Sand, sun, sea and brightly coloured birds, the likes of which we have only seen in pet shops. What and absolute joy to see them flying free, their colouful plumage lifting my spirits skywards.
We are loving Australia.
Having tested out the motorhome we've been lent, we have set forth and slowly worked our way via inland roads towards Adelaide in South Australia.
Our family and friends didn't know where some of the places we visited in New Zealand were, so over the ditch I thought it would be helpful to have a map to show where we are. (For us as well).
Eventually I found Wikicamps to be the easiest to operate, with it's drag and drop. This is the link to our trip on WikiCamps
Highlights of our trip so far are our time in Ballarat, particularly at Sovereign Hill and the story of gold and the difference it made to Australia.
The volunteers dress in period costume and are assigned roles for the day such as shopper on the street, wood chopper, housewife etc. They volunteer as often as they wish. The lady I was chatting to originally came from Timaru, New Zealand - 20 odd years ago. She volunteers three Thursdays a month. It's such a great idea, and makes the village much more authentic.
Then there are staff who have specific skills, particularly the engineering type of jobs. They are paid for the work they do. For everyone's safety, you want to know that the bloke operating the boiler house knows exactly what he's about.
Bush or freedom camping has been great too. We are finding it quite different from New Zealand. Campfires seem to be the norm.
Our stay over the Easter period in Stawell was very enjoyable. We stayed at the Stawell Grampians Gate Campground with 700 other people. We were "out the back" in the bush area, which for us was just great, we were bush camping along with many others. Campfires going, tents flapping, mossies decending - ok, that bit wasn't so good, but toilet and showers were handy with plenty of hot water for showers.
On the Saturday morning we walked up to the Main Street, which was closed to traffic and there were stalls, bouncy castles and a car show as well, including Mad Max's car.
We took a trip to Halls Gap in the Grampians with the intention of exploring further, but every man and his dog had arrived in the Grampians to do the same thing over Easter. They even had carpark attendants on duty at the carparks. Instead we walked into the silverband waterfall and walked over Lake Bellfield dam.
This is Reeds lookout. There is no way either Geoff or I could have gone out on that ledge, so we are grateful to the young couple who did for their ultimate photo shot. It gave us ours as well.
Right from the get go, as we have planned our move to Australia, I have been rather anxious about the wildlife. Our first two sightings of kangaroos were as roadkill. Our next wildlife experience was the emu's at Halls Gap and MacKenzie Falls carpark.
We were driving along after leaving the Grampians and Geoff commented on the lush farmland we had just driven into. Next minute, where were kangaroos sunning themselves, about as many as the sheep in the paddocks.
In New sZealand, we are members of the NZMCA, the national Motorhome and Caravan Association. We have joined the Australian equivalent, the CMCA. Both organisations provide the opportunity for people to offer private property for members to stay on. In Horsham, we stayed at the property of a lovely man named Graham. It's nice to be able to park up safely overnight.
I will leave our tale in Horsham, and endeavour to keep you up to date as often as limited power, wifi and time will allow.
After two and a half years of travel around New Zealand, we have landed in Australia - country #2.
Months of preparation, a few weeks of travelling in New Zealand to say goodbye to family and friends, until we were finally counting sleeps and doing the final last minute jobs..
The hardest part for me was saying goodbye to our daughters and grandchildren. It was also hard to say goodbye to Benji, our fur baby who traveled all over New Zealand with us.
I would dearly have loved him to join us here, and we are both missing him so much. But I read of a dog being brought to Australia and not knowing how dangerous snakes and spiders etc. were, he was bitten by a snake. Our Benji is so blinking nosy, He would have been investigating critters all over the place. So Benji is living with our grandchildren. He has worked out his place in the pecking order, above the cat and below the boys. In his eyes, above our granddaughter. Lets just say that a one year old child and a five year old dog keep a healthy distance.
We arrived in Geelong the day before we were due to pick up a loaned motorhome, and searched out local shops for the essential items we needed to fit it out. We landed with a suitcase each and a backpack, plus the laptop. I thought that was traveling light for moving from one country to another.
Our new motorhome doesn't come off the assembly line until 22 May 2017, followed by up to two weeks to be certified and registered. After Geoff's cancer (which was probably brought on by stress), we've chosen a stress free lifestyle. To remove as much stress as possible from the new motorhome equation, we negotiated a loan motorhome to use until ours is ready. It's a 2014 Jayco Conquest 23-1 with a french bed layout.
Let the adventure begin!
Two Kiwi's who have retired early to travel the world. Share our journey with us.