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Day 6 Queensland to Western Australia

Port Augusta to Pildappa Rock @ Minnipa, South Australia

Woke up to a cold, windy and cloudy morning in Port Augusta, unfortunately it stayed like this all day.

Today, we are heading to some new scenery. We are away fairly early and soon are driving past the huge open cut Iron ore mine. The iron ore found here at Iron Knob was of such high quality that it started an iron smelting industry. It is referred to as the birthplace of the steel industry in Australia. Huge dump trucks were working on what looked to be a new mine.

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Iron Knob mine

From Port Augusta, we are travelling along the Eyre Highway which is the main road to Western Australia. What we notice is how green and lush everything is, especially the Blue Bush and Salt Bush,obviously the area has had rain recently for the area to be looking so good.

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Countryside after good rains

It is lunch time and we are near Kimba, the town known as the "halfway point" when crossing Australia on the Eyre Highway.

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Halfway across Australia

It's Saturday and the town is dead! All the shops are closed, but the one where the "Big Galah" is located, is open. A photo shoot is in order!

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Big Galah @ Kimba

The flowering Gum trees are a picture and another photo is a must!

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Flowering Gum Tree @ Minnipa

We see a Brown Tourist signpost pointing to White's Knob. Last time we didn't go there, so today we did. The hill isn't that high although high enough to give good views over Kimba, the Golf course and the surrounding countryside.

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Overlooking Kimba and surrounds

Also at the Lookout are two wonderful sculptures made out of bits and pieces of steel. One if of Edward John Eyre, a famous Explorer who was the first man to cross Australia from Sydney, NSW to the Swan River in WA. The other sculpture is of his Aboriginal helper "Wylie," who he relied upon for his bush skills.

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The expressions on the faces look so real!

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Wylie

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Edward Eyre[center]

As we follow the road downhill and back into Kimba, I glance towards the showgrounds and realize it is Saturday and all the townsfolk are here watching football. The Showgrounds had some very interesting Murals to take a look at!

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Showground Mural

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Showground Mural

Time to leave Kimba behind and follow the Eyre Highway to Minnipa. Along the way we had to stop at the small town of Yaninee because of a funny mural painted on the public toilet block. A good one!

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Toilet Block @ Yaninee

Our last town today is Minnipa, but we aren't stopping there, but following the Tourist signed road 15kms to Pildappa Rock where we will free camp for the night.
Wow! What a sight Pildappa Rock was, just beautiful! Only one other camper was there. He thought Pildappa rock had better colour than the famous WA Wave Rock. First we set up camp for the night near the Free gas bbq and picnic table and benches. A toilet was located a little distance away.

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Pildappa Rock camp area

Next, I went for clamber up the side of this giant pink granite monolith that was formed about 1500 million years ago.

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Pildappa Rock

Pildappa Rock is known as an inselberg. Its outstanding feature is a unique wave form or "flare" structure extending for quite a way, often at a height of 2 - 3 stories high. Pildappa's flared slope is the product of complex chemical weathering below the surface.

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Pildappa Rock

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Pildappa Rock

Located on the top of the rock I found numerous gnamma waterholes, some empty, many with water and tadpoles and plants growing in them.

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Gnamma Holes

Also of interest were the constructed gutters I found made by pioneering farmers to channel water run off from Pildappa Rock. How clever were they, as the gnamma rockholes were the only permanent source of water to be found in this part of Eyre Peninsula. The local Kukatha tribe of Aborigines realized these rockholes were essential for their survival in the dry and arid environment. Early European settlers also recognised the value of such waterholes. I even found the remains of dam walls on the top of Pildappa rock, made by pioneering farmers in order to increase the rainfall catchment area of gnamma rockholes.

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Dam walls on Pildappa Rock

At the base is an extensive system of man made gutters. These gutters were constructed in 1928 and designed to channel water runoff into a huge underground water tank on the northern side of Pildappa Rock.

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Wall around the base of Pildappa Rock

Other points of interest were the mosses growing on the rock and the loose rocks which had been sculptured by the wind.

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And don't forget to take in the wonderful 360° views you get from the top of Pildappa rock, these were great too!

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View from the top of Pildappa Rock

After spending plenty of time on top of Pildappa rock, it was now time to completely walk around the base of the rock. It wasn't a long walk, but another interesting one as I was viewing the rock from a different angle. All the way around was black stripes made by water running of the rock during heavy rains. What a sight it would be in the wet as there were dozens of these areas which would form waterfalls in wet weather.

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Watermarks on Pildappa rock

That a stunning rock this was and with so much historical interest!

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Pildappa Rock

Posted by balhannahrise 04:21 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes australia south camp things free monoliths Comments (0)

Day 7 Queensland to Western Australia

Pildappa Rock @ Minnipa to Ceduna, South Australia

Pildappa Rock - What a great place to greet the sunrise! We had a good nights sleep and were in no hurry to leave this lovely campground. A donation was asked for which we were more than happy to put in the donation box and to sign the book. We head back to the Eyre Highway the same way as we came in. Across the Highway is the Apex Park where the famous "Crappa" Toilet is located.

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We travel through more of the same scenery until we reach the small township of Ceduna located beside the Indian Ocean. We book into the Caravan Park that has ocean views, then go for a walk to check out the town. As it was Sunday, nearly every shop was shut and the town was dead, only Tourist's walking the streets.
There isn't a lot to see here, but I did like the esplanade walk where the Norfolk Island trees lined the edge of the road and the longish Jetty stretched out into the sea.

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Ceduna foreshore & jetty

From the foreshore I could see Silo's in the distance which were at the Port of Thevenard, 3kms from Ceduna.

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Thevenard

In the centre of a cross-road in the town centre is a sign post with umpteen mileages to many places around Australia and the world, quite interesting seeing how far we are away from these places as "the crow flies."
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TOMORROW - We begin our drive across the Nullarbor Plain to Western Australia.

Posted by balhannahrise 05:10 Archived in Australia Tagged hiking scenery rock camping free pildappa monolith Comments (0)

Day 8 Queensland to Western Australia

Ceduna to Nullarbor Roadhouse - South Australia

It was 7 am and still dark in Ceduna. Today was the day we began our big journey across the Nullarbor. We filled the car with fuel at Ceduna and then travelled along the Eyre Highway past many paddocks with Sheep and others planted with crops such as Wheat.

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Sheep near Ceduna

Along the Highway we noticed many signs

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Watch out for wildlife on the Nullarbor Plain

Not long afterwards, we began seeing many squashed Wombats on the road and lots of Wombat mounds in the paddocks. Dusk or early morning would be the best time to see them live! Penong was where we stopped for our morning tea.

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Lunch was at Yalata where we enjoyed some of my home-made pea soup. Back on the road, we see a notice to the Head of the Bight, this is where the Whales come and give birth and stay for a while before heading back to Antartica with their calf.
During Whale season there is an admission charge to walk to the Bunda cliffs to view the Whales.

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Whale centre and where you pay admission fee

It was just a short walk and we were at the edge of the cliffs. Already we could see many Southern Right Whales in the water.
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Southern Right Whale

The sea is a beautiful blue and the cliffs just blow you away! Proper walkways and viewing platforms have been erected to make it easier to see the Whales at close quarters. Sure enough, many were lazing about with their calves just below the cliff - wow! There wasn't any action, I guess the mothers are too tired after giving birth, still it was a wonderful sight to see!

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Southern Right Whale & Calf

We stayed here a while and watched the Whales, read the interpretive signage and then went back to our car to continue our journey towards the west.

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Head of the Bight

Well, we didn't make it over the border today, tomorrow we will for sure!

Posted by balhannahrise 05:33 Archived in Australia Tagged road trip whale watching plain nullarbor Comments (0)

Day 9 Queensland to Western Australia

Nullarbor Roadhouse, S.A to Caiguna on the Nullarbor Plains, Western Australia - 22nd July

Our campsite was great! We didn't hear the traffic as we were back from the road, this gave us a good nights sleep. The morning was sunny but quite cool. Back on the road early and it is mainly Semi-trailers on the road.
Travelling this section of road, we find tourist signs to look-outs along the cliffs. We drive into Stop 1 and soon put on Beanie and gloves because of the cold wind blowing from Antartica.

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Brr! It was cold!

The cliffs were great, but a little dull looking in the morning when the sun wasn't hitting them, would be much better with the sun on them. Still, it was worth a stop as it has proper viewpoints and information boards.

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Stop 1

Some wildflowers had already begun to flower in this area.

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Stop 1

It was here we met a Victorian couple from Geelong. We kept on meeting them at every look-out, our last time was at Eucla, then we didn't see them again. This is the good part of travelling!

We went into all the stops and found each one to be a little different. I was a little disappointed that we didn't see anymore Whales.

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Stop 2

Border Village is where we cross the border into Western Australia. Here is a notice sign beside a picnic area which has distances to all places around the world. Next to it, is a giant Kangaroo which I took a photo of.

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We had our morning tea break and enjoyed our break watching the road-trains pulling in and out of the roadhouse.

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After morning tea, we make our way to the border crossing [Quarantine checkpoint] where we are stopped and asked if we are carrying any fruit & vegetables, honey and other products. We had already got rid of ours, but it you haven't, then you have to surrender them here. The Officer in charge had a look through our car and caravan and gave us the all clear to enter Western Australia.

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At last we are here!
Eucla, home of the old Telegraph station. Fuel is a little cheaper here. LPG is $1.27 litre & unleaded Petrol $1.98. I thought Eucla had the nicest and cleanest looking Motel on the Nullarbor. On this side of the border there is a giant Whale.

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Eucla

We took the drive towards the coast and to the old Telegraph station, must say I was rather disappointed as it was half buried in sand.

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Historic Telegraph station

Of more interest were the monuments at the top of the hill that we stopped at on the way back.
One is the Eucla War Memorial that consists of two granite boulders. It commemorates Australian servicemen and women who have served in all wars and conflicts.

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Eucla War Memorial

A cross next to the War Memorial is in memory of the Christians and other people who helped build the new highway.

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The last Memorial in this area is to Edward Eyre & Wylie who camped in this area.

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Along the highway we see a sign with a Plane with R.F.D.S. Airstrip. This is here to notify people that the Royal Flying Doctor Plane is using the Highway as a landing strip when attending an accident in the area. Of course, people will we be at each end of the strip to notify travellers on the highway that it will be closed for a while. I think we saw five of these signs along the Eyre Highway.

large_SAM_6761t.jpgFlying Doctor airstrip.

As we have been travelling along the Highway, the Fraser Range has been to our right. Now were are going up and over the Madura Pass which is our way through the Range. It is getting late, so time to look for a campsite. Once again, we found a good free camp away from the highway at Jillbunya Rockhole. We quickly set up camp and we finished just as the first spots of rain began to fall. During the night it rained quite heavily.

Posted by balhannahrise 00:15 Archived in Australia Tagged outback road camping trip free plain nullarbor Comments (0)

Day 10 Queensland to Western Australia

Caiguna to Norseman, Western Australia

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.

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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.

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Race winning car

Still on the Nullarbor Plain and we see a quite a pretty dry pink lake.

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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.

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Norseman

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.

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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.

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Norseman Hotel

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.

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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.

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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.

Posted by balhannahrise 17:00 Archived in Australia Tagged australia road western trip plain nullarbor Comments (0)

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