Thursday 30th May, 2019
Today has been a fairly nice day of driving, with the last bit being a challenge because of driving in a north westerly direction into the sun. Fortunately there were extensive roadworks as we got close to Ravensthorpe which slowed the traffic down.
We are in the caravan park, with power, water and sullage and en-suite style bathrooms. That sounds very posh, but it is actually a bit run down and bush style. We love it, of course. There are some animals which I hope to photograph in the morning before we go.
We went through Gibson, home of the Gibson Soak Hotel and former free camping site. Apparently they were overwhelmed with backpackers behaving badly and had to close it off. They hope to be able to open it again in the future. The old pub is special, we didn’t check it out last time. So stayed to have $6 pumpkin soup. This delayed us a bit, but was worth it. We bought fuel as well.
We will have a scrap tea tonight and get to bed early (this is also important for our strategy of getting up early).
Wednesday 29th May, 2019
We had a bit of a later start this morning. We had a good conversation with our neighbours in a sort of souped up and more modern version of our Winnebago. The woman is the sole driver and they use WikiCamps to find good camping places as we do.
When we started up a light was flashing on the dash. It’s a simple beast, the Iveco Daily and we quickly diagnosed the problem using the short handbook. Stephen carries oil with us and topped up. We decided to switch to the WA time zone so we didn’t feel so late.
After refuelling we were on our way. It was cloudy during much of the morning and we were often driving through light rain that looked like low cloud. We had morning tea at Balladonia, just in the van making our own coffee and fruit cake.
For lunch we stopped at the Frazer Range Rest Area overlooking a dry lake. This is one of our many favourite spots on this route. We are in the Great Western Woodlands again. Then on to Norseman, to fill our tanks and get some fruit and salads.
We are staying at the same free camp site as before. In the morning I thought I wanted to go to the caravan park for the night, but as the day became fine and sunny it seemed a good idea to free camp. We have leftovers for tea, which made it easier.
It will be cold tonight, but not for us with our diesel heater and level 3 down doona.
Teddys and Dolf enjoy the view at Frazer Range Rest Area
Tuesday May 28th, 2019
Nothing very much to report on today. We had some sunshine, some light rain, and lots of cloudy skies. Good driving conditions on a very good road.
We are still on a different time zone to Perth, at Stephen’s insistence. It means we have more daylight travelling hours, waiting up at 5:15 Perth time.
We had BLTs at Cocklebiddy and enjoyed the nostalgia of revisiting that place.
We have stayed here at Caiguna before, probably in the Starcraft. It’s very crowded with lots of big rigs, caravans mainly, but a few motor Homes. We have power, but no water to our campsite. Our $30 fee includes a token for the shower each.
We had a brief show of colour at sunset. We arrived in good time this afternoon, a shorter day of travel allowed us to relax on arrival. I did one load of washing, just a small load that fits on our little clothes dryer. It’s in the bathroom with the heater on and hatches up.
Because we had time to relax we are cooking tea, stir fry beef and mixed frozen vegetables.
Monday 27th May, 2019
Today was a long day of driving with some small breaks to eat, etc. I thought we wouldn’t have time to visit one of the cliff top viewing areas on our route, but it happened to coincide with our afternoon tea time, thank goodness.
There was some rain on the way, just drizzle, and we saw rainbows. We only had one truck pass us and he used the two way to contact us. We slowed down as he passed and even got a thank you. If only there were more like him.
We passed a vehicle this afternoon, only the third time on this trip that we have passed another vehicle. It looked like the garbage collector for this section of the highway and he signalled us to pass him.
We reached the border late in the afternoon and surrendered our stuff, some lettuce and honey. We didn’t mind about the honey this time, as it wasn’t very good honey. Last time we came through we had an expensive and beautiful honey and I was quite upset.
We went to the restaurant here at Eucla. We were tired and a bit grumpy and needed something to cheer us up a bit.
No photos tonight, we have four bars of 3G and that is normally quite good, but having tried and failed to upload an image I’m giving up.
We have worked out the steps necessary to get us to Denmark on Friday, and if nothing unexpected happens it should work. If we get to Norseman by Wednesday night we only need one more stop (Ravensthorpe) on Thursday night. We are not quite sure where we will camp tomorrow night, but approximately half way from here to Norseman.
We were able to get a gas bottle filled at Border Village, it turned out that the other bottle did have gas in it. The person helping us said that in cold weather the gas can’t turn from a liquid to a gas. We have used the gas stove in very cold conditions in the past and haven’t had a problem, which is confusing, Anyway, the bottom line is that we now have two full gas bottles and should be OK to camp without hookups. Unless it gets too 🥶
We chose to stay on a flat spot rather than under the tress at the edge with the best view. We were a bit too tired to bother with propping the van to get it level.
Sunday 26th May, 2019
It was foggy when we woke up this morning. We got away at about 8:10 again. The fog cleared as we left the town and the driving conditions were fair, a couple of showers and a strong, gusty wind as we got close to Ceduna.
We were unable to get our gas bottles filled in Ceduna despite going back to the same place as on our journey east. Being Sunday was the problem. We got fuel, over 3/4 tank, and had some leakage whilst we were parked having our lunch and rest. But, by the time we got to Penong and the fuel tank was under 3/4 full the leak had stopped.
We were able to do shopping in Ceduna as the supermarket was open all day, thank goodness.
It was cold in the van whilst we were having our rest and Stephen got his wish to use my tiger blanket to keep warm.
We swapped drivers several times before lunch and managed to cover 300 kms in five hours. We are travelling faster not by driving fast, but by starting our driving day much earlier. With the weather and road conditions today we stuck to 80 kms per hour. We only had 70 kms to travel after lunch.
When we arrived and got as level as we could Stephen went off to have a shower and I put on the washing. Penong Caravan Park is famous for its large, commercial style washing machines, I first fell in love with them on our first crossing with the Starcraft.
I used the dryer and managed to get our huge wash all dry. The van is dirty, inside and out, but at least we lots of clean clothes and Stephen has finally washed his hair.
Saturday May 25th, 2019
We made a good start this morning, setting off driving at 8.10 a.m. We were rewarded as we drove through the hills with wonderful views of cloud, sunshine and shadow on the rolling hillsides. We couldn’t stop, of course. A bit later we found a rest area and I was able to take a few distant shots, but without the vibrant colours we had seen earlier in the drive.
We made good progress, joining the highway up to Port Augusta, which allowed us to travel a bit faster. We had a couple of stops, one for a break and one for morning tea.
At around 12.00 we turned onto the Ayre Highway, with it’s sign to Perth, Western Australia. Still a long way to go, of course.
We took a break to have lunch after Iron Knob.
We really enjoyed the views of sweeping horizons.
Those clouds in the distance were a sign, we had to drive through rain for about 50 kilometres. Eventually it cleared as we got closer to Kimba. We arrived here at about 3.30 p.m. First we went to refuel for tomorrow, then to the supermarket to stock up for the Nullabour crossing. The last supermarket is at Ceduna, but if we had shopped today it would mean not having to stop there.
However, it is Saturday and both supermarkets closed at 12.00. Although they will open tomorrow morning at 9.00 a.m. we hope to be well on the road by then.
Looking at the distance to Ceduna, it is about 300 kms, and we don’t know if the supermarket will be open by the time we get there. However, we do have food on hand, or can buy some supplies at roadhouses, so all will not be lost. We can manage until the next supermarket in Norseman.
The free camping area was pretty packed. We heard that they had rain the whole way from Ceduna, so people were taking a well earned break in Kimba. We found a level spot and Stephen went to turn the gas on so we could have a cup of tea. No gas. Switched to the other bottle, no gas. What! We distinctly remember filling our spare bottle.
There is a little caravan park here in Kimba attached to a roadhouse. The location is nice, and it is less crowded than the free camping area. What’s more, they run an Indian Restaurant, so we had one meal to share with our salad and a mango lassi each. It is quite comforting to be on normal power and water after our long drive today.
We will have a go at sorting out the gas problem in the morning, perhaps we really do have two empty gas bottles. The plan otherwise is to stay in caravan parks for the rest of the trip, as we did on our first Nullabour crossing with the Starcraft.
Friday 24th May, 2019
That was it, after a brief sojourn in Victoria we have entered South Australia. They take their bio security very seriously here. We reluctantly threw the last of our fresh salad into the bin. We didn’t have any other fresh fruit or vegetables. Soon, we arrived at the inspection point. We were searched, but not very thoroughly. We had a good conscience as we weren’t hiding anything, but we have lots of places we could have hidden food.
It was lovely at the lake this morning. There were clouds which meant rather subdued lighting, but it was a peaceful night and we slept well. Whilst we were finishing breakfast there was a 15 minute shower of rain, quite heavy.
The road was fairly difficult this morning, quite a lot of bends, with lots of traffic leading in and out of Renmark. Renmark was where we stayed on the way out on the banks of the river. We had to drive through the town and it made we wish we could have stayed longer. We stopped briefly to replenish our supplies of fresh fruit and salads. Due to a time change of half an hour it felt like we had done very well on time, despite the quarantine inspection and shopping.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon the driving was still quite challenging with lots of vehicles on the main highway, not so much when we diverged onto the Goyder Highway. Our impression of SA as a very dry state was reinforced. We stopped for lunch at a spot from Wikicamps, rather dull, but we were hungry and needed a rest.
From there, the road straightened out and we gradually came into more attractive landscape of farmlands and, by Burra, quite tall trees. From Burra we drove another 50 kms to this place. We are free camping behind a pub, not so free because we had a drink and a meal at the pub, but appreciated nonetheless.
Our new, faster mode of travel is surprising me. Looking ahead, we should reach Kimba by tomorrow night and Penong the following night.
Thursday May 23rd, 2019
Waking up to our alarm at 6.30 a.m., we were well ahead of sunrise and watched it through our back window. We had a good night, not too disturbed by traffic (after all, we are city folk). The scenery might look a bit boring, but it was lovely being there in the morning. We seem to like flat country where we can have wide horizons.
Getting away shortly before 9.00 a.m. we have made good progress today, covering about 320 klms again. This included spending time in Balranald dumping our cassette and getting fresh water. We conferred with our insurer, but have to wait to talk with our assessor regarding what to do about the leak. We are inclined to wait until we get home. Stephen showed me the actual hose that is leaking, it is on the inlet to the tank, not the outlet to engine. He rang our repairer who confirmed that this part of the fuel system was simply disconnected during the repairs, not modified in any way. The pipe is probably quite generic and we could probably get it replaced, but we are reluctant to take time out from our travels.
This time I’ve had my way and we are camped near water, actually a lake. When we arrived we had a cup of tea. Stephen went off for a shower and I took my comfortable chair down to the lake to watch the sunset.
There were a lot of water birds. Earlier there was the noise of a pump whilst the owners were watering, but this stopped soon after we arrived. There are a few other vans here, but it doesn’t feel crowded.