The Ladybug’s Journey Home

Perhaps you remember our blog post from last September, when Ron and Marilyn Deas kindly shared with us their adventures in their Sunseeker, “the Ladybug”, while touring through New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

They have generously shared with us the last leg of their journey, from Perth to home, along with some tips and helpful facts about kilometres travelled and fuel consumed. Enjoy the read:

PERTH TO HOME – The last leg

It has been a wonderful trip, and I need to round out this blog and give us something to look back on and remind us of the experiences.

We left Fremantle as planned on the morning of Friday 1 September 2017, a summary of our log from then to home, expanded with some anecdotes and photos, follows:

1 Sept 2017                  (231km) to Wattle Ridge Winery near Kojonup WA

“Wattle Ridge Winery” was listed as a free camp, not far off the Albany Highway from Perth. Free camps have been our preference throughout this trip and not just because they are “free”.  It’s the freedom from restrictions of structured caravan parks and the “free spirits” in people you meet. The friendliness is a trademark, almost always. For Wattle Ridge Winery it sounded a bit unusual, so we rang ahead and were welcomed. It was a small show, obviously, and it wasn’t so free after we had bought some wine, but good fun nonetheless!

 

Photo from Wattle Ridge taken in the morning, after a very cold night (ice on the windscreen) – a big change after the warm weather we had just come from.

 

2 Sept                  (206k) to Peaceful Bay on the South Coast
5 Sept                  (108k) to Albany
7-8-9 Sept           (498k) to Fitzgerald River National Park

 

View from Caves Point in the Fitzgerald River National Park – a very impressive National Park. The wildflowers were wonderful. We were camped not far from here at Hammersley Inlet, which is a small pocket not actually in the national park, but controlled by the local shire. I think it had something to do with a large sum of money handed over after the closure of a mine. In any event it was a very well prepared and maintained camping area, at a cost to us of only $10 per night. Our entry into the national park was covered by the WA annual all-parks pass that I knew to purchase as soon as we got into the State at Kununurra. The cost was paid for in savings easily.

 

16-17-18 Sept     (351k) to Cape Le Grand National Park

 

A painting site chosen in the Cape Le Grand National Park, right beside a parking bay with a lovely view of the wildflowers right at hand and looking over some of the islands to the South-West

 

This beach was just near our campsite in a sheltered area down behind the sand dunes. Just as well it was sheltered, as high winds and big seas from the Great Southern Ocean the night before left these piles of seaweed on what was an empty beach the day before, and what became an empty beach again just 24 hours later!

 

21 Sept                (74k) to Gibson Soak just North of Esperance, on way to Norseman
(We had left Cape Le Grand rather hurriedly this morning ahead of storm warnings. Severe damage had been done East of Albany, not that far away, the night before and we judged it was time to leave the coast and head North. The camp at Gibson Soak was still pretty close to the action so we tucked the Ladybug into the most sheltered spot we could find and survived it okay)

22 Sept                (478k) to Baxter Rest Area (R/A), (on the Nullarbor Plain)

The 90-mile straight on the way to Caiguna where the first bend comes up. Baxter Rest Area where we stayed for the night, with a big storm looming, is a considerable way ahead of us along the straight.

 

23 Sept                (362k) to Herder’s Hill R/A (near Eucla)

Our Bush Camp at Herder’s Hill

 

Sunset at the same camp – a very pleasant spot

 

Looking East along the clifftops of the Nullarbor – An unusual cloud formation

 

24 Sept                (448k) to Cohen R/A near Ceduna SA (off the Nullarbor)

25 Sept                (263k) to Minnipa Village (on the way to Port Augusta)
(This was an interesting situation – the free campsite was in a sheltered and tidy park right in the middle of the village and we shared it with some other caravan and motor-home travellers. The local government authorities in Western Australia encourage small towns especially to declare themselves as “RV Friendley Towns”. There are a lot of travellers making use of this (and spending money locally)

26 Sept                (434k) to Peterborough
27 Sept                (284k) to Broken Hill NSW
28 Sept                (130k) to Kinchega National Park (near Menindee Lakes)

 

Our camp on the Darling River, Kinchega NP on the return trip. Note the full annex that we didn’t have at the start of our journey (we ordered it and picked it up by arrangement at Fremantle)

 

Room to paint in the annex – catch up on the unfinished works!

 

We covered a stretch of nearly 2,500 kms in 8 consecutive days after leaving Cape Le Grand in Western Australia. This was much more than what we had normally travelled without rest days on this trip. It was possible and safe because we shared the driving and took enough breaks. Nonetheless we enjoyed the subsequent rest on the banks of the Darling River in Kinchega National Park NSW.

We had made the decision by then to deviate North/East across New South Wales into Southern Queensland to visit family there and then friends in Coffs Harbour NSW, attend a family wedding in Kempsey and finally back down to complete the circle at Port Macquarie where we had left 6 months earlier.

The log continues:

2 Oct          (380k) from Kinchega NP to MacCullochs Range R/A near Wilcannia
3 Oct          (407k) to Sandy Creek R/A (near Warren) via Narromine

 

An overnight camp at a rest area called Sandy Creek, near Warren NSW.  There was nobody else around at this one, so we made use of a picnic table shelter on this occasion.   (The map on my phone identified this as “Snakey Creek”. Perhaps the travel maps we were using were trying to be a bit more welcoming!)

 

4 Oct          (414k)  to Bingara via Gilgandra, Narrabri and the skirts of Mt Kaputar
5 Oct          (152k) to Beardy Creek R/A on the New England Highway, just North of Glen Innes
6 Oct          (355k) to Burleigh Heads Qld, via Tenterfield, the Bruxner to the coast near Byron Bay

You can see we are still pushing things along, over 1700 kms in 5 straight days, in beautiful country from the Western Plains of NSW over the Great Dividing Range to the North Coast and into Queensland – a shame to hurry it.

11 Oct        (282k) to Halfway Creek Roadhouse R/A (South of Grafton, on the Pacific Motorway)
12 Oct        (80k) to Coffs Harbour (into a big house and a real bedroom – Wow!)
13 Oct        (208k)  to Port Macquarie via Kempsey and the wedding we were making for(made it).
17 Oct        (250k) the last leg home to Newcastle.

Well done Ladybug and the X Trail – 20,000 kilometres and 6 months, through the Red Centre, the Top End, the Kimberley, top to bottom of Western Australia, back across the Nullarbor, across South Australia, a diversion through the North-West of New South Wales to South Queensland and finally back down the coast to Newcastle and home.

We certainly will go again in the Ladybug, but not so far of for so long. It’s a big country!

Some extra facts for the Euro Caravans Community:

We covered 20,721 kilometres on the trip over six months, without any serious incidents or damage. We were mostly on sealed roads but were also on unsealed back roads and tracks where we accessed free camps, rest areas and national parks. In fact we stayed about a third of the time in free camps, another third in caravan parks, about 10 days on a boat cruise in the Kimberley and the remaining time in national parks. We had an arrangement of auxiliary batteries and solar panels and extra frig/freezer capacity in the car to stay away from caravan parks and 240v power almost indefinitely. We had 4 extra 10L plastic water drums (plus the 2 supplied with the van) and contrived to find enough potable water to avoid buying much of that. There are lots of “RV Friendly” towns around and plenty of dump points. This is a great country to travel around in relative safety and comfort, especially with a well-equipped little rig like the “Ladybug” and our XTrail!

We averaged about 13 litres per 100 kilometres, the fuel costing about $4000 all up, that’s running on the 98 octane premium fuel or 95 where you couldn’t get the 98 (only once or twice being forced to use the standard unleaded in the back-blocks). We had a range of a little more than 400km on a tank and with making sure of keeping the tank topped up when possible, we got by comfortably.  The XTrail towed the Sunseeker very easily.

 

Ron and Marilyn (and the Ladybug) – welcome home and thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us! We hope you are enjoying being back home with your family and friends…and it won’t be long until you hear the open roads calling you again!

4 replies
  1. alan cooper
    alan cooper says:

    Great blog , we did the Nullabor to WA also in aug to oct from Bris.. the Sunseeker aka “The Tardis” performed well thanks for sharing…Alan & Debbie Cooper.

    Reply
  2. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip with many sights to see and visit. Also thanks for sharing information on th free camp sites and other places you stayed at. Happ travelling in the future.

    Reply
  3. Lorna Virgo
    Lorna Virgo says:

    Hi Ron & Marilyn, so enjoyed reading your travels in your Ladybird.My name is Lorna & last October 2017 I bought a 2nd hand Euro Glider with a bathroom already installed along with a hot water system. I have been away 3 times now in it. To Glengarry near Aitkinsons Dam NW of Brisbane. 2nd time South Ballina for a Christmas Rally & last week to Maryborough QLD for a family get together. My little caravan ticked all the box’s. It is 6’3″ tall, 9’6″ long, it is completely fibreglass – roof, ceiling & walls. Has a 3 way fridge, 2gas burner, a dble bed converts from the table & bench seats a small ceiling hatch & what does it for me is the pull up insects screens & the pull down blinds along with the curtains. There is also a 12 volt plug for a dual T.V & a USB Port to charge up a mobile phone or P.C.
    Good seeing your annex but I think I would settle for an awning sometime in the future.
    If there was someting I would really love is a water tank installed to the mains. What do you think? Lorna

    Reply
    • Ron
      Ron says:

      Hi Lorna
      We loved the things you mention about the Sunseeker (our Ladybug) as well. The annex is really good gear. It is secure and weatherproof but does take a bit of time and effort to set up – you wouldn’t do it for under 3 or 4 days and in fact we used a simple door-awning about 2 metres square most of the time. We learnt the importance of keeping the weight down and well balanced, so a built-in water tank would be difficult to achieve. We traveled with very little water in one of the two plastic drums in the bathroom (with a screw-on cone-shaped lid on that drum running up the pump lines far enough to prevent splash spillage, and used the additional four 10L drums that we bought in either the van boot or the vehicle to best balance things.
      …Ron D.

      Reply

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