Caiguna to Norseman, Western Australia
23.7.14 - 24.7.14
We woke up to puddles and wet red soil - Yuk! Red soil sticks like glue to our shoes, the tyres of the van, we drag it inside the caravan and make a mess!
Our last day on the Nullarbor Plain. We are travelling along the "90 Mile straight," Australia's longest straight road - all 146.6 kilometres of it to the Balladonia Roadhouse. In the Balladonia Roadhouse is an interesting and FREE MUSEUM, which we both enjoyed. The displays within the museum cover everything from Balladonia's early pioneering days to the dramatic crash landing of the Skylab space station in 1979. Inside the Museum are a few remnants from Skylab.
Part of NASA Skylab
At the time, local Dundas Shire Council presented NASA with a littering fine, and President Jimmy Carter even rang the Roadhouse to make his apologies.
In the1953 Redex field, Jack ("Gelignite") Murray entered the event in a 1953 Plymouth and John Arthur (now Sir Jack) Brabham was in a Holden.
The winning car of the Redex trial around Australia in 1953 was the 1953 Plymouth driven by Jack [Gelignite] Murray and is on display in the Museum.
Race winning car
Still on the Nullarbor Plain and we see a quite a pretty dry pink lake.
We eventually cross the Nullarbor and arrive at the town of Norseman and the Norseman Caravan Park at 1pm. The sites are only lightly covered with gravel and it was raining, so once again we have the problem of red soil in the caravan.
Gold was discovered at Norseman in 1892 but because the gold was found in a hard quartz reef and not alluvial, the area didn't attract a massive amount of prospectors such as Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie which we will soon visit. The rich gold reef was discovered by Laurie Sinclair in 1894. His horse named 'Norseman' uncovered a piece of gold bearing quartz, and as they say, "the rest is history." The town was established and named in honour of the horse.
When the rain stopped, we went into the old gold mining town of Norseman for a look. First stop was the information centre where a very friendly and helpful lady helped us with what to see and do in the area.
Norseman has an interesting round-about with cut out tin Camels in the centre. This sculpture is in memory of the days when Afghans and their camels were used by the Mining companies and other businesses to transport their goods. The Camels usually travelled 20 - 25 kms a day over the desert country.
As I walk along the main street, I notice that is very wide. As I had previously read signage about the camels, I knew this was to allow the large camel-trains to be able to turn around in the street. There isn't much in the main street, most of the shops have closed down. An old Hotel, a chemist and a busy IGA Grocery store.
An amazing sight that is on my tourist guide, is the enormous size of the slag heap. This is the waste after the gold has been extracted. Up to 2002, 5 million ounces of gold had come out of the Norseman operation.
Norseman gold operations
The road to the mine continued on and up the highest hill to Beacon Lookout. Here, there is signage on the history of the town which was really interesting reading.
The lookout is quite good, although the council should lop the heads of the trees for better views. The view stretches for miles and miles as far as the eye can see. There are many dry pink lakes in the area.
Back to the Caravan Park where we make the decision to go out for Dinner, but where? We only have two choices, the Hotel, which didn't look the best, or the Service Station, this is where we chose to go. The meals were pre-cooked and huge, I guess because they cater for Truckies who stop here for their meal. That completed the day, tomorrow we head north.