Solitary Confinement

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August 31st 2013
Published: September 5th 2013
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Lake BallardLake BallardLake Ballard

From the Lookout
Saturday 31 August

Day 4 Great Central Road

Probably our last day on the Great Central Road today, providing all is well with our journey.

It was 6am when I opened my eyes to the morning, the sun was not quite up in the distance, I peeled back my curtain and watched as the sun slowly lit up the Breakaways on the Southern side revealing it's striking colours. I lay there for a while until the urge to take a photograph took me out of my comfortable bed. I know most of our readers will be shocked by the very fact that I am out of bed so early 2 mornings in a row, I really am not a morning person.

It was cool outside and I was thankful that I had put my fleece on, a short while later I put the kettle on, got the fire on the go and then Andy appeared at Gypsy's door. We sat and looked at the amazing view of the breakaways, by now almost fully in the sunshine.

We were packed up and away from site by 9am and making our way to Laverton
Sculpture on Lake BallardSculpture on Lake BallardSculpture on Lake Ballard

Each of the 51 sculptures is taken from a laser scan of each of the residents of Menzies.
and hopefully on to Leonora, we are still debating where we will head for camp tonight.

Yesterday we came over the border into the Goldfields region, the map shows a number of mine sites around the area.

The quarantine bin appears on the horizon, we pull in as we have a solitary potato on board that we need to dispose of, we have no other fruit, veg, plants, honey etc. on board.

Reflecting on our journey across the Great Central Road, Andy commented on the number of trashed, abandoned cars that are left on the side of the road, some clearly have been there for a significant number of years, some more recent. One thing we had noticed at the beginning of our journey was that all the cars seemed to be on their roofs, we wondered why. Some no doubt will have rolled over when they came off the road, others perhaps had been pushed over by the grader drivers as they pushed them off the road, later someone told us that the locals will often roll them over while searching for spare parts.

Finally, we roll of the dirt track and back onto bitumen our journey on the Great Central Road is coming to a close as we head towards Laverton for our first stop of the day.

Road signs warn us of Eagles in the area, we see a large number of them, no wonder they are a road hazard, a few dead ones lie scattered on the verges, I always find that sad to see, but it is a reality, I may have mentioned before that they gorge themselves on roadkill and when a vehicle comes along, they are often so gorged they take time to mobilise and don't manage to fly away in time.

We stop at Laverton, there is a tourist information centre here so we head in for some information as I want to see Lake Ballard so need some information before we get to the area, upon entering I spy a coffee machine, oh joy a decent cup of coffee!

I order two and we sit down to drink them and catch up on some internet time, I grab the information that I am looking for, we note that there is a small theatre and head towards it, we were told that it was $10 each to view a short film about early explorers and the Great Central Road, on second thoughts we think that is a bit steep.

As we are now back on the bitumen Andy reinflates the tyres at a local garage, then we make our way toward Leonora. We truly are in mining country as we start to see the Road Trains making their way up and down this road. Just before we get to Leonora a sign tells drivers of Road Trains to stop and dust their tyres off before entering town. For some reason I have this strange image of a burly truck driver getting out a feather duster to dust off the tyres.

We were looking for the caravan park, but google tells me that it is where it is not, if that makes sense, so using a hunch I give Andy some other directions and we found the caravan park, it is really busy here so I think we are lucky to get a site, looking around I think we are surrounded by prospectors, it is the Goldfields area so I have no doubt. We settle in, have a shower, lunch etc. etc. and then have a mooch around town.

While we are in town we make plans to catch up with a friend of ours who we used to work with when we lived in Canberra, he is now working out here and moved with his family. It is lovely to see our friend and meet his family, they are living in the old police house, which still has the old cells in the back garden!

Back at camp the kitchen is really busy, there is also a camp fire on the go and a number of campers are sat around it. I found out that there are about 20 campers here on a prospecting forum, I am told they are heading out to a location where they have a permit to search for gold.

There are strict rules on prospecting and mining rights, as much as I would love a dig, you need to comply, but don't worry I will get that sorted so that I can have a dig around at some point. I do still live in hope that one day I will trip over a piece of gold just lying around in the dirt here, but the trouble is so does everyone else and there are a lot of people looking for gold here. We had been told that there was a lady who had in fact found a large lump of gold when she tripped over it, how true that is, who knows, but I live in hope.

Another early night.

Sunday 1 September

Leonora - Kalgoorlie via Lake Ballard

Morning breaks and I am awake at 6am, Andy is already awake, we talk briefly and then I slide off to sleep again and awake at 7.

I get up to get the kettle on and make our morning cup of tea, the guy next door starts talking to me and apologises if his snoring kept us awake, I said I did not hear a thing so he was fine. He also went on to explain that he did not drink last night so maybe that was why, I think he just wants to talk to someone as he seems to be travelling alone. He
Lake Ballard SculptureLake Ballard SculptureLake Ballard Sculpture

These sculptures were done by Anthony Gormley in celebration of 50 years of the Perth International Arts Festival
told me he had been out for 2 months prospecting, his quad bike and other various bits of equipment are in his trailer.

When I asked if he found anything he showed me his stash of gold, handing me a nugget which was really quite heavy, explaining that it was worth about $400 for that one piece alone. He does not make a living out of it, but he said that it was hard work searching and sometimes you only find things like bullets, nails and various other bits of rubbish, but you never know your luck, you may find that much coveted seam or large gold nugget that may afford a comfortable retirement. He is leaving today as he is heading off with this group of prospectors, he is hopeful for a find, I wish him luck.

After breakfast we pack up, on the way out we fill up with diesel, the prices are starting to be a little bit more realistic now at $1.63 instead of the $2.30 on the Great Central Road, then we turn toward Kalgoorlie and Menzies.

Arriving in Menzies, I go into the caravan park, I wanted to find out how much to stay just in case we needed to stay there for the night and ask about where I could leave Gypsy while we shoot up to Lake Ballard, which is a 54k trip up a dirt road to see some sculptures across a Salt Lake. The guy in the caravan park tells me where I could leave the trailer (people leave them all the time apparently) and then says you wont have any bother, it is a great dirt track and there is camping up there anyway. Our original intention was just to drop the trailer have a look and come back, if we do it without the Gypsy we can have a slightly quicker journey.

Back in the truck we decide to take Gypsy with us, we will check it out and maybe camp for the night, we will see.

The heat of the day is upon us when we arrive at Lake Ballard, it looks pretty spectacular out there and I am pleased to be able to see the sculptures. We park up Gypsy, have a sandwich for lunch and with plenty of water on our backs we yomp across the lake, the first sculpture is pretty close.

The sculptures are by artist Anthony Gormley, they were put there to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Perth International Arts Festival. Each steel sculpture is derived from a laser scan of each of the 51 residents of Menzies, they are spread out over 10k's of this salt lake. They were supposed to be removed at the end of the festival however it was decided to leave them in place for tourism.

It would take a good couple of hours to walk around all of them but I am satisfied with doing the closest to us and take in about 7 or 8 of them and then walking up the lookout. The track up to the lookout is fairly steep and I am watching my step as it is also loose gravel. But the walk to the top is worth it, very spectacular and you can see as far as the sun will allow, the classic mirage of plentiful water is on the other side of the lake, the heat waves rising in the distance. One thing I noticed when we were walking toward the sculptures, the further you walked the further away the "water" got, I am sure many an explorer fell foul of the illusion. This is salt lake and most of the time is pretty dry, yet it does seem damp and usually when dry the white salt stands out, at the moment the salt is not standing out, it would look more effective with the sculptures.

We debated if to stay the night here, the surrounds are pretty good with camping in amongst the dunes and with the spectacular view of the lake stretching out, there are fire pits and drop toilets available. It is really hot here and we wont do much this afternoon if we stay, if we drive then we have the comfort of the air conditioned cab. However, we have also slotted something into the diary which may put us under a bit of pressure for time, so we decide to head back to Menzies. On the way back I see a Western Grey Kangaroo, probably my first Western Grey on this trip but also the first Kangaroo we have seen in quite a while.

Arriving in
Jack and GypsyJack and GypsyJack and Gypsy

Lunch break at Lake Ballard
Menzies, we grab a coffee from the local cafe and decide to head on to Kalgoorlie for our overnight stop, we stopped there on our first trip so we know where there is a camp site that we will try first.

The road is easy, we are enjoying the fact that we are driving on bitumen for a change, so the journey takes no time at all. We find the caravan park and fortunately we get checked in for a couple of nights, nicely tucked in the corner out of the way, we are not far from the site that we had when we camped here last time. I think we were lucky to get a site, it is busy.

Again in no time at all we are set up, I had a curry on the go for dinner and we set about making plans for what we needed and wanted to do while we were here, no doubt includes another trip to the KCGM Superpit.

Until tomorrow.


5th September 2013

Lake Ballard
Very impressed with your brilliant Lake Ballard photos - far superior to ours! Possibly time of day had an influence - we visited late in the day. A lone German backpacker camped - was concerned about the isolation, eeriness & safety, apart from the swarm of flies in his dinner. Wonder if it was the same kangaroo we saw - there was only one! Keith & Jan xx
6th September 2013
Lake Ballard

Lost in Nature
The things you find...looking lost...but by the footprints...occasionally found

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