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Published: April 19th 2014
Wednesday/Thursday 16/17th April - travelling through the Outback with over 800 miles before we reach Kalgoorlie. Vast empty landscapes with red earth and scrubland apart from the mines (iron ore, copper, gold etc). Long empty roads, dead straight, with no traffic apart from the Road Trains. Wonderful Australian skies, bright blue, blazing sun, fantastic sunrises and sunsets. Starry skies with a huge full moon. Although so remote and barren this part of WA has real beauty. Some interesting encounters both people and animals!! Stopped at Mt Magnet for a coffee in the town's bakery - almost spit and sawdust but very cool and clean. Sarah the owner devises her time between baking and driving a truck to Perth (7.5 hours away) and back. Left for Sandstone on the quietest sealed road so far - so quiet that lizards and eagles were sat in the middle if the road and seemed affronted by the approach of our campervan. Sandstone itself is a lovely old mining town (used to have a population of 8,000 now just 400). Janet runs the Visitors Centre and also mans the petrol pump - the one petrol pump! The school closed last December (3 children and 7 full
or part-time adults). Next to the centre "Lady Di" - formerly the school gardener - was selling home-made pies from a tent helped by Eric who ran the local pub (shades of Stoborough). We think "Lady Di" had 6 customers that day! Sandstone was a pretty little town with beautiful flowers but is a part of old Australia which may not survive another generation. Whilst we were here we went to see Sandstone's "famous London Bridge". Amazing piece if natural sculpture with the rock eroded by the wind to create an arch over which horses and even camel trains were driven. Eroded too much for that now but still impressive.
Friday 18th - stayed in a rest area with a road train for company so awake early only to find a dingo next to the campervan - again not at all bothered by us and even followed us as we drove off. Arrived at Menzies, realised it was Good Friday as the 1 shop and the Visitors Centre was closed. Took the gravel road (51km) to Lake Ballard where Anthony Gormley has set 51 statues in the vast salt lake. These are derived from laser scans of
some of the Menzies inhabitants. WOW nobody there so we had the whole of the salt lake (it takes 7 hours to walk around) and the statues all to ourselves. Amazing sensation walking over the dry salt bed of the lake - we spent 2 hours and reached a dozen of them. Our favourite and most moving was the representation of a child. It got very hot with the glare of the lake, although we managed to get to one of the islands about a km from the shore. Extraordinary place and nobody there on Good Friday - a never to be forgotten moment. Drove back along the 51km gravel road to Menzies and found the coffee shop open - very welcome. No gold mining in Menzies for years but a new gold reef of 200km has been found but it is a 10 hour drive away across the outback. A short hop of 160km to Kalgoorlie where we were able to get the last powered site in the camping park. Hooray showers tomorrow and clean clothes!
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