Category Archives: Travel

Roadtrip stats

And so the roadtrip 2011 has ended.

Here are some stats for you.

10,603 Km travelled

1,040 Litres of Fuel
$1,669 spent on fuel

9.8 litres per 100km, average

Most expensive fuel, $2.05 per litre (Balladonia WA ?)
Average fuel price, $1.60 per litre

Number of times tyres inflated and deflated, approximately a dozen.

497.7 gigabytes of video footage shot by the car cam
160+ hours of video footage shot by the car cam

1690 photos taken (Stephen probably took 5 times as many)

Number of times Stephen slept in the car, approximately a dozen.

Number of bottles of wine purchased, 16.

Day 21 – follow the smell of the coffee


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The final day in the roadtrip first took us east, back across the boarder to Mildura. Today was another 700 odd km day but we did make a few stops. We stopped in Mildura down at Lock 11 where we found it currently not active due to the river level being so high. I didn’t release the weir on the other side of the island (Lock Island) is completely removable. It’s currently up on dry land possibly looking like it’s having some repairs done to it.

Next stop was for lunch in Sea Lake and my first decent coffee in 3 weeks. Why does coffee just taste better in Victoria?

After another seemingly endless  straight road, we arrived in Whycheproof which has the distinction of being the only town in Victoria where a train travels down the main street. I’m pretty sure that I travelled on a SteamRail trip about 15 years ago that did exactly that. It’s hard to find any information confirming that the line is currently in use, although in the past few years it seems it has been for grain transport. There is a K series locomotive on static display next to the old turntable and they’ve restored the station building.

Next stop wasn’t until Bendigo for fuel and then on to Melbourne.

Sections of the road today were rolling fields of tumbling grass or weed. It was almost like driving through snow with drifts of this stuff piled up against fences and along the side of the road. It made the drive a lot more scenic that it otherwise would have been.

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Day 20 – Trains, Grain and Jet Planes


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Today was the second last day of this epic roadtrip and to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve been away for three weeks.
Much of todays driving did seem to be going through grain country again although that turned into pasture and then fruit tree and vine.

First detour today was up to Quorn, heading through the Pichi Richi Pass beside the Pichi Richi Railway. I did go on the railway many years ago, but can’t remember much accept for Woolshed Flat where the engine is turned around using a triangle. (think triangle but with inward curving sides)
I’d forgotten how beautiful the terrain is through the pass. I guess that’s the whole Flinders Ranges. I’ll have to get that into another trip and next time when the train is running.

vlcsnap-2011-03-24-23h43m42s44Back south, we headed into the Mount Remarkable National Park to check out the Alligator Gorge. A dull day for gorge visiting and absolutely no-one else there. It also seems to be the park of upside-down speed bumps.

 

 

 

 

I thought we might be heading down through the Barossa Valley today on mission to find big things but didn’t get that far. We did however journey through the Clare Valley which is also wine country (Although Annie’s Lane is the only winery I recognised).
I was surprised to see an F/A 18 Super Hornet fly over (it certainly looked like the super hornet) as we drove through the valley. I assume it was flying out of RAAF Edinburgh as part of the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) based there.

Todays primary big or giant object was the Big Miner in Kapunda. We found him and also found out that Kapunda is claimed to be Australia’s first mining town with the copper being mined there from 1842 until 1879.

From the Clare Valley all the way up to Morgan we seemed to be following old railway lines in various states from just the reservation existing to rails still existing. I get the impression this area used to be very rail heavy with three different gauge railways operating.

In Morgan we met the mighty Murray River and I must say I’m impressed at how high it is (certainly the highest I can ever remember seeing it).
We crossed the river by car ferry at Cadell and continued following the river through Ramco and Waikerie where we joined the Sturt Highway. Here we unexpectedly found another big object in the form of a giant Orange Tree. From a distance, my first comment was “the big diseased fruit”.

Driving onwards, we were really in fruit country, driving through endless landscapes of fruit trees. This lead us into Berri, known for its fruit juice company but also evidently Australia’s biggest winery, Berri Estate. (on their sign) ? I’ve never heard of them.
Our primary mission in Berri was to find the Big Orange. Once again using vague directions and knowing that the fabled orange was now closed, we set about looking anyway. Success!

We’re now in Renmark for the night, a town (probably like many on the Murray) that has lots of houseboats.

Tomorrow onto more of the Murray and finally home.

Day 17 – 19 – Rock-eting along the road.

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The last three days have seen us cover over 2000km on our journey towards home. That’s the problem when you travel so far, you have to travel back.
Day 18 was the longest by far at over 1000km.

Day 17, we did a two and a half hour tour of the KCGM Superpit which was very interesting. Although we didn’t get right into the superpit, we did get to some of the internal lookouts and get to see the vehicles and buildings up close.

CAT 793F Truck

After hanging around for the disappointing 1pm blast in the superpit, we got on the, largely boring, road to Balladonia.
One very pleasant place we detoured into is Newman Rock. If I drove back to Perth, I’d definitely camp here. I could have happily stayed a while longer watching the two ducks in the pond.

a pond at Newman Rock

Day 18 was just driving. We did detour about 20km along the old road (now a track) into Eucla before arriving in Ceduna for the night.

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View from Eucla over the plain.

Sunset along the Ceduna jetty. (for a better shot, see Stephen’s photo here)
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Day 19, we drove down around Thevenard and then headed back to the Eyre Highway. After some km’s we detoured back on the dirt down south to Murphy’s Haystacks and then back north-east to the Eyre again.

We detoured north from Minnipa to a bunch of rocks, namely Pildappa Rock.

IMG_1178This seems to be Wave Rock’s lesser know cousin and although not quiet as impressive, it is still pretty interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

View from the top.
Pildappa Rock

The other rock we went to was Mt Wudinna which is claimed to be the second largest rock in Australia.

Now in Port Augusta for the second last night of the trip.

Day 15 – Gold country

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Today’s journey was a relatively short trip to Kalgoorlie, however in our usual style, we found plenty of detours to make the journey take a little longer.

We headed via another huge rock formation called The Humps and up the 170km road to Marvel Loch. This is basically a small mining town with plenty of old abandoned mines around along with a few decent sized open cut mines that are still active.
After Marvel Loch, we took a track out to the abandoned May Queen Mine and on the track drove through a large spider web, with large spider included. (I moment I wish I had the video running at 60 fps.)

After a fuel stop (for us, not the car) in Southern Cross, we headed along the Great Eastern Highway to Pumping Station number 6. This is the ruins of one of the historic pumping stations that was part of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. This scheme delivered water via a huge pipeline to the towns of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. It’s still in use today but utilizing modern pumping stations.

Goldfields Water Scheme, Pumping Station No.6Stumpy tail lizard
The pumping station and one of the locals.

From the pumping station, we followed the pipeline for about 5km before getting back down to the main road. Next side trip was the Karalee Dam and Rock.
Once again, this rock had been used to collect water and this time a long iron aqueduct had been constructed between the rock and dam.

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Following on from this, we detoured beside the pipeline again between Woolgangie and the No.8 pumping station along the Golden Pipeline Trail.

Getting to Coolgardie, we stopped past the old railway station and an abandoned opencut mine.

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We are now in Kalgoorlie for the next two nights where we’ll be checking out the Boulder Market Day and then doing a tour of the KCGM Superpit gold mine (Largest opencut in Australia). We did stop by the lookout and take few shots just after sunset. Absolutely huge.

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Day 14 – out to the wave

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Day 14 took us down to the Perth coast. There was a sculpture thing on at Cottesloe beach all of March but we didn’t see more than what on the foreshore. The coffee in Cottesloe was horrible, as expected, and I’m now convinced the best coffee in Australian is in Melbourne (and probably Fabric in Southbank).
We travelled up the coast as far as Scarborough which was still pretty much as I remember it with only a few alterations to the carpark layout.

We decided we’d seen enough coast for a while and jumped onto the Reid Highway to head out of town. The Reid Highway is much like the Monash Freeway was in Melbourne when it was the South Eastern Arterial, originally built without overpasses. Now it must be getting the traffic volumes as they are now being built causing a few slow patches of traffic.
I am convinced that it is impossible to get a green light on that road as we stopped at every set of traffic lights on the highway.

The trip east took us out to Northam where the train station looked like Spencer Street in the 80’s and then onto York.

Mount Brown
Mount Brown lookout above York.

On the way into a town called Corrigin we came across a dog cemetery. The seem to love their dogs and set a world record for the most number of dogs in a ute in 2002 with 1527.


Scooby Doo? We now know where you are.

We got into Hyden reasonably early so checked in before heading down to wave rock. It’s just an incredible natural sculpture and the rock itself is absolutely huge.

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I wasn’t aware beforehand that they built a small wall around the top of the rock to collect water and funnel it into a dam for drinking water. (now used for cattle only)

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Wall visible above the wave.
(the photo of me taking this photo is here)

On the way back to the carpark I came across a tree that reminded me of the one Horton the Elephant sat in.

Horton the Elephant's tree

Day 11 – up and down the Margaret River region


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We started the morning with a jaunt down to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse to climb its 186 steps to the top.
This is the most south-westerly point of mainland Australia and is where the Southern Ocean meets meets the Indian Ocean.

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A few interesting notes about this lighthouse:
– It’s Australia’s tallest lighthouse (about sea level)
– It wasn’t electrified until 1982 and wasn’t automated until 1992
– It’s light can be seen up to 25 Nautical Miles away
– The stone walls are 2m thick at its base and 1m thick at the top

Back on the road, Stephen had a morning nap in the car as we headed along Caves Road to the Mammoth Cave where we did a self-guided tour of the cave (mp3 playing units). Mammoth Cave is one of many caves in the region that are open to visitors to wander down and see the spectacular formations.

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It was good to go through another cave to refresh my memory as the next show I’m doing, Floyd Collins, is about the American caver Floyd Collins.

Moving on, we dropped past the Leeuwin Estate & Flying Fish Cove wineries and squeezed in lunch overlooking the sea.

Next planned stop was the Cap Naturaliste lighthouse but we were disappointed to find it was closed and we couldn’t get anywhere near the lighthouse. It seemed to be a very small lighthouse as the bluff / cliff is very high above the ocean already.

Sugarloaf rock
Sugarloaf rock near Cap Naturaliste lighthouse (look for the three people on top)

Final destination for the day was Busselton, to catch the sunset at the jetty and stay the night.

Busselton JettyBusselton Jetty

Day 10 – Tree climbing and Denmark


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Today was a reasonably leisurely day.
We left Albany via the scenic road, stopping by the coast a few times before arriving at the Denmark Chocolate Company.

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A man on a horse heading to the beach near Torbay Inlet.

Next stop was the Elephant Rocks Brewery and Toffee factory and onto the Valley of the Giants Treetop walk.
This walk goes through the the forest and at it’s highest point 40m above the forest floor. It’s always fun going to such heights but I’ve been on other walks in Victoria and Queensland which I found a little more interesting.

treetop walk

Next stop was Pemberton to visit the Gloucester Tree. This is a 61m tall fire-lookout tree and one of three in the area that still exist. You climb the tree on a series of steel pegs sticking out from the tree trunk. (I’m sure this can’t be OHS compliant)
It’s a little worrying at first, but you get used to it and soon you’re at the top.

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Look carefully for the tower at the top and the steel pegged ‘ladder’ circling the tree.


Looking down the ‘ladder’.

In the carpark, we did a little bit of bird spotting with numerous playful birds.

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On the way back through town we stumbled upon the Pemberton Tramway Co. The track seems to run all the way to Northcliffe but was largely overgrown when we saw it earlier in the drive. I guess it’s another scenic railway that operates as a not-for-profit and needs generous financial support to get the line fully reopened.

Finally in Augusta for the night. The Thai food didn’t totally agree with me.

Day 8 / 9 – Stirling’s Bluff


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Todays primary mission was to climb Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges National Park.
After paying the entry fee, we drove up to the base of the climb only to see the top of Bluff Knoll in cloud. We decided to move on to Albany and return the following day for the climb and the scenic Stirling Range drive.

As per normal, instead of going direct to destination, we went to destination via everywhere else but we did make it for lunch at a hotel on the main street of Albany.

Nanarup Beach
Nanarup Beach.

Having got to Albany earlier than expected, we shuffled the trip to Whale World onto the days schedule.

I was very impressed with the old whaling station, not what happened there whilst it was operating, but with it as a historical place. The guide who showed us around and told us about the place for about 30 minutes seemed very knowledgeable, not just reciting a script. Various pieces of machinery had been restored and, although not powered by steam or fuel, were electrically powered to show how they worked. There were also some very good audio / visual displays and, during the tour, a well designed audio track (cleverly hidden systems).

Too often you go to a museum / historic attraction / tourist attraction and it’s all very static / boring / poorly maintained and it doesn’t allow you to immerse yourself in experience.

Whale World is great and I’d love to come back in whale season when there are actually whales in the sound right near the station and to see new things they do with it.

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The Cheynes IV whale chaser.

On the way back to town, we explored the rest of the Flinders Peninsula including the gap and the natural bridge rock formations on the coast.

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We saw signs to a wind farm on the way to Whale World and so also stopped to look at this. We’ve seen so many of these wind farms around regional WA and SA, from as small as 3 turbines to as large as 12 here in Albany.
I think it’s really fantastic to see towns embracing this modern clean technology.

What we found was a dedicated viewing area and walking paths around the turbines. This is about the closet you’ll ever get to a wind farm to see these incredible pieces of engineering technology and see how big they are. Normally you can’t get anywhere near them. I was amazed to find you could barely hear them operating (I don’t even know why I thought they would be noisy).

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Day 9 started with a lazy breakfast and then the drive back to Stirling Ranges.
The climb up Bluff Knoll took about an hour and forty five minutes and the climb down about an hour and fifteen. It’s a decent climb and we probably should have started it earlier so it was slightly cooler, but nevertheless it was a beautiful day to climb it.

Bluff Knoll - Stirling Ranges
Panorama from the top.

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Where you start.

After the climb, we did the scenic drive through the park and then headed back to town through Mount Baker.
We grabbed Chicken Treat for dinner (poor mans Red Rooster? but now one and the same company?) and headed up Mount Melville to eat it.

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The view of Albany from the lookout tower.

After dinner we drove around the docks area and then up to Mount Clarence. The view from the top is pretty non existent but there is a a memorial to soldiers from the first world war.

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Albany seems like a nice town. Maybe I’m a little biased as I’ve seen three theatres in the town.

Day 6–The Bra and Knickers run


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Day 6 was originally from Eucla to Balladonia, which is approximately 465kms. Still adjusting to a new timezone, we left Eucla at around 8am local time. As there was basically nothing to see from Eucla to Balladonia we decided we’d push on to Esperance and be a day ahead of schedule. This would make it almost a 900km day but I was confident this would still be a comfortable drive.

Day 6 is called the Bra and Knickers run in honour of all those people that travel commando across the Nullarbor. We saw at least two or three trees covered in underwear, one setup with an old TV & TV antenna and (my favourite) a tree covered in CDs creating an awesome multi-coloured mirror ball effect as you drove past.

We stopped at the Cocklebiddy roadhouse for fuel just as an oversized load of CAT Mining trucks also pulled in to refuel. We’ve now seen and pulled over for at least 6 oversized loads on our journey, from CAT trucks to excavators and huge farm machinery.

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Having made excellent time to Balladonia, we grabbed a bite to eat and refuelled again, before heading off down the Balladonia Road. This road is marked with large signs saying its a 4×4 road and unsuitable for caravans. We’d done our research and already knew we’d be fine. (I was looking for anything more exciting than the exceptionally boring 146.6km straight we’d just been across)

The road had about 5 or 6 difference surface types, starting off extremely rough (probably mud in the wet season) to ending some 177km later with a graded and then sealed surface. I dropped the tyre pressure by 10 psi to give a more comfortable ride on the exceptionally corrugated sections. There was one particular section that was relatively smooth but like going over small waves. I’m certain the esky may have got airborne a few times.

Along the way we stopped at a Telstra Fibre repeater station to checkout the big solar panel arrays, another abandoned homestead and also did some rock and track driving to circumnavigated a big rock (Breeborinia Rock)

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Of course there were a few more gates covered in underwear too.

From the end of this annoyingly straight road, we headed down to Cape Le Grand National Park to look at the beautiful beaches and catch the sunset.

Lucky Bay

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Accommodation booked in town on the way into town (Esperance)