Trapped in Western Australia.

May to September 2020 Blog Update

3/09/20, by Will, (cover photo 22nd of July, Yandin Breakaway Lookout, Dandaragan).

***Note: WordPress have completely overhauled and changed their blogging format. This is the first time I’ve attempted to use the new format, there has been a lot to relearn so forgive me if the layout isn’t quite right, it will improve with practice.***

Hi everyone, Jenny and I hope you are all ok. This blog update is long overdue, I did write a full blog back in June called “The Lost Year” but upon reviewing it I felt it was way to dark and disillusioned to post. After that I just lost my mojo and one week blurred into the next.

I’m feeling quite disappointed & disgusted at how the Federal and various State Governments (including WA) have handled the current pandemic. With the hindsight of 6 month now behind us it appears to be just one big political power grab, using fear tactics and an over reach of restrictive emergency laws, eroding as many rights and freedoms from the Australian People as possible. You don’t have to research the mainstream and alternative news outlets very much to see numerous examples of the Government’s abuse of power. 

This was the situation as of the 4th of August 2020. Are we one country or seven ? As of the 15/10/20 things have improved slightly, there is free travel between Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Victoria is still locked down and no one except essential workers & elite sports participates can leave or enter. Travel for New South Wales is very restrictive. Western Australia and Tasmania still have hard borders, yes you can leave but you can’t return, (unless you get an exemption which is very difficult and onerous).

I’m saddened that the vast majority of Aussies seem to think it is ok for the government to interfere with peoples lives to this degree and willingly exchange their freedom for a perceived feeling of safety.  The majority view seems to be “we’re saving lives and if you don’t agree with the government imposed Covid 19 laws, penalties and restrictions then you must be a selfish person”. I’m starting to see the reverse, the pandemic controls seem to be doing more damage than the actual virus is to the Australian psyche, economy, health and well being. What do you think about the current situation, does it worry or concern you ?

So what has been happening with team wiljen during all this upheaval ? Heaps actually, the biggest and happiest news is we became first time grandparents a month ago. Our youngest daughter Olivia and her partner Jake had their first child, a girl who they named Annelise. Jenny is over the moon about our new grandchild and visits as often as possible. Of course Covid 19 restrictions tainted the experience and we weren’t allowed to visit Olivia and the baby in hospital, we had to wait until her and the baby were home.

The happy first time parents, Olivia, Jake and the new addition to the family Annelise.
Nanna and Granddad.

Another big thing is our income streams have been severely disrupted by the pandemic (Government) induced economic downturn, giving out rent reductions, dealing with bad tenants who possibly were drug affected. Struggling through eviction moratoriums imposed on landlords by government. Volatile share markets that appear to be getting artificially propped up by central banks, near zero interest rates meaning cash deposits aren’t worth investing in. Even starting your own business in these times seems extremely risky, though investing in yourself appears to be the best option.

I’d never advise anyone to jump into the residential investment market, the reward doesn’t come close to matching the stress and hassle. This has lead to us applying for and receiving what ever government assistance we are legally allowed to get. Now is the time to go into survival mode with a worldwide Pandemic/Economic Recession all happening. You need to keep the cash flowing in by what ever (legal) means possibly. Make sure you cut spending and most importantly take care of your own health.

After 12 months of renting out the newly renovated, pristine 2 bedroom, 1 bath room, Fremantle Unit we have to yet again cough up for repairs and repainting. Not to mention rent arrears and 12 months of extra stress. Next plan is to try short term fully furnished renting to friends and family (Air BnB style but without the random people).

We owned this Mandurah 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom investment rental spec home since 2006, it’s currently under offer (as of late September). We have lost about 13% of the equity we had in the house due to a depressed WA property market but will both be happy to see it gone.

Our big travel event which we had planned for 2020 & had been 12 months in the making was a 3 month road trip. We were going to drive 5000kms across to Queensland, where we intending to pick up our new hybrid adventure travel trailer called a Reconn 2 Hypercamper, by Lifestyle Campers, in Brisbane.

From there we intended to head north to Port Douglas and catch up with my Mum, Stepdad and Brother. Then head for home across the Northern Territory, stop by Darwin and then back into Western Australia. We committed to the purchase of this camper early March, a couple of weeks prior to Covid being declared a pandemic in Australia. Only time will tell if we made the right decision back then.

This photo was taken in Brisbane back in August 2020, it’s due into Fremantle on the 16th of October (tomorrow for me right now). Let’s hope it doesn’t look like this 🙂 .

For once Jenny and I put together a comprehensive itinerary (usually we are quite random and adhoc with our travel plans). Applied for Covid 19 travel permits to travel in South Australia and Queensland, the NT requires you to apply when you’re 72 hours from crossing. Each State Travel Permit requires you to advise where you are staying each night. Not an easy feat, but they got back to us very quickly with the approvals. It’s looking like the tour is a go.

Western Australia currently has “hard borders” in place. You need to fill out an online Good to Go (G2G) permit application. Jenny’s application was denied almost immediately, she reapplied with more information and quickly received negative computer generated response. It took the G2G, WA Police Force two weeks to advise I’m denied re-entry into WA also. We aren’t considered essential, even though we are West Australian residents and are willing to isolate for 2 weeks upon our return we were informed we are not allowed to come home if we leave the State !

I could go into a huge rant from here but all I’ll say is the current permit system the WA State Government has in place is hypocritical and extremely unfair to the average “Australian” citizen. Yes we could probably sneak around the check points, but if you get caught the penalties are ridiculously huge, $50k fine and/or 1 year in jail.

All this means the trip over east is off for now and we’ve made arrangements for the Reconn 2 Camper Trailer to be shipped across. Before we knew that WA was NOT going to allow us home we did a 15 day shake down tour up to Carnarvon. We took the two fat bikes, Rodgie dog and our 3 person North Face tent. With the exception of a 50km/h winds and 40mm of rain during our first night at Quobba Station (80km north of Carnarvon)  on Thursday the 16th of July it was a excellent trip.

Our first 2 nights we stayed in the small (pop.355) northern wheatbelt town of Koorda. $6 per night which includes hot showers, toilets, camp kitchen.

Here is an example of the way I record trip information.

Notes from day 11, Saturday 18th of July:

  • Date: Saturday 18/07/20
  • From to where: Quobba Station to Hamelin Pool (Shark Bay), North West Coastal Hwy.
  • Distance: 300km
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: Y 4km in dunes.
  • Fuel $: 0
  • Litres:
  • Accom type & cost: Tent site Hamelin Pool CV Park $22, (@$11pp)
  • Grocery Food $:
  • Take away food $: BP Carnarvon $22
  • Beer/Wine $: 22
  • Other $: 3
  • Total $: 69
  • Weather: cold moderate easterly, clear sky, 20C max.
  • Notes: Up early (before sunrise), made coffees, packed up camp then went for a bicycle ride on the Fatbikes, did some sand dunes, Jenny did well with her “new” knees. Very impressive ! Rodgie and Station dog Tucker followed along. Left Quobba at 10.15am arrived Hamelin Pool 3pm, stopped at Gladstone Bay (after 220kms) 6km rough dirt road in. It was good and worth a future stop over. Took Rodgie for a walk on Shell Beach. Pretty early night, 9pm. No fresh water here, must take your rubbish with you, diesel generator runs all night. But there is a large grassy area to pitch the tent and it is unique in an old school sort of way. Jenny did all the driving today.
Hamelin Pool Caravan Park, different but good.

All up The Shake Down Tour was 2568kms from 8/07/20 to 22/07/20, 15 days.

Our stop overs were in Koorda (2 nights), Kirkilocka Station (1 night, south of Mount Magnet), Pindabam Creek (2 nights, free bush camping on a billabong east of Cue), Gascoyne Junction 2 nights, Carnarvon 1 night, Quobba Station 2 nights, Hamelin Pool 1 night, Goodies Surf Camp (1 night, north of Geraldton) and Dongara, 2 nights. 

Dog with the 3 person dome tent didn’t work out so good, everything else worked well. All motel/hotel accommodation was fully booked out along the coast and the coastal Caravan Parks were very busy, Covid, what Covid ?

Located approximately 80kms north of Koorda, free camping here with long drop toilets.
On top of Mollerin Rock, Jenny’s first rock climb since her knee replacements, Rodgie’s first also.
Kirkalocka Station, the owners advised there were no baits around the Station Homestead but beware as you travel further out.
Derelict Shearing Shed at Kirkalocka Station, only cattle out here these days.
Honeymoon suite at Kirkalocka Station, 30kms south of Mount Magnet. Very cold 1C night.
2 nights camped on this billabong, Pindabam Creek.
Pindabam Creek

Well 19 on the Gascoyne Stock Route (yes it had water). We also stopped at a large rock hole on Bilung Creek.

Check out Jenny’s new knees as she cycles across the Gascoyne River at Gascoyne Junction.

Gascoyne Junction and Rocky Pool. If anyone finds a blue Ball Chucker and ball at Rocky Pool it belongs to Rodgie Dog :-/

Carnarvon, at the Coral Coast Caravan Park, they had a last minute cancellation so we slept in a converted sea container for the night. Took a drive out to Babbage Island also.

Blow Holes at Quobba, 80km north of Carnarvon.

Quobba Station, the car awning was damaged during the storm (see the pole on the tailgate) .

Overnight stop over at Hamelin Pool, the grave at Shell Beach is for Walter Musk who perished on the 18th of October 1911 in a boating accident while trying to transport fencing materials across the bay. From memory he was around 60yo.

For the last couple of nights of our mini tour we stop in at Dongara to see Anne and Willie. We also had a chance to catch up with our friend Annie in Geraldton.

Goldfields & Granite Outcrop Mini Tour number 2;

  • 27/08/20 to 6/09/20
  • In the bell style tent, with the Landcruiser, fat bicycles and dog.
  • Landcruiser odometer 250002km to 251950, total = 1948km 
  • 11 days average daily Kms = 177km
  • Total spend = $784, average daily $71.27

That brings us to late August when we had planned to be heading for Queensland. Everything is ready, car is serviced, Jenny’s knees are good, bikes are ready to go, camping gear set up has been refined. What to do, what to do ?

We decide to do another short 2 week mini trip, mainly focusing on viewing just some of the many granite rocky outcrops that are dotted all over the Wheatbelt and Goldfields, “hop in Jenny & Rodgie dog, let’s go”.

All loaded up we head off, it’s 11.15am, Thursday the 27th of August. It’s a late start as we hadn’t yet loaded up the Landcruiser and it takes us 1.5 hours to gather & chuck everything into the old 105 Series Toyota 4WD Wagon. The biggest difference with this trip compared to the last one is we’re taking our 22 year old Southern Cross Canvas “Bell Style” family tent. It’s big cumbersome and heavy, the only viable place to stow it is on the roof rack. It is easy enough to erect and goes up and down fast. This is the first time we’ve used it in about 6 years, Rodgie loved it ! Must admit the extra space was nice, it is 3m x 4m with heaps of standing room, this is just a guess but the tent section weighs about 20kg & the poles/pegs another 15kg.

Checking out the condition of the old bell style canvas tent, first night in use after 6 years. Still works well but to heavy and bulky. (Slide to see it in use).

Our first nights stop is at Toapin’s Weir, near Quairading. Toapin Weir is a large concrete dam at the base of a large granite outcrop. There was only us and one over RV there that night. I dragged in some fire wood, Jenny cooked up a stew on the camp fire and we settled in for the night.

Rodgie checks out Toapin Weir near Quairading WA.

The next day we were on the road by 9.30am, headed for Kambalda, where our friends Barry and Nicole live. We stuck to as many backroads as possible including Cramphorne Road and the Emu Fence Road (dirt) that goes past Marvel Loch and pops out on the Great Eastern Highway (No.94) halfway between Southern Cross and Yellowdine. 

After a gruelling 500kms we arrived into Kambalda around 4.30pm. It was great to catch up with our two busy bush mates. We spent the weekend with them then continued north on Monday, through the famous gold mining town of Kalgoorlie/Boulder where we resupplied, then up to what is nearly now a ghost town of Menzies. From there we turned west and after a huge 232km drive pulled into Lake Ballard, where we picked the prime camping spot with views across the vast salt lake. We took the bicycles for a ride across the lake which was fun until Jenny got bogged in sticky mud and Rodgie went nuts when I launched the DJI Mavic Pro Drone, but we managed to get some reasonable footage.

Lake Ballard 50kms west of Menzies, always worth a stop over.

Decided to skip the camp fire that night as the immediate area has been picked clean of dead wood. Jenny fired up the old dual fuel Coleman stove and created another culinary masterpiece, curry chicken and rice.

Tuesday the 1st of September, spring is here ! In retrospect this turned out to be the best camping spot of our little trip. We drove 150kms on barely used outback dirt roads, skirting Davyhurst, stopping for lunch at Hospital Rock (good camping area) and finally finishing our day after a short bit of low range four wheel drive action on the far side of Rainy Rock. 

Camped at Rainy Rock, virgin camp site. Had to do some 4WD rock hopping to get here.

For the first time in ages we had found ourselves a virgin campsite. No old fire rings, heaps of fire wood, great spot to pitch the tent, a small gnamma hole with  some water still in it, which brought in birds, no one else around for miles. We had the whole rock to ourselves, just perfect.

From there we headed for the wheatbelt town of Mukinbudin which is a hot spot for granite outcrops. We checked out Caroling Rock near Bullfinch (great camping), Beringbooding Rock, great walk around and over the rock, Elackbutting Rock (no dogs) , just drove around, you could get away with having a dog there mid week when no one is around, both rocks have good camping.

Caroling Rock near the nearly ghost town of Bullfinch.

Beringbooding Rock, about 50kms north of Mukinbudin.

Mukinbudin Hotel, front passenger window on Landcruiser became jammed open due to 19 years of dust, Rodgie Dog assumes one of her many positions in the car.

After 2 nights in Mukinbudin we drove 280km to Pumphrey’s Bridge, along the way we saw an echidna. The plan at Pumphrey’s was to catch up with John and Debra. Unfortunately they couldn’t make the first night due to a family issue but they arrived at 11am on the Saturday. We spent a very enjoyable 24 hours camping together with the only hiccup being a savage dog fight between the two 1 year old dogs, Rodgie and Buster. All over 10 kibbles in Rodgie’s bowl, Jenny broke them up, Rodgie came off second best and spent the rest of the afternoon sulking in the tent. She did come out later for a bush walk.

The last 2 nights camping are spent at Pumphrey’s Bridge near Wandering, John and Debra arrived for the second night.

We spent an excellent night in front of the ancient cricket pavilion and with some assistance from Jen I cooked up a roast beef on the fire in our camp oven. It rained a bit during the night. The next day John cooked an awesome breakfast, we finalised packing and headed the 150kms back to Mandurah before the predicted storm was due to hit. The heavy rain started around Dwellingup and later that night wind speeds reached 90km/h with heaps of rain. Lucky team wiljen decided to call the trip finished for us on the Sunday.

The last bit of wiljen blog news is the Government has recently kicked us off the “Job Seeker” payment, since we’re deemed to have to many assets? Fair enough I can accept that but the economy and country is still in disarray. The Federal Liberal Government made up of Prime Minister Scomo and his Cronies recently released their “Covid 19” budget. One of the centre pieces of that budget are large rebates paid to employers that hire full time workers under the age of 35 years. 18-30 years receive $200 per week towards their wage, 30-35 year olds get $100 per week. I’m not against helping young people get full time work, in fact it’s a good thing but sadly the repercussions of such a policy are that most people looking for permanent work over 35 years of age won’t have much chance against an under 35 year old because for business it’s all about the bottom line and profit.

CBH has accepted my application to work on the 2020/21 grain harvest. Once again I’ll be based at Wagin. They have asked for me to start earlier this year. November through to early January should turn out to be quite a busy time. Behind the scenes I continue to apply for predominantly mining related permanent “plum” job roles but it’s starting to dawn on me that I’ve been out of the system for to long and may even be considered to old (see the new Government budget policy in previous paragraph). If Jenny and I can score another casual 2 to 3 month gig during the winter tourist season in northern WA or even the NT then long term finances will be fine.

As eluded to early in this blog post during September we decided to sell our investment property in Mandurah that we’ve owned for 14 years. House prices in and around Perth have taken a tumble over the last 6 years and have contracted 20%-30%. We priced the house to sell in this current market which means we’ll take a $50k hit on what it owes us. Trying to look on the positive side we did receive 13 years of rental income and did live in it ourselves back in 2016 when we were downsizing to he “Travel Home Base” so in the grand scheme of things we haven’t lost money we just didn’t do as well as hoped for.

Good news is we received a genuine offer to purchase about a week ago (23/09/20) for the full asking price. People think the house market has hit rock bottom and there is a lot of “fear of missing out” at the moment. My gut feeling tells me we’ve made the correct call to sell for this stage of our life.

Thanks for reading, some interesting time’s ahead for Jenny and I. We’re both looking forward to getting our Camper, enjoying being Grandparents to Annelise and having Rodgie dog in in our life. We have quite a bit of travel planned, including cycling but it will mainly be local for the foreseeable future.

Take care, Will and Jenny.

For some more latest wiljen’s adventures travel information check out our latest vlog upload to YouTube.

6 thoughts on “Trapped in Western Australia.

  1. Hi guys, I really enjoyed your blog. I too am disillusioned with the COVID-19 situation for Australia. It’s now 9 months and I still don’t think they have much of an idea on how to handle it and how to predict a future with it here.
    We have a state election with a premier who can only say “I won’t be bullied and I won’t apologise”


    1. Hi Karen, I hope you’re doing ok. Looking forward to catching up with you again one day, next year ? WA’s Chief Health Officer is saying it’s time to open up to States with no community transmission and the Premier is getting angry and saying hard borders are the way to go. I think it’s time to actually manage the problem, protect the elderly, isolate those who are actually ill & not just might be, close off & control hot spots and not shut down whole States. A bit more compassion from those in charge would go along way also, rather then applying massive penalties on the population. Government initially said they were aiming for suppression of the virus so the health system could cope, now it appears they are trying for eradication. Which isn’t really viable.
      I just wanted to write about some of my feelings during these times so it’s captured for the future If I decide to look back. Will.


  2. Nice blog. COVID has certainly changed ‘things’. It does seem to have accelerated a retraction of human rights across the globe, building on a fear factor of terrorism, migrants and refugees.
    Your granite outcrop trip took you through territory that was my backyard waaay back in the 80s: Marvel Lock, Lake Ballard, Muckinbudin, west of Menzies and more.
    Interesting times require innovative and interesting solutions, especially when, as a good friend explained to me not that long ago: “time is no longer an asset you have”. Downsizing, and long term planning for the New Normal is going to be essential.
    Good to go on the journey with you guys,
    Avaguddun … M


    1. Some wise advice there Max. Thanks.
      We’re determined to cycle the Munda Biddi in late March, early April or at least a modified version of it. Still toying with the idea of taking the dog along. Check out Ryan Van Duzer on YouTube it is possible. Will.


  3. In our area – SW Ohio, USA, we have had a counter intuitive housing market. Everyone is buying. Economy is in the toilet, but people are buying houses. It feels weird to me.
    It looks like your trips were lovely. It’s nice to be able to get away when everything is so… (gestures broadly). I envy you. I’m feeling very trapped myself. You have inspired me to take a leaf peeping trip this weekend.
    I hope you find some work. And get lots of baby time. 🙂


    1. Thank you for your supportive views Itsathought2. Counter intuitive property market, I like that it’s a perfect description !
      Jenny and I had a rough plan to fly back to the USA in 2021 and continue with our journey through your magnificent country, most likely on motorbikes, but all of that has been placed on hold for now. No doubt we would have seen Ohio during that time. We all have to just do our best and make the most of what we have at the moment. Best wishes to you. Will & Jenny.

      Liked by 1 person

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