Sunday, 17 November 2013

The home stretch

Before we knew it we were in Victoria and then back in NSW. Considering how far we have travelled we seemed to get back to our home state quite quickly.

We stopped at the lovely town of Morgan, right on the Murray River. It has many historic buildings and a lovely park by the river where the railway station used to be. Remnants of the old wharf which the paddle steamers used can still be seen.

We drove on from Morgan and could see storms building all around us with lots of rain.

We remained spectators however as the rain fell all around us but not on us. A few big drops fell, the wipers went on and then it just fizzled out!

We made our next stop at a lovely free camp called Plush's Bend right on the river near Renmark. The camping area was quite large and you are allowed to stay for up to 7 days which is quite unusual. We found a great spot under the gum trees. We didn't bother unhitching the van as we were only staying for one night.

Two pelicans came over to say hello when we arrived.

The next day we set off again and made a short stop at Mildura. We then crossed the river and were back in NSW with over 17000 kms on the clock from our trip.  We passed lots of grape vines in this area and then went through more wheat country.

We kept going through Balranald and on to Hay where we stopped for a short break then we made another roadside camp at Goolgowi which is about 110kms to the east. We had the whole rest area to ourselves and we were a good way off the road so the passing trucks didn't bother us. It was quite cold overnight and overcast the next morning but soon it was fine and sunny.

We had planned to stop for our last night in Bathurst, however, we were so close to home we just decided to keep going. It was a long drive.

Toilet sculpture atop a shed in Grenfell.
We had a lovely welcome home. We were surprised and delighted to see this sign at the top of our street

and Erin and Oli were waiting out the front of our house to greet us when we arrived.

The trip meter reached 18,326 kms. We had a great time and saw the most amazing things. Living in the caravan was very easy. Its a great way to travel as you have the freedom to stop where ever you want.

Whenever I go away I always think that things are going to change while I'm gone but mostly things stay the same, which is good. Its lovely to be back with family and friends.

Thanks to all of you who have been following our trip. Its been great fun to share our experiences and photos with you.

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Nullabor

We left Kalgoorlie early in the morning on another lovely sunny day. We backtracked to Norseman then headed east across the plains. There are no shortage of straight roads out here.

Another RFDS emergency landing strip on the road.

We drove  across the longest straight stretch of road in Australia 145.6 km. It was pretty boring especially for the driver.

At the end of this stretch we stopped at Caiguna where we found this sign. The top says 'Caiguna. Hub of the Universe'! Caiguna is a roadhouse sooooo far from anywhere!

We stopped for the night at a roadside campground at Moodini Bluff which was a nice spot. There were about six other caravans already there but there was plenty of room for us all.

It was a bit chilly!
We had dinner and sat outside looking at the stars as it was very dark. It's quite fun staying in these roadside stops. Our caravan has everything in it we need so we are completely self sufficient. We can be in the middle of nowhere and have a hot shower, watch telly (if there is reception), cook dinner, enjoy a nice cold glass of wine or beer and sleep in a comfy bed. Its really great!

Another thing that was cool about this stop is that Mike turned the generator on for a short while so I could use the iron to prepare some freezer paper shapes for my applique patchwork project. I wanted to have something to do on the long straight roads were were driving on, so there I was ironing my shapes onto my fabric in a roadside stop in remote Western Australia!! Too cool!!

It was a nice calm night so we didn't have to worry about the wind. I did some housekeeping (just a tiny bit is all that is needed in a van) and some cooking in anticipation of outsmarting the quarantine inspections I was anticipating on the border. So I made potato salad and cooked up my onions, capsicum and mushrooms for use in a spag bol or cottage pie. On the way into WA I had to surrender all my fruit and veg and even a jar of honey which was such a waste of food. As it happened though, we never did get inspected on the way into SA so it was all in vain. It made the next few dinners easier to prepare though!

Along the road we were lucky enough to see some more of the huge eagles that we saw earlier in the trip as they were feasting on some road kill. I tried for a photo but they are just too quick!

We stopped at a place called Eucla which is the last town in WA before you cross the border into SA. I said in my previous post that I thought there would be no more beach pics but I was wrong!!

At Eucla we visited a great beach and an old telegraph station which has been almost completely covered by the sand dunes.
The view from the escarpment at Eucla.

The beach was long and beautiful, of course, with the remains of an old jetty on it. We think this this was used to bring supplies to the telegraph station.

The thing with sand dunes is that they all look the same, pretty much.

So as you would be aware by now if you have been reading this blog for a while, Mike likes to go off the beaten track. He likes to explore. Right, well, we were on the beach and I dutifully followed him to a vantage point to take photos which was fine. Then he said, 'Lets go this way. You can get back this way.' So, silly me, I followed him.

Well it soon became very apparent that he had no idea where we were nor how to get back to the pathway that we used to get to the beach. It was OK insofar as off in the distance we could see the escarpment where the roadhouse was (some km's away), but as for finding the carpark or even the telegraph station that we had walked past, that was proving difficult.

It was funny at first but I started to get a bit panicky when we just kept thinking we had found the path and then realising that we hadn't. We were going around in circles. The trees all look the same, the dunes all look the same...... Eventually, we reckoned that a large tree, the only one of its kind in the area, must be near the telegraph station and headed for that. Thankfully, after climbing a few more dunes, the building came into view and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I know I should know better ......

In addition, while we were searching for the way out we saw this HUGE emu. He was standing on top of a dune surveying the surroundings. He was so much bigger than any other emu we saw. Thankfully he was far enough away that we didn't bother him nor him us.

We soon crossed over the border into South Australia and noticed some cars and caravans stopped at a lookout just a few hundred metres off the road toward the coast. The vegetation here is very low and scrubby so you can see vehicles from miles away. There was no sign or anything on the turnoff. It turned out to be the most spectacular view of the cliffs along the coast.

We kept driving until late afternoon and then stopped at another roadside spot for the night. Again there were a few other vans there but we found a nice spot under some trees. Backing the van in under all the branches was a bit tricky but my expert driver did it with a minimum of fuss.

We crossed the Nullabor (which means treeless plain or no trees) but I found it a bit anti climactic. It was just another long straight road with not much to look at.

Eventually it gave way to more heavily wooded areas and a place called Nundoo which was another wheat growing area. 

It was very windy again and unfortunately not a tail wind either so it made driving heavy going. There were also lots of road trains. We didn't have to worry about passing them. They just overtook us as we were only doing 90 to 100 kph.

Both these trucks passed us one after the other!
We stopped at Ceduna for lunch but nothing was open as it was Sunday. Sunday's in these country towns are very different to the rest of the week. They are usually really dead. Thankfully the supermarket was open so I could get something for lunch. We parked by the bay which was quite pretty but it was so windy we stayed in the van. It was quite cold too.

We set off again through endless wheat country. I had no idea there were so many wheat farms in Australia! We drove through lots of small towns which all had huge wheat silos - Wirulla, Poochera, Minnipa, Pygery, Kyancutta and Koongawa. We stopped at a roadhouse come caravan park at Kimba for the night. It got really cold. Only 8 degrees! This town's claim to fame was that it was half way across Australia (this must be true as it was on the T shirts and stubby holders for sale in the roadhouse!) and the big Galah! Of course, I had to take a picture of him. I thought he was quite cute! In case you were wondering he's 8 metres tall and 2.5 metres wide.

We left Kimba the following morning and drove through lots more wheat country. Then we came to Iron Knob which has a huge iron ore mine. Its basically a large hill that is gradually being reduced by the mine.

The next place was Port Augusta which is a large city at the top of the Spencer Gulf. We didn't stop here but carried on through the mountains to the east and through the historic towns of Wilmington, Willowie, Morchard, Peterborough, Burra and then headed for Morgan on the Murray River.

It was great to see all these historic towns with their lovely old buildings still intact. I really missed this aspect of the country when we were up north as a lot of the towns up there are younger than me!

We soon found ourselves on the Murray River which is also a very historic region. That's for the next post.

Just a bit more wheat!!

Thursday, 14 November 2013


We set off for Kalgoorlie on a wet morning however it didn't last for long. Within about half an hour the rain had dried up and it was just a bit cloudy. We travelled north on the road to Norseman and then on to Kalgoorlie.  This is another wheat growing area so there were acres and acres of it.

We passed through a small place called Grass Patch which was basically just a small pub come roadhouse and a huge wheat silo, however, on the road as we came into town was this wonderful sign.

The pub was the only place in town so I went in to get some coffee only to find that the coffee machine was being serviced. Oh no!!  So we set off for Norseman in search of coffee.

There's not a great deal at Norseman (although we did get coffee) but there were these cool camels on the roundabout as we came into town.

It was then onward and upward to Kalgoorlie which as you would know is a gold mining town with a lot of history. We stayed for two nights and spent time in town looking at all the beautiful old buildings.

We also visited the' super pit' which is the huge open cut gold mine which is right next to the town. There used to be many small mine shafts all over the place and back in the 80's they were all merged together into this huge 'super pit'. It really is enormous and its fascinating to watch all the trucks and diggers working away inside it. They look like ants from the top but they are huge machines and trucks which cost millions of dollars each.

Threre are huge trucks and diggers in this photo.

We also visited an old two up circle. It was just outside the town and seemed like it was quite old although there was no information there to say when it was built or who built it etc.

The facilities were interesting. Very posh indeed!

My only interesting botanical observation for this post was a prickly pear. Really ugly from a distance but pretty in a spikey sort of way up close.

Its off across the Nullabor from here and then home. We have done nearly 15000km so far. The car and van are both going well and we are still having fun!