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Day 5 Queensland to Western Australia

Peterborough, South Australia to Port Augusta, South Australia

Brrr! That was a really cold night, only 3° and a white frost in the morning. I slept with a beanie on and still was cold!

Well, at least a frost meant a nice sunny day which it turned out to be although on the chilly side because of a cold wind blowing. Early morning and we head into Peterborough. Only the garage is open, the rest of the town is dead, far cry from the days when Peterborough was a very busy railway town.
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Today, the shops have been restored and the old homes painted, tourism is where the money for town comes from these days.
It still has kept its link with the Railways though! The tourist information centre is located in an old railway carriage, there is an old steam train in the main street and the massive Steam town Museum.

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The next town is Orroroo. In the centre of the road are some marvellous sculptures made out of iron of the early pioneering days. I loved the one of the old draught horses pulling the plough.

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Orroroo

We are heading to Eyre Peninsula, so from Orroroo, we have to pass over the Flinders Mountain Range.

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Lower Flinders Mountain Range

The road we take is through Horrock's Pass. In summer of this year, a huge bushfire devastated this region, today, the grass was green and the trees looked very fresh with new foliage sprouting from their burnt tree trunks.

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This pretty drive through the gorge brought us out to where we had wonderful views of Spencers Gulf. We turn right at Port Wakefield road and follow it into the industrial city of Port Augusta, located at the head of Spencers Gulf.

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Port Augusta

As we have been here before, we stop at the Shoreline Caravan park again. We are given a waterfront view site, trouble is, the wind was so cold and strong that we couldn't sit outside to enjoy it! Our stay here was to buy more groceries and to do the washing. We bought what we thought was a nice lunch from a Bakery in town, only later we both had food poisoning which must have come from what we ate there. Dinner was at the nearby Sharks club. Meals were cheap and good, service was terrible and two drinks cost $17!
Today - the scenery was good!

Posted by balhannahrise 13:46 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes park australia south caravan peterborough Comments (0)

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 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)

Day 11 Queensland to Western Australia

Norseman to Burra Rocks, Western Australia 24th July

Most of the Caravanners were leaving Norseman today, just as we were. I think this Park is used mainly as a base for an overnight stop before and after crossing the Nullarbor Plain.
Today, we are heading north towards Kalgoorlie. On the highway out of town, we pass by a Motor cyclist who has broken down. Poor bloke looked quite dejected that nobody was stopping to help him, we were going to, just had to find somewhere we could turn a car and caravan around. He was happy to see us arrive and was really lucky that Ian could fix both of his problems and get him on the road again. A abusive Caravanner pulled alongside at one stage, I thought to give a hand, not the case, only to shout abuse about not getting off the road completely! How ignorant, stupid and inconsiderate this person was, as if either of us had gone off the road any further, we would have been bogged in the soft soil from the heavy overnight rain. Neither of us were blocking the road. In these outback locations where there isn't a lot of traffic, it is common courtesy to stop and give help, a pity this abusive person didn't do this!!

Some towns out here have really unusual names, like Widgiemooltha. Cobb & Co coaches once changed horses here on the Coolgardie to Norseman run.

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Once a thriving town, now just a Roadhouse and a replica of a large gold nugget. It was in 1930 when a few nuggets were found near Widgiemooltha sparking Western Australia's last great gold rush. Times were tough during the 1930’s depression years, so unearthing a massive 38.4kg nugget was indeed a welcome find.

It was the biggest nugget ever found in WA and they called it the Golden Eagle as it resembled an eagle in flight. It still holds the record today.

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Replica of the "golden eagle" gold nugget

At Widgiemooltha, we turn off the main highway and follow a dirt 4WD road through the Cave Hill Nature Reserve.

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Road to Cave Hill Nature Reserve

Arriving at the Cave Hill Nature Reserve, we found a very nice picnic and camping area complete with toilets and fire pits, not bad in an isolated area!

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Cave Hill picnic & camping area

A little further along the road is the area where we can park and walk to and on the giant granite monolith.
It is where I find a large cave created by erosion. The colours were beautiful!

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The large cave at Cave Hilllarge_SAM_7012.jpg

I was amazed to find shrubs growing out of the rock!

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Shrubs growing in cracks on Cave Hill

After viewing this amazing cave, I continued walking on this granite outcrop incase there was anything else worth seeing - sure enough there was!
On this part of the monolith, I found some more interesting caves in ochre colours.

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Cave Hill

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Wildflowers

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Wildflowers

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Cave Hill

Also on this side, the rock walls were shaped in a wave formation, coloured dark brown and orange. When it rained, many waterfalls would be tumbling over the sides.

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Wave shaped rock walls

It was late July and the start of the wildflower season. A walk along the nature track which winds through the reserve is where I saw a few of the beautiful wildflowers.

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Wattle

Still in the National Park, we follow the dirt road until we reach Burra Rocks where there is another lovely campground that is free to camp at. Toilets, a fire ring with a bbq plate and a nice flat area to park the Caravan. Ian went and collected some wood for the fire so he could cook some damper and our dinner.

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Dinner

I went for a walk on Burra Rock. This is another large rock monolith, but quite different to Cave Hill. Climbing the rock I come across a stone wall which was built by early settlers to collect water and to make a dam on the actual rock. Clever!

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Dam wall

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Woodline Dam

As I make the short climb to the summit of the rock, I pass by many interesting boulders precariously balancing on the large rock surface!

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Burra Rock

How on earth do they sit here and don't roll away!
The wind has created many shapes.

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Burra Rock

Once at the summit I have a great view over woodlands where salmon gum, gimlet and redwood are growing. I can also see another monolith in the distance.

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View from the top of Burra Rock

Back to camp for dinner under the stars. It is us and the Kangaroos in the middle of nowhere, so peaceful!

Posted by balhannahrise 04:37 Archived in Australia Tagged nature australia road camping western trip free wildflowers reserve australia. monolith Comments (0)

Day 12 Queensland to Western Australia

Burra Rocks to Kalgoorlie - Western Australia

Morning, and the sun was up and shining, nice to see after a very cold but peaceful night at Burra Rocks. We quickly packed our gear and soon were travelling along a dirt road for 55kms to the gold mining town of Coolgardie
Along the roadside were many beautiful native shrubs covered in red flowers.

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We soon reach the outskirts of Coolgardie where there is a Lion's Lookout. This gave good views over the area.

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View from Lion's Lookout

Also at the look-out was a Poppet head from one of the old mine shafts.
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Poppet Head

Less than a kilometre from here, was the historic National Trust House - "Warden Finnerty's House." In 1895, this residence was built for Coolgardie's first Resident Magistrate and Mining Warden, Irishman John Michael Finnerty.

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Warden Finnerty's House

From here, I followed the brown tourist sign to a rockhole (Gnamma Hole) full of water. This was where Arthur Bayley and William Ford discovered gold in September 1892, thus creating the biggest gold rush in Australia at that time.

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Rockhole

From where I stood on Montana Hill, I could see that Coolgardie was only a quarter of the size it would have been when the gold rush was on!

The main street was very wide, this was to allow the Camel-trains room to turn around in the street.

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Coolgardie's main street

The main street had many impressive buildings, a sign of just how rich this city once was!

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Ben Prior Park is a free open air museum of old bits and pieces of machinery and some old buildings from the gold rush times. Probably men would enjoy it more, but I did like seeing the old Bank, old carts, cars and other types of transport used in those times, and reading about the history of Coolgardie. During the Goldrush, Coolgardie had six Banks and 23 Hotels.

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Coolgardie Bank

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Old car @ Pen Prior Park

As I walked along the main street, I found out about the history of Coolgardie by reading the signage located at each historical site. There are many signs, so I didn't get to read them all, I needed a lot more time to do that.

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The sign infront of this house tells me it was used as the first Post Office

The Tourist Information centre had a small Museum with quite a good display and information on the town. For a gold coin donation, I thought it was worth the visit.

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A model of Coolgardie during the Gold Rush

Well, it was time to hit the road again and travel a short distance to the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie where we will spend some time. As we near Kalgoorlie we catch up to a very wide load, quite common in these areas. With no chance of passing, it was a slow trip to Kalgoorlie.

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Caught behind this wide load

At last we were at Kalgoorlie and we able to pass the wide-load and make our way to our Caravan Park where we will stay for a couple of nights.

Posted by balhannahrise 05:01 Archived in Australia Tagged history australia heritage road western trip Comments (0)

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