Day 11: Lake Ballard to Leonora

This morning we said a sad goodbye to our camp to continue on our journey. It was cloudy, but too much, which meant we didn’t get a beautiful light on the lake and island. I still took lots of photos of the clouds directly above the sun, which at times were lit up brilliantly.

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We took a drive up to the Snake Hill Lookout on our way out. I didn’t take any photos, but we got some Gopro footage, which gives a panoramic view.

I took the 20kms or so of gravel road at about 60km/hr this time, and the little van does actually ride out the corrigations better at a higher speed. Still, we don’t want to risk wrecking the furniture by doing a lot of this sort of travel. We stopped in Menzies to dump our toilet cassette. Although there is a dump point at Lake Menzies the tank with water is quite a way from the dump point and I was worried that people might not be washing it down properly after using it. Much better to use a dump point with a water tap and hose.

We thought of having coffee at the cafe, but it was closed. Further down the road we stopped for a hot drink each, me coffee, Stephen a moccah. Then drove straight through to Leonora. We did some grocery shopping and then headed for the caravan park. We had lunch at about 2.30, rather late. Leonora is a mining town, so fairly basic. But there is an interesting museum for us to visit tomorrow.

Days 9 and 10: Lake Ballard

We didn’t hurry in the morning, but even so we were packed up and ready to go just after 10.00 a.m. I had a shower and washed my hair using the nice facilities at our caravan park. The sky was completely clear of clouds, again, and although I hoped for clouds later on, nothing eventuated.

The drive to Lake Ballard is mostly bitumen, with about 20 kms of gravel. It was quite a good road, lots of small corrugations, but we still took it very slowly, about 40 kms an hour. When you can hear every rattle of your gear it makes you very cautious, towing a caravan is different as all the rattling takes place well behind.

On arrival, there were a couple of caravans already parked up. We had no difficulty finding a nice level spot with a view over the lake. It’s all red earth and dull green bushland, but the colours look wonderful towards sunset.

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We had lunch, then rested until afternoon tea time. We set off to walk to the Gormley Statues at about 4.00 p.m. and came home after sunset. The lake is muddy near the edges, but when you get to the really salty part it is like walking on firm snow – crystals which crunch underfoot. There were lots of tracks to the statues, plus some car tire tracks. Of course, you are not allowed to drive on the lake, but someone always will.

We stayed out until slightly after sunset, Stephen taking lots of video on the Gopro and me taking photos. I’ve uploaded them to my ipad this morning and see that it is hard to get a bad photo of the scenery here, apart from some lopsided horizons which need fixing.

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The statues are a little smaller than you would imagine. Instead of doing 52 I would have done a smaller set and made the individual ones larger. Still, by squatting down for shots I was able to make them appear much bigger. Stephen posed as a statue for me, of course, but not naked – it was a bit too chilly.

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We had two caravans pull in close to us during the afternoon. There were also quite a few day visitors walking out to the statues, but no one later in the day when we went out. Overall, it is as magical an experience as I hoped it would be. The 21st is the Winter Solstice and sunset here was at about 5.10 p.m.

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detail of the island lit up by setting sun

 

We decided to stay two nights, hoping for a bit of cloud either at sunrise or sunset. We have plenty of water and enough food to last until our next town, Leonora.

Yesterday morning we walked up a hill to find a different view of the lake. It was very stoney and we had to watch our feet all of the time. It was another clear, cloudless day.

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In the evening we walked behind our camp over to another lake behind a small rise. Not very far.

We spent a lot of time during the day just gazing out at the lake and making out the many statues, very small in the distance. The large island near to us makes a special feature of this view.

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Again, I hoped for a few clouds at sunset, but it was not to be. We felt a bit tired in the evening and opted for an easy dinner of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, plus desert.

 

Day 8: Menzies

Today has been fairly relaxing, catching up on some things and walking around the town looking at buildings and sculptures. I made a lentil soup for lunch, so tasty we had two helping each.

Nothing much to report really.

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The clock tower remains lit up at night. Although built a long time ago the clock itself is relatively new – about 20 years old.

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Menzies is a very small town, just a few houses around and no one living in the main street. The air is very clear and dry.

 

Day 7: we made it to Menzies

We are revelling in having normal electricity and the ability to heat the van. We are staying in the Menzies Caravan Park for a couple of nights before going off to Lake Ballard.

This morning we found we had misjudged the sunrise, again, even though we were in the same campsite as the first night in Kalgoorlie. That meant we didn’t have the help of the sun to warm up the van. Mind you, we still coped quite well with the cold, especially having such a toasty warm bed to sleep in due to our wonderful winter doona.

We went shopping, had a committee meeting for the Working Voices Choir via FaceTime, dumped our toilet, had lunch and a rest at the Arboretum (Stephen had a walk), the filled up on fuel and set off for Menzies at about 2.30 pm. It only took us about 1.5 hours to get here. We booked in, I did a load of washing, Stephen had a shower (very good amenities here) and then we settled in for the evening. We’ve had washes, of course, but this is our first opportunity to actually have showers for a week.

We are looking forward to a lazy day, with some exploring, tomorrow. I will recharge camera gear ready for the famous Lake Ballard statues.

It’s a cold evening with beautiful pink/blue light.

See that straight parking. I did that while Stephen went to the office to book us in.

Day 6: another day in Kalgoorlie

The rain came in the night and we were very glad to be on the hill above the campground. It was a bit noisy with cars going back and forth, including some very noisy young people who paused their car near our van.

The water in the little lake was quite muddy in the morning. We didn’t hurry away as we enjoyed being outside between showers of rain. I did a bit of hand washing and put it on an airer in a ‘convenient’ shelter.

The rest of the day it has been hanging in our little en-suite in the van. As it was cold, windy with showers until early afternoon it hasn’t made much progress. It was quite warm overnight last night and we are looking forward to having crisp, cold temperatures tonight.

Our first destination was Hannans North Tourist Mine. The entry fee was modest and we were allowed to go out and back during the day, which suited us as we took a break for lunch. I particularly loved the Chinese garden, something,of an,oddity as Chinese people were banned from Western Australian gold mines. Still, a Chinese/Australian foundation overlooked this detail to build a beautiful garden which is loved by the community here as a gathering place and wedding venue.

The wood does not take kindly to the hot, dry weather here, but the Chinese foundation found skilled craftsmen to do some major restoration in 2018.

Of course, the museum was mainly about the gold mining history here in Kalgoorlie.

I bought a tiny sample of gold for Matt. Despite weighing almost nothing it purports to be genuine gold.

We left at about 3.30 and drove back to the Main Street to look at some of the beautiful building and find a place for coffee. I switched to the camera for that part of the day and haven’t yet downloaded photos. So, none in this blog.

We drove back to the place where we spent our first night, filled our fresh water tank, and took up a parking position. There were a couple of other vans here when we arrived. We are cooking up a good meal of spaghetti bolognese with everything in the one pot. It should last us as a main course for about three nights.

Day 5: a day in Kalgoorlie

We had a peaceful night last night, despite someone running a generator for a few hours. At least it was a consistent sound. We woke up to an increasingly strong wind which has continued all day. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and it has been quite warm, getting up to about 25.

One of the perks of the camp ground, apart from flushing toilets and a drinking water tap, is that a coffee van come in at 4.30 am to cater for shift workers. It is extremely popular and I had quite a wait for an excellent coffee. I was the only,person in PJs. I felt slightly self conscious, but flannelette PJs are good covering and I had my outdoor jacket over them.

We Zoomed into our French class from 10.00 to 11.00, then packed up and went out to the Superpit. We hung around for the daily blasting, which we heard, but could not see because it was on the other side from where we were. We have lots of Gopro footage of the area.

By the time we got back to the van I was over being out in the wind. We had lunch whilst we were waiting, so didn’t need food. Stephen took in a museum whilst I went to a cafe, Montys, which was nearby. He joined me when finished. He wanted to walk down the Main Street to look at the interesting old buildings, but I opted for driving slowly along to escape the heat and wind.

When we met up again we headed out to find our overnight spot, Lake Douglas. We’ve had to perch on a slightly sloping,pitch in order to have a view of the lake. It also avoids being in a potentially muddy situation in the morning. But we will need to be careful moving around in the night. It usually feel we don’t need levellers as we can always move around to find a level spot. However, in the case, we really want the view and this is the closest to level we could find.

The view from our van tonight.

Day 4 – Yerdani Well to Kalgoorlie

Not a very long journey today, just under 100 kms. We stopped briefly in Coolgardie, just long enough for Stephen to go out with the Gopro and do his thing.

In Kalgoorlie we wanted to go to the Visitors Centre first thing. We took in a cafe for hot drinks and a shared toastie as it was midday and I was hungry. At the Visitors Centre we were able to confirm that many things had opened just this week. She showed us the local attractions on a town map and gave us a brochure. I bought a glasses case which I can attach to my camera bag strap to facilitate swapping between normal and sun glasses.

Our next stop was Coles where we stocked up on fresh bread, rolls, vegetables and fruit. Then on to dump our toilet cassette and fill up some containers of drinking water. We went to the 24hr Rest Stop – quite a nice location a little out of town where we had a rest. Stephen wanted to go to a bushland reserve and we drove there to have afternoon tea. I needed another rest, so Stephen set off on the paths with his Gopro in hand. After resting I went out as well, though missed the path he was on and we met up back near the gate at sunset. I enjoyed taking photos of the bushland at sunset.

We had asked the person at the Visitor Centre about Chinese restaurants and chose one of her recommendations for our evening meal. On the way there we filled up with fuel at a Puma station where we get an RAC discount. We will be in Kalgoorlie for at least a couple more days as there is far more here than just the super pit and other mines. There are many old and interesting buildings in the town centre, plus driving through the streets there are some very old houses.

Stephen has his WASO Zoom session this evening, a good thing we had an early dinner at the restaurant. It was a relief to have the meal over and done with, no dishes or mess. The food was quite nice, eat in food for the price of takeaway in the city. We liked that they served main meat meals with lots of vegetables included. The restaurant takeaway section was very busy.

It was a short drive back to our camping area.

My Adobe apps are updating and I can’t process any of the photos from today until it all finishes. Raw, unedited photos instead!

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Yerdani Well this morning
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Yerdani Well. It was very cold in the van this morning and as you can see we weren’t parked directly in the sun. Having a wash was a bit challenging.
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Kalgoorlie Bushland Park (not it’s proper name) this evening. Trees are the same, but we didn’t have the smoke bush.
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From my evening walk.

Our overnight spot should have good sun in the morning. The weather forecast is for another cold start to the day and we hope to not only have sunlight for recharging the batteries, but also have the warmth.

 

Day 3 – Westonia to Yerdani Well

The adventure continues. We woke up to a cold and sunny morning. It became a bit grey by late morning, but it looks like fine weather here at Yerdani Well, which means we are in for another cold night. Our level 3 doona is just right for these temperatures, we were too warm the first night.

Stephen noticed a bit of metal in the front driver’s side tyre. We didn’t know if it would cause a slow leak or what. We woke up early and were on our way by about 9.30, but still had to drive to the dump point and then to a water point to fill up our tank and water bottles. Stephen became attached to the Gopro and has done quite a lot of video today, which we will put into a movie at some stage. I recorded some video first thing to capture bird sounds.

 

At Southern Cross we found a tyre and automotive shop. After a 20 minute wait we were attended to by a young woman (Joyce we think her name is) who inspected the problem and applied some soapy water to confirm there was no leak. We then drove close to the workshop so that she could pull out the metal. It confirmed that it had not actually penetrated very far at all. I’d been getting notifications about checking our oil, so we asked her to show us how to do it.

We consulted the manual on how to get the hood unlocked, the manual was useful, but it is for a left hand drive vehicle, so it was actually on the opposite side from the picture. She confirmed that we needed oil and we opted to buy the whole container after she had filled up for us. It was a great experience to have a young woman as our mechanic, althoug she was slightly flummoxed by the Adria name, she hadn’t realised the vehicle is a Fiat.

She wore gloves to protect her hands whilst checking the oil, but her gear was suitably dirty, as you would expect working as a mechanic. She was pretty, with her hair worn long and tied back. We enjoyed the experience and were thankful she was thrown by the vehicle type and had to look up a suitable oil on her computer so that we didn’t feel too embarrassed about being relatively clueless ourselves. A good learning experience overall.

Having this done meant we were quite delayed. We drove down the road to try to find a nice place for lunch. We eventually settled on opposite the Yellowdine Roadhouse, handy for buying some no sugar coke (our evening treat instead of alcohol). Although Stephen’s laying on of hands did completely take away my tension headache I don’t feel like taking any risks just yet.

Our plan had been to make it to Coolgardie, but we have settled on this place, about 60 kms away. We will easily make it to Kalgoorlie tomorrow, where we plan to spend at least two nights to allow time to explore the town.

The Well in Yerdani Well is on the other side of the road from this campground. Just in case you are wondering why we don’t have a photo of it.

 

 

Day 2: Meckering to Westonia

We didn’t make it very far today as we made a late start. It wasn’t a plan, but writing the blog slowed things down and we were a bit disorganised. We had morning tea on the way to enable us to have a late lunch. It was after 3.00 pm when we got underway after lunch and the clouds made it seem even later.

Our plan was to get as far as Southern Cross, but Westonia was closer and has a very nice free camping area. So, here we are.

We have 4 bars of 3G Telstra which should work for a FaceTime session with Matt.

I’ve put our towels in the picnic shelter as they still need to dry. It was sunny when we left Meckering this morning, but has been cloudy most of afternoon.