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Published: June 15th 2016
Coodlie Park 'beach'
Western side of Eyre Peninsula - Great Australian Bight
This week has been mostly about getting from A to B, day after day. It has involved some long distances and some very close attention to the fuel gauge at times. After leaving Murray Town, we went straight through Port Augusta without stopping Geoff falsely assuming there would be a fuel stop on the western side of the town... Unfortunately that assumption was not the best one, but we then thought there would be fuel at a place called Iron Knob, a town of some size. Wrong again, after turning onto the Eyre Highway some 30 kms away from Port Augusta we were greeted with a sign that said the next fuel stop was just on 200 kms further on. Now that was really not good news, but there was no turning back. We dribbled along at 80kph to conserve fuel and made it into Kimba with the gauge on ‘E’. Geoff was relieved that he didn’t have to push the van and car! We stopped at a dot on the map called Kyancuta that night and decided that we needed to get back to the coast again.
The first place of any real interest on this part of the
Coodlie Park 'beach'
Marg deciding if she really need that swim after all.
trip was Coodlie Park. It is a pastoral station on the upper west coast of the Eyre Peninsula. It is far more tourist attraction than pastoral station now and the company had 4 mini buses to do tours for the eco tourist, and the thrill seeker who could experience diving in a shark cage! The camp area was another experience with about 20 elevated shelters dotted around amongst the trees for the travellers to set up their swags. Caravanners had another more open area and there was only one other caravan there whilst we were there. Coodlie Park advertise having access to a beach, so we went to explore. I should point out that all directions at the park are by ‘mud map’ and include instructions such as “return to the homestead and turn right to the big windmill and the sign to the beach”, “follow the blue/green arrows.” We did one better than that and got a guided tour; not one you would expect as it was conducted by a kelpie. As soon as she saw us turn at the windmill, she was off. Under the fence, and across the paddocks at a furious speed. We travelled a bit
'Peg 222' Nullarbor Plain rest stop
The sky really does catch fire out here
slower as the track was a bit rough (read very rough) in parts, but the kelpie knew when to stop and wait. She wanted us to do the big loop, which is where the beach is located, but we went towards the cliffs. It didn’t matter, she found us after Geoff had taken his photo’s and led us on the alternate route to the beach location! Now, one has to have a fairly generous imagination about what to expect of the beach, as it was really only a pocket hanky size of sand wedged in between two cliff bluffs. There was a sign that said “DOWN” and both of us declared that there was no way we would be going down. You also really need abseiling gear to access it, although we found out later that the couple in the other caravan had managed to get down to the bottom...why I do not know! The dog had waited while we looked and guided us back onto the loop, and then took off across the paddocks again as we headed back. One of the best guides we have experienced!
Next stop was Ceduna, and a caravan park by the beach.
As I have probably already said, there are times when you need facilities such as running water and clothes dryer. The weather had deteriorated and the first night saw us in the centre of a huge wind storm; so strong that Geoff really thought we were going to be blown back to Melbourne. At dawn the next day the park manager was out with his leaf blower removing all the debris that had come down from the trees overnight. The weather the next day could not have been more different. Ceduna was also a place where we could replenish the cellar, and we took advantage of the pub next to the park. They had a 20’ wall of spirits in all sizes and strengths, but when Geoff asked where the port was, the answer was that nowhere in Ceduna is allowed to sell port. It seems that the indigenous folk do not drink beer, wine or spirits... only port.
The next few days were just lots of kilometres and not a lot to see. We passed through the rigorous quarantine inspection as we entered W.A. where you have to forfeit your S.A bought supermarket bough fruit and veg that
Cape Le Grand views
A short break in the rain
came from Victoria anyway, so you can buy it back again in a W.A . supermarket at a huge cost. Marg had cooked up all the veg we had in the van and also some pears and apples in red wine with cinnamon – so we did have some fruit and veg for the next 4 days until we got to the next supermarket. It seems that Vic or Tas apples/pears/ oranges in a truck are not a threat but in the hands of an individual they are? Yes, I am mad about it.
Moving on, we stopped at a roadside camp in W.A about 325 kms west of the W.A – S.A border. We were first in at about 2.30 pm, and thereafter there was a constant stream of RV’s until after dark. We were nearly the last out in the morning – what does that say? Just as we were about to drive out, a convoy went past with pilot, police escort, 2 trucks and an escort following. The trucks carried a single bucket each, which were Breast Cancer Aware pink. Oh, did I mention that the buckets were 8 metres wide and took up the entire
Cape Le Grand views
Whitest sand in the country, shot from the back of the van
width of the road? Oncoming traffic of any sort (even a poor unfortunate cyclist) had to stop and pull off the road. They were headed for the mines in W.A. Fortunately they pulled into a parking bay shortly after we caught up to them and we could continue, but we could not stop lest they caught us and we would be trapped behind again. They did pass us later as we had lunch, bugger, but the speed differential meant that it took as quite a while to catch them again. To explain for a moment, the pilot vehicle runs up to a kilometre ahead of the convoy to advise oncoming traffic of the issue. The police escort follows 3- 400 mts behind the pilot to ensure that no-one thinks they can continue, and then if that is not enough, 8 metres of mining bucket is enough to send anyone into the bushes. They are however mindful of the traffic coming behind and shortly they acknowledged that we were behind and Marg does not like waiting. The next part is pure brown corduroy trousers stuff. They let us through...the trucks moved as over far as they could while keeping their trailer
wheels on the bitumen and we were told to go. Holy cow there was a strip of bitumen as wide as the caravan for us to negotiate at 110 kph, blind (for us anyway) rises and buffeting winds from the trucks and loads. We got through, but I had to ask Marg if we were clear of the buckets as I couldn’t take my eyes for the little bit of bitumen that we had to use. We passed the police escort on his wrong side a little later as he drove up the wrong side of double lines to let us through and eventually passed the pilot. Doesn’t sound like much but it was a very delicate operation with the trucks. We really didn’t have any option of stopping again until we pulled in for the night.
Today we have travelled through Norseman, stocked up on S.A oranges, Vic apples and Qld bananas and moved on to Esperance and specifically Cape Le Grand Nat. Park. We have found a lovely spot at Lucky Bay, and I hope my photos in dodgy lighting do the place justice.
Now all we have to do is find somewhere here that we
Fraser Range free camp
Another amazing sunset - how about the blue behind (no not photoshopped!)
can get phone coverage.
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