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Dear John/Southern Cross, 

After 89,000 km's we have arrived back at our starting point Port Hedland WA.  This is no longer home as we sold up here and bought a couples of acres at Lancelin (about 45 min North of Perth) so we still have around 1,600Km left to get home. The trip around the Island took 20 months and as mentioned 89,000km. as you can see from the pics we have covered all sorts of terrain from out back QLD to, high country NSW, Riverlands Vic, to the Tasmanian wilderness.

We have missed a fair portion of WA outback but this has been due to road closures on account of rain from Cyclone Yazi, and normal Monsoonal weather conditions. We had planned to travel the Tannimi from Alice springs to Halls Creek then head north to Kununara before turning south/west down the Gibb River Road but unfortunately this was closed also, and to add to the difficulty the Rabbit Flat Roadhouse (Most remote in Australia) has now closed its doors so this would have meant a 1,200km without a re-fuelling stop. At this stage we were not carrying spare fuel, only the vehicles long-range tank which gave around 1,000ks in good road/weather conditions. We can cover the remaining WA areas from home later by doing 1 to 2 week or 1 month  trips and return as desired.

The trip to Lake Eyre, Cooper Creek, Diamantina River, and Simpson Desert to see the floods really was an experience to be remembered. Lorraine and Barry from Southern cross had invited us to travel in convoy with them meeting up in Cunnamulla and travelling to Birdsville returning via Bedourie, Boulia, Winton and Longreach. Barry had organised a light aircraft from Birdsville to fly over Lake Eyre North, entering the Lake at the mouth of Cooper Creek.  At this point it was clear to see the muddy waters of the Cooper flowing out into the vastness of the Lake, then on to Moomba Gas fields (under water) and to Innaminka to refuel the plane and have lunch at the Pub, returning to Birdsville just as the sun was going down.

pendelslakeeyre

The Expedition 8500 has followed us faithful all the way without any major problems, sure and steady in all weather and road conditions.

Some amusing situations were encountered when relying on a cheap navigator GPS to find the way for us, fortunately Murray is experienced in manoeuvring large vehicles in tight situations (Phew! How did you get through that dear?).

One memorable situation came about on the night we returned from Tasmania. Having cleared customs and disembarked the 5th and vehicle from the Spirit Of Tasmania at about 5.00pm Friday evening we were anxious to clear Melbourne and find a free camp for the night. OK, set "her" on the dash to find a quick way out of Melbourne. Now we have all heard about the low bridge somewhere around Port Melbourne that likes to eat 5th Wheelers by the roof, well there it was staring straight at us in traffic jam conditions, but wait, there's a sign on the other lane that says "Low Bridge By-pass"? Ok right indicator on, pull over, hard right. ("Sorry mate"), ("yeah I do have a licence"), ("no I didn’t get it in a raffle"),(" Yeah same to you). Well all good we made it ? Now there is a detour sign coming up, "Road closed" (Oh S#!^) the little lady on the dashboard is trying her hardest to get me to do a U turn but no, I can get out of this mess without her help? Well to cut a long story short, we ended up in one of those high density living areas at the back of Port Melbourne with cobblestone paved roads about 2 motorbikes and a cart wide with a garden island down the middle of the street. Swing hard fast and late around the corner and see what happens, Sorry about your lovely lawn and roses, oops! Was that a picket fence? Well all is good not too much damage to the garden. Then, to everyone’s delight and surprise we pop out onto the main road almost back in front of the vehicle unloading port where we started from. The large crowd of afternoon drinkers sitting at the sidewalk bar sipping their pre-dinner drinks must have seen our confused faces and gave us a rousing cheer.

pendelsfishing

As our "Round the Block” trip draws to a conclusion it is worth reflecting back on things.

  • Would we do it again (2nd Time)......No,
  • Would we recommend others to do it first time.......Yes certainly. (don't wait)
  • Most noticeable concern that came up the most....The emotional yearning to see loved ones again. (Be prepared to fly home occasionally)
  • Are we glad we kept a permanent base somewhere.....Yes.
  • Do we intend to use the 5th for shorter trips (1 Week to 2 months duration ect.).........Yes.
  • Would we make modifications to the 5Th.........Yes. (No need to outline these as they are all personal things that we would change to suit our style).

pendelsmap

Happy Travels to All.

Glad to hear from anybody for a chat. mdpendle7@bigpond .com

Debbie and Muzza Pendle.

(8500 Expedition. LandCruiser 90 series turboDiesel V8)