Month end Odo reading: 17,038
August 2009
Km's for the Month: 4,487
Odo reading at month start : 12,551
1 August     Distance:  158
Galena Bridge rest area to Geraldton. Staying at Drummond Cove Holiday Park.
 
It's so nice seeing green fields again, almost from the rest area we stayed at last night, green fields of wheat on either side of the road made our trip very pleasant - the green rolling hills reminded us of the Mooi River area in South Africa.
 
On our way into Geraldton we discovered the camp we are staying at is 14kms north of downtown Geraldton, so we continued past the camp and first went into town to explore a bit. Although a large-ish town (pop. 33,000) downtown is pretty compact, so it did not not take us long to look around.
 
We visited he Geraldton Museum, where we were learnt a lot about the wrecking of the Dutch East Indies Co. ship the "Batavia" which ran aground in the vicinity in Geraldton in 1629. We watched a film recounting the wrecking of the Batavia as well as the mutiny. It was well worth the visit. In the marina alongside the museum there is a replica of a small Dutch sailing boat, similar to the one used by the survivors of the Batavia.
 
11 August     Distance:   106

Perth to Mandurah, via Fremantle & Rockingham. Staying at Central Caravan Park. Very well laid out camp, large concrete pads to park on and the camp & its facilities are spotlessly clean. The management are incredibly helpful and friendly.
 
We drove through Fremantle again, to view the large marinas we saw when we caught a bus in Fremantle. Rockingham, the next town south is a very neat town with a interesting downtown. 
 
Mandurah was a very pleasant surprise - for some reason I thought it's a small quiet town, not at all, it has a population of 61,000. The marina area is very built-up with new, smart condos and quite a large number of really flash powerboats and yachts moored in the many canals - and pretty big ones at that! It really is upmarket and has a very nice feel about the place. Downtown Mandurah is a bustling town, with quaint tree-lined streets and plenty sidewalk cafes.
 
We visited the Abingdon Miniature Village, only 1km from the camp, it's a display of miniature historic UK buildings, based on buildings in Abingdon in Oxfordshire. The miniature buildings are set in a beautifully landscaped garden. It also has a 1,000m2 Hedge Maze, which we just had to navigate. Yvonne did the complete maze, while I guided her through it from my vantage point which overlooks it. Well worth the visit and 2km walk there & back - check out their web:  www.abingdonvillage.com.au
Replica of Dutch sailing boat
Magnetic termite mounds
Me, waiting for lunch.
Scrounging seal, Jurien Bay
Bell Tower & Ferris wheel, Perth
St Peter's, Greenough
Jetty closed for repairs
Old steam engine
Mandurah marina & canals
Abingdon mini-village
Catherine, Yvonne & Frank
Straw Stalactites
1.8 km Busselton jetty
Jewel cave
Pink Lake
Blue Haven Beach, Esperance
Bunda Cliffs
Shoo 'roo fitted
Port Hedland & iron ore ship
2 August     Distance:  223
Geraldton to Jurien Bay, via Leeman. Staying at Drummond Cove Holiday Park.
 
After leaving Geraldton we went to the historic Hamlet of Greenough, just south of Geraldton. It is a very little 19th century town that has been restored, it comprises 2 churches, a courthouse, jail and police station, a convent and old catholic school - it was a little like being in a small village in England.
 
We then drove along the Indian Ocean Drive road all the way to Jurien Bay, it isn't where had planned to stay but I didn't feel like driving any further. It's an ex-crayfish processing town, very neat with a super cycle track that runs along its extensive beach and to the marina. We stood on one of the piers watching an old-timer fishing, he caught a few herring. We saw a seal swimming around scrounging for food. 
3 August     Distance:  211
Jurien Bay to New Norcia, via Cervantes. Staying on the Monastery grounds, no facilities at all. $7 per night.
 
I am so glad I listened to the many people who advised us to visit New Norcia, Western Australia's most extraordinary 19th century monastic community. The buildings are architecturally extravagant and number 64 in total. Founded in 1846 by small band of Benedictine monks who established a mission originally for Aboriginals, later private boarding school education for white students was also offered.
 
27 of the buildings are registered with the National Trust and the whole town is a National Estate. It is still totally owned by the Benedictine monks, they also operate & administer the town. The art gallery & museum houses one of the largest religious collections in the southern hemisphere. Some of the paintings date back to the 14th century.
 
Well worth the extra mileage to get here, very interesting.
 
 
4 - 11 August    Distance:  125
New Norcia to Perth. Staying at Central Caravan Park.
 
Arrived in Perth on a stunning, cloudless blue sky day, for winter that's not bad. Camp quite easy to find. Very scenic drive here through the Swan River Valley, with its many vineyards. Stopped at Bindoon, very obviously a popular B&B holiday town.
 
It was good to catch up with Frank & Catherine again, who on the night we arrived in Perth took us for drive into downtown Perth, to Kings Park to see the city skyline at night. It is a very pretty city, slightly reminiscent of Vancouver, maybe it's all the water!
 
The next day we caught a bus into town, then a ferry across to South Perth, we also walked around downtown and found it extremely interesting with many paved pedestrian mall streets and very unique shopping arcades, one particular one is London Arcade, although the name suggests an English arcade, it reminded us of a small German village we have visited a few times in the past, called Rudersheim, on the Rhine river.
 
Our day-trip to Fremantle was very interesting, it's a very historic town with very many heritage listed buildings. There are many places of interest to visit; the Maritime Museum which houses an impressive collection of full size maritime vessels, including Australia's winning America's Cup yacht. The submarine, Ovens is also on display. Nearby is the E-Shed market, not as impressive or as interesting as we thought it may be.
 
The Fremantle prison was built by convicts between 1851 to 1859 and was used as a prison until 1991.
 
A free bus runs around Fremantle, we caught it and just did the complete circular route, which gave us a good tour of the town. On the way back to town, we passed the very large marinas and The Old Round House, which was built in 1831, originally as a gaol, and was used as a lockup from 1857 to 1900. It was also used as an office for "Port Duties" and for the whaling industry.
 
In Melville, about halfway between Fremantle & Perth, there is the RAAF Aviation Heritage museum of WA. We stopped there on the way back and found it an extremely interesting museum, with a large number of WWII planes on display, well worth visiting for any aviation nut.
New Norcia
Hand-made altar, circa late 1800's
12 - 13 August     Distance:   167

Mandurah to Bunbury, via Dawesville, Yarloop, Harvey, Brunswick Junction & Australind. Staying at Koombana Bay Resort.
 
Before leaving Mandurah we drove around the Mandurah Marina area again but on a slightly different route.  We both think it's a really great place.
 
We stopped at the Yarloop Workshops at Yarloop. In the early 1900's it was one of the largest workshops in W.A., servicing all the Miller's Brothers timber mills equipment. Miller Brothers were the largest timber exporters in Western Australia, with a total of 26 mills. All the equipment was steam driven and when the mill closed in 1978 after Cyclone Alby struck, all of the machinery was preserved and retained.  Check out their site:   www.yarloopworkshops.com.au
 
It was pouring when we arrived in Bunbury, so we drove around town and the Esplanade for a while, then set up in the camp for a few days. The camp is across the road from the Dolphin Discovery Centre, so if and when the weather improves we will walk across the road to visit, apparently dolphins come close inshore almost every day, usually early in the morning.
 
14 - 16 August     Distance:   66

Bunbury to Busselton, via Tuart Forest. Staying at Kookaburra Caravan Park.
 
Extremely bad storm last night and the wind today is extremely windy, in excess of 40 knots. Unfortunately the 2km long jetty is closed so we cannot go to the underwater observation 'chamber' at the end of the jetty, but we can visit the Interpretive Centre about 100 metres along the jetty (when it stops raining)!
 
15 Aug  - Another bad storm last night. We took advantage of a few fours of no rain today to walk to & around town, some very interesting food shops, one called cape Kitchen sold a lot of S.A. food including biltong & dry wors, but we resisted the temptation to buy any. We also walked to the jetty and walked about 200 metres along it to where there is a gate. The jetty is closed for renovations. Still very windy. Later that day Frank & Catherine arrived from Perth, for the weekend.  After "catching up'  we drove to Eagle Bay near Cape Naturaliste, a very scenic drive and great beaches at Eagle Bay.
 
16 Aug - After having a late brekkie at the Equinox restaurant - the same place we ate at last night, Frank took us to the picturesque town of Margaret River, in the heart Margaret River wine region. We had a great day & weekend and look forward to F & C visiting us in NZ early next year, so we can reciprocate their great hospitality and Frank & I can reminisce again.
17 August     Distance:   151

Busselton to Augusta - on Caves Road.  Staying at Turners Caravan Park.
 
On the way to Augusta we stopped at Jewel Cave, where we did a tour of the cave. Jewel Cave is stunning - it has one of the longest straw stalactites (5.9m) in the region - where there are over 360 limestone caves. There are many fascinatingly shaped stalactites and stalagmites.  We even saw a fossilised possum skeleton in the cave.
 
On the route to the caves we drove through a karri forest with old growth, very tall trees.
 
After arriving at Augusta & checking into the park we drove to Cape Leeuwin - the most south westerly point in Australia. We drove along the shores of Flinders Bay, which has many very scenic bays. The Indian Ocean and Southern Oceans meet at wind swept Cape Leeuwin. True to form the wind was howling when we arrived. The Indian Ocean sea side was wild with massive breaking swells and white horses, whereas, just around the corner the sea was as calm as a lake, although it was windy.
 
The caravan park we are staying at is on the banks of the Hardy Inlet and Blackwood River. Stingrays come close in shore to be fed - I hope we see some tomorrow morning.
18 August     Distance:   262
Augusta to Walpole (Coal Mine Beach) - via Pemberton & Northcliffe. Staying at Coalmine Beach Holiday Park (Top Tourist).
 
Had one helluva storm last night again, very strong wind, my guess would be close to 45 knots and very heavy monsoonal type rain. As we were on the banks of the Blackwood Estuary / river I began to wonder whether we would be flooded - it's one of the heaviest rain storms I have experienced - enough already!
 
We visited the Beedelup waterfall, which is in the Beedelup National Park.  It reminded us so much of walking through Kanaka Creek park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, if the trees were fir trees the similarity would have been exact. The waterfall reminded us of the fall in Kanaka Creek as well!
 
We drove through a number of Karri and Tingle forests today, they really are different but interestingly shaped trees and quite large.
19 - 20 August    Distance:   191

Walpole to Albany, via Valley of the Giants and Denmark. Staying at Albany Gardens Holiday Resort (Big4).
 
I am getting tired of saying this, "another night of very heavy rainfall". At least by 8.30am it had cleared and the sun was shining. We made an early start to get to the Valley of the Giants so we could do the Tree Top walk we had heard so much about. Once again we entered a forest of old-growth Karri and Tingle trees, both are eucalyptus species but not at all similar to  blue gum trees. The walk along the metal suspension type walkway is great, at it's highest point it is 40 metres high - not as high as the tree tops walk at Capilano (Vancouver) but still impressive. The suspensions swing quite a lot when walking on them. I know for a fact Charlotte would not even attempt to walk across them. Some of the trees are 500 years old and have enormous trunks at their base. Some are so large one can walk through the naturally hollowed out trunks.
 
After that we visited the little town of Denmark, they have one of the best visitors centres we have seen, with a truly impressive and  interesting collection of small and extremely large (12m high) barometers, from the early 19th century. We also drove to Ocean Beach, a large well known surfing spot, the waves were large.
 
From Denmark we took the scenic route to Albany, via Frenchman Road to view The Gap and Natural Bridge, located in the Torndirrup National Park. The road travels along the shores of Princess Royal Harbour, a large natural harbour.
 
The Natural Bridge is exactly that - a granite rock that has been eroded by the sea until a natural bridge was formed.
 
The Gap features a 25 metre sheer drop into the sea, when we visited there was quite a large swell running and on one occasion I nearly got sopping wet as water flew up towards me after hitting the end wall of The Gap - it was like a massive foamy wave coming straight up at me - thankfully I was filming it so saw it coming and turned and ran away, otherwise I would have been totally swamped, as it was I did get quite wet. Both of these natural phenomena are awesome and well worth visiting - recommended!
 
20 Aug  -  Walked into town and around the historic area of Albany & did some clothes shopping for Y.
21 August     Distance:   393

Albany to Munglinup rest area #62. Very windy today but thankfully a tail wind most of the way. It's the most daily mileage we have done for ages.
 
I fitted a set of "Shoo Roos" today so Murphy's Law says we'll hit a roo any time now! They whistle at a pitch that scares roos off the road, or so it's claimed.
22 August     Distance:   137
Munglinup rest area to Esperance, via Great Ocean Drive. Staying at Esperance Seafront Caravan Park (Top Tourist).
 
We left the rest area about 9am headed for Esperance, wondering what was in store for us. Quite a few people said we shouldn't bother stopping or staying in Esperance for a number of reasons. One person even suggested it was dangerous because of the number of people who have swine flu! About 30kms before Esperance we turned off the main road onto the Great Ocean Drive, a 38km scenic alternate route into Esperance.
 
The first sight on the route was Pink Lake, although as it was slightly cloudy when we arrived, it did not really appear pink, however later on when the sun came out the water definitely had a pinkish hue. The colour is due to the presence of a salt tolerant algae, dundella salina. Table salt is harvested from the eastern end of the lake.
 
In 1972 two French frigates took shelter off Observatory Point during a severe storm. Personally however , judging by the swells, waves and rough sea we saw at the point, I would not have liked to shelter there. The first ship to shelter was L'Esperance and that's how the Bay and town got its name.
 
The drive along the beach was really scenic, the colour of the water is stunning, some of bluest seas I have seen. Blue Haven Beach is a popular surfing spot as it is slightly sheltered from the full force of the wind, but swells still enter between the rocks and they are well-formed.
Corrugated-iron camels
Wide main street in Coolgardie
Click on map to see large image of this map
Historic buildings in Kalgoorlie
23 August     Distance:   202
Esperance to Norseman. Staying at Gateway Caravan Park (Acclaim).
 
Not much to see on the way to Norseman, there was a very strong crosswind to tail wind & heavy rain, so we decided to stop at Norseman rather than going through to Kalgoorlie in one go. Norseman is a gold mining town with a population of around 1,000, it has the typical very wide streets. In the town centre there are several corrugated iron camels, these are a tribute to the early camel trains which carried freight - this is also the reason the main streets are so wide, so the camels could turn! 
24 - 25 August     Distance:   213
Norseman to Kalgoorlie, via Coolgardie. Staying at Kalgoorlie Tourist Park (Discovery, Top Tourist).  On the way to Kalgoorlie-Boulder we did a slight detour to Coolgardie, an old gold-mining town which no longer mines gold so it's a bit of a ghost town, but with some interesting historic old buildings and a very wide main street, for the same reason as does Norseman, camel trains in years gone past.
 
After arriving in Kalgoorlie and driving through the main downtown area, I visited an old customer to see his steel framing business. After checking into our camp, we walked to the historic Burt Street in Boulder. Some of the buildings are really neat but Boulder has a definite air of being past it's sell by date, most small stores have ceased trading - one bustling store is one that sells metal detectors and all sorts of things for prospecting.
 
25 Aug  -  We caught a bus into Kalgoorlie and walked around checking out all the very interesting & historic  buildings, especially the quite grand old hotels which catered for the many miners during the gold rush.
 
We also visited the only historic, still operating brothel in Kalgoorlie - the Questa Casa in Hay street.  The Madam spent an hour telling us about the history of this old establishment, the rules up until 1995 and the rules thereafter. We were shown all the 'girls' rooms. It was extremely informative and interesting, especially some of the stories she related and some of the sex toys she showed us. She also explained how the "starting gates" were used to attract customers. The photo of the brothel shows pink doors, there are 11 of them, they were open to the street and allowed patrons to check out the girls before selecting one of them.
 
A visit to Kalgoorlie without seeing the Super Pit would be just wrong, it's Australia's largest open-pit gold mine. We did not do a tour  of the mine, but viewed the Super Pit from a lookout, it's massive!.  It's the 3rd largest producing gold mine in the world, behind Rand Goldfields in South Africa and a mine in Canada. This mine produces 800,000 ounces of gold a year.  Due to economic downturn a number of Nickel mines have been closed, as a result Kalgoorlie has felt the recession probably slightly more then the rest of Australia, but  it appears things are finally on the up again.
Southern Wright Whale
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London arcade
Yvonne in maze
Panoramic view of Perth, from Kings Park
The Old Round House & Whaler's tunnel
Freemantle prison
Ocean Beach, Denmark
One of the giant tees
Valley of the Giants
The Gap, a few seconds after taking this photo I was nearly swamped, 25 metres up!
Natural Bridge
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Yvonne in front of Questa Casa brothel, built 1904
The Super Pit, Kalgoorlie
26 August     Distance:   203
Kalgoorlie to Norseman, via Kambalda. Staying at Gateway Caravan Park again.
 
We have decided to stay at Norseman again, so our trip crossing the Nullarbor will start bright & early from Norseman. The map alongside shows what is ahead of us. 1,201kms between Norseman (pop. 1,600) and Ceduna (pop. 3,500), with pretty much nothing in between. (More info to follow, when we have done it).
27 August     Distance:   548
Norseman to Moodini Bluff rest area (#10).
 
Yvonne's birthday today. We celebrated by driving the longest single-day distance and having a really nice muffin each that we bought at a roadhouse. We drove along the longest perfectly straight road in Australia, 90 miles or 146.6km - and it is 100% straight. Although very flat, straight and treeless in places, it was fairly interesting. Strong crosswind from around lunchtime.
90-mile straight road - Nullabor
28 August     Distance:   442
Moodini Bluff rest area to Yalata West rest area - in South Australia (#663). (Updated this report from the middle of nowhere on the Nullarbor - the Telstra NextG range has been amazing as has the speed of this service)! Our position at present is: 31o 51' 40 S 132o 51' 50 E. 20 kms west of Penong in a rest area
Around midnight last night we had a very bad storm, as we were parked in an unsealed rest area I became concerned we may get bogged in, so at around 1am I moved the motorhome to an area in the rest area that was gravel clad.
 
We stopped along the Nullarbor road a number of times - we saw the most amazing scenery at Bunda Cliffs, sheer cliffs going right into the sea - the sea was the most amazing colour. 
 
We also stopped at the Head of the Australian Bight to see the migrating Southern Right whales. From June to October these huge whales come into the bays here to calf and bring the small ones up in the warm water. We expected to wait for ages to possibly see one or two whales, but as we approached the  edge of the cliff, we saw 5 or 6 whales with their calves close in shore. All in all we saw well over 30 whales, a really great experience and certainly the highlight of our trip across the Nullarbor.
29 August     Distance:   236
Yalata rest area to Ceduna. Staying at Ceduna Tourist Park (Big 4).  The Nullarbor crossing is now officially over. Not much to see along the way, due to recent rains the wheat fields were very green. After arriving in Ceduna we drove to Pinky Point at Thenevard - then we tried to find the oyster factory, which we found but it was closed.  At Pinky Point we watched the most amazing occurrence, a tug had just seen a ship off the jetty and when it returned we expected it to tie up to the jetty, but it pulled alongside a small dinghy, lifted massive mooring lines and after securing the tug, the skipper and his crew returned to shore on the dinghy tender, leaving the tug on a swinging mooring!
 
30 August     Distance:   135
Ceduna to Streaky Bay. Staying at Foreshore Tourist Park. Decided on a short drive today after all our "long" days crossing the Nullarbor.
 
Streaky Bay is where a record White Pointer shark was caught in 1990 - a massive 5-metre shark weighing 1,520kgs or 3,344 pounds. We went to the local info centre and saw a replica of the shark.  For the fishing nuts it was caught using only 50lb line!
 
To get an idea of the size of this shark, compare tailfin height to Yvonne
31 August     Distance:   318
Streaky Bay to Port Lincoln, via Elliston. Staying at Port Lincoln Tourist Park (Top Tourist). 
 
Elliston is a typical small fishing holiday town, situated on a large bay with an extremely rugged coastline, no doubt as a result of very strong winds and wave action. The waves were enormous although the wind was only around 15 knots.
Along our route today we passed by many canola farms, the yellow flowers on the canola contrast very colourfully against the green wheat fields - some absolutely stunning views.
 
Port Lincoln is much larger than we envisaged (pop. 14,000). It is home to the tuna wranglers, we saw a few of their circular 'pens'. There is a very big fishing fleet here, tomorrow we will visit the local fish factory to buy some fresh & smoked fish.
 
The Port Lincoln Cove marina area is really great, with very flash waterfront houses all around the marina and waterways, lots of large yachts and powerboats are occupy the marina walk-on moorings.
 
 
 
 
 
Port Lincoln Cove Marina
Elliston Cliffs
Canola fields
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