Now we are back in the UK living in a house whose floor area is many many times that of the van and have also got used to the fact that we can still be together but in different rooms to each other, we have had a chance to reflect upon the trip.
We almost thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the bits we certainly did not enjoy were those involving flies, mosquitoes, frogs, the occasional long or short drop toilet and some noisy campers at El Questro from sunset through to around 4 a.m.
During our 45 days away we:
- drove 7471 kms
- purchased 831 litres of fuel at an average price of $1.34 per litre. The cheapest was $1.15 in Darwin and the most expensive was $2.09 on the Gibb.
- achieved 8.86 kms per litre which was a great improvement on last time
- spent about $6000 (£3000) on food, fuel and everything else
- stayed at 30 different camps and 2 different hotels (all have been reviewed in TripAdvisor).
- drank 90 cans of cola and 60 cans of beer (approximately!) and ate far too many crisps and Anzac Biscuits.
Living in the van this time was easier than the last time because we knew what to expect and also because we were able to implement from day 1, things which made life easier such as storage bags, having a clothes line inside the van and many more. All small seemingly insignificant things but they did contribute to an easier life.
The van has improved a bit in design since last time and having water inside the van (as well as outside) was a significant improvement and Cruise Control made driving very much easier.
One aspect of life in the bush which we will miss tremendously is being woken up most mornings to the noisy singing of birds at daybreak. Australian birds seem to be much more vocal than British birds and we love to hear them.
Something else will will miss is that on the road, almost everyone says hello to you with a wave as you drive or walk past in the camp site or on the trail. This does not happen in towns like Perth or Darwin (you would be saying hello constantly) and certainly not as much when in the UK.
We are seven years older than last time and certainly this made all that is involved in day to day life more tiring. The route we took this time was significantly more demanding with at least 1/3rd of the 7000+ kms being off road. Off-Road driving techniques demand far more concentration than tarmac, at least they do for me, and the constant jolting can be exhausting.
It was much hotter and steamier this time. We were in Australia about one month earlier than last time and hence it was closer to summer than autumn and the weather, particularly in the north was very hot and humid. Add to this the fact that Australians say they are having unseasonably hot weather …… we thought 35C to 40C was hot.
However even with all of the negatives, being on the road made us feel younger than we feel when we are having to be grown ups in the UK.
Having completed the Gibb, we bathed in glory whenever we answered the question “where have you been in Oz?” We were the only UK based couple we met during our time here and so we have come to the conclusion that it is not very common for people like us to do the Gibb - one of Australia’s Last Outback Challenges as we were repeatedly told.
Would we do another Australian road trip? Yes and we certainly hope to one day but not in such as small a van and not without a toilet and a shower. At our age, such luxuries are heading towards becoming essentials. We are not sure if there are any areas of Australia left which we want to go to but have not yet visited but if there are, then we will go there one day. We are great admirers of the Australian attitude to life and love the land and all that it offers.
However, our long distance priorities for the next few years are: Cuba, sailing up or down the Alaskan Peninsula, a Safari in Africa, the Olympic National Park in Washington State then Route 101 North to South and (an already booked) sailing around the complete coast of the United Kingdom. So Australia again will have to wait its turn.
Whenever we travel, we make a note of questions which we think of whilst on the journey which we will have to research when we get home. This trip’s questions are:
- which country do Emus come and why are they in Australia?
- what is the current price of gold and other metals?
- what can we find out about Mount Keith Mine 80kms south of Wiluna?
- what sort of soil do olives thrive in and where in Australia is this?
- what do the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn signify?
- what is the average number of kangaroos killed by a Road Train in a year?
- what does a termite look like and how fast does a termite mound grow?
- what geological process created the piles of rock in the Burrup?
- why does haywire mean what it does?
- what kind of wood comes from Boab Trees?
- why does Port Hedland exist?
- what are the industrial uses of salt?
- who was King Leopold of the King Leopold Range?
- why and how are road corrugations formed on 4WD tracks?
- which type of owl did we see in Windjana?
- when did Charles Darwin come to Australia (if at all)?
- why are houses in Darwin built on stilts?
That is all for this set of blog entries, when and where will the next one be from I wonder?
And finally, we only got as far as disc 12 of 22 with Woman in White so we shall have to finish it off during the dark evenings of winter, unless of course we go somewhere else before then.