A Travellerspoint blog

Van Life

Road Runner

all seasons in one day

Back of Vinnie

Back of Vinnie


You know the song "Our house, in the middle of our street" by Madness? Well, this is the song that is constantly in my head everytime I get into Vinnie the Van! Except that Vinnie is usually parked on someone else's street!

Another song that is constantly in our heads since our first encounter with this animal earlier this week is "Skippy, Skippy, Skippy the bush kangaroo". It's also a great song for singing as you're walking along or for whistling! We might just record a rap version!

skippy_the_bush_kangaroo_au-show.jpg
Life on the road is generally fun. In the evening our main goal is to find a parking space from where we won't get moved on by the police. This hasn't happed yet thank god. If someone tapped on the van during the night I would lose my life with fright! Vinny is very tinny... (Of course Seamus is there to protect you I hear you cry!).Then of couse it's always a bonus if there are toilets nearby for when nature calls. The basic things in life....

We also invested in a solar shower for the princely sum of $8 ! It's basically a black plastic bag which you put on the roof during the day to heat up, attach a shower head and bob's your uncle. Haven't tried it yet but it's good to know it's there in an emergency.

So that's life on the road. Our kitchen and cooking utensils are in one plastic box, our dry food in another, and our perishables and beer in a cool box, or eski as they call them here. Amazing how you can downsize when you have to.

Solar shower

Solar shower


large_IMG_0112.jpg
Our larder

Our larder


I am still phobic about spiders and snakes and insist that we deploy our plastic fly screen over any open windows at night. I have also just observed that the sliding door of the van has a gap at the bottom when closed! How will I ever sleep!!!!!

Another (less frightening) observation is how much the kiwis and ozzies love camping. We can say, oh well, they have the weather for it. True, but not in all cases. This week, which is half term here, we saw so many familes camping in tents at altitude where it's below zero at night. Kids young and old and no one complaining. It's great to see. Them ozzies are made of stern stuff.

Oh yes, I forgot to say that earlier this week I fashioned my very own "Oh Jesus" handle for the van. Vinnie the van didn't have a handle over the passenger door which, with Seamus as a driver, is an absolute essential.... My handle, made of plaited yelow nylon rope and cable ties, won't win any design awards but boy am I getting my money's worth out of it. That and a St Christopher's prayer bought in a Vinnies (SVP) shop during the week should keep us safe on our travels. Oh, and thankfully Vinnie the van is unable to go more than 100km. Thank god for small mercies.....

The 'Oh Jesus' Handle

The 'Oh Jesus' Handle

Posted by Loodersatlarge 19:32 Archived in Australia Tagged vinnie Comments (1)

Sydney to Melbourne

Vinnie's maiden voyage

all seasons in one day 18 °C

Rainbow in Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains

Rainbow in Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains


Mug and Mountains

Mug and Mountains


Moody Sky Blue Mountains

Moody Sky Blue Mountains

Well, we're on our way to nowhere, and everywhere!

"Vinnie" has had a few minor ailments that needed some fixing before we finally got out onto the open road - new radiator, new front brake pads and discs. Aine snitched that I was a tad heavy on the brakes - everyone gasps in surprise! Not!!! While this was being arranged, we stayed 3 nights with friends of my brother, Denis, who lives in Adelaide. Trent and Teshia, who live in Menai, were simply great hosts. They gave us the run of their home and helped us out in any way they could. After being sufficiently fed and watered we took Vinnie on a small excursion prior to undergoing his surgery. We headed to the Blue Mountains, about 2 hours drive from Trent's. 4 nights there and many walks which were really enjoyable.

Back to Trent's for 2 more nights as Vinnie underwent his transplant. Was so uptight over the surgery had to down a quart of Cooper's pale ale!!!!. As it turns out there was no need to worry - Vinnie was in the hands of a skilled surgeon. I was informed that the transplant was a complete success and just in time too as he would have croaked it should I have attempted to do any long journey in him. I just hope he's grateful for our kindness and repay us with a first class trip around Aussie.

So after a second farewell to the Robinson's we headed south along the coast road en route to Melbourne. We landed at 7 mile beach where we parked the night in the beachside car park. Next day went for a 3 hour walk on the beach in the glorious autumn sunshine. We ventured further down the coast to Booderee National Park where we booked into the local campsite set amongst the gum trees. We set a fire in one of the communal fire pits and watched the stars come out in the night sky. Fabulous. Next day we did a 12km hike around the headland and stopped at crystal clear coves and beaches and collected some shells for Anna, Eoin and Charlie (Aine's niece and nephews). We finished the day on a remote beach before heading back to the campsite for a much earned shower and dinner.

Kittys Beach Booderee National PArk

Kittys Beach Booderee National PArk


This is the life..

This is the life..


Wave in evening sun

Wave in evening sun


Making brekkie on Hyam beach

Making brekkie on Hyam beach


We saw on our map that we were not far (in Ozzie terms) from Mt Kosiuszko, Australia's highest peak (2228m) so of course we had to head towards it. As Aine says 'Mountains are like magnets for me'! As we gained in altitude the air grew crisper and colder. We stopped at a little town and Aine went to get ice cream and she saw this sign on a pole over the handicapped parking area "Stupidity is not a "handicap - find another parking space". Definitely brought a smile to our faces.

Found a really lovely camp ground some 36 km from the start of trek. Set up for the night and after dinner we lit a camp fire and sat around wrapped up warm. Temperature is a lot colder at this altitude and it can get below zero at night. As we sat by the fire we heard a rustling nearby and a possum shyly made its way over to check us out. All three of us sat staring into the campfire for a few hours. Cute little bugger! (the possum that is....)

Next morning woke up at 6.30am and decided we'd leave early to get a head start on the day. Aine had different ideas and by the time we got under way it was 9am. It was really cold and we required 4 to 5 layers of clothes. But it was really worth it. (Seamus forgets to mention that he chose the hardest and longest route to the top being 20km+. Ouch). Five hours to the summit but unfortunately the clouds were down and visibility was only 30 yards or so. Nonetheless we really enjoyed the ascent as we cocooned ourselves in our own little reverie - in other words we convinced ourselves it was the most magnificent day and we were the Centre of the universe (well, reality is only what you believe it is!!! Oh yeah where was I .........) we reached the summit and had a very quick lunch and put on an extra layer of clothing to be sure to be sure. Anyway we needed it and then some. The landscape here is SO like Ireland. You could have been in the west of Ireland. We loved it.

Ireland or Australia???!!! On way to Mt Kosiuszko

Ireland or Australia???!!! On way to Mt Kosiuszko


Snowy path of Kosiuszko

Snowy path of Kosiuszko


At the summit - We made it!

At the summit - We made it!


Action shot

Action shot

On our way down, via a different route we happened on a really cute little hut built in honour of a man by the name of Seaman, (who had lost his life in 1929's on a skiing tragedy), and when we went inside it had a little stove which was burning bright. It was a super welcome on a really cold and windy afternoon. We warmed ourselves sufficiently and then headed on our merry way. Eventually we got back to lonely little Vinnie after 7 hours of icy cold slogging. Straight back to our camp and several hot toddies later we were right as rain!!!!!!!! Of course nothing would please Aine more than to light the biggest camp fire in the place. (Though I must admit it was so homely). Of course we had a lovely bolognese for dinner and as we made our way back to our site in the dark, (me guiding the way with my head torch), I was being extra vigilant as Aine was carrying the utensils, and i go and trip over a tree stump, and fly head over heels barely avoiding serious head injury. But my wonderful wife just cracks up laughing at the good of it and nearly wets herself in the process. Some sympathy!!!!! Though I suppose if the roles were reversed I'd probably do the same. BUT she's still laughing, 2 hours later. Is this really love? ????.

(What Seamus is not telling you is that just as he fell he was accusing me of trying to trip him up earlier in the day with my walking poles (which were being blown across his path by the wind) - oh revenge is sweet!

Seaman's Hut

Seaman's Hut


Respite from the cold Seaman's hut

Respite from the cold Seaman's hut

After Kosiouszko we headed down towards the coast across rolling dry pasture land and very few houses. We hit the coast near Orbost and spent the night camped along the banks of the snowy river, which rises in the mountains we had just come from. Next day we headed along the coast and found our resting place at Port Albert, where a steam paddle ship called the Clonmel had foundered. The next day was wet so we headed along the coast again and stopped in the little village of Inverloch where there was a little market on. That night we camped right along side a rocky surf beach on Cape Paterson one of Australia's most southerly points. As usual we parked in a carpark beside the sea (with great big no camping signs!) and were visited by the cops that night. Thankfully they didn't move us on and we fell asleep to the roar of the massive waves pounding the rocky shore. Who needs sleeping pills?!

Moon rise over Port Albert

Moon rise over Port Albert

Our final day before hitting Melbourne and we visited Philip Island, home of the unusual marriage of a penguin colony and the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix track. Dined on lamb chops, spuds and brocolli at a road side bbq area and hit the road for the city where we are currently staying with Dan Singleton, his wife Joe and kids Aidan and Ciara. Dan is an old firend of Seamus' from home and yet again we have the run of another house for a few days! The joys of the simple things like a good shower and a washing machine! Life doesn't get much better that this!!!

Yesterday we checked out Melbourne. It's famous for it's street art in the city centre laneways. Of course we made it about 10 yards up one lane when we spotted a recommended tapas bar which we could not pass by. We ate the most amazing meal of tapas this side of Barcelona. A nice change from cooling our food on the gas stove by the side of the road!
Girl and grafitti

Girl and grafitti


Face

Face


Need a hand luv?

Need a hand luv?


One way

One way


The real story...

The real story...

Posted by Loodersatlarge 19:29 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne sydney to Comments (0)

Australia. Observations from a campervan on a rainy day.

rain 12 °C

Thunder clouds over Three Sisters

Thunder clouds over Three Sisters

Day 3 on the road in Vinnie the Van. The last 2 nights we have parked on the roadside as it's cheaper than in caravan sites, which in any case are few and far between. Not like in NZ where sites are frequent and facilities fantastic

This morning I had my first (of many probably) splash and dash. A wash in a basin of water heated on our gas stove. The joys! I even managed to wash my hair which was badly needed. We are in Kotoomba in the beautiful Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Yesterday we climbed down to the Wentworth waterfall the steps to which were hewn out by 4 Irish men at the turn of the last century. Beautiful views across the valley and to the waterfall with a rainbow forming in the spray in the afternoon light. It was good to be out walking again.

Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the worst and today we are in the mist.Thankfully we bought a tarpaulin which we have extended out the back of Vinnie. We are doing something v rare for us today - reading. A treat for me to be allowed read during the day! We have a pile of books to get through so we are happy out.

We are just getting used to the logistics of living in a van. Ours is basic with a fixed bed - it doesn't fold up into seats so it's a permanent fixture. Everything is stored under the bed.the food and kitchen stuff are stored at the back. Invariably when you need something it's at the back of the van and out of reach under yhe bed! We are learning that much patience is required!

Looks like the rain is down for the day so maybe it's time for a trip to the cinema - our first since start the trip. Or maybe a trip to the hairdresser for me. Haven't been in 6 months. Nearly growing dreadlocks now.....

Stay tuned for more update from Fab Vinnie...

Posted by Loodersatlarge 20:17 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains blue Comments (0)

Ozzie

Sydney

semi-overcast 23 °C

We landed in Sydney in one piece after a 4am start. We found our hostel in the lovely quirky suburb of Glebe and settled in to our 3 person dorm. We decided to pull straws to see who would end up losing and get the top bunk. However, while discussing Colm jumped on to the single bed and claimed it as his own. Crafty divil!

Over looking the cliff at Manly Sydney.

Over looking the cliff at Manly Sydney.


We were based close to the city so decided to walk in along the shoreline in the lovely warm autumn sunshine. We passed by Sydney's famous fish market where every type of fish imaginable is for sale and available to eat. The place was full of asians having their lunch so we decided the fish must be good. We had just stuffed our faces with brunch a half an hour before so decided to call back another day. We sauntered on to Darling harbour in the heart of the city. It's a great place for people watching with cafes and bars all along the water and the Maritime Museum and Aquarium also on the water. Having soaked up the atmosphere we bought travel cards for the week which allowed us to use trains, buses and ferries within the city area.

Next day we started the hunt for our campervan in earnest. We got the ferry over to Manly where we saw the first (of many!) campervans. Afterwards we headed on a 3 hour walk around the headland which is at the mouth of Sydney Harbour. The skies were thundery which gave the city a moody look as we viewed it from a distance. Even though we were only a few miles from the city the area felt very remote and wild. On our way back we found an Aldi so did a weekly shop for half nothing. We love Aldi!!!
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush........

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush........


A sunset view of the opera house from Sydney bridge. beautiful.

A sunset view of the opera house from Sydney bridge. beautiful.


Mouth of Harbour with moody Sydney in distance

Mouth of Harbour with moody Sydney in distance


Opera house in all it's glory.

Opera house in all it's glory.


opera house and city lit up by night.

opera house and city lit up by night.

The next day lashed with rain, as did a few others afterwards. We checked out ads for vans and went into the city to visit the Maritime museum and the Aquarium. Sydney really is a beautiful city. We walked across the Harbour Bridge at sunset which was magical. On Saturday we went to Bondi to visit Roy and Linda, a lovely couple we met in Argentina at Christmas. Linda cooked a gorgeous dinner and we ate it overlooking the beach in their apartment. Bondi is much smaller than we imagined and the beaches and surrounding landscape are very like the coastline between Portstewart and Portrush. Lots of little bays with red tiled houses and not too many high rises (as we had expected). We got drenched in the rain on Bondi (!) but brave Seamus went in for a swim and apparantely the water was really warm.

We ate well is Sydney (odering a massive 1kg steak for only $20, and it was SO tender) and also sampled a few of the local tipples. We even went to a cool blues gig in a bar over a record shop. But all too soon our week in Sydney was coming to an end. But not before Colm visited the local Men's Shed where the guys were restoring an old 1912 wooden ferry. It is a real labour of love and will take probably another 10 years to complete. What a great organisation.
I caught him by the 2 shoulders and gave him a good shake.

I caught him by the 2 shoulders and gave him a good shake.


IMG_9709

IMG_9709


Col and Ross discussing Mens Sheds stuff

Col and Ross discussing Mens Sheds stuff

]
Sign in Mens Shed

Sign in Mens Shed

]

After Colm left (aaaww!) we went to a car market in Kings Cross where loads of backpackers try to sell their campervans etc. We finally did a deal on a Toyota Town Ace, 1994. I think we are going to call him Vinnie after the local SVP shop (they call the SVP shops 'Vinnies' here) where we bought most of the stuff to kit her out. Great quality cotton sheets etc for only a few $s. Today we head to K Mart to buy a picnic table and chairs and then we hit the road Jack.

So, exciting times ahead. Ozzie ozzie ozzie. Oi Oi Oi.

Posted by Loodersatlarge 17:57 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney Comments (0)

NZ PART II

South island part 2

sunny 20 °C

it's only a cliff face

it's only a cliff face

Still on the wild west coast, we continued to travel noth to Punakaiki, the home of the 'pancake rocks', limestone rocks which have been dissolved over the millenia to look like stacks of pancakes. We stayed in a quirky little hostel/retreat in the rainforest. We walked down to the beach at sunset and watched the sun go down over the Tasman sea. Next day we did a loop walk along a river and through rain forests which gave way to alpine beech forests set against steep yellow limestone cliffs. At the hostel we met 2 kiwi filmakers of irish extraction. One named Kathleen Gallagher whose great grandfather came from Donegal in the 1800s and who walked from Christchurch to the west coast looking for gold. They were hardy men. His brother became the youngest ever NZ MP at the age of 26.

I think its over here.

I think its over here.


looped walk near Punakaiki

looped walk near Punakaiki


A bridge too far.....

A bridge too far.....

Next we travelled up the coast to the end of the paved road on the north west coast at Karamea. There we visited limestone arches and caves 15km in a dirt track where some of the Lord of the Rings was filmed. We also travelled even further north up another dirt track (we like dirt tracks...) to the start of the Heaphy Track one of NZ's Great Walks. We did a short walk to Scott's Beach where Seamus was nearly swept away by only going in up to his knees! No beach on the west coast is safe. All very beautiful but very dangerous and if that wasn't enough you've got the godforesaken sandflies which are a total nightmare. They look like fruitflies but boy can they bite. They come out in the evening and when there is no breeze and they can drive you to distraction. And they did! They are mainly on the west coast but they seemed to follow us inland a fair distance too!

An evening stroll on the beach.

An evening stroll on the beach.


of course I'll catch you!!!!!

of course I'll catch you!!!!!


sunlight coming through the rain forest canopy.

sunlight coming through the rain forest canopy.


A limestone arch 49m x 36m 200m. impressive.

A limestone arch 49m x 36m 200m. impressive.


A mirrored tarn lake.

A mirrored tarn lake.


flat out on a 5 hour hike!

flat out on a 5 hour hike!


A beautiful beach all to myself.

A beautiful beach all to myself.


There are easier ways to get a tan!

There are easier ways to get a tan!

We had been advised to visit the Abel Tasman National park in the very north of the south island. We again drove to the end of the road in this area to a village called Marahau where we stayed in another little cabin. Next day we drove more northward via an inland route which was very zig zaggy and mountainous. We had one of the few chill out days here on Tata Beach with thankfully no sandflies. Next day we set out a a day walk on the Abel Tasman great walk. We caught a water taxi as far as Bark Bay and then started our hike back. The coastline here is gorgeous. Covered in trees with little coves and beaches nestled in between the hills. Very like Italy or Croatia. The path runs along the coastline wher you get breathtaking views of the bays and mountains. This area is famous for kayaking and there were lots of people taking sea kayaks along the coast for a few days and camping overnight. By this stage Colm was striding it out and loving the walks and the scenery. Needless to say a few beers were also had along the way!
A little bit of heaven.

A little bit of heaven.


what a splendid little bay.

what a splendid little bay.


Now this is the life.....

Now this is the life.....

Soon our time here came to an end and we had to head south for Christchurch and the airport. We headed back down south and stayed along the shores of lake Brumner before crossing from west to east via Arthur's Pass, a high mountain pass, enclosed by steep imposing mountains. Unfortunately the day was very wet (our second wet day in NZ) but we still got an idea of the grandure of the area and what it must have been like for the first people who made the crossing.

In Christchurch we checked into our hostel or should I say jailhouse. No, we were not thrown in there (having been stopped for speeding earlier that day!) but went in of our own accord. The jailhouse is an ingenious use of an old jail which closed in 1999. Now all the cells are done up and everything is painted white and is spotlessly clean. We had 2 more nights in C Church so we explored the Akaroea peninsula the next day and spent most of the last day trying to pack all of our stuff into 3 bags between the 3 of us, including all the free camping gear that we had picked up along the way in NZ. Nighmare but we managed it.

We left NZ having had a great stay. We were sorry to leave such a beautiful country and we would highly recommend a visit is you can make it some time.
2 inmates get time off for good behavior!

2 inmates get time off for good behavior!


The bad boy!!

The bad boy!!


Banged up abroad.

Banged up abroad.


You can't handle the truth!

You can't handle the truth!

Posted by Loodersatlarge 19:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged to christchurch punakiki Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 49) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 »