This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2000 Travels December 6

WEDNESDAY 6 DECEMBER     COFFIN BAY

We left camp at 8am, for the 50km drive into Port Lincoln.

After dropping Truck at the service centre, we had to fill in four hours, wandering around the town.  We did some shop browsing. Bought a new telephone handset and a cordless extension to match – at least we will be sure of having a phone when we get home.

John bought a new Harry Potter book.

We had lunch early – more to rest our feet than because we were really hungry.

Then did some supermarket shopping – not much, just what we could carry.

Truck was ready at 1pm.

We then drove around to have a more extended look at the town, which is clearly growing and seems very attractive. Drove out to the new-ish Marina Cove development – very upmarket!

We found a wholesale fish shop and bought some whiting.

Tea was hamburgers. Some of the magpies that regularly visit the van, begging, scored some mince, this time.

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Maybe if we sing, there will be supper?

V phoned. They have bought twenty acres near Bendigo, with house. No power or water laid on, but there is a pet donkey! Obviously, she was thrilled.

Tomorrow should be our last day here, but it is so pleasant that we decided to extend for another three days. That really has to be the limit.


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2000 Travels December 5

TUESDAY 5 DECEMBER     COFFIN BAY

The weather was variable today – fairly windy, but a bit dull.

I did the washing.

John phoned Landrover to check the time for his service appointment for tomorrow. He discovered, to his horror, that he’d managed to book into Port Pirie, rather than Port Lincoln! Any port………

So he had to cancel that service appointment. He phoned the Port Lincoln dealer and was very lucky to get fitted in tomorrow. At 9am, which means a fairly civilized time start, as these things go.

From snippets we have heard, the Port Lincoln Landrover service centre is supposed to be very good.

We went back to the National Park.

Visited the lookouts and Almonta Beach – all easy to get to.

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Outlook to the west from Point Avoid

John fished at Almonta Beach for a while, while I walked on the beach. John was not successful at the fishing, but I enjoyed my walk.

On the way back, John had a final try at fishing, from the fishing jetty on the point, in town. There was no interest from the fish, so he gave up.

Tea was soup, toast with sardines and tomato slices.


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2000 Travels December 4

MONDAY 4 DECEMBER     COFFIN BAY

The day was quite windy.

While John slept in, I did a much longer walk along the Oyster Walk, enjoying being by the sea. Then I walked back along the streets.

After breakfast, we went to the National Parks base, out on the edge of town, and bought a one month National Parks Pass. We’d worked out it was cheaper to do this than buy day passes every time we go out to the nearby Coffin Bay National Park, over the next few days.

Then we got organized with a cut lunch, and drove out to the National Park. The very attractive drive out to there follows the bay around.

We drove to Little Yangie Bay, which was about the first part of the Park ones comes to.

John had a brief fish there.

I walked to the top of the hill behind the bay, where there were great views over the bays and inlets.

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The outlook to the north from Yangie Bay hill

Then we drove  to the  Seven Mile Beach, much further on along the Peninsula. The track became quite sandy, although it had been ramped in one section. It is definitely 4WD terrain.

There was one other vehicle at Seven Mile Beach, but then they left and we had it all to ourselves – lovely. John fished, and I walked on the beach.

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Seven Mile Beach – and airplane contrails

We had lunch out there. It was a beautiful place – the long, curving beach, aqua coloured water, distant land across the bay, a few sea birds.

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Cormorants drying their wings

As we drove out, passed a couple of vehicles going that way – presumably to camp, as the day was getting on.

We also spotted a Rock Parrot – new bird for us.

John was determined to drive to Gunyah Beach, on the ocean side of the peninsula that Coffin Bay is on. We tried that in ’93, but the sand dune track was really hard in the Hilux.

We stopped to let some air out of the tyres, before taking the track to Gunyah Beach. It was easier with the Defender, although we got briefly stuck at the base of one dune. Let the tyres down a bit further and got through. The Truck handles the sand so much better.

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On Gunyah Beach

The seas were very rough.

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Gunyah Beach

John fished for a while, but got no bites. He then decided that he had achieved Gunyah Beach once more, and had no real desire to do it again.

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The track to Gunyah Beach goes through sand dunes

Had to stop and blow the tyres up again, then continued back to town.

Tea was bought fish and chips. Very nice ones.

We drove 90kms today.


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2000 Travels December 3

SUNDAY 3 DECEMBER     COFFIN BAY

There were some drops of rain through the night, and today was much cooler – very nice.

In the morning, I worked on the Xmas letter.

John took Truck to refuel – $1.09cpl.

After lunch, we went to bowls. The club people here seemed very nice. Gusty winds made consistent play difficult. John and I opposed each other as leads. They gave us two glasses with the club logo on, as a memento of the day – sweet of them.

Being cheap phone call day on our plan, we phoned T at Wonga Beach and had a good chat with him. They seem to still be happy there. It was great to make contact again.

Also phoned V, R and K – left messages at all three, but there was no response back. Why do we bother?

Tea was soup, leftover fish cake, some rice, salad and a tin of salmon – a real mish mash.

There was a low pressure system near Darwin that was predicted to turn into a cyclone. Since spending so much time in parts north, the occurrence of cyclones interests us far more than it used to.

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2000 Travels December 2

SATURDAY 2 DECEMBER     COFFIN BAY

The day was hot and humid.

We stayed around the van all day, basically. We needed some slow time, after all those days of driving long distances.

Walked to the nearby shops, got a paper, and read same.

John watched cricket on TV.

I did some van cleaning and washed the floor rugs in the trough in the laundry.

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Our camp at Coffin Bay

John drove off to investigate the local bowls scenario.

We did a short walk, after lunch, on the Oyster Walk Track, which hugs the coastline. We got onto it across the road from the caravan park, as went as far as the yacht club – not far. It was an interesting little walk, though, amongst the beach shacks, built almost at the water’s edge.

The large expanses of sheltered water around Coffin Bay are home to oyster leases. It is a major industry in these parts.

The somewhat gruesomely named Coffin Bay was actually a name bestowed on the bay by the explorer Matthew Flinders – after a significant person in the British Navy. So – Coffin was a person!

The other Trakmaster people came across for a pre-dinner drink. It was really pleasant to socialize again. They were wine makers from the Mornington Peninsula.

Tea was fried rice.

Phoned K to send mail here, on Monday.


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2000 Travels December 1

FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER   CACTUS BEACH TO COFFIN BAY   491kms

After packing up, which did not take long, we went for a little walk around the camping area, and managed to give away our surplus fruit and veg.

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Famous in surfing circles – the Caves Break at Cactus Beach

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The Cactus Beach camp area from the track to the beach

Had to retrace our route of yesterday, back to the highway. Again we passed the vivid pink lake. There is water both sides of a causeway. On one side it is pink, on the other side it is an ordinary coloured lake!

 

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Contrast each side of the causeway

After that, it was a straightforward run to Ceduna, through low scrub and mallee country.

We had to stop, of course, at the quarantine checkpoint on the outskirts of Ceduna. Here, I had to hand over cucumbers and onions – I hadn’t been sure about these, so had kept them to check. No – not allowed!

Then of course, we had to do a shop in Ceduna, to stock up on fruit and vegies. And bread, which we’d run out of.

Refuelled Truck there – $1.03cpl.

We continued on to today’s destination of Coffin Bay, travelling down the western side of the Eyre Peninsula. It was a pretty drive, passing through several townships and hamlets that would have been interesting to stay at and explore, had we the time. It certainly looked as if there was interesting coastal scenery along that stretch. Maybe another time?

We booked into the Coffin Bay Caravan Park for a week. $17 a night, with the seventh one free. This is our final treat for ourselves – the time to relax here and explore, because we really liked what we saw on the few days we stayed here in ’93. It is a village by an extensive lake and bay – very much reminded me of the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, except not as developed.

In the six days since we have left Perth, we have travelled 2,539kms! Not our preferred rate of covering country…..

This year, we have been in every Australian State and Territory, except the ACT. Six States and one Territory.

We set up on a good grassy site. It did not have much shade, though. Although it is high up, there are not views of the bay. However, the TV is great – John was pleased!

There seemed to be some noisy and rather feral, other campers around.

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Visitors at our Coffin Bay camp

There was also another Trakmaster van – a Nullarbor one. We spoke briefly with the owners – they have only had it since October and this was their first trip of any length.

There was a phone message from T at Wonga Beach – reminding us not to forget to send them one of our Xmas letters!

Tea was potato soup and fishcakes made using the potato I’d cooked yesterday.

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2000 Travels November 30

THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER   BORDER VILLAGE TO CACTUS BEACH   478kms

John slept in a little in the morning. He has had some pretty tiring days, one way and another. Also, his body time and that of the outside world are not yet in synch.

Today’s was a beautifully scenic day’s driving. We called in at all the wonderful coastal lookout points. For roughly 100kms, the highway hugs the coast. Here, the Nullarbor plain just falls into the ocean in steep cliffs. It makes for some very spectacular cliff views. It is also an area where one should be wary of driving – or walking – too close to the edge, which can be quite undercut.

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The flat surface of the Nullarbor Plain is evident

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The Nullarbor cliffs stretch away to the east

Some 40kms west of Nullarbor Roadhouse, the Highway turns a bit inland, but from near the roadhouse, there is a track to the coast again, at Head of the Bight – the most northerly point of the Great Australian Bight. We had missed the Head of the Bight lookout in ’93.

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At the Head of the Bight

We had lunch at Head of the Bight.

After this, the highway traversed a treeless section of the Nullarbor – from which it derives its name.

Just before we got to Nundroo Roadhouse, we stopped to help a couple of German backpacker girls, who’d had a blowout on their old station wagon. They’d made big black skid marks on the road – they were lucky not to have rolled it! They were a bit shaken. They did the labour of changing their own wheel, with John telling them how to do it. It was a retread that peeled off. They did not have matching tyres, either.

That stop took about an hour out of our day.

Refuelled at Nundroo RH – $1.15cpl.

At Penong, the little town with lots of windmills – which always seems rather surreal to me – we turned south on the unsealed 21km track to Cactus Beach.

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Some of the windmills of Penong

I’d forgotten that, on the way to Cactus beach, there are vivid pink lakes and large white sand dunes. It is really beautiful.

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Pink lake and white sand dunes

Cactus Beach is well known in surfing circles for having some of the best wave breaks in Australia. We came here in ’93 at the behest of one of the offspring, and loved the “different” nature of the place. We do not surf, but the beach, views and sunsets were superb.

It is also periodically frequented by great white sharks, but this does not seem to deter the keen surfers who congregate here.

It was getting quite late when we reached there. Fortunately, we knew the layout from camping here in ’93. There are little camping bays in the low scrub, and every so often there is a toilet – a circular wall made of chunks of local  limestone rocks, about shoulder high, and with quite a few gaps.  Inside is a seat on a half drum, containing a heavy duty garbage bag! These are collected and replaced with clean ones, each day. It ensures there is no pollution of the fragile environment here, from toilet waste – though I am not sure where all the used garbags go!

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Cactus Beach toilet

We could not find anyone in charge of the place, so set up in a little camping bay, where there was ample room for the  van. It was all unpowered, of course.

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Camp site at Cactus Beach

It was almost sunset time when we went for a walk on the beach. I collected some shells.

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Sun going down at Cactus Beach

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Back at the van, while a was getting tea, a man came round to collect our fees of $6.60 each.

Tea was gazpacho, coleslaw, mashed potato. John had a tin of tuna as well.

Afterwards, I had to have a cook up. I made potato soup, mashed potato, a tomato and onion pasta sauce. I couldn’t cook all the vegetable matter we have left, so decided to try to give some away, or else just forfeit it at the checkpoint.

Unfortunately, the night was too chilly for us to sit outside and watch for the little marsupial critters that we saw here in ’93.

The stars were really bright. I saw a falling star!

It would have been great to have stayed a few days here.

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2000 Travels November 29

WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER   CAIGUNA TO BORDER ROADHOUSE   305kms

We slept alright. There must have been truck traffic passing on the highway, and coming into the roadhouse, but we were so tired that we didn’t hear a thing.

After breakfast, John jacked up the van, yet again, removed the wheel, and put the clip back in place. He was very careful to tighten everything up! It all ran well, all day – hallelujah!

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John doing brake work – again! Our very bare Caiguna site

He also topped up the fuel from the jerry can. Given the price of diesel across the Nullarbor, it made sense to use this.

There was just enough of interest along the road to stop boredom setting in.

The area around the Madura Pass and Hampton Tableland was scenic. This was where the road descends from the flat Nullarbor plain to a lower coastal plain. Further on, at Eucla, the road goes up again onto the Nullarbor plain.

We stopped briefly at the lookout at the Madura Pass.

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Madura Pass

At the base of the Pass, the vegetation changed abruptly from the low mallee trees and scrub of the past couple of days, to more arid tussocky grass and very low scrubby stuff.

Refuelled at the roadhouse at Mundrabilla – $1.27cpl!

Eventually, we could see the sand dunes of the Eucla area in the distance.

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Eucla dunes in the distance

When we climbed up to the plain again, we were back into the mallee trees and scrub again.

At Eucla, where there was a motel, caravan park and a small settlement, we made a bit of an attempt to find the track to the Old Telegraph Station, to the south. This was a repeater station on the telegraph line from east to west, from the 1870’s, to the 1920’s when a new one was built further to the north.

By then, rabbit plagues had eaten out the vegetation and caused the bare coastal sand dunes to start moving inland. The old Telegraph Station ruin was being slowly swallowed by sand, so I wanted to see it, whilst we still could.

The sign indicating the way to it pointed into the hotel-motel, but from that point we could not see an obvious way. With the van on, it is not so easy to take wrong tracks and turn around, so we gave up quickly, and kept on our way east.

When we got to the Border Roadhouse – on the WA/SA border, obviously – we decided to stop there, thus having a shorter day, rather than do another three to four hours of driving to the next roadhouse. With the heat, we did not fancy camping where there was no power source to run the air-con.

We also “lost” three  hours of time when we crossed the border! Whilst it is easy to adjust the clocks and watches, the internal body clock can take longer to adjust.

We paid $15 for the night’s site. This was a much more pleasant place, with some trees around the camp area.

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Site at Border Roadhouse

We had lunch upon arrival, then John had a sleep. I worked on my Xmas letter.

Later, we went for a short walk in the nearby bush, looking for birds.

Tea was gazpacho, sausages, mash, coleslaw.

I am working to use up my vegetable matter before we reach the quarantine point near Ceduna, the day after tomorrow.

Again, we slept well.

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2000 Travels November 28

TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER   KALGOORLIE TO CAIGUNA   589kms

We were breakfasted, packed up, hitched up, and at the mechanics by 8.30am.

I hung around for an hour and a half, while John and the mechanic worked on the system. It was much more complicated than the mechanic had expected – and the fault was in the brake on the other side from where the previous work was done! Anyway, it got fixed, and I was wrong in thinking that the problem was with the brake controller in the Truck.

We nearly drove away with the van wheel nuts not tightened up again!

Refuelled at Kambalda – $1.11cpl.

It was then a long drive, as far as Caiguna Roadhouse, with its attached caravan park.

Fortunately, it was cooler than on Saturday.

The country was somewhat varied, but overall, pretty flat. There were some dry salt lakes at intervals between Kambalda and around Norseman. A slight rise over the Fraser Range gave an outlook over the very flat surrounding country.

Initially the vegetation was dominated by low-ish mallee type eucalypts and the brilliantly orange trunked salmon gums, interspersed with lower regrowth and shrubs, with bare sandy soil between bushes. As we drove east, the trees became further apart and in areas there was just low grass and shrubs.

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Highway 1, west of Caiguna

We spotted a new bird for us – a purple crowned lorikeet – near Norseman.

There was steady truck traffic on the highway, but we had no problems with these. It was a rather good road.

We stopped in a roadside parking area to eat our lunch.

Not long after passing Balladonia Roadhouse, we entered the 90 Mile straight stretch, Australia’s longest totally straight stretch of road – almost 150kms long. I wanted to stop for a photo by the sign, but John was not so inclined.

By the time we reached Caiguna Roadhouse, at the eastern end of the Ninety Mile Straight,  it was time to stop. We did not want to be driving this road, with its wildlife, at dusk.

Our powered spot at the attached caravan area cost $16.50. It was basically a parking spot on gravel and asphalt, by a power pole. No shade. But it would do for the night.

Tea was gazpacho, salmon cutlets, salad, followed by fresh mango.

John found one of the van’s brake clips in his overall pocket. He was definitely most unhappy about this!

Early night.

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2000 Travels November 27

MONDAY 27 NOVEMBER     KALGOORLIE

It cooled down somewhat, during the night.

After breakfast, John set to work again on the van brakes, with me as “gofer”. He replaced the electrical plug on Truck, having found much mud and gunk in the plug, and a broken wire on “Aux” which he decided was the brake wire.

However, the brakes still did not work.

I wondered whether an incident back at Dongara, just before all the problems started, might account for all this. When we were setting up there, while everything between the Truck and van was still connected, John plugged the 240V power into the van. Normally, we would have disconnected the electrics between Truck and van before doing this. I wondered whether it had somehow affected the controller unit?

In the end, John called the RACV and they in turn organized for the WA RAC to come out to us. The man could not do much on site, but said we were to take the van into their repair place tomorrow morning.

So we may not get all that far tomorrow, depending on when (if) the work is completed.

I felt that I had done very little, in over a week in Perth and Kalgoorlie, except hang about while John fiddled with all this stuff. It had been boring and, in a sense, a waste of precious time.

I suggested that John ring Trakmaster and get the number of his auto electrician, who we know knows about electric brakes, then phone him and try to talk through diagnosis and repair on the phone. I was thinking it really needed a caravan specialist, not these provincial generalist mechanics. John was not keen on this idea, though.

He did, after checking our Truck manual, phone the Landrover dealer in Port Lincoln, in SA, and booked Truck in for a service. We have decided to go stay at nearby Coffin Bay. By then, Truck will be a little overdue for its 120,000km service. It would be too much of a stretch to wait till we got home.

We drove to the centre of town and walked around a little, admiring the grand old buildings we could see. Kalgoorlie really does have some wonderful architecture dating from its boom gold rush days, from the 1890’s. It was rich in gold, and that shows in the buildings.

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One of Kalgoorlie’s grand old buildings

We drove to the Super Pit, where gold is still mined. Apart from alluvial surface finds, the earlier mining here was via shafts. Now, the Super Pit is a huge open cut mine. We watched operations for a while. The Pit is on the edge of the town, but there are places where it has consumed former streets. Its size is hard to conceive of!

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The Super Pit

That was the extent of our tourist activity here!

Tea was gazpacho, steak, mushrooms, broccoli. followed by fruit.