A Travellerspoint blog

September 2010

23 Adelaide to Portland

overcast 16 °C

21st September
Adelaide to Meningie

As Brian was unwell we gave a bit of a hand to them getting packed and ready to roll towards Meningie in the Coorong region of the Murray Rivermouth. Our Tomtom gave us a few problems in getting onto the highway out of Adelaide (like, turn left when the street signs clearly said turn right) as we ended up in some small side street that was difficult to exit from. However, got back on track for the drag up the Princes Highway, along with all the fast cars and heavy trucks, and the persistent light rain, until we reached the plateau and things became easier. Brian managed to catch us up as he had to stop for petrol prior to the main road exit. Everywhere was green, so the rains had certainly been helpful to the local climate if not to us.

The road was good and flat to Tailem Bend where we turned off towards Meningie – a place that I had never heard off – for our overnight stop. Boy, that ‘sealed’ road was rough so we had to drop our speed by 15-20kph in order not to damage anything. Plenty of farming activity, quite possible more than usual due to the recent rains.

We arrived at the small town of Meningie and checked into the Lake Albert CP (Top Tourist) where we had a lovely view of the lake. A very peaceful locale that we enjoyed very much. Lake Albert is part of the Coorong and had been almost dry until very recently due to the long-term drop in the Murray River system flows out to sea. However, recent heavy rain upstream had resulted in significant flows and the locals were all very excited and kept checking on how much the Lake had risen that day.

We all walked into town to post mail and window shop at the few shops that were along the street, had a coffee, then returned to take some sunset photos over the lake.

22nd September
Meningie to Mount Gambier

We all wished that we had allocated more time at this lovely oasis, but time was needed to keep to our latest schedule and that meant leaving it all behind. Maybe a longer stop next time.

Although the scenery today was pleasant enough, the road condition again meant travelling more slowly. We travelled along the northern edge of the Coorong wetlands and enjoyed the infrequent glimpses of lakes and flora along the highway. A few nice looking farms adjoined the Park and all looked likely to have a bumper crop come harvest time, as long as the rains kept to their normal pattern.

We stopped at Salt Creek, adjacent to one of the many lakes, and enjoyed a morning tea in the overcast and cold conditions. We were surprised to see Australia’s oldest oil well still standing there, although in a rather decrepit state. However, when we stopped at the seaside village of Robe for lunch the sun had briefly come out so we managed to enjoy that respite from the cold. Mary & Maureen couldn’t resist collecting more seashells from the seashore.

Near the seaside town of Millicent we saw a massive wind-farm with almost 270 windmills thrashing the air and adding a significant amount of electricity to the Grid.
We arrived in Mt Gambier and were fortunate to have sites at the Top Tourist CP right in town. Mary & I walked to the Lady Nelson (named after a ship of that name) Visitor Centre to collect local sightseeing brochures. Another cold, overcast day.

23rd September
Mt Gambier

We drove up the nearby hill to the Blue Lake centre and booked on their Aquifer Tour. This tour was a walking one in which we were taken to the pump house, down a small lift and through a tunnel to get almost down to the water’s edge. Quite interesting to see how the city was able to use the clean water that leached through the limestone hills and was very pure and easy to distribute as the pumping station simply pumped the water up to the top of the nearby volcanic hilltop and gravity took the water around the city. There are several other lakes in the complex, and all in a former volcanic cone now filled with water. An interesting tour for all of us.

After lunch we all walked the 3.6Km around the crater rim of the Blue Lake and enjoyed seeing many bird species.
We then drove to nearby Valley Lake for photos and afternoon tea before heading to town for much-needed petrol, then some CBD photos of old buildings - mostly bluestone.

We decided to walk to nearby (we thought) Umpherston Sinkhole for some photos. However, it was further than we thought and Brian and Maureen were already there – somewhere in the darkness. The lighting was not good and therefore walking was an inherently hazardous operation. The Sinkhole, named after the man who turned a huge drop in the stone floor at ground level to some 30 or 40 meters below normal ground height, into an attractive tourist attraction with walkways, flowers and other flora to enhance the massive cliff walls a full 360 degrees circle.

We decided that we would return next day and take photos in daylight! We walked back home and tried to get TV but the system failed, so gave up.

24th September
Mt Gambier

We were all up fairly early for showers, washing and breakfast and after a caffeine fix we set of for the Valley Lake walk – a quite long and difficult one. Mary, Maureen and Brian headed off up the mountainside, and I drove around the corner for nine holes of golf on the Blue Lake Golf Course. I had a pretty good game considering my lack of practise, and then collected Mary at the completion of her walk. Tired, but happy.
After lunch we attacked the Umpherson Sinkhole for daylight photos. Certainly a different perspective from the previous evening!
We got some shopping supplies, checked the tyres, sorted the car then Mary walked up town for more photos while tried to get my Journal up to date.
We all walked around the corner to the RSL for a dinner out for a change. Very nice too.

25th September
Mt Gambier to Portland

More poor quality roading as we headed for the South Australian/Victorian state border. The rolling hills, forestry and farming looked nice if one had time to glimpse at the passing scene between potholes and poor construction and repair efforts.
Morning tea at Nelson, a small village by the mouth of the Nelson River in Victoria.

We arrived at Portland and checked in to the Top Tourist CP and were delighted that they had had so much rain that the normal van sites were not available so we received ensuite sites at no extra charge. Wow, our own toilet facilities for three nights!

Mary and I walked towards the nearby town centre and encountered a pre 1900 Melbourne tram running tourist trips across town. Why not, we thought, as we jumped on board and received a pleasant, if slightly bumpy, ride across the CBD. A free commentary was made by the young lady who was a volunteer conductor. Very interesting indeed in this oldest town in Victoria, with some 200 buildings from the 19th century still standing, and, in most cases, still occupied. We took some photos, and it appeared to me to be reminiscent of older parts of Oamaru, although with blue stone rather than limestone there. A large, deep-water port enables shipping of woodchips and live sheep to overseas destinations.

Posted by psstevo 03:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

22 Adelaide, South Australia

overcast 16 °C

17th September
Morning arrived to find Mary still unwell in spite of the significant pain killers prescribed for her, however, we decided that we would drive down to Victor Harbour (60 Km) for the day and hope for the best. The weather was still windy and cold, however, we enjoyed the scenery (mainly vineyards) along the hilly way. We had morning tea in the cold wind near the beach and then booked on the Victor Harbour Horse Tramway to cross the bridge to nearby Granite Island. The old Clydesdale horse (22 y o) plodded slowly along the tramway at a pace that enabled us to enjoy the cold wind!

We walked around this small granite island, and outcrop from the mainland, and were very surprised by the huge ocean swells crashing upon the massive rock cliffs. We took many photos because the views were really quite spectacular.

After our return Tramway ride we found a protected lunch shelter and enjoyed lunch. We were soon surrounded by many squawking seagulls, all demanding a free lunch. After this din had continued for several minutes a magpie swooped down on the flock of gulls like a jet aircraft causing the gulls to make a very speedy retreat indeed. The gulls didn’t learn much, for, no sooner had they returned to trying to extort food from us than ‘swoop’ dived bombed again scattering them all along the beach. Free entertainment for us all!

As Brian wanted to see the mouth of the Murray River at nearby Goolwa, we headed off along the byways to Goolwa to check out the Goolwa Barrage. This engineering device was completed many years ago as a flood control mechanism for the Murray River which often has it’s access to the sea blocked due to insufficient river flow to push the sand out to sea. This Barrage is one of several in the Murray River system. We then decided to drive over the infamous Hindmarsh Bridge to get another look at the river. This bridge was in the news a number of years ago when false information was fed into a government study program claiming that Aboriginal ‘secret womens’ business’ had taken place there over many generations – a claim that was subsequently rejected as untrue.

A few photos later and then we found another way to get to the actual river mouth, so off we headed in the late afternoon to check that out too. It looked just like any other river mouth, however, as we knew that it was the great Murray River system we were all satisfied with that fact.

A late afternoon drive home over very hilly terrain was made even more difficult when we had some incidents with a few ‘P’ plated young drivers whose driving skills showed clearly that they had won their licence in a raffle as the apparent IQ was less than their boot size. How we made it home unscathed is something of a miracle.

Mary and I then drove to my cousin Glenda (and John’s) home nearby and we enjoyed a really great evening of reminiscing on family and other adventures – as well as John’s top class cooking! Rather late we made it back home, very tired and slept!
18th September
We arose feeling very tired, however, as it wasn’t actually raining, we drove to the nearby rail station and took a FREE train ride into Adelaide central where we caught the wrong tram to Glenelg. That in itself was quite a feat as the tram only goes to Glenelg – however, we got the right one in the end and enjoyed the trip. Took some photos, had lunch, bought some chocolate stuff and headed back to town for more photos and home for dinner.

19th September

We all went to the local Baptist church and found a very caring bunch of people there. A very good service with a strong message.
After lunch Mary & I drove via a very round-a-bout route to the old German village of Hahndorf. There were plenty of hills and narrow roads but we made it OK and walked the main street checking out the sights. Certainly a taste (literal) taste of Germany with a range of German foods available. An interesting experience, shared with thousands of other visitors!
We took a different, but very windy hill road home and decided to clear our heads with a walk along Christies Beach (for collection of some pretty coloured stones) in the crisp southerly wind. Some dinner, TV and a long sleep.

20th September
As we had three washing machine loads to get washed we were up early to get first wash! After that large chore we drove to the nearby Noarlunga Shopping Centre for coffee with Glenda, John, Ann and Peter (Ann is John and Glenda’s daughter). A very long chat over coffee that we enjoyed immensely, especially as Ann is now writing her 50 something book for Harlequin Press (?) and doing a Masters at university.

We window shopped for a while and then had lunch before Mary managed to get a hair appointment. Met Brian and Maureen and so decided on coffee again before doing our shopping for the next stage of the trip. This shopping centre is a large Centro one about the same size as Indooroopilly I believe.
We went home and tidied up for our next morning departure before learning that Brian was quite unwell and our departure looked quite uncertain.

A very nice dinner that Mary had prepared helped to ease the day’s events.

Posted by psstevo 00:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

21 Eyre Peninsular - Port Lincoln to Adelaide

rain 17 °C

13th September
Port Lincoln

Another cloudy and windy day with showers, so Mary & I went shopping for some local prawns for dinner. A good choice as they were delicious! The weather deteriorated later in the day.

I received a call from the Port Lincoln caravan people that they reckoned that they could fix the problem van charger for a fair amount of money, so we agreed to call in as we left next morning.
During the evening the weather went from bad to worse and we had quite long periods of heavy rain that went on for several hours. I became concerned that if the large and heavy caravan parked very close above us on the hillside caused some soil slippage we would have a very serious problem in avoiding damage. Fortunately that did not happen, so we were relieved, that in spite of the heavy rain and increasing wind, to make it safely through the night. To add to the tension we decided to watch a DVD that a fellow traveller had given to us back in Kalgoorlie – ‘Avalanche’- a definite yawn movie! Altogether, a bad night.

14th September
Port Lincoln to Whyalla

Mary and I were up early to pack up and get on the road, even though the weather was not very good and the Park was really wet with some erosion from the run-off.

Brian and Maureen had expected a difficult time in getting hooked on to their van due to the slope on their site, however, everything worked out well for them, so we headed off to get the charger situation dealt with in town.
Neither the original charger nor the smaller version that I had bought from RACQ before leaving were functioning so a decision was made to have a new and larger 20 amp model installed. All went well and we were only an hour late in leaving town to catch Brian and Maureen up the highway.

As we headed north towards Whyalla we were somewhat surprised at the number of flooding streams and creeks with muddy water surging towards the nearby sea. Fortunately none had managed to cut the highway so we soon met Brian and Maureen at Tumby Bay, a seaside town, for morning tea. It was also very wet there and some roads were very close to flooding over. A cold wind didn’t help either as we then moved north and had lunch at Cowell – an older township, somewhat similar in building design and age to Oamaru (NZ).
We made it into Whyalla, a large mining based town, and checked in to the CP prior to heading to the shops for some supplies.
We had an early dinner and headed off for an early night.

15th September

Whyalla to Snowtown

A very quiet night for all of us enabled Mary and I to be ready for an early start, however, by the time we had the office pre-book a couple of sites at Christies Beach Top Tourist CP for the following night we finally hit the road about 0900.

For a change we had sunny weather and a good road so cruise control came in handy for this leg of the trip. Morning tea at Port Augusta then a lunch break at Crystal Brook, before deciding to make it through to Snowtown for the night. The roads were good, but with a lot more traffic than we had previously had in many weeks on the road. The amazing greenery of the fields and even on top of the Flinders Ranges was a sight for sore eyes as we knew that drought had been stalking the land for years.

Mary and I made a small deviation from the highway to a small village called Port Germein. A nice place it seemed.

There were many large fields of grain (wheat, mainly) and the changing scenery made for an interesting trip. We arrived at Snowtown about 1430 and set up a basic camp as we planned to leave early next day. We did not bother with awnings for unhitching from the car to speed things up for departure. This CP was a part of the local sports complex, but had basic facilities so no problems were experienced. A walk around this small town filled in the afternoon and gave us some welcome exercise! Snowtown will be familiar to many Australians as a place of multiple murder and evil some years ago, however, it appeared almost asleep as we walked through.

Our plans for a peaceful night suffered a blow when we discovered a major rail line was only about 80m from us, however, there were few late night trains so it did work out to be a reasonable spot for the night.

16th September

Snowtown to Adelaide (Christies Beach)

We were on the road quite early into a variety of traffic types. There seemed to be a lot of over-size trucks travelling the highway and we soon found that our UHF CB radio could transmit but not receive. Needless to say I understand that I received a fair amount of abuse from the passing heavy vehicles, but as I couldn’t hear what they were saying, I wasn’t bothered by it! By turning the set power off and then back on again I managed to get the CB working in time to make contact with Brian, ahead of us, just as we hit the northern outskirts of Adelaide.

In the increasing traffic, hindered by roadworks, we managed to edge our way through the northern suburbs before finding a sort of by-pass route to avoid the CBD. Brian, in the meantime, had followed his GPS (also a Tomtom) and managed to access the supposedly better by-pass, however, his Tomtom did not ‘know’ that the motorway by-pass it wanted them to take was a one-way only system. Poor Brian spent quite some time getting (literally) back on track, and finally caught up with us at Christies Beach as we started to set up.

Brian had a major problem when he tried to unhitch his van from the towbar when the jockey wheel failed leaving him in no-mans land being unable to move the car or setup his van. Nigel, the young chap on duty at the park managed to ‘borrow’ a spare jockey wheel thus enabling Brian to get unhitched completely, and after setting up his van, to race out and buy a replacement one. We were all very impressed with Nigel’s customer service skills over several days. In the meantime Mary & I set out to find a doctor to attend to Mary’s continuing back problems and eventually found one available who soon prescribed some very potent medication to help ease the pain.

The weather was, again, overcast with a cold wind – not at all like the Adelaide that I remembered from 1963/64!

We foolishly thought that being in a capital city that we would watch TV for the evening, however, the gadget that we had bought back in Brisbane refused to function, so after too much wasted time, we gave up and read a book instead!

Posted by psstevo 04:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

20 Eyre Peninsular - Ceduna/Streaky Bay/Port Lincoln

semi-overcast 18 °C

7th September
Mary was up and getting the washing done by 0630 as we had not been able to wash any clothes for the previous several days. It was windy and cold with a heavy overcast so drying would be a problem. However, the town’s Visitor Information Centre proved extremely helpful in signing off on my Nullarbor Links golf saga, printing out some urgently needed documents and some photocopying, all with a smile – and very inexpensive too!

As we enjoyed a warming coffee in town we all decided on taking the 3.6Km ‘coastal walk’ but, as soon as we started Mary and Maureen could not resist the temptation to collect more seashells. The sealed walkway made for an easy stroll down towards Pinky Point, however, when we almost there, Brian became unwell so we headed towards the local IGA store for some fluids to drink. In reaching the Thevenard IGA we passed a set of very large grain silos. Our slow stroll back to the CP was made more interesting, if sad, when we encountered a man in his forties in his front yard raging against the way the present Federal Government came about!
After lunch we managed to complete a few chores that needed doing – Mary updated her emails while I read a novel.

8th September
We started slowly today, and while I sorted out a range of issues related to mum’s estate with my brother, Noel, Mary managed to finally get the van floors cleaned up after all the mud and water from the Nullarbor experience. Those chores completed we all had much needed morning coffee and tea in the camp kitchen, where we decided on visiting the local historic museum after lunch.

Sadly, we couldn’t find this museum, so we decided to visit the local meteorological station for a free view of the 1500 weather balloon release. We were warmly greeted by Mark, the officer in charge, who entertained us with as much detail about his met work at Ceduna as we wanted. He showed us how the Australian weather mapping system worked and we learned a lot about how complex this is. Weather maps around the world are basically compiled only in Melbourne (for the Southern Hemisphere) and Washington and Moscow for the Northern. Having started all his computerised gear working to obtain the data we all moved outside the brand-new building complex to see the weather balloon being set free.

Mark asked for a volunteer to activate the balloon release, and Mary was very quick to do that. A simple operation and Mary had released the balloon while Mark quickly ‘shot’ laser beams at the balloon to ‘lock on’ so that all the data could be automatically sent back to the weather station for collation. Apparently most of the weather data is collected and made available, in real time, to airlines and moving aircraft. This point was highlighted by Mark when he told us that on the odd occasion the tracking device at the weather station ‘accidently’ changed its target to a passing jet aircraft resulting in impossibly high speeds for the balloon – especially if it tracked an RAAF aircraft on a training flight! A most informative experience for the group that day.

We then wandered around town in the lovely sunshine taking a few photos of various structures and the jetty. As I walked out along the jetty I chatted with an erstwhile squid fisherman. As we chatted we saw a large seal moving in towards the baits, much to the annoyance of those fishing there.
As we enjoyed dinner we were surprised by a loud clap of thunder, however, it was only one of those early season storms – all bang and no rain. We managed, eventually to get off to sleep in spite of the new and very noisy neighbours who arrived late.

9th September
Ceduna to Streaky Bay
A later start than planned however we enjoyed the lovely sunshine on our fairly short stage to Streaky Bay. (Called Streaky Bay because of the oily substance from kelp that surfaces in the bay and in certain weather conditions.) We made a brief side-trip to Smoky Bay for morning tea and what a very pleasant little village it turned out to be. Very photogenic.
We passed many large grain silos along the way, which was not surprising in view of the many thousands of hectares in wheat plantings this season.

When arrived at Streaky Bay CP we were greeted by that day’s weather forecast of 50Km winds. They were right – it blew mightily for hours, and we had no protection either as the van door was on the inward side, so no awning here. However, there was no real rain so we headed into the village to check the place out. Quite a lot of old stone buildings, some still in use as house or workplace. We took photos of a very large shark (model) that was caught locally some years ago. As we strolled back to the CP the next storm arrived and we just made it back to shelter. Enough, we all cried, and decided to take up the offer of King George Whiting ( a local delicacy) and chips for only $8. A bargain as they were absolutely delicious. Mary and Brian also decided on a serve of local fresh oysters. A pleasant evening for us all.

10th September
In the morning we all headed out on a 3 hour drive around the ‘Westall Loop’ roads. A gravel road in good condition took us to some great ocean views with wildflowers as a bonus. A most beautiful day to enjoy some of the wonderful creation here.

After lunch we boarded our car again and did the ‘Cape Bauer Loop’ of about 2 hours. A rough dirt road that was not very promising, however, when we visited Hally’s Beach to see the massive surf beating upon the rocky cliffs, and further along, we stopped at the aptly named Whistling Rocks and Blowholes, we were almost literally blown away, both by the wind (!) but also the blowholes and pounding surf. This was a trip highlight, even after seeing so many beautiful surf and cliff sights around the coastline. The ‘authorities’ had a brand new toilet facility there, but had not managed to build the bottom few steps – and we wondered how appropriate that they should do this immediately adjacent to the Whistling Blow Holes! (Well, we thought that it was funny at the time – unless you desperately needed a function facility!!!). We arrived home in beautifully fine and sunny weather to see why so many Queenslanders, in particular, love this spot.

11th September
Streaky Bay to Port Lincoln
A very pleasant trip through wheat fields and trees. Mary & I stopped for a pit stop at Port Kelly, and I noted the following plaque on the wall adjacent to our stopping place.

“In memory of all the beautiful plants that died here at the hands of my husband”.
Moving on to Elliston for morning tea we enjoyed a cold breeze and beautiful sea scenes. Mary noticed that many of the buildings had beautiful murals pained on their walls, so hopped out and kept snapping away.

Just before lunch we stopped at the old Lake Hamilton Eating House, a relic from the Cobb and Co days. A lovely little stone cottage, partly restored and with great lake views across the road. Our lunch stop was at Cummins Lookout, a memorial to a drowning from a sinking fishing boat some years ago. The sea views from the very dangerous cliff top took your breath away. We enjoyed lunch, especially as the walk up to the monument was rather steep. Travelled through tree-lined fields of golden canola and wheat until reaching Port Lincoln. Sadly, this part of the highway contained a number of galah and Port Lincoln parrot roadkill. Not nice. The hills all appeared to be glaciated limestone with some fields mostly rock with a few blades of edible green stuff for sheep. Our camp site was rather damp, reflecting the current weather in this region, however, all was managed in good time.

12th September
Port Lincoln
We awoke (were awoken by seagulls) to a sunny day and the fabulous sea view from the van door. We all drove into town to attend the local Baptist Church which dates from about 150 years ago.
A number of parishioners were away at a camp so the numbers were small but the welcome was warm. All visitors invited to share a lunch with the locals, which was also enjoyable.
We checked out the Visitor Centre and headed off to sightsee. Some spectacular shots from the Winter Hill Lookout on a perfect sunny day.

Posted by psstevo 22:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

19 The Nullarbor Experience

overcast 16 °C

30th August
Kalgoorlie-Boulder to Fraser Range Station
The overnight showers did not help us to sleep, however, we managed an early start to Kambalda for the next golf hole. The road was wet on a number of road stretches with several large mud patches caused by road trains entering the highway from off-road location causing potential traffic hazards.

We noticed the tree height reducing as we travelled south and small hills added to the variety. After completing the golf hole we drove through to Norseman to complete the next two holes then lunch with Maureen and Brian in a small park. Very pleasant.
After getting petrol and checking the tyre pressures we then had an easy drive on the Eyre Highway towards Fraser Range Station for our overnight stopover. We set up quickly, however several insisted on coming to watch the golf hole that I had to play there. Quite a few enjoyed the watching, perhaps due to lack of knowledge of golf! Saw a lot of emus on this very large station (over 400,000 acres for the statistically aged). From the homestead to the farthest fence-line is 160 kilometres. In other words it is a large property. The van park catered for over twenty vans plus the cabins. At only $25 per night per van site it was a bargain.

After the golf event all the campers settled in around a roaring fire and enjoyed a lot of yarns, jokes, and travel intelligence material. A jolly good time was had by all, and at dinner time we trouped off to enjoy that too. The power supply was two large generators however, they often did not manage to provide sufficient power for all the campers to use all their electrical appliances so we had blackouts. Too dangerous to fire up the laptop in case of this problem, however, a few hardy souls braved to cold breeze and got together around the fire again.
Overnight it began to rain, however, we slept well.

31st August
Fraser Range Station
We awoke to a steady rain falling so we did not venture out other than toilet breaks. Mary & I read for most of the morning, and after lunch we were invited next door to Brian and Maureen’s van for afternoon tea. Maureen had generously gone to the trouble of baking a large batch of pikelets – a most enjoyable time for all.
The rain eased in the early evening but then gusty winds grew in intensity all through the night.

1st September
The first day of spring? Not here it wasn’t!

Increasing rain and wind so we reluctantly agreed to stay another day to keep of the wet roads and avoiding possible van damage. We pulled our van awning down to minimise the impact of the wind that was now buffeting the van quite often. However, that meant that we also had rain at the van door so things started to get rather damp.
The staff recommended that we visit their kitchen block as a place to spend a warm day. “We’ll light up the log fire for you”, they said, and boy was it lovely and warm. We all spent most of the day in the comfort of this lovely old stone cookhouse reading or playing games.
After chatting with later arrivals we headed off to our respective vans about 1600 to prepare for dinner. At Fraser Range Station there was no TV reception, newspapers, and the radio reception was very poor – just like in the old days that I recall on various farms on which we then lived.

2nd September
Fraser Range Station to Cocklebiddy Road House
Although we were up quite early we were a bit late in actually leaving. The weather was overcast and breezy and cold! We took a few more photos and headed back to the Eyre Highway nearby enroute to the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse quite some distance away and where I had the next golf hole to play.

The main road to our first stop, Balladonia, was very good and time went quite quickly.
At Balladonia Road House we obtained petrol, coffee and a few trinkets in their shop. Balladonia enjoyed a brief moment of world-wide fame in 1979 (?) the Skylab landed in many pieces from inland Australia, across Balladonia, the Great Australian Bight, the coastal town of Esperance, and then into the Indian Ocean. A sizable chunk of the Skylab skin is held in the museum there. Suitable refreshed we hit the road for our next stop at Caiguna Road House for my next golf hole. The golf was less than exciting as it was wet and muddy and absolutely unlike any other golf complex in the world!

As we left Caiguna we hit the longest stretch of straight road in the world, at 147 Klms long. After about 20 Km Mary took over the driving on this excellent piece of road and managed about 90 Km. It was decided to head on to Cocklebiddy Road House for the night as Caiguna was very wet indeed. Through light showers of rain we managed the additional 66 Kms and arrived there pretty tired. There were lots of Road Trains on the highway (that is, articulated trucks with (usually) three large trailers attached) however, they are generally courteous and excellent drivers and so nor problems with them at all except to make us cautious when being passed by one because of the snaking behaviour of the last trailer.
On checking in we found that the wet weather had arrived before us and the CP had many very large and muddy puddles. A light dinner and then read for a while accompanied by the incessant wind outside.

3rd September
Cocklebiddy Road House to Eucla
Blustery wind and rain through the night ensured that we did not sleep well. However, all this rain did not manage to cause us any problems in our food cupboard, so the morning in Esperance spent fixing the probable problem area was well spent indeed.
When we awoke about 0615 we saw that the puddles had been greatly enlarged in area overnight and we almost awash in a sea of muddy water. A quick breakfast and then, dressed in my swimming trunks, a sweater and a plastic mac, and wearing my pseudo croc footwear, I headed off to play that golf hole in freezing wind and driving rain. I am surprised that I managed to hold onto the club, let alone manage to get the ball to safely to its destination. On my return Mary tried to insist that I have a very hot shower to thaw out but I decided that the probable outcome for me would be too serious to contemplate, so I rubbed down and got dressed ready for travel!

In freezing cold winds and light rain we headed out at about 0840 heading to Madura Pass (sadly, we bypassed the Lookout vantage point above the village as it was hidden in low cloud when we arrived) for the next golf hole. We arrived for morning tea and decided to buy a warm coffee instead of our usual thermos flask one. The golf hole actually passed over a service road to the Road House, much to the amusement of the couple who parked their van very close to the trajectory line and stood around enjoying their morning tea. Amazingly, I managed a really good shot to the green and the chap told me he had videoed it! Finished that job and rejoined the others for my cuppa before hitting the road again.

We lunched beside the Mundrabilla Road House which was surrounded by even more water than previous stops had experienced. The golf tee point was isolated by water and so we drove the car and van into the former Caravan Park site and parked there so that I could attempt this hole too. However, the weather conditions were so bad and the ground so muddy that it became quite dangerous to finish the hole, so, when I managed to lose two golf balls in the mini-jungle, I called it quits.

We then drove through the rain to Eucla village near to the West Australian/South Australian border for the night. Although we enjoyed a fairly brief period of fine weather we managed to arrive as the rain did. However, we set up in the Eucla Caravan Park, atop a range of hills that followed the coastline. A long time ago (but not millions of years) the present hill/cliff had been the shoreline of the Southern Ocean prior to the ocean floor being raised. Of course it was windy up on top of that ridge, however, we managed to get ourselves surrounded by a number of other vans so we enjoyed some shelter from the elements.
As we expected to meet the South Australian quarantine station the next morning where we expected vegetables and fruit to be confiscated to eradicate the possibility of bring the dreaded fruit fly into SA, Mary set about cooking up all vegetables and fruit to avoid this possibility.

4th September
Eucla to Nullarbor Roadhouse
We decided to move on as early as possible as everywhere seemed significantly affected by the rain. No flooding as such, but very wet along roads and side-roads making things unpleasant. Golf was therefore not possible here at the WA/SA Border, especially at the Border hole with a massive lake of water around the tee in which the tee appeared to be floating on top.

For once we actually had a tail-wind for most of the trip as we passed through increasingly smaller tress until there was only low scrub, or heather as far as the eye could see. Strangely, we did not find that boring as there always seemed to be some point of interest along the highway.
Just after leaving the border we were stopped by the local cops doing a licence and RBT check. When asked if I had had any alcohol to drink (before 1000???) I told him the last drop was in 1987. Not impressed.

The trip was otherwise uneventful but quite interesting and got a good park at the Nullarbor CP. After setting up I managed to get the long par 5 hole completed in spite of the long grass fairways and the many massive rabbit warrens in which you could easily lose the ball.
We all enjoyed a great sunset over the large rain puddles.

5th September
Nullarbor to a Free Stop near Penong
We were all ready for an 0830 departure, however, as we reached the Eyre Highway from the CP we were all stopped by the police with a road-block. There was a B Double semi trailer that they were trying to retrieve from the bog on the side of the highway about 400 meters on our exit from town. It had somehow gone slightly off onto the edge of the roadway the night previous and had bogged seriously with a serious lean that indicated a complete rollover may be imminent. However, after about 40 minutes they reopened the highway as we were all allowed through.

A pleasant and quite sunny drive down the highway about 20 minutes to the Head of the Bight turnoff. There was a nice new Interpretative Centre there covering the local wildlife, especially the Southern Right Whales that spent the winter in the Great Australian Bight giving birth and nurturing their calves. We saw over a dozen whales and calves right at our feet below the Bunda Cliffs on which an excellent walkway had been built. Many tourists flock here as the whales are so close and observable without impeding their life in any way. A must for anyone passing through in the winter months.

Morning tea and we hit the road again with Brian and Maureen heading on through to Ceduna direct as we trundled along to Nundroo and Penong for the next golf holes. At our lunch stop we had a an interesting chat with a couple in a Merc about the parlous state resulting from the indeterminate Australian election. While chatting over lunch an old Ford Falcon, with two females came racing through the stopping point, dragged around on the gravel and then, without even looking charged back onto to the highway – right in front of a large semi-trailer with great big EXPLOSIVES plastered across the front of the truck. Needless to say the truckie gave them a real blast!

I played the Nundroo golf hole and we then drove quietly through the rolling hills until we found a free overnight site near to Penong. A pleasant afternoon tea in the very welcome warm sunshine adjacent to massive wheat fields and peace and quiet, apart from the passing trucks on the highway. Another couple also pulled in to enjoy the stopover and came over for a chat. They had been on the road for about nine years! Later, as the four of us chatted we heard a scrunching of tires on the gravel and a raucous group of youngish women noisily piled out and greeted us, beer bottles in hand! Apparently they had been celebrating a clean-sweep in their end of year sports and had been celebrating at a nearby coastal village all weekend. They soon left us in peace and raced off to complete the weekend nearer home!
We had a peaceful night, with no electricity but the camp lanterns worked fine.

6th September
Free stop to Ceduna
We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning and, as not much packing up was required we were soon on the road to Ceduna and the end of our Nullarbor experience. We stopped at Penong, a very small road-side village, and I completed that golf hole while Mary caught up on her reading. This hole was quite short, almost dry and a nice hole to enjoy.

Ceduna soon appeared on Tomtom and we arrived at the very pleasant Big 4 Ceduna CP and quickly got settled in. The washing had accumulated so Mary got the first lot completed. Although somewhat windy this is a very pleasant small coastal town with a new IGA store at which we managed to get some shopping up to date. No TV reception on our laptop so enjoyed a quiet read before a welcome sleep.

Posted by psstevo 15:51 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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