Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Port Lincoln 21- 26 February 2007
Left Coffin Bay and its beautiful inlets to the fish and the fishermen! After a quick drive to Port Lincoln, we settled into the local caravan park for morning tea. Washing attended to and left blowing in the wind overlooking a great view, while we explored town. This is a pleasant, convenient, sized town with a very attractive and protected waterfront among lots of shops that overlook the grassed foreshore. Lots of very expensive homes, owned by wealthy fishermen, sit on the cliffs overlooking the water. There is a Marina and lots of interesting restaurants. “Adelaidians” (just made up that term until we find out the right word!) fly here for the weekend, as its 40 mins by plane! There is also a new ferry up the peninsular a bit, as an alternative to the long haul up and down each side of the gulf to get to Adelaide. Bought a few provisions and found the op shops! We are enjoying them because they are one of the few things that are always different and full of old ladies that know lots of things about the town, as well as being a great source of cheap home-made jam that we are addicted to - sorry IXL!
Spent much of the next day exploring other aspects of the town and around early evening, headed out to meet the CMCA’s SA Co-ordinator, Ross. Peter in particular, has become very interested in the organisation and enjoys being involved in management issues. Ross had indicated it would be fine to stay on his property that night so we took him up on the offer. We were surprised to find the property in the middle of a major development being done by Ross and were the first motorhome to drive on the skeleton new road bull dozed out last week! It was dusty, up and down but well worth the view from the top of the hills. The sheep entertained us and the little wrens on the gravel intrigued us. Ross and Chris were very hospitable and for many reasons 4 days later we are still here!
After our first night at Ross and Chris’ we took our car to explore the Lincoln National Park. It was wonderful with lovely little beaches beckoning us in. We had a lovely swim and lunch at one of them as the temperature rose to 32degs. Along the way we saw numerous emus close by and saw a clutch of 4 chicks on the road. At one beach there was a lovely young NSW couple and two kids at the beginning of a 32 week Oz trip. The lady was very excited and wished we had been there a moment before to see an adult emu walking the beach with 10 chicks following! She was right! We did wish we had seen them though our imagination could put it all together! We moved on as clouds threatened and were shocked to watch the car thermometer plunge from 32o to 18o in about an hour. End of thoughts of anymore swimming! So we came back into town and visited a wood craft workshop which displayed exceptional talented work. The owner was responsible for some pieces in Parliament House! Bought some more fish (the biggest fishing fleet in Australia is here in Port Lincoln!)
Spent much of the next three days with Ross analysing our electrical problems as he has much expertise in the electrics! No simple diagnosis but some progress.
In the late afternoon Ross had Peter as his rouseabout to help feed the 250 sheep. It was a scream to see Peter hurtling down the road with half of the sheep following the truck, thinking he had the food - Peter jumping out at the gate, shooing them back a bit, opening the gate, driving through and slamming the gate quickly in their faces as they contemplated following him. Only one escapee who thought better of her escape and quickly dived in before the gate slammed! If only!
The hills, the wind and the distant water views are so much like Kiama EXCEPT the grass is near non existent and is really just pale yellow straw and dust! Ross and Chris say that, in winter, it is very lush and green. The photos they showed us proved that and they said that this summer was exceptionally dry. We are supposedly getting the wrong impression!
Stayed on for yet another day whilst Ross and Peter installed a new regulator that will hopefully give us more accurate information to work with! We are a bit blown away by their hospitality and hope we can offer them something in Kiama on their future travels. As the days passed here the countryside has seeped into our psyche.
Coffin Bay 19 – 20 February 2007
What an incredible day – we drove about 200km from north of Elliston to Coffin Bay and we seemed to go through a number of geographic regions. We started off from Venus Bay and encountered hot dry conditions with treeless plains covered in limestone rocks, interspersed with salt lakes. After a while, we came across small stone farms, surrounded by mature trees planted in a much earlier time.We stopped for lunch at Lake Hamilton (which actually had water in it), and then headed up a hill to a lookout and were knocked out by the spectacular views from a cliff overlooking crashing waves breaking 500m from the shore. We parked close enough to have full ocean views and could feel the ocean spray! Would have loved to stay but it was the wrong time.
After lunch we walked up to a memorial for a local fisherman drowned in the 50’s and saw more amazing scenery with massive waves crashing into a limestone cave.
Early in the day we stopped in Elliston to buy groceries and there was a 1970’s newspaper clipping about the nurse that drowned at the 20 mile beach saying her ghost was seen on the water. Heather laughed and said we had been there and the local said the gossip was always that she was pregnant to the local married Dr and he had pushed her in!
Coming into Coffin Bay was a surprise, with green pastures and multiple inlets – very picturesque however as the town didn’t impress us, we continued onto the National Park on the Peninsula.
In the morning, we went for a hike along the foreshore This is rugged, hard country with tough vegetation. We stumbled across a few mobs of kangaroos resting in the shade of low shrubs. There were joeys in the mobs and they jumped out quickly giving away the hide. The adults were very subdued and tolerated us walking by very closely! In the afternoon we decided to go for a drive to explore the park. Unfortunately the track was a narrow sandy one and when we came head to head with another 4wd, unable to pass, we both became trapped or bogged in the sand. We all had to dig both vehicles out of the sand. Luckily another 4wd came along with a winch, just when we were getting no where with the digging, and was able to pull out the other car. Then, after more digging, we were dug out! Of course, the reward for helping for the rescuer was that he too became bogged. All hands on deck, including 2 kids, freed them too! After that we thought that we had better call it a day and we all headed back to Jimmy for a cold drink!
Monday, February 19, 2007
Venus Bay 17 – 18 February 2007
Woke up to predictions of a 40c day, so we headed to Venus Bay’s Caravan Park to keep up the air conditioning and have a swim. We scored another perfect spot in the CP right on the edge of the water in front of boats, a jetty, birds and locals fishing and swimming. Venus Bay is a very big, protected water area that is very attractive. There is a large population of pelicans that gave us lots of photo ops. It was HOT and perfect for a swim! In the evening it cooled enough to be a perfect summer evening, so we bought fish and chips and took them down to the beach to join in all the activities at the jetty. Lots of locals with kids, dogs and boats had gathered for a good time and we really enjoyed the goings on. When the sun set it was very colourful on the water with pelicans and clouds performing overhead. Another pile of great photos!
A warm night controlled for a while with air con but awoke to a dark grey cloudy sky and 18degs again! At the same time Adelaide was already 31degs - the change had arrived! Drove out on another coastal discovery and were in awe of yet more unusual geological features. This time it was Talia Caves that was created by major erosion from the huge waves pounding away on the Limestone cliffs sitting on top of smooth colourful sandstone. We also watched long rolls of waves breaking on a 20 mile beach nearby. Finally the clouds lifted for a sunny but cool day at Venus Bay.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Port Kenny 16 February 2007
Cool morning despite the prediction for a heat wave before we moved onto Murphy’s Haystack. These were yet another unusual geological feature, consisting of granite outcrops that had been eroded into astonishing weathered shapes with the tops covered in algae, giving some of them a big chocolate-cup cake look.
For the highlight of the day, we left Jimmy behind to see Australia’s only mainland sea lion colony at Point Labatt. The wild windswept viewing platform was extraordinarily located directly above a wonderful bay draped with sea lions! At first they looked just like dead bodies, all snoozing where they collapsed, however soon a few lively youngsters started to annoy the others and created lots of interesting interactions that kept us entertained for a long time. Babies suckling outstretched mothers, huge bull lions resting on the outer edges giving out an aura of “do not disturb” and the young ones playing. The area was unique and probably chosen by seals because the rocks made a break-wall of calm water, as well as a small sandy beach and smooth granite rocks that made warm beds! Photos galore again! The temperature was only 18 deg and we felt cold! Visited Sceale Bay, a really dry village that brought Coober Pedy to mind! Maybe 40 houses with no obvious services - fishing seems to be the only reason for existing now. History reveals that it was a busy port in the 1900’s for transport of wool and grain – how times have changed! Quite suddenly the wind direction turned around and the temperature soared to 34degs. We explored Murphy’s Haystacks in the heat realising this was the predicted heatwave - but much less than forecasted!
Passed Port Kenny, another tiny dry seaside village typical of this coast. Seems the main reason for many people to stop is FISHING! Whenever you ask about a place here it is described by the type of fish caught and how easy it is to catch them! We really are behind on that score, as we just buy ours freshly caught - currently Snapper and King George Whiting. The scenery is secondary to most fishermen but really unique! Stopped at another roadside rest area looking across to Venus Bay and bunked down with the air conditioner.
Eyres Water Hole (Streaky Bay) 15 February 2007
Up early and drove a very short distance to Streaky Bay, a refreshing little town, orientated to the sea. Can’t tell how we do it, but it was very pleasant due to a lovely cool breeze. Caught up with our food shopping and found another Op Shop for Heather.
After lunch we explored some wonderful wild coastal areas in the car at Point Westall. The coast always surprises us producing something new when we think we have seen it all. A thousand more photos! Encountered a rough long road back to town, via some dry country with the beginnings of a new locality, called Fisherman’s Paradise, where a farmer has divided some arid farmland into a few blocks – don’t know where the water will come from!
Back in town and home again in the motorhome, we enjoyed the atmosphere of the water and the shady park, relaxing and staying until about 7pm. We then drove a few kms out of town to a rest area at the historic site of a water hole that John Eyre had used when exploring the peninsula.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Perlubie Beach 13 – 14 February 2007
We travelled along the coast but were unable to see much of it. The surrounding land seemed to have had very marginal grain crops, recently harvested. We stopped for a break at Smokey Bay which was a tiny holiday community with an oyster industry. Around the back we were surprised to find lots of new houses being built in a mini boom. Came to a lovely campspot that we loved so much that we have stayed two nights. It’s about 20 kms before Streaky Bay township but overlooks the same water. This spot affords us sea views out the windows (we think we have the best spot in the camp) and lovely warm water to swim in. It’s an unusual spot as it has quite a few large shade cabanas and children’s swings in the sand. Turns out this is where they have an annual horse race on the beach on New Years Day and they are actually the viewing areas. Of course we then recognised the wooden stalls at the back made from undressed logs! The outdoor shower is fed from a tank up on the hill and by the time it gets to the bottom we have hot water that never runs out! Everyone loves it! And to top it off the fee is $2/person! Imagine if this was the norm – this has to be one of our favourite camping spots! We took a long walk along the beach and found the pearly shells of the large razor fish which are very prevalent here and sought after by the fisherman. The prize is a scallop sized piece of meat and the rest makes good burley! It’s a very large fish buried in the sand that takes two very strong arms to pull out.
A German couple came into the camp with a huge 4 wheel drive truck that they are travelling around the world in. It was fascinating to listen to their adventures and they made our trip sound very tame! They told us fuel was 1.5 cents a litre in Tehran! They loved Iran the best and Vietnam was the hardest to get around as they don’t like uncontrolled tourists doing their own thing. They were off to NZ and on to South America, then to Alaska and across Siberia. We certainly meet lots of different types of travellers.
Laura Bay 12 February 2007
Just out of Ceduna we could not pass up the chance to check this place out with such a pretty name as Laura Bay. However the best view we enjoyed was a water glimpse from a distance and noticed mangroves across a large expanse of tidal flats. The campground was situated in a hot spot so we left and camped by the nearby roadside. Then we started to get itchy! Yes our first sandflies since Eighty Mile Beach! So we have to look forward to some itchy couple of weeks!
Ceduna 8 - 11 February 2007
Headed down the road to fill up Jimmy and caught up with the Swiss couple we met last night! They are on a 4 year visa and intend to wander around Oz with their lovable dog that they could not leave behind! We would have thought he was a good old Ozzie dog chasing sticks, not a Swiss tourist!
Stopped for the night just out of Ceduna to eat ALL our remaining fruit and vegetables, as we have to go through the Fruit Fly Inspection tomorrow! Start cooking Heather! It’s tricky to estimate, as you can’t get any fruit, etc on the Nullarbor. We did well! Low and behold, it’s very windy again, but no clouds!
Fruit fly Inspection thorough and finally in Ceduna at IGA buying all our fruit and veg again! Quite good range of fruit etc due to the great business generated by the man throwing it all out as you enter! It’s a bit crazy as it all comes from the same source! Asia! Australian farmers are gong out of business anyway!
Camped in a caravan park right on the water and watched 2 lovely sunsets over the water from the motorhome. Unusually, this park is right in town. Ceduna is a small town (3000) that feels healthy and coming along fine. It is busy with wheat and gypsum exporting from a small port and lots of traffic crossing the Nullarbor! The days have been bright and sunny, very windy but not hot (10-27). It is supposed to be 40 on Sunday! We keep ducking and weaving, missing the hot weather by chance! The Aboriginal population seems more settled in this town without obvious drunkenness and disruption. The Indigenous Art Gallery was well run by local Aboriginals with aspirations for the future. It may be a hidden mess though.
We spent Sunday quietly reading and doing some late spring cleaning. Cleaned the windows and gauze after the Nullarbor sin readiness for them to get dirty again as soon as possible!
Monday all the shops opened and we had a look at some op shops (where Heather got some bargains) as well as the local folk museum. This proved to be a great museum that had a number of old buildings at the rear and an amazing collection of old tractors, buggies and farm machinery. Perhaps the most unusual find was a Sunshine Harvester in original condition.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Yalata 8 February 2007
Stopped at a series of spectacular lookouts that were right on the edge of the Great Australian Bight. They stretched as far as the eye could see and plunged straight into the sea right below you! The signs point out that many parts are dangerous as the cliffs are undercut on the edges. We saw a few examples from the distance that made us cautious near the edge! The cliff tops finish very sharply with the endless, flat plain and the contrasting colours of the different ages of limestone cut by the sea, made for a very enticing stop, so we did not miss any of the lookouts due to their spectacular nature. By lunch time we finally got to the Nullarbor Roadhouse in the middle of the Nullarbor (according to the map)! There was nothing else there other than the roadhouse, attached motel (well a building with a few outside doors) and the driest and dustiest caravan park we have ever seen. In four days we had done 1300km, which is about 900km more than we do normally!
Headed onto Yalata Roadhouse for diesel, only to find it was closed! Luckily we have enough to get us to the next roadhouse - JUST! The old caravan park next door was totally abandoned, so we camped there anyway and were joined by a Swiss couple. This Roadhouse is owned by the local Aboriginal community from the old Yalata Mission and because of neglect and the fact it is full of asbestos had to be shut down 12 months ago. Next door to it were a few buildings with a manned police station and residence. An interesting couple who live in one of the dwellings came over for a long chat. They came from NSW to manage the Aboriginal General Store at the outlying Community (they are leaving soon having completed 12 months). They described lots of interesting aspects about the culture, their hopes and despair for the future of just this one community. Many negative issues dominate the settlement despite the best intentions of those support workers out there. Alcohol still seems to be a huge issue, despite this being a dry community. Cultural differences just seem insurmountable!
Scenic Lookout (13km Peg) 7 February 2007
Awoke a much calmer day but still cloudy and a cool 16degs. Kept heading due east and while the countryside was similar, there were enough interesting things to keep us amused. The weather continues to be overcast and cool; a godsend really, but not what we were expecting crossing the Nullarbor. We saw a lot of road kill – all kangaroos, with the crows having a field day. The signs keep telling us to watchout for camels, wombats, emus and kangaroos! Worry if we see a camel! There was also a constant stream of road trains going west and also overtaking us. On a long flat stretch, one truck overtook us and then, straight away, braked hard and swerved onto the side of the road with the big, black, brake marks. As we passed the same spot, we saw a large wedgetail eagle flying away from a dead kangaroo. We couldn’t see anything wrong, so we kept on driving. About 100km down the track, we stopped at a roadhouse for lunch and saw the roadtrain eased in slowly. There had been two eagles and as he drove past the kangaroo, the first eagle took off too slowly and went straight into the truck, smashing his windscreen and landing in the passenger seat, dead! Gave him quite a scare! He explained that the sad thing was that eagles mate for life.
We stopped at Eucla expecting a town of sorts, but it’s really only a road house and some buildings indicating visits from the Flying Doctor and Police. It was interesting from a historical point and had a little museum describing the early settlement of the Telegraph Station. We took the truck and car down a rather rough track to the old telegraph station a few kms by the water. We saw a photo from the 1950’s showing a delightful intact villa even then. Now it is a roofless ruin, where the sand hills have all but buried it. It was eerie to think of how more remote it was in the 1870’s.
After another fuel-stop we crossed the border at Border Village, another milestone in our travels and took our obligatory photos! Like the NT/WA border, it looked like an old Eastern European frontier crossing for those entering WA! They are serious and really go through everything in regards taking your fruit, plants, honey, etc! Luckily we will not meet our interrogators until we reach Ceduna, as we are heading east.
We found our first lookout over the coast and cliffs not far into SA and settled happily for the night overlooking one of those views that make the trip! We watched a stormy looking sky all evening but never a drop of rain! The rainfall around these parts is only 300mm or 12” p.a. so we now know it is always just pretending!
Jillbunya Rockhole 6 February 2007
Set off across the Nullarbor, on yet another grey cool day, and quickly got caught up with some road trains and road works – there is a major redevelopment of the highway (boy does it need it), and went on for kilometres. The land is now becoming flatter, with sparser vegetation. However, there are still clumps of small trees doted around the landscape. The road is also becomes straighter, with an initial stretch around Balladonia going for 130km and then 146kms of the straightest stretch of road in Australia heading east towards Caiguna. We watched carefully for the bend in the road at the end! We travelled through open country and found Caiguna Blowhole, which is a small sinkhole that opens into an enormous cave. The air rushes out through the hole due to convection and is very cool. The information at the site said the air flow can be up to 70kms! With a cool, strong wind blowing outside for the past two days the airflow was too cool! Stopped for diesel at Caiguna Roadhouse at $1.60/ litre and 30 cents more that down the road! Stopped at Jillbunya Rockhole for the night in very open countryside and watched as the wind became stronger and stronger all evening making lots of noise! Walked about the surrounding land before the wind came up but couldn’t find a Rockhole! Found a fully smashed and flattened light van from some past horrid accident which must have been someone’s nightmare!
10 Mile Rock 5 February 2007
Woke up to another cold and windy day so heading north for a bit of warmth seems like the right direction! Had to go back to Norseman before the big turn to the east. We can’t believe that we are finally about to cross the Nullarbor – it is a milestone in our travels! We ended up not leaving Esperance until lunchtime, as we had an oil leak and Peter had to get some more oil and a new oil filter – no sense in getting caught as it 2,000km to Adelaide. Stocked up with fruit and extra water for the Nullarbor.
What surprised us as we headed east was the thick vegetation along the road – we expected semi-desert but there have been dense shrubs and tall trees along the way. Stopped at a roadside camp for the night and had a chat with some fellow travellers who have just started their first trip in their new vehicle. We felt like old pros giving out some basic advice!
Monday, February 05, 2007
Cape Le Grand NP 3 – 4 February 2007
After a leisurely start, we ventured east of Esperance to Lucky Bay, in the Cape Le Grand NP, an area of wild coastal scenery, rugged granite peaks and sweeping stunted heathlands. When we rounded the final corner a magnificent view unfolded of yet another aquamarine bay and blinding white sand, which filled our vista. We camped at a very comfortable National Park Campsite at Lucky Bay, which was a vast crescent shaped inlet, with a wide sandy beach set between two smoothly weathered rocky promontories. Although it was quite windy in the afternoon, we had a peaceful walk along the beach where the white, fine sand was packed surprisingly hard. Our night was set against the rhythmic crash of the waves.
The next morning was still windy and overcast, as we set off to explore the park.
The coastline alternates between shrubby sand embankments covered in low heath and the smooth mounds of the mountains and with the grey weather we thought of Scottish highlands. Thistle Cove was our first stop, where we saw a wonderful wind sculptured ‘wave rock’ called Whistle Rock. The next destination was Hellfire Bay and felt more like hell if it had frozen over! Then onto Le Grand Beach also allowed camping, however it was very exposed compared to Lucky Bay and reminded us of Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa. We headed home to lunch and a rather brisk swim in the sheltered waters of Lucky Bay whilst the sun was out. An afternoon exploration to the end of the road in this park took us along a rough corrugated road to Rossiter Bay, named after Captain Rossiter of the Mississippi who rescued Eyre from certain death from that very beach, after his disastrous expedition across the Nullarbor. The view was different but still had a feeling of wildness disappearing into distant mountains accompanied by the never ending sand and surf.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Esperance 29 – 31 January 2007
Had a short trip into Esperance (“Espy”) – a pretty town on a tranquil harbour that shows little sign of the devastating storms of a few weeks ago. We camped at a caravan park by the water and we were surprised how crowded it was, as we had hardly encountered anyone since leaving Perth! Espy is a touch of Terrigal, Kiama and Port Kembla mixed together! It is refreshing after the dry inland!
In the early evening we walked along the waterfront to a long pier where the locals were fishing. At the start of the pier we saw a very insistent sea lion circling a small area waiting for the fisherman to throw in fish scraps. He continued circling coming up to snort and eyeball everybody, becoming a bit cross because of the lack of response. The signs state that the Sea lions do bite! The weather forecast for 40deg temp did not eventuate but threatening clouds and rising humidity created an enjoyable “storm coming” feel. There was a little bit of rain in the night to set it off!
Had a look at the fishing marina that had been devastated by the storm. The harbour was filled with sand and needed to be dredged before the fleet could get out to sea.
Our first excursion to the western coast of Esperance was a big surprise as we encountered a rolling sea mist as soon as we got to the town lookout and witnessed the disappearance of Esperance. A local said it was an unusual event adding to our awe of the fog. It was even more spectacular when we rounded the first big beach lookout with the contrasting sunny water and the wintry looking fog crashing in to each other. On Wednesday we headed back along this coast road in full sun to be stunned by some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen. The beach road hugs the coast very closely so you are never with out a view for the whole 20 kms. We stopped at a succession of lookouts gazing down upon nearly white beaches and sheltered aqua-marine bays dotted with huge russet rocks weathered smooth by the very powerful Southern Ocean.
We enjoyed our front row position in the Seafront Caravan Park though it was a bit windy at times. A few hot days at the beginning of our stay were superseded by cool to nearly cold days! WA is definitely variable plus, plus! Whilst it was about 22deg here it was 39 in Perth! Overall we have been mostly cool in southern WA, through December and January, much to our surprise. The last night in Espy we went out to hear a blues band play at a local pub – a good night and a chance to have a chat with some locals.