Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let the adventure begin!

Saying goodbye was so hard, especially since we left Scarlett with nana and grumpy in Sydney. But driving 5500km's towing a 3 ton caravan for the first time and keeping an 8 year old entertained, was not the most ideal situation. So the decision was made to leave Scarlett in Sydney and get nana to fly her over later in the month, once we were settled.

Shane's Uncle Jo and his OEM
Our first stop was at Shane's great aunt Glady and uncle Jo's place in Gundagai for lunch. We spent most of our visit scanning family history documents for Shane, and learning about the 'Order Of Australia Medal' awarded to uncle Jo for his work in the local community, not bad for being over 90. That night we also visited and stayed with his great aunt Jean in Wagga Wagga, where here the family history lesson continued way into the night.

We decided we were going to free camp the entire way across Australia to Exmouth, proving you don't need a lot of cash to do this type of travelling. Some of the camps were awesome, we even had one on the bank of the Murray river that was so beautiful.

Murray River Free Camp

Day 8 on the road saw us make it into Perth for some R & R, and let Shane do some much needed mechanical repairs. Shane did a boat tyre on the way into Perth, and on the way out of the tyre repair place did a second tyre on the Pajero. We also had caravan fridge problems, and door troubles in the caravan that Shane fixed. Shane also had to get the windscreen of the Rodeo repaired after a 'near death experience' on the way into Perth. Oh, and we had to replace a deep cycle battery in the caravan too!

It was awesome to catch up with old friends Robyn, Martin and their girls, Geoff, Lachy and Geoff's new fiancĂ© Michelle, and my old flat mate Dave too. While in Perth, we stayed with Shane's old Navy mates Donna and Shane, they were the most amazing family and so welcoming.

Coral Bay
But after 4 days of drinking and eating it was time to make tracks. We stopped just short of Carnarvon on our first night (again another free camp), and on day 2 rolled into Coral Bay. We had made such great time we were only 100km's from reaching our goal, but two days early; so we decided on two nights camping here to relax and recover from our drive. WOW this place is so amazing, we did come here on our earlier adventures, and I had such wonderful memories. It was just as beautiful the second time 'round......

We arrived at the base on a Friday and everyone was so welcoming and happy to see us. The removal went smoothly, with the truck arriving early on the Sunday! After a week of unpacking and putting furniture together till 10'o'clock each night, we were finally settled..... mostly!

Scarlett and nana arrived a week later, and it was so good to see them both. I think it had been 25 days since we had left Scarlett, (the longest time I have ever spent apart from her), and it was so good to have her back with us.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Where did the last two years go????

2012 - We settled after our trip in a small Delfin housing estate in Sydney’s west called Ropes Crossing. Shane was posted to RAAF Richmond, and it was time to get back home and spend some time with the family.
Scarlett's 1st day of school
Scarlett settled into School well and went straight to 1st class (having missed Kindergarten while we were travelling around the last year). I will admit it was a struggle for her to keep up with her class, but she did really great and moved into 2nd grade the following year.

I started a job at Narellan in the June, but the 50min drive was painful, if it wasn’t for the hours really suiting me (basically come in when I want, and work from home when I don’t want to come in) I would never have taken it. The work was dirty and very manual, having to clean and list items for sale on eBay for a third party holding warehouse.
Living back near home was amazing being able to watch my beautiful niece Isabella growing up over that year. We had her naming day, and a wonderful Easter all together. And her first birthday was a huge day out at the local dam.

Isabella's 1st Birthday

Scarlett’s pet goat at nana and grumpy’s house had two babies, Scarlett was lucky enough to see them being born and raised which was a highlight every time we visited.
I managed to sneak away with my girlfriends Jodie and Michelle, to Phuket on a tour with the “Sunny Cowgirls”. Let me just say, what happens in Phuket stays in Phuket……..
Adam and Courtney's Wedding
I was also bridesmaid for my long-time friend Lynda at her wedding in Sydney, which was lovely and mum and Shane also attended. But I must admit the Wedding of the year was my brother Adam and his beautiful partner Courtney’s. Scarlett was flower girl with Isabella, and it was the most beautiful day. I think it meant so much to us all, as we welcomed the most beautiful amazing sister in law in the history of ever Courtney into our family. We just love her to pieces.
We went to the V8s for a week in Bathurst, and also spent the Oct long weekend in the hunter Valley. I think this was the first weekend the van actually made it out since the Tamworth Country Music Festival in Jan. Nicky, Martin and Scarlett who we met on our travels around Australia also came up with their van for the weekend. It was just like old times travelling around Australia together again.

The year flew and before we knew it Christmas was upon us!
2013 – Shane, Scarlett and I packed up the van after Christmas and went for a couple of weeks holiday down to the Victorian High Country, where we stayed at a lovely caravan park on the river in Bright. We explored Beechworth, which is a beautiful town famous for the last days of Ned Kelly’s life. We took a few day trips into the mountings to see the famous “Man from Snowy River’s Craig’s Hut” and other huts famous in this area. The scenery was amazing and we were reminded of the devastating bushfires around Falls Creek on the way in that decimated the area only a few years ago.

Craig's Hut

But before we knew it, Shane was called up once again and was sent back to the Middle East on another six month deployment. We managed a great week off together before he left; staying down at mums van in Currarong - but saying goodbye was one of the hardest days Scarlett and I have ever had to face.
Singapore's Merlion
Not long after Shane left I was made redundant and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I did not have to juggle work with Scarlett’s school drop offs and pick up’s. It was certainly refreshing.  I had also started a TAFE course two nights a week studying Small Business Management, so a good friend Barb offered to stay with me and help out on those two nights.
Time flew by with Shane away and in July we all met up in Singapore for 12 wonderful nights as Shane was given some R and R to see us. WOW what a country! We had the best holiday and recommend it to any family wanting to go abroad and visit a safe, clean, kid friendly destination.
We stayed on Sentosa Island and had everything we could possibly want to do at our door step. There was Universal Studios, and Underwater World, a huge Waterpark, and a million other things to see and do. We visited four of their world class zoo’s and literally ran out of time to see and do everything we wanted to do.
Gardens By the Bay Singapore
October saw Shane return home to us and the birth of the second little princess for Adam, Courtney and Isabella; a beautiful little girl named Emily. She is so beautiful and Bella is showing all the makings for a very protective and hopefully helpful big sister.

Isabella welcoming Emily

Scarlett was awarded Sports person of the Year

Bitter sweet was the birth of little Emily, as we also got word of our January 2014 posting to Exmouth in the remote north west of W.A.  
Shane immediately purchased a fishing boat and in November we went over for a handover visit. It is such a remote and beautiful part of the country, we all very excited to be embarking on another big adventure.
We have loved our time in Sydney, being close to family, and reconnecting with friends. Living at Ropes has also been amazing, I can honestly say I now know what living in a community is and will miss them all terribly.
So follow along the Cheney Caravan Of Courage as we take another trip across to the West xxx
Merry Christmas Scarlett

Thursday, March 6, 2014

40,000km's later!

I have had a lot of questions regarding how much we spent? Well here is a basic breakdown on our expenditure.

Fuel $9,800
Food $8,600
Accommodation $8,100
Entertainment $8,000

In total recorded expenses were $34,500 but I can honestly say it was closer to $70,000. I would never take on a trip like this without having at least $52,000 in the bank. It’s realistic to cover things going wrong (new car fridge $1,200) and expensive once in a lifetime experiences like the Horizontal Water Falls Tour $1,835. Why would you come all this way and not have the cash to do these amazing things as you probably won’t ever be here to get the chance again.
Fuel - This was our biggest expense! It was so expensive ($2.20 ltr) in some of the small outback towns, we carried two fuel jerries and topped these up in the cheaper areas whenever possible.

Food - This was our next biggest expense! We hardly ever ate out, making all our snacks and lunches each morning and taking them with us on any day trips. I also cooked every night in the van utilising produce purchased from the side of the road and fish whenever we were able to catch it or had it given to us. Again we bought up big in the larger towns, and avoided the smaller towns. Keeping a menu, and planning meals made this easier.
Accommodation – This could have been heaps lower if we had not had Scarlett along with us. Having an only child, and one so young, meant that we always went to big van parks with pools and playgrounds every other week or so for her to socialize. There are so many free camps out there that are beautiful, and Shane and I (had it just been the two of us) would have stayed many more nights at them. Our favourite free camps included – Gregory Downs Free Camp just outside Lawn Hill NT, Mary Pool Rest Area NT and Spring Creek Rest area NT where we left our van for the day while exploring the Bungle Bungles.

Gregory Downs Free Camp

The best caravan park was Cairns Coconut Resort, where Scarlett had an awesome time in their cool pools, playgrounds and Water Park. Followed by the Whitsundays Big 4, where we had a membership card giving quite a good discount on multiple night stays. We also invested in a Top Tourist Parks membership card giving us good discounts in their parks too.

Cairns Coconut Resort

Horizontal Waterfalls
Entertainment – The most expensive was the Horizontal Waterfalls Day tour out from Derby being $1,835.00 and by far the best experience we had on the trip. Second was the Whale Shark Swim at Coral Bay being $870, but also worth every cent. Also worth noting was the Kuranda railway/skyway at $220.50 and the yellow waters sunset tour at Kakadu NT $196.91, also two amazing tours we all thoroughly enjoyed. (These prices are/were for the three of us combined).

So what were our top 10 most favourite things?
1. Fraser Island

2. Horizontal Water Falls

3. Karijini National Park

4. Ayres Rock
5. Kakadu
6. Coral Bay

7. Margaret River
8. Cervantes

9. Kangaroo Island

10. Bremer Bay

So when you add up the van ($42,000), the car ($28,000), and the expenses ($70,000); we could easily have made a great headway into a mortgage……but in the end it’s only money, and the experiences and time spent together as a family….PRICELESS