Travelling Oz…Kimba

Friday night was spent at a quiet roadside stop. On Saturday morning we drove to Penong and checked out the laundromat. It seemed OK, though smelling a bit musty. We had a huge load of clothes, which finished up a bit wetter after washing than seems normal. As I found out when using the dryer, it took 80 minutes, two rounds of 40, to get our clothes dry. We had time to practice music (Stephen), cook a soup with the remains of our fresh vegetables (me) and have hot drinks from the local cafe. We also had a chat with Marie, just a bit of a catchup.

After a lunch of said soup with toast we headed to Ceduna. The dump point was our first port of call, then to a water point. We watched someone struggling to obtain their water after using two $1 coins. I went and banged on the post and after a little while a green light came on and the water flowed. We were able to fill our tank as well before putting another $1 in to cover our drinking water bottles.

The Foodland in Ceduna was still open in the late afternoon when we arrived and it was a relief to be able to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and salads, as well as a bit of other stuff. Feeling good about getting all of our tasks done we went out of town about 11 kms to a bush camp for the night.

Stephen suggested that we change our morning alarm from 6.45 a.m. to 7.15 a.m. The sun doesn’t rise until about 7.30 anyway, so it gives us a bit more time to rest. Even so, without hurrying, we were able to fit in 20 mins of Tai Chi (getting flexible before driving is a good idea) and get away by 10.30 a.m.

I had chosen a place to stay from Wikicamps, and old abandoned farm on a private property where you are able to camp for the price of a donation. It advertised toilets (but it was a bit grim) and a good, working dump point. The old farmhouse and barns were in terrible condition and it was altogether too shabby to be attractive, plus there was a fair bit of mud on the driveway. So, in the end, we just had lunch, then drove about 65 kms further along to Kimba. The free camp here gets very busy, but they have enlarged the area and added new facilities and we’ve managed to get a spot that is fairly level, with some privacy. Happy!

The only photo is this one of our meal the other night. I’ve not felt inspired in the last couple of days.

Travelling Oz…Bunda Cliffs Campground

Bunda Cliffs sunrise

We have passed the Nullabor and are now back in farmland and bushland. Still about 850 kms to Adelaide which we are visiting to catch up with friends. Tonight’s location is called Cohens Old School Site which is about 20 kms from Penong. Back in the land of 4g – yay! Especially after not having a phone signal at all at Bunda Cliffs Campsite.

After leaving Eucla we planned a stopover I had long been wanting, to park on the cliffs for the night. We stopped at a viewpoint shortly after Border Village, but it was fairly tame with a gradual drop to the sea. Still it was a beautiful sunny day and lovely in the fresh air.

I had chosen the Bunda Cliff site on reviews, but we didn’t really know how good it would be. The day was fairly calm and that made it all the more enjoyable when we arrived as we could enjoy walking around during the afternoon and enjoy being outside until after sunset. Stephen chatted with a few other campers whilst I had a long afternoon rest, the first for a week, then wandered about with the camera taking far more photos than would ever be actually used, but enjoying myself.

The only downside to this site was the stony ground for driving. We worried about damaging our tyres and drove very slowly in and out. Even campers with much tougher vehicles and tyres than us were taking it very easy.

One of the other campers that Stephen spoke to was able to tell us what time sunrise would be and he also alerted me to the fact that around sunrise there would be misty updraughts from the sea along the cliffs. He had some good photos on his phone, although I looked for this phenonemon this morning I didn’t get the strong effect of the photos he had showed me.

Our clock was set for our normal time of 6.45 this morning and there was already light in the sky. We have, of course, now reverted to South Australian time, 1.5 hours ahead of Perth. I rugged up in Stephen’s big jacket and even borrowed his gloves which leave the fingers free as it was very cold outside. A wind had come up in the night, we could hear it and I closed windows in the van, but it wasn’t strong enough to worry us.

Wandering around taking photos I was very cold indeed, but it was worth it.

We were planning to go to the Penong Caravan Park, but having spent one night at Eucla Caravan Park we didn’t feel quite ready to stay at another caravan park so soon. I am thinking of the washing, but decided a laundromat would do, and there is actually a small one at Penong. We are now very close to Ceduna, where we can get water, dump the toilet cassette and do some shopping for much needed supplies. Tea tonight is going to be baked beans, eggs and toast, the best our pantry can offer. Still, we are looking forward to it, who wouldn’t!

Travelling Oz…Baxter RA to Eucla

This morning was the first time we had a sunrise. There were clouds around, but not consistent grey cover as on the other mornings of our trip. I rushed out to get some photos and video.

It was a very quiet night. We haven’t camped on our own like this so far on the trip and it was very peaceful.

Baxter RA sunrise
Baxter RA Sunrise

Today we planned to travel to Eucla, about 400 kms. We weren’t sure we were up to it, but by sharing the driving pretty equally we were here by about 4.00 p.m. Perth time. Of course, Eucla is 45 minutes ahead, so we had to try to adjust to the time difference. Once we cross into South Australia it has the same time zone throughout, so only one change for as long as we are in that state.

We had a lovely drive with many changes and some showers. We could see them in the distance as were drove towards them on the flat plane after Madura.

On arrival we got our good spot with a view, though due to the late time we didn’t have long to enjoy it before dark. Stephen rushed off for a shower and then we had dinner at the hotel, a shared meal which was plenty for both of us. We took a risk with masks off for eating. We also tried to get some planning done for the next stages of our trip. It was more tossing around ideas than actually making decisions.

On return to the van I went off for a shower whilst Stephen made us herbal teas. We have power tonight and I’ve put the heater on with a very low setting which is only possible when we are on electricity, for some reason. You can choose 800 or 1800 watts for the heating and the lower setting is just right to have a slow fan speed and not too much heat belting out. Sometimes I can get this setting on gas by choosing a cooler temperature, but mostly it belts it out on full fan speed.

We are enjoying just relaxing here for the evening.

Baxter RA Sunrise

Travelling OZ… Are we out of the woods yet?

And I would say ‘yes’, pretty much, although here at the Baxter Rest Area near Caiguna there are some trees around us. We had a bit of a slow start this morning, no reason, just taking our time with our various vanlife tasks. There was shopping to do as well as getting water and emptying the toilet, so we didn’t think we would get very far and planned a stop about 200 kms from Norseman.

At the IGA we were in for a shock. The town had lost electricity. Stephen spoke with the manager who decided to let us in so we could purchase non perishables. This was very kind and we proceeded to get a lot of the items on our list, going around the aisles with her with her head torch and my iphone torch. We had to pay cash and Stephen had exactly $100. Buying a newspaper went slightly over, but she said $100 would do. We were very grateful to have been able to get so much of what was on our list and thanked her profusely.

As we drove around there were a lot of emergency vehicles and men in high viz. standing around doing nothing in particular, and doing it very well (thanks Gilbert). I don’t know what the plan was.

The water tap and dump point worked as expected and we drove out of town having accomplished most of our tasks.

We got to Ballidonia at about 1.00 p.m., filled up with fuel and had a takeaway steakburger each. It seemed too early to settle at our campsite just five kilometres further on, so we changed our plans and aimed for the Baxter Rest Area about 114kms further along. This gives us a slight chance of getting to Eucla tomorrow, if we really put our minds to it. It’s about 400kms away.

We stay at two caravan parks on the Eyre Highway, Eucla and Penong. Our excuse is access to washing machines and showers, which saves using our own water that has to last until we get to Ceduna. But, we’ve grown fond of both these options. This is our 4th trip over the Nullabour and we really enjoy each stage of the journey. I’ve finally let Stephen sit in the driver’s seat today and having two drivers makes a difference.

Stephen drove the van for this drone clip. If it doesn’t show up properly it’s because WordPress is still processing it and you will need to come back later to watch.

Sign says it all!
Our usual goofy selfie shot.
This shot was taken at 4.44 p.m. As we travel East the sunsets get earlier and earlier, until the winter solstice.

Travelling Oz in our campervan: Norseman

We didn’t plan to stay here, but needs must. The IGA was closed due to the public holiday and we want to shop before heading across the Nullarbor. So we’ve ended up corralled with mostly caravans, one other small motor home, in the free camping area.

The visitor centre has moved to a very nice new premises, but water and dump point were still available at the old site. . A new dump point and drinking water tap are being set up, when it is operational people will need to buy a token to access it. I don’t mind paying for water, it’s just important to be able that water is available.

We went for a walk around the block, running into the people from the little motor home on our way, and stopping to chat.

It was a fairly good day for driving, with a little bit of sunshine, but mostly overcast. It was slow going in parts due to roadworks, we are always appreciative when roads are being improved.

After getting fuel for tomorrow’s travel we relaxed for the afternoon.

Travelling Oz in our Campervan: Londonderry

Today was not destined to be a long travel day. We went for a walk on the rocks after breakfast, enjoying the cold air and faint droplets as though we were in a cloud. We had slept well again and felt quite energised.

Our plan to drive to Norseman was abandoned and we aimed for Coolgardie instead. It was lunchtime when we arrived, so cheese, toast and salad was appetising.

Then van chores. The dump point worked well, but the water tap a metre away was the push type and we couldn’t attach our hose. A couple of 10 litre water containers later the gauge said we were at 75%, and this is plenty for one overnight. Our plan is to go to Norseman for fuel, water and shopping tomorrow, but we may drive onwards and find some bush camping. There is a free camping area in Norseman, but it is in an enclosed area with designated bays, much like a caravan park. It will depend how we are feeling if that appeals.

We had a chat with Matt on the phone. Their internet is out at the moment and Matt doesn’t get a good phone signal at the house, so it was our only option. He was able to respond verbally and his support worker told us when he responded non verbally, as we couldn’t see.

This evening I made a lentil and vegetable soup in the Instant Pot (using battery power) and will cook some fish pieces as extra protein.

We are staying at a place called Londonderry, about 16 kms from Coolgardie on the Coolgardie/Esperance Road. Just red dirt and trees, but there are lots a places to choose from that are back from the highway. Last night we couldn’t hear traffic, but tonight it sounds close, even though we drove quite a way in from the road.

Travelling Oz in our campervan: Karalee Rocks

We woke refreshed this morning and ready to tackle a bit longer drive, 360 kms to this camping spot. I chatted with a couple who had also stayed the night and had made the same choice as us, to leave the city Friday afternoon so that they could make a fresh start this morning without having to deal with traffic.

We don’t have much of a signal tonight, just enough to write this blog, but not enough for photos.

We stopped in Merredin for lunch. I had been to the IGA for salads and found some stuffed mushrooms that were irresistible. Heated up in our covered pan they made a delicious lunch with lettuce and tomato.

We had a couple of error messages on our hot water/heater system this morning and I thought we might have run out of gas. In cooking our lunch we used the very last of the tank, but fortunately were near a hardware store which did refills. we have two smallish tanks and always try to keep one filled in reserve.

A visit to a Puma to get fuel and we were on our way. it was about 3 kms off the highway on a corrugated gravel track to this camping spot, but it is well worth it. We are camped next to one of the historical railway dams that are dotted around and this site is run by the National Trust. There are camping spots with picnic tables, toilets that are locked, and a dump point that sometimes has water for rinsing, according to the comments on WikiCamps. Anyway, it’s a lovely setting.

Travelling OZ in our campervan: first night – Wundowie

So, why have we come to Wundowie? Partly because we had a very busy morning, ticking off some more items on our long list of preparations for going away in the van for about three months. This morning we had three gardeners come to prune a vine that belongs to our neighbour, but covers our shed. They also pruned our grapevines and a flowering tree that hangs over our driveway from another neighbour’s garden.

Our solar system was installed about three weeks ago and today we finally had Western Power come to install a new digital meter. This gives them control over our system and should keep them from having to pay us too much money in rebates. The technician was friendly and was somewhat helpful about the installation of the Powerpal device which will allow us to monitor our consumption over bluetooth, but only when we are home. Our solar system is connected to the web and we can check how it is going from anywhere.

In addition, I went to Homecraft for a sheet of plastic to use as a tablecloth on our outdoor table. They had lots of designs, but I chose one which was focussed on coffee culture. When I put it on the table I also appreciated that from a short distance it is quite subtle, some of the designs I saw in the shop were very loud.

As well, I loaded all of our food, my clothes and my technology stuff into the van. Stephen had filled the water tank yesterday, but then filled our drinking water containers this morning. With so much to do we hadn’t planned lunch, so I made cheese rolls in the van, all our food had been transferred, so that was our only option. We left home by about 1.30 p.m. We went to West Midland to a public weighbridge as Stephen was worried about all the stuff I had piled into the van. But, we were still underweight by about 80kgs, which is a pretty good score I think as I’ve brough everything I wanted to bring!

We look for campsites on Wikicamps and I had heard about the new campsite at Wundowie. It is laid out much like a caravan park, with a shared water tap, dump point, BBQ area and toilets nearby. It is about 70kms from home, which meant we didn’t have to stress about leaving so late and getting to a place to stay. We arrived at 3.00 p.m. in time for afternoon tea.

On our walk around checking everything out we wandered into the local IGA where I was able to get some tonic water so we can enjoy a gin and tonic before tea. We have lemons from our lemon tree for adding to the drinks. We have a couple of left over meals for our first couple of nights. One was cooked by Stephen and one by me so we feel we are both making a contribution.

Rottnest: Days 3 and 4

Today is our departure day (Friday), but we don’t leave until 3.30 p.m. hence counting this as a day on the island. We were all up early, Eversley is working as a guide today (she has been volunteering here for a few years now) and we wanted to get our main bags packed for 8.00 a.m. pickup. All was managed and it made it easy to be ready to leave our cottage by 9.00ish.

We’ve hired a locker for our valuables, which we didn’t want to put into the main baggage, which means we can enjoy getting around without carrying too much on our backs. Stephen has headed off to Parker Point by bus with his binoculars to do a walk and observe ospreys. I had a short walk along the quokka trail by the lake.

Our location has been ideal for catching buses and enjoyable walks and being close to shops, pubs and cafes. Along with ideal weather this has been quite a wonderful stay. Eversley chose the cottage. It has a good view of the bay from the front windows and, being an older building, has high ceilings and a large living room.

Stephen and I agree that we have fallen in love with Rottnest from this visit. We are staying where there are trees and greenery. My memories of the island are that is was windy and scrubby, and as we travelled on the circut bus yesterday we saw that aspect of the island as well (without a strong wind and in cool weather still pleasant), but our main environment is in and around the settlement.

Yesterday we took the circut bus out to West Point. It is a hop off hop on type of service, running every 45 minutes. I wanted to see the seals. Our best view was using Stephen’s binoculars. I have a long lens, but not actually long enough as they were on a rocky outcrop offshore. With the binoculars we could see them swimming around in the waves as well.

Yesterday evening we walked to the lighthouse, about 1km away, so that we could be on the side of the island where we could see the sunset. We didn’t get a full afterglow, but it was still lovely and we had a bench to sit on overlooking the beach. We see the sunrise each morning from our house and a couple of morning I’ve walked out in my PJs to take photos.

After sunset
Wondering where all the people are.

We’ve been incredibly fortunate with the weather. Eversley booked for May as the weather is usually good, but the storms over the weekend and cancellation of early ferrys on Tuesday did not really hint at how nice it would be for the four days of our visit. We had rain on the first night, but just a little cloud, a breeze, and lots of sunshine since.

I’m on the verandah of the Dome Cafe, the fencing is to keep out these fellows. All of the entrances around the island have little gates to discourage quokkas, but this is the only verandah that is crow proof.

I almost forgot that we had lunch at the Rottnest pub yesterday, much nicer food than out at Geordie Bay and probably around the same price as we didn’t choose the more expensive food.

Quokka begging, he was so cute. The diners did not feed him, but there is good picking on the ground around the dining area.
Pelican on a pole. Obviously all poles are really pelican perches.
Stephen and Eversley arriving at the lighthouse last night
Capturing the light