Close encounters of the Roo kind 21-26/03/11

Posted: March 27, 2011 in Oz

I knew the GPS had it in for me. Ever since I told it to ‘shut the *@%$ up’ when it ‘helpfully’ suggested I make a u-turn in the middle of a motorway at 100kph, the damn thing has been plotting against me. I had sensed a slight undertone in its voice over the last few days, Megan thought I was being paranoid but I knew better, I knew it was only a matter of time before it would get its revenge, before it would strike and make me rue the day I called it a ‘jumped up road atlas’. It’s my fault really, I let my guard slip, we were driving south from Perth to Margaret River when, with half an hour to go until our campsite, it made us turn off the main road and on to a smaller side road. Strange, I thought, but it was no major issue and perhaps this was the direct route I naively told myself, plus it was nice to get off the freeway. The side road turned into a narrow lane which turned into a logging road, which turned into a badly corrugated track. By this time we were too far along to turn around, but to start with it wasn’t really that bad. However it got a lot worse and the last 15kms took us around 45mins. Man it was slow going, the whole car would start shaking itself apart at speeds any higher than 10kph, so we crawled along at a walking pace. Even the satisfaction of a rare ‘I told you so’ to Megan did little to lift my mood. So me and the GPS are now even, and when today it told me to turn right onto a road that did not exist I simply thanked it for the suggestion but said I would try another route. So we have now reached a détente, and hopefully it will last.

Anyway, I suppose I’d better tell you about how we are getting on. The day we were meant to start off from Perth did not start well. The keys went missing. Right from the start I’d like to say that I am not going to play the blame game, and as it was my fault I think that’s a wise move. We could go in to the hows and whys but I think it’s best to say that the main house keys to the car are probably somewhere on the outskirts of Perth along the Graham Farmer Freeway, just after junction 5, and leave it at that. So with the doors double locked and no way to get into the sides or back of the car, where I had cleverly and thoughtfully left the spare set, drastic measures were called for. Having just a baby hack saw, a screwdriver and a hammer I managed to break into the back of Harriet (sounds a bit rude), with worrying ease to be honest. The most worrying part though was the fact that this was done in the middle of a car park, in the middle of the day with quite a few people around, and not one person asked me if the car was mine!

With the spare set safely in Megan’s hands I’m now not allowed to hold them anymore, but we were finally off, and only four hours late. Our first stop was Margaret River, an area of Australia famous for its wine making. It was about four hours south of Perth, so a good little test for the car, a test it failed you will all be shocked to hear. After three months trouble free motoring around Asia the gremlins are back. I noticed when we stopped at our first campsite a lovely little pool of oil under the front of the car. Looking up it seemed that there was a leak from the oil pressure switch and the fuel injection pump, which is very annoying as it was new before we left. Bloody car, after feeling excited and upbeat about starting our trip around Oz the Land Rover let’s us down before we were even out of the starting gate, again. It’s mildly frustrating.

All was not lost though, we went to a garage the next morning and were told that they could get an oil switch from Perth in 24 hours and would cost us around $70. We will have to monitor the small leak from the fuel pump, as we can’t really spare the money to get it fixed at the moment as I imagine it will cost a lot. We had a day waiting for the part so we met up with our friend Tom ( in his rented camper and toured the beaches and ate fish and chips, our fourth portion since arriving in Oz and probably three portions too many.

Thursday saw the oil leak fixed, us $75 poorer, and we continued further south. The landscape in this part of Australia is a lot like New England in America in parts, and quite amazing. The forests are huge and the trees ridiculously tall. Now in convoy with Austrian Tom we stopped at a couple of national parks and climbed a few trees! It was also time for our first wild camp in a national park and we were both struck by how quiet it was and, apart from the screaming birds at 5am, one of the most peaceful and relaxing places I have been to.

The beaches are also something to marvel at. Miles and miles of empty sand stretching as far as the eye can see with no one on them. It’s quite incredible, the feeling of space and isolation is hard to describe and it makes we wish I’d studied harder at school so that I had the vocabulary to do so. “It’s pretty awesome”, is the best I can manage I’m afraid.

The next day we said our tearful goodbyes to Austrian Tom (Megan was more tearful than I, a slight concern that you can be sure I’ll take up with her later) just outside Albany, as he headed back towards Perth to continue his journey in South America. We headed further east and found a campsite in our guidebook that looked to be situated right on the beach. There was a 15km dirt road to the campsite which cut through the bush. It was dusk as we started on this road, right at the time when they tell you not to drive due to the danger of kangaroos exploding on the front of cars. Very wary of this we started to drive slowly down the track, but after about a minute of this I got bored and sped up. This is something that I won’t do again, as about half way down the track Megan nearly had a kangaroo in her lap. It jumped out on to the road just a split second after the bonnet passed him, and all we saw was a flash of grey in the passenger window. After the obligatory ‘@^&% me!’ we looked back to see him happily hopping down the road. Half a second earlier and we would still be scraping roo from the front of Harriet! Never a dull a moment.

The campsite was well worth the near miss and raised heart rates: our pitch was right on the beach and overlooked the bay. That night as we lay in bed we could hear the white horses charging up the beach, which was nice but did mean I had to go to the toilet about five times that evening. In the morning we had company for breakfast, as the roo we nearly ran over brought his family to see us to ensure there were no hard feelings.

So you are now up to date. We are traveling across the Nullarbor in the next couple of weeks so internet might not be the best. However, the spot is now working again so we will update our position daily for those of you interested, which I imagine is all of you, yes?

  1. Meg's mum says:

    Wow and awsome probably cover it. Glad you managed to get back into Harriet – don’t you dare lose the keys Megs! We will keep skype up at our usual time just in case.

    Love to you both Mum and Barry

  2. Anthony says:

    Hi Simon and Meg

    Just caught up after a couple weeks and had a great half hour reading your blog – who ever is writing it is really talented!!!

    Glad you are still enjoying yourselves, what a fantastic journey, with more to go!

    Cheers Anthony xx

  3. robin welch says:


    Another great update to keep us all entertained.

    Well done both of you and carry on the enjoyment

    Best Wishes

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