Hi there travelling buddies,
We’ve had a change since we last caught up. My sister Anne has joined us for our 2020 trip, and we have renamed this trip; Oz adventure playground. Better fitting to suit the amazing sites we are getting to see in this great country of ours.
Like all nomads, we were caught in the COVID 19 lock-down, only we were luckier than most and found ourselves in Kalgoorlie. We had sunny days, cool nights, and we made friends within the park, which made the 11 weeks go relatively quick. But the weather was quickly changing and warmer pastures we wished to be.
Once the WA internal borders opened, we hitched Star and waved goodbye to this gold mining town with so much history, and headed up inland towards the top end with the plan to go out through the NT border.
How amazing has that decision been? OMG, the countryside, within each hour changes and blows you away with its beauty. Each time I look at hubby and say, this is the best yet, it couldn’t get any better. And yet, an hour later it does, and it leaves you gobsmacked, wishing the journey never had to end. But money and the need to rest for a week or more here and there is imperative. It slows the pace, allows it to all sink in and after when the spirit of the road is too strong to resist, you are back out there. Looking in awe at how lucky you are to find this lifestyle that is so incredibly fulfilling.
Previously, I was one of those workaholics that was unable to see why anyone would give up a home, security and a good-paying job to live in a caravan. Didn’t get it at all. But one day, when the injuries sustained through that good-paying job stopped me in my tracks, and I lost everything, a caravan became my only option.
Now I count my blessed and can’t believe how lucky I have become. Before, I was just going through the motions, daily-weekly-monthly-yearly. Let me tell you, there is so much more to life than working seven days a week, from dusk to dawn. And I don’t just mean at a paid job. It is after work. Cooking-washing-cleaning-gardening etc. There was never really any me time. Now I wish on those holidays, or weekends I spent house proud, doing what was expected, that I had the foresight to see what I was missing. The real reason I worked so hard should have been to appreciate the very country I worked in, lived in. The appreciation I have for this country now has me nervous about our leaders, who are hell bent on squandering all this beauty, selling it off and not giving a hoot until one day, our kids have nothing left to look at but the spoils of greed.
So, before it does become to commercialised and spoilt, start your adventure now rather than later. Swag it, tent it, get a camper or a van. Pull up at overnight stays that cost nothing or pull into a caravan park, whatever your budget can handle but come out here guys, it’s gobsmackingly amazing.
For us, we started the first leg of this trip for 2020, in Shark Bay. The plan was to make our way down to pick up Annie at Denmark before heading up to Norseman and out of WA. Only the Corona virus had us stranded in Kalgoorlie for a few months.
With the way clear to travel around WA, we had one plan and one plan only. To keep travelling until we found a warm place to spend the winter months. It was never a sure thing boarders to other states would open on time as no one has, or had, any idea if or how the Corona virus would spreed over the cooler months. So it was warmth that attracted us to follow the Pilbara up North until a place said, stay with us.
This in mind, we left Kalgoorlie on the 7th of June 2020. We were only 30k’s out, when star blew a caravan tyre. Found out they were only good enough tyres to sit on 80k’s, no more. So it was new tyres all round and a spare. Our tyre guy also noticed our purchaser had popped a trailer tyre on the back of star as a spare. (Thanks Jayco… NOT!) We also had another hitch where a semi blew a vent off the van, so they are now screwed on not clipped on. Our washing machine did a pump, and Annie sprung a leek when filling up at a fresh water tap. So it was not without a couple of hiccups along the way but nothing to dramatic.
With said, let me show you some of the good times and places we have travelled since we left Kalgoorlie. Our first stop was Menzies, and fair dinkum a must see. We spent a couple of hours here reading and seeing the history of this exciting little community. Best laid out tales and story of yesteryear we have come across yet. A must see.
Our Day out in Menzies
Then it was a slow trip in 18 k’s of dirt to get to Lake Ballard Salt Lake. The stick figures and salt lake was an amazing sight and a fabulous free camp. Stayed two night, could have stayed longer. Five stars from us.
Gwalia is a former ghost town so it was fun to spend a night with Casper and his mates. Just outside of Menzies, we free camped at the front of the Gwalia Museum up high, overlooking the spooky remains of former gold miner’s homes. To the left is still the gold mine but workers FIFO or live in Leonora and surrounding district’s. It was so lovely with the sunsets and sunrises we stayed at an extra night. The entertainment didn’t stop there, you need a good half day to walk around the museum and after, we stopped at the B&B situated at the back of the museum and had coffee and cake, on the verandah. The following day we spent a half day in Menzies reading about the history of the town and its people. The steel statues and story plaques allowed us to understand the hardship of so many. We also voted they had one of the best war memorials we had seen so far. Five stars rating on this stay from us!
It was a quick stop at Leinster for petrol, and we pulled up somewhat awkwardly to have lunch. Not an RV friendly town, it was a tight turn we found to head back out of town. We did however come across a pink lake on our travels that was quite unexpected.
We chose Peter Denny Lookout (free camp) to pull up stumps for the night. Was truly a nice surprise to find it empty, which allowed us to have the best spot with the best views. The next morning, we headed off fresh and well-rested, not expecting a flash rainstorm. Unfortunately, it caused a mishap when a road train blew off one of the van vents to the hot water system, but we did trackback and find it in tack. Little sucker only had clips to hold it on, but has now been screwed on good and proper. Won’t be flinging off again, any time soon.
Thought we might have morning tea at Sandstone, but the only place to eat was the hotel which had a coffee shop. Waited with a few other travelers and workmen as the chappie cleaning said it would be open soon, but an hour later we all gave up and headed off. It was a clean little town which had old vintage cars and some other vintage machinery to look at, but they had no explanation, why that model was chosen or even why it was there. Guess you had to be a townie to know the secret. So, if travelling by, make sure it is after midday when the pub/coffee shop is open if wanting a bit to eat.
Mount Magna, we called in for some groceries; unfortunately, there was nothing photogenic. However, we were happy they had an IGA. Meat and veg were good quality, but the rest of the town, don’t blink or you might miss it. Sorry but not everywhere was a hit.
However, between these two towns, the scenery and road kept us well entertained. The longest road trains I had ever seen rolled on by, and some we had to pull over to give them room. Monster trucks, gold mined, a great highway, and the land was so barren you would be encouraged to believe the old fantasy the world was flat. Out here, it was, I swear.
With its old-world charm and artwork on the bins, Cue township was a pleasant place to stop for lunch. After toasties, we wandered around the streets finding so much more than we had been led to believe. Interesting, you bet. Make time for a good hours walk if stopping her travelling buddies. Worth every second of your time to read the history and find out more about the people who made this town, Cue.
To much artwork and buildings to show, will leave the rest for you to discover on your own travels.
We chose to stay a night at the free campsite just out of Meekatharra called Peace Gorge.
Arrived to find another camper who was a bit nervous to be alone. Was glad to see us and asked if we were staying two nights as they had to wait until Monday to get gas. We were only intending on one night but why not two?
As the sun began to set, we heard the rumbling of our Kalgoorlie travelling buddies as they manoeuvred their full equip bus in to join us. So it was campfires, and entertainment supplied by their very talented children for the next three nights.
One day is never enough when you stay within such beauty. Look at the views? Gorgeous gorge alright and what made it even more special was the great company.
Thank you for the memories, Bernie and family. Love you guys. Safe travels. ???
Meekatharra to Newman. Well, it used to be Mt Newman when I lived there but early 80’s they changed it to Newman when it became a community.
Along the way, the flat arid countryside was replaced, about 100k’s out of Newman, with the taller tree, lush bush and amazingly enough, mountain ranges far off in the distance.
In town I noticed the drive-in had been replaced with a housing estate. Collins Supermarket, where I had worked, is something else and the SQM (single men’s quarters), where my friend used to sneak me into so I had a place to sleep at night (until I could afford accommodation) is also gone. As is the mess hall, where he would save me an egg and bacon roll, and at 6 am I’d be fed for the day and waiting for work to open. The part-time job was my saviour. Kept me from living full time on the street. It was while at this part-time job I finally met a workmate and it was her family who took me in as a lodger.
I was 14 to 16 years of age back then and will have to hold my memories dear as Newman was nothing like it was. But that’s not a bad thing, just not what I remember. Still happy to have been and seen how life progresses around me. Was a thrill regardless.
Mt Robinson Lookout Rest Stop is nestled in the Hamersley Range in the Pilbara Region gave us more than we expected. To the front of us were green mounds of spinifex that stood out against the red dirt and behind, we explored the gorge set between tall jagged cliffs. Fig trees, with aging white branches and trunks, clung to paprika and nutmeg steep rock faces. Wildflowers dotted the steep skinny path that led the keen hiking enthusiast to panoramic views. This free camp with flushing toilets and a dump point is a must-visit. We stayed a couple of nights, explored the walking track through the gorge and Shaun took some pictures from the top of the hill. Picturesque little spot.
We left the comfort of Mt Robinson and drove through the Hamersley Range to Karijini National Park. The Hamersley Range is a mountainous region of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. We will let the pictures speak for themselves. One side of the road is lush and green, the other red rocky ruggedness with little vegetation at all, then it swaps sides. So, travellers beware, it will have you gobsmacked and stunned with its beauty.
Finally got to follow the trail of Cassie and Kayden from the novel, Cassandra goddess of harmony. Visited their secret ranch near Newman, ??sorry no pictures? And now to Dales Gorge in the Karijini National Park Australia’s Pilbara region. Here we proved you don’t need superpowers to walk to see these iconic gorges and see the magic of what centuries of ravaging weather and time, can create. Yes, we braved the warnings of Blue Asbestos poisoning from the mine in Wittenoom that operated 80 years ago. Unfortunately, the town is closed now as the fibers still float in the air today. The famous horse races and gatherings are no more. However, at your own peril, you can camp at Dales campsite. The asbestos is not dangerous here in its natural form and is not airborne, but there are warnings not to disturb the rocks, etc. Not sure why the Government has left this dangerous substance to still be topside in Wittenoom is beyond me. After 80 years they have not made any attempt to fix this environmental disaster. Instead, just shut the town down. Trying to wipe it from existence but one person still lives there. Yet, it is a part of the history of the Pilbara region and many would love to visit if it were safe. Not everything in our country should be hoorah! We are human and with that comes mistakes. Own it, learn, clean it up and move on, I say. Tourists want to know us warts and all. I personally love all the amazing rises and falls as we travelled this rugged yet inspiringly beautiful countryside of WA. Oh, and did I breathe any of it in, well if I did, it will be another 30 years before I show symptoms. Might have to dig me up by then to check, lol.
Stayed in the caravan park at Tom Price so we could take a long, long hot shower??Next morning, with clean hair, clothes, and feeling refreshed, we headed into town to pick up some grocery items.
Loved the sleepy lay back town.
Expected Newman to be of this calibre, but found what I imagined it might be, right here. So lush and clean with a few standouts. Like the old-style letterboxes out on the verges and the clever artwork on the bus stops.
Could have stayed longer but the caravan park was too pricey for our budget, so moved on.
Stayed at Beasley River rest stop. (Yes the river is dry as a bone) But okay spot. Toilets and a dump point, clean and lots to look at along the way. The first time we actually spotted an animal. Cows meandered across the road. Took their time, and after, looked at us like we had inconvenienced them.??? Thought we had seen the best of what the Pilbara had to offer, but no. The rustic layers of dirt and rock kept getting prettier as we continued the last leg of the trip before a well earned rest. Travelling is extremely taxing and although the mind is willing and the eyes just want to see one more location before the light fades, the bod says slow down there cowgirl. It will still be there tomorrow. As you can see by the photos, it was never a dull moment along the way. The scenery changed from one moment to the next. Bush and then arid dry and gorgeous mountain ranges the next. Confusing and yet the most stunning drive ever. So travelling buddies, make time for this trip. Come see the rawness of this State, suck in the beauty that they try to keep secret. Your memory will forever be grateful.
Onslow is an interesting little place to visit. Attractions are few and you have to make your own fun, but there is fishing, Kayaking, and these few interesting places to browse. Like the memorial right out on the coastline, and a must-see is their historical centre in town. I must give kudos to the supermarket that despite the small town and distance from growers, their fresh foods section was a pleasant surprise and set out really well.
We had a tip-off from the manager at the Caravan park we stayed at who let us know if we liked whiting, GT’s, and Spanish Mackerel to head down to the beach, just past the salt pumping jetty. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there this trip but have put it in for travelling buddies in the area to give it a go.
The old town of Onslow will have to be left for the next visit too. Had a mission to republish my books with an Australian company so we could order some. Stocks are low and regular supplier is overseas. No importing to Australia at present. So all done and order placed, we are off to Karratha to wait for the delivery.
This was our last stopover before Karratha and where I will end this journey for now. Robe River Rest Stop had toilets and dump point, and was perfect for our last stopover before pulling up stumps and resting for a few weeks. It got the thumbs up ??from us with the prettiest of all the sunsets.
For those not following our journey through the Pilbara WA, this rest stop is between Onslow WA and Karratha. And if you have wondered what the big deal is about travelling through the Pilbara, just look at some of these photos. Memories we will never forget. Absolutely amazing and so worth a trip if you haven’t been here yet.
Sitting back and watching the revolving door of our caravan park, and chatting to many of the campers, I’ve realised there seems as though there are four main travelling categories.
*The sprinters – they zip in and out of caravan parks and see everything in the area in a flash, and seem content with that.
*The timetable traveller – person/s on a time limit. No matter the time set out to travel, it has schedules and time frames. Very methodical.
*The nomads – person/’s who do not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.
*The road warriors – a person who travels frequently as part of their job and does much work while travelling.
Shaun and I are road warriors – So if we are held up from time to time and news from us trickles slowly, it’s because we are parked up and getting some much-needed writing time. (Shaun, publishing time.) And happy to just be where we are. We feel no rush to move on until the job is done and the mind is clear and ready for more fun-filled adventures. We have put no time limit on our trip and in no rush for it to end. We hope you aren’t either and are able to join us on this adventure we have embarked on for 2020.
My apology for this blog being so long-winded, but I wanted to catch you up to where we are now. I have a new server and have had to learn the new blogging system. On top of that, we have barely had any internet signal here. But in saying that, I did finally get some pictures up to show you. All the rest of our trip photos are loaded onto my Facebook page. It took me a week to load these few. Yes, not a great place to stop for repairs and to get some work done.
Well, my friends, it sure has been an amazing trip through the Pilbara. Now we have caught you up, next time, we will knock your cotton socks off with our current location and what we have done to our girl, Star. Yep, cosmetic changes to her look and a great idea from hubby.
Oz Adventure Playground, out!