Lessons of a Pilbara Princess … continued …

I thought it’s been a while since I’ve written Lessons of a Pilbara Princess, in fact since I’ve written anything, so I thought I’d share with you all the amazing things I’ve learnt since I spoke to you last … especially now I’m becoming part of the scenery up here … can you believe it’s been 8 months??

  • Socks aren’t unisex …
  • There are no words to describe what it’s like to see someone at the supermarket wearing your clothes … even though they are technically not your clothes when said person bought them at your garage sale the day before … actually I think that’s a blog post in itself!!
  • Garage Sales are Westfield Shopping Centres up here.  No seriously, there are like 5 every weekend up here … and people turn up at 5.30am to bag a bargain before everyone else.  I really am not sure how I feel about this.  I’ll get back to you.
  • Choppers are not always helicopters.
  • When playing pool … if your opponent sinks the black ball it does not mean you’ve won … especially when they’ve already sunk all their coloured balls, and you’ve sunk none.
  • And while we’re on the subject of playing pool … it is possible to play pool for several hours and not sink a ball.
  • Drinking 4 of every flavour vodka cruisers in one session does not make you cool and does not give you the right to sing Rainbow Connection at the top of your lungs.  It gives you a blue tongue and makes you stupid.
  • 9 months is “shorter than a pregnancy” … Mr W when I said that there is less than 9 months until we get married.
  • If you ever find your favourite earrings are missing, check your partner’s fishing tackle box … earrings make great fishing lures … according to Mr W.
  • Safety glasses are acceptable optical attire up here … and in fact will make you fit in way more than Dolce & Gabanna ever will.  Just check me out in my new yellow tint Eyres … Paris, Milan … Pilbara.  And you can buy them from the hardware store … nuff said really.
  • Make sure when you fly you don’t stop in at the pub on the way to the airport … it may result in you arriving at the airport less than 30 minutes prior to your flight (28 to be exact), which will then result in you not being able to check in your luggage and have to have it couriered back the next day.  And … you know that “express” means nothing up here!
  • Getting up early is the new flannel shirt.  Going to bed at 8pm is just plain wrong.
  • 15 vodka cruisers in one sitting is just absurd.
  • If you’re thinking that I have a new found obsession with Vodka Cruisers, then you would be correct.  But before you judge me, ask yourself what is worse … not having any friends because you smell like Bundy, drinking cask wine (which is only available on Mondays and Tuesdays) or drinking Vodka Cruisers (which I may add are available seven days a week!!!)*

pp xx

*Since writing this, it has come to my attention that Cask Wine is in fact available seven days a week now.  Score.

Gibb River Hilton – Part 6 “Digital Detox … well my version of it”

Everyone is mad keen for a “digital detox” these days.  Not me … well not voluntarily anyway.  Part of Mr W. & my big adventure was an enforced digital detox on my behalf.  And let me tell you, there was not soft landing, it was straight out cold turkey.  Now you may think that this sounds easy, but remember not only am I a mad keen blogger, I also run an online jewellery business and my iphone is normally surgically attached to my body …

I mean, you’re talking to a girl, that on the 2nd June was sitting at an outback caravan park as opposed to where I would normally be … SATC2 premiere with a glass of Moet in my hand.  How life changes hey.

My first part of the detox happened straight up … 4 days at 80 Mile Beach where there is not so much as a hint of phone reception or internet access.  In fact they haven’t had any since Cyclone Lawrence ripped through last year.  I was completely cut off.  Although I did find a place to plug my laptop in so that I can write my blogs … thank goodness.  I walked up to the little “mini mart” at the caravan park and used their power.   And this actually worked out fabulous as I had a chance to talk to all the Grey Nomads … about sex and other things lol … (I’m sure you would have read my “Post Cards from 80 Mile Beach” …)

Now going cold turkey was bloody hard … ask Mr W. … he had to put up with my mood swings, sweating and shaking.  God bless his cotton socks he was still talking to me after 4 days of this … just.  Although let me tell you, he couldn’t get me to Broome quick enough.  In fact, at this point, I had decided that this whole trip was just a cruel ploy to make me detox from my entire life.  Everything I loved was gone … mobile phone, internet, music, chocolate, wine in a bottle, my mum, my hair straightners, hot showers, toilets, my hair dryer, sex … you name it, it’s wasn’t there …

And so, you can imagine that by the time I got to Broome, I was sweating at the thought of being so close to being able to plug in.  We ended up at the Roey Hotel … everyone else was out the back enjoying a beer in sun … I was at the bar, my laptop plugged in to the nearest power point uploading my latest blog and trying to upload photos to Facebook.  Yes, yes, I know it’s sad … but come on, you love my blogs don’t you?  I had a 2 hour window to post all the blogs I’d written, check 1000 emails, maintain my website and play on FB … it was a close call.

We then went to Derby, where I had it all for 2 days.  Oh how I remember those 2 glorious days.  And then … it was time for the Gibb River Road … no phone, no internet, no power.  How would I cope??  I think Mr W. just wanted to leave me in Derby with the Boab Trees and a power point.  But I was determined …

And you know what, it was actually quite refreshing (yes, I know you think I’ve been drinking that cask wine again … well only a few glasses, it’s only 11am after all).  It really was nice not to have to worry about my phone ringing or FB beeping … well for a week anyway.  For that week I swapped annoying mobile phones for a million stars in the sky, camp fires, amazing sunsets and adventures from your wildest dreams.  And I hope Mr W. is reading this, because he probably thinks that I just whinge all the time … but really I did enjoy it.  Well, almost all of it 😉

Even though I had no internet ... I still managed to do some blogging at Windjana Gorge, even though I couldn't post it ... this was the first day on the GRR ...

And so now that I’ve returned to what we call civilisation I think that I might make a few changes, after living without all these mod cons for a few weeks.  I’m not saying that I’m throwing away my Iphone … but I might only check my emails a few times a day, rather than be on it all day.  Well, I’ll try, obviously I can’t promise anything … I am a mad keen blogger after all!!!

pp xx

Gibb River Hilton – Part 5 “60km of Hell”

Have you ever wondered what hell would be like?  Well, I’ll give you my version … driving 60km along a heavily corrugated gravel road … one that has not been graded for a very very long time.  A road that you should not attempt to drive on without wearing your best sports bra, unless you want black eyes … unfortunately for me I was not wearing the best bra money can buy on this particular day … although it did provide much entertainment for Mr W.

And I know that before I left everyone told me to watch out for the corrugations because last time they went camping they came home pregnant.  Ha ha to be honest, I didn’t really get it … and then after a few kilometres of corrugations I started to understand, although the corrugations on Kalumburu Road certainly did nothing for my desire to bare children lol.

And to make things even more fun, about half way along the road to Drysdale River Station (DRS), which is about 60km off the Gibb River Road, Mr W. turned to me and said, “baby, we’ve got no brakes”.  Certainly not the words you want to hear when you’re travelling 80km per hour on a gravel road with a camper trailer behind you.  I laughed nervously and replied “whatever” … to which Mr W. demonstrated the fact that we really didn’t have any brakes  by pumping the pedal furiously without even slowing down.  Oh yay I thought, I’m going to die on the Gibb River Road wearing a really bad bra.  Not how I saw my life ending.

A few kilometres down the track the brakes returned, however this little issue remained with us all the way to DRS.  Apparently the corrugations put air bubbles into the brake fluid, or something.  I wasn’t really listening, I was more concerned that the corrugations might have burst a can of rum or worse … popped the silver bag holding my cask wine (yes you read right, I’ve become quite a fan … for safety reasons obviously).

And so, we arrived at DRS and Mr. W. gave me the task of going to book in for a couple of nights.  I had never done this, so I jumped out of the car and walked straight into the booking office/store.  Here I was greeted by a lady, obviously the owner, or at least someone who had been living on the station for an awful long time.  Well, she took one look at me and decided that I was definitely in the wrong place.   Mr W. had come in by this stage and was trying hard not to giggle at the lady’s complete lack of desire to converse with me.  In fact, even though I asked her the questions, she turned to Mr W. and spoke to him, as if I did not understand her.  She told Mr W. that there were no more powered sites, to which I proclaimed “but how am I going to charge up my laptop?”.  Apparently I wasn’t helping myself!  Turns out I found a place to get some power though!!

Mr W. informed me later that she picked me as “princess” a mile off.  I looked at him, dumbfounded that even without my nails, my “princess” status was so obvious.  “But honey”, I said, “I’m wearing an Akubra, surely that disguises any princess tendencies”.  This made Mr W. laugh even harder.  He told me that actually, this made me look even more like a princess.   A concept which I pondered with several glasses of cask wine …

Do you think I look like a princess? 😉 lol

I did however find it hilarious that there is a full mechanics workshop at DRS … full of cars that didn’t make it across 60km of hell.  Actually if you sit there long enough you can watch them all come in, one after the other being towed behind a grader.  I decided that this is why they don’t grade the road, they make more money out of fixing everyone’s cars!!  I’ve taken a few photos of life on the station … even though it is quite touristy now, it’s still has the bones of a station … there’s even still some hot ringers floating around (well … not as hot as Mr W. of course 😉

This is the coin phone at the station ... no internet or mobile reception here!!!

Mechanics Workshop

pp xx

Gibb River Hilton – Part 2 “It’s a Steep Decline into Cask Wine”

Well … we’re on the road … and by we I mean, Mr W., me and 3 other chicks.  Yes, that’s right.  Mr W. is camping with 4 women (he will have 7 women by the time we get to Derby!).  A lucky man you may say … and you know I think that at the time he thought so too.  However now he’s actually on the road, I think perhaps his perception has changed.  Now you may ask how a good looking rooster like Mr W. ended up at Eighty Mile Beach with his gorgeous princess and 3 other lovely ladies, but that my friends is a whole other story … which I might leave for another day.

So Mr W. and I left on Tuesday and headed to Port Hedland.  We shared the disappointment at how the cheeseburgers really didn’t taste as good as we remember.  And Mr W. held me as I cried when they removed my acrylic nails.  Yes folks, you heard it here first.  It was decided that acrylic nails and camping were not a great combination … and so a lovely lady in Port Hedland removed them for me.  After not feeling my finger tips for well over 2 years, you can imagine the shock.

After a night in Port Hedland, we have ended up at Eighty Mile Beach.  A beautiful caravan park (before Cyclone Lawrence got hold of it).  It’s no longer a green oasis on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert … although the beach is still spectacular!

Now, after about 3 days of camping I really have learned a lot.  And like any good princess, I feel that it’s my duty to share these lessons with you, so that they may help you on your way, especially if you ever find yourself out here …

  • Don’t eat copious amounts of chilli prior to undertaking a four hour drive.  If you would like further details on this, please feel free to contact Mr W.  He will be only too happy to share his experiences.  It’s quite funny to see him charging through the bush like a bull that’s just seen a red rag, roll of toilet paper in his hand, holding his belly and thinking the world is about to end.
  • Spinifex hurt.  No seriously, they are very painful … especially when you are traipsing across the country side in thongs and get them stuck in your feet.  Note to self … while sneakers may not be the height of fashion, they will prevent serious injury.
  • Racehorse goannas bite!  They may look cute from a distance … but they aren’t much fun close up …especially when you see the size of their claws!
  • When travelling cask wine is a much safer option than bottles (and remember, this side of the Tropic of Capricorn, it’s all about safety).  However, it should also be noted that sometimes, you can’t buy more than 2 casks at a time (which is bad when you are heading bush for 4 days) and often, these casks can’t be purchased prior to 2pm.  Again, remember that you often end up drinking way before breakfast up here.  And even flashing certain parts of your body will not change the Bottle Shop Attendant’s mind, just in case you were wondering.
  • Leaving casks of red wine in the sun makes port.  Port made in this manner is not pleasant.
  • When camping you need to multitask.  You can use the power points in the caravan park ablution blocks to charge your laptop and camera while you shave your legs.  It’s just good time management really.  Well that and generators are not allowed in the caravan park … no matter how much you argue with the ranger.
  • Bourbon and coke is a very acceptable alternative to coffee upon waking while camping.  In fact watching the sunrise with a bourbon is something you really should put on your bucket list.
  • If you don’t have shot glasses, just have “Bush Jagers” … a swig of Jager straight from the bottle, followed by a swig of red bull … shake your head side to side to mix them together and then swallow.  Continue until there is no red bull left.  This is great fun at 10am in the morning … really sets you up for the rest of the day.
  • Camping is not romantic.  You don’t make love under the stars and snuggle up together in a sleeping bag.  You don’t sip wine and watch the sun go down, holding hands.  And you certainly don’t stay up all night getting to know each other better.  No girls, it’s really not what you thought.  Although … I’m sure that Mr W. has some romantic things planned for later in the trip … don’t you darling?
  • When the “tide guide” says high tide at 2.30am …. you can’t go fishing at 2.30am and expect to catch anything.  You need to be there approximately 3 hours before high tide.  However waking up at 2.30am for a failed fishing expedition is a great excuse to stay up drinking for the rest of the night.  There is nothing like greeting your princess in the morning with bourbon breath.
  • Ooooh and back to the cheeseburgers that weren’t as great as we remembered … well turns out that if you have leftovers, wrap them in alfoil and put them in the campfire the next morning … they actually don’t make a bad breakfast!

My stash of cask wine ... OMG!!

That's the Gibb River Hilton on the right ...

Racehorse Goanna

Amazing 80 Mile Beach Sunset

Tomorrow we are heading to Broome and then to Derby … and then the real fun begins.  After that point there are no more showers or swimming for that matter, unless you want to be eaten by a crocodile.  And so you can imagine I am just about bursting out of my crusty salty skin to get to that bit.

Until next time … keep the bourbon cold and the casks out of the sun.

pp xx

ps … I’ll be out of internet range again for about 3 days, so my next post will probably when we get to Derby on Monday or Tuesday … and lots more photos … I’m sitting in a pub with my laptop plugged in at the bar in order to post this!!   pp xx

The Gibb River Hilton … Part 1 “In The Beginning”

On Monday, Mr W. and I will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime … an adventure which has inspired me to write my first series.  Actually, perhaps we should call it an epic, it might be more fitting.  Four weeks camping in the outback is certainly more than just an adventure …

And so before we set off I thought I’d fill you in on all the details …

Gorgeous Mr W. has provided his princess the most luxurious of camper trailers to rest my pretty head in.  I’ve named it the “Gibb River Hilton”.  Seriously, both Paris and Nicole would be proud of this one!  Being the big strong man he is, Mr W. has fitted out the “Gibb River Hilton” with all the essentials … a gourmet kitchen (seriously, wait until you see photos … which I will post at our first stop … you see, he’s so organised he’s already packed it away and I’m not allowed to open it until we get there!!), a queen size mattress (for all the snuggling we are going to be doing … not!), a tub for bathing (um excuse me?  a tub?  Do I look like I bathe in a tub??), plenty of toilet rolls (I actually asked Mr W. what all of these were for, I mean, don’t most camping grounds have ablution facilities.  He just giggled and walked away.  Apparently trees will be my friend) … we’ve even got a kitchen sink, I kid you not!

I’ve also added my own essentials (and some of these will be news to Mr W.).  I’ve traded in my beautiful designer handbag for a backpack, yes you heard it here first.  This backpack contains a now not so secret stash of chocolate*, disposable toothbrushes, make up wipes and perfume, battery operated hair straightners … hey you never know who you’ll meet in the outback … perhaps Hugh Jackman will be re-visiting the set of Australia?  And of course, there will be all those romantic nights with Mr W. under the stars … just me and him, spending quality time together.  There certainly won’t be any repeats of last Tuesday night, that’s for sure (although I’ve hidden the panadol deep in my backpack, just in case).  I’ve also stashed a carton of my most favourite red wine in the 4 x 4.  I can see it now, gorgeous sunsets at Cape Leveque, red red wine.  Yes I know, I’m dreaming again aren’t I.  I’ll be too busy trying to find suitable trees to be admiring the sunset!!

I’ve been advised that stilettos will have no place on this trip, however that I will need a pair of “good” shoes, should we head to the pub whilst staying in little towns along the way.  Now, my argument is that stilettos are “good” shoes, in more ways than one, and therefore should be allocated cargo space.  Mr W. and my definition of “good” shoes obviously differ.  He suggested I bring a pair of Dunlop volley type shoes that I had purchased as part of a fancy dress outfit.  You can imagine the look of horror on my face.  Well, after weeks of debate, and anxiety on my part, we have come to a compromise (a word Mr W. has quickly learnt the meaning of lately) … my “good” shoes will be a pair of low heeled black Zu cowboy boots.  However, it has been stipulated that they remain under my jeans.  My skinny jeans have also been denied cargo space on this trip … but I managed to sneak chocolate in, so leave that with me.

I’ve even put the word out to see if anyone knows of a manicurist in Kununurra … cos my poor old acrylics will need refilling by the time we get there.  They really aren’t red dirt resilient.

It’s going to be one epic tale … so make sure you subscribe to the Pilbara Princess so you don’t miss any of our adventures.  We are going to doing things like chopper flights, visiting the Wolf Creek Crater and staying at Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek.  Not to mention all the stories that Mr W. will provide me with.  Don’t miss it!!

*after reading this blog post … Mr W. ate my “not so secret stash of chocolate” … guess I’m off to Woolies again tomorrow.

Life Lessons of a Pilbara Princess

Well … I’ve been here nearly 3 weeks and in this short time I have learned so many lessons … many of which I will carry with me forever.  I thought I would share some of them with you … just in case you ever find yourself a bit north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

  • Apparently once you get a manual into 5th gear it is NOT like driving an automatic.
  • And while we are on the topic of gears and clutches (and no not the evening bag kind) … driving bare foot is much easier than in stilettos … or even thongs for that matter).
  • Always make sure you have alcohol in the house for any ocassion which may arise.  The fact that you cannot buy wine prior to 12pm may be hinderous to pre-lunch drinking sessions otherwise.  Just something I’ve learned.
  • Wine Time comes earlier when you live North of the Tropic of Capricorn … no seriously it does.  Something to do with the sun?
  • When your partner is on night shift and has only been asleep for 45 minutes … don’t burn your toast, thus setting off the smoke alarm and waking them up … they really don’t appreciate it.  However if you’re bored while waiting for them to wake up around 2pm, then the smoke alarm thing is always an option.
  • If someone tells you not to touch the settings on the washing machine, DON’T TOUCH THEM.  A flooded house will usually be the result and you will then have to spend an hour soaking up the water with towels when you realise the drains are blocked.
  • If you’re really unsure of the car you’re driving (mainly because it is a dirty great big four wheel drive with gears) and you’re worried you might kill someone upon entering the local Woolies carpark, then it’s best you park at least 1 km away at, say a local visitors centre, and walk into town.  This will avoid any minor, or major mishaps.  Although at some point you are going to have to go into that carpark … the weekly shopping will not carry itself that far.
  • Getting “dressed up” may have different translations depending on how far North you live.  Wearing jewellery to Woolies is definitely not essential … and stilettos are forbidden.
  • The wearing of stilettos to job interviews is also a bone of conention up here … if in doubt carry your thongs in a bag and swap them whilst in a quiet isle in the supermarket.  Just don’t get caught.
  • Sometimes the local supermarket runs out of meat, sometimes they run out of vegetables … and sometimes they run out of both.  It certainly makes for creative cooking.

Well … I hope these help you if you’re ever up this way …

pp xx