Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Some of the vans at the rally, can you spot our Jayco?

The New Years Meal, can you spot Sylvia?

Working on our van, can you spot the worker?

The water front at Mandurah

Canal Houses with Christmas lights 1

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Sylvia. New Year Rally at Mandurah

It took a lot longer to pack up the van this morning as Jeff spent more time talking to the other campers. In the end I went to say good bye to Ken and Dot and hand the key in for the site. We were sorry to be moving on as we had found a really nice site that was well cared for and had made friends with the other travellers. But we had to go as we were due to join the Western Rovers at Mandurah. I eventually got Jeff moving when I said we were so late leaving we were being charged for a second night.

We had been told the road we would be travelling was very picturesque. We drove through the Darling Range which is an unbroken line of wooded escarpment and Lake Poole Conservation Park before coming to a farm shop, where we called in and stocked up with lots of nice fresh fruit and vegetables. The next town was called Pinjarra and from there to Mandurah we were on a dual carriageway with lots of traffic. It looked like most of Australia was heading for Mandurah.

The only directions we had for the rally was Mandurah Primary School on Hackett Street. I was so busy looking at all the street signs that I was not watching what the driver was doing. Jeff had gone out into the second lane thinking he was passing parked cars when he realised too late it was queuing traffic. We now had to turn right at the end of the street. We discovered this wasn't as bad as we had first thought as it was also the way to the Tourist Information Centre where we could get better directions.

We drove along the main street which had shops and café's on one side and on the other a nice grassy area leading down to the water front. Lots of families were enjoying the day picnicking and playing games on the grass. We found the tourist office and pulled in. I was just about to get out of the van when I noticed the sign on the road opposite. It was where we wanted to be. How did we manage that? We soon found the rally and on entering the field we were met by Glo who welcomed us. After parking the van we went to meet the other members. For this rally there were 34 vans spread around the field.

We joined the group for 'Happy Hour' and learned that tomorrow morning there was a match of 'disc bowls' and our names were put in a hat with a possibility of being drawn out to play in a team.

Sunday morning, New Years Eve, dawned nice and bright and Jeff and I discovered we had been selected to play in the competition. There were two competitions, the ladies and the men's with the winners to compete in the final. My team got knocked out in the ladies final and Jeff's team won the whole competition; I have not heard the end of it since.

After lunch we walked down to the town, (about 10 minutes from where we were parked), bought a lovely ice cream from the local shop and booked a Christmas Lights Boat Trip. I wondered about also booking the Ladies Trip which is to run at the beginning of February where we will be taught 'sultry hot moves for pole dancing' to entertain your man on Valentines Day. The only thing that stopped me was I couldn't think where I would put a pole in the motor home.

Mandurah is about one hours drive from Perth and had vast areas of sheltered water along the Murray and Serpentine Rivers, and the Peel Inlet. It has 40 kilometres of beaches. Many of the rich and famous own houses along the man made canals and on looking in the Estate Office windows we realised that if we wished to purchase a house on the canal we would need to acquire more than 1 million dollars. Well, we bought a lottery ticket for the night as the top prize was 30,000,000 dollars and we are still in the van.

We walked along the front where they were preparing for the evenings festivities and lots of people were already picking their spots ready for the fireworks. We returned to the rally where we had a communal tea; everyone brought their tables together. After tea some of the group walked down to watch the fireworks. We stayed and got a good view when they went off at 9pm, (they have two lots of fireworks, 9pm for the children and the second at midnight). After the fireworks Jeff and I wandered down to the front to join in the festivities.

All the café's and restaurants were open and busy. There was a number of inflatable rides, e.g.; a bucking bronco, surfboard, that were all free and a pop group placing on a stage with a small dance floor in front of them. We couldn't help thinking as we walked along in T shirts and shorts as to how muffled up people would be at the Edinburgh Street party. We heard later that the festivities in Scotland were cancelled due to the storms, England was washed out and Minneapolis had about 8 inches of snow. It was interesting strolling along watching the Australian party but I did feel old as there was more 'teeny boppers' than 'baby boomers'. We returned to the rally and brought New Year in with our new friends whilst watching the fireworks.

Next morning we woke to find that due to our gas problems the fridge was not working and all the meat in the freezer was defrosted. Jeff set too with the barbecue cooking the 13 large slices of bacon, 12 sausages and 6 chicken breasts whilst I walked around the site trying to give it away with some success. It wasn't long before people rallied to our help.

One gentleman loaned us a generator so we could get the fridge working and Derek, who had been a gas fitter came across to see what he could do. He took the regulator out and stripped it down, cleaned it, put it back together and re-fitted it; and it worked perfectly. Saying it like that sounds a quick job but it took most of the morning. We could not thank him enough. At one point I thought the bill was going to be out of our reach as there was Derek working hard and 8 advisors, and we all know advisors don't come cheap. However Derek would not take any payment but asked instead for a donation to club funds.

At Happy Hour, Squeaker, Jeff's monkey puppet made his appearance and was quite a hit. Many people wanted to take his picture and even I had to have a picture taken with Squeaker. My comments were, "They won't be able to tell the difference".

After tea, (cold sausage and bacon), we set off for the cruise. Another two couples from the rally had also booked and saved us seats. The cruise went up and down the canals passing all of the houses that had decorated up for Christmas. They hold a competition for the best decorated house and the best decorated canal. Some of the houses had really gone to town with their lights. One man had even put lights around his four poster bed. Along with viewing the lights we got a chance to see some stunning houses, both the outside and the inside as they don't draw their curtains. Well, if you had a house costing 1 million dollars which looked like something from Homes and Gardens would you draw your curtains.

I would as my house wouldn't be tidy enough for people to look in. Most houses had a boat tied up at the front and these also varied in size from a small dingy to one we were told cost £4,000,000 and had a full time crew. How the other half live. When we arrived back at the pier we were pleased to find that Simmo's Delicious Dilemma's Ice Cream Shop was still open so we all dived in. Why is it called Delicious Dilemma's? there are so many lovely flavours to choose from that it takes you a while to make your choice.

Tuesday morning saw us all packing up and departing. We were invited to two more rallies. The Southwest Wanderers at the beginning of February in Biningup, which is about 1 hour drive south of Mandurah, and the Western rovers 10th Birthday rally at Sea Bird, about 1 hour north of Perth. To attend these rallies would mean altering our itinerary, which we decided to do. This proved to be a fortunate decision as on Tuesday night the coast area was battered by severe storms and heavy rain. By going inland we had missed it.

We left the rally having made more friends and I'm sure the Western Rovers will remember their New Year guests for some time to come.



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