Great start to the New Year

Our journey back to the UK on New Year’s Eve was a long day – it involved starting the day at 2.30am Perth time and finishing it around 10pm UK time (Perth is 7 hours ahead of the UK). The general consensus between Mark and I was that if we travel on an airplane with Izzy again we’ll all have our own seats! We travelled back to the UK in two hops – Perth to Dubai and Dubai to Gatwick. We were very tempted to stay in Dubai and watch the New Years Eve fireworks. In the end reality hit and we decided against that! We jumped on the plane back to the UK from Dubai. The last leg of the journey went better than the first part as Izzy slept for most of it. When we got back home at 10pm, we just climbed in to bed and woke up around 8.30am the following day. Big thanks go to my parents for turning the heating up – we certainly noticed the temperature difference!

On New Years Day we made the hour trip to visit Izzy’s cousin Ben (and our nephew) in Oxford, who was just one week old! Meeting him was certainly a great way to start the New Year and a great reason for not missing that flight in Dubai! It also is a great ending to our blog and our month of travels.

Thanks very much for reading this blog and hope Izzy one day you enjoy reading about the adventures you got up to at just 20/21 months! To all our family and friends we hope 2015 brings you lots of joy, happiness and of course amazing travels!  

Meeting Ben

Meeting Ben

Izzy and I giving Ben cuddles

Izzy and I giving Ben cuddles

Izzy giving Ben even more cuddles

Izzy giving Ben even more cuddles

Happy New Year and Congratulations Aunty Claire and cousin Ben!

Happy New Year and congratulations Aunty Claire and cousin Ben!

Uncle Mark!

Uncle Mark!


Heading back to Perth

After our hugs goodbye we left Kalbarri on Monday 29 December and started the journey back to Perth. We travelled along the scenic coastal road from Kalbarri to Northampton and passed the Pink Lake. It’s an algae-filled blue lake with pale pink tones, caused by a naturally occurring beta-carotene; it’s farmed for use as a Vitamin A supplement and colouring agent.

Once at Northampton we continued the short journey to Geraldton. We stopped the night again at Sunset Beach Holiday Park, which is right on the beautiful Sunset Beach. Before bath time we headed to the water park in the centre of Geraldton and had dinner at Dome on the seafront.

Izzy's last bath in the paddling pool

Izzy’s last bath in the paddling pool at Sunset Beach Holiday Park

Long way back to Perth

The long way back to Perth

On Tuesday 30 December we needed to “push on” (Mark’s words not mine) and complete the five hour drive back to Perth and return our camper van which had been our home for 14 nights.

Long journey back to Perth

Heading south back to Perth

Once we handed back the camper van we caught a taxi to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Perth. After our camper van it was nice having a few luxuries before the long journey back home which was going to begin the following day.

Five star luxury at the Hyatt

Izzy was fascinated by the central water feature

We had time to cool down in the hotel's outdoor pool

We had time to cool down in the hotel’s outdoor pool, although Izzy seemed to be happier climbing in and out of the pool rather than swimming in it

Cocktail time

The end of our holiday and cocktail time

We found quite a good deal for the hotel online and with the room came a $99 voucher, which we could spend during our stay however we liked. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with a cocktail and beer. We then had a walk along the Swan River and fun on the nearby playground.

Tree lined road along the Swan River

Tree lined road along the Swan River

It was lights out at 8pm as we had set our alarms nice and early at 2.30am to ensure we were at the airport for our 6am departure.


Kalbarri National Park

After the pelican feeding and after our camp site eviction (yes really, we got kicked off our powered pitch at 10am) on Monday 29 December, we visited Nature’s Window in Kalbarri National Park. Nestled at the mouth of the Murchison River and surrounded by a stunning coastline of soaring river gorges and bays, Kalbarri National Park is known for its rich landscapes. There are several scenic look-outs, the best being at the Loop and Nature’s Window, a natural rock arch that frames the view upstream and is the start of a walking trail along the gorge.

We very kindly chauffeured by the Moody family as they had visited the park a few weeks prior to our visit and the route was rather bumpy in their camper van! It was extremely hot when we visited. The Moody’s car temperature gauge had a reading of 44 degrees and it was just like being in a sauna, as the heat was extremely dry.

We were pleased that the walk to Nature’s Window was just 400m from the car park. Izzy soon decided that walking wasn’t fun in the heat and that being carried was the way forward.

Natures Window

Natures Window

Mark holding on tightly to a wriggly Izzy

Mark holding on tightly to a wriggly Izzy

Thankfully she stopped wriggling!

Thankfully she stopped wriggling!

Amazing scenery

Amazing scenery


Not a cloud in the sky

Another view of the breathtaking scenery

Another view of the breathtaking scenery

After seeing this spectacular scenery it was time to head back to Kalbarri and to say farewell to the Moody family. It was very sad to wave goodbye as we had such an amazing time with them during our time in Australia. Luckily they are visiting the UK in September / October so we’ll see them again soon. It’s just not as easy visiting them as it once was when they lived in Willersey, Gloucestershire!



Pelican feeding

On Monday 29 December, before the start of our journey back to Perth, we watched the pelican feeding in Kalbarri. This happens every morning at 8.45am and is a tradition that has been going on for 30 plus years.

Cliff Ross began feeding the pelicans in Kalbarri in 1975. He lived on Grey St and owned a museum called Fantasyland better known these days as The Grass Tree Restaurant. Local volunteers now feed the birds daily at 8.45am on the foreshore, numbers vary at different times of the year with an average of four each day.

Two turned up for the feeding we watched. Mark and Izzy unfortunately missed out on this as Izzy was fast asleep at 8.30am and we didn’t want to wake her! I joined Elli, Mark, Bill and Tom to watch the spectacle. I was amazed at how big these birds are. They are huge!

Pelican feeding was done on grassland near the sea

Pelican feeding was done on grassland near the sea. The first pelican coming up for his breakfast!

Volunteer, children and pelican

Volunteer, children queuing to feed and the lucky pelican

Pelican after a free (and easy) breakfast

Pelican after a free (and easy) breakfast

These pelicans were spotted on the way back to the caravan park

These pelicans were spotted on the way back to the caravan park


Afternoon at Rainbow Jungle

I’m not very good in the heat, so we declined the Moody’s kind invitation of an afternoon on the beach and instead Mark, Izzy and I visited Rainbow Jungle on the afternoon of Sunday 28 December.The main reason being was that they had plenty of shade (with temperatures of around 36 degrees we were very appreciative of this). As well as shade, there were plenty of parrots and other bird life, as it is Australia’s Parrot Breeding Centre.

A historical sign for Rainbow Jungle

A historic sign for Rainbow Jungle

We met lots of colourful parrots

Pink cockatoo

This is especially for Bill and his love of lizards!

This is especially for Bill and his love of lizards!

Whale watching tower

Izzy and Mark at the top of the whale watching tower, unfortunately no sightings as it was out of season

Beautiful Kalbarri scenery

View from the tower, beautiful Kalbarri scenery

The centre had many water features

The centre had many water features

We wandered through the centre along paved brick pathways, through landscaped tropical gardens, past waterfalls, fountains, stained glass windows, gargoyles and lily ponds. We enjoyed close encounters with all of the parrots and birds, we even heard some say ‘hello’ to us.


We saw parrots of the colours of the rainbow

Izzy and I

Izzy and I

Parrot walkthrough

Parrot walk through

The highlight was the large free flight area which we could walk through as many times as we liked.

Birds in the free fight area

Birds in the free fight area

Continuing with the theme of birdlife. In the evening, as it was going to dusk, Izzy and I saw wild parrots coming to roost in Kalbarri town centre.

Look at the top of the trees (close up picture will follow). You'll see parrots coming to roost for the night.

Look at the top of the trees (close up picture will follow). You’ll see parrots coming to roost for the night.

Parrots coming to roost

Close up of the parrots coming to roost

In the evening we were treated to farewell dinner by the Moody’s. It was sad knowing that our holiday was coming to an end but more so that our time with the Moody family was also coming to end. It was lovely spending time with them and great watching the children play together. Izzy really enjoyed spending time with Bill and Tom (even though at times I’m sure the feeling wasn’t mutual)!

Fingers provided the evening’s entertainment. Mark and Izzy were very happy bopping along to his own unique style. He played a number of different didgeridoos while playing the slide guitar, stomp box, harmonica, percussion and banjo whilst topping it all off as a singer/ songwriter.

Fingers provided the entertainment in the evening at Kalbarri Motor Hotel

Fingers provided the entertainment in the evening of Sunday 28 December at Kalbarri Motor Hotel




Morning on the Murchison River

We were up bright and early on Sunday 28 December for our breakfast canoe trip. We were picked up around 8.15am and taken on a short picturesque drive to Murchison House Station in Kalbarri National Park. It is very rich in history which has been shaped by the hands of pioneering battlers, wealthy wool merchants and even an Indian Prince (who imported tanks to the estate so he could “blow up things”)!

Bill's eyes lit up when he saw all the tanks!

Bill’s eyes lit up when he saw all the tanks!

I was more interested in the owls

I was more interested in the owls…

Tom was more interested in the goats

… and Tom was more interested in the goats.

Murchison House Station

Tom, Bill and Elli at Murchison House Station

After a brief informative walk through of the station we headed to the canoe beach for a short canoe instruction and river safety chat. We then began the sightseeing, swimming and paddle adventure. We had a very helpful guide called Neil who was with us all the way on the water.

Murchison River

Murchison River

One of the many stops for a breather and swim

One of the many stops for a breather and swim

Think we did more swimming than canoeing!

Think we did more swimming than canoeing!

Our guide cooked up a scrumptious breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage and baked beans on the BBQ

Our guide cooked up a scrumptious breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage and baked beans on the BBQ



The way back seemed to take it out of us much more, I don’t know if it was the heat or if we were just unfit. Neil for whatever reason took pity on Elli and I and gave us each a double canoe paddle for the way back. It certainly sped things up a bit! I think Bill and me made the speedier duo – don’t you agree Tom and Elli?!

Group tour photo

Group tour photo

Bus and Bill

Bus and Bill

Arriving in Kalbarri

After what seems miles of straight road we arrived in Kalbarri at lunchtime on Saturday 27 December. We were joined soon after by the Moody’s. They made light work of the journey leaving Falcon around 6am the same day, whilst we had taken a day and a half to do the same trip!

The long, never ending  straight road to Kalbarri

The long, never ending straight road to Kalbarri

Kalbarri Anchorage Caravan Park was our home for two nights. Luckily the caravan park had a swimming pool and it was there where we all cooled off. With temperatures of 34 degrees + Mark and I were especially pleased that we went for the air conditioning option with the camper van.

After our swim, we went for a walk in to Kalbarri town centre to the tourist information centre and booked the following day’s activity – a four hour breakfast canoe trip down the Murchison River with Kalbarri Wilderness Canoeing. Izzy unfortunately was a bit young for this activity so it was only Elli, Bill, Tom and I that were booked on.

By the time we had had a swim and had a walk in to Kalbarri it was mid-afternoon. We enjoyed ice-creams with the Moody family and also some more playground action!

Tom and Izzy reunited once more

Tom and Izzy reunited once more

Tom doing a great job of looking after Izzy

Tom doing a great job of looking after Izzy

In the evening we were very kindly invited to Mark Moody’s cousins house for a BBQ. We were very well looked after and enjoyed freshwater yuppies as a starter (caught fresh that morning) followed by meat cooked on the BBQ. Their house had an amazing garden that was very kiddy friendly. It had a trampoline that was built into the ground, playhouse complete with sandpit underneath and a BBQ area complete with swing. Their little girl could go on to the swing, from the swing bounce on to the trampoline and then run up the ladder to the playhouse. We were all very inspired by this and our minds were racing at what could be done for Izzy when we got back home!


Izzy wouldn’t sit long enough in the car for me to take a good photo!

Izzy's concentrated driving pose

Izzy’s concentrated driving pose




Making our way to Kalbarri

Boxing Day saw us say farewell to Falcon and our camping spot! We also said bye to the Moody’s, but we’ll be seeing them again in Kalbarri on Saturday 27 December. We decided to take a slower route there and split the journey into two days as Izzy isn’t a fan of sitting in her car seat for too long! However with many camp sites wanting a minimum stay of three nights over the Christmas period, the nearest campsite to Perth we could find for one night was in Geraldton.

Our Falcon camping spot

We left around 9am and headed north past Perth, aiming for Geraldton via the Pinnacles Desert. We took the Indian Ocean Drive, like many other camper vans and caravans.

Hamburg National Park is home to the spectacular Pinnacles Desert, a vast, alien like plain studded with thousands of limestone pillars. Raising eerily from the desert floor, the pillars are remnants of compacted seashells that once covered the plain and, over millennia, subsequently eroded.

Pinnacles Desert


In the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre

Around 4.45pm we finally arrived in Geraldton and Sunset Beach Holiday Park. The park is located on an amazing beach where Mark has previously windsurfed (before the lads van was stolen). We headed to the centre of town to find somewhere to eat, but first it was time to cool down as it’s noticeably hotter here.

A pleased Izzy cooling down and set free after 6 hours in her car seat

Mark wasn’t as keen to get wet!

We went for dinner on the seafront. It was the first time Izzy ate a complete kids meal, she kept finding space for it somewhere. Not forgetting she also found space for some of my milkshake!

The following morning (Saturday 27 December) saw us having a bounce on the kangaroo jumper (air pillows) and having a paddle / splash in the sea before heading back on to the road to Kalbarri.


Mark and Izzy making new friends yet again


Someone’s not too sure




The day’s new driver (or so she thought)












Happy Christmas from down under

Our first Christmas down under was a great one! 

Mark M omelette was a great start to the day!

Unwrapping presents was done in t-shirts and shorts (and PJ’s)

What can I say, fantastic choice of wrapping paper Elli!

Izzy (and Mark) had fun opening her presents with an elf

It’s not every Christmas you get given a sand castle set (complete with trowel)!

Christmas presents this year seemed to have a theme to them… Here’s Australia’s alternative 12 days of Christmas.

As I’m always loosing my keys these furry friends will come in very useful! 

Izzy stealing Tom’s kinder egg chocolate. Great t-shirt Bill by the way!

Unwrapping more presents

Playing with grandma and grandpa’s presents which have travelled with us

Christmas BBQ all set up and ready to go

Strawberry Santa’s

Oysters cooked on the BBQ

Tasty prawns!

Mark eating yuppies (freshwater crayfish)

Izzy dancing with Bill and Tom’s cousins’ robbot 

Who knew bouncing was so much fun!

Yummy desserts

Molly sunbathing with her Christmas bow

After phoning home we all went down to the beach and watched the sunset. Thank you Elli, Mark, Bill and Tom for letting us invade your family Christmas. We all had a great time. 

Elli, Izzy and me

Bill and Tom built sand castles

Bill’s sandcastle, Molly unfortunately walked through Tom’s just as he had finished

The end to our 1st Aussie Christmas

P.S. Apologises for not managing to post this on Christmas Day. I’ve been playing catch up with the blog since we left Tonga, as internet wasn’t about much on the islands.   


Perth and Fremantle

On Christmas Eve we were treated to a Moody tour of Perth and Fremantle. First we went to Perth’s Kings Park and Botanic Garden.

We walked among the treetops and enjoyed spectacular views of the city skyline on the Lotterywest Federation Walkway. The bridge extends 620 metres through the Botantic garden over an arched bridge suspended among a canopy of tall eucalypts. 

Tom and Bill especially liked the cannons

The main road leading into the park, Fraser Avenue, is lined with towering lemon scented gums

We then headed to creative, relaxed, open minded Freemantle. This dog somehow reminded me of Monty! 

We headed towards the Fisherman’s Wharf for fish and chips

We had a Kailis’ fish lunch over looking the harbour

Sculptures were in and around the harbour

We then went for a paddle / swim near Peppermint Grove at Freshwater Bay

Followed by an ice-cream and playground action at Cottesloe Beach. It’s where we saw a kite-surfer in a full Santa outfit complete with beard!

After this jam packed day (big thanks go to the Moody’s) it was then time to head back to Falcon and wrap presents in preparation for the big day that was to follow the next day.