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times since 15 December 1996.
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 near the Stirling Ranges in the South-West, January 1970|
|Our tent near Hyden WA January 1980|
|The Jaguar at Karri Valley Resort near Pemberton June 1989 - ensuite facilities to right - Very Highly Recommended|
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.
|The Franklin at Bushlands Caravan Park Esperance February 1992 - Ensuite facilities out of sight to right - Very Highly Recommended|
|Keith, Vanessa and Shane returning through the mouth of the Moore River at Guilderton, January 1989|
|Me with a nice size Black Bream, Ravenswood January 1995|
|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.|
|Pink Lake near Esperance|
|Frenchmans Peak East of Esperance February 1992|
|Visitors to the picnic table East of Esperance|
|Michael's Toyota Hilux dual cab 2.8 litre diesel seen here near Bremer Bay February 1992|
|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.|
|Our "Shakedown cruise" was another trip to Guilderton for the October (Queen's Birthday in WA) long weekend.|
|Our main holiday in January/February 96 was to Bridgetown and Augusta, where a 4-wheel-drive would have been really useful.|
|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.|
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.
|The Jackaroo among the sand dunes near Wedge Island en route to Cervantes|
|The Jackaroo running along the beach en route to Cervantes|
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 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.|
|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.|
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.
|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).|
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.
|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.|
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.
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times since 10 January 1997.