Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 7 and 8 Kalgoorlie

Day 1 was a trippin’ day that is to say we were trying to get on a couple of tours. It’s quite hot here at present up around the 33deg mark. The Kalgoorlie tour which takes in most of the sites of the place and the Super Pit mine tour. We lost out on both so we did our own thing. After coffee (rating - very good) at the coffee club then back to van for lunch we headed out the Perth/Coolgardie road to the Hannan’s North tourist mine. The mine has a collection of old buildings, equipment and artefacts from around the Kalgoorlie goldfields area. It has quite a large diverse variety of bits and pieces including old mine buildings and a complete engine room transport into the site and re-erected.  

The display also includes 2 large “tonka” toys - a CAT 793C dump truck and a CAT 994 loader. These are HUGE and expensive pieces of equipment and it was great to be able to look up close at them. There is also a complete Chinese garden which has been developed in memory of all who have chased their fortunes in the gold fields. 
We also tried our hand at gold panning – not all that successful. From Hannan’s we headed up to the water tower look out which afforded great views across Kalgoorlie – Boulder. Next stop was the Super Pit viewing site. 
one off the bucket list

This is a huge site, the largest open cut in Australia. One in seven trucks has a payload of gold and will yield a golf ball size lump of gold. Small problem with our van today we burnt out the water pump so we will try to replace before we leave for Hyden and Wave rock.

Day 2 and the sun is shining but the outlook isn’t good with a storm cell heading our way. Never deterred we head out for a spot of shopping to replenish the larder and coffee (muffin break) rating good. We found a pump for the van so looks like that will be a job for this afternoon. We discovered that there was a caravan and camping show on at the showgrounds so we went there first. I think we have found our next van but no pump. Undeterred we headed back into town and the WA Museum site. This was another fantastic site with exhibitions centred on gold in Kalgoorlie. The exhibit has the narrowest 2 story hotel in Australia (3.2 meters wide) plus a number of banners from the turn of the century trade union movement and a vault containing many nuggets and gold items. From there lunch and back to the van. We had intended to visit the RFDS but the tours didn’t run Sat and Sun – Bugger, the information centre didn’t tell us that. Got the new pump in just as the heavens opened up and it hasn’t stopped raining for the last couple of hours. Tonight’s our last night off (maybe) to Hyden tomorrow. Big thanks to Gaz for fitting the pump and Laura for the massages on my back I have been in serious pain since we left home.

Australia's narrowest hotel at 3.2 mtrs

Jarrah in abundance

Wooden bike circa 1890

Front of the narrowest pub

Weather van at van park

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 7 Balladonia to Kalgoorlie

I had an Aunt who was a wonderful old stick but had this voice that, even when talking quietly, could be heard all over Eaglehawk and had ( I mean no disrespect) the inflections of bogan in it. The sort of pitch and tone that drilled holes in your brain and sounded much like the screeches of the demented.  Our night of free camping near Balladonia brought those images crashing back. As we settled in for a refresher a couple more vans arrived, which is not a problem, but out popped Beryl (not her real name) and smart arse. I came to the conclusion this was his name because it was the only thing Beryl ever called the poor bugger. I don’t know what he must have done to be incarcerated for any length of time in her company but he was obviously beyond help. Thankfully she gave up on him after a while and the quiet returned. At least is scared the bee’s away. Kalgoorlie   tomorrow.

Piece of Skylab at roadhouse west of Balladonia

Postscript. Our travelling companion is my sister in law who is an ex school teacher. I was given a stern lesson in spelling. Apparently I have been spelling both Nullarbor and Kalgoorlie incorrectly I have and will correct this mistake from this point on. Who put a bloody r in Kalgoorlie. Weird people.

Day 6 Eucla to Balladonia (or there about’s) 146.6 kms of straight road

We left Eucla a bit earlier than expected, the bloody time zones are murder on the body clock and that’s if you remember to change the time on your phone, watch, microwave and every other conceivable gadget that has the time on it. Today it’s been mainly driving and hadn’t really picked a spot to stop. In the end it was near Balladonia, in a roadside camp area, which is almost at the end of the longest straight section of road in Australia, all 146.6kms of it. I was never so happy to at least turn the steering wheel when we pulled in. There was very little in the way of tourist action for us but there are many things to see if you had the time. We pulled into an overnight stop area for morning tea and then Caiguna for lunch. Today we treated ourselves and purchase takeaway which was good, no coffee and an attendant that looked very familiar and needed a personality transplant. Guess working out here requires a “special” person. We ended up about 40kms east of Balladonia at a free camp for the night
Free camp Balladonia

Free camp Balladonia

Sunset over free camp Balladonia

Variety club bash participants

Day 5 – Nundroo to Eucla - On the road again

We left the palatial  surrounds of Nundroo and continued west today we have decide to scale back the amount of Km’s and do a bit of site seeing along the Great Australian Bight and decided Eucla would be our target, instead of Cocklebidy which meant we have added another day to cross the Nullarbor to  Kalgoorlie. First stop was The Head of the Bight what an amazing place, there is a visitors centre and for $15.00 you could take the walk down the board walk to the Bunda cliffs. First thing on arrival the car park looked like a used caravan lot with rigs of all shapes, sizes and ages and the inhabitants of said ‘vans were just as eclectic. We handed over our $15.00 to the out of work “comedian” behind the counter and headed off. There is a sign at the entrance on the Eyre Hwy which indicates how many whales have been seen on any given day. The comedian doesn’t fill it in, had too many complaints that the count is wrong – go figure. We, however, weren’t too concerned we had come to see the cliffs and any whale sightings would be a bonus. And what a bonus we got there had to be around 20 odd whales and calf’s stretching as far as we could see and they frolicked in shore. 

What an amazing sight and a privilege to have the opportunity. We spent a lot of time just walking the board walks and watching the whales. It did, unfortunately, have to end for us but some people were obviously there for an extended period with deck chairs, substance and multiple cameras etc. Looked like they were not going too far for the day and the main vantage points were at a premium.
From The Head of the Bight we continued along the Eyre Hwy and stopped off at a couple of different lookouts, each uniquely different and providing a different perspective on this icon. None of the lookouts were too far from the main road so the short bit of rough stuff was bearable.
The roads and the traffic thus far have been pretty good, although the first encounter with a road train passing you or you passing it tends to make you tighten the grip on the wheel.

Photo bombed by one of the "Bash" participants

We rolled into Eucla, after being examined in every orifice by border security, about 3ish for another well-earned rest. The border crossing was made even more interesting as the variety club bash cars were here. We had a “dog” try to “eat” Gaz’s car because he had an iron deficiency and the police were on hand in suspender belts and miniskirts to make sure it didn’t get out of hand. They stayed in the same park as us overnight and were pretty tame. Found out later most were not drinking because they had contracted a virus and were on antibiotics. Tomorrow is another day of driving. No coffee ratings today no where to get a decent one although we sort of had one at the visitors centre but we couldn’t classify it.

Day 4 Port Augusta to Nundroo.

Today we start in earnest on our Nullarbour crossing. A 650km run from Pt Augusta to Nundroo. This is pretty much new territory for us and we are not really site seeing on this leg. We got away at about 8.30am and arrived at Nundroo about 5pm. I was surprised at how little traffic there was on the road for such a main thoroughfare. We stopped for lunch at place called Poochera, which if you don’t deviate from the highway, you wouldn’t know it was there. Now it’s a bit like route 66ish along there Eyre highway with dead or dying towns dotted along the route. For all intention purposes Poochera appears dead but the size and condition of the bowls club paints a slightly different story or so it would seem. 

Couple more shots from the Arid Gardens

Peters Humpy

Flattened kero tins on Peter's Humpy

Sunset over Nundroo
We found a great little park attached to what was once the museum with well-kept facilities. Many of the old exhibits are still there and some appear to have been used or restored recently – but not a human in site. There was even a kero tin humpy (Peter’s Humpy!!!!) complete with furniture. I guess if you have the time you do need to turn left or right every now and then. We have decided to add a day to our crossing to allow for a bit more time for site seeing. Nundroo is, well, interesting brings back memories of Oodnadatta. No coffee stops today we made it on the road (well not physically) and the carrot cake we brought for morning tea, whilst not forgettable, was not an award winner. At a round table conference this evening we took the decision to add the extra day on this leg so it looks like Kalgoorlie Thursday for a few days . 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 3 - Port Augusta

The only thing on today’s agenda, apart from chillin’, was to visit the Arid Land Botanical Gardens just north of Pt Augusta. We had seen these in passing on our recent trip to Coober Pedy and had also heard about them so we put them on the agenda. So after a fairly lazy start to the day we headed off about 10ish for the 10 minute drive. It is very well set up and well-marked with our first port of call the redcliff’s lookout. 
Redcliff's lookout

Looking out over the river flats

This looks out over the river flats and mangroves and has a magnificent back drop of mountains in the distance. A short walk to the lookout provided even better vista’s back towards Pt Augusta. 

Sturt Desert pea
 The walking track up to the look out forms part of a larger walking track around the gardens. The total area of the gardens is around 250 hectares and apparently they have more land, adjacent to the current holding, for expansion. Next stop was the information centre and, guess what, coffee. Now we had been hoping to see Sturt Desert Pea and we found it with a number of fairly large clumps at the entrance to the information centre. Small note Di wasn’t too excited about them as “they have been planted and aren’t wild”. Anyway they were impressive and varied in colour. The gardens have an incredible variety of plants from many of the arid regions and we had a great time roaming around to the point that we just had to stay for lunch.
There is no “where’s Dougal” today cause we only went to the gardens and that would be too easy. Di has rated the coffee as “good” and the ratings have taken a bit more form with so so being – not impressed progressing through good, very good to excellent, excellent being unsurpassed pleasure.
Tomorrow the real adventure begins as we leave for Ceduna and Nundroo.
Garden Sculptures


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 2 Renmark to Port Augusta

Renmark is always a nice interlude to our trips this way. Nice park, nice people and great location. We were up at our usual time and took our time packing and still managed to leave by about 8.3o We headed up B64 to Port Augusta through Stanely,  Crystalbrook and Pt Pirie and got into Pt Augusta just on 3pm.. Not one of my best trips once we cleared the mystery town, after a morning tea of kitchener buns and tea/coffee we hit a brick wall, well not technically, the wind came up you see and it was gale force and either head on or side on all the way to Crystalbrook. The car and van performed well but I think the fuel consumption will make me weep. The buns for morning tea rated well but our meal and coffee at Crystalbrook was so so. 

The kitchener buns

Where's Dougal?

I love some of these old SA buildings
Very disappointing after our May visit. I still haven’t figured out what so so actually looks like on the scale, I guess Di will enlighten me in the fullness of time, but I guess it’s not good as we left half her coffee.
We are in Pt Augusta for 2 nights waiting for Gaz, Shaz and Laura so the blog will start in earnest from now. Tomorrow we are going out to look at the arid gardens, the only thing we have planned so far.

So where is Dougal? As mentioned it was our morning tea stop and we have talked about it before on other trips and is often used as a boys name. No one has guessed the first one yet.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 1 Bendigo to Renmark

Well we are on the road again and it would be fair to say we aren’t too unhappy with that. We left home around 8ish and travelled up the Calder through Charlton, Wycheproof, Redcliff’s then across to Werrimull and Renmark. Not a lot to say we really were just trying to put some miles (sorry Kilometres) under our belt.
We stopped at Charlton for morning tea and Di has decided this trip to rate food stops. So in light of that our first stop for coffee was Charlton at the bakery. The rating was so so I’m guessing there is room for improvement. Coffee wasn’t hot  (hot should be 75 to 80 deg) and not all that nice. On the up side apparently Wendy’s party pies were good. Lunch was well you have to guess where we had lunch. First up Dougal, see if you can guess where he is, I haven’t made him hard to find and the clue is.
 “He enjoyed the slice so much he reckons it’s an award winner” .

Dougal Where are you???
Sunset over the mighty Murry Renmark

Bakery for lunch was pretty good with nice fare and I met a couple of old work colleagues from Mildura. The road has been pretty good today and not a lot of traffic and we arrived in Renmark about 1500 hrs local time and it took about 45 min to set up the van and the tent for Wendy. Tomorrow we are off to Port Augusta via Burra and Crystal brook for a couple of days while we wait for Gaz, Shaz  and Laura to catch up. 

Camp for the night

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Not long now the count down continues

Well we are getting close to our Perth sojourn and as we start assembling what to take and what to leave we must consider Dougal. As most will be aware we take Dougal the Cancer bear on our travels  and play a little game of "where's Dougal". This time around we might change the rules -  because we can, we made up the game - you still have to find Dougal but now tell us where he is (location). This year its a bit more significant for Dougal as the day we head of is Daffodil Day ( As with many families this day has some significance to us. Anyway don't forget to donate. In keeping with my healthy theme (right) this years Dougal is a fitness bear. Watch for him on our travels. D&D
2014 Dougal - the fitness bear