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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)

Days 13 -17 Queensland to Western Australia

Kalgoorlie - Western Australia 26th - 27th - 28th - 29th - 30th July

Kalgoorlie, a city I will never forget for all the wrong reasons.
Our stay was meant to be for 2 nights, instead we stayed here for 6 nights, not by choice but by necessity.
Our car was booked in for a service in Kalgoorlie. We picked up the car and were on our way when I noticed the engine light had come on. Back to the garage we went, this happened many times! It wasn't the mechanics fault, it was the supplier who sent parts from Perth that were faulty and should have been recalled, this meant we had to wait another day for more parts to be sent to Kalgoorlie. We thought it was fixed, but every time we headed off, back the light came on, and back to the garage we went. Eventually, on the 30th July, we were on the road and leaving Kalgoorlie behind! It looked like the problem had been fixed, little did we know that we would run into more problems down the track.

Kalgoorlie is a large city which has now combined with Boulder, so is known as "Kalgoorlie-Boulder."
We found it to have many attractions that kept us quite busy for a few days, 6 days and we ran out of things to do

The township of Kalgoorlie was established when gold was found by three Irish gold prospectors in 1893. Paddy Hannan reported at the time that 8 pounds of gold nuggets had been found. There is a statue of Paddy in the main street (Hannan Street)
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Paddy Hannan

Within days, 700 gold diggers had arrived in Kalgoorlie, all pegging out mining claims around the area, all hoping to find some gold. Kalgoorlie's gold rush had begun and by 1903 the town boasted a population of 30,000, along with 93 hotels and 8 breweries.
Well, there is nothing like that now, although there still are a lot of rather fancy Hotels.

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Kalgoorlie's pioneering gold diggers were rich, this we could see by the quality of the historic buildings in Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie and in Boulder.

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Impressive building in Kalgoorlie

I walked both sides of Hannan street and was really impressed!

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Hannan Street

By the late 1890s, Kalgoorlie's rich alluvial gold deposits had been largely worked out, bringing to an end to the gold rush. We went to Hannan's North tourist mine and saw how the old miners lived in these tough times in a replica of a gold prospector's camp. It was an excellent open-air museum.
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Prospector's House
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Old mine

In 1902, gold was found at 1500 feet below the surface. Boulder Mining leases mined this area which became known as "The Golden Mile."
The area contained the richest square mile of gold reserves in the world.
Today, the Golden Mile is being worked by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines. We went to the view-point to see the huge open-cut gold mine, the largest in Australia. It is known as the Super - Pit. Current dimensions of the "Super Pit" are 290 metres deep by 1.5 kilometres wide and 4 kilometres long, although could be much larger than what I read on the postcard. It was so deep, we couldn't see the bottom, and those monster Euclid tip trucks looked the size of mice! Really worth seeing and free! A tour can be done, this covers more of the internal side of what happens to the gold.

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Super Pit

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Super Pit

And, if you want to sit in one of these trucks, you can do what we did, and go to Hannan's north tourist mine where they have one the same as is being used in the mine. We put a hard hat on, and climbed up and sat in the driver's seat, quite an interesting experience!

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Euclid truck at Hannan's North mining Museum

Other Museums we went to, was the Train Museum, not large and only a gold coin donation required.

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Train Museum

An excellent Museum was the Western Australian Museum in Hannan street. We couldn't miss it, as a red Mine Poppet was where the Museum was located. Entry was free, but a donation was appreciated, we were happy to give as it really deserved to have an entry fee.
We were able to take a lift nearly up to the top of the poppet. From there we had wonderful views over the city and surrounds.

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View from the Poppet over the city centre of Kalgoorlie

Some Miner's cottages were on display, complete with picket fence and cottage garden. They were cute, and we went inside for look to see how they lived back then.

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Goldminer's cottage

There was heaps to see from back in the olden days.

Of interest, was the Vault where gold nuggets had been loaned to the Museum and were on display. I found there were many ways of finding gold.

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Gold nuggets in the Museum Vault

Kalgoorlie is probably the only place in Australia where there is a "Red Light District" with working brothels. It is famous for both gold and the brothels, which happen to be illegal but the police turn a blind eye as long as there is no trouble. Men outnumbered women, so the women were brought in. Today, a few brothels remain, one is a Museum in the day time and a working brothel during the night. Hay street is the place to go!
Back in Kalgoorlie's hey-day, scantily dressed ladies of the night were on every corner.

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Hay street brothel

On a drive around Kalgoorlie, we came across the huge Kalgoorlie cemetery and on the other side of the road, was the lovely Hammond Park.
What an inviting park it was! I loved the entrance gates...

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The large lawned area and playground and a beautiful Rotunda....

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A pond where children were feeding Ducks....

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a lot of cages with a variety of Parrots

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Another interesting place we went to, was the Flying Doctor's base at Kalgoorlie airport. We missed the tour, but were lucky enough to be given one by the lady in charge. Once again, a donation is appreciated as this is how the Flying Doctor stays flying. It was interesting seeing where the bases in Australia are and where they fly. They had a map on the United Kingdom in the centre of Australia, just for all the oversea's tourists to get an idea of the size of Australia.

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We were taken to the Hanger to see the Plane, one was already out on a call. It was amazing how it's set out. Four people plus the Pilot can be in the Plane -the Doctor & Nurse, Patient and person going with the patient

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lInside of the Flying Doctor's Plane

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Flying Doctor's Plane

For something to do on the Sunday, we went to the Kalgoorlie races. Beginners luck - I picked a winner! Not a bad day's outing!

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At last our car is fixed and we will be on our way through the outback of Australia.

Posted by balhannahrise 04:12 Archived in Australia Tagged birds museums parks history australia heritage western gold mining Comments (0)

Day 18 Queensland to Western Australia

Kalgoorlie to Menzies - Western Australia 30th July

At last we are on the road again and heading along the inland Great Northern Highway to Leinster where we hoped to spend the night. 65kms out from Kalgoorlie, the engine light came on again, grrr!!!
We had to turn around and head back to the garage. After quite a while, we were given the all clear to go. It was lunch time, so we bought lunch and started again. About 70kms from Kalgoorlie, we passed by quite a large working mine...

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Mine on side of road

And many more roads leading to mines. We are running well behind time, so instead of making it to Leinster, we only reached Menzies where there was a nice small and newish Caravan Park.

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Caravan Park camp kitchen

For Dinner, we walked across to the Hotel. Meals are expensive out here, luckily they had TBone and vegetables or salad on the Menu for $20!

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We were glad to get to bed and have a good nights sleep after all the stress we had at Kalgoorlie.

Posted by balhannahrise 04:44 Archived in Australia Tagged australia western trip Comments (0)

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