Saturday, October 23, 2004


Tasmanian Devil

I got this email from my brother Chris today:

Hi Dom

you will not need to worry about the Tasmanian devil whilst you are on your travels since it appears you have already been possessed by it.

See attachment for rare footage captured in the foothills of southern Wales. (note: this is not the same thing as "new south Wales")



Perth to Broome

Goodbye to Planet Inn - my home in Perth for the last couple of months. That was an amazing place and deserves a plug. I didn't get to know Tony the owner too well but I can tell he puts alot into the place to create some atmosphere.

I hit the road with a hangover on Monday the 11th of October and picked up my travel buddies Marco and Annika. Marco is from Switzerland and travelling with me as far as Darwin. A few days ago, we dropped Annika in Exmouth where she is doing a dive course.

Click this link to see all the pictures from the trip. I'll include some of the best ones here too.

Our first stop at sunset was the Pinnacles - rock formations sticking out of the sand dunes. We walked around the 4x4 track and then drove around it just for good measure. We got back on the road, stopping to take a picture of the sign to hangover bay. The first major town on the coast is Geraldton where we stopped off to get a few supplies and visit the Cathedral. Next was Kalbarri national park, where we stayed and did some walking for a couple of days. I'd like to recommend it but the flies and wind drove us completely mad so we got out of there in a hurry.

Next was Monkey Mia which was much nicer than I expected. We stayed overnight in the resort style campsite, enjoying all the facilities that we had lacked camping in the bush for the last 3 days. I couldn't resist taking a trip on a catamaran - saw some dolphins and met some charming Irish girls. I was pretty hungry after the cruise so I took a seat outside the restaurant and ordered Fish and Chips and a VB (Victoria Bitter). Just as my food arrived so did Steve and Rachel - two friends from Planet Inn. We've been travelling together since then, they have a Ford Falcon which is a classic backpacker vehicle. They have been an absolute riot in all sorts of ways. Steve chases everything that moves in a skirt, including Annika who is really a stunning looking girl. Unfortunately for us she has a boyfriend back home.

Compared to our Swiss style organisation the Falcon team are a complete shambles, lacking even the most basic necessities eg. a tent (they sleep in the back on a mattress). The chaos makes for plenty of lively discussion and argument about stuff like whether the cool box should go in Bertha or Big Bird (that's our name for the Falcon), how to drive properly on a dirt road, the state of the tires etc. Ironically Big Bird has not had a puncture and Bertha has had two. Steve does breakdown recovery for living so it's sometimes been a bit of a bussman's holiday for him. A couple of days ago we stopped to help out a family who had broken down in a 4x4. Rachel and I were in the Falcon and we sat and watched while Steve did his thing under the bonnet. There were loads of people in the 4x4: a couple of blokes, naked kids and an old tormented aboriginal woman who kept wailing at at us through the car window. Anyway, on with the story...

We got to Exmouth, stopping only briefly at Coral Bay and Shell Beach. Exmouth is a pretty nice town really although there's not much there. We got a tire fixed and did laundry etc. We left Annika at the dive center and got back on the road late the following day. I'm not sure why we set off so late but by sunset we were on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with a flat tare. Here's a picture I took whilst listening to the sound of escaping air.

Luckily Big Bird is made of tough stuff and Steve and Rachel caught us to help change the wheel before it got too dark. I made a mental note to get the puncture fixed and buy a wheel nut wrench as soon as possible (this vital piece of equipment is something Big Bird had but Bertha was missing). We arrived in the mining town Tom Price a couple of hours later. First priority was to set up camp, followed immediately by scoring some beers. We went into town and walked into the only bar, my jaw dropped when I saw who was working behind the bar - it was none other than the glamorous Sophie who I had met in Perth (again at Planet Inn). I really couldn't believe my luck! Turns out she had been ditched by her boyfriend left in Tom Price to fend for herself; which she was doing pretty damn well, so well in fact that despite the best efforts of Steve and myself, she declined our offer of a lift to Darwin. Anyway, it was really great to see you Sophie. Read on to see what you missed.

From Tom Price it's a short drive into Karijini national park. We bumped into the Irish girls from the catamaran whilst filling up with water and arranged to take them out in Berth the next day. It turned out to be an amazing trip with some spectacular gorges, natural swimming pools and a bit of rock climbing. Here are some pics:

Winding our way through the gorge

Marco rock climbing

Rachel not looking scared at all

Me climbing in boxers and sandals

High diving was the main event though. I had had some practice the day before near out camping spot. On my first big jump i hesitated for a minute or two and then didn't jump far out enough so i ended up in a shallower spot than i was aiming for. My foot still hurts a bit. Anyway that day I did a pretty dangerous long distance jump with absolutely no hesitation this time - much better. Of course Steve had to follow and do the same - the crazy things we do to impress the girls. I haven't got any pictures of me jumping so you'll have to take my word for it. Here's one of Steve:

That's all for now. We've been relaxing in Broome since last night and we plan to stay another few days before getting back on the road.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


choice photos

Just thought I would try out including photos inline with the text on this site... technological step forward. So here's a few of my favourites so far.

Just to prove I was there

Goa's nice, if you like sand

She tried for so long we had time to take a picture

Wild elephants near Ooty, South India

Near Manali, northern India

Himalayan flowers

Sajad (boss), Myra and me near the Shiva cave at Tatapani, northern India

Young pilgrims near Hemkund

Water buffalo in the Ganges at Varanasi

Young boatman near Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Emerging after a record 30 minutes under water

Sonja and Christin and a big tree near Warpole, South West Australia

Bertha the beast (she's the one in the middle, that's Christin on the right)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


West Tip

That was the name of the horse that won the Grand National in 1986. My old man had the good idea to bet on him. He came galloping across the line as we drove west for half term holidays in Wales. I was feeling pretty lucky last week as I headed out of Perth in my 4x4 with two wonderful German chicks in the seat next to me. We hit the road by late afternoon and drove until late. We ended up camping in a field about 80km outside Albany. Not strictly legal and sure enough a farmer woke us up the next morning to tell us off for disturbing his expensive horses. We were up and out of there in no time and keen to get started on our tour of South Western Australia. After picking up some food supplies we visited The Gap - rock formations and impressive waves. We had lunch by the beach and drove on.

It was afternoon and my travel companions were tired. Christin was dozing off so Sonja and I decided to start hunting for a place to camp. Sonja had the good idea to ask at a farm house. The farmer was pretty friendly, he told us to go to Rames Head, "you'll need a good 4 wheel drive to get there, there's a few bits of water but with a diesel you'll be right". So with Sonja at the wheel, we engaged 4 wheel drive for the first time. The water proved no problem at all and we crept along steadily, only stopping to snap a few kangaroos along the way. The track wound it's way over the dunes and eventually we came down onto a small beach. The track continued on the far side of the beach but on our first attempt, the beast refused to climb up the sandy slope. Time to turn back we thought, but the slope we had just come down was even steeper and Bertha (that's her name) didn't seem at all keen to get up it. We were stuck and had to get unstuck pretty quick because the tide was coming in. We let the tires down a bit, scooped the sand out from in front of the wheels but still we were only getting half way before the wheels started spinning. In the end several long run ups at full throttle in second gear did the trick, phew.

We carried on along another track and came across a deserted camp. We met the campers a little way along the track they invited us to set up next to them. Turns out they were down for the weekend to do some fishing and mess about on the beach with their 4x4s. We cooked our dinner and had a few beers. I got my guitar out and we took turns to play some tunes, they told us stories of crocodiles and sharks. At midnight we headed to the beach to fish. I had bought a mini fishing rod and they helped me set it up. My job was to catch some small fish to use as bait to catch sharks. I caught plenty of chunks of seaweed and a couple of fish, not bad I reckon!

Next day we set off early after a quick jaunt on the beach. The plan was to the famous tree-top walk in the Valley of the Giants, near Walpole. Christin wanted to conquer her fear of heights and we discovered it is possible to get excited about trees. It was so exciting that we went to see more trees the next day in Gloucester National Park. We climbed 60 meters up one of them and enjoyed the view. Needed a drink after that so we headed to a winery (Australian for vineyard).

that's about it, time to head back to Perth and work. We had lunch near a lake and chucked in a couple of fishing lines. We pulled out three fat trout in no time at all. We were cheating a bit, it was a trout farm where they let you pay to catch your own but they sure did taste good.

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