about 90 km and not much left to go, we concluded that if we found the plate, it would indeed be a miracle. Only God could accomplish this feat, as the plate could be anywhere -- picked up to be placed on someone's wall, under a bush, thrown by a large truck far from the road where we'd never see it. I was scanning the left side of the road and Kirk was scanning the right; we had the hazards on to warn cars of our slow pace. Suddenly, about 10 meters or so from where we had turned off the road to sleep the night before, Kirk caught something out of the side of his eye and pulled over. He had nearly run over our plate!! When he ran out and got it, the plate was in fairly good shape, though a bit bent, but the bracket was destroyed! We taped it up in the window and we were on our way!

We made it as far as Port Wakefield for the night and pulled over for a quick night at the only caravan park there (whose tent camping area was, by the way, infested with ants). Good thing we were sleeping in the car and not in a tent!

On the 2nd of January, after obtaining a new license plate bracket at the wrecker, we pulled out of town and headed through Port Augusta onto the Eyre Peninsula . There are two ways across -- the long way (which is more scenic, along the coastline, 763 km) and the short way (468 km). We decided to go for the long way. We headed the long way, of course, and made a bee line for Port Lincoln, at the bottom tip, where we figured we would overnight.

Check out our Curtains!

Kirk, Donna, Roelin, Sander
There, we found a campsite at the lovely Kirton Point Caravan Park. It's a beautiful park, where each site is terraced, giving wonderful views of the ocean from every site. We took a site on the bottom terrace, as close to the ocean as possible, and began to set up the car.

Kirk and I then headed up to the Barbeque to start cooking dinner. There was a girl up there, reading the bible. We didn't want to disturb her studies, on one hand, and on the other, we wanted to talk to her! We started cooking and finally she looked up and started to pack up her stuff. At that point, I asked her what she was studying, since she had other religion books on the table as well. She said she was Dutch and was studying the Bible in English so that she could learn to witness in English better! Very cool! We introduced ourselves; her name was Roelien and she was traveling with her brother, Sander. They were in Australia for a year. We talked with her for quite a while before she said he had to go join her brother, who was down by their car, cooking dinner (they were camped right next to us)!

After dinner, we went and sat with them, talking late into the night. They were very interesting and it was wonderful to have an opportunity to sit and talk and share ideas and experiences. At one point, I was horrified (and amused) when Sander asked whether the people on the "Jerry Springer" show were real or fake. I hate the fact that so many people get their ideas of American culture from the shows that we put out over the airwaves. It did make for some interesting conversation, though. Finally, it was very late and we were all too tired to stay awake any longer. We said our goodnights and went to sleep.

On the 3rd of January, we had planned to get an early start since we wanted to get onto the Nullabor. However, it was not to be. Instead, we had a lovely breakfast, sitting at the barbeque, overlooking the ocean, talking with Roelien and Sander until almost 10:30! We talked forever! Kirk finally called it quits, though, and Sander prayed for us before we packed the car to leave. We took a few pictures for the album and then we pulled out.

We had wanted to visit the Seahorse Farm, but they were booked until late afternoon and we didn't want to wait until that long to get our start, so we went on. We drove on up to Anxious Bay, just past Elliston, and took the Clifftop Scenic Drive. We wanted a look at the famous surfing spot, Blackfellows. The drive was beautiful! Numerous times, we would drive up over a crest and it would look as if we were about to plunge over a cliff! Kirk even slowed down around the curves (an unusual event)!

Blackfellows was rather amazing to see. All around, the water was completely flat -- not a wave or swell in sight. Then, all the sudden, out of nowhere, was this perfectly shaped break! Cool!

Murphy's Haystacks

Donna and the Haystacks
We headed on up the coast toward Ceduna, bypassing some neat-sounding turn-offs for the sake of time (Needles Eye and Talia Caves). We did, however, pull in at Murphy's Haystacks, granite inselbergs which are in some farmer's paddocks. They were pretty cool.

We took a detour, thinking we might camp at Laura Bay, but it turned out to be a useless endeavor. There was only one site and it was taken. We went on to Ceduna, where we camped at Shelly Beach Caravan Park. It was GREAT! They had private showers and toilets! A FIRST!!

While we were there, we met another couple, Vern and Rose. They were teachers and had traveled extensively throughout Australia and Asia (even living in Jakarta for 8 years). We spent an enjoyable evening hearing stories of their travels.

Nulabor Cliffs
On January 4th, we had a very long day. We drove from Ceduna to Madura -- 660 km. I did the driving, while Kirk spent a good part of the morning doing paperwork in the car and then we caught up with some internet at one of the roadhouses along the way. In the afternoon, we slowed down a little as we stopped at all five viewpoints at the Cliffs of the Nullabor The views were wonderful.

Then, we stopped briefly at Border Village. Kirk, of course, had to have his picture taken in front of Rooey II, a 17 foot Kangaroo. We had a couple of bananas confiscated at the crossing into Western Australia (and it was suddenly an hour and fourty five minutes earlier...they don't observe daylight savings time), and we headed on to Madura. The caravan park there was EXTREMELY basic and we were terribly understocked on groceries. We made up a rather odd concoction of mac & cheese & ham...with stringy cheese. It was tasty but very strange.

On January 5th, we made a run for the coast. We put even MORE miles on the car today! We spent most of the day driving and reading...Kirk drove and I read to him. We are reading "Kings in Grass Castles" by Mary Durack, about the early settlers in Australia. We stopped for lunch in Balladonia and then headed on to Norseman, where we turned south (after a quick stop in the tourist info office) and a drive by the famous tin camels.

We pulled into Esperance late in the afternoon. It reminded us both of home...it had a marine layer that was keeping the temperature down. We started looking for a caravan park, and ended up at the very crowded Esperance Seafront Caravan Park (but they had availability, while many others were full)! We made dinner in the crowded kitchen (they HAD a kitchen...THAT was a shock) and then got ready for church. We had been on the Nullabor all day and hadn't seen a church, so Kirk found one that had an evening service we could attend.

We went to the Bay of Isles Christian Fellowship. It was quite close to the park and fairly easy to find. The service was relatively short, and apparently geared toward the younger crowd. We found out after that the church had no pastor, and the elders and various members take turns preaching the sermons. The speaker that evening had a bit of an odd accent that we had a hard time recognizing...it turned out he was German, but had emmigrated in 1965. His name was Johannes. We spoke to him and his wife, Joy, for quite a while after the service. They were lovely people! They invited us to come visit them on their farm if we wanted!

Kirk, Donna, Frank, Caroline
On January 6, we mainly ran errands. Before we checked out of our campsite, however, we had a wonderful encouter! We met a wonderful couple from New South Wales, who were just checking into the campsite. The man, Frank Gorton, is a poet and in less than 5 minutes, he had written us the following poem:

"Kirk and Donna have a purpose
to travel this wide world
they will travel everywhere 
where they see a flag unfurled.

They come from California
upon a southern beach.
We met in West Australia
that's as far as they did reach.

But now they're moving onwards
out into the west.
That's where the sun sets in the sea 
for them they've little rest.

They return to Sydney
where they will sell their car
with the money they receive
they may not get so far.

They have been to New Zealand
and Asia figures next
They and God will find a place
for they follow not a text.

How we who come from New South Wales
have a little bit of envy
We'd like to travel like you
to see another country.

God speed you on your journey
and keep you in His care
so that when you go home
these experiences you will share."

Wow!! We didn't want to leave after that! We had the car serviced and took care of shopping, mailing and other little things that add up when you are traveling. At 4:30, we realized that we hadn't left town yet and we hadn't seen a thing IN town, so we decided to stay another night. We went back to the same caravan park and tried to get our old site back, but barely got one at all. We got the last site in the whole park!

Kirk ended up working on fixing a few minor problems with the car for the rest of the evening, and then we went to sleep without getting to see our friends again that night.

On January 7th (yesterday), we woke up early. It was beautiful, but hot outside. After a quick shower (which was next to Frank's caravan), I saw Frank and Carolyn sitting outside, so I stopped in to say hello. Shortly after, Kirk came by and sat as well. They made coffee and toast and we had a wonderful time talking to these two interesting people.

It turns out, they make it a point not to travel on Sundays so they can go to church wherever they are, and then, Frank proceeds to take notes from the sermon in verse and share them with the pastor afterwards! Kirk and I thought how much fun that would be to hear him do that at OUR church!! We had a lovely time with them. Frank shared many of his poems with us and gave us one more that I will share here:

"Christmas In Abstentia"
"Peach on earth, goodwill to men
is the message of this day
so we think of family
as we move along our way

We share your special moments,
Your happiness and joys
And the lives of all the grand kids
The girls as well as boys

Christmas is a time of love
And it's love we send to you
May each one be successful
In everything you do

And spread this love around you
To family and to friends
And you will be a stalwart
On whom all can depend."

Anyway, again, it was difficult to say goodbye, since we were having such a wonderful time with these people, but we did need to get on the road. So, we packed the car, took a photo and were on our way.

We stopped at the Esperance Jetty and took a walk to the end. It's quite a long jetty (with quite a long history, actually), and curved, as well.

One of the Esperance Beaches
From there, we decided to do the Great Ocean Drive (not to be confused with the Great Ocean Road, which we drove between Melbourne and Adelaide) It was quite beautiful and the beaches along the route are magnificent (but many are quite treacherous with horrific rips and undertows). We spent a little time hanging out on Twilight Beach, the one safe swimming beach (and it was crowded with holiday-makers). Then, we headed along to Pink Lake, which is stained pink from a particular kind of algae.

Johannes & Donna

Rohan's Hand Built House

Kirk, Michael, Johannes, Donna, Joy
Then, we decided to try and find Johannes and Joy's farm. Their directions were perfect and we had a great map! We pulled in just as they were driving up in a truck. We sat down with them and had a wonderful time chatting over tea, and then Johannes gave us a drive around his enormous property, a large portion of which he has left uncleared, in its natural bush state (we went four-wheeling through bushland!! yeeee-haaaaa!!) We had such a wonderful time. He took us to his son's house as well, where they are in the process of building a new home from home-made mud bricks. It was quite an interesting process to see. We got to hang out with horses, sick sheep, happy sheep, sheep dogs, a cat, kangaroos, birds, all sorts of things!! When Johannes invited us to spend the night, what do YOU think we said?

YES!! of course! We had a wonderful time with them and had tea (dinner) together and stayed up late chatting and sharing our lives together. It is great to share time with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today, January 8, we had a relaxing morning and afternoon here at the farm, watched the sick sheep recover, washed some clothes, and put this message out.

Next we are heading West around the southern coast and up to Perth.

1/26/03 West Australia...

One of the MANY road trains we have seen on our trip. We have seen 6-trailer ones, but up to 8-trailer ones exist.
Well, it has been a VERY long time since we have last written and MUCH has happened to catch you up on! When we last wrote, we were relaxing with our friends Johannes and Joy on their farm outside of Esperance (on January 8th). We FINALLY left their house around 4:30 in the afternoon! We had planned to leave that morning, but had just been enjoying ourselves so much we couldn't seem to get going! When we did finally go, though, we were armed with an additional name...Johannes' son, Joel, who lives in Perth. They had apparently already called and told him about us, and Joel was reportedly excited to meet us since Kirk is both computer-savvy AND a Christian (matching Joel's interests, apparently).

We didn't expect to get far that night (due to our late start) and didn't. We overnighted at a rest area a few kilometers outside of Jerramungup. There were two other vehicles there, too. We had a virtual feast -- spaghetti, which we RARELY have, due to the number of pots required to make it properly.

On January 9th, we woke to find an army...no actually, several armies of ants marching to and fro between the trash can we had used the night before and other sections of the rest area. Ick. To top it off, the flies had arrived, too! We had a challenging time trying to eat, cook, flick ants off the table, shoo flies from our food and keep them out of our faces and ears! We ate FAST!

We took a nice little drive through the Stirling Ranges on our way to the south coast.

We were driving through fairly flat landscape and they suddenly loomed up, almost out of nowhere. The range is long and narrow. We drove across it in the narrow direction. Before long, we had reached Albany, a beautifuly little coastal town, which reminded me a little of home. There are a number of scenic drives originating out of Albany. First, we drove to Emu Point, which had a spectacular swimming beach, with a floating boardwalk and sandbar. We were able to wade out to the boardwalk without even putting our swimmers (bathing suits) on!

On the way back to Albany, we looked out for the famous Dog Rock, but somehow managed to miss it! We did drive by the Brig Amity, which Kirk mentioned was smaller than he imagined (although, supposed that it was expected since it was only a replica).

The Gap

Natural Bridge
Then we were on to the Torndirrup National Park to see the famous Gap and Natural Bridge. The Gap is a sheer chasm of about 30 meters. We stood above it, watching the ocen surge, crashing on the rocks below, sometimes sending the waves crashing 20 meters high.

The Natural Bridge is, of course, a natural granite arch (Kirk even used it as a bridge...all for the sake of giving the photo perspective, of course!).

On we went towards Denmark...not the country...the town in West Australia and spent the night since Kirk found a cobbler to repair the sole on his boot.

On January 10th, we had a very busy day (other than discovering our entire car bathed in ants in the morning, which was completely gross and a bit of a shock! Even after half a can of ant spray, we spent a week and a half killing ants in the car afterwards! Yuck)! First, we spent some time online in the morning, getting an update on Kirk's dad, who had had another episode and ended up back in the hospital again. Please keep him in your prayers, as he continues to deteriorate and there appears to be less and less chance of his recovery. A miracle is truly what is needed and that is what we are praying for!

Next, after getting Kirk's shoes, we pointed the car for Walpole. We turned off along the way to see Greens Pool, a beautiful, natural swimming area that is protected by the rocks (they provide a natural surf break). It WAS pretty, but quite crowded and full of flies (YUCK). Of course, EVERYwhere we went was full of flies...does make one miss old ole California!

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk

Tree Top Walk
Then, we were off to the Valley of the Giants. We had been hearing about Walpole and the Treetop Walk there for quite a while. We were FINALLY about to see it! We went straight to the Treetop Walk and bought our tickets. It was great! I admit I had been a little afraid there would be a lot of stairs or a very steep incline, since you end up 40 meters above the ground, but in fact, it's very well designed and quite gentle to start with (they start you on the uphill side of the hill). There are many varieties of trees to view, including karri (different from the kauris we saw in New Zealand), red tingle, yellow tingle, and several others! They are, of course, all variations on the eucalypt!

Ancient Empire Walk

Ancient Empire Walk

Ancient Empire Walk
Eventually, we came down off the Treetop Walk and did the Ancient Empire Walk, which was also very cool. The Ancient Empire Walk follows boardwalks which are built around the roots of the fragile tingle trees. Tingles are interesting in that they are easily injured -- by disease, virus, etc. and most of the trees have hollow trunks near the ground. We have some great photos!

We then backtracked a couple of kilometers to see Conspicuous Cliffs. I have to agree with this assessment: "Driving back toward the town of Walpole to visit the Valley of The Giants, we saw a signpost for Conspicuous Cliffs. What, we wondered, made them so conspicuous? The sign neglected to mention the long expanse of dirt road between the highway and the cliffs, which might have led us to question the level of our curiosity. But in our ignorance we drove on, parked the car and then hiked up the path. All the while keeping an eye out for the deadly snakes that inhabit this part of the country. We didn't encounter any snakes, for which I am eternally grateful. And the cliffs and the beach were attractive enough. But I still have to ask: just what is it makes these particular cliffs so conspicuous?" (Go here) BUT, the beach was beautiful (more even than his photos show and the surf...well, magnificent. I was sure wishing I had a surfboard with me (and a husband who surfs!).

Giant Tingle Tree
And so on...to the Giant Tingle Tree... The base of the tree speaks for itself... just look at it!

Gloucester Tree

There goes Kirk!

Here comes Donna!
And on... to the Gloucester Tree.... The Gloucester Tree is the highest fire lookout tree in the world! It has 153 rungs that climb to a platform 60 meters above the ground! And of course, Kirk climbed it! I climbed about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up, but that was plenty for me.

Whew! That was enough for one day! We found a little CALM-managed (Department of Conservation and Land Management) campground outside Pemberton to call home for the night!

On January 11, we woke up to the sound of the kookaburras laughing. I don't think I'll EVER tire of that sound! After breakfast, we took a little drive through the Karri forest near Pemberton. Kirk drove around looking for the Big Brook Dam (which he found). Then, we turned the car toward the Margaret River area. We drove south of Augusta to Cape Leeuwin.

Water Wheel

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

The view from the top

Southern & Indian Oceans
At Cape Leeuwin, we first checked out an ancient water wheel. Interestingly, as old as it is, it's not quite as old as it looks. It's calcified, so it looks stone, even though it is actually wood. We then headed over to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse for a tour. The lighthouse is made from limestone and is approximately 8 or 9 stories high. It is positioned on the cape that divides the Indian and Southern Oceans, possibly one of the most treacherous capes in the world.

Floating Table in Lake Cave

Calcite Ribbons in Lake Cave
Our next stop was Lake Cave, one of three primary caves in the area. We had heard it was the best of the three (no one bothered to tell me about the stairs, though... over 600 stairs, in fact). You had to climb down to the level of the cave to start the tour. It was actually quite fabulous! The cave itself is misnamed, as it is a small stream or river running in the cave, not a lake, but I don't suppose they'll change the name now!

Back in the car, we decided to make a charge for Bunbury. It seemed the largest city within range and the next day was Sunday. We wanted to find a church (and maybe even have a selection to choose from). Once in Bunbury, we chose to stay at the Top Tourist Caravan Park (more on that in a second), where we met some fabulous people... a couple from Switzerland who gave us all sorts of information on Asia (thanks Alynn and Patrick) and a couple from England (hi Jonathan and Claire). Now... you may remember that we purchased a pass to Top Ten Holiday Parks in New Zealand. On the whole, they were the best, cleanest parks and they seemed to have them in most cities. With the pass, we got a discount to all Top Ten Parks, Big 4 in Australia, KOA in the US and one other in Europe. So, we have been looking mainly to use Big 4 here in Australia. BUT, what we have found is that in Australia the Top Tourist Parks are much nicer than the Big 4. When we first arrived here and hadn't found any Big 4 parks, we asked one of the Top Tourist Parks if they had any discount cards. They said no. We found out 2 weeks before the end of our trip in Australia that they have the same deal that Big 4/Top 10 does!! Grrrrr.... Anyway...if you have an opportunity, get the Top Tourist card if you're planning on staying in Caravan parks in Australia.

On January 12th, we got up and went, for the first time since we left home, to a Foursquare Gospel Church! We almost didn't find it; we drove slowly down the road it was supposed to be on, couldn't find it and decided it must not be there any longer (we were working off a 2 year-old directory). So, we started trying to find another church and in the process of backtracking to try and find one, we ran right into the one we were looking for, the Calvary Assembly Foursquare Gospel Church! Of course, it was quite different from the one at home...much more traditional...but we were glad to have found one, nonetheless.

A Friendly Dolphin
After church, we went to the Dolphin Discovery Centre, which was a great deal for the AU$2 admission price! Not only does it have a lot of great information on dolphins and other marine life in the area, you can also go outside and wade into the water, where the wild dolphins, who are quite curious creatures, will actually swim up to you! We, of course, did exactly that! While we were there, two different dolphins were swimming together; in between dashing off to catch fish, they would swim up to check out the people in the water, sometimes getting as close as about 1/2 a meter away. When we finally tore ourselves away from the Dolphin Discovery Centre, we decided to head on up to Perth, and meet Joel (Johannes and Joy's son).

Joel lives in a suburb just north of Perth and had us meet him at his apartment. We arrived nearly simultaneously, as he had been painting his rental unit with some friends. We chatted for a bit, and then all headed out to his church, Scarborough Church of Christ for the evening service. Because of the holidays, the worship team and pastor were on break and they showed a video from another church...an American pastor! After church, we went with Joel and a bunch of his friends to a Greek cafe called Peters-by-the-Sea for dinner and coffee. As we were leaving, one of Joel's friends (Paul) offered to play tour guide for us the next day! (We accepted, of course)!

Jen, Paul, Donna, Kirk at Lesmurdie Falls
On January 13th, we all woke up at different times (me, Kirk and Joel). We took our turns in the shower and then Joel headed off to work. We had breakfast and then waited for Paul to get off work (around 10 or so). When Paul came to get us, the day was already quite hot! We were a little unsure what to do, but Paul suggested taking us to a waterfall up in the hills before it got too hot. Jen, another girl we had met the night before, was going to meet us there, too. So off we went. The drive was quite pretty, and "the hills" except for the extreme dryness, reminded us a bit of Palos Verdes. Lesmurdie Falls had all but dried up, but the view of the city from there was quite pretty.

Perth Skyline from King's Park
From there, we decided to head off to King's Park, which was quite close to the city center. We all met up at the War Memorial, having driven in two cars (the guys in one and girls in another) and had a little walk and then lunch nearby. And still the day got hotter. So, we decided to go to the zoo!

Cute Baby White Rhino!

Cute Baby White Rhino!



Koalas Sleep 19 hours per day

Alert Meerkat

Love that Cheetah!

Hello There!
Now, there was a very specific reason for THIS decision. Only two weeks before, the Perth Zoo had debuted to the public the new baby white rhino that had been born there! When we were there, she was only three weeks old and absolutely adorable!! Of course, we saw MANY other animals and many of them were quite interesting and rare, but the rhino was the highlight for me! We were quite lucky though...the zoo was open until 9PM for the entire month of January (due to summer holidays). Of course, most animals are at their most active beginning around dusk... So we got to see some real fun!

We finally, exhausted, left the zoo and went for dinner at a little place called "Fasta Pasta". In addition, they had a great little deal...buy a movie ticket for only AU$8.90 (which was the same price as a plate of pasta)...for those of you who don't know how much AU$8.90 is...go here. Considering that movies normally cost AU$14, that's a great deal! We each bought a ticket and went to the theatre (next door) to see what was showing. We ended up seeing an Australian film called Cracker Jack, about lawn bowling. Afterwards, Paul offered to guide us around again the next day!

The USS Abraham Lincoln in Fremantle Bay

Fremantle Round House

Fremantle Prison

The Gallows of the prison, and our Guide
On January 14th, Paul picked us up and we headed to Fremantle (which is known locally as "Freo"). The first thing we decided to do was go see the USS Abraham Lincoln, which was anchored offshore and was causing a bit of a ruckus. It was about 2-3 miles offshore, but we could see it from the beach. After a good look, we headed into town for a look around. Fremantle was originally the Swan River Colony, which had a difficult time during its settlement and eventually resorted to becoming a penal colony in order to become successful. Walking around the streets of the town, the architecture was stunning.

We eventually stopped for lunch at a local favorite, Pizza Bella Roma. While we were there, I saw a group of guys walk in and I thought to myself "off-duty American officers" and said so to Kirk and Paul. They thought I was being a bit silly, but I kept listening to the conversation going on next to us to see if I could hear an American accent. Finally, I did, so I turned and asked, "Are you guys on the USS Abraham Lincoln?" They were! We chatted for a bit and I asked where they were stationed. Two were from Ventura. Really, where? (I have a friend who was on a base up there.) Pt. Magu. REALLY? Did they know any Navy pilots. They said they WERE Navy pilots. REALLY!? Did they know my friend Juice? One of the guys mouth just dropped open... he LIVED with her for a month! I told him, I roomed with her for a year in college! Just to show what an incredibly small world this really is! (Hi, Juice! Dodger said hi!)

After lunch, we visited the Round House, which was the original prison in Fremantle and the oldest remaining structure in the town. Then, we headed off to the highlight of our day...the Fremantle Prison. The Fremantle Prison was one of the best tours we have taken in Australia and was well worth the 90 minutes that we spent there! It was built in 1850 and was in use until 1991!! The history of that building is truly amazing! The building is unaltered since its closure in 1991. If you are in Fremantle (or even in nearby Perth), don't miss the opportunity to tour this historic place).

We went back to Joel's, picked up some Chinese food, rented a couple of DVD's (what a treat! that's not something you get to do often when you live out of a car...no TV, no power, no videos) and just relaxed on the couch -- me, Kirk, Paul, Joel and another one of his friends, Brett.

More to come in another post... the return trip to Sydney...

1/29/03 Back to Sydney...a Long Journey!

Donna, Kirk, and Joel
On January 15th, we got up, packed ourselves, arranged an appointment to get our malaria medications and headed out. We hadn't gotten them in the US because (a) they were too expensive in the US and (b) they would have expired before we needed them. It was really no problem to get them here and we were on our way to meet Joel for lunch by 12. We met him in Leederville, a little neighborhood just north of downtown Perth. He chose the restaurant, Kailis', which he called a "fish and chips" place, but which was a very nice seafood restaurant! We had a wonderful lunch and a nice chance to catch up with him a little before we had to leave town on our long trek to Sydney. Kirk drove Joel back to work and I walked around Leederville a little bit (our car is set up as a 2-seater, even though it's a stationwagon).

We spent the rest of the day driving to Hyden, home of the famous Wave Rock. We found it rather amazing that people make the Wave Rock drive as a DAY TRIP from Perth. It was about 5 hours drive one way. We didn't actually SEE Wave Rock that night (although we could have). We were too tired and just wanted to have dinner and relax a bit. We spent the night at the caravan park that is right next to the attraction. Apparently, Wave Rock has a AU$6 parking fee. Or, you can stay in the Caravan Park and walk there for no additional cost (it's no further to walk from the caravan park). That's what we did.

Wave Rock
On January 16th, we got up pretty early; it was hot! After breakfast, we went over to see Wave Rock. It's a rather interesting formation, but Kirk and I agreed that it was not something we would have wanted to come to as a destination! We were happy to stop here overnight on our way to go somewhere else, but we would NOT have wanted to have done this as a day trip or made a special trip just to see it. As we were pulling out of Hyden, we had two choices -- north to Koolgardie (remember, it was hot...that would be REALLY hot) or south toward the coast and Esperance. Even though we'd been to Esperance before, we chose the cooler weather. We were about to head onto the Nullabor. Cool weather, even for a short period of time, was appreciated! And hey...if we were heading toward Esperance...why not stop in and see Joy and Johannes again?! So, that's EXACTLY what we did! Boy, you'd have thought we were the prodigal son! We originally planned to just drop in for a chat and then head on our way...get a start on the Nullabor. We were (easily) persuaded to stay the night, especially when Johannes tempted us with dinner at his favorite restaurant!

We drove into Esperance, where Johannes and Joy were spending the night in one of their rental units, spent a few minutes at Joy's mother's house (she is a lovely lady), dropped our stuff at the rental unit, and then headed to the restaurant at the Esperance Motor Hotel. It doesn't sound like much, but they had a magnificent steak dinner, cooked to order, with all the fixin's! It was FABULOUS! We were in heaven (and virtually ROLLED out of there afterwards, we were so full)!

On January 17th, we woke up fairly early, showered, had breakfast, ran some errands and got on the road. We needed to get some miles behind us. We spent that night at a rest stop about 25 km past Madura (where we had slept the LAST time we were on the Nullabor).

Kirk and Rooey II at the Border between Western Australia and South Australia
On the 18th, we woke up to see another truck had slipped in next to us while we were sleeping. There were several other vehicles parked at the rest stop, but this one must have come in late. We chatted with them for a bit (they were French). They had pulled in about 2 hours after we did, and saw thousands of kangaroos by the roadside. It had gotten too dangerous and they had finally pulled over, out of self-preservation. Again, we were determined to put some miles on the car and get much closer to Sydney and areas we had not seen before. You are probably wondering what we were doing with all this time in the car! We spent much of the time reading to one another. The book we were reading at this time was "Kings in Grass Castles" by Mary Durack, telling a true story of Australian pioneers. It's fabulous, if you ever manage to find a copy.

We made it all the way to Port Augusta that night. It was, however, a horrendously hot night. The temperature probably never dropped below about 32 degrees C, and neither of us slept much (even though I took two cold showers in the middle of the night and even slept on the roof of the car for part of the night).

Kirk Changing the Oil

Mario's Palace Hotel
On January 19th...well...it's our one-year wedding anniversary!! Hooray!!! First, we found an air-conditioned church to go to, Gateway Christian Centre Assembly of God. We were there an hour early, but we were determined to get inside the air conditioning. The people there were very nice, even though the worship team seemed a bit disorganized. After church, I stayed inside (in the air conditioning) and chatted with people and worked on my scrapbook (yes, I have a scrapbook) while Kirk changed our oil...the car was due for the 5,000 km change. It was unbelievably hot out there and his face was bright red when he came in to say he was finished. So, finally, it was time for us to head off into the heat in our (air conditioned) car (on our anniversary!!). We had decided that our target destination for the day was Broken Hill. Not too much driving (only about 4 hours), but enough to get us on the way and even closer to our destination. We figured it was ridiculously hot, it was our anniversary and we were gonna splurge. We were getting a hotel room for the night! After a look at the Lonely Planet for affordable rooms, one caught our eye. Broken Hill happens to be home to a hotel where a rather famous Australian comedy was filmed, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". In that movie, the characters stopped in Broken Hill and spent the night at Mario's Palace Hotel. Perfect! We'd try it! It was very old and dilapidated, but it was great! The murals were amazing (most of them were painted by an aboriginal man). We checked into our room (the A/C was almost as old as the room...we were doubtful it would get THAT cold..and we were right) and decided to have a little walk around the hotel. The toilets in the women's bathroom closest to our room were so old that there was a suspended tank that flushed by pulling a chain!! Wow!

We decided to have dinner and again consulted the Lonely Planet. It recommended a place that was just across the street, the Barrier Social Democratic Club. Now, we had heard that Australians love their clubs. We had just never been to one and this was to be our first experience. Let me just say "casino"..."Vegas"..."cheesy". The dinner was fine and we were quite happy with our food, but the atmosphere was a low-class Vegas or Reno casino. There were pokey machines right along the dining room and they sent us to the bar to order our soft drinks. Yuck. (But we didn't really care...it was our first year anniversary and we were happy to be in air conditioning!!) It was 40 - 45 degrees outside!!

Kirk and the Big Gallah we saw on the way to Bourke
On January 20th, we got up a little late, enjoying the fact that we were sleeping in a real live bed and we were in a semi-air-conditioned room (remember...it was a very OLD air-conditioner)...plus, we had had NO sleep in Port Augusta, so we needed to make up a little. Once we got moving, we showered, packed everything up and found a little cafe to have some breakfast. Afterwards, we went and found someone to do our car safety inspection so we could sell the car. It took a couple of tries to find someone who could do it right away, but we did. And when he came back, he gave us our pink slip! We had passed! No radiator repairs to do, or tires to replace, or other odds or ends to fix! We had passed! Kirk said he was confident all along, but I admit, I was relieved and shocked and STILL think it was a miracle! Praise God, because it was all HIS doing!

After that, we went out to see the Royal Flying Doctor Service Regional Base, which is in Broken Hill. It was very interesting to see the history of that wonderful organization and all the advancements they have made over the years since their inception.

Then, we were off again. This time, we drove as far as Bourke. The drive was long and boring. We did see a variety of wildlife along the way, including emus, kangaroos, a huge goanna, goats, wedgetailed eagles and several other varieties of birds. We stopped for petrol in Cobar, and went to an off-brand station, which apparently had ethanol in the mix. The car coughed and sputtered at low speeds and upon starting up. Grrrr...we'll never go NEAR ethanol again!

Donna the opal miner
On January 21st, we woke up to another sweltering day. It was about 2-3 hours to Lightning Ridge, the Black Opal Capitol of the World. When we arrived there, it was insanely hot. We went straight to the "Walk-in Mine" and the proprietor told us he had just looked at his thermometer outside...50 degrees C (and 46 in the shade)!! We took the little self-tour at the Walk-in Mine and I was thrilled to be underground for the short time of the tour (I would have been happier to have stayed down all day)!! It was a disappointment to have to come back upstairs into the furnace. The tour, however, was interesting and we enjoyed chatting with the owner of the mine.

Donna's Opal Anniversary Present!
(Not Actual Size)
Afterwards, Kirk called Jim, a friend of his who is interested in cutting his own opals. He had originally asked us to purchase some opal rough for him, but it turned out to be much tougher to find (and more expensive) than we had anticipated. While they talked (all the public phones here are outdoors, it seems), I ran for the refuge of a nearby air-conditioned petrol station. When they had concluded their chat, we went to a little shop called Lost Sea Opals and looked at their wares. I assumed we were there looking for opal rough for Jim. I discovered we were looking for my anniversary present!! Cool!! We walked out with a very beautiful small black opal that we will set after we get home. Thanks, my wonderful husband... oh... and since it's our FIRST year, it came, of course, in a paper bag. :)

After that, we decided to get out of blazingly hot and dreary Lightning Ridge. It's an odd sort of town. Claiming a population of under 3,000, but containing a population of more than double that, Lightning Ridge is filled with people who don't want to be found -- illegal immigrants, criminals, deadbeat dads, they are all hiding there. It's an interesting place, but not one in which we really wanted to stay -- especially at 50 degrees! So, we hopped in the car and made it all the way to Gilgandra, where we spent the night and planned our route for the remaining day or so.

The Parkes Dish
On January 22nd, we deviated a bit from our planned route to reach Parkes, star of the movie "The Dish". If you haven't seen it, the movie is a bit fictionalized, but stars the Parkes CSIRO Radio Telescope which is used in Astronomy and many other forms of scientific research. The visitors center there was quite interesting and actually had a fair amount of information about the making of the movie The Dish, and distinguished how much of it was fact versus fiction. It also talked about other important missions the Parkes Dish had been involved in (including the rescue of Apollo 13).

From Parkes, we headed on to our original destination, Cowra. Cowra has a rather interesting history, as it was home to the POW Camp No 12, where a massive breakout was orchestrated by the Japanese during World War II on August 5, 1944 and 231 Japanese POWs were killed and another 334 escaped from camp. The breakout was intended as a suicide breakout -- the prisoners would rather be killed than taken prisoner; in their society, they were shamed by having been taken prisoner rather than having died in battle. We went first to the site of the actual POW Camp, where there is now a memorial. From there, we headed on to the Cowra Visitors Center, which has an amazing POW Theatre movie...it's a holographic movie, talking about the breakout and the aftermath. We had read about this in "Down Under" and weren't disappointed at all. We drove into the Blue Mountains and finally spent the night in cool weather...in fact, it was raining! In the camp kitchen (they had a real one), when I went in to make dinner, I saw a girl who looked sort of familiar. She said, "I know you!" We had met her at the Rocknasium in Auckland almost two months ago!

The 3 Sisters

Archway at Everglades Gardens

Wentworth Falls

Kirk, Donna, and Phillip
On January 23rd, it was STILL raining when we woke up!! We headed off to see some of the sights of the Blue Mountains, despite the inclimate weather. We started looking for Katoomba Falls and Echo Point. We noticed straight off that the free tourist maps we had weren't particularly helpful. They showed general areas for sites, but not specific directions on how to get there, or where they were. We frequently found that we were getting turned around, having to backtrack or guessing on where things were. Often we guessed right, but a couple of times, we missed something altogether because it was just too hard to find and we didn't want to hunt that hard. The first place we did manage to find was Echo Point, from which you can look out and see the Three Sisters. We also saw a poster that detailed the aboriginal legend of the Three Sisters, which I found very interesting.

From Echo Point, we found our way to Katoomba Falls, which had very little water in it, despite the recent rain. Then, we were off to Everglades Gardens, a National Trust Gardens designed by Paul Sorenson and established in the 1930s around an Art Deco house, claiming to have the Southern Hemisphere's most extraordinary bathrooms. It was a beautiful and interesting place (although the bathrooms were severely overrated, in our opinions). My personal favorite was an archway that housed a fountain...it was rescued from a bank being torn down in Sydney. We then headed on to Wentworth Falls, where Kirk took photos from Princes Lookout of the falls.

After a couple of failed attempts at finding additional attractions, we headed into Sydney, where we called my old friend, Phillip. He and I used to work together. He had us drive down to Darling Harbor and meet him at his waterfront office. After a quick tour around, we followed him to his house...our new home for the coming week. He helped us to get settled in and walked us around the neighborhood a bit. He lives in a very nice neighborhood, Potts Point; it just happens to be about 4 to 5 blocks north of where we need to be to sell our car! VERY convenient!

Wanna buy a car?

Inside the King's Cross Car Park

The wonderful mix of businesses at Kings Cross area
On January 24th, we spent the morning at Phillip's office, borrowing his scanner. All those photos (or at least a lot of them) that you saw Kirk put online were thanks to the kindness of Phillip! Then he took us to lunch at a nice little cafe on Darling Harbor, near Pyrmont. Afterwards, we walked back to King's Cross, scoped out the car market and then spent the rest of the day catching up online.

And so, you wonder, what have we been up to for the last five days? With little exception, one thing and one thing only...trying to sell our car. This is an extremely boring endeavor, let me tell you. We sit in the King's Cross Car Park all day, waiting for people to show interest in our car and hoping and praying that they will make an offer (so far, none has been forthcoming). Tomorrow is our last possible day in the carpark. If we don't get an offer tomorrow, we will be forced to sell the car back to the car dealer at 40% of our purchase price. We are PRAYING that doesn't happen!

Other than that, we did go to Hillsong Church on Saturday night. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was a great experience, although, admittedly, I felt more like I was at a concert than at a church service during the worship time.

Kirk, Donna, and Eun-Jung at the Queen Victoria Building
Last night, we finally broke our very boring trend of doing absolutely nothing and went to a movie (it's cheap movie nights on Tuesdays). We met a great gal from South Korea (Eun-Jung) and we are planning to do something else with her again before we leave for Thailand. She is new to Sydney and hasn't met many people. She is very interesting and a lot of fun.

Well, that's enough for now... please PRAY we sell our car tomorrow (1/30 Sydney time)...

1/30/03 We sold our car!

Hooray! Thanks for your prayers! Praise God! We sold our car today at the King's Cross Car Market! We got AU$2600 for it.

Calculating things out, including repairs, the car cost us AU$3800, and we got AU$2600 leaving a difference of AU$1200 as our cost for two months. That is $600 US, or US$10/day. Pretty cheap!

Yesterday evening we had dinner with our friends Kevin, and Vicki and their kids, who we stayed with on our first time in Sydney back in December. We had a great time.

Now we are in a mad rush to get everything ready for our trip to Thailand on Saturday morning. We need to buy DEET bug spray, Sun screen, etc. that they won't have there and ship a box of stuff home that we don't need anymore.

The red line is the route we took through Australia
If you are reading chronologically, click here to go to Thailand.