Happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year

We are currently in Margaret River, which I love and could easily move into one of the lovely little cottages down Willmott Street – just a short walk to the river and the National Park with so many beautiful bush tracks and a couple of minutes the other way to the village which has lots of interesting shops. We are experiencing unseasonably hot weather. My research indicated that the weather at this time of the year is normally 25 – 27 but yesterday it reached 40. I spent most of my day sitting in the van with the air con on. Today smoke was in the air as the West Coast fire season kicked off. I will be developing a fire evacuation procedure in case we have to leave one of our camping sites in a hurry. I just hope if such a situation eventuates, we’ll have time to pack the wine and that bottle of French Champagne which Markus bought on Black Friday.

 

As this will be our last camping trip, before Markus sells the  van, we’ve decided to make the most of it and won’t be home until mid-May. It will be the first Christmas I haven’t spent in Narrabeen with family and friends for over 40 years and they will be sorely missed. But here we are in Margaret River, WA just about as far away from home as you can get without going overseas. Denmark, Esperance, Albany and Augusta all beckoned however, Christmas this year will be in Myalup, the only place we could find to stay after making more than 30 phone calls. All the best spots are booked a year in advance we were told.

Markus and I have been on the road for 8 months already. The time has just flown – so many interesting places to see and explore. Australia is such an amazing place and our history is so fascinating although somehow, they succeeded in making it deadly boring at school.

I’ve been keeping a journal every day which will no doubt be invaluable when I sit down to write “The Reluctant Camper”. I’m not such a reluctant camper these days as I’ve learnt to adapt and adjust. I’ve also been working on “Another Spanish Love Affair” the sequel to “A Spanish Love Affair”. We will be home for a year from May and I intend to really put my head down during that period in order to satiate the curiosity of my readers about what happened next. I’ve also typed up the notes for “Walking the Camino Backwards”which I took while walking the Camino le la Mozarabe in 2014.

I’ve had a wonderful year of reading – I brought 17 books with me and have knocked the lot of them off. However, I’ve managed to pick up some very interesting ones at the various book exchanges at the camp sites – Judy Nunn’s “Floodtide” which is set in WA in the late 70’s early 80’s, “Fraud” by Anita Brookner one of my favourite writers and “Proof” by Dick Francis one of my Dad’s favourite writers which I didn’t think I’d like because they have a racing background but that particular one also has a wine background. My two favourites reads from the books I brought with me have been “Sapiens; A Brief History of Mankind” recommended by Markus and “Captain Cook” by Peter Fitzsimmons, the latter I haven’t been able to put down. Leigh Sales book “Any Ordinary Day” came in at a close third.

We’ve had our trials and tribulations with both the car and the van. We got stuck in Cairns for a month, after having been towed there from Georgetown, waiting for parts to come out from Germany for the Toureg.   We then had to hotfoot it over the top of Australia (7,000 k’s in 10 days) due to the extreme heat – over 41 degrees. Such a shame as we both love the “red dirt” part of Australia and had hoped to do the Gibb River Road again. Then the tyre on the van shredded a couple of 100 k’s out of Exmouth. Fortunately, a young bloke stopped and helped Markus change the tyre.

Once we turned the corner and got down to one of our favourite camp spots Barn Hill Station, the weather became more reasonable. We loved it again at Kalbarri but unfortunately were too late for the wildflowers. Markus fell in love with Geraldton, especially a top floor unit overlooking the harbour until he heard about the Strata Levies, but the wind drove me berserk. I couldn’t keep my hat on and when I took it off my fine hair stood on end. It looked like a hairstyle I had in my late twenties when I had a very adventurous gay hairdresser. Not such a good look for a 70 year old.

We both loved Mandurah and I really like Margaret River and if we were younger we’d probably move over here. Markus loves the lack of humidity, they’ve just introduced euthanasia in WA which might prove handy in the future, the natural wonders here are just fabulous, there’s only 2,500,000 people in the whole of western Australia which is a third of Australia in size, the people are more laid back, no traffic even in Perth, the roads are excellent and there’s lots of very clean public toilets where ever you go.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and the best year ever in 2020, the start of a new decade.

 

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Susan Joy Alexander

Susan Alexander is a former tennis champion, successful business woman and a poet.

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