Published: March 30th 2010March 29th 2010
We are on day eleven of our trip. Unfortunately no opportunity to do the blog until we arrived in Charleville and then needed a day or two to recover from the 4000km trip.
As planned we left Perth at 6.20 on Saturday morn (20/3) thanks to Phil's organisation the day before. Car all packed up and ready to go. We are travelling in a Toyota Avalon. With our whoopie cushions, Phil's backrest and my foot rest the drive is very comfortable. The car fridge adds to the creature comforts as we have cold drink, lunches etc on tap. Music from the ipod set on shuffle makes for pleasant ambiance and a surprise or two when some songs come on - I don't think that I have actually listened to the full CDs loaded on before the trip - fortunately there is the fast forward button!
First overnight was at Norseman - filling up with petrol on the way at Coolgardie - price 129.5cpl (I am including the price of petrol purchased in the blog as there are some folk out there who have a need to know this - for whatever reason!). Nothing terribly exciting about the drive - in fact I had my first "car sleep".
Stayed at the Great Western Motel (at $108 pn with 10% discount - not sure why the discount but maybe because the dining room was closed). Basic room. Had dinner at the Mines & Norseman Workers Club. All very subdued as a young girl had "passed" and the family were gathered there for the wake. No interaction with the locals. And a very long time since my snapper had seen the ocean. A quick flit around town. We will be doing more of the tourist thing on way back.
Early start to next stopover at Eucla- with a petrol stop at Belladonia - 173.9cpl. Stayed at Amber Motor Inn @$115pn. Dinner at the Roadhouse - great hamburgers and an icecream. Discovered that we had left our pillows at Norseman (bummer!). Surrounded by members of Ulysses (?spelling) with their noisy motor bikes (and female members). Had seen them enmasse in Albany the week before and never thought we would be sharing the road East and our accommodation with them enroute.
Day three headed out to our planned destination of Kyancutta making sure that we had eaten all out fruit before hitting the quarantine stop. Stopped at Ceduna to stock up on fruit and petrol - 132.9cpl. Got to Kyancutta earlier than expected so continued to east to Kimba - the actual centre of Australia. Stayed in motel unit at the Kimba Hotel - had dinner there. Also made contact with daughter by public phone - an experience for us as can't remember when we last used a coin phone.
Next stop - Broken Hill - the first part of the drive was fairly boring (like the Hay Plain) then we hit the Flinders Ranges and it started to green up. Petrolled up at Port Agusta - 129cpl.
We did our usual animal spotting thing across the Nullabor - and the signs on the roadside let us to believe that we needed to be mindful of kangaroos, emus, wombats, cows etc..............great disappointment: no kangaroos (apart from decinticrated ones on side of road and not too many of them; one live emu and two dead; a huge eagle on the road (more flying around); a fox; and a number of rambling goats.
Broken Hill was a pleasant surprise - very green and very clean and tidy. Stayed at the Grand Guest House for two nights - right in the middle of the main street . Small but clean room with ensuite. Pizza in the room for dinner first night; Host Michelle provided a Lamb Roast for guests (at $10 a head including trifle for dessert) on second night - apparently a weekly Wednesday night tradition as she has a number of long termers who she likes to feed - a very pleasant experience and the company was enjoyable. Thoroughly recommend the place - particularly if you are there on a Wednesday. Had lunch at the Cafe/Restaurant at the top of the Line (defunct) with great views over BH. Did the usual touristy things including the Sculpture Park - impressive - pity about the flies!; Pro Hart gallery (pity about the entrance fee!); number of other galleries - disappointed that a number were closed. A trip to Big W to replace pillows (and pillow slips); filled up using the Woolies voucher so petrol was 124.7cpl! Spent a couple of hours on day 2 working on Plan B, C and D using the most unfriendly websites to work out how to make our way to Charleville avoiding flooded roads (or closed roads due to flood damage). These diversions would have added some extra 1000kms to the trip - but greater love has no sister - determined to get to Charleville to catch up with Julie and Bill! Thank god that Phil just loves driving long distances so not an issue for him.
Headed out to Cobar with a number of possible routes up our sleeves. Stopped off at NRMA to get their view on things and were referred to the local police. Very friendly policeman got on phone to Bourke to enquire about roads for us - unfortunately we failed to ask him to enquire about the road from Bourke to the Qld Border and continued to assume that it remained closed as per our previous reports and we were working on plan C or D subject to getting a report at the next stop. Fortunately the woman from our planned accom at Bourke rang and she advised that the road to the border was open and as we knew that the Qld side was open (courtesy of Bill!) we decided to stick with Plan A and spend a couple of days in Bourke resting up before heading into Qld. The beauty of our research is that I now know where the towns (places) in this part of the world are in relation to each other - an educational experience. Also know that some shires need to work on their websites to make them user friendly.
Another petrol stop in Cobar - 133.9cpl.
On way to Bourke the emu count went up by one! Still no live kangaroos! Plenty of eagles and butterflies.
During our roadside stops for the two hour breaks and lunch (ham sandwhiches and fruit) take the opportunity to wander around and check out the emerging wildflowers along the side of the road - amazing variety! There is invariable a wee stop around the two hour limit so have also checked out a variety of his and hers...........disappointing quality to say the least - we need to get our act together in this regard as the NZers leave us for dead in this regard - no matter where you stop there you can expect to (and do) get pristine conditions.
Stayed at the Kidman Camp Resort in a Fred Flintstone cabin (when I work out how to get the pics onto the blog there will be pic of this place). Not much to see and do in Bourke. Had a swim in the pool - disturbing a camera crew working on a presentation for some TV tourist show - their script had them comparing Bourke to Broome and Bourke was found to be the best location. Not so sure about that! Amazed at the height of the Darling River and how fast it was flowing - due to the flooding further north. Visited an impressive little gallery. Phil has the card so expect he will be revisiting it on the website as he was taken by a painting or two. Ate in both nights using the $5.00 cooked chook from the local IGA to make healty salad. More petrol at 141.9 cpl.
Onwards to Charleville - through some minor flooding (more pics to come). A dawdle of a drive some 450kms. Slowed down by herds of cattle grazing on thesides of the road - obviously moved to this higher ground as there was a lot of water to be seen on both sides of the road stretching inland. Bitten badly by bullants at the NSW/Qld border when we stopped to take pics and for Phil to find a tree! Another emu or two added to the tally! A pit stop at Wyandra (last toilet for 100kms before Charleville). Last lunch on the road for a while. Also asked to report on the state of the place - which we did over a very enjoyable dinner and winewith Bill and Julie.
Arrived in Charelville as planned on Saturday - one week on the road and 4000kms! An observation here - Australia is a country of raw beauty - wide open spaces - no wonder the hordes ofthe world are envious of our vast unused land.
Staying with Julie (sister) and her husband (Bill - the Main Roads Engineer).......................Day one Bill took us on a drive around Charleville to see the flood damage - they have done an amazing job cleaning up the place though some shops are still closed due to flood damage. There is a push to divert the gully to avoid future flooding - a challenge for the politicans in the town no doubt as there will be opposition to what seemsto be a perfect solution.
Day two we were on the road again with Bill driving to visit friends of Julie and Bill (and who we had met at their wedding and again at the Quilpie races last September. Great lunch at a working sheep station some two hours away with 50km of dirt road. Bill was able to inspect the flood damage to the road on the way. The rail line at places had been shifted and damaged due to the pressure of the flood waters. A learning experience as now know the difference between lamb, hogget and mutton. Not sure how old the sheep was that we ate but it was soooooooooooooo flavoursome (what happens to the ones we buy in the shops??) Emu count went off the radar - in fact, counted out and they have become hohum! Still was great to see large family groups (or rather mobs!). Also a number of kangaroo sightings.
Day three in Charleville - trip downtown to do some shopping. As were here only some 6 months ago we are not rushing to do the tourist things again.
Day four - Bill has headed out on a road inspecton for two days. We are taking it quietly today - some domestics; Phil reading and me getting this blog up to date - washing etc and preparing brains for dinner tonight - I now know why I have never prepared them before!
Observation - when I read other blogs prior to starting this trip I was intrigued by the number of references to eating in them - I planned on avoiding this topic but it is such a part of the day on the road that to omit these daily events would not complete the picture as some meals deserve mention.