Running out of chips
“You were at the beach today?! Aw that’d be cold?”
It was 22 degrees and sunny out, but our Perth long-term AirBnB host had his puffy body warmer on and was surprised we had visited the beach on a winters day.
We had spent one week in Perth as we passed through, and we knew it had a lot going for it, so we weren’t unhappy arriving back for a longer stay. The caravan life would get a rest here as we scouted AirBnB’s and, in a bit of a rush, booked a month long stay in an east Perth suburb. It was a relief to have our own place and the comfort of a nice bed as well as regular hot showers and a fully functioning kitchen. Our new neighbourhood was dull, half run down, half brand new and had no real character about it. I figured it did not matter all that much as guidance was to stay inside and there were parklands nearby for exercise and grocery stores in all directions. After a couple of weeks of Netflix binging, weekly takeaways and a few trips to the beaches and parks (all open & fine to exercise) we realised interstate travel was a way off we’d need to stay in Perth longer than one month.
We decided to move across town and treat ourselves to an upgrade. When you’re spending so much time inside the value of your accommodation really grows. After 3 or 4 awkward Airbnb negotiations ending in failure we had success, and a great success! We moved to Subiaco, a neighbourhood between the city and the beach full of tree lined streets, lavish houses, parks and great amenities. Even by that stage restrictions were being lifted and we could visit friends or have them over and restaurants and cafes started opening. Perth got off very lightly when it came to the virus with zero community transmission and the majority of cases coming from residents returning from overseas. Great weather and tonnes of outdoor activities meant our “isolation” period was a predominantly positive experience. Lucy joined a yoga studio in the neighbourhood and I increased my running mileage to about 80km per week, setting stricter training schedules and challenges for myself.
The Daisy House in Subiaco
While the experience was amazing, no work and doing as we pleased each day, there is no doubt stress and anxiety played a part in our lives too. It was like being on a Ferris wheel that stops halfway around. We were supposed to be back in Melbourne by the end of May and begin a job hunt, but here we were halfway round and the global economy had tanked. Perth had no jobs and state borders were shut. Flights were being cancelled left and right and you needed an international PR campaign to get yourself home. In any case, Australia was due to be our new home, where else would we go and why? With visas running till November and no jobs or prospects, a 4x4 and caravan on hand registered to Victoria, what the hell were we going to do? Oh yea and we have a dog here, so multiply problems by four.
Roa on the beach in WA
We spent too much time thinking about this crap, expecting to find an answer but in time I gave up worrying, and decided we should channel our energy into what we came to Australia to do; being active and getting out there. We planned each week out from exercise to meals to excursions, surfing, hiking, running, yoga, visting friends, video calls. There was no time left in the day to be worried or anxious. The sun was out and we had a once in a lifetime opportunity. In the end I felt we made the absolute most of our time in Perth. I personally felt fulfilled, faster, fitter and happier than ever before.
Roa checking the waves
After 3 months in Perth some borders began to open so we decided to head to the east coast again and see if we could build a life for ourselves. It was not the lap we had planned, more of an out and back. As we left Perth a handful of cases began popping up in Victoria again, but surely nothing they couldn’t get on top of?
We stopped a couple of nights at Margaret River and Denmark (not the country) enjoying rain and cold weather for the first time in a while. A weekend in Esperance enjoying the stunning beaches and coastline before we retraced our steps crossing the Nullarbor Plain over two days. The road was much quieter this time and some fuel stations had shut or moved to reduced hours due to supply of fuel. This was a bit worrying as your life is somewhat dependent on diesel when you’re 400km from the nearest building. I had a 20L canister of diesel on the back of the caravan for peace of mind which I was thankful for, although we just about got from station to station without needing to dip into it.
Esperance beaches, on bonfire day
The old fuel station on the Nullarbor
The Edge of the world - Nullarbor
Considering we were under no specific time constraints we decided to see a bit more of South Australia on the way back, journeying down the Eyre Peninsula and visiting national parks in Coffin Bay and Port Lincoln. We met a couple at a campsite before reaching Coffin Bay and it’s fair to say they were pretty blue collar. The fellow told us all about his travels around the Nullarbor as a professional shooter. He’d shoot feral cats, they’d be skinned and the fur sent to London to be sold as some exotic and rare product. The cats had basically come full circle as it was the Europeans who brought them to Australia initially to try and solve the rabbit overpopulation which they too were responsible for.
The next evening we stayed on a farmyard that overlooked Port Lincoln bay and I got chatting to some Canadians who were travelling and sleeping in a roof tent. It’s a tent that is attached to the roof of your car, obviously enough, and it’s a pretty cool way to travel when the weather is good and you don’t have much stuff. The only problem is every time you need to drive somewhere you have to pack up everything. We purchased some produce from the farm, set off to see Lincoln Park (like the band) for the morning and then headed back north up the peninsula stopping in Whyalla before pulling into a rest are for the night. That rest area happened to be across the road from a fire station which erupted into noise and action at around midnight. That siren came in between trains passing on the other side of the van as we had inadvertently parked beside the train tracks where coal trains were running all night.
The next day we arrived at Victor Harbour, south of Adelaide, where we stayed for four nights! That seemed like an eternity at the time. After a day exploring we figured it would be an ideal place for Lucy to whale watch and for me to run on the trails. The Heysen trail runs from Cape Jervis (where the ferry goes to Kangaroo Island) all the way up towards the Flinders ranges so I decided to run the first 70km over three days. That was a good taste of some distance on the trails for me and Lucy was treated to a whale performance of a lifetime at the harbour so a win-win. There were some comments about Victor Harbour being for pensioners but that’s okay with me as it looks like I’ve taken an early retirement.
Lucy & Roa at Victor Harbor
We left Victor Harbour and drove to Victoria where the Covid situation had worsened considerably since we left Perth. The day we arrived new restrictions were put in place, Stage 3 for Melburnians but no real impact outside the city. New South Wales (Sydney’s state) had also announced they would close the border to Victoria for the first time in 100 years so that left us immediately locked inside one state. At that point we still expected the spread would be brought under control as Australia had done a great job initially, but community transmission took hold and the figures climbed. We completed the 3,500km trip from Perth to Geelong to stay with my relatives and try and get our lives in order which is virtually impossible. A few weeks after arriving Melbourne hit Stage 4 lockdown with a curfew and zero travel. Geelong is at Stage 3 with all non-essential businesses closing and just four valid reasons to leave your house. So bad luck in one sense but we are grateful to have a base to ride out this sh*t-storm.
I’m reminded of one galling experience I had in Vegas playing roulette and using the double up method to gain a couple of extra dollars. Keep betting on red and if you lose, double up your bet. You will eventually win and your profit will be your original stake. I mean how many times in a row can black come up? Well if you lose six times in a row starting with a $2 bet, your next bet needs to be $128, then you lose that bet and realise your next bet has to be $256 which you don’t have handy. That was a punch to the gut at the time but at least it was quick. I feel as though we are somewhere in that cycle now, waiting for red to come up or run out of chips.
For now we focus on more lockdown goals, running, yoga, in house activities, self-improvement and of course food. We’ll keep active, the sun will come up tomorrow so let’s see what it brings.
Thanks for reading along! We have really appreciated the comments and positive vibes!
Neil, Lucy & Roa
Perth Sunsets are pretty great, and you can actually see them every day!
How the Perth locals live all year round