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 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 79 – 21 Sep 2012 – On roadside on the Nullabor

We left Kambalda around 9.45 and headed back on the same road we came from 2 days ago – to Norseman. We stopped at Norseman to buy some groceries before heading off to drive along the Nullabor and Ian also re-fuelled because we know the fuel price will be a bit dearer from now on.

Well, once again we have been surprised at what the countryside would be like. We had an idea that this drive along the Nullabor would be flat, and bare and desert-looking. Nothing like it !! The road was undulating, and the vegetation was quite thick where the mallee tree was most prolific and the rest of the country side was covered with smaller shrubs and ground covers. Saltbush was one of the plants and in some places it was all that could be seen, but just when we thought we had seen the last of trees, in a short while there they were again. Certainly, so far, you could not say it has been a boring drive. There were patches of just dirt, but it certainly did not look desert. It would still be a very tough country to surive in though.

We stopped at a parking bay just out of Balladonia and had lunch. Not long after we started back on the road we came upon the sign which said we were now driving along the longest straight stretch of road in Australia – 146.5 kms. It was amazing. We expected to see just a long flat road, but the road was undulating. We wondered if there would be double lines anywhere, but not once in the whole 146.5 kms was there any. Shows just how easy this road is for passing traffic.  It was a good drive.

Long straight road ahead

The straight road ended at a place called Caiguna which is a small petrol stop/caravan park/motel. We re-fuelled and then drove on for another 17kms to a road-side stop. There was no mobile reception at Caiguna so it was just as easy to free camp beside the road as we can cope quite well without power when we have to. There were 2 other vans pulled up when we drove in and another one pulled in while we were having tea. It has been quite warm today – over 30C  – and very, very windy. As the evening progressed the temperature did cool down which was good.

One of the things we have seen a few times on this trip has been a road sign which says ‘RFDS emergency landing strip’ and shortly after that are road markings for landing a plane and there is cleared land where traffic waits if and when this has to happen.

When we drove out of Caiguna there was a sign saying that we were now in Central Western Time and we had to put our clocks/watches forward 45 minutes. Never ever knew there was another time zone here. We will get across the S.A. border tomorrow and will have to alter our times once more. Hopefully we will be in Victoria before daylight saving begins otherwise we will be totally confused!!!

Love to all, Janese and Ian

Day 78 – Still at Kambalda – 20 Sept 2012

We quite enjoyed our evening meal last night over at the canteen, but did not meet any of the ‘locals’ – they were all too busy watching the TV.

Around 8.30am we drove just a short way in to the town of Kambalda to the top of their lookout tower overlooking a gigantic salt lake. We thought some of the lakes we saw yesterday were large – mere puddles compared to this one which is called Lake Lefroy. It is over 510 square kilometres in area. It was in 1945 when there was a shortage of supply of salt that this lake was harvested for its salt and as far as we know the W.A. Salt Supply Co. is still in production. Because of the extreme high salinity there is an abundance of salt bush, but there are many other plants which are salt tolerant and survive quite well.

Lake Lefroy (Salt)

This lake was HUGE – we could not find out how often it fills with water, but there is so much salt lying about it looks as though they have many, many years of harvest in front of them.

We then drove back on to the Highway and headed to Coolgardie. The drive along this road continued to amaze us. Mallee and other eucalytpus as well as lots of smaller shrubs and the odd wildflower every now and then. It was quite pretty. We both expected flat, dry and desolate country, but it was anything but. However, just before entering Coolgardie the countryside did begin to look a little like what we had expected for the whole trip. Coolgardie is a lot smaller and less populated than we thought it would be. It seems to be a town which has been forgotten – Kalgoorlie has taken everything. However, we enjoyed being able to read the various history plaques set up around the town. The main street is the widest street we have ever seen (sorry I completely forgot to take a picture). The advertisements for the streets boast that a camel train could still turn around in it – they would be right.

Entry into Coolgardie

We then travelled 39kms to Kalgoorlie and the first thing we did was visit the Information Centre to get a map of the town to make sure we knew where Ian had to go to get on on his 1.30pm bus trip. While I was getting the map Ian rang his second cousin Bev. Clarke who lives in Kalgoorlie. She kindly invited us around to their place and so we had morning tea and lunch with her and her husband Hector. We had a great time. Bev. is related to Ian on the Thomas side and this is the first time thay have met so they had a good chat about some of the family history research they have been doing. They invited us to pull our van up at their place if we are ever in Kalgoorlie again,but dont think that we would fit.

We left there in time for Ian to catch his bus. He only just made it as we had a bit of a walk from where the car was parked.  There were 26 people on the tour. While Ian did the 2.5 hour tour I took the opportunity to just wander around the shops. Kalgoorlie has a population of 30,000 people but much to my surprise they do not have a shopping centre complex – just separate shops along the main streets. I quite enjoyed as we have commented a few times that whenever you enter a shoppiing complex you could be in Townsville, or Brisbane, or Melbourne, or Bendigo or Broome – they all look the same. I managed to fill in my time quite well.

I will let Ian write about the tour to the Superpit here in Kalgoorlie.

Superpit at Kalgoorlie

While I have certainly looked forward to seeing the superpit for a good while, actually booking a seat over the internet was not all that easy, however as we said yesterday, we did manage to get the last seat on the bus for this afternoon’s tour. Sometimes I wonder whether these web site designers actually ever try to use their creations as would a client, or whether they just look at their design from a purely IT view. Anyway, at least I got a ticket! The superpit is not very far from the centre of town. Compared to the open pit at Mt Tom Price it is not as big nor is it a regular shape but nevertheless it is a huge hole in the ground. Dotted all over the mining area are old mine sites, shafts etc and in the superpit itself you can see plenty of shafts and drives that were sunk when all operations were underground many, many years ago. At the turn of the 20th century there were over 100 mine companies operating on the so called “Golden Mile”  and in those days they were not all that fussed about documenting where their shafts and drives were located. In one particular area any ore material that is contaminated with old steel or wooden supports is dumped and all this foreign material is hand picked out and dumped in a heap for later burial. Although some of the timber pulled out is over 100 years old it cannot be reused even though it is in relatively good condition because in those early days it was treated with arsenic for preservation purposes, so is still highly toxic. The mine itself produces over 800,000 ounces of gold each year. Seven out of eight dump truck loads are waste or overburden the other one contains an amount of gold in the ore equivalent to the size of a golf ball! Seems a lot of work for little reward! The mine has enough reserves left to operate through to 2021 and after that operations will have to be underground as by that stage the open pit would need to start encroaching on the town. Currently the depth of the pit is 450 metres and planning for the future will take it down to 600 metres.When you consider that some of the early mines went down to a depth of 1600 metres, I think they will be mining gold here in Kalgoorlie for many more years yet. Besides the KCGM Mine (Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mining) there are numerous other smaller mines dotted all around the place. There are quite a few New Zealanders working here at the mines and the tour guide said the acronymn of KCGM really means ‘Kiwis Can Get Money’! 

Large loaded dump truck at Kalgoorlie

We drove back to Kambalda via the Goldfields Highway (called the Historic Golden Mile on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie). Kambalda is 60 kms out of Kalgoorlie and we were surprised just how busy the road was. Mining is certainly a big-time employer!

I was able to get a good detailed map/brochure on the Nullabor so we will have a good look at that tonight because we will be heading east — towards S.A. eventually —- tomorrow.  Must mention that it is possible we will be out of mobile/internet range on and off for some time now so if you cannot see a blog that will be the reason why. I will always catch up when I can.

Love to all, Janese and Ian

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

Day 76 – 18 Sep 2012 – Still at Esperance

The strong wind of yesterday was still blowing when we went to bed and continued on through the night. However, when we woke around 7.00am the wind had died down completely, but the sun was not shining – it was raining.

We were not going to let a little bit of rain stop us so after breakfast we drove around the town to have a look at the suburbs. This town is right on the waterfront, so of course there were the beautiful mansions with a view to die for. The rest of the town is lovely and tidy and we were quite impressed. Again – new subdivisions opening up everywhere. Where are all these people coming from to live in these new houses????

The rain was easing off around 10.15am, and we had planned to visit the local museum which was supposed to be marked with a ‘V’ on the local tourist guide map and was to open between 10.30am and 4.30pm but we could not see it on the map so drove to the Information Centre. “Ah”, said the girl behind the counter, “They made a couple of mistakes. It is coded ‘CC’ on the map and only opens between 1.30pm and 4.30pm.” We cannot believe the amount of spelling, grammar and descriptive mistakes these very well printed, glossy tourist brochures and information plaques have in them. I could get a full time job just correcting them!!

Anyway, the rain had stopped so we decided it was time for our daily walk so we walked a couple of kilometres to the nearby jetty and then walked the 800m or so of the jetty. There was a small island out to sea and some rain was falling on just half of it so I couldn’t resist taking a photo.

Rain falling on part of an island

Seal on town beach

There was a seal lying down on the beach just at the start of the jetty. It didn’t seem to worry about some young foreign tourists who were standing beside it. We presume it is well used to being photographed. There were a few people fishing off the jetty. It started to rain again as we headed back to the car so we got a little bit wet because it was quite a distance. We then decided to drive to the wind turbine display just out of the town – back along the Great Ocean Drive which we did yesterday, but from the opposite direction so we pulled in at a couple of the parking spots to have another look. Even with the cloudy skies and the occasional shower of rain these beaches and ocean views were absolutely STUNNING. You really have to see them to believe the beauty of the different shades of blue. There were a couple of stalwarts out surfing. We hoped we might see a whale but unfortunately we did not. They have been sighted in the ocean near Esperance over the past week or so, but not today.

We then drove up to the wind turbine display area. Turbines have been in use in this area since 1987,(the first wind farm in Australia) the first 3 turbines were decommissioned in 1993  upon the installation of 9 newer turbines and  further 6  newer and more powerful turbines were installed in 2003. All up the turbines provide 20% of Esperance’s power needs and work in parallel with a gas turbine power station which is privately owned and operated. In 2010 one of the blades of a turbine was struck by lightning and  caught fire. There were photos of this at the museum. Very dramatic! We could not get over the size of these turbines. The earlier ones were 31.5 metres high and the later versions were 46 metres high. The blades on the earlier ones are 13.5 metres long and the newer blades are 22 metres long. If you look really closely at the photo of the turbine you will see some people at the base – this is one of the smaller ones! All up there are 15 turbines in this area. They do make a noise and we can sort of understand why some people do not approve of them, but here on a coast which is so windy, and here in a town which has always had to generate its own power, it makes a lot of sense.

Wind turbine – people at the base demonstrate just how tall this is

An old bale loader outside the museum

We drove back to the Van for lunch and then at 2pm I had my hair cut. She did a good job. Meanwhile, Ian just browsed around the shops a bit. We then went to the local museum. There was quite a display of  memorabilia of whaling and sealing off this coast as well as lots of information on the agriculture development of this area. There were the usual old restored machinery and of course lots of household goods from a bygone era. Well, not so bygone – it is a sign of getting old isn’t it when some of the things on display you can remember as a child! Out the front of this museum was a Sunshine Mackay bale loader of the 1950’s. Ian’s uncle Elvin once had one of these and it was falling from one like this on Elvin’s farm when Ian was 14 that he broke his arm, and also his sister Jeannine lost the tip of her index finger whilst hooking up the loader to a hay trailer, so he wanted a photo of it ‘for old time’s sake’.

While I was getting my hair cut the hairdresser asked where we were going next and I mentioned Kalgoorlie. Just as well I did – seems there is a large race meeting which goes for over a week and it is all booked out until next week at least. We do not intend to hang around for that so Kalgoorlie will have to go on to our ‘bucket list’ for another trip. So we now have to re-appraise our trip and decide where to for tomorrow.