Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

1999 Xmas letter

 Steve & Glen Swatman-Tel 01630 655618. E-mail swatman2@hotmail.com
"Meadowview"74 Walkmill Road. Market Drayton. Shropshire TF9 1JZ. England.
* MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM DOWN UNDER*
Yes it’s that time once again and time does seem to fly faster as you get older.  We’re both fit & well and loving our life on the road.
December 1998  I had a brilliant birthday on Vera Playa beach in Spain. Laid in bed watching the sunrise then sipped champagne in the bath, had an all day party with about 20 people and enjoyed a beautiful sunset surpassed by the full moon reflected in the ocean as we stood round a campfire.  Confirmed the motorhome exchange in Australia and changed our plans returning to England for Christmas which was a big surprise for Claire.  Daniel enjoyed himself and it was good to be with friends and family.
January 1999  Flight to Perth booked for 29th of January.  Mum had angioplasty heart surgery but it didn’t work so she is now on the by pass waiting list.  Claire put their house on the market hoping to move to the Midlands.  "Charlie" is left in the good care of our friend Peter. 
February   We are borrowing "Dew Drop Inn" until December.  Fred and Maureen Dew are a lovely couple and set us up for our trip with an introduction to Perth and books and maps for our big tour.  Week 1 Steve jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool not realising there was a wide ledge at the side.  The hospital confirmed no major damage and strapped his ankle leaving me to drive.  South of Western Australia was brilliant.  Nice beaches and great places to free camp. £1 = $2.50 and many things in Australia have a dollar price equal to the pound.  Very friendly people and excellent first impressions.
March  Albany had great rocks formations, Wave Rock inland a huge multi coloured one, Esperance great beaches.  Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields has lots of mining history and here the cyclones start to catch up with us with a week of almost continuous wind and rain.  Cyclone Vance followed us on the big trip across the Nullarbor Plain into South Australia. We were one of the last cars to travel over before they closed the road.  
April  Followed the coast of the Eyre peninsula.  Through the Clare and Barossa Valleys to Adelaide where we met my brother in law’s family staying for 2 weeks visiting sights in the area. 
May  Coast south of Adelaide then up the Murray River to Renmark.   Claire moved to Market Drayton (address above).  Nuriootpa annual balloon was great with balloons tethered and lit up at night time. Clare Valley Gourmet weekend involved driving from vineyard to vineyard sampling food and wine.  Made the 18km walk/climb to St Mary Peak at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges.  At Coober Pedy we enjoyed the 660km mail run on dirt track in the outback.  Confirmed a 6 month motorhome exchange in Nelson New Zealand from December.  
June  Alice Springs was not the flat desert we imagined.  Took a sunrise balloon flight with champagne breakfast.  Drove the West and East Macdonnell Ranges with many gorges and swimming holes.  Sandra arrived from England joining us at Ayers Rock for a 2 week tour up to Darwin.  A race against time with 3000km covered and lots of places visited.  Exciting news of Claire expecting a baby on December 14th. 
July  Time flew and we sadly dropped Sandra off and drove to a caravan park 80km South of Darwin.  David is now in Germany working on the roads (Auf Wiedersehen Pet springs to mind).  I went into Darwin to see friends off on a cruise and somehow ended up getting us a deal and phoning Steve to join us to set sail 2 hours later!   Oceanic Odyssey was fantastic and we spent 2 weeks visiting 12 Indonesian Spice Islands and being well and truly pampered.  
August  PCD (post cruise depression) set in but we hit the road and visited Kakadu taking a scenic flight over "Crocodile Dundee" country.   Headed West exploring lots of gorges and trying to loose our cruise bellies.  No rain for 3 months and a steady temperature around 30C.  Enjoyed 10 days in Broome during the Shinju Matsuri festival.
September  An exciting month exploring the North West coast of WA before heading into Chichester, Millstream and Karijini National Parks.  Did some long walks in magnificent gorges with lots of swimming holes.  Cape Range National Park near Exmouth was brilliant with good snorkelling by the Ningaloo Reef.  Saw whales at sea and turtles nesting on shore. Confirm another motorhome exchange from Sydney for 6 months from June 2000.     
October  Spectacular blowholes near Carnarvon. Receive our Olympic ticket allocation-Athletics, Badminton and closing ceremony. Steve hand fed the dolphins at Monkey Mia.  Kalbarri had excellent scenery in the national park.  Flight to New Zealand booked leaving Perth on 8th Dec returning to Sydney on 2nd June. Mum went in for heart surgery and the operation was successful.  David was working in Spain and heading back to England for Christmas planning to go to America for 2 years.
November   Pinnacles Desert in Namburg national park was great.  We drove round twice past thousands of different size, shape and coloured rocks.  Returned to Perth area with time to visit new found friends. 25,000km of this vast country covered.   We love the natural scenery but the friendly people have also made a lasting impression.
Would love to hear your news – (Our address until late December: N.S.C. PO Box 33. Upper Moutere. Nelson. New Zealand.) or better still let us know if you would like to visit.
Our best wishes for your health and happiness in the new millenium from
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