The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


2014 – These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

This is my last blog for 2014 so I thought it appropriate to recap my travels this year. The map below shows where I started in Tasmania and where I’ve ended up nearly 12 months later in Western Australia. Although it says the distance of 9,700 odd kms I have in fact travelled more than 15,000kms – and loved every minute of it!

2014 Travel

I started to tell a story and didn’t know when to stop so I have now decided to share my photos as a ‘wrap’ for 2014. Obviously I can’t include everything, but, as the title says, these are a few of my favourite things.

My year began in Tasmania….

Highlights of Tassie? The beaches, the free camps, spending time with my sister, travelling with friends, and the boat trip on the Franklin River out of Strahan to Hell’s Gates and Sarah Island.

Every bend in the road opens up to more spectacular scenery and I can’t wait to go back and visit all the places I missed plus some favourites from this trip.


I left Tasmania after the Evandale Penny Farthing Races and on landing in Melbourne made my way to Gippsland to visit my Aunty Molly. I am so glad I had some time with her as she passed away at the wonderful age of 96 in August. With longevity on both sides of my family I think I’ll be around for a long time yet!! I just love these old photos of her. The beach babe was taken on New Years Day 1936 at the famous 90 Mile Beach and the other at the family home in Yarram, Victoria

Leaving Gippsland I spent some time on the Murray River on my way to the Solos Rally in Balranald. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and fellow travellers….

…and Balranald was a quirky little town with a frog fetish! …. and more….

South Australia

Then I was on my way to my house sit in WA, through South Australia and across the Nullabor….. to a welcomed arrival in Norseman

Western Australia

Met up with some wonderful people at the Salmon Gums Community Caravan Park and then feeling a little sand, sea and salt air deprived I was on my way to Lucky Bay at Cape Le Grande and other Southern coastal camps.

With a brief unexpected sojourn to the Fairbridge Festival of Folk and World Music I arrived in Secret Harbour to move out of my van and into a beautiful home for 2 months while the owners travelled overseas.

In early July I was back on the road again …..but how can I tell you about all the wonderful places I’ve been and people I’ve met over the last 6 months. Well, here goes… it is in some sort of chronological order!! And I thought I’d try the slide show option for the first time….let me know if you like it or if you’d prefer to see the photos in a grid as I usually do.

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What an amazing year I’ve had! You only get to see some of the photos …. this has taken me days as I’ve scrolled through ALL my photos and relived the many wonderful moments I’ve enjoyed in 2014. And as us happy campers often comment, the people you meet are what make so many of the places so memorable. I hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with me and will continue the journey together in 2015.



Walga Rock

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Dust to Disaster – with some great stops in between!

Karijini to Mt Magnet

August 25. Wilma and I left Karijini and headed south through mining town territory, with Newman the first major town we came to. Newman is about 200kms from Karijini and is the site of the BHP Billiton Mt Whaleback Iron Ore mine. It is the world’s largest single open cut iron ore mine. We were often forced to side of the road as they transported some of these huge machines to the mines in the area.

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I’ve recently discovered they also hold the Bloody Slow Cup here (not the Bledisloe, but held at the same time of the year). It’s a fundraising event for Police Legacy and is a Rugby Union match played between the New Zealand and Australian Communities in and around Newman. Hugely successful, apparently!

That night we camped up in a gravel pit about 52kms south of Newman, tucked in behind some trees off the highway….but not so far off for the occasional truckie to blast his horn and wake us up throughout the night!

August 26 & 27  Our little free booklet, Amazing North, had an advertisement for a caravan park at Karalundi and I also checked it out on WikiCamps and it got great reviews so we decided to pull in there for the night.

Wilma's bus at Karalundi

Wilma’s bus at Karalundi

Karalundi is a boarding school for aboriginal children run by the Seventh Day Adventists, and the camping ground is small but grassed and the facilities excellent, with even a camp kitchen with 2 huge hooded barbeques. I think it was $20 a night without power, but the pleasant environment and facilities made it worth while. Wilma and I were able to catch up on our washing here – still trying to get rid of all that red dust! There is a little coffee shop and store with basic supplies, so we relaxed and stayed a second night. Managed to have a couple of Alcohol Free Days here as they ask that you don’t drink on site. The first day we were there a willy went through just after we’d hung out our washing, but it skirted around the end of the building and everything stayed clean and still pegged on the line. It whipped through the camper trailer of the people camping next to us though and scattered their belongings everywhere. Sorry about the light in this photo, but I had to show you the camp kitchen!


Camp kitchen at Karalundi

August 28 & 29. We left Karalundi and drove the 55kms to Meekatharra, our next major town. Here we descended on the local supermarket to stock up our supplies. Our last major shop was in Karratha, so fresh vegetables and fruit were high on the list. Unfortunately we didn’t stumble on any gold nuggets while there, which is the reason Meekatharra was settled back in the 1890’s. There are still active gold mines in the area and many people successfully prospect there with good results. Only 3kms from town is a local picnic spot called Peace Gorge, which we drove out to. I loved the fantastic rock formations here, but unfortunately there is no camping allowed.

Peace Gorge

Peace Gorge

IMG_1954Peace Gorge IMG_1953Peace Gorge

On the way back into town we drove up to the Lookout and took a couple of pics looking back over Meekatharra before we headed a little further south to Nallan Lake for a couple of nights.

Meekatharra Meekatharra

Nallan Lake is another free camp with a 48 hour stopover limit on the signs. There was some water in the lake, and plenty of nice level spots to park, plus some gentle walks along the shore.

Nallan Lake

Nallan Lake

Nallan Lake Nallan Lake

August 30. Well, there’s no queues in Cue on a Saturday morning! You could fire a cannon down the main street and not hit a soul!


But what a nice little town, so well kept with some lovely old buildings that have been preserved and restored


Shire Office (used to be the Gentlemens Club)

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The old jail has also been restored. I tried to lock Wilma up but she escaped!


Old Jail at Cue

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From Cue we headed off the main highway – see my orange route in the map above! We were going to Big Bell, a ghost town that was established in the 1930’s for gold mining. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m driving on dusty, corrugated dirt roads again! The ruins of the pub at Big Bell show its 1930’s heritage and reputedly it had the longest bar in a pub in Australia.

Big Bell Big Bell

Leaving Big Bell we had to get back to the main (dirt) road and make our way to Walga Rock where we were going to stay the night. What an amazing place! Walga Rock is a monolith, about 1 ½ kms long and 5kms around its base. It is supposed to be the second largest monolith in Australia, with Uluru the largest.

IMG_1995Walga Rock

Walga Rock

It is the home of some of the oldest rock paintings in the world, dating back to 9000 years ago.

I have both good and bad impressions of Walga Rock. The good was as the sun was setting. I looked toward the top of the rock and there was a huge kangaroo silhouetted against the sky. Magic!


Unfortunately, before we left the next day Wilma noticed I had a flat tyre – I had stabbed it with a sharp stick while I was driving around in circles the night before trying to find a level place to camp! I couldn’t get the wheel nuts undone so I got out my compressor and had a quick lesson in how to pump up a tyre! Easy peasy! We headed out of Walga Rock, before looking at the rock paintings I might add, and back onto the rough corrugated road towards Yalgoo, about 120 kms. I had to put more air into the tyre when we were half way there, but limped into the caravan park to wait until the next day, Monday, before I could have it fixed.

August 31. Yalgoo Caravan Park seemed like a pleasant park with lovely new showers and toilets. Several fellow campers came up and offered help with my tyre, notably Phil and his wife Dallas (oops, don’t know how to spell it). Mt Magnet, 124kms away, was the closest town where I could have it fixed, but with loads of confidence now I knew how to use my compressor, I headed off in that direction first thing Monday morning. Wilma and I parted ways at Yalgoo as she headed back to Three Springs, so now I am on my own again, solo travelling!

Well, if I thought the punctured tyre was a disaster, at Mt Magnet I was informed that because the stick had gone through the wall of the tyre it was not able to be mended! Oh no! It was one of my brand new all terrain BFG’s with about 4000kms wear! I had to buy a new tyre – a cheapie to get me back on the road. In a fit of madness I jammed the wrecked tyre in the front of my van and continued on my way.

It wasn’t long before I was reminded that us women don’t like having a spare tyre, so you’ll be pleased to know that it has now gone! Unfortunately, that other spare tyre is still hanging around!!