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.
Leaving Pt Hedland there was a short track back over the Great Norhern Highway, before picking up the the North West Coastal Highway, which runs all he way to Perth, but rarely goes near the coast I did however make one detour to the coast - to Dampier. I wanted to see what this area was like. Back in the early 70s my husband was toying with the idea of getting a job and relocating there. Can't say I was impressed. Seems there was nothing there. But in the 70s the workers lived there, now it is all fly in, fly out work. Any infrastructure which may have been there then, has long since gone. My main concern, and the reason he did not apply for the job was the access to education for the children. Never stopped to think that the access to water and power were greater issues. It must be the dryest/hottest part of this continent. These days all power comes from solar and wind. That part of the continent is pretty much off the grid.
The road was through this dry country which I had come to really enjoy. It's a beauty of its own. But rarely was there anywhere to stop. Only one roadhouse between Dampier and Nanutarra - where I stopped for the night. The Nanutarra Roadhouse was highup off the ground, with steep stairs and a very long ramp, which was not particularly mobility scooter friendly. Eventually, with the help of other guests, I made it to the shop. I had an icecream (which cost as much as a small meal) just to cool down. Then I had a milk shake, and finally I bought a snack. It was too hot to eat a full meal. As the sun was about to sink into the Indian Ocean, I settled down in a powered spot close to the toilet block. From memory it was $29, the most I'd paid to his point. Just like the shop, none of their facilities were 'accessible'.
By now I was beginning to appreciate the value of the small, cheap air cooler I had purchased in Kalgoorlie. It is a small cube, with a fan and a water well on a usb power connection, and whereas it does not cool the van, as such; with it blowing over me I slept soundly. I had seen it on the internet, and had received several emails featuring it. Wasn't looking for it, but found it in one of those junk shops, like the dollar shops.
Garmin and an unforgivable decision?
Each morning I would fuel up for the day. So this morning too, I pulled up to the bowser, but with the shop way way, up there, was not able to summon anyone to help fill my tank and take my cash. I waited for a long time, but did not see any other folk to help me, or get a message to the shop. Frustrated, and not a soul in sight, I picked up my Garmin to find how far the next fuel stop was. It showed five places between Nanutarra and Minilya Bridge Roadhouse, all of which were truckstops. I left without fuelling, knowing I did not have enough to get to Minilya Bridge. But comforted by the fact that it showed five truck stops between the two places. It was not untill I was past Burkett Road - almost to Winning - that it dawned on me that those who make these gadgets have not actually travelled to the places they program into them. Yanks think of a truck stop as something like Love's or FJ, when in fact the truck stops they had programmed into the fuel section of the Garmin were mere roadside clearings for trucks to stop.
Now what? I did not have enough to get back or get to Minilya Bridge.
At this point I turned around and decided to take Burkett Road to Exmouth Road. All along Burket Road I implored St Christopher to see me safely through this dilemna. It was less than 10 metres from the Exmouth Road, that I came to a sudden stop. I could not have stopped in a better place. [Thank You St Christopher!] A large intersection with traffic coming by. There was no need to panic, I knew I was safe. Less than 30 seconds and a car came from Exmouth into Burkett Road. It was a family from Paraburdoo who had been shopping in Exmouth. While they were explaining that they were unable to help me, another car pulling a Caravan pulled up behind me. There were two senior ladies in the car, and they were from Melbourne. I said to them, "I know where you are going, and that's where I want to go too." Hearing my needs, they said they would happily take me to Exmouth, and bring me back, if I could compensate them for the fuel. I was only too happy to do that.
I locked the van, and left it right where it was, just off the ashphalt of this two lane road. Half way to Exmouth my telephone rang. It was an unknown number. Now I don't normally answer unknown numbers, but something made me answer it. After establishing who it was and what they wanted, I told them my story. It happened that one of the members of the original group came up from Minilya Bridge on the Exmouth Road, and saw my van parked by the intersection. She went up and looked, saw my scooter in the van and knowing that I would not have walked far, went searching through the shrub for me. When she could not find me - and I had not left a note to say where I was - she called the Exmouth police. We continued to Exmouth, where my friends were going to drop the caravan before taking me back to my van. The owners of the caravan park told us that they keep large jerrycans full of unleaded and diesel, just for this sort of occasion. The only condition was that you had to return it full.
On arriving back at my van, I was staggered to see my friend from the original group still there. Driving a diesel vehicle herself, she wanted to make sure that I would be OK. You can't just fill it and start driving. It's a bit more complicaed than that, and she had all the tools and know how.
She must have waited there for more than an hour. It was hard to know how to thank her. It is in the spirit of Rolling Solo.
Wow. You were so lucky Lifey. Very happy you were. We like reading your adventures. But they dont have to be so nerve wracking. Need to read more in the future. :)
Whew! I agree with Keith, you were in a tough situation and you came through it! I guess I wasn't aware that your home travel vehicle is a diesel. You're right, you don't just turn over the engine and go with a diesel. There are things you have to do -- my husband knows, I don't, shame on me -- before taking off. Thank goodness you were with someone who knew what to do!
Looking forward to your next segment. With many of us in home isolation (or close to it), these trip reports keep us going!