Busselton (10 kms)
Spent the day around the unit mostly getting ready to get back on the road including packing lots of things back into the camper. Played bowls and tennis.
Busselton to Wave Rock (506 kms)
Weather was looking grim as we packed the last things into the camper and it started to rain as we were finishing, just managed to get the roof down as it poured. We sat in our unit while the worst of the rain passed then made the dash down, jamming the remaining stuff in the car. The boys stayed in the car while we hooked up the camper to the car and did a 3 point turn to get out of the car park. Half way to Pemberton it was still raining and the weather forecast for the South East was for rain, so we decided to head inland and go straight to Hyden and Wave Rock. It had rained 5 days out of 7 while we were in Busselton so we were hoping to find some better weather. We'll have to come back again to see Albany, Esperance and that area of W.A. Of the 506 kilometres we travelled we only had the windscreen wipers off for about 5 minutes, it had cleared up as we got to the Wave Rock caravan park. This wasn't to last long as we were beginning to set up it started raining. About 5 minutes after finishing getting everything set up, it stopped raining. Thankfully Glenda had made some pasta bake so tea was quickly heated up in the microwave. Afterwards, we watched Collingwood and West Coast Eagles play an exciting game of footy.
Wave Rock (0 kms)
It hadn't rained overnight and there were patches of blue sky so we were feeling happy with our decision to alter our plans. We wandered up to Wave Rock and took some photos including the usual 'surfing' ones. We walked up the path that leads to the top of the rock and looked at the walls that were built to funnel rainwater into a dam nearby. We then walked to the Hippo's Yawn, a rock formation that resembles a hippo with his mouth open. We continued on the self guided walk but should have took the short cut back to the caravan park as there really wasn't much to see and Corey decided he'd walked enough and wanted a piggy-back ride home. After lunch we walked across the road to the Wave Rock Wildlife Park as they had some white Kangaroos. They were worth the price of admission but the boys also enjoyed the other animals as well. Glenda took many pictures of a Golden Possum so I'd better include one of it.
Wave Rock to Kalgoorlie (544 kms)
Decided to go the long way to Kalgoorlie as we didn't know what the dirt road that was quite a bit shorter was like after the rain we'd had and any time saved would have been used up in cleaning up the camper. Glenda met someone in Kalgoorlie she'd been talking to at Wave Rock who did go that way and it was fine. Our track did take us to the best display of wildflowers we have seen. A big batch of pink ones a bit like you see in the books and over a dozen other varieties. Once at Kalgoorlie we stopped at the tourist information office to book a mine tour and grab some local tourist information. At the caravan park got chatting to a guy behind us who was in town driving a mine truck to earn enough to build his dream house back in Pambula on the NSW south coast. He gave us a couple of recommendations and we had tea at one, the Star & Garter Hotel. It was an eating bonanza as they served your main dish with just the meat or whatever and you helped yourself to the vegies and salads which were very nice. Afterwards we drove up to the SuperPit lookout but the view wasn't that good as not much of it was lit up and the trucks and machinery working couldn't really be seen very well.
Kalgoorlie (SuperPit Mine Tour)
Went on our tour of the SuperPit mine. First we had to endure a SH&E video, answer a questionnaire to prove we'd been paying attention and sign a indemnity form. Corey got 10/10 with a little bit of help for us! Next we had to put on bright yellow safety vests and board our little bus for our drive through the mine. Our guide Matt had worked at the mine and in mining for many years and gave a good commentary of the workings and various statistics. We got to get out of the bus at an internal lookout which gave us a great view of the mine. We thought it was a great tour and would recommend it. Although we were allowed to take photo's we aren't allowed to publish any without permission from inside the mine but we stopped at the SuperPit lookout on the way back and anyone can take a picture from there, so here are some of those.
Kalgoorlie to Fraser Range Station (289 kms)
After all the railway crossings we finally got stopped by a train at one. As it was an ore train it was quite long and slow so took awhile to pass. We waved at the driver and got a wave back as well as an extra toot of his horn. After Norseman there were lots of road works and we had several delays. Many people were getting out of their cars to chat to other travellers. We amused ourselves by listening to the road workers on the UHF radio. We pulled in the Fraser range Station. It is a working station with a homestead built in the early 1900's but as it's the owners residence they ask you to stay well away which is a bit of a disappointment. We went for a walk up a nearby hill for a look at the surroundings. Some kids had started building a little stone cubby and the boys added lots of rocks and added a rock 'vegetable' garden and path. After tea we joined some other travellers at the communal fire and cooked some marshmallows.
Fraser Range Station to Roadside camp (662 kms)
Early departure at 7:55am. First stop of the day was to take a photo next to the sign at the start of the longest straight stretch of road. Later. we were having lunch at Madura Roadhouse when we thought we saw Lindsay and Bev drive in. We'd last seen them at Dales Gorge in Karijini National Park a month earlier. Lindsay strolled over to the bin but we weren't sure it was him as he didn't have his hat on. We wandered down to get a better look and Lindsay spotted us and called out. We decided to bush camp somewhere for the night and picked the 42km Peg roadside stop in South Australia as a meeting place to then decide where we'd stop for the night. We called in at the Eucla Telegraph Station ruins which is being swallowed up by the sand dunes. We started looking for somewhere to stop to gather some firewood but nothing looked to promising. If you're wanting some firewood, grab it between Norseman and Fraser Range Station, there was plenty where the road had been widened. We got to the roadside stop and had a look at the view over the Great Australian Bight. We headed back up the access road to wait for Bev & Lindsay and to see if we could rustle up some firewood. We gathered some and were loading it as they arrived. We decided that it was too late to go any further so drove back down the road to the rest area.
There were two other groups camped and I pulled up next to Lindsay who had pulled up nearish one of them. This fellow had commanded the picnic table and shelter but took offence to where we had stopped (although yet to even look like setting up camp) and started grumbling comments like "the whole of the Nullarbor and they have to park in my lounge room". We strolled over to take in the view and decided to set up camp in the far corner well away from "Grumpy Guts". While we were setting up a large 5th wheeler drove in and parked between us and Grumpy Guts. They got an earful about rich people bringing their lounge room with them and couldn't they park closer. Sharon, the driver said she could back up a bit if he liked. More grumbling was emitted. but nothing specific. Lindsay and I were talking about it later and both of us had noticed that Grumpy Guts had a toilet seat on a stand next to the picnic table and someone had used it recently. Nice!
The 5th wheeler that had pulled in is worth a few words. We had first seen it at Erldunda, the turn off to Uluru and had nick-named it the Zingermobile as it had large signs saying it was a Zinger, the manufacturer we presumed. We then saw it at Yulara (Uluru campgrounds), Alice Springs, Daly Waters, Materanka and Kununurra. As we'd never actually camped next to them we'd never actually spoken but we went over and said hello and told them where we'd seen them. Sharon was driving as her husband was wheelchair bound. They had their daughter, Cassie, and her mother in tow as well. I would have liked to see Grumpy Guts when Steve motored his scooter out to have a look at the view. He probably would have whinged that his transport was motorised. We invited them over to join us around the fire later.
Another guy had pulled up near us and Glenda invited him over too. After tea we got the fire going and cooked marshmallows and damper. Lindsay pushed the coals around with his shovel and cooked the damper surpurbly. Cassie played the digjeridu (very well) for us. Earlier she'd given a whip-cracking demonstration which is what had caught our attention in the van park at Erldunda. We all had a good chat around the fire until our meagre wood supply was exhausted.
Roadside Camp to Ceduna (472 kms)
Up early to take photos of the sun rising over the bight. Glenda unzipped the bed end canvas and watched the sunrise from the comfort of the doona. It was blowing a gale and packing up was interesting as we had to get our canvas into the camper and keep it there while winding down the roof. Managed that and took off towards the Head of the Bight whale watching, but first we had to drive across the most barren part of the Nullarbor. The scenery did change a bit and it wasn't near as boring as we had been led to believe.
Once we had paid our $24 to get into the Head of Bight whale watching site, we strolled down the boardwalk to be greeted by several pods of whales. Most of the whales (Southern Right) had a calf at their side and were teaching them how to swim and do things like whack their flippers onto the water surface. We got to see a few blow water and air out their blowholes which was quite noisy. We did have to explain to the boys that they don't squirt water up like happens in cartoons. We spent over an hour watching their antics. As well as the whales, you get a good view of the cliffs along the bight.
Next we made our way to Ceduna, catching up with Lindsay & Bev along the way and found our way to the Shelly Beach Caravan Park. A very nice caravan park except it's beach location meant lots of mosquitos that gave Glenda and Brendan a hard time. For tea we'd been told the local pub bistro had a nightly special so we went for tea. The special was "$9 schnitzels" which were very nice.
The boys went fishing at the beach, a short walk over the sand dune behind the caravan park. It was a nice day and the tide was 'right' but we didn't catch much. We did see a school of salmon feeding along the shoreline but after following them a long way along the beach we couldn't entice them to take our bait. The boys had trouble understanding that they just weren't interested. Glenda and Bev came over to check on us, but were probably just finalising their shopping lists (tea wouldn't be provided by the fishermen). We had a visit to our campsite from a stumpy tail lizard. After lunch we went down to the pier for some more fishing and bought home a blue swimmer crab (Brendan) and a small Whiting (Lindsay). We went and bought some prawns and flake to supplement them. For tea, we set the television up in the camp kitchen (Collingwood v Geelong) and cooked the fish on the nearby BBQ. Lindsay boiled up the crab and prawns and the girls made several salads. All very good except the Magpies went down to Geelong in the footy, although it was a good match.
Ceduna to Streaky Bay (159kms)
A short drive down to Streaky Bay left us with the afternoon to go sightseeing. Glenda had decided that we needed to do something other than fishing. We decided to do a tourist drive to the nearby Whistling Rocks and Blowholes. The Whistling Rocks were 'whistling' except they sounded more like an angry T-Rex according to Corey. We went looking for the blowholes but initially couldn't find them. On the way back I noticed some holes in the side of the hill about 4m above the path we were walking on and had a look. Yep, this must have been them as the holes went down as far as one could see. The holes were big enough for a person to fall down yet there was no signs or fence which we found amazing since they are listed as a tourist attraction. One would get a bit of a fright if you managed to get near them and then they 'went off'
Streaky Bay sightseeing (151kms)
The morning was spent fishing off the pier. A family at the end was catching heaps of fish and they took pity on the boys who were fishing 5m away but getting nothing and invited them to fish amongst them at the end. I thought they would regret that once Corey got amongst them but it all worked out well and the boys got into the action and caught a few fish. After lunch we went and filled up the car with petrol and had a look at the replica of a Great White shark caught near Streaky Bay. It looked pretty big.
Our next activity was a drive to Point Labatt to view the Sea Lion colony. There's a platform that overlooks the sea lions that lets you have a good view as they go about their lives. Along the road we had seen lots of Stumpy Tail lizards so on the way home we stopped near one to take a photo or two. He wanted to fight so we teased him a bit to get him to open his mouth for a photo. A side benefit of this was he ended walking off the road.
Streaky Bay to Coffin Bay (309 kms)
First stop for the morning was Murphy's Haystacks, a collection of weird shaped rocks. As we were walking in some people coming out warned us about a magpie that had been swooping people. We approached cautiously be he still gave us a fright as he swooped down and past, landing in a tree nearby to keep a watchful eye on us. We armed ourselves with sticks to wave above our heads. On the way back to the car we warned the next group coming in.
Our next sightseeing diversion was to see Talia Caves but we think we might have missed it and went to Woolshed Cave instead as the sign posting wasn't very good. The cave is created from waves pounding the shore. A little bit further along was "The Tub", and area that had collapsed leaving a fairly round crater. It looked like with the right sea conditions water would make it's way in. On the rest of the days travel we followed a scenic drive near the town of Elliston that had some good costal views.
Coffin Bay National Park (66 kms)
The weather was looking a bit grim and the forecast was for rain so we dropped the camper roof and put up the bed flys in preparation for some precipitation. Once that was done we drove into the nearby national park. We had thought of camping in the national park but had decided we'd seen enough mossies for the moment. We drove down a sandy track but decided it was getting too rutted and getting bogged was a possibility as we hadn't let our tyres down. We turned around and luckily I selected locked 4WD as until we'd built up a bit of momentum, we were struggling along the track a bit. We drove to the other side of the park (not far at this point) and had look out over the cliffs. Once back in Coffin Bay the boys jumped out at the pier to do a bit of fishing while Glenda went back to the camper to make some lunch. She bought that back to the hungry fisherman and found out there hadn't been too many fish caught. Corey caught 3 mullet in about 5 mins and that was about it.
Coffin Bay to Port Augusta (395 kms)
Drove to Port Augusta stopping in Port Lincoln for petrol and Cowell for lunch. We had some very nice pies, sausage rolls and chips from the bakery. Had a look in some shops and the ladies in the craft shop were up for a chat, mostly about the football. We had a quick look at Whyalla from Hummock Hill lookout. Most of the town is covered in red dust from the iron ore being processed and moved around. Would be interesting trying to get your washing dry.
Stopped at the same caravan park we had stayed in 3 months earlier. Set up the camper then went into town to do some grocery shopping. There was an aboriginal woman in the car park trying to sell a painting and after some discussion between Glenda and I to see who was going over to try to buy it, I went over to see how much she wanted. She was pretty drunk and conversation was difficult. She reckoned she had painted it although I wasn't too convinced but wanted $20 which was reasonable. Always after a bargain, I offered her $10, but that wasn't acceptable. After a bit of haggling she agreed to $15, so I gave her the money and took the painting. Half way back to the car she called out loudly so I returned to see what she was trying to say. She wanted five more dollars and snatched the painting out of my hand. We argued for a few minutes and I thought if she got up and walked off that would be my $15 gone as I wasn't going to be able to tackle her! She'd put her bottle of grog on the seat beside her and I picked it up. She grabbed it back with a vice grip but her attention was on the bottle and I snatched my $15 back and walked off. She got up and tried to follow, yelling what I think was "fifteen, fifteen", however I got in our car and drove off. Hopefully she ran out of grog early in the night and didn't manage to 'sell' the painting to anyone else to replenish her bottle!
Port Augusta to Bordertown (569 kms)
We were intending to take 4 days to get home from Port Augusta and headed of in the direction of Burra. As we were travelling along we decided we'd had enough sightseeing and a new route was selected to head directly home. As we were already off the main road we ended up coming though the Clare Valley region and decided that the area was worth a few days exploring on another trip sometime. Decided to stop at Bordertown instead of pushing on to Nhill as the sky was threatening to rain and setting up the camper is best done without rain. It started to drizzle as we set up but we managed to avoid most of it. We decided to buy pizza for tea so I went in search of one. It was now raining quite hard. On the way back I decided I'd stop at the roadhouse nearby to supplement the pizza with some hot chips. I thought it would be quick but after 10mins waiting I drove home and we ate the pizza. I then went back and waited another 10mins before the chips were ready. About 1/2hr total I worked out. They were very nice chips though. The caravan park was very nice except it's location, right next to the highway. The road had a bit of an incline so the trucks going up the hill were making lots of noise under power, and the once coming down the hill were making more noise with their exhaust brakes. We changed our watches before going to sleep so we would be on Victorian time in the morning.
Bordertown to Home (486 kms)
Packed up and hit the road for our final day. Had noticed it was about 12C when we left but as we went around Ballarat the gauge was saying 4C. Some things never change we joked. There was a lot of traffic on the road with many cars displaying their allegiance to Port Power for the Grand Final. It would have been a long drive back for them at the end of the weekend. Once in Melbourne we noticed how busy it is, with many maniac drivers jumping from lane to lane and back again. Arrived home about 3pm having travelled over 20,000 kilometres. Everything was in order, our friends having taken good care the place, even stocking the fridge with some milk and butter and bread in the cupboard.
Some last comments...
One of the big worries when going on a trip like this is the mechanical reliability of your vehicle and I'm happy to say we didn't get any flat tyres or break anything. We did get a decent stone chip in the windscreen but luckily I took out the windscreen option on our insurance so that will get changed. Our camper had a couple of issues but nothing that stopped us, although the winch would have been more of an issue if Keith didn't have a fair idea what we were feeling around for to be able to put it back together. The power issue was annoying as first but didn't really make much difference. The camper is now back at the manufacturer having those issues rectified. None of the items I constructed (extended mudflaps, false floor, camping-gear box and car DVD shelf) fell apart which suggests my welding and woodwork skills are not as bad as they look.