What do Adventure Tourism operators do for a holiday?
The desire to experience wonders both natural and built continuously pulses within us so even though we had decided to take a much needed break from constantly working to develop RoamWild Tasmania and The Paragon for over two years, we determined that our break will be to experience other environments. Adventures in other environments that are a contrast to the Wildest Tasmania we love. Sights, experiences that we would seek rather than being guides, providers and facilitators of.
Yep, get out there and enjoy other things! The only question, where to?
A decision came very quickly. I have had a nagging desire to drive to Alice Springs and Uluru, a desire as it turns out that was shared and so a plan to undertake a driving adventure covering over 10000 Km's of the large island continent of mainland Australia was readied.
We rolled off The Spirit of Tasmania in our RoamWild 4x4 adventure machine and went straight to the South Melbourne market seeking a good breakfast which we found at one of the cafe's there. After brekky we set off for...
Destination number 1.
The main attraction here for us, whoa hold it, for Joy, was Lakehouse Restaurant. She has been banging on about this remarkable restaurant from the time I met her so it is only right that we drive off the Spirit and make a bee line for this lovely little place. Not really my bag but if you appreciate fine dining this establishment is undoubtably among the finest. Our remark to go with the social media post after the more than two hour lunch....
Daylesford, like so many other once prominent towns had become another rural backwater being just over an hours drive from Melbourne. This fact however was to become an advantage after the vision of Alla Wolf-Tasker to establish the finest restaurant and supply it with the finest produce sourced from the locality as much as possible. Today, this charming town thrives and a reservation must be made if you wish to enjoy the exquisite dining experience here. So don't come expecting a bargain but you can expect a dining experience of the highest order. A quick glance around the car park when we arrived was indicative of the substantial bill.
The next day we were off to the next destination and decided on a little detour to Smeaton and get a look at Andersons mill. Apparently there had been a festival here the weekend before but now, astonishingly, no-one at all was here. What we found to be here had me standing there with mouth hanging open...I love waterwheels! And this one is significant and still turns. We had a great time all alone wandering around the whole mill.
Passing more and more grape vines we arrive at the agri hub of Mildura for an overnight stop and driving on the next day to....
Port Augusta SA
Well, as nice as the Victorian countryside had been we drove on passing through many towns and cities we stayed at Port Augusta before driving on as the green gradually turned to brown and red. Amazingly, as we passed the turn to Roxby Downs...Rain. We made it to one of our other target destinations, the interesting Coober Pedy and an underground Motel. Friendly people proudly made us feel like special guests. Little black flies were a bit of a distraction.
Looked for Opel and found only some interesting granular quartzite. Witnessed the first of many desert sunsets.
Not to be deterred we found some other interesting geology and finally some Opel...while on a mine tour, so it had to stay in the ground. Well, the flies were getting annoying so into the RoamWild wagon, get fuel, coffee and head off to the next planned destination.
Coober Pedy was a hoot. The next destination was a mutual 'to go to'...Alice Springs, commonly referred to as
We stayed at Lasseters which I can certainly recommend. We spent a good amount of time browsing the interesting Aboriginal art museum where the stories of the artists enthralled me more so than the artworks.
If ever in The Alice be sure and take in the Desert Park. All of it is exceptional, the people's passion for conservation and re-wilding is inspiring. The Bird show is a must do!
I don't have any pics to add here but I really want to go back to the Desert Park again. This time with a head net...I could never be ready for these up your nose in your ears flies. The tour guides at The Desert Park told us that the flies were much worse than usual. Ok great, when we go back there will be less flies.
Uluru 'The Rock'.
The next stop was a another mutual go to, Ayres Rock, Uluru, or put simply 'The Rock'. Now most peoples first assumption, as was mine, is that The Rock is near The Alice but the fact is that it is about 500Km's away. My thoughts were, 'Yes, we will go to Alice Springs and Uluru' spoken in the same sentence as if these two locations are almost one. Nah...The Rock is a bit if a drive from The Alice.
So we get there just in time check in to the nearby resort town Yalara and get out to the sunset viewing area.
A great sight to see. Good thing we found a park for the wagon...The flies were very annoying but mercifully disappeared as night advanced.
Next day we were up early to get a look at the sunrise effect on The Rock thinking we would find some privacy. We did not. We did find some real pretty billabongs around where the monolith meets the desert floor. Oh well, onto the camel races then, oh yes, the Camel Cup. Joy managed to find and buy two of those head nets and just as well 'cause I wouldn't have lasted. These flies are just nuts! The head nets do the trick though and if you plan to visit the outback just get one in advance.
A day at the camel races and a big night at the camel cup ball.
Next morning we will traverse the Gibson Desert. Over 1000 Km's of dirt road that is some stretches is just a track sparsely populated by anything let alone humans. We got up early to pack up the RoamWild wagon and we reflected about our Uluru/Yalara experience. Well, in brief summary, Uluru or The Rock is a beautiful natural spectacle worth visiting. I was surprised by the number of people and vehicles there. It's a maxxed out hotspot.
Yalara resort is expensive to the point of gouging with disappointingly below average service and amenities. Ah well, we will fill both of our 90L fuel tanks for the adventurous desert crossing about to be embarked on and our thoughts were reinforced by the fuel price at Yalara's only fuel outlet. We expected it to be pricey, we live in a remote location ourselves and are all to aware that fuel is gonna cost more......
It was $2.21 per litre!
We set off quickly leaving the bitumen and on into the dry, dusty desert. On and on we drove and soon we felt alone in the outback. After several hours we found a tree we could park under and make some sandwiches for lunch with the food from our 12 volt fridge. Well, I have mentioned flies but this was an assault of buzzing crawling madness. The head nets were now fly repelling force shields. A new plan, make lunch and stay in the wagon to eat. And then..Oh no, I have to number 2. Grab the folding shovel and the loo roll, run an appropriate distance from the wagon, dig hole and pre-prepare everything possible as fast as possible and...I'll leave the rest out but one can imagine the already swarming flies being amped up to an insect storm with Joy chuckling behind the safety of an auto glass barrier.
Having survived the ordeal we sometime later made it to Warburton. This was something else and I thought to myself "this is in Australia?"
Razor wire topped high fences, signs warning of the time the gate will be locked, fuel bowsers in locked steel cages prompting thoughts of Mad Max 2. Certainly no frills out here many hundreds of Kilometres from urbanisation with the feeling of desolate remoteness. But our forethought, preparedness and self belief drives a confidence in ourselves and our combination of skills and intellect. We had a bunch of fun taking the piss out of each other, and ourselves, in our donga in the desert.
Somewhat reassuring that others staying in the desert dongas were police passing through. Next morning we had some basic sustenance from our on board fridge then set off for the second day of desert driving. After a while, not far after crossing the reserve border we saw a comm's station with a little roadhouse. We had ourselves some coffee and an egg and bacon roll. In hindsight both were decidedly average but when your outback of the outback things like this are so much more readily appreciated. The exclusive (yes, as you may expect we were the only ones there) and very friendly service made up for any shortcoming anyway. I'm also starting to cope better with the flies with my super head net barrier.
Motoring on, another desert roadside lunch and not long after
Off she goes....No public toilets out here.
On we drove over corrugations, dust, a weird detour, camels and some dingos eating a camel.
Now I love to drive, it's like therapy to me and Joy likes to ride along giving navigation and lots of other directive but at this point I am exhausted and Joy has to drive. Between us we get to civilisation at Laverton in time for dinner. A town that has obviously seen better days, like so many other mining and agri towns around this great country. We find our accommodation, a miners camp called Boomers and are soon shown to another donga.
The camp managers were just so accommodating and you get treated just like a mine worker...very well. There was an air of camaraderie, a buffet BBQ dinner, a really good buffet breakfast and then we were instructed to load up with food for lunch. And one noticeable difference....No Flies :-)
The camp manager then gave some travel tips and recommended that we visit the pioneer mine site of Gwalia. So we set off for Leonora and went to Gwalia to check it out. This was a nice detour and well worth the time and money spent.
The highlight here for me was the steam driven winder but we both thought the old mine office and assay visit was great and the old township really well preserved. The old General managers house is a cafe/restaurant and accommodation. Everything here is wonderfully preserved and is a fascinating functioning tourism asset. A big 'Well done and keep up the great work' to all involved here. Heavy on our minds were thoughts of ego driven identities within Copper mines of Tasmania, National trust and the Tasmanian Government and how they are disrespecting, wasting and all the while desecrating the Mt Lyell story. Shame on them.
The rest of our epic trip was very civilised. We had a great stay in Kalgoorlie, visited the Superpit among other attractions and caught one of those sunsets over the vast open cut mine. The tour of Pat Hannans museum is great. Here again, good preservation work has been carried out. Enthusiastic guides tell the story well. Gwalia and Kalgoorlie heritage is being respected and well kept.
Drove to Perth for a couple of nights stay catching up with some friends and relatives. One of Joys tick boxes here...Rottnest Island. Another fairly crowded hotspot but well managed. The $20 lighthouse tour was nicely genuine, guided by a local with only us and one other person willing to part with the necessary fee.
And the Quokkas of course.
We drove down to Busselton and had a fantastic day out with Bill and Maureen on their Rolls Royce Margaret river region wine tour 'Esquire Tours', the best in the region. So luxurious. We had such a relaxing time here and was so spoilt I got no pics.
But here is the link https://www.esquireclassiccharters.com.au/ to what is the best tours of the best wineries and eateries of the Busselton/Margaret River region. I didn't want it to end. I could of slept in that beautiful Roller.
Down to Albany for a night and then across to Esperance for two nights with Shirley and Shane at their seaside retreat. What a lifestyle! Had a great time looking around here at brilliant white beaches in beautiful conditions. All so very nice and I think my favourite is Hellfire Bay.
Esperance is a remarkable place for coastal beauty. Now, we will head North to Norseman and head eastward across the Nullarbor. Balladonia, Cocklebiddy, and then Joy took the wheel and drove the worlds longest straight section of roadway past Eucla and checked in to Bordervillage. A shared big days drive.
What a refreshing night we had at Bordervillage. Brekky at the roadhouse, a fantastic lunch break at the Kimba pub then pressed on to Ceduna for a beautiful afternoon stroll and a night in the caravaners park. Aw yes, somewhat against my principals and I joked with Joy 'you are succumbing to the Dark side'!...but in reality, it was in a really nice little cabin and I enjoyed it. Next day, off to Port Augutta for a second stay before heading through Adelaide to another one of the places on Joys visit list.
A great self contained cottage on the long main drag of this Bavarian themed hotspot. It seemed a good proportion of Adelaide was up for lunch though. There were so many people here we decided on a late lunch of sausage at the top end of the street.
Shorter drives now, the first a quick run to Mt Gambier where we checked out the Blue Lake and immense pine plantations that feed the hungry timber mills here.
Warrnambool for a night and spent half a day at the heritage site there. Flagstaff hill was fascinating, lots of clever A/V interpretations.
The Great ocean road....It is spectacular and a mutual must do for us. The twelve apostles (there are actually 8...we think) was wonderful to see when and where we could get away from the many buses and cars of Asian tourists streaming out of Melbourne and back. It was as bad as The Rock. Ridiculous amounts of people took the shine right off this for me. The rest of the drive was better once we got away from the viewing hotspots and had a slightly late check in after some confusion at
Very nice just as we had heard. Better in fact as the procession of tours from Melbourne to see the apostles seemed to be bypassing these wonderful coastal towns. Our accommodation was an apartment and we were classic tourists now. We dawdled along the ocean road, stopping to walk to lookouts, walked beaches etc and it was dark when we rolled into Apollo bay. Yes well after a while driving around checking streets and addresses we had to make a call to the accommodation providers and just as well we did as the apartment was in a couple of Kms away. Daylight gave us a chance to relax along a the wonderful strip of cafes and restaurants. Apollo Bay is another one of Australia's many beautiful seaside towns. Our next stop was to be Melbourne but we detoured to Queenscliff to have some lunch in the most beautiful and obviously loved Vue Grande Hotel and we sampled award winning Fish & Chips that were up there with the best I have eaten and so lived up to the sign on the shops street front boldly claiming to be
'The Worlds Best Fish & Chips'!
Melbourne to finish off what has been an Epic 10000 Kms. But it's not over yet as we got some DFO shopping done, Victoria market and getting adept at the madness that is driving in Melbourne. The highlight though....Mihaaal Makinkaker....If you have seen the comedian you will now be laughing. If you haven't, real name Michael McIntyre at the Rod Laver Area. You would expect a comedian of such renown to be a fun show and yes, this sure was. Thank you Michael McIntyre for telling stories that made us laugh so hard.
We decided to walk back to our accommodation at Fitzroy. Not the greatest decision we have made. The feeling of being vulnerable walking Melbourne's back streets got a bit weird near St Kilda so we walked into a 7-11 to buy some milk and then hailed a Black cab for the rest of the journey. Mr Cab driver wasn't what you might call chatty so I said, 'How's the class action against Uber goin' mate'......That opened him up.....Yearrp, he even had a bit of a rant! Well, we empathised with him.
All the best with it mate 'cause we detest those lying, cheating scabs too!
Back onto the Spirit for the sailing back to Dev...We have lived, learned and managed to laugh and enjoy it all together and I really hope we get to do something like this again. Now feeling refreshed and optimistic for the coming year of RoamWild Tasmania, The Paragon and Mt Lyell Anchorage.
Anthony Coulson & Joy Chappell