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Pimpama, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; 18th June 2008

   Our last day in Auckland, NZ held a surprise for us. Our good friend Martin James had just arrived in New Zealand on holiday to visit his son and he contacted us through our web site. We had breakfast and a mardle, (that’s ‘a chat’ in Norfolk speak) at a marina-side cafe. It was great catching up with one of my old work colleagues so far from home.

All too soon we were back at the hostel and packing our bags ready for an early start the next day, one of our earliest starts in fact as we stood outside the hostel at 5.45am for a 6.15am shuttle bus that didn’t arrive! A phone call revealed that they had no reservation for us. The girl on the end of the phone virtually gave up on us until I got into the, “I want to speak to your supervisor” tone, unusual for me some would say! After some low level ranting and raving they rerouted another bus to collect us - not a good start to the day!

There was no need to panic though as our Royal Brunei Airways flight was delayed in any event!

We were eventually on our way and after a three and a half hour flight which started with a prayer, as if I wasn’t nervous enough, we landed at Brisbane International Airport.

We had been warned that “without an onward ticket, and only a ninety day tourist visa”, we might have problems with the customs and immigration people but we breezed through, no worries at all until the contraband-sniffing beagle dog sat on Les’s foot after a quick sniff of her bag!!  Notice how I say, “HER” bag, well it was closer to her than me and she did have the dog on her foot - busted my dear!! We had nothing to worry about though, it was only a fruit-sniffing dog that had picked up a whiff of yesterdays lunch!

Stepping outside for the first time since landing in Australia felt fantastic. The sun was shining and it was warm, like being on holiday on the Mediterranean with that dry sub tropical smell. We were now in our eighteenth country. We had just ridden our motorcycle from England to Australia, “the long way” and had covered 64,230 miles, half way around the world, who would have thought it?

Dragging our two heavy holdalls, tank bag and small rucksack, we boarded the train for Brisbane city centre. After the short journey we were pleased to find our digs were just opposite the train station. The Palace Hostel was expecting us thank goodness as Les had booked it online, and (did I mention she also booked the shuttle bus?) I was trying not to mention that, but you know me!

The hostel, although perfectly positioned in the city centre, was old, smelly, tatty and full of students on their gap-year doing Australia, and us, the token old couple! Oh well, it was only for one night!

First things first so we headed to the internet cafe to find out where our bike was. For some reason it had been unloaded at Sydney. Qantas Freight was flying the bike over on behalf of Green Freight at Auckland and a lady representative informed us that it would be on the next flight to Brisbane. She mentioned something about, “dangerous cargo” and “finding a plane to carry such goods”.

Anyhow, this gave us time to pick up some insurance for the bike. This was a bit of a novelty after not having any whilst in New Zealand as it’s not required by law; you’d be surprised to know. We also didn’t have any in most of South America, where you’re supposed to have some, tut tut!

The insurance was easy to find though and only cost $120 Australian, about £60 for six months.

The following day we caught the train to Ormeau, which lay one hour south of Brisbane then walked the short distance to my cousin Steve and his wife Bev’s house at Pimpama. This was where we were staying for a few days easing ourselves into life in Australia.

Their house is huge, on a single level with a massive deck out the back and a hot tub from which you can look out to the gardens where colourful parrots fly in and out of the palm trees that surround the pool - I think we will be happy here!

Steve and Bev have been fantastic, feeding and watering us as well as going to work, it’s been great catching up with good friends and planning our exploration of Australia. Steve was an Australian champion Moto crosser and keeps all his off-road bikes in the garage/workshop; I will use his workshop later.

Bev is a theatre nurse at a local hospital, so all in all, we couldn’t be in better hands.

The third and very important member of this family is Pepper, the Australian sheep dog and my physical fitness coach as he chases me around the garden!

The bike arrived two days later than expected but we weren’t too annoyed as we weren’t in any hurry. So now it was back on the train to the airport.

Qantas Freight is a short walk from the international terminal. Here I paid another $128 for their handling charges then another short walk to the customs. The whole procedure was so easy this time being armed with my Carnet de Passage. After a couple of stamps, signatures and parting with $45 quarantine fee it was all done. It was then it was back to the Qantas depot where I found the old girl still sparkling clean. Next on the list was an examination of the bike by a beautiful blonde Quarantine Inspector, gees I feel old!! There wasn’t even any fuss about leaving things in the panniers this time. In no time at all we were finished and the whole importation process only took one hour seventeen minutes. I have now awarded Australia 2nd place for the quickest processing in eighteen countries - excellent.

Just around the corner we fuelled the bike then rode back to Pimpama. It felt so good to get the bike back and being on the road again.

The only other document we needed was an `Overseas Vehicle Permit. From Steve’s house we rode to Beenliegh and found the ‘Road Transport Office’. Here we were temporarily registered with the authorities and given our permit. This lasts for three months, the same as our visa and is free.

The last job on our list was to send off our passports, which had run out of pages for visas. These cost a whopping $300 each, £150 - ouch! Hopefully we’ll collect these when we get to South Australia.

We’ve been with Steve and Bev for nearly one week now so its time to explore the country. The plan is to do an anti clockwise circuit around this island! We’ll let you know how we get on.

Until the next time, Nick.

From Les

Pimpama, Brisbane, Queensland; 18th June 2008

Unfortunately our departure from New Zealand wasn't quite as smooth as we had hoped for. We stood on the pavement outside the hostel waiting for our “pre-booked” shuttle bus to the airport. We watched the dark sky brighten and witnessed our first sunrise in ages...though it wasn't in the plan! After quite a wait, Nick called the shuttle firm and they said that they didn't in fact have us booked! It was a good start to an early morning!! We were eventually picked up and delivered to the airport with time to spare but we were still slightly ruffled. “A Reminder” ... Get a reference number and name, even if you are told they don't give reference numbers for mistake!

The flight from Auckland to Brisbane was only about 3½ hrs and it was rather unsettling when we were told to fasten the seatbelts for the “prayer” before we took off. I think it was meant to be reassuring but I found it scary.

We had been told by the travel agents that we would be having big problems because we don't have an exiting ticket and may in fact be turned away from Australia by their customs department; this is a new thing to us. We have never been asked for any evidence of our exit from a country before and, sure enough, we had no problems once again and sailed through the checks with our 3-month visa.

As we stood waiting for our luggage I watched the highly trained little beagle sniffer dog working its way around the people and their bags. I remembered watching a documentary about these clever dogs that specialise in drugs, explosives and other banned items. Suddenly the little dog trotted in my direction, had a good sniff and sat with one paw on my foot and the other on my rucksack. Ooophs ... this means trouble!! It turns out that this dog was specially trained to sniff out “Apples”! And yes I did have an apple on my bag about 2 days ago but I still had to empty everything out for them to check. I had forgotten about the “Fruit Police” in Australia.

We spent our first night at a “young” hostel in the centre of Brisbane and close to the railway station. The bike hadn't arrived but we had planned to collect it the following day and then ride a short way to Nick’s Cousin’s house. The following morning the bike still hadn't arrived so in a change of plan we caught the train to Steve and Bev’s, dragged our heavy bags up the hill and introduced ourselves to their new bouncy pup’ Pepper’.

It was great to see Steve and Bev again and I enjoyed a “girl’s day out” with Bev while Nick went to the airport to collect the bike. He was back long before us and the bike was in perfect condition.

Happily, both Steve and Bev were off work at the weekend so we took a ride out into the Tamborine Mountain area and then to the Gold Coast and places like Surfers paradise. The weather is lovely and warm here, T-shirt weather but with a slight nip in the air in the evenings; it's difficult to remember that it is in fact winter here. We have taken a couple of trips by train into Brisbane where we organised replacement passports as ours are quite full. We also purchased insurance for the bike and did some sightseeing. Our washing is all up to date and we have been given medical supplies ... just in case we meet up with any of the nasty things that Australia is famous for. So far we have been here a week and haven't seen anything to freak us out.

We have been enjoying the huge variety of tuneful vibrant birds that fill Steve’s beautiful garden. From Kookaburras, Sulphur-crested cockatoo, King parrots, Rainbow Lorikeet, Minor birds and many others. As I write this there has been a light rain shower and the bird song has risen dramatically, I almost need my earplugs to help me concentrate.

Today we repack our panniers and hoping everything will fit in once again. We will be heading north in the morning to begin our Australian adventure.........until next time, Lesley.

From Les

Broome, Western Australia; 2nd July 2008

   We have just completed our 2nd year on the road. 67,000miles and 18 countries so far.!!!!!

Australia is vast!!!!! As we only have a 3-month visitor’s visa we have to gobble up some back aching miles in a hurry. We have just made the 9-day ride from Yeppoon on the Capricorn East coast to Broome on the Indian Ocean in the west. The roads are endless, straight, hot and dusty, and this is winter in the tropics!

The distances are huge between pockets of civilisation in the outback. We have been travelling from one Roadhouse to the next hoping for fuel, water and a dusty patch to pitch the tent. Distances are no longer measured by miles or kilometres but hours and days!!! Needless to say we haven't been in the position to write reports as internet connections are a rare commodity and we do not have the luxury of powered sites.

Eddie, the webmaster is now taking a well deserved holiday, touring Europe in his campervan so the next updates and photographs should be updated on the site early August.

Hope you all enjoy your summer/winter holidays.

I must wish congratulations to our son Daniel and girlfriend Donna who became engaged on Mid-Summers day. Here’s wishing you continuing health, happiness and love. Xx

On leaving the comfort at Steve and Bev's we joined the busy motorway and headed North to a liaison with Aunt and Uncle, Norma and Richmond at Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast. Not long after we had cleared Brisbane we could see the Glasshouse Mountains with their strange peaks through the tree-lined roads. The terrain was soft and gently rolling and the temperature was beginning to rise as we approached the Tropic of Capricorn once again.

Distances in Australia are so vast that destinations are not measured by miles or kilometres but hours and days. A few years ago we flew from Darwin to Adelaide in about 4½ hours! It only takes 3½ hrs to fly from the UK to the Canary Islands off the African coast, I just can’t explain how incredibly large this country is.

After a couple of very pleasant nights camped beside Norma and Richmond’s caravan close to the beach, we headed inland by way of Rockhampton, the Beef capital of Australia, hence the large statues of bulls which litter the town as they proudly stand on every roundabout. The surrounding countryside is still gently rolling with many trees standing individually as though they had argued with their neighbour. The road runs alongside a railway line so I sometimes wave to the train drivers, some trains can be up to 100 carriages long with extra engines in the middle to help pull the load. It's always nice to get a “Toot” and a wave in response. The train line seemed to stop abruptly at the Blackwater coalmining centre where the landscape suddenly changed to fields of maize and sunflowers. We stopped off in Blackdown Tablelands National Park which leads us up into rock escarpments which afforded us wonderful views from Horseshoe Lookout.

Anakie is a small settlement with a railway line and campsite in the middle of the gem fields where people go “fossicking” for treasures such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds. We are on a mission so didn't didn’t have time to stop and try our luck...this time!!

We were horrified to see the trail of Kangaroo corpses and carnage on the roads in the mornings. The huge “Roadtrains” tend to drive through the country at night and will stop for nothing. The Kangaroos and cattle tend to graze near the roads at dawn and dusk and have no road sense at all. Mounted on the bike we get the full effect of the stench of decaying flesh and have become quite envious of those travellers with air conditioning.

The shortest day of the year has just passed so we have to make the most of the daylight hours and try to be on the road by 8am. The days are quite warm but the nights have been very cold.

We stayed in Longreach where we visited the famous Australian Stockman Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage centre. The centre gave us an insight into how the first explorers and settlers managed in these quite hostile and dangerous areas. They were certainly a hardy breed and, having only travelled a few hundred miles, at times we feel quite isolated, almost pleased to see a “Grey Nomad’s” caravan approaching in the distance.

The highlight of one of our days was to stop off at the “Walkabout Creek Hotel” made famous by Mr “Crocodile Dundee”. The stop also gave us the opportunity to plug in our MP3 players to listen to our music as we travel the rather tedious straight roads.

As we travelled further west the distances between settlements, or Roadhouses, became greater. Roadhouses are like oasis in the desert. They usually consist of a fuel station, shop selling a few basics and a selection of fried fast foods and all day breakfasts. More often than not at the rear of the shop is a campsite full of campervans and 4x4 trucks stopping off for the night to break the journey. We find ourselves meeting the same people en route for several days and passing them several times only to find them also camping close by, reminiscent of the tortoise and hare syndrome.

Many of the 4x4's are covered in red dust from the unsealed roads. Even our bike has a dusting as we rode the Buchanan Highway to cut off a corner as we headed to Victoria River. This was different from the dirt roads in South America as they are now loose dusty sand with corrugations which make your fillings rattle. It was nice all the same to get onto the less-travelled roads for a change. The first indication we had of the approach of a 53-mtr road-train is the flume of dust it leaves in its wake and before long you are engulfed as the truck thunders by. It takes a while before the air clears enough to be able to continue along the track. At one point we crossed over the Ghan railway line that divides the country North to South from Darwin to Adelaide.

For several hours the scenery hardly changes but I have become quite excited at times to see the huge termite mounds that appear in greater numbers than trees. In some cases the mounds appear to be larger than the adobe huts we saw high in the Andes, and of a similar design. Sometimes I let my imagination run wild and can transform their shapes into all kinds of things from groups of nuns in habits, knights in shining armour, animals, and even weird creatures from the Star Wars movie. It does relieve the boredom for a while. I know Nick is really missing the bendy roads but this section of our trip will be more of an endurance test as our daily mileage rises and we are racing against the clock. Perhaps we will be contenders in the “Iron Butt” competition by the time we finish?

Because the country is so vast, (I think I've already mentioned that it's big), we have passed different time zones, putting our watches back 30-mins as we entered Northern Territory and back a further 1½ hours when we rode into Western Australia. This means that we are up before 6am now so we can make the most of daylight hours as it is getting dark by 5:30pm. We have only been caught out once and erected the tent from memory in the dark. There are so many bright stars here that it never really gets pitch black at night.

After 9 days in the saddle we arrived in Broome on the west coast and our first glimpse of the Indian Ocean; what an incredible colour it is. Our tent overlooks Roebuck Bay and we can see boats belonging to the pearl divers bobbing about in the bay. We have had 2 days here catching up with washing and emails and chilling out for a while. This morning we went to Cable Beach, one of the best beaches in the world. The water was such a wonderful colour we took the plunge and had a couple of swims. It's hard to believe it is winter here, 31deg and 22 deg in the water.

Sadly we are on our way south again to the cooler weather as we head towards Perth but we have enjoyed the sun on our backs for a couple of days.

Until next time, Lesley


Exmouth, Western Australia; Sunday 6th July 2008.

   We had a great week with my cousin Steve, Bev and Pepper the dog at their gorgeous home in Pimpama. I gave the bike a well-earned service and, in the process, broke the key off in the garage door. Being very philosophical, Steve said, “No one will be breaking in now”! We had another few jobs to do before getting on the road once again though. We took the train into Brisbane and found our way to the British consulate where we filled in application forms for new passports as ours are nearly full and we have several countries to go to before we head home. We then posted them to the British Embassy in Canberra, Australia’s capital; hopefully we’ll see them again! I also registered the bike with the Australian transport authorities and got my, “Overseas vehicle permit”, so the bike is also legal.

Steve and Bev took us for a drive around the neighbourhood and the Gold Coast across the Tambourine Mountains to Surfers Paradise. It was beautiful countryside with some brilliant biking roads on which we could so easily have spent a month exploring on our own, but we had a bigger objective. We had just two months and three weeks to circumnavigate this massive country; we were on a mission - we had to go.

Leaving Pimpama we jumped on the M1 north to Brisbane. We had been recommended a scenic route by Steve’s neighbour via the `Glass House Mountains` which by-passed Brisbane on an inland route. Sadly we had to make ground and rode in the queues of traffic heading north on the motorway. Fortunately we skirted round Brisbane and we were soon clear of the commuting traffic. We rode onward along HW1 through rolling countryside with lots of pines, gum tree forests, sugar cane, olive, orange, pineapples and bananas before stopping at a roadside caravan park and camped at the small town of Miriam Vale for the night.

The following morning we were still on HW1 as we headed north. It’s great being warm and riding in a T-shirt and jacket with the vents open once again. At Rockhampton we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn but couldn't see a sign to get a decent photo! We then followed the scenic drive to the beach resort of Yeppoon where we found the ‘Poinciana Caravan Park’ and a warm welcome from my Aunt and Uncle, Norma and Richmond. Norma is my mother’s younger sister and, not surprisingly, bares a strong resemblance to my mother who died several years ago; every time we meet I get a lump in my throat! They had been doing a tour of their country with a caravan in tow, not just any caravan but a ‘home from home’ luxury version. Needless to say we spent a couple of great nights, drank wine and ate good food whilst we told tales of our adventure.

Whilst at Yeppoon we also made some enquiries into travel and medical insurance as ours was about to expire and, after two years, and now being 51 years of age, Navigator Travel couldn't cover us any more. The problem we had was that the companies we contacted wouldn't cover us unless we were in the UK to start the trip, something we had to work on!

After arranging to catch up with Norma and Richmond in South Australia in a month’s time we headed back to Rockhampton on the HW A4, cutting the corner of the country as we headed west through gently rolling countryside with abrupt rocky outcrops. Green trees meet the red soil in veritable collage of gentle pastel colours. We turned off the A4 and visited the Blackdown Tablelands where we climbed to a rocky tree-covered vantage point which looked down on this huge forested national park.

Back on the road again we passed several long trains loaded with coal, the line of carriages seemed to go on forever. We were reminded of our time in Canada and waved to the engine driver only to receive a long blast on his horn.

That night we stopped in the small town of Anakie in the middle of gemstone mining country. In this area of Queensland you will find several people chasing their dreams and hoping to hit the big find and retire rich. In stark contrast you will also find the people living on caravan parks taking tourists fossicking, (rummaging around in the dirt hoping to find a little souvenir). They earn enough to buy another carton of wine and to sit in the caravan park drinking with the other `Grey Nomads`, (a group of retired people who’ve sold up and move with the climate in their caravans, not a bad life, although I couldn't keep up with their drinking!

Today we passed another milestone on our trek and clocked up 65000 miles so far. That night under a clear sky it was freezing cold as we slept with all our layers on in the sleeping bags! The mornings here start cold but quickly warm up until we’re back in our T-shirts and toasty warm.

We followed the A4 to Barcaldine then on HW2 to Longreach. Fresh kangaroo road-kill every morning makes a welcome breakfast for hungry eagles and hawks but the decomposing carcases leave that pungent smell of death all around. After riding for hours between settlements across this boringly flat and straight bush country we arrived into the settlement of Longreach and camped at the `Gunnadoo Caravan Park`. We arrived early enough to visit the ‘Stockmans’ Hall of Fame’, an interesting exhibition plotting the history of Australia’s pioneering outback settlers, from farmers to miners, and showing what a hard life they really lived.

From Longreach we followed HW A2, Landsborough, (Matilda) Highway northwest to Winton. For most of the day we rode the straight roads through gently rolling countryside which was occasionally forested, then suddenly, nothing but scrub and the odd tree. At McKinlay we found the “Walk about Creek Hotel”, made famous in the film `Crocodile Dundee`. It was here we also met a group of Harley riders on a tour of their country. It seemed to me that they were riding the perfect bike for these straight roads!

In the town of Cloncurry we found the `Oasis Caravan Park` for the night. Apparently this small town holds the Australian record for the highest recorded temperature, when in 1889 it reached 53.9 deg C. but fortunately not today!   The Flying doctor service was also started here in 1928 by John Flynn who was born at Winton and grew up at Longreach. Qantas Airlines were also conceived here so everyone’s got a piece of the success!

A short ride saw us into the town of Mount Isa, a big mining town standing in the shadow of chimneys and slag heaps. At this stage we were concerned about our lack of medical insurance to see us through this adventure so we found an internet cafe here and researched the world-wide web, made a few phone calls and sent a few Emails. We eventually found `Campbell Irvine` travel Insurance from the UK who will insure us and were happy to start the policy from Australia. The cost was £840 for the two of us for a year, the base price bumped up 50% because we’re travelling on a motorcycle! They also told us they will renew our policy on the road, so all’s well again.

We moved on once again through more gently rolling countryside punctuated by a few more gentle bends and the odd rocky outcrop to break the monotony, though one section of road had a huge amount of dead kangaroos and the near constant stink of their decomposing bodies.

We passed through Camooweal and Barkly Homestead and crossed into the Northern Territory where the speed limit is 130 kph, (80mph). So, sitting on 80mph and the bike ticking over at just over 4000rpm, (the red line being at 7500rpm), we gobbled up the miles and put a flat spot around the crown of the tyre! The strange thing is we rarely catch anyone up other than the odd caravaner! There is just miles and miles of nothing, long straight roads and a head full of thoughts broken only by the odd road-train coming the other way at about the same speed! A road-train is an artic lorry with another three of four trailers making it over fifty meters long and creating a bit of turbulence to say the least!

The old bike is running well, touch wood. At 80mph, (130kph) she returns 46.8 mpg or 16.71 kpl, and just dropping it to 70mph, (110kph) she does 52.56mpg or 18.83 kpl`s not bad for a half-ton bike I think. While riding down the road and meeting oncoming traffic in the bush we invariably get the ‘one finger’ of acknowledgement. No, not an insult, just one finger comes off the steering wheel and sometimes it’s difficult to see in the shadow of their vehicle so I tend to nod at most of the traffic! Surprisingly we don’t get much recognition from other motorcyclists unless they are other Over-Landers. Harley riders in particular find it difficult to wave; I suppose if they took a hand of the bars they’d crash!

We camped the night at the Three Ways Road House. This is where the Barkly HW meets the Stuart Highway, the Stuart Highway being the road running up the middle of the country from Adelaide to Darwin. We camp the night out the back of the roadhouse. In the middle of the outback it was very peaceful - until the dawn chorus!

We hadn’t been off-road since arriving in Australia so the next day after heading north to Dunmarra we put this right by turning off the Stuart HW and following the Buchanan Highway west to the town of Top Springs. It was a good dirt road with the occasional pot hole and loose stuff; 112 miles of red dirt literally ‘blooded’ the bike! When an oncoming 4-trailer road train came it was time to pull off the single track and wait for the dust to settle before moving on. The secret is to pull over to the dust-free side or we would get covered. Mind you, the drivers were always decent enough to give us a friendly wave!

From Top Springs we headed north to join HW 1 south to Victoria River roadhouse where we camped the night. This was one of the few times we misjudged our timing and ended up riding in the dark. Because of the odd kangaroo lurking in the undergrowth we had to drop the speed and be ready to stop if Skippy jumped into the road. By the time we got to the roadhouse we were putting the tent up in the dark which came easily as we’ve been doing it long enough now.

Next day we carried on west and crossed over into Western Australia. From Kununurra we headed south along the Great Northern Highway, HW1 via Halls Creek to Fitzroy Crossing. Today we also clocked up 67000 miles for the trek so far.

From here we carried on west but after recommendations from some Over-Landers driving a Nissan patrol we tried another section of dirt road to experience the ‘Kimberley’. So, turning off the Great Northern Highway, HW1 we tried to get to ‘Tunnel Creek National Park’ and then to the `Gibb River Road`. Sadly the going was too tough so after one hour and only eleven miles we were beaten by the soft sandy sections and hard corrugation which made it too difficult for our half-ton beast so we turned around. Our slow pace also threw our calculations into disarray; we would now have to camp on the trail and didn't have enough water - a very important consideration!

It was on this track we came across a forest of ‘boab trees’. Now, if ever a tree looked as though it was alive and just stood still every time it saw a human, it would be one of these. It has a grey flesh looking cover as apposed to bark, a rotund body and shapely arms, sometimes entwined around its neighbour. We took several pictures; see for yourself in the gallery.

Back on Hw 1 we rode through more flat and uninteresting countryside. Traversing more straight and tedious roads we fought the boredom until we eventually rode into Broome, the centre for pearl production in Australia and a tropical seaside resort. Here we found the `Roebuck Bay` caravan park right on the beach. From our tent door we looked out onto the turquoise Indian Ocean.

We had just crossed Australia from Yapoon on the South Pacific Ocean to Broome on the Indian Ocean in 9 days and covered 2873 miles. We have had to change our clocks several times and fight to overcome the boredom of upright riding. Australia is a VERY VERY BIG island.

Now we head south, until next time.  Nick.

Coonawarra, South Australia; 24th July 2008.

   While we were in Broome we enjoyed mild mornings and evenings, daylight hours were invariably hot so it was off to the beach. We spent only two days here I’m afraid, I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the continual call of the road and the massive country we had yet to explore; there was no time to be sitting around on the beach! We did however find time to walk along Broome’s famous Cable Beach, its name derived from the fact that the first telegraph cable was laid on the sea bed from Java, Indonesia to Australia and it came ashore here in the late 1800’s.

As we dodged the 4x4`s on the beautiful light-coloured sand beside the turquoise warm sea, we walked with the sun on our backs and nonchalantly passed many naked people! Yep, we were on a naturist’s beach, oh well, when in Rome so we had a dip in the Indian Ocean - it felt good; (Pictures please, Ed).

In the midday heat in town we walked around the small, modern and touristy town center. The aboriginals were sitting in the shade of the palm trees in groups around several boxes of wine and getting drunk. When I asked a local about the problem their reply was, “They’re put up with”. Sad really.

As I mentioned earlier, we now have medical/travel insurance but after further enquiries I have discovered that we, from the UK, have a reciprocal arrangement with Australia for emergency treatment at hospitals which is good to know. Having said that, dental and GP consultations have to be paid for which is a bit of a bummer as I lost half a tooth while chewing some soup! I’m not in pain so I’ll hang on for a bit longer before getting any treatment!

Still wet from a heavy dew, we packed the tent and departed Broome by heading south on HW1 - ‘The Great Northern Highway’. We didn’t escape the early morning weather either and got wet after riding through thick fog for a few miles until the sun burnt it off. We rode through the ‘now familiar’ boringly flat scrub land with long straight roads until we arrived at Port Hedland. Here we found a ‘Big Four’ caravan park which charged the exorbitant price of $35 for our small tent! Everyone I spoke to on site was complaining but there was little else around so we had no choice but to stay.

I had been told that Port Hedland, “Is carrying Australia”. It is certainly a busy port exporting iron ore to China and I can clearly detect a huge chunk of Australia’s Gross National Product departing in the fleet of cargo ships and many ships also waiting offshore for their load. The town itself also reflected that industry and was pretty grubby as a result.

The bike is running a bit lumpy recently so I will have to get the injectors balanced when I service it in Perth. Oil is also leaking out of the filler cap again, something else that needs sorted out. Mind you, she still starts first touch of the button. Today we clocked up another 1000 miles; we are now on 68000 miles for the trek so far.

Next day we followed HW1 South, the road is now called the ‘North West Coastal Highway’, not a spectacular road, just another massive expanse of nothingness. There are hundred of miles between any habitations so a stop for coffee at the ‘one hotel’ town of Whim Creek was called for. The hotel was the only building, not just the only hotel! They mined copper and iron ore here off and on since the 1800`s and the only residents of this beautiful old hotel, which seemed straight out of a western movie, were miners. Signs around the place reminded us that the ‘night shift’ were sleeping!

We rode through the `Pilbara` province, and after another long 511-mile day in the saddle, we stopped at another seaside resort town of Exmouth. Here we put our tent up at the ‘Top Tourist Ningaloo’ caravan holiday resort; at $26 it was much better value than last night.

Erecting the tent takes a bit of planning and I try to position it to catching the morning sun which is good for heat and to dry things out. I also have to ensure some shade from the midday heat and stay clear of gum trees, which I’m told have a tendency to drop their heavy branches in a drought! Sods Law dictated that one night I made the mistake of pitching under a branch of a nearby tree which the parrots use as a toilet at night. Next morning I had to wash the parrot crap off the tent and move back a couple of feet!

We spent two days here at Exmouth. The plan was to go on an organised swim with whale sharks,  but at $350pp we gave it a miss and walked along the town beach with its 4x4ers, what ever happened to a nice walk down the beach, why drive?  Later we rode into the `Cape Range National Park` and visited several nice beaches but with a cold wind that came from nowhere, we gave swimming a miss. On the ride back we watched some kangaroos and emus sprint across the scrub, the perfect end to a nice day. With all pleasure there is pain and I now have a slow puncture in my ‘Therma Rest’ sleeping mat! And the zips on the trusty Khyam Iglu tent keep derailing, more jobs to do when we get time but now we are heading south.

We rise next morning in the dark and pack the tent away. We have got it off to a fine art now, neither of us talk to each other but just get on with our jobs and in no time at all we are ready for the road.

Retracing to HW1 we headed south towards Perth and cross the Tropic of Capricorn once again. On the way we visited a coastal blow hole at Point Quobba, a welcome distraction from the incessant mile crunching and mind-numbing terrain. Another thousand miles today brings us to 69000 miles for the trip so far and 4928 of those miles have been covered here in Australia. Due to the leaking oil filler cap I stretched another rubber seal over it in the hope of sealing it, alas, this broke depositing a large quantity of oil on our boots as we rode along!

The night was spent in the middle of nowhere at the rear park of a roadhouse. We spent another cold night in the tent under a clear star-filled sky. We woke to a spectacular dawn as we packed the tent away ready to head south to Perth. The best thing about camping at roadhouses is they have a restaurant, so first on my list was a ‘fat boys’ breakfast after which I was ready for another long day in the saddle.

Continuing south to Geraldton the countryside became more interesting as we entered the grain-growing area of Australia. Wild flowers carpet the roadside introducing some vibrant colour to an otherwise dull bush landscape. Thankfully we now find some rolling hills and, yes, I can’t believe it - even some bends. We even come across a roundabout which the bike manages to takes twice, I tried my best to pull her off onto the straight road, but no, she had to do another lap, well it has been so long!!

It’s much cooler here and the cost of living seems to be higher. A cabin costs $100 so we camp in the cold rain near the International Airport at Perth where we spent two days. I found the BMW dealer, ‘Auto Classic’ who balance the bike’s injectors. I also found ‘Munich Motorcycles where the friendly Scottish owner Bruce, lets me use their workshops to change my oils and filters. I bought a reusable air filter so should save money in the long run and replaced the oil seal on the filler cap that was leaking. I also discovered some metal flakes on the rear drive oil sump plug, possibly the bevel drive bearing starting to go again. After chatting to Bruce I decide to change the oil regularly and change the bearing when I get to my Cousin Marks near Adelaide. The rear tyre has also really squared off after traversing all the straight roads, no wonder I couldn’t get off the roundabout!!! I should have enough rubber on the rear tyre to get to Adelaide though. Check out the Munich website for a picture of our bike, 

With all the jobs done on the bike we took a bus ride into Perth city center. It was not much fun in the rain on a dull cold day and with a beer at $7.80 a pint, we felt it was time to move on!!!

The ride through the early morning mist of the Perth hills on Hw 94 was great even though it was cold. Thank goodness for some undulations, rolling green hills, trees and bends! Eventually the hills gave way to flatter lands and more arable farmland. Big grain silos brought back memories of the vast grain fields of Canada. As we head east along the bottom bit of Australia we ride along beside a massive pipeline supplying fresh water to the country’s interior.

We turn off the main road and visit Kalgoorlie, the home of the `Super Pit`. There are mines everywhere and one of the biggest open cast gold mines in the world at 3.8 klms long, 1.35 klms wide and 500mts deep, and those measurements were taken some time ago. From the observation point we can see it is indeed a really big hole! From every ton of ore they extract 2.2gms of gold and they dig millions of tons a month! We camped on the edge of the town and endured a cold night, even with all our layers on and in our tired-looking sleeping bags.

Next day we rejoined HW 94, ‘The Coolgardie Esperance’ down to Norseman and rode through heavily forested countryside peppered with mines to HW 1, the ‘Eyre Highway’. We were now back on the long straight roads and scrub/bush countryside and a rare treat awaited us. From Balladonia we joined Australia’s longest straight road at 90 miles, 146 klms. Yawn!! We were crossing the ‘Nullarbor Plain’; we had listened to some of the `Grey Nomads` talking about this length of nothingness to the extent of considering going the other way around Australia in order to avoid it. Well, it must be tough towing a caravan and sitting next to someone you’ve lived with for a hundred years, but not for us; I spy with my little eye something beginning with!!!!!

By the end of the 500-mile day we’d only seen a couple of other people and even overtaken someone!

We had a bit of rain during the ride which brought out the kangaroos to drink from the holes in the road. Descending the Madura Pass we camped at the back of another roadhouse in the bush and spent another night sleeping fully dressed as it was so cold, we are going to have to get better sleeping bags!

The following day’s ride was much the same as the others in the bush and straight roads. The exception today was an amazing treat for us. Following a little road off HW1 to the coast and the ‘Head of Bight’, where, from the observation platform on the cliff top, we overlooked the ‘Great Australian Bight’ and a nursery for the Southern Right Whale. From our vantage-point we could see about twenty mothers and calves, the closest only a hundred yards away. Also from our elevated position we could see a mother looking after her calf that was flipper-splashing and generally behaving like any kid I suppose!

After another long day in the saddle and another thousand miles, making it 71000 miles for the trip, we pulled into Ceduna and found a ‘Top Ten’ tourist caravan park where we camped for the night.

Next day began with another early start as we packed the tent in the dark and had breakfast at the roadhouse. Some hills and gentle bends led us through farmland with green fields and sheep and then HW A1 southeast to Wundinna. We stopped for lunch at Port Augusta but found it a grubby industrial port and, with screaming kids in the dinner, it was one to forget!

Heavy traffic accompanied us on the main road towards Adelaide and was in stark contrast to the other day when we had the roads to ourselves; I prefer the solitude of the outback to this! At Port Pirie we turned off to Crystal Brook and then to Clare where the roads become more interesting, in fact - fantastic! I now had tight bends with hills to play with as we wound our way through the vineyards of the Clare valley and into the Barossa valley, the home of Jacobs Creek and Penfolds wineries. Even though the roads were wet with a slight drizzle, I loved it - this is motorcycling.  As I’m chasing one limit point after another around the tight bends I suddenly slow as we watch two dogs corner a huge kangaroo in a field next to the road, the roo must be standing nearly twelve foot tall on its hind legs. Our sudden presence provided the roo with the distraction it needed to make its escape with massive bounds across the field to safety.

We rode through Nurioutpa, Angaston to Penrice on some of the best biking roads we’ve had in Australia, even in the rain, and arrive safely at the home of my cousin Mark and his wife Lynn and Rupert the dog. I was warmly greeted like the long-lost cousin I was. Not only is my bike now safely garaged and surrounded by Mark’s national and international trophies from his sidecar motocross competitions, it is also next to a fridge full of cold beer - happy days indeed. We were chilled to the bone as we were taken inside and sat by the fire. Copious amounts of hot food and warming drinks slowly brought us back to life.

We’ve had several thousand hard biking miles and it’s great being warm and safe with family again. Mark is Steve’s brother whom we stayed with near Brisbane only a month ago. We’d ridden 7277 miles around Australia in a month and still hadn’t done a full lap, it really is a big island!

Whist with Mark I carried out a few important jobs on the bike. Mark’s friend Scotty welded another inch on our side stand so now the bike doesn’t raise the front wheel off the ground when loaded. I had another rear Metezeler Tourance fitted, the last one having done 8500 miles. The final job was to replace the bevel drive bearing as this one had done over 40,000 miles. The last one did 46,000 miles before letting go in Costa Rica, and especially after finding traces of metal on the sump plug, I thought it best to change it now. I got the bevel drive out okay but couldn’t prise it off the shaft, in my effort to beat the shaft into submission I dropped it, smashing a small roller bearing on the end of the shaft, so creating another job! Mark took it to his workshops and his team of expert engineers, unlike me, removed the bearing with ease and put the new one on for me. We had a drive into Adelaide and found ‘Adelaide Motors BMW’, here a very helpful Paul fitted another roller bearing and rebuilt the bevel drive casing.

We had a great five days with Mark and Lynn and after an interview with the local newspaper we hit the road refreshed once again.

On a cool, grey overcast day we wound our way through the green hills and vineyards of the Barossa valley, bypassing Adelaide on the lanes to the north then dropping south onto the coast road and eventually heading north again cross country to Penola.

What a difference a new rear tyre makes, the bike handles like new and I hope my new bearings were settling into their new home!

We pulled into the `Majella Winery’,  in the Coonawarra wine-making area of south Australia. Here we visited my third cousin Bruce who is the wine maker for this small but successful winery. They were winners at the 2008 international wine challenge in London with their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, amongst other successes.  After meeting the owners, and some of the staff, we headed over to Bruce’s home in Coonawarra village. With Bruce’s wife Marcia and their daughter Elle and son Jared and not forgetting Nell the dog, we had another brilliant few days.

We had a great BBQ on Bruce’s fantastic block in the bush, 500+acres only a few kilometres from the winery. It was hosted by the boss of Majella Wines and most of the staff, leaving only one poor girl on reception in case a passing tourist wanted a taste of the Majella nectar.

We also had another first here as Bruce arranged, not just a newspaper interview, but also the local radio station came to talk to us! Are we going to be media stars or a couple of mad poms? I’ll let you know when we hear the broadcast.

Until next time. Nick.

From Les

Coonawarra, South Australia; 25th July 2008

   After a few relaxing and sunny days in Broome we awoke to the sound of water dripping onto canvas, “not a good start”, I thought. We soon discovered that we were engulfed in a thick sea fog which was so moist that it was running off overhead branches and soaking everything in its path. We managed to get the bike packed and we were on the road by 7am hoping that visibility would improve on our way to Port Headland.

Australia is a very rich in natural resources such as precious stones, minerals, gold, etc. and Port Headland is one of Australia’s major shipping ports. It is quite a scruffy town dominated by a large coal slag heap and out to sea on the horizon we could see queues of enormous tankers waiting for their turn to be filled for exportation, mainly to China. The town is growing rapidly as evidenced by new transportable buildings. We have seen many of these large houses being transported by road on low loaders, it brings a whole new meaning to the term, “moving house”.

Several people had told us that the Ningaloo National Park near Exmouth is well worth a visit as its coastline is stunning so that was our next stop. A large coral reef lies just off the beach and it is possible to swim out a few yards and snorkel. The reef attracts the largest whale sharks which are apparently quite friendly and move so slowly that trips are made to swim with these placid creatures, we gave that one a miss, just in case!!! The sea was so clear and an incredible colour but the wind was brisk and chilly so we kept fully clothed. We camped a couple of nights at Exmouth, next to a friendly family originally from Wales but who now live in Perth. Our extra day of down-time meant we could spend the day in the park area and we even got to see a local game of Australian Rules football. ARF is played on a huge oval pitch and it is estimated that players can run the equivalent of a half marathon during a match. It’s definitely not a game for the faint hearted as there appears to be very few rules and lots of bloodied noses. I don't think the likes of Beckham and Rooney would cope too well.

Once again we crossed the tropic of Capricorn sign and visited the amazing blow holes at Point Quobba where the sea is forcing its way through the rocks to form great spouts of water shooting into the air. There were also many signs with warnings of “King Waves” which poignantly reminded us of the menacing power of the sea.

The flora & fauna changes are striking as we head into yet another season. Many of the wattle bushes are in full bloom with bright yellow flowers. Small shrubs on the kerbside have delicate purple flowers and there are blankets of pink, yellow and white daisies, all fighting for space and complimenting each other. We were lucky enough to see a fox on the side of the road drinking from a puddle of rain water. Emus, wallabies and kangaroos are often camouflaged by the shrubs and bushes they invade. Huge flocks of small green parrots swoop and dive while the larger Ibis fly in an orderly formation. By stark contrast to this beauty there are also many birds of prey and carrion who take advantage of the road kill. I could once again become a bit of a ‘closet twitcher’ but my memory is so poor that I could never remember the various names of the birds I see.

About 500 miles north of Perth we began to feel the winter chill. The clouds thickened and as soon as the sun got low in the sky the chill really set in. The scenery changed again near Geraldton where the scrub opened out to gently rolling countryside with large fields of yellow canola and recently-seeded green fields. Even the soil has lost some of its terracotta red colour of the interior and looked almost rich and fertile. The trees are now taller and the vast nothingness we were used to have now turned into rich grazing land for sheep and cattle with their young ... all very spring-like. For the next 5 days however we wore all our layers day and night with extra socks and woolly hats for sleeping in the tent.

We found a campsite on the outskirts of Perth and spent a couple of days so that Nick could do an oil change on the bike and we could take a look around Perth and nearby Fremantle. Unfortunately it was so chilly and wet that we probably didn't do the city justice. Instead we took a bus ride into the centre, had a wander around the wet streets and then returned to the site feeling as though we must have missed something ... somewhere.

From Perth in the west to Adelaide in the east the Nullarbor Plain has to be crossed. Nullarbor means ‘No Trees’, but to get to the area where there are no trees you have to survive Australia's longest straight road at 146.6kms or 90.89 miles!!! All I can say is that it is very long and very straight!!! Another highlight for us was the chance to see the Southern Right Whales in their ocean nursery in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. We counted up to 20 huge females with calves close to the cliffs and at one time we were only 100 mtrs from them. Wonderful!!!

From Noondroo the scenery changed again with sheep grazing and huge fields of grass for grazing and crops. It suddenly became dusk but we pushed on to Ceduna where you can receive your certificate declaring “You survived the Nullarbor”!!! We celebrated with fish and chips and a glass of amber nectar knowing that the next day would be long and hard in the saddle.

Suddenly we came to familiar places and it was such a relief. Three years ago we came to Australia to visit the family and sample the great open spaces. We had taken a day trip from the Barrossa Valley to Port Pirie. Nick was riding his cousin Mark’s BMW and I was passenger in Mark’s sidecar combination. I will never forget the experience!! Mark is a motocross + sidecar champion and rode as though we were in a competition. My backside was skimming a couple of inches above the road surface and somehow, with a shift of weight, we missed every single pot hole. It was amazing!!

Just 3 miles short of 500 miles for the day we arrived safely although cold and tired at Angaston where Nick’s Cousin Mark and Lyn were ready to greet us. It was great to catch up with them again. One evening, while Nick and Mark discussed bikes, Lynn and I shared an evening (5hrs) with a couple of bottles of wine in the hot tub. I don't think it did our skin any good at all but it was good to have some female company for a change. Our few days downtime were spent trying to catch up with emails, planning for the next stage, laundry and helping Lyn look after a friends 2 dogs, 6 puppies, 10 hens and 3 geese. I also had the opportunity to meet some of the laid-back local police officers when the home of the animals was burgled.... Exciting life in the Barrossa Valley!!! Lyn organised an interview and photo call with the local paper and once we had smiled for the camera we said our farewells and headed south, bypassing Adelaide and heading to the Coonawarra wine country.

Unfortunately here, south means cooler temperatures!!! We had followed the coast road for a while and then east through forested areas to Penola, an historic small town on the edge of the vineyards. Coonawarra is amazing, there are vines as far as the eye can see. At the moment the vines look like dead sticks but in a few weeks time they will be full of leaves and flowers, ready to produce the grapes. There are many well known vineyards in this area but the most famous for us is the Majella winery with the famous award winning wine maker Bruce Gregory who happens to be the 3rd of Nick’s cousins.

Bruce, Marcy with Elle and Jared welcomed us into their warm home. Although they were either working, and in Jared’s case, at school, we have managed to spend time catching up. Bruce gave us a guided tour around the winery and we enjoyed a mid-day BBQ with his friends and colleagues on the edge of Bruce’s block of land. Bruce's block has some wild native scrub, some orderly forested areas, bees, cattle, wallabies, kangaroos and some endangered red-tailed black cockatiels. It's the kind of place you could roam for days and never see another person.

We are now rested, clean and ready to ride the famous and wonderful “Great Ocean Road” en-route to Melbourne. We hope the weather will remain dry and that the frosts of the past 3 mornings will disappear. After Melbourne we will head north to the sun and warmth once again.

Until next time, Lesley

Coober Pedy, South Australia; 8th August 2008

   A strange thing happened to me whilst staying with Bruce’s family! While sharing their comfortable home, and beautiful company, I played their son Jared on the games machine and got thrashed! To clear my head I walked Nell the dog with their daughter Elle, ate good food and of course sampled some outstanding wines. I was involved with their family and really enjoyed it when suddenly I realised that I missed our own boys so much. Not to say I hadn’t missed them during the last two years, but now was different, being so close to someone else’s family brought it home to me. At that particular moment in time I missed my boys and our home-life dreadfully. Had I burnt out and hit the wall? Only time will tell; time to move on I think, but first the press call. We met the local newspaper reporter and a radio station interviewer at the Majella Winery and I think it went pretty well, judge for yourselves on the COMMENTS page of our site. Bruce informed me that the radio interview also went well and went on for ten minutes. Unfortunately we missed hearing it on the radio; still no offers of sponsorship mind you!

On the eve of our departure Marcia cooked another wonderful meal and Bruce provided a special treat to polish it off. He opened a rare bottle of his prize-winning 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - pure nectar. Now we really must move on, things are getting far too comfortable!

On a cold and frosty morning we headed south towards the coast to Mt Gambier through green fields and pine forests, which made a change from gum trees. We crossed into the State of Victoria and on to Port Fairy. From the cliff-top we watched surfers all suited up in the cold sea and looking for that ‘special wave’.

Heading east we passed through the town of Warrnambool and stopped at Logans Bay where we watched a Southern Right Whale and calf sharing the ocean with local surfers - another beautiful moment.

We were now travelling the Great Ocean Road, a winding road which hugged the coast of the Great Southern Ocean. We had already driven down this section of road in our `Wicked` campervan in 2005 and wished then that I had my bike, now I have my bike but no time to play! It was a well-surfaced road in good repair but damp in places and a bit too busy for my liking so it required a bit of caution. We stopped at a few touristy places on our way to the `Bay of Islands` and the `Twelve Apostles`, (eroded limestone stacks just offshore). They made a good photo opportunity for Les, if she could see over the heads of the Japanese tourists armed with their Nikons! We eventually pulled into Apollo Bay and the `Piscis Holiday Park’ where we treated ourselves to a cabin for $50 and wound the heater right up!

The following day we had more fantastic scenic coastline with three-dimensional riding as we neared Melbourne, suddenly we were back in the traffic on a motorway heading into Australia’s second largest city. We found Lesley’s Uncle George and his wife Wendy at their house in the suburb town of Watsonia where we spent a couple of days enjoying Wendy’s superb cooking and George’s dry Irish humour!

While at Les’s cousin Sharon and her husband Mark’s family get-together we carried out our first ‘gig’ on the `Globaltrek` as we scrolled through a few photos which were cleverly displayed on the TV screen from the internet! While staying here we also caught the train into the city center for a stroll around.

Melbourne has to be one of the nicer cities, especially as they appear to be so motorcycle friendly; bikes are considerately parked on the pavements everywhere in the centre. There’s a free tram around the centre’s few blocks and you can jump on and off at will. All in all it is a really nice place.

From Melbourne we headed east and did a loop into the hills then through beautiful undulating countryside and vineyards to Healesville. We then headed onto the `Black Spur` road to Marysville, another brilliant bike road recommended by one of the boys from Majella wines. It was then up through the `Yarra Ranges` National park and into the skiing areas. The brilliant twisting road was taken cautiously as it was damp and there was snow down the side! It was still an excellent ride with spectacular scenery. The loop took us via Cambarville, Warburton and back to Melbourne where we picked up the motorway bypassing the city and onto the M8 west to Ballarat where we got a cabin for the night and wound the heating up once again after another cold day.

Next day it was tough going as we battled through a strong cold wind as we followed the B160 towards Hamilton through big wide open spaces with vast wheat fields. Turning north at Dunkeld on the C216 we headed through the Grampian Mountains, a low rocky mountain range through to Halls Gap at its heart. It was raining and cold as we got into Halls Gap and found `Tim’s Place`, a clean and tidy backpacker hostel perfectly positioned for exploring the Grampians, if you could see them in the low cloud and rain!

On the way out through this range we were aware of massive fire damage in the area. The reason for this was that in 2006 the area had one of its biggest bush fires ever and many dwellings were lost. It’s amazing how nature was recovering quickly from this disaster with young green shoots everywhere disguising the charred trees.

Dodging the odd emu and kangaroo we found our way onto the A8 west through the grain-growing flatlands and crossed once again from Victoria back into South Australia. Riding through several pretty villages and some beautiful countryside we wound our way from Murray Bridge through the lanes north of Adelaide to Gawler where we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle, Norma and Richmond, whom we’d previously met in Yapoon in the heat of Queensland several weeks ago.

Once again we enjoyed their company, food and drink and caught up with the laundry and work on the internet. A visit to the Adelaide Caravan and Camping show wetted our appetite for a 4x4 with a tent on the roof for our next adventure, perhaps???

I was pleased to receive conformation that my deposit I had left with the Customs Department in New Zealand had, (1½ months later), been paid into my account! This delay was amazing considering that when they wanted the money I got it straight away from the bank across the road. Now when I want it returned because I was leaving their country and yet it takes so much longer!!

On a cold, wet and windy day we left Gawler, and, for the first time in ages, we were riding with another couple of bikes, my 2 cousins Mark, on his Honda XR650 and Bruce on his DR400 Suzuki. We were going to catch up with Uncle Richmond at his vintage military vehicle club annual rally in the Flinders Range. The route took us through some beautiful countryside via the Barossa Valley, Clare, Jamestown, Orroroo, Hawker, eventually arriving at the Moralana Sheep Station. This was a real treat as we were staying on a station, (a huge farm), and living in the shearers’ quarters which wasn’t open to the public. With the Flinders Mountains around us it was a beautiful setting, . We dried out beside a big log fire and met some of the owners of these massive old army Lorries and jeeps from the Second World War era, that’s the vehicles not the owners! We enjoyed the campfire cooking kindly supplied by Richmond and copious amounts of grog - thanks boys, we had a brilliant time.

With the bike unloaded, the tyre pressures reduced and Les safely ensconced in a jeep for the day, I had a blast trying to keep up with my cousins on the network of dirt roads. As both were Australian off-road champions of one sort or another, it wasn’t easy but so much fun. We visited a couple of pubs on route and I particularly remembered the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna as Les and I had stayed there several years ago in the middle of nowhere, it was brilliant;

That night, after a good feed and several tinnies, I sat by the fire and gazed up at the huge sky and the billions of stars when a couple of shooting stars lit up the inky sky, it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Back on the road next day we headed south to Port Augusta and then North on the Stuart Highway, stopping briefly at Woomera, a government weapons and space-rocket testing centre and small museum. More relentless miles followed and after being on the long straight desert roads for hours we pulled into Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world.  Here we stayed at Radeka Downunder, a backpackers’ hostel built underground which we found in the `Lonely Planet` guide. It is built 6½ meters deep and at a constant 22degC it is very pleasant during the summer when the surface temperature sometimes rises to 50deg C+!

While settling in and changing out of our kit a quick sniff confirmed that it was time for more laundry to get rid of the campfire smells, as nice as they were!

We visited an old opal mine and museum and then went to try our luck ‘noodling’, (digging about in the dirt) and hoping we might get rich quick, but alas no! The area is surrounded by small heaps of soil providing evidence of deep mine shafts, many of which have signs warning you to not walk backwards! Once the prospectors find that precious stone they bring it back to town, where in the high street the buyers change it for cash, which in turn get changed into grog, or so I’m told – it’s a hard life!

Nick Sanders, another ‘adventure-motorcycle-traveller’ from the UK is in Australia at the moment. I had been following his adventure and saw that he had arrived in this country. Having read several of his books and seen his films I thought it would be great to meet the man, but we were a day too late! He actually stayed at our hostel and left the morning we arrived - so close yet so far. Check out his amazing around the world trip on a Yamaha R1 story at

That’s all for now. Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Coober Pedy, Australia; 12th August 2008

   We were really pampered on our final evening in Coonawarra. Marcie and I went to Mt Gambier where we shopped, ate noodles and went to the cinema to see the movie Mamma Mia. Bruce stayed at home and cracked open a bottle of his award-winning precious “red” to share with Nick. As always, when staying with the family, it was hard to drag ourselves away but, The Great Ocean Road beckoned!

It was a very chilly morning with frosty patches on the edges of the pine forests as we set off towards Mt Gambier. The countryside once again opened up to soft rolling hills covered with farmyard nurseries. Many of the lambs were only a few hours old and looked tiny, wobbly and frail. We had our first glimpse of the sea at Port Fairy where the surfers gathered to check out the swell for a midday session. It was getting cooler but it was still a beautiful day.

The road began to get busier with a few small tour busses and campervans as we drew closer to the twisty and scenic Ocean Road. We stopped off at Warrnambool to visit the whale nursery area and got to see yet more Southern Right whales and their calves. From there the coastline became limestone cliffs which are weathered and worn by the crashing waves. Jared had asked us to count how many of the 12 Apostles were still standing so we joined the passengers from the tour buses and took some mysterious pictures of the cliffs and towers of rock that stand in the sea. We also stopped off at “London Bridge”, another rock formation. Part of the rock bridge fell into the sea some years back leaving a couple of sightseers in need of a helicopter rescue.

The twisty hilly roads were becoming damp especially through the wooded areas but we enjoyed the slow picturesque ride to Apollo Bay where we treated ourselves to a cabin for the night. We must have become soft after all the family home comforts as the tent did not appeal to us at all. We later took a stroll along the beach for fish and chips to end a lovely day.

The road from Apollo Bay to Torquay is definitely my favourite. The morning was bright and crisp and the coastline is stunning as we hug the hillside following the contours of the sea. A few hardy surfers were bobbing about in the gentle waves and we saw two pods of dolphins fishing. Nick loves this road. We drove along this same road a few years ago in a small, cheap, ”wicked” campervan. At that time every kilometre was punctuated by “I wish I was on the bike” and now he had the chance and was revelling in it. The old girl felt as though she was on rails so whatever happened in Mark’s shed must have worked - It was Smiles for Miles!!!!

From Torquay to Melbourne the road became busy, boring, flat and not very interesting at all. We were heading to my Uncle George and Wendy’s home where we had another comfy bed, Irish humour and delicious meals awaiting us. It was great to catch up with Uncle Cecil and my cousin Sharon and Mark, whom we last saw by chance in Anchorage, Alaska almost 2 years ago. By way of contrast we later enjoyed the train into Melbourne city for essentials.

After a family get-together and a few walks in the park with Uncle George and we were ready to take the recommended “bikers” favourite route out of town. After bidding our farewells we headed for the Yarra Ranges National Park area where we completed the “Loop” through the forest close to the snow fields. We were not disappointed even though it was pretty chilly with the odd patch of snow on the kerbside. We rode spellbound through the hills and forests which are home to some of the tallest trees I have ever seen, the many vineyards in the area were beautiful and we were glad we ventured off our plotted route.

Ballarat appears to be proud of the fact that it is the coldest place in Australia! We hired a small cabin for the night and warmed it slightly by using the 2 electric cooker rings as heaters. All the layers we had including woolly hat were our night attire. It's really hard to look even slightly attractive with all these layers on and I am really fed up with being cold all the time. I have had time to calculate that in the past 7 months I have been cold for at least 6 of them. I was told that we would be chasing the sun on this trip but ... we are obviously not riding fast enough!

Ballarat town has some lovely old solid buildings built during the gold-rush days in the area. Even McDonalds was housed in a lovely old building so Nick insisted we visited it. Many of the nearby towns have either very Scottish or Yorkshire names such as Hamilton and Scarsdale and the countryside is littered with sheep grazing on the rolling lush green hills. Unfortunately it began to rain as we approached the Grampian Mountains so we had to take it easy through the twisty bits. We arrived in Halls Gap, a very touristy village in the centre of the mountains. The village has about 300 residents but with campsites, hostels, motels and hotels there are at least 6000 beds available. Fortunately for us most of the village was empty so it was ‘Tim's Backpackers Hostel’ for us. We took advantage of this eco-friendly hostel with its fresh coffee and internet access to catch up on some updates and research for the next phase of our adventure.

We were on the road by 8am the next morning in the mist and cloud. We stopped a couple of times to check the vista but cloud enveloped the hills. At McKenzie Falls it was so quiet and peaceful as we watched kangaroos grazing with “Joeys” in their pouches and the kookaburras watching for tasty morsels; it’s definitely well worth being out and about this early in the morning.

The ride was long and hard as the wind became colder and blustery en route to Murray Bridge to avoid Adelaide city centre. We chose a meandering route towards Gawler, not because we were lost ....obviously!!! But it did take us through some really pretty countryside with orchards, vineyards, paddocks of horses and lovely views. Eventually we arrived at Norma and Richmond’s who had safely returned from their “walkabout” in Queensland where we saw them last. It didn't take long for us to relax into the family atmosphere once again.

While checking emails I was happy to receive a message from Darren, we had travelled with him for a few days in Argentina. Darren was last heard of heading into the Amazon and looking for a boat to transport himself and the bike, but that was some months ago. Apparently he was on the final leg of his trip and flying his bike from Colombia to Miami when the plane crashed on takeoff and all his possessions, including the bike were lost. Thankfully he is it safe and well ... but what a tale to tell the Grandkids!!!

Our visit to Gawler coincided with a WW2 military vehicle “playaway” in the Flinders Ranges, North of Adelaide. Richmond was travelling in a truck with Sam, while Cousins Mark and Bruce were riding bikes with us. It rained most of the way to the Moralana Sheep Station and thankfully our waterproofs were far more efficient than Mark and Bruce’s. We soon dried out beside the campfire that seemed to burn 24/7. The main fuel for the fire was railway sleepers from the Old Ghan railway line. The new Ghan line now runs Adelaide to Darwin but to the West of the Flinders Range. Our accommodation was in concrete sheds with twin rooms in the shearers’ quarters and we were very impressed by the number of hooks and hanging rails provided, far more than in most hostels we have stayed in. There was also a large camp kitchen and hot showers and of course the heat from that campfire.

The stars at night are fantastic! With no light pollution, apart from the faint glimmer from the fires embers, the sky came to life. The stars appeared so bright and so close it felt as though I could reach out and touch them. At 3am the sky was almost full of stars as we stood and gazed in wonder. Surely there must be something or someone else out there? Just then, a shooting star left a trail of light ... WOW!!!

I was front-seat passenger in an army jeep as we had a gentle rumble (40mph max) into the stunning Brachina Gorge. The rock formations here are amazing. Between 500 and 600million years ago these formations in sandstone and limestone were formed when the earth broke up and the continents drifted apart and the rock was folded in different directions. The dry creek-bed houses all types of fossils and other treasures. Bob and Al talked about life in the “Outback”, and both were very knowledgeable. They passed on 2 main rules while camping.

1. Do not camp in a creek bed. Flash floods up to 10km away can sweep you away within seconds.

2. Never camp under a gum tree. The branches of these massive trees can suddenly drop off for no apparent reason and will do a lot of damage if you happen to be underneath one.

Meanwhile, Nick was playing “silly boys” with his cousins on bikes in the dirt! The bike’s pannier boxes had been left back at camp and Nick spent the day trying to keep up with these “Off road, Dirt biker champions” and I am happy to say they all returned with big smiles and no bruises.

It was good for us to get back on the road on a “high” after the day’s outing. After a “Richmond special” breakfast cooked on the constantly burning stove we bade our farewells and headed back to Port Augusta and the Stuart Highway. Yes, it was cold and windy again!!

Stopping off at Woomera and Glendambo we eventually reached Coober Pedy, the Opal mining center of the universe ... or was that Australia?? Coober Pedy stands in the desert and once again is not particularly attractive town. The thing that interested us though was that most of the accommodation in the town is underground in disused mines. As the Opals were extracted from the ground, homes and hotels have been made within the labyrinths of caves. In the summer it is so hot that it makes sense to live underground with a constant temperature of about 22 degs. Our hostel room was 6mts below the surface and drill marks and holes are clearly visible in the walls. Strangely, it didn't make me feel claustrophobic at all; it just seemed strange to climb down a couple of flights of stairs to go to bed. We were told that when an extension to a home is required the owner just goes out to purchase a big stick of dynamite!

We spent a day wandering around town, visiting a museum and mine and trying our luck at “noodeling or fossiking” in search of the elusive opal. No luck for us ... this time. Maybe later?

Until next time, Lesley

My last update from Australia; Darwin, August 26th 2008.   

   On another freezing morning we departed Coober Pedy and headed north along the Stuart Highway in search of some warmth. It wasn’t long before we happened upon eagles breakfasting on the fresh corpse of an unfortunate kangaroo, only this morning they had some competition as 2 dingoes lunged towards their prize. Surprisingly the eagles appeared reluctant to give up their position as they perched on top of their catch but flew away as they saw us rumbling toward them. Les tried a classic photo-shot but it proved difficult in the low morning sun.

Ahead of us lay more long straight roads as far as the eye could see, (yawn), am I really awake? Is this some kind of torture for a bend lover? In two hours we covered 155 miles and overtook only two vehicles!

Biding a fond farewell to South Australia we crossed over into the Northern Territory and stopped for coffee and heat at the roadhouse at the junction of the Stuart Highway and HW4 to Uluru, Ayers Rock. Another long and undulating ride across the desert brought us to Yulara and the Ayers Rock Resort campground -  With a cabin costing $150 we had no option but to camp in the cold once again.

When we were last here in 2005 we both found the visit to this massive rock-form quite spiritual and could easily understand why this place was special to the Aboriginal culture. This visit was different though. As we stood on a lookout point from within the resort and waited for the sun to set and shine the magic of light on the sleeping rock there wasn’t the same connection, I just couldn’t get involved. I think my vantage-point in the middle of the commercial, profit-making resort was the problem. I must have been experiencing some kind of force field which stopped the spirits entering my body, perhaps we should have got closer? But to do this we would also have been a lot poorer into the bargain! After another cold night in the tent we rose early for the sunrise show on Uluru and once again I felt nothing as we huddled together on a freezing morning with several other tourists.

A long cold ride retraced our tracks to the Stuart Highway and the same roadhouse for more disgusting instant coffee in a polystyrene cup, well it was hot!

After another 120 miles of bush scenery we arrived at Stuarts Well roadhouse. As we ate our pie and chips we were provided with some unusual entertainment - a singing dingo! The owner put the dog on the piano and the dog started howling! Apparently a well-know act in the area.

When we arrived in Alice Springs it was too cold to camp so we found Alices Secret backpackers’ hostel where Suzane, the friendly Dutch owner, gave us the use of a caravan at the bottom of the garden. With plenty of room, a big double bed, free WiFi internet connection and a heater, it was perfect.

We spent two enjoyable but cold days here. We went to the cinema to see the new Batman movie, (so much violence)! I also had a taster lesson on the didgeridoo with it was a difficult instrument to play but a lot of fun!

Alice Springs town centre is neat and tidy with a pedestrian precinct and a good variety of places to eat and drink and unfortunately too many touristy shops.

Whist here we met a lady who worked with the Aboriginal communities as a kind of social worker. She enlightened us with the indigenous population’s problems, which I think Les has covered in her report. But, needless to say, this is still an ongoing challenge for the government.

After two days in Alice we got back on the Stuart Highway and headed north, roughly following the Ghan train line towards Darwin.

After clearing the MacDonnell Ranges we discovered some interesting rock formations. The Devil’s Marbles at Maulhope are massive rounded rocks sitting on top of one another like lumps of soft toffee. Somewhat later we were back on the long straight roads through the bush and stopping the night at the Three Ways Roadhouse where we camped out the back once again. I noticed on the bike’s odometer that we had covered 75,000 miles for the trip so far.

Next day welcomed us with a cool start to the day. With fleeces on we rode a gently undulating 100-miles north when suddenly the temperature went up – heat at last! By the time we got to Daly Waters and stopped at the famous pub we were down to just a T-shirt and jacket – that’s more like it. This pub was built to refresh the soldiers stationed here at the World War 2 airfield.

By the time we pulled into Katherine I was feeling an unusual vibration through the foot pegs. My heart dropped when I saw a mist of oil around the bevel drive casing which I had only just repaired. When I spun the wheel it only confirmed my fears, the roughness suggested the bevel drive bearing I’d just put on near Adelaide was breaking down. It should have lasted 40,000 miles at least; this one had done only 4000!

The following day we rode steady and limped into Darwin and, for the first time in weeks, passed through green countryside, we were now in the moist tropics of the `Top End` of Australia. Needless to say we headed straight to the local BMW dealers where I met Ross, the helpful service manager and Steve, his mechanic who confirmed my suspicions - The only problem was that the part wouldn’t be in until Monday and today was Friday. Fortunately there was a good campsite within walking distance from the shop so we set up at the Shady Glen caravan and campground.

This knew this was to be our home for a few days and we soon got talking to the neighbours. Cam and Kath from Melbourne were riding a Triumph Rocket III with an outrigger which made it look like a trike. Cam had built this himself and made a great job of it too, see the pictures. We also met George, an ex-pat Brit pensioner who was on his own tour of the country by car. We also met another ex-pat British couple, Ian and Anne Marie who had just ridden a tandem towing a trailer across the country from the east coast! They were a brilliant group of people with fascinating tales to tell. Ian and Anne Marie had planned ahead, unlike us! And they were soon on a plane back home. We had still to find a company to take us to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but at the same time we didn’t know how long the bike would take to fix.

I wasn’t the only person with mechanical problems; Cam had discovered an unusual noise from the Triumph’s gearbox. Fortunately he had a contact here in Darwin and as Cam was a mechanic himself he soon had his bike in bits to find a gearbox bearing had failed. Needless to say I was on the receiving end of the “crap British engineering” banter and I was having difficulty in finding some Germans to ridicule!

Our bike has just had its THIRD Bevel drive bearing fitted and I was relieved of $570, - ( £285), an expense we could have done without at this stage of the trek as we still had shipping to Malaysia to pay for!

We had camped at the Shady Glen campsite for a hot and sticky week where 32 deg C is the norm. The dreaded sand-flies also found us again which made life all the more uncomfortable. Undaunted we enjoyed a night at an international rodeo then a night at the dog track coupled with several short bus rides into the pretty city center of Darwin.

With the bike now fixed we visited Litchfield National Park and its beautiful waterfalls but it was so hot that I was struggling to acclimatise to so much heat too soon. That day’s ride took us to 76,000 miles for the trip and, most importantly, no more vibrations!!!

Now we had to deal with shipping the bike and ourselves to the next leg of our trek – Malaysia. Through the ‘Horizons Unlimited’ website I had found ‘Hellmann Worldwide Logistics’ based at Darwin airport and the helpful Graeme Lee who made a reservation for us to fly the bike out in one weeks time - Darwin to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Next we visited the High Street travel agent, ‘Flight Center’ and bought a couple of one-way tickets to Kuala Lumpur, via Singapore and a couple of nights stay in a hotel while we waited for the bike. Things were coming together nicely.

Meanwhile, the owner of the workshop where Cam had been working on his bike had given them the use of an apartment in the city centre. Later, when we met Harley owners, Snapper` and Vicky at the campsite, they invited us to stay at the apartment also, it’s amazing how things work out. Cam helped Snapper, another biker, out on the road when he was having problems; Snapper returned the favour with the use of a workshop when Cam had his problems. Now we were all living the good life on the fourth floor of a posh apartment building overlooking Darwin and the sea, one big happy biker family.

Once again we have found great friends in Cam and Kath and it will be a sad day when we part but this is what world travelling does to you. We briefly touch the lives of other like-minded people, share valuable time together then move on. So many good friends in so many countries, the world really is a wonderful place, `YOU` just have to get out there and discover it!

After eleven days in Darwin I dropped the bike off with ‘Hellmann`s’ at the Australian Air Express freight terminal. The ‘dangerous goods’ examiner had checked I only had a small amount of fuel on board and the battery was disconnected. The bike was weighed at 305kgs with our camping gear and a few other odds and sods.

The cost? - One BMW R1150 GS to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, $1300, (just over £600).

The next time I see her will be on another continent when the `Pooleglobaltrek` adventure will start another episode.

Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Darwin, Australia; 26th August 2008

   At last we have some heat!!! It's wonderful to be back in T-shirts and exposing some of our lily-white flesh and not covered up in multi-layers of clothing all the time. We have reached Darwin in the Northern Territory where it's 32 deg with a slight breeze and it is bliss.

We didn't strike it rich in Coober Pedy but enjoyed the experience of living underground on a temporary basis without feeling claustrophobic in any way. Our next point of interest was Ayers Rock, or “Uluru”, the famous colour-changing rock in the desert. We visited Uluru in 2005 and had been very impressed and left in awe of what appeared to be a living spiritual place the Aborigines deem to be sacred. On that occasion we witnessed sunset and sunrise at the rock and walked around the base. This time, after a long ride punctuated by a brief glimpse of a pair of dingo dogs on the roadside, we pitched our tent in the only place to stay in the area the vast and pricy Ayers Rock resort campground. Suddenly we felt as though we were being treated as the “cash cow”. Everything became very expensive, including entry to the park where we could view the rock. We opted for the free area and were relieved that we hadn't parted with too much money as the sunset was quite disappointing.

Why is it that quite often things you really look forward to in life become disappointing and those things you almost dread turn out to be the most fun? Uluru sadly became the disappointment. Maybe it was the total commercialism and touristy tack that left us disappointed, after all it is only a rock in the desert and there are many of those. The natural “Free” beauty of the sun shining on the rock faces in the Gregory National Park was far more vibrant and breath-taking and we shared the view with each other rather than a few thousand other spectators.

From Uluru we continued North to Alice Springs and a cosy caravan at the bottom of the garden at Suzanna's “Alices Secret” hostel. It was cosy as we had a heater and 2 duvets! Alice Springs is a town that suddenly appears from nowhere as you negotiate the horseshoe ridges of the surrounding hills. It is flat apart from a couple of hilly lumps such as Anzac Hill from where you gain a good overall view of the town and its dried-up riverbed. At Alice we caught up with emails and updates and even got to see “Dark Knight” at the cinema. Nick also took a class in playing the didgeridoo and fortunately didn't want to buy one!! One evening we managed to catch up with Wendy's sister, Robyn who works within the local Communities. There are a huge number of indigenous people living within the area. We had heard many differing opinions on the issues relating to cultural differences and sadly the huge problems are not going to go away in the near future. People like Robyn are doing their best to improve standards of health and living conditions of the people, often a thankless task.

Just recently Australia has overtaken the USA in the obesity stakes as fast food is always the easy option. Diabetes and heart disease are also on the increase throughout the country, particularly with the indigenous people as they are introduced to our highly sugared food and snacks. Australia, like New Zealand has a real drinking culture. Even the smallest of towns have the drive-through beer and wine store. In one town we actually saw traffic lights situated so that customers could enter and exit the ‘bottle shop’ with greater safety. Many of the town centres are now “Alcohol Free Zones” as they strive to create safer and cleaner environments.

On the road between Alice and Darwin there are a few places of interest to stop off at. “Karlwe”, or the “Devils Marbles” are huge, smooth, boulder-like lumps of rock which are the remnants of molten lava. The rocks are thousands of years old and are balancing precariously on top of each other in a rather dramatic and artistic manner.

Wycliffe is allegedly the most likely place in Australia, and even the world, to spot UFO's. The local garage charge inflated prices for fuel and also has a family of “Green Men” in the car park. The large quantity of “VB” (Victoria Bitter Beer) empties littered the roadside in both directions for several miles could explain these unusual sightings...I say no more!!!

Dinky, the singing Dingo, accompanied by a pianist entertains diners at a cafe with its soulful howling as it raises funds for the Flying Doctors during its many daily performances. The vast array of ladies brassieres hanging above the bar at the “Daly Waters Pub” made me feel quite inadequate and petite. Daly Waters Pub has had a valid liquor licence since 1893 and catered for the needs of aircraft personnel from the nearby airfields and is said to be one of the oldest pubs in the country. Amy Johnson stopped here on her epic flight from England to Australia in 1930. We just managed to get a cooling drink between the constant flow of tour buses that gravitate to these watering holes. I wonder if I will ever get to the stage where I have to wear my name badge for identification with the “If lost please return to.....” clearly displayed. ... Hopefully not!

At Katherine we discovered that we had a problem with the rear end of the bike again so rather than take a trip through Kakadu National Park we limped directly to Darwin where the temperature is definitely on the up. We found a site just around the corner from the BMW shop and set up camp. Opposite our tent was another biker couple. Cam and Cath from just outside Melbourne have a customised Triumph Rocket 3 with trailer and had stopped off for a few days to check out Darwin and do a little maintenance on the bike. Beside us was George who was on his Northern Territory tour and the 5 of us soon began chatting and exchanging stories. The next day we were joined by a Brit couple who had just completed a massive tandem cycle ride around Australia. We spent a couple of very pleasant evenings with all our new friends and wish them all safe and happy travels wherever they may be.

There was a convenient bus stop outside the campground so we have been able to get to the city easily while the bike was being repaired. We also took a ride out to a nearby Moto Race circuit and attended one of the countries largest Rodeos. We can hear the Greyhound racing, drag racing and the international / domestic airport traffic quite clearly from where we are.

It is getting much warmer but it's still bearable at night, though the insects and sand flies are getting sharper.

Vicky and Snappa, fellow bikers from Darwin had been helping Cam with the Rocket repairs and offered them the use of a 4th floor flat a few minutes walk from the town centre with a great view of the golf course and beach. Happily we were also invited and have spent a very pleasant 4 days in their company. We have booked the bike for a flight to Kuala Lumpur on the 27th and we fly out in the early hours of 28th Aug. The next few days will be busy doing updates, emails, laundry, money-changing and checking the guidebooks for the next destinations, and, if we can fit it in, a little bit of down-time.

Strangely, it is now beginning to feel as though we are on our way home. As I sat in the travel agents I studied their huge world map and the realisation that the area we have covered in the past 2-years is vast. Asia and India would easily fit inside Australia and as we get closer to Europe the countries and distances seem to get smaller. We have come a long way and had a fantastic journey, so far. There are more challenges to come but now it feels as though we are on the way home.

Until next time, Lesley

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