The long road home

The purpose of our trek across Australia (see previous post) was to pick up our new Airstream trailer, which will become our holiday home when we’re on our bush block  or when we’re travelling round Australia – our glamping has just kicked up a notch!

Mark had never seen an Airstream before and trusted my opinion on the whole issue, so I did spend the first half of the trip in a state of trepidation, but as Archie kept telling me, I had nothing to worry about as evidenced by the look on Mark’s face when he first saw his new kitchen:


Whilst in Batemans Bay we had to get our car fixed as we (sadly) skittled an emu on the way and it bent the drag link as it went underneath. The car was able to be driven, but we weren’t happy about it. This meant that we could only walk round Batemans Bay, so I didn’t manage any fabulous photos, although it’s a lovely place.

We only spent two nights in Batemans Bay, and then moved just down the road to Mystery Bay, which was recommended by Alison at Airstream Australia, and which was sensational. This was our first day towing the Airstream, so I was getting a buzz watching it hove into view (there is no other way to describe it) to park at the spot I had chosen.


We were bush camping pretty much on the beach.


One of the things that shocked us is that other campers had camp fires. These are absolutely forbidden in Western Australia until about June, but the weather here was cool and the photo above shows the colour of the sky, so I guess they were not going to start a bush fire.

The next day we cruised along, getting to know our trailer and how much room it took to park. We visited Orbost, which is a lovely town, but I missed the most fabulous looking op-shop by mere minutes, the ladies were still in there and hardened their hearts to my face squished up against the window. Never mind, I bought Bridgette some locally made soap to console myself.

We spent the next night in the Holey Plains State Park, which was a massive bush site, with basic amenities. This was the perfect place to do some laundry so I got out my Scrubba. One of the things on my wish list for the trailer was a washing machine, but the Airstream doesn’t have a place for one except in the wardrobe, and, as my family pointed out, I would be filling that with clothes, so I bought the Scrubba, which fortuitously had appeared in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks prior to us leaving for the trip.


I shall let you explore this if you are interested, but it will be coming on every overseas trip with me in the future, and I’ve also used it at home to give small pieces of fabric a quick wash before sewing. It is also wonderful for felting. It is a magical thing – it uses very little water and gives a small amount of exercise whilst doing the laundry.


I need to say that it clearly wouldn’t manage sheets or towels, or even jeans, but I did all our underwear, socks and t-shirts in it. Then I got Mark to help me wring out the excess water in a microfibre towel (you can buy these anywhere, but Scrubba have them too at similar prices to sports stores), and by the morning everything was dry.


Whilst all this was going on, a wallaby paid us a visit. I think he was looking for food (he didn’t get any), and was fairly tame.


Then it was off to the Great Ocean Road. Unfortunately it was heaving with tourists, being Sunday, and we couldn’t find too many places to park. I did have visions of having a swim in the ocean somewhere along here, but I could not face the crowds. I just contented myself with a photo or two


The Great Ocean Road is a twisty, turny sort of a road, but the car and trailer managed it brilliantly. Me? Not so brilliant as I clung on with white knuckles.

The Twelve Apostles were on Archie’s bucket list, so we braved the gazillion other tourists and headed out to see them. I was so impressed with the infrastructure that has been provided – parking attendants, a boardwalk, shop, etc. I did wonder what would happen to it all when the Twelve Apostles disappear, given that we are down to eight now. There is a really good video at showing before and after shots.


We camped in the Narrawong State Forest, which is quite close to the water. Sadly, it was a bit too late for us to hike down to the beach to spot a passing whale. It’s a great place to camp though.

We spent the next night in a caravan park (gasp!) in Clare, South Australia. Clare is a wonderful wine growing region and we had fond memories of it from other trips. This time, it didn’t seem quite as wonderful for some reason. I did get excited when I found this shop, but it was closed the whole time we were there – gah!


We’ve toured around South Australia quite a bit over the years, and one place that has stuck in my mind is Port Germein – it has the distinction of making me swelter through the hottest night of my life. A couple of other interesting things about the town – it has the longest wooden jetty in Australia, now being 1.5km long, and ships used to tie up alongside to discharge their wheat cargo. This photo is looking back to the beach from the end of the jetty. There is a lighthouse at the end, and it looks like a small white sliver – that’s how long this jetty is!


The jetty used to be much longer but some of it fell off in a storm.


It also has massive tides meaning that if someone wants to launch a boat  from the beach, it may not be able to be retrieved across the sand.  Cunning locals have solved the problem by using tractors to tow the boat trailers to a point deep enough for launch and retrieval. As you might imagine, these are pretty rusty tractors!IMG_3727

On this leg of the journey we passed the halfway point across Australia, marked by a boomerang sign


and a statue of an enormous pink and grey galah (a roseate cockatoo). My kids loved this when they were little!


We spent the night at Pildappa Rock near Minnipa. This is a place well worth a visit. The rock is enormous with stunning views (warning: serious rock porn coming up!)


I had to include these two photos. Apparently some young girls planted geraniums in a crevice of the rock in 1938, and they are still there, and still thriving!

Archie got a photo of our “rig” in the starlight – sigh!


and some photos of the rock at sunrise


You can see the scale of the rock by the size of our rig – yes, that’s us down there in the middle!DJI_0325

This rock should be more famous that Western Australia’s Wave Rock, and I don’t understand why it’s not. It even has a little wave on one side, although this part isn’t as good as Wave Rock.


From here we had the long stretch of road that connects Western Australia to the rest of the continent. Just to put it into perspective, I thought I would include a couple of photos of us driving across the Nullarbor – remember, Nullarbor is derived from Latin for “no trees”.


Yes, it’s flat, treeless, DJI_0336

and that stretch of road goes completely straight for 90 miles!DSC07030

There is quite a lot to explore along the Nullarbor – caves, cliffs, and walking trails. The Head of the Bight is definitely worth a visit. Between June and October it is possible to see whales and their calves making their way down this stretch of coastline.


Our last night on the road (sob!) was spent at almost the best place of all, and I had never heard of it. It is Karalee Rocks and is located 51km east of Southern Cross, and about 600km east of Perth. It is an astonishing place. It is basically another massive granite outcrop that has had a limestone wall built round it. This wall collects rainwater washing off the rocks and funnels it into an acquaduct type structure which then feeds a dam. The water from the dam was used to provide water for the slow steam trains which ran to Kalgoorlie.

I finally got my swim in this dam – on the last day of our holiday!DJI_0346

A better view of the dam with our rig in the foreground.DJI_0364

Truly, anyone crossing the Nullarbor from either direction, should make this a stopover, or Perth people should just go for a long weekend. We were the only people there. They even have flushing toilets! The cost is a donation if you so choose.

From here we had a leisurely trip home, with our last challenge being to get the trailer onto our verge. We had to ask the neighbours to move a car, and dodge around another one left on the street.


A bit of light pruning of a couple of low hanging branches, and we were in!


Nearly 10,000kms and some wonderful sights later, and our trailer was home and has now been taken to our bush block and positioned so that we can watch the wildlife playing in the dam (ignore the chairs, they’ve now been removed).IMG_3825 2

And a last photograph of Pildappa Rock with the sun creeping up over the horizon and bathing it in a wonderful glow.





42 thoughts on “The long road home

  1. Absolutely wonderful post Sue. Your photos and Archie’s are amazing and really show what a beautiful country we live in. I hope you and Mark and the rest of your family have many happy times in your new mobile home.

  2. I started reading your blog for the dressmaking, then I enjoyed the men in your life, nearly fainted at the sight of you sewing whilst camping. Next I fell for the travel tales. Now you trump all this with the airstream! I am an English (camp?) follower, with a furniture maker husband, and a serious motorhome habit. We go to Europe on 6-8 week trips, and I am still trying to work out how to manage a hand crank sewing machine into our living space.
    Well done for providing the inspiration and entertainment. Loving the views of Australia, especially as my youngest is living in Melbourne.

    1. Thank you Maggie, I really appreciate your comment. My son, Archie, is quite a talented woodworker (and welder – in fact he can do anything!) and I’m going to get him to make a breadboard to replace the plastic one over the sink. I would love to travel through Europe with a motorhome, but not sure I have the emotional fortitude! Having a sewing machine is essential in my opinion!! You need to visit your youngest and bush camp your way round Australia…

  3. As an South Aussie expat, currently freezing in WV, I have enjoyed your last 2 posts especially! We did a lot of exploring SA , but I had never heard of Pildappa Rock, so thank you so much! I have forwarded these posts to my American husband as further inspiration for our own much anticipated caravan trip…. One day!

  4. What a journey! There’s everything in this post, from awesome nature shots to great tips for camping (this washing bag is genius) to a remarkable overview of Australia’s landscape. Thanks for sharing such a fascinating travel journal. Now, enjoy your new château in the bush! (You know that we have another point in common: I also “cling on with white knuckles” on high winding roads!)

  5. Please spill the beans, how did you get those amazing aerial shots? Do you have a drone? Loving your Airstream, it really looks like the way to travel. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing your adventures.

  6. Fabulous blog, Sue, and fabulous photos!!! Question: Did Archie use a drone to get the aerial shots or does he just have a hidden superpower that allows for ultra-long distance selfies??? I am most intrigued.

    Also v. envious of your Airstream…What a gorgeous piece of kit!

  7. Your Scrubba bag looks really convenient for washing small items. I have a Breathing Mobile Washer, which is a plunger type thing that you use to wash laundry in a bucket, so it definitely takes up more room than the Scrubba, but it works for larger items, and I’ve used it to wash a few things during power outages. It’s also perfect for agitating fabric while dyeing it in a bucket.

    1. I have to laugh; my son read your comment over my shoulder and went: “no Mum,you don’t want one!!” Your Breathing Mobile Washer sounds interesting!

  8. Amazing adventure Sue! Very inspiring. Karalee Rocks definitely sounds like a destination for a long weekend. Amazing pic of you guys in the dam.

    1. Oh Linda, it is such a long way from everywhere, but it is so worth visiting, but much better if you can get out of the cities and hang out in the bush!!

  9. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip Sue. If only I had known you were in Batemans Bay…
    The company that sells the Airstreams in “The Bay” (as we call it) often brings them out to weigh them on the weighbridge where I work. Such a small world.

  10. I’m spectacularly jealous of both the trip and your airstream. The kitchen is fabulous! If you ever want a cook to accompany you I could probably be persuaded. …(give me 15 minutes to pack and find my favourite cookery books).

  11. What a fabulous journey and thanks for sharing more of your trip. As to the Airstream, definitely chateau-worthy. You have made me feel quite jealous. Look forward to reading more travel posts accompanied by wonderful photography. I should quickly add that your sewing posts are good too! Always inspirational.

  12. Omigod, so fantastic!!! Your pictures are everything you promised, and I wish you’d posted a hundred more!! Such gorgeous views of our country. Now I want to drive across Australia again too!!

    1. Also… I watched the 12 apostles video you linked to; fascinating!! I was also interested that you mentioned it was swarming with tourists; when we drove the great ocean road in 92 it was deserted and you can clearly see we are the only ones there in our pictures on that deck with the 12 apostles in the background. The one that collapsed in 05 is obviously still there in our pictures!

  13. We used to do aot of camping with a VW camper van, and I always wanted to upgrade to an Airstream. We found that the parking regulations where we now live rule out anything bigger than a domestic car, so we gave up that fantasy. Also I have so wanted to drive around Australia one day. I have hitched hiked in the US and have been to lots of countries in the camper van but never Australia. Maybe, one day, I can live your life. In the meantime I shall enjoy reading about it. I like the hand washing “Scrubba” – never seen one before.

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