In my ranting about the motel, I forgot to mention Kings Park.
Iâ€™ve been there before but hadnâ€™t walked around much of it. We spent a good few hours walking around and talking some shots of of the city from there.
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.
A few interesting notes about this lighthouse:
– Itâ€™s Australiaâ€™s tallest lighthouse (about sea level)
– It wasnâ€™t electrified until 1982 and wasnâ€™t automated until 1992
– Itâ€™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.
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 couldnâ€™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.
Final destination for the day was Busselton, to catch the sunset at the jetty and stay the night.
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 weâ€™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. Weâ€™ve now seen and pulled over for at least 6 oversized loads on our journey, from CAT trucks to excavators and huge farm machinery.
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. Weâ€™d done our research and already knew weâ€™d be fine. (I was looking for anything more exciting than the exceptionally boring 146.6km straight weâ€™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. Iâ€™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)
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.
Accommodation booked in town on the way into town (Esperance)
Day 5 kicked off from with a drive into Fowlers Bay which seemed a quaint little place.
Back on the main road, we stopped at the Nundroo roadhouse to fill up before our journey across the Nullarbor.
It was at this point I noticed something strange with my drivers door handle and lock. It seems one of the locals in Penong got board and had a crack at breaking into the car, most likely whilst we were in the pub having a meal. (I’m looking at you younger guy in the red hoody and your friend.) All they seemed to have done is pulled the handle fitting out a bit breaking part of the locking mechanism at the same time as I now can’t lock the car with the key (but can unlock the car). I’ll be calling Subaru in Esperance or Albany to see what I can do about it.
On the way past Yalata we stopped to have a look at one of the old Telstra microwave communications towers which have now been replaced with optical fibre. These towers stretch all the way across the Nullarbor. Fibre repeater stations can be seen all along the underground fibre run with large sonar panel banks providing any power they need.
For the next 100km we stopped at various cliff top lookouts and even explored a few cliff top tracks and closed lookouts. It was interesting to see the trouble some people had gone to, to get into some of the closes lookouts, going so far as to uproot large signs and bend them out of the way. The map were were using was from 2008, but some of these places look like theyâ€™ve been closed for longer than that.
Weâ€™d done some research before this trip and one of the places that had been of interest was the abandoned Koonalda Homestead which is about 15km north of the highway (just over the old Eyre Highway).
This old homestead and fuel stop was leased for 50 years from 1938 to 1988 and was only made feasible by pumping water from the nearby Koonalda Caves for cattle. In 1988 it was abandoned and became part of the national park along with the many cars the were abandoned over the years.
For those considering a visit, 4WD or AWD will be needed.
The rest of the days driving was extremely boring and boarding on tiresome.
Speaking of boarders, we made it to the SA â€“ WA boarder and even found our next big object, the big Kangaroo.
And the big wombat I forgot to mention earlier.
Eucla was the camping spot for the night and we grabbed a powered tent site, setup tent and then headed down to look at the old Eucla Telegraph Station, now buried in the dunes.