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.

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.