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Around WA in 9000kms


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It’s taken me a few days to unpack my Mighty Mazda and sort everything out, but now we’re back to normal :ilikeit:

Funny how you plan and look forward to a big trip for so long and then suddenly is over…

For those of you who don’t know our situation here in Alice, I’m here on a 2 year contract and my daughter and I have just done a massive trip to Ningaloo Reef to go scuba diving.

For a few reasons I have decided NOT to re-negotiate it to 3 in return for my school to sponsor me for PR.

One of them is that we have seen what life on the “outside” is like. Like so many others before me, I thought Alice was in the middle of nowhere and we would be stuck in a hole in the ground. No ways. This trip has allowed us to see other places far “worse’ than Alice in terms of isolation, resources, harsh climate etc etc. But I also don’t want to be tied to another year if I don’t need to be.

I have spoken before of the strange way of life here in Alice and the different attitudes of the long time Territorians; not so in the bigger places. Not sure how to describe it, but people here just have different attitudes and ways of doing things. Call it laid back if you like. Also, I’ve come to see that a lot of people come to Alice to “opt out of society and regulations” in many ways. There’s nothing wrong in that, just depends what your own outlook on life is.

A lot of Forumites read about my tears and frustrations with the high school kids here last year; so glad I came into contact with “normal” kids this trip! It gives me hope!

Where did we travel? Well, the Tanami Track was the start. I am a 4x4/off road biker/explorer and I thought it was fantastic! Halls Creek, Fitzroy River Crossing, Broome, Port Hedland, Karratha, Dampier, Exmouth, Carnarvon, Geraldton and all the little towns along the cost to Perth, and then to Freemantle and Rockingham. A few days in Perth and Rottnest Island before tackling the Great Central Road to Alice. We had to take an unscheduled detour around Kalgoorlie (a pity) as there was a bad bush fire in the area. I had a map, all of Bob’s recommended water, a sat phone, so off we went!

We have camped in the truck (and on the roof once or twice!) at odd spots along the way and with the exception of the Great Central Road., we never felt threatened once.

I had a badly shredded tyre 43kms out of Warburton and was told (afterwards) that it may not have been an “accident”. Evidently some baddies from the communities out there have a habit of planting steel in the road and then waiting to see when the motorist pulls over – we all know the rest of that kind of story. Due to that, we lost a lot of time as I changed the wheel and we got to one camping spot after dark. By then I had already got a gut feeling of “nope; don’t want to be here”. I had a few cars follow me or be waiting along the side of the road and then pull in behind me, and I just wasn’t happy. Two females? I don’t think so. I decided to drive the last stretch into Alice at one go. 21 hours driving through the night in the desert. Spectacular! I had also forgotten about the dingos out there! Camels? Man but they get silly at night with the headlights! Had some fun with those!

This is a country full of contrasts. It’s a harsh country no matter where you go. Climates and water resources have not been kind to this continent. But it is beautiful. Even driving for 1500kms and seeing “nothing” in the Pilbara is beautiful (just make sure your cd player is working!)

With the exception of one lady at a campsite in Kalbarri (who’s toilets had stopped working and who I hope had to clear them herself; I mean she could have let us camp on a tiny bit of sand as we were desperate I even promised we wouldn’t use the toilets!), everyone we met was friendly, welcoming and just good, down-to-earth people.

Life here is just so much more civilized than back in SA. Witnessed a bumper bashing in Rockingham and not one word was yelled and no guns drawn!

People swimming in the ocean are just so well-mannered and no-one acts like a crazed banshee. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; read about a house party in Melbourne today where 500 teenagers gate crashed it!! But on the whole, we encountered manners and civility all the way.

We went into each town to drive around and get a feel of “could we live here”. We have a long list of names and pretty much each one was scratched out and new one put at the top! So spoilt for choice! Similar to SA, you get your better places, holiday places, and industrial places. Each one appealing to different people. Kalbarri is just like Margate over the holiday season! Wow! So much money is quite clearly being made in WA judging by the kinds of cars, boats and caravans.

Port Hedland and Karratha were interesting. They are so desperately short of various trades people, and the money is the draw card there. We met up with a couple who moved from Melbourne to live there. She is a mental health worker and he is a rigger. We got lots of info from them. That part of the country is very, very hot and dry. Heaps of work going on with mining and related industries and the infrastructure looks pretty good. But they are isolated.

Broome is pretty; could live there. Cyclones could be a bummer! It was amazing to see how the residents of Exmouth have pulled their lives and town back together after the devastating cyclone Vance in 2003 ripped it all apart. There is lots of residential development going on there; a big marina/waterfront too.

Tourism is quite clearly a major economic factor pretty much all over and I found levels of service to be more than adequate.

I must make mention of the tyre shop in Exmouth. I had a slow puncture which needed attention before driving back so I pulled in. One lad about 23 serves me. It’s between Christmas and New Year and he’s the only one there. I ask him if everyone is still on holiday. Nope It’s only him! I was amazed. If I think back to Supa Quick in Howick and the numbers of people working there…..I like the work ethic of everywhere we’ve been; big town or small.

The first biggish place I really fancied was Geraldton. I thought, right; this is it! Look for a teaching position here! But that was until I got to Perth.

Now I’m not a city person by a long shot. I’ve been to Sydney and Brisbane and couldn’t live there. But Perth is my ultimate destination I think.

It’s a massive world class city, but at the same time it’s so quiet, friendly, not rushed and with the Swan River, it’s almost like a holiday resort! We stayed in Victoria Park which is a stones throw from the city centre and it was lovely. Me? In a city again? I think I can see it…

Driving in from the north through the Swan Valley and Guildford, I likened it to England villages that you drive through. Although a tad larger than England and with not as much open countryside in between each village!

How did I cope with driving there bearing in mind I live in a town with, um, let me think 12 robots? No worries, mate! I had some directions from my friend, and even when he got a left and a right mixed up (what is it with men and directions?!) I didn’t feel stressed out. Drivers are again, civilized, abide by the speed limits and are always courteous.

We had two days to ourselves while my friend was at work, so we went exploring. WA Aquarium up at Hillary’s Boat Harbour and the Naturalist Discovery Centre there too were great fun.

Rottnest was a day I won’t forget .I thought it would be far too touristy, but I was wrong. The ferry ride was awesome (coming back the skipper was racing another vessel and the sea was up a bit – I LOVED that!) The snorkeling was out of this world. But in the coldest water I have EVER got into!! Yikes!

Waiting to board the ferry Meg and I exchanged smiles when we heard some lady speaking Afrikaans! I have no idea who she was, but I greeted her in Afrikaans and it was such a nice feeling to share something not in common with everyone else in line!

We’ve begun to notice a lot more South African accents when we hear them. Even SA English is easy to pick up.

I didn’t want to leave Perth. Or the ocean.

But I explained to my daughter that we have to come back to Alice with a positive attitude for the next few years or else life will be a misery.

She has the excitement of looking forward to Uni and wanting to study Marine Biology will mean it will be somewhere on the coast, and I can still thrash my 4x4 and motorbike on the rocks and sand out here before we move on.

We are very fortunate I think to have gotten Alice as our “prize”.

We didn’t stay for another 2 weeks at Exmouth like was planned (the unregulated fuel prices here killed my cash flow and we did more mileage than anticipated), but we also wanted to just get back home.

That in itself is a great feeling. It means that we know we have built a new home and that we like being there. Sure, it’s not where we both know we want to end up, but it gives us time to plan and play.

I’ll be trying to fly to Perth as often as I can to go diving through the year, but these different State holidays are a pain in the butt! So is flipping Quantas who have Alice Springs in the palm of their hands. Flights are horrendously expensive in and out of here and there’s only one flight a day! A Saturday evening (which is what a “weekend” amounts to!) in Perth sets me back $700 even before I open a beer! Sheesh! Roll on Tiger Airways. Please! I have actually written them a letter…

We have 2 weeks holiday left before school opens here. Bonus! I’m looking forward to this next year with much confidence and excitement. I have a whole department to run and do great things with and it’s all mine….

Meg is looking for a part-time job; the sad thing about this trip is that it may be the last we do together. It’s time she spreads her own wings (a bit! Boy this independent teenager thing in Aus is SO strange compared to SA and I’m not quite sure how to deal with it) and in 3 (very short) years I face the Empty Nest Syndrome.

2008 is filled with heaps of promise and anticipation.

I wouldn’t go back to Africa in a million years

(Ps will be uploading photos somewhere shortly)

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Guest Mauritz

What a great girl you are :ilikeit::ilikeit:

We traveled all those areas 12 years ago - I can feel another trip coming on. Well done - this is what this country is all about.

Good luck with Alice, she's a different one :whome: - you're very brave :ilikeit:

Edited by Mauritz
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Wow Tracy

Sounds amazing, pity you missed Kalgoorlie. I thought of you on Saturday, I flew from Darwin to Perth via Alice but with only a 25 minute stop over I only had time to walk around the garden next to the parking lot, we did fly over Alice as we came in to land.

Dont blame you wanting to move to Perth it is a great city. You are obviously aware that you can apply for PR sooner if you go the independant route so you do not need to be sponsored by the department or wait on them.

Would be interested to hear a little more about diving ningaloo etc as I have friends coming from UK and they have been asking questions,

All the best


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Nice write up, Trace!

The thing with Australia is that when you've travelled and seen a bit of it, you don't feel satisfied. You invariably want to see more.

Instead of doing the 'anti-clockwise" route last time, have you thought of doing the "clockwise" route next time thro Three Ways, cracking a right there to Camooweal and northern Queensland, spending time on the shores of the South Pacific before meandering leisurely down the coast a couple of thousand kms before heading west back to the Territory thro New South Wales and South Australia.

That might be worth a trip, too.

Later on, there's always the bottom of Australia to check out . . . . Victoria and Tasmania. That is quite different again to the rest of Australia.

Edited by Bob
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Hi Tracy

Sounds like an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing. May 2008 be everything you wish for!

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Hi Tracy

Interesting reading stuff, thank you. We've also chosen Perth as our future destination and we're in the teaching business as well. Can't wait to get there.

May your dreams come true!


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Hey Des,

So it was YOUR plane that woke me up from my nap was it? :ilikeit:

Ask away regarding Ninglaoo if you want or get your UK mates to email me directly. No worries.

Yes, the PR thing is not too straightforward. Can you beleive I miss out on the points as an Independant applicant because I am single...go figure. I f I had a spouse I could be the primary applicant. Easily.

I have to get my sister to sponsor me with a sponsored visa and therein lies a long story...

Working on it as we speak.

It's my New Years resolution to get PR.

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Hi Tracy,

You go girl!!! I think you are great!! Doing all this on your own( well as driver) with your daughter.

How amazing are we as humans, I didn't like the Perth weather at all and you love it!! I appreciate the fact that we all like different things I find it very interesting.

Regarding the PR, get a "partner" easy as!!!



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Yeah right!


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I've put my pics with captions on Facebook (reluctantly) as Bigpond's blogs lost all my pics after 3 hours of uploading them.


Part 1:


Part 2:


Let me know if it doesn't work!

Edited by Tracy
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Hi Tracy & Megs,

Your pictures are amazing. You definately had the time of your life! I was getting a bit jealous while checking out your pics.

I'm glad to hear you are safely home and motivated for the year ahead. Wishing you both a 2000 and GR8!

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Thanks Milo!

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Hi T,

Just looked at all the photo's, GREAT!!! Did you really drive right thru the night???You GO girl!!



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Hi Tracy

Also enjoyed your pics very much! We love the outdoors, camping etc., so it's nice to see what awaits us.


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