This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels September 26

WEDNESDAY 26 SEPTEMBER     RENMARK TO BENDIGO   425kms

The early morning light on the Murray River was interesting.

After all the horrendous driving stages of the time just gone, done to fit in with the TV football schedule, we now found ourselves with a few days to spare before our house sitters’ time was due to end, and they would expect us home, on 30th.

John could think of nothing he wanted to do, to fill in the time, except he was adamant that it should not involve National Parks or walking! We had previously spent time in the Riverland and around Mildura. So we decided to go on to Bendigo and visit with daughter and family there. At least we would be able to give grandson a couple of days’ break from child care – and John would have some enthusiastic company – and a good TV picture – for watching the AFL Grand Final on Saturday!

So, it was on through to Mildura and down the Calder Highway, to Bendigo.

Refuelled at Red Cliffs – $1.38cpl and again on the outskirts of Bendigo – $1.25cpl.

We parked the rig in daughter’s driveway. With some trepidation, due to its slope. The wheel chocks were reinforced with stacks of bricks, before van was detached from Truck!

No more caravan park fees for this trip!

Grandson was thrilled to see us, when he and his mum arrived home. She had not told him we were coming, so it was a great surprise for him.

Bendigo was cold, after the places we had been! I had to burrow under the bed and drag out the little fan heater from storage, to warm the van up in the evening.


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2007 Travels September 25

TUESDAY 25 SEPTEMBER     PORT AUGUSTA TO RENMARK   450kms

Back to the early starts in the morning…..

On the road again. We went the same way as we had on Sunday – east through the hills and winding roads of the Horrocks Pass to Wilmington, then through Orroroo, Peterborough, Burra. This was a familiar route for us, so it was just a matter of covering the distance.

The wind turbines that had sprouted in recent years, along the ridges through here, provided something extra to look at. I don’t think they enhance the scenery, though.

John decided not to stay at Morgan, where we had sometimes overnighted before, but to press on to Renmark. However, we did stop to eat our packed lunch at Morgan.

Refuelled in Renmark, before finding the caravan park. $1.29cpl.

At the Riverfront Caravan Park, we went on to a site that fronted on to the Murray River. After discount, paid $27.

The site was scenic – a pleasant change and the nicest we’d had since leaving Eighty Mile Beach. The Murray River was quite full.

After the basic set up for a one night stay, I walked into the town, for some exercise. John didn’t feel like the exertion, and stayed at the van.

We had not long been set up when we were visited by a hopeful – and friendly – pelican. He did not stay around long, after I told him there would be no handouts at our van.

The sunset reflections on the river were wonderful.


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2007 Travels September 24

MONDAY 24 SEPTEMBER     PORT AUGUSTA

A proper sleep in this morning….

Today was John’s birthday.

After breakfast, went to the main shopping complex, so I could buy the makings for a birthday meal of his choice – a roast chicken dinner.

Topped up the fuel again, after yesterday’s drive – we’d done about 120kms. Went to the other major brand servo on the main highway and found the fuel was cheaper – $1.35cpl.

John played computer games for much of the rest of the day.

The roast chicken, vegies and gravy turned out well, “roasted” in the electric frypan.

After tea, watched the Brownlow Medal Award count on TV – the reason we had stayed put these couple of days here.


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2007 Travels September 23

SUNDAY 23 SEPTEMBER     PORT AUGUSTA

For the first time in a week, we were not moving on today, so there was no alarm waking us up at some horribly early hour. I got to sleep in – until all of 8am!

John had agreed, yesterday, that since there was no football on today, we could have an outing of my choice. My preference was to go walking at Alligator Gorge, in the Mt Remarkable National Park, east of Port Augusta. Many, many years ago, whilst still uni students, M and I had hitch hiked from Melbourne to Adelaide, and from there joined a group of phys ed students who were doing a two day hike in the Mambray Creek section in the south of this National Park, but I had never visited the northern part.

Refuelled on the way out of town, at one of the servos favoured by truck drivers. $1.37cpl.

We had to take the very familiar Horrocks Pass road to Wilmington, then the Alligator Gorge road to our destination, the Terraces and Narrows Circuit walk – a bit over 3kms.

Alligator Gorge (Parks SA)

From the car park, we descended down some steep steps to the creek level, then turned roughly north, to walk along Alligator Creek to the Terraces.

Going down into the Gorge – little indication here of the sights to come…

The creek was incised into a gorge, mostly not all that deep, compared to, say, those of Karijini, but still interesting with red rock walls.

Red cliffs and spring flowers

The track was rocky and rough until we reached the Terraces.

Look down, not up!

The Terraces were, as the name suggested, broad flat “steps” in the creek valley. It was a tranquil place, with varied plant growth.

The Terraces
A longer walk followed the creek from here, up onto the ridge beyond
Going back along The Terraces. …

We had passed section of grass trees.

After spending some time looking at rock pools – there was a trickle of water in the creek – and just sitting enjoying the spot, we retraced the way, past the steps we’d come down, and on along the creek.

Here the gorge was deeper, and in parts overhung the path below.

The Narrows was a section of the gorge where the rock walls really closed in, forming a cleft that was only just wide enough for a person to walk through.

Approaching the entrance to The Narrows
The Narrows
Flood debris in the narrow chasm

This was not a place one would want to be in a heavy rain storm – I felt that it could be subject to flash floods at such times. It was actually quite a spooky section, I thought.

This short walk was really quite dramatic, with much contrast in the nature of the Gorge. It was quite a little gem, and a walk I’d like to do again, if we ever came back this way. Given that it was a weekend, it was surprising that we saw no other people walking, although there were a handful picnicking up top at the carpark area.   

A contrasting section – smooth track and grass underfoot

What comes down, in this case, must go up again…..after passing through the Narrows, a track climbed steeply – including up lots more steps – to the Blue Gum Flat car park. From there, we followed the road back to our parking area, and Truck.

Almost to the path that would take us up the cliffs again….

This had been a most enjoyable short walk. It was so good to get some exercise after the week of sitting in the vehicle. The weather was just right for this sort of walk – not too hot.

John was not in a particularly good mood, and not interested in any more exploring, so it was back to camp for the rest of the day. Computer games for John, reading and sewing for me.


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2007 Travels September 22

SATURDAY 22 SEPTEMBER     CEDUNA TO PORT AUGUSTA   470kms

Onwards again……

With only a few brief stops for “comfort” and to alternate drivers, we reached Port Augusta in time for John to see the next football finals match.

We booked into the Port Augusta Caravan Park, onto an ensuite site. For what I had endured over the past six days, I deserved a little luxury, I thought! It cost $34.20 a night, after discount.

John’s TV reception was not as clear as he thought it would be, though. I was not sympathetic!

While John was fiddling about with his TV and watching football, I walked to shops a few blocks away, bought the weekend papers.

It had been quite hot, the past few days, and was still warm here.


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2007 Travels September 21

FRIDAY 21 SEPTEMBER     NULLARBOR ROADHOUSE TO CEDUNA   300kms

We were away early. Sleeping late was not an option in a place such as this!

Not far from our overnight stop, I did manage to convince John to slow down, for a little sightseeing! It was still the season when whales and their calves were to be seen off the coast, and this was an experience we had not encountered before.

Detoured south from the highway, to go to Head of the Bight. Here, we paid $12 for entry to the whale watching area. From the parking area, walked to the viewing platform area.

We were absolutely thrilled to see two whales with calves, really close in to the cliffs below us.

Whale and calf playing at Head of the Bight

These creatures were fascinating to watch, just lazily and slowly swimming around, with the calves playing around their mothers. It was so pleasing to know that, these days, they were mostly safe in a place such as this, and not subject to the hunting depradations and cruelty of earlier times in the Australian colonies. Just a pity that this is still not the case the whole world over. Superb creatures…..

Diving under mum…..

We stayed there, watching the whales, for over an hour. It was the most interesting thing I had seen for years!

Calf somersault

Then it was pressing on to Ceduna, passing through the quarantine check point not far before that town. We did not have anything to hand over – the food supplies were actually getting quite low. It was ages since I’d done a comprehensive food shop – Broome, Over the last couple of nights, I’d made meals that used up what vegetable matter I had on hand.

We obtained a powered site at the Foreshore Caravan Park, in the town. It cost $19.50, after discount. We were informed about the security gate arrangements and codes. When John asked about the TV reception, he was informed by the lady that it wasn’t the best. He was not happy about this and was actually rather terse with the person.

After setting up, we walked out onto the jetty and along its length. From out at the end, the town looked deceptively attractive. Then walked through the town, and bought some food for tonight and for a sandwich lunch tomorrow.

We were browsing in the Information Centre, when an indigine came in. I think he was demanding something – to use the phone, perhaps,  and was very unpleasant to the lady operating the place. He told her it was “a blackfellas town and we can do what we want!” It was quite an embarrassing display to witness, with her speaking politely to him and trying to be reasonable, and him abusing her. I don’t think he was sober. After he wandered out again, she indicated scenes like that were not unusual.

We took Truck out – we’d had to unhitch on this site – and bought a dozen oysters for tea, at a seafood sales outlet. One great thing about the coastal towns in this region is the excellent seafood.

From dusk, and well into the night, there was a gathering of locals on the foreshore area, near the caravan park. They were very noisy and argumentative, and it was not pleasant listening to the ruckus.

We had previously found the Shelly Beach Caravan Park, out of town, a much more peaceful place to stay, but John vetoed going out there this time, because he thought the TV reception was better in town. Thoughts of karma crossed my mind……..

John watched the football preliminary final, after tea. Between the poor TV and the external noise, it was not the quality experience he had been expecting. We might have been better to have stayed in Kalgoorlie until after the weekend, and then had a more pleasant time across the Nullarbor – but I did not think it wise to say so.


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2007 Travels September 20

THURSDAY 20 SEPTEMBER   FRASER RANGE TO NULLARBOR ROADHOUSE   810kms

Just one very long day of driving today. All familiar from previous trips.

At least, this time was more pleasant – slightly – than the one last December, when we experienced temperatures pushing close to 50 degrees around Eucla.

A little variety was offered by the descent and ascent at the Madura Pass, with its interesting views.

Also by stops for fuel – at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse ($1.75cpl) and Mundrabilla ($1.48cpl). The latter had a reputation for usually being one of the cheaper places for fuel on the Nullarbor crossing.

My plan was that we would stop at the WA/SA border, at Eucla, where we had stayed before and found reasonably pleasant. For me, that would have been quite a long enough day. I was conscious that the impaired circulation in my left leg was not helped by long days of sitting in the rather cramped space of the passenger seat in Truck. A couple of hour-long turns at driving, while John napped, didn’t really help much.

However, when we reached the border, John wanted to press on, and would not be talked out of it.

So we pushed on for almost another three hours, to Nullarbor Roadhouse. Our powered site in the caravan facility there cost $20. It was simply a place to stop. where the Roadhouse offered showers and toilets – convenience offset by the ongoing noise from the large trucks pulling in and out of the place.

Where the Nullarbor Plain meets the Great Australian Bight

It was a relief to stop for the day. I had shooting pains in my legs, my feet were swollen, and my lower back was hurting. Just too much sitting and being inactive, I guessed.

In bed at night, I could still “feel” the motion of travel. It was not actually all that unpleasant.


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2007 Travels September 19

WEDNESDAY 19 SEPTEMBER     LEONORA TO FRASER RANGE   490kms

Before our morning departure, we gave M and R a bottle of wine, as thanks for having us stay there.

I tried, unsuccessfully to fix the non-functioning fax machine there – it was the one I had at RV2. I really had no idea what was wrong with it and not enough knowledge to even  make an intelligent guess.

On wards, south to Kalgoorlie. There were places. like Menzies and Lake Ballard, that I would have liked to be able to stop and explore, but not to be. There was a lot around that area to the north of Kalgoorlie that was unfinished business, for me.

Found places to park the rigs in Kalgoorlie, where we had to check for mail. It was a bit of a hike from where we parked, to the Post Office, but that at least offered a chance to have a little look about.

Topped up the fuel – $1.33cpl.

Parted company again from M, who was staying on in Kalgoorlie for a few days, to explore. She did not want to do such long days as we were now having to, or to hang around somewhere boring in SA, to watch football.

We continued on, over roads driven before, to Norseman – another fuel top up – $1.45cpl. Then turned to the east, onto the Eyre Highway, which crosses to Nullarbor Plain, to SA.

Decided to overnight at Fraser Range Station. This was a caravan park set up, not all that long ago, on a sheep property. It was now well enough established for trees to have grown, and to become quite an attractive place. Our powered site cost $20.

After the usual basic set up for an overnight stay, we went for a late afternoon walk, out along one of the walking trails that had been established, for a couple of kms. There were good views over the surrounding countryside, from the top of the low range. It was a pleasant way to finish off the day. This was a much nicer place to stay than one of the roadhouse caravan facilities along the way.


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2007 Travels September 18

TUESDAY 18 SEPTEMBER     NEWMAN TO LEONORA   750kms

We were away early, again, with another long day of driving ahead of us.

Stopped to refuel at Capricorn Roadhouse – $1.51cpl.

This was all previously driven country for us, but new to M, once south of Newman.

The country became flatter, south of the Pilbara range region. The scrub became saltbush dominated. Regular west flowing floodway crossings – all dry – were the most interesting feature, as the scrub was thicker along the waterways, and there were some trees.

We made a toilet and drinks stop at Kumarina Roadhouse.

About 90kms south of Kumarina, turned onto the unsealed Neds Creek road – the “short cut” south east, past Neds Creek and New Springs, to Wiluna.

Corner Neds Creek track and the Great Northern Highway

There were lots of wildflowers along this section, but for the most part it was flat and scrubby, with occasional crossings of dry waterways to liven things up.

The last 40kms or so of this road, before Wiluna, is actually the first part of the legendary Canning Stock Route, which heads N-NW to eventually reach Halls Creek in the Kimberley. This was on our bucket list, to drive, sometime soon – a trip of at least 21 days, from Wiluna to Halls Creek, and not a track on which to take the caravan! Except for the section from Well 2 to Wiluna, which we were doing now.

When the Canning Stock Route was established as a droving route, wells were sunk at regular intervals, to provide watering points. Some of these have been, in recent times, restored, to provide water for 4WD travellers doing the Route. Well 1 is near Wiluna, Well 51 is by Lake Gregory, south of Billiluna Community, where the Canning Stock Route joins the Tanami Track.

We turned off, briefly, to have a quick look at Well 2 and stretch our legs.

Stopped at Wiluna to refuel. $1.60 cpl. Apart from that, it was not a place that tempted one to linger.

From Wiluna south, the road was a good, sealed, one again. The country was increasingly arid and scrubby.

Country south of Wiluna (Google)

We did not call in to Leinster, just off the road south. We had seen it before – just the typical purpose built mining service centre.

Continued on to Leonora. Refuelled – 1.44cpl.

There, we stopped at the accommodation lodge that was owned by the NT construction company we worked for, last year, in the Pilbara. We wanted to catch up with a couple of our co-workers from RV1, who were now managing the lodge. Also, having heard so much talk about it last year, and having despatched my office supplies and other gear there, towards the end of the project, I was curious to see the place.

R said we could park our rigs in the grounds, and even hook up to a power point. We did not need a second invitation!

The Lodge was quite an impressive set up. There were lots of donga rooms, which M had looking really good inside – comfortable and clean. These were linked by covered walkways to give a more unified appearance than the separate units of the rail villages. The gardens were coming on and the pool looked inviting.

With all the recently renewed mining and exploration activity in the surrounding area, there was a real need for this type of short term accommodation.

There were not many guests in, today, so R and M were able to give us just about their full attention. Their 4WD had been stolen, very recently, by “locals”. They had broken a locked gate into the yard to get at it. It was recovered, quite wrecked, but R intended to try to rebuild it. There were big problems in the town, apparently, from the “local” element and their friends and relations from Kalgoorlie.

In the grounds, there was one accommodation donga building that had been brought down from RV1. It was somewhat cyclone battered. My old office donga from RV2 was also there. It had been rolled over by the cyclone, which had still been strong enough, some 250kms inland, to do that! It was a real mess inside – jumbled up desks and filing cabinets; obviously nothing had been done to clear it out after it had been trucked down here.

We talked about the company’s current projects, and got news of other people we had worked with.

Eventually, we retired to our rigs – R and M had work to attend to and it was time for us to cook our dinners.

A 10litre cask of water had shifted around inside the van, and worn itself a hole in the liner, and leaked onto the floor where it had been sitting. Fortunately, most of the water had been soaked up by the floor rugs, but some things on the floor of some cupboards and under the bed  had gotten wet. I probably should have carried the cask in a bucket or the washing dish. Hindsight is wonderful!


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2007 Travels September 17

MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER     EIGHTY MILE BEACH TO NEWMAN   690kms

We were away from Eighty Mile Beach reasonably early.

M had phoned while we were packing up. She’d had enough of the Tom Price visit and proposed to meet up with us tonight at Newman.

Last November, when we travelled back to the Rail Village from our R&R stay, there were fires along the highway before Paroo Roadhouse. Now, some of that burnt country appeared to have regenerated quite well.

Did a quick stock up on some food supplies at the South Hedland shopping centre, and refuelled there – $1.44cpl.

As we drove south on the Great Northern Highway, passed the dirt road that was the way into the Rail Village 1 camp, that had been “home” for three months last year. We could glimpse in the distance, the old Fly Camp site and a white dome that was the workshop of one of the rail building contractors, obviously replaced after the big cyclone of last March.

It was a bit tempting to drive in and have a look at the Rail Village 1 camp – to see how it had been cleared and rebuilt after that cyclone – but we didn’t. Thought it might not have been politic for anyone associated with the first version of the Camp to go visiting!

There were lots of wildflowers along the roadsides, mostly oranges and yellows – the colours of the Pilbara. And of course, the ubiquitous mulla mulla.

The amount of mining associated development we passed through in the last couple of hundred kms before Newman, was amazing. So much had changed through there, in less than a year. A lot of the change was associated with the new Hope Downs Mine project. This mine was in the area we had explored in 2004, and I hoped that, somehow, some of the lovely rock pools and waterholes we had seen had been preserved.

We reached Newman in the late afternoon, after a long day of driving.

M was already there, of course, given that she did not have so far to come. She had gotten us a site in the Newman Caravan Park, for which we were grateful. With all the mining development now, around Newman, one could not take accommodation there for granted.

Our site cost $23.

Shower, quick tea, and early night.

The caravan park was so noisy, through the night, with shift workers coming and going.