couch surfing

Quick update from on the road.

Mandurah pc a720 002_3264x2448

We have been on the road almost a week. Today it is raining so a good opportunity to find the local library and catch up with emails.

We decided to travel from Geraldton to Perth on the bus. Much, much slower than flying, 6 hours instead of 60 minutes, But much easier on the budget and we were not in a big hurry. After one movie and one very interesting documentary about the wine industry in Bordeaux, France and a brief 20 minute stop in the middle of nowhere we arrived at the bus station in central Perth. 10 minute taxi ride round to pick up our next set of wheels and it was on the road south. At least we thought we were on the road south, it turned out to be the wrong motorway, we were heading back north….

I am directionally challenged.

Eventually after stopping at a garage, were the very helpful young mechanic photocopied off maps for us, and then calling out to a passing cyclist to verify we were in the right direction we found the Kiwani Freeway south.

Our delightful couch-surf hosts had a delicious meal waiting for us and we unwound with a glass or two of wine and got to know each other.

We spent 3 days exploring their area.

This fresh fruit and veg barn is only open weekends and had the freshest produce. Only locals would know of this sort of place

This fresh fruit and veg barn is only open weekends and had the freshest produce. Only locals would know of this sort of place.

Our transport waiting for us as we had lunch and explored Mandurah

Our transport waiting for us as we had lunch and explored Mandurah

One of the advantages of couch-surfing is you are told of the interesting places in the area. I have many more photos to show and tell about, this is just the preview of what is to come.

On our final day Graham and Marie took us on a tour of the area they live in and we finished at this small café with the most delicious cakes and BIG mugs of coffee.

But all good things come to an end and it was back on the road again slowly heading south for Margaret River. Now we are in caravan parks for a few days.

Today is raining so we are taking the opportunity to spend time in the local library using their internet.

Categories: couch surfing, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , | 37 Comments

Couch surfing hosts are very special people

Stephanie in her community garden plot

We love couch surfing. It is a great way to meet local people and really get to know an area. Cities always have quite a large number of hosts to contact. Darwin is different to other cities as it is the end of the line for back packers, or in some cases the start. They have bought an old van and travelled around Australia or just along the popular east coast and now it is time to sell the van and fly out to the next destination. What better way to end the Australian adventure than staying with a CS host. Also most of them are very “cash strapped”.

Most hosts get upward of 50 requests a week, so we considered our selves lucky to be accepted by Stephanie, her husband Regis and their adorable young daughter.

The very nature of couch surfing means a host must be a very trusting and accommodating type of person. They are opening their home and heart to complete strangers. The CS hosts we have stayed with around Australia have all been very interesting people. Most have travelled widely and have lots of interesting stories to swap. Generally they are interested in conservation and we have learnt a lot from them.

Stephanie believes passionately in recycling, re-using and conservation. She practices what she preaches in her blog www.frugaldownunder@blogspot  Visit her blog for lots of money-saving tips and ways of making every thing go further. We went to see the vegetable plot they have in the Darwin Botanic Garden, Snake Bean community garden. It is shared and run on permaculture principles by approx 29 people and was a riot of lush, edible goodies. I helped harvest tomatoes, a number of different varieties, eggplant, snake beans, cucumber, rocket, spinach and a number of herbs. All manner of things are collected by Stephanie to be recycled. It was a revelation of frugality.

We were also very lucky to have Regis as our own personal guide for an hours tour around the Darwin Museum. To be given the back ground history and stories behind the exhibits was a special privilege and brought the museum alive for us. Of special interest was the fishing exhibition which Regis had curated and personally put together. I never knew that there were so many different lures that could be used in fishing. Fishing is a passion for Regis and he has a blog on that subject  <theramblingexpat@blogspot>

We spent a week parked in the car port outside the apartment. It had a shade cloth roof that was high enough to push the roof of the van up so we could sleep in Matilda and it was cool in the evening.

Snake bean community garden

Categories: accomadation, australian travel, botanic gardens, comunity garden, couch surfing, Northern Territory | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Beautiful tropical gardens

Heliconia, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

The “el Nina” weather pattern of last year caused a lot of disasters and heartache but tropical style gardens have loved all the rain and humidity and the garden is a riot of colour. I am enjoying spending time in the garden and have been very fortunate to have really good friends, June and Rex, who have looked after the garden so well whilst we have been away.

I am starting to check the couch surfing scene in New Zealand and it is very exciting to see  a number of interesting people offering beds over there.

Categories: couch surfing, garden, New Zealand | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Couch surfing on the tablelands

We are couch surfing again. It is amazing the different types of houses and people that we meet through the couch surfing. It is an amazing organization. This time we stayed with Wayne who has an 8 acre farmlet near Yungaburra on the Atherton Tablelands.He runs it on biodynamic principles and we stayed in a lovely little cottage and was able to spread ourselves out for a week and even helped a little by weeding the garden beds around the cottage. It was good to get my hands in the dirt again…


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“Any one home?”

We had contacted Gerry, a couchsurfing host, and he had kindly said we could stay at his place while we were in Cooktown. Couchsurfing is a great organisation and a great way to meet people. Staying with a local person gives you a better insite into the town and information on where to go and what to see.
Gerry was a charming host, originally from Germany he has lived in Cooktown for 10 years.Every Couch surfer we have stayed with has an interesting garden and Gerry was no exception, he described his garden as “my little piece of rainforest”, it was only an average size suburban section but you could lose yourself in the tropical vegetation.
 So for 3 days we had a comfortable bed and as Cooktown is only a small township and Gerry’s house was only one block from the main street we could walk every where, with one exception, that was going  to the top of Grassy Hill  lookout point. The 360deg view spread from the Ocean round to the Endeavour river and up to the distant mountain ranges, it was a stunning view, but the wind was gale force, the wind blows all year round in Cooktown. We stayed to watch the sunset. It was a very steep pull to the top but Matilda, when down in bottom gear, chugged steadily up. The Down hill was a white knuckle ride taken in very low gear….
Categories: australian travel, couch surfing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

lorrikeets in rain video

lorikeets in rain video, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Well it is hard to believe but we have now been home 6 weeks, where has the time gone? I did intend to keep the blog posts going but some how life has taken over….We have been busy sorting out the granny flat we are now living in, and though it is just a one room studio style place, with a small kitchen, and very small bathroom, after living in Matilda for a year it seems large to us, and we are enjoying the relative space.The mammoth, but enjoyable, task of sorting the photos is taking time. I am also an obsessive collector of data and information, ie: how much we spent on petrol, eating out, groceries, alcohol etc. So now I have taken the time to work out some of the stats.

  • Travelled a total of 26,996 kms
  • Petrol total cost: $4,336. Most expensive was $1.97/ltr at Dunmarra in the Northern Territory, cheapest $1.17/ltr at Mount Gambia.
  • Freedom camping: 23 nights
  • 4 WWOOF hosts:21 nights
  • 9 couch surfing hosts: 59 nights
  • 2 friends met on road: 11 nights
  • 1 relation:2 nights

116 days we did not have to pay for accommodation, this was a great help to the budget and made it possible to travel for a year on the pension…

  • 206 nights in various priced caravan parks.
  • Most expensive van park was Skenes Creek at $45 on the Great Ocean Road during January school holidays. It was also one of the worst being dirty and very over crowded. 
  • Most expensive accommodation was $98 for one night at the Buddhist Temple near Wollongong.But well worth it for the experience and peaceful atmosphere.
  • To have a break from the rain we left Matilda on her own and stayed in cabins at 3 separate places for a total of 6 nights.
  • During May and June we returned home to the Gold Coast for 46 days.
  • Total accommodation cost: $4,437 , averaged out at $21.50 per night.
  • Very special extra excursions: full day flight to and walk through the Bundle Bundle in the Kimberly, cruise down the Katherine gorge, 4 wheel drive trip into the Karijini Gorge, cruise along the Murray, cruise along the Ord river, cruise through the Geikie Gorge.
  • Caring for Matilda: 2 services, 4 new tyres, 1 replaced windscreen…

We were on the road for a total of 329 days. Including all costs we spent on an average $495 per week….

Was it worth it, definately. Would I do it again, yes, yes, yes….


Categories: australian travel, Camping grounds, couch surfing, free travel accomadation, random thoughts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Melbourne couch surfing

Melbourne couch surfing, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

We had another couch surfing stay in Melbourne. Paul and Julia were very interesting people. They were living a self-sufficient life style in the middle of suburban Melbourne. It was only an average size section but every inch was planted with vegies, herbs and fruit trees. He had chooks living around a compost loo.

A new project was growing silver perch in a tank and the water was recycled from the fish tank into a vegie bed planted in clay balls. The water filtered through this bed to remove the nitrates from the fish poo, this purified it and it was then returned to the fish tank. Matilda was parked in the drive and could just fit in. Jack had to hold a very heavily laden branch of an apple tree so we could squeeze in and out. The fish tank was next to us and it was a peaceful burbling sound as the water recycled around.

Paul did not own a car and he was a passionate cyclist, Melbourne is a very bike friendly city with lots of bike ways. We only stayed 4 days but fitted so much in. The art galleries and museums, the secret lane ways, beautiful Brunswick Street, St Kildas Acland Street and the decadent cake shops ( see the photos in flicka), the Casino, and a relaxing cruise along the Yarra. Plus walking for miles just looking….

We loved Melbourne and there is still so much more to see so maybe we will be back…

Categories: couch surfing, Melbourne | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Couch surfing again…

Inverleigh , originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

After the trip along the Great Ocean Road we had been in touch with couch surfers in Geelong. January is a difficult time both to get into camp grounds and CS people often have full house or are away on their own holiday. So we had to contact a couple of different people but we were very lucky that Keith and Christine said we could stay with them. We are 20ks west of Geelong they said, but we like to stay in the smaller country towns so we were delighted to have the invite.

What an interesting place. Keith and Christine had an acre of garden. It was a rustic blend of fruit trees, vegies, herbs, roses, sunflowers and many other flowers. Of course there was a chook pen with very healthy looking hens and a rabbit run next to where we were parked. Just outside we had a strawberry picking patch and could help our selves to strawberries to have with breakfast..

Keith and Christine also had a 6 acre block just down the road and this was to be a nursery business but first a lot of work is needed to build a house and sheds and establish a garden on the property.

All the couch surfing people we have stayed with so far have been gardening people and we get our garden fix and dirt under our nails as we stay with these welcoming people.I think there is some character connection with gardeners and generous people.

We stayed 3 days here and had the unique experience of joining in with the community breakfast to celebrate Australia day.

Categories: accomadation, couch surfing, Victoria | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Inverleigh Australia day 2011. Couch surfing again…

We were staying at Inverleigh, a small town 20km west of Geelong, with a population of approx 1500, on January 26th, Australia Day. Christine and Keith, our couch surfing hosts, were among the organizers of the community breakfast to celebrate Australia day. So we were invited to go along.

This is one of the very best parts of couch surfing, you get to join in with the family and community you become part of for a few days. This is a way of really getting to know an area. Seeing the tourist areas and Australian icons is an important and interesting part of travel but meeting and talking to people is what brings Australia alive.

I went along early with Christine to help set up the hall, chop fruit etc. It is a very friendly community and we were made to feel very welcome. Approx 300 people turned up. Last year was the first time they had run this event and this year more turned up so they had to rush off at one point to get more bacon. The children enjoyed face painting and the jumping castle. When every one had finished breakfast they rounded up all the cubs and girl guides and they sang “Advance Australia Fair” and every one joined in.

It was another of those special moments that happen when you are travelling and I felt quite emotional standing there sharing it with this lovely community.

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Categories: couch surfing, slide show, travel, Victoria | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Boxing Day 2010

Adelaide couch surfing, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Boxing day was a get together of a league of nations. This is one of the great things about couch surfing, you meet so many interesting people. Marion is a very welcoming hostess and never turns requests for a couch down. So on Boxing day we had Taave, from Estonia arrive after HITCH HIKING across the Nullabor, ( he slept in his tent that he is carrying with him) Sebastian from Belgium and his girlfriend from France came to stay a few days before going out back to work on a large sheep station. They really do not know what to expect but it will be a great adventure they are looking forward to. Then Fabio, Marion Jack and me and of course Marion’s delightful little Jack Russell called Weasel that we fell in love with. Will get a better photo of him as he shook his head just as I took the photo.

So it has been a great Christmas and now the weather is starting to heat up with 46 deg day today, 30th December, and the same predicted for tomorrow the last day of the year, phew, I think we can finally put the winter clothes away…

Categories: australian travel, couch surfing, South Australia | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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