Day 77 – 19 Sep 2012 – at Kambalda

Today’s blog will be rather short as we did not do any ‘touristy’ things today – just travelled.

We left Esperance around 10.00am. Esperance was certainly a lovely spot to visit. We re-fuelled at a service station on the way out of the town and Ian took the opportunity to check the tyre pressures of both the Landcruiser and the caravan because in a few days time we will be crossing the Nullabor. He was pleased to find they were all as they should have been – considering some of the rough roads we have travelled on it is a very good outcome.

We were surprised just how undulating this country side is and it was a good trip today. In the first 50 or so kms out of Esperance there was some lovely country. There were a quite a few large flocks of sheep in some of the paddocks. However, after that some areas were quite dry and the few crops there did look like they were doing it tough. Quite a lot of this area seems to be salf affected and there were many dry, but extremely large, salt lakes.

One of the large dry ‘salt’ lakes

The wildflowers were still out, but mostly the same type – a whitish/blue covered bush which looked a little like a melaleuca. It was quite pretty though. Some areas we drove through were just low scrub and not so pretty, but this is also mallee country and we certainly saw large areas of mallee scrub. It was not hard to imagine we were in Victoria when we drove through this country.

Magnificent gum tree

We also passed through some areas where there were some magnificent gum trees so it was a diversified countryside during today’s trip.

We pulled in at Norseman for lunch. So did lots of other travellers. This town is on the junction of the Eyre Highway and is the only road to the east (Nullabor) and the main road to the west (Perth) so naturally it would be busy with tourists. We had originally thought we would be heading east today, but found out at the caravan park in Esperance that there is a reasonable caravan park at Kambalda which is only 60kms south of Kalgoorlie so we decided we would travel there and just go and visit Kalgoorlie as a day drive – because we knew we could not get into a caravan park in Kalgoorlie which is heavily booked out with its Race Meeting. While we were at Norseman the lady in the Info. Centre gave us details of the tour through the mine at Kalgoorlie and we saw that it was advised to book in advance. Shows how modern eveything is now – we could not book by phone – only over the internet. So we went back to the Van and did exactly that. We were able to get the one and only ticket remaining on the tour tomorrow afternoon. Whew. So we booked that ticket for Ian as he has always talked about doing this tour of the Super Mine. It is a 2.5hour tour so he should certainly enjoy it. As Kalgoorlie has a population of 30,000 I think I can fill in that time looking at the shops and just relaxing in a coffee shop (or two).

Much to our surprise all this area is part of what is called Great Western Woodlands – the largest temperate woodland left in the world of 16 million hectares (larger than England). It has over 3,000 species of flowering plants as well being an area which has large numbers of animals, frogs, snakes, insects etc. We had no idea. There was a brochure explaining that because this area is also such a strategic area for mining and exploration as well as active pastoral leases, the State Government and other organisations have worked hard to provide a framework to manage all these different demands on this land.

Roadside vegetation

We then drove the extra 110kms to Kambala. This is a town which survives because of the mining boom. Much to our surprise the reception at the Caravan Park was something you would expect in a much flasher area – and we were told by the girl in the reception that this complex is run by ‘The Mac’ – an organisation which supplies accommodation for mining staff, mostly in Queensland, but have a couple of sites here in W.A. She mentioned the caravan side of the complex was a little less looked after. She was right – it is just a park – no lawns mown, no definite parking spots and a few power/water outlets which do not work. However, the toilets/showers are clean, although we do not need to use these. She said they have a buffet dinner each night for $15 a head so we think we will go over and see if we can meet some of the ‘locals’. Even in the caravan side of this complex most of the vans are ‘permanents’  – people working in the mine. It may seem a rather rash criticism but why do most permanent caravan sites look so untidy. The converted bus next to our spot could easily look quite good in a slum area!! However, in our case we only have to look at it for a couple of nights! I should have taken a photo of it, but it is too dark now. Maybe tomorrow.

It is places like this where I am so thankful to have a washing machine in the Van so I don’t have to traipse across the dirt and long grass to the laundry. I did a couple of loads of washing and although a short shower of rain just fell I am hopeful that the weather will stay fine and warm overnight. Temp at the moment is a lovely 26C.

POSTSCRIPT – re the Pink Lake at Esperance. Found out that it has not been pink for over 20 years. The reason given is typical of ‘greenies’ who cannot accept things change naturally – they are blaming the farming community for allowing their different farm chemicals to pollute the lake.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

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