Coolgardie Tuesday, 10th May 2011
The first night out
The day was finally here, we intend to tour with our caravan to the Eastern States, then up the coast to Cairns, across to Mt Isa, to Tennant Creek, up to Catherine, then across to Kununarra and down the west coast back to Perth. A distance of approximately 12 000 kms. This 3 month or so trip is to be broken by a visit to the U.S.A. for nearly a month. Well, that's the plan, lets see how it turns out.
As all the furniture from the kitchen, dining, family and home theatre room is packed into the three bedrooms and garage because the floors are to be sanded and polished, we spent the night in our caravan parked on the vacant block next door. We had farewelled our friendly and helpful neighbours earlier, telling them we would leave at “sparrow fart” time.
Although we were up and about at 6.30am it still took us until nearly 8.30 to get on our way, by the time we packed the extra things we “need”, spoke to the floor sander who arrived at 7am, and said goodbyes again to the neighbours who came out when they
saw we hadn't left.
Rags had spent the last week worrying about how the Jeep would go after all the problems we've had, as well as the bearings in the van which he didn't have time to check. All was well however until we left a service station in Sawyers Valley. The turbo made a screaming sound, similar to what you hear on some trucks. This continued under acceleration for about 30 minutes, we thought we may have to turn back. The sound stopped, and we didn't have any more problems.
After a tasty pie and sushi roll lunch at the French Bakery in Merredin we continued on and by the time we passed Southern Cross realised that although we could push on to Norseman as Rags had planned we would arrive by nightfall. Instead, we decided to stop at the Haven Caravan Park just outside Coolgardie, feeling that we weren't in a great hurry and why push ourselves? Even so, we traveled just under 600kms, which with the caravan wasn't a bad effort. The park itself is very basic but for $25/night with power and clean amenities can be recommended. Wednesday, 11th May 2011
Last night we decided that we would spend the day and evening in Kalgoorlie, neither of us having been here for over 25 years and bypassing the town several times over the years.. After a leisurely morning we left Coolgardie at 9am and travelled the 35kms or so to Kalgoorlie.
Central Kalgoorlie hadn't changed much except for the supermarkets set behind the historical shop fronts on Hannan St. Paddy Hannan's statue was still there and Rags reminisced being there in the late 60s with his mate Colin during his study years. We found a Dick Smith's shop where we purchased a converter to run the laptop from the car battery, the inverter we had been using causing us to blow fuses.
From here we went to the lookout to view the “Superpit”, a huge hole in the ground where gold is mined. This pit consists of a number of traditional mines making up the old Golden Mile. These became uneconomical and an infamous Perth businessman, Alan Bond, had the idea of buying up all of them and converting the holding to an open cut mine. He never completed the deal but the idea was taken up by
Every so often we came across a scene such as this where someone showed their sense of humour
Newmont Mines. The pit is so large, it can be seen from space.
By then it was nearly midday, so we set off for Norseman, about 140kms away. After a stop for lunch near the Widgiemooltha service station we arrived at Norseman at about 3.30pm. By the time we had refuelled and the fact that Judy had to be in contact with her students, we decided to stay the night here and leave first thing in the morning. An easy evening was had at the Norseman caravan park. Thursday 12th May 2011
We got away by 7.30am, a bit of a record for us. First stop was Balladonia where we had our morning tea and we continued on to Caigunna for a late lunch. Our goal for the day was to travel a decent distance as we want to spend a bit of time touring in N.S.W and southern Qld before flying out.
The conditions were perfect for travel, cool, overcast and with no wind. The kilometres were just eaten away, Rags doing the driving, Judy marking university assignments. The scenery was fairly monotonous, either saltbush or the small wandoo type scrub.
A view from the road.
of the day was driving along Australia's longest straight road as described in the photo and even this was nothing special except that the road was straight rather than with turns, the scenery being the same.
Just to keep himself amused, Rags noted who acknowledged his waves from the cars coming in the opposite direction. Other “caravaners” topped the list, followed by truckies, campervans and then single cars. You can interpret this as you wish, my interpretation is that us older people in caravans are obviously more friendly!!
It was 4.30pm W.A. time, 6pm S.A. time when we stopped at a campsite 10kms inside South Australia situated right by the ocean. We traveled 730kms today, not a bad effort!
Judy had managed to get a Telstra signal as we neared Eucla and had downloaded her mail. She was relieved that there were no problems with her uni students, allowing her to have a “guilt free” evening.
Friday 13th May 2011
Today was a nothing day in that all we did was drive. We awoke early and on the road by 7.30am. It was 6am Perth time but we did turn our watches forward. The weather
Silverton was where the movie "Mad Max" was shot.
was good for travel, overcast with a few light showers occasionally, and no wind.
The countryside varied between low mallee scrub and saltbush plains. We drove across the actual Nullarbor (no trees) stopping at the service station at the eastern end. Fuel here was $2.07/ litre and they wanted your driver's licence before switching on the bowsers. Apparently they have had many people drive off without paying. What irked us was that about 1.5 hours up the road at Nundroo, they were selling fuel 50c/litre cheaper!
A minor interesting fact is that the distance markers in S.A. are not in multiples of 5 and 10, in fact they are everything else! It was not unusual to have it shown that you had 29kms to the next town, to be told at 7 and 3 that you were getting close. Perhaps the government got a special deal on using numbers nobody else wanted!!!!
We arrived at Ceduna at about 2pm, passed through the quarantine inspection, and then parked by the beach where Judy was able to download her uni and personal mail. Ceduna probably has many hidden features but on our 3 previous visits we failed to find
them and thus decided to head off towards Port Augusta.
We drove until it was nearing dark and on our last trip we had noted a particular campsite as being good in our Camps 5 book. We put the co-ordinates in the TomTom and soon found our stop for the night. It hadn't been our intention to make the day a travel day, but we did manage to cover almost 700kms today.
The only problem we had was that on stopping we noticed that the fridge was not cooling. The freezer seems ok but we'll see how the fridge runs on gas.
Saturday, 14th May 2011
A good night's sleep makes all the difference! Woke up rarin' to go and left at 8am. The fridge worked on gas, was ok on 240v, so have decided there must be a fuse for the 12v system. As Judy had a wireless connection she Googled it, got a PDF on the fridge which showed where the fuse was and how to get to it. Something to do next stop.
By about 11am we reached Port Augusta and having been there before we had no real need or
Just outside Silverton.
wish to stay. After refuelling we headed off towards Broken Hill, this being a town we had previously been to, wanted to return to, and had marked it as the end point of the long-distance travel days for this part of the trip.
The landscape today continued to be boring, varying from sections of scrub, sections of saltbush, then opening up onto some poor farming land where a few sheep were grazed interspersed with wheat farms. This returned to the rocky, desert landscape as we came into Broken Hill. We're both looking forward to seeing some lush, green vegetation.
We arrived at a caravan park on the edge of town at about 5pm, the fuel computer saying we had 3kms before the tank was empty. We still had a 20 litre can of diesel with us just in case! As it was already getting cold a hot shower was the first priority after setting up the van, then we relaxed with a drink. We've booked in for 2 days, tomorrow being a day of rest and exploring.
Sunday, 15th May 2011
We were out on the town by 9am, first stop a service station for much-needed fuel
One of the original buildings.
and then to Patton Street Markets. This market is held in May and is a place where you can buy jams and preserves, toys, artifacts and craft items. At least that's what the tourist brochure says. It must have been an 'off' day as there were 3 or 4 stalls but nothing much to excite us.
From here we drove on to Silverton, essentially an abandoned settlement about 25 kms out of town. This town had a population of over 1700 in the 1890s but now has less than 60 people living there, all part of the tourist trade. Some of the original buildings still stand such as one of the hotels, a church, as well as several government offices.
When the gold and silver ran out the population moved to the new fields in Broken Hill.
The films “Mad Max”, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”, and the series “Royal Flying Doctor” were just a few made here.
Lunch was at the “Demo Club” (Democratic Club) which had a Sunday Roast. A very cheap meal was provided consisting of a salad bar, a plate of roast pork or beef with roast vegies, with cheesecake as a dessert.
Tasty and filling, it became our main meal of the day.
The 'Pro Hart” gallery was not to be missed and here we saw many of his original paintings, a replica of his studio (as messy as our study), as well as his collection of 3 Rolls Royces and a Bentley. One Rolls Royce had become Hart's canvas as it was covered in one of his typical painting scenes of the bush. We had a good laugh at several film clips shown, they taking us back many years when he made advertisements for stain-proof carpets.
By then we had enough of old buildings, art, and mining artifacts so we returned to the caravan park where we spent the afternoon reading, snoozing, and preparing to leave in the morning. The evening was spent marking for Judy, writing for Rags.
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