Travels with the Winnie: Day 13

Kimba – A day of rest and visit to Kimba Museum

When we woke up this morning it was 2 degrees in the van. We cranked up the diesel heater and enjoyed our steaming mugs of tea.

We have decided to take today as a rest day, then make a push to do extra kilometres tomorrow. If we get started earlier than usual it should be possible.

First of all we went to the Kimba Museum and enjoyed going around the exhibits. A lot of the exhibits date from the 50’s, so are part of our childhood. That includes the horse drawn milk cart, we had one when we lived in Belmont, I think. We were too poor to have the fresh milk, unfortunately, we were brough up on Sunshine powdered milk. I’ve made a slideshow of the photos from the visit.

We did ‘chores’, filling up the water tank, emptying toilet cassette, getting diesel and getting my one item of shopping, some fabric softener.

Our next door neighbour brought out her washing machine this morning, just the same as mine, but with purple trims, and did a heap of washing. I noticed that she washing everything in a large plastic bucket, just using the electric dryer (a generator was provided 250v power). She was even doing her sheets this way. I was very pleased to see that my idea of the small washing machine isn’t as crazy as I feared.

We had lunch, delicious soup, at a cafe in town, then took the van back to the same free camping area. Stephen had a shower using two $1 coins, then had a rest and went out for a walk. I’ve been fiddling with photos.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 11

Wirrulla Caravan Park

It’s fairly basic, but we have taken advantage of the cement pad and electricity. We have paid $10 for access to the showers, toilets are free. This was not our intended destination.

We left our camping area quite late this morning, about 10.30 a.m. The trip into Ceduna was uneventful and we surrended a couple of potatoes and pieces of fruit at the checkpoint. Then we went to the service station to feed the Winnie and dump the toilet. They had a tap and hose for the dump, but also another one labelled ‘drinking water’, so we took advantage of it, thinking we would find another free campsite tonight.

We then went into the town and parked exactly where we parked two years ago. Our goal was some shopping, to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables especially. We were both sort of seduced by the idea of going to a cafe, and noticed it was lunchtime and they had beautiful salads. So that was that.

Then to the Foodland Store, which is a big supermarket, where we found everything we needed. An afternoon rest called, so we went out to a nearby beachfront. Before we left Perth we spoke to a couple who said that they have crossed the Nullabour 22 times. We are only on our second trip – maybe there will be more. We already feel that we know Ceduna quite well.

We were heading for a rest area beyond Wirrulla, but pulled in here a bit after 4.00 p.m., both feeling quite weary. The promise of cheap camping, with showers and toilets was too much for us. So, here we are. Telstra sent me a text to warn me that this is a 4G only area, which suits me. Then we were able to tune in some digital TV so we can watch the ABC news tonight. Not that the news is good, but the ritual is pleasant.

In this tiny, not very exciting town, we have everything we could want or need. There is even a jetty…

Wirrulla Caravan Park (1 of 1)
See the Red Capped Wanderer beside the van
Wirrulla circling the wagon (1 of 1)
Circling the Wagon – concrete attracts kids on bikes
Wirrulla granaries (1 of 1)
Featuring the grain silos
Wirrulla hotel (1 of 1)
a nice old pub
Wirrulla General Store (1 of 1)
A General Store
Wirrulla Jetty (1 of 1)
And a jetty. Not that there is any water here, but they want to be able to compete with Streaky Bay. Note the metal sailing boat.
Wirrulla Jetty2 (1 of 1)
Another view of the jetty, with the golf course in the background. You may spot the Red Capped Wanderer near a white post in the background as well.

Now, have I corrected all my spelling mistakes and faulty grammar? Sometimes I post, then discover the errors. The notification my readers get then has all the errors, they can only get the corrected post by clicking on the link.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 10

Head of Bight Whalewatching

Enjoying a Jack Daniels and coke, will it improve my writing or ruin it.

We are now waking up about half an hour before sunrise. We were keen to get to the whale watching centre when it opened at 8.30 a.m. Fortunately we had a really good night’s sleep and were ready in good time.

We saw whales, only one at a time, so it could have been the same whale in different places. She didn’t do any of the interesting whale behaviours, but it was so lovely that she was there that we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

It was a beautiful morning, quite cold, but we rugged up.

Head of Bight cliffs (1 of 1)
A view of the bluff
Stephen whale spotting (1 of 1)
Stephen had some binoculors borrowed from the kiosk
whale crop (1 of 1)
The whale was a fair way away, and this is a crop of the image I took with my long lens
whale watch kiosk (1 of 1)
Whale watching kiosk, it was lovely going back into the warmth
whale context photo (1 of 1)
This shows the context, the whale was a long way away from where we were standing

We are finding one of the great things about this van is the diesel heater. It makes all the difference for free camping. There is one outlet into the main area and one in the bathroom. We feel very spoilt to have such a warm bathroom, better than at home.

There is also the ease of set up when we free camp. I wasn’t sure that Stephen was really into this, but he chose to free camp tonight, and the only problem is having enough water if we want to free camp for a third night in a row tomorrow night. We are about 70 kms from Ceduna and will check out the possibilities there. We have extra water bottles for drinking water as I am wary of drinking from the van’s tank.

We have 4G internet, but no TV here. Even though we have a 40gig per month internet plan, with an additional 15gig on my phone, we can’t really watch TV via the internet – unless we want to use of a lot of our bandwidth. Apart from using gas for cooking and the fridge, we have two house batteries and solar power. I’ve bought a 150 watt pure sine wave inverter that powers a lamp (we have 12volt lighting, but the lamp makes prettier light) and charges all of our devices.

We can also run the TV with the inverter. Our TV is new, I did not buy a 12volt TV because they are expensive for what you are getting and tend to include a DVD player which we don’t use. Far more important is the HDMI port which allows me to attach the iPad. The old TV that came with the van had two HDMI ports which weren’t working reliably.

So, here is our camp site for tonight at the Cohen Rest Area just west of Penong, SA. We seemed to hit normal bushland fairly quickly after we left Head of Bight, and then were in farming country for the rest of the journey today.

Easter at Jarrahdale

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Sunset from our campsite at Jarrahdale

Easter Friday was a quiet day. We went for a walk in the evening in our neighbourhood looking at a special type of gum tree with drooping branches and peeling bark. We found it was quite common in our immediate area. I wanted to go away for one night at Easter, the weekend is very busy at most places and driving on Friday and Monday is usually very fraught, so it seemed sensible to go a fairly short distance overnight so that we were driving on Saturday and Sunday.

We were pretty sure that the free camping site at Jarrahdale would have plenty of room for us, and it has, although there are a lot more campers than when we came during a cool spell in summer. Still, it is a big area, and we don’t mind the extra people. We are camped on the hard stand area, although we don’t have it to ourselves this time.

We arrived at about 12.00, checked out the camping possibilities, then drove out to Serpentine Dam. We had lunch in the Winnie, then coffee at the cafe, then walked out across the Dam. It was a lovely day, although the weather continues a recent pattern of starting out cool, then getting quite warm by late in the afternoon.

Serpentine Dam - detail (1 of 1)

There are some lovely tall trees in the dam area, the above photo is a detail of leaves and blossom.

Serpentine Dam - No Entry (1 of 1)

Standing on the Dam, it’s not possible to get near the edge because of the wide area out of bounds.

Serpentine Dam - water2 (1 of 1)

A partly cloudy day, with lots of sunshine.

It was an important day – Stephen drove the Winnie for the first time – the 9 kms back to our campsite from the dam. Well done Stephen!

The Winnie at home

Our neighbours left for a two week holiday on Thursday. We already had the Winnie booked in to try to find out why our fridge emits an odour when we are using it on gas, so we picked it up on Tuesday evening, stored it on the vacant lot nearby during the day, then in a parking bay in our street for the night.


Ken Peachy Caravans said that our fridge did not have a flue, and as there were no gas leaks, this must be why the odour was coming back into the ‘house’. They put in a flue and I tested it, there is a certainly a great improvement. However, as I was looking for a smell I was able to detect it lightly. Mike also said he would get us a quote for repairing the damage to the rear panel. It may be quite expensive and we are still waiting. When we get the quote we can work out whether it is worthwhile to claim it on our insurance.

When cleaning the windscreen yesterday I was able to confirm that a mark on the outside is in fact a small crack. These days they can be repaired without having to replace the whole windscreen, so it has gone on my list of things to do.

Having the Winnie at home gave us the opportunity to take it out for a picnic meal yesterday evening. We decided on a visit to the North Mole at Fremantle. That worked well although I did not want to take it past the section of road that has two lanes. There was a strong wind which made walking along the Mole quite challenging. It felt like my cameras were bouncing all over the place, but I still managed to get some photos that I am happy with.


A different view of Cottesloe, taken on the 70-300mm lens and using the dehaze feature in Lightroom to get some clarity. There were no clouds, but there was quite a lot of haze. The setting sun changed shape from round to square because of the haze distortion.


Stephen suggested that we watch the news whilst eating. We didn’t want to put up the TV antenna in the wind, so tried using it with it flat on the roof. The ABC din’t work well enough to watch the news, but we watched some tennis, then got involved in a movie on a commercial channel. We had a lovely meal of cold chicken, rolls and salads, followed by watermelon. I had other ‘goodies’ but we were quite full, so just had a hot drink.

We stayed until 9.00 p.m. before heading home. We were able to watch the sunset from the van, and I got some photos of yatchs and sea lit by the evening light.

This morning we had a walk before breakfast. The Sunday morning Farmers’ Market was smaller than usual. Cherry, who was having breakfast there, said there was something else on which would have attracted buyers and sellers, and would account for there being less stalls and customers. We enjoyed talking with her for awhile, then headed home for scrambled eggs, toast and coffee.

bike rack at the Farmers’ Market
our street corner

Being in Western Australia

Today we went to an exhibition of Western Australian art from the early days of European settlement. Very interesting to see how accurately the landscape was featured in the drawings and paintings. We did a tour of the exhibition, which included some history and some art technique. We had lunch beforehand at the wonderful (NOT) cafeteria at the Central Station, it was worse than usual because there was a Christmas party in the main dining room and we were stuck in room at the end of the corridor. The staff were as cheerful as ever, finding food for latecomers when possible, even if it was just desert.

We went to the Concert Hall beforehand to book tickets for the New Years Eve concert. We are looking after Mum, so he rang her and asked her if she wanted to go, and then booked the tickets. I don’t think it will go well, she is normally in bed at 9.30 p.m. when the concert starts, but we will see, maybe doing something so unusual will take her into a different place. We will have to take the car in and park underneath so that we can use the lift.

This evening we went to the Hawkers Market for tea, meeting up with Cherry and her friends. She was pleased with the video of her poem/song on Youtube, which she only found out about this morning. It was nicely stabilised by Youtube after uploading, thank goodness. We enjoyed a discussion about a number of topics, including whether there should be jelly in trifle – I think yes.

In the last couple of days I’ve watched a couple of Youtube videos featuring John Pilger. He is pretty scathing about Hilary Clinton and Obama. Not that he would choose Trump, but American imperialism is pretty scary. China’s island and military base building in the South China sea is in response to the encirclement of China by US miliatary bases with nuclear weapons trained on China. Some of them are very close indeed to mainland China. He talks about the coming ‘war on China’, note not ‘with’ China, but ‘on’ China. By a country (USA) that knows it is either surpassed, or about to be surpassed, by China as the most powerful country on earth.