So what is all about? Well... hopefully, by the time we are done, it will be a comprehensive journal about a family of 5 who have travelled around Australia to see the sights and also do some volunteer work around the country! In Mid 2010 we started thinking about what it would take to fulfil a life-long dream... We wanted to bundle up our 3 kids, pack-up the house, jump in the car and hit the road - probably for about 12 months. It sounds so simple ... At the start of January 2013, after almost 15 months on the road; we finally completed Our Big Aussie Road Trip. We hope that you enjoyed following our adventures, trials and tribulations as much as we enjoyed having them!

31 March, 2012

Lane Poole Reserve

We left Mandurah and headed inland toward Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup.  After a brief stop at the Visitor Information centre (which had quite a good archive of the Dwellingup township that was burnt to the ground in 1961), we headed down to the Nature Reserve to find a campsite for the next 4 nights.

The "Baden Powell" camping ground at Lane Poole Reserve is right next to the river and is nestled amongst hundreds of huge pine trees which give lots of shade, and provide quite good protection from the wind too.  There wasn't any grass under the pine trees, but there was lots of dirt!

Lane Poole Camping ground, Dwellingup

On Thursday morning, we were doing some schoolwork, and a car that we recognised drove into the site.  It turned out that a family we had met in the Bunbury Caravan Park decided to camp in Lane Pool reserve too.  They have 2 boys (one Josh's age, and one slightly older) but all three of our kids got on well with them, so we spent 2 days where our kids played together (mostly riding bikes, or building a 'superpit' in the dirt with their trucks and diggers - even Natalie got allocated jobs to do in the 'superpit' and joined in the fun).

The Kids building their 'Superpit' in the dirt

The weather was hot while we were stopped here, and it was so hot that one day there was a total fire ban (the ranter told us that even gas cookers couldn't be used), but under the pine trees and in the bottom of the valley next to the river, the heat wasn't too bad.  If we decided that it was a bit too hot, we just went for a dip in the river (which was a beautiful temperature) and cooled off.

The swimming area at Lane Pool Reserve

Natalie cooling off in the murky river

Exploring the rocks around the river

For the first few days, the campsite was quiet, which made great bike riding
territory, then over the weekend, it got very busy, but we still had plenty
of room to ourselves so we didn't feel cramped.

On one of the days we were staying here, we went for a drive around the reserve to look at the other campsites, and we also took a brief trip into Dwellingup to check some email and phone messages (as we didn't have phone or internet reception whilst at our campsite).  Another afternoon we went for a bushwalk and saw the 'King Jarrah', a 400 year old Jarrah Tree.

Josh at the top of a steep 4WD track we walked up on our Bushwalk
We all enjoyed the Lane Poole reserve and our time here seemed to go quickly.  It wasn't long before we were packing up and preparing to head into 'the big smoke' - Perth...

29 March, 2012

Herron Point

We said farewell to Bunbury on Wednesday the 29th Feb and headed North to find our next free campsite - Lake Brockman (also known as Logue Brook Dam).  We knew that the Dam was low (because water skiing is no longer allowed on the dam) but we didn't realise how depressingly low it was!  Nonetheless, we found the campsite we were aiming for and setup the van to stay the night there.

A very low 'Lake Brockman'

Looking down on Lake Brockman from our Campsite
We walked down to the dam and had a little explore around the area before having lunch and getting into a lot of schoolwork for most of the afternoon - however the kids did get to ride their bikes around the campsite because there was noone else there for the whole time we stayed there.

Mike and the kids should really be underwater!!

"The Classroom"

The wind absolutely howled all afternoon and seemed to get stronger at night!  We were fine in the van, but it was very blowy outside.  When we woke up in the morning, the wind was still shaking the van around with big gusts, but the sun was shining brightly and there was hardly a cloud to be seen.

We left Lake Brockman at 9am on Thursday the 1st March and headed for a place called 'Herron Point' which we had found in our trusty "Camps 5" book.  We thought that we should get there on the Thursday becasue it was the Labour Day long weekend in WA that weekend and we knew that cheap places close to perth would get very busy - and we were right!

When we arrived at the Herron Point campground, there were only about 8 other campsites setup, so we paid our $10 per night and booked in for 5 nights.  We really enjoyed our stay at Herron Point.  It was a lovely area.  It had some basic toilets (but it did not have showers or a water supply).  Our caravan was only about 100m away from the water, and so we swam every day (sometimes multiple times a day as it was very hot when we were there).  Herron Point also had beautiful sunsets each night - they seemed to get better and better throughout our time there.

Heading for a swim

We found a 'thong tree' on one of our walks around Herron point
Natalie almost believed me when I said that's where thongs come from

A beautiful sunset over the water at Herron Point

 While we were at Herron Point, we did our schoolwork on the Friday and Monday (between breakfast and lunch time), we did lots of swimming and playing on the beach - digging holes and making sandcastles; we went for walks to explore the area; we ate Blue Swimmer crabs that our neighbour gave us because he caught more than he could comfortably eat (they were soo nice), we played lego, we played card games and board games, and just relaxed a little in a beautiful spot.

Lunchtime for the Masons

Everyone concentrating on a game of snap

Even Natalie joined in our big Lego session at Herron Point

Digging Holes and building Sandcastles on the beach at Herron Point

On Saturday, we decided we would go into Mandurah to have a look at the town and refill some of Water Jerry cans.  We had a drive around Mandurah and then had lunch by the beach followed by a lovely swim amongst the small waves.  The kids loved 'surfing' the waves so that they were washed up on the shore.  Sam (with his swimming bubble on) got swamped a couple of times by the waves, but loved it each time and would come up out of the water with a huge smile on his face.  After our swim at the beach, we took advantage of the beach showers (which were cold, but had freshwater) and we washed all the salt off from the last few days of swimming in very salty water at Herron Point.  Feeling nice and fresh, we headed back to Herron Point.

The Masons at Herron Point

Another Beautiful sunset at Herron Point

The long weekend was extremely busy at Herron Point, with every spot full and the 'overflow' jam packed with cars, vans and tents; however our site was tucked up the back of the campsite and we didn't feel crowded at all.

The Sunsets kept getting better

and better!

We thoroughly enjoyed Herron point, but once the 5 nights of our "long weekend stay" were over, we had a pile of washing that had to be done, an almost empty water tank, and we were all ready for a good (hot) freshwater shower.  We left Herron point on Tuesday and went into a Caravan Park in Mandurah for one night to clean up, wash up, and get ready for our next few days where we would be camping in a National Park.  When we got to the Mandurah caravan park, I cringed when I had to pay $53.20 for one night, when we'd just paid $50 for five nights at Herron Point - but that's the way that it works when you're travelling in a Caravan with 3 kids!   Most caravan parks will charge up to $10 per child (even Sam who's still only 4).  Nonetheless, we did have good showers, used the washing machines, swam in the pools, Jumped on the jumping pillows, used the camp kitchen and played in the playground - all things we could not do at Herron Point.  I guess each 'style' of camping ("free" vs caravan park) has it's advantages and disadvantages, and we always knew that we would have a mix of paid and cheap nights as we travelled around this beautiful country of ours.

26 March, 2012

Margaret River

On Saturday the 25th February we pulled into Margaret River, the only sites we could get were ensuite sites which were a little bit more expensive, but nice for a change. After setting up we headed into town to have a look around.  On the way into town Nanna and Pa’s motor home got a flat tyre, there was a massive bolt stuck into the inside tyre at the back.  Since none of us knew how to change a tyre when there are two on each side and you have to get to the back one, we called roadside assistance and while Nanna and Pa waited we headed into town to have a look around.  We quickly found the fudge factory and sampled lots of nice fudge.

An unscheduled break while the Motorhome Tyre got changed
After picking up some cappuccino’s at Gloria Jeans for Nanna and Pa we headed back to wait with them.

The next morning we headed out fairly early, our first stop was “The Candy Cow” a lolly shop in Cowramup.  Next we headed to Bettenay’s Winery to sample some Nougat,  and then we headed up the road to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory.  We sampled the chocolates and selected one or two bits to buy.  From here Nanna and Pa went onto the Winery Next door and we headed back to Margaret River to pick up our camera which we had left in the Caravan.  We then made our way out to Prevelly which is a beach side town and had a look at the mouth of the Margaret River (which is not open to the sea at the moment).  Here we met up with Nanna and Pa and had lunch by the water.
The River Mouth at Margaret River

'The Convoy' stopped at Margaret River

Lunch inside the Motorhome
From Prevelly we headed south through the Karri forest down to Cape Leeuwin.  This is where the Southern Ocean and Indian Oceans meet.  We treated ourselves to a tour of the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse which is the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia.  Our tour guide was very informative and had the kids interested the whole time (it did help that the only people on the tour was the 7 of us).  We climbed the 179 steps to the top and enjoyed the windy view.
An Amazing Karri Forest near Cape Leeuwin

Driving through the Karri Forest

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse 

Getting ready for our tour up the lighthouse

Climbing the stairwell inside the lighthouse

We reached the top!

Natalie at the top of Cape Leeuwin

Where the two oceans meet

Our second night at Margaret River the kids convinced us all that they needed another sleep over in the Motor home as it had been so much fun the first time.

Monday morning we packed up and headed to our next campsite, Chapman Pool, stopping in on the way to have a look at CaveWorks which is a Cave interpretive centre and it is also the entrance to the Lake Cave, which we had a look out to but didn’t go in.

Nanna and Pa outside the entrance to Lake Cave
Chapman Pool was a lovely campground, we set ourselves up and went exploring, we did a short bushwalk and found the river to have a swim in. After our night at Chapman Pool we said goodbye to Nanna and Pa as they headed off towards Albany and we headed back towards Bunbury.
The campsite at Chapman Pool

Bushwalking along the creek at Chapman Pool

Breakfast at the campsite

From Chapman pool we headed into Nannup and stopped at the park to have lunch and play.  After lunch we took the scooters to the Skate park and the kids had fun scooting around.  From here we headed on to find our next campsite.  We eventually found it (no thanks to Navman!!), but we decided that we really didn’t like it enough to stay the night,  so we continued on and ended up back in Bunbury at the same caravan park that we had met Nanna and Pa in a few days earlier.  Mike took the kids swimming and Liz headed to the shops to stock up on food.
The kids enjoying Nannup's Skate Park

The Jumping Pillow back in Bunbury


After our play in the park in Donnybrook we headed into Bunbury and checked into the caravan park, it was still very hot so we headed to the pool for a swim before heading out to stock up on supplies at the supermarket.

Wednesday 23rd Feb we spent the morning getting our school work done and having a swim, then in the afternoon we headed out to explore Bunbury.  After stopping in at the visitor centre we headed to the lookout to get a bird’s eye view of Bunbury and get our bearings.
At the top of the bunbury lookout
That evening we had a game of mini golf at the caravan park, Josh and Natalie were really into the game (as they had never played before) and there was some strong competition happening (especially from Little Miss competitive), Natalie even got a hole in one! 

The Mason Mini Golf Tournament at the Bunbury Caravan Park

Thursday morning we did our school work as we eagerly awaited the arrival of Nanna and Pa (Liz’s Parents) who were joining us here in Bunbury with a motorhome that they hired in Perth.

Nanna and Pa had a few troubles with the motor home they had hired and had had to return to Perth to be changed to a different motor home and therefore didn’t arrive till early evening, so we spent the afternoon playing and swimming.

When Nanna and Pa arrived we spent time catching up over dinner and the kids had heaps of fun as they crawled all over the motor home to check it out.
Catching up with Nanna and Pa in Bunbury
Friday we spent the morning hanging out at the caravan and motor home and then we headed into Bunbury ,  first stop was the lookout and then we headed down to the beach for a swim and a late picnic lunch, on our way back to the caravan park we stopped in at “Big Swamp”  and walked out onto the boardwalk to see all the waterbirds.

'The Convoy' - Nanna and Pa's Motorhome with "Bruiser the Cruiser"

Swimming at Bunbury

Sam enjoying the cool water

A great picnic lunch after our swim

Spotting waterbirds at 'Big Swamp' in Bunbury

Big Swamp, Bunbury

Saturday we packed up and headed south in convoy with Nanna and Pa, our first stop was the Bussellton visitors centre and from here we headed down to the Jetty. We walked along the beach front to the jetty thinking that we might catch the little train that runs along the Jetty, but unfortunately it was booked out until 3pm that afternoon so we wandered back towards the car and had a picnic lunch by the water.  Much later in our travels, we received a tip from a Bussellton local that you just need to go to the Jetty before 9am or after 5pm and you can walk out onto it free!  However, we couldn't wait that long anyway, so we just moved on.

Bussellton Jetty

From Busselton we continued on to Dunsbourgh and checked into a caravan park and then headed to Cape Naturaliste to have a look at the lighthouse. After visiting the lighthouse we stopped in at Bunker Bay and had a look a the beautiful beach there before continuing on back to Dunsbourgh where we found a nice park to play in and another beautiful beach so the kids striped off to their undies and went for a swim.
The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste

Swimming at the beach near Dunsborough

That night, the kids had a much anticipated sleepover in the Motorhome with Nanna and Pa.  Josh and Natalie slept up the top above the cabin, and Sam had his own bed down the bottom (where the table folds down to a bed)
Sam enjoying his bed in the Motorhome on the first Sleepover

Josh and Natalie stayed in 'the den' at the top of the Motorhome for their Sleepover
From Dunsbourgh we headed toward Margaret River stopping along the way at Ngili Cave, were we joined a cave tour.  The first 15mins were guided and then you were free to explore the cave on your own, the guide said it would take about 45mins but we ended up spending 1 and a half hours in the cave.  It was an amazing cave, very beautiful.  There were lots of steps and it went very deep (37m). We all thoroughly enjoyed the cave, including the kids.  One small section of the cave was set up so you could experience what it would be like to do “real caving”,  it was called “The Tunnel of Terror”. It was a long dark tunnel and you had to crawl on your hands and knees,  the kids loved it and ended up going through it about 4 times.

Inside Ngili Cave

After this we headed into Margaret River.