As an older citizen many things occur which can impact on your day, no matter whether you are at home or travelling, or heaven forbid you are still working! For this reason you will need to develop a flexible and relaxed attitude, or frustration will get the better of you.
Don’t let yourself be a victim of indecision
During our Perth trip we became victims of circumstance and the elements, we had no control and had to work out what was best for us. In fact, in this case, we needed to decide what the safest solution was and then when to do it.
Camping at Peaceful Bay
The ironic part of this story is the name of the place: Peaceful Bay!
On the night in question we had arrived, early for once! It was just after 4pm and we found our campsite, set everything up and got our dinner cooking. All of this by around 7pm and were looking forward to a nice quiet night before more driving the next day.
This time we were camped further away from the ablutions block than normal, so our nightly walk was incorporated into personal hygiene matters. On our return to the camp site we noticed something which made us shudder!
The sky had a red glow to it to our left as were walking back. By the time we got back and had cleaned up the red glow was now to the left and behind us, but it looked to be a reasonable distance away. The wind was getting stronger too.
We spoke to a “local” and he was not at all worried, but we were noticing that the glow was getting stronger, quickly.
By this time it was around 9pm and time for bed, but we were uneasy.
Our round table conference concluded in 1 minute, we were leaving.
A normal pack up and get on the road routine was an hour or two routine, this night we did it in 45 minutes, Phew!
On our way out we noticed two other sets of campers making ready to go too, and one of them told us that the Fire Brigade had just issued a warning to Peaceful Bay, pack and leave now or be prepared to defend your house.
We believe our decision was correct, and we know that no-one was injured in the fire but there was a destruction of a “resort”, not the one we were camping in, but very close to it.
But there was more …
We continued our driving that night, arriving in Albany at 2 am and wanting drink and food, thankfully we found a 24 hours Maccas (McDonald’s) store, where we were able to order ourselves a much-needed coffee, and of course a feed.
Next hurdle was to find fuel, which with the aid of Google was quite simple. So fuelled up and ready to go again, we head off in search of Esperance and at around 5 kilometres we found a very BIG branch down in the middle of the road. We manouevred around it, to find there was a car with hazards on in the middle of the road.
Oh no, we thought, some one has been in an accident!
Turns out no such thing, the wind had blown a tree over onto power lines which were now hanging very low across the road. We are grateful again, because if this vehicle wasn’t there we would have missed the lines and driven straight through them. You have to remember this was at 3 am and it was very dark, blowing a gale and tree branches were falling everywhere. We had driven around several branches on the road and had seen other branches fly past our windscreen.
Why were we driving in these conditions, if there was so much danger?
That is a really good question, we had thought about sleeping in the car in the city of Albany, but we decided that as there were two different fires approaching Albany and no fires on the road we would be using to get out. We thought it would be a better option to keep driving.
Whilst we were waiting for an answer about fixing the power lines another 4 vehicles and a semi-trailer arrived. The consensus of the locals, in consultation with people back in Albany was for us to all return to Albany, except for the semi-trailer as he had no where to turn around. I believe he had someone coming out to collect him, we certainly had no room to give him a lift.
Just as we were arriving back in Albany we saw two electricity company vehicles going out to fix the power lines, so we knew that, in a couple of hours, we could resume our journey. Time enough to get a sleep after breakfast.
We found a service station which had just opened for the day and the kind lady offered us breakfast, something that she did not normally do, we were again fortunate.
At 5 am we ventured back into the darkness, hoping that the power lines were repaired and the road was clear. It was, Wow!
The impact of decisions
Obviously the impact of our decision to leave at 10pm at night from Peaceful Bay was fairly major, issues like:
- we had driven during the day and were tired
- we now had to drive during the night
- we had no where to sleep, who would let us in at that time?
- our pet cat was with us, which could be upset by the disruption …
- we did not know where other fires were, due to it being our first time in this region
- driving the next day, or staying awake perhaps!
The best thing we did was to make our decision quickly, because a delay would have been far more dangerous but we had to deal with these issues.
Our next day of driving
To say the least the next day was very difficult, we would drive for an hour or so, and then pull over for a sleep!
But there was far more to it, would you believe that there were around 6 fires, and we had to drive through or around some of them, but we were not in danger. However, it did mean that we could not stop for a long sleep, mainly because people would stop to check on us, as we did for others!
One of the things that we all do when in a dangerous situation is buckle down and help others, to the best of our ability. In our travels that night we had checked on 4 other vehicles, where they were stopped on the side of the road. None had any problems and we moved on. We did stop for half an hour and 2 vehicles stopped by to check on us, not much time for a sleep!
A general rule of thumb used by Grey Nomads
Having read many Facebook posts by caravanners in general, and specifically Grey Nomads who are doing the BIG Lap, I have realised that they generally try to arrive at their camping location by 4.00pm at the latest.
We have noticed that many of those who travel for their retirement, or are doing the BIG Lap, will follow this guideline.
However, those who are travelling for a purpose tend to get to campsites late in the day. These people are always in a rush, especially when stopping for lunch, or fuel. On the odd occasion where they stop for a sight seeing tour, they are usually the ones who go to a lookout, have a quick look, take a few photos and move on, quickly. The rest of the visitors tend to be Grey Nomads, and like us, they tend to take their time, have a good look etc.
Back to the 4.00 pm shut off, as I like to think of it, we have tried to do this but we are travelling to a timeline and we still stay at points of interest for as long as we can. Quite often we don’t know if we will ever get back to them.
This means that we quite often arrive late, and pay the price with getting a less than suitable spot, and then have to set up in the dark. So, on the odd occasion we arrive somewhere early we are pleased with ourselves, hence my comment early on in the story.
We would love for you to leave your comments below, and tell us some of your story. Cheers!