Tweaking our belongings

Four months on the road and we’re learning what’s essential and what isn’t. We took our rig over a weigh bridge in Bunbury and fully loaded it’s close to half a tonne overweight. We figure with a 5 tonne rig we can possibly get away with that. If not, we’ll have to change the vehicle I guess. Shame the Hi-lux isn’t rated higher, it’s more than capable of pulling around what we have. We don’t even know the vans behind us most of the time, and towing the fifth wheeler we sit on around 90KPH, and around 2000 revs. It’s doing 12.5 – 13 litres per hundred when towing, which most people think is pretty damned good. I think the aero dynamic shape of the Travelhome helps that a lot.

We know we have to be careful to keep the weight from increasing, or possibly even reduce a few things if we can. We had been looking at changing our air con, but that would add more weight, so we’ll try and live with what we have. A roof unit would be more efficient, but with shady sites and moving on with the seasons, we think the one we have may be just adequate.

We are constantly in ‘cull’ mode for anything that’s not performing as expected or anything that’s not getting used and not likely to be used.

This week we replaced our 5 month old barbecue with a Baby Q. The Baby Q roasts and bakes beautifully, so is more efficient that the one it’s replacing. Because it roasts so beautifully we’re going to find a new home for our heavy, but much loved cast iron camp oven. The occasional access we have to camp fires on which we can use it, doesn’t justify it’s weight when we can cook all the same things and more often on the Baby Q.

When we first moved into the caravan it felt like it was short on storage. It’s a pleasant surprise to find out that’s not the case. But we do have to be constantly vigilant. Almost weekly, we clean and tweak our belongings. This week it’s the camp oven, replaced barbecue and a surplus table. Last week it may have been a tea pot, or/and a couple of cups that we find we’re not using and not likely to use. Next week, it may be a couple of t/shirts and a few pairs of knickers. We both have more than enough clothes, so it’ll be a while before we have to replace things that are starting to wear out.

Another thing that’s pleasantly surprising about living in the caravan, is that I thought there would be lots of times when we’d feel like the other half was ‘under foot’. That rarely ever happens, in fact it makes me wonder why the hell houses are getting so big. This feels absolutely big enough for two people. It’s quick to clean, and because we don’t have spare storage space, we can’t spend money on shite that sits in a cupboard or garage, forced economy!

Rather than adjust our house to fit unfavourable climates, we can just up wheels and move to where the climate’s better. Moving into this really does get needs and wants in prospective. There’s room here for me and mine, and room for friends and family when they visit. Entertaining isn’t any harder here than it was in a house, in fact with park ablution blocks, pools, and camp kitchens, it’s easier, we have all the mod cons for our guests and don’t have to clean any of them.

Back in Perth

Loved our time at Walpole. It was very relaxing and we met some lovely people and am sure we’ll stay in touch with a couple of them who are travelling in the same direction as we are.

After Walpole we went to Mandalay in Busselton for nearly two weeks. Mandalay is said to be the best caravan park in WA. For us though it wasn’t anywhere near up there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely park with excellent facilities, and if we had young children with us, I couldn’t think of anywhere better to stay.

Not having kids though, it felt like we were staying a kindergarten play ground, especially on week-ends when the place filled up. Only kids doing what kids do, but there were hundreds of them….

We had some real estate business to attend to whilst in Busselton, and unfortunately had some dealings with a neighbour that was most uncomfortable. (We have some vacant land there that’s on the market – neighbours though had decided the vacant land was ideal for all the equipment they have to conduct their landscaping business). We think we’ve sorted them out, but it did take the intervention of the ranger to get them to adjust to the fact that just because no one lives there, it’s not for their use. Bit messy, and made that two weeks in Busselton quite stressful.

Now in Perth for nearly a month whilst Paul goes to the UK for his dad’s 80th birthday, so back at Karrinyup Waters. Can’t wait to get onto the next leg of our trip though and to get to new places where we haven’t been before.

Our intention is to leave here mid May and head for the Kimberleys with only 1 night stops most of the way. We’ll probably spend around 4 weeks to complete the Broome leg, but most of that time will be at 40 mile beach, Cape Kauredren and Barn Hill. Then another 2 – 3 weeks to complete the Kunnunnurra leg before heading for Darwin. Looking forward to catching up with our son Kelvin in Darwin, and also by then we’ll be perusing the job market.

Darwin seems to have lots of employment on offer, so we’re figuring by August we’ll be on the look out for something. How long we stay there though will depend largely on how well we can cope with the weather once the wet starts to roll in. We’re hoping we can cope, and if so may spend the whole season there. From what we can gather the wet is really something to see and experience. Time will tell if we can cope.

Australian Salmon

The salmon are running, and apparently every fisherman (and probably some women) want to catch one of these. They put up a fight which seems to appeal to the hunter instinct. Reports on the eating quality is varied, but most reports lack enthusiasm, that’s for sure.

Today two different people gave us quite large portions, so I thought I’d better put some research into how to cook it and give it the best chance of being something we could possibly like. The most appealing idea was to cook it Thai style.

We went into town shopping for the right ingredients, coconut cream, coconut milk, Thai green curry paste, and veges of choice. I had the rest of the ingredients necessary. After removing and discarding the skin, bone and all the red meat from the fish, I cut the remaining white flesh into bite sized chunks and poured the coconut cream over it, then set that aside. Next I put some rice on to steam, and made the curry sauce. When the sauce was simmering I added the prepared veges and then the fish in the coconut cream. Once it came back to a simmer I only left it on for around two minutes, then served it up over the rice.

We both really enjoyed it! So, for all the critics of this fish, I’d suggest the above method may change your mind. It’s a strong flavoured, firm fish, so in a curry sauce it was just right.

I’ve frozen enough for another curry, but may try it Indian style next time with tomatoes and yogurt. I’ve also kept enough out for tomorrow night and am going to try coating with breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley, then will gently fry it in butter and oil,  and make a horseradish mayo to go with it. It’s a very firm fish, so I’m thinking it may be okay cooked this way. I’ll know tomorrow night.

Rest Point at Walpole

Rest Point caravan park is right on this inlet - stunning.

Rest Point caravan park is right on this inlet – stunning.

Nearby there are plenty of forest walks through old growth forest.

Nearby there are plenty of forest walks through old growth forest.

Greens pool, just one of the many beautiful beaches nearby.

Greens pool, just one of the many beautiful beaches nearby.

Walpole/Denmark area - where the forest meets the ocean. How good is this...

Walpole/Denmark area – where the forest meets the ocean. How good is this…

There’s so much to do around this area and the caravan park is more than adequate and so, so cheap. It’s $22 a night for a large powered site, and the 7th night of each week is free. That means total cost per week is $132.00. It’s $140 a week in a lot of the national parks and that’s without power. The sites here are grassed and it’s right on the banks of the Nornalup/Walpole inlet and to our rear is the Walpole golf course, so very picturesque.

There’s so much to do here. A few days ago we visited Shannon National park and took a cheese and tomato sandwich there to toast on there gas bbqs for our lunch. It was lovely in the forest. Then we went and checked out Windy Harbour. That day it wasn’t living up to it’s name and was very calm. The coast there was gorgeous, with beautiful rocks formations rising out of the ocean all along the shoreline. We stopped and tossed in a line with a lure for half an hour or so, but no luck. It was a good day though, despite the lack of fish.

Yesterday we stayed around the campground and using some burley and prawns caught our lunch from the Nornalup inlet, off our caravan park jetty. I caught my first meal ever with 4 herring and Paul caught two.

Today it was overcast with a few showers, so we went off into the nearby forests and did a few short bush walks, then went to local touristy herb farm and indulged ourselves with coffee and fig cake. Both were worth the calories, very nice.

A few people here have little fire pits. One is made from the inside drum of a front loading washing machine. Being made of stainless steel and having mesh type walls, placed up on a couple of bricks it makes a superb well ventilated fire drum. The other is made from a cut off gas bottle. The person with the cut off gas bottle is selling them. I tried to talk ‘the master’ into buying one to use for our camp oven, but his enthusiasm was somewhat lacking compared to mine. Never mind, there will be a time when one day I can have a camp fire and use my camp oven. I have a leg of lamb in the freezer waiting for the day.

I will post some pictures of the surrounding areas one day soon.

Self sufficient

At Lucky Bay we started to realise what it means to have our 2 x 150 watt solar panels, our 1500 watt inverter, Ctek battery charge and our generator. I can’t pretent to understand any of it, but after a few days at Lucky Bay without power and a bit of time to start looking at our own energy supplies, Paul started to work it out. There’s no shortage of willing and able blokes in camp grounds all willing to share their knowledge as well.

Firstly we took the fridge off gas and had it running on 240 volt from the inverter. However that was a mistake, the fridge draws to much power and ran our battery charge right down. The next day was overcast so re-charging the solar panels was slow. That’s when the generator came into it’s own, a couple hours of running that and we were fully charged once again and the fridge was back on gas.

So, we found running the big fridge isn’t possible from our own power source, but the things that are possible amazed me. I used my thermomix for making dips, we ran our TV and charged all our phones and computers, and I used my hair straighteners, all with hardly a change to the battery charge level.

As our microwave is only 850 watt we think that’ll be okay, but aren’t sure if we’ll be able to cook with the thermo mix yet. I still have to check the wattage of that before I try it, and I haven’t as yet tried the washing machine.  Those things are still be tried yet.

Currently the only things we know for sure it won’t run is the big fridge and my hair blowdryer. The fridge runs very well on gas and it takes hardly any gas, and as long I let me hair dry naturally, I can still use the straighteners to make it look passable.

This all means we can lived in a very civilised manner with only a few exceptions providing we have sun. When we don’t have sun, we can still be very civilised by using the generator.

Compared to our last caravan in which we had to boil a pot for hot water, I am amazed at how far removed from the pioneer feel this is. We really could live very well and for a very long time in one place providing it’s sunny, there’s a water supply and our cupboards are stocked. The biggest problem though of course is often there isn’t water, so once the water in our tanks is nearing it’s end we either have to look at finding a way to bring water to us, or move on to a water supply.

Cape Le Grand National Park

Wow! Visited Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park around 15 years ago. Loved it then, loved it now. We weren’t sure how long we’d stay for, but ended up staying for 7 nights. It’s a lovely, lovely spot. Lots of red dust, so our caravan has now well and truly been christened.

I’m sure I could go around the world and back and wouldn’t find a better walking beach than Lucky Bay. With it’s firm, white, squeaky sand, it’s rolling waves, and a rocky geographic background features it’s just about perfect. Add to that, most often we had the beach almost to ourselves once we left the immediate vicinity of the camp ground and you have reason to believe you’ve stumbled across paradise.

The camp ground is a lot busier than it was 15 years ago. Now most days by 9.30am it’s full to capacity and people are getting turned back to Esperance. On the day we got there, we arrived around 8.30am and took the last site available. Despite being full to capacity almost every day, the 3 woman’s toilets and 2 solar showers coped well. I had a hot shower every day, and never had to wait long for one to become vacant, and I never had to wait for a toilet. So, the facilities, whilst not plentiful, are certainly adequate. Also there’s a campers kitchen, with solar heated hot water and plenty of spring water available. So, although the facilities are basic they’re better than a lot of camp grounds have, and are enough to make a long stay possible.

Fifteen years ago we were impressed by how tame the kangaroos were, and I’m pleased to say they’re still just as friendly. One day we had a mother and her Joey took up residence on our ground sheet for around 5 hours. However, when we brought lunch out and didn’t share it with them they left and didn’t return for the duration of our stay. Perhaps some other camper was more obliging.

Paul fished off the rocks with just a lure the day before we left and came back with 11 herring. So, we had a free lunch that day. It was a fabulous stay, and we’ll certainly go back again one day I hope.

Lucky Bay Beach - paradise

Lucky Bay Beach – paradise

View from annex - what a window!
View from annex – what a window!

Kangaroo on the beach

Kangaroo on the beach

Huge boulders balancing on each other - awesome

Huge boulders balancing on each other – awesome

Albany WA

Albany – lovely as always and cooler than Perth as always. We leave tomorrow after about two weeks. From looking at the weather reports often, Albany has been experiencing peak temperatures from around 5 – 10 degrees cooler than Perth each day. As Perth is still having temperatures in the mid to high 30s, it’s been a welcome change.

I’ve only managed one swim, and Paul two. The southern ocean’s a bit too cool for me.

I can’t say our caravan park is worth much comment, nothing wrong with it, but nothing remarkable either. The location though is certainly worthwhile. This caravan park (Emu Point) and Rose Garden caravan park are both located a spit from the ocean at Emu Point, the eastern end of Middleton Beach. At the other end, also a spit from the ocean is Middleton Beach caravan park. The location of all three parks is worthwhile.

Middleton Beach itself overlooks King George Sound, so the view is stunning. The beach is nice and flat with hard packed sand, perfect for walking on, and waves that vary from gently rolling waves to quite strong surf. We’ve done a lot of walking up and down the beach. Flowing into the ocean is the Kalgan River, just a few minutes walk from our caravan park also. So, we’ve had our choice of river banks or beach for walking.

Sunrise over King George Sound, Albany

Sunrise over King George Sound, Albany

Middleton Beach taken from the boardwalk.

Middleton Beach taken from the boardwalk.

The rugged coastline directly beneath the boardwalk.

The rugged coastline directly beneath the boardwalk.

Albany has lots here to occupy any visitor. Although not visited this time as we’ve seen them before, there is the Whale museum, and the natural features of the Gap, The Bridge and the Blow Holes. All worth a look. This visit we made it to the Farmers market on Saturday morning and the Boatshed Market on Sunday morning. The Farmers market is really, really good, but I wouldn’t bother with the Boatshed markets again.

Fabulous fruit and veges to be found at the Farmers market, and unfortunately, the best French bakery – Royale Bakery. Wonderful baguettes, and rye bread, and cinnamon buns, and chocolate croissants….  It was so nice we went into the information bureau to find out where in town they’re located, and made a mid week visit to the shop between Saturday market days. I would certainly recommend a visit to anyone coming down to Albany, but don’t get the Royale Bakery confused with another called, The French Bakehouse. The Royale is on a back street, so you’ll have to seek it out.

Tomorrow we head towards Esperance for a week or so. We haven’t as yet seen Bremer Bay or Hopetoun, so intend to call in to those places. We also intend to re-visit Cape Le Grand National Park. We’ve been there before and had the best of times so we’re going on the promised return visit.