Flying in to Melbourne after a quick hop across the Tasman sea from Auckland (it's true.....nothing sails to weather like a 737!!!), we were met at the airport by mates Don and Deb. We first met them sailing in Mexico several years ago, where they were cruising their boat, Buena Vista. Though since "swallowing the anchor" (selling the boat and moving ashore), we've kept in touch, and it was great to reunite at their place outside of Melbourne.
|Yes, it's bloody cold here in winter!!!|
|Street art on Melbourne's famous Hosier Lane. Think if we were a band, this would be our album cover!|
|Royal Arcade, Melbourne's shopping "mall" dating back to the 1860's|
|Don's bro Kieth, a wool broker, has quite a collection of shipping stencils. Cool!|
|The road to Mt. Hotham.....snow still a bit bony for the area to open.|
|Would have been great to get in a few turns.....ah well, maybe next year!!!|
|No, sheep ranchers do not like dingos (Australian wild dogs).....this rather creepy sight on the back road of Victoria.|
|Animal tracks were everywhere on the banks of Snowy Creek|
|Carol's "Big Red", an Australian wild horse, or "brumby", similar to the mustang of the American west, that she saved from the glue factory|
|Fresh wombat turd adorns a rock.....hey, we just call it as we see it!!!|
|Old homestead......"Perfect fixer upper, some work needed"|
|Old drovers' settlement along Snowy Creek|
|Jackson's Crossing, site of the old cattle drive. The water was a bit high for us to cross.....ummmm, yeah, I guess.....|
|Don and Deb with Tony's ute.|
|Definitely 4 wheel drive country!|
|Why did the echidna cross the road?|
|We followed him for a few yards until he curled into a little ball of quills|
|A typical "mob" of kangaroos|
|Great surfing all along the coast road.|
|The "12 Apostles" sea stacks at sunset were beautiful|
Arriving in Adelaide, we were warmly greeted by Tojo's owners Pete and Polly. They hosted us for a week, time spent getting Toj ready for upcoming outback travel. P&P were terrific, giving us heaps of info on the outback, 4x4 driving, and gave us a great perspective of travel in the remote regions of the country.
I guess we didn't fully appreciate just how remote much of Australia really is. Preparations for 4x4 exploration in this country are nothing like getting ready for most road trips. Spare parts, tools, vehicle recovery gear, desert survival supplies, navigation gear.....full self sufficiency is required. We even took a day long course in 4x4 driving techniques and vehicle recovery. Tojo has been there before, and though she's just had her 20th birthday, she's in very good shape (knock on wood!!!).
|"Some assembly required".......yup.|
|Tonight's camp alongside the road.|
|Home for the next several months|
Also added several antennas to satisfy Adam's inner geek. (The geek even applied for an Australian ham radio call sign....just received VK3SYB). Tojo now sports 5 antennas around the hood (bonnet).... UHF CB (needed to talk to road truckers about passing options), cell phone booster, ham 2 meter/440, ham hf, and am/fm radio. Most important is the HF ham antenna, as long range communications while in the desert are considered essential. Talked to a hamster in California today while motoring down the road, so it must be working. We also carry a satellite epirb (emergency beacon), much as we do on the boat. This will notify search and rescue teams via satellite in case of serious emergency.
We studied many maps and guidebooks, and spent a lot of time online looking at road conditions and weather. Unfortunately, though this should ordinarily be the dry season (winter), the country has been hit by record rain and cold, basically since we arrived three weeks ago, coming up from the southern ocean and Antartica. This has rendered much of the outback roads, especially of South Australia, impassable, forcing most of the best 4x4 roads to be closed. Major bummer! So we've had to alter plans a bit, and rather than heading out to cross the Simpson Desert early in the trip, we are instead heading up the paved Stuart Highway through the center of the country, heading to Uluru and Alice Springs. That will give us a bit of a hub of exploration in the region, until we head up to the Kimberlies in north west Oz.
|Typical gps screen.....this road is STRAIGHT!!!|
|Home for tonight!|