Travelling the Outback with ute and caravan
  • The Last Post

    November 11, 2021 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After leaving Melbourne on 27th June and finally arriving to our new home in Kaiapoi on 8th November we sure have crammed in some excitement in 135 days.

    The people we have met along the way all have their own stories and are so interesting. Some have been travelling for months and even a couple of years. The tricks we learned and stories we heard were amazing. So many like-minded people and wide ranging ages from young families to all the grey nomads. Some rigs were enormous and others were more than happy living in a roof top tent. The record for me was 5 kids and parents in a Hiace van and tent which they set up each night. Another was the elderly couple with 3 dogs (one was a Great Dane) and a cat all in caravan and annex.

    We stayed ahead of covid lockdowns – the closest was finding out on the NT WA border that we were 4hrs from being locked out.

    Some facts:
    94 nights in campgrounds (paid)
    9 nights freedom camping
    4 nights staying at a roadhouse
    3 nights at the Big Red Bash
    7 nights staying with friends
    18 nights in a hotel (14 in managed isolation)
    19000km driven
    6300km flown (4 flights)
    Nil breakdowns
    1 puncture
    1 new windscreen
    1 oil change
    1 new microwave oven
    1 dentist appointment (and a pedicure at the adjoining shop. Guess who was at the pedicure??)
    Quite a few hours under the caravan repairing plumbing due to rocks.
    Unknown weight in collected red dust
    6 Covid tests and the second covid jab each
    Fuel prices varied from $1.34 to $2.06/ litre

    Highlights- so many people have asked us what was our best place and that is so hard to compare what we have experienced so here’s a few:
    Litchfield area- easy to get to, plenty of safe swimming and a relatively compact area close to Darwin.
    Cable Beach- Broome- great beach but also the first sea swim after thousands of km driving inland.
    Big Red Bash- a real bucket list experience and meeting up with such a great group of people.
    Alice Springs – incredible landscapes and a very spiritual place.
    Uluru- not many tourists there which made it very special.
    Horizontal falls- natures best.
    The long straight roads- yes sometimes boring but that countryside is spectacular.

    Not so good:
    Midge attack at Derby. The town was lovely but boy did we take a beating with midges.
    Red dust- it just gets everywhere.
    Bush flies in WA- little blighters.
    The road into the Bungles.
    14 days hotel isolation.
    Now we are back in our little house in Kaiapoi which feels huge after 4 months in confined spaces. It all feels a little dream-like and we question ourselves if it really did happen. We are going to play a game next winter where I send Regan a photo of red rocks and dusty ground and ask him to guess which gorge it is! We both feel very privileged to have had this opportunity and for anyone thinking about a similar trip we would say go for it. Even the hard days were the best.
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    Barbara Read

    So pleased you are back home safely after such an amazing trip.

  • Iso done

    November 9, 2021 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    The last few days in isolation continued pretty much the same as day 10. As we mentioned in the last post we were able to get two or three exercise sessions each day which was handy as I had a few potential work calls and banished Regan to the car park. Nothing concrete yet but some promising leads we hope. The last couple of days was fabulous weather so getting outside was even more enjoyable.

    Our last Covid test was on Friday and we got the negative test results on Saturday morning. We received our permission letters to travel home and it was frustrating for everyone in the hotel having to stay closed up for another 48 hours. On Monday morning we stayed in bed late then had a walk before lunch. After lunch the packing began. It was all done and dusted within an hour and we had 5 very large bags.

    It was a very slow afternoon once we were all packed and just waiting. Thankfully we had saved the Netflix series “Clickbait” until our last few days so we immersed ourself in a couple of episodes. The health nurse called at 5pm and give us the final sign off. The shuttle arrived at 5:45pm and we were allowed to leave our rooms. There were only 5 of us heading to the airport.

    Auckland airport was completely dead, there was only one entrance. We needed to show photo ID, our permission to travel letter and our boarding passes. Air New Zealand was all self service and allowed our luggage on the plane. We had intended to have a bite to eat before our flight however we were totally out of luck as everything was closed.

    There were approximately 50 people on the flight so plenty of space. They had suspended food service however we could get water if we requested it. It was a very smooth flight and we landed in Christchurch early. Our friends Deb and Gerard were there to meet us and give us the car keys. The masks come off as soon as we got in the car.

    It was a miserable evening in Christchurch, drizzly and cold. The heating went on when we got home and had a cuppa before we climbed into our own bed. Neither of us slept very well. I think we were processing that we were actually home. The weather today has been just as miserable and the slippers and jumpers have been unpacked.

    Mum delivered some of her incredible scones for breakfast and some essential supplies. We then exploded and emptied 7 large suitcases (shipping and plane) into to at least the right room. The house is looking very lived in! This afternoon we caught up with friends and stocked the fridge. We thoroughly enjoyed a simple dinner and sitting in our living room.

    I think it is going to take a few days for it to sink in that we are back in Christchurch permanently and our Aussie adventure is finished. We have one last blog entry to put up in the next couple of days which will be a highlights summary and then we will be done and back to a normal working life......until next time.
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  • Day131

    Day 10 Iso

    November 4, 2021 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    So we are getting towards the pointy end of the isolation experience. Things are pretty routine and even the nightly menus are not so exciting. The end is close but not quite close enough. We have had a few days break from the Covid testing which we have enjoyed. Our last test before freedom is tomorrow.

    Tuesday and Wednesday went quite quickly as both Regan and I have had follow up enquires regarding some work opportunities we had applied for last week. Nothing concrete yet but it appears we might both have interviews next week when we are back in Christchurch so fingers crossed.

    They have extended our walking area - the same car park but three bays now rather than 2. About 150metres loop. It is good news for us as each session can have more people. We have been able to do two sessions each day. We try to do one early in the morning and then the second one later in the afternoon. Podcasts have been my saviour to distract from the endless loops.

    The food has continued to be plentiful but of course because we can’t choose it is losing some of the appeal. We have had a few days where there has been a creamy sauce on at least one meal. I have started to order the vegetarian option to try and get something a little plainer. The hotel is celebrating Diwali today so we had a nice Indian lunch with sweets to follow.

    When we entered isolation we had two MIQ task lists running. The first being the boring tasks we just need to get done such as tax returns, getting the truck and caravan re-registered and insured for example. The second list was more fun items such as yoga, painting, embroidery, book reading and Netflix bingeing. We did a task list check this morning and we have been very productive.

    We have decided to fly back to Christchurch on Monday night. The road trip we had initially planned sort of unravelled with the level 3 restrictions in place in Auckland and Waikato. We are allowed to leave MIQ an hour early in order to make the flight so only 4 sleeps to go now and a very long day on Monday.
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  • Day127

    Day 6 Iso

    October 31, 2021 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Almost halfway through and really it has gone pretty quick so far. Today is our third test although we are still waiting for the results of the second test. After this one we get a break until day 12. We have also settled into a bit of a routine, we try to get an exercise slot mid afternoon as this seems to be the longest stretch of the day.

    On Friday afternoon we were surprised with two unexpected deliveries. The first was a beautiful bag of gourmet treats from Regan’s sister including a bottle of Pinot. Not long after it was delivered there was a second knock at the door (such an exciting event) and the hotel delivered chips and fizzy. I am interested to try the feijoa one with gin soon.

    Friday night we had a shared drinks catch up with Judy and Grant and then did a Campbell family call on Saturday morning. It was our chance to freak Emily and Fredrik out with tales from iso. They arrive from UK early in December and are lucky to only have 7 days of managed isolation due to recent changes. Sadly we missed out on the change. Our exercise was at midday so the morning went really quickly

    The afternoon was wet and seemed to go by very slowly. I tried to break up the afternoon with a coffee treat and some yoga and a pre-dinner drink. We had managed to secure a second exercise slot for 8pm as we are struggling a bit to digest dinner in a room which is only 11 steps from one end to the other.

    At 8pm we headed outside, it was still raining so we donned jacket and I had an umbrella. It is not fun walking in the rain with a face mask on but we were desperate to be out. I caused a bit of a drama as one of my ear buds fell out into a garden with a large bush. I ended up with two lovely defence people helping me hunt it out in the pouring rain. Luckily they were white and one of the guys spotted it amongst the leaf mulch. I was very thankful as I have only had them for a week.

    Sunday is housekeeping day so we request what we need and it is dropped off outside our door. We are confined to our rooms this afternoon due to covid testing so our exercise was early this morning. We have requested another session tonight but due to the restricted number of exercise sessions we are on a waiting list at this stage. I feel a Netflix binge coming on.
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    Jackie. Australia Dewar

    Have you got SBS I thoroughly enjoyed An Ordinary Woman, Russian with subtitles. Don't try to read the texts on phone, you miss the English below LOL (and who can speak Russian anyway) 2 series about 18 episodes in total.... You have done your share of isolation, we are wondering about trying NSW again this Xmas and having the border snap shut at a minutes notice..... hope your time is near over now as I see this was posted a while ago...xxxx

  • Day122

    Iso day 3

    October 26, 2021 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    As I type this it is almost the end of day 3 and we are doing okay. It is a wet afternoon here and we have been confined to our rooms this afternoon as it is another Covid test day. This will be our third test in less than a week and so far all good. I found out that all children over 6 months have to have the same number of tests as the adults, poor little things.

    On Wednesday morning we got our first negative result and were issued with blue wrist bands. This means we are allowed to go outside for daily exercise and for a smoke if you wish. Our exercise yard is the car park in front of the hotel and we can see it from our room so provides some entertainment as well. In the main exercise area you are not allowed any equipment such as balls or skipping ropes and you can only walk.

    If you want to run there is a smaller caged off area where one person at a time can be running lengths. Regan used this area this morning for a few lengths to get the heart rate up. Twice a day there are family sessions where the larger area is divided into smaller spaces and each family bubble have a space to play. One family pretty much filled their are with chalk drawings on the pavement. I look forward to their next artwork as it poured with rain last night so a blank canvas for them.

    The food so far has been good and the misses have been more about what we felt like rather than the quality. This morning for breakfast we had a salami bagel with pickles which tasted good but a bit full on for breakfast. In the morning we also get a drink, fruit and a sweet treat. There is plenty of food and we are amassing a treat pile already.

    We placed a supermarket order which arrived today and will give us a option if the menu doesn’t appeal. We were also allowed to order a small amount of wine this time. They will release it to us slowly over the stay. We are allowed one bottle of wine per person per day which is plenty for us!

    We have been keeping ourselves very busy starting the job hunting and sorting out all the admin tasks we need to do now we are permanently living back in NZ. So no Netflix bingeing as yet.

    The rules for people returning to NZ have changed. Managed isolation will reduce from 14 days to 7 days with a 3 day home isolation after that. Unfortunately this doesn’t start until 14th November which means we still have to stay here. Our timing was a bit early to cash in on the relaxing of the rules.
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  • Day122

    NZ soil under our feet

    October 26, 2021 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Very early start yesterday we both woke at 3am and decided we might as well adjust to the NZ time zone. Friends picked us up at 5:30 and dropped us at the airport before 6am. Check in was quite straightforward although there was a list of things to show (Covid test results, MIQ voucher, and normal passport check). I was surprised we were not asked to show our vaccination status but I think changes with this come in shortly.

    We were surprised to see duty free open on the other side of departures but nothing else. I had been banking on an early morning latte before we boarded but no luck. The plane boarded early with all 34 passengers and we departed early which was a bonus. Like last time we were surprised to have three family groups with small children heading home. We had the full package so enjoyed some refreshments and movies so the 6 hours went quickly.

    Arrival into NZ was quite different this time. First stop the health screening and temperature check, next was immigration where they checked our Covid test result and then two stops for Biosecurity. You don’t collect your luggage anymore and as we had declared some items including some beef jerky bites they had to find our suitcase to check the ingredients. There was no pork in them so all good.

    Out to transfer where we finally found out our hotel. We are at the Sudima at Auckland airport so the drive was super quick although we had a wait on the bus for another group to check in. Pretty smooth process with reception check in and handing over of snack pack for dinner. Next was confirmation of contact details for Covid testing. Again no handling of our bags they were bought up later and we made it to the room around 9pm 2 hours after we landed.

    Our room is definitely not as luxurious as last time but by moving some furniture around and sorting out the storage we think we will make it work. Thank goodness for 4 months living in the small space of a caravan as preparation. We are missing a small table which could be challenging as we need to do some job hunting which will require a large amount of computer work.

    First breakfast received and enjoyed, fingers crossed this is an indication of the quality to come all week. No opportunity to choose your menu across a few days like last time but can swap out the default for a vegetarian option if we wish. We have our first Covid test this morning as we are travelling from a high risk country ( ironic as WA has only had a handful of cases over the past 18 months). We are not allowed to exercise until we return a negative result so any good YouTube workouts would be gratefully received.
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    Gerard Hansen

    great to have you back in nz

  • Day119

    Perth Week 3

    October 23, 2021 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    We had two more days with Bill and Maree in Mandurah. We managed to wrangle the bomb site that was our guest room into suitcases within our luggage weight limit. We bought two suitcases from the charity shops that will hopefully survive one more plane trip. On our last night in Mandurah we went out for a lovely Italian meal.

    Driving back to Perth on Thursday we detoured to Fremantle for lunch. It was the middle of the week but it seemed really quiet and plenty of empty shops. Regan had tracked the ship our vehicles were being loaded onto and as it was in port we drove past to check it out. As I type this the ship has left WA and is heading to Adelaide.

    For our last few days in Perth we are staying in a hotel in the city so we have easy access to everything. On Thursday we had a last meal with Phil and Terri, it was another delicious Italian meal in Mount Lawley. Friday was a busy day with pre flight Covid tests in the morning, lunch with a colleague of Regan’s, afternoon tea with Sammy and Josie and finally drinks and dinner with Kerrie. It was a fun day and topped off with negative Covid test results so we are all good to fly out early on Monday.

    Saturday we had a free day so we visited some of our favourite places. Breakfast was at Little Bird in Northbridge, a walk around Hyde Park, a visit to Kakulis Brothers to smell all the amazing spice smells and then exploring Elizabeth Quay. The Quay has been completely redeveloped since we lived here. They have created a whole new harbour area doubling the size.

    We had a simple dinner and finished the night with a trip to the movies. It was the first time in 18 months and we had hoped to see the latest Bond movie but it does not premier here until 11th November. Instead we checked out Free Guy which is a fun light hearted movie.

    Last day started with coffee with Phil and Terri in Northbridge, We then walked to Claisebrook Cove to have lunch with Lynleigh, On the way we stopped to take a selfie in Forest Chase which matches a photo we took on our very first day in Perth over 7 years ago. A few more wrinkles and grey hairs or no hair but still smiling. Pretty amazing that we arrived all those years ago and then depart this country from the same airport but with thousands of kilometres travelled in between.

    Lunch was lovely sitting by the water in the sun. After that we walked across the new bridge to Optus Stadium where we enjoyed another drink and chat. Back to the hotel to repack our luggage. We have tried to pack the bags so we can leave some bags in storage if it is offered in quarantine. Early flight with friends picking us up at 5:30am so off to bed soon. More to come as we yet again enter managed isolation for the next 14 days.
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  • Day113

    Perth Week 2

    October 17, 2021 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We settled back into the same campground on a different site. The overall focus on the week was to start sorting out our stuff and begin the massive cleanup. We discovered quite quickly that there are many nooks and crannies for red dirt to get into a caravan. We also had to get brutal with some things as only have 100kgs on the plane. It sounds a lot but roughly translates into 4 medium suitcases and carry on.

    We delayed the sorting of our possessions on Sunday and instead spent a great day catching up with my second cousin and his family. Again their children had grown and were now at high school. It was lovely to sit in the garden eating lunch and catching up on everything. On Monday we went and met our tenants in the apartment we still own here. They have been long term tenants and have taken excellent care of the place.

    Wednesday I caught up with some friends from my time working on the hospital project here in Perth. It was lovely to catch up with Tracey and Dee and I had a delicious meal at Petition Kitchen. Thursday the weather improved and we walked in Whiteman Park in the afternoon. It is a large reserve the previous owner had shaped into a beautiful park before it became a public park. It also houses three museums dedicated to transport and has a tramway running through the reserve.

    Friday’s forecast was for sunshine and the first day over 30 degrees so we downed cleaning clothes and headed to Cottesloe beach which was my favourite when we lived here. We walked along the coast line towards Freemantle and then doubled back to enjoy pizza at one of the restaurants overlooking the beach.

    Last week it became apparent that we could not transport the batteries of our electric bikes home to NZ and to replace them was going to be very expensive. We decided to see if we could sell them on Facebook marketplace and remove one hassle from our list. Thankfully a couple came on the Saturday morning and bought and biked away with them which was a huge relief. With the benefit of hindsight we didn’t need bikes for the trip we did and we would have been better to wait until we had returned to NZ to buy them.

    Saturday night we had a 90/65 birthday party at our friends place. Phil was 65 and his mum Josie was 90. We had spent quite a bit of time with Josie and her husband Phil Snr and her brother-in-law Sammy and his wife Madeline when we lived here. So it was so nice to see Josie and Sammy again. Unfortunately both Phil Snr and Madeline have passed away recently.

    The party was at Phil and Terri’s house and there were over 80 guests. Most of us were in the garden where the band was set up. It was a great night and the birthday girl was decked out in a purple and gold sari with a purple tiara and was up dancing away. I now have a new life goal to be dancing at my 90th birthday party.

    Sunday we visited Andrew and Carola again to deliver some of the things that were not making the trip home with us. Thankfully they said yes to everything! Then we drove back to Mandurah where Bill and Maree have kindly offered we can do the final pick out from. Monday was a massive clean out of caravan and caravan, sorting, then putting some stuff back in the caravan and ute ready for delivery to the shipping agent at 7am.

    Tuesday back in Perth. An early start for us as Mandurah is 70km from Perth. The wind and rain storm was in full force as we drove in the dark but we got there and delivered the rig safely, albeit looking like drowned rats due to the sideways rain. Now that the rig has left we have new tasks to do before our flight to Auckland and managed quarantine this Monday. Our main holiday travel is over but we have yet to complete our travel. More to come......
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  • Day103

    Perth week one

    October 7, 2021 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    It is hard to believe we have been in Perth for an entire week already. It has been a very social week catching up with old friends. There have been quite a few changes since we left and we have visited new houses, met new children and fur babies. It was so good to properly catch up again.

    We managed a visit to Kings Park which was as beautiful as I remembered. As the park only plants Western Australian natives it was a good time to view more wildflowers.. The kangaroo paw display was fabulous with the most intense colours. It is also the best place to view some of the changes to the city. While we were in town we went past our old apartment and walked around some of the streets we used to frequent.

    After the weekend we drove down to Mandurah to see Bill and Marie. We parked the van on the driveway and decamped into their spare room. It was a little strange to be back in a house again. It has been a lovely few days exploring Mandurah and surrounding areas. We were also the recipient of fabulous hospitality. We head back to Perth tomorrow for the next 10 days to catch up with more people including a belated 90th birthday celebration.

    Our big news is we have decided to make the move back to New Zealand this month. We managed to secure a quarantine hotel room and flights from Perth to Auckland on 25th of October. It is only 2 weeks away so now the brain is whizzing with all the things we need to do before we put the van and ute on the ship and board the plane. Exciting but a bit daunting.
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    Gerard Hansen

    Looking forward to seeing you again soon

  • Day96

    Destination Perth- complete

    September 30, 2021 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Just a small drive today to our caravan park in the northern suburbs. The road was quiet considering it was a major highway. We stopped at New Norcia which is the only monastic town in Australia. A few of you will have visited it as well I suspect. It was first settled in 1846 to convert the local indigenous people. It was interesting to see how something that started so simply grew into something so ornate. Over the years it grew into an orphanage, as well as a girls and boys boarding schools. The schools closed in 1991 however there is still an Benedictine monastery operating today.

    It also still produces wine, ale, port, honey and bread. The bread was especially tasty for our dinner. There are so many old restored buildings that must be hard to maintain. There were also very large mosquitoes just to add to the atmosphere.

    Just south was a large building and satellite dish. This is a ground station for the European Space Agency which launches rockets into space from French Guyana. It's amazing how many sites are used in WA for space related support.

    Driving south into Bindoon the road was still quiet but as we rounded a bend we came across a police RBT checkpoint. At 11.25am on a Thursday I hope they found no candidates for the TV programme. At least it supplied a break from an uneventful drive.

    After a lunch break we took a side road through the Chittering area. A very green and picturesque drive with lots of lifestyle properties and citrus orchards.

    Now that we are in Perth for the next couple of weeks while we sort our plans ahead the blog will not be daily but we will give updates now and again. We have driven over 17500km in the 96 days since we left Melbourne. Not a bad effort from our ute that hasn’t missed a beat.
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    Gerard Hansen

    what an adventure guys. Well done

    Marion Mullins

    Enjoy your time in Perth 👏👏👏