Part Five July-August-September
Well finally we were off back to Sydney and strangely enough we were looking forward to it. In hind sight I think we were made but for some reason we thought it would be good. The flight back from Darwin to Sydney should have left just after midnight, and of course before that we had to find a home for the bus for what was supposed to be 2-3 weeks. We dropped the bus of about midday and hired a car, so we had some where to live for a few hours. We had a couple more phone calls from NZ and it was becoming apparent that I would need to return to NZ at some stage in the near future. My daughter was in need of some support.
So with Kapone in tow we sat in a café, just on inside, so we could have a drink legally but with the dog sitting outside so we did not contravene any health laws. As the hours drifted by, and the drink count became a distant number, a couple passed by the sidewalk and remarked, "that's just like the dog we saw before" A quick glance and we instantly recognized our fellow traveler from a few thousand kilometers ago. It seemed that OZ was not quite as big anymore. We chatted and headed off for the airport after a few more drinks.
Dropping the dog off at cargo depot we drove around to the air port where in true outback style we were delayed and waited for an additional hour. At this time of the morning 1:00AM, she who must be obeyed was getting frazzled as we changed into our Sydney (winter) clothes and prepared our self for the climatic shock. Standing in the airport terminal we could hear Kapone telling them off, as his cage approached the plain.
Eventually we were herded into the plane, and sat like being jammed into the back of someone's Transam for what seemed like hours.
31/07/2000 Sydney - Back to work.
I wont bore you with the details but suffice to say it did not go according to plan. In brief :
The only good things to come of this trip back was I now have my daughter Shannon, who has come for a holiday with us. We got to see some family members and managed to Nic to go kart racing and she didn't even run to many people off the track.
Back in our house I began to realize what triggered other travelers not to return to the rat race. The pressure's of work, and domestic life (not to mention 5 jammed in house suited to two or three) along with the above issues sent the past few enjoyable months to the distant background, but the life line was Darwin, via Bali coming up.
The plane tickets to Darwin via Bali had been booked for some time for the Sailor and the Gipsy but no accommodation had been booked. As time went on it became increasingly more concerning as at the night before we still had no accommodation confirmed.
0909/2000 Bali here we come.
At last !!! Yes!, Yes! Yes!, a bit like the add on TV for Just right or the movie when Harry meets Sally, the thought was nearly as good, well maybe not quite that good. On the plane to Bali we didn't feel like cattle, there was at least room for one to move.
We stepped off the plane into Bali terminal and joined a queue and noted that smoking was permitted in the terminal, Sydney should pay attention. My brother who had recently traveled to Darwin had given us many warnings so I thought I was reasonably well prepared. Collecting our bags a nice Balinese person bought a trolley to our rescue, of course for a fee, gold oz coins.
I joined another queue to get a cab, and left the Gipsy and Hippy (Shannon) standing on the side walk watching carefully every bag. I didn't take long before both of them were targets for those desperate men to think they might take advantage of the situation. Returning to the due we piled in a cab. Mind you the luggage which we got into a Camira along with a driver and four passengers would not fit into the cab. So once hugged each other in the back seat while some of luggage had a prime view, with air-conditioning in the front seat
If you haven't been to Bali picture the main street of your capital city subtract 2 lanes, add a heat wave, add vaporizer, take 50% of the cars away, add 1000% more motor cycles with up to 5 on each, place it around new years eve where everyone might be beeping the horns, pretend they drive at grannies speed, but with a distance between each other equal to the distance between parked cars if your lucky and you should have a good picture of Bali traffic. Oh and take away any road signs, traffic control signs, traffic lights, and add a few driving the wrong way up a one way street.
As our cab drove us to the Vila Ruma Manas we entered an area which is what you might expect from the third world country and I began to have concerns about our accommodation. But as we pulled into the drive it was a bit like a paradise stuck in a gato. We were very polite attended to and shown to our Vila, which on all counts has been very nice, and suits our every need. With two bedrooms, and our own court yard, outside dining, on- suites, and plunge pool for a week at just under $900 oz dollars for three.
Having been warned about Bali belly we had decided basically not to eat anything that had not cooked at high temperature, and only bottled water or of course alcohol. It was not as hot as we might have expected (33), and probably equated quite well to Darwin temperature. Dinner was had in our outside courtyard, a few drinks, a plunge in our pool, and a movie.
10/09/2000. Bali - Kuta.
Catching a cab had been warned to check there meter's are working, and ask how much before you start. I did this but I did not ask if he had any change, and at the end of the cab ride, I got "no change, no change no change" spy my 10,000 Rp he said that will do and it was gone. At Kuta we headed for the shops and we walked, and walked and walked for to many hours. Again for those who don't know Bali, shopping is unlike anything in OZ. For example and over zealous sales people in OZ have been known to stretch the truth, some more than others, stoup to bribes, perhaps. But could you imagine your local Batek, leather, or Jeweler shop having people standing on the side walk up to a kilometer away who will follow you into each an every shop for 3 hours in our case, wait for you to have coffee and lunch, until you eventually got to there shop where you literarily have people tugging at your clothing and are swooped on by seven or eight people and the price is 200% up on what you might pay if your wise. Even with the warnings which we had received from other travelers, we still ended up paying a bit more than we should have, and I literally had to drag the Gipsy and Hippy from there clutches to save them from being mauled to death. Definitely not a place for those who cant say no, and I eventually got the Gipsy trained not to point or say thats nice, because in Balinese that means you bought it. In the end the Gipsy replied " I wasn't pointing, I really weren't. Of course all the time they did this with a smile on there face and were in all other ways very polite as they tried to flea's your money. The whole place is driven on the tourist dollar and bartering, so for the most part you pay about 50-60% of the asking price if your smart. As for money changes, well they typically take a look at you, and if your blond and female your reputation precedes you and they automatically assume you cant do math's, to convert the currency, and that you cant count. I watched one incident where the correct money was counted out in the draw, and then a pile taken off the top and placed on the desk. He knew exactly what he had on the table and the short fall on the draw. We go a Taxi home and collapsed after diner, swim, and a few quiet drinks.
11/09/2000 Bali Kuta
Breakfast in the morning came with fruit, which I decided to try on my own. With no ill side effects latter I pronounced it safe to eat pineapple, and have pineapple juice. The Gipsy's gastric systems has an in built date machine and knows exactly when a product approaches a use by date, and instantly goes into discharge as soon as any such product enters the system. Given use by dates don't exist here, I became the tester.
We headed off this time for a leather place which had been recommended to us. Not the cheapest by any means, and they don't barter, but supposedly the product is of good quality, and still cheaper than Sydney prices. The cab driver didn't really know where he was going, ( just like Sydney made me feel at home) but with no street signs, I could sort of understand it. The again its probable he knew exactly where he was going and that we didn't. Plonked in this street we walked to one end and on the way back down the other side we ran into a major con. An English backpacker at guess had some scratchy for us, and gave us a spin, that if we simply scratched this ticket and won, we would win either a Sony Video camera, $1000 au $ or a weeks holiday. Well fortunately I had been warned about this so declined, but the Gipsy and Hippy couldn't say no. The Gipsy did not win, and because I refused to partake, my ticket was given to the Hippy. An wow she won a price, but, but you have to go to this new Resort complex to collect it. You have definitely one a prize and this only happens very very rarely so she said. Well this was word for word what we had been warned about so I asked if this was a Time Share sales promo, of course she said no its not, and proceeded to talk about the great win, etc. I knew there and then this was all a con, but how do you tell a 14 year old that this is a con and you will never see anything other than some free accommodation in the corner of the world that you cant use. So I decided to let nature take it course, and we had a free cab ride to a new resort complex where they attempted to sell us a Time share system for the next 90 minutes, and then they dropped us back again. A total waste of time but then at least I knew it before we left, and was not disappointed at the end as many other are.
When we got back to where we were picked up we found Tommy caffe, not Tommy Leather. Fortunitly the leather place was not far away just up the road turn left a few doors up. Well that's a bit like about back oz where they travel 100K to collect there mail from there letter box. Again we walked and walked, and as night began to loom up I thought we might not make it, as probably about 30% of shops close up at about 17:00, and the rest at about 23:00. Asking directions and each time being pointed further up the road after convincing them we didn't want any more watches, didn't want a ride for three of us a motor bike, we found the door. I never thought I would walk out of shop having spent 1.2 million and think I got a good deal, on clothes. It just doesn't seem right some how. Anyway after measuring all the bits and bumps that we don't like to see written down on paper I think we have some very nice leather gear to pick up.
Stepping out into what looked like the back streets of Redfern we walked our way down the road, and I looked as if I was lost,( which I was) but this was the signal for cab, and instantly we had one. Remembering the cab episode and fare from the day before, this time when we got the cab and saw no meter I said 10,000 Rp ok, He said yes with a typical big smile and friendly face, which they all have. Little did I know because we had walked so far we were only a block from our hotel, so he smiled again and I gave him his 10,000 (just over $2) and another tourist sucker bites the dust.
Today we took life a bit slower and used it to catch our breath between shopping spree's, so I was thankful for a chance to rest. I went through a few brochures and identified some things to do. We planed our trip to Ubud and the other shopping area's along with a jet sky and our own tour, over the next couple of days. The girls went and did a bit more shopping, and latter in the afternoon I took hike looking for a bank. What was supposed to be a short walk turned into about 5 K's as each time I asked directions they pointed further and further down the road. As I walked down the road I noted where the cabs had been taking us shopping and it was obvious that they had been taking the long way around to run up there cab bill. What was about 12000 rp cab bill should have been about 2000 rp While I did feel cheated at the end of the day we are talking about less than $3.00 for the total bill at au $1 to 4700rp, but I'm now a bit wisser. We relaxed in the pool and watched a couple of movies which were originally in English and had been translated, so we had to read the subtitles.
We did our Jet Skiing in the morning and then headed to some of the outer area's where the different localities specialize in crafts of gold, silver wood carvings etc
Well today was, you guessed it another shopping day for the Gipsy so we headed of towards Ubud. In this direction you find the manufactures/ wholesalers of the different goods sold in Kuta at least that's what we were told. As we got into the cab I asked how much to get us to Ubud, which was the far end of today trip and he said about 50min and 80,000rp including a 20% surcharge for going out of his area and coming back probably empty. After some discussion on what we wanted, how long etc we agreed, and then he asked if we would like him to wait, and suggested we wouldn't get a cab out there. The cab fare was about right because I had already checked with the Hotel before we left, and knew it was a fare way from the map. The cab meter only goes to 99,999 rp. He offered to wait around and do the round trip, take us anywhere we wanted for total of 250,000 rp. We eventual agreed on 160,000rp which I figured was somewhere near fair, given he would be hanging around for 3 or 4 hours. We had asked in Sydney how do we find out if diamonds in rings are real or fake, and were told most were probably fake or poor quality, but I diamond tester was the only real way, and got a free demo from Lance Cove Jeweler. With this in mind we found about 50% of what were handed to us as real diamond rings were not, and the other had flaws in them. The asking prices were said to go up when a tour bus turned up which is why we did do this as a tour, but most items, wood carving, paintings, jewelry was labeled with prices, and most in US$. Generally we found Jewelry inferior to and as costly if not more than Sydney, which is what we had been told in Sydney. Wood carvings on the other hand were of much higher quality than in the rest of Bali, but so to were the prices, with some of statues getting up to $5000 AU and many of the smaller ones around $1000 au . However the wood carvings were superior in quality to that found elsewhere in Bali, and no doubt during the Bata exercise you would probably half these labeled prices. The batik side of it was much the same, again more expensive but better quality, however as with the wood carving we could not find the quality improvement equal to the price increase, so bought very little.
As we tripped around a 1/2 dozen of each of the different craft type of place, the cab driver added to the information we have been collecting on Bali which is detailed at the end of our Bali trip
09/09/2000 Bali tour.
We had decided we should see some of the outer area's of Kuta, and considered hiring a car, or doing a typical tourist tour. The car idea was squashed due to risky nature of driving around in Bali, and the tour idea didn't exactly give us the opportunity to see and do what we wanted. After a few enquiries we managed to get a customized tour that we could dictated where and when, and how, along with a guide who would explain things for us. At the end of the day this worked out extremely well. We headed off in one direction to the lack and Volcano, passing Monkey temple although that temple was nothing startling, past a few race fields on to a restaurant for lunch where we decide to risk the Bali belly and eat Bali food, and then back to another Temple and one more on the coast where we could watch the sun set with a temple in the background We gained a lot of information from our guide and I would recommend this as the best approach to seeing some of the outer area's. You can do it in comfort, at your own pace, we had 8 hours, you can change your mind as you go if you need to and you can ask all the questions you like. We arrived back and literally collapsed though after our rather big day.
The shoppers had been fairly frugal (given they are women) to date, taking my advice ( a first) and not purchasing many items that I thought we might get cheaper in the more specialized localities. But at the end of the day this was not our experience ( or see I told you so) so they raced off to spent up big. Well this they did while I relaxed and on there return we took it easy around the pool.
11/09/2000 Bali Last day
Time to pack and get out of here. We are all ready to go and have had enough, looking forward to getting back to relax. However we had a coupe of things to pick up, not the least of which were our leather purchases. Sorry you two girls, you know who you are, but they are not THOSE kind of leather purchases. As Murphy would have it they were not ready, come back at 6:00pm. Well we had dinner planed tonight and a show, from there we were going straight to the plane. So we enjoyed our dinner, show and paid the bill. In true Balinese form after we paid our bill and were standing waiting for our cab, reception came back and said we had had chocolate, and drinks from the mini bar, and owed more. In fact we had not, we had left our chocolate and our bottled water behind but they wanted to ague the point, stating they found the chocolate rapper which they later produced in our rubbish. The gipsy took no uncertain hum bridge to this regurgitated some words I had used a day earlier with the Jet ski people, at which point they gave up and we left. It was a pity because this act spoiled there otherwise exemplary record with us, but I guess it is in keeping with the rest of the country.
We went back again to Tommies at about 10:30pm and still they were not ready. After explaining again we are on a plane in an hour or so he said he would get them from the factory and bring them to the air-port. I could do nothing but agree, and really didn't expect to see him or our deposit again. But he turned up at the airport around 11:15pm with all our gear, and although we did not get a chance to inspect them in great detail I expect this has probably worked out ok.
As I sat in the coffee lounge drinking Coffee, I noted all the other tourists complaining about the perpetual rip off approaches. I estimate I probably lost in excess of 300,000 rp ($80.00 au) on money exchanges, and cabs, that drive around the long way. While I felt a bit silly given all the warnings I had, it seems I got of lightly.
In essence I would never go back, nor recommend it. While the bartering is a novelty and even enjoyable and the outward attitude, smile, patients of the people we could all learn from, the constant slight of hand and energy devoted to ripping you off ( with a smile) means you must be on your guard for each and everything you do. Imagine for one day of your life that everywhere you go, and each time you dip into your wallet that the recipient is a magician and treats money as a card shark might.
Some information we gained from locals.
The Cab driver pays about 80,000rp Per month in rent for his room where he and his wife and two kids live in one room.
Bali is running out of water and is expected to run out between 2004 and 2007
Electricity comes from coal, and petrol cost 1000rp per litre or $0.22au, so you think you are being subsidized, you Queenslanders, we are all being ripped off. A small place like Bali, can get fuel at this price!
The cab drivers earns about 240,000 rp Per month $51.60au. So when we got back from our all round cab fair and the meter had been completely round once and back to 30,000 (total 130,000) and we had agreed on 160,000rp which I gave him, I didn't feel to bad about the 30,000rp $6.45au that he scored out of me as a dumb tourist.
Don't expect to find a chemist without a doctor first for even simple things like Panadole.
The Indonesian Government return only 25% of the revenue taken from Bali, the rest goes to Jakarta
Allegedly the local Balinese shop keepers stoned a number Jakartan's migrants to death because of these rip offs
A Balinese women should not drink beer, nor should her husband.
A male Balinese might take his girl friend to McDonalds as a treat or night out for dinner.
Since the trouble in Temour many immigrants have come to Bali and these are generally of a poor socioeconomic standard, breading the have's and have not's.
There is no old age pension of course, so the younger sons and daughters must support there parents
A fruit picker in OZ working for 3 months would typically make what a Balinese does in 4 years.
Glad to be back in OZ we sat at the air port having arrived in Darwin at about 04:00 am and not being able to get our mobile home out of storage 9:00am. A few cups of coffee latter we watched the sun rise and the temperature begin to rise. With more bags than we left with, the shopping duo forced us to require a a Taxi wagon simply so we could get the shopping in.
We collected our motor home and drove it out side the gate where we all headed for our beds to catch some sleep. Driving to the Palms Trees caravan park and some what exhausted, we all fell into the pool and a few Bourbon's ( not of course the hippy) We managed to drowned each other a few times and relished in the fact that we could have real coffee, with real milk if we needed it later.
18/09/2000 Jabaru (10888/135708)
As the walls rattled from melody of snoring emanating from two distinct quarters I began to prepare the morning coffee. A couple of rather bedraggled bodies appeared and began to move like androids on flat batteries. Eventually they began to function, and we were on the road to Jabaru inside Kakado.
On arrival at the local caravan park we headed for the pool. Being away for only a couple of months has seen the temperature up here rise a couple more degrees during the day and also the night. With the pool surrounded by a bar, BBQ and trees, it was obviously time for me to burn a few snags, and sink a few Bourbon's along with the some minor drownings of the Gipsy and the Hippy.
Tomorrow I get to feed them to the crocks as we go boating on a Yellow Waters cruise, and they are being fattened up tonight and drained of blood by mosquitoes in preparation.
19/09/2000 Coomalie ( 11260/136080) Diesel 135970 71L $88.00)
We arrived at the Yellow Waters cruise which we had done about 10 years ago. The cruise this time saw a lot more crocs and bird life. We got quite a few good sightings this time of many different birds, and saw some 5M croc's. I possibly even got one snapping his jaws (on video) as he attempted to have our boat for dinner, well that's what the press would say anyway. While I encouraged them all to lean over the side it seems they just wouldn't be in it, although the snapping croc made a few jump, and the translators words all ran together. This year due to the exceptional wet the water was higher than previous years. We managed to see a bird of some sort (sorry I cant remember its name) kill and eat a snake for dinner.
It wasn't long before we were back on the road, chasing the thousands of fly's away and heading back out to Litchfield National park which is supposed to be better than Kakado. For the first time the bus was running a bit hot and when we climbed to the top of a hill I decided I should give it a rest, and we all consumed copious amounts of water, and of course coffee for the Gipsy . The flies of course wanted there bit as well.
20/09/2000 Daily Waters (11979/136799) Diesel 136515 264L $315
We stayed here (Coomalie) on our trip up to Darwin, but like Darwin after our return from Bali there was next to no one around, they have all either gone to Sydney or for the Caravan and Motor home Rally in Alice Springs. Anyway the lack of people bought out the wild life, and after telling stories of OZ Bunyip ( known to most as the Yetty) we found that we were able to spot this enormous creature with our 2.5Million candles of light and the flash of a Camera and I had it on film. Our resident no it all thinks its a Bandicoot, however its colours are wrong so we are really not sure. But it didn't eat any of us so I guess that all that matters.
We pulled out heading Litchfield National Park stopping at a number of places along the way. The Termite hills we had seen before but not like this. The general scenery was better, than Kakado, it cost nothing, and I would recommend it over Kakado.. We managed a swim and once again the crocs missed out on dinner, although the Gipsy did try to slide down on her knees, instead of taking the steps like everyone else. When we got to this water fall I was amazed to find that water was still falling and it did look like the photo in the brochure, except for the slim bodies in there photo's. We all had a swim and returned with carrying our share of flies on our back in true OZ from. The temperature as a bit hot to embark on 1 and 2 hour walks so we skipped a few of these that I would normally have ran round and seen. However the general scenery was good.
Given the it was raining sweet, and the next part of the trip was a lot of nothing we traveled at night for a few hundred k's. While I sweated dodging Kangaroos, crocs, cars, Dingo's ( I saw 2) the passengers watched videos into the night. Eventually pulling into this one hick town that keeps party animal hours. At 3:00AM the pub was still full and at 10:30 when we got up the town was still sleeping, including the Petrol station and post office.
21/09/2000 Wycliff Wells (12539/ 137359) Diesel 137221 218L $239
Heading south looking for cooler air the night temperature had now began to drop. The day time temperature is still in the high 30's. The Gipsy wanted to stop at Australia's UFO capital and Wycliff Wells is this such a place. Another long driver and we rolled through Tennant Creek again down to Wycliff Wells. This placed is decorated in lots of UFO paintings, murals, newspaper clippings etc. It comes with its own UFO lookout and landing platform just in case they get lost or cant find a good abducte. If you are to believe any of the press articles it would certainly appear to have something special about this place. Most of the essential services power, water, telephone etc have continually failed for reasons which can not be defined and boosters, extra units, cables, etc have all be supplied, along with letters stating that it cant be fixed or explained. Most of the reported events of outages correspond to sightings of UFO's. So it was interesting reading, and we sat for the evening looking into the stars waiting for our UFO to show itself, and I couldn't think of a better excuse to sit out under the stars and have a few drinks, at least the god dam flies had gone to bed, and the mosquitoes prefer Gipsy's to Sailors.
22/09/2000 Alice Springs - West Macdonald National Park ( 13010/137830)
Unfortunately for you lot we were not abducted, so you'll have to put up with us for a bit longer as we move on down towards home. Heading towards Alice Springs we rolled on through the heat. As we approached Alice things became greener, and more interesting. We stopped long enough to pick up a couple of bits and pieces and headed for a near by national park. We eventually finished up at a road stop which was right on the top of hill, and came complete with table, chairs, shelter, and hundreds of fly's. Fortunately they tend to disappear as the sun goes down, and it was about that time. We watched it sink below the ranges, and built a fire, mixed a few drink's and enjoyed the night. Of course with no street lights, no moon, it was pitch black, so the stars had there brightness turned up full. No Bunyips came although a few sounds could be herd and I think Spieal Burge rattled or scratched at the bus while I was sleeping according the Gipsy.
23/09/2000 Alice Springs - City ( 13235/138055)
Woken by strange birds sounds we were off and running by 9:00am, must be a record. Heading further into the National park to have a look at what it had to offer. Once again the fly's became the major frustration and I could see a number of frantic swiping going on along with Aerogard and anything else which one thought would help. First stop was down a Gorge and called Big Whole. It looked good and would have been a nice place to stop, there were a couple of others camped there, but it was not for us, only due to the inevitable fly content.
From there we moved on, and signs could be seen of significant flooding well above where the roof of bus was, and debris could be found in the tree's at the 10M mark in some places. The road had crossed the river bed many times, some of which still had water running.
A few more stops at another Gorge Ormiston Gorge, and general look around the area certainly had nice scenery for the middle of OZ. The high mountains ranges, and trapping of mountain waters makes for some very nice swimming, and also helps the growth of the lush undergrowth.
Next stop was the local aboriginal paint shop, where they get there body paint from. A look at the cuttings in the mountain showed the different colours, which they use to paint there bodies and tools of the trade.
Next stop the pub, and caravan park for a swim, time to go swimming bye for now.
24/09/2000 Curtin Springs -NT ( /138448) Diesel @138073 193L $228.
Heading off in the morning for what is arguably the most well known rock in the world I did not realize that it is actually some 237K's off the main road. and 480K's from Alice. As we pulled out of Alice the Caravan and Motor Home Association members were beginning to arrive for the following weekends annual meeting, so the roads were full of bus, caravans and motor homes, some 1100 were expected to this rally, and I don't think Alice had ever seen so many, as they began to fill up the local race course and surrounding parks.
We went to see the RFD ( Royal Flying Doctor) where it first started. Some of this information we already new but it was interesting to note that the RFD's first plane rented from QANTS for less than 0.10 c per Kilometer of which the government paid half. And hey its still covered by Medicare today if you need it. The RFD covers the biggest area in the world, and is one of a select few flying organizations that actualy share there runways with road, believe it or not ? Its true we noted the runways coming down from Alice Springs which said beware landing RFD next 2 Ks.
The school of the air had also interested me and we stopped in and had a tour of it too. They still use conventional HF radio's and are very slowly moving towards the net. There are School of the Air stations all over Australia, in the Alice area there are 12 teachers cover 180 students plus some specific teachers of arts. Each student gets some one on one time every week, plus they all come to there local station, and the teachers make personal visits. Again this covers one of the biggest teaching area's in the world in much the same way as the RFD.
From there we set off to the Rock.
Rolling down the road out here at night has a number of road hazards which we had seen before but non the less as you roll down a pitch black road and a couple of bulls step out in front of you, and you strive to pull up, and stay on the road, everyone is very quickly awake and alert once again if they weren't before. While thus far we have not hit any animals we have had Dingo's, cows, sheep, kangaroos, cassowaries, horses and an emu step out in front of us.
We had a bit of a late start, and decided to stop just short of Ayers rock at a place called Curtin Springs. It was a free camping area provided by one of the small local stations, farms ( 1 Million a.). It came with its own petrol station, shop, and toilets.
25/09/2000 Glendambo (Road Stop) ( /139190)
The next day we headed for this big hunk of dirt. As we approached from a distance it didn't look that impressive, and the $16.00 charge per person for a 3 day pass ( which is all you can get) seemed more impressive. But when we got to the bottom of it and had a good look it seemed almost worth while. We had been told you cant climb it any more, but this is not true. It just so happened that the day we were there the walk up was closed due to the temperature exceeding 38. ( what a pity we were all set to run up it) So we had a drink instead and thought how unlucky we were. There is a wealth of information at the bottom, but no where could we find any dimensions so all I can say is its ...... big, and about 2.5k around the base, by road. We armed the he Hippy with a two way hand held, and a bottle of water as she went for a walk around part of the base and looked at a few caves.
As we headed out past the toll booths I called up on the CB for anyone else looking for some free tickets and we passed our three day passes on to another traveler and eventually found another road stop for the night.
26/09/2000 MT Sabine ( /139489) Diesel @139351 161L $193.00
We always new the leg of the trip was going to be draining and a lot of driving with very little to see. Well we were right. There were only two things we wanted to see down through the center and that was the Rock/Alice and Coober Pedy. As we approached Coober Pedy there were kilometers of piles of white sand dumped. In fact this white sand was the results of mining by both individuals and companies, and the mounds went on for kilometers approaching Coober Pedy was would be mining magnates dig wholes all over the area, and the council put up warning signs about the danger of falling down these many wholes. Mans, sorry and you women's destruction could be seen for as far as the eye could see.
The Gipsy had idea's of doing some more digging, or me digging to be precise for her own piece of Opal but unlike Saphire there seemed no provision for temporary suckers to poor there blood and sweet over a clump of dirt that had probably be sifted more times than I've had Bourbons. In many ways this pleased me no end and we left after seeing some of the local underground shops, a space ship and some of the local culture, but I felt a little sorry for the Gipsy who had wanted to do her bit.
For those that don't know up until about 1946 there were no dwells above ground, this included, the Police station, post office, general store, jail, and local trading shops. All of these were underground and as you look around you can see many vents sticking up out of the ground where fresh air and light are being drawn for the premises which reside underneath.
With a full tank of gas a pare of dark sunglasses and a pack of cigarettes we headed south for another road stop in pitch blackness.
27/09/2000 Bookaloo ( /139809)
A quick check of the bus before we set off revealed the Diesel leak which we have had since Cook town was now moving from a drip every minute or so while the motor was running to two or three. With Diesel prices approaching that of gold ( thanks to GST and the outback) it was becoming evident that this was not going to wait.
Another long road and day full of nothing of much interest. We had driven past a few salt lakes which if you haven't seen them before are of some interest. But you had better be armed with your six pack of Aerogard, or you could be mistaken for a spastic as your arms are constantly waving the OZy salute, and soon some of you find your self swiping at each other, well that was my excuse. We past Lake Hart which was a fair size in land lake, but this time be took a pictures from the steps of the bus and saved our self the embarrassing gestures.
As night began to fall the flies get swapped for Mosquitoes and later as the temperature drops they all begin to disappear and you have a few hours to enjoy the night before the temperature drops to that of a typical NZ night and your forced to retreat due to the cold. With fire burning and determined to enjoy the night no matter what we sat outside with our fire.
We joined the Caravan and Motor home association some time ago for a number of reasons and the monthly magazine has a number of articles in it suggesting that it wont be long before all motor homes will have to carry what is called "Grey Water" which is waste water from the sink or hand basin etc and typically its 98% water with some soap etc.. It is suggested that the soap content and probably the odd pea or two is not environment friendly, and us Caravan and Motor home users are damaging the environment. Well if they took one look at the amount of dunny paper and what goes along with it, left around these road stops ( and not in a whole in the ground 50m from the edge) and realized that this pollution does not come from Motor homes maybe they would get the right prospective on things.
28/09/2000 Truro - SA ( /140250) Diesel @139919 110L $195
Truro was a night stop after a fairly long drive. We had left Bookaloo and drove past mostly waste land with nothing of interest. We rolled on through Port Augusta, with not much to see, although we didn't stop to look around heading towards home with every Kilometer. We stopped long enough to snap a picture of Stuarts Dessert Pea, pick up some Diesel, etc and rolled on down to Port Pirie. We had already decided not to look around and generally head back towards VIC and NSW. The wind was probably the strongest we had experienced as it roared across the plains we could hear the other heavy vehicles talking about the wind on the UHF CB. Stopping to take some video at the top of hill I stood leaning into the wind, and the shaking video had nothing to do with drinks or Alzheimer's as some might suggest. As we pulled into the road stop at Truro the wind was whistling through the tress, and a quick inspection of the tress above suggested that if part of them fell down we would probably not be another statistic, however the thought made for a restless night, along with the rocking of the bus.
29-30/09/2000 Moorook ( /140386)
After a windy trip up from Truro heading generally towards home we decided to turn of the main road and find a place to spend a couple of days. We had been traveling large distances over the past few days. We found this rather nice spot right on the Murray River and settled in. At a grand cost of $4.00 a night this little spot would have been even nicer had the wind not been so strong, and the temperature up a few more degrees. A few drinks later and we didn't notice the wind, jet skies, whiz boats, house boats etc. By the time the best part of the day comes most are packing to go home anyway. A couple more travelers turn up late in the night and we begin to notice NSW temperatures are returning. Once again getting our reminder of winter. An attempt to fly one of these fancy kites the Hippy bought in Bali revealed that they are really only thrown together and it will take some re-engineering by MaGive'a before that little sucker will fly. However I have been assured that they were seen flying over Bali so it must be possible. The next day we relaxed and took in the easy life. Later that night just after turning on the hot water gas heater we ran out of Gas. This bottle had not lasted long so either it was not filed properly or we had a leak. I chose the not filed option, and switched to the last of three gas bottles we carry. Down to our last gas bottle, probably meat we were low on fresh water as well, and as it happened we ran out in the next morning just before the essential coffee could be achieved.
Departing looking for water we rolled on around the edge of the Murray River as the water where we were, which was town water, looked like my old socks had been washed in it, and I assure you it would not be nice drinking. As we stopped to pick up bread and milk I noticed that my Diesel leak seemed worse and now a puddle was appearing on the ground, and it was most definitely time to do something about it. Collecting just over 1000 L of water from the local sports stadium (thank you) we headed for Mildura and pulled into a Caravan park. A closer look after we settled in has revealed that there are two new leaks or breaks in the fuel injection lines which will need fixing. A check of the public holidays suggested that VIC doesn't celebrate Labor day this weekend like every other state in Australia. So we thought tomorrow we could get any bits we might need. The only problem with that is we have gone from South Australia to Victoria and now are in NSW and didn't even know it. So we are stuck here for a day or so.
1-3/10/2000 NSW Mildura
Well you guessed it, the diesel fuel lines (2) were cracked, probably because they carry fuel at 2500 PSI, and we have driven over some very unforgiving roads, not the least of which was Cook Town. I knew I would pay for those roads. A few phone calls latter and I found that the Murray River is also the boarder so one side of Mildura has a public holiday while the other side works. I found Mildura Fuel injection after talking to the Caravan Park owner who is building a bus to do the same as we are. They volunteered to come out, which was better than driving there so I took them up on there offer. A couple of hours latter they turned up removed the bits and said they would be back latter that day. We relaxed, took the chance to do the washing, and the girls headed for the showers looking forward to the endless supply of water which they could stand under. But other than the endless supply none of these are ever as good as we have on board the bus. A phone call arrived latter and Mildura Fuel Injection advised that they had a Fire Engine come in and it was considered more urgent ( I wonder why) so it would be another day before he got back to us. Mean while we Frisbee'd, washed, drank, video'd the day away.
An old paddle steam woke us in the morning as it bleated its away to the wharf, and another bus relocated beside us as the gum tree above him looked a bit unstable, and we found out that two days ago a 2 ton limb feel off one of the big ones. Not the sort of thing we want to fall on us in the middle of the night.
4/10/2000 NSW Hay
With our new fuel lines and $190.00 less we were on our way heading for Hay. Once again we were in the middle of no where looking at a lot of nothing. We eventually arrived at Hay and headed for the rest stop. It just so happened that it was on the edge of the Botanical gardens so it was very nice, but it wasn't meant for buses that's for sure, or more than a a few hours. We drove in and instantly took up most of the space that was available, and there is no way you could maneuver once your in. But the grass was green there were tables and BBQ's and I managed to cook my usual excellent stake.
In the morning it felt like a Bacon Eggs kind of a day, so the BBQ was ready and a full breakfast was had but the Gipsy would not let me have any Champagne because I was yet to drive. Anyway as we demolished our breaky a few others turned up, and parked outside because the parking area was so small. Shortly after which we set off for "The Rock"
05-07/10/2000 The Rock
With our new fuel lines and $190.00 less we were on our way heading for "The Rock" bet you don't know where that is. A few hours, and then some we "Tootled through to the Rock stopping to pick up some beer, ice, etc, so we can while away the hours under the stars with some long time friends of the Gipsy. We struggled to find a flat spot for the bus, and unlike a caravan, you cant just jack up thirteen ton at one end to get it level. Fortunately our host found a significant piece of timber and we drove the front of the bus onto it, and at least now the Bourbon doesn't slide off the table, which of course is a must. As you would know if you've tried to find this place on the map its in the middle of no where land, and up a bit so the view is great, the stars are like head lights. The next few days were reminiscing with old friends, and the Hippy and I climbed the mountain, for some excursive or justification on my part for some more to drink when we got back. Those who have been to our outside video nights would appreciate the please of watching DVD via the video projector with a huge screen and plenty of sound out under the stars. Our host is a collector, of both junk ( sorry Lorrie) and interesting items, but I have to say he has the best Victor Motor Mower collection I have seen, or herd of f. I'm sure you girls will be interested so pay attention. Have you ever seen a mower which was capable of adjusting the speed or power according to grass height, pretty snazzy ah. If you ever need a part for your old vintage Victor Lorrie will have it. If you drive a small car you may have herd me refer to these cars as lawn mowers, or a starter motor for a real car, well Lorry has one which has a bigger engine than some small cars, and like these small cars you still have to push it.
08/10/2000 NSW Home
We departed The Rock and headed for home. We have cut our trip short so that we can get the Hippy back into school. As we rolled on down the freeway I had been accustomed to waving to the heavy vehicle camera which check the speed of heavy vehicles and also the trip times. If you traveled any distance you will have noted these ( well maybe you girls missed it, if you went via Tamworth) but they check not only speed but also that you have not traveled at say 140k's right up to the camera then 100kph as you pass the camera. They do this by checking the time between camera shots of each station. Our bus can only just exceed the speed limit so I have waved and smiled at these camera's as I drive past. Well as we drove in this time it actually took our photo so one presupposes I have exceeded some speed or time limit and will be receiving a present in the mail. Not bad given the distance we have traveled.
As we pulled in we recognized our house by the grass reaching for the cutters, and the weeds heading for the neighbors, and the strong odder that you might expect if you miss the garbage, as you probably did as a teenager. Oh we are home, what the hell are we doing .
Well that's it sorry if I bored you to tears, hope you have found it interesting at some level, take care and when we next return I will try to do better, you know she was going to do this, but I think the "Round to it" got in the way, and I thought you might like some information before we got back.