ABS trip to PERTH
July 26th to 31st Aug 2007
see www.alchester.com.au/absoutback.htm for outback communication link details and why we're trialling Next-G v's CDMA.  See the trial
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we'd like to mention a couple of important supporters of this journey, and the great company of fellow travellers:
Rod and Sue Holloway from Townsville,
travelling with Betty and Gary Pope.

Query us on mailto:gaz@alchester.com.au

Anyway:......  Where's The Basin?
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official  mascot: Tyson
Alchester Village Meat Supply - Stan, Carolyn, Tim Coates  and the team for their Award Winning meats- 'the best' in Victoria!  Check the awards. (on page 2)
Andrew Gallop and his team - Hardings Caravan Services for servicing/support of caravan and towing equipment. (Hardings Newsletter)
Digitech Corporation - Michael Pope for technical assistance with the ABSoutback mobile intenet communications setup/support. Digitech Services
Panther/Soterion - George Linardos for technical advice on low wattage portable lighting. check the Fire Fly torches!

Pirahna - for unfailing advice on matters of UPS and pure sign Power Inverter equipment for automotive use. Contact them for 4WD accessories
Hillview Motors & Tyres

- Ian Hendrick for all mechanical, tyres & personal service.
Cnr Mountain Hwy & Forest Rd, The Basin  Ph: 9762 7017
  Summary of trip.
Subaru 2002  2.5 manual 5sp 4 cyl AWD; 1300kg Gazal Poptop Van

(See a complete list of FUEL PRICES and PERFORMANCE RESULTS here)


**This website is best viewed with Mozilla Firefox web browser.......
                                      

10,240 kms
in 35 days.
used:  1434 litres of fuel
prices:

from  $1.25.9 to $1.69.9 (ULP)
Worst seen: 
$1.79.9 (Premium) at Balladonia.
Best prices over the Plains stretch: Norseman Shell, Mundrabilla, Eucla
Av 14 lt/100kms  (88% towing)
best (not towing):   9.5lt/100 on Shell V-Power)
Worst: (towing into head wind) 18.lt/100 on BP ULP
along the world's longs single stretch of straight road east from Balladonia
  Tested: CDMA, Optus GSM, Telstra GSM, Telstra 3G, Telstra NEXT-G
CONCLUSION:   CDMA coverage still far better than NextG at this stage! (Aug 2007)
Worst loss: Optus GSM Best connection (other than CDMA):
NextG (except missing between vital rural locations)
  Most significant COMMUNICATIONS observation:   The stretch over the Nullarbor Plains from Ceduna to Norseman only had small points of connection at the 7 roadhouses - a stretch of 1200kms with only about 100kms of coverage.  
** See diary entry: 8th August.  300,000+ people per annum without communications
Ceduna OK,but loses Next-G west of Penong, Nullarbor OK, Eucla OK, Madura OK, Cocklebiddy (NO); Caiguna (NO); Balladonia (NO); Fraser Range Station (NO); Norseman - OK.
  Most memorable events: Seeing Tail End Charlie (tractor) en route around Australia; Visiting the 12-mile Great Ocena Drive in Esperance; Investigating the mines at Kalgoorlie; The view of Perth from Kings Park; Travelling through 8 different wine regions from Rutherglen, Riverina, Margaret River, Swan Valley, Clare, Barossa, Padthaway and Coonawarra, and back home to Yarra Valley.; Seeing whales at the Head of the Bight at Nullarbor; climbing the sand dunes at the telegraph Station at Eucla; staying at some great camping parks like: Shelly Beach Ceduna, Fraser range Station (90kms east Norseman), Spear Creek (25kms SE Pt Augusta), Edenhope Lakeside Tourist Park, Streaky Bay Foreshore Caravan Park....  Issues experienced:  Seized Viscous Coupling on first day; and only one tyre blow-out (caravan right wheel on the Nullarbor).....   and a stressed dog wondering why we just drove for days coming home on the tail leg!
27th July THE TRIP BEGINS...... 

Leave for Rutherglen, but arrived at Glenrowan BP roadhouse with broken centre viscous coupling (alias - 'diff'). Managed to creep into Wangaratta for some professional help from local Nissan/Subaru dealer.  Parts ordered for Monday, and RACV 'total care' plan provided rental and accomondation - so the Rutherglen meeting for Friday night and Saturday proceeded!

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28th July Spent the day in Rutherglen touring Campbells, Stanton & Killeen, Morris' and Gehrig's with a top noche pie stop at Parker's Pies in town.   The Nissan Tiida has won our respect on the trip - but left the bounty of wine entrusted to Michael for safe return to Melbourne.   Happy birthday afternoon drinks for Lorraine, with the gang at Toulerie's restaurant/motel, then back to Wangaratta Caravan Park.....   (Not too much Next-G enroute this day - Subaru ABSoutback left in the dock.) 2007_02_sml.jpg (24264 bytes)

 

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29th July Wake up to 'Macca' on ABC in Erina.... what else to listen to early Sunday mornings!   Tour to Tarrawingee, over to Everton and on to Beechworth for lunch, followed by Chiltern for a historical walk thru town.  (Next-G has to wait another day till the 'diff' returns!) 2007_03C_sml.jpg (24514 bytes) 2007_03D_sml.jpg (23347 bytes) 2007_03E_sml.jpg (21075 bytes)
30th July Business calls, as we thrash out some curiosities about AWD versus 4WD and the risks of damage if tyres are at different pressures.  We're informed that a centre viscous coupling can overheat and explode, if the average front wheel diameters differ from the average rear wheel diameters (possibly caused by over weight on towball or incorrect tyre pressures.)  This all seems pretty complex for what is meant to be a small tow vehicle.  We're advised o put 29psi in fronts and 36 in rears and to adjust rear pressure depending on whether a caravan is on or off! 

Looks like Next-G testing will need to allow for extra time spent on the outback roadside deflating and inflating rear tyres between stop-overs and outback signal testing!.    All people we talk to with real 4WD's can't  cope with this level of housekeeping.....  Perhaps it is  time to look at a vehicle that actually has a real centre diff, and not be spending all its life just trying to balance a 50/50 drive thru all four wheels. After all, there are towing, cornering and loading situations where traction is a real issue, and differential control is needed - even if it is just turning around u-turns regularly - and just plain driving.  Viscous Coupling replacement costs:  $1500.  Replacement coupling arrives from Albury Subaru, and strip down of the car commences.   Time to visit some locals to fill the day nicely.

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31st July Car repaired by 3PM, so limited time left to get down to the public weighbridge and re-check some weights and load figures - but managed to squeeze it in!  At 1320kg the Gazal Little Nova caravan was under the car's rated maximum, but we considered this to be a little high, so returned to camp to re-adjust.   Earlier in the day, we took time out to meet up with a long lost relative, Tess. 2007_04C_sml.jpg (23399 bytes) 2007_05B_sml.jpg (24517 bytes) 2007_05C_sml.jpg (26103 bytes)
1st Aug Let the West Bound trip begin!.    We re-packed, and went down to the weighbridge to double check our handiwork, and returned the rental Nissan, and took off from Wangaratta, and headed out thru Yarrawonga.   (Originally we were to go from Rutherglen via Corowa).  The plan was to take a pretty straight line west / north-west towards Mildura on the NSW side of the Murray river, going via Deniliquin.  We got some bad advice about side-cutting thru to Balranald and was told to try the Swan Hill road - but others subsequently said that cutting thru to Kyalite was in fact possible.  With all this we must have shot out of town, one street too far south, so we drove to Moulimein the long way (about 144kms instead of 116kms).   So we were about square with the ledger overall given our Corowa bypass.  Went on thru to Boundary Bend for the night.   Very little Next-G along this route - and not much GSM of course......  Long live UHF - I say - at least you can chat with those nearby.  By the way, we discovered how we can make better use of van space by sleeping UNDER the bed!  (Not really - sorry Betty!) 2007_06A_sml.jpg (23230 bytes) 2007_06B_sml.jpg (24384 bytes) 2007_06C_sml.jpg (23516 bytes)
2nd Aug. Along the Sturt A20 thru Robinvale (home of largest windmill in southern hemisphere!) and Mildura, and onto Lake Cullulleraine where we were saved with precious petrol two year's ago, and where the chicken is great, we re-fuelled for old times sake. (BTW: This old beast in Robinvale looks like it may have the right goods for carrying our next communications test equipment into the outback! - no viscous couplings in this old dear!)   NextG seen in full at last....  Messages flying in and the backlog of communications gets processed.  Thru to Paringa and Renmark - all good for Next-G.  Highway B64 kicks in just after Monash near the turnoff at Morgan, and this starts a tricky set of four zigzags thru the towns of  Burra, Spalding, Gulnare (the one to really watch) and into Crystal Brook.  Telstra Next-G died after Burra, but caught up shortly prior to Port Pirie.  (But refer note on 5th August about this experience)   (Optus GSM was good at Morgan, Burra and Crystal Brook, but dead in between).    We reached Port Pirie on dusk and settled into the town to catch up affairs at last.  We're basically two days behind schedule, but back on track in terms of location. 2007_07A_sml.jpg (23672 bytes)


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3rd Aug Set out from Port Pirie late after chatting with locals, and took off through Pt Augusta and over the top of Eyre Peninsula to Kimba for lunch.   Top schnitzels in town, and fuelled up to take the trek over to Poochera turnoff to Streaky Bay to meet Rod and Sue.  Scenery was pretty arid with salt bush grey/blue scrub for the journey to Kimba, but thereafter was lush  green wheat growing areas right thru.   Many small towns passed through, with huge wheat silos bannered SACBH.  Came across many BMW bike riders making their way to the Eucla reunion - keen travellers!  Arrived Streaky Bay Foreshore Caravan Park at 4PM and settled in for the night. 2007_08_sml.jpg (20249 bytes)

 

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4th Aug Saturday - relaxing day checking out the 50km loop around via Cape Bauer where we were treated to our first glimpse of a Southern Right Whale - bit far out to sea to see, but a great experience.  Lovely scenery and views back to the township of Streaky Bay. 2007_09A_sml.jpg (27446 bytes)

 

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5th Aug Sunday - another local visiting session, this time, travelling about 60km south to Pt Labatt where we saw a Sea Lion colony - really great, despite the cold wind howling through us.  A great vantage point to see families of these great mammals, feeding and sleeping on the rocks below.   The trip back from there, took in some great views of Searly Bay and Searcy Bay.

(Technical note:  Optus GSM totally unavailable in the whole area since Pt Augusta, and across the top of Eyre Peninsula.  Also no coverage in Streaky Bay.  But we discovered a cabling messup after refitting the ABSoutback back into the Subaru after the trouble in Wangaratta!....   the second access point was not connected to the hub - which explains why we had only one port available.  Also, the UPS restart facility is not automatically kicking in after a car start  - so we need to review the facts of Next-G coverage of the last few days!)
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6th Aug Packed up early to head out of Streaky Bay and over to Ceduna - the inexpensive Oyster capital - at $6.50/doz if you like oysters.   En route, we stopped at Smokey Bay and viewed its oyster facilities and jetty - great stop off for the dogs.   Quick trip and settled into one of the best caravan parks we've experienced in terms of clean private amentities and features:  Shelly Beach Caravan Park  (www.cedunacaravanpark.com.au Lynton and Anna Browne 08-86252012, dogs permitted)  - about 4 kms east of the town, opposite the racecourse (FPA).  Anna (host) made us immediately welcome and helped us plan the next few nights that lay ahead for us over the Nullarbor.  The camp kitchen, and private styled ensuites that are in this camp truly deserve a 5th star!.   Spent the afternoon (after the obligatory bakery stop) travelling to Denial Bay and down to the sand dunes of Davenport Creek, about 35kms west of Ceduna.  Interesting ruins of the McKenzie farmhouse and original landing jetty at Denial Bay which established the roots of the area. Then back to Ceduna for a hard earned BBQ steak (from Stan's the Butcher back home at Alchester Meat Supply - where else!) 2007_11F_sml.jpg (23017 bytes)

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7th Aug Left 9:30AM to head to Penong and thru Nundroo (fuel stop and lunch) and onto Yalata (shutdown these days) and finally to Nullarbor to stay for the night.  Dropped vans at Nullarbor and visited Head of the Bight to view whales from the various viewing platforms - good value for money!  Arrived back for the dearest beers ever at Nullarbor roadhouse pub ($6.60 for a stubbie!)

 

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8th Aug
2007_10D_sml.jpg (21878 bytes) Communications frustrations.........

*** From this point thru to Norseman, there is NO NEXT-G internet (no 3G on Sue's phone either) and no Optus or Telstra GSM coverage.   The thing that is a concern, is that the microwave towers are still in existence with possibly good tower facilities for mounting Next-G antennas.  Yet on the opposite side of the A1 highway,  all along the Nullarbor, is a trench with fibre-optic surfacing to repeater stations very regularly.  These require solar-panelled roofed rooms and equipment, and often are located right across the road from the neighboring microwave building infrastructure.  But meantime there is ZERO coverage of GSM or Next-G!    One has to ask, why all the cost of rollout of Next-G has failed to take advantage of these locations to provide travellers between Adelaide and Perth with the only possible route of communication - and it is totally missing!   No mobile data or phone capabilities for nearly 1194kms between Ceduna to Norseman along the A1 Eyre Highway!  This is the only road linking the two ends of the Nullarbor for all commercial as well as private  travel by road. 

It will be interesting to see what the traffic statistics are, over the Nullarbor and how that equates to the 98% coverage statistics promoted by operators - stay tuned, as we dig up some authoritative statement to see how the figures work out.


**UPDATE:  Statistics available from Quarantine Station official stats:
-   vehicles through 2006-2007 east to west was 73,819 of which,
    28,000 trucks   (30% with 2-drivers).   (= 36,400 people)
    45,819 vehicles (av of 3 people)           (=137,457 people)
-  So 173,857 (approx) travelled one way, and you could argue
   that you could double that fiure to cover the return trip.  People either
   exit via the top, stay, or equivalent people may travel the other way. 

Granted, 36,400 are truck drivers, perhaps doing multiple runs - same people, same road, many days.   But any way you look at it, there are likely over 300,000 to 350,000 people on that stretch of road each year with NO COMMUNICATIONS other than SAT-Phone,  2-way CB/UHF or RAD-Phone.   Thats a big statistic for what is a fairly unique and major roadway in Australia.

Back to the trip........

Left Nullarbor at 2 degrees, and visited some 7 lookouts en route to Eucla.  Got a flat tyre on the back right wheel of caravan - c'est la vie!   Passed thru Border Village for the Quarantine stop - no worries: no honey or fruit/veges allowed.   Pushed on the extra 20kms into W.A. and stayed at Eucla - top spot, nice van park, and very clean amenities - no worries!.   Went off to the dunes 4kms below to visit the ruins of the Telegraph Station and the dogs had another good romp around the sand.   Back to camp to discuss misfortunues of travelling with the local vanners in the camp.

 

 

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9th Aug Pulled out of Eucla late but fuelled up with well priced petrol (only $1.35 for ULP), and passed thru Mundrabilla and then Mandura for lunch.   Hampton Tablelands views of the Mandura Pass made for a reasonable lunch stop.   (Fuel at MB and MA were very high at $1.79.9 for premium!).  Passed thru Cocklebiddy , not a real lot to see unless you unhitched and drove to the bird sanctuary or the caves (now caved in).  We pushed on thru to Caiguna and stayed behind the roadhouse - not too bad for a sleep but really great for sunrise photos. 2007_14A_sml.jpg (22786 bytes)

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10th Aug Left Caiguna with quick visit to virtually unmarked blowhole 5kms west of roadhouse, and off to Balladonia for some real expensive, but necessary fuel. This takes in the world's longest stretch of dead-straight highway: 146kms with no bends.    Herd of 20 camels walking down the highway made for some interesting viewing just out of Balladonia at the end of the stretch.  Had a good look over the Newman Rock about 60kms west of Balladonia (also known as Balladonia Rocks on most postcards)   - quite a large expanse (approx .5 to 1 km in size).  Pushed thru to Fraser Station which is situated 2kms on left of highway, about 90kms before reaching Norseman.   This is a real 'must stay' for Nullarbor travellers.   Plenty to see and fosic - or just sit and enjoy the commeraderie of the local station hands around the nightly campfire.

*** Now into the fifth day without any NextG or GSM coverage......  we're using Satellite phone out of the Fraser Station to communication now........   Isn't Australia great with communication!

But we're now over the Nullarbor and ready for the southern Western Australia experiences!

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11th Aug Drove thru to Norseman, where we finally caught up with Optus GSM and Telstra NextG service!   Lunch stop at sausage sizzle at IGA and checked out local mining history sites, fuelled up at the cheapest fuel in town ($1.49)....  and hit the road thru Grass Flat, Salmon Gums, and into the beautiful seaside harbour resort of Esperance. (14000 people and a growing town). The main attraction here is civilisation, standard fuel prices and tremendous italian pizza from Riccardo's!   Anyway communications now full blast, and accomodation at the Pink Lake Caravan Park, is superb (FPA - dog friendly). 

The main tourist attraction here is the Great Ocean Drive, which can equal the beauty of the Great Ocean Road in terms of sea, rock, hill formations.  Whilst only 15kms along the coast West from Esperence, it takes in Rotary Hill, Blue Haven, Twilight Beach, Observation Point and numerous surf beaches and logoons - all nicely surrounded  by very aesthetically fitting windfarm equiment that supplies 30% of the town's power needs.

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12th Aug Spent the day out of Esperence, travelling the Fisheries Road, east of the town, out to Condingup and down to Whartok Beach about 200kms round trip. This area avoids the National Park of Cape Le Grand, thus allowing us to run with the dogs on the open beaches.  The afternoon was spent re-exploring in detail, the many stops along the local Great Ocean Drive, out of Esperence, in better weather.   (14 degrees and warm/sunny).

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13th Aug Off to Ravensthorpe and down to Hopetoun for the night to explore the twelve mile beach east of Hopetoun. Lots of mixed information from the locals about alternative roads to Hopetoun.  We wanted to try some back roads and take in some different scenery.  Anyway the bottom line was, we too the 'Fuss Rd' turnoff, and headed down to Springdale rd and then headed parallel along the coast to reach Hopetoun.  Mason's Bay road was terrible with rutts for the outfit we were in - and would avoid it if we had of known.  However, Munglinup Beach made the overall trip worthwhile for exercising the dogs!  Ended up in the local caravan park - quite nice - very large 17 acres and lots of residents, but nice and handy to the local watering hole.   Took in a 2hr hike (nearly) to the top of East Mount Barren to work up a thirst!

 

 

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14th Aug

Pulled out of Hopetoun in the rain, and headed off via Ravensthope to Albany, stopping at Jerramungup for lunch and re-fuel.  Pouring rain in parts, but stopped at Wellstead for lunch.  Ritchies Point abandoned as a lunch destination due to likely bad road.  Alternative route to Albany took us over the Kalgan River and over the King River for some interesting incoming views of Oyster Harbour as an entry to Albany via Middleton Beach and through the tourist road around the point near Mt Adelaide / Mt Clarence.   Spent a little time settling into camp at Albany Holiday Park about 4kms on the Albany Rd (direct route to Perh - not taken).   Watch the six way junction that actually has the Denmark and Perth exits on the same offramp of the round-a-bout.....  got us every time!.   Had a night time look at the Mt Clarence War memorial which is lit up all green and great at night!   2007_19A_sml.jpg (22891 bytes)

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15th Aug Time to take in the sights of Albany's historical offerings.   First up: Gaol.   Then tour the older precincts of the town in Stirling St and the bottom end of the main street: Vine Street.  In the afternoon, it was off 18kms around the coast to Whaleworld - a must-see attraction where they have the Cheynes IV chaser ship mourned permanently on the beach for viewing, and have transformed the many whale oil storage tanks into mini theatrettes for displaying films on sharks, whales and whaling.  The tour and demonstrations of working machines like the Cheynes II ship's motor - is superb. PS:  Fish and Chips at last - at Moby Dicks on the Denmark road, thanks to the tip from local tradesmen doing paving in the camp who put us onto the fact that the shop offers the best baby squid in WA!
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16th Aug Another sight-seeing day in Albany, this time off to Emu Point at the northern end of Middleton Beach, about 10kms north-west of Albany, to give the dogs a romp on then beach.   Fortunately we had phone coverage, as news came in that Betty's Dad had taken ill and was off by ambulance to Maroondah Hospital back home.......  After a night of observation and treatment and overseen by Betty's sister: Julie, all night, getting to stable condition and hopefully in good hands......   we await ongoing news.   So the day was spent keeping in touch and staying close to phones, and so we visited the local Princess Royal Fort Historical facility at the edge of town in Albany, and then went back up the local Mount Clarence and Mount Melville in the middle of town to take in the 360degree views of the area.  We return to celebrate Shamera's 1st birthday with a Dixie and snakes!

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Also, back at camp, we watched the arrival of someone's new mobile home - great truckin!

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17th Aug

 

 

 


Day 22

Time to split up the trip, as our deadline for Melbourne on 31st is pushing the limits with Rod and Sue who have a few months yet to return home to Townsville.  The area down south is too good to be shortened, so we've decided to split up at this point.......  great things just have to come to an end!.......   So we bid farewell on Friday morning at Albany, and head off to visit the 'Giants of the Valley' tree top walk 12kms east of Walpole.  On the way, we took in lunch at Denmark and travelled the northern Scenic Route via Scotsdale which took us through some great winery areas and elevated views back south to the rocks near Walpole.   We picked up what turned out to be some great T-Bones from the local Denmark butcher - just have to keep in weet with these food providers!
2007_22G_sml.jpg (25162 bytes)   NextG (ABSoutback2) and Optus OK at Manjimup.
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18th Aug Off to reach Margaret River / Gracetown as a base to explore southern end: Augusta, thru to northern end: Busselton and take in some sights of lighthouses, wineries and eateries......

The day took us thru Nannup - a grat little town that unexpectedly had its Tulip Festival on, and this provided a great break for lunch and walk thru the craft / flower show exhibits, and a top visit to Phil who runs the local furniture building business there (Karri, Marri and Jarrah).

We arrived at Augusta and discovered that much of the town is really recently built, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin and a drift along the Blackwood River that flows to the sea at the junction of the Indian Ocean to the West, and the Southern Ocean to the South where the historic waterwheel is located on the beach.

We followed the alternative Caves Road route to Margaret River to check out the area for the next day, and ended up at Busselton at the northern end of the winery trail for the night's stay.

 

 

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19th Aug Sunday: listened to Macca on ABC - what else?  (then to re-adjust the Subaru tyre pressures !)  Took the day off to visit wineries, but first: an obligatory visit to Sugarloaf Rock and the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste at the northern tip of the Margaret River region.  Wineries of interest, after a Dunborough lunch at the Bakery, took in:  Knee Deep winery, then coffee at Yahava (to see the "Coffee Dude: Rob" - who sells great coffee, be it mainly overseas apart from the Mareeba, QLD,  blend), then the chocolate factory which was a sweet end to the jaunt.   Slotted in the Bootleg Brewery of course for an obligatory ale - very nice Pilsener.  We then drifted back into Margaret River for a walk thru the town.    The day ended with a visit to the Busselton  Jetty - Australia's longest jetty: 2km (now with grey painted sheds - but the postcards haven't caught on yet).    Top local 'shark 'n' spud' from the Broadwater shops nearby the Mandalay caravan park that was home for the night.  

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20th Aug Slipped up to Mandurah for lunch and caught sight of the local dolphins that swim under the jetty adjacent the Visitor's Centre - nice treat.   Tyson hasn't got used to Dolphins yet!  Driving north via Rockington and Freemantle, we picked up Woodman's Point where we sighted the local lighthouse - obligatory camera stop.   Freemantle was a nice stop off to walk the heritage trail around the Fort and Port area. (another lighthosue too, of course!)     Great walk: visiting the spot that won the America's Cup in the '80's and to see the huge Marine and Boating developments of the area.  

Our plan was to stay on the western outskirts of Perth in readiness for the departure to Kalgoorlie - but we failed to book ahead.  Add that to our getting totally confused by the inaccuracies of our simplified tourist maps, and we lost a couple of hours wandering in circles around Midland

PS: the Great Eastern Highway ByPass doesn't actually bypass the Great Eastern Highway - it places you somewhere else!  Also, the former changes name four times as it passes thru the town of Midland, and crosses the Roe (alias Reid) Highway which bends and passes trhu the middle of all this.   Not much help on a visitors map that puts all that on a 1/2" square piece of colored paper in the dark.  Anyway, after getting lost and ringing the selected campsite for road directions, they enquired about our reservation. What, no reservation?  Oh well, back the (now dark) drawing board to seek out a dog tolerant caravan park after hours........  Voila:  Kingsway Caravan Park in Madeley.    Halleluhah - we can sleep..... now to find a roadhouse that sells a UBD to get there.  All good - we arrive at 9PM.  Nice spot and thanks to James to taking our call!

Bad news is, we drove thru the Swan Valley winery district after hours!
 

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21st Aug Slept in at last, and caught up on some overdue rest!.   Had breakfast and made a pact to once and for all return to camp at 4:30 to get on top of things.  Gary finally realised that the Bluetooth GPS attachment to the PDA actually could be useful after all - so the target Perth desitinations for the day were programmed into the PDA and the optomistic tourists ventured forth into town.    Headed for Kings Park to firstly get an overview of the Perth cityship, and this was well rewarded by te views from the War Memorial in Frazer Ave followed by the Forrest Drive that oversaw the South Perth Marina area.  Then we slipped down to the Esplanade for lunch adjacent to the Swan Bells which also gave a great view from the tower.  Did some sightseeing around the town following each of the colored bus routes and headed over to Northbridge which is fast being demolished and modernised unfortunately, as it holds some great historic buildings.  From there, headed back to town and around to the Old Swan Brewery at the base of the Kings Park, to get a closer look at Swan River - including, you guessed it: some "swans!".

At the advice of a local fisherman, Daniel, we took off North to visit Cottesloe Beach which was brilliant, and this nicely lead our way back to camp at Madeley.

At camp early for the first time this trip, we had a chance to catch up talking with fellow vanners and learning more of what may lay ahead.......


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22nd Aug

day 27
THE RETURN TRIP COMMENCES......

Madeley (20kms N. Perth) to Southern Cross along the Great Eastern Highway.

We travelled (again) out thru Midland amd via theJohn Forrest National Park (with a view back to Perth) - and had lunch at Baker's Hill (a great pie shop and dixie ice cream stop for Tyson!).  From there, we went through Meckering which had the 1968 eartchquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale.

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23rd Aug Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie, spending the afternoon discovering the historical buildings and mining history of Kalgoorlie Boulder. (no not visiting Hay St and the Skimpy's!).  Followed the Golden Pipeline along its 600km journey ending at Mt Charlotte lookout only 1km at the eastern end of Kalgoorlie.   Met up with some locals who told us the story of this pipeline being originally made of wood, and today being the third generation of the pipleline.  Without water piped al the way from the Mandurang Wier outside of Perth's Airport, all the way to Kalgoorlie, there would possibly never be a Kalgoorlie-Boulder township. 

Quickly passed through Coolgardie, and spent the afternoon in Kalgoorlie.

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24th Aug Kalgoorlie - Mining Hall of Fame Tour, then off to Norseman and Fraser Range Station for the night.  The underground mine tour and information at this centre is superb!  A whole day could have been spent just at this one centre.

The Fraser range Station was in usual full swing, wth fireside chatting and drinking all in swing!

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25th Aug Fraser Range Station (ex Norseman) to Eucla non-stop, to stay at the Village.

Caught up with 'Tail End Charlie' about midway over the 90mile straight at Baxter......    This is the tractor that 50 years ago, went around Australia in only 38 days!   Here it goes again, supporting Breast Cancer Reseacrh funding.

Pricing of petrol at a couple of th more unscrupulous dealers was aound $1.80 for premium - whereas the next roadhouse was only $1.65 and has further to cart the fuel!   (Do your homework!).


Ended the day with some nice sunset photos at the Traveller's Monument at Eucla.

 

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26th Aug Eucla (WA) to Ceduna (SA)  non-stop, to stay again at Shelly Beach Caravan Park (4kms east of Ceduna opposite the race course) where we took some great sunset photos with the low tide showing.
(www.cedunacaravanpark.com.au)


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27th Aug Ceduna to Wilmington (out of Port Augusta SA).

 

As we pulled thru Iron Knob, about 40kms west of reaching Port Augusta, we stumbled across "Dave" in his big bue bus and trailer (again!)  He must think we're stalking him - this is th 4th nght we've crossed him.  Anyway, the wind was terrible that day, and Dave decided to camp-out in the carpark ofthe Iron Knob Pub - but we wanted to put another hour of travel into the day - so we bid farewell (again!)

We headed for a new port of call at:  Spear Creek Station.  It is a lovely farm station, and the daughter, has setup a conference facility for schools plus a caravan park.  25kms south east of Port Augusta along the old Wilmington Rd - top spot.

 

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28th Aug To Clare (SA).

This was the first slow day for the whle part of the trip since leaving Rod and Sue back in Albany.  we needed to slowdown for a day, and also, we wanted to judge being in Ednehope the next night.  So what better place to take it easy, than to drift slowly down from Wilmington via Melrose to Clare Valley for only 240kms......  We spent the whole day exploring historic towns - pariticularly Wilmington, Melrose and Georgetown.  All great - worth a revisit though here, staying say, in Angaston and Nooriootpa in the Barassa region as part of it..... (say no more!).   Here's gary siting in SA's oldest pub (in Melrose).

 

We went past the turn off to Gawler and finally spotted that well publicised cottag on the green hill, about 70kms north of Clare.....   In Clare there is only one caravan park, adjacent to the Tourist Info centre about 4kms south of the town opposite the old showgrounds.  We struck the night of the lunar eclipse, so deicided no better way to enjoy the view than to fire up a great big campfire for tea.   Meantime our neighbors ocked themselves out of their Avan - fortunately I had about 300 keys in the car tochoose from and we sprung them open!  Not sure which client key I have to thank for that.  They had a Nixxan Navara diesel - and it is starting to look like the next vehicle that may take us more comfortably and reliably to our next trip........   (Still fretting over that broken viscous coupling!).

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29th Aug To Edenhope (VIC)

Headed out of Clare and decided to take a "Gary" route through the back blocks to Murray Bridge to totally by-pass Adelaide.  Worked out really nice.  We got to visit lovely towns down to Palmer, like Tungkillo - great picturesque area - no traffic, and a good shortcut!

We lobbed into Edenhope by Lake(less) Wallace - actually it did have a bit of water at the far end.  The new owners of the Edenhope Lakeside Tourist Park have done wonders with the park.  They've focussed on the wonderful attractions of the area like Bailey's Rocks, Narracoorte Caves, rock climbing Mt Arapiles and of course a nice resting place after visting Coonawarra and Padthaway wine districts.   Rather than belt down the busy Western Highway, the alternative of going down the Wimmera Highway and then cutting across thru Casterton, Hamilton is a great way to get back to Melbourne.   A good half-way point for Adelaide to Melbourne travellers.  

Call Eveline Van Brengel on 03 5585 1659  (fax: 03 55851829)
or her partner Steve for a booking - it's truly 4-star!

The other real reason for this stopover was to catch up with Aunty Enid - who's lived/farmed the area all her life.

 

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30th Aug






Day 35
To Home (Boronia - VIC).

Last day on the road - and now we're just inside the VIC border, its a pleasant run down via Skipton to Ballarat and home. We had to make the obligatory drive thru the best pastures in the Western District: Chetwynd and Wando Vale.  Skipton is the traditional coach stop for the Ansett Pioneer bus run that I did as a kid - and the old BP roadhosue is externally memorable - and the food still great!.    

Finally, 10,200 kilometers and $2400 of fuel later - home!   Just in time for Lori and Kim's wedding next morning.  Betty and Tyson just thrilled to be back!   (Me too!)

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email: tech@alchester.com.au

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