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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default 2019 - 45 days - Melbourne to Port Hedland and back.

    It was what I needed. 2019 did not start well for me. With the threat of legal action hanging over my head, and not knowing the implications, I was stressed to the hilt! Stressed out to the extend that every thing going around came my way. No sooner had I recovered from one bug, the next one came along. Until, more than half way through the year everything was settled with the help of some wonderful people.

    Meanwhile I had seen a TV program which included news about an organisation of women who travel (by road) alone. The idea was to get a small group together whenever one wanted to travel to a location in this vast land. Some own full size motor homes, some have campervans or caravans and many carry tents. All camp and all do not have anyone with whom to share their adventures. Not all are single. Many have husbands/boyfriends/partners/etc. who do not like camping.

    My first trip with them was to eastern Victoria to go see the silos. A little over 200 km from home and a campground which, although it is called a bush camp had more facilities than I have seen at many a campground. Between 12 and 20 attended over the five days, some coming or going at different times. It was a great trip and even though it is not all that far from where I grew up, there have been a lot of changes. As well, there was much I had never seen. A great success! highlighted by the fact that the campground charged just 7.50 per night. We were treated to scones with jam and cream on the first morning, and had pizza cooked for us in the onsite pizza oven - for $10 each.

    On top of that we had wonderful weather with only an odd shower of rain..... which the farmers badly needed. Right on the banks of the Broken Creek, it is a place I am planning to go stay for a while when I just want to get away from it all.

    My main reason for going on this short trip was to see how the idea of travelling with others worked. Wanted to see if it was for me. There was a bigger trip coming up and I planned to join some folk for that. I learned a lot, and made some adjustments to my van. Eliminating what did not work and adding what was lacking. Planned to make my 7 weeks or thereqabouts, as comfortable as possible.

    And so it was just four days after getting home, that we - I had hooked up with three others - were ready to hit the road, planning on getting to Exmouth W.A. in 17 days, stopping at the main towns along the way, especially where our visit co-incided with a festival or other festivity.

    Lifey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    220

    Default

    Hi Lifey.
    Looking forward to the next chapter. hope you are well.

    Keith

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default

    Sorry Keith, I was hoping 2020 would be a little better than 2019. But alas, it has not been. Still I refuse to give up. The weather and the smoke have not helped. Am only too conscious of not posting more.... hope to soon.; It is at the forefront of my mind. On top of that I had car problems in Bendigo and was stuck there for days. It seems to all come at once. But I will get back to it, once I clear my slate here.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,920

    Default

    Deal with life first, Lifey. We'll be here when Australia gets back to 'normal'. Meanwhile, all the best to you and every Aussie.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default The first two days.

    So it was on the 1st October I set out to meet up with three other ladies in Beaufort, approx 150 kms west of Melbourne. None of us had met before. One other lady was retired and lives in her medium size motor home full time. She pulls a small trailer which was like a garage.... with tools and things not needed everyday, as well as exra fuel. If a fuse went, she had it. If something broke, she knew and had the tools to fix it. A real gem! The other two ladies were somewhat younger and both were in full time employment. One had a Hilux with a lift up roof and professionally fitted out. The other had a brand new medium sized motor home.

    And then there was I...... in my VW transporter.

    We discussed the route as laid out, and the stops along the way. It was clear right from the start the different modes of travel among this small group. There was the early bird, who was on the road soon after daylight, and drove straight to the next destination. There were two of us who were more focused on the actual trip, rather than the destination, and stopped at attractions along the way, even though we differed at which to stop. And then there was the one with two small dogs, whose schedule differed again.

    We decided to meet up every evening at a mutually agreed campground, roadhouse or free camping spot. We shared contacts, though coverage could not be guaranteed along the way.

    My planning for the trip was far less than ideal. By the time I had reached Beaufort, there were ten items on the list of forgotten things.... including my Epirb, which I perceived to be my most important item.

    On 2nd October we travelled to Keith in South Australia. By now I was suspecting that my aircon was not working. I had before departing taken the vehicle in for the aircon to be fixed. I was not happy, considering we were heading into north western West Australia, where Marble Bar is. The hottest place on the continent.

    The next two days were much cooler, as we drove first to Snowtown and then onto Kimba.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default On to Ceduna.

    Whereas the others followed the suggested route to Snowtown along the highway and through Adelaide, I chose to take a route through the Adelaide Hills, and Murray Bridge. a lovely town. I just allowed myself to wander through the hills, through small settlements. It is such a lovely area of South Australia. The Adelaide Hills in this area are covered with lush vegetation. At times I felt like I was driving under a green canopy. Unfortunately, much of this area has since also fallen victim to the fire storms.

    Snowtown was my contribution to places of choice to stay, not because the accommodation was superior.... it wasn't, but because I have always been intrigued by the bodies in the barrels, in the bank vault. I followed the case closely two decades ago, and wanted to see the bank vault. After a restless night right by a railway line, we chose to get out of the place early, and never got near the bank building in this tiny town. We followed the rolling hills, which on the western side are mainly grain crops and pastures. At Port Augusta we picked up the Eyre Highway - A1, which would take us all the way west. Before we arrived at Kimba, I heard on the radio that the road out of Snowtown was closed, due to a firey crash in which a truck driver died.

    At Kimba we learned that we were now half way across Ausralia. If we had started on the east coast, rather than the south coast, this may have been true, but for us it was barely 25% of the way. None-the-less, we looked around at the BIG Galah, the local gemstone store and the painted silos. The best thing about this trip so far; and why I chose to go with this group, is that the distance travelled each day amounted to only a few hours (on the highway without sightseeing), so lots of time to detour to see a given attraction, or do some shopping in the towns where we stayed.

    Next was the south/central South Australian town of Ceduna - the official start of the Nullabor Highway.

    We arrived on Sat afernoon, and had planned to stay for two nights. It happened to be that this was a long weekend in Ceduna for their Oyster Festival. The town was full of tourists, and of course all businesses were closed all weekend, and Monday. Now normally that would not have worried me. There were places to eat, which are always open, and lots to do and see. But.....................

    and it was a BIG BUT, it was in the 40s Celsius on that Saturday, and my aircon was definitely not working. It was in the 60s in my van. I had a wet towel around my neck. Despite all that I almost collapsed when I arrived. A few hours later I was well again, and started to see what I could do about the aircon. That is when I found out that it was a long holiday weekend, Nothing would be open till Tuesday morning. It was a delimna!

    Fortunately it cooled down somewhat over the next few days.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,515

    Default Enjoying your story.

    I like the concept of a solo traveller travelling with the security of a group, yet remaining independant on the days events. Not quite so keen on 'Bodies in a barrel' though !! I'm not surprised you almost collapsed, that was hot !!!

    Dave.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default Across the Nullarbor.

    Not long after leaving Ceduna and heading west, there was a sign signifying the start of the Nullarbor NP. It is only when I stopped to read the sign that it dawned on me..... Null = nill; arbor = trees. This is a huge plain devoid of trees. For as far as one could see there was not a tree in sight. Shrubbery dominated the landscape, with now and then just plain sand/dirt. I have to admit I was awe-struck. In places it was possible to see the ocean, and the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight.. To think from here to Antarctica there is nothing, other than the Southern Ocean. There was a turn-off to a whale watching area, but I chose not to go there. Thinking I could always stop there on the way back. Little was I to know that by then the whale watching season would be well and truly over.

    Almost 300km from Ceduna is the Nullabor Roadhouse on the northern side of the road. Soon after that there was a parking area on the southern side. I was ready for a break, and pulled in. Right there where I turned was an Emu, not at all perturbed by my pressence. In this parking area there happened to be a large area covered by corrigated iron. I pulled into its shade, parked and dropped onto my bed. Two hours later I awoke, refreshed and continued on my way.

    Our stop for that night was at Border Village, right on the West Australian border. There was a roadhouse with a caravan park behind it, with electricity, but no other hookups. Inside the roadhouse there was a truckers type restaurant, with a good selection of food - at a price we were going to have to get used to. There were requests to use water and electricity sparingly, as they desalinated their own water and generated their own electricity. We all fueled up, as we did most evenings - 2 of us using diesel and the other two unleaded There was a huge kangaroo in front of the roadhouse.

    To cross the border we had to give up all fresh fruit and vegies, (as well as any other plant material) and honey. (I had just bought a 1kg bucket of my favourite honey, and now I had to give it to the inspectors at the border.) This may not sound as such a big deal, after all many places have bio border checks. However, heading west on the Nullarbor we were now three days drive from the nearest supermarket, maybe two days drive if you planted the foot. I felt for the families with children, who now did not have the essentials to make a decent meal. After all most of the vehicles travelling this highway are caravans, campervans and motorhomes.

    And roadtrains!

    Not easy to plant the foot when stuck behind a roadtrain with a speed limiter, on a two lane highway.

    None-the-less, I found the experience driving the Nullabor one I find difficult to describe. Maybe exhilarating! It is a busy road, but even the least travelled road in the U.S. would see more traffic. It was a busy road for what I expected and am used to. All along the highway there are pull-offs to park. These areas are not paved, do not have any facilities, other than space to park your vehicle. Typically they can accommodate two roadtrains and may be a car or two. Some were signposted that it was permissible to stay for 24 hours. They are called Truck Parking Areas or Truckstops. [ I was to find out later how misleading this can be when written by those who have never travelled there.]

    Such a different world than the one I am used to on the road.


    About 8km after crossing into Western Australia is the small town of Eucla. It looked like it maybe the place where the staff from the roadhouse live, This decades old town just off the highway replaces the old town which was on the coast. I did see the road to the old telegraph station in old Eucla, but, dared not drive down there. Without phone covcerage, this dirt road would see me stuck if I had car problems. No one would know where I was. It is not visible from the highway. I was accutely aware that I had forgotten my Epirb. Back in the 50s and 60s there would be news bulletins of people perishing in the outback. On the way to Eucla was one place where this would happen. Of course this was decades before the Nullarbor was paved.

    I had taken the precaution to go into my service provider for my phone; told them where I was going and asked about coverage. I was told there should not be a problem, you'll be covered *just about the whole way*. In reality we were without coverage from Ceduna to Norseman - some four days.

    Another interesting fact at the SA/WA border is that there is no concensus as to what the time is. This appears to be a historical relic from the days when it was extremely rare to travel through this area - maybe even to the days of the cameliers. On the SA side of the border they do not go by Adelaide time (as does the rest of SA), and on the WA side of the border they take Perth time plus an hour, an hour and a half, or whatever. Depends on with whom you speak. SA side, seems to pick up from WA whatever appeals to any individual. Makes watching TV difficult.

    Our next evening we stopped at Calguna. Weather was warming up again, and I could not wait to get to Norseman - the first big town - to see what I could do about my aircon. We made good use of the roadhouses along the way, and at Calguna we once again stopped in their caravan park. Each of these evenings cost us around $20-$30 including electricity. They are however mostly geared towards the completely self contained vehicles.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 02-06-2020 at 06:03 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default 90 mile straight road and spacecraft debris.

    One of the highlights of the Nullabor Highway is the 90 mile stretch of STRAIGHT road. Not a kink, not a bend, just straight road. And yes, it remained as the 90 mile stretch even after the whole country changed to kilometres.

    We left Calguna, knowing we would all be travelling on this one straight road. There is no other. Come to think of it, this section would be great for self drive cars - no turns, no intersections and everyone travels at the same speed. Destination was Belladonia, which a couple of the others had researched, but about which I did not know anything. Turned out to be a great choice, as this is the one spot on the planet, where a spacecraft landed after hurtling back to earth, back in the 70s. I had never heard of this, and absorbed all the information boards which are there at the Roadhouse. This place too, existed of a roadhouse, caravan park behind it and fuel out the front. There were some bungalows which I assumed were the living quarters of the staff. Nothing else! Most of these places had food which was quite OK, at prices to which we were becoming accustomed. I was going to have to find an ATM.

    Next day we drove to Norseman. It was getting warmer. At last I would again have phone coverage. Having done my research, I wanted to call a place to look at my aircon. The bulk of information came from Kalgoorlie. so I by-passed Norseman and headed straight for Kalgoorlie, where we were due to stay for two nights. This was the biggest town we came through along the way.

    As soon as I was able, I rang the aircon specialists in Kalgoorlie. Dennis told me to bring it in on my arrival in Kalgoorlie, and he would look into it. Wednesday afternoon. I arrived at Natrad, which is a national firm of aircon specialists. There and then he said he found a couple of small leaks, and fixed them, and gassed it up with dye. Asked me to stay in town the next day, and drive it as I normally would and come back Friday morning.

    It worked all day Thursday, and the weather was pretty hot by now. Friday morning I got the van back to Dennis. It was an hour or more when he came back to me with a section of the piping - which he replaced - through which the gas goes, and showed me where there were four more leaks, too tiny to be seen by the naked eye, but his equipment found them. Today, four and a half months later, the aircon is working like a charm, for the first time since I bought the VW.

    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,427

    Default

    Pieces of aircraft in the 70s could possibly have been the US Skylab, an early space station. The computers failed and other things went wrong. With no one going up there to maintain it, it simply fell apart ... right over Australia. The town of Esperance fined NASA $400 for littering, which has yet to be paid.


    Donna

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