Fully Committed Now.

Bunbury, Western Australia. We bought a house & Jenny got a job…

January 2023 to May 2023. # 225. By Will. 

Feature Photo: 30 years of marriage, “Wow”. Honeycomb Beach, just north of Gracetown WA.

G’day everyone, welcome back to another thrilling instalment of wiljen’s Adventures. Time sure does fly when you are busy working and setting up a life of conformity ! It seems that during this working, saving money chapter of life in our mid-fifties down here in Bunbury I am managing to get out 3 blog posts a year. That suits me just fine for now, not a lot of adventuring is happening for team wiljen at the moment so a post every 3 or 4 months is reasonable.

The new place for now, we need a shed, patio extension & concrete driveway/paths. Unfortunately we only could scrape together 60% of the purchase price and had to mortgage the balance. 3×2, 674m2 corner block. Built in 2014.

A lot of changes have occurred since the start of the year, late January 2023 I was asked to join the Train 2 Commissioning Team at Albemarle. Train 1 has been handed over to Operations and is steadily producing Lithium Hydroxide. As expected there has been teething and bottle neck problems but as time goes on solutions are found and the process continues to improve. After all this is the first Lithium production facility of this size and complexity in Australia.

Albemarle Kemerton Lithium Processing Plant, eventually there will be 4 Production Trains each capable of 25000tpa.

Train 2 Commissioning means I am on permanent Day Shift, my remuneration & rostered days on/off remain unchanged, though after just 3 days in my new team I had to go back onto A shift in the Back End and monitor the Lithium Centrifuges for 6 weeks. Centrifuges are like massive industrial clothes washing machines. Quite a tedious task but it needed to be done and all part of life as a Process Operator at Albemarle. I’m back on day shift only now with the commissioning team and finding myself exposed to many different parts of the plant so learning many new things, I’m enjoying it.

Early February 2023, we get organised for our mini 4 day 30 years anniversary camping trip.

Less than 30 minutes from home we come across Eileen and Radu from Romania 2 years into their Australia Tour. They are riding Azub Recumbent Trikes.

First day at Honeycomb Beach Camp (above). Checking out the local sights. Dog beach at Gracetown was good (below).

This was our first time trying out a Hip Camp, it was $40pn no amenities but I thought it was ok.

February was the last time Jenny, Rodgie Dog and I managed to get away on a short camping trip together. We hooked the Reconn2 Camper on to the Landcruiser and headed 2 hours south to a Hip Camp (a bit like an Airbnb for large properties but usually with no facilities, they charge from $40 per night and above). It was very close to Honeycomb Beach and Moses Rock surf break, it’d about 10kms north of Margaret River. The main reason for the short 4 day get away was to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Wow, that came around way to fast ! Just another reminder to get out there and live life, don’t get suckered into working all you youth and health away. 

A beautiful summers evening at Honeycomb Beach Camp.

A couple of old 4×4 vehicles on the site. Series 2 Land Rover my guess is late 1960’s and an old G60 Nissan Patrol from the mid-1970’s (best guess) it still started and drove.

It was an enjoyable break, we checked out some of the dog friendly local craft breweries, like Beer Farm and Cheeky Monkey. Julie and Allan even caught up with us at the Cheeky Monkey Brewery for lunch. One major problem with this touristy area is it is full of National Parks and No Dog Beaches so finding places to exercise Rodgie Dog proved a challenge. We did discover that the nearby Gracetown had a good little private dog beach which we visited a couple of times. On our very last morning we decided to chance it and take Rodgie down to Honeycomb Beach for a run. We had it all to ourselves, no one was around but there are multiple signs saying No Dogs, I feel the authorities anti dog attitude is a bit unreasonable but what can you do. After an hour down there we headed back to the partially sand dune engulfed car park. Put Rodgie in the car and just as we started to leave the Parks Ranger drove in. To late mate, see you on the other side. Yes it was a nice way to spend 30 years of marital bliss, love you Jenny.

Jenny and I checked out some craft breweries, Beer Farm near Metricup and Cheeky Monkey which was halfway between Honeycomb Beach and Gracetown. We caught up with our friends Allan & Julie there.

Through a friend (thanks Sue M) Jenny was hunted out for a job at the Collie Shire beginning the start of March. The interview went fine, though the medical/physical requirement for the job role were a bit excessive. Push ups, squats, planking, etc. for an administrative type role. After an 8 year hiatus Jenny found herself back in the “real world” of work a week later. She initially was employed, permanent part time 2 days a week but that has now expanded to 3 days. Her job role sounds quite varied to me, from what Jenny has explained to me she is administration support, sorting out staff training, updating policies and procedures, sorting out computer problems.

Team wiljen commiserate Jenny getting a job with the Collie Shire at Minninup Pool. We are fully getting caught up in the system now.

Jenny is still doing the bookkeeping one day a week for her brother John and continues to manage our Airbnb Unit up at Fremantle. Between multiple work commitments and catching up with the grandkids she has a pretty full plate.

We seen the grandkids a reasonable amount, they are great fun.

Top 4 photos, sees us head southeast across to Katanning (240kms away) to see Hayden & Kirsty. A couple of weeks later they visit us in Millbridge to pick up the 22 year old Southern Cross family tent in preparation for their trip to Broome in May. It’s weird to see the 2 old family vehicles together on the driveway after all this time.

The BIG news for this blog post is once again after 8 years of not being in debt we have taken out a house mortgage and bought a house to live in. The sale was finalised on the 30th of March and the keys handed over. I wish I could report the process went seamlessly but it did not. Initially we employed a Mortgage Broker to find us the best mortgage deal, interest rate and sort out our finance. I won’t name her or the mortgage company here, but she ended up cocking the whole process up. The bank she advised us to use, Heritage Bank in Queensland kept moving the goal posts. Initially they said our finance was approved with a few days remaining until we reached the “Subject to Finance” clause date of our purchase agreement. Then on a Friday afternoon we were told by the Broker that Heritage Bank had sent out the email incorrectly and our finance was not approved (we were informed it was an auto generated computer error).

This was bad news because we had now signed waivers, advised our Settlement Agent Waterways Conveyancing to proceed with the deal and were now at risk of losing our $5000 deposit and missing out on the purchase of the house going through. The Broker also advised us that Heritage Bank would now only loan us $225K ($25K less that we requested) & wanted us to cut up then cancel out 2 credit cards. Must say that was the final straw for Jenny and I.

Come the Monday after struggling to communicate the urgency to the Mortgage Broker, we sacked her and sorted out our own bank finance through the National Australia Bank (NAB). Within 48 hours NAB had approved our application at a discounted variable interest rate of 5.11%. With huge relief our finance was approved. This was about 0.25% more than Heritage Bank was offering but in reality, they weren’t offering us anything except unacceptable demands, so their mortgage was useless to us. Motto of the story, don’t be lazy, do your own homework, due diligence and research.

We did 8 garden trailer loads over 4 weeks.

We still had 6 weeks remaining on our rental lease and at $570 per week were keen to break the lease early. As most people are aware securing a rental property in Australia during 2023 (especially around Bunbury) is very difficult, they are expensive and few and far between. The property management company said we would have to pay a multitude of extra fees, break lease fee, advertising fee, keep paying the rent until the new tenants moved in, spray for flea’s fee. It just wasn’t going to be straight forward or easy, so we decided to take the financial hit and slowly do the moving and cleaning process at out leisure. So far we have shifted about 7 trailer loads of “important stuff”, I’m hiring a large removal trailer this Friday to move the big furniture stuff.

On official move in day, Saturday 29/04/23, our first night in our own house. 3 large hire trailer loads.

I note that the rental property management company have now re-advertised the place at $620pw. That is ridiculously overpriced in my opinion, we will both be happy to no longer deal with renting. To many property inspections, not much you can do to improve living at the property, living right next to a popular park/playground can be a noisy experience. I hope it’s an experience we never have to repeat ever again.

The rental was a good house but at the amount for rent we can’t get ahead and it’s not worth working as we can’t save hardly any money. The main positives is we are a year closer to retirement and it gave us time to evaluate the job and area before fully committing.

The new home we have bought is still in Millbridge, it is close to the Highway that is busy with traffic & divided by a large, 50 metre wide vegetated embankment. Hopefully once the new Bunbury Bypass Link Road is completed and open all the trucks and traffic heading to the Southwest will deviate before coming anywhere near us. The house is a small 3 x 2 on a 675m2 corner block with side access. While we are there, we would like to improve the gardens, erect a 6m x 4m shed and add on a side patio. Some additional concrete work will be needed during this process.

Our 4th house move in 7 years and we still have way to much stuff. Joel a friend from work helped move the big furniture on the Saturday, it took us 3.5 hours to do the move. Later Jenny and I spent 10 hours each cleaning the rental. Of course it was still not good enough for the Property Manager. WTF !

Jenny and I are both looking forward to getting into our own place again. We have tried to purchase a place that if required we could happily live in for the long term, though our current midterm plan is to either sell it and at the minimum recover our costs or possibly rent it out at the end of this Bunbury work life chapter. We have been doing a bit of planning towards our future exit and retirement goals and I feel we are both fully in sync towards that target. The dream of travel and living on the road is still strong in both of us and that is currently what we are working towards.

Goodbye rental house Millbridge thank you for the 12 months of shelter and memories. Jenny mows the front lawn for the last time on the 8th of May.

The award for being our first visitors and staying overnight goes to Josie and Sheridan. Congratulations guys 😁☝️.

Some good news is I’ve now been at my job for nearly a year and after about 6 months there I booked a 4 week holiday which commences at the start of June. That’s not far away, both Jenny and I are looking forward to a short taste of the freedom that we have for now lost. It is going to be a camping road trip, cost effective, easy for us and enjoyable. I’ll post about it once we are back.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

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