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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - January 2011


When we left Cliff Head on the 8th od Dec I was a little relieved that nothing on the bus had seized. We don't normally say anywhere for as long as we had been parked there.

Some great places hold us for longer than most!

Just before we left we met four French backpackers who were travelling the west coast in a small car (very cramped). We invited them on a snorkeling trip and speared a couple of fish for them to try. They were also very excited to see a small wobbegong shark swim past (I could hear the screaming from under water!)

The french backpackers try their hand at fish filleting, Cliff Head, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The french backpackers try their
hand at fish filleting, Cliff Head,

The reason for the trip back down to Perth was to attend Tracey's endocrinologist appointment. If you are new to the blog you may not be aware that in November of 2009 Tracey was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor located deep within her brain. This was operated on in New Zealand a few weeks after diagnosis and most (but not all) of the tumor was removed. At this time we were told that there was a 50% chance that it would begin growing again and further treatment would be required.

It was not expected that the tumor would resume growing as quickly as it did. An MRI taken 3 months after the operation reveled that the tumor had began growing again. Treatment options included a number of different drugs and/or radio therapy. The radio therapy option involves targeting a burst of radiation at the tumor, effectively blasting it into submission. This is a fairly traumatic treatment and is normally used only when drug treatment fails (in about 25% - 30% of cases).

This appointment with the endocrinologist was to be an important one - Tracey has been using the drug treatment (monthly injections) for 5 months now and it was time for tests to provide information on the effectiveness of the drug treatment. As you can imagine, we were quite pensive as we waited for the endo to give us the results.

To our great relief and joy, the news was good ... in fact very good. The blood tests provided a strong indicator that the drug treatment was working. We will have to wait for the next MRI (in August) to be sure that the tumor has stopped growing, but indications are good. Time to celebrate!

We have just over two weeks before our next exciting event ... my daughter Zoie, husband Richard and our grandson Oliver are coming over from NZ for a short holiday/visit.

Tracey and Ian fishing near Cliff Head, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Tracey and Ian fishing near Cliff
Head, WA

Oliver is almost one year old and we have never met him - so we are both really excited. I must confess to being a little concerned about the change in climate that they will experience in coming over here at this time of the year. Dunedin lives under a coating of snow and ice for most of the year (slight exaggeration). We have been having 37 degree days fairly regularly here in Perth for the last few weeks ... they might find it just a bit on the hot side. I guess we can always find somewhere cool!

For the next two weeks we have decided to head south of Perth and do a little more exploring of the south west coast. With any luck it might just be a little cooler south of Perth.


Why Stockton Lake is not as quiet as we expected it to be, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Why Stockton Lake is not as quiet as
we expected it to be, WA

Just for a change, we are parked up inland ... but still next to the water. Last time we were here at Stockton Lake near Collie, we were the only vehicle here. When we arrived last Friday, we were shocked to find that almost the entire circumference of the small lake was crawling with vehicles, people and dogs. The lake itself was buzzing with jet boats towing skiers and screaming children clinging to inflatable plastic rings. Well I guess it is the middle of summer - and it is school holidays.

We found a camping spot just back from the waters edge and watched as the holiday makers enjoyed the water. We have a few jobs to do on the bus and on the dive gear - while it may not be the quiet peaceful place we expected it to be, it will do for a few days.

Tracey has decided to fix up some of the paintwork on the bus (ie completely repaint it) and I have some work to do on my spear gun (both really big jobs :-)

Lake Stockton is the flooded remains of an old mining operation. The water is quite clear but reputed to be slightly acidic. We have not seen any fish in the lake, but there are plenty of small yabbies that seem a quite surprised to see us. We have been practicing our breath-hold diving while exploring the bottom of the lake, in reality there is very little to see down there and the stories of submerged buildings and mining equipment seem to be unfounded. Explorations continue.



Our pet stingray, WA (fram captured from video camera) - [Click for a Larger Image]
Our pet stingray, WA (fram captured
from video camera)

No surprise that we headed for the coast when we left Stockton Lake. The coast around Cape Naturaliste is quite spectacular and while we have explored it in some detail before, there were a few spots that we wanted to return to. A short dive at the Sugar Loaf resulted in enough fish for dinner. Calm days in this area are very uncommon and by lunch time it was too rough to get back into the water.

Our next stop was Canal Rocks, these are quite unique rock formations that create ... well canals (of course). We were visited by a couple of friendly stingrays during the dive and I had visions of them trying to take our fish. We have a tiny underwater video camera that attaches to a divers head allowing us to capture video from a divers view point. After Tracey filleted the mornings catch we decided to use the remains of the fish carcasses to attract some attention for the camera. I got into the water to film while Tracey lowered a rope with the fish on the end of it into the water. It was not long before the stingrays arrived. The game came to an abrupt end when a Wobbygong shark grabbed then fish and refused to release it.

The weather looked perfect for us to visit one of our favorite diving spots - Cozy Corner (also known as Knobbys Head). Every time we have been to Cozy Corner, the  wind has stirred up the water and made underwater exploration impossible. When we arrived there yesterday it was perfect - no wind and crystal clear water. Unfortunately a number of other spear fishermen were there to share the great conditions.

There were fish everywhere and we selectively took a few tasty specimens. We spent the next 40 minutes just exploring the wonderful undersea environment in the clear water.

I had just shot a nice fish and was trying to get it off my spear when Tracey arrived beside me announcing (rather excitedly) that she had just seen a VERY large shark swim past. I firstly looked down at my hands (that were holding a bleeding, flapping fish) and we quickly decided that it would perhaps be best if we left the water. The swim to the rocks seemed much further than the actual 60 meters. Once on the rock, we called to some other guys in the water and gave them the signal for shark. They too exited the water with little delay. Thanks to the video camera on Tracey's head we were able to identify the shark as(most likely) a bronze whaler. Not the most dangerous of sharks - but not divers best friend either. You can see the 8 second video of the shark by clicking on the play control to the right.

Estimating size is difficult underwater especially in clear water where the actual distance to an object (or creature) can be hard to guess. Tracey assures me that the shark was much bigger than she is and was at least two meters long.

Not long after we got out of the water the wind came up and just got stronger and stronger. We were not able to get back in the water and explore further - but we will be back at Cozy Corner again one day.

Last time I was under the bus I noticed that a couple of the drive shaft uni joints are in need of some attention (due at least in part to my incorrect alignment job last time I had them off). I have arranged for a workshop in Malaga to do the work next week. To keep this appointment we will be making our way back to Perth early next week.


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