Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Covid Lockdown

After eight weeks and 1 day we finally left Sunset Beach caravan park in Geraldton. Travel regions in WA have been changed, which means we can finally travel north and get back to camping, exploring and seeing as much of WA as we can.

We got lucky with our choice of places to sit out our Covid19 lockdown, as we shared earlier we planned to go to Perth so Galen could get some dental work done, but that was cancelled while we were on the road and we made the call to stay in Geraldton to sit this thing out. What a great call it was too.

We settled into the caravan park, right on a beach, not the worlds best beach, but a beach with a sunset view every night. After a couple of days we were able to move to a site right in front of the tent area, which meant the kids had a huge grass field to play in and we had unobstructed views of the beach and sunset.

Geraldton was big enough that it had everything we needed, doctors (we all got our flu vaccinations and the kids had some top up vaccinations), supermarkets (Woolworths, Coles and Aldi), essential shops (Target, Spotlight, Bunnings and BCF). I also managed to get some some replacement prescription sunglasses (as mine got washed off in the surf). There were restaurants and cafes offering take away service and we managed to get the car serviced. People were super friendly and we made some good friends at the caravan park.

The first two weeks were essentially spent at the park, with the occasional essential trips for groceries. We got into a routine of sorts, a few walks along the beach, the occasional swim when the seaweed wasn't too bad and the surf wasn't pounding into the shore. We caught up on a heap of learning, read books, played with lego, practised our football, built things with littlebits and makedo, grew plants and cooked food. Tanya taught herself to crochet and made a blanket for us and is now working on the kids blankets.

After the first two weeks restrictions started to slowly lift, we could visit other beaches, have picnic (or take away) lunches, visit the doctors for vaccinations (the kids were happy to have a day out not to happy to have the jabs) and do a little bit more.

While we were there we remembered ANZAC day with the other park residents, celebrated easter with a surprise visit from the Easter bunny and a very generous park owner who shared some eggs with the kids. We also managed to have a silver service dinner of pork belly and lobster served by the kids to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.

As the weeks passed more restrictions were lifted and we could do more and more around Geraldton, day trips to Ellendale Pool, Horrocks, Coronation beach and Cape Burney. We explored some of the sights around town and even learn't how to standup paddleboard courtesy of some other travellers who we befriended in the caravan park.

Once dental surgery started again, we got permission to travel to Perth where we spent four days in an excellent AirBnB in Fremantle, Galen got his work done, we did some shopping (Geraldton didn't have a Dan Murphy's or Big W), explored the beaches and just enjoyed being in a house for four days.

The Sunday morning we left Perth, the Premier announced changes to internal WA travel restrictions, which meant we could start moving again and see some of the things we had planned. Instantly we booked Cape Range National park, which was one of the bookings we had to cancel and mapped out how we would get back to Townsville for Arlo's birthday.

All in all Geraldton (and Western Australia) was a pretty good place to sit out our lockdown. The people were friendly, the weather was kind (it is always windy in Geraldton), we found routine and managed to keep active and sane. While I am not sure I would ever come back to Gerro to live it will always have a special place in our heart.

Next we start moving north, exploring new places, revisiting some that we didn't do justice the first time round and continue our DerryGoRound.

Here's to you Geraldton.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

DerryGoRound by the numbers February

Here are our monthly stats for February

One state 

We explored much of what the south west of Western Australia has to offer
We slowed down and didn't travel as much
We visited a lot of beaches

States: Western Australia

Distance travelled: 3673km 

Playgrounds Visited 15
(these were some of the best playgrounds we have seen all trip)

Fires 0 (still not allowed, although at times it was cold enough for one)

Swims 19

Beaches 31 (This was the month of beaches)

Wineries visited 8 Breweries 4

Visitors to our campsite (lots)

Replica water speed record boats 1

55m trees that you can only climb by using a series of spikes driven into the trunk 1

Intersections of two oceans 1

Purchased lunches 7
(Pies, fish and chips, wineries and pub lunches)


Average cost of Accomodation per day $22.58 (Lots of National Parks)

We used 4 different types of accomodation

  • Other (cheap camps on private property)
  • Free camps
  • Caravan Parks
  • National Parks

For comparison, here are our year-to-date stats:


We spent 5418.92 (Less km kept the expenses down)
$ per km $1.48

  • lots of free camping and National parks (which wasn't cheap but worth it)
  • petrol = largest expense (still)
  • Maintenance again (we had to get the rear door handle of the car fixed $500)
  • trips and events was down as we spent lots of time doing free activties
  • We spent money on lunches and wines more than expected
  • our $ per km didn't really drop, probably because we didn't do as many km 

For comparison, here are our year to date stats

Hopefully maintenance will decrease (although we need to get the car and van serviced)

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Thursday, April 9, 2020

What now?

"We don't learn much when everything goes right. We learn the most when things go wrong."
~ Simon Sinek

An update on our situation.

Like everyone else in the country/world, Covid-19 has turned our world upside down.

It looks like our #derrygoround is over.

Seven months into our trip, we had about three months left to make our way up the coast of WA, head across the Kimberly, back to Kakadu and then on to Townsville, starting the painful process of selling everything up and getting ready for our next adventure.

After an incredible month on the south coast of WA: Albany, Esperance, Lucky Bay (Feb update coming soon), we started heading north. We got as far as Coral Bay (about half way up the WA coast). The next two weeks of accomodation was already booked, Cape Range National Park, Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth and then out to Karijini National Park to sit out the dreaded Easter holidays. Coral Bay was everything we expected. We had a beachfront site, you could snorkel the fringing coral reef off the beach, it was tropical, warm weather and incredible sunsets and scenery..

While we were there things got more serious with the virus and the way smaller communities were reacting to visitors. We decided to bite the bullet, cancel our reservations and head back to Perth. We already had Galen booked into a dentist to get some work done, so we had to head south anyway. Our plan was to stay in Perth for a month or so, get his teeth sorted and head back north, following our original plan, probably just going a bit quicker than we had hoped.

We planned on taking three days to get to Perth (1200km) when, about an hour out of Geraldton on the second day, we rang the dentist to see if we could bring Galen’s appointment forward. They gave us the bad news that they were cancelling all appointments. A few tears and expletives later, we needed a new plan. It was no use going to Perth if we didn't need to be there, that was where all the WA cases were, it would be getting cold and we wanted to head north so why go south?

We rang a caravan park just out of Geraldton and they said they could take us for a fairly decent rate, it looked ok and was on Sunset Beach. We paid for a week to wait and see what was going to happen. We knew Geraldton has supermarkets, hospitals, dentists, and more.

We have now been here two weeks. We moved to a site with a view of the water with grass in front of us (a mini playground for the kids). We have power and water and the services we need. There is a supermarket and bottle shop five minutes down the road, the beach isn't WA's best but it's a beach. We have a semi-routine now. We have spent heaps of time at the caravan with a few runs to Aldi, Spotlight, Bunnings and Woolworths for essentials (only one adult at a time) and spent some time on the beach.

While here we heard stories of small town hysteria against people traveling in vans. Driving around a state with interstate number plates on the car and van began to make people with no home to go to targets for anger and abuse borne out of fear. We watched as WA restricted travel among its regions and then closed down its border to people coming into the state. Even caravan parks closed down to all but travellers with no home to go to (that's us). We have felt relatively safe here in Geraldton in our bubble of a caravan park. There are two cases in the region, but they are contained and no one has had to go to hospital. It is a safe place with all the amenities we need.

By the end of the first week, with much of northern WA closed, we realised we wouldn't be seeing Exmouth, Broome, the Kimberly and all the other unexpected places that have become so much of our travelling routine. There is so much we have missed that we didn't even know we were going to see.

When we arrived here we thought we would probably be here for a month or so, and that prognosis doesn't look like changing anytime soon. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that our trip is over. We can't put it on hold and continue in six months time. We most likely will need to be in Poland in August (but honestly we don't know what might happen there. Will international flights start again? Will we be able to leave the country? Will Poland be ready for arrivals?).

We kept holding on, started formulating new plans, waiting for things to calm down, thinking we might be able to wait here for four to six weeks then head back east seeing some of the sights we missed in SA and Victoria on the way across. It is now looking like we will have to make our way back to the east coast via the Nullarbor and get back to Queensland virtually without stopping, then quarantine, sell everything and get ready to head overseas or wait it out somewhere with jobs and rent an AirBnB.

While we know we have it so much better than many others, it is hard to lose a job if you don't have one, it is not too cold (yet), we have all we need, we are healthy and safe. It is still a time of mourning, at times we all get a bit depressed and down, thinking about what could have been and wondering what the future will hold.

I am sure many will think we are still "living the dream" and would rather be at a beach than stuck at home. To be honest, it is not all it is cracked up to be. Two weeks in limbo, stuck in a caravan, It is frustrating having the means and equipment to travel and not being able to.

We are making the most of our time together staying positive, playing, learning, gardening, cooking, creating, beach time and swimming. Yesterday we even found a secluded beach that we had to ourselves. We are saving money, we haven't put fuel in the car in two weeks. The people of Geraldton have been great, we haven't experienced any of the negative behaviour and abuse other people in our situation have.

It is tough thinking about what we have lost and I am sure we will continue to find it hard for a while. It is almost impossible to start thinking about moving to Poland in the current climate. We are counting our blessings while planning how and when we will get back to WA and finish our #derrygoround.

No matter what way we look at this global crisis and our own situation, there is always hope.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

DerryGoRound by the numbers January

Here are our monthly stats for January

WOW, what a month

Three states 
We returned to SA (and didn't back track too much)
We got to WA
It was expensive (Fun times in Perth and maintenance)

States: Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia

Distance travelled: 5654km 

Playgrounds Visited 20

Fires 0 (c'mon it has been a tough summer with the bushfires)

Swims 19

Beaches 8 (only eight but they were beauties)

Wineries visited 3 Breweries 3

Steam paddleboat rides 1

Windmill museums 1

Camping on massive cliffs

Days with your bestie 4

Cute Aussie Animals (too many to count)

Long Drives 8

Purchased lunches 8
(Pies, fish and chips, sushi,  restaurant and pub lunches)

plus a couple of dinners with friends in Perth.


Average cost of Accomodation per day $23.33 (We ended up staying in caravan parks more than we wanted))

We used 4 different types of accomodation

  • Staying with friends / family
  • Free camps
  • Caravan Parks
  • National Parks

For comparison, here are our year-to-date stats:


We spent 8914.46 (expensive visit to the dentist and car maintenance didn't help)
$ per km $1.58

  • lots of free camping but that was cancelled out by 6 days in Wangaratta and 5 days in Perth caravan parks
  • petrol = largest expense
  • Maintenance increased, new battery, solenoid and a drive shaft (we drove across the Nullarbor with it and were lucky to arrive in Kalgoorlie in one piece)
  • Galen had to visit the dentists for multiple fillings = expensive
  • We also spent money on luxury and trips as we spent time with our visitors from overseas
  • our $ per km saw a large increase (due to above) other expenses stayed pretty constant (but seem smaller as a % of total expenses) 

For comparison, here are our year to date stats

We are now on our own again and hopefully (dentist visits and maintenance aside) we can get back on track.