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 Robbo's Rambles Part 8
 
The travel adventures of Ian (Woody) & Julie Robertson, whilst they journey around Australia
CMCA Member V18544



 

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Dec 4th:
we arise early and get into Kal, check where the tourist office is and go out to the Superpit lookout.

This is one big hole in the ground that makes 280 Tonne trucks look like Tonkas. The wind is blowing a gale and cold. The signs at the lookout are very informative and explain the basic working and equipment used.

We then drive around to the Mt. Charlotte lookout. This site also has the towns water supply reservoir on top of it. They are in the middle of beautifying and making it tourist friendly. There are interpretive signs being erected and paths being upgraded.

The Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame is next on the hit list. We end up spending the whole day there. They have the history of mining in Australia and Kal in general. Different minerals and their placement throughout Australia, how they are found, mined and the economic benefits to Australia.

We journey down to the infamous Hay St., the home of the "horse stall" brothels. Whilst waiting for the guided tour, yes guided tour, of Langtrees we have a cuppa. There used to be 23 in this street but now there are only 3 and only one has the traditional girls on show in the window.

We are joined by an older and a younger couple and 3 young ladies for the tour. The tour guide is not a working girl but she does know the business and no question phases her. She answers all questions candidly and matter of factly. It is an interesting tour but they don't have any free samples. I am disappointed.

We head out to Kanowna after having a cuppa with the other couple. They come from Sth. Gipplsand. It is amazing the amount of people we have met from Gipplsland on our travels. Who is milking the cows, that is what I want to know? For those unfamiliar with Gippsland, it is a large dairying area.

Kanowna is where we Kamp for the night. Sorry folks, couldn't resist.

Dec 5th:
We go out to the Kanowna Belle mine and the lookouts there and learn some more about mining at their plant viewing platform.

We return to Kal and go to The Town Hall. We tour the building, truly magnificent and it is free. It is on to Boulder Town Hall to have a look at that. It was grand once but has been sadly neglected and it is showing.

We go on The Golden Mile Railway. This train stops at the old mine power station for 40 minutes so you get a good chance to wander around. The noise and heat in this place would have been fantastic. Huge diesels running even bigger generators. (insert male grunts here)

We return to Boulder and go over the road to have a lemon squash in the bar of The Metropole Hotel. When they were doing renovations a little while ago they discovered a tunnel in the cellar that led to one of the mines. They have put a glass cover over it. Conjecture surrounds these shafts (there are a number around the town apparently). One theory is that with 6.00 o'clock closing a few of the boys would stay on after closing and when the police raided the men would disappear down the shaft and go home. Another theory is that the miners would pocket some of the gold being mined and bring it to the bar to cash it in.

We have lunch at Hammond Park. In a place that is so dry that every step raises dust this place is an oasis. Green and quiet with clean facilities it is nice to sit and just watch the peacocks parading.

We return to The Superpit for the 1 o'clock blasting. We wait until 1.30 but it is no go. I don't know if I can take many more disappointments. No bangs in 2 places.

We go to the WA Museum and take a tour and wander around looking at the exhibits.

We leave Kalgoorlie and head towards Esperance to the south. We have tea in a rest area and wait for night to fall. We camp at a rest area about 18K out of Esperance.

There is 2 times a day I really don't like driving. It is the twilight as the sun is just coming up or going down. I try to be having breakfast or tea at this time of day until it becomes full light or total dark.

Dec 6th:
We trundle into the Tourist Office and walk around the craft village that surrounds it. We then go on the Great Ocean tourist drive. This is a great way to see Esperance from all angles and the coast nearby.

We have a look around Mermaid Leather after lunch. They make articles out of fish leather. Interesting effect.

We had intended to camp down at Cape Le Grande National Park but after looking around and being and feeling sandblasted by the windswept sand we headed back to the campsite of the previous night.

Dec 7th:
We get into Norseman and have a cuppa with another motorhoming friend, Isabel. I enjoy the banter and the debate as we have differing views on some things.

We go up to the Tourist office and wouldn't you know it? There is a market on. Julie is off like a flash. They have nice steak sandwiches.

We drive up to Beacon Hill lookout and do the walk, read the signs and descend to the Bullen Decline info board. With that read we go to Pheonix Park and have lunch. They have some interesting mining equipment that is well labelled.

We call in on Isabel for another cuppa and start really heading east and the home run.

We camp in another rest area approx 60K west of Madura.

Dec 8th:
We get going early and stop at Madura Pass lookout. We have a cuppa at Eucla and look at the old telegraph station, Travellers Cross and the Eyre memorial lookout.

It is hot and as usual we have a quarter wind that is using fuel and causing the truck to run a little hotter. My arms are aching from keeping the truck straight.

We fuel at Border Village and pay the most we have had to for fuel, $1.25/litre.

We continue on and have a look at the Bunda Cliffs.

Between Nullarbor and Yalata we detour to the head of the Bight. Pretty speccy view.

We camp at a rest area about 25K east of Penong.

As usual while driving the mind goes off into its own little world and starts thinking.

The mining industry may have been the economic resurrection of Western Australia and South Australia but one wonders of the other costs. Trees to fuel massive boilers have been stripped from hundreds of Kilometers around with probably no chance of ever growing again. Holes in the ground and mullock heaps everywhere. The landscape has been changed with whole hills being removed and probably changing weather patterns because of it. To the mining industries credit they are addressing the problem now with rehabilitation programs in place. I am not a "greenie" but it does make you wonder. There has to be a balance somewhere and I think they may be getting close. I hope so.

Dec 9th:
We collect our "we crossed the Nullarbor" certificate from the Ceduna tourist office and head south again towards Streaky Bay.

We stop for a cuppa and drive around S.B. We stop at Murphys Haystacks and move on to Elliston for lunch. We dine with 2 motorhomers that have an imported Hino bus that is very nicely fitted out. We look around Elliston and the Ocean Views and arrive in Port Lincoln.

At the T.O. we book in for The Fresh Fish Company and The Seahorse Farm tours.

We book into Kirton Point caravan park and stay the night.

Dec 10th:
They don't have enough numbers to do the Fresh Fish tour, the other one is OK but not until the afternoon. We go to the Axel Stenross Museum. No luck here either as it is closed Wednesdays. We wander around the boats outside and then go to the Pier Hotel for lunch. Such extravagance but very nice. Julie reacquaints herself with the pokies.

We do the Seahorse Farm tour and although I was reluctant it was very good. What do they farm them for? I wondered too. For aquariums. Obvious when you know.

We leave Port Lincoln and check out Tumby Bay. I try to get through Cowell without Julie waking up but she has a sixth sense about these things and awakes as we enter the town.

"Where are we?" she asks.

"Ummmmm, Cowell," I mumble.

"There is a jade display here," she states. "I wouldn't mind seeing that"

"Yes Dear."

You can't win so why bother.

The weight of the truck increases some more.

We camp about 50K out of Whyalla.

We have been away for 5 months. It has gone quick.

Dec 11th:
We go into the tourist office and book a steel tour on the morrow. We take the tour of the 'Whyalla'. This Corvette was the first ship built in the Whyalla shipyards. It is another good tour. The Maritime Museum that is attached to the T.O. is worth doing as well. The exhibits pertain to The Whyalla and the shipyards that built it. No superfluous junk.

After lunch we check out the other attractions around the town.

Hummock Hill is a lookout that gives great views across the Gulf. This was used as a gun emplacement during WW2 and the old emplacements are still visible.

We then go out to Point Bonython, Point Lowly and Fitzgerald Bay with the intention of staying out there the night. Nice views but no shelter so we head back towards Cowell and camp at a rest area 15K from Whyalla.

Dec 12th:
We have a lazy start and wander around the shops and have lunch at the T.O. while waiting for the tour bus.

The bus duly arrives and about 12 of us head out to the steel works. The guide used to work at the plant and he explains that he rarely gets back on time and is always late. He explains everything and waits for certain processes so that we get the full process. This is a working plant and we have to wait. You are allowed out of the bus at strategic points and you really get the feel, smell the smells and feel the heat.

I reckon that it is one of the, if not the best tour of the trip.

We are supposed to be back at 3.00 but arrive at 4.00. He was true to his word.

We have a cuppa with some more Victorians and then head for Petes place in Port Augusta.

We have tea with Pete and Liz and park in their driveway.

Dec 13th:
We go down to the Tourist Office which has Wadlata interpretive centre attached. In my opinion this is a must see particularly if coming from the East and heading north. It gives a good overview of the exploration and development of the area from here to Alice Springs and other parts.

We go up to one of the lookouts and return to Petes place.

While Pete and I do what we do best, tell lies and bull***t, Julie and Liz go out on the town to check out the Christmas lights on the houses.

Dec 14th:
Woomera is on the itinary today and we make our way there. It is deserted and is rather eerie seeing all the empty buildings. There are a few permanent residents but they must have been out. The last time I was here (30 years ago) you needed permits to enter and there were people everywhere.

The sign says that the museum is open until 5.00PM so we wander around the missile park. We go down to the Museum and are informed it closes at 2.00PM. The museum is worth seeing as it gives the history of Woomera and the development of rockets after the WW2.

We head back to Port Augusta and have a cuppa with Pete and Liz and bid them farewell. We point our noses toward the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound.

We pull into a rest area about 15K from Wilpena and are having tea when a 4WD pulls in. The driver is one of the local cockies (landholder for the ones who don't know). He informs us that they are culling roos in the area and it would probably be prudent to move. I am about to say that they must have lousy eyesight. If they can't tell the difference between an 8 Metre truck and a 1 Metre roo they shouldn't be doing it. I keep my mouth shut and we move to another spot about 5K from Wilpena. A nice spot.

Dec 15th:
We drive into Wilpena visitor centre. The Rangers inform us that the gravel roads in the area are rough and after talking to other people who have done them it is confirmed.

We catch the shuttle bus out towards Wilpena Pound. Unfortunately (for me anyway) it stops about 1K short of the Pound. I contemplate going straight back on the bus but I get "the look" and get out.

We go to Hills Homestead and the climb (scale would be closer) up to the Wangarra lookout. We amble back to the bus stop and await our chariot to return to our van.

We have a late lunch and then head towards Burra via Hawker, Orroroo and Jamestown. This road is shown as unmade on most maps but has just been bitumened all the way.

We camped about 5K from Burra.

Dec 16th:
I have been through Burra many times and never stopped. It is one place I have always wanted to have a good look at due to the old buildings.

First port of call is the Tourist Office where we get a key to access the locked sites and the booklet for the Heritage Trail. We walk the town part and then set out on the drive part. This is the best way to get the history of the place and is very thorough in its commentary. If you do this tour make sure that the mining museum is open at the mine. When we did it, it was closed (naturally).

The temperature is rising and is getting hot. We were glad to get to the cellars under the old brewery, they were nice and cool. It took some threats, cajoling and physical effort on my part to pry Julie out.

We head out of Burra late in the afternoon and camp about 40K from Broken Hill.

Dec 17th:
It is stifling in Broken Hill even at 8.00AM. It is cloudy and looks like rain and the humidity is steadily rising as well as the temperature.

Broken Hill has an identity problem. Governed by NSW but closer to Adelaide and SA they keep SA time hence the early arrival at the T.O. We had set our clocks forward the day before.

While waiting for the T.O. to open we wandered around the Lions Park opposite. I also notice that there is a dump point at the bus wash attached to the tourist office but you need a key.

B.H. normally has a guided town heritage tour as well. Not at this time of the year because it is too hot. No kidding. We purchase the guidebook and set off.

The blocks in BH are huge, being about 300 metres long and there are 4 of them. The most logical way to do the walk is down one side of the street and return along the other side. There is a catch. The tour runs on 2 streets. A total of about 4K. Stop laughing you lot. We do one street and decide to do the other one later.

We book into The Broken Hill City Caravan Park. This park is almost a perfect park. The sites allow a van with annex and enough room for the car as well. Our truck looks small in them. They also cater for big rigs with trailers. The sites are not grassed due to tight water restrictions but have pine chips. Some are bitumen. They empty the bins every day and the place looks neat and tidy. Easy to walk on and level. They have no permanents and the maximum length of stay is 6 weeks.

If Margaret River is wineries then Broken Hill is art galleries. They are everywhere. Pro Hart and Jack Absalom being amongst the most well known.

Dec 18th:
Julie and I have tried about 5 times to get to BH. Circumstances have prevented us from getting here so we decide to stay about a week and wear ourselves out. We start doing the tourist bit.

It is hot with clouds.

We go up to the Miners Memorial on the Line of Lode and admire the view whilst having a hot chocolate. Very politically correct and yuppie. The Memorial lists all the miners that have lost their lives over the life of the mine.

We have lunch at Sturt Park and then have a look at the Big Picture. This is housed in a gallery and mint. They have jewellery as well. Also housed in the same complex is the BH Chocolate Factory. Talk about confusion time for Julie, she did not know where to look. I suggested outside but I got "the look".

The big picture is a Diorama on canvas showing all the main features in a radius of 200K of BH.

I escape from here with card intact and no weight added to the van.

Pro Harts gallery is next. The gallery also contains other artists work and although I am not a fan of Pro Harts paintings I do like some of his sculptures. Some of the other artwork is interesting.

We return to the caravan park. It rains finally but is still humid. A group of fellow campers gather at the outside BBQ and a few of us talk until 1.30AM. It is still warm.

Dec 19th:
It is still hot and going to get hotter according to the weather forecast.

We do the Delprats Mine tour. It is cool in the mine and we look like miners with our helmets and headlights on. It is a good tour and I am glad we did it as the mining here is different to the underground mining of gold. Gold is in a narrow seam and the drives and shafts are generally smaller. In silver mining the drives and shafts are much larger.

We had hoped to also do a tour of the South Mine but there were insufficient numbers to run it. Joys of being in the off season.

We collect the key from the TO for the sculpture park and return to veg out in the CP for the afternoon.

The weather bureau got it right. It is absolutely stifling.

Near sunset we head out to the sculptures and dine as the sun slowly sets. Not a spectacular sunset but very pleasant. The sculptures were part of an international Symposium of sculptors and some are brilliant. Others, well, not so brilliant in my opinion but what do I know.

The view over BH at night is pretty good from here with the Miners Memorial lit up behind.

We go back to BH and admire the decorated houses with lights on as we go up to the Miners Memorial to see BH from this side.

The wind is howling and dust is being raised everywhere.

It is interesting to note that the clouds during the day are not white but pink bordering on orange because of the dust trapped in them. Those that live in the outback areas are used to this but Julie and a lot of others in the park had never seen this. I hope that they don't get too close (clouds that is).

It is on to the Musicians Club for the two up. This is played the right way not the way that casinos play. Julie finds it boring and seeks out the pokies. I win at two up and lose it on the pokies. We meet another couple from the park and it turns into a good night.

Dec 20th:
A day in town sussing out the shops and going to internet shop and checking a few things.

We return to the CP late in the afternoon and stay there.

It rains and the cooling effect is immediate.

Dec 21st:
Julie is not feeling well so we stay in the park and have a lazy day and do nothing except update emails and put stickers on.

The weather is perfect temperature but windy. It gets windier and there is a mad dash to pull awnings in everywhere with some needing help with awnings that had ballooned. The wind gets stronger throughout the night and the van moves and shakes.

Dec 22nd:
Silverton is on the agenda today, but first we have to attend to a problem with the laptop.

Every now and then a key at random won't work. Makes typing a real chore. We go to the local Toshiba agent and he informs us that it won't be fixed until after Christmas. Not happy Jan! I can fit the other keyboard so problem fixed. Not so! There is no PS connector on the computer so he informs me that we need a USB/PS adaptor and all will be kosher. Does he have one? Nope, so we go to a couple of other shops and finally get one.

We extract the old keyboard from storage and fit it. Does not want to play. Keyboard must have been shaken up too much. Answer: buy new keyboard.

We do the other street listed on the heritage walk. We leave for Silverton.

At lunch (in Silverton) I connect the new keyboard. It does not want to play either.

We do the tourist thing around Silverton checking out the Hotel and galleries. We had lunch at Penrose park which also has camping (fee) and then go out to Mundi Mundi lookout and Umberumberka Reservoir.

We return to BH and return the keyboard. I buy another one that has a driver disk with it. I fit it, install the drivers and I look forward to using it. Wrong!! It does not want to play either.

It is about 55degrees in the van parked in the carpark. I am about 65 degrees and getting hotter. Only common sense (and the cost)prevents the computer and keyboard becoming another UFO. While Julie returns the keyboard because I would not be very civil, I calm down.

I go into the classic lotus Yoga pose, breathe deeply and mumble 4000 OMS.

Julie returns and I decide it has to be something else. Adaptor faulty perhaps. I return to the shop where I bought it. I take the computer, keyboard and adaptor in with me.

I ask if they can look at it. Not today, maybe tomorrow. I explain the trouble in full and one of the techys listening says that a keyboard with a PS connector will not work with a USB adaptor. I need a USB keyboard he says. He goes and gets a used one (the only one they have), plugs it in and VOILA it works. He smiles the smile that I give some of my customers and I realise how they feel.

I buy the keyboard (my turn to increase the weight), bow, kiss his feet as befits a Guru of his talent and slink out of the shop very happy.

Had I got the right information in the first place a lot of aggro and hair would have been saved.

We return to the CP and I start getting all this up to date.
 

 


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