Tasmania to Western Australia – 3971km across four states via a ferry and a 4WD!

screenshot-285January 9th saw us board the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport, Tasmania, for our ten hour ferry crossing over Bass Strait to the Port of Melbourne, Victoria. It was a day crossing and we had to be at the port by 6.30am for a departure time of 9am. We had booked a cabin so we would have somewhere comfortable to relax and/or have a sleep.  That was the best decision as we arrived at 6.30pm very refreshed and ready to drive two hours west to our first overnight stop. It was a beautiful calm crossing and seeing Devonport from the sea was really special. The mountain range, Great Western Tiers, rose majestically behind the city.

Disembarking the ferry went very smoothly. After a slow meander through the Melbourne back streets and over the West Gate Bridge, one of the highest bridges in Australia, we got onto the M1/M8 and drove two hours to Haddon, just west of Ballarat. We stayed the night at the local Lions Park – no, it wasn’t in a zoo!  The next morning we set off for Nhill in Victoria but made such good time, we carried on another couple of hours over the border to Tintinara in South Australia.  We free camped behind the grain terminal which was a lovely spot looked after by the Tintinara Action Club.

After another good night’s sleep we set off for Moana Beach Tourist Park, just south of Adelaide. We stayed there four nights and it was a beautiful location right opposite the beach. Whilst there we caught up with some of our South Australian family. Lunch at a local cafe with Jill and Brian with yummy food, lots of laughter and great company. Then the next day a visit to the home of Max and Diana,before having lunch with them at Fasta Pasta. More good food, laughter and great company.

On Sunday 15th we departed Adelaide and made the long journey to Port Augusta where we stayed overnight behind the local sports club. That night we caught up with more family and had dinner with Jen, Garry, Elizabeth and John. Yet more good food, laughter and great company. Next morning we set off for Penong Caravan Park where we would stay two nights before the final leg of the Nullarbor. We passed through Kimba which has the Big Galah and is the half way point across Australia. Penong is home to a windmill museum which houses the largest windmill in Australia. It was incredibly hot on our second day and outside reached 46 degrees Celcius. We stayed inside the van with the cool of our air conditioner!!

So we left Devonport on Monday 9th January, had four days in Adelaide and been on the road again for three days. It is now Wednesday 18th January and we leave Penong and head off across the Nullarbor Plain – Eyre Highway.

The temperature had dropped dramatically and was only about 28 degrees but when we got to the Nullarbor Roadhouse the wind had picked up and was almost galeforce. We refuelled and then parked up to have some lunch in the van. Wow, what a rocking time we had as the winds blew and blew. We took off and five minutes down the road we came across two men walking on the side of the highway pushing what looked like heavily laden prams!

Just before we got to a town called Eucla we came to the SA/WA border and had to stop at the quarantine checkpoint. Both the car and the caravan were thoroughly searched by an inspector. We had already used up all our fresh fruit and vegetables but unfortunately she wouldn’t let us keep our jar of honey. Even though we had bought the honey in WA before we left last July, she confiscated it! We drove on and into Eucla and we were back in Western Australia. From there we drove through Mundrabilla, Madura, Cocklebiddy and half way to Caiguna before pulling into a rest area and parking up for the night. We had driven nearly 800km from Penong.

Up early the next morning, Thursday 19th, and we decided to turn left at Norseman and head down south towards Esperance and then onto Bunbury where Jude’s brother Wayne lives. Jude’s sister Annette and brother-in-law Jock were going to be there Saturday night and we wanted to surprise them. They thought we were going to turn right at Norseman and head towards Kalgoorlie and finally Muchea. Therefore they weren’t expecting to see us until mid week.

We ended up in a small town called Gibson which is 15 minutes out of Esperance. The hotel there allow people to free camp on the field next door. We had a drink and dinner at the pub which was really nice. The next morning, Friday, we set off for Wagin where we were going to be staying the night at the showgrounds. We would be driving through the wheatbelt towns of Ravensthorpe, Lake King, Newdegate, Lake Grace, and Dumbleyung.

The day before Jude had heard from a friend who said she was travelling to Newdegate on the Friday to visit her sister Dot. Phyllis said she would be travelling with another sister Marg and her brother-in-law Jeff. We stopped at Newdegate for fuel and a bit of lunch. About an hour after we left, Jude text Phyl to say we had been through Newdegate. Phyl text back and they were still on their way and were just coming through Wagin, then Dumbleyung. There was no doubt we were on the same road and would pass each other. We exchanged our car details – bit hard to miss a white Patrol with a big red kayak on the roof and pulling a caravan!  Sure enough over the brow of the hill came a car and it started flashing it’s lights. We slowed down and there was Phyl hanging out the window waving furiously! We stopped and pulled over and Jeff turned around and pulled up behind us. We all got out and had a laugh and chat. Jude hadn’t seen Marg and Jeff for many many years. What an amazing coincidence – of all the roads in all of Australia and we should be on the same one at the same time. It was so great to catch up with them.

So on we went and came to the town of Dumbleyung. Lake Dumbleyung was made famous in the 1960s when Donald Campbell broke the water speed record in his Bluebird boat travelling at a speed of 444.66 kilometres per hour.There is a replica of his boat in the town. Then onto Wagin which is “famous” for it’s Big Ram! We found the showgrounds and set up on a site with power and water. A visit to the local supermarket to stock up and then to the park to check out Mr Ram!!

Saturday 21st – we depart Wagin and drive the 179km to Bunbury and the penultimate stop before Muchea. It was another very interesting drive through countryside and towns that we had not visited before – Arthur River, Darkin, Muja and Collie. We arrived at Wayne’s house about 11am. Shortly after his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Kevin and Judy came over, then about an hour later Annette and Jock arrived. They were stunned and very pleased to see the travelling Smiffs!!!


We are currently based up at Muchea sorting out the caravan and going through our shipping container to see what we do and don’t need. On the 5th February Becky, Ben,Kia, Evie and Austin arrive from the UK for a three week holiday. We can’t wait to see them!!!

Christmas in Smithton, New Year in Hobart

Christmas Day was spent at RiverBreeze Caravan park and mother nature finally turned on the best weather we could have asked for.  Beautiful blue skies, sunshine and the perfect temperature. Lunch was taken on the deck overlooking the Duck River. We were joined by Bob, our new mate who lives at the park.


The menu included seafood, cold meat, mashed potatoes, and was washed down with champagne! We also enjoyed a very tasty homemade Christmas cake that was kindly given to us back in July before we left Perth. Cathy, the wife of Paul, a friend and former work colleague of Ray, made the cake and it was soooo yummy.

After a very enjoyable and relaxing lunch, we sat chatting and laughing the afternoon away. Before we knew it, Greg, the owner arrived and the evening festivities began. A wonderful buffet meal followed by a show from the big boys and their toys!

On the 29th December we finally arrived back in Hobart. Two weeks in Smithton turned into over two months! But we wanted to see the yachts from the Sydney to Hobart race and go to the Taste of Tasmania New Year’s Eve celebrations.

So farewell to an amazing 2016 and welcome to 2017 and all the new adventures and experiences to come!