From Kalgoorlie east!
18 Jan 2014
|Hopefully this time I will bring you all up to date so you know where we are.
Boxing Day to 30th December
The weather has been warming up over the past few days but the heat has come in with a vengeance now - to put it bluntly it is stinkin' hot. Thankfully the Boxing Day Test started today so with the air conditioner and the tv on we settled back, John with his book and me with my stitching, to weather the weather only going out when absolutely necessary.
With the cricket finishing a day early we thought we'd go and have a look at the Kalgoorlie offshoot of the WA Museum. Mostly it is like other museums but its claim to fame is the gold on display in The Vault. There were quite a number of different shaped gold nuggets (if that's what you would call them - they were all shapes and sizes)as well as a few ingots.
A visit to Kalgoorlie isn't complete without a tour of Questa Casa, the only remaining original brothel in town. Don't laugh, its a tourist attraction as well as a working concern. I rang to book a tour but was told that because the building was constructed of corrugated iron, tours had been postponed until the weather was a bit more amenable so I'll try again later.
Wednesday, 1st January
We did a bit of sightseeing around town in the morning but at 3pm arrived at Questa Casa in Hay Street, along with about 8 others for our tour. During the gold rush times Hay Street was lined with brothels but today there are only two in operation, The Red House and Questa Casa and originally there were 11 girls working at Questa Casa, but now there are only two. It is now owned by mother and daughter "madams", who surprisingly have never been "in the trade". First of all we were given an idea of how a brothel is run and were shown some of the "tools of the trade" - the men were all very envious and the women's eyes were out on sticks in amazement - and then we were shown a couple of the rooms. The dominatrix's room held an assortment of bondage items etc. and for each one used it cost another $100.00. Never thought I would visit a brothel but the tour was tastefully run and it was very interesting to see how the other half live.
Today we took another drive around town taking photos and afterwards got sorted out for our trip across the Nullabor. Kalgoorlie/Boulder streets are still lined with old time beautiful building facades and verandahs with old style verandah posts. Of course there are some modern buildings but the majority of the businesses have kept the old facades.
Thankfully the weather has cooled down a lot, we weren't looking forward to 40' temperatures across the Nullabor. We left Kalgoorlie about 7.30 heading back to Norseman for our trek. Before we left Norseman we had to find one of the tee off spots for the Nullabor Golf Links. These tees are dotted all the way from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna, 1,365 klms away so if you are a golfer you can play 18 holes of golf from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna and get your card marked along the way.
We had intended to stay a couple of nights at Fraser Range Station just east of Norseman, but with the weather so good we decided to keep going. We travelled through Balladonia and it is just east of there that the longest straight stretch of road in Australia starts and continues 145.6 klms (or 90 miles) to Caiguna where we went looking for the Blowhole. We followed the signs off the highway for quite a distance but eventually came to a dead end without finding the Blowhole so don't know where we went wrong.
We passed through Cocklebiddy and Madura before stopping for the night. Both of us were very surprised at the amount of trees and vegetation covering the plain, we had expected something a bit more barren and desertlike. We were so lucky with the weather, one couple John had spoken to a few days ago said they came across the plain in 38' temperatures but today it didn't get above about 25'.
4th January - Janine's birthday
Another long day's drive almost to Yalata with a few stops for exploring and photos. Along the way we passed Mundrabilla and it wasn't until we got to Eucla that we saw any sign of desert like country. Eucla is on the WA/SA border and the road is quite close to the ocean for quite a distance. There were quite a number of things to see there, the old Telegraph Station, the memorial to Edward John Eyre and the Travellers Cross. All that remains of the Telegraph Station are some of the exterior stone walls and even they are fast being taken over by the sand dunes. It is situated right on the coast and you get a lovely view up and down the Bight. The memorial is a huge boulder with a brass plaque showing Eyre's name along with his aboriginal companions and adjacent to it is the war memorial. The Travellers Cross is dedicated to all those who built the road across the plain and to all those who travel it.
Since leaving Norseman there have been a number of time differences and with daylight saving thrown in too we've gotten to the point of not having a clue what time it is so when we got to the turn off to the Head of the Bight and found the gate was closed we were a bit mystified as to why until we realized that it must have been after 4.30 closing time, but why there was a gate there we have no idea. So we didn't get to see the Head of the Bight.
Along this section of the road there are a number of signs indicating lookout points on the coast so we detoured to them all and saw the magnificent Bunda Cliffs. These cliffs stretch for quite a distance along the coast but are more accessible in some places than in others and the second view we got of them was spectacular. They stand perpendicular to the ocean and their giant "teeth" tower over the ocean and with the waves pounding the base of them it was just awe inspiring. You could stand stare for ages and it is hard to drag yourself away from the view and get on with the day's drive.
We've been entertained along the way with the ABC radio's commentary on the cricket and once again we've had a cooler day. Tomorrow we hope to reach Kimba which will give a short drive into Port Augusta the next day. We aren't going down into the Eyre Peninsula this trip, we spent lots of time there a couple of years ago and we are quickly running out of time to be home again in March.
With all the time changes we never know what time we'll wake up and we were a bit late getting on the road again. The dogs are thoroughly confused with the time and come looking for dinner at the oddest of times. I've got to the point where I don't know which time piece to believe.
We're back in wheat country again now with harvesting all over and there are hundreds and hundreds of roly poly bales cluttering up the paddocks. The silos in SA are huge but I guess they have to be.
We got to Ceduna about lunch time and before I could say anything John had turned onto the city bypass and we didn't see anything of the actual town at all so we don't know what it is like.
Yesterday's plans for the next few days went out the window today. We got to Minnipa in the Gawler Ranges area and John said he had had enough driving so we pulled into the free camp across from the township intending to stay just one night. That was until we went for a walk to have a look at the town and came across an information board and found interesting things to see so decided to go exploring tomorrow and stay an extra night.
Monday 6th January
Our first stop in our exploring today was Pildappa Rock and while it is no threat to Uluru it is huge nonetheless. There are sections of it that resemble Wave Rock and other shaded parts of it are covered in lichens and the like. The different colours of the rock are interesting and we drove and walked around it once, climbing on and off it to get just the right photos and then I made John drive around it again to measure the distance and it was about one and a half klms around. It wasn't all that high and the top was accessible in places, but we weren't risking injury at this point in the trip.
Leaving the rock we then set out for the entrance to the Gawler Ranges National Park which was about 40klms away. It wasn't long before we were off the gravel road and on a pretty narrow track and John was getting rather skeptical as to whether we were heading in the right direction, but we hadn't seen any signs indicating anything different so we pushed on. It wasn't until the track became very sandy that John decided enough was enough so we backtracked to see what was what.
We went back to town and called at the community store and the girl there was very helpful. The information board that we had looked at yesterday gave the impression that Pildappa Rock was on the road to the national park but that was a furphy so that was where we went wrong, so back on the road again to find the right road. Now we knew what we were looking for we realized where we went wrong, but it wasn't all our fault. The sign at the turnoff to the park was all most completely obscured by trees and because we weren't looking for a turn off until after we'd seen the rock we missed it. By now it was getting later in the day so we didn't see a lot of the park but we did find the Organ Pipes, a rather spectacular rock formation standing tall like organ pipes. It was a 10klm detour off the main park road on a rough road through a number of gates which had to be opened and closed to get to the Organ Pipes and then a bit of a trek across rough ground and rocks from the carpark and by the time we got back to the car it was about 4pm and we still had the 40klm trip back to town so we decided to call it a day. It had turned out to be an interesting, if frustrating day.
Our only stop today was at Wudinna, not far from Minnipa where we stopped to have a look at the rather imposing granite sculpture dedicated to the Australian Farmer. It was very tall and depicted a stylized man with a number of sheep at his feet and scenes of farm life carved into the sides. There were lots of names listed around the base of the statue and I worked out that they must have been the names of donors who contributed to the commissioning of the statue. Some were district businesses and others the names of district farming families. It was something very interesting and very fitting for the area.
From Wudinna we drove onto Port Augusta and arrived at the free camp behind the football club about 2pm. We had stayed a few days here at the beginning of our trip and even parked in the same spot. There is a lovely green sports field through the fence from where we're parked and John took the dogs for a run around. He said they ran around like mad things and had a lovely time. Billie even fielded a cricket ball that was hit into the outfield but thankfully she brought it back without having a chew on it.
On to Adelaide today, 300klms away. We had had trouble getting a van site in Adelaide, with school holidays and the dogs but we finished up with one at Boliver on the north side of the city. Along the way we detoured into Port Pirie for a look around. Had been there before and liked the look of the town. The spot we've got in the van park is really lovely, very shady and while the gravel underfoot is a bit rough it makes everything very clean. Once we got settled I rang Tess and John who we had met in Coober Pedy. They were very pleased to hear from us and asked us to come for lunch on Saturday. Adelaide is bracing for a heatwave from Monday so we'll see what we can before that.
John has been breaking his neck to get to Adelaide to go to the City Markets so after making the dogs comfortable in the van we set up the GPS and with me behind the wheel we headed off into the city. We found the carpark and it wasn't long before we were wandering the market aisles taking in the sights and smells. John found the cheese he was looking for and around the corner found his much loved Dutch licorice, so with 100g of this variety and 100g of that he was set for a couple of weeks. He has to share it with Billie, she starts to drool as soon as he gets the licorice tin out of the cupboard. Ceilidh is a bit more discerning and only likes one variety. A bit more wandering around found a few more goodies and we were both quite happy with our purchases.
Saturday, 11th January
We had the lovliest day with Tess and John today. They live at South Brighton with the beach at the bottom of their street and they have a lovely home. As I said before, we met in Coober Pedy and Tess and I hit it off straight away and we've kept in touch. It was about an hour's drive from the van park but with the GPS we had no problem finding our way and Tess and John made us and the dogs so welcome and it was soo nice to see them again. They are a little older than us but still so active and young at heart. We had a very tasty lunch - Tess tried out a new recipe on us which I will have to use when we get home - and of course there was much laughter and talking about all sorts of things and because John wasn't driving Tess kept tempting him with different types of alcohol. Tess would have kidnapped Ceilidh given half a chance.
On our drive there and back we got to see a bit of the city and we came home via Port Adelaide and recognized some of the areas we had explored last time we were there. We were just home when I realized I had left the dogs' water dish behind and then I found an email from Tess telling me the same thing so they are coming to visit us tomorrow which will be lovely.
A very relaxed day today, Tess and John arrived and stayed for about an hour and afterwards we tuned in to the cricket again and watched the first one day match. Australian cricket fans are all smiles this year, we've beaten the English team in every match!
Monday, 13th January
Well, the promised heatwave arrived today and is expected to last all week. The temperature got to the mid 40's and with it much to hot for sightseeing we decided to move on tomorrow instead of Wednesday. We hadn't planned on going back to Victor Harbor but the weather appears to be a bit better there and it is a really nice town so we decided to go there.
Tuesday, 14th January
So much for the weather forecast, we left Adelaide in searing temperatures and arrived in Victor Harbor to find it no cooler, not even a sea breeze! We can only hope that it cools down soon. Our camp site looks out to the sea and it is only a short walk to the beach so John and the dogs ventured out late in the day. The dogs thought it was Christmas and both of them came back very wet and sandy, but with big grins on their faces.
Wednesday, 15th to 19th January
We haven't done much while it has been so hot, but Friday it started to cool off and Saturday we were back to temperatures in the low 20's so went for a drive and a wander to reacquaint ourselves with the town. I had a good time, found the Black Pepper store and the quilt shop so had a bit of a spend.
Today the dogs had their last run on the beach and we got organized before leaving tomorrow and heading off towards Melbourne. We're going via Portland to Warnambool, then taking an inland road to Geelong before getting to Melbourne probably by the end of the week.
Once again apologies for such a long screed, but as I've said before you can read it in shifts.