1
8 Palisade Way

We’ve been preparing for this trip for a few months and after the appropriate preparation, we plan to leave home on Sunday 12 May 2019.

We completed a 3 month trip to the Northern Territory and northern Queensland last year during which we visited Kakadu National Park, travelled beneath the Gulf of Carpentaria through to Cooktown and then drove back home again. We clocked up just over 11,500 kilometres.

This current trip has required a little more thought as our itinerary is likely to cover over 14,000 kilometres and will include crossing the Great Central Road between Yulara in the Northern Territory and Laverton in Western Australia - almost 1,200 kilometres of unsealed road.

Logistics play an important part in planning and execution, so what follows are a few facts and figures (this detail is similar to that found in the ‘Travelling North’ journal):

1. Our Toyota Landcruiser 100, powered by a 4.2 litre turbo-diesel, is the vehicle which will tow the caravan. We’ve had the vehicle since 2002 and it’s clocked up just over 355,000km to date. It’s been fitted with long-range fuel tanks (total capacity 270 litres), Lovell suspension, improved muffler, an engine smart chip and additional radiator cooling. We’ve also fitted a Cel-Fi repeater to boost 3G and 4G mobile telephone reception. Although the 100 Series is a solid vehicle, and some would say a superior vehicle in many ways to its successor the 200 Series, its one major drawback is its relatively low GVM (gross vehicle mass) which dictates how much can be carried on board, bearing in mind that this includes the towball weight (which is the weight that bears down on the tow ball once the caravan is hooked on. In our case this is almost 300kg, which means that we’re unable to take full advantage of our long range fuel tanks.

2. Our caravan is a Zone RV 20.6 Off-Road van. Zone RV have been manufacturing caravans (in Coolum Beach, Queensland) for only a couple of years and we bought ours after selling the farm 18 months or so ago. Ours is number 48, whilst they’re presently up to about number 270. The van is a true off-road van and features a closed cell composite body of monocoque construction. This offers rigidity, lightness and a dust-free interior. It has Cruisemaster ASX suspension, airbags to adjust both ride and provision of a level camp base, a lithium battery supported by roof-mounted solar panels, grey water and water tanks, an ensuite which includes a shower, toilet and (very small) washing machine, TV with a roof-mounted satellite dish and a few other ‘goodies’ which make it one of the most comfortable ways of travelling the bush.

3. Our original plan for this trip was to travel anti-clockwise from home to Alice Springs, travelling almost due west across the Great Victoria Desert to the Western Australian coast, down to Perth and then home via the coast. However, we became aware that the number of visitors to Ayers Rock (I refuse to call it Uluru and risk being called out by the ‘thought police’) during the middle of the year would make it almost impossible to find any accommodation - even caravan accommodation - and therefore decided we should reverse the itinerary and travel clockwise instead. So our planned itinerary, after attending the Music in the Mulga country music festival near Eulo in Queensland, will take us across the Strezelecki Track, Flinders Ranges, down through Port Lincoln and then along the coast to link up with the Eyre Highway into Western Australia. We’ll visit Esperance and travel to Perth via the Great Southern. Once there, we’ll leave the caravan, \240fly back home for five weeks, attend to all manner of ‘things’ and then return to Perth. From there, the plan will be to drive across to Laverton, link up with the Great Central Road to Ayers Rock and find our way home from there. But that’s just a plan!

4. Logistics represent an important part of our planning:

As we’re restricted to a finite fuel capacity, we’ll refuel as often as possible but we’ll carry reserve fuel in the form of jerrycans on the caravan drawbar.

Similarly, water is an issue, as we don’t want to be carrying water unnecessarily and expending more fuel in towing it around - so we’ll have to be careful in using this precious resource.

Fortunately, power to the van is less of an issue as we have solar power, nevertheless, in the event of excessive cloud cover, we have a generator on board as back-up.

Punctured tyres are always a possibility, but we hope that the three spare wheels we carry (the vehicle and the van have the same wheels) will be sufficient.

Health and safety are, of course, paramount. Apart from the obvious First Aid and Snake Bite Kits, we will be carrying a Garmin InReach SE satellite communicator. This would allow us to communicate, via satellite, emergency support resources, should we find ourselves in strife somewhere out of normal telephone range. However, the plan we have only allows us to use this for emergencies so we won’t be using it for routine communications.

5. We hope to post via this link regularly but this may not happen for a variety of reasons including lack of communications, insufficient time, nothing to report or laziness! The journal is designed to \240plot our progress on a map. Both of us plan to contribute to the Journal...

6. Some of our trip will take us through country that is not readily identified on a map and so we’ll refer to places using ‘What 3 Words’. This is a fairly recent addition to mapping technology and can be found at the following web address: www.what3words.com. In this way, we’ll be able to identify our position within an area of 3 metres x 3 metres, simply by using a three word address. Free apps (both Apple and Google) are readily available.

If you’d like make contact with us whilst we’re away, Ann’s email address is: frosty1803@bigpond.com and David’s is: gwerna@bigpond.com

We trust you enjoy following us on our journey.

The morning of departure.....

All packed up and ready to go.

2
Bonshaw Weir

Extraordinarily, we were pretty well organised prior to leaving this morning, although our planned 09:00 start didn’t eventuate until 10:00.

Furthermore, we were just about to drive past Sharpes Beach (perhaps 3 km from home) when we reminded ourselves that it was almost time for our daily coffee fix, so we pulled up beside the coffee van just in time.

Then it was really off for our big trip.

Our itinerary took us through Lismore and Casino, up the Great Dividing Range and past several kilometres of bush that had been burnt out earlier in the year and already showing signs of strong recovery (tell that to the Greens who would prefer not to recognise the advantages of regular controlled burns), through to the rolling pastures of Tenterfield. The evidence of overnight frosts would have brought despair to many graziers. Beyond Tenterfield, where we were told that the overnight temperature had been -4°C, we drove through the Dumaresq Valley to Bonshaw Weir. The valley sits in a flood plain and so is exceptionally fertile. We passed several kilometres of citrus orchards and then vast swathes of cotton fields.

Bonshaw Weir is located a few kilometres north of the small town and offers free camping (no facilities) for travellers. An ideal spot for us.

A short day to start our trip.

Total km today: 294

what3words: decency.misfits.rusts

3
Wallam Creek, free camp

We were away by 7:45 this morning after a coolish night.

An uneventful day’s driving which took us through Goondiwindi and St George (where we stopped for lunch beside the Balone River). The roads, although sealed, were fairly ordinary and \240characterised by poor foundations resulting in a \240very bumpy ride.

After arriving at the free camp at Bollon, we were greeted by about 40 other caravans, however, we found a spot beside the river. Shortly after our arrival, some friends also arrived. We had first met them at the previous music festival we attended and then twice during our trip last year in Queensland. Just in time for a cuppa, followed by ‘happy hour’.

No photos today.

Total km today: 441

Total cumulative km: 735

what3words: tonality.bronzed.stat

4
Wandilla Station

An early start to the day. We drove out of Bollon at 7:45.

Cunnamulla was 160 km to the west, with no towns or communities along the way. Of course, there were many farming operations with their associated homesteads to be seen, but nothing to tie them all together other than the road itself.

Farming was a mixture of cropping and stock management, with the latter representing the major activity. The drought has created a huge problem for everyone, with most of what remained of any vegetation being almost entirely eaten out. However, the locals reported that recent rains had offered some hope for better times ahead, but it was going to take a long time for everything to come back again. Having almost entirely de-stocked their properties, getting back to ‘normal’ will take a long time. A recent newspaper report stated that Australia will need to import grain this year - the last time was 10 years ago.

We visited Cunnamulla two years ago when the town looked relatively prosperous, but the drought has clearly hit the town badly as evidenced by closed shops, shorter opening hours and a general feeling of despair - except when we visited the town’s supermarket and the hive of activity created by the recent arrival of the weekly supply truck.

We met up with our friends again and, after a morning cup of coffee, agreed to rendezvous at the Eulo water tank at midday where we would connect with another couple. Eulo was a short 69 km to the west.

Wandilla Station, where were to stay for the next several days, was 17 km south of Eulo and mainly on a dirt road. We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up camp and settling in.

Later in the day, three more caravans arrived, making our posse a total of 9 vans and 18 people. After the new arrivals had settled in, the wood fire was lit and drinks and nibbles were produced.

Total km today: 269

Total cumulative km: 1,004

what3words: collage.juicing.dockside

5
Wandilla Station

The plan this morning was for the group to drive a few kilometres north west of the station, place some pots in the Paroo river and, whilst we had morning tea, hope that a few yabbies would take the bait.

The plan was just a plan! Morning tea was most enjoyable as most of the women had produced scones, cream and jam, cake, pikelets and tea and coffee. However, we learnt that one of the stationhands had dropped a number of pots in the river several days previously and, today, had found only one yabbie. So we decided not to waste our time. There was a dual purpose in netting yabbies. The first was to contribute to a planned 36 which were to be used in a yabbie racing competition during the weekend - the idea being that a group of people would buy a yabbie and then everyone would place bets on a number of races, culminating in a grand final, the winner of which would win a cash prize. All proceeds from the festival, including the yabbie competition, would go to a nominated charity. The second reason for \240stating yabbies was that one of the women in our group makes delicious yabbie laksa and it was hoped that we’d all catch enough to produce a meal for the group. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

During the afternoon, the women prepared a meal for everyone, based on both the beef and chicken being pot-roasted. A suitable fire was lit and the meat allowed to cook for almost two hours. One of the couples had brought an enclosed gazebo with them and, in order to avoid all the flying insects, we all fitted inside this and enjoyed the meal which included three bread and butter puddings, all washed down with the wine or beer of choice. After clearing up, another in the group began to play his guitar and sing country and western songs for us around the fire. An enjoyable evening.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 1,004

what3words: collage.juicing.dockside

6
Wandilla Station

For most, the morning and early afternoon was devoted to administration and logistics, interspersed with suitable breaks for morning coffee and lunch.

Also during this time, the last of the caravans arrived.

An early dinner was eaten, as the festival began shortly after 6:00 pm.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 1,004

what3words: collage.juicing.dockside

7
Wandilla Station

We discovered this morning that the caravan’s hot water system wasn’t working which necessitated using the kettle to boil water for washing. Much of the morning was spent reading through the user manual and, subsequently, ringing the caravan manufacturer for support. Short story - still no hot water, so we’ll need to make do until after the weekend.

More music this afternoon, followed by the auction to purchase yabbies for the ‘Wandilla Cup’ and all the heats leading up to it. This year, because of the shortage of yabbies, only 18 were caught (rather than 36 in previous years) and offered for auction. The races were to take place on Sunday. All up, the auction raised just short of $4,000 in support of the charity nominated by the organisers. This year all proceeds were to be donated to a local farmer and his family - he had very recently lost both legs in a farming accident.

In the evening there was more music from a number of performers, followed by bush dancing.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 1,004

what3words: collage.juicing.dockside

8
Wandilla Station

Today was the day when the festival got into full swing.

The first performance was at 11:30 in the morning and continued, almost non-stop, until 11:00 at night.

The outstanding performers, at least in our eyes, were Anthony Taylor: a talented guitarist and vocalist and Adam Harvey. Becky Cole - perhaps regarded as the ‘star’ performer - didn’t come up to scratch and was certainly far less appealing than when we saw her at the festival a couple of years ago.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 1,004

what3words: collage.juicing.dockside

9
Wandilla Station

The people have spoken!

An extraordinary win by the Coalition, especially given the confidence (and cockiness) of the Labor Party in anticipating an overwhelming win.

No doubt the majority of Australians were wary of the big spending and uncosted policies of the Labor Party, together with a number of social policies which would have had the result of dividing Australians into the future.

The morning started with some impromptu performances by many of the performers, some of them noticeably hungover from the previous night. Nevertheless, in the opinion of many, they produced far better and certainly more relaxed shows than the main concert. It was a great morning’s entertainment.

The afternoon was all about the Fashion Parade, followed by the ‘Wandilla Cup’ - the yabbie races. Again, wonderful entertainment as the photos will attest.

The final evening was spent around the campfire, enjoying a meal in the gazebo and then returning to the campfire for more stories, listening to music conjured up by someone with a guitar and, of course, toasting ScoMo for his election win.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 1,004

what3words: collage.juicing.dockside

10
Explorers Caravan Park

Camp was struck in the morning and we all farewelled each other and went our separate ways.

We set off for Thargomindah, to the west, and were able to access the Internet again after a few days of (almost) communication blackout.

Total km today: 146

Total cumulative km: 1,150

what3words: impractical.inhales.posse

Lake Bindegolly (lunch stop)

Lake Bindegolly (lunch stop)

11
Explorers Caravan Park

What a great day!

That is, only after I’d spent 1 hour, 15 minutes on the phone to Telstra to have them make a minor alteration to our mobile account - which they failed to accomplish (expletive deleted).

Thargomindah is in the Bulloo Shire. The Bulloo Shire is the 3rd largest shire in Queensland and has a total population of about 400 souls. Thargomindah is the administrative centre of the shire and has a population of about 100. The town’s main claim to fame is that it is the 3rd town in the world (after London and Paris) to produce hydro electric power for street lighting - by using water pressure from the Artesian Basin.

We decided to take a tour, provided by the local visitor information centre, of the town and visited Leahy House (1885), the old gaol, the Hydro Power plant (1891) and the (old) Hospital (1888).

As interesting as the tour was, what was extraordinary about Thargomindah was the recent development of the town by the shire. An enormous effort has been placed (ongoing) on improving facilities, tourist attractions and generally maintaining the town. For those travelling in far south west Queensland, the town is well worth a visit.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 1,150

what3words: impractical.inhales.posse

Leahy House

The old gaol

The Hydro Electric plant

The Hydro Electric plant

The Hydro Electric plant

The Hydro Electric plant

Meat house at the old hospital

Mortician’s slab (stored in the Meat House!)

The old hospital (note the original corrugated iron roof sheets which were half-sized to allow them to be carried by pack horses). The bricks were made from local mud and the walls are four bricks deep.

The old hospital

The old hospital (read the sign!)

Shire Administrative Centre

Mural in the Shire Administrative Centre

12
Noccundra Hotel

We left Thargomindah after some grocery shopping and a diesel refuel.

The road to Noccundra was sealed and, although narrow, in excellent condition.

A stop for coffee beside the road was necessary and, before we knew it and having turned off the Innamincka road, we arrived.

Noccundra is on the banks of the Wilson River and within Nockatunga Station. The first pub, built in 1860, burnt down and the present building was built in 1882 of sandstone (quarried in NSW and carried in by camel train). We had lunch at the hotel, having first visited it around 1989 whilst driving from Brisbane to Melbourne.

No communications (except for a payphone) in town.

Total km today: 142

Total cumulative km: 1,292

what3words: supreme.glum.magnetic

The road between Thargomindah and Noccundra

Noccundra Waterhole overnight stop

Noccundra Hotel

13
Innamincka

The flies and mosquitoes were not good at Noccundra! It wouldn’t have been comfortable sitting outside and so we confined ourselves to the inside of the caravan.

Before leaving, we were reminded that no fruit, vegetables or anything with seeds could be taken across into South Australia. And so we needed to cook everything that fitted the category - delaying our departure by an hour or so.

The road to the South Australian border was all sealed and in good condition. Thankfully, the road west of the border, although dirt, was \240fairly good.

We stopped for a while at the Burke and Wills Bridge (perk.obeyed.awaiting) to view Cooper Creek and marvelled at the volume of water which, in our estimation, had come down 6 weeks or so ago. It was also clear from the river bank that the river had also carried significantly more water.

We decided not to take the short detour to the Dig Tree as we’d visited it several years ago when we took a flight from the Gold Coast to see Lake Eyre in flood. On that trip, we dropped in to Charleville, stopped overnight at Quilpie and then, on the big day, flew over the Channel Country, dropped into the William Creek Hotel for lunch, flew up to Birdsville for the night, then flew back to the Gold Coast, again via Charleville - a truly memorable trip (and a real treat!)

Innamincka wasn’t very busy and we found a site close to Cooper Creek. Not a free night, but one where we were encouraged to leave $5.00 in the honesty box.

Once again, no phone or internet connection.

Total km today: 265

Total cumulative km: 1,557

what3words: flirts.roofer.creditor

Cooper Creek at the Burke and Wills Bridge

Cooper Creek at the Burke and Wills Bridge

Burke and Wills Bridge

Innamincka

Innamincka

14
Innamincka

A late start today.

We discussed what we might do whilst we were in Innamincka and decided that a visit to Coongie Lakes would be worthwhile as they are a Ramsay Wetland and recognised as being something special. Regretably, the road was closed due to recent flooding and so it was not to be.

We therefore left the van at the ‘Town Common’ and drove down the Old Strzelecki Track with a view to visiting Cameron Corner (the location of the triple border of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia). However, it quickly became apparent that, if we had completed the return trip, we’d be lucky to get back to camp until late evening.

So, once the Old Track met the ‘new’ Track west of Moomba, we turned east until we met Dillons Highway and back to Innamincka.

We then took ourselves off to Burke’s Grave (jogs.horizontally.emblem) northeast of town and then on to Cullyamurra Waterhole (vans.earnestly.reuniting).

Burke’s body was found by a rescue party a few months after his death and was buried at the site. However, several months later his body was exhumed and taken to Melbourne, where he now lies. The site is beside Cooper Creek.

Also beside Cooper Creek is Cullyamurra Waterhole. A fine example of a waterhole where Aborigines used to make their home.

Once again, no phone or internet connection.

Total km today: 147

Total cumulative km: 1,704

what3words: flirts.roofer.creditor

Along the Old Strzelecki Track

Along the Old Strzelecki Track

Along the (new) Strzelecki Track

Burke’s gravesite

Cooper Creek beside Burke’s gravesite

Cullyamurra Waterhole

15
Cameron Corner

Another late start - we need to get our act together!

We told ourselves that, having come this far, it would be a shame if we didn’t visit Cameron Corner, so we fuelled and watered up, had a coffee and hit the road.

We travelled south, retracing our steps from yesterday and arrived at the junction of the Old Strzelecki Track and the (new) Strzelecki Track and then drove down the remaining length of the Old Track with the result that we covered the full length of the Old Track, albeit in two bites.

From there, we we would be committed to a 108 km drive to Cameron Corner.

The drive was fantastic. Someone had previously recorded that there are 216 sand dunes along the way - and it was a real roller coaster! The only problem was that the corrugations were not at all good. The 108 km drive took us 2 ½ hours.

Soon after we arrived (at 1645 hours Queensland and NSW time and 1615 hours South Australian time) we found the bush camp (no facilities) and, shortly after that, another Zone caravan pulled up next to us. Andy and Elona from South Australia in #072. Small world!

It transpired that the Corner Store at Cameron Corner was established by Sandy Nall (1940-2004) who had served with 4 Field Regiment.

After a couple of beers and an excellent (but expensive) evening meal with our newly-made Zone friends later, we retired for the day.

Once again, no phone or internet connection.

Total km today: 241

Total cumulative km today: 1,945

what3words: cushioned.edgy.revivals

On the road out of Innamincka

On the Old Strzelecki Track

On the road to Cameron Corner

Cattle yards on the road to Cameron Corner (outer.cuisines.share)

Approaching Cameron Corner

Two Zone caravans at Cameron Corner

Sunset at Cameron Corner

16
Lyndhurst

We started the day well.

A walk before breakfast revealed the monumental post with a brass plate showing the corner point of all three States: Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. John Cameron, a NSW surveyor from the Lands Department, arrived in 1880 and his name (hopefully) will remain attached to this point forever.

The boundary marker is now only a few metres from the dingo barrier fence, which used to be a rabbit fence until the powers that be finally recognised that the rabbit population was happily residing on both sides of the fence. The fence is 5,614 metres long, is regularly patrolled and maintained and is claimed to be the longest fence in the world.

We said our farewells to the other Zoners and topped up our fuel to our limit, as the next nearest fuel stop in the direction we planned was over 400 km away.

As for our own plans, we determined that an overnight stop somewhere along the Strzelecki Track would present us with a good jumping off point for our time in the Flinders Ranges.

However, when we stopped for our mid-morning coffee, we found that all the electrics in the van (thankfully, with the exception of the fridge) had decided to stop functioning. Having checked all the fuses and consulted all the relevant documentation, we came to the \240conclusion that, without access to a \240pump to draw water (the prime issue) and other lesser electrical facilities and, as it was clear that something had caused the electrics to fail, we needed to find the cause and fix it.

As it was Sunday (no support available) and as we almost certainly needed to get ourselves somewhere that was able to provide the necessary replacement parts, we decided to drive to the nearest place that offered internet support. We assumed this might be Lyndhurst - 430 or so kilometres distant.

It’s fairly safe to say that South Australian dirt roads of any significance (especially the one that connects the State with South West Queensland), when compared with similar roads elsewhere in Australia, are a disgrace. Nevertheless, the seven hours that it took us to reach our destination was pretty good going.

On arrival at Lyndhurst, however, we found that the town isn’t within range of any internet service. So the plan tomorrow will be to drive further south until we’re successful.

The Lyndhurst Hotel offers travellers accommodation at the rear of their building - dongas for truck drivers (and there were a lot of truckies there) and a caravan park of sorts for us. And importantly, hot showers and a hot meal and a beer.

Total km today: 440

Total cumulative km: 2,385

what3words: promo.delis.octane

Not a very good shot of the boundary marker

The photographer of a not very good shot of the boundary marker

The dingo fence

The dingo fence

On the road to Lyndhurst

17
Shoreline Caravan Park

The hotel caravan park had seen better days and not even worthy of a photo. It’s now the preferred overnight stop for truckies on their to or from Moomba, Innamincka, Maree or other points in between or beyond.

Thankfully the road, for us, was to be sealed and so necessary for all eight tyres to be re-inflated to their usual pressures.

Although the Flinders Ranges were spectacular, the past wealth of the region was spectacularly evident: many deserted homesteads were in ruins; the town of Copley was simply awful with shops closed and houses turned into piles of trash.

The recent closure of the Leigh Creek Colliery has devasted the township (opened with appropriate fanfare in 1980). The colliery employed 450 people - a significant workforce. We stopped there for a late breakfast and an opportunity to contact Zone to discuss our electrical issues. The townsfolk who remained had accepted that tourism was their only saviour - a gutsy decision as, compared with Queensland for example, none of the South Australian remote communities we’ve visited to date have any idea, or seem to have any commitment, to attract visitors, added to which their outback roads are by far the worst we’ve seen so far. A tough comment? Maybe, but if the State government doesn’t recognise this and does something to support their remote communities, they will simply die over time.

Total km today: 304

Total cumulative km: 2,689

what3words: spilled.select.founders

The Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges

18
Shoreline Caravan Park

An earlier start so as to reach Zone in Queensland at the start of their day. Having spoken with the right person and explained in detail the problems we’ve been experiencing. The result of that was that Zone were to forward these details to the manufacturer of the lithium battery setup and the representative of the hot water system manufacturer and have them call us. Which they did later in the morning. Short story: both issues were related to loose electrical connections which were not readily apparent to us (and have now been attended to). Has it all been fixed? We’ll know once we hit some corrugations again!

So, Monday was very much a maintenance day, including a visit to the local hardware store.

We decided that we should strike camp (if that’s possible in a caravan park) tomorrow morning and head for the hills again (ie. the Flinders Ranges).

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 2,689

what3words: spilled.select.founders

19
Shoreline Caravan Park

We didn’t take off for the Flinders Ranges after all. There were a number of maintenance and housekeeping jobs remaining and we felt that it prudent to get all of these out of the way.

20
Merna Mora Station

This time we really did leave Port Augusta.

First stop was Quorn. A quaint old town which also happens to be the base for the Pichi Richi Railway. At this time of year, a number of trains run, mainly on weekends, to and from Woolshed Flat. The Afghan, based in Port Augusta, runs to and from Quorn on Saturdays. We plan to take a trip on this on our way out of the area.

Importantly, in the early 1900s, Quorn lay at the junction of railway lines that ran north/south, from Terowie, east of Port Pirie towards Maree - the line that was coined ‘The Ghan’ in 1923 and was eventually closed in the mid 1950s - and the line running east/west, linking Western Australia with the eastern States. During WW2, an average 43 trains passed through Quorn every day carrying troops.

We were also attracted to the deserted town of Wilson (airfields.qualifying.filmed), a few kilometres south of Hawker. The town was established in 1881 after a time of heavier than usual rainfall during the 1870s (certainly outside the recognised Goyder Line of agricultural viability) and, consequently, there was a rush of settlers who saw great potential in establishing cropping ventures in the area - especially as the railway line made such decisions easier to implement. At its peak in 1884, the town boasted a population of 75, with a butcher, branch of the Commercial Bank, chapel, general store, hotel and other services.

Unfortunately, and understandably, the Goyder Line defeated them and the town began to die once the scarcity of water was unable to provide for the bullocks which were needed to transport grain to the railway. The town today and its cemetery (immaculate.minstrel.drilling) \240are a sad reminder of times gone by and, especially, the fortitude of those and their families who took on projects that today would be seen to be unacceptable risks.

Next stop was Hawker, a few kilometres north of Quorn. We collected our South Australia Parks Pass here and spent some time receiving advice on what is possible (and what’s not) in the National Park. We also called in at the Jeff Morgan Gallery - an extraordinary place which features a number of painted panoramas of the area and which has won the artist global kudos. We stopped for lunch (home-made soup) in Hawker before driving through to our overnight stop at Surveyors Lookout, just east of Merna Mora Station. We had stopped, briefly, here on our way to Port Augusta a few days before.

Total km today: 156

Total cumulative km: 2,845

what3words: shawl.detention.jogged

Quorn Railway Station

Quorn

Quorn Post Office

Wilson Stationmaster’s House

Wilson Stationmaster’s House

Wilson Stationmaster’s House

Wilson Cemetery

Wilson Cemetery

Jeff Morgan Gallery

Jeff Morgan

Jeff Morgan painting

Jeff Morgan Panorama

Jeff Morgan Panorama

Our overnight stop

21
Angorichina

A fairly cold night, but a spectacular morning.

We set off for Parachilna, just a few kilometres up the road. As it was coffee time, we called into the Prairie Hotel. What an experience! Parachilna is strategically located, at least in today’s times, at one of the road junctions into the Flinders Ranges and so captures many of those venturing into the National Park.

The hotel has been around since the 1870s and, as it sat on the railway line, was used as a halfway stop between Quorn and Maree when passengers disembarked for a feed and a drink (or three) before continuing their journey. Sadly the railway line is no longer used as it was closed soon after the Leigh Creek Colliery shut down only a few years back.

The hotel was purchased by the owners of Nilpena Station (Ross and Jane Fargher) in 1991 and they have since renovated and transformed the hotel into an outstanding outback hostelry, featuring a first class restaurant, superb accommodation and wonderful hospitality. An extraordinary feat in such a remote location.

Ross Fargher also discovered Ediacara fossils on Nilpena Station and his commitment to local fossil history has resulted in a local fossil - Nilpenia rossi - being named after him.

After we had unhooked the caravan at a free camp a few kilometres east of Parachilna, we were amazed to see Andy, who we’d first met at Cameron Corner with his Zone caravan, drive across to our site! Very small world.

After lunch, we drove across to Blinman, 20 or so kilometres east. The town was established soon after a local shepherd, Robert Blinman, discovered copper in 1859. Between 1862 and 1907, 10,000 tonnes of the metal was mined and the town’s population, at its peak in 1869, was 1,500. A few of the original buildings remain.

We finished the day by lighting a campfire which we subsequently used to cook our evening meal - lamb chops and potatoes cooked in foil on the fire.

A good day.

Total km today:106

Total cumulative km: 2,951

what3words: lazier.cliffs.playlists

Parachilna railway

Prairie Hotel, Parachilna

Prairie Hotel, Parachilna

Prairie Hotel, Parachilna

Parachilna railway

Parachilna railway building

Deflating tyres on entering the Flinders Ranges

Flinders Ranges - first impression

Flinders Ranges - first impression

Our campsite

Blinmen

Blinmen

Blinmen

We decided that we should spend time in the National Park, however, one can only book online or at the Park HQ at Wilpena Pound and, at the same time, identify the preferred campsite within the camp area (not very user friendly). So we devoted the day to a recce of possible camp areas and camp sites.

(It should be explained that the free Angorichina camp we had stayed at was outside the National Park, whilst camps inside the NP had to be booked and paid for).

Our route initially took us south and then anticlockwise, with Wilpena Pound being the halfway point before returning ‘home’.

Surprisingly, to us, the camps on the dirt roads were almost empty (perhaps suggesting that the majority of caravanners preferred to remain on bitumen to and from Wilpena Pound). So the choice was wide open. Nevertheless, we chose the Aroona Valley camp and found a campsite with access to water. On arrival at Wilpena Pound, we booked our chosen site and returned to the caravan.

The day’s outing was awe-inspiring and, unfortunately, no photograph can do justice to each of the panoramas as they unfolded.

Total km today: 193

Total cumulative km: 3,144

what3words: lazier.cliffs.playlists

Along the Geological Trail

Along the Geological Trail

Along the Geological Trail

Along the Geological Trail

Cazneaux Tree

The Wall of China

22
Aroona Valley

Another move today.

On the way we called in at Blinman to check for mobile reception - to no avail.

The short drive down was uneventful and it didn’t take too long to settle in.

The rest of the day was devoted to maintenance and general housekeeping - and keeping warm.

Total km today: 58

Total cumulative km: 3,202

what3words: shortly.underarms.index

23
Aroona Valley

A very cold night, causing us to stay covered up for longer than usual. A cooked breakfast was definitely the order of the day.

We rugged up and took a walk to the Aroona ruins. In 1850, William Chase was one of many who explored the Finders Ranges in search of suitable pastoral country: he found springs at Aroona and in 1851 John Hayward, a pastoralist, arrived with 3,300 sheep.

The next few years proved to be really tough, with some years yielding little or no financial return. Nevertheless, persistence paid off and, in 1853, he made a profit of £1,419 from the 106 bales of wool from 9,500 sheep. The next year, he contracted a ship’s carpenter to build a homestead for him and his family. It was a relatively large house with running water from the spring servicing the bath house, kitchen and a mess tent and an irrigated garden provided for much the family’s needs.

Hayward sold his property in 1862 and returned to England a rich man. When he arrived in South Australia, he had £40 in his pocket - he returned with £40,000.

All that remains of the homestead are the ruins and a few willows, mulberries and wattles.

Close to the campsite lies a building, said to have been used on several occasions by Hans Heysen (1877-1968) when he visited the Aroona Valley. Heysen was renowned for his depiction of many vistas throughout the Flinders Ranges and this valley was one of his favourites.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 3,202

what3words: shortly.underarms.index

Approaching the Aroona Homestead ruins

Aroona Homestead ruins

Aroona Homestead ruins

The Aroona Hut: made of pug and pine and often used by Sir Hans Heysen.

The north western extremity of the Flinders Ranges National Park. Our campsite is about 200 metres beyond the hut’s roof.

24
Orroroo

Perhaps we’re getting a little decrepit as we decided last night, and had it confirmed again this morning, that the cold weather wasn’t in the least capturing our interest - after all, we’re on this trip for enjoyment and not purgatory.

The decision was therefore made that we travel south, towards the Barossa Valley and seek out some of the vineyards contained therein.

With no particular overnight destination in mind, we simply drove south and a little bit east and ended up in a roadside parking area just outside Orroroo (great name!).

On the way we passed an ever changing landscape, from the grand panoramas of the Flinders Ranges, across the RM Williams Way just past Hawker, through Craddock and Carrieton which featured marginal pasture and finally to country, entirely suitable for growing sheep, that has been almost totally eaten out by kangaroos. It appeared that much of this country has been abandoned, as evidenced by derelict homesteads, barns and shearing sheds. Very, very sad.

Total km today: 217

Total cumulative km: 3,419

what3words: stack.retied.blouse

25
Burra

Last night was close to being the coldest we’ve experienced so far on this trip. So much for driving south to seek warmer (less cold) climes!

After a late start, we drove into the town of Orroroo.

What a great little town, although in its heyday during the 1880s, it was a centre of some substance. Many of the original buildings still stand, although some of them are now deserted and looking a little forlorn. Those that do remain, whether they be commercial or residential, are in fairly good order and it’s clear that the local Council, as well as private individuals, are keen to maintain, and in some cases restore, their properties. One of a number of examples is the Orroroo Institute, built in 1879, and which is now owned by the Council. The building includes a number of rooms with well-preserved pressed metal ceilings and a theatre with under-stage dressing rooms and a dress circle - these are all in the process of being restored and will subsequently be a wonderful drawcard for the town.

Orroroo is one of those places in which it is clear that the local community is keen to maintain and further develop their town’s heritage.

Further down the road we stopped at Peterborough. Following the discovery of silver in Silverton and Broken Hill, and the development of agricultural pursuits in the area surrounding Peterborough, the South Australian government decided to establish a railway line to ensure that the product of these businesses could access the port at Port Pirie. The line to service the farming businesses was opened in 1881, whilst the line to Broken Hill opened in 1887. During the early 1920s, Peterborough (or Petersburg as it was then known) became the crossroads of the continent with the “Transcontinental” coming though from Sydney to Perth (in 1917) and the “The Ghan” from Adelaide to Alice Springs (in 1929). As a consequence, and during the period 1923-1932, Peterborough’s population grew to 5,000 of whom more than a quarter were employed by the railways. The town now has a population of less than 1,900.

Whilst in Peterborough, we visited their railway museum.

We drove on to Burra where we found their Showground offering low cost caravan accommodation.

Total km today: 123

Total cumulative km: 3,542

what3words: undone.miseries.plummeting

Orroroo Institute

Orroroo Sub-Branch RSL

An Orroroo residence

Orroroo street scene

One of 34 ‘500 Class’ Shunt Diesel Locomotives built for South Australian Railways following the beginning of the slow death of steam. This locomotive was commissioned on ANZAC Day 1964.

An inspection trolley (known as a 4 man Kalamazoo) for 3’ 6” rails, used until 1940

One of 78 ‘T Class’ locomotives built by South Australian railways (in Gawler) during the period 1903-1917. These were built for narrow gauge lines. This locomotive was built in 1912 and was decommissioned in 1970.

Three rail gauges, represented above, had to be dealt with at Peterborough before standardisation was introduced.

26
Hahndorf Resort

Another very cold night.

A change of plan was necessitated today as Ann’s hip started to play up and so we felt it would be sensible to get it checked out. She was clearly in pain and had been experiencing some awkwardness over the past few days.

So we high-tailed it down to Adelaide where we believed we’d be able to access better health services than ‘in the bush’.

The road down to the city was fairly good, although we began to lament the increasing volume of traffic the closer we got to our destination.

We were fortunate that we found a caravan park (no free parking in the city!) over the weekend as it was to be a long weekend holiday in Adelaide.

Hahndorf is 28 km east the Adelaide CBD and located in the Adelaide Hills district. It was first settled by Lutheran migrants, many of whom arrived in Australia in 1838 on the ‘Zebra’ and the town was named after the Danish captain of the ship. It is now the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia.

Sir Hans Heysen lived close to the town in the years leading to his death in 1968.

It’s interesting to note that the town was renamed Ambleside in 1917 (many towns in Australia with German place names had their names changed during this time), but Hahndorf’s original name was re-instated in 1935.

After pursuing a number of leads, we attended the Mt. Barker General Hospital in the afternoon and Ann was promptly seen by a young doctor who subsequently arranged for an x-ray of her hips. Fortunately, there was no evidence of any breakage. It seems that the cold weather and lack of any significant exercise had promoted the problem. Some codeine to suppress the pain was prescribed and recommendations to regularly massage the area and introduce some walking into the daily routine were offered.

Total km today: 179

Total cumulative km: 3,721

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

27
Hahndorf Resort

An early start today.

We continue to experience intermittent problems with the hot water system in the van and so were fortunate to arrange a visit to a company in Adelaide which services our brand of hot water system. We left the van with them mid morning and then took ourselves out to Glenelg.

The town was first settled in 1836 and is a few kilometres west of the CBD on the Gulf of St. Vincent. Interestingly, Glenelg is a palindrome.

Diagnosis on the heater was difficult as Murphy’s Law came into play and, when the workshop switched it on, it operated perfectly. Very frustrating! Furthermore, as a long weekend was imminent, there was insufficient time for them to carry out a thorough test. More frustration! We had to be content with returning the van to them on Wednesday morning.....

Total km today: 71

Total cumulative km: 3,793

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

28
Hahndorf Resort

A trip to the physiotherapist this morning (Ann was fortunate to get an appointment at such short notice), which was very successful. Another appointment was made for early next week.

Then back through the Hahndorf village, which wasn’t quite so successful: the through road was close to becoming a parking lot and the pavements were awash with people (I’m not going to get myself into trouble by attempting to describe them....) and so we decided to head back to the van to complete the ever present clothes washing and an attempt to re-level the van. Although the van features suspension with airbag assistance, thus allowing for lateral levelling, the angle of the allotted caravan space was just too much and so there was a need to introduce some lateral thinking (pun intended) so as to create a horizontal plane.

Total km today: 17

Total cumulative km: 3,810

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

29
Hahndorf Resort

It started to rain this morning.

So, instead of sitting in the van all day, we decided to drive ourselves to Victor Harbour (switching.cabinet.heartfelt).

The drive south took us through the outskirts of Adelaide and then along the Southern Expressway, past McLaren Vale - a significant South Australian wine growing area - through to Victor Harbour. Very productive land, ideal for viticulture.

Perhaps the cold and wet weather adversely affected our view of Victor Harbour, but neither of us was particularly enthralled with the place. Nevertheless, fish and chips, huddled beneath a tree whilst it drizzled beside us, was the order of the day, followed by coffee in a nearby pizza joint.

Then back on the road again, to return via Goolwa and Strathalbyn. The latter town, established in 1839, features some lovely old buildings and it’s clear from the grandeur of St. Andrews Uniting Church, that the town prospered in its day. The church was originally established in 1844 by Scottish Presbyterians, but since then has been enlarged to include transepts, a larger nave, porch and a bell tower.

A miserable day, enlightened by an interesting drive.

Total km today: 183

Total cumulative km: 3,996

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

Victor Harbour

Victor Harbour

30
Hahndorf Resort

A sunny day at last.

A relaxing lunch with Graham and Barbara Capper at the Bridgewater Inn (saucer.inheriting.headstrong) was the day’s focus.

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

31
Hahndorf Resort

A lovely day.

This morning we went into Mount Barker to do some grocery shopping and returned for an early lunch before driving out to Nairne to visit Ann’s daughter-in-law’s mother and her husband.

The Cranwells are one of South Australia’s largest growers of brussel sprouts and we were given a tour of one of their processing facilities. Very impressive - more especially as they have to contend with the high, and often tortuous, demands of the large retailers.

An interesting day.

Total km today: 48

Total cumulative km: 4,044

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

32
Hahndorf Resort

A very early start this morning in order for us to get the caravan down to be checked out for the problem with the hot water system.

It had rained for most of the night and hooking up the van in the dark and in the pouring rain wasn’t the most enjoyable experience - and then unhooking it at the repair shop later: again in the pouring rain.

Nevertheless, we left it there for the morning and subsequently collected it early in the afternoon after visiting the Central Markets and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Thankfully, they were able to find a loose electrical connection (which I hadn’t been able to detect) and reported everything in order.

Later in the afternoon we visited ‘The Cedars’ in Hahndorf (jeep.hooch.kept). The Cedars is the family home of Sir Hans Heysen and we were able to join a guided tour of the house, its garden and the studio. Having seen some of the country which he had visited, and painted, in the Flinders Ranges, it was good to have rounded off this knowledge with something very personal about his life and family.

Total km today: 82

Total cumulative km: 4,126

what3words: chives.nightclubs.brewers

The studio at The Cedars

The studio at The Cedars

The house at The Cedars

The garden at The Cedars

The garden at The Cedars

33
Redhill

Away at last!

We drove out of the Adelaide area via the Barossa Valley, calling in briefly to Chateau Tanunda (reshape.oozy.grabby) and then to Peter Lehmann Wines (back.edition.easing) where we sampled a few of their wares. Then on through the Clare Valley.

The country surrounding the wine growing areas was extraordinary in that every square metre of productive land was planted out with vines. It’s a very pretty area and will certainly be worth visiting again sometime. Hopefully it won’t rain quite as much as it did during the day.

We ended up for the day just outside Redhill, just off the Augusta Highway which connects Adelaide with Port Pirie and which provides an overnight RV stop for self-sufficient travellers.

Total km today: 269

Total cumulative km: 4,395

what3words: arcade.spends.famously

Chateau Tanunda

Chateau Tanunda

Peter Lehmann Winery

Part of the Peter Lehmann vineyards

34
Port Gibbon

We left Redhill reasonably early after making a gold coin donation at the General Store for our overnight stay. Redhill sits beside the main highway linking Port Wakefield with Port Pirie and yet it is slowly dying. Very sad.

We continued our drive north to Port Augusta, along the eastern side of the Spencer Gulf, \240calling in to Port Germein (mining.donates.arcade) on the way. The town was established in 1841 when the first settlers felled timber and, ultimately, developed a port to support their grain trade - at one point, Port Germein was the largest grain port in Australia. The town features what is claimed to be the longest jetty in Australia (which carried a railway line) to allow the sailing ships of the day to load grain and other goods for their voyage to Europe. It is said that the majority of these ships set their sights on reaching their destination within 100 days.

One of the more interesting items on display was an Illuminated Clock-Faced Tide Gauge (circa 1800). The gauge, relocated from its original location near the entrance to the Port Pirie shipping channel, was activated by a series of pulleys and chains which rose and fell with the tide and, in turn, operated the dial on the ‘clock face’.

After passing through Port Augusta our road took us south along the western side of the Spencer Gulf to Whyalla.

Time was against us at Whyalla as we wanted to reach Port Gibbon by late afternoon. We found a $5 per night RV park for self-sufficient vans (those who had their own power and water requirements).

Total km today: 342

Total cumulative km: 4,737

what3words: surer.inform.overtakes

Redhill General Store

Port Germein jetty

Port Germein’s Illuminated Clock-Faced Tide Gauge

The tide gauge at its original location

The decommissioned HMAS Whyalla (at Whyalla)

35
Port Gibbon

We drove into Cowell (assign.above.pushy) along the coast road during the morning where we had a coffee and generally looked around the town. Cowell seems to rely on both agriculture and fishing for its existence, however, the fishing season was a month or so away and therefore presented few opportunities for buying anything fresh.

On the way to Cowell, we passed several camping sites and decided to relocate to one of them on our return. Flat Rocks was ideal as there was no-one else there (possibly because there were no facilities at all) and offered expansive views (and sounds) of the sea from th caravan.

As a consequence, we had a lazy afternoon.

Total km today: 49

Total cumulative km: 4,786

what3words: newly.kidding.outwit

Flat Rocks

Flat Rocks

A rest day today.....

Flat Rocks

Flat Rocks

36
Cowleys Beach

We reluctantly left Flat Rocks after a late start and continued to drive south, reaching Arno Bay (jeep.overactive.bookshelf) in time for morning coffee.

The town itself isn’t particularly inspiring but, importantly, has attracted the development of a project to propogate Blue Fin Tuna, Mulloway and Yellow Tail Kingfish. By both altering the water temperature and the number of hours of daylight, the breeding stock are tricked into believing that it’s spawning season and they begin to reproduce. The fertilised eggs are then placed into incubation tanks for a couple of days until they hatch into 4-5mm larvae. These larvae are then placed into larger tanks where they are firstly fed live organisms and then, when they’re a little bigger, brine shrimps. In about a month, they will have grown to about 10-15mm and are fed an artificial diet and then, after another month, they’ll have grown to over 100mm and transferred to off-shore sea cages, situated about 3 km off Arno Bay. The next 18 months will see the fish grow to 3kg and they’ll then be marketed locally and internationally.

Then down to Port Neill (shores.pool.parachutes) to have a quick look before driving a few kilometres further south and found a free camp at Cowleys Beach. The weather wasn’t particularly kind as the wind was quite ferocious and it also started to rain. Nevertheless, it was our home for the night.

Total km today: 82

Total cumulative km: 4,868

what3words: swords.coconuts.numbed

Arno Bay jetty

Arno Bay - on the horizon are some of the sea cages where fish are grown to marketable size

Port Neill

37
Port Lincoln Caravan Park

A cold night and a heavy sea swell made for a fitful sleep.

First stop was Tumby Bay. The southern entrance to the town featured painted silos (cracked.skill.dieted), based on a photograph taken of children jumping off the town jetty and completed by an Argentinian artist who completed the mural a couple of years ago.

The town itself was a real surprise. Clearly the area which it serves is very prosperous with fertile soils and grain, primarily wheat, being well managed. It’s a lovely town with protected beaches, wide streets (designed to allow horses to manoeuvre their loads of grain and wool to the jetty), and everything else that would make for a wonderful holiday destination.

And finally, a short drive south to Port Lincoln.

Total km today: 95

Total cumulative km: 4,963

what3words: whilrlpool.averaging.swirly

Cowleys Beach

Cowleys Beach

Silo painting at Tumby Bay

Wide streets in Tumby Bay to allow horses to manoeuvre their loads to the jetty.

38
Port Lincoln Caravan Park

After taking care of washing clothes and other mundane chores associated with booking into a caravan park, we made our way into town and visited the marina which serves both the tuna and crayfish fleet (managers.blazed.trouser). Then into town for a coffee near the Matthew Flinders memorial (backlog.buddy.friz), which sits opposite the grain terminal (dusts.fortunes.forever).

Then up to Winter Hill Lookout for stunning panoramic views of Port Lincoln and the surrounding area (minced.swarms.saunas).

Fish and chips at The Fresh Fish Place (pothole.window.pots) - marked because if anyone is in Port Lincoln, this is the place to buy and eat fish! And then through the Lincoln National Park to Cape Donington (caning.toasting.vowels) where one can view fishing boats coming and going, many seabirds and great views of the area.

A good day!

Total km today: 131

Total cumulative km: 5,094

what3words: whirlpool.averaging.swirly

Port Lincoln Marina

Port Lincoln Marina

Matthew Flinders

Port Lincoln Grain Terminal

Port Lincoln Grain Terminal

View of Port Lincoln from Winter Hill

View of Port Lincoln from Winter Hill

Fishing boats from Cape Donington

View from Cape Donington

39
Walkers Rock

It was raining first thing in the morning and it rained for most of the day - at times, quite heavily.

We decided to drive inland, rather than following the coast road through Coffin Bay. In order to make the drive a little less of an issue (heavy rain and dirt roads), we retraced our tracks, north to Tumby Bay, refuelled and then drove west to Cummins.

After Cummins (action.stark.palely), we ventured further west, having to deal with flash flooding across the road along the way - nothing serious nevertheless it certainly proves how quickly conditions can change.

The country on the western side of the peninsula appeared to be far less productive than on the east.

Interestingly, we came across quite a few stone walls, built either for windbreaks, stockyards or (deserted) homestead boundaries.

We stopped briefly at Elliston and visited the old jetty (wiki.spins.yachts). For a long time the town was isolated and totally dependent on shipping until basic roads were formed in the late 1950s - regular shipping ceased in 1965. The SS Yandra was used on the run between Port Adelaide, Elliston and other coastal ports.

Our overnight stop was at Walkers Rock, just a few kilometres north of Elliston.

Total km today: 214

Total cumulative km: 5,308

what3words: kinds.nanny.justly

Stonewall

Stonewall

Elliston

Elliston

Elliston

Elliston Jetty

SS Yandra

Walkers Rock

Walkers Rock

40
Mount Camel Beach

The weather was a little warmer overnight - but not much! We had the whole campsite to ourselves and, after a late start, continued our journey north. Along the way, we encountered extensive grazing and pastoral country connected with long, straight roads.

We saw a sign, just short of Venus Bay, and followed it through for a few kilometres, despite the fact that our map didn’t show it, until we came across Mt. Camel Beach. A great spot, bathed in sunshine and with spectacular panoramic views. We decided to stay overnight.

Total km today: 46

Total cumulative km: 5,354

what3words: thundering.wholesome.paperback

Extensive grazing and pastoral country

Views from our site overlooking Mt. Camel Beach

Views from our site overlooking Mt. Camel Beach

Views from our site overlooking Mt. Camel Beach

Mt. Camel Beach

Mt. Camel Beach

Mt. Camel Beach

Sunset at Mt. Camel Beach

We drove the short distance north to Venus Bay - clearly much admired by those who have chosen to establish holiday houses there. Our estimate is that there about 70 houses in the community, of which about 10% are occupied full time. Then on through Port Kenny which wasn’t at all inspiring.

A little further up the road we turned westward towards the coast for about 40 kilometres until we reached Point Labatt.

This is where an Australian sea lion colony has established itself. The mammal was hunted to the brink of extinction until commercial sealing ceased in the early 1900s. They remain endangered as they prefer to feed off the ocean floor which exposes them to predators and randomly scattered marine debris. However, the protected environment surrounding Point Labatt is rich in their preferred food resources such as fish, squid, octopus, cuttlefish, oysters, crabs and crayfish.

Apart from being able to view sea lions in their natural habitat, the scenery is quite spectacular and most definitely worth the visit.

We then continued further north and a little west until we found Speeds Bay where there is a ‘free’ camp (actually $10 per night via an honesty box). We were, again, almost on the beach with great views.

Total km today: 141

Total cumulative km: 5,636

what3words: barge.cherries.muddy

Point Labatt (sea lions in the foreground)

Sea lions at Point Labatt

A sea lion at Point Labatt

Point Labatt lookout

Speeds Point

Speeds Point

Overnight stop at Speeds Point

41
Point Brown Rd

The scenery continued to inspire and so we journeyed further north to find another spot along the coast.

We found it at Point Brown (surprisingly, at the end of Point Brown Road). There we a couple of fishermen at the beach, who went home at the end of their day, and we had the entire place to ourselves - again. The weather allowed us to sit outside for a while until later in the afternoon.

The following morning was really cold and we learnt later on that, although the temperature was 11°C, the wind chill factor has brought it down to 3°C.

Total km today: 124

Total cumulative km: 5,760

what3words: fudging.trios.lake

Cold morning at Point Brown before we left on 24 June

42
Ceduna Foreshore Caravan Park

Our plan to stay a couple of nights at Point Brown were dashed as soon as we learnt the weather forecast was offering very cold days.

A drive through Smoky Bay was interesting as the last time we were there, in 2003, the town has barely been developed.

We drove on to Ceduna and decided to stop overnight in one of its caravan parks to prepare ourselves for the long stretch into Western Australia. Our plan is to get to Norseman (just over 1,300 kilometres) and then turn south to the coast.

Ceduna itself was enduring one of its coldest days for a while so, apart from shopping, there wasn’t any incentive to go walking anywhere else.....

Total km today: 73

Total cumulative km: 5,833

what3words: download.suspicions.writers

Smoky Bay

Smoky Bay

43
Fowlers Bay

Fortunately we woke up to glorious sunshine - possibly the best we’d experienced since leaving Queensland.

Leaving Ceduna, to us, always seems like leaving the Eastern States and venturing into the West - although, of course, the SA/WA border is almost 500km away.

Nevertheless, we stopped briefly at Penong to view their collection of windmills (merged.flaked.idealist), including what is reputed to be Australia’s largest.

And then on to Fowlers Bay. It seems that Southern Right whales gather here to breed at this time of year and so we decided that a visit was justified. We’ve booked \2403 hour ‘whale watching’ boat trip tomorrow morning, although it’s dependent upon the weather.

What attracted us more than anything else was the warmth and sunshine - although the weather forecast suggests we make the most of it.....

Total km today: 142

Total cumulative km: 5,975

what3words: directory.signed.misted

Australia’s largest windmill at Penong

Fowlers Bay: old Police Station and Courthouse

Fowlers Bay: old Telegraph Station

Fowlers Bay jetty

44
Fowlers Bay

We turned up at 09:30 as requested, but, although the weather looked fine, evidently the whale watching man had assessed that one of the whales was pregnant and because the wind was north-easterly and gusting over 25 knots, he decided not to take his boat. He’s been offering his tours for 12 years and clearly has a good understanding of what’s OK for the whales and what’s not. And who are we to contradict him?

So, after cooking up all the vegetables that would not otherwise have passed the quarantine inspection at the SA/WA border, we took ourselves off to Scotts Bay (shorter.accounted.reconnect) and walked up to Scotts Head (stricktest.whom.scoreboard) where we marvelled at the extraordinary vista that opened up.

South Australia doesn’t seem to promote the diversity of its State to potential tourists - a shame as there’s so much to see and enjoy if people are prepared to go off the beaten track to find them......

Total km today: 36

Total cumulative km: 6,011

what3words: directory.signed.misted

It’s almost impossible to capture the majesty of many of the panoramas we saw - it’s just too massive.....

Scotts Bay

Scotts Head

Off Scotts Head

Off Scotts Head

Scotts Bay

45
Bight View

Fowlers Bay was blustery to say the least when we left in the morning.

Nundroo was only 32km away, where we refueled.

The next stop was Head of Bight which, a few years ago, one could drive in unimpeded but now there is a 12km bitumen road leading to a joint Federal/State government funded facility where one has to pay for the privilege of viewing the site. Admittedly it’s very well done. One would expect to see Southern Right whales here during the period June through September and we saw at least two, possibly three, with their calves. A very blustery experience!

After returning to the highway and refueling at Nullarbor Roadhouse, we ventured a few kilometres west before turning south down a dirt track, past Gilgerabbie Hut, and then further down to the coast. I suspect we were the only people around for a long way......

Total km today: 222

Total cumulative km: 6,233

what3words: swigs.manure.alliances

Great Australian Bight Marine Park

Great Australian Bight Marine Park

Great Australian Bight Marine Park

Great Australian Bight Marine Park

Great Australian Bight Marine Park

Our stop for the night at Bight View (well, not quite there)

46
Eucla

The clouds looked a little ominous this morning, nevertheless, we opted to drive further west along the bush track alongside the cliffs, until, a few kilometres along, the track north which would have connected us to the highway was blocked off and, furthermore we had to reverse the van for half a kilometre to be able to turn around. Extraordinarily, we did this without too much argument! It just had to be done.

Having returned to the highway several kilometres later, the tyres (all six of them) had to be re-inflated. So an extended coffee stop was called for.

The next stop was a lookout, Bunda Cliffs, (admiral.solutions.transforms) a few hundred metres off the road. Undoubtedly the view would have been spectacular were it not for the rain. Nevertheless, once a rain break presented itself, we walked to the end of the boardwalk and took a couple of photos.

Then on to a proposed overnight stopping place about 10 kilometres east of the SA/WA border which we decided wasn’t entirely suitable as it would have required us to step into a quagmire. Although the rain wasn’t torrential, it had turned a perfectly good parking bay into a min-pond.

So, having passed through the very thorough quarantine inspection at the State border, we drove another a few kilometres to the Eucla Roadhouse to refuel and book into the very basic caravan park for the night......

Total km today: 208

Total cumulative km: 6,441

what3words: buildings.spatulas.trends

View from Bunda Cliffs lookout

47
Woorlba

A very cold morning!

But today was going to be a long day....

Our first stop was the old Telegraph Station, about 5km south of the ‘new’ Eucla and where we stayed overnight. I don’t have the details to hand which describes the time during which the station operated but it was over the turn of the century and before the sand dunes overtook the place. It was a thriving little community which served a valuable service.

Our drive took us through Mundrabilla, Madura and then Caiguna where we refuelled. We then entered the ‘90 mile straight’ which is claimed to be the longest straight stretch of road in the country. Just before we got to the end of it, we stopped a few kilometres short of Balladonia where we found a road stop which suited us.

Total km today: 475

Total cumulative km: 6,916

what3words: pleaser.biting.plump

Remains of the old Telegraph Station at Eucla

Remains of the old Telegraph Station at Eucla

View from the ‘new’ Eucla, overlooking the old Telegraph Station

48
Bromus Dam Campground

Another really cool start to the day.

It was a 150km drive into Balladonia for another fuel stop and then back a few hundred metres to the turnoff south to the coast. Unfortunately, the signpost which greeted us just after entering the turn made a mockery of our plan as it told us that a bridge, only 100km to the south had a load limit of 3 tonnes (our cumulative weight is just over 6 tones).

So, we had to continue west along the Eyre Highway.

Our lunch stop was at the northern end of the Great Western Woodlands - this is the largest remaining area of intact Mediterranean climate woodland on earth, covering almost 16 million hectares (about the size of England). Quite something!

We drove through to Norseman and then turned south towards Esperance, but stopped for the night several kilometres down the road to the Bromus Dam where there’s a (free) campground for overnight stays.

Total km today: 277

Total cumulative km: 7,193

what3words: nearing.breakdown.regretful

49
Esperance Bay Holiday Park

Yet another cold night - well, it is winter!

The road south towards Esperance was interesting in that the woodlands that we passed on the way to Norseman continued for 50 or so kilometres and then, all of a sudden, we were into cropping country. It seems that much of this country was allocated to soldier settlers, in very small lots, and over time these were amalgamated so that many of the properties we saw were quite large - as evidenced by the huge machinery required to manage it all.

It was this area which suffered a very significant bushfire towards the end of 2015. A number of lives were lost as well as several properties and huge tracts of cropping country.

Amongst the communities we drove through were Salmon Gums and Grass Patch. We stopped at the later to have a coffee and view the town’s Pioneer Park which described the history of the area.

It was a relatively short drive down to Esperance. We decided to stay in the area for a few days as there is much to see. So the plan was to book into a caravan park for four nights and undertake a few day trips in the car.

Total km today: 171

Total cumulative km: 7,364

what3words: silks.narrow.lighter

Pioneer Park at Grass Patch

Pioneer Park at Grass Patch - including a memorial to one of the area’s sons who was awarded a Victoria Cross

Pioneer Park at Grass Patch - a commemorative display recognising the women folk who supported the early settlers

50
Esperance Bay Holiday Park

We decided to make good use of our WA National Parks Pass today by visiting the Cape le Grand National Park.

On the way we dropped into Australia’s Stonehenge (loiter.tasters.rewarm). It’s an exact replica (is that a tautology?) of the original in Wiltshire and the fellow who put it all together claims that it now looks much the same as the original one did around 1950BC. The 30 sarcen stones (those on the outside) weigh 28 tonnes each and stand almost 5 metres high, including the 7 tonne lintels. The pink granite stones were all quarried in Esperance.

Our first stop in the National Park was Cape le Grand Beach (cunning.value.esteem). Then on to Hellfire Bay (paradox.cheapest.vacates), followed by Rossiter Bay (forehead.eldest.modern). Whilst on this part of the journey, we passed Frenchman’s Peak and stopped at the lookout (crouching.crewcut.slouching) where we noticed an aperture just below the peak. It was named after surveyor Andrew Forrest in 1870 when he and his brother, John, were on an expedition from Adelaide to Perth looking for suitable pasture - the peak was said to have resembled a French soldier’s cap of the 1800s.

Then to Lucky Bay (horseshoe.thinly.untouched) which was probably the most spectacular of all the bays we visited - not surprisingly, the one which attracted the most visitors. Followed by Thistle Cove (surveillance.dragged.diamonds).

At this point we drove off to the Condingup Tavern (expiry.detachment.otherwise) for their recommended hamburger lunch - at they were good!

After lunch we drove to Wharton Beach (concrete.slanting.shady) and Little Wharton Beach (bigger.notations.unifies).

It was a fantastic day’s outing and, like many other places we’d visited on the trip so far, the vistas we saw were just too big to capture satisfactorily on the camera.

Total km today: 259

Total cumulative km: 7,623

what3words: silks.narrow.lighter

Australia’s Stonehenge

Australia’s Stonehenge

Cape le Grand Beach

Hellfire Bay

Hellfire Bay

The road to Rossiter Bay

Rossiter Bay

Rossiter Bay

Lucky Bay

Lucky Bay

Thistle Cove

Thistle Cove

Frenchman’s Peak

Frenchman’s Peak

On the road to Wharton

Wharton Beach

Little Wharton Beach

Little Wharton Beach

51
Esperance Bay Holiday Park

A wickedly late start to the day, followed by some necessary shopping and, after lunch (which was actually morning tea!) we drove the ‘Great Ocean Drive’ which is a recommended trip around the attractions of Esperance.

to be continued....

Total km today: 39

Total cumulative km: 7,662

what3words: silks.narrow.lighter

Port of Esperance

Esperance Esplanade

Pink Lake

Observation Island - on 9 December 1792, two French ships (the Recherche and the Esperance) sheltered in the lee of the island.

52
Esperance Bay Holiday Park

A rest day today.

53
Fitzgerald

Last night wasn’t as wet as the forecast had suggested, nevertheless, we had prepared the van for departure during the previous day to avoid the possibility of getting soaked (as had happened in Port Lincoln).

The morning, however, was bitingly cold and, not only had it started to rain as we left Esperance, but the head winds made for some difficult driving and above average fuel consumption.

We stopped at Ravensthorpe (slightest.cookery.ignored) to make coffee and, shortly afterwards, we came across a heritage site at Cocanarup (throbbed.recklessly.drinkable) which commemorated what had evidently been a massacre in the 1870s. Not a great deal was said about this, other than the fact that no one spoke of it.....

We subsequently found a free camp at the site of the old school at Fitzgerald. The community, which no longer exists, was established from 1960, as noted in the image below. We camped on what used to be the cricket field alongside the pitch - clearly not having been used for quite some time as evidenced by the tree not too far from the stumps!

Total km today: 250

Total cumulative km: 7,912

what3words: brigadier.chairing.busies

Cocanarup

Cocanarup

Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald free camp

Stumped!

54
BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park

It was either frost or snow on the ground this morning - it turned out to be frost....

A very cold night - and we cheated because, at 0430, we turned on the diesel heater which made an instantaneous, positive, result.

The weather forecast in the area between Fitzgerald and Albany over the next few days didn’t look at all promising and so, as we’d previously visited the Fitzgerald National Park, we decided to head for Albany. We could then use Albany as our base for a few days without having to tow the van around behind us.

The drive, through Jerramungup (gazebo.reply.shuddering) where we stopped to make coffee, was not much fun as it rained most of the way and the road wasn’t all that good.

Nevertheless, we got to our preferred caravan park by mid-afternoon and settled in.

Total km today: 234

Total cumulative km: 8,146

what3words: legacy.refrigerator.clusters

Sunrise at Fitzgerald

Sunrise at Fitzgerald

55
BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day, although it was still quite cool.

Our first stop in a day being a tourist was the oldest existing dwelling in Western Australia (trusts.under.grazed) - established in 1832.

Then on to the Torndirrup National Park where we saw The Gap and the Natural Bridge (imaginative.enlarges.sweaters). There were other features to view, including some blowholes - although whilst we were there the swell wasn’t sufficient to create the spectacle.

Finally to the Discovery Centre which is the location of Australia’s last whaling station (swerves.uncrowded.static). During the period 1952 until closure in 1978, just over 15,000 whales were harvested and processed at the station. A fascinating insight into an operation that was not only exceptionally profitable but, relative to today’s standards, quite acceptable as an industry.

Total km today: 62

Total cumulative km: 8,208

what3words: legacy.refrigerator.clusters

Patrick Taylor Cottage

The Gap viewing platform

A view from The Gap viewing platform

The Bridge

The Cheynes IV

Onboard The Cheynes IV

Skeleton of a pygmy blue whale

Self-explanatory....

56
BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park

A ‘day off’ today which included catching up with Peter and Caroline Aspinall - Peter was Battery Commander 102 Field Battery, 8 Medium Regiment in Holsworthy before it was merged with 12 Field Regiment in the early 1970s. Peter is currently State President of RSL Western Australia.

57
BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park

We visited the National ANZAC Centre in Albany this morning (camera.achieving.bravest).

A very impressive memorial to those ANZACS who participated in WWI - both from the point of view of the information that was provided and the professionalism of the interactive displays. And, of course, the building overlooks King George Sound which was the point at which convoys gathered and from which they left for their voyage to the northern hemisphere and, subsequently, Gallipoli. Many would never return.

One of the Centre’s features is the provision of a token which identifies an ANZAC who participated in WWI - mine was Lance Corporal George Mitchell - and the visitor is able to interactively view his backround, where he served, on which convoy he left Albany and other relevant details.

An excellent memorial and certainly a ‘must see’ when in Albany.

Total km today: 24

Total cumulative km: 8,232

what3words: legacy.refrigerator.clusters

National ANZAC Centre

View from inside National ANZAC Centre looking out over the Sound

One of the displays - in this case, ‘my’ ANZAC, details of whom were available throughout the tour.

Kemal Ataturk’s well known, and loved, quotation. Ataturk was the first President (1923-1938) of the Republic of Turkey.

58
Ongerup

A late departure from Albany after another caravanner expressed interest in the Zone, so we spent quite some time with him and his wife.

We had planned to go directly to Gnowangerup but, on the way, saw a signpost promoting the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre - so we went there.

The Centre’s purpose is to promote the conservation of malleefowl, which have almost been decimated as a consequence of land clearing in early to mid 1900s when farmers had little understanding of the effects of land clearance.

The Centre captured our attention for much of the afternoon and, as a consequence, we elected to stay in Ongerup overnight and drive to Gnowangerup tomorrow (the name Gnowangerup is ‘the place of malleefowl’ in the Aboriginal language).

Total km today: 154

Total cumulative km: 8,386

what3words: evolve.homely.field

Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre

Malleefowl in captivity

59
Nunijup Lake

Another cool morning and then off to Gnowangerup where we visited the cemetery as Ann was keen to visit her 4th great grandmother’s grave - which we found.

Then a cup of coffee before we travelled through Tenterden (humanistic.elevate.letters) before finding our overnight stop at Lake Nunijup.

What a great spot!

Total km today: 170

Total cumulative km: 8,556

what3words: logos.radical.regionally

Ann’s 4th great grandmother’s grave

Lake Nunijup

Lake Nunijup

60
Nunijup Lake

A day off today in our pristine environment - even though it drizzled for some of the day.

61
Nunijup Lake

Another day’s R + R next to the lake.

62
Queerearrup Lake

After a good break, we left this morning and headed for Frankland River (squirted.disrorted.rivals) which is the centre of a small wine growing area - and where nothing much happens on a Sunday. Then north to Kojanup (misfortune.pitiful.dramatically) where we stopped for lunch. Despite being established in 1837, there was little evidence of the town’s history (perhaps we missed it) although there were a few old commercial buildings still standing. On to Katanning (verify.haunts.controllers) which is a much bigger town than Kojanup and is the service centre of the area.

Finally to our overnight stop at Lake Queerearrup where we found a campsite beside the lake.

Total km today: 210

Total cumulative km: 8,766

what3words: kindness.consequence.craters

Lake Queerearrup

Our (free) campsite at Lake Queerearrup

63
Queerearrup Lake

We had been invited to lunch with one of Ann’s cousins. She and her husband farm 9,000 hectares (educate.reason.inhale) not far from Queerearrup Lake.

They’d been there for quite some time, but had only recently built a new house atop a hill overlooking the area - and their farm - and this is where we had lunch. They grow crops (canola, wheat and oats) and also carry about 1,500 sheep. After lunch we were taken for a drive around the property and, as it was almost dark as we returned to this house, we were offered, and we accepted, an evening meal with them.

A most enjoyable day.

Total km today: 32

Total cumulative km: 8,798

what3words: kindness.consequence.craters

64
Queerearrup Lake

A glorious day but, as usual, very cold in the morning.

We were joined for our morning coffee by Ann’s cousin and we sat beside the lake for most of the remainder of the morning.

An afternoon walk, before the cold settled in, made for another enjoyable day.

65
Liberty Roadhouse (Cafe On Cornwall) and Katanning Caravan Park

Our last day at Lake Queerearrup - possibly just as well as we’d had the place to ourselves whilst there and three other vans turned up overnight.

On the way to Katanning, we stopped at the old Queerearrup school (courses.speculated.huge) which is now used by the local community for special occasions.

We also stopped at Woodanilling (remix.grilled.melts) - a very proud community which clearly looked after its town.

We had decided to camp for a night at the Katanning caravan park (curves.discloses.history) as we needed some water, a decent shower and get some clothes washed.

Whilst there, we visited Kobeelya which built as a family home by the ‘founding father’ of Katanning, Frederick Henry Piesse (who was a member of the WA Legislative Assembly for 21 years and also established a host of businesses in the town) in 1902. After Piesse’s death, the family offered the property to the Bishop of Bunbury and it was subsequently used as a girls’ school until 1986. It is now used as a Convention Centre.

We then went into the town centre and visited the ‘Premier Roller Flour Mill’ which was recently converted into a 5 star hotel (it opened in 2018) and restaurant by the owners (and original developers) of Dome Coffee. Dome claims to have 130 coffee shops around Western Australia and Asia. The Roller Flour Mill was established by one of Frederick Piesse’s businesses and the hotel, restaurant and downstairs bar have all been built around the original machinery. The hotel itself hosts most of the flour mill, nevertheless, we negotiated our way into the hotel (normally only accessible to hotel guests) and were able to see it all for ourselves.

It is an extraordinary building and most certainly worth a visit - even from Perth.

Total km today: 59

Total cumulative km: 8,857

what3words: steam.sparrow.sagged

Old Queerearrup school

What a great seat at the Queerearrup school!

Woodanilling

Woodanilling

Woodanilling

Woodanilling

Kobeelya

Katanning Hotel, unfortunately now used for other businesses

Premier Mill Hotel

Inside the Premier Mill Hotel

Inside the Premier Mill Hotel

Inside the Premier Mill Hotel

Inside the Premier Mill Hotel

66
Liberty Roadhouse (Cafe On Cornwall) and Katanning Caravan Park

We decided to stay another night at Katanning as we were keen to visit Dumbleyung - the weather forecast indicated rain over the next few days and we weren’t too keen being cooped up in the van and believed we needed to find a caravan park close to interesting things to see whilst it rained.

We left the van at Katanning and dropped into the Katanning sheep sale yards (pelt.virtual.rural) and then drove east to Nyabing. The country was reasonably productive but not very interesting. On the way, we stopped to have a look at Ewlyamartup Lake (lived.faiway.onboard).

Then turned north west to Dumbleyung, where a replica of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird is located (ridden.allowance.moped). Campbell made his successful attempt at the world water speed record on nearby Lake Dumbleyung on 31 December 1964 (444.7 km/hour). He had previously broken the world land speed record on Lake Eyre during July and was keen to make it a ‘double’ (both land and speed records) in the same year. Campbell died on Lake Coniston in 1969 attempting to better his previous record.

We then drove to the Donald Campbell Memorial on Pussycat Hill (glancing.curl.bulb) at Lake Dumbleyung where it was possible to see the course over which he urged Bluebird to break the record.

Finally, we drove through Wagin (doorways.prune.sharing) to Norring Lake (premise.warriors.inversion) where we’d been told there was a reasonable campsite - which we rejected as the likelihood of rain could have made the dirt roads difficult.

Another interesting day....

Total km today: 238

Total cumulative km: 9,095

what3words: steam.sparrow.sagged

Inside the bar at the Premier Mill Hotel on the previous evening (a superb gin and tonic for Ann and an excellent Shiraz for me!)

Katanning sheep sale yards - the largest covered sheep sale yards in the southern hemisphere

Lake Ewlyamartup

Scale model replica of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird at Dumbleyung

Lake Dumbleyung

Lake Dumbleyung

Memorial at Lake Dumbleyung

Memorial at Lake Dumbleyung. On 31 December each year (the anniversary of the record run) the sun is located in such a way that the model of the Bluebird (on the plaque in the foreground) is ‘hit’ by the sun shining through the small hole in the rock (which is seen just above the other plaque). The rock itself is shaped in the form of Western Australia.

Who knows what a doublegee is?

On our way to Norring Lake

67
Nannup Caravan Park

The rain held off when we left Katanning and was kind to us as far as Bridgetown.

Our route took us back through Kojonup, Boyup Brook and Bridgetown. We stopped for coffee at a memorial at Muradup, a small country town that only had a Post Office. But the memorial itself (newsstand.fragrances.protruding) was one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. Clearly, the local community was proud of its diggers and the memorial reflected their positive feelings for the service they gave.

The landscape changed quite dramatically, the further west we drove - from cropping (primarily canola), to sheep pastures, to forests and into very hilly country.

Nannup looks to be an interesting small town, which we look forward to exploring once it stops raining....

Total km today: 194

Total cumulative km: 9,289

what3words: shackles.imply.accidental

Muradap Memorial

Muradap Memorial - one of the stories within the information shed

68
Nannup Caravan Park

We left the van in the caravan park and spent most of the day touring the area.

First cab off the rank was the Nannup honey business where we tasted a range of local flavours, including Jarrah and Marri. The area is renowned for its timber industry and the local timbers allow the bees to produce wonderful honey. We left their store with a range of honeys including some creamed honey and honeycomb. Yum!

Then back to Bridgetown for our coffee and then a little way up the road to Greenbushes where we stopped for a while to visit the Discovery Centre to learn about the geology of the area and the mining (originally tin and now lithium). We also took time to visit the lookout over the old mine (crooked.switching.unanswered) - this was closed a few years back and the new mine is now all underground.

The drive back to Nannup was similar to the Nannup to Bridgetown road - very hilly, an almost never-ending chicane of bends in the road, lots of trees, plenty of sheep (and their new born lambs, a surprising proportion of which were twins) and rain!

We spent the remainder of the afternoon planning the remaining time before we return home for five weeks in mid-August. Our plan is to visit a good friend in Mandurah (south of Perth) tomorrow then drive north to visit Ann’s sister near Cue (throat.upstage.zeal) - a bit of a diversion however there were a number of reasons which prompted the decision. After staying at Austin Downs station for a few days we’d then drive down to Perth via Dongara/Port Denison (timely.connected.poodles) to catch up with some friends and with Ann’s brother. Whilst in Perth we hope to catch up with more friends and get the van and vehicle serviced.

Well - that’s the plan.......

Total km today: 132

Total cumulative km: 9,421

what3words: shackles.imply.accidental

Cornwall mine at Greenbushes

Example of a miner’s hut at Greenbushes minesite

69
Miami Caravan Park

We left Nannup in the rain and arrived at a caravan park just south of Mandurah in the rain. Not much fun.

We had previously made contact with Peter and Bronwyn Coghlan and they had invited us to have dinner with them that night. They used to live a couple of houses away from us when we lived in Port Denison and now live on one of the many canals in Mandurah (tailed.plug skill)

A few drinks into the afternoon, they invited us to stay the night at their place (it was several kilometres from the caravan park) - so we accepted their offer and enjoyed a few bottles of his excellent Shiraz and a wonderful meal of fish they’d caught further up the coast a few days before.

Total km today: 213

Total cumulative km: 9,634

what3words: odder.chant.alongside

70
Miami Caravan Park

A rather late start after a great evening exchanging news with the Coghlans. Peter was a forward scout with 3 RAR in Vietnam and returned home after his 12 month tour in 1967 (or 1968?)

After a hearty breakfast, they drove us around Mandurah, which had grown out of all proportion since we last saw it about 20 years ago. It currently has a population of about 100,000. Then on to a fish and chip shop for lunch before they dropped us back at the caravan park.

A most enjoyable sojourn!

Total km today: 9

Total cumulative km: 9,643

what3words: odder.chant.alongside

71
Miami Caravan Park

An interesting morning researching family history. Ann’s 5th great grandfather, Nicol Robertson Paterson died in February 1872 and was buried at what was then St John’s Church in Pinjarra (biscuits.clubs.filmed) a.ongside his wife Jane. He came out to Australia from Stromness in the Orkney islands in Scotland. The church has since been deconsecrated. He lived at Creaton, just outside Pinjarra, but the homestead is now a ruin (useless.lest.coolest) which is a shame as it was once a substantial house. His daughter was born there and we saw her gravestone in Gnowangerup several days ago.

Total km today: 78

Total cumulative km: 9,721

what3words: odder.chant.alongside

St John’s Church in Pinjarra

St John’s Church in Pinjarra

St John’s Church in Pinjarra

Nicol Paterson’s gravestone

Murray River which runs through Pinjarra (and also connects St John’s Church with Creaton

Creaton homestead ruins

Creaton homestead ruins

72
Jibberding Nature Reserve

We left Mandurah just after 9.00 am and headed for the freeway towards Perth.

Although we followed the peak hour traffic, the road was really busy - it’s apparent that the towns south of Perth attract a lot of commuters. The road we took avoided Perth CBD (Kwinana and Roe Freeways, for those who are familiar with the area) and we were soon on the Great Northern Road. We were last on this quite a number of years back and so we were amazed at the progress being made at upgrading what is an important route for trucks servicing the mines all the way up to Karratha and north.

We stopped at New Norcia (sheets.taxman.launch) for a sandwich, although we didn’t spend much time there as we plan to do that on our return to Perth in a week or so.

By the time we’d refuelled at Dalwallinu (prefix.garden.relying), we decided we’d had enough for the day and found a free camp a few kilometres further north.

The memorable issue of the day was that we’d reclaimed some much needed warmer weather - although we expect the nights to be cold.

Total km today: 371

Total cumulative km: 10,092

what3words: unfocused.upholstery.frustrating

Mandurah caravan park

Hotel at New Norcia - where we parked and made a sandwich

73
Austin Downs

The day was fairly free-flowing as the only towns we drove through were Paynes Find (lingo.waffle.saint), Mt Magnet (every.reappears.shape) and Cue (defending.explain.storage).

We did stop briefly at Mt Magnet to visit the relatively new museum, which was interesting, and to refuel.

The road to Austin Downs has been significantly improved since our last visit almost 20 years ago and we learnt later on that the Big Bell gold mine is soon to reopen - so that is incentive enough to widen and re-grade it.

Total km today: 375

Total cumulative km: 10,467

what3words: bristles.climber.overtaking

Mt Magnet

Hearse, made in Mt Magnet in the early 1900s, in Mt Magnet museum

Austin Downs sunset

Austin Downs sunset

74
Austin Downs

A very cool night, but the weather warmed up during the day and it was shirt-sleeves again!

Ann’s brother-in-law, Tom, had to retrieve some equipment from the southern boundary of the station, just over 70 kilometres away. Tom and I took the ute and trailer, whilst Ann and her sister, Barb, took another ute. One has to be especially conscious of distances (and complete lack of any communications) in this country, therefore it was essential either to take two vehicles or, when Tom and Barb have no visitors, Tom drives off on his own, letting Barb know where he’s planning to go and, if he doesn’t return by a specific time, Barb drives out to find him.

The equipment that had to be retrieved was located at a temporary camp where a fence was being upgraded. A sheep fence had already been installed, albeit requiring some attention, but because it was planned to introduce cattle to the paddock, the existing fence required an additional 250mm of barbed wire added to its height. 20 kilometres of fence had already been upgraded, whilst they have another 15 kilometres to go.....

On our return to the homestead we saw evidence of wildflowers starting to show. Also stopped at a waterhole which is used by cattle.

The Austin Downs property is about 400,000 acres.

Total km today: nil (in our vehicles)

Total cumulative km: 10,467

what3words: bristles.climber.overtaking

Fence line

Early emergence of wildflowers

Wildflowers

Early emergence of wildflowers

Waterhole

75
Austin Downs

A cool day with plenty of cloud cover.

One of Tom’s recently acquired second (or perhaps fifth) hand trucks featured a relatively small fuel tank and so he determined that an additional fuel tank needed to be installed on the tray. A search of the station’s dump revealed a discarded oil tank and so the morning’s work focused on getting this done.

The afternoon was spent doing minor maintenance.

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 10,467

what3words: bristles.climber.overtaking

76
Austin Downs

Tom is contracted, by Westgold which has the mining lease surrounding Austin Downs station, to do a weekly water measurement run at four sites along the water pipelines which deliver water to the minesite. We went along for the ride, which included entering the minesite and spending time walking the old Big Bell townsite.

Westgold only recently took on the mining lease for Big Bell. The mine was initially established in 1935 and the town, at its peak, grew to 850 souls with all manner of shops, markets, churches, provision of mail several times a week and almost everything today’s town might offer. When the mine first closed in 1955, the town died. Several attempts have been made to reopen it over the years and, today, plans are afoot to increase gold production next year. Miners are now employed on a fly-in/fly-out basis and the miners’ camp currently houses 150, increasing to 400 next year.

After returning to the homestead, it was back to vehicle maintenance....

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 10,467

what3words: bristles.climber.overtaking

Monitoring water movement

Westgold Big Bell Gold mine

Big Bell Hotel

Big Bell Catholic Church

Big Bell Catholic Church

Big Bell gold ore road train (4 trailers)

77
Coalseam

Tom and Barb has been away from the station for a few weeks as one of their daughters and her family were visiting from Africa (spending most of their time at Gidgegannup near Perth). So they needed to monitor re-generation on the station after their temporary absence - and they took us for the ride.

A significant proportion of the Murchison pastoral country has been seriously overgrazed over many years with little or no thought to future damage to the country and Tom and Barb have made it their passion to do something positive towards rectifying this - at least, on Austin Downs. This has resulted in some very significant improvements - but at the cost of them making a living of any significance. They started this project 15 or so years ago after their initial project to grow Chinese dates on a commercial scale in an arid environment came crashing down after a willy willy tore through their orchard, destroying everything in its path, including all the infrastructure they had built.

They were forced to abandon the project and refocus on the station and its regeneration, which required them to secure additional income from the gold mines (for Tom) and community occupational health (for Barb).

Their obvious concern now, as they approach \240retirement, is to accept that all their hard work in improving the grazing country on the station will be lost as a future buyer of their pastoral lease will, almost certainly, want to take advantage of all the improvements......

Total km today: nil

Total cumulative km: 10,467

what3words: bristles.climber.overtaking

Wildflowers emerging at Austin Downs

Lake on Austin Downs station

Destroyed Chinese dates orchard at Austin Downs

78
Coalseam Conservation Park

A relatively early start for our journey south and west.

We drove through Mt Magnet (sage.graciously.oily), Yalgoo (freebies.skylark.help) and Mullewa (upbringing.nearing.indulging).

We had lunch (great steak sandwiches in the Yalgoo Hotel) and had a look around the town before hitting the road again. On leaving Mullewa, we headed south and drove about 50 kilometres to Coalseam Conservation Park - renowned for its plethora of wildflowers but, as we anticipated, we were a few weeks early. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant place to spend the night. It had been one of Ann’s favourite places to visit as a child.....

The other, few, caravaners at Coalseam had organised a happy hour just before our evening meal, so it was a very acceptable way of ending the day.

Total km today: 403

Total cumulative km: 10,870

what3words: wrecking.clarified.gazette

Cue

Cue Police Station

St Hyacinths, Yalgoo

Yalgoo Hotel

79
Port Denison - Dongara

An hour’s drive and we had arrived in Port Denison. Simply beautiful weather, not a cloud in the sky, with just a bite in the wind.

Rob (Ann’s brother) and Ros, who we’d be staying with overnight, took us around the town, including a drive past our ‘old’ house which is now used as a holiday house. Then lunch at the cafe beside the Seaspray caravan park. A quiet afternoon followed by late afternoon drinks with crayfish ‘bites’ and a crayfish dinner.

Total km today: 100

Total cumulative km: 10,970

what3words: hilly.reason.warp

Sunset a Port Denison

Sunset a Port Denison

80
Gidgegannup

After breakfast we took Rob and Ros to a relatively new coffee shop in Dongara which had been set up in the original Roads Board building, owned by the Dongara Sub Branch RSL. The building sits alongside the Memorial Park and, fittingly, is named ‘Poppies’.

We had decided to drive straight through to Perth, rather than stopping overnight at New Norcia, as we’d planned, as David needed to see a chiropractor ro mend his back - too much heavy lifting with Tom at Austin Downs. We had previously arranged to park the caravan at Tom and Barb’s Gidgeganup property just outside Perth until it was due for its service in two weeks time, so we stopped there for the night and the following night.

Total km today: 346

Total cumulative km: 11,316