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My wife and I enjoy touring Australia and seeing new as well as familiar sites. In the early years of our travels we often slept under the stars or in the back of our car, before upgrading to a tent when the children came along.
Our Morris Major Our Morris Major near the Stirling Ranges in the South-West, January 1970
Our tent near Hyden Our tent near Hyden WA January 1980
In October 1988 we bought our first caravan, a 14 ft 4 berth Jaguar Pop Top, and this brought a new dimension to our travels.
Our Jaguar caravan The Jaguar at Karri Valley Resort near Pemberton June 1989 - ensuite facilities to right - Very Highly Recommended
Our first trip away with the Jaguar was the day after we bought it, when we traveled to Albany for the October (Queen's Birthday in WA) long weekend. Albany is situated 252 miles (409 KM) South-East of Perth on the shore of the Southern Ocean. Other trips were to Guilderton (repeatedly), Pemberton, Mandurah, Greenough (near Geraldton), Bunbury, Busselton and the longest trip to Shark Bay and Kalbarri.

The Jaguar served us well for two years, but when the children lost interest in going away with us, we decided to change to a caravan better suited to just the two of us. This led to an 18 ft Franklin Arrow full height van, with an island double bed and heaps of storage, full size stove with oven and a 200 litre refrigerator.
Our Franklin caravan The Franklin at Bushlands Caravan Park Esperance February 1992 - Ensuite facilities out of sight to right - Very Highly Recommended
Except for our main holiday each year, most of our trips away were influenced by available vacancies. Our desire for access to a suitable body of water for canoeing and/or fishing also had a limiting effect on our choices. We regularly return to Guilderton, at the mouth of the Moore River and just 72 miles(115 KM) from home, and Ravenswood, on the banks of the Murray River and only 46 miles (74 KM) from home. These close locations allow us to travel to the park after work on a Friday and be completely set up before dark, leaving the entire weekend free to enjoy.
Our surf cat Keith, Vanessa and Shane returning through the mouth of the Moore River at Guilderton, January 1989
Black Bream Me with a nice size Black Bream, Ravenswood January 1995
In the canoe Four of my favourite things - my wife and I fishing from our canoe on the Moore River near Guilderton, during the long weekend of October 1995.

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Major holidays with the Franklin included Hopetoun / Bremer Bay (in 1 holiday), Augusta; and Bunbury.
In the canoe Pink Lake near Esperance
Frenchmans Peak Frenchmans Peak East of Esperance February 1992
Kangaroos around picnic table Visitors to the picnic table East of Esperance

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The trip Esperance, Hopetoun and Bremer Bay was notable in that for the first and only time my brother Michael and his wife Lorraine accompanied us with their caravan and 4-wheel-drive, giving us access to many areas we would have missed without the off-road capability. This firmed our resolve to get a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, but it was still several years before the finances were available to make the change.
Toyota Hilux Michael's Toyota Hilux dual cab 2.8 litre diesel seen here near Bremer Bay February 1992
We got a lot of enjoyment out of the Franklin over a period of five years, going away for at least six weekend trips each year as well as a three to four week main holiday each year. The Franklin was also put to good use by our daughter and her friends, and later her husband, at times when we weren't using it (I had to tow it to the park of course, as her car was too small - the things Dads do for their Kids :-).

Windsor caravan In September 95 we took the first step towards getting a 4-wheel-drive, when we traded the Franklin in on a 14 ft Windsor pop-top van.
Guilderton Our "Shakedown cruise" was another trip to Guilderton for the October (Queen's Birthday in WA) long weekend.
Augusta Our main holiday in January/February 96 was to Bridgetown and Augusta, where a 4-wheel-drive would have been really useful.
Jackaroo A week after returning from Augusta we traded our aging Ford Falcon (272,000 KM on the clock) for a Holden Jackaroo 4-wheel-drive, well suited to towing the Windsor, although far less power than the old Falcon.
Two weeks later it was put to the test towing the van to Tatham's Caravan Park at South Yunderup, a few miles past Ravenswood and on the opposite side of the Murray River, for the Labour Day long weekend. After devoting a day to canoeing and fishing the Murray River and the Serpentine River, we spent the next day circumnavigating Lake Navarino (Waroona Dam) and putting the Jackaroo to the test in off-road situations (it passed with flying colours, and 2 hours of polishing removed all the scratches in the paintwork).

Easter 96 saw the first long trip for the Jackaroo, when we went to Green Head, 180 miles (288 KM) North of Perth. We got in some serious off-road driving on this trip, with my wife doing most of the driving and enjoying every minute of it. A highlight of the trip was Stockyard Gully Caves. (3 hours of polishing removed all the scratches in the paintwork).

The Jackaroo allowed us to visit places previously innaccessable to us, including the trip over the sandhills and along the beach from Lancelin to The Pinnacles.
Jackaroo The Jackaroo among the sand dunes near Wedge Island en route to Cervantes
Jackaroo The Jackaroo running along the beach en route to Cervantes
We enjoyed many such trips, and the Jackaroo never let us down. Regrettably, Enola was involved in a collision in October 1997 which totally remodelled the left hand side. Thankfully the only injuries sustained were seat-belt bruises, but our insurer Western QBE chose to write off the Jackaroo, paying us the agreed value which was only $500 less than what we paid 20 months earlier. The cheque was available for collection only 5 days after the collision, so we were VERY happy with our insurer.

After two weeks of scouring the entire metropolitan area of Perth for a replacement, we finally found an excellent car just within our price range only 10 minutes from home. An immaculate silver Mitsubishi Pajero 4-wheel-drive with a 3 litre V6 engine gave us a lot more power than the Jackeroo, the only downside being the greater turning circle. They say every cloud has a silver lining, and my "internet friend" Wachita was very quick to christen the Pajero Running Cloud.

Running Cloud has allowed us to continue our exploration of this great land of ours, and we have discovered many beautiful spots "off the beaten track".
The Windsor at Walpole The first really memorable trip with Running Cloud was our main holiday over January/February 1998, when we spent 4 weeks visiting Walpole, Denmark, Albany and the surrounding areas.
Running Cloud It was on the track to Soft Beach not far from Walpole that I first managed to bog Running Cloud, but dropping the tyre pressure allowed me to extricate us without too much trouble. The shop at the nearby settlement conveniently has an air hose available for free use for just such an eventuality. We used it twice in the same day - but that's another story.
Other trips with Running Cloud included several additional visits to Denmark where Enola takes part in bootscooting (line dancing) workshops. I go along just to fish the Hay River, 10 Km East of town - the best Black Bream fishing spot I've ever found. We've also done trips to Dongara/Port Denison, Busselton, Mandurah, and of course Guilderton.

We didn't take our regular annual holiday in January/February 1999 because we wanted to be around for the arrival of our grandaughter Mikayla, who duly arrived on Wednesday 3 February 1999.

We didn't take our regular annual holiday in January/February 2000 because I had started a new job in October 1999 which kept me pretty busy until July 2000. Enola was also unable to take a holiday then as she had used up her annual leave on a trip to Sydney for the wedding of one of our nieces.

We didn't take our regular annual holiday in January/February 2001 because I went into hospital in September 2000 for spinal surgery (I underwent a microdiscectomy and nerve root rhyzotomy for those interested in the technical details). While I was still off work recovering from that surgery I was diagnosed with lung cancer, the confirmation coming on the Friday before Christmas. Christmas 2000 was pretty sombre in our household, but I was pretty sick so it didn't make a lot of difference for me.

I was admitted to hospital on New Years Day 1 January 2001 in preparation for surgery the next day. My cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Rob Larbalestier performed a thoracotomy and a radical lower and middle lobectomy of the right lung.
Keith in hospital In the picture you can see some of the things connected to me, including oxygen, drip, catheter, two chest drains, pca machine (patient controlled analgesia - (morphine on demand) - wonderful). I definitely don't recommend it, the pain was excruciating and even now, almost seven years later, I still have pain. If I had it to do over again I wouldn't take up smoking (and I probably wouldn't have got the lung cancer if I hadn't taken up smoking).
In September 2001 we arranged to fly to Sydney for the wedding of our nephew Darryn, eldest son of Enola's twin brother Doug. We had booked and paid for our flights well in advance, so it came as a bit of a shock when Ansett stopped flying just eight days before our departure date.
By the time we became aware of the situation there were no flights available which would get us to the wedding on time, so we decided to drive. We calculated that the fuel requirement if we took the Pajero would be 1,000 litres, and if we took our 2000 model Daihatsu Pyzar it would be less than 700 litres. As we had already shelled out for the air fares the cost was a major factor so we decided to take the Pyzar.
Our tent at Balledonia We loaded up with camping gear and headed off on Friday 21 September 2001, covering almost 1,000 kilometres before stopping for the first night at Balledonia.
The photo shows Enola rolling up a sleeping bag in the tent, with the Pyzar in the background.
Wildlife danger sign The Pyzar proved to be a very suitable vehicle for long distance driving, allowing us to easily cover 1,000 kilometres each day without any discomfort. The decision to take the camping gear was a wise one as often the only accommodation available was camp sites, as a result of thousands of extra travellers being on the road because of the demise of Ansett. This was one of the more interesting signs along the road to Sydney.
Shortly after returning from Sydney we decided to replace the Pajero with a new four-wheel-drive.
The Challenger in it's natural element After a lot of searching we finally settled for a 1999 Mitsubishi Challenger.
The Challenger was in very good condition and still had a year's new car warranty, and included airconditioner, power steering, automatic transmission, electric windows, electric mirrors and central locking.
Our first major holiday with the Challenger was in September/October 2002, when we spent five weeks in the North-West of Western Australia.
Wildlife danger sign


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