Five Years of Freedom & Testing out Retirement.

Photo: beginning of wiljen’s adventures, Munda Biddi Trail, December 2014, 500kms……      MBT Link

10/10/19, Currently in standby mode, Mandurah, Western Australia.

By Will

Hi everyone Jenny & I have now been home for 12 weeks since our last big adventure, wow where did that time go ! As it turns out we have been quite busy planning plus doing a bit of a life and financial reset, oh yeah let’s not forget the new addition to our little team. Rodgie Dog…more about the 4 month old Black Golden Retriever Cross soon.

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Rodgie “I wouldn’t do anything wrong” note the chewed chair.

Let’s start with the Unit Renovation & Renting it out in Fremantle. We’ve had this Unit (originally built in the early 1970’s) for about 6 years. It was looking pretty worn & tired when we first bought it, our daughter lived in it initially and then later with her BF. Once they moved out it was due for a bit of a spruce up.

Back in June 2018 Daughter & BF decided to move out 2 weeks prior to us departing on our 5 month, North American Cycle Tour. This didn’t leave us with enough time to do the repairs & maintenance so it could be rented out. We decided to just lock it up & go. Coincidentally one of Jenny’s first Cousins lived in the same 28 dwelling complex & was going through the process of building her first house with her husband. They had also recently given birth to their first child a baby girl. We left Sarah with a set of Unit keys & they used the Unit for storage while they completed the build of the house. Cool we’re always happy to help out family when possible.

 

 

The Fremantle Unit before the renovation.

Fast forward to a year later and the Unit is still empty, nothing done and it’s costing us Council Rates, Strata Fees & loss of rental income. After discussion whether to do a quick paint, floor coverings and window treatment minor renovation or a more expensive but vastly higher quality full renovation (new kitchen, bathroom & upgrades) we decided on the latter. Looks like the long term plan is to hold & rent the Freo Unit for the next 10 years then sell, hopefully in a more positive property market.

Employing the services of Brian Pimm from Simply Renovate turned out to be a smart move. Simply Renovate, Fremantle. We finally had everything signed & sorted about a week out from starting the Canning Stock Route 4WD/Cycle Tour. The final cost of the renovation came to $50k there was a lot of work done but at least it should hold up well & still look contemporary in 10 years when we sell. Once we arrived home in July we went to work finding tenants & leased the Unit out to a young married couple in their late 20’s. It’s the first time they’ve lived together in their own space.

Let’s hope that everything works out positively for them & us. Dealing with rental properties is a pain & in hindsight neither Jenny or I would invest in the Residential Rental Property Market again. We still have two residential rental properties left. I look forward to the day the housing market recession ends, there’s a recovery & we offload the hassle and endless costs onto someone else. If there is no recovery or the property market just plateaus for many years we will just cut our losses and move on.

 

 

During the renovation, Freo Unit.

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Fremantle Unit Renovation nearly complete. 58m2
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Happy with the end result of the Bathroom/Laundry combination.
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Bathroom/Laundry Combo looks great with Mirror and Shower Screen.
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Jenny in cleaning mode.
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For extra privacy & some noise resistance we added two polycarbonate/aluminium roller shutters. (Thanks Luke and Team at Mandurah Home Hub).

Rodgie Dog, what can I say, she’s cute but she is a puppy & we all know what that entails. Wrecked gardens, poo, wee, damaged furniture, great walks, difficult walks, training and new doggie adventure. She gets human interaction often as we are mostly home with her or she comes in the car with us on outings. This means training is progressing pretty well.

Jenny’s brother “John” has some friends in Narrogin WA that we know fairly well also. They have a beautiful Golden Retriever bitch called Miela. Mark & Susan had bred her with another Golden Retriever but something when wrong and soon after Mark caught a black mongrel Kelpie Cross in their yard having relations with Miela. 2 months later 11 black puppies with white chests pop out.

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Picking up our new 10 week old puppy, Rodgie from Narrogin.

As you probably know just before leaving on our Canning Stock Route Trip we lost our 6 month old rescued dog Poppi to tetanus, that was an extremely difficult, sad and expensive experience. Jenny was still keen to have a pet dog & I must admit I don’t mind even if it does put some extra restrictions on your personal freedom so when we discovered Mark and Susan had some mongrel Black Retriever Pups going cheap we jumped at the opportunity.

Ultimately we ended up bringing 4 x 10 week old puppies back with us from Narrogin, imagine that 2 hour car trip. In the end only 2 dog vomits, 1 wee & some whining. Lorraine, Jenny’s Mum ended up with two pups (male & female, long story), one of Lorraine’s friends, Anne took a male & we kept a female that we called Rodgie. Overall she is very good fun and I believe will turn out to be a sensational dog. Though the Vet doesn’t believe it’s required we have requested Tetanus Vaccinations as well as the other normal shots.

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Puppies Galore.
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Welcome to your new home Rodgie, don’t pee on the mat.
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Tug & Fetch are Rodgie favourite games. She doesn’t mind “Dig” a well solo.
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Obviously we want a bike friendly Dog.

Not overly keen to talk about the nitty gritty of our finances so I’ll keep the details vague. Reality is slowly rising up like the Sun on the horizon, like the old saying goes “Red Sky Morning Sailors Warning”. We thought we had enough money to retire early. If we’d lived exceptionally frugally & travelled a heap less maybe it would have been possible to scrape through to 60 years old, when we can access our Superannuation tax free. On our current cost of living trajectory we will fall short by about 6 years. Still no regrets, the past 5 years of “living” have been sensational & we will always remember the amazing people we have met and unbelievable experiences we’ve encountered. It would not be unreasonable to say we have crammed 20 years of living & life experience into the past 5 years.  It honestly brings a tear to my eye when I think about what Jenny & I have experienced, endured and been through to get to this point in time.

Keep in mind the majority of Australia has been in an unofficial recession for the last 5 years and Western Australia has been at the epicentre of that since the last Mining Boom came to a crashing end. Some of our investments haven’t provided the returns we expected (Above story about our Rental Unit in Freo is a good example).

Banks barely give 2% returns on cash term deposits (less than inflation). I have managed to achieve an average 10% annual return playing the Australian Share Market but that only equals approximately $8k a year. Now the Markets are starting to look exceptionally shaky & volatile. I’m personally of the opinion we are headed for a major correction, it is definitely due. There are economic bubbles in most sectors, investing in small business has pretty much become a dead end due to poor Government policy, regulation, red tape & taxes. We have checked out a few small Motels, Caravan Parks & Country Pubs over the past 5 years but haven’t been able to make the sums add up to suit our current life situation.

Team wiljen’s reality is we are spending more then we earn and now we have been thrown an age related curve ball. Jenny has seen a specialist and she urgently needs two knee replacements. At the moment Jen can hardly walk 500 metres on flat ground and don’t even mention the word “stairs”. Jenny went for a 10km Bicycle ride with our friend Julie a couple of weeks ago & could barely manage it. First Knee Replacement isn’t yet booked in but we are thinking the end of December 2019 will suit us both best.

Fortunately we have maintained our Private Health Cover, it is nearly at the highest level and has cost us $5500 per year for the two of us. Not cheap but now we are grateful that we have it. This means Jenny can jump the Public Health System (Medicare) queue and have the surgery done sooner rather then later.

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Time to continue the downsizing and get rid of as many registered vehicles as possible. Ideally we want to only have one Car & two motorcycles. Bicycles don’t cost much to keep so they can stay…for now.

We have started selling “assets” (toys ?) The Yamaha Bolt has been sold & the new owner has taken it away. The Harley Davidson 883 has to go to a new home this summer and sadly so does the VW Kombi Camper, but the Kombi gets a temporary reprieve because I may need it to live in when I start my JOB.

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Murray takes the Yamaha Bolt for a test ride to Jarrahdale I follow on Jenny’s 883 HD Sporty.
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Enjoy your new bike Murray, maybe you’ll let me take it for a ride occasionally ?

What’s that I hear you all saying, Will has a job !

WORK, that four letter word ! Since I’ve been home I’ve started sending out Job Applications for Jobs that in theory I should be a shew in for. Jobs that I have many years of experience in. I’ve sent out about 10 applications for these jobs, some are mining related, some fuel station. So far I’ve just received rejection letters, not totally sure why, too old ? Out of the industry for to long ? Expect to much remuneration ? To much of a free agent ? Who knows, I’m not to concerned because I have a Plan B which I have already begun to initiate.

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August the 29th, Will heads to the CBH Office in Katanning for a job interview. Hey it’s only 280kms there, I’ll take the bike, what could possibly go wrong. Nothing apart from Bee Stings & Rain. 🥴🏍
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CBH Cranbrook, Training Day. “No Mobile Phones on Site” I snapped this sneaky pic from just outside the gate as we walked into the site.

Plan B involves seasonal casual work, mixed with Australian travel. Consolidated Bulk Handling “CBH” have decided to give me a run as a Casual Receival Point Officer, 6-8 weeks on the Grain Harvest out in the WA Wheat Belt. I had RPO training down south in Cranbrook (330kms from home) last Saturday. It was certainly different, especially since I was the oldest candidate by far out of the 20 trainees. Happily cycling friends, Fred & Wendy allowed me to stay for two nights on their property near Kendenup so that helped make the whole process easier with the big plus of catching up with Fred & Wendy. Some of Fred & Wendy’s incredible cycle tours.

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Cycling Friends, Fred & Wendy. Awesome couple, built their own mud brick home, live off the grid out the back of Kendenup.
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I had initially intended to ride the Super Tenere Bike down but the weather forecast was for 50mm-70mm of rain & 40km/h SE Winds & the memory of the ride to Katanning was still fresh in my mind. Let’s be smart & take the Landcruiser instead. Here I stop in Kojonup for a coffee break during my 330km drive home.

If I can find 3-4 months casual work on the Tourist Season up in the North West over winter then repeat the routine annually  that should be enough to keep us going. Looks like there could be some sort of “Van” needed to make Plan B work appropriately, most likely a small Caravan. Neither Jenny or I are fans of towing while travelling but sometimes it is the most practical compromise. We did tow a Camper Trailer with our 3 kids around Australia for 5 months back in 2001/02.

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Not a fan of towing but we have done it before. October 2001 on the Finke Road in the bottom half of the Northern Territory. 1984 Diesel HJ60 Landcruiser & 2000 Trak Shak Camper Trailer.

I also have a chance for a full time job with the Perth Transport Authority as a Rail Car Driver, yes a Train Driver on the Perth Metro Line. Initially there was 2600 applicants for 60 positions. I found myself survive into the next group of 550 people who proceeded to & were offered the opportunity to sit for the aptitude test.

I did the test last Tuesday, it was made up of 3 sections. I felt I did ok on the first two tests which were made up of Maths, Comprehension, Memory & Psychological questions. Not so confident with the final test which was mainly patterns & assessing repeating different pictorial combinations. Puzzles have never been my strongest forte. It’s actually a good job that could see me all the way through to 60 and into proper retirement so if I’m successful with getting through the aptitude test & into the next cull of 110 people remaining, I’ll allow myself to get a bit excited. I guess it’s a case of watch this space !

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Mandurah Train Station, just one of many future possibilities.

September 11th to 17th.

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Flying Scoot to Singapore.

It hasn’t all been rejigging finances & job hunting. Team wiljen did do a mini trip to Singapore. John & Debra came along also. While in Singapore the four of us caught up with Jenny & John’s sister, Sue who was in town on business. Singapore is a clean, orderly, safe place that has a big focus on shopping. There are many interesting public parks, Hawkers food markets & remnant areas from the Colonial Era like China Town to visit. I consider Singapore an expensive place to visit, dearer then Australia though it is still possible to find many bargains. Taxi fairs are typically a lot cheaper then Oz. But accommodation, alcoholic beverages (pint of beer, $16sgd, Singapore Sling Cocktail $20sgd) & Restaurants are pricey.

 

 

Shared an AirBnB with John & Debra while in Singapore. We were at the Lucky Plaza on the 18th Floor.

We shared a 2 bedroom Air BnB with John & Debra which turned out to be fun, Singapore was experiencing extremely bad smoke haze, due to out of control fires burning in Sumatra, Indonesia not very far south of the Island.

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Caught up with Sue & her work colleagues at an Irish Pub on Orchard Road.

 

 

We all checked out the Gardens By The Bay, the fake trees are actually cooling towers.

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Gardens By The Bay, popular place.
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The Jewel at Changi Airport Singapore is something new. Check it out next time Your in Singa’s.

Some other activities Jenny & I have engaged in over the past 3 months have been Motorbike rides with friends, Jenny has been getting right into her Art & is enjoying it immensely. I’ve been out crewing & sailing on SV Quattro with our daughter Olivia a couple of times. I also assisted our son Hayden to shift house.

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Olivia’s first Sailing Trip on SV Quattro.
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Turned into a nice day, that’s Garden Island in the background.
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Giving Hayden a hand to shift to a house in Kelmscott, Perth, WA.

 

 

Jenny & Olivia create some tiny houses with other Art loving friends.

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Sadly the dogs (not just Rodgie) destroyed the bromeliads out the back so Jen plants a few more out the front.

 

 

Jenny’s also taken to rescuing birds. The Spoonbill survived, sadly the Crow didn’t.

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Fairly recent bike ride up to Dwellingup up. Always a popular place for everyone on a nice weekend.
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Breakfast at the Blue Wren Cafe, Dwellingup, WA.

There you go folks, the blog is now pretty much up to date. Unsure what will happen next, there are no guarantees in life you just have to make the best of the hand you are dealt with.

I feel that wiljen’s Adventures Blog will go through a dormant period for awhile. Jenny & I are focusing our energy on other projects. I’m keen to get our YouTube Channel (wiljen’s Adventures, YouTube Channel.) moving forward in a positive direction, we have hours & hours of digital video footage from our travels. I think that Vlogging has a bigger future then Blogging. Don’t be to concerned we will post here occasionally about our future travels as they happen & I’ll give you some thoughts on what it’s like working on the Grain Harvest if it all goes through as expected.

Thanks for following.

Will & Jenny

6 thoughts on “Five Years of Freedom & Testing out Retirement.

  1. Will & Jen,

    I’m extremely bummed to hear that Wiljen has to alter world travels. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together (October’ish 2018) and enjoy following all your adventures. I myself don’t have the balls to go for a walkabout, so some of my living I’ve done through you guys, THANK YOU!

    Do me a favor recheck your expense numbers maybe you transposed a decimal point and your good to go for the next 20 years? As Wiljen evolves I wish you guys the best and I’m in your corner.

    bicycle-exercise-clip-artRide Safe bicycle-exercise-clip-art

    Eugene Gonzales, your So. Cal. connection

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Howdy Eugene,

      Thanks so much for the input. I’m checking the accounts as we speak. I too am sure there is a mistake. But the reality is, we need to take a brief hiatus from world travel, to get ourselves in order. I am heading off for my first knee replacement in a month, and then I have 6 months of recovery before I get my other one replaced. Will wants to do some work, and try out another one of his theories, so it will be a different kind of adventure. Before we know it, we’ll be back at it. Why wouldn’t we be, we love meeting amazing and interesting people, just like you. Keep hiking, we’re loving your mini adventures, and stay in touch. You never know when you might get the urge to Walkabout!

      Cheers, Jen and Will.

      Like

  2. The sad brutal realities of a consumer-based economic model playing havoc with our true wanderer nature. And that’s not considering our mortality conflicting with our dreams. I truly hope your knee replacements work Jen, that you gain whatever psycho-satisfaction you need from a J.O.B. Will and that both of you can continue your ‘Independent Living’. Role models, afterall, are necessary.
    Love you both lots … M

    Like

    1. Thanks Max, just hopping from stepping stone to stepping stone as we travel through time & space. Just life I guess, enjoy it to the best of your ability is all you can do while not messing things up to much for everyone else.
      Will.

      Like

  3. Hi guys,

    I read your blog on CSR because my best man Max refered toit in his blog (only recently updated till may 1st 2019, the lazy bastard). Great stories and briljant pictures. Now I know what happened. I enjoyed it a lot. I hope everything works out well for you both in the future. Remember adventure is getting out of your comfort zone (your words) so there’s no need to travel many kays and you may as well earn some money whilst doing it. All the best, Joël van Brunschot

    Like

    1. Thanks for your support Joël, we wondered if anyone who regularly follows Cycloaustralis (we do) would get curious and take a peak on our blog to see what becomes of Max :-). Once Jenny gets new knees & we lock in a couple of casual work gigs per year (4-6 months) team wiljen will be back at it.
      Any friend of Max is a friend of ours. All the best. Team wiljen.

      Like

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