Day 4: 28th Aug 2014

Again, we were up early with the sun so with breakfast taken care of and everything loaded up and squared away, it was back on the road. 
 



We made a quick top up of diesel at the Balladonia Roadhouse which proudly has on display a large piece of debris from the doomed Skylab space station.

Close to Norseman, we startled a herd of camels that were grazing not too far off the edge of the road. We didn’t get a real good look at them, but they appeared to be in excellent condition.

In to Norseman and a coffee break at the IGA Supermarket Café/Coffee shop and a visit to the Information Centre to pick up info on Caravan Parks in Kalgoorlie.

We chose our Park and booked in for the next three nights.

The ladies went in to town to do some grocery shopping and grab some fresh fruit, which we haven’t had since crossing the Vic/S.A. border.
Tomorrow we'll be booking into a tour of the "Super Pit" open cut mine and other sights and historic places.

Day 3: 27th Aug 2014




Daytime arrives early in the west and we were up and about just after 6:30, greeted by another perfect morning with bright sunshine and very little breeze.
A quick pack up and we were back on the road with nothing of real note until we stopped for lunch at the self-professed "Hub of the Universe", Caiguna. This place marks the Eastern end of the longest stretch of straight road in Australia, 90 miles, or 188kms, without a bend. 




Tonight we’ve pulled up at a free camp spot some 50kms short of Balladonia. Apart from the over friendly bees, which disappeared as the sun went down, it was a really pleasant area.

Day 2: 26th Aug 2014

 We took our time packing up and heading off this morning knowing we weren’t travelling a great distance that day.

First stop was at the Head of Bight Marine Park to try our luck at spotting some whales. We weren’t disappointed. The viewing area is a series of long boardwalks overlooking the cliffs that drop into the Great Australian Bight. The conditions were perfect with clear blue skies, a very light breeze, and calm seas. There were a number of whales just lolling around in the immediate area, some with young calves, none in a hurry to go anywhere or do very much. A very long telephoto lens would have been handy here.
 
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A bit further down the road we pulled in to the first of the lookout points along this stretch to view the rugged cliffs that abruptly mark the edge of the Continent.

 
The next lookout provided a different vista with slopes rolling steeply down to the water’s edge, and the third view was different again.

 We finally made it to Border Village where we stopped to capture the moment of crossing into W.A.  for posterity.
Everyone must pass through the Quarantine Station where the officers go through your vehicles, caravans, etc. with a fine toothed comb. We all made it through without any infractions and were allowed to go on our way.
Tonight’s stop is in Eucla, another “town” that’s really just a roadhouse, Hotel, Motel and Camping Grounds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The park soon filled up and we were also joined by a group participating in the Perth Variety Club Bash. Apparently, this mob of characters had driven their whacky and motley looking vehicles all the way to Sydney and were on their return leg to Perth.


Day 1: 25th Aug 2014


Here we are again, off on another trip to see a bit more of this great country of ours. This time it’s over to Perth so I finally get to tick off the last of the States and Territories off my “to visit” list.

Although Sharon, Laura and I left on Saturday, the trip has only begun proper today on leaving Port Augusta after meeting up with Di, Dave and Wendy last night. Up to this point, we’ve been travelling through countryside that we’ve now become fairly familiar with, having been this way three times in a little over twelve months.
Lunch break at Morgan overlooking the mighty Murray.

We rose to a fairly crisp morning, packed up the vans and tents and headed out of Port Augusta in the direction of Perth.
Even though the sun was out, there were thick layers of low cloud hanging around the foot of the ranges and before long we were driving into it. Thankfully it wasn’t too dense and visibility was pretty good, still, I can’t fathom why some people don’t bother to put their headlights on in such conditions.

A thick layer of cloud hanging at the base of the range.
To my surprise, the surroundings, for a lot of the time, are fertile and green, with huge expanses of crops stretching off as far as you can see. Occasionally, the landscape is painted bright yellow with huge fields of Canola in flower. Then, within kilometres, everything will look totally different with low growing trees and salt bush.


Peter's Humpy
Laura found a comfy place to chill.
 
Our choice of location for our lunch stop produced a pleasant little diversion in an all-but-deserted town called Poochera. The little picnic grounds were well maintained with separate His and Hers’ toilets, electric BBQ, and a historic “humpy” built in the early 1900’s by a local character name Peter, out of flattened oil tins. Poochera, like many of the towns we’ve seen so far along the Eyre Highway, seems to exist only to support the grain silos that stand next to the rail line that links them.
Later in the afternoon we pulled in at Ceduna, where we fuelled up and headed on out again without really spending any time. Maybe on the way back.
Tonight we’ve set up camp in the Caravan Park adjacent to the Roadhouse at Nundroo. Facilities are pretty primitive, but we’ve got power, a toilet, and passable showers, but they’re not charging the earth so we can’t complain.
An early morning scene at Nundroo

Mount Isa to Longreach

6th June 2013

Our destination for tonight was Longreach and Sharon had booked ahead to secure us an ensuite site for the next two nights.
Leaving Mt Isa

Main street of Cloncurry
To get to Longreach from Mt. Isa, there are a number of small towns you pass through, the first of which is Cloncurry. As we'd only come 200kms from Mt Isa, we didn't stop here and blew straight on through out the other side again.

By the time we got to the little settlement of McKinlay we both needed a pit-stop so it was a quick trip into a side street to the public loos. The only notable feature of this place is the local pub, "The Walkabout Creek Hotel". Some may recognise the name as the pub seen in the Crocodile Dundee movies.


Lunch today was taken at a roadhouse in yet another tiny place called Kyuna. Again, nothing really remarkable apart from the pair of Brolgas wandering around right next to the highway. It was a surprise to see what I thought were water birds in a place so devoid of any water feature.


A pair of Bustards strutting along the main street of Kyuna
By now the wildlife we were spotting either side of the road included Emus, feral goats, unusually coloured sheep, cows and an Australian Bustard (or Plain Turkey).

At about 200kms out of Longreach, the amount roadkill we had to avoid or drive over became ridiculous. Most of the carcasses were what was left of kangaroos, but there was also the odd cow or two and even some feral pigs. It appears that the goats are smart enough to avoid the traffic.

Feral goats grazing beside the highway
Black Falcons and Crows feasting on roadkill



With so much fresh (and otherwise) meat available, the Black Falcons and Crows were thick. In the distance you'd often see a large black form in the middle of the road. As you'd get closer, bits of the object would peel off and fly away with only some small scraps left on the bitumen by the time you reached the spot.
We arrived at Longreach, located the Caravan Park, and settled in for the next couple of nights.



A lazy day in Mt. Isa

5th June 2013

After being on the road for a while now, and with so many sights to visit and experience so far, Sharon and I decided we'd take some time out at Mt. Isa and just do nothing for a day. We drove the short way into the heart of the CBD where we parked the Prado in one of the many sun-shaded spots in the street. We had a bit of a wander around but this is a bit of a strange place with many of the businesses closed up and for sale.

Thankfully, we did manage to find a "Coffee Club" outlet that seemed very popular so, after taking care of some banking, it was straight in for the usual Cappuccino and Long Black. This place has a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu and was most impressive. It was a bit hard not to notice all the "Qld Maroons" State of Origin Rugby paraphernalia stuck up around the place so I brilliantly deduced a game must be on that evening.

I'd gotten really annoyed back at Alice Springs with the lack of T.V. reception we were experiencing and I'd spent a bit of time there mucking around with the leads and plugs and trying to get our antenna to do what it's supposed to do. When we're away in the 'van we don't usually watch much tele, but we do like to try and keep up with the News, so when I spotted a Bunnings store, we popped in a bought a better antenna.

So, once we got back to the Caravan Park, I got out some tools and set to work fitting the new acquisition. The couple from the 'van behind us wandered past and stopped for what ended up a fairly long chat. They were from N.S.W. and had been on the road for a while and started their trip in a pop-top 'van much like ours, but decided to upgrade to a 19' conventional 'van with an airconditioniner after the weather got unbearable the furter north in W.A. they went. There was also and older bloke that came over and started gas-bagging as soon as I lifted the bonnet on the Prado to top up the washer bottle. He proudly told me he had a Toyota too (a Land Cruiser) that had in excess of 300,000kms on the clock and was still going strong. He and his wife were getting around the country with a camper trailer in tow so it was a good opportunity to get his view on the practicalities of this type of touring.

Getting back to the tele antenna, I finally got it up and the t.v. happily tuned in to a bunch of digital stations. We were good to go.

The rest of the day was spent just sitting around and catching up on some blogging etc.

Later that evening, Sharon and I came to the realisation that we'd made a big mistake being in Mt. Isa during a State of Origin match. This town is rugby mad. There were groups everywhere watching the game and as the match rolled on, and the alcohol was consumed, so the noise level grew. We went to bed not knowing who'd won, but with the car horns blaring out on the street, and the hooting and hollering going on, we assumed it was Queensland. Someone in the street behind the Park was having a State of Origin party, which is apparently the thing to do, and the music blared at us 'til the small hours of the morning. Not a pleasant night.

We later discovered that N.S.W.  beat Qld. quite convincingly so I'd hate to be around when they actually win!

Sorry, no photos today.

Farewell Northern Territory, hello Queensland

4th June 2013

Today we had a fairly long drive ahead of us with 675kms to Mt. Isa, so it was up early (for someone on holidays), a quick brekky and a slick pack-up job. We were underway before 8:00am and drove the half dozen kilometres north of Tennant Creek to the Shell roadhouse at Three Ways to top up the tanks. I was standing at the Prado's fuel filler door, bowser nozzle in hand waiting for the pump to come to life, and continued to wait, and waited some more thinking to myself...."This place didn't look that busy????" until I noticed a sign on top of the bowser that instructs you to leave Photo ID with the attendant before fuel will flow. Apparently "drive-offs" are a big problem up this way.

We eventually took care of the refuelling business and took off towards the Queensland border.

For several days now we'd been seeing masses of small termite hills on the roadside, usually no more that 40 to 50cm high. Now we began to see very different mounds, dotted throughout the bush, that were much, much larger and grandiose, and rounded. These were obviously built by the Grollo genis of termites.

 
Puny N.T. Termite mounds





More stately Qld. mounds


























Another attempt at a cup of coffee was made at the Roadhouse at Barkly Homestead. This was another combination Roadhouse/Bar/Entertainment Venue that appeared to be the only thing around for miles. Unfortunately, their coffee vending machine had broken the day before so we paid our money and were given two paper coffee cups. They were improvising by plugging in a "Tiffany" electric jug where the dead machine had been removed from, and a container sitting nearby offered sachets of instant coffee or tea bags. To add insult to injury, the carton of milk provided was UHT!

The most remarkable thing here was seeing our first really big roadtrain, 4 trailers long. Until now there'd only been B triples, but this behemoth made them look like toys. It took the driver quite a distance to wind the whole rig up to speed after leaving the Roadhouse.


After all the magnificent scenery we'd witnessed, and the ever-changing hills, mesas and ranges, we drove over a rise to be faced with a wide expanse of ....nothing. There was literally no feature, tree or animal to be seen for as far as could be seen.

Little wonder there's nothing and no-one out there, and there's no fuel for the 260kms between Barkly Homestead and Camoweal so you'd better hope for favourable winds. The wind that day was not favourable to us and we drove most of the day with a fairly stiff breeze coming from the passenger side and slightly head-on. Our fuel consumption figure rocketted to 17.2 litres per 100kms, but with 150 litres of diesel on board, we had plenty of range to spare.

A short time before we rolled into Camoweal, we crossed the border into sunny Queensland. The temperature had climbed steadily over the day, and later peaked at 28 degrees. Sharon wanted to organise the payment of a bill, so when we pulled up at the public toilets in Camoweal, directly across the road from the Post Office, it was too good an opportunity. The Post Office was also the General Store so after Sharon took care of business, I selected a couple of Dixie Cup icecreans out of the freezer which went down well.

It was getting late in the afternon when we finally arrived at Mt. Isa and the first couple of Parks had no powered sites left. The Grey Nomads seem to have an annoying  habit of travelling only short distances and setting up stumps shortly after lunchtime. This means that anyone puling in late had better hope they've booked ahead. Luckily we weren't too late and settled ourselves in for two nights at a smallish Park on the outskirts of town. Later that night I was over at the ammenities block taking care of some business when I heard and felt a massive, deep rumble that sounded like thunder. I know it hadn't come from me so I was wondering "Earthquake???" until I remebered Sharon reading out some interesting facts about Mt. Isa.  This is a mining town, and the huge mine is down one end of town. At around 8:00am, and again at 8:00pm each day, the explosive charges that have been set by the preceeding shift are detonated. The noise and vibration of the blast can be felt across the whole town. Chalk up another unique experience.

Mt. Isa mine