From Elliston Eyre Peninsula SA across the Nullarbor to Kalgoorlie WA.

Wednesday, Apr 08, 2009 at 22:14

Member-Heather MG NSW

April 5th 2009.
We stayed overnight at Elliston, a small town on the West Coast of the Eyre Peninsula, approx 200kms north of Port Lincoln, in the Top Tourist caravan park. It is comfortable with good amenities and I managed to get the laundry done and dry overnight on the clothesline set up beneath our awning. John filled the water tanks and we both enjoyed long hot showers in the evening and again today, just because we could!

We had previously stayed here when we were visiting the area two years ago while travelling with friends, and had explored the township and surrounding coastline attractions so we don't need to stay for more than the one night.
It is a beautiful part of the coast with cliffs rising from the wild ocean, and has been extremely windy both times we have been here, no good for fishing from the jetty John has decided.

5th April.

We intended stopping somewhere around the Streaky Bay region, however on arriving there we looked around the scenic little town and continued north west, checking out a couple of the cheap and free camp options listed in the 'Camps 5 Australia Wide'. The Perlubie Beach camp may have been a good choice earlier in the day however was very busy and we think it would have been like staying in a van park (maybe with no rules!) as we would have had to be very close to neighbouring vehicles or very near to the toilets. It has flushing toilets and apparently water and shower for $2 per person a day (honesty box) and is sheltered from wind by sand dunes so I guess is a popular place.It would be a great place to stay and put the boat in the water, if the weather wasn't so windy.
We missed the turn into the beach which isn't well signposted from the Highway so could have arrived an hour earlier.

The second camp was a few kms along bitumen to a tiny village named Haslam, also on the bay. It was smaller and occupied by a number of vans, with a few spaces left but didn't appeal to either of us so we just continued.

On the way North we also made short detours to view two of the natural attractions, both of which were well worth the time and effort.

The first was Woolshed Cave (Talia Caves) located 48kms North of Elliston off the Highway along 6 kms of good dirt road was a spectacular rock formation accessed down a flight of steep steps leading to the rock platform below, formed by weathering and erosion of waves and wind I think. I took a few photos there, a couple of them with John and I included to show its impressive scale.

The second was Murphy's Haystacks, 39 km South East of Streaky Bay, are a number of large rocks protruding from the landscape like enormous phallic sculptures. We strolled around and between them, taking photos and reading the sign boards explaining their formation. There are picnic tables, also toilets provided and this would be good for morning tea or lunch. $2 entry fee pp (honesty box).

By now we were about 20 kms shy of Ceduna but decided to try the Conservation Park at Laura Bay as we still have current SA National Park passes. It is three kms off the highway along good dirt road and is quiet, dusty and dry with swarms of mosquitoes who attacked in their hundreds (or so it appeared) keen to suck our blood as soon as we left the safe haven of the car! We sprayed ourselves liberally with Aeroguard tropical strength repellent which was effective but they were very persistent and followed us into the van despite our best efforts.

There are maybe 6 sites in this, not really suitable for bigger rigs but OK for smaller vans like our 18 ft, and I managed to reverse it into position only cms from tree limbs on either side with John's excellent guidance. (Why doesn't this happen when we pull into a caravan park with an audience of interested sceptical male spectators!)
The is true with no facilities, and a permit is required.

We took the one walk signposted from the camping area to Dog Point, a two and half km walk one way along dry 4WD tracks and following a fence line to the windswept coast. Walking out onto the point we were buffeted by strong winds. John decided there would be some great fishing spots if the weather was calmer. Although we saw many signs of roos, also emus and foxes we didn't see any wildlife, and heard few birds.

On returning to the camp and we were surprised to find another small group setting up a tiny tent at the site furthest away from us. They would have spent an uncomfortable time with the mossies we reckon.

John managed to tune the TV in to be able to watch ABC and I was able to connect to the net using my antennae so emailed our children to let them know our expected route from there in case it was the last place with a signal before we left to cross the Nullarbor.


I am writing this at a roadside rest area on the Eyre Highway before daylight, west of Yalata and East of the Nullarbor Roadhouse where we have decided to stay overnight at 222k Peg rest area, (No 666 in Camps 5 ) There are no facilities here apart from garbage bins and a couple of tables and seats but we have managed to get a bit away from the road noise and there is plenty of vegetation to provide cover for when we have to take a trip into the scrub with the shovel.Unfortunately most others don't bother leaving the area to do this, nor do they bother to dig a hole and cover their traces! It makes the area unpleasant for those of us who do the right thing.

We arrived in Ceduna yesterday morning in rain and filled up with diesel. Being Sunday, the towns attractions were closed so we only stopped briefly to take a few photos from the waterfront before continuing. I was surprised to find it located on the water and expected it to be truly 'outback' but it appears to have good facilities and is quite scenic. Maybe we will return one day during the week and be able to explore the place better but we didn't want to sit around for a day or two and wait as there is so much of WA to see, and so much distance between there and here.

I was keen to see Fowler's Bay and we turned south off the highway to drive 30 or more kms of mostly dirt road, with some rough and corrugated patches, to this tiny village set on the waterfront.Along the way John lowered the car tyre pressure to make the journey more pleasant, and to help save the tyres. Fowler's Bay has a caravan park protected from the elements by a high ugly fence, a pub and general store and a few dwellings.

I would have liked to stay overnight but the wind was unpleasantly strong and John didn't see any point if he couldn't fish.The park was occupied by two vans but apparently is booked out over Easter (next weekend). We didn't bother walking out along the jetty, again because of the wind, and after taking a few photos we continued along the alternative connecting dirt road to meet the highway further to the west approximately 10 kms from the Nundroo Roadhouse. John topped up the diesel and returned the car tyres to road pressure there, and some 20kms further west we stopped in a highway rest area for lunch.

Where we are staying, the landscape appears very much like that in far western Qld, with low scrubby drought resistant vegetation and very sandy soil. There are crows and stinging flies around this camp but we haven't noticed many other signs of life. Although we are close to the highway, the noise of the trucks hasn't disturbed us too much and we slept reasonably well. Sometime late in the night a small sedan pulled in and has stayed, maybe happy to see another occupant. There has been light rain overnight too and the day has dawned cloudy and grey with a cool breeze. (This will turn into a strong head wind if we have our usual luck!)

I emailed and text messaged the kids from Ceduna as to our expected movements and will contact them when we next have any signal. It disappeared not so far back up the road and I expect that there may be service at one or two of the roadhouses between here and Norseman if we are fortunate.

Update 5pm on 6th.

Not long after leaving our camping place, the landscape flattened dramatically and we came to the Nullarbor Plain sign. We took the 12 km detour to the Head of Bight and paid a small donation ($5 per vehicle entry currently paid into an honesty box as the centre is unmanned out of whale watching season) to walk along the viewing platforms and marvel at the huge cliffs plunging into the wild ocean. This would be magnificent for viewing whales as they calve here then make their way along the coast to both the east and west.

I received a text message on my phone as we were driving in so took the opportunity of telling our children our whereabouts.

We stopped at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for diesel and I took pictures of a couple of dingoes wandering laconically around the place. Also saw a quite bizarre sight - a tiny plane being pulled up to the pump for refuelling. He parked it behind our van - definitely a photo opportunity!

This evening we are parked in the Nullarbor National Park a couple of hundred metres to the northern side of the highway along the road which leads to Koonalda. There are big piles of road materials here and late this afternoon someone brought a grader in and parked it. There are a couple of roadside rest areas nearby but we thought this had to be a bit quieter and more private. We are approximately 85 kms east of Border village and WA s will eat up any remaining fruit and vegetables before we arrive there in the morning. I would like to stop in Eucla and have a look around, also probably connect to the net check and send a couple of emails etc.. being a tragic person who cant live without such communication for long periods!!

The wind is howling and John thinks we should be driving as far west as possible as we have had a tail wind all day! His idea of heaven!!!
We took a walk up the road a km or so earlier, looking for Clay Dam cave marked on my map, and found many places which have been used as camp sites but not much else. The vegetation here is salt bush, bluebush and western myall which must survive under trying conditions.

8th April
We haven't yet reached the end of the Nullarbor but aren't too far away now - approximately half way along the '90 mile straight' at a roadside rest area overnighting. Only one other vehicle, a camper trailer some distance away, although we once again chose a place with no amenities. Much of this one looks like it has been used as a dump for car bodies, cans and big plastic containers but we found a flat place a bit off the road and it is fine.

Today we will get to Norseman or maybe beyond depending on what we find there. Our water tanks are showing full and two thirds so we have been very frugal the past 4 nights. Did have a very indulgent though brief hot shower last night! We have watched DVD's the last two nights as a change from reading and enjoyed episodes of 'Extras' and 'The Office' which we have been saving for parts of the trip without TV coverage.
Away from the coast the weather is not so windy and the night has been cooler - both welcome. John was very happy to have quite a strong tail wind all yesterday and we did under 17 litres per 100 kms - our best yet with the load on!

We stopped in a couple of the cliff viewing parks and then again after the border quarantine check in Eucla where I was able to send and receive many emails and catch up on news from family and friends. Took photos of signs and had a look around before continuing, stopping again when we needed diesel at a couple of roadhouses at Mundrabilla and Caiguna.
Maybe the landscape changes from here again however we don't find it is as we had imagined it to be. Were surprised to find a pass downhill at Eucla and then again up at Madura and also at the amount and variety of vegetation so far.

I bought a copy of 'Roads and Tracks Western Australia' from the EO shop before we left home and have pulled it out and made reference to it the past couple of days. It will be a great help to us as we travel around parts of this huge State.

10th April
Made a decision yesterday on the road to turn towards Kalgoorlie and try to get a site in one of the caravan parks for a week as we managed to get the Navara booked in for 55,000 km service early next Wednesday. After free camping the night before about 15 kms North of Norseman we found the stinging flies a real nuisance and couldn't enjoy any outdoor activities without drenching ourselves frequently in repellent. We have decided to use the park as a base and explore in different directions both in the town and the surrounds while here.

On arrival we managed to get a site but only because it was mid morning. It is certainly not our favourite way of seeing Oz however the advantages are that we can run the air con around mid day if its hot, have continual hot water on tap, laundry facilities... so I guess we can put up with the noise and close proximity of neighbours for a few days. We may even meet other travellers who are also here chiefly because of Easter and the dearth of camp sites available anywhere near the coast until mid next week.

We found the last stretch of road towards Norseman quite long and tedious even though the vegetation changed and the roadside was lined with forests of taller trees with very smooth trunks and limbs almost terracotta red in colour having shed bark recently. As yet we haven't discovered their type but no doubt all will soon be revealed. The road was straight but undulating and there were even hills (Frazer Range).

A few kms out of Norseman we spotted a rocky hill almost devoid of vegetation having been burnt recently, and decided we were stir crazy and had to climb it. We pulled up and parked the van conveniently in the rest area at the base and put on the boots, hats, took water, camera and phone and set off. It only took maybe 10 minutes to get to the summit as there was little vegetation underfoot and a very rocky surface. From the top there were almost 360 degree views over the salt lakes, mines and other landscape and we were very glad we had taken the time to do it.

We paused for photographs and a drink and started down, taking a different route. I'm not sure how it happened but I lost my footing and took a tumble, landing quite heavily on my face. I have skin off my chin and a bruised nose, bruises on various body parts and skin off but thankfully no broken bones and the camera and phone are both intact.

It took me some time to recover as I felt sick, then faint and partially lost vision. John was very concerned about me but I insisted I would be able to get to the van and we started down with him holding firmly on to me.
Once I stood and took a few steps my vision cleared and I started to feel better although had quite a headache!
We made it back to the van where I applied ice cubes to my nose, applied a band aid to the chin, took a couple of panadol, drank some water and rested for half an hour.
All is ok but it has been a reminder to take care as a broken bone could seriously curtail our travelling and activities! The kids told me to act my age when I told them.
The photos of the hill have been renamed 'Heather's Folly' - not sure whether the hill has a name.
We stopped in Norseman for a look around, bought very basic supply of fruit and veg, a current paper and loaf of bread and took the road north to find our camp for the night.

Yesterday after booking in here to the park and getting set up, we lunched and I did the laundry before setting out for a look around the town. We drove to the Superpit Lookout for the open cut mine just on the edge of the town and were gobsmacked by the sheer enormity of the operation. The huge trucks looked like tiny toys as they made their way up and down the cuts and it was noisy and dusty. I took photos but they cannot really show the scale and true size of it.

We also drove to the lookout at the reservoir which holds the water supply piped all the way from near Perth - some 550 kms away. Quite an amazing feat but very necessary for the towns survival.

Kalgoorlie's central business district has streets lined with beautiful heritage buildings, many of them pubs.

It is a bustling centre with excellent shopping and wide streets. We pulled up near the Tourist Information centre, picked up brochures and then went around the corner and bought a 12 month National Parks vehicle pass and other relevant information.

Today we visited the Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame and did an entertaining and informative underground mine tour which explained mining in the 20th century, then watched a 'gold' pour. Afterwards we wandered around the many outdoor exhibits then had a look through the main building which houses a mineral and other mining exhibits, and art gallery shop and cafe, spending much of the day there. It was well worth the money spent.

12th April.

Yesterday started with a 4 km walk around Karlkurla Parkland and views of Kalgoorlie-Boulder from the look out tower. We identified many of the trees and shrubs which we have been seeing now for the last few days and I know that the trees I was so impressed with near Norseman are Salmon gums. Their trunks and branches resemble suntanned smooth nude bodies and limbs and are beautiful. Other favourite shrubs for me are bluebush and saltbush with their jade green grey foliage against the terracotta red of the earth - just stunning! It was an enjoyable walk however warming up considerably by the rime we returned to the car around 10am.

Afterwards we stopped at Hammond Park and wandered around looking at the ducks in the water feature, the birds in aviary's and the miniature castle built from local stones.

The remainder of the day was spent in air conditioned comfort in the van - luxury for us as we have so rarely been able to use it, always having been unpowered when the days are hot.

This morning we took the drive north to Broad Arrow pub then Ora Banda and Rowles Lagoon Conservation Park, returning via Coolgardie.We were amazed at how little of the area has not been mined.
Many historic markers to stop at along the way, good dirt roads and signposting, and some water in the lagoon which looked red-pink. Is this because of the colour of the earth we wonder?

There were swans and ducks around the edges and we had a look around the camping ground before continuing. In cooler weather it would be a lovely tranquil place to stay, spotlessly clean composting toilet, cement fire pits, tables and chairs and partial shade.
Returned to the van and air con for a late lunch.

13th April (Easter Monday)

A walk down Burt St to the shops and return to start the day (after breakfast) and then we visited the Museum. It was a fascinating place with high quality exhibits, amongst them a very old truck, and a bicycle made chiefly from timber by one of the early gold prospectors. I also enjoyed wandering through the miner's cottage and related buildings, reading about the lives of early residents of Kalgoorlie but it was all worthwhile visiting. Many exhibits could have come straight from the old house my Dad was born in and lived in on our farm until the early '50's, when he had a new home built for us to move into. I found it quite nostalgic.

We had a couple of hours there and have spent the remainder of the day at the van with me baking a loaf of bread, a fruit cake and various other foods while we have plenty of water and power. I left the bread maker at home as I couldn't justify carrying it around for the occasional stay in a van park, however I have become quite proficient at hand kneading and my results are much like the machine loaves but with a better flavour we think. Today has been cooler than previously and more pleasant.

Had happy hour with two other couples staying in nearby sites tonight. I am more than ready to get out of here though - cant wait until we can be off exploring the National Parks and coastline. Tomorrow we are planning to pack lunch and drive to Victoria Rock, do any walks and climb it and have a look around surrounding areas so hoping the weather stays cooler.

14th April
We had a thunderstorm and rain overnight woke to large pools of water lying around the park.. Surely this cant be a common occurrence in such an arid climate!!
After breakfast we packed the lunch and a Thermos and took off towards Coolgardie and Victoria rock Nature Reserve, some 55kms South of there on good dirt road. Stopped along the way to view historic signage re a soak used by early explorers - amongst them Holland who the Holland track is named after - finding an alternative route through to Coolgardie. It was a picturesque drive through gimlet forest with many signs of mining both old and more recent along the way.
Victoria rock was visible some kms away - impressively rising above the tree tops like a red line of hills. We pulled into the picnic area (shaded with toilets and undercover picnic table) and took the easy walk to the summit.

There didn't appear to be any signposted route so we chose our own, side stepping puddles of water along the way. There were many small striped geckos streaking around the rocky surface like miniature dinosaurs.On reaching the summit there were almost 360 degree views over surrounding wooded country. We paused for me to take photos and place a small rock on top of the cairn before returning to the car park.

16th April

Devastating news this morning early. Johns nephew has been killed in a car accident only a few kms from home, and found only this morning. My mobile phone chose today of all days to play up, could not receive or make calls and the news arrived via text message. After stressing for an hour or so with it, I turned it off and then back on and it worked as normal! We contacted family in Coffs Harbour - by pay phone - and John managed to speak to his Mum. We are both very shocked and sad for the family. His mum had worried about this boy who had already been done for DUI and was 'off the rails' and we all hoped he would grow up and get through it like many of our own sons have done. He will never have the chance now. It is such a waste of precious life! Young men think they are invincible and theres only so much we as parents can do to protect them after they reach 18. His mum certainly did all she could for this boy. Only 5 weeks ago we were all together celebrating a wedding and I am so glad 3 of our four children managed to get to that as the cousins haven't seen one another very frequently as adults.
We are so far from home we dont think getting back to NSW is feasible at this point.

Leaving Kalgoorlie this morning, having had car attended to and done all the necessary chores yesterday. Heading for Esperance and the coast.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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