Next Saturday (27th July) we will be heading north, not by plane or car - Poco Andante is setting sail again for foreign parts. I know you all thought that we had settled in Australia for good with citizenship and everything but plans change!!
Our intention was to stay and work in Darwin until we had enough funds to purchase a house in Australia with the proviso that we were both happy beavers working and playing here. Our plan was on track - playtime was fun but on the work side things got a bit tedious and we both felt that our skills were being undervalued. It was a hard decision to give up a 6 figure salary and the "comfortable" lifestyle, but hey, what the heck! Life is all too short and time is slipping away.
So the decision was made - we have joined the Sail Indonesian rally and will be heading to Kupang first, then through the islands, searching for dragons in Komodo, orang utangs in Kalimantan, with volcanoes all around. That's all for future editions!
were contemplating our future there were a few unfinished items to attend
to. Firstly, we just had to tick the box and finish our circumnavigation
of Australia - the easy way - by car and plane.
If you look at a map of Oz we are on the top bit at Darwin and if you scan a little left you will see Broome. (About two inches away on most maps.) I took a break from my contract with the Northern Territory (NT) Government's Department of Remote Housing, (Christine had resigned from her job a month or so earlier); we purchased a tent and a blow-up bed and headed west. After Katherine we were in new territory. The drive west was through rich savannah; this landscape, much like Africa but without the large game roaming around, was full of Brahman cattle to supply steaks for the bbq.
The road continued on and wound its way through the rich red escarpments, until it reached Kununurra. Kununurra is a worthwhile place to stop (if you're in the area ) - not glamorous but gives an inkling of what can be achieved in this remote part of the Kimberley. What it had going for it was the alluvial soil around the town fed by some mighty rivers. The Ord River was dammed, creating Lake Argyle, the largest man-made lake in Australia. This then opened the flood gates for an irrigation scheme, designed to produce a food bowl in this region and giving employment to the local indigenous population. Great plan, but for one small flaw! The soil and conditions were great for food production and there are lots of small farms, but one enterprising company noted that the climate was ideal for growing Sandalwood; thousands of acres were planted with them. This slow growing parasitic cash crop, used in the cosmetic industry, is only now being harvested for the first time - after 14yrs of waiting! A little off the plan that the visionaries of the Ord River dam were hoping for! Lake Argyle is also famous for the mining of coloured diamonds, yellows and pinks.
About 400kms south are the recently discovered Bungle Bungles. Until the late 1980's nobody knew of their existence - not a lost tribe or a new life form, but a range of mountains! Not easily missed, one would have thought This mountain range consists of soft sandstone which has been shaped into beehive shapes with huge canyons across wide escarpments. They are remote; the choice is a two day hike, drive in by 4WD or fly! We chose to fly - not having a 4WD this time. Spectacular!
Touristy bits done in Kununurra we continued on heading west. After three days I discovered that the two inch gap on the map was actually around 2,000km. "Are we there yet" became our mantra! Not much else to say about this trip. We arrived in Broome, traveling through 3-4 small towns, mainly aboriginal communities, and crossed our path original path from 2008. Last time we entered Broome from the west, this time from the east. We stopped one night, had a great meal overlooking Cable Beach then turned round and drove 2,000km home. Mad or what? Took some great photos, though...
That trip and our earlier flight to Tasmania completed our exploration of this huge and empty continent. Tasmania is a little gem lying on the southern part of the continent. It was great being cold again. The climate and flora is so different from the NT. Green, forested and craggy mountains. Much like the UK in topography. Not surprising that Tasmania was one of the first places to be colonised. A huge prison and town was built here at Port Arthur in European style. The 'Separate Prison System' signalled a shift from physical punishment to psychological punishment and was the fore-runner of our modern prison systems, incorporating punishment by isolation, silence, and reflection. Many of the inmates became the forefathers of modern Australia once their time had been served - others filled the mental asylum as a result of their incarceration.
Tasmania also has lots of apple orchards - lots of breweries and other pleasurable indulgences are available for sampling. Tasmania also has a huge artist community which is epitomized by the creation of the MONA gallery which has some huge modern installations. Not sure whether I would agree in calling them art, but very clever from an engineering view point.
Before we left we had to visit daughter Emily and Jon in Perth, we spent a hot (42c) week there around Christmas time. The only cool place was a dip in the sea followed by a visit to the shopping malls! And a lovely visit with niece Pippa and her son Xavier in Sydney.
Apart from these excursions, life just revolved around turning Poco into a boat again after being a flat for 18mths. A local 'must do' is a visit to the jumping crocodiles in the Adelaide River. This is really iconic - a leisurely boat trip complete with a bucket full of pigs heads to use as bait. Amazing to see these huge carnivores jumping and snatching the heads in close proximity, gives you respect for these animals. Also illustrates why swimming is not advisable in the Northern Territory!
So adventuring again, hopefully we will have more interesting things to write about shortly, so communiqués will be more frequent.
We have made so many new friends in Australia - we will be back! And to all our old friends - we may yet turn up on your doorstep - great knowing you are there. Cheers to you all.