Monthly Archives: October 2016
Heading back to Queensland
We are now starting the trek back to Queensland through far western NSW. First stop near Wilcannia, then Bourke (via Cobar) and after crossing the border at Barringun, Cunnamulla.
At Wilcannia we find the Darling River is flooding and the water level in the river rising. It will take about 2 weeks to reach a peak as the water comes down from Bourke. At our camp ground at Warrawong station the billabong is slowly filling up as water flows in from the river. It is a great place to stop at, large grassy sites overlooking the billabong. The managers put on a camp oven baked dinner, lamb and pork. Rather good. There is plenty of bird life around. The mozzies and flies are also swarming thickly as the summer months loom. They played havoc with the baked dinner. Not a place to linger long at this time of the year.
We head off the next day for Bourke. Here the river is slowly falling. The restored wharf on the Darling has 3 decks and the 2 lower decks are submerged under the flood waters. The river is very wide and fast flowing. Quite different to what it was like when we here a few years ago.
Our time at Bourke was short this time, a place to put the legs up and have a good sleep before journeying further north to Cunnamulla.
Along the way we cross the border at Burringun. Never been here before. Just a road house and an old pub. We have a cup of tea and coffee here and gaze into Queensland. In the 1800s there used to be a small town here that acted as a customs check point between NSW and Qld. There were 2 police stations, one on either side of the border protecting the interests of the citizens of each state. The remnants of the stations are still here today. There is not much else.
We soon found ourselves in Cunnamulla, like Bourke, an R & R stop on our way back to Brisbane.
Our 91 days on the road are drawing to a close and Homealone is counting!
After moving on from Ceduna we are at Broken Hill for a couple of nights. It is R & R time after a few busy days and the rigours of the golf.
After leaving Ceduna we stopped in at Kimba for the night. Eyre passed through the Kimba area on his way across the Nullarbor. There are monuments to Eyre all over the place. This one at Kimba on a hill overlooking the town is particularly good. The odd thing is that he is standing looking back east rather than west where he was headed.
In nearby Wudinna is a rather large Monument to the Australian Farmer. It is carved from local granite. Granite is a big industry in Wudinna. It has pink granite which appears to be rare. They export it to all parts of the world. This monument is quite impressive, it has 4 carved sides each of which with a little story to tell about the rewards and perils of farming in the Outback. Kimba also has an impressive monument………a Big Galah. Kimba is half way across Australia it seems and the Big Galah marks the spot. Both Wudinna and Kimba are stepping off points for a trip to the Gawler Ranges N.P. to the north.
Next stop was a call into Whyalla to stay the night in a house! Very strange feeling this after nearly 3 months in the van. We stayed the night with Alan and Janet Bran, friends of Leanne from many years ago in Orange. We last saw them 10 years back in Brisbane. A bit of reminiscing took place. They also are into camping and currently have a camper trailer. Much chatter about our various travels around the country. They comprehensively allayed Homealone’s concerns of doing the Gibb River Rd up in the Kimberley. So…
Next morning we were back on the road stopping at Peterborough. This was a big steam train rail centre from the late 1800s up until the end of steam in 1970. 3 different gauges had to be dealt with here and at one stage over a hundred trains a day were passing through, having to be shunted and carriages/ wagons changed to cater for the different gauges. With the advent of common gauge and the arrival of diesel Peterborough died almost overnight. There is a great steam museum here and train miniatures adorn the roads on the 4 entrances to the town. Today Peterborough focuses on tourism and its proximity to the Flinders Ranges to the north.
So onto Broken Hill, after a short stop at the Border Gate for a luncheon hamburger and chips. Not much done in Broken Hill, quite hot and steamy when we arrived. Dropped in to see the Big Picture. It’s one of those big paintings in the round viewed from a central platform. 100 metres around and depicts various Outback scenes from the Flinders Ranges, White Cliffs, Mungo NP, Barrier Ranges, Broken Hill sculptures etc. There is a pile off bush in front of the picture with snakes and birds on the sand, rocks and lizards.Quite impressive. The thing to see if you are in Broken Hill it seems. Depends who you ask though I suspect.
We next head for Wilcannia and a stop beside the Darling River. The river is in flood and very full, but wont reach a peak there until mid November when the water arrives from Bourke.
Golf Report………..the aweful truth
The final golf report can now be given. Allthego has completed the final 4 holes. The first 2 of these were along the Eyre Highway at the Nundroo Roadhouse and at the town of Penong. These places are really off the Nullarbor plain as such and in the South Australian wheat belt. South of Penong is the world-famous surfing beach, Cactus Beach. Not sure why it is called ‘cactus’ but apparently the surf is such as to render some surfers ‘cactus’…………perhaps that’s why, I don’t know. Anyway back to the golf.
The Wombat hole is at Nundroo. Now this is a par 5, 520 m. From the tee you can’t see the hole. It is up and over a hill. The fairway is carpeted in almost knee-high buffalo grass. Allthego almost surrendered and wrote down 20, but didn’t. The wind abated a bit and a respectable 9 resulted, a couple of good strokes here with elevation, so avoiding the grasses and rocks and other impediments.
Next stop was Penong and the Windmill’s hole. There are not many residents at Penong. Those that live here have their own windmill to draw their water supplies. There are about 30 of these in a paddock on the town’s outskirts. That is why the hole is called ‘Windmills’. It is a gentle par 4, 260 m. Allthego shot a 6.
Onto Ceduna and the final two holes at the Ceduna Golf Club. It’s a pleasant enough course and reflects the dryness of the climate. Fairways dry and dusty, the greens are those oily sand scrapes. They played havoc with Allthego’s putter. The Oyster Beds hole is a 485 m par 5. Denial Bay hole a par 4, 370 m. Whilst sticking to the caddie’s instructions of hitting straight and not worrying too much bout distance, Allthego lost all ability to gain elevation and it was a slug fest up the fairways. A 10 and an 8 were the result. After such a great start on this back 9 to descend into such mediocrity at the close was devastating to the score card. For these 9 holes Allthego managed 68 (par 37), one shot better than the 69 for the first 9 (par 36). The caddie was complimentary on Allthego’s consistency.
So it was off to the Ceduna Information Centre for the certificate presentation and to meet any well wishers/greeters. There were none. Apart from Nancy who duly inspected the card and prepared the certificate. Allthego asked whether she would like a photo-op. She kindly obliged with a big grin, saying the last time this was done a young Aboriginal guy photo bombed and poked his head out from behind the poster. He wasn’t around now to do it again.
So completes the golf adventure a grand score of 137, without handicap allowance (which is not worth worrying about). It’s been fun. The certificate is very impressive.
Well we are coming towards the end of the Nullarbor run. Headed off from Eucla with an overnight stop planned for the Nullarbor Roadhouse, before lobbing into Ceduna for a couple of nights.
As noted in the last golf report it was blowing a veritable gale from the west at the Nullarbor Roadhouse. Fellow travelers coming from the east were moaning and groaning about their petrol consumption. On the other hand we could have put up the sails up and cruised along without using any diesel. The downside though was that we couldn’t get the van popped up, it would have blown away. So rather than sleep in the car we lashed out on a motel room at the roadhouse. This expense absolutely destroyed the trip’s average nightly accommodation costs. Homealone though appreciated the little home comforts. The bathroom just around the corner rather than a 100 m walk up the road and a nice comfy bed. We slept in though, not being stirred by the early morning bird calls and got away a bit late after breakfast in the roadhouse.
Stopped off at the Head of Bight Centre for a last look at the Bunda Cliffs and the sand hills further to the east along the Bight. This is a spot for prime whale viewing from the cliff tops. But there were no whales on show. The season had not long ended and the last whale had left 5 days before. In the later part of September and early October we were told that there were up to 140 whales frolicking around in the waters below us with their new-born baby whales on display.
After an hour or so at the Head of Bight it was back on the road to Ceduna and across that part of the Nullarbor known as the tree less plain. The wind had changed direction and was now blowing from the south, much cooler too. Up to this point the Nullarbor had been a bit of a surprise because of the expanse of vegetation along the way; many trees, albeit small ones, and green shrubbery. It seems that the ‘new’ highway, because it passes further south across the plain and has a bit more rainfall, has this vegetation whereas the ‘old’ highway (now mostly a decaying track) further to the north is where the great expanse of treeless plain is. Some people still travel parts of the old road for fun. Tempting but not allowed.
Down in Ceduna we had a quiet couple of nights looking around the town and port. Had some local prawns on a bread roll out at the Denial Bay foreshore. This is where the original settlement of the area took place before it was moved to Ceduna because of the need for an enhanced port facility. It is now a sleepy fishing village.
The challenge at Ceduna was the completion of the Nullarbor Links Golf course. The last 2 holes are at the Ceduna Golf Club. The final golf report will be shortly forthcoming after Allthego tallies the score card and presents it at the Ceduna Information Centre for the certificate presentation.
Golf Report……….caddie makes suggestions
Well the next 5 holes in the NLC have proved testing for Allthego. The back nine starting from Madura Pass and ending at Ceduna looked quite challenging to him, they are actually a 37 par. This report will cover the first 5 of these holes.
These 5 holes are also have some short ones, giving some hope for a good start. Brumby’s Run (Madura Pass) and Border Roo (Border Village) are par 3s. Watering Hole (Mundrabilla Roadhouse) and the Nullarbor Nymph (Eucla) are par 4s. Dingo’s Den at the Nullarbor Roadhouse is a par 5, a vicious 538 m into the prevailing westerly.
The caddie made some interesting observations and recommended to Allthego that he should focus on accuracy from the tee as opposed to distance. This advice was accepted in the spirit in which it was offered, it produced immediate benefits in the first 2 or 3 holes of the back 9. It was also aided by Allthego striving for and achieving some elevation from the tee as opposed to hugging the ground and bumping into saltbush.
At the Nullarbor Roadhouse the wind was true to form and was blowing a gale, Allthego managed a 12 at Dingo’s Den in the harsh conditions.
The Nullarbor Nymph hole on the Eucla Golf Course also proved challenging with a 9 being recorded on the par 4. Allthego was constantly on the lookout for the Nullarbor Nymph and this proved his undoing it seems, as some shots went off into the scrub. No Nymph there. The Nymph though did finally appear holding the pin on the green.
So where does the score stand, these 5 holes on the back nine were done at 16 over par. Hmmmmmm. After a promising start the 12 at the par 5 Dingo’s Den was the killer. This makes us 49 over par for the 14 holes to date. To keep it sort of respectable a big finish will be required.
Along the Nullarbor to Eucla
Moving on from Caiguna our next stop for a couple of nights was at Eucla. This section of the Eyre Hwy traverses what is known as the Roe Plains. One descends from the Nullarbor plateau down to the plain at the Madura Pass and then after about 180 km the road rises off the plain back up to the plateau at Eucla. The plain just disappears into the sea here and the famous Bunda Cliffs take over. Towering 40-80 m above the sea and slowing the Southern Ocean in its attack on the Australian mainland. But ever so slowly the sea encroaches as pieces of cliff drop off into the sea.
The caravan park at Eucla overlooks the last section of the Roe Plain and is about 4 km inland. There is a road here out to the coast where the ruins of the Eucla Telegraph Station and the small township are being consumed by the sand hills. It was abandoned in 1927 when a new telegraph line was installed further inland beside the railway line.
From the station ruins a track winds through the sand hills to the beach. A slow walk for about 20 minutes. At the beach there are the remnants of a jetty, built 1887, that originally extended 150 metres out into the Southern Ocean. Remarkably, 130 years later there is still a 50 m section stubbornly resisting the waves. We sat on the beach here gazing south, nothing between us and Antarctica. The water was cold too!
This section of the Nullarbor has also been a busy one golf wise. Another 4 holes have been completed at the Madura and Mundrabilla roadhouses, here at Eucla and then another up the road a bit at the WA/SA Border point. The one here at Eucla commemorates the story about the Nullarbor Nymph. An attractive young lady who in late 1971 frolicked around the bush in kangaroo skins half-naked. There were numerous sightings by locals and photographic evidence. It made news all across Australia and even had the international press engaged. It was later revealed as a hoax and publicity stunt. Quite effective!
After a fiery sunset the next stop will be at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and then onto Ceduna.
Golf Report…………the latest
Allthego has now completed the first nine. It has not been a great start. Readers will recall that after the first five holes he was 20 over par. The next four holes have continued to be a challenge. Now Allthego tries to stay low to the ground in windy conditions. This can be a handicap though where the fairways are a bit rough and ragged. Those who can get the ball up in the air (as well as straight, or pull a draw/slice) are at an advantage. They can skip all the stuff in between the tee and the hole. But then they miss the fun!
Hole 6 was at Fraser Range Station, a par 3 141 metres. Called the ‘Sheep’s Back’, for good reason too. The grass was calf high down the fairway. Allthego managed a 4 here, after a very nice approach shot to the green out of the rough.
Ballladonia is another par 3, 175 metres. Called ‘Skylab’ after the NASA space lab that dropped here in 1979. Like the Skylab Allthego also dropped here and was 5 over for the hole.
Caiguna is at the end of or the start of the 90 mile straight along the Eyre Hwy, depending upon whether you are going from east to west or the other way. Anyway the wind was going the wrong way and on this 310 metre par 4, called ’90 Mile Straight’ Allthego was 3 over.
The ninth hole is at Cocklebiddy, a par 4 347 metre hole called ‘Eagles Nest’. Alas 4 over! Even though the fairway had recently been mowed and manicured.
So after 9 holes Allthego is on 69, 33 over par.
Now, it has just occurred to Allthego that he has not allowed for his handicap in all these calculations. Homealone has suggested that the handicap is himself, this was a bit churlish. But being a generous fellow Allthego has agreed on a handicap of 27, for 18 holes of course. This was agreed after long disputation with himself, originally starting at 36 but being beaten down to 27.
Readers will see that there is much to be gained from an improved performance on the next 9 holes, if there is not to be a strong sense of under achievement.
We are now at Caiguna which is about 375 k along the Eyre Hwy east of Norseman. A couple of nights were spent at Fraser Range Station, not doing a lot. Apart from resuming the golf and playing another hole in the Nullarbor Golf Links course. There will be a separate golf report after a few more holes have been completed. Also sat around and looked out at the hills surrounding the Station facilities. The station was the first sheep property established on the Nullarbor back in the late 1800s. Homealone filled in the time doing cross stitch and to break the pattern did some washing .
While at Fraser Range we celebrated Oktoberfest in fine style with a ‘Love Boat’ each, parcels of filet steak with some sort of mustard sauce sprinkled with cheese. Obtained from the butcher in Esperance. They were slowly baked in the weber for about half an hour. The traditional pork/veal knuckles wouldn’t have fitted. We were also thinking at this time of Tony Watt and the rest of his gang at Oktoberfest in Brisbane.
After leaving Fraser Range we headed off down the Eyre to the Balladonia Road House for another golf hole and to check out the museum there. It houses some parts from the NASA Sky Lab which came back to earth in these parts with a bang in 1979. There is not much else at Balladonia.
Apart from another golf hole there is even less at Caiguna. Except! Near the end of the 90 mile dead straight section of road (Australia’s longest) there is a blow-hole that lets air into and out of a cave system a few metres below the surface. And 90 miles does sound better than 145 k.
We have stopped here at Caiguna for the night and tomorrow will head for Eucla.
Not Another Wildflower!
Allthego has found a few more snaps of wild flowers. These are all from the Great Southern Region of WA, from Albany to Esperance. Hope my dear readers don’t mind a few more. Not sure about some of the names though!
The great diversity is on display in these parts. All manner of flowering things….banksia, grevillea and bottle brush abound. As well as all sorts of flowering shrubs. We even stumbled over the enamel orchid at one location along the way to Esperance.
It seems that this may well be the end of WA wild flowers. Perhaps we will see some across the Nullarbor.
We have made it to Esperance, stopping for a night along the way at Ravensthorpe. And after a short detour through the Stirling Ranges. The camping ground at Ravensthorpe is in the process of being ‘renovated’. Not a lot needs to be said, apparently when the new owners bought it back in 2013 it was very run down, some work has been done to fix it up. There is a 10 year plan of work. The sites are great and the bush land setting very agreeable. But if you stay here go for the new amenities not the old ones………
As we left Albany we passed by Dog Rock. It is an institution with a shopping centre named after it and various little plays on words around the place. A must be seen attraction!
As we left the coast the weather cleared up and blue skies appeared, it also got a little warmer. At the Ravensthorpe campground we were able to enjoy the green grass, dam and the warmth of the afternoon setting sun.
Here in Esperance we are by the sea-side. The temperatures have risen and Allthego is enjoying shorts and thongs. Yesterday the temperature reached 38 d and it was quite humid, today a more pleasant 26 d.
We have taken it quite leisurely here, preparing for the Nullarbor. A day trip out to the beaches in Cape Le Grand National Park revealed what this region is famous for………white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Truly spectacular sights. Lucky Bay is a particularly devastatingly beautiful place.
Frenchman’s Peak towers over the park. It is supposed to be a leisurely stroll to the top, one and half hours by the gentle east slope. Up close it’s not so gentle, we had thongs on so didn’t attempt it.
In total contrast is Esperance Stonehenge. This is an actual size replica of what Stonehenge would have looked like in 1950 BC. Nothing like the bits and pieces that are currently on display over in the UK. No sir ree us Esperance Aussies built this one out of granite blocks and arranged them according to the layout of the original. Unlike the original this was assembled with bulldozers, cranes and winches etc. Didn’t muck around rolling stones on logs across the countryside and some how or other levering them into place. Sitting among the stones here in Esperance makes you think……. just how did those ancient Britains build Stonehenge? Well worth the $8 to get in!
We now head up to Norseman and then along the Eyre Hwy to Fraser Range Station for a couple of nights before starting the crossing of the Nullarbor. The 6 th hole on the Nullarbor Links Golf Course is also at Fraser Range Station, it’s a par 3. Allthego may not need that 3 iron this time.