First Rain

So far it hasn’t rained in 6 weeks of travel.

Today broke that drought and at 5.30 this morning large sploshy drops of

rain started to land on the camper. These turned into frequent large sploshy

droplets and now we have rain.

Immediately the joys of camping evaporate as we are confined to a very small

space with two small children and Sunday morning cartoons for company. Seems

like a good time to update the blog…

Danelle is off washing the sheets and towels, but we may need to head to the

Laundromat to get it all dry. Days like these present a much stronger case

for having bought a caravan rather than an overgrown tent.

We will need to hang here in Kununurra until the canvas is sufficiently dry

to be able to pack it up, but it has made us wonder what it will be like in

Winter on the East Coast.

While a caravan wouldn’t be all that pleasant either in terms of space on a

rainy day, it would at least be much more rain-proof.

Is it time for a ‘mid-course’ correction?…


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Our first impressions of Kununurra were that it is a very beautiful place

indeed. The high ranges that flank the town make it quite spectacular and

the lush green gives it a great feel.

We have been vegging quite a bit since coming here and apart from doing a

drive around to the local spots of interest our only other venture was out

to Emma Gorge in El Questro for the day.

We debated long and hard whether to give the camper another flogging down a

dirt road and in the end decided to go the ‘day trip’ route. We heard mixed

reports on the Gibb River Rd into El Questro and in the end just had to make

a decision. One man’s ‘roughly corrugated and nasty’ is another man’s ‘no

problem at all’ so road reports are not that reliable!

The town of Kununurra seems well set out and has a good vibe, but I guess

you’d need to live here for a while to really know what its like. Danelle

went for a walk early one morning and saw the ‘cleaner’ out getting rid of

all the beer cans and crap from the previous evening so maybe the veneer of

respectability and attractiveness is only a daytime experience.

It seems the north west towns have really taken the tourism thing very

seriously and have been on a major clean up. I expected Halls Creek and

Fitzroy to both be somewhat ‘third world’ in their appearance, but the main

areas present much nicer than that.

I’m sure there are still ugly parts to these towns and I’m sure they have

their ongoing social issues, but if you didn’t know better a simple ‘drive

thru’ would see them present very well.

I wonder is that a good thing or a bad thing?…

The weather here has been humid – not my favourite – and with no breeze at

all it has been a pretty steamy few days. We are staying in the Ivanhoe

Caravan Park which is right up there as one of the best parks I have come


The vibe here is very friendly for the most part and we have some

interesting neighbours. The young couple just up from us have started

picking watermelons for work. They leave at 5am and get home at 4pm and they

have signed up to do it 7 days a week. Neither of them have looked too

lively in the last few days. At $18 / hr you’d have to be desperate for cash

I reckon. The guy across the road is one of those friendly but awkward

people who talks very loud and doesn’t quite know when a conversation is

over – or when someone needs to be left alone. A little strange, but well

meaning – possibly a Christian. Then there are the people on the other side

who pretend they are living here alone and say hello to no-one. I want to

jump into his path as he walks along and say ‘boo’, or something equally

silly, but maybe he’s just shy… or rude… Then there’s an older couple

two vans up who live in Butler just a few streets away from us.

At this stage we plan to move on tomorrow, and head into the NT but that

will depend on canvas being dry.

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More Random Camping Reflections

Some days kids can be complete little turds. This was one of them. Of course parents can be big turds too… but they can get away with it easier… That’s all I have to say about that.

‘Take it In’ by The Waifs has been a song we have listened to as we travel. It has that great message of enjoying every moment and we have been trying to do this as best we can. It kicks off with these words – that mean so much more now… (and yes – it was hard for me to admit to listening to The Waifs 🙂

now she’s thinking of the red soil and those mango trees

well in her mind she’s still splashing round down on cable beach

and her eyes are as rich and as far away

as the sunset there

but she’s not taking in a word i say

so i might as well be talking to my self

take it in, take it all in

now is the time that will not come again

take it in take it all in

this is the day and its here for the living

I have begun planning the next trip – checking out other vans – working out which 4WD would be the best etc. The BTB is a great car but at 25l/100km it is an embarrassment! The Jayco Camper is pretty cool, but perhaps next time bunks for the kids and a bathroom on board would be better. It would have been better this time too, but we made a compromise on the bigger van in the quest for better fuel economy… Oh well… diesel next time I think…

We took the camper off-road for the first time to Palm Springs and gave it a fair old rattle. A few things came apart and a bit of repair & cleaning work is required. I did some of it today and Danelle did the cleaning. We were headed into El Questro, but given the beating we gave the Jayco this week we thought we should let it recover and attend to what needs doing before giving it more grief.

I continue to imagine ways of never coming home, but just keeping on rolling… I’m sure it is doable and I’m even sure it would be a hell of an adventure! I am pretty confident that if we decided to, we could keep alive for several years in our current mode with occasional work. Of course that is the purely selfish side of me speaking and doesn’t pay any attention to what God may have in store for us. It also doesn’t consider two kids who regularly get homesick.

Our camping skills are improving. Pack up and set up are proving to be quite simple things to do now and the time it takes for us to do them has halved at least. For an overnight stop we can get set up in 10 or 15 minutes with no trouble and for a few days – where we unpack the car and put the annexe up it takes us about an hour or so depending on how fast we choose to go. Its nice to be able to do this a bit more efficiently.

I have loved seeing the changing landscape as we have moved north up the state. I honestly couldn’t say which part I have found most attractive, but having arrived in Kununurra today, I have to say this part of the Kimberley is right up there. I didn’t expect such a lush and ‘mountainous’ area nor for it to be so beautiful, but if it weren’t for the weather in wet season I don’t think I’d want to leave this part of the world.

Having said that I haven’t had that ‘I could live here’ feeling yet that I have had a few times in the south west of WA. That’s always a good thing, because I doubt it would happen in the near future anyway.

Palm Springs

The backside of nowhere really can be a beautiful place…

For the last few days we were camped at Palm Springs, an inland water hole/billabong 45 km east of Halls Creek and a little piece of paradise.

We heard about it thru Greg and Danielle and decided we should stop and have a look. They didn’t take their camper in which made us a little cautious, but operating on the premise that careful people are regularly disappointed we decided to take it down the 45km track and spend a couple of nights out there.

About 10kms in we were wondering if we’d made the right choice as we were making it rattle and shake and wondering just what it would be like when we arrived. The casualties were the fridge exhaust and vents which completely fell off – some are still lying somewhere on the road – and a fair old smattering of bulldust over everything.

But the price we paid was well worth the journey in. With only 1 or 2 other campers out there as well as an aboriginal family we really had a very special time.

I found the place particularly beautiful – which is a big statement when you have seen a lot of different spots. It was lush green and the water was cool and refreshing. It was cool at night, warm during the day and a great place for adults and kids to hang out.

In many ways those few days typified what we had hoped our trip would be like. Free camping in a sensational spot, away from the crowds and yet with a few other people to share the campfire.

If you’re up that way then I reckon its well worth the hour’s drive to get there and enjoy it, but don’t just go for the afternoon… camp out and make the most of it. free bullitt

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The Visitor


The visitor staggered into our camp at Palm Springs, a beautiful oasis around 40kms out of Halls Creek. It was a little after dark and just as we were sitting down to dinner. He approached thru the scrub shining a tiny led torch and yelling “Where’s the cold water! Somebody tell me! Where’s the water?”

He collapsed on the ground by our table exhausted and maybe even a little delirious.

“I’ve been yelling for the last 30 minutes. Did no one here hear me?”

We shook our heads, still wondering what was going on. “The water’s up that way” I said pointing to the waterhole.

“No I need a drink. I’ve been walking all day.”

We were still a little stunned and wondering just who this was and what was going on. I went inside to get him a glass of water from the fridge. When I returned he began to talk.

“I’ve been walking since 10.00 this morning. I reckon I’ve done 40 ks. I’ve got 40 to go before I get back to town but I need a drink.”

“What happened that you’re walking?” I asked, still trying to make sense of it all.

“I was out camping with some mates and when I woke up this morning they had taken off and left me there.”

“Really?… 80ks from town?…Why?…”

“Dunno, but I’ve been walking all day. I dropped my stuff after about 15ks and I’ve been carrying this water with me, but its hot and I need something cold.” He was distressed, but it seemed a tall story.

As he talked we found ourselves wondering, what do you do in this type of situation?…

He was intent on walking back into town, but he was also clearly exhausted. We had no idea who he was or if his story was accurate and we didn’t ask to be part of his life. But he had landed on our lap and now we were involved. Occasionally you hear stories of weird stuff happening in the bush to people who help others so we were a bit wary. We had an 8 & 6 year old to think of, who were watching this all take place.

We offered him some food, but he wouldn’t take any. He reckoned he couldn’t eat – would throw it back up. We tried several times, but he wouldn’t touch a thing. I would have been ravenous. He lit up a smoke and began to relax a little sitting on the ground and looking like a man who had just been given a reprieve.

We talked and he told us some of his story. He used to live in Perth and worked operating sideshows at the Royal Show and Community fairs. He had come to Hall’s Creek for a ‘change of pace’, but had recently been sacked and was unemployed. He had moved out of the place he was living and was now with mates.

He is 39.

He began to tell us more of his life, of being fostered out at 4, of being abused for 8 years by his foster parents, but of the case being dismissed when he went to court because he couldn’t cite dates and places the events occurred.

He is a chronic insomniac who can’t sleep because of the nightmares he still has as a result of that past. His life seemed to meander from one messy situation to the next. It was a tragic tale.

We wondered what he had done to make his mates abandon him? We wondered why he was in Halls Creek… There are plenty of people in these kinds of towns for a very good reason… so no one can find them.

I found myself asking ‘God what is he doing here?… Tonight?… And what do we do?…’

In trying to figure out a way forward we told him he was welcome to stay the night and we’d give him some sleeping gear and then we’d take him into town in the morning when we were due to move on. He didn’t argue about that.

A little later after talking with Danelle, I offered to take him into town. It was an hour in and an hour back, but I figured he might want to get home and into a real bed. To be fair, I also wanted to cover my bases on the off chance he was a crazy. If I took him home then it would get him away from Danelle and the kids.

He seemed to be the real deal, but you can’t help but be a tad cautious.

He wouldn’t let me take him in. He knew how far it was and didn’t want to trouble me. So we settled in for the night. He seemed glad of the company and the knowledge he would get a ride home in the morning. We sat around the campfire and talked. We listened to his life story. He slept in my favourite camping chair – at least he did until it ripped and he ended up on the ground…

In the morning I found him lying on the rocks in front of my car with a towel around his head. I guess he figured that if he laid in front of the car then no one could take off without him… He refused breakfast, helped us pack up and we drove quietly back into town. As we neared the town centre he said ‘Just drop me here. I’ll be ok”. He had asked the same previously. We wondered if he actually had a place to live…

So we dropped him off and said farewell. I doubt we’ll ever see him again.

Some days we forget just how good our lives are – how free from abuse and the evil that others have experienced. The visitor was a reminder that for some, life its not that way at all and maybe they sometimes just need an ear to listen to their story.  download fury online

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Quick Update

Just a quick note for those who may wonder where we are and where we have been…

– stopped one night at Fitzroy Crossing – checked out Geiki Gorge – not the most exciting one we had seen and went to Danelle’s grandparent’s gravesites – missionaries up that way for 47 years – stayed at Fitzroy Lodge – a really nice caravan park

– headed to Halls Creek – new drinking regs came in this week – light beer only to be taken away – will be interesting to see the impact – fueled up and on advice of Greg headed to Palm Springs – 45 km down a dirt track with camper in tow – got there ok but a litle dusty – spent two nights at this beautiful place – will write more on that later

– had a bloke lob in on the camp last night – his mates abandoned him and he had been walking all day – 40kms and was about to lose it – he stayed with us and we drove him back into town – a sad tale in many ways…

– now back in Halls Creek – Fatboy at the hosp getting some antibiotics to stop him coughing and me doing a quick check online before we head to El Questro for another couple of nights.

– we have just had a sensational couple of days and are loving it up here.

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Unleashing the Inner Grommet

I headed down town today to get a new fin for my surfboard. A bottom turn in shallow water saw the old one snap off.

No one had a fin, but I went to the op shop to check out their selection of second hand books. As I was standing there I noticed a soft core surfboard – the kind people learn on – for sale for $100 ono…

I love the letters ‘ono…

I also love a good bargain…

So I began chatting with the shop assistant. (step 1 in haggling is get the person to like you!) then I asked what she would be ‘willing to take for it?’ I wasn’t prepared to spend any more than $50 but I thought it a bit rude to say that straight up…

‘how does $80 sound’ she asked.

I smiled politely and said ‘look thanks, but I’m just looking to buy it for my kids and $50 was all I wanted to pay’

She smiled back ‘$50 will be fine’


So we all headed down to Cable Beach this afternoon where there were actually waves. The swell had come up yesterday to around waist high and there was a decent sandbank producing a nice little wave alongside the rocks.

We got the kids up and surfing on the op shop board and I scored a few nice righthanders off the point.

It wasn’t epic, but warm water and no crowds are always nice.

Off to croc country now.

The surfboards will be stored until we get to the Sunny Coast

We all got a few waves and it was a

Thought for the Day

‘Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pigs like it’

Much as it goes against this quote that I generally try to live by I’ve been doing a bit of pig wrestling lately and am feeling a bit grubby.

Waddya do hey?

If only life were simple…

Still I think it’s a great quote!

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‘Enough’ by Will Samson

There are few books that are able to blend depth of thought and substance of content and yet still be readable and accessible. ‘ ’ by Will Samson scores highly on all counts and even looks like passing the ‘Danelle test’. (Any book Danelle reads is worth noting as it means it is one I can pass on to others who get less of a kick out of reading than I do). At just 160 pages it is definitely short enough to read yet potent enough to really ignite some great conversations and ultimately – hopefully – new ways of living the gospel in this time.

I must admit that from afar another book on the challenges of our consumeristic western culture left me a little uninspired. I have read plenty on this subject both secular and Christian, and challenging the self indulgent way of life has been a key pillar of our Upstream values. So I began a little weary of the topic, and while some of Will’s critique / analysis of the situation is familiar, some of his biblical reflections and practical thoughts as to ways forward were refreshing and energizing.

Some aspects that stood out to me were:

Each chapter begins with a clever rendering of the Rich Young Ruler story and Will shines some light on the things we tend to think are important – even if we say we don’t… sneaky…

Will reflects on his own conservative upbringing regularly and the reductionistic gospel that was so much a a part of that. (Ie Jesus died for your sins so that you can go to heaven) and he does a good job of elucidating a much broader view of God’s work in the world – without negating the cross (for those who are about to label him (or me) a liberal…)

He argues for a morality that goes well beyond being pro-life and anti-gay and looks at the morality involved in issues of justice and poverty. He argues that Jesus is pro-life in that John 10:10 says he came to give us life to the full.

In essence he advocates what he calls a Eucharistic community – and thankfully he explained what he meant by that – because I didn’t grow up with that term either and was puzzled when I first heard it. Essentially its about living grateful, sacrificial lives in community and for the good of the world rather than simply being concerned with ourselves. Very countercultural.

He mentions a couple of times Newbiggin’s notion of the church as the hermeneutic of the Gospel – ie – people can make sense of the gospel by engaging with the church community and suggests that if we take the bigger picture of God’s kingdom seriously then chances are we may offer a more authentic way of being church and therefore expressing the gospel.

As I read I couldn’t help but hear the voices of my friends in the pages, as Will echoed many of the thoughts I heard these guys share during their time in Oz. That’s got to be a good thing as it shows the strength of shared values and understanding in the ‘Communality’ community. We were inspired by the story of Communality and this book reminded me of the power of a small committed group of people to influence a local community.

On pg 61 there is a great ‘prophecy’ adapted from Amos 5:18-27 that is entitled a message to the American church. It goes a fair bit beyond the text in its paraphrasing, but it is both a critique and a vision for who we are to be as the church. On the money too.

The final section of the book is very practical and offers a valuable list of practical ways we can live differently and actually combat our own selfishness. Some will find his suggestions a little too simple – eg plant a garden, practice the daily office, but if they are seen as simplistic then the point has been missed. The actual practice of many of these things will re-shape us into the people we wish to be.


So if you’re looking for a challenging and yet easy to read book that doesn’t leave you riddled with guilt then its well worth checking out ‘Enough’.

Recently (in the last 10 years) we have spoken a lot of what it means to be a missional community but personally this was a reminder that as the church we are to be a prophetic community of people who speak to both the broader society about how God intends for us to live as well as speaking to the church itself and challenging the internal inconsistencies.

When we lose our prophetic voice our ‘missional’ business gets pretty dry.

None of this is easy, but the net result of ‘business as usual’ is not something I would like to contemplate either.

Read it. It’s good.

True Patriot

A few years back Steve Smith gave me a biography of Bonhoeffer entitled True Patriot that he felt offered some excellent insights to what was happening in the ‘emerging church’.

I finally got to read it and while I’m not sure exactly what Steve was seeing as of value I did find the story of Bonhoeffer’s life to be inspiring and challenging.

Perhaps what struck me most strongly was the fact that Bonhoeffer did not get to simply theorise about how theology gets lived out in tough situations. He actually got to live it out and in the process write about it. His book ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ isn’t simply another book written by a comfortable western Christian hypothesizing about what it means to follow Jesus. His book ‘Ethics’ wasn’t a detached speculation on various difficult situations. It was written from the midst of one of the world’s most horrific periods of history and reflects his own struggle to live with intregity in it.

I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was somewhat disturbing to hear him say that sometimes our choice is not to do right or wrong, but really is the ‘lesser of two evils’. Many of us idealise about doing no evil – but when the choice is to allow Hitler to proceed unimpeded or to kill him there simply isn’t an easy way forwards.

Its not the best read I have come across, but it does include some gem quotes from a number of Bonhoeffers works. It inspired me to go back and read a bit more of his stuff. parasomnia online

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