Crossing the Nullabour: Day 6

Tammin to Westonia Saturday 23rd March, 2019

The wind stayed around all night. We slept quite well, despite occasional rocking and very bright moonlight. Trucks came and went from the roadhouse, without disturbing us. We started the day our usual way with a cuppa, then had our washes and breakfast. We used the slideout as the wind was coming from a slightly different direction and did not impact on its awning.

Overall, we felt that our accommodation went from 5 star to about 1.5 stars, going from hot and cold running everything to having to think about our water usage and ration electricity. This is probably just the contrast as we have had small trips where we free camped every night. Of course, the payoff is in getting ready to leave as there is far less to do.

As well as a coffee at the roadhouse we bought fuel and asked if we could fill our water container. I checked on the roadhouse shower and it actually looked quite good, an ensuite style set up. Stephen said that the men’s looked quite dirty. We were on our way at about 9.30 and reached Westonia at 11.30.

When we checked on weekend opening hours for the museum, it is only open from 10.00-12.00 and we decided to save visiting it until the morning. We will only stay one night here as we want to make up a bit of time. Tomorrow we will get ready to leave (dump toilet and fill up with water), then spend an hour at the museum (and perhaps the Gallery Cafe), then head off.

To fill in today we went to visit a couple of sites: the Boodalin Soak and Edna May Gold Mine. We plan to spend the night at a free camp site at an old church. If interested, the excellent town website tells all.

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Boodalin Soak, where we had lunch

We went for a walk around the town and along a short section of the walk trail between 5.00 and 6.00 p.m. For tea we have had some left over roast meat that we had in the freezer. Last night we had left over Chinese food from our last meal at Roleystone. The battery is a bit lower than we would like so rather than watch TV (using the Apple TV and internet) we will listen to a podcast or two.

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Edna May Goldmine
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Working truck
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We have seen a few living trees felled and there is evidence of recent heavy rain. We will have to ask the locals if they have had a recent storm.
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The church where we are camped
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Westonia Tavern
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Beautiful tree on the edge of town
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Westonia Main Street
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There are several little sheds like this showing past shops and businesses.
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Stephen enjoying the Westonia Common
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our spot for the night




Crossing the Nullabour: Days 4 and 5

Roleystone to Tammin Friday 22nd March, 2019

Things did not stay peaceful. On Thursday afternoon we had a call to say that Mum had a fall and broke her right hand ring finger and was being taken to hospital. She ended up at Midland ED again and spent about 7 hours there, waiting for treatment, waiting for x-rays and raging about wanting to go home. A nurse put her on to me at about 8.00 p.m. and it did not go well, as she wanted me to pick her up immediately and take her home. She hung up on me when I said it had to be a medical decision.

We used the time on Thursday to do some laundry and have a shared meal from the local Chinese resturant. Marie and I were having difficult settling down until about 11.00 p.m. when the nurse from Regis rang to say Mum had been brought home and she was very happy to be in her own room. My younger sister Robyne went to see her today and said she looks well and happy and didn’t mention having cancer. Thank goodness for short term memory loss!

The weather continued warm and humid on Thursday, but was cold enough for us to need our doona overnight. We woke to a cloudy morning and managed to get away at about 10.30 a.m. We drove straight to Beverley where we had lunch and visited the IGA for fruit. I bought a coffee from the The Red Vault where we had a sort of wake after my uncle’s funeral a few years ago. Quite good coffee.

We drove through backroads to Meckering where we thought of staying the night. There are flushing toilets and we’ve enjoyed some quiet nights next to the rose garden. However, it was busier (with school buses arriving and other vehicles) and they have expanded the short stay area onto dirt. With a strong wind there was quite a lot of dust. The wind felt warm as well.

I checked Wikicamps and we have travelled as far as Tammin, arriving here at about 4.45 p.m.  When the hotel was open it was possible to camp there, but further up the road is a roadhouse, with a vast area for trucks to park overnight. The cafe stays open 24/7 and we can use the toilets and even showers for free. They also have washing machines.

The wind is still very strong, so we parked the Winnie nose to the wind. We are still being rocked around with strong wind gusts. After noticing that the little awning over our slide out was taking a beating we decided that we will camp with the slide in for tonight. This immediately reduced the noise and rocking – to some extent. We’ve chosen a spot on dirt and hope that the trucks will stay in their parking area and not invade this space as well.

Packing up this morning took some time as we had been settled for so long. Tomorrow should be much easier as we have no hookups and will have our travel systems in place. This is our first night of using 12v power for everything, including our new fridge.




Crossing the Nullabour: Days 2-3

Roleystone March 19 and 20, 2019

Yesterday we took Mum to Midland for an ultrasound and they also opted for a mammagram. Very trying for her, especially as we had a long wait for the second test. She was very relieved to get back home again. It was a hot day again.

In the evening Marie and Glenn rang Matt to wish him Happy Birthday and we had a Facetime session with him later. He was very happy and talkative, I think it was indeed a lovely birthday for him. Jackie sent us a photo of his cake which had “Happy Birthday Mr CEO” on it, a reference to his now very sucessful pop up business.

This morning we rang the doctor who will be supervising the doctor who visits Mum’s hostel each week. He told us the results of the scan and asked if she has a written health directive. We said no, but she had often said in the past that she would not want to prolong her life and when I asked her yesterday if she wanted to have treatment she said ‘no’. He accepted this as a sensible choice. Of course, she will be monitored and looked after with symptom relief as necessary.

We consulted with the rest of the family and all appear to have agreed on this course of action.

Which makes it a bit tricky for going away as we don’t know how long she will be at this stage of being relatively well. My plan is this: for us to leave on Friday and be prepared to catch a bus, train or plane home in the event of a change in her condition.

We could cancel the trip or delay our departure indefinitely, but that feels a bit like willing something to happen – it feels better to be foolishly optimistic. I’ve bought my overnight bag with me specifically in case I have to get home in a hurry. We could get a bit better idea if Mum had more tests, but she would hate it and it feels selfish because it serves our interests, but basically doesn’t matter to her.

I haven’t done much today, but it feels as though a lot has happened.

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Our lovely bed
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parked at Roleystone

Crossing the Nullabour: Day 1

March 18th, 2019 – Victoria Park to Roleystone

Roleystone. Good grief, what happened! We spent last night sleeping in the Winnie as we cleared things out for our housesitter. This morning we finalised some things and did some last minute laundry. Stephen washed the floors. Painters arrived to paint our back fence.

Then, there came a phone call from the hostel. Mum had a problem (vomiting and low blood pressure) and they called an ambulance. Although she seemed better by the time the ambulance arrived she was taken to Midland Emergency at St John of God. After the conversation ended it occurred to me that we could call in at the hospital to see her as it is on the way east. I rang Marie and she said she could come in the afternoon.

Turns out there may be something more serious, though Mum was quite perky when I arrived and complained over and over again about all the waiting around for the X-Ray and ultrasound. At around 4.00 p.m. it was decided that she could go home and we drove her back. The GP at Regis Greenmount who is now treating Mum has agreed to manage her care. We will go back tomorrow to take Mum for a more comprehensive ultrasound at a clinic.

We couldn’t really go back to our house, so I asked Marie if we could camp at her place for the night. That will be convenient for going to the appointment tomorrow. We are also pretty worried, with no diagnosis at this stage. We contacted our siblings when we at last arrived home. We had spent some time with the RN at Regis and she was seemed worried as well.

We are prepared for a couple of days of delay of our journey, but at this stage we don’t really know when we can leave. The present hot weather makes it rather unpleasant for travelling and it looks like being better by Friday. The plan, to go to the National Folk Festival, should still be possible as we had allowed four weeks travel time, more than enough even for us.

Our hosts have allowed us to plug into water and power, so we are as comfortable as we were at home on our driveway. Our neighbours have been away for a couple of weeks and we have been able to park the van near the house, very useful for getting ready to leave.

We enjoyed dinner with Matt on Sunday night. He knows we are going away, but he is having such a good life (e.g. went surfing for the second time on Saturday) that I don’t think he will miss us, at least at first. Plus we keep in contact with with Facetime once a week.


On the nose…Cottesloe Beach

We are managing to be very busy in the leadup to going away. We have a gig tonight with Working Voices Choir singing at the Working Women Change the Rules Rally at 5.15 in Supreme Court Gardens. Tomorrow night we are going to the Merchant of Venice at the university. On Sunday there is a farewell to the WASO Choir Director in the afternoon, then we visit Matt at his house. On Monday evening we are going to a talk at the town hall.

Phew! As well, Stephen has been getting together with Alan and Jeff to sing and that is what he is doing this morning. I have a meeting at 1.00 regarding a new communication method for Matt.

On Tuesday night we went down to Cottesloe to have a look at the sculpures on the beach, have fish and chips, then to the university on the way home to watch a rehearsal of MofV. Unfortunately it was just a technical rehearsal, not a dress rehearsal as such, though some of the cast were in costume.

Some photos from Cottesloe Beach.


There are sculputes out to the end of the groin
messy beach
The featured photo is a close up of the long nose with people standing on it. Don’t ask me what any of this means.
the sea looked quite creamy, with slow movement of waves

What we found lovely was the warm evening at the beach and getting our favourite table outside of the cafe for our fish and chips. Stephen made us a salad bowl and brought cutlery. We were thus able to eat without getting our fingers greasy. We are having a more normal late February early March season of mostly warmish weather with very high humidity. If you move slowly it’s not too bad, but we have to beware of getting busy. We have used the airconditioner a couple of times, not because we need to for the temperature, but so that we have relief from the humidity. It’s only 26 degrees at the moment with 65% humidity, but feels uncomfortable to me.

I think in order to enjoy the sculptures we would really need some time and better light. Looking at the photos it tends to look like a whole lot of junk was left on the beach.

I rather like this one, quite dramatic.





Progress: 16 days to go

Yesterday G came to pick up our keys. Stephen and he walked around showing various matters, such as the need for some watering of plants before the winter rains arrive. Although we like the comfort of having a house sitter (with a flat in London where we can stay), it involves a bit of thinking about how to prepare the house for him. He likes to use his own stuff, bedding and kitchen gear, so that part is fairly easy, we just have to get some things out of his way.

We met with Marie and Geoff at lunchtime. I had been ‘hoarding’ a 12 years old iMac. Geoff has an even older Mac that has finally come to the end its life and my iMac will have a new lease of life for him to play games and listen to music. That feels very satisfying and makes me glad I didn’t donate it elsewhere. Marie helped me with my patchwork, mainly being encouraging, and then we went to the Dumpling House for lunch. We ordered different types of food, the advantage of having at least four people, and ended up paying about $15.00 a head.

After lunch I slept for about an hour, for some reason am finding I need to actually sleep in the afternoons at the moment, rather than just resting. We think our present stress is because we are leaving soon, with another trip planned for soon after we get back. Once we are on the road we should feel better as life becomes much simpler.

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South Perth

Around 6.00 we decided to go for a walk, Stephen suggested a walk around the block, but I said I was willing to drive down to the river, so we went to the South Perth foreshore. It was surprisingly busy there, with a wedding in progress in the restaurant and a little Hawkers’ Market further along.

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the city from South Perth foreshore
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these little sailing boats are for hire


We didn’t have much appetite, so I suggested we buy something for tea. It wasn’t overly busy as most of the families appeared to have brought picnics. We were able to get a table to ourselves. The white picket fence was there because one of the stalls was selling alcohol and our laws require that that drinking is done in a prescribed area.

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sharing a can of no sugar coke whilst we wait for our meal
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Stephen appears to be saying grace. He doesn’t usually…

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The walk turned out to be more interesting than we thought it would be. It’s lovely to see our parkland areas being used by lots of people. Something we have noticed overseas in cities where families live in apartments is that they get out into the local parks on mild evenings.


Progress: 18 days to go

The top photo was taken by Stephen in the early years of our relationship and I’ve just done a little bit of shadow lifting in Lightroom to improve it slightly.

Finally the Winnie was ready with the new fridge installed and we picked it up yesterday morning. The fridge is black, which looks a bit odd with our wooden interior, but we will get used to it. They had it running and it was already pretty cold.

The hatch over the bed has been repaired and I had also asked them to fix a shelf in the locker over the kitchen. I noticed that the whole locker had dropped slightly, probably due to our times on gravel roads, but wasn’t sure what could be done about it. The repairer was able to work out a way to lift and strengthen the whole, at a price of course. So, we now have a fully functioning kitchen locker, apart from one door which doesn’t latch. That is a whole different exercise and because it doesn’t fly open when we are travelling we are leaving it for the next round of repairs.

Our neighbours left Tuesday night for their holiday and we have been able to park the Winnie on the driveway. The interior is quite dusty from having workmen inside and it will be easier to clean close to the house where we can plug into power and use the vacuum cleaner.

We ran the fridge overnight on battery power and I’m not sure how the batteries coped because I didn’t check later than about 9.00 p.m. when the level was 12.4. That was quite low, bearing in mind that it shouldn’t go below 12.2, but the fridge compressors weren’t running and there was only the usual very light ‘load’ of about 2 amps.

I’ve explored Google to find out if it is safe to run the engine when we are parked for, say, half an hour to charge up the house batteries if necessary. The overall consensus seems to be that modern engines should not overheat if left idling, even when running the air conditioner and can actually run for several hours if necessary. We wouldn’t do that, of course.

We have looked with concern at some of the day time temperatures in the Goldfields and wondered how we would manage if we stop for lunch, for example, and have no electricity to run the house air conditioner. It looks like we could run the engine and have vehicle air conditioning for a while if really necessary. If it is going to be a really hot night we can check into a caravan park so that we can have the fan running overnight.

The best vehicle to have for using with vehicle heating and cooling when parked is a Prius. The engine starts automatically when the battery drops below a safe level. One camper even installed an inverter to run an induction cooktop from the battery, and a long bench top which can double as a bunk for sleeping. I haven’t done any research on the type of batteries used in hybrid vehicles, but I would think they would be very powerful. Hymer motorhomes have a second regulator which comes on automatically to recharge house batteries when they go below a certain level. A sort of built in generator. This is backup for the solar system, of course.

Even our modest solar system (160W solar panels and 2 100 amp hour AGM batteries) has been very good for all of our power needs during the day and overnight when parked. However, adding in the fridge with it’s two compressors might be a stretch overnight, especially if we need to run the deisel heater which has a fan. Plus, we can’t count on having an electrical hookup when we are at the Canberra Folk Festival.

We haven’t booked a powered site, but when we were there last time we were able to hook up by parking near the stables. One of the volunteers told us about this. We need to arrive on the Monday when the showgrounds first open to secure a spot. Our plan is to try for this, but plan for the worst, dry camping for a week and relying on solar with shorter days and perhaps cloudy conditions. We won’t be able to drive, so the motor would need to idle whilst charging. Hopefully, our neighbours won’t complain.

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Cottesloe Beach, 1972
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Possibly 1988. Matt was about 15, but doesn’t look it!
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1970s when Stephen was in England
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1970s when Stephen was in England

All photos taken by Stephen, and processed by me today to straighten horizons and lift shadows.