Dec 14, 2011

Nullabour - Home - Dec 2011

With both rigs covered in mud in wasn't a difficult decision to get off the bitumen again and explore some more caves along highway. The 1st we checked out was Murra-El-Elevyn and like the other's it was a large sink hole in the ground, the next was well known being Cocklebiddy Cave though after driving 11klms in on muddy tracks we found it to be closed to the public due to the danger of rock falls. It didn't stop Geoff from getting close to the entrance and taking a few photo's, the cave has been explored to the length of 6.34klms and much of that requires the use of scuba tanks and Lot's of carting gear up and over ledges. I wasn't prepared so that was my excuse.

That night we stayed in the bush not far from Caiguna Blowhole, a last chance for a camp fire and a bike ride down a few tracks before settling down in front of the fire and enjoying the serenity of a clear night.

Like most .... we were no different, when the horse turns for home we were the same, clocking up more klms the next day than what we would normally do in 2-3 days found us in Norseman for lunch at the lookout and then stopping the night between Southern Cross and Coolgardie. Tonight was the solar eclipse so that was a good enough reason to sit up and view the night sky, the fact that we had our mates with us and it was to be our last night together for a while it made it even more special.

So our three year journey has come to an end with us now home for Christmas, but it isn't a total end to our travels, we have some medical appointments to keep and depending on the outcomes of those plus impending birth of another grandchild we intend to be back on the road again ....... heading to our much loved Ningaloo for two months next year.


Dec 7, 2011

Streaky Bay - Nullabour - Dec 2011

Ceduna was a planned shop stop with the girls heading off to Food land whilst Geoff and I went to the bottle shop to get supplies for the drive West. It was also where we had lunch at the Bakery, whilst certainly not up to Stone Hut standards it was good tucker.

We stopped at Penong Cemetery and introduced Geoff and Vickie to the the head stones that we have visited many times before - [See Here] We then decided to drive out to Point Sinclair and the Penong Town Beach in the hope that no one would be there and we could stay a night. Unfortunately that wasn't the case with some local ladies telling us that 50 Aboriginal children were due to arrive any moment for an overnight camp, hearing that we decided to move on and found a rest area along the highway far enough away from the road and the night truckers.

BBQ Lizard anyone?

Happy Hour

The next couple of days were to be very interesting, Geoff had mentioned to us about going in and checking out some of the caves and old sites along the old Eyre Highway. I first drove across from Victoria to WA in a Holden Station Wagon back in 1973 and most of the Nullabour was a dirt road. I don't recall the names of all the small servos but there is a good chance i stopped at Koonalda for fuel, on this trip we still had to take to the dirt road's but it was far more comfortable with 4WD and Van in tow.

Before getting to Koonalda we left the Highway to visit Wigunda Cave, here Geoff and i got adventurous and climbed down the rocky shale slopes to the base before venturing into the cave itself, equipped with torches and rope we manged to get so far in before walls became to tight for large guys like ourselves. Back safely up top we continued on to the turn off for Koonalda, the access road taking us down to the Old Eyre Highway is quite good, some rough limestone sections but overall better than i remember back in 73'

Wigunda Cave

Clay Dam Soak

Getting to the Old Homestead at Koonalda was for us a very enjoyable experience, with the old house still intact and with a new roof, another smaller building in good condition and shearing shed though not in as good condition it was still standing and very interesting to walk around and have a look inside them all. The best part for me was checking out all the old cars scattered around the property, majority were Holden's with a mix of Ford, Valiant, Vauxhall & Zephyr's along with one lonely Mini. It would have been a brave person to attempt the Nullabour in a Mini back then.

Old Sheep Yards Koonalda

Knocked off for Smoko

Two Vauxhall Velox's

68'VE Valiant

Geoff & Vickie surprised us with a Christmas Dinner of Turkey & Cranberry sauce and plum pudding and custard for desert

Geoff did some exploring on his Mountain Bike and found a small cave a kilometre from the homestead, we all went and checked it out and i wasn't that disappointed it's opening was too small for us to squeeze in though Geoff did try. That afternoon we drove a further 6klm's to check out the Koonalda Cave, this cave is fenced off and permit required to explore it, the base was a long way down and interesting to see a forest of fruit tree's down the bottom.

Geoff the 'Caveman' sink hole

Koonalda Cave

It was just as well we decided to explore that afternoon because later that night the rain started and it did not stop. As we lay in bed listening to the thunder and crack of lightening i was thinking about how muddy the drive out would be. The next morning we awoke to small lakes of water around us and the track looking like a river in parts. A small tour vehicle had left earlier and i half expected to find them stuck along the track. We stopped to take some photo's of each other forging through the mud and water but in the end it was an easy drive out, thankfully the rain continued and we got to wash the majority of the mud off the vehicles driving along the bitumen. We are now camped 15klms from the Border Village, overlooking the Great Australian Bight, the rain has stopped but the wind has picked up. With phone and Internet signal it has given me the opportunity to catch up with the blog.

Geoff and Vickie's Rig in the wet

Our Rig - photo taken by Geoff

Not the best weather for a walk but the view is lovely, our 'home' for the night.

Sheringa Beach - Streaky Bay - December 2011

We stayed two nights at Sheringa Beach and moved on up the Peninsula stopping at Locks Well for a look and possibly i hoped, a fish. Vickie got all paranoid on me about driving down to the lower car park something we have done previously when we had the F250 so to save any 'eye explosions' i stopped at the top car park and got my rod and fishing bag and walked down the steep road to where the 291 access steps are to the beach. From the top the beach didn't look to bad, the tide was in but i thought if i can get around a rocky section i could cast into a deep hole at the Southern end. What i couldn't see until i got to the bottom was the tide was right up to the rocks and it would have been risky to try and get around and then possibly be stuck until the tide dropped, so with one single cast i then proceeded to climb back up.

Lots of interesting water pools

Further along the Flinders Highway we stopped at Colton Bakery, this is unlike any other bakery with just a small tin shed with loaf's of bread and rolls for sale if you get there early enough in the day as they are popular with locals and travellers. We were lucky and bought a nice tank loaf, some bread rolls and a packet of sticky buns, yum. We were heading to Streaky Bay to visit Lloyd and Heather, Bushtracker friends we met when we stayed at Streaky Bay previously, but we were also waiting for the Parker's to catch up after they visited people at Venus Bay so we decided to spend a night at Walkers Rocks, another attempt at beach fishing bought no results, the next day we continued on calling into Venus Bay and a walk out on the jetty, we spoke to a nice Italian couple who surprised us by giving us some Herring they had just caught, we had them for dinner that night and they were delicious.

Vickie and the bread, Colton Bakery

We have been along the Westall Scenic loop before and always stop at the Inselbergs known as Murphy's Hay Stacks. These large rocks were weathered and sculpted into their present form about 100,000 years ago. Geologists say the Hay Stacks are composed of pink granite from the Hiltaba suite of rocks which were laid down some 1500 million years ago. Amazingly these beautiful pink granites were formed at a depth of 7 to 10 kilometres below the earth's surface.It was nice to see the walk trail had been extended and we were able to explore further even finding a large Bee Hive forming on one of the rocks.

Murphy's Hay Stacks

That night we stayed at Tractor Beach a free camp spot nestled in amongst shrub & low tree's close to the beach. Getting in was fiddly with the track winding in close to large rocks but after reversing in with guidance from Vickie on the UHF radio we found a nice spot where we had our own private track to the beach.. Another Van was already camped up but apart from an initial hello from a lady who mentioned that she would let us set up, we didn't see them again at all until we were leaving.

Tractor Beach - Streaky Bay

Catching up with Lloyd and Heather at their beautiful home was great, such lovely people and very easy to like. With Geoff and Vickie still a day away from joining us, Heather took Vickie into town to show her some shops while Lloyd and i set about fitting some spring retainer brackets to their new Bushtracker Caravan. Lloyd has a large shed big enough to fit their Van, cars, boat and still lots of room for a work shop, something most blokes would envy. With Lloyd doing all the crawling around underneath and me supervising the job was soon done, Lloyd showed me the new style pivot blocks for the simplicity suspension and they certainly look a better style than what was available previously, I can see another job on my list when we get home. The girls arrived back and it was time for a beer or three relaxing under their patio looking at the amazing view they have.

The new pivot blocks compared to old style.

Spring Retainer Brackets

View from Lloyd and Heather's home

The next day Geoff and Vickie arrived and we spent most of the afternoon chatting before going to the Streaky Bay Hotel for a great meal. On the walk back Heather took us on a tour of town and a visit to their Daughter Ursula & Son In Law Dion's home. A beautiful old style limestone home that was once a Hospital, they have modernised it but kept all the character the buildings of this era had. Dion is a bit of a legend in the district as we found out when we saw a huge set of Great White Shark jaws hanging in their home. At the local Shell Roadhouse there is a large display of the newspaper clippings and photographs along with a replica of the 5.5mt Shark that Dion caught when he was 21 years of age on 28lb line, even though it was the largest recorded capture it was not recognized as the leader line had stretched, what that has to do with it i don't know.

Photo courtesy of Saltwater Cowboy his phone worked mine didn't.

Early the next morning Lloyd and Heather drove to Adelaide leaving us to re-fill our water tanks and take both our rigs around to the local silo's weighbridge to check our total weights. Suffice to say Parker's Van was less than ours by around 400kg and not unexpected, luckily we are heading home to unload some gear. By mid morning we were leaving Streaky Bay and heading towards Ceduna & the West.