Crossing the Nullabour: Day 10

Penong to Wirrulla Sunday March 31st, 2019

We were the last to leave the caravan park this morning, but did get away at 10:00, normal checkout time. We had a bit of light rain in the night and it’s been mostly cloudy today, with some patchy rain.

We went through the quarantine check just before Ceduna with nothing to declare. The officer wanted me to put my step out for him, but I pointed out that it was a manual step, not electronic and he gave up on doing an inspection citing his bad back. We drove into town, checking at the first service station re getting our gas bottle filled. Apparently there was a place on the way out of town, so we did our shopping and had morning tea at the pub on the foreshore.

The place for gas refills is called Mo Gas, a full service station. It took a little while, but they were very pleasant and the refill was quite cheap.

We stopped at a rest area for lunch and arrived at Wirrulla at around 4:00 pm. We had been hoping for one of the four power outlets provided for travellers, but were sadly out of luck. We found a level spot on the dirt and decided to be happy that we have flushing toilets, at least. We had chicken patties and salad for tea. So lovely to have salads again.

As it is Sunday we contacted Matt on FaceTime. We congratulated Matt and Ashish on a very successful pop up bar on Thursday. 57 orders of curry meals. Matt gets to press the button at the end of the session, which takes his mind off any sadness he might be feeling. Staff said he is well and eating lots.

We watched some TV over the very good internet we have in this town. We can run the AppleTV and our TV on the 12volt system via the inverter even though the compressor fridge is also using some power. With gas for cooking and heating hot water we are very comfortable.

Two years ago when we were here we posted photos of the town dock, the locals felt a bit left out because so many towns around have a dock. Even though they don’t have any water they still wanted their own dock.

Continuing with the nautical theme, this wood box is a little boat.

As we walked along a side street we noticed a young woman with a baby in a remote controlled kiddie car. A very happy baby and mum in full control. The streets are very quiet here.

Diesoleum!

Our overnight spot away from the power points where the caravans are clustered.

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 9

Head of Bight to Penong Saturday March 30th 2019

Today was fairly unremarkable. After the wonderful flatness of our brief encounter with the edge of the Nullabour Plain, it was back to bushland, followed by farmland. It’s very dry here at this time of year. We had a couple of short stops, one stop to refuel at Nundroo, then made it here to Penong Caravan Park.

The difficulty of today has been the big time change. With daylight saving still in effect our 6:30 am alarm had us awake ages before sunrise. We hit a reset and by the time we woke up it was almost 9.00 am. Following our usual routine we were ready to leave at about 11.00. Arriving here at Penong we were having lunch about 3.00 pm.

Tomorrow we pass through Ceduna where we can stock up at a supermarket. Stephen suggested that we go to the pub and share a meal, we chose a scotch fillet, which was huge enough to be very filling for two people. This was in preference to a scratch meal of whatever we had left.

We’ve met up with the other Leisure Seeker again, parked behind a hedge here. Which means she must only drive for short periods like us, though she starts earlier in the morning.

Penong is famous for its windmills and we had a chance to walk by twice as we went out and back.

This is the largest one and appears to be working pumping water into the tank.

The first time we stayed at this caravan park was when we had the caravan. We sheltered under the little canopy right next to where we are tonight.

Day 8 continued…

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Ben and his wife Jacinta drove their truck into our camping area. They said they have driven past many times and wanted to check it out. Some of us campers were taking photos of the sunset and the truck was in the way. Jacinta invited me to sit in the driver’s cab and Ben took a couple of photos.

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If you look carefully you can see me in the driver’s seat.

How beautiful it is! Smells wonderful, all leather. Lots of dials. They let me pull the big horn. They have a good sound system, and that’s all I had time for.

I have been following Ben of The Drone Way on Facebook since the ABC had an article about him a few weeks ago.

A very special Nullabour adventure.

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You can’t see me in this photo, but this is what the truck looks like.

Ben took the photos on my camera, so I’m not sure about copyright.

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The sunset was great as well.

 

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 8

Eucla to Head of Bight Rest Area 29th March, 2019

Here we are, finally on the Nullabour Plain. I’ve had enough of the wind outside, dear readers, and this view is taken through our windscreen. When we stopped for lunch there were still lots of bushes and small trees around. There are camping opportunities all along the road, but this is the only one we know of with Telstra access.

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There is a fence surrounding this parking area at the gates of the Head of Bight Whale watching Centre. It is too early for whales, unfortunately.

The weather overnight continued cloudy and blustery, with a little rain. Today we’ve had a very windy and blustery day of driving, stopping for views of the sea and cliffs of the Bight.

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Our first stop.
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2nd stopping point. This is called the 1st Viewing Point, coming from SA.
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Detail of the cliff face. There are dire warning about the crumbliness of the cliffs and people are encouraged to stay on the safe walkway. At least, we hope it is safe.

Our camping is becoming a bit predictable now as we have begun to stay overnight in familiar places. We have two weeks to get to Canberra Showgrounds. It looks like we have a good chance of getting there on the Monday, which gives us the opportunity to look around for a power point near the stables. We were told about this by one of the volunteers when we came two years ago and hope this unofficial camping option is still a possibility.

We have run out of conventional bread and rather than buy a white loaf at a roadhouse we had corn thins for lunch with our usual toppings. This seems to be a first for Stephen and fortunately he likes it. Tonight I’ve made a tomato and vegetable soup using chicken stock, a can of tomatoes, pasta and mixed frozen vegetables. For our protein we will have some canned tuna and we have some flat bread as well.

 

 

 

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 7

Moodini Rest Area to Eucla 28th March, 2019

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Whispy clouds with half moon at Baxter Rest Area yesterday morning.

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Leisure Seeker Centrale: there were only two of us, one with maroon accents and ours with green. We chose our camping spot without really checking around us, and then realised. There were lots of sites in this beautiful cluster of mallees off the Eyre Highway. I checked out the other van closely, but did not like to take a photo of it. You can see it hiding through the trees.
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Another neighbour last night at Moodini Rest Area

We have changed our clocks over to the next time zone and woke early this morning. Our internet at Moodini was very slow, almost non existent, so we enjoyed our cups of tea without Ipads this morning. It was very relaxing.

The drive to Eucla was on a fairly scrubby plain below a bluff which is just visible in the distance.

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Eyre Highway on the way to Eucla
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Our camping spot at Eucla. The featured image is a view from close to our van. We have a view of the sea from our van. Of course, it is quite a long way in the distance.

Today has been very hot, it was 36 degrees when we arrived at Eucla. We got here before lunch, which meant being able to get a spot overlooking the plain to the sea. We usually try to get one of these spots and accept not being completely level for the sake of the view.

We sat outside part of the time, and inside with the air conditioning on for part of the time during the afternoon. I couldn’t resist putting on a load of washing and almost everything was dry by the time we had to bring things inside. We had an offshore wind earlier, now the wind is coming from the sea, bringing potential rain clouds.

The electric pressure cooker has come out and we have a meal of meat and veggies keeping warm now. I just need to add some greens. It’s lovely to have electricity again, although camping in the bush is really special (where we only have gas for cooking and heating water) and we have recovered from our feelings of deprivation on the first couple of nights of the journey.

The new fridge is working out really well, it’s so nice to just let it do it’s thing without all the babying we had to do with our old fridge. Our gas bottle is lasting much better as well, before it seemed we could only camp about four nights without running out of gas, whereas now we have done about 10 days (Pinaroo Point and on the road) on one gas bottle.

Time for dinner.

 

 

 

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 6(adjusted for actual travel days)

Baxter Rest Area to Moodini Rest Area Wednesday 27th March, 2019

There was dew on the van this morning which must have made a little puddle on the roof. I woke up around 6:00 to Stephen banging on the ceiling to try to get them off. I went outside and that scared them!

We’ve been visiting a few roadhouses including Cocklebiddy where we were able to fill up our water tank for $6.00. I forgot they had that facility. We went past the turnoff to the Eyre Bird Observatory where we stayed a few years ago when Rob and Rita were volunteer staff.

Our plan was to stay at Madura up the hill from the roadhouse. We had lunch and a rest. It was quite warm and we felt like travelling a little further. This rest area came recommended on WikiCamps, and we are finis. It a good spot with lots of camp sites even for bigger vans.

Accidentally, we chose a spot in the Winnebago Leisure Seeker section.

It was still warm when we arrived here and we had a go at sitting outside, only to give up after being bitten and harassed by various insects, including some vicious tiny black ants.

We found driving until late was very tiring yesterday, and have taken things easy today. I really want to have an overnight at Eucla tomorrow. It will be a chance to plus into power and have showers. There is no water to the caravan sites of course.

We have only two bars of internet here. It’s difficult to load images.

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 9

Norseman to Baxter Rest area. Tuesday March 26th, 2019

 

We had some things to do before leaving today. We filled up our water tank and water containers, very important as this is the last time we will be able to do so until we reach the Nullabour Roadhouse near Head of Bight. We also refuelled. Although we got up shortly after 6.00 a.m. it was about 10.00 before we left.

Our aim was to reach the Baxter Rest Area. We have stayed here before and knew to drive in along a dirt road, past many vans, to reach an area of blue metal for our overnight. There is one other van near us and they were here first. We hope they don’t mind us being here, but privacy is never guaranteed when free camping.

The journey was about 300 kms, with a total travel time of about 6 hours with morning tea break, lunch break at Balladonia and other shorter stops. We each did about half the driving. We are currently in the 90 Mile Straight section of Eyre Highway.

In the morning we were in woodlands, but as we travelled further east there were areas of heathland and then dry, small shrubs. The Baxter Rest Area has a lot of trees and this must have been why it was located in this spot.

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Woodlands East of Norseman along the Eyre Highway.
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Another view from this morning
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towards sunset at Baxter Rest Area
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our spot for the night

We are very tired at the moment, though looking forward to stepping out of the van to see the stars. There was a little cloud around as we travelled, but it has been perfectly clear since we arrived.

The photo at the top was taken during sunset. It was orange to the west and pink and blue to the east.

 

 

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 8

Coolgardie to Norseman March 25th, 2019

Today is our wedding anniversary- we think the 30th. We thought of having lunch at the nice pub here in Norseman, having arrived at lunchtime, but we also wanted to get washing done and the Visitor Information Centre recommended the roadhouse. We had hamburgers while waiting for our washing to be done. Very romantic!

We have our last supermarket opportunity here in Norseman and hit the shop after a little rest. We were looking forward to the campsite where we have stayed before, but things have changed and although we have free overnight camping we are corralled in a field near the recreation centre, rather than being in an area with tall trees overlooking a salt lake.

We were the last to leave the camping spot in Coolgardie this morning, but that happens often when we are touring. We try to not feel like laggards as we leave at around 9:00 a.m. Overnight was chilly, but not cold enough yet for our winter doona stored in the overhead cab of our van.

The drive down to Norseman is quite lovely as through the Great Western Woodlands. The road was in better shape than Great Eastern Highway as well. Being a few days on the road we drive faster and feel more at ease.

I had one opportunity to take photos at a stop along the way.

All fenced in together at Norseman

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 7

Westonia to Coolgardie Sunday 24th March, 2019

This morning was cool and sunny. We were up promptly when the alarm went off and enjoyed a relatively brief time with cups of tea and reading our iPads before starting to get ready. We moved off just after 9:00 to do our chores of dumping tanks and filling up with fresh water at the caravan park. The caretaker there was very friendly and hadn’t heard that a $2.00 donation was required, but took the money anyway. We were impressed with the small and very tidy caravan park.

We parked down the street close to the museum and excellent, clean public toilets. Stephen found a seat outside the tavern to wait for the museum to open and I went to a small cafe for an very nice coffee.

The museum had the usual experience of being in a mine, with the sounds and sensation of blasting, but was also home to an impressive collection of artefacts from earlier times. It included the opportunity to experience writing with a pen and ink, sadly we are old enough to remember learning to write this way in school and how messy it can be with small children, ink bottles and nibs that get clogged up.

So glad fountain pens were invented, then discarded for ball points.

The museum included life like figures in ‘rooms’ depicting life in the early days of European settlement in Australia. So lifelike that we sometimes did a double take, and checked to make sure.

The only thing missing was a history of the town, apart from a very heavy and thick book for $55.00. We didn’t buy it.

We headed out of town and drove pretty much straight to Coolgardie, with a break for lunch in a bush setting. The road was mostly very bumpy, but there were an impressive number of very long passing lanes where the roadwork was newish. We shared the driving, doing about half each in four stages. Arriving at around 5:00 pm. After happy hour of coke and nibbles we went for a short walk. I wanted to find the dump point and water tap. Unfortunately there was no water coming out of the taps, and this was confirmed by someone else who had been in this spot a month ago when the taps had flowed. We are not sure why.

Stephen tried out the automatics toilet, which entertained him with music whilst he was there.

This is a free camping area just a block away from the caravan park. There are about four caravans here, plus us. Being on one side we have a feeling of privacy.

We ate leftovers again, will they never end…

We had a FaceTime session with Matt and went through the description of his activities for the week from an email sent by the house supervisor. He seemed not that impressed, but it certainly makes a change from droning on about ourselves. Anyway, it was lovely to see him and I think he was glad to see us, especially as he gets to press the button finishing the call.