South: Esperance 2nd day

We found the local caravan repair specialist on Google and went for a visit this morning. We were able to make an appointment for 1:30 pm, so went and spent time at the Dome cafe working on our stuff, me photos, Stephen Mandarin.

It took about half an hour to fix the problem and they really seemed to know their stuff. Afterwards Stephen visited the Museum to learn some local history whilst I read. I’m reading a book written by a girl who escaped from North Korea. The book is called ‘In Order to Live’ and tells of the hardships endured by herself and her family after they escaped North Korea because of the cruelty of the people smugglers.

We went and had wonderful ice creams in waffle cones afterwards.

There is a model railway on the foreshore, with a dear little clock tower that chimes on the hour, well sort of, the chimes happened five minutes after the hour, even by its own telling. There is a small marina, with a bathing beach where the water is shallow and calm.

We went back to the caravan park to sit outside for awhile before tea. We are working through ‘The Crown” on Netflix, one episode each night. Theoretically we should be able to watch TV live, but our aerial only works reliably in cities, and just occasionally in a small towns.

There were two pavilions near the train station with upturned eves which looked rather Chinese.

South: Ravensthorpe to Esperance

We feel very satisfied to have reached Esperance today, the final eastwards destination of our trip. We thought we might spend a night at Stokes Inlet at a National parks campground, but when we turned off there was a sign saying the campground was full. We pulled over to have lunch shortly afterwards. We made one phone call to a caravan park on the beach at Esperance and managed to get a birth for the night. There is free camping about 20kms to the north if we can’t get another night here. We will want to go out in the van exploring anyway.

After a cup of tea we went for a walk along the beachfront. There was a lot of erosion, so they have built up the beach front with rocks and made some little groins, all from an attractive reddish stone. There are fresh green lawns and Norfolk pines, some with very thick trunks. There is an old jetty and islands in the bay that make this area very attractive indeed. We explored a lookout which gave us quite a different point of view. I took the short video from that vantage point.

This was taken from a lookout.

South: Popanyinning to Dumbleyung

The featured photo is of Lake Dumbleyung. It is the largest lake in WA. (It has an area of 52 square kilometres.) I found it difficult to actually show in photos or video just how large it is. I wanted to take photos in the evening, but we are tired and it is quite a long drive back there from town.

Campsite Popanyinning (1 of 1)
Our campsite at Popanyinning

I braved the shower this morning. The water wasn’t super hot, but about the ideal temperature for me. There was power to blow dry my hair. I went across to the General Store to buy a $3.50 coffee. We didn’t have power or water on our site, but everything else and we felt grateful to this little town for providing it.

Narrogin Town Hall (1 of 1)
Narrogin Town Hall

We were told about a camping area out of town near a dam. When we got there, it said it was day use only. We weren’t sure we would have been brave enough to camp there overnight.

We passed through a couple of small villages, plus Narrogin and Wagin, on our way to Dumbleyung. We took time in both towns to look at the buildings and get a feel for the towns. In Wagin we had a cooked breakfast for lunch at one of the cafes. I was looking for a good coffee, and it wasn’t too bad.

Wagin Ram (1 of 1)
Wagin Ram

We spent time at Lake Dumbleyung at the lookout and memorial to Donald Campbell breaking the World Speed record in 1964.

We have two camping options here in Dumbleyung, but after our day of exploring we opted for the most comfortable choice of the council run caravan park. It is $25 per night with power, water and toilets and showers, versus free at the showgrounds with toilets only. I feel as though I’ve had far too much sun exposure today even though I enjoyed walking around and exploring each place where we stopped.

We will go for a short walk before our evening meal of Christmas ham and salad. Below is a short video of us driving along Lake Dumbleyung.


South: Perth to Popanyinning

We took our time getting ready to leave this morning. I still forgot a couple of things, but nothing too important. I can get G, our housesitter, to follow up. We left shortly before 11.00 a.m. We stopped after about 45 kms to have lunch, then on to Brookton where we had afternoon tea. We enjoyed walking around the park near the station.

We arrrived here at around 4.00 p.m. With the longer days we could have kept driving, but were feeling tired. We used Wikicamps to find out about this overnight place. We are in the town (very small), in a parking area that is probably used as a day use area as well. There is a shower in the disabled toilet. The toilets are clean and well maintained.

Stephen had a shower, the water is solar heated and probably hottest at the end of a sunny day. There is what appears to be drinking water available, but given the quantities, we think it may be more for trucks than caravans and motorhomes. There is a payment system, but it seems very reasonable.

On the way down we experimented with having a little camera attached to the windscreen to film short clips when we saw something interesting. The co pilot was in charge of this part, of course.

1899 (1 of 1)
Brookton established in 1899


Travels with the Winnie: Day 54

The Australian Workers Heritage Centre, Barcaldine (Barcy)

We enjoyed a slow start this morning. Roy arrived at about 9.30 a.m. and spent a good hour or so fiddling under the van. The leak, of course, was trickier to fix than it should have been. He was riding a bicycle, so didn’t have his full toolbox, but he had brought a couple of tools with him. We are, of course, incredibly grateful for his kindness. He said to ‘pass it forward’ and help someone else along the way.

After he left I did some handwashing of our clothes. There was a stiff breeze all morning, but it dropped in the afternoon and most of the things were dry, but a couple of items were still slightly damp when we got back. Stephen put tie downs on our awning which will help in the morning if it is windy.

It was lunchtime by the time we were ready to leave, so we went to the Union Hotel for a meal. The restaurant is called the ‘Witches Kitchen’, but their roast chicken lunch was quite down to earth, good, and cheap.

Lunch at the Witches Kitchen Union Hotel (1 of 1)
Witches Kitchen

We talked with the young waitress who is a local girl and went to school with Roy’s daughter. We told her about Roy helping us, and that we thought he was a lovely man. We hope this gets back to him and in this small town it is quite possible that it will.

Then we walked to the Australian Workers Heritage Centre, taking in the little clock tower and tourist information centre.

clock tower (1 of 1)
Clock Tower
Post Office (1 of 1)
the Post Office
Australian Workers Heritage Centre (1 of 1)
The Australian Workers Heritage Centre

The story of the shearers’ strike is the subject of one of our Working Voices songs:

The Ballad of 1891

Clicking on the title will take you to the page where the words, music, and sung version are available.

Bicentenial Theatre (1 of 1)
Bicentenial Theatre
Bicentenial Theatre interior (1 of 1)
Station at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre (1 of 1)
An old station and train carriage
the garden with billabong (1 of 1)
The garden and billabong. The young woman we spoke with at the Witches Kitchen said her graduation photo was taken here.
Tree of Knowledge son (1 of 1)
Son of ‘The Tree of Knowledge’. This little tree was cloned from the original tree after it was deliberately poisoned.
shearer pledging to the union (1 of 1)
Statue respresenting a shearer swearing loyalty to the union cause

Some of the union members were involved in setting up the Labor Party in Australia.

first vanilla slice sample (1 of 1)
Vanilla slices. We like to judge the vanilla slices in eastern states country towns. We decided that this one deserved about a 2 out of 5. In this case, we both came up with the same score. To be continued…

Tomorrow we continue our journey down to Warwick, and plan to stay overnight in a free camping spot near Tembo. Tembo has something very special to offer, more in the next blog entry.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 53

Longreach to Barcaldine

The Australian Heritage Workers Centre is the main attraction for us here. In the Working Voices Choir we sing ‘The Ballad of 1891″ about the shearers’ strike, where the shearers stood up to the ‘squatters’ and some went to goal.

We left Longreach at about 10.00 and arrived in Barcaldine about 1.5 hours later. We have taken advice from Wikicamps and Geowiki to head straight to the showgrounds for camping. We have power and water for $26 per night, even cheaper than last night in Longreach where we had the pensioner discount at our caravan park (and a site to match, stuck up against a wall in everyone’s way as they tried to leave with their enormous caravans). Here, there are caravans ranged around the oval. We have toilets and showers with hot water that are cleaned daily.

There were some children doing sports practice earlier, but now they have left and the lights are switched off it is fairly peaceful.

Winnie at Barcaldine (1 of 1)
Winnie at the Showgrounds


After lunch we had a rest and waited for the coolness of the late afternoon before walking down the main street to get our bearings. I had been reading about the friendliness of the folk here, and people did actually speak with us, including Roy who came originally from Geraldton. I asked if he knew of anyone who could help with our leaking grey water hose and he said he will come to our camp site tomorrow at 10.00 to help us work out what is best, and perhaps even put a new clamp in. We will see if he follows through, but we would really appreciate it if he can help.

There are two bakeries in town, plus historical features such as a windmill that used to be used for a bore out of town and now adorns the main street, and an old tree that has been incorporated into a sort of monument.

the Windmill (1 of 1)
The Windmill
The Tree of Knowledge (1 of 1)
The Tree of Knowledge
The Union Hotel (1 of 1)
The Union Hotel

There appear to be about five hotels in this street alone. I didn’t actually count them.

The Shakespear Hotel (1 of 1)
The Shakespeare Hotel

I liked these two in particular because of the names.

We hope to better understand the names, etc. after spending time at the Workers Heritage Centre tomorrow. We are quite close to the centre of this town, about 1 km, which means we won’t have to pack up and drive tomorrow when we want to look around. We have been feeling that we don’t do enough walking as we are travelling around, so this is our opportunity.

Stephen still has a nearly constant headache, plus symptoms of a cold. I have developed a sore throat, and have a bit of a headache as well. I can relate mine to stress and pain across my shoulders. Walking will certainly help – and I realise that I should fit in a morning and evening walk each day. Driving can be quite strenuous as the roads can be very rough and the Winnie has rather poor suspension, so we feel it through the stearing wheel.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 9

Head of Bight Free Camping Area, South Australia

Soon after leaving our campsite at Eucla we arrived at Border Village. We fed the Winnie, did a little shopping and used dump point. Today we have been driving through a coastal heathland, with some small trees. We had the sea beside us, sometimes visible, sometimes not. The earth has gone from red to chalky white.

We are feeling a bit confused by the time changes and probably had lunch quite early compared with breakfast, but we wanted to make our destination at 4.00 p.m. South Australian time to give us time before sunset. It’s very easy to set up when we are free camping, we just turn on the gas, put on the kettle, light the fridge and push the slide out button.

We pulled in at the Nullabour Roadhouse where we stayed on our previous trip to phone Matthew.  We remembered that when we came here in 2015 a light aircraft pulled in for get fuel in front of us, meaning we had to back the caravan out.

Matthew wasn’t home, so we left a message to say that we weren’t sure if we would have a phone signal at our overnight stop, if not, we would phone him tomorrow. In fact, we have quite a good 3g signal here and he will contact us later to ‘Facetime’ if possible, or just have a voice conversation if not.

We made sure we had plenty of water this morning so that we could free camp tonight. We are now camped in a designated campsite on the Head of Bight road, ready to go to the Whale Watching Centre in the morning. If there are no whales we will continue on our way.

We are not sure where we will go tomorrow night as it depends on how long we spend here tomorrow. We are only about 260kms from Ceduna.

Head of Bight free camping area (1 of 1)
The camping area is like a big parking lot, fenced on 3 sides.
Head of Bight free camping area2 (1 of 1)
A selfie, sort of