Notes of a traveller

Alan Dodds – photographer (among other things)

Notes of a traveller

There and Back Again – for a Birth

Posted on Sunday, October 1st, 2023 at 5:52 pm

Here we go again – what are we thinking!

Having recently crossed the Nullarbor to deliver a car and caravan to Melbourne for Pippa and Tara, we find ourselves, once again, with the prospect of another crossing, this time with the north Queensland city of Townsville in view. It’s a long way!

Why would we do such a thing? Because Tara is taking a position as a dancer for Dance North who are based in Townsville and so Pippa and Tara have settled there for a time and, oh yes, Pippa is due to give birth sometime soon. We would like to be there for that.

The Long Stretch

Even having lived in Australia, and mostly in Western Australia, for more than forty years, it still amazes me to realise that just to get to the border of South Australia from here takes three days of driving. And that’s just the start of the journey.

This part of the crossing is fairly well covered in my earlier tales “Adelaide and Crossing The Nullabor” and “Alice and the Red Centre”

… and so we begin.

Madura lookout Western Australia

After two days of flat land driving, the view from the Madura lookout, not far from Eucla, always makes me think of the plains in Africa.
Eucla Western Australia

Eucla is the last place in WA when driving east. Still three thousand kilometres to go until we reach the Sunshine Coast of Queensland and a visit to Zoe.
Nudroo South Australia

We hadn’t really expected to get frost but the evidence is on our windscreen. Brrrr.
Kimba, South Australia Silo Art

Part of the fantastic artwork on the wheat silos at Kimba in South Australia.

The New South Wales Outback

We are now around half way across with Port August behind us and the road ahead leading across the NSW outback towards Broken Hill. At the South Australia, New South Wales border is the once thriving border town of Cockburn. Alas, it has seen better days. We stayed in the by-donation camping area.

Cockburn Camping Area, South Australia

Pretty bleak, but good for an over-nighter.
Cockburn Hotel South Austalia

Things are getting really bleak when the hotel closes. No nice pub meal for us here.
Cockburn South Australia

Houses and other buildings have been abandoned.
Cockburn Camping Area, South Australia

It all looks a bit brighter over breakfast.
Gilgandra New South Wales

This cafe in Gilgandra has a motoring theme.
Hampton Queensland

Here we are back in Queensland.

Jacqui enjoys the morning sun.
Coolum Queensland

The Pacific Ocean on Queenslands Sunshine Coast is rarely quiet.

The Sunshine Coast

After eight days driving and four thousand kilometres we have arrived on the Sunshine Coast and we’ll get to have a good catchup with Zoe and family.

Lake MacDonald, Queensland

Time with Zoe and the children in their cosy house. (Mahli – now 12, Zoe and Jacqui – Bodhi is bouncing around somewhere)
Lake MacDonald, Queensland

Zoe’s new geodesic dome squats at the bottom of their block amid the bananas
Lake MacDonald, Queensland

Inside the Dome is a very impressive space that Zoe is using for workshops. Bodhi, to the left, is practicing his aerial silks.

Onward to Townsville

Having spent nearly a week catching up with Zoe (and Pete, Robin and Scott) we have another three day drive to get to Townsville. Another drive we have taken on numerous occasions.

Benaraby Queensland

Next to a free camp on the edge of Benaraby in Queensland stands a Noah’s Arc
Benaraby Queensland

Amazing the pics an iPhone can take these days. Point it at the sky at night and it does it’s thing.
Marlborough Queensland

A typical pub menu in the Marborough Hotel in Queensland.
Armstrong Beach, Queensland

We take a rest day on Armstrong beach on our way north
Armstrong Beach, Queensland

Typical north Queensland beach – sun and palm trees.
Armstrong Beach, Queensland

No surf here, though, and the tide goes a long way out.


After a pleasant day near Mackay visiting friend Eni we at last arrive in Townsville for the main event. Pippa and Tara had rented a house which turned out to be in an area prone to midgies and so going out at any time resulted in nasty itchy bites. So they moved to another house which they decided to actually buy in place of their Melbourne apartment. We are greeted by Tara and a very pregnant Pippa due sometime in the next two weeks.

Townsville, Queensland

Pippa and Tara outside their soon-to-be-theirs house.
Townsville, Queensland

We watch the turtles in the creek that runs through the Botanic Gardens
Townsville, Queensland

Mother and Daughter
Townsville, Queensland

Magnetic Island lies off the coast of Townsville
Townsville, Queensland

One of the Sculptures at Kissing Point in Townsville
Townsville, Queensland

A last chance for the two of them to have a swim before there are three of them.
Townsville, Queensland

Pippa has been offered a three day house sit on Magnetic Island so we all go over to this magical place.
Magnetic Island North Queensland

A beautiful Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) on Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island North Queensland

The three ladies at the Horse Shoe Bay Sunday market on Magnetc Island
Magnetic Island North Queensland

A perfect horseshoe bay – ideal for the boaties.
Magnetic Island North Queensland

There are yachts and then there are YACHTS. This one’s a corker.
Magnetic Island North Queensland

I wonder who thought up “Donning Instructions”
Magnetic Island North Queensland

Townsville from the water. It’s as good as it looks.

It’s all happening

No sooner have we returned from our few days on Magnetic Island than it becomes apparent that someone is trying to get into this world. The house is prepared, the Midwife is on call and soon Pippa’s adventure will begin. She is having a home birth which means that we are lucky enough to be among her supports.

It is not an easy birth, but then they rarely are.

Townsville, Queensland

Our A-Van tucked in the garden.
Townsville, Queensland

Satori Jade Samaya arrives in this realm – here she is just a few minutes old and already looking at Mum
Townsville, Queensland

Mother and Daughter – both exhausted.
Townsville, Queensland

Satori is lucky enough to have two mums.
Townsville, Queensland

Grandmother and grand daughter get to know each other.

Time for the “Back Again” bit.

A week after the arrival of Satori, it is time for us to depart and wend our way back home. However there has been a change of plan.

Whilst our little A-Frame Avan has done us well, we feel that it’s just a bit small for the comfort of our ageing bodies. We have done a bit of research looking for a slightly bigger caravan that our car will still pull. Having zeroed in on another style of Avan, we find that there is an almost new one – with all the goodies – for sale in Forest Glen on the Sunshine Coast. So we make our way back south for a look. They are happy to trade in our A-Frame and so the deal is done. We move up in the world … Ha Ha. And we get an unexpected chance catch up with Zoe et al.

Sunshine Coast Queensland

And here it is … yet another travelling chariot for us to enjoy.
Sunshine Coast Queensland

Beautiful Gravillia in our RV Park.

We start our journey home with a couple of nights in Hazeldean on the shores of the Somerset Dam. We need time to sort the new van out and get ready for the long haul home.

Somerset Dam Queensland

The Somerset Dam provides drinking water for Brisbane and is a popular place for fishing and boating.
Somerset Dam Queensland

Having simply parked the two caravans door to door to empty the A-Frame the time has come to sort it all out.
Somerset Dam Queensland

There is a lovely looking log cabin for rent, right on the shore.
Somerset Dam Queensland

After a storm in the night the day of departure dawns clear.

On the Road, On the Road, On the Road Again.

Only another four thousand kilometres to go so we’d better get started. We are hoping the journey back will be uneventful. May the nights not be COLD! There follow a few random snapshots of our trip.

Uralla New South Wales

The Old Grocers shop in Uralla, replete with pressed tin ceiling, is now a thriving cafe.
Spring Ridge NSW

If you are thinking about lunch in a remote rural area and the Spring Ridge Hotel has lines of workers Utes outside, it might just be a good sign that this is the place to stop and eat.
Peterborough South Australia

Street art is so good these days … this in Peterborough SA.
Ceduna, South Australia

We pause in Ceduna, South Australia for a couple of nights to catch our breath before the final push. Only eighteen hundred kilometres to go!
Albany WA

Back home again. Time to get to Lake Seppings to find out how this year’s batch of Straw Necked Ibis are doing.

What a journey! Two months and twelve thousand kilometres. It was quite some experience, especially the birth of Satori Jade Samaya who is now five weeks old and giving Pippa and Tara a few sleepless nights. Oh the joys of parenthood!

Madura lookout Western Australia

Where there were two, there are now three.

What was that you said? Off to Japan this month?



12 responses to “There and Back Again – for a Birth”

  1. Tony / Beryl D says:

    A little behind again in saying thankyou for another brill. account of your travels, even in the wee wedge caravan, you two do love the unusual!! and to cap it all off, in at the birth of your grandchild ( were you actually there Alan? if so, you’re a braver man than me Gunga Din!!!!! ). A brill. travel account and super pictures, well done both of you.
    Our love,

    Tony & Beryl

  2. Danielle says:

    Hi Alan! Thanks for this update and lovely pics of your last road trips. What a lovely photo of Satori and her Mums, and the joy of parenthood! I’m back from France, so we’ll catch up after your trip to Japan,
    Lots of love to you both

  3. Howard Ann says:

    Welcome Sartori and congratulations to Tara and Pippa from Pippa’s birth place, The Wolery W.A.
    Some great pics in there Alan, I love the turtles with spectators and of course lovely intimate family moments at such a significant time. Thankyou for sharing those. Also great to see Zoe, her children and her dome!

    Love to you all from Annie Howard

  4. Tara and Pippa says:

    Love love love you and this post!

  5. Eni says:

    I always so enjoy your fabulous photography and stories that accompany.

    Wishing you warm and enjoyable travels home in the new van.

    Love from Eni

  6. Mary Searle says:

    What a journey and adventure; new grandchild and new caravan…amazing!
    As always superb photos and particularly like the one of Jacqui and Pippa together.Admire your energy to take on these trips as well;
    all love from your family in the UK.

  7. Lynn Ayiotis says:

    Wonderful photos as always , especially lovely to see all the family 🙂 congratulations on the arrival of your new granddaughter. Thank you for sharing your travels. Love to all xx

  8. Sue+Keast says:

    Once again fabulous photos Alan which we so enjoyed seeing – thank you so much for sharing them with us. We have contemplated driving to Brisbane to our daughter but so far have just jumped on a plane.

  9. Brian says:

    another great story of your adventures. Would be interested to know more of your thoughts re the A-van for overnighting rather than lengthy stays.

    Next time you make the corner to corner road trip it may be possible for you to drive the “outback way”.

  10. Richard Chandler says:

    Hi you two. What a burgeoning brood is developing over east – all those new names! Lots of lovely people. Glad the trip went well, and welcome home!

  11. Andrew Stewart says:

    Hi Alan and Jacqui,
    How lovely to ‘catch up’ with you both again. I can’t remember how long its been since I visited but I do enjoy the visual stories that pop up now and then in my email tray.
    I had no idea you had moved to Albany but after looking at the pictures from a previous post, I can see why. Absolutely gorgeous!
    There is something very comforting about living vicariously through your eyes and your journeys. Maybe its the sense of sanity, authenticity and peace that contrasts the craziness of city life.
    Whatever it is, they are a wonderful pause in my day and I appreciate your commitment to posting them!
    Bigs hugs from Sydney,

  12. Ruth Gawler says:

    Lovely Alan, thankyou for sharing. Beautiful journey 🙂

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