Day 86 – 28 Sep 2012 – At Ballarat

Well it was quite a noisy night – B-doubles, semi-trailers and freight trains all passing through Nhill at all times of the night – yet once we were asleep we didn’t hear any more. Woke to a very overcast and showery morning with the odd noise of thunder in the distance. It was around 12C – welcome back to Victoria!!!

We left around 9.30 and because we were planning on stopping at Ballarat which is only 300 kms away we just took our time today. There are no photos today as the weather was too dull and besides most people know what Victoria looks like.

The countryside  here in the Mallee and Wimmera looks absolutely magnificent. The crops were well grown. We knew it had been a wet winter so hopefully it will be a great harvest. We did not stop at Dimboola, Horsham or Stawell – we have been through these towns before, but we stopped at Ararat for lunch.  As it was still quite cool (although the rain had eased) we chose to go to the local bakery to buy something warm for lunch. After lunch we walked up and down the main street to have a good look at the town.

The road we had been on was the Western Highway but we turned off that at Beaufort towards Lexton, Waubra and Learmonth because these were towns Ian had invovlement with when he was on the Bank Staff at the NAB at Learmonth and he wanted to relive old memories.

The drive towards Lexton was through the Waterloo State Forest – what a lovely drive. The scenery of green hills and pastures, livestock and large eucalypts was absolutely magnificent. What a beatiful part of Victoria. At Waubra there was yet another information area regarding Wind Turbines so we called in to have a look at that as all the hills around that area seemed to have  turbines. All up there are around 130 Wind Turbines spread over 13,000 hectares. Amazing. Ian recognised some of the houses and shops in Learmonth but the little town has changed somewhat over the years – 45 to be precise,since he worked there in the bank.

We then drove back on to the Western Highway and booked into a caravan park here in Ballarat.

TONIGHT’S BLOG WILL BE MY LAST because we have virtually finished our trip, and will no longer be doing interesting ‘touristy’ things, but we are still homeless so will still be doing some travel for some time yet. For the next fortnight or so we will spend time with Andrew, Lisa and Will. in Geelong, and take some time to visit other family and friends. Around October 12th we will hook up the caravan once more and head up to Townsville – planning to be there in time for my Mum’s 95th birthday on the 21st.  We will then spend a couple of months in Townsville – getting to know our dear little grandson again, and of course being able to be with Susan and Mick, and Christine and Dan, as well as being able to be with my Mum and to visit and keep touch with my other relatives and friends in North Queensland.

It will be interesting to see how we cope with the humid tropics.

We have had a most enjoyable journey — we did some amazing things; saw some amazing sights and enjoyed some amazing experiences. Australia is a land of such contrasts and from the dry, dusty red-centre to the tropical wetlands and to the beauty of the coastal bays, we have seen just how beautiful our country is.  We cannot say that any one place is any better than any other – they all have their own beauty, but we both agree that the Top ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT of our trip has to be the “jet boat through, and overnight stay, at the Horizontal Waterfalls” north of Derby. This trip will stay in our memory long after others have faded.

 Since we left Geelong on the 1st July we have travelled over 19,000 kms. We have met some lovely people and made new friends – one of the many benefits of travel. The cost of diesel varied from 150c per litre to 196c per litre. The cost of accommodation varied from $6.60 per night to $50 per night (some nights we camped off the road so they were free). The best fuel economy we got from a tankful of diesel was 17.2 litres per 100kms and the worst was up around 23 litres per 100kms. Overall we averaged around 20 litres per 100kms. The roads were absolutely fantastic for travel and the tourist venues and information centres were first class.

I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the nightly blog, keeping family and friends up to date with all we managed to do in the 3 months we were away, and I reckon I will miss doing it. It has been lovely to get the occasional ‘comment’ in reply.

 

Love to all, Janese and Ian

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Day 85 – 27 Sep 2012 – at Nhill

Lovely quiet night. Once again we woke to find many of our fellow travellers had already left the Park – before 7.00am. They either have a long way to go, or are just early risers.

We talked to a couple parked not far from us – they live at Balgal Beach (just out of Townsville) so we had a few things in common. However, different to us, they have been on the road for over 2 years – working when and where they can. He was in the electrical trade and she was a hairdresser.

We left the Park around 9.45 and turned off the road a few kilometres outside of Waikerie – heading south. For a short time we followed the Murray River. It is amazing just how much this River turns and winds around in this part of S.A. We stopped at Pinaroo for lunch. As we are still in the ‘fruit fly zone’, we went to the local supermarket and just purchased enough fruit for lunch. We were quite surprised at the size of this town and just how well set out it was. The weather was finally calm (after all the wind we have had on and off for over a week now) but by the time we sat down for lunch the temperature was up to 30C.

Hay bales and old tyres used to advertise Pinaroo Show

Every town seems to have some sort of festival/show/ and in Pinarroo’s case it is the annual show and they had this innovative way of advertising it as you can see from this photo, using hay bales and old tyres.

We have noticed a large amount of gazanias growing all along the roadsides now and the orange and yellow colours did look rather nice, although I do not like these flowers all that much. We wondered if they are indigenous to South Australia, but have discovered they are indigenous to South Africa etc., but here in Australia they are called ‘naturalised’. Very interesting. They are certainly widespread. They do well in poorer soils and are drought tolerant so no wonder they do well here in South Australia as it is a very dry State.

Gazanias along the roadside

We saw no wild life except for the occasional stumpy tailed lizard attempting to cross the road — again. They must have suicidal tendencies because they certainly take a risk crossing these busy highways!.

Once past the National Park area, we came to farming land. The crops were mostly canola and oats/barley/wheat and some vetch and they did look good. Many of the paddocks had centre pivot irrigators installed – we presume all the water comes from bores because there was no surfance water around.

We stopped at Bordertown where we re-fuelled before now heading on the Duke’s Highway. We crossed the Victorian Border around 3.00pm. Another time change. We reckon it took us so long to get used to the 2 hour difference in W.A., and then the 45 minute difference at Caiguna, and then the 45 minute difference at Ceduna and now we have gone all the way back to Eastern Standard Time —– realising in a short while Victoria will go to Day light saving time.  AAAHHHHH! My mobile will not change automatically, but Ian’s phone does, so that helps us to make sure we have set our watches correctly.

The countryside beside this highway was absolutely beautiful.

Crops just out of Bordertown, S.A.

All the crops looked magnificent and it would appear that they have had a good start to the season. We saw some silage being baled. We still have seen very few livestock – just the odd flock of sheep and a few head of cattle. They must be somewhere, just not beside the roads we are driving on.After travelling so far over 18500 Km over nearly all states and having never visited this part of Victoria I can truly say that the WHOLE countryside just looks magnificent.The only area that comes close in our opinion is the area around Port Lincoln where the crops were comparable but the other paddocks were nowhere near as good as those around Kaniva and Nhill.

We planned to stay at Kaniva, just over the border, but when driving through the town we missed the sign to the caravan park, so kept driving another 45 kms or so to Nhill. It is a very small caravan park here and there are only a few vans. Peak season is finished! We walked about 20  minutes into the town and refreshed our pantry with fruit and vegetables as we were not allowed to bring any of these over the border into Victoria. We were pleasantly surprised just how large the town itself is, although it was disappointing to see a lot of empty shops in the main street.

It is still warm (around 27C) at 6.30 pm but the sun is setting and the cockatoos outside in the nearby trees are making a racket so it is a lovely peaceful evening  in the country.

Day 84 – 26 Sep 2012 – at Waikerie (S.A.)

Whoops, just noticed I forgot to ‘publish’ last night’s blog so did it just then.

On to today – Lovely quiet night. A very nice little town and from the brochure we got from the reception there were quite a few things we could have done which would justify staying for more than one night, but we have already seen some of them on previous trips through this area. However, as we feel we are on the home stretch now we will leave these ‘touristy’ things until another trip. Couldn’t resist taking a photo of a ‘horse sculpture’ right in the main street. It has been made completely out of corrugated iron. If you enlarge the photo you will see just how well made this ‘horse’ is. Very clever.

Tin sculpture of a horse

The morning started off calm and lovely and cool, but not long after leaving Oororoo we noticed the wind really pick up – sometimes quite gusty. Fortunately, it was behind us so the tail wind was good, but it certainly was very strong. It is the last thing this part of the country needs which has been dry for so long. In no time at all we noticed the outside temperature was 30C and we found out later that with the high temperatures and the very strong winds, a total fire ban had been declared for some of the areas for today and tomorrow.

Our first stop for today was a little town called Terowie – this a town time forgot.

Main street of Treowie

Every building and house in the town is as it was many, many years ago. Some of the places were derelict, but some of the shops were open and in use. There was a small food store and the others were art galleries and things like that. We had driven through Terowie many, many years ago so we did not call in to there just to have a look as we knew what the town looked like – there is a business there which sells a ‘tyre repair kit’ which Ian had purchased at Kyabram 4WD but one of the fittings was for 16″ tyres whereas our tyres on the Landcruiser are 18″ so we needed the extra part. The business is located here in Terowie so we were  able to pull in and buy the extra part straight from the supplier. Ian had a long talk with the young chap who runs this business. He originally ran a 4WD business in Adelaide, employing 16 men, but 20 odd years ago he realised he was on to a winner with this contraption so closed the Adelaide business and opened up shop in this little town. The remoteness is no bother as he does most of his business by having 4WD businesses throughout Australia sell it, but he also goes to the Agricultural Shows  as well as caravan/campng shows in most States and does great business that way. Good luck to him. We hope we never have need to use this but it is handy to have. It is called the R&R Beadbreaker/Repair Kit

We then drove to the town of Burra. This is an historic town – once was a mining area with a large copper mine underground started in the 1850,s and then later on became an open cut mine. The open cut area is still able to be viewed from a lookout, although 100m of it now sits underwater. We drove up to this lookout – the wind was unbelievable. I found it very hard to open my car door against it. Fortunately, although very, very, very windy, it was a warm wind so it was not unpleasant.

Disused Open cut mine at Burra

We then drove to another lookout and then drove down closer to where the mine operations took place. Many of the buildings are gone, but some stand in disrepair but are still able to be distinguished as to what function they had when the mine was in operation. There were many information signs to read and the whole area was well maintained as an interestiing site for tourists.

We then drove into the town itself to find a place to park and have lunch, where we found our ‘neighbours’ from last night already parked. They advised us to go into the town and have a cornish pastie at the local bakery. As we were heading into FFEZ (Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone) for the Riverland we had planned on eating up all our fruit for lunch, but decided we could fit both in. So we walked to the bakery and did enjoy our pastie. We then went for a walk along the main street when, in a side street, Ian noticed Bruce and Linda’s Van. We have not met up since Geraldton (although had kept touch via email and they have been about a day in front of us for a week or so) so it was good to see them again. They were going to stay in Burra tonight and were slowly making their way back to Victoria by early next week, so now we are about a day in front of them. We had a good long chat and then walked back to our Van and ate our fruit. Some few blogs ago we commented on the road kill on a certain section of the Nullabor and that there was also a dead camel and we hoped it had been hit by a truck,but Bruce & Linda told us that it was a car and it had happened not long before they came along.The driver was O.K. but shaken, but the car was a write off.

We then drove on the road to Waikerie – a town situated on the Murray River.  Just 25 kms short of Waikerie is a small town called Cadell which has a ferry for crossing the Murray. We drove down and were surprised that the small ferry fitted not only our large car and van, but a smaller car and pop-top van, and a car behind that van. The crossing only takes less than 5 minutes and much to our surprise, it is a free service. The Murray River was really flowing. There were signs on a tree right at the end of our trip which had details of all the flood levels which have been in that area. The 1956 level marker was so high up the tree it is hard to imagine that much water flowing down.

Ferry Crossing the Murray River at Cadell

We re-fuelled at Ramco just before entering Waikerie. The Van Park at Waikerie is right on the Murray River. The wind was still blowing, but nowhere near as much as it had all day. By the time I am typing this (5.53pm S.A. time), it is now as calm as a mill pond, but still quite warm 28C.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 83 – 25 Sep 2012 – at Oororoo

The wind howled a gale again through the night – sure rocked the van a bit. However, by the time we woke it had calmed down to just a slight breeze. It was lovely to see the sun rise over Porter Bay as we sat and had breakfast.

We left Port Lincoln around 9.15am and headed along the Flinders Highway – another beautiful road right beside the ocean – Spencer Gulf to be precise. We have been so surprised and pleased to drive along so many roads which really do follow the sea – the view is always so lovely. Port Lincoln is quite a lovely city – very tidy and being situated right on 3 bays, there was a sea-view from most angles.

Road out of Port Lincoln

We re-fuelled just outside of Port Lincoln and then drove by the various little Bay towns/resorts which are all along this coastline.Forgot to mention yesterday that for the last 100 km or so coming into Port Lincoln along the Flinders Hwy, the crops looked fantastic,and in fact one oat crop was already being cut for hay. The same applied for today for the first 100 km or so after leaving Port Lincoln,on the Lincoln Hwy, the the crops looked extremely good, and we saw several paddocks of oats that had been cut for hay some time ago. But after that the crops did not look so good and it was obvious they needed more rain to finish them off.

Paddocks out from Port Lincoln

We called in at a place called Arno Bay just to have a short break and to have a look around. It is a tiny town which really was just a small shopping precinct and a caravan park. It looked like a lovely spot for a summer holiday as the beach was quite a safe beach. Just out at sea out from this town are large acquaculture cages where tuna, yellowtail kingfish, and mulloway are raised commercially. But this is classed as a minor asset to the local area with tourism taking the larger share.

Beach and jetty at Arnu Bay

Can understand why as it was a really lovely little town. Population around 500 I think the noticeboard said. All the cabins and caravans were right on the beach front.

Next stop was Cowell – this is the place from which the ferry across Spencer Gulf leaves so we thought we have a look at what we did not do. The ferry harbour was a few kilometres out of town. There was another couple there with their motorised home having a look too but like us felt that the cost did not justify the experience. The ferry runs twice a day – leaving mid morning and mid afternoon. We worked out that crossing by this ferry would have saved around 500kms of travel, but working out the cost of fuel and acccommodation over that distance, the $500 all-up which the ferry crossing would have cost, was not worth it.

Next stop was Whyalla – it was time for lunch so we pulled in at a parking area and had lunch overlooking a reclaimed area which was now a wetland. It had originally been an airport with a tarmac but since 1993 had been reclaimed. It was quite good with ducks and swans swimming, but once again we are in ‘mining’ territory so the soil all around is red so in my opinion it takes away from the beauty of the small lakes which were there. We saw a few mining areas – this area is not far from Iron Knob so iron ore is the main mining industry here. Whyalla is the 3rd most populous city in South Australia outside of Adelaide and Mt. Gambier, but it is totally reliant on the steel making industry, and in 2011, OneSteel’s commitment to the industry saved hundreds of jobs.

We were now back on to the Eyre Highway (No.1) and drove to Port Augusta where we re-fuelled once more before heading east to Orroro. We did drive through Orroroo on our way through to Quorn all those weeks ago, but on the whole we have managed so far to only drive on the same road for only a few kilometres which has made Ian very pleased.

Just coming to the top of Horrock’s Pass

On this road we had to drive around the edge of the Southen Flinders Range and drove over Horrock’s Pass. This was a lovely drive through the hills and the view when coming back down was very lovely.

Oororoo is a lovely, quiet little town and the caravan park has space for about 10 vans. It is a very clean and tidy Park. When we passed through this area 12 weeks or so ago some of the crops had just been sown and we were interested to see how they had grown. But we were disappointed. The season has been very dry and the lady at the Reception Desk told us that many crops have now had sheep or cattle put on them. She mentioned that Oororoo is north of Goyder’s Line and therefore very marginal cropping area. Ian says if you do not know what ‘Goyder’s Line’ is it is worth googling to find out.

The weather is quite mild – no wind and the temp around 18C. I managed to do a load of washing which was good, but had to use the dryer in the laundry as the nights are no longer warm enough to keep washing out on the line overnight. There is another ‘TRAVELLER” van in this Park so Ian has been having a good chat with them. Like us, they love their caravan.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 82 – 24 Sep 2012 – At Port Lincoln

At last the wind had died down and it was a very peaceful night. Normally we wake around sunrise, much to our surprise we slept in and it was around 9.30 before we started breakfast! Must have needed the sleep. Before we left we talked to 2 people in the van near us – they had been at Smoky Bay for almost a month and were setting up their satellite dish to connect to a large TV in the park’s BBQ area as it was planned to have a sausage sizzle etc. on Saturday and invite everyone in the park  to join in and watch the AFL grand final. What a lovely idea. He was setting up the satellite dish because although the ABC and SBS were digital and the picture from these stations was excellent, the other stations were still analogue and the reception was pretty poor. During our trip we have been surprised just how much of Australia is still viewing analogue TV.

The road out of Smoky Bay is the Flinders Highway and it travels along the coast all the way to Port Lincoln which is down the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula so we were lucky once more to be able to have views of the sea on and off during today’s trip.

We stopped at Streaky Bay to have a look around. I did not find it such an attractive seaside town as it was in a large bay surrounded by hills and these hills were almost completely bare. Didn’t look so good to me. The ocean view was lovely though so I guess that compensates a little.

We did not drive into the next couple of settlements beside the ocean but kept going until just before Elliston. We saw a sign which said ‘Tourist Great Ocean Cliff Drive’ and turned in to see what that would be like.

View on Great Ocean Cliff Drive at Elliston

This really is a drive right on the cliffs overlooking the Great Southern Ocean to the west. Some of the views were magnificent. As it was lunch time we pulled into a Parking Bay Area and had our lunch overlooking this amazing sight. There were a few islands close by and the waves were crashing on them, also the waves on the shore just under where we were parked were lovely to watch. Once again – such an amazing blue. More MAGIC. Can’t resist putting in another photo of an ocean view,  it was just too beautiful not to do so. The cliffs were quite rugged and eroded (limestone) so we were surprised to have 2 young chaps beside us just getting out of their surfing gear. How they got down to the water we don’t know, but they were pretty brave (or foolish) because it really was very rough and isolated.

We left Elliston and then drove all the way to Port Lincoln, arriving here around 3.30pm. Once again we have chosen a park right next to the water. Actually it is situated on Porter Bay so we thought it was very appropriate to stop here.

The view from our caravan at Port Lincoln Caravan Park

Their ads. were not wrong – they are right on the Bay – our Van is about 40 metres to the water and is one of the closest vans to the Bay. Normally we don’t get such a good site so we are very pleased. Unfortunately, it is windy again and the wind is quite icy – the temp is around 14C but it feels a lot, lot cooler than that. After setting up we went for a walk along a jetty just outside our van. There were the usual intrepid fishermen – Ian asked one chap what he was hoping to catch and his answer was ‘Bugger all’, so Ian replied that he probably would not be disappointed then. They both had a good laugh. It was so cold, and it really did not look like good fishing weather to me. I don’t know why they do it – they are always so optimistic; at least when they start out. I guess it is not the catching of the fish that counts, just fishing!! On all our travels the only person we saw catch a fish was the chap at East Alligator River in Kakadu and the barramundi were practically waiting to be caught there.

We then went for a short walk on a path on the edge of the bay right near the Park. It was through native seaside flora and was quite a lovely walk. There were signs explaining all the local indigenous plants etc. At the end of the walk was a dry dock and there were 2 fairly good sized fishing trawlers in there. On the way back we stopped to talk to another walker (with her dog) and she was a New Zealander who had moved over here 18 months ago with her husband and 2 children. She said it was the best thing they had ever done and she really loved the place. We can understand why. She wanted to know all about our travels as she and her husband plan to caravan around Australia when their youngest child leaves school.

The scenic cliff drive at Elliston also signposted ‘cliff sculptures’ and every now and then along the road there were some types of sculptures – some were quite amusing so I took a photo of them. One was a gigantic pair of thongs made out of the limestone and concrete – they were very well done. The other one was a model of a child on a trike. Enjoy.

One thing we have begun to notice is the amount of snakes on the road. Many are still well and truly alive. I guess they are trying to warm up on the bitumen. Another creature which seems to use the bitumen is the stumpy tailed lizard. We must have seen dozens of them over the past three days. Most of them fortunately are alive, but they walk so slowly we just hope another vehicle coming on the road can miss them.

I haven’t mentioned the roads for a while, but they are still very good, but I am finding that they are little more undulating than the roads up north and so my camera is unable to take away some of the motion of the car driving so some of my photos are not as clear as I would like. We are also finding we are now driving into insects so they are making the windscreen a little too dirty to take photos through as well. Ah, the trials of a travelling photographer!

One of the many ‘cliff art sculptures’ along the scenic drive

When we got back Ian took the chance to re-fill all our water tanks. The water in S.A. is notoriously ‘terrible’ (all the chlorine in it) but we had exhausted our supply so we will put up with the taste.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 81 – 23 Sep 2012 – At Smoky Bay

Like last night, although unable to get TV reception we did get the ABC radio coverage of the Hawthorn/Adelaide AFL semi-final. Ian was quite relieved when Hawthorn just scraped through to win by 4 points.

Following the strong winds all day, it was windy all night, but not gale force like the night before. Some of our fellow ‘campers’ had left early once more and we left around 8.15am. First town was just 14kms – Nullabor.

Just outside Nullabor was a sign saying you are now entering the Nullabor Plains – the treeless desert. They were right – not a tree in sight for quite a long time.

The Nullabor Plains – ‘treeless desert’

We then drove through Nullabor and, 14kms further on, turned off on a 12km road to an area called ‘Head of Bight’. This is a whale spotting cliffside walkway which has been well set up for tourists to come and see the Great Southern Whales which come here to calve and raise their calves in the quiet and safe waters here. This facility is on Aboriginal Land – Yalata Community – and there was a small cost of $10 each. Well, it was more than worth it.

Female Whale and her calf

All up we spotted 12 whales and their calves. Some were very close to the shore – the walkway goes out over the cliff so you get a good look down on to the water. Just MAGIC. At one stage one of the youngsters was quite frisky in the water and then his mother followed suit so it was lovely to see. Most of the time they just swam very slowly together. It was absolutely amazing.

Part of the viewing walkway at Head of Bight

While we were there Ian got talking to another couple who wanted to know all about our Traveller Caravan as they were going back to Geelong to up-date their own Van and were interested in the Traveller Brand Van. Naturally, Ian told them they were going to the right place and pointed them to Caravans-R-Us at Geelong where we bought ours, but to try to deal with Leon Blackney, because we found him much more approachable and knowledgeable than Kean the other part owner. We let them have a look inside our Van and they were ‘sold’ immediately.

We spent over an hour watching the whales and then headed back to the Highway and stopped at a small township called Penong where Ian re-fuelled while I went in to the take-away section and bought us some lunch as we did not have any fruit and could not buy any until after the Quarrantine Check Point at Ceduna. We then drove a few kms. out of the town and parked on a slight hill and ate our lunch. The countryside was now becoming more agricultural and we were seeing more and more cropping, although they did not look to be growing all that well.

We then drove to Ceduna where we went through the Quarantine Check Point. The chap just looked in our fridge, asked me to show him where I would normally put potatoes and onions and had a look at that empty space and said ‘OK. You’re right to go’. We were surprised. We had heard they often went over the van and car very thoroughly. Maybe they can judge people and choose who and who not to check out more fully.

We then drove into the town of Ceduna and went to the local supermarket and bought up on enough fruit and vegies to last us for the next 4 days or so. It is a lovely little town right on a harbour – the main street actually looked right out on to the water.

We had decided to drive a bit further on to a place called Smoky Bay for the night so drove the next 38 kms to that spot. This is such a pretty little beachside town. The caravan park is right on the beach and after we had parked the van, we went for a walk along the beach and saw they had a long, long jetty so walked along that as well. The view was lovely and it was certainly picturesque. The only drawback was that the wind was blowing quite strongly and it was quite cold so we just sat at a wind shelter for a while. This is an oyster production area and we saw a couple of strange, quite shallow type boats take off from the boat ramp and head out to the oyster farm area, so that was interesting.

We asked the chap at the Park Reception why is it called Smoky Bay. He said he could not remember which explorer was sailing by way back in the 1800’s, but when he did sail by there was a big bushfire and all the bay was filled with smoke. Makes sense!

During our travels we have seen some interesting road ‘warning’ signs and today there were signs warning ‘wombats, camels, kangaroos’. At one stage there was a sign which soley said ‘Wombats’ – What a shame to know how right they were. We must have seen over a dozen dead ones in quite this small stretch of road. Apart from them, we saw no other road kill all day considering yesterday was quite some carnage.

Quite a few times during our trip we have also passed signs saying ‘dog fence’ so today I was finally able to get a photo of it. It is worth ‘googling’ just to see what an amazing fence this is.

The dog fence on the Nullabor

This was a fence built way back in the 1880’s and starts in the Darling Downs in Queensland and ends on the cliffs of the Nullabor Plain here on the Eyre Peninsula. It is one of the longest structures in the world and is the world’s longest fence – 5,614 kms long. It was built to protect sheep flocks from dingoes and has been reasonably effective but of course over the time since it was built many holes have occurred and dingoes have been able to access these areas. We guess it would also be some deterrent to other feral animals. It would be a major job to keep it in reasonable condition!

In making plans on further travel we noticed there was a ferry which crossed Spencer Gulf from Cowell to Wallaroo so thought we would look into the cost of doing that voyage. But the cost is a little too prohibitive – $30 a metre for a car and van (13 metres all up), plus $29 each for the 2 of us. Such a shame as it would have been an interesting way to travel. Maybe one day.

We are pleased to be in a Park tonight because it is quite cool and we can at least put our electric blankets on before going to bed. We are getting soft in our retirement!

Lots of love, Janese and Ian

Day 80 – 22 Sep 2012 – Still on roadside of the Nullabor

There were 3 other vans parked in this roadside stop. We had a chat with a couple next to us but it was too windy to stay outside for long.

No TV at our bush site, but we were able to get the ABC radio so listened to the Sydney/Collingwod semi-final. So pleased that Sydney won.

The wind had died down by the time we went to bed, but about 4.30am it started up again – absolute gale force. And it has continued all day – fortunately a tail wind again so our fuel economy has been excellent.

By the time we got out of bed at 7.45am our ‘fellow’ campers for the night had all left. Everyone seems to be in a hurry!!

We left around 9.00am and headed east once more along the Nullabor. It is really the Eyre Highway – the actual Nullabor Plains do not begin until just before the small settlement town of Nullabor, which is just a roadhouse and caravan park.

Again the scenery varied from typical coastal salt bush and low shrubs, to much larger trees and heavy vegetation.

We did not know that at Madura the whole scenery would change dramatically – we missed a quick turnoff to a lookout overlooking the Roe Plains but still what we could see from the road was lovely – a deep valley and a mountain range beside us. We continued to travel beside this low mountain range for at least 200 kms or so. This range was quite heavily treed and the countryside was so different to what we have driven through yesterday and the first part of this morning.

We drove on until we reached Eucla where we stopped to have our lunch at the roadside petrol station. There were caravans everywhere. Of course this is the only road out of W.A. so everyone has to be on it if they wish to leave W.A. to S.A. or vice versa.

We then re-fuelled before heading further east. Diesel was $1.90 a litre.

Not far from turning back on to the highway we began to see the ocean right beside the road. There was a good spot to stop for our first view of the Great Australian Bight. The wind was still blowing a real gale and so there were white caps everywhere, and it was certainly pretty (and very cold standing on the windy cliff edge).

Overlooking The Great Australian Bight

After Eucla is the small border stop called Border Village where we expected to be stopped and searched to make sure we were not bringing any fruit, vegetables or honey into S.A. However, there was no-one there stopping vehicles but there was a sign which said the next check point would be Ceduna. We had not realised that it was so far into S.A. before being checked when entering S.A. (The Border checkout was for vehicles leaving S.A.) and it was a bit of a nuisance as we had made sure we had no fruit or vegies or honey on board, so we are just having eggs on toast tonight.

There was no sign to remind us to change our clocks to S.A. time either so we are just presuming we had to do it.

Our bush stop for the night

We had decided that another bush stop was ok for tonight and so we checked our camping guide and found one just 20kms short of the town of Nullabor and pulled in. There were already 3 Vans parked for the night and another one has come in while I have been typing this. The wind is still blowing and the weather is quite cool – about 20C.

Just before pulling into here we had a medium sized kangaroo jump out in front of us but we saw him in enough time for Ian to put on the brakes and it just bounded away safely. Today is the first day in a long time we have seen so much road kill – mostly kangaroo, but also some eagles and emus. Always makes me sad. Forgot to say that yesterday we saw a dead camel beside the road – presume it was a road train that hit it, otherwise it would have done unbelievable damage to any other vehicle.

Eagles flying away from some road kill

We are definitely on the home run now we are in S.A.

Love to all, Janese and Ian