Exploring Australia From The Left

#61
Towards Perth



We are continuing towards Perth, taking the South Coast Highway to get there (the scenic route). Along the way we stopped in The Valley of the Giants. This giant Tingle trees in this area grow up to 70 meters tall. They are similar in many aspects to the California Redwoods and are a sight to behold. We took the opportunity to do a elevated walk through the canopy of one of the taller groves.



























Here is a photosphere from the walkway, great views!

https://flic.kr/p/UiCKAd


Back on the ground you see the scale of the trees (many over 400 years old). They can have a girth of over 20 meters.























 
#62












Continuing southwest, we drove to the southwestern most point in Australia, Cape Leeuwin. Here the Indian and Southern (Antarctic) Oceans meet. We climbed the lighthouse here for some great views.









































 
#64
Perth

By Jen.



For the last couple of months, we had been planning on staying in Perth for a week or two, but we didn’t know the exact dates we would be there. We had thought we might get there in the middle of May, but we actually arrived on May 3. With the prices, we decided to stay a week, which put us there over my birthday. So, it felt like we were celebrating my birthday all week long.



We had been thinking of renting an apartment, etc., but the easiest/cheapest option we found was renting a studio on AirBnB.com. It has been a handy option for us while in Australia and allows you to choose what kind of place/how much money you want to spend. If you are considering using AirBnB in the future, feel free to use our recommendation link. It gives you and me a credit to use on AirBnB rentals. The place we rented this time was a lovely, secluded efficiency at someone’s house. It had everything we needed for a week’s stay, including a fenced yard in which we could park the van.





Referral link: www.airbnb.com.au/c/jenniferl28873



While we were waiting on the check-in time for the room, we thought we would go ahead and knock off some of the Perth must-dos. Top of the list was The Perth Mint. I really wanted to visit this tourist attraction because it was just so extravagant. You get to view a 1 tonne gold coin, fondle a gold brick, and see how they make a gold brick. It is pretty insane how much wealth they have there. It was rather fun.













This is the largest gold coin ever made.













It was so hot and bright that my camera couldn’t even get a clear photo of the liquid gold.









If Jonathan and I were worth our weight in gold, this is how much money we would be.



The day after we moved in, we went to pick up our mail and get some supplies (groceries and things to modify the van while we parked). In the mail, we received some items we had ordered on ebay and a care package from an old college friend who has also spent long periods abroad. It was filled with tastes from good ol’ America and was lot of fun to open up. Friday we spent the day relaxing. Then, Saturday we went to the movies for the first time in 4 months. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Very fun. We had tried to watch movies before, but we normally had bad timing, so this was a welcome treat.







Then, for the last day of my 20s, Jonathan took me to Perth’s Botanical Gardens at Kings Park. This was lots of fun, as there were still lots of flowers, even though it is currently autumn here. Also, unlike Melbourne’s botanical gardens, the plants here in Perth were all species native to Western Australia. What I found particularly interesting was how many plants they have that were only found in very small regions there and no where else in the world. For example, they had a plant that only lives in a single gully in WA, and is thus an exceedingly rare and endangered species.















 
#65






This interesting building houses the royal bells of London’s St Martins-in-the-Fields, the only ones to ever have been exported out of England.





Finally, Monday was my 30th birthday! Since I had told Jonathan my expectations months before and had been reminding him for several months now, he had a wonderful day planned for me. First, however, we made a trip to the dentist. We wanted to keep up our teeth health and the only time the cheapest option could fit us in was on the morning of my birthday, so that is what we did. The experience at the dentist was very similar to that in the States. I was surprised to find that the dentist was doing my cleaning, but that was only because the hygienist was away on vacation. And, they didn’t offer an alternative to the water-jet cleaning, unlike my wonderful dentist back in Tulsa. I also wanted to get a fluoride treatment, but that practice (apparently others do) doesn’t offer that. We only did a cleaning (not checkup or x-rays), and it cost $93 AUD per person.



After that, Jonathan whisked me off to lunch at a Japanese restaurant (so that neither of us had to cook), where we ate salmon and cheese croquettes and chicken udon (close enough to ramen to suffice for a while). Then since we were in the area, I got to choose a muffin for dessert. I couldn’t decide between 3 of them and Jonathan just had me get all 3. But when we ordered, they said I could get 4 for the price of 3, so I got another one that I wasn’t expecting (Raspberry White Chocolate, Orange Poppyseed, Apple Cinnamon, Macademia Caramel). Yay! Last, but not definitely not least, Jonathan had organized a scavenger hunt for me. This was one of those requests I had voiced months before so he had ample time to prepare. He had apparently been preparing for weeks on it, which meant a lot to me. The hunt started in the apartment, led to the van, and then back to the apartment. The clues were fairly simple, but filled with warm notes to me and even fun sketches. Of course, since we didn’t have printer paper on us at the time, he was stuck handwriting them, so I was given the added complexity of interpreting his chicken scratches. It left me smiling the whole time. Definitely a birthday to remember.













The rest of the time in Perth was spent working on the van, which mostly meant a major cleaning. We also performed a few minor tweaks we had been putting off. Jonathan had planned on replacing the rotors and fixing the sway-bar down link while we were there. But, we couldn’t find a reasonable-cost source for the rotors (not a common size in AUS). We special-ordered some from an auto parts store, but they ordered the wrong ones. We were going to order correct ones, but they were super costly. We decided to just put it off, as we have plenty of wear on them still, they were just being squeaky. And then, to top it off, when we received the sway-bar down link, we discovered we ordered the right one instead of the left one. So none of that happened.





Turning the driver’s cubby into a qi charging station.



Finally, on our last day in Perth, the package with my phone arrived! From March 29 to May 11, I had been without a phone and I sorely missed it. I missed being able to use it for grocery lists and reading books. I hated when Jonathan could send texts, but I couldn’t. I missed having the internet at my fingertips. At last, my old friend was back in my hands after 6 full weeks. In trying to get it back, it was reminding me of when I lost my debit card before I went to Spain, like the world was conspiring against me. I had to get them my broken phone within 14 days of receiving my new phone. The only way to guarantee that was to ship my phone back to the states, then request my new phone, then ship my phone to the warranty center. It took just less than 2 weeks to get to the States. Then I requested my replacement phone, but I found out a few days later that they canceled my order because of “inconsistencies”. I think this was because my country was marked AUS instead of USA, and my shipping address was to the USA. Of course, when I discovered this, we were in the middle of the Nullarbor, where cell reception can be a bit sparse. So, I had Jonathan stop while I walked around to get the best reception to send my email. I couldn’t just “reorder;” I had to request a new replacement link be sent to me so that I could reorder. So the 2nd reordering process took a few more days. Finally, they shipped the phone to my USA address, but the recipients had just left when it was delivered, so it wouldn’t get shipped to me until the following week, adding another week to the separation. Finally, it was on its way to me in Australia. But, watching the tracking on these packages is its own form of torture. I have to give credit to the USPS. While not hugely reliable, their tracking system is accurate and a package is always on the move; it never bottlenecks. Here in Australia, I guess with smaller population but just as great distances (and the fact that post office is a corporation and not government-run), things take longer to get places and bottleneck at places for days. The tracking said it was in Perth for days, but it still hadn’t been delivered to post office. Their sorting facility and customs takes days, apparently. At least when the box arrived, it was stuffed with other goodies from the good ol’ USA that we can’t get here. The medium-sized box was stuffed near-to-overflowing and weighed 12 pounds!







To finish off the week, we thought we would swing a short distance south again to visit some friends of friends from my hometown. The mother of one of my best friends in high school had friends/family near Perth in Western Australia. When she learned we were heading there, she put us in contact with them, and I am glad she did. They were a fun family to meet and very hospitable, despite their busy schedules. To introduce to the area, they took us to a quirky attraction nearby called Gnomesville, where there is a large field of gnomes. People from all over, even from faraway countries have contributed to it.













The Astrognome.





 
#66
Pinnacles, Kalbarri, and Shark Bay

By Jen.



From Harvey, we went Northwards past Perth (well, after stopping for some groceries). North of Perth, there isn’t a lot. Typically, there are at least 100 km between anything. Anything being as small as a roadhouse or lookout or as large as city of about 5000 people. There are a lot of similarities to the area when driving the Nullarbor highway. This has actually proved beneficial for me. The day before my birthday, I managed to sprain my knee, so I have been hobbling around since then. I have been trying to follow the RICE treatment, so spending long hours riding in the van at least keeps me off my feet. And, fortunately, there haven’t been too many hike options, so that helps as well. I would take prayers, though, as this is very inconvenient. I had thought I was completely healed so long as I didn’t do anything too stupid, but now I feel like I am back in square 1 again.



After Perth, the first attraction was the Pinnacles Desert. These interesting spires are limestone columns that formed when sea levels were higher. Kinda fun, aren’t they?













Then, we made our way to Kalbarri National Park. There are only 2 hikes really recommended here, and as we drove into the park, we found out that the access to those hikes were closed, so I didn’t have anything to regret. At Lake Thetis, we found some stromatolites, which are related to the thrombolites we found farther south.









Then as we made our way along the coastline for its various viewpoints, we encountered a sea eagle! These eagles are endangered and extremely rare. It was quite surprising and we weren’t really expecting it at all (though, to be fair, we were along the coast, which increases are chances exponentially).















On our way out of one of the viewpoints, this large short-beaked echidna was “hiding” on the road.










We left that park and started our journey northwards again. Another day of driving put us in Shark Bay region, where we visited another stromatolite population in Hamelin Pool that put the first set to shame with its size, shape, and health.







Then we made our way towards Monkey Mia, stopping at a few scenic locations along the way.





Shell Beach. This beach was made entirely of cockle shells. In some areas, it was up to 8m deep.





Mangroves at a small lagoon.
 
#67
Then, finally, the highlight of trip, a close encounter with wild dolphins. Apparently dolphins had been fed at this spot for about 50 years now, beginning when a fishing couple started dumping out the fish that they didn’t want when they returned home. Eventually, researchers and the Parks and Wildlife department (DPaW) showed up there to monitor the interactions. Apparently, in the 80s, people would feed and pet the dolphins all the time. But, the researchers discovered that that interaction resulted in a 80% mortality rate for the dolphin calves. The dolphin mothers were paying too much attention to people, waiting for handouts than to their calves. The calves would then either die of malnutrition (as they need deeper water to nurse), not be taught the proper fishing habits (and not be able to feed themselves), or be eaten by sharks when they mother was not around. Problems identified by the researchers, the DPaW implemented a feeding regimen, which still allowed human interaction with the dolphins but for the dolphins to still be wild. Now, they only do feedings up to 3 times in the morning and only to 5 specific females. The total amount is less than 10% of each dolphins required daily intake. You also are not allowed to touch the dolphins (passes diseases and irritations to dolphins). I witnessed 2 feedings, but wasn’t picked for handing the fish to the dolphin. It was still really fun to witness. It was really impressive how shallow of water they could swim in.













 
#68
Ningaloo Reef

By Jen.



After (more) hundreds of miles on the road, we reached Ningaloo Reef Marine Park. With my bum knee, hiking was out of the question, but eager to do something even remotely active, I figured I could do water sports, like kayaking and snorkeling. So, we pulled into Coral Bay, surprisingly found a parking spot (peak season and the town was packed to overflowing) near the beach, and walked up to the lookout to make out a game plan. We decided to get the kayak out and start at Purdy Point, first kayaking to it, then snorkeling back. However, this turned out to be a bit more than we bargained for.







We got out to the point just fine, but with the wind, we started drifting pretty quickly in the kayak. Since I was in front and sitting under the water skirt, I had Jonathan get in the water first. He chose to get in without his flippers on, planning to put them on in the water. I had gotten both our flippers out, expecting to hand him his right away. Contrary to my silent expectations, though, he began to putt around trying to get a hang of his snorkel (I realized a bit too late that I don’t think he had really ever snorkeled before). Since he was doing his own thing, I decided to try and organize things around me by putting on my goggles (while trying not to lose the paddles or other gear). After I got them on, though, I realized I didn’t have snorkel attached.
Removing the goggles, I suddenly noticed that one of Jonathan’s flippers was floating in the water by itself (not on the kayak where I had left it). So I shouted at him to grab it, which he did very quickly. Then I realized that I didn’t have either of my flippers…







We glanced around, but didn’t see them and decided they were sinkers, not floaters. Dismayed, we stated several ideas on how to find them, but ended up with Jonathan towing the kayak against the drift to try and locate them (which, by the way, wasn’t part of any of the suggestions). By this point, we are both frustrated and have no clue if we are even in the general vicinity of the flippers. I tell him that I am fine without the flippers and that we should just go ahead and snorkel. But, since we have drifted so far down the shore already, perhaps we should relocate again. So he hops in the kayak (perpendicular to how one normally rides in a kayak), and we set off. However, the refractive index is playing havoc with our depth perception in the water, and every time we think to get out of the kayak, it seems like the coral is (much) less than 6 feet below us. Disconcerted, frustrated, and a bit angry, we make the call to take a break. Fortunately, it was close to lunch time, so not a complete waste of time.



Buoyed by the break from the water, we decide to try again; this time without the kayak (didn’t want to complicate matters and wanted Jonathan to get some practice before we involved the kayak again). This time we walked to the point and just let our bodies drift with the current. After a while, I tell Jonathan that we should try to swim to about where I was when I realized I didn’t have the flippers anymore. So we head off in the general direction, without much expectations. I had prayed to be reunited with the flippers (they are kinda expensive here). Suddenly, Jonathan yells my name and points. He found the flippers! In that large expanse, we had swam right to them! Divine guidance, anyone? Jonathan rescued them for me (so I wouldn’t have to kick my way down into the depths), and I put them on for the remainder of the snorkeling adventure. But then I wondered why I wanted them back. They are painful! Hopefully my flipper socks, which I have mail-ordered, will fix the issue.





Jonathan rescuing my flippers.







I have my flippers back!













Since I wanted to swim with whale sharks, we spent the rest of the afternoon figuring out which tour we would commit to. They all seem priced between $380-$400, with slightly different perks. We chose 3 Islands’ tour, since it was $385pp (on the lower end), but still came with a complimentary CD of the images and video taken on the trip (most others made you pay $50-$70 for the pictures). Plus, it was well rated on TripAdvisor.



The most of the next day was spent traveling to Exmouth and Cape Range National Park, but we did fit in some sightseeing.





A pair of sea eagles in their nest.







Charles Knife Gorge.







A king prawn statue commemorating the sustainable commercial prawning in the area.





Then the whale shark tour was the next day. We left early to arrive at Tantabiddi Boat Ramp by 8am. By 8:30am we were shuffled onto a water taxi and onto a boat. After a small safety briefing, we got to snorkel there in the Tantabiddi Bay for about 30min, then it was off to find a whale shark while we snacked on pizza, brownies, fruit, and muffins and drank warm tea to warm up (the wind was a bit cold in the morning). While we were waiting on them to appear (they were being spotted by spotter aircraft and reported to the boat), we were notified that the first humpback whales of the season where nearby, so we scuttled off to catch a glimpse. This was very exciting as normally they aren’t around until June in this area. Our first wild whale!







 
#69
Then, the main attraction, whale sharks! We had a false start or two before we finally got to see one. We had the same 6-7m male for all 5 viewings/swims, but it was still great.







Jonathan and I actually both struggled with motion sickness while we out chasing the humpback whale. The swells were probably around 2 m high, making it a bit rough for us at times. I just did a bit of deep breathing and keeping my head in the wind and eyes out on the horizon to manage it. But on the 2nd swim with the whale shark, Jonathan really started to feel green and skipped out on the last 2 swims and snorkeling. I went in on the 3rd, and started swimming with the whale shark, but suddenly got overwhelmed with nausea and called for the water taxi. After a few minutes, I was fine.







After another snorkel, the trip was done for the day and we were ready to go back and rest at our campsite. The next day, we stopped drove up to a small gorge, but our stay on the Ningaloo coast was done and we started out of the peninsula to the isolated Pilbara region.



 
#70
South Australia by the Numbers

We somehow blazed through South Australia. But, we definitely plan on driving through again, probably when we cross through the great center. Besides, we missed the whales that live there from May to October.

UPDATED: After we swung through again to visit the whales.









Here are some interesting statistics from our journey in South Australia.

  • Time
    • Time zone: UTC+9:30; participates in DST (yes, you heard that right, 30 min off from the AUS Eastern time zone)
    • Day entered: 06-Apr-2017
    • Day left: 21-Apr-2017
    • Day entered: 12-Jul-2017
    • Day left: 23-Jul-2017
    • Total # of days: 26
      • Nights slept in van: 26
      • Nights slept in tent: 0
      • Nights slept in hotel/etc.: 0
      • Nights paying for lodging: 0
  • Distance
    • Driven: ~7742 km (~4839 miles)
    • Hiked: 42.3 km (26.5 miles)


    • Date Location Description Distance (km) Distance (mi)

      4/6/2017 Naracoorte Wet Cave 0.6 0.375

      4/7/2017 Naracoorte Victoria Fossil Cave 0.8 0.5

      4/9/2017 Victor Harbor Granite Island 2.546 1.59125

      4/11/2017 Burra Burra Burra Mine Site 1 0.625

      4/12/2017 Mt Remarkable NP Ali Lookout Walk 0.4 0.25

      4/12/2017 Mt Remarkable NP Gorge Lookout Walk 0.6 0.375

      4/12/2017 Mt Remarkable NP Alligator Gorge Circuit 2 1.25

      4/14/2017 Flinders Ranges National Park Akaroo Rock Hike 3 1.875

      4/14/2017 Flinders Ranges National Park Sacred Canyon Walk 0.5 0.3125

      4/14/2017 Flinders Ranges National Park Wilpena Solar Power Station Walk 0.5 0.3125

      4/14/2017 Flinders Ranges National Park Wangara Lookout Hike (Upper and Lower) 7.8 4.875

      4/15/2017 Flinders Ranges National Park St Mary Peak Hike 14.6 9.125

      7/20/2017 Flinders Ranges National Park Trezona Hike 8 5
    • Fuel fill-ups: 12
  • Money
    • Total spent: $1566 USD ($2008 AUD)
      • Consists of the costs of traveling full time in South Australia
      • Does not include gear or van conversion costs
    • Average cost per day: $60.24 USD ($77.23 AUD)
    • Average cost of diesel: $1.265 AUD per liter ($3.591 USD per gallon)
  • National Parks visited: 6
    • Naracoorte
    • Coorong
    • Mount Remarkable
    • Flinders Ranges
    • Coffin Bay
    • Nullarbor
Interesting observations about South Australia:

  • Like Tasmania, at the stores, they do not “give” you plastic bags. You either buy plastic bags from them, or you bring your own.
  • Unlike Tasmania or Victoria (or even West Australia), when they have a lookout, they actually bring you above the trees/shrubbery or at least trim them so that you can actually look out at the view. It was great! In the other states so far, they most often have trees and plants blocking your view so that you can’t really call it a lookout.
  • Its coastline is a large section of the Great Australian Bight (kinda like a gulf), where whales deliver and nurse their young until they are strong enough to brave the open oceans.
  • Unlike Victoria, they do not have a proliferation of road signs, leaving you wondering what the speed limit is.
 
#71
Pilbara Parks

By Jen.



Technically after Denham (Australia’s westernmost town) near Monkey Mia, but especially after Ningaloo, we are officially traveling more eastwards than westward in our clockwise lap of Australia. This was commemorated with another foray into the Outback, in the Pilbara region. This was a recommendation from the family we visited after Perth and was a good one.







Although few people live in the region, it is full of wildlife. Most notably right now are the birds, which love to flit in front of the van and perform evasive maneuvers. However, these evasive maneuvers are best suited to avoiding birds of prey, not big blue walls that are hurtling at them at 90 kph (55 mph). Makes for a very nerve-wracking drive when you really don’t like making roadkill. Surprisingly, most of them seem to escape death (and if they don’t, I don’t want to know about it), even if it is by going under our vehicle. I guess that extra under-chassis height does pay off in more ways than one.







This region of Australia really has RED dirt. It is really extraordinary. They have everything in the red spectrum from pale blushes of pink and orange to deep violet. Truly gorgeous to observe. The red dirt in the States doesn’t hold a candle to what you see out here. Plus, there are always lots of wildflowers here, which is always a plus in my book. The downside is that it is really obvious when you have dirt everywhere and this red dirt seems particularly “sticky”. It clings to everything and is difficult to remove.

















This is a Sturt Desert Pea. I have been chasing this since the first National Park in South Australia. This flower was on their logo, but it was so weird-looking I didn’t know what it was. So glad I finally got to see one in person.



First major stop was Karajini National Park. This beautiful park is jam-packed with dramatic gorges. Probably the best way to explore them is via hikes into the bottoms of the gorges, but with my knee still out-of-sorts, we mostly stuck to the lookouts, which were still pretty eye-catching.













We did venture into a few more accessible gorges with shorter walks and easier steps. The first one yielded a pleasant surprise of huge bats hanging from trees. These things were enormous, probably 18 inches or half a meter tall with a wingspan twice that. I believe these are fruit bats, but I didn’t read any material on that to verify.





Check out the teeth of the one at the very bottom!



The only downside is that right now these parks are packed and everyone was going for a swim. Made it hard to get great pictures.



From there, we went up to the oasis in the desert, Millstream Chichester National Park. Truly interesting to find a true oasis. It had been a homestead and station for many years, so many parts were modified for irrigation ditches for gardens, etc.















 
#72
At this point, I finally filled up my micro SD card after 3 years, so I had to delete old pictures each time I wanted to take a new picture, until I could get out my computer to delete them in bulk.



We made a journey back to the coast to get food supplies and fuel and decided to head back into the Pilbara to investigate Carawine Gorge on our way to Broome. Along the way, we decided to stop at Marble Bar, which makes its claim as the hottest town in Australia. The town experienced 160 consecutive days of temperatures above 100F (37.8C) in 1923-1924. It is also part of the largest local authority in the Australia (3rd largest in the world), the Shire of East Pilbara. It is named for a rock outcropping of jasper that was originally thought to be marble.











The trail into the Carawine gorge is 4WD, but we didn’t really have any trouble until we hit the gorge, which is covered in deep gravel. We only got stuck a little bit once and were able to get out pretty quickly. Apparently the area is a working cattle station, so we had cows for neighbors and a great view.







 
#73
The Big Empty and Broome

By Jen.





After leaving Carawine Gorge, we started towards Broome. Here the Great Northern Highway skirts along the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. They call this section The Big Empty. There isn’t much. No POIs, no lookouts. Hardly any interesting landscapes. The trees and bushes are just tall enough to obscure your vision, but not tall enough to be interesting. Jonathan had to entertain himself by watching birds of prey hoping for them to plummet down from the sky to catch small birds and lizards. With his sharp eyes, he actually saw several catching things.







The landscape in The Big Empty.







A bird of prey in the distance.



Finally, upon reaching Broome, we picked up a few more packages we had mailed to ourselves beforehand. We now have stinger suits of our own so that we can go swimming in the northern waters without worrying about jellies or sun. I also now have a scoop for my canisters, making cooking easier. And, of course, we now we have the correct sway-bar down link. On the way towards Broome, Jonathan noticed our right sway-bar downlink was cracked as well. So, when we got the other link, he had planned on replacing both sides (good thing we had the spare from the ordering error earlier). But, we found that after another round of corrugations, the link had completely broke. Time to replace both! He managed to do it all outside in the sand in one afternoon. Friends, do you know how awesome of a husband I have? This trip would not be near so successful without his expertise, and probably a lot shorter because of the repair funds we would have to spend otherwise.













We were now in a waiting game. I have had this fungal infection on my back since December. I probably would have had it banished by now, but the first products I put on it were expired. Then, I didn’t put anything on it for about 10 days, while we were waiting on our van. During which, it grew in size. Then the stuff I had in the van was expired too, and not working. Finally, I bought some product from the pharmacy based upon the recommendation of the pharmacist, but after month, it still didn’t work. So, I went back and tried another product. This time, the pharmacist recommended I visit the doctor if it didn’t go away soon. After trying to get into several clinics in Karratha by walking in with no success (they don't have urgent cares here, just clinics and hospitals), we figured we had better just book an appointment ahead of us. As a result, we had several days of waiting in Broome until the appointment. You would think we would do more touristy things while we were there, but the things I wanted to do (see dinosaur tracks and the flying boats wreckage) required a really low tide, which wasn’t happening during our stay. So instead, we got internet, watched a movie, and did some errands. We even got haircuts. One day, we walked along some rock pools along an estuary. There were puffer fish in a few of them!











Since this is a short post, I shall go off-topic and answer questions we often get. Since we left the Ningaloo Coast, it has been fairly warm, in the 80s. These are more the temperatures that I was expecting in Australia. Before that, temperatures had been closer to the 70s most of the time, which could be a bit cool with a breeze or in the shade.



We often get asked what a typical day for us looks like. I wake up in the morning about daybreak. Here, that is currently around 6:20 am. I normally lay in bed drowsing until I can convince myself to grab my phone and read my daily devotion. Jonathan typically manages to sleep a bit longer, but by 7am is waking up. If we have reception, he will get out his phone and read some news. Otherwise, he gets out of bed before me, puts up the shower, and gets breakfast. About the time he is getting breakfast, I finally get out of bed and get my own breakfast. As we start putting things away, we start discussing our route and plans for the day. Most days, we need to drive a bit to the first destination. We normally hit the first location in a few hours, where we do our exploring. By then, it is typically lunch, so we whip something up. Then we drive to our next destination. By 2 or 3 pm, we typically done for the day and find a campsite. This gives us a few hours to rest (I watch anime; Jonathan plays Roller Coaster Tycoon) and/or to do some errands (fix broken things, clean, etc) before dinner. After dinner, we normally watch something together before setting up our shower. We shower, brush teeth, and then get into bed. Before I hurt my knee in early May, I would do my exercises after dinner and before the shower. I hope start that up again soon.



Fun fact: in most of the parts of Australia in which we have been, they get their drinking water from lakes or reservoirs. This is an interesting concept to me as I grew up in dry southwest Kansas.We fought for every drop of water we could find, and most of it came from an underground aquifer, which we are seeing how quickly we can empty.Up here in the northwest, they also get water from aquifers, so I feel right at home. I know most of the US also gets water from lakes or reservoirs. What is unique here (and that I like) is that they put fences up around the lakes and put up signs around the region letting you know the water catchment area. These signs remind you to be careful what you are putting in the groundwater systems.