Enjoying your description of the roads and geography of this trip.
As a result of all of the above, I spent quite some time in the city itself. Although it is a city, it is not quite busy enough to have parking meters. And only a few traffic lights. The large supermarket has all its parking under shadecloth. Seemed like acres of it, and it was much appreciated. It was great to see some places which were familiar to me, and I had a chance to explore many new ones. Lots of great places to eat, as well as phone and internet (not wifi) coverage throughout. It is a place where I could spend more time.
So far this trip I had taken few photos, but the beautiful old historic buildings built in Kalgoorlie during and after the goldrush enticed me to get out the camera. There is one intersection - one of the few with traffic lights - where there is a magnificent hotel on each of the corners. The Market, another magnificent building, was unfortunately not open. The weather was such that I felt the need for a wide brimmed hat. There was no shortage of places which sold these, from the most elaborate to the Akubra and plain fabric ones.
When you are in Kalgoorlie you become acutely aware that this is in the desert, (a bit like Barstow) and that you are a long way from the nearest town - especially to the north. Some folk who live remotely drive a day or more to come do their shopping, others fly. After I got my van back, and all fixed, I stayed another night in Kalgoorlie, and left on Saturday morning along the Goldfields Highway to Leinster. Briefly stopping in the tiny settlement of Menzies - to have an ice-cream, at the pub!
The others had all headed for the coast, north of Perth, and one detoured quite a way to pick up a friend. My plan was to drive the coast road on the way home. And now that we had crossed the Nullarbor, and were back to always being a few hours drive from *somewhere*, we all felt the confidence to continue on our own. We still kept in contact and let each other know where we were, but we no longer bothered about the same accommodation each night.
Leinster is a small town in the middle of the goldfields. It appeared to be mostly owned by BHP. Very few private houses, all the others were free standing homes, but all the same, all prefab and all had a BHP vehicle parked in the drive. The caravan park, which is owned by the town had to be paid for in the supermarket. $20 with power and facilities. If you wanted to use the laundry you had to get the key from the supermarket, during busines hours. The facilities were clean and seemed to be meticulously maintained. From my observation the other residents that night were all BHP mine workers.
p.s. I will post some photos later.
I'm enjoying the report Lifey and look forward to the photos. I've been 'tagging along' using Google maps to track your progress and have a look around.p.s. I will post some photos later.
When I left Leinster, my plan had been to go up to Wiluna and cut across to the Great Northern Highway at Meekatharra. But when I saw that the extension of the Goldfields Highway was only partially paved, and conscious of the fact that I did not have my Epirb, I took the road to Mount Magnet, which was fully paved.
Mount Magnet is a lovely old desert town with some great old traditional outback homes. I drove around the town for a bit, but there was nothing doing. Not even a place to get something to eat/drink, or any fuel. But then, this was a Sunday. Just north of the town, a couple of kms was the Swagman Roadhouse. The very best I came across. The gentlemem running it were wonderful. I parked my van under the shadecloth and went in to sit down for a nice meal, while they filled my van for me. On the Great Northern Highway, I once again had phone coverage, which made me feel a bit more secure.
It was before 5pm when I arrived in Newman, and sought out the caravan park. Having booked in, I set off to have dinner. Did not spend much time in Newman, just a quick drive through next morning, and back on the Great Northern Highway to Port Hedland. I knew I was in for a full day's drive. It was going to be one of the longest stretches in one day, and I was also aware that this section of the Great Northern Highway was a particularly *busy* section, with all the roadtrains going from the mines to the port, and back.
Roadtrains have a speed limit of less than 100kmh in W.A. Either their drivers are extremely well disciplined, or all the trucks had speed limiters, as none drove any faster. Not that I minded, I was happy to just go along, now and then overtaking a roadtrain, on this narrow two lane highway. But it was around the middle of the day that I caught up with a convoy of Police car with flashing lights, pilot car, oversize load, pilot car, oversize load and another pilot car with flashing lights. Each truck had the same load, only different colour. I was never able to work out what it really was. All I see was that the loads were wider than the ashphalt on the road. The leading police car had told all the oncoming traffic to get off the road. So we passed all these vehicles, roadtrains, motorhomes, caravans and private vehicles, all parked off the road, waiting for the loads to pass.
When we got to a small section where the highway was twice as wide as the rest, the pilot car in front of me gave the signal to overtake. By that time there must have been a dozen or more vehicles behind me, as we had been following this slow moving load for well over an hour. Never did get a photo of it.
The sun was low over the Indian ocean as I arrived in Port Hedland. An interesting town (city?) built along an inlet, with the business part and shops at the port end of the inlet, and the residential (and caravan park) at the other end a few kms away. Booked myself in for two nights so that I could spend some time looking around the place. It's not as if you can go back next week to have another look. Great places to eat and shop, and some which were familiar to me, gives a bit of feeling of home.
Before leaving Port Hedland for Exmouth - I toyed with the idea of visiting Tom Price (the richest iron deposits on the continent); Marble Bar (the hottest place on the continent) and Paraburdoo (where it is always 42C.). But alas, all of them would have meant driving long distances on unpaved roads. [If there is a next time, they will definitely be on the agenda.]
Up until this time the only wildlife I had seen was the emu on the Nullarbor, and a few cows (hardly wildlife!)
Heard on the radio yesterday, that only 20 fires are still burning. All are under control.
Im enjoying reading your adventures on this trip. Brings back memories of when i was still driving interstate. Used to do the odd trip across there. Used to leave Brisbane on Friday evening and unload in Perth on Monday morning early. Only stopped for fuel and food and grabbed an hour or two here or there. 52 hours driving time approx. Going across the Nullarbor was boring but interesting at times. Wild life, especially at night. Kangaroo's and Wombats at night. Wombats were in someways worse than roo's. Bull bars used to take care of the Roo's but Wombats could go under the bull bar and there solid round body could take the fuel lines out that went from the two tanks on one side to the other two. 2000 litres of fuel we carried when full. I was lucky enough not to have that happen. Do they still have lines painted across the road out on the plains every now and then. They were for the Police to get you for speeding with a plane. They would time the vehicle between the lines and radio ahead. No i didnt get caught but i learned to have mirrors on good angles so i could keep an eye on the sky behind me. As you said the heat out there can be unbearable. One trip coming back from the west it was so hot, birds were falling out of the sky. No lie. I had never seen it happen before. My air con packed up and i tried the windows down but it was better with them up. Only went from Roadhouse to Roadhouse at a reduced speed and then stopped to let the tyres cool down. Would get a milkshake container full of ice and get it filled with soft drink. Finally made it into Port Auguster at midnight and it was still 40c. Looking forward to the rest of your trip. Love reading your adventures Lifey.