Sunday, October 5, 2014


 Well we have made it home. The end of another great trip doing some of the iconic parts of Australia such as crossing the Nullarbor, Kalgoorlie, Margaret River and Esperance to name a few. As usual the trip lived up to our expectations and it was a wonderful experience. Once you get over the road trains passing you for the first time the journey takes on a different perspective. I must say I found the truckies we came across very professional. I have included a few shots of some of the highlights. There is a bit of a consensus between us that there are a few places we really want to go back to, Pemberton, Albany and Bremer Bay to name a few. We travelled around 8500kms and our average fuel consumption was 15.5 lts per 100 kms. We are pretty happy with the tow tug and the van with only a few small hiccups. It was a genuine experience travelling across the Nullarbor and helps you understand just how hard these people do it in our remote areas, Consider this that between Norseman and Ceduna there is no real towns, that’s approx. 1200kms. Sort of puts things in perspective a little bit. We come across a young couple at Eucla whose vehicle had broken down and had at least a 7 hour wait for a town truck.  I keep saying how lucky we are to be able to do this with great friends and wonderful people and especially with Di in the co-pilots seat. Oh well back to work for now. D & D

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Road home the end of another trip

Over the next 5 days we will retrace our steps across the Nullarbor back to Bendigo. Our first hop is Balladonia to Eucla. We spend 2 nights in Eucla mainly to have a bit of a rest and to try and find the ruins of the old telegraph station. The ruins disappear on a regular basis, covered by huge sand dunes only to be uncovered again over time. We found them, only partially covered and found them interesting.  
Old Wharf Great Australian Bight Eucla

Old Telegraph Station ruins Eucla

Old Telegraph Station ruins Eucla

Old Telegraph Station ruins Eucla

The workmanship required to build these structures which remain standing in the most adverse conditions was remarkable. From the ruins we found a track which wound its way over the sand dunes and on to the beach. The water was crystal clear and pretty much untouched. We did find the remnants of an old jetty but information about it was scarse. From here we took another track out on to the flats between the sea and the Eucla cliffs. It was pretty short but again we found things that throw up a lot of questions but not many answers.
We left Eucla early because we knew 10 km down the road we would lose 1.5 hours because of the time zones and pointed our noses to Ceduna, a 500km drive. Not much to say about this leg just a lot of retraced kilometres. We did stop at Nullarbor and Nundroo both of which featured in the out bound leg. Ceduna seems like a nice place and at the moment there is an oyster festival happening so sites at caravan parks are at a premium. 
Ceduna Peir

The first place we went to was full so we ended up at the Big 4. A bit of a surprise I must say. Very friendly people and at $27 one of the cheapest parks we have come across. Worth considering if you come this way.

Another reasonable start to another day and we have fell into a bit of a rhythm with the set up and pack up. Di looks after the inside of the van, I do the outside and Wendy pretty much packs the Oztent on her own. So it takes about half an hour and we are ready to roll. So we were ready to leave Ceduna for Port Augusta by 8.30. Around 480 kms today with morning tea at a town called Poochera (which is famous for dinosaur ants). It’s pretty small place and not much there but the toilets are clean and it has a really nice area (by Nullarbor standards) to pull off for a break. Found a quondong tree with fruit and a tree covered in yellow lady bugs. Morning tea over, we headed east again and stopped for lunch at Kimba. 
Lady Birds doing what nature does

Giant Gala - Where's Dougal

On our way over we stopped here looking for the big gala and never found it (and before you open your mouth no it was not me they were looking for), disconcerting given it is 9 meters tall. However, we managed to find him this time and whilst he is in need of some TLC he still stands in all his glory. We had a bit of lunch here and were entertained for a little while by his real life cousin, who could utter a few words and almost had a conversation lined up. Back on the road and the last leg for today into Port Augusta. From here Gaz and Chaz head for Adelaide and we are heading for Renmark. It seems we have been over this leg many times so this will probably be the last post for this trip. So if anyone has actually been reading this blog I hope you got some enjoyment or even a laugh from it. We are well into planning for our next trip but more on that later.

Day 35 Esperance - Right turn Eyre Highway

Well it was an early and complicated start to the day. Laura had to be out at the Esperance “international” airport for a flight back to Perth then on to Melbourne. The flight left at 9.50 but our hosts at the park required us to be out of the park by 10.00 which meant that Gaz and Shaz had to pack up, lug the van out to the airport then return back to town before we proceeded to retrace their trip to head out to Norseman. You would think that an extra hour on the van site would not make a hell of a difference. 

Looking over plateau Eucla Pass

Road trains Eyre Highway

Maybe they had to mow the sand who knows just know it was a mite inconvenient for our fellow travellers. We finally left Esperance around 11 for the approx. 400km drive to Balladonia, which is our first leg on the return home. I wish I had stayed in bed, I don’t know why but our trip has been plagued with some of the most mongrel weather we have had on our travels and today was no exception. For the first 200 km to Norseman the wind was either head on or on the front quarter. According to weatherzone it was 50kph gusting 75kph. In all honestly I think the car and caravan performed admirably in the conditions but it was a tough drive. At Norseman we did a Right turn on to the Eyre highway heading east for the Nullarbor. So now we have a tail wind or on the back quarter which helped the fuel economy but still was not an easy drive. As you can imagine we pulled into Balladonia with a sigh of relief, short lived as the wind had turned the place into a dust bowl. It was ugly so we basically hibernated. The weather is supposed to moderate overnight we can only hope. No Pictures today

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 34 Last day in Esperance – Start of the journey home


Today was a bit of a lazy day. We decided on breakfast at Dome with everyone as Laura fly’s out tomorrow and we head off on the journey home. So the morning was pretty relaxed and casual. After lunch it was off to the beach for all, except Di and Wendy who decided that lazing around the van was there preference. I must say I was a bit tentative as the even though the sun was out and it was quite warm. the waters of the southern ocean are still pretty cold. 

Sunset on Tanker peir

Sunset over Esperance

Any way I figured I had brought the snorkeling gear all this way I was going to get it wet. So in we plunged, brass monkey time, it did however improve as we numbed and was quite pleasant exploring the edges of the rock shelves. Didn’t spend a lot of time in the water but in the end it was well worth it. A couple of hours well spent. We had intended to do a spot more fishing but decided instead to watch the sunset at the wharf. Nice end to the day.

Day 33 Cape Le Grande and Lucky Bay – Reality meets expectation

Today was a reasonably early start (8.30 ish) for the 60 odd km drive east to Cape Le Grande and Lucky Bay. To say that this particular place has held high expectations and anticipation for us is probably an understatement. From the outset of the planning for this trip we have mulled over this location, read travel info and magazine articles, which only fuelled our determination to go there. We had, initially, intended to free camp there but with school holidays, a long weekend and ordinary weather interfering we ended up basing ourselves in Esperance. The trip out was interesting with the farmland giving way to some interesting landscapes once inside the national park area. On the way in we passed a replica of Stonehenge, which we had been thinking of going to see, glad we didn’t now as the view from the road was uninspired. I guess there will be people out there that think it’s great but not us. 

Landscape on way into Cape Le Grande

Rock formations

Whispering rock near Hellfire Bay

Wild flower
Once in the national park there are heaps of natural formations to keep you busy and some very interesting monoliths dominating the landscape as we wound our way into the Cape. We stopped at the Hellfire Bay lookout and saw some spectacular coast line and decided we would call in to Hellfire Beach on our way back. First major stop was Lucky Bay which was and would be a nice spot except for the seaweed, in fact the whole coastline in the South West is suffering at the moment with huge amounts of seaweed deposited on the beaches from the recent storms. I estimated it to be over a metre deep in some places. We took a short drive along the beach and then headed for Rossitter Bay which is about 6km further on by dirt road. Same issue here with the whole spectacle dulled by the weed. 

Hellfire bay

Lucky Bay

Hellfire Bay looking west

Hellfire Bay

Don’t get me wrong the sites and the pristine nature of the place is not to be underestimated but the smell of rotting seaweed is not for everyone. We returned to Lucky Bay for a spot of lunch and we were entertained by a family of kangaroos and the humans annoying them. Lunch over we headed back to Hellfire Bay and as it turned out the highlight of the day. This is an incredible little bay and was one of the few not impacted by seaweed. We spent a little time here getting our feet wet and enjoying the place. Next stop was Cape Le Grande and whilst not disappointed I think our expectations may have got a bit skewed. Again don’t get me wrong, it is still a wonderful place but the pick for me was Hellfire Bay followed by Lucky Bay. It sometimes difficult when writing these blogs because you have so many ahhhhh moments it all becomes a bit blasĂ©. There is no doubt for me we are the lucky country and are blessed with a magnificent country and its trips like these that just reinforce that reality for me. The sites and beauty of this area are no doubt some of the best I can imagine and we have only scratched the surface. So it was after a pretty full day of white sand, a bit of sun, sea and surf it was time to head for home. We tried our luck again off the tanker pier late in the afternoon, yesterday I had caught a king George whiting just on 30cm and Gaz got a nice size Calamari and apparently there have been some good size catches off the pier. It was reasonable successful with another calamari and a whiting. Bit of bad luck for Gaz as he hooked a Calamari which let go of the squid jig just as he pulled it out of the water. There was I fair bit of tension on the line and when I looked around it was imbedded horizontally in Gaz’s forehead. A bit of an “Oh shit” moment, Laura managed to extract the jig without much pain but a lesson for all I think. Tomorrow is our last day in Esperance and officially the start to our return to reality – homeward bound

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 32 Esperance -The tourist route

Whilst we have been in the west we have come across these maps at nearly every town and I don’t mean the tear off ones from the info centres. These are proper maps of the town and the surrounding area with points of interest etc and they are free. They are fantastic for planning your days when in a location. So with one of these in hand we intended to set off on the tourist route which was about a 30 km loop along the western side of Esperance tanking in  a number of beaches and sites. Before we headed of we went to the Info centre for some more info and basically walked through a whole range of buildings which have been restored and turned into shops. Buildings such as the 1920’s Police Sgts house and 1930’s Matron’s quarters. In all there were about 10 buildings from various periods around Esperance. It was a nice stroll and we enjoyed coffee at CafĂ© on the Rocks,  which original was the School Masters home from around the 1940’s and has been turned into a coffee shop. 

Plaque a Esperance Museum

A town sculpyure

Old church in historic precinct

Sculpture in front of old police station

Once fortified we headed off on the tourist route and lost count of the number of times we stopped at lookouts etc. By the time we had completed the loop it was well after 1.30 so we headed back for lunch. After lunch it was take up where we left off. There were two main attraction for the afternoon the first was the mermaid shop and the second was the glass art experience. The mermaid shop was an interesting place and they tan all types of fish skins to make leather for handbags etc pretty much anything that can be made by traditional leather can be done with fish skins. They buy, what is essentially a waster produce (for around 50c a kilo), and turn it into high grade leather. We looked at many of the fish leather items and they were crafted beautifully and well out of our price range. We asked about carp and yes they do process them as well. Another interesting fact is that we (Australia) export shit loads of Carp (technical term for lots) to the Asia pacific region for human consumption. From the mermaid shop it was a quick jaunt to the Glass Gallery of Cindy Pool. She had many pieces of art and it was enjoyable looking through the gallery with Cindy and her staff responding to all our questions, Again it was one of those places were you either have a place to put the pieces or you don’t, we don’t which is unfortunate because there are some wonderful pieces in her collection. Cindy and another artist were also responsible for the whale tail sculpture on the water front. This sculpture is a representation of the elements that make up Esperance. I don’t pretend to understand, I’m sure Tracey would, but it is a great piece and sets the water front up. The sculpture is a mix of wood, steel and fused glass I the shape of a whale tail. The weather is starting to moderate so, hopefully we  will have a good day tomorrow to head for Cape Le Grande.

Day 31 Ravensthorpe to Esperance – Wild weather and strange people.

Well talk about contrasts yesterday 31 deg and blowing a gale, today 14 deg and still blowing a gale. The weather has turned on us again, we only have about 180 kms to travel but with the wind and rain it was always going to be interesting. 

From the outset I will say that both Gary and myself are a bit anal about our equipment and have the best we can afford on our vehicles and attached bits and pieces so for us even the most adverse conditions usually present no problems and we suffer very little in the way of failures. The same cannot be said about many of our fellow travellers as I’m sure Gaz will recount in his blog and if it wasn’t for the potential of a serious aftermath it would be a good comedy sketch. The bit that worries me is some other poor bugger is usually on the receiving end when it all goes pear shaped. Anyway we said goodbye to “the princess who needs a personality transplant” running the Ravensthorpe caravan park and pointed our noses east to Esperance and that was about it for the day. Too wet, too windy and too cold for anything else. Found a caravan park hunkered down and only ventured out for coffee.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Day 29 and 30 Ravensthorpe Quilts, Wild flowers and granite surfing

We headed off at a reasonable hour today for Ravensthorpe. Our primary purpose for stopping at Ravensthorpe was to go to wave rock. Ravensthorpe is the closest town along our southernmost route back to wave rock and will be a 400km round trip tomorrow. We arrived at Ravensthorpe around 1pm and went to the caravan park to book in. This is whole other story for another time but would be best described as interesting. The owner needs a personality transplant and required a lot of effort on my part to remain calm. Lots of hommmmms. We went for a tour of the town during the afternoon which proved interesting. There were a group of veteran and vintage cars on display, a wild flower exhibition and a quilter’s fair all of which consumed our afternoon. 

Quilter's Fair

Early Dodge

We could have attended the gala that evening but we forgot to pack our evening wear. At the quilters fair we also had to sample the Devonshire teas (scones with jam and fresh cream).  The quilters had some really nice displays on sale and from a male point of view seemed reasonably priced. Entry into the wildflowers was $4and your entry ticket was a crocheted or knitted flower, novel and different. By all accounts the girls enjoyed it. We missed most of the cars as they had started to pack up when we arrived.

Wave rockin'

View from top of wave rock

Where's Dougal?

Hippo's yawn

The sun rose next day with the promise of hot weather and it ended up reaching 32 deg. We have had a bit of ordinary weather on this trip and today proved no exception for with the temp came winds and not just those little huff and puff ones I mean gale force. The wind was that strong it was pushing the car all over the road. On the return trip we dodged debris, fallen limbs and trees, dust storms and stumpy tailed lizards. Both Hyden (wave rock) and Ravensthorpe lost power with limbs over power lines. We were hoping all this trouble was worth it. We had intended to visit wave rock on our leg from Kalgoorlie to Freo but the weather got in the way then. As it turned out it was well worth the effort and even the wind, which was ferocious on top of the rock, didn’t dampen our spirits. It is an incredible formation and even more incredible it only became a tourist attraction in 1964! Add to that the wild flowers, including orchids, and well it was very successful. Thanks to Gaz an Shaz for chauffeuring us.

Day 27 and 28 Lazy Days Bremer Bay

We left Albany for the short trip to Bremer Bay. Bremer Bay is a couple of days of nothing much just “belaxing” as Ruby would say. Little bit of fishing, little bit of 4x4 and chase a few wild flowers. So this post will be pretty short and a few photo’s. We had a small trip up to the lookout then back along the coast to the beach access point. The bar at Bremer bay is like a 6 lane highway of hard packed sand and hasn’t been open to the sea for some time. We had a small sojourn up along the beach before heading back to the bar and taking a track to the north. This brought us on to the eastern side of the river. We had been given the location of some wild orchids and this track gave us a circle route back to Bremer Bay.
Looking back to the bar

Wild flower

Views along the Bremer River

View along the Bremer river


more wildflowers

Beach cruisin'

We have been on some rough tracks but this takes the cake for corrugations. There were 2 patches of about 10 kms and the best we could manage was about 10kph and that rattled the bones. Dougal did a complete 360 on the dash. However it was a good trip didn’t find the orchids but found plenty of wild life and wild flowers. By the time we got back it was mid-afternoon so it was a late lunch and kick back time. Tomorrow it’s off to Ravensthorpe.