The Snail Trail

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


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Broken Hill and Beyond

It’s been a long time between blogs! Since leaving Kulin in Western Australia I have crossed the Nullarbor, visited Broken Hill and caught up with family members I had never met before, travelled from there down to Mildura and then along the mighty Murray River – and throughout most of that trip have endured temperatures in the mid -30deg to low 40deg! And I’ve certainly travelled a few kms in a few weeks!

Kulin to West Wyalong

 

One of the most IMG_6263exciting times of this journey was meeting my nephew Anthony, his wife Lealyn and their two beautiful daughters, Elle and Holle, which is one of the main reasons I went to Broken Hill. I was so lucky I was able to sleep in their air conditioned home as the temperatures were over 40deg C every day I was there (and I must say, it hasn’t been much cooler since!) I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos but can share this one with you of a love-in with their much loved pugs, Pixie and Peaches. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to have some time getting to know Anthony and his family.

It’s sad when generations of families lose contact due to some circumstance that today’s descendants know nothing about….

 

You can’t go to Broken Hill without going to Silverton, which is about 25kms north. BMM (Before Mad Max), Silverton was famous for its mining, as the town where the trade union movement originated in 1884 and where BHP was formed at a meeting in the Silverton Hotel in 1885. But today it is most recognizable as the place where Mad Max was filmed.

I had one unbearably hot night staying at Silverton as I wanted to take photos of the sunset over the Mundi Mundi Plains. I booked into the camping ground and then drove out to capture this spectacular sight only to give up before sundown as it was just too hot to hang around waiting.

Located about five kilometres West of Silverton, the Mundi Mundi Plains is a truly breathtaking place.
Looking out onto the expansive Mundi Mundi Plains, it’s a perfect spot to take in a sunset or picnic.
The view must be seen to be believed. The wide, flat heart of the Australian outback extends seemingly forever. On a clear day the curvature of the earth can be seen.
Of course, a lot of people have seen the area yet may not realise it, spotlighted as it was in the famous crash scene of Mad Max 2. Sharp-eyed explorers can even find old sets from the movie smattered around.

from: http://www.silverton.org.au/sights.htm

A few kms further on I visited the Umberumberka Reservoir – well, it used to be a water catchment but it was bone dry when I was there!

Hot and dry! If you wanted to define Australia’s outback with photos from one area, these taken around Broken Hill would do it!

If you decide to visit Broken Hill choose a better time of the year than I did, when the weather is kinder and more of the tourist attractions are open. I did visit the Pro Hart Gallery and also the Royal Flying Doctor Service but truly, it was just too hot and uncomfortable to enjoy the sights on offer.

Before leaving Broken Hill I also had the chance to catch up with my cousin’s daughter, Jodie, who recently married and moved to this area, so my journey here was most worthwhile from a family point of view – and I’m looking forward to going back in cooler weather to see and do all the things I missed this time around – and to catch up with the rellies once again!

Oakabella Homestead, Western Australia


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Two Weeks in a Few Words – After Leaving Port Hedland

I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging over the last 6 weeks so thought I’d better catch you up on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing…. I have not been stationary ….Far from it!

The first stage of my journey south from Port Hedland took me to some wonderful camping spots, most of which I didn’t photograph – I think I was suffering from technology resistance! Anyhow I’m over that now, so here goes. I was on a mission to get to Oakabella Homestead, between Geraldton and Northampton as the manager, Loretta, had asked me to be camp host for a couple of weeks while she had a break from the daily grind. Here’s my trip from Port Hedland to Oakabella.

Port Hedland to GeraldtonI travelled this 1607km journey in 14 days and during this time split with my travelling buddies as they went inland to Karijini National Park and I hugged the more direct coastal road.Some of my stop overs included a free camp at Yule River, where I was greeted by a happy little dog that looked vaguely familiar. Sure enough it was Pip, who led me off to see her owner Laurie who was camped here too. José was travelling with me to Karratha, Faith was travelling with Laurie, so we had a good night around the camp fire catching up on who had been where since leaving the rally in Penola.

Yule River Western Australia

Jose lights a great camp fire at Yule River

Yule River was a good camp so I decided to stay a couple of days. José left to visit her son in Karratha, then Laurie and Faith left and I thought I’d have some time by myself and stay another day…..uh oh, is that Glenys pulling in? So much for time alone but it was wonderful hearing all about her overseas travels and looking through her photo book. After a coffee at Whim Creek together the following day she headed south and I meandered to my next stopover at Cleaverville, just north of Karratha. The Whim Creek Hotel has only recently re-opened and offers free camping overnight in the grounds. It’s a busy pub with a miner’s camp adjoining it.

Whim Creek Hotel, Western AustraliaSo many of my friends had stayed at Cleaverville that I was looking forward to some time there. I checked in with the caretaker and asked for recommendations on where to camp. “Just over there would be a good spot” he said, ” and there’s another lady over there who is travelling by herself”.  I followed his directions, set up camp, walked around to the other side of the shrubbery – and there was Robyn. Our happy hour together was even better when a fellow camper gave us 3 mud crabs to feast on – yum!

On the way to Cleaverville I detoured to the historic town of Cossack.

After 2 nights at Cleaverville I was on my way again, next stop Dampier where I caught up with Robyn again. It was full moon and low tide so she offered to drive me to Hearson’s Cove to see Staircase to the Moon.

My next stopover was another great free camp at Robe River where I once again caught up with Laurie and Faith. It was here that I discovered I had a major gas leak so I wasn’t game to turn my fridge on. Fortunately it was fairly bare and the nights were cooler so nothing spoiled but it did cut short my stay as I had to plug into power to keep the fridge running when I wasn’t driving so I pulled in to an old favourite, Bullara Station, for the night. We had damper around the campfire and I offered to do some of my bush poetry so it was a great night and I met lots of new people. Here’s a reminder of what’s on offer at Bullara Station, on the way to Exmouth, with some photos from last year’s visit.

My original plans were to bypass Exmouth but the gas leak forced me to change those and I thought I was lucky to find a gas mechanic who promptly came to my van, did a few things, took $50 for his trouble and declared the problem solved. What a relief! I took off for another old favourite,14 Mile Beach (Warroora Station). The drive in was horrendous, 23 kms of rough corrugation but I thought I’d have about 3 nights there so it made it worth while. Imagine my horror when I turned on the gas at the bottle and I still had a gas leak! No fridge again! And the thought of turning around and leaving via that same rough road the next day caused a few bad words to escape my mouth – glad there was no-one camped nearby! To focus on the positive I wrote my poem, The Frozen Mosquito, which was the subject of another blog entry.

The next day I got out the compressor, let down the tyres, put Brutus into 4WD, and tackled the trip back to the main road. Letting the tyres down is easy but pumping them up at the other end was a time-consuming and dirty job, however it did make the 23km journey a lot more comfortable so it was worth it.

Next stop Carnarvon – and a gas repairer. This time I struck gold, (and parted with some), but drove away with a new regulator and NO gas leak. I’m a happy girl!

My last stop before arriving at Oakabella Homestead was at Wooramel Riverside Retreat. What a find! It has hot artesian tubs to relax in, native birds nesting in the old river gums – and Cherri and Pat who I had met at Robe River were there too!

Oakabella Homestead, Western AustraliaMy life of leisure was over for a couple of weeks as I settled in to life at Oakabella Homestead. I got more than I bargained for as I ended up opening the cafe 3 days each week when Loretta found herself short staffed at the last minute. The only things on the menu when I worked, though, were tea, coffee and scones, which were already prepared and ready to heat and serve! I did learn how to make a good cappuchino! By the time Loretta’s holiday was over I was ready for mine – not used to this working caper.

In the words of Willie Nelson ……I’m on the road again……


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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.

Victoria

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.

 

 


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Wildflowers to Wild Weather – WA has it All

With my new tyre fitted I had a very quick whizz around Mt Magnet and then headed further south to wildflower country. Poor Brutus! He looks like he’s got Blundstones on 3 wheels and a sandshoe on the other, but we’re mobile again at fairly minimal expense. I’ve now stayed in a few excellent camp sites but my first night of Spring I was in Paynes Find, behind the roadhouse – not the most exciting place to be but the showers were hot, the toilets clean – and it was only $10 for an unpowered site. If you’re like me you are wondering why it’s called Paynes Find, so here’s the answer!

The map following shows my journey as I made my way south and then west towards the coast. I was ready for some salt air, sand and the sound of the waves.

Mt Magnet to Cliff Head

I made an early getaway the next day and headed to Wubin where I met some fellow travellers in the information centre who told me that Buntine Rocks was a nice free camp so I made my way there and set up camp for a couple of days. I parked amongst the everlasting daisies and then wandered along the bush track to the main rock which I clambered up to get a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.

Buntine Rocks

Buntine Rocks

Coorow (pronounced Cooroo) was my next stop and the council caravan park had a special deal on for Wildflower Season. $22 a night but pay for one then get one free. Great showers and toilets and a good laundry, too. I ended up staying for four nights as the weather turned foul with driving rain and gale force winds but before that I was able to wash most of the curtains in my van and get them dried and rehung. I had put my awning up when I arrived and then it got too windy for me to manage to take it down so it buffeted my van around as the wind caught it until at 2.30 in the morning it got the better of me and I decided to drop the ropes from it and just leave it hanging down the side of the van. Imagine my surprise the next day when it had disappeared! The wind had lifted my heavy canvas awning right out of its track and blown it 50 metres away. I quickly salvaged it, folded it up and tucked it away before the rain came down again. Then I rang Les and Wilma at Three Springs, not far down the track, and they invited me to escape the windy weather and park in their front yard – a most welcome invitation.

Coorow Camp Ground

Coorow Camp Ground

Les was a great tourist guide when I arrived and we jumped in his ute and he took us out to the Talc Mine and then to see the amazing wreath flowers which grow in this area. The Talc Mine is the oldest and most productive talc mine in the southern hemisphere, and the second-most productive talc mine in the world, with recent annual production of 240,000 tonnes. If you want to know what talc is used for, and it’s not just talcum powder, click here.

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

The information centre gave us a map showing how to find the wreath flowers and even though they had been described to me it is hard to imagine flowers growing in such an unusual shape…really quite lovely!

Wreath Flower

Wreath Flower

Wreath Flower

Wreath Flower

I only spent one night with Les and Wilma before I headed off to Lake Indoon. I had overheard a gentleman in the bank at Carnamah talking about this camp site so I asked him about it and he inspired me to go there. It was such a lovely spot I would have stayed more than the two nights I did except my gas bottle ran out overnight and I needed it for my little fridge to keep working. I was shown where some beautiful spider orchids and cowslips were growing by a motorhome couple, Pat & Jim and then had great pleasure sharing their location with some of the other campers.

Orchids Lake Indoon Orchids Lake Indoon

One of the other couples, Phil and Dallas, had been at Yalgoo when I limped in with my flat tyre and that night we had happy hour in the barbecue shed with a few other couples. I tested out my latest poem, The Finger, (after a couple of drinks), and it got the nod of approval from the Happy Hour crowd too. A couple of wines can make anything sound good!

Lake Indoon

Lake Indoon

Lake Indoon

Lake Indoon

This is a camp site I would be happy to come back to.

Lake Indoon was not far from Leeman, on the Coast, so I headed in that direction, filled the gas bottle, did a bit of shopping in Jurien Bay and then headed to Point Louise, which I had found details of on WikiCamps.

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Camp at Point Louise

Point Louise

Point Louise

Fabulous dunes at Point Louise

Fabulous dunes at Point Louise

A couple of nights there was enough, the beach was full of weed and we were literally camped in the car park, so I thought I’d go to Cliff Head which I had heard good things about. What a great choice that turned out to be! It was a lovely grassy camp, the other campers were friendly, the cliff gave us some protection from the southerly wind, and Happy Hour was fun every night – for the whole six nights I stayed there.

Cliff Head

Cliff Head

Cliff Head

Cliff Head

I discovered that Ron & Cathie, who were my closest neighbours in the camp, came from Runaway Bay, my old stomping ground, and actually lived in a house that I had sold to the previous owners. They had also been neighbours with one of the salespeople from Ray White that I had worked with, George Bobolos. Talk about a small world! Ron and Cathie, with their Staffy Jake, were just some of the people that made my stay here so pleasant. Everyone was so friendly and we all got on really well together.

Ron, Cathie & Jake

Ron, Cathie & Jake

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Sunset Happy Hour at Cliff Head

It was sad today when most of us packed up to move on, although I think I might have been the only one heading north, while everyone else was heading south to begin the long trek home to the east coast.

I will definitely go back to Cliff Head – it would be one of my favourite stops. I wonder if it was the people or the campsite that made it a favourite?


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Heading North for Winter Warmth

With my house-sit in Secret Harbour coming to an end it was time to pack Brutus, my little campervan, and head for warmer weather. The day I left Perth it rained so hard I couldn’t even get to my van at times so my departure was delayed until everything was transferred from house to van and I was ready to hit the road again. I had first planned to travel with Wilma, a Western Willie Wagtail I had met, but she postponed her departure. Then Jose, who I had travelled with in Tasmania, was going to leave that day but she developed bronchitis and just wasn’t well enough to leave home. So off I went – a Solo! It was a terrible day for driving – cold, windy and raining all day. I was heading to Sandy Cape, just north of Jurien Bay.

Secret Harbour to Seven Mile Beach

Well, my GPS led me up the garden path and I passed the turn off to Sandy Cape thinking there was another one further ahead. That proved not to be the case so I checked out my map and decided to head to a roadside stop out of Dongara, which is about 60kms south of Geraldton. I didn’t like the look of that and there was no-one else there so off I went again in search of Seven Mile Beach, which had been recommended to me. The wind was blowing so hard I didn’t even put up my pop top when I arrived there so I had a very cramped night and couldn’t wait to leave the next day. The map above shows my trip from Secret Harbour to Seven Mile Beach. It was a big day’s drive!

As I had made it a lot further north than I intended it threw out all my planning so back to the drawing board! Richard, who I had met in Lucky Bay earlier this year was in Carnarvon so I thought ‘Hang it, I’m going for it’. The rain had stopped, I got an early start, stopped in Geraldton for breakfast and then I was off again. For my east coast friends, Carnarvon is roughly the same latitude as Hervey Bay.

Seven Mile Beach to Carnarvon

I arrived in Carnarvon about 3.15pm….over 500kms….another big day! Richard had arranged for me to stay in the same caravan park that night and then we headed off to Rocky Pools, on the Gascoyne River, where we had three lovely days. The weather had cleared to bright sunshine, the setting was beautiful even though quite harsh, and despite it being school holidays there weren’t many people there at all. With some encouragement I even found my bathers and plunged into the freezing cold water… I thought I was going to die!!! It was soooo cold it took my breath away.

Rocky Pools

Rocky Pools from opposite our camp

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What a spot!

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Stunning Aussie colours

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The Gascoyne River at Rocky Pools

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Sunrise colours

We came back into Carnarvon on Saturday morning to stock up on supplies and then headed to Quobba, staying at Quobba Station the first night then Quobba Blowholes where we once again caught up with some of the Western Willie Wagtails – Jean, Barry, Leo, Jenn and finally Jose joined us after a couple of days.

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Blowholes

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Thar she blows!

At Quobba there are about 40 or so shacks that people have leases over – and I mean shacks! They looked like something out of a Third World slum, but you can judge for yourself!

Quobba shacks2

Quobba shacks

Although windy, most of the days were fine and on Tuesday Richard and I tested out my 4 wheel drive capabilities and travelled the 70 odd kms of rough corrugated and sandy road to Red Bluff, where we stayed overnight. What a magic day! It was so warm and sunny and we sat looking out over the Indian Ocean watching the whales migrating north. We lost count of how many breaches and blows we saw that day.

Red Bluff1

Life’s tough – but someone’s gotta do it!

Red Bluff4

Red Bluff looking North

The swell was huge the next day and we drove onto a cliff head south of Quobba Station and watched these enormous, probably 30ft waves, crashing onto the shore. Once again, a spectacular day on this rugged, rocky coastline.

Quobba Coastline2

Brutus the Beast took us places cars couldn’t go!

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The rugged coastline at Quobba

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The pounding surf at Quobba

On returning to our camp at Quobba the day grew cool and windy so I decided to head back to Carnarvon the following day to once again stock up on supplies before I head further north. I was out of food, water and gas so had a busy day today and I’ll be heading off early tomorrow. I’m expecting most of the crew from Quobba will catch up with me at Warroora Station, about 200kms north of here on the way to Coral Bay and Exmouth.

Needless to say the phone and internet coverage is almost non-existent, so I’m not sure when my next post will be. I am sure though that it will be from somewhere warmer than it is here at the moment.

 


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Wearing Wobbly Boots at Cape Riche

After leaving Lucky Bay I headed back to Esperance to find a Laundromat, and washing done and dried I travelled towards Ravensthorpe. I hadn’t really thought about where I would stay tonight, but checked out my Camps Book and settled on Munglinup Beach.(NO phone, NO internet!) I hated it! Not fair, I suppose, to make such a judgement because I only stayed overnight, but the road in for about 19kms was rough and dusty corrugation, I wasn’t feeling 100%, the beach was covered in weed, and it was late in the afternooon when I got there and I kept thinking about that horrible road that I had to go out on the next day. I couldn’t wait to leave and get it over with so I was up early the next morning and headed back along that bone-shattering red dust road.

WikiCamps came up with my next overnighter – Tozers Bush Camp on the way to Bremer Bay. I am so sorry I didn’t take any photos here to show you the fanastic set up here.

Funny how something makes you lean favourably toward one thing or another. As a kid we had camping friends by the name of Tozer, and as the reviews in WikiCamps were ok I rang ahead and Robert Tozer assured me there was a spot for me. There was a spot alright – I was the only one there! What a shame this place isn’t better known. Robert has done a great job levelling a lot of sites and has built one of the best amenities blocks I have ever seen. Fantastic hot showers and toilets – luxury – and you should see the Happy Hour/Camp Kitchen he has there. It’s massive, with a huge deck that overlooks his land, and great facilities inside. I finally had internet access here, basically for the first time at a place I had stayed since the start of my journey about two weeks ago . That alone was worth the $20 a night fee – which is probably a bit over the top for what is there. I wish there had been more campers here to enjoy the Camp Kitchen and Happy Hour with, but Robert left to go back to his home in Bremer Bay and I was left with the internet and a brilliant night sky for company. He did say, though, that when the wildflowers are in bloom, he expects his camp to fill up and he has made walk trails over the property for his guests to make the most of what he has to offer here.

I must admit I was a little nervous for the first time ever as I really was in the middle of no-where, and alone! That is, except for the big green frog in the toilet! I left Robert a copy of my Green Frog poem when I departed the next day.

I decided to head to Cape Riche for a few days, and what a good choice that turned out to be.  (apart from NO phone and NO internet again).

Cape Riche

 

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The little birds were really friendly here and hopped all around me – they were kind enough to let me take a couple of photos, too. The one on the left is a White Browed Scrub Wren and the one on the right is a Splendid Blue Wren that becomes a vivid all over blue when it is mating – little show off!

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Found this photo on the internet to show the colour that little fellow becomes when he is breeding. Now, what female could resist him!

blue wren breeding

I spent a couple of quiet days here and on my last night I was invited to Happy Hour at a neighbouring camp. When I got there I discovered there were three guys on a fishing trip – and me! I drank far too much red wine and staggered back to my camp in my wobbly boots after Noel, Peter and Nigel had cooked up a storm for dinner, which they shared with me. Feeling much the worse for wear the next day I started the day with Panadol and a bottle of water but think I probably should have had it the night before instead of all that wine! The fellas cooked me bacon and eggs for breakfast the next day and while they headed off with their boat to catch some fish I packed up and I was ‘on the road again’!

The amount I am spending on petrol is killing my budget – I need to find a place and just prop for a while. I decided to go to Parry Beach.

 


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Hot! Damn hot! And flies! Damn flies – Crossing the Nullabor

I wonder if it’s like what they say about child birth – once it’s over you forget the pain…..

The heat and the flies made my journey across the Nullabor painful. I have been shut up in my little campervan before because of wind and rain and now I can add to that – FLIES! They drove me insane! So looking my glamorous best I bought a fly net and took a ‘selfie’ to share with you. It was impossible to be outside without it – the flies got in your eyes, ears and nose, and mouth if you opened it at the wrong time!
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So here’s my trip across the Nullabor.

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I was so lucky that Grahame & Judy travelled about the same pace as me so even though we hadn’t planned it we spent most nights at the same camping spot. I left Koonibba on March 31 and stopped at Nundroo that night and then the 10km Peg camp just before the WA border. Like everyone else there we were cooking up our vegetables so we didn’t have to declare them at the border.
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I did some of the ‘must see’ things and gladly paid my $7 to use the walkways at the Head of the Bight.

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It was so hot this day that I had rivers of perspiration running down my face – and every other part of my body – and used my air-con for about the 3rd time since I had owned Brutus. About an hour later though there was a cooler change and it made travelling a lot more pleasant.
I also drove out to the Bunda Cliffs – blowing a gale off the sea but at least it blew the flies away!
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This is the view from Madura Pass and is a perfect illustration of the Nullabor being a ‘vast, treeless plain’.
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On April 2, I finally crossed the border into Western Australia and camped the night near Cocklebiddy. Grahame and Judy were going to stay on at the 10km peg camp for another couple of days so we bid a fond farewell. Their company had been so appreciated on this trip.

Here’s a couple more pics of sights along the way.
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I felt like I had finally ‘arrived’ when I got to Norseman on April 3, yet I know there is still a long way to go before I reach Secret Harbour at the end of April – and I want to see as much as I can of the South-East corner of WA while I am here.

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Welcome to Norseman