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No more plastic teeth

No more plastic teeth.

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stuff and things

I am on a personal mission to END THE ERA OF PLASTIC BAG PRODUCTION!
I have a plastic bag beast in my kitchen and I’m betting you do too. This monstrous bag of bags was multiplying like an evil and indestructible entity, silently and ominously lurking in the cupboard, waiting patiently to be released into the wild and to end its days floating peacefully in the Pacific Ocean, for the next 500 years! This multiplying continued, uninterrupted until I stumbled upon some rather startling facts about our oceans. Upon reading this disturbing information I turned to face my bag beast with thoughts of furious vengeance and made a personal vow to myself; never accept a new plastic bag again and hassle the shit out of my friends and neighbours until they stop too!

So here are some truth nuggets to get you motivated and on the righteous path of anti…

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This is the end my beautiful friend

The day had begun well, waking up somewhere deep in the Kimberley was an awesome feeling, the early morning air was fresh compared with the heavy heat of Broome and it was good to be back on the road again. Having pulled into our camp-spot in the dark we had no idea of our surroundings and as usual a pleasant surprise awaited us with the sunrise. The drive in had already been an impressive feast for the eyes and sunset a spectacular firey savannah affair, cows on the horizon watching us inquisitively as we pulled over for a photo.

I had adventure pumping through my veins, this part of the trip had really got me excited; The Kimberley’s…wild, rugged and vast, touted as one of Australias last real-life wilderness’ adventures! The trip had been meticulously planned by myself and Jennie, fuel stops were calculated, extra Jerry cans had been purchased, the depth of the Pentacost river had been queried, Betty’s loose bolts and exhaust had been fixed up and we felt ready for action! The Legendary Gibb River Road was calling.

This epic route is a 660km dirt track taking you from Derby to Kununurra through the heart of the Kimberley, these are wild lands steeped in thousands of years of Aboriginal history. The promise of waterfalls, intensley coloured gorges, crocodile dodging and general high tailed adventure had been too much to resist!

 

 

So far we hadn’t been disappointed, as we skimmed over the road corrugations and splashed through shallow creek crossings I sighed with happiness. Bulbous boab trees dotted the landscape, huge rocky outcrops loomed over the road and burnt red earth whizzed by beneath us.

 

The road took a great deal of concentration and focus as the grade would frequently change from rocky and rough to soft ‘bull dust’ and always the corrugations! If you kept at a nice steady 60km p/h it was a decidedly more pleasant ride as the wheels would skim over the top, but low and behold if you should be so unlucky to arrive at a sharp rocky point and have to slow down, it felt like the dashboard was going to explode! Our bones were rattled to crumbling point and anything loose in the van found a new home on the floor.

Another part of the Gibb River ‘assault course’ was the huge population of bovine residents, the calves especially were incredibly indecisive when it came to which side of the road they presumed the grass to be greener! A head on stare out with the van was followed by wild eyed snorting, a great deal of hoof skittering and finally a cheeky leap onto the chosen side as if it had all been a game!

We had successfully splashed through several shallow creeks when we stumbled upon problems. This creek was more of a river and as we approached we tentatively slowed down to around 20kmph, apparently this was not slow enough because we were only half way through and Betty gave a tired splutter and stopped. We tried the ignition but to no avail, worryingly a light smoke was gently rising from her underbelly.

We hopped out into the water and with the help of a German couple (who luckily for us had turned back due to high river crossings and were passing by) the five of us managed to heave Betty out of the water, all 3 tonnes of her! Panting and sweating on the other side and we were informed by a disheveled looking man that river crossings should be taken at 5/10kmph and that we had water in our engine! He had taken the crossing at around 90kmph the previous night and the force had knocked his bull bar off, he was waiting for a friend to come and tow him home. He looked at Betty thoughtfully, scratched his stubbled chin and declared “she just needs to dry out maaaate” in his gravely most Aussie of Aussie cadence…this was the voice of a man who eats cigarettes for breakfast! Resigned to the fact we would be waiting a while we cautiously followed this weathered character to his ‘5 star resort”. It came to light that he had actually been waiting several days and had by some incredible stroke of luck, manged to break down next to a beautiful oasis! We spent a while listening to his stories, floating in the swollen creek and eating sandwiches. It turned out that this wizened and bandy legged gentleman was actually an ambulance driver when he wasn’t stuck in the bush living on beer! Looks can be deceiving in these circumstances.

 

Returning to Betty some time later and she started without fail, we left Scott with some beans and sandwiches and were back on our merry way. Music playing, sun shining and looking forward to our camp spot ‘Manning Gorge‘. These gorges are the reason people take this gnarly route, they are dotted all the way along the road and offer peacefull tranquility after the hot arduous journey, they are a gift from mother nature!

The road continued to change in surface and I was enjoying the challenge of the journey, more creeks were crossed and Betty seemed to be going well, we turned a corner and I felt a tug on the wheel as we slid across a sudden soft patch, this was nothing out of the ordinary as we have done hours of driving on these ungraded roads. I calmly loosened my grip on the wheel to let the van find it’s feet but this time felt different, I felt a knot in my stomach as I realised I was losing control, panic flooded my body. The van was sliding at around 80kmph towards the edge of the road and the trees. All the advice that I had been given whirred through my mind, I tried not to apply too much pressure on the breaks but the trees were fast approaching, my instincts took over and I desperately pulled the wheel in an attempt to straighten our course but this just unbalanced us further, the van swerved one more time and suddenly we were rolling.

I didn’t feel panic at this point, I didn’t feel a thing, I suppose adrenaline was doing its job. The sound was a deafening jumble of crunching glass, crumpling metal and the jangle of all our possessions tumbling around inside like a washing machine. It felt like we were in slow motion or suspended animation. We rolled once and my mind felt blank as I watched on in horror, and then again and I thought…this is the bloody end. The smell of dust was everywhere. And then we were still.

I think the second we came to a standstill and realised we were all in one piece we were scrambling for an exit, the van was on her roof and my side was badly crushed, I felt totally disorientated as we squeezed our selves out of the passenger window. In the movies the car always blows up moments later, I think we all had this image in our minds as we scrambled out full of adrenaline and panic. We stood for a moment, hearts racing and eyes wide with absolute amazement that we were alive, we laughed nervously and hugged each other overwhelmed with relief. Tommie looked to have come off worse, his hand was severely grazed and he had been squashed by the caving roof. Luckily me and Jennie being so robust and manly had only suffered a few cuts and grazes.

After a brief assessment of the situation Jennie burst into high adrenaline crisis mode and began grabbing our possessions out of the upturned van and organising them by the side of the road, I followed suit still dazed and confused. By the second miracle of the day we somehow managed to salvage every last item; cameras, ipad, laptop, books, kitchen…the whole shebang, even things that I secretly hoped would be ‘lost’! Five minutes past and an RV full of Germans stopped to help, another few moments passed and another 4WD stopped by, he radioed for help and checked that we hadn’t incurred head injuries. When everyone has done all they could they left us alone, poor Betty upturned and mangled, the tires hissing as the air decompressed, oil dripping into the front cab and windows smashed a few meters away. A pretty sorry sight we were, particularly me who was looking very much like an filthy urchin child!

The next people to pass by were a couple a very relaxed police officers, by lucky chance they had room to grab most of our belongings and take us to the nearest roadhouse. Tommie waited with the remaining things for the police to return. As we sat crammed into the back of the van the magnitude of the accident dawned on me, the adrenaline was wearing off and emotions started to seep through. My eyes filled with tears as I imagined what could of happened and played back the crash in my mind.

The police kindly dropped us off at the roadhouse and shortly after Tommie arrived, he had been picked up by some nurses! Together they had pulled Betty back onto her feet so Tommie could grab the last of our belongings, they were in fact super-nurses! (actually part of the Derby Aboriginal Health Service, we were lucky to coincide with their weekly visit to the communities in this remote part of the Kimberley)

 

From the moment these guys took control it was ON! We were whisked to the clinic and thoroughly checked over. Tommie’s wounds were scrubbed clean of the gravel and when I say scrubbed…it was actual scrubbing! Prior to the scrubbing they kindly anethatised his swollen hand, which in itself caused a huge amount of ‘waaaahs’! After the grit has been removed Tommie was bandaged up, drugged up and ready for transportation!

In the meantime they has also been busy organising for our things to be kept safe and for us to be flown to the nearest town in the flying doctors airplane. A scenic bloody flight no less!

In less than 3 hours (thanks to the kindness of these strangers) and we were fixed up, had salvaged our belongings and were on a plane back to Derby where we could organise our next steps. It was a roller coaster of a day and we owe a lot to the people who took time to help us in a time if need, things could have been a lot harsher out there alone and at the mercy of the elements.

Looking back on this chapter of the adventure has taught me a few tough lessons, next time we take on the outback we will be older, wiser and a little better prepared. I thank the universe or whatever for looking over us that day, it felt like so much more than luck that we all walked away with not only our lives but the opportunity to come back to this epic and beautiful part of the world. On another positive note I think that if this had been our final curtain I would have at least gone out in style; ridiculously happy, with my two best friends and on the adventure of a lifetime.

Until the next time x

The Flying Doctors

Broken

Battered

Upside down

Maverick

Fat Hand

The Fuzz

Before

Half way around Australia

 

Dunsborough to Broome…(Mantas and Mirages)

Clean, relaxed, pumped after the 4wd AND feeling super manly…team Betty is on the road again. The hot and arduous road to Broome. Every day the temperature seems to rise, we are heading towards Australia’s subtropical temperate zone so it’s to be expected! When your plan of action is to ‘chase the sun’ you gotta’ take the rough with the smooth I guess. Being on the shoestring adventure we are also desperately trying to conserve petrol so air con is a no no, we drive with the windows down and heads hanging out Inhaling lungs full of dust as we go and aquiring magnificent windswept hair do’s. Peeing in truck stops means hopping around barefoot of hot red dust whilst being harassed by waiting march flies! Today we cross the into the Tropic Of Capricorn…now we are really sizzling!

Arid, thirsty and lifeless land for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. Heat rises on the road and looks like shimmering pools of water on the horizon, i think we had our first actual mirage today! The food needs restocking, our last piece of snack food serves only to exacerbate the ‘desert mouth’ we are rocking…dry rice crackers washed down with heavily chlorinated water from the last road house, what a treat!

We sleep in a 24 hour road stop tonight and arrive just in time for another firey savannah sunset. As darkness falls the campsite begins to resemble an old gypsy encampment, lanterns twinkle, campfires crackle and the faint sounds of harmonicas and guitars are carried to our ears in the wind.

Our next stop is Coral Bay! Home of the Ningaloo whale sharks and the majestic Manta Rays. We excitedly purchase our snorkels and immediately head off for a swim and practice snorkle. The water in this protected area is crystal clear and huge snappers swim in the shallows eying us up suspiciously. I should probably tell you now that both myself and Jennie are terrified of deep ocean waters but have a massive desire to swim with the Manta Rays! This snorkeling practice run was a huge success and filled us with fresh hope! Maybe we should take arm bands and floats, just a thought…

After a day of exploring this paradise and refreshing our souls we drove the Warroora station to camp for the evening. The drive was a ridiculous forty minutes of corrugated dirt track hell and driving into the sunset made it almost impossible to see, by the time we reached the campsite we had been rattled to near insanity and the van sounded like she might fall apart completely! The camping was well worth it though….beautiful white sandy cliff top campsites overlooking the ocean. The wildlife here is abundant and the sky at night is perfect for stargazing.

Tbc…

 

Stories in pictures…

3300km has brought us safely to Broome. The journey was hot and arduous but dotted with beautiful stop offs, friendly locals, fiery sunsets, fish dinners, early rising and bedtimes earlier than my grandmas!

Dunsborough, Indjidup beach…the secret lagoon! This is a place where you can imagine mermaids frolicking! We saw catfish and a baby octopus and had the whole place to ourselves. It was like a little slice of heaven!

The Pinnacles, near Cervantes, north of Perth.

Camping for free at Galena bridge on the Murchison river. The campsite was full to the brim! As the sun set the sky was aflame, darkness fell and from across the river the place resembled an old fashioned gypsy encampment. Warm lantern lights flickering through the trees and the crackling of campfires could be heard above the faint sound of harmonicas and guitar song.

A quick stop off in the Kalbarri national park, made considerably quicker by relentless march flies!

Cheeky emus at Monkey Mia…

Road side sunrise…such a stunning way to see in the morning.

The Roadtrip diet; boiled eggs, rice crackers and peanut butter!

Sea snake at Coral Bay…

Me desperately trying to fish for supper, Jennie lounging on the beach!

Success!

Feeling manly (again) hunter-gatherer vibes…

Yummy!

Beaming after a hardcore ocean swim to see (or not see) the Manta Ray. The snorkeling around the Ningaloo reef was so stunning that I almost forgot I didn’t even see the Manta! Brightly coloured fish in a variety of sizes and shapes, little rays, turtles and beautiful gardens of coral alive and swaying with the current. When it came to the Manta swimming the chase to glimpse the elusive creature nearly gave me a heart attack, the deeper waters were rough and I had to cling onto the tour guides float in order to stay with the group! Disorientated and totally out of breath (with a snorkel mask on!)…I was actually happy to get back on the boat! The poor tour guide looked like he’d had the work out of his life!

Early morning at Monkey Mia…

The quintessential Aussie landscape…on the road to Karijini National Park

Dust anybody!?

The famous Cable Beach sunset…

A well earned wash for Betty!

The journey so far…

Dunsborough to Broome…(becoming men)

This new chapter of our adventure has been full of lessons, soulful and practical. I am aware of myself growing and evolving as quickly as the scenery changes along the road. Tommie has temporarily abandoned ship, returning to Melbourne to work on a film and I have been joined by my awesome and magical comrade, Jennie Tools. This new development has seriously unbalanced the Mars to Venus ratio, leaving us a ‘man down’… literally.

Under these fresh circumstances we have been forced to ‘man up’ as it were…jobs that would traditionally have been down to a boy are now ours for the taking and we are doing so with gusto! A manly flame has ignited within us! Girly outer shells have been discarded and new fearless lady-boys have emerged! We can now confidently catch and kill a fish, gut it and de scale it, empty and clean a car radiator, change oil and coolant, use the 4wd effectively AND track and kill a man…not really! But really…Yesterday I caught Jennie checking out her biceps and this morning I had an overwhelming desire to look at the cars engine! WHAT HAS BECOME OF US?!

Dunsborough to Broome…

Our journey began after leaving the safe boundaries of Dunsborough, the first stop being Cervantes. Driving down the ‘turquoise coast’ we stopped by the Pinnacles for a quick mosey around the ancient rock formations. This unusual piece of geology dominates the landscape like a moonscape on earth, pointy rocks of various sizes protrude from bright yellow sands, set against the brightest blue sky it’s a strange and beautiful sight to behold.

*Contrary to popular belief these rocks are NOT petrified trees and were never under the ocean, they are a fairly recent geological discovery.

Our next point of interest was our hometowns namesake…Northampton, home of the airing of the quilts (don’t you know!)

After an exciting day of sightseeing and streaking we found ourselves a cheeky camping spot in Cervantes. The spot was actually labelled a ‘day’ camp spot but rolling in after dark we managed to get away with it! In the morning we set about the task of cleaning out Betty’s radiator and refilling with coolant. Opening her up instructions in hand we stared blankly into her bowels, realizing we were somewhat lost we enlisted the help of a friendly one armed ranger named Bob, and shortly after his involvement we were also joined by his friend Rob. Yes…Bob and Rob. The two kindly strangers bombarded us with a plethora of information followed by a few good stories of adventure and then as quickly as they had appeared like knights in shining armor, they were gone.

We got back on the road feeling good and manly, Betty feeling fresh and cool which coincided nicely with an increase in the temperature! Stopping off a few hours down the road at the Kalbarri National park we were greeted by an army of unrelenting march flies, the most persistent and agravating that I have ever encountered!

Awful, aggravating, buzzing and BITING! Actually drawing blood! These flies have been sent from the underworld to drive man crazy! So persistent were they that we actually ended up running full pelt to the safety of the van, which I would like to point out at this point had become a tin can of red heat, sweltering and simmering in the midday sun. Being the lesser of two evils we barricaded ourselves inside, sweating but saved from near insanity!

We ate a hasty lunch and got back on the road. Due to the sad death of our stereo cables we were resigned to a life of AM radio stations, this means sifting through a world of crackling static before stumbling upon a station which is so muffled it sounds like you’ve gone back in time and are listening to antiquated LPs, when if you listen closely you realize it’s actually modern day pop poop! Good old ABC radio, what a life saver!

The roads between destinations are straight lines which seem to go on for an eternity, the sparse landscape resembles the heathery Yorkshire moors only hotter and drier! Watching the road roll by and trying not to look at the clock but then accidentally catching sight of the The Garmin (sat nav) it reads something like “in 350km…turn left” This may as well declare “drive to the end of the earth, then turn left!!”. We now drive an hour at a time because any longer results in crossed eyes and swerving!

Our next break was Monkey Mia, part of shark bay and the Francois Peron National Park. Suprisingly it is not the home of any monkey, but to a pod of friendly dolphins who have been swimming in for breakfast (controlled feeding) for the past 20 years. We paid (an alien concept these days!) for a nights camping and luxuriated the warm showers for a good half hour! The campsite was pleasant enough and we treat ourselves to a well earned bottle of wine, kicked back and enjoyed another stunning sunset in paradise.

By now we have settled nicely into the gypsy time zone; up with the sun and to bed when the stars come out so after an early breakfast we scampered to the beach to catch the dolphins coming in for feeding. Being Easter holiday time it was us and around 200 other people! This however did nothing to take away from the wonder of seeing the dolphins playing in a natural environment at such close proximity. Feeling delighted after the dolphin experience we wandered back to camp, en route bumping into a group of rather ill mannered emus who after glaring at us with distain proceeded to steal a childs icecream from out of his hands and then do liquid poo by the feet of a shocked parent. Rude and shameless behavior, But i suppose we were camping right on their turf!

 

After all the animalistic commotion we head off for some 4wd adventures in the Francois Peron National Park. Today’s lesson; decompressing tyres and 4wd in deep sand…LOTS of fun! The drive took around an hour, the sand a deep red and contrasting so perfectly with the blue sky! The track winds and undulates and we bounce, slide and giggle our way right to the tip of the peninsular to be rewarded with a beautiful turquoise lagoon.

On our way out we stopped for a quick soak in artesian spring hot tub, the water is pumped from deep within the earths crust and comes out at a constant 40 degrees, which is exactly what you need after a 4wd under the merciless 30 degree heat of the sun! Suprisingly it was rather pleasant! We sat simmering with a couple of oldies, idly chit-chatting and sweating together, a lovely way to while away the afternoon.

 

Tbc…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bare Naked Ladies

There’s nothing quite like running bare bummed through a golden desert of ancient pointy limestone rock formations, the sun sizzling down on you and the bluest of azure blue sky blushing at your brazen nudity. But to really get the adrenaline pumping just add easter holidays and hoards of people! This really is the best way to catch the sights. Au naturel, naked, nudie…free from the constraints and restrictions of modern day habiliment. It’s quite the experience, heart racing and giggle inducing good times…

STUFF AND THINGS;

The pinnacles are located around 3 hours south of Perth, near the town of Cervantes. They are regarded as one of Australia’s most unique landscapes and believed to be millions of years old.