South: Ravensthorpe to Stirling Ranges National Park

I didn’t want to leave Ravensthorpe this morning without getting a photo of the artwork on the silos. So, we parked on a side road and I walked back a few hundred metres to get the shot. They don’t appear to realise that there needs to be a viewing place where people can easily get a good photo.

After retracing our way to Chester Pass Road, a couple of hundred kilometres, we had the joy of being able to see the Stirling Ranges gradually get larger and larger. The road winds a fair bit and you keep wondering if you will actually get there.

Eventually we got here and are staying at the Stirling Ranges Retreat. We have stayed here a couple of times in the past, in the rammed earth cottages, but it was a long, long time ago.

We can see Bluff Knoll, at least I think it’s BK, a little bit through the trees, but have a better view of another mountain behind our van.

I did some washing when we arrived, and we had a rest. At 6:00 we contacted Matt on FaceTime and he looked happy and relaxed.

We walked around the local area a bit, but I was focused on getting a sunset shot of the mountain behind us.

We watched another episode of The Crown after tea, then had our showers. I wanted to see what the photos were like, so uploaded some to my iPad, did a bit of processing in Snapseed, and used some for this blog. We are going to stay here for at least a couple of nights.

South: Esperance to Gibson’s Soak

Today was cloudy and misty, the sort of weather that happens close to the sea. I noticed yesterday that a coffee van parks outside of the caravan park, so after having a shower I walked to the gate for a coffee to have with breakfast.

Yesterday evening, with the Winnie once more on park water we went to turn on the electric hot water system only to find that it was already on. Yikes! We were plugged in the evening before but had left the water hose off because of the leaking. We have heard that we must have water on, either the pump or park water or we would burn out the element. I have argued that because the hot water tank is usually full, it gives the element a bit of protection should we be silly enough to forget. But, I didn’t expect the protection to last overnight and part of the next day.

We were lucky, the water was hot and I also used the water heater this morning, so all is well. We have decided to unplug the heater when not using it as an additional safety measure. It can be switched off inside it’s little panel as well.

We left our $45 per night campsite, thinking that it was mainly worth the money the first night when we had a view of the beach. Anyway, there are five caravan parks in Esperance, but no free camping unless you travel 21 kms up the Norseman road to Gibson’s Soak, where we are spending the night before heading off for the Stirling Ranges tomorrow. We will have a night in Ravensthorpe on the way.

We began by heading up to a local tourist attraction, a modern Stonehenge, based on the original. It is on a farm just outside of Esperance.

The owner told Stephen that they are sometimes quite overwhelmed by visitors, and it was pretty busy whilst we were there. It was hard to get photos without people in them, including us😊

Our next port of call was on our way here, Helms Arboretum. It was beautiful, especially the picnic area, mainly because of the pine smell and wonderful, echoing birdsong. I have a little video that needs processing before I can post it. I took it more for the sounds than the visual. Anyway, we do have a photo:

e had lunch and a rest, then drove here for our overnight stay. It is a large area where self contained RVs can park for free next door to a hotel. There are public toilets available even though there is a local shire requirement that we be fully self contained. The forecast for tomorrow is 36 degrees, fortunately today has remained cool even as the sun came out this afternoon.

here are trees in flower and a lot of birds.

South: Esperance

We had a restful day today. We were able to get two more nights at the caravan park, but had to move back from our prime position with a view of the ocean to being in the middle of the caravan park. We moved, then took the morning off, reading, in my case, and studying Mandarin in Stephen’s case. I did some hand washing just to keep up a bit.

We left the park at about 3:00 pm to do some shopping and go for a drive along the ocean front. We passed several car parks overlooking the beach until we found one on a point between two bays, with views of each. We sat for a while, then walked down to the ocean.

The photos here are actually from a different beach where we stopped on the way home.

We cooked sausages in the electric frying pan outside, the evening was mild and there was little wind. When we walked down to the beach after doing dishes, we found it was quite windy. There is no wind at our campsite. Odd!

We have, of course, sprung a leak – it’s under the kitchen sink where the plumber worked on when we were on our long trip. It’s the water inlet hose and leaks whether we are using our tank or outside water. It starts to leak as soon as we put the pump on. We will try to get a plumber to look at it tomorrow. Stephen tried tightening it up by hand, but it’s a very awkward place to work in. I’ve put a plastic container underneath the leak for the moment. At least Stephen doesn’t have to connect up the water hose, and we have a campers kitchen where we can do the dishes.

There are about seven plumbing companies here in Esperance, so we should be able to get help.

I’m posting from my iPad, and yesterday when I did this I found lots of typos. I hope it’s better tonight because I’m too tired to check.

These photos are full sized rather than the very compressed size of yesterday’s photos, I hope they will look better and do more justice to the beautiful scenery.

South: Ongerup to Ravensthorpe

The featured image is of one of the signs on the walk at the memorial near Ravensthorpe.

Today we’ve been driving just north of the Fitzgerald National Park, sometimes seeing the unique plant life of this region. We set off a bit earlier than usual, about 9.30 a.m. and made good time to a little place called Fitzgerald where we had lunch. We tried to shop in Jerramungup on the way, but their IGA was closed. We bought a few things at the roadhouse where we filled up with fuel.

About 15 kms before Ravenshorpe is a memorial to Aboriginals who were killed by local farmers about 135 years ago. A very sad story indeed, but the setting up of the memorial in 2015 has allowed some reconcilation to take place. The site is very beautiful.

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Entrance to the memorial walk trail

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Stephen thinks the mountain is Mt East Baron, there is a Mt West Baron that we passed earlier in the day.
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Vegetation near the memorial. This is a bit different to what is in the Fitzgerald National Park
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Winnie hiding berhind bendy tree

We took a video of some painted silos coming into the town, but the video doesn’t really show how impressive they are.

As it is New Year’s Eve, we are going to check out the pub meals here on our walk around the town. We are parked in town opposite a service station in a free RV site for self contained vans. We are not sure if we will have a quiet night, or be kept awake by local celebrations. There are no other vans here at the moment. This town offers free drinking water and there are public toilets across the road at a little park.

Ravenshorpe is where my grandparents came to live after being in Parkerville for a long time. They had a caravan and would travel to Hopetown to enjoy the ocean and fishing. I visited twice that I can remember, once with Robyne and once when I caught the bus here and stayed with them for a few days. They took me on a quest to find the Qualyup Bell, a local flowering plant. When Kings Park have their wildflower festival I have seen it as part of the display. The website gives some information  about it.

South: Dumbleyung to Ongerup

The featured image is a view of the Stirling Ranges from Chester Pass Road.

Yesterday in the evening we went for a walk around the block. There is a replica of the Bluebird and memorial to Donald Campbell.

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Bluebird Replica

It was quite a lovely evening with no clouds.

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The Grand Old Dumbleyung Pub, with a truck going somewhere in a hurry!

For some reason I was awake in the night for quite a while, not worrying, just awake. I went back to sleep and was woken up by Stephen doing our morning cups of tea, very nice.

We took a while to get going, with Stephen working on his Mandarin and me doing some hand washing. It had a chance to get past the dripping stage in the warm sun. Our nights have been quite cool enough for the doona, which means we have cool mornings and evenings even though the day temperatures get up to about 30. There is usually a cool breeze, but it’s hot walking in the sun.

The most enjoyable part of today was that we were travelling towards the Stirling Ranges for part of the journey. As you can see, we are still putting the little dashboard camera up to take video of travelling along.

We passed through a couple of small villages on the way here. We had a choice for tonight of a free camp with no facilities (not even drop toilets) or at the caravan park, and decided on the caravan park. We have privacy on one side with a view of bushes and trees, which we are assured will give us shad in the morning.

We sat outside when we first arrived, getting gradually very chilly, but waiting for the van to cool down a bit as it was still very warm inside. We had a small amount of shade at the roadside stop at lunchtime. We had quite a long rest after eating, me making up for missed sleep last night.

I am cooking tea and writing this blog, feeling smug at being able to multi-task. I’m regretting not bringing our electric pressure cooker. It’s quite large, but means I can brown the meat and onions, then add everything to the pot and let it finish off. The little electric frying pan doesn’t allow for this type of cooking, so have done the vegetables in the microwave.

Time to eat!


Travels with the Winnie: Day 96

Meckering to Home Base

We arrived home at about 1.45 p.m. Safe and sound. The house seems nice, we left it fairly clean and tidy and the dust doesn’t seem to be too bad. We feel a bit disoriented. The Subaru started up first thing and Stephen has taken it for a run. He is now sorting out the mail as our mail redirection doesn’t end until the 29th.

There are lots of things to be done, but arriving home safely feels like a big achievement just at the moment. We are both thinking of other trips we would like to do, some local and the next big one – probably going around the other way – up north and then across to the Northern Territory.

But for now we need to settle in a bit and try to remember that all of the unpacking doesn’t need to be done today!

The featured photo is from the beginning of our trip, but I went across there this morning and bought a flat white to have with breakfast. It was supposed to open at 9.00 a.m., but I didn’t check the time before going and was happily served at 8.30 a.m.

Today is sunny, with a cold wind. We have really enjoyed driving down past Northam and other familiar towns through the jarrah forrest. We stopped at the bakery in Mundaring for soup and coffee and a shared cake. We stocked up on loaves and rolls which have gone straight into the freezer.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 95

North Road Parking Bay to Meckering

We had a good nights sleep and set off at about 9.15 a.m. We stopped briefly to refuel, and then to have morning tea in Kellerberin, and then lunch in Cunderdin. There is parking off the highway near the Pump museum. Stephen spent some time in the museum whilst I had a rest and then a cup of tea at the pub. We have passed this pub a few times now and I’ve taken photos of it, but this was the first time of going inside. The cup of tea was $2.00 and I was able to sit on a sofa near the fire.

Meckering is only 22 kms from Cunderdin so it was worthwhile to spend time in Cunderdin, arriving in Meckering to settle for the night. We have access to flushing toilets, a dump point and water taps. The cafe was still open when we arrived as it closes at 6. p.m., but doesn’t open until 9.00 a.m. in the mornings.

This morning, for the first time on our trip, the diesel heater has had problems. It was going for a while, then the light started flashing. We suspect that the fuel lead is blocked. Something else for our list of things for Ken Peachy to have a look at when it goes in on the 25th September. It has been such a blessing on our trip! We are glad that if it had to fail it has chosen to do so on our last morning before getting home.

We tried again after about 20 minutes and it worked perfectly. An intermittent problem?

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at North Road Parking Bay yesterday morning

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and Meckering yesterday evening

Travels with the Winnie: Day 91

Rest Area just East of Eyre Bird Observatory turnoff to Afghan Rock Camping Area

Today we went through the ’90 mile straight’ – fairly easy driving today, sunny and not too much wind. We were the last to leave our campsite this morning, but still managed reach our desired campsite. Instead of being just off the highway, we are actually on private property, close to a dam and windmill. Thanks to Wikicamps for information on this site. The comments section was very helpful about the condition of the track leading to the dam, including another motorhome owner who said it was OK taken very slowly.

We have our little circle of RVs and even though it has been dark for a couple of hours there are a group still sitting outside around a campfire. If Stephen and I wanted our own campfire we realise that we don’t have matches or any other way of lighting a fire. I am thinking of getting a small metal firepit that we can take around with us. It would mean we could have a very small and contained fire – only in season, of course.

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Our nomad village for the night. You can’t see the dam in this photo as it is smallish and rather low lying.
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Stephen exploring the rock

We had morning tea at Caiguna and lunch at the Baxter Rest Area where we stayed on our way to the East.

We are now 180 kms east of Norseman and finally back in the WA timezone.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 90

Eucla to Roadside Rest Area (just East of the Eyre Bird Observatory turnoff)

This rest area is really named Roadside Rest Area, so what can we do! I did some washing this morning in Eucla, hence all the stuff hanging around.

At Eucla, Stephen rang up and discovered that we could have 20 litres of water for free, using the tap over the trough in the laundry which has potable water. Stephen asked if we could pay for another 20 litres of water. The person gave in and said we could have 40 litres for free. Before we left home I had purchased a suitable funnel and Stephen used our water container to fill the tank. We thought it was down to one third full, but it quickly filled up, only taking about 30 litres. We set off this morning feeling great with a full tank of water and our 2 ten litre containers full as well. We have vowed to use a kettle to boil water for washing up dishes and washing ourselves rather than using the water heater, which seems to use up a great deal more water. Our present water may need to last until Norseman about 2 sleeps away.

A couple of gems from today. Quite often people have their names and or some sort of slogan on their RV which reflects their philosophy. Today’s best one was “Two shades of Grey”.

The other one was over the radio after we had been passed by a largish four wheel drive motorhome. Today was quite windy.

RV driver: “Can you please turn the wind off”

Me: “I can’t reach the switch”

RV driver: “there must be something you can do for me”

I didn’t have a comeback for that one.

Yesterday at Nullabour Roadhouse Stephen was reading a large poster about trucks and caravans sharing the road. A truck driver got into conversation with him and I joined as well. He said it was good to see RVers taking an interest in learning about living with trucks. He is West Australian and lives in Kalamunda. Memorable for having a true bass voice.

It was a lovely sunny day, and the wind wasn’t that terrible and did gradually drop as the day wore on. We had lunch at the Madura Hotel as a bit of respite.

We stopped at one campsite, but whilst it was quite lovely, we only spent a little time discussing the fact that we don’t really need the internet to have a perfect campsite, then high tailed it 25 kms down the track to this place, which has quite a good 3g signal. We were the first to arrive, and settled in despite our policy of not camping on our own. As has happened a few times, once we were here, others started to arrive, so that we have ended up with four other RVs, three of which have parked in close proximity. So, we have a little community of 10 Shades of Grey.