Saturday, 10 January 2015

0177 Christmas in Perth, Australia

19th Dec – 11th Jan 2015

Well this has been a great 3 week break  - After 8 months on the road, a break from travelling, a break from speaking Spanish, a break from driving, and a rare chance to catch up with the entire family and of course to meet Olivia for the first time, the latest addition. 


We had Christmas with Benn, Sarah, and new grand daughter Olivia.  They had rented a great apartment right on the beach down in Rockingham,  near Benn’s parents, and it had an enormous balcony where Sarah had set up the table.  Hannah and Poppie came down with us (unfortunately Damien was still on the rig), Benn cooked some pork on the Weber that was just SO good (we did have turkey and ham as well !), and Benn’s parents Barry and Jenny joined us for lunch.  We had a very pleasant day out on the veranda, the temperature was just perfect (in Australia Christmas Day is often a scorcher). 

New Year was suitably quiet (and enjoyable) – We had a very pleasant evening down in Mandurah with Jamie and Susie. Great meal, went down to the beach to watch the 9 pm fireworks, (we weren’t sure if we would still be awake at midnight !), and then sat and demolished a bottle or two of red ! (We spent the night there !)  Very quiet, very pleasant. 

While in Oz I had a number of things to do before returning to  Chile.  Some spare parts required for the car, and some maintenance and spare parts for me !!  The spare parts for the car were fairly straightforward and I managed to find everything fairly quickly.  My spare parts turned out to be a  bit more complicated.  I needed a spare pair of reading glasses, so went for an eye test where the optometrist found that I have some kind of glaucoma which could potentially cause a sudden build up of pressure in my eyes  which would in turn quickly lead to blindness if it wasn’t treated straight away – Like within 12 hours.  Since I am currently wandering around in areas where I wouldn’t be able to get immediate hospital treatment, they recommended a procedure where they use a laser to cut a small hole in each eye which will then prevent a sudden build up of pressure.  Hmmm – OK.  Luckily they managed to get me in to see an eye surgeon shortly after the New Year, and he duly shot the holes in my eyes.  Amazingly, no pain at all !  I was really surprised as it is the first time I have ever had anything done to my eyes.   Unfortunately 2 days later he had to shoot me again as he decided the holes weren’t big enough !  But all good now !  The other personal servicing required was a teeth check up done by my good friend (and, IMHO, the best dentist in the world) Jamie.  That was no drama at all (compared to the eye servicing !), so now, with one day left before I return to Santiago on the 11th, I think everything is done.  New shoes, some food supplies of things not available in SA (vegemite, chocolate digestives, wine gums etc),  a haircut (!!), rejuvenated teeth, repaired eyes – Yup, I think I am ready for the next 3 months down through Patagonia !!

This break has been great.  Poor Hannah and Poppie have had to put up with us staying with them for almost the entire 3 weeks, which was great for us but probably not so easy for them – Hopefully we will still be friends !   Damien got held up on the rig by bad weather and only got back in last night (Friday), but at least we get to see him for a couple of days.  But the opportunity to meet Olivia, spend some time with Poppie,  as well as with Benn and Sarah and Hannah, has been a much needed tonic for us.  Nick and Tanja got back from their Christmas in Europe on Monday, so we have also had an equally enjoyable time catching up with them for a few days.  Unfortunately Benn had to go back to Thailand yesterday, but the rest of us are all gathering at Nick and Tanja’s tonight  for a pizza – Just so difficult to get everyone in one place at the same time !

While I return to Santiago tomorrow, Janet will go back to Queensland at the same time because Colleen and Al our house sitters are leaving, Trooper the dog needs some TLC and possibly rehoming, and a pool fence needs to be built to comply with new local laws.  Janet may also be going to help her sister drive down to Melbourne, and then, if everything comes together, and I am somewhere near an airport, she may come back to join me in S America – It will also depend on the weather - It is supposed to be pretty windy and wet down south !

My immediate plans are to head south from Santiago towards Ushuaia.  From Puerto Montt, with the help of a book borrowed from experienced SA traveller friends  Geoff and Wendy Longshaw, I have found  a road called the “Carretera Austral” – that runs 1200 kms south to Villa O’Higgins.  It is mostly dirt and includes three river crossings (by ferry), and takes you into parts of Chilean Patagonia that otherwise wouldn’t  be seen by someone like me who no longer has the ability to go out hiking for 3-4 days with tents and backpacks on my back.      Looks quite interesting, doesn’t it ?     Anyway, now I have a bit more of a firm idea of my route than before, I am really looking forward to getting back on the road south.  Patagonia always was one of my primary reasons and targets on this whole trip – Now lets get on with it !

I have also now booked both myself and Troopie on an Italian  ship sailing from Montevideo to Tilbury UK on April 30th, so arriving in UK about the first week of June.  This is a freighter, so will be 5 weeks of something a little different from the normal !  But this now gives me a target date for the next 3 months or so. 

How much wifi I will get on this road remains to be seen, but this is just to let you know that I will be trying to resume my daily blog from Monday !

Hope you all had as good a Christmas and New Year as we did, and that 2015 turns out to be a great year for you all.

A few photos here.......



  1. Photo link above not working.
    Have really been enjoying the blogs.
    In 2000 I went from Puerto Montt via the Puyehue Pass to San Carlos de Bariloche. Great place, then returned via catamarans on the lakes and buses in between. Good side trip if you had the time.

  2. Link now fixed, Ian Apologies.

  3. Does the ship from Montevideo to Tilbury go out of sight of land? Hmmm? Yes, I thought so. Exciting and safe travels, my friend.