Archive | July, 2013
30 July 2013

Rented Horse

Adelaide weather was “disappointing”, but we did get to Jane and Justins’ new abode. Wasn’t much point in doing all the things promised cos it had already been done – not much storage space in a 60 sq mtr house. There wasn’t even enough floor space to spread things out nor enough lights or taps to make a statement. Guess we’ll just

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But it was great to see them both in their own first home. Nice to have a Adelaide 5000 address regardless of plot size. We had a couple of dinners/lunches with Justin & Jane and Janes Mum and Dad, Anne & Quentin. Great company and really good to catch up.

By Tuesday night we were ready to leave – our sights were set on home. Six months have passed and we were like the proverbial ‘rented horse’ – at the nadir of our journey, that depressing point closest to the end.

One remaining duty, since we were going to pass the door, was to call on Judes’ brothers Ian and Graeme in Swan Hill and give them an overview of our journey as neither of them have or can work a computer. Set up Graemes’ TV to play photos and his most immediate response was “how’d ya do that”.  Well I didn’t want to bore everyone with 5000 photos, so I picked what I thought might be interesting. But I didn’t pick so well.

Anyway, we finally returned to Lima East on Friday. Quite a change to be in a mansion relative to the Hovel but the back yard isn’t nearly as big.

For those of you who take statistics seriously, we have been away for exactly 6 months and  covered 14924 km in the Hovel and 11404 in the Suzi. The Hovel shows a trip average consumption of 21.9 l/100km and the Suzi a surprisingly high 11.8 l/100 km. The trailer shows more signs of damage than either the Hovel or the Suzi, despite the Hovels brush with a tree. Diesel averaged around $1.65 c/l and petrol was about the same so our total fuel cost was about $7600.00. Servicing of both the Suzi and the Hovel ran up a total of $2o56.00, repairs to the trailer a further $1675.00, repairs to the toilet a staggering$271.00 and the fridge a further $25.00. Jude has yet to do a final tally on the living expenses but I suspect the biggest cost will have been caravan park fees. We “free camped” at every opportunity and enjoyed the Webbers back yard for about 5 weeks in total but when we wanted to offload Suzi and explore we mostly parked up in a caravan park for security. One surprisingly low expense was that of gas with the consumption of just 18 kg(two bottles) over the entire period. Gas was used for all free camping for cooking and water heating as well as running the barbie on occasion. However the variables in the price of gas both bottled and from the pump is amazing – we paid $22.85 for a bottle refill in Perth and $36.99 in Port Augusta. But the pump price for LPG has ranged from 72.9 to 1.44.9 c/l across the country. The highest diesel cost was 203.9 c/l. of course on the Nullarbor. We took advantage of every Woolworths and Coles special offers on fuel but you know that the prices are inflated in the first place and even so the average price remained at 1.65. The discount stations are not always where you want them, nor  can the Hovel fit into some of those that are about.

The Hovels tank holds just 140 litres which provides for a theoretical 636 Km range but we were never close to empty, setting a limit of 500 km between fills. The Suzi on the other hand has a theoretical range of just 466km on its 55 litre tank and it got bloody close to bone dry on a few occasions particularly after chugging through sand.

Apart from some unexpected costs the rig served us well. We were definitely the most comfortable of all our fellow travellers and I suspect saw much more than most. If this is camping please give us more.

Whilst we confined the trip to the south of both SA and WA the weather throughout was pretty good. I think Jude counted just 6 wet days until we hit Port Augusta and Adelaide which added a further 4 days of relatively inclement weather. We spent most of the days in light clothing, only adding jumpers at nights later into winter.

This has been the first of our adventures. I hope you have shared some of it with us. If it induces you to follow suit I have done my job.

This is a fabulous country – its sights, its sounds, its cities, its towns, its barren landscapes, its very complex scenery but most of all its people. We have but tapped perhaps 15% of its allure. The next phase of the journey can’t come soon enough.

 

Signing off for now, but please keep tuned for the next adventures of the old folk in the Novel Hovel.

23 July 2013

Cactus’d mate

From Head of Bight we made Ceduna, but on the way attempted to access Cactus Beach out of Penong (the windmill town). Just 500mtrs into the turn-off the road turned to ‘not the best’ but on stopping a local who had just come along it we were faithfully advised that the road was OK, particularly in ‘a good rig like that’. OK – onwards. But another 500mtrs in the road turned to ‘worse than not the best”, so a slow U-turn and back with the resolve that we would see the ‘Cactus’ another day.

Well, on to Ceduna for a water fill and longer showers. Discovered we had seen all of Ceduna worth seeing on the first visit so we took Suzi back to Cactus. The road turned into crap so we were real pleased we didn’t take the Hovel the 25 or so Ks on to the beach the day before. Additionally the promised camping area was not accessible by a big rig, nor did we find a level spot so the trip down would have ended in major disappointment and probably heaps of damage.

However the trip was still worthwhile. Firstly, we found the jetty at Point Sinclair along with the shark proof sea pool. Apparently a young boy was taken by a shark in 1977 when swimming out to meet a boat so the locals put up the fence beside the jetty to keep the kids in.

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A very pretty spot, but where is the surf beach we believed the Point was famous for? Further around we found evidence of good surf but surely even the most enthusiastic surfer would not risk life and limb on the jagged rocks surrounding this bay! Well quite obviously the surfers come here but must experience a lot of idle time judging by the rock gardens and stacks.

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A very popular camp ground featured some of the better forms of accommodation……

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but there is a village of private caravans covered by protective constructions…..

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but so far not a soul to be seen.

Where is this so called surf beach? Surely people come here for something more than living in abject poverty ( a bit like hovel). Not a sign to direct we darted off the “road” onto what appeared to be a well compressed sand track and headed for the coast again…..

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and there it was!

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Ya gotta know where to go!

Back over the causeway, heading back to Penong the most unusual occurrence of pink and green water on either side caused occasion to pause….

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and then there’s just the ‘wags’…

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But, all in all, another very beautiful part of this country and such a variety of contrasts in one small area.

Suzi has a few more rattles but a lot more experience. Us too.

Next stop Port Augusta and first port of call the “Outback Centre” to experience the best information centre we have come across (although all have been very good in both SA and WA) and into their display. This is one of the best “interpretive centres” we have experienced. It is fascinating, involving and informative. We even bought a copy of one of the feature films outlining the experience of Tom Kruze the outback postie.

It was here we were advised of the Motorhome park at the Port Augusta Sporting Club –  just $7.00 per night. No facilities other than a dump point and the ability to top up with fresh water but a well used site. When we arrived late afternoon there were already 10 or 12 happy campers, including one we recognized.

Happy hour was! And the one we recognized, after much speculation as to where we espied them turned out to be from Benalla and we had seen them at home!!!

So Bob and Linda Arthur on their return will be visitors to Lima for a de-briefing. Others with whom new friendships were formed over 4 days of waiting out the weather included Warren & Noelene, Peter & Kathleen, Dennis & Anne and Ivan & Mary, all from all over the country. Weather was the worst we’d experienced for the whole trip, but we finally got underway Friday and headed for Adelaide.

Now in Adelaide and the weather is crap!

 

18 July 2013

Blowing in the wind

The moving sands of time are no more apparent than at the old telegraph station at Eucla. We offloaded Suzi and took the track down to the station site. We were reluctant first time when we called in on the way over back in March to park up the truck unattended but we have become more accustomed to leaving all of our worldly possessions on the side of the road and heading off into the wild blue yonder. Well this side journey was not exactly wild, blue or yonder but the road and the incline was altogether too rough/much for the Hovel.

These ruins are variously exposed or covered in sand. This visit they were fairly exposed but we were told earlier that on a prior visit that very little was visible.

It is still a fascinating part of our early history when you consider the remoteness of the location and the solidity of the buildings that these places were both accessed and built upon and indeed inhabited, in this case by some 3 families in its heyday.

 

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As with the Eyre station and the one near Balladonia these were all built in the 1890’s. Only the Eyre has been resurrected as a tourist visitor site.

Onwards, ever onwards. We made the Head of Bight by Friday morning (I think it was) and the promise made to us by the caretakers back in March was fulfilled. The whales were everywhere (they weren’t in March). Perhaps not as active and spectacular as had been described to us by others on previous sightings but nonetheless a very enlightening experience. These things are GI-NORMOUS. You don’t appreciate their size by measurements, it is only by physical presence that you get a real feel for their enormity – and the sound of their breathing.

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We counted 20 not including the few calves while we were there (a couple of hours) but we were also told that on previous occasions there have been many, many more

It really is a beautiful insight to the habitat of some of the worlds most elusive and unknown  and spectacular creatures. It was almost as if the mothers were taking their children on parade – one mother and calf would swim past the viewing platform, perform for a bit and then move on to allow the next pair in line. We observed this behaviour of four different whales.

Well one could stay all day and see a lot more of the same but it got windy and cold out there so it was time to move on.

We parked up that night in a free camp somewhere over the Nullarbor only to have a tree branch do some damage to the side and top of the Hovel. Unable to report it until Monday when we had phone reception again we now find ourselves nervous about getting repairs done. A case of make good for the moment perhaps until we get home. Right now we are parked up In Port Augusta for a fourth night, waiting for the winds to die down before travelling on to Adelaide.

Between Head of Bight and here though there is more to tell but it will have to wait for the next enthralling episode.

14 July 2013

Gold, gold, gold

Kalgoorlie is all about gold. The history and the now is dependent upon gold. As a mining town it shows its gold lining – even the town hall dome is 24ct gold plated. There is obvious wealth although equally there is the poorer side. The famous Hay Street is down from 18 to just two brothels with just 4 ‘operatives’ now. Although our “madame” guide attributes the greater part of the demise to greater freedom in where ‘operatives’ can provide services (am I being sufficiently oblique) she did suggest that the services generally offered were no longer in great demand – something to do with the demise of standards in the general community.

There is a lot of history in this town too. We took the “Super Pit” Tour and learnt that our infamous Mr Alan Bond was responsible for consolidating a lot of mining leases in 1984 to create a single open cut mine. The evidence of the plethora of small mines is in the walls of the pit where the old tunnels and rail tracks have been exposed. The Super Pit goes down only 500 or so metres but some of the single hole mines go down as much as 1500 metres. Have a look at the photos of the ore trucks – they carry 220 tonnes of ore which will yield perhaps a golf ball of gold in one of 6 truck loads. No wonder gold is exclusive and expensive as this is and has been a relatively high yield mine. Our guide tells us that 300,000 tonnes of ore are moved daily and that will yield on average 51 kg of gold per 24 hour day.

I love the fact that these trucks cost $4.5 million each and a replacement tyre is 36K.

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The Super Pit is also something on a larger than life scale. Approximately 3.5 km long, 1.5 km wide and 0.5 km deep it is apparently one of the largest open cut gold mines in the world. It is spectacular……

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Kalgoorlie dates back to 1894 when gold was first found. Many of the old buildings were built shortly afterwards and display a grandiosity consistent with wealth….

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We can understand all of this but we found something incomprehensible further out of Kalgoorlie…..

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51 “insides” of Menzies locals, cast in alloy and spread all over the floor of the dry lake bed of Lake Ballard. Antony Gormley and some bureaucracy has a lot to answer for. This is 150km from anywhere except the near ghost town of Menzies where I’d be surprised if 51 people actually lived. It is a bit surprising though and we were amazed at how many people actually turned up to see while we were there…

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Back in town Jude found a tractor to play with but couldn’t work out how to climb up let alone see the drivers seat….

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and , no, you don’t get up here either…

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These are great toys – I reckon I could find gold at Lima East with a few of them.

Yes, we did the brothel tour but I’m not allowed to publish photos and there really was no ‘happy ending’! Bit disappointing really. But if you ask me nicely I can send I-phone sneakys but don’t expect anything voyeuristic. Could be any one of our bedrooms at home with me in it.

Also had to get permission to publish photos of the Super Pit – I guess photos of gold might get people excited and perhaps want to start digging. Back in the early days the gold was just lying around on the surface – I guess that would be a bit of a dead giveaway as to where one might start digging. But it ain’t so today (well at least we didn’t see any and Jude said she kicked over a lot of rocks).

We left Kalgoorlie on Tuesday 9 July and headed back to Norseman to pick up the Eyre Highway back east. There’s still lots to see.

For those interested in such things, our fuel economy has dropped to just 21.9 litres per 100km or for the technically challenged 12.83 mpg. It would want to. The price of fuel at Nullarbor Roadhouse was 203.9 c/l and for the Bobs of our association LPG was over 144.0.

We will report on the whale watching at Head of Bight next edition.

 

 

6 July 2013

Turning back

Friday 28th was a s..t of a day, literally. The dunny broke down. Spent most of the day up to the armpits in that which you don’t want to know about.

It seems that the Dometic  dunny is a crapper. We have struck so many along the way that have had problems, but we thought we were not amongst them. Hah! This was the second of our dunny breakdowns in the space of a week. The first one I managed to fix relatively simply, at least such that it could be used perhaps until we got home, but I bought the part anyway. It was only $106.00, almost a steal by comparison to the shelf CLIP for the Dometic fridge @ $25.00. But then Fridays replacement part was $165.00. Now I figure at this rate if you add up all the costs of all the component parts that go to make up this crappy piece of equipment the amount would equal the cost of a new Winnebago (perhaps not a big one). The people we met at Augusta with a two year old Longreach had already ripped the dunny out in fit of rage and Winnebago are no longer fitting this style of toilet. When challenged, Dometic state that the problem is a lack of maintenance – you’re supposed to pull it apart and clean and grease all of the system at least every 6 months – this is pan, cistern, pipes, tanks, pumps, filter etc. Good system!!! I will investigate the fitment of a new system when we get home, presuming firstly that we get home without bursting.

Over the weeks in and out of Perth we have noticed (actually bloody hard to miss) a lot of heavy mining equipment stocked by a multitude of resellers. Over a 9 week period we’ve not seen any of this stock move…….004 005 008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the mining industry falling behind the governments financial expectations? I’d love one of these – we could live in it and no-one would argue with us on the road.

Turned around on Sunday. For the first time in 5 months we have headed east with no objective but to ultimately return to Victoria. Called in to see Don & Myra Lee at Northam and enjoyed an afternoon of country hospitality so we didn’t get too far that day. Overnighted somewhere in the dark not far east of Northam  but found ourselves the next morning accompanied by lots of other fellow travellers. Followed the water pipe to Kalgoorlie. This is an incredible feat of engineering, a steel pipeline laid over 500 km in the late 1800’s. Look it up. You will be amazed at the story.

Inspected the station museum at Merridan and then the Military Museum. Merridan was the sight of a major military hospital under canvas during the latter part of the second world war because someone figured that Japanese bombers couldn’t carry enough fuel to head so far inland from Fremantle. It is now just a series of concrete floors and is very overgrown but there is a gravel roadway that circumnavigates the site. At the Military Museum we got a guided tour of the entire facility cos the volunteer needed someone to talk to. He was interesting though and it is a very eclectic collection of memorabilia……IMGP2747

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This is but a portion of the outside stuff. Inside were guns, radios, uniforms, historical photos and records spread over 10 or so rooms. The railway museum likewise featured material that we hadn’t seen before including some biographies on local people of years past. Fascinating insights to family life 100 or more years ago.

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The signal box features 91 levers. Don’t know for what!

 

 

 

 

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Memorial to 3 truck drivers who died in a bush fire back in 2007 set out in the woods is a sad acknowledgement of the dangers of bushfire somewhere near Merridan.

See also  the odd trunk formation of Gimlet trees that surround the memorial. We first saw these odd coloured and configured gum trees on the way over towards the end of the Eyre Highway before Norseman. They were so unusual we had to ask about them at the information centre back then. It would appear that there are not many areas of these trees left and they are indigenous to this part of Australia only.

Got to Kalgoorlie on Tuesday. Passed through  Coolgardie and resolved to come back and spend some time there. Had Eamonn Murphy over for dinner Tuesday and it was great to catch up. Eamonn is working for Hamptons Transport as an auto elec. here in Kalgoorlie. He loves the job but we get the impression that he is very lonely. We’ll do a few things together over the next few days.

Made our way back to Coolgardie on Wednesday.  A sad place really having lost some 15000 people since its heyday in the 1890’s. There is evidence of early opulence, now just dust. Some very elegant and beautiful buildings remaining attest to its past glory…..

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but the visitor centre and museum sported the most interesting pile of rubbish that a couple of collectors found in tips all round the state…..

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There is some amazing ‘junk’ in this lot.

 

Ah well! Off to the brothel.