Every year we make the trip up to Exmouth way to camp at one of our favourite places in Australia, South Lefroy Bay, in the Ningaloo Homestead Pastoral Station. We have been doing this for over twenty years, yes we have missed going some years but for the majority it's been our annual sojourn.
This year was going to different to the previous, we were going by ourselves and no one was coming up or dropping in, usually we have Dave & Jo Billy and some of their family along with some friends or family of our own, That was the deal anyway but Dave had to undergo a gall bladder operation and was hoping to come up after the op, we were very pleasantly surprised to hear our nephew Trev and his girl friend Ashlee would be coming up about a week later than us and bringing his tinny.
We recently had the passing of Vickie's father and funeral to deal with, he was nearly 91 years of age and thankfully did not have to suffer and passed on after a short stay in hospital. Just the impact of that had our minds elsewhere and as we packed up the van we were battling to remember what to take. My back has deteriorated more and a few weeks back I went into hospital and under went some spinal injections to attempt to freeze off some nerves to alleviate some pain, it helped but wasn't as successful as a previous time.
With the van & car ready to go we left home around mid morning, we were stopping at our good mates Geoff & Vickie's home in Geraldton for a couple of nights, we rocked in around 4pm and the next two days were spent catching up and reliving our UK-Europe trip we did with them in 2014. Such great people and easy to get along with,
We left Geraldton and stopped that night at Minilya free camp, it was fairly busy by the time we got in but we found a spot that wasn't to close to anyone else, a couple of drinks and it was an early night to rest my body.
The following morning it was an easy few hours drive into the Ningaloo Homestead where we caught up with Phil the manager and then onto our camp site at Sth Lefroy Bay.
We have been coming up for so many years that Vickie remarked it doesn't feel like we have left, I guess it can feel like that but it's a nice familiar feeling, not a Groundhog Day feeling. We set our camp up which for us doesn't take long compared to some other campers, we just peg some double shade cloth down on the sand, roll out the awning, fit a couple of shade walls and break out the chairs and tables. Off with the kayaks and set up the fishing rods and were set to go, just in time for our 1st sunset drinks.
OPIE THE TANGLEY DOPIE DOG
VICKIE, ASHLEE & TREV
We caught up with our regular Ning mates who have been up at Ning for more than a month or two already and were there for another three months, we honestly love the place but know we couldn't plant our backsides anywhere for that length of time.
The weather was mostly windy the 1st week, and we only got out with the Hobie's a few times, we caught the usual Charlie Court (chinaman cod) and I also caught some nice fat threadfin salmon off the beach one morning. The day's ticked over and a week later Trev & Ash arrived, this year they had a companion Opey their golden retriever, dopey or tangles as he should be called is around 9months old and very playful and very well behaved most of the time. Trev and I wasted no time in getting his tinny into the water, I had bought up my old sounder which we fitted to the boat and this year we hoped to get onto some decent fish.
MICK & 2 SIZE SPANGLED EMPEROR
TREV, BIG YETI, BIG TOE
NEVER GET TIRED OF SUNSETS
Well that didn't quite work that way, but we did catch enough each day to have a meal each and keep some for the freezer, we were also lucky to catch quite a few squid this year with some a monster
size. You will have to trust me on that as my camera was playing up and I didn't think to use my phone to verify my statement.
We received word that Dave & Jo would not be coming up, the operation was a success but Dave was in to much pain to consider the trip. Sad for them as they were both looking forward to it very much.
The weeks slipped by, we got into a routine of driving down to shark alley and doing some beach fishing, I had a huge run and fight on my hands for a while before finally getting it in close enough only to see a huge turtle caught on my hook, Trev got it in close enough to release the hook in its flipper and it swam away probably wondering what the heck had happened. Another time I had a large frame on a large hook in close to shore and it was taken by a good solid sized shark of around eight foot, a large guitar fish or shovel nose ray took my bait another time and took some effort to get in so it could be released. Vickie also caught some good size golden trevally.
OH DEAR .....
Trev and I did some night fishing but the tides were against us and neither of us could be bothered fishing around midnight or later when the tide came in.
We did one trip into Exmouth after four weeks and a few drives to go beach combing but mostly we just hung around fishing, swimming or reading. Our mates Glenn & Karen who stayed with us last year drove across from Tom Price for a long weekend but would you believe it rained just about the whole time they were there, Glenn, Vickie & Trev played cards with Glenn coming out the big winner, it was lovely to catch up again, this time they had sold and changed cars and they had a nice 200 series Landcruiser, so Glenn and I were able to compare and talk about all things Cruisers.
MICK & KAREN, IT WAS COLD AND WET BUT BETTER THAN PLAYING CARDS
YACHT MOORED OUT FRONT OF CAMP
MOUSE PLAGUE APPARENTLY, BUT WE ONLY SAW ONE
Of course after they left the rain stopped, it was still windy and Vickie started talking about flying home early which was always on the cards, what we were not expecting was Ashlee's uncle to be in hospital with terminal cancer and Ash being told his life expectancy was not long, so with that very sad news both girls flew home and were picked up at the airport by Ashlee's parents. It was just as well they left when they did because after Ash and her parents visiting Uncle Kev straight from the airport he passed away that night.
With Trev and I left to our own devices we were thinking we would be fishing as much as we could, but with the death of Ash's uncle Trevor started thinking he should be home for the funeral and support Ashlee and her family. We had one last night where Trev went to Coral Bay to visit some mates and I went over to my camp neighbour along with about twenty other campers and helped him celebrate his birthday with a karaoke night, it was all good fun but I told others I had to leave because of my bad singing.
MOST NIGHTS WE HAD A FIRE
The day suffering a bit I started to pack up our camp, the next day we both left Ningaloo, we stayed the night at Edegee free camp and next morning Trev headed straight for home and I went down to Geraldton where I stayed another two nights out with Geoff & Vickie at their daughters block.
GEOFF & VICKIE's DAUGHTERS BLOCK
Friday I arrived home, the sun was shining, no wind but it does get chilly late afternoon.
I had our escape from the ferry terminal all worked out, our vehicles GPS had different idea's. Unbeknown to me at the time the settings on the GPS excluded motorways, so instead of getting onto the West Gate Bridge and heading towards Ballarat, the bitch who lives in our maps directed us a different route. Eventually we got to Baccass Marsh and onto the Western freeway, we probably wasted an hour of our time but we did get to see an area we wouldn't have.
We stopped for the night at a free camp just before Arrarat, the same place we stayed at on the way over. Next day we did a shop in town before heading further west. Instead of getting into Erin's home late in the evening we chose to stay along the Murray at Mannum. We have stayed here a few times in the past but now they are charging a fee to stay, we did not have $10 in coins to insert in the fee machine but we stopped anyway, prepared to explain to the ranger if one turned up but no one did.
Ferry at Mannum SA
The next morning we drove the scenic route through the Adelaide hills instead of the motorway, arriving at our daughters around midday. We were excited to see Oakley & Tate, Oakley is 23 months old and a real live wire, Tate was just a week old when we last saw him and he had changed a lot in the four months we had been away. Our daughter has her hands full with two boys, we would love it if they lived closer to us. Our time there wasn't all fun, my body was racked in pain, all my joints were hurting, I was getting stabbing pain in my back with any movement and I was feeling down having to deal with the pain and lack of mobility, then my stomach started to twist itself inside out, both Vickie and I had come down with a gastro bug, it was my turn 1st but by morning I was feeling a bit better, enough to take the car to CMI Toyota for its 20,000 klm service. It was Vickies turn to be ill that night, it affected her worse, we had also heard that Vickies elderly father was not well with failing kidneys so Vick changed her mind about flying home, instead she would drive home with me.
Oakley trying his hardest to wet Pop Pop
Tate, little chubby cheeks. He spends his time smiling or playing with his rattles.
I had planned on calling in on friends at Ardrossan and Streaky Bay but we decided to not stop and just get home as quickly as reasonably possible. Sorry Jar & Pam, Lloyd & Heather.
We are home now, the outlook for Vickies dad is not good, but he has lived a ripe age of 91, it's time for us to stay home and be there for him when his time comes.
Not long to go now before our Tasmania trip is over, we were booked to sail back to Melbourne on the 10th of January but we have bought it forward to the 1st to give us time to visit Erin and the grandsons in Adelaide on the way home. We had seen most of what we wanted to and now it's the silly season most of the camp sites are filled with locals enjoying their holiday.
We had left our bikes at our friends home in Swansea so that was 1st on the list to pick them up and stay a night. To get there we left Oatsland and took Tunnack Road then Woodsdale Road finally coming out on the Tasman Highway, the roads were a mixture of bitumen and dirt and the views were again typical Tassie, Stunning! I don't get tired of the hills and windy roads and the Cruiser just pulled the van like it wasn't there, I'm very happy we chose to move from the 79' when we did.
We stayed another night at Triabunna, we were surprised to see John & Marilyn's Winnebago parked up behind the hotel, this was the 4th time we had bumped into each other. After a chat Vickie and I went for a walk around the wharf and onto the local cafe for a coffee and cake. That evening we were going to have the yummy F&C's from the van behind the pub but decided to try the cafe instead, it was nice but the larger crunchy chips from the van were better.
I helped a fellow camper jump start both his cars in the morning, even his jumper pack was flat. He was a nice friendly guy and he offered for us to stay on his block at Port Sorrell, he was an interesting fellow and had some Cortina Gt's and a RS Escort he raced, these cars are close to my heart and we were keen to take up his offer. Unfortunately it didn't happen as we chose to go to Beaconsfield and we stayed longer there than we anticipated.
We called in at Elizabeth & Anne's home at Swansea and stayed the night, I was suffering a bit with the back and neck flaring up and I feel I wasn't my usual jovial self, we went with them to have some drinks and nibbles with some of their neighbours and had a lovely time. Next morning we said our goodbyes and headed North, this time we took another untraveled road and wound our way up over the range.
Beauty Point is a few kilometres North of Beaconsfield and we had been told the Platypus House and Seahorse World were worth a visit. We're glad we did, I now know so much more about Seahorses than I ever did before, where that information will get me in life I don't know but it was a pleasurable few hours getting to know these strange creatures. The platypus we had seen in the wild, along with Echidna's but again it was interesting and the cost reasonable.
We had gone to Beaconsfield with the intention of visiting the mine which is famous for the cave in 2006 and the trapped miners Todd Russell & Brant Web who were nearly a kilometre underground for 14 days. It's impossible to imagine the terror they would have felt, cramped up in a small protective cage. Sadly another miner Larry Knight was killed in the collapse.
We wandered around the mine site which was full of very interesting memorabilia and stories of the gold years, for such a small admission cost it's well worth a visit.
We were sailing out the next day so we headed to Forth to be closer to Devonport, we had stayed here once previously and it was very quiet, this time it was New Years Eve and just about every caravan and motorhome had rocked in, surprisingly it was a very quiet night with no yahooing as the old year passed.
Next morning we were 1st to leave and head for the Ferry, We had a wonderful time in Tasmania, I'm not sure it was as good as the 1st time we visited 10 years ago, back then everything was new to us and we explored a lot more, I think if we were to come again we would like to have the company of good friends to share the experience.