Its finally time for a Gap Year! After 33 years of working we have decided to bite the bullet, hitch up the van and do the Big Lap of Australia.
Living in: Cairns

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  • Day200

    Had an overnight free camp at Ngumban Cliffs on the way through from Kununurra (where I set up the Sat dish to watch Qld win the 2nd Origin game) and arrived at our great campground 20 mins outside Broome ($25 pn). - cheapest in Broome!

    Spent a week checking out the sights including the famous Cable Beach, Town Beach, Pearl Luggers, the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point, Sun Pictures Cinema (oldest outdoor cinema in the world) and Roebuck Bay. Spent most afternoons having drinks and nibbles at Cable Beach watching the fantastic sunsets and camel rides.

    Beautiful warm weather 17-31°
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  • Day196

    Had an unplanned 2 nights at Kununurra so we could get the cracked chassis of the van plated and welded properly. I actually got them to plate and strengthen the other chassis rail as well, just to be on the safe side.

    Didn't really enjoy Kununurra too was an ordinary CP and not a lot to see. We made the most of it, visiting Wyndham, 5 rivers lookout, Parry Lagoon, the Grotto and Mirima National Park (Mini Bungles).

    After speaking to fellow travellers, we decided to skip El Questro Station...we are a bit over gorges etc and they are very expensive to visit...maybe next time.
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  • Day192

    We had a fantastic 3 nights at the Lake Argyle CP ($35 pn). The famous Infinite Pool was beautiful although very cold. We braved the water on the first day in order to get the signature photo, and I promptly got out to thaw.

    We did the lunch cruise on the lake (the largest man made lake in the southern hemisphere) where we spotted kites, fed fish (catfish), stopped to view a few of the 30 thousand freshwater crocs and fed some rock wallabies on an island. We stopped for a beaut lunch including Silver Cobbler (bloody catfish), and Marg had a swim off the back of the boat.

    Really enjoyed the Durack Homestead & Museum which was dismantled stone by stone, and rebuilt above the water line when the dam was built. Did some 4 wheel driving up to a ridge which had fantastic views across the lake and where several famous marketing photos have been taken of Lake Argyle.

    Had our first mechanic issue of our trip...on inspecting the underside of the van, I found a large crack in the chassis where the chassis meets the a-frame. The mechanic at the park welded it up for us and we are going to get someone in Kununurra to weld some plates over it to make sure.

    Beautiful weather 19-31°
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  • Day187

    Stayed 6 nights on a private property just south of Darwin ($15 pn). Unpowered but it had a portable toilet and cold shower, although we used our own shower in our pop up tent.

    Checked out the Military Museum, Museum and Art Gallery, the WW2 Oil Tunnels and RFDS Museum to name a few. Very interesting WW2 bombing history here. Incredible to think the Darwin bombing was almost the size of Pearl Harbour, but the Govt of the day underplayed it's significance so as not to panic the Australian public.

    We visited quite a few markets whilst here, but our favourite was the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets on Sunday night. There was every food imaginable at the markets and we sampled quite a few. I even had a deep fried Mars Bar and ice cream for dessert! Settled in (with a few hundred others) to watch the sunset over the ocean whilst we ate our seafood Laksa.

    Beautiful warm weather. 18-31°
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  • Day184

    Well we've been on the road for 6 months, so time to take stock, check the budget and determine if we can afford to keep going for another 6 months!

    After 33 years of working for Telstra, I have taken redundancy and will continue to do the same job as a contractor. My last day with Telstra is 27th June and I intend to start working from the van for 2 or 3 days a week as we keep travelling. This will be challenging, but hope it works out.

    Here's the stats so far...

    Distance travelled - 23031kms
    Average fuel consumption - 13.5l/100km
    Cheapest fuel - Ayr $1.13
    Dearest fuel - Kings Canyon $1.98
    Fuel total -$4050
    Accomodation total -$3514

    Sick days - NIL
    Shortest travel day - 30km (Armidale to Guyra)
    Hottest day - 47° Western Sydney
    Coldest day - 1.8° Flinders Ranges

    Paul's favourites
    - Narooma - Sapphire Coast
    - Adelaide Hills
    - Great Ocean Road
    - Lake Argyle
    - Ayers Rock

    Marg's favourites
    - Flinders Ranges
    - Jervis Bay
    - Great Ocean Road
    - Adelaide Hills (OMG the Autumn leaves)
    - Bitter Springs - Mataranka

    Best tip - National Seniors Card (over 50's). This has saved us heaps of $$...thanks Ian & Jane.

    Well we've been able to stick to our $600 per week budget so far (fuel, accomodation, food and spending money) fact we're just under. Fuel has been the biggest expense, especially since leaving Port Augusta towards Darwin...we felt like we were constantly filling up, sometimes twice a day!

    We're pleasantly surprised how we've been able to find great free or low cost camps, national parks, farm stays, private properties, showgrounds etc to minimise our accomodation costs. I think we've only stayed at 8 caravan parks on the whole trip, and that's only because there's been little alternative.

    We've travelled through 5 states in 6 months, leaving only Western Australia and Tasmania to go. I reckon we keep going!
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  • Day183

    We loved Litchfield and it's spectacular waterfalls, gorges and swimmimg spots. We also loved that it was free (take note Kakadu).

    We stayed 3 nights at Florence Falls campground ($13.20 pn) which had toilets, hot showers, kitchen, fire pits and only a short walk to the falls. We were surrounded by trees so it proved a bit difficult to catch sun for the solar panels, but we survived.

    Loved Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole, Tolmer Falls, and Wangi Falls, although we didn't swim at Wangi (dozens were) as crocs had been sighted.

    We spent a lot of time cooling off in the various swimming spots as it was warm during the day, but thankfully it cooled off at night.

    Temperature 21-31°
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  • Day180

    Edith Falls wasn't really on our radar, but we got the tip to make sure we checked this place out. We stayed 2 nights at the campground ($20pn). There's a great swimming hole 100m from campsite, and we did the 2.6 km hike to the top swimming hole which was fantastic.

    Getting hot now as we head north. Temperature 16-31°

  • Day177

    Had a fantastic 4 nights at Bitter Springs Campground. It was an easy walk from the campground to Bitter Springs where we spent most morning and afternoons floating down the river in our pool hammocks.

    We also frequented Mataranka Springs which was a short 7km drive. Mataranka Springs have been concreted around the sides and has no weeds, lillies and logs etc which some preferred.

    Temperature 17-29°
    Diesel $1.39
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  • Day174

    Overnight at the famous Daly Waters Pub. I received some good news on the work front, so we had a big night celebrating. Had the Beef n Barra BBQ accompanied by live music which was great. The girls brought their old bras to staple to the walls in return for a donation to RFDS. Needless to say it was headaches all round the next day!

  • Day173

    Stayed overnight right at the base of the Devils Marbles ($6.60 pn). The campground is a beauty and is very popular but we arrived about 3pm and managed to get 2 great spots. Taking the cameras, we walked through the marbles and got some great shots in the afternoon light before settling in for happy hour as the sunset lit them up.

    Temperature 9-26°
    Diesel $1.28 (Wycliffe)

  • Day172

    We came back to Alice Springs to stock up and clean up after our adventures through the West Macdonnell Ranges. We stayed 2 nights and couldn't wait to get out of the place! We nearly had 3 or 4 altercations with the "locals" just doing the grocery shopping. There were security guards outside Woolworths, police on guard at the bottle shops and the whole place felt very unsafe.

    After washing cars, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, refuelling, filling water tanks etc, we checked out the sights of Alice including Standley Chasm, and Anzac Hill.

    Temperature 7-26°
    Diesel $1.27
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  • Day170

    We chose to stay at Ormiston Gorge Campground ($20 pn) for 3 nights to explore the West MacDonnell Ranges. The gorge and its freezing cold water is like an oasis in this outback environment. The campground had hot showers, toilets and there was even a kiosk at the gorge.

    We explored the West MacDonnell Ranges including Glen Helen Resort, The Ochre Pits, Serpentine Gorge, and Ellery Creek Big Hole. We're all a bit weary from the numerous hikes we've done, but we've accessed some amazing lookouts, gorges, ridges and ranges.

    Warm during the day...12-29°
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