Finally leaving Perth behind

Paul’s back from the UK and is almost over his jet lag. We’ve had our car serviced and now only have to do our final shop tomorrow, and pack everything up and we’ll be ready for departure on Wednesday.

Going down south for two months was ok as a trial run, but it was all previously covered territory. It feels better to be heading towards new territory.

I don’t know if or when we’re likely to be back in Perth. It really is a very isolated city and I imagine that once we’re over East the distance to here will seem daunting. But who knows what roads the future will take us on.

Our plans for the near future are to leave Perth early on Wednesday morning and put as much distance between us and Perth as we reasonably can on the first couple of days. We’re not going to travel at break neck speeds or drive silly distances, but we figure we should be able to get past Carnarvon by Friday. Then we’ll slow down a bit. We’re heading for Barn Hill just south of Broome for our first major stop.

After that, we’ll spend a month or so travelling slowly towards Darwin, hopefully arriving there before the end of July. By then we’ll be needing to find some work for a couple of months to keep us going.

Can’t wait to get going now.

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Almost ready

Paul only has two more days of regular work now, and we have four more sleeps till we leave Perth to begin our new life.

We have taken care of most things that are mandatory before embarking on an adventure such as this. The caravan is ready. Legalities such as wills and land deeds have or are being attended to, and will be left in capable hands for safe keeping. And we ourselves are ready. The only thing we haven’t done that we intended to do is an updated first aid course, so we’ll have to pick one of those up sometime soon.

The caravan and annex are organised whilst we’re camped up, with a place for everything. Travelling between camp spots is going to pose a bit of challenge though. We’ll no doubt be staying for one or two nights on route sometimes, so we have to find a way to pack the gear from our annex into the van, and still allow reasonable access to fridge, stove, loo and bed without having to haul everything out. Sorting out the packing of the van is this week-ends job.

After years of camping, Paul is great at that sort of thing and works the packing like a jigsaw, with a perfect place for each item. I have every faith he’ll manage it all perfectly.

Today, I’m off for a bit of beauty therapy with a girlfriend. It’s the result of a bet I lost with her last year. I’m sure she thought I was never going to make good on the bet, but I’ve deliberately saved it for a time that will make a lovely last day with her before we leave. We’re both having a sea salt body scrub followed by a full massage, and lunch afterwards. Can’t wait.

We had our long range fuel tanks fitted to the Hi-lux this week, so that’s about the last of big pre-take off big expenses.

Paul went into work today and made a fitting to go over the external vents of the air conditioning. It’s an aluminium box which covers the vent and takes the hot air from the air return to the outside. He’s made it in such a way that the hot air is directed outside the annex, and the air that draws into the van is completely separated from the hot external air flow. Hard to explain, but needless to say, it works a treat and without it, having the annex up with the air con running just didn’t work.

Fuji has had a few troubled nights this week which started when a smoke haze blanketed the city a few nights ago. She meowed all night, and continued on for a few nights following. Last night she seemed a bit more settled and even came outside into the annex on her harness for about 1/2 and hour in the evening. That was a first. She looked to be content just to sit in a chair and take in the annex surroundings. Perhaps she understood when we threatened her with the wok at the local Chinese if she didn’t button it!

We’re putting up some additional security for her at the windows by way of net curtains attached on wires top and bottom. We have fly screens at the windows, but we don’t trust them to form a sufficient barrier against her accidentally finding herself with a ready exit. She doesn’t seem to seek an exit, but if one presents itself she’ll probably take it. The curtains will provide a double barrier, each insufficient on its own, but together they’ll provide enough I think. We’ve bought a Felaway infuser for her today. It’s supposed to help cats overcome stressful situations. At a cost of around $100 so I hope it works. Currently she seems to be loving all the windows to look out of, but she’s reverted to being a bit too nocturnal for our comfort. We think she’ll come around and adjust. Time will tell….

New site

We moved this morning into a new site at the same caravan park at Karrinyup Waters. It’s a lovely van park with two big landscaped  swimming pools, one heated to 32 degrees, plus a large spa pool. Some of the ablutions are old style, but the ones closest to us are a row of individual rooms, and each room has a hand basin, toilet and shower in it. So, they’re nice and private, and very roomy. We only use our own toilet over night, and we’re using the park showers rather than the smaller one in our van.

There’s two nice lakes in the park full of ducks and water birds and with nice grassy banks for playing bouchee on, or just sitting on a seat and watching the ducks do head stands in the water. Whilst there’s quite a few trees around the park, only about a half of the sites benefit from shade from them. The one we had initially had no shade, but the one we moved to this morning has a lovely big ficus shading the van from the hot afternoon sun. It drops a lot of berries, but dealing with those will be easier than dealing with the heat.

It was an interesting exercise to pack up and move, even if it was only 20 metres down from our original site. The inside of the caravan was pretty full. When we’re doing a longer move we’ll take a lot more care with the packing up, and some things will get packed into the back of the ute or will find a spot in the caravan boot.  We’re going to have to have a bit more or a thin out to manage overnight stops as it wouldn’t be much fun to have to drag everything out just to be able to climb into bed. We have a few extra things here that we’re not planning on taking with us anyway, so that’ll be a bit of help.

We’re getting there and I should imagine by the time we’ve done our 2 months or so down south in Feb/March and early April we’ll almost have everything worked out.

Yesterday was the first day we didn’t have anything we had to do. We chose to have a vehicle free day and chilled out around the park. We used the pools, played bouchee and quoits down by the lake, watched some of the boxing day test and later in the evening watched DVDs. I must say, I think I’m going to enjoy this once we get into the rhythm of it.

Almost there now

We moved into the caravan about two weeks ago and so far so good. There was a heat wave the first few days which didn’t make things very comfortable, but since then the weathers been sitting reasonably comfortably around 30 most days. The site we’re on doesn’t have any shade, so it’s feeling a bit hotter than we’d like it to be, but tomorrow a van is moving out from a lovely shady site which we’re hoping to move into. We’re in a caravan park that doesn’t allow pre-booking of sites, so we have to try and grab it when we see them go. Fingers crossed. It’ll make life much more comfortable.

We had our solar panels fitted just prior to moving in. They’ve been fitted along the length of the roof. As we’re living in the van it would have made it difficult to get them fitted once we’d moved in, but in hind sight I do wish we’d waited. It turns out our air conditioning unit, being installed in the side of the van under the wardrobe isn’t really up to heat wave conditions. We think we’ll one day have to change it for a roof mounted unit, but  with the solar panels mounted the way they have been, we haven’t  leftroom for air conditioning. When we do bite the bullet and have it done we’ll have to get all the solar panels re-positioned to make space for it.

When the time comes to do that, it’ll make a lot of our space more user friendly. With the air con mounted into the side it means we have all the pipes running through our wardrobe and one of our kitchen cupboards and they’re a bit intrusive. But we’ll do that a little bit down the track if we’re not managing the heat.

Fuji has settled in well. She’s not supposed to be in this park, but fortunately her timid nature makes it easy to keep her presence hidden. The heat wave on the first couple of days was hard on her, but now she’s settled in and has found little cubbies to snooze in through the day, and at night she’s loving the amount of windows to to look out of. We have our annex up so as to create a bit of privacy and allow her to move around without being seen. She hasn’t been interested yet in coming out into the annex yet, and we’re training her to a leash and harness for when she is feeling comfortable enough to want to venture out a bit further.

Our plan is that she’ll only ever be allowed out into the annex when on her lead. When in places she’s allowed to be it’ll mean we can leave the annex walls off and she can enjoy the great outdoors along with us. When we’re in places she isn’t allowed to be, we’ll put up the walls and the leash will keep both her and all the native animals safe. I suspect though she’ll probably prefer the safe feeling of being inside the van most of the time. We’re very lucky she’s so timid really, as she doesn’t seem to have a wandering bone in her body, or any inquisitiveness to venture outside of her small secure area.

For most people who have owned cats that have the freedom to come and go as they please, it’s probably hard to comprehend how a cat could be happy being confined. It was certainly a pleasant surprise to us. But she is so happy and content in her small space and is much more companionable than any other cat we’ve ever had because of it. Everything about how she reacts to it seems to indicate she’s happier than having to deal with life in a the great outdoors. But then again, we suspect she’d a hard and possibly even tortuous life before stumbling upon us.

Our real journey is set to begin on 17 February when we leave Perth for the south west of WA. Until then we’re still working and still getting things ready. We still have quite a lot to do.