PAUL and Lynne Kneubuhler sold their home at Salisbury in Brisbane to chase a dream – to travel around Australia.
At the end of a 324-day journey to the west coast and back again, they just want to keep going.
Paul, 57, said he and Lynne, 59, had reached a stage when it was time to make ‘a leap of faith’.
‘We’ve been around the world and we hadn’t seen Australia,’ he said.
They set off from Salisbury in May 2003 in their ‘home on wheels’, a bus converted into a motorhome, and arrived back on Easter Monday, April 12. They had clocked up 19,016 km.
The Kneubuhlers are committed Catholics and their account of the trip sometimes sounds like a ‘church crawl’.
‘Over our 324-day adventure we sometimes stayed overnight in the church parking areas with permission, and met priests from the islands, Portugal, Poland, Vietnam and the USA,’ they said.
After having their 11.5-metre home on wheels ‘Swiss Inn’ blessed by Salisbury-Moorooka parish administrator, Fr John Scarrott, the Kneubuhlers set off for Darwin, then to Perth and back home via the most southern route.
On the back of the motorhome, they carried ‘Hardly’, a 20 year-old 250cc motorbike, so named because ‘with two of us on it, it hardly went’.
‘This bike was to take us 5758 km around towns, to daily or Sunday Mass, sightseeing, bush tracks and shopping,’ they said.
By the end of the first week, the couple had left Toowoomba where they experienced rain for the last time for five months. They next saw raindrops in Geraldton, Western Australia.
Heading north west through Queensland, one of their early tastes of country hospitality was at Blackall where they attended a Mass that coincided with a visit by Bishop Brian Heenan of Rockhampton.
‘In true outback hospitality we were invited to a supper and met the parishioners and had a yarn with the bishop.’
Moving on to the Northern Territory, they visited Katherine where they noticed the flood of 1999 had reached a third of the height of the beautiful St Joseph’s Church.
‘Further north, we enjoyed the wonderful cultural mix of parishioners at Darwin and attended Bishop (Ted) Collins’ 40th anniversary of ordination Mass.’
The Kneubuhlers have fond memories of their Church experience at Kununurra and Wyndham, just over the border in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia.
‘The beauty of the zebra rock Stations of the Cross at Kununurra’s church was fascinating.
‘Sunday Mass at Wyndham (in the same parish) was held at the local Aboriginal community reserve about 7 km outside town that particular Sunday, under the community gazebo.
‘It was great to see Fr Paul (Boyers), the parish priest from Kununurra, taking the Church to our indigenous family.’
Further along the north-western coast, the Kneubuhlers popped in to Broome.
‘Broome was a beautiful town and we were pleased to have planned our journey of the north in the ‘winter’ months as the days are warm and the nights cool.’
A few hundred kilometres south west along the coast, the couple stopped at Port Hedland, where they witnessed why it has a reputation for exporting iron ore. They saw a 200,000 tonne ship pass by empty and then leave two days later with a full load.
‘We arrived at the start of the grain harvest at Geraldton (492 km north of Perth).’
The Kneubuhlers admired the historic contribution left in the area by Msgr John Hawes, a former architect who arrived in Geraldton in 1924 and over the next 24 years was responsible for the construction of eight churches, including the town’s world famous St Francis Xavier Cathedral and Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church at Mullewa.
‘One of our interests was to view the wildflowers we had read about and, after Karratha (about 1730 km north of Perth, in September) we saw the occasional bunch alongside the road as we travelled south.
‘Alas! What the books didn’t tell you was that the majority (of wildflowers) are within 500 km of Perth, and we learned at Geraldton that the season was almost finished.
‘We went to Coalseam Conservation Park to see it covered by yellow everlasting flowers but another family had a photo with the same park covered in pink everlasting flowers.
‘We were later told that had we been there three weeks earlier we would have seen them.
‘However we were granted our wish when driving towards the beautiful Benedictine village of New Norcia (130 km north of Perth), the only monastic town in Australia.’
It was Paul’s birthday, October 17, and the Kneubuhlers thanked God for a beautiful birthday present – flowers of seven or eight different colours in full bloom along the side of the road.
‘The peaceful atmosphere of the village of New Nocia reminded us of a similar place in Switzerland where a monastery was built 900 years ago.’
‘We will record this visit as a peaceful place to return to again one day.’
During their stay in Perth, the Kneubuhlers found that the areas of Busselton and Bunbury, south of the capital, ‘are to WA what Noosa is to Queensland’.
‘We were present at Our Lady of the Bay, Busselton for the opening of the new $1.5 million church, which is almost free of debt as it is part of the famous and wealthy Margaret River wine region.’
The Kneubuhlers enjoyed their stay in the picturesque town of Albany, on the south-west tip of Western Australia.
‘But our six-month journey in WA was coming to an end as we left Esperance and headed for Norseman and the 1200 km crossing of the Nullarbor Plain.
‘We only sat on 80 kilometres per hour (except for down the hills) and covered about 300 km per day, travelling along with two other big rigs and taking four days to reach Ceduna in South Australia.’
South Australia in February was very dry. The couple spent a few days in the Adelaide Hills, toured the Barossa Valley, and saw the mouth of the Murray River before crossing into Victoria, across the mallee and down to a little pub at Logan near St Arnaud, north-west of Melbourne, for a country and western gig with a group of others travelling in motorhomes, campervans and caravans.
In Bendigo, they found Sacred Heart Cathedral ‘breathtaking’.
From Victoria, the couple headed for Canberra, and then across to the NSW southern coast to visit Lynne’s relatives at Ulladulla. That diversion took them through lush, green country, something they had not encountered since Albany.
From there, they headed north through NSW, travelling inland through Young, Forbes, Dubbo, Quirindi and Tenterfield.
They arrived back at Salisbury on Easter Monday, treasuring the experience of having ‘seen the creation of the Lord’ in other parts of Australia.
The Kneubuhlers are still living in their motorhome at Beerwah in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, with a yearning to get back on the road.
‘We look forward to our next adventure to the far north of the state, meeting many more people, viewing and discovering the beauty of the Creator, taking His blessings along with us,’ they said.