The Snail Trail

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

Stockton Lake WA


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New Year – New Adventures

I wrapped up 2015 by blogging some of my favourite camps during that year and now I have the opportunity to create a whole new list for 2016. But in the meantime I thought I’d share with you where I’ve been over Christmas and New Year.

I didn’t travel very far as you will see!

Stockton Lake to Lake Brockman

The yellow star shows the approximate location of Stockton Lake, the blue star shows where Lake Brockman (Logue Brook Dam) is situated and the green star is roughly where I camped on the Hamilton River.

The Western Willie Wagtails met at Stockton Lake early December and it was great to spend some time  with them and share their club Christmas Party, complete with Santa.

I chose to stay on at Stockton Lake for a few days, then had a break at Logue Brook Dam which was less than 100kms away.

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Camped at Logue Brook Dam (Lake Brockman)

The Port Lincoln Ring-neck Parrots were very friendly here and I ended up with scratches up my arms where they walked all over me to steal biscuits out of my hand.

The whole area around Logue Brook was burnt out after Christmas by a raging bushfire which destroyed something like 70,000 hectares and completely wiped out the historic little town of Yarloop. I’ve duplicated the map above and put another of the fire area next to it so you can get some idea of the size of this massive fire. The fire front was about 100kms long and raged through National Parks, townships and across to the coastline. It stretched from Waroona to Harvey.

After a few days at Logue Brook Dam I headed back to Stockton Lake to spend Christmas and see in the New Year. I got the pick of the camp sites, right  on the water with lovely shade most of the day. Needless to say, my camp became the ‘go to’ place for the breeze, the shade and the views.

Christmas was a very happy time, shared with fellow travellers and a wonderful family that camped next to me with 6 children. I put my present under their Christmas Tree and on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning shared with them as they opened all their presents. They were going to wake me up early so I didn’t miss out but I was up long before the kids and thought I’d have to wake them up instead. Dad Nathan and Mum Siobhan (Pronounced shiv + awn) should be very proud of their wonderful family.

Christmas dinner was shared with Solo Kev Thornton, Terry and Gay who I had met before at Oakabella Homestead and Mick, a solo traveller also. This happy crew expanded by a few more by the time New Year’s Eve came around but the wind was chilly that night so we all finished early and woke up the next day to 2016.

I enjoyed a few more days at Stockton Lake then took off to do some bush camping along the Hamilton River with Mick. It was around this time that the bushfires flared up around Harvey so got some stunning shots of the smoky sky.

Mick was great company and also a fantastic Mr Fix-It, doing a few odd jobs to my van that were long over due. We went for a drive one day to find the Black Diamond Swimming Hole, too. What a popular place that turned out to be for day trippers.

All good things must come to an end I suppose, so it was time to pack up and get myself organised for the next Willie Wagtails outing in Boddington – a great opportunity for me to say farewell to this fantastic group of people who have helped make my stay in Western Australia so special.

Ellendale Lake, Western Australia


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A Week Out of Wyndham

As you can see from my map below, a week after leaving Wyndham we were arriving in Broome – and it’s a place I’m finding very hard to leave….

Wyndham to Broome, Western AustraliaI was looking forward to our stop at Spring Creek free camp as it was at the entrance to The Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park) and I wanted to do a bus trip in. The road is known to be very corrugated and I’d heard reports of the 53km trip taking about 2.5 hours so I thought I wouldn’t put Brutus through that torture and let someone else wreck their vehicle instead. I was so disappointed to find out it was going to cost $285 for the day trip and my budget just didn’t cater for that expense. At that price I should have done the flight with Margaret and Nev from Kununurra, which took them over Lake Argyle, Ivanhoe Crossing and the Bungles for $330! So that stays on the bucket list for now!

The Spring Creek camp was a lovely stop over, though.

Our next night was in the Halls Creek Caravan Park, a dust bowl of a place and we only had the one night there. A short drive out of town takes you to a natural phenomon called the China Wall. China Wall is a natural vein of sub-vertical white quartz rising up to 6 metres above the surrounding country in places.  This striking formation transects the country for many kilometres, rising high out of the ground and then disappearing back into the earth again.  Scientists believe the wall was formed when the rock surrounding the much harder and resistant quartz was weathered and eroded away.

This is the traditional story about how the China Wall was formed….

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Mary Pool was a 2 night stopover – can’t rush these things, can we? Warren the Travelling Tradie that we met in Wyndham was here, and also an interesting fellow, Jeff, who carried around a ‘flying machine’ in a special compartment of his caravan. It was like a parachute that had a 2 stroke motor attached. It was too windy to launch at Mary Pool and also there were too many other campers there. They both joined us for Happy Hour but Warren left early to cook dinner for a cyclist camped next to him. (Remember this, as Lizzie will re-appear in my Broome blog). There was not much water in Mary Pool but there had been a crocodile sighted there recently.

This poor egret lost his dinner to a kite.

Mary Pool, Western Australia

Egret caught it – Whistling Kite ate it!!

My favourite campground on the way to Derby was another free camp at Ellendale Lake. What a special spot!  Margaret and I stayed here for 2 nights but Nev had to keep moving on as Cindy, his dog, wasn’t allowed.

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I could have stayed a lot longer but there was no TV reception and I couldn’t miss the State of Origin Decider (What a great game! Go Queensland!!) so we were off to Derby. We collected Nev on the way at the Boab Rest Area.

We only stayed the night but did a trip down to the wharf and out to see a couple of local sights. The first wharf, built in 1894, was a wooden T shaped structure located at the northern end of the present steel and concrete jetty. It was linked to the town of Derby by a horse drawn tramway, crossing the mud flats via a causeway where the present day road is located. Wool and pearl shell were the major exports in the early days. In 1964, the new jetty was built. The tides here are Australia’s highest and the second highest in the southern hemisphere.

One of the other attractions was the Prison Boab Tree. This huge tree is believed to be around 1,500 years old and has a girth of 14.7 metres. It was used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days. Adjacent to this massive tree is Myalls Bore and Cattle Trough. The bore has now dried up and a windmill is used to pump the water into the trough, which could handle 500 bullocks at one time and was later extended to a length of 120 metres.

…… and now we are on our way to Broome! I have wanted to go to Broome for years, and even more so after reading Di Morrisey’s “Tears of the Moon”. This is definitely an experience I’ll be able to tick off my bucket list.


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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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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

 


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Destination Deloraine – Silk Art and Smashed Steps

We were off to a rally in Bridport with Auswide – at the invitation of fellow motorhomers, Richard and Janis. It was held at a private property and Mick, the owner, had everything set up for a comfortable weekend. I loved his Happy Hour Shed, and couldn’t help but be impressed with his woodpile!  I know it’s cold in Tasmania, but I’m hoping this stack of wood will see him through a few winters!

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Jose and I stayed 2 nights and then decided to move on to make sure we saw as much of Tasmania as we could in the time we had available. We headed back to Scottsdale, and while Jose did some shopping I found the black water dump point. While there I noticed some public toilets and thought I’d take advantage of them, so I started Brutus up and drove up the hill. As I was leaving I saw this lump of red & white plastic near the dump point – and as I got closer I realised it was MY STEP. I had tried to leave it behind, unintentionally, on sooo many occasions and now I had finally demolished it totally! No longer would fellow campers have to call out “You’ve left your step behind!”  I dragged out a broken, not totally demolished one, that I carried for emergencies and trod very carefully on it until that, too, became unusable. The first Rays Outdoors I came to I upgraded to a ‘grown up’ grey Fiamma step, and now that I have it I don’t know why I didn’t get one of those in the first place!

We had planned to stay at Myrtle Park on the way to Launceston but although it looked like a great spot to camp it was jammed pack with a rally group and heaps of children, being school holidays. So we motored on, through Launceston and up the western side of the Tamar River to a free camp called Paper Beach.

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When we left the next day we treated ourselves to a visit to the Ninth Island Winery, had a few tastings, admired the view, and yes, came away with some lovely wine. One of my favourites is the Ninth Island Pinot Noir which my friend Carol had introduced me to many years ago, so what better place to buy it than at the Cellar Door.

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The view from their function centre was beautiful.

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And I loved this poster on their wall!

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This is the route we took from Bridport to Deloraine.

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I know, you’re looking at the map and wondering why we went such a round about way. Well, Jose decided to lead the way when we left Paper Beach and for some reason, known only to her, she turned east when we got to Launceston instead of west – and she kept saying she didn’t need a GPS!  When she realised we were heading in the wrong direction she used the excuse that she’d never been to Evandale, so off we went. Instead of turning back to the highway we drove through Evandale – and kept driving. ( My fault – I looked at the map and thought the road came back on to the highway pretty quick). About 90kms of dirt road later, and having skirted around the base of Ben Lomond, we came out south east of Evandale and pointed towards Launceston again. Finally we are going in the right direction.

Destination Deloraine! Finally we arrive! We stayed at the free Deloraine East Overnight Park, glad to stop driving, have a drink and unwind. The next day we set off to the Information Centre and I was absolutely blown away by their Art in Silk Display. It’s a must see if you are in the area! Here’s a few photos I took of the massive silk panels, but if your’e interested in this sort of thing click on the link above, which gives you the story of the fantastic community cooperation over  many hundreds of hours, to put create this. Jose took my photo in front of one of the panels to give you an idea of the size of them. There were 4 panels representing the four seasons.

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We were definitely having an ‘arty’ day because as we wandered down the street we came across an artist’s co-op called Deloraine Creative Studios, strolled in, and met one of the artists, Steve Howells. He has some striking street scenes of Deloraine on display, vibrantly coloured, and done in water colours. If you’d like to see some his work his website is just a click away, Steve Howells.

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You’ve probably guessed by now I loved Deloraine!

Ooops! Correction needed!
Before I begin on the next stage of my journey I need to get my Tassie towns in the correct order! In my blog The Trail of the Tin Dragon, our stop at Weldborough was before we got to Derby, not after, and the miners blockade to stop the Chinese miners occurred at Branxholm, not Weldborough as I said. Ooops, should write these blogs with a map in front of me. Or perhaps if I wrote them as I went, rather than on reflection, my short term memory would be closer to reality!


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Derby – On the Trail of the Tin Dragon

Tasmania is the most amazing place to travel. There is so much history and at every turn in the road there is so much evidence of this history still to see. Jose and I left Swimcart Beach to travel to a rally in Bridport that we had been invited to, and I was really interested to visit Derby, where my sister had lived in the early 1980’s. She used to live in the old Bank House and I had visited her there for a very cold Christmas one year.

The house Marion used to live in is now a Gift Shop in the rooms that were the bank chambers.

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I knew Derby was an old tin mining town but since my last visit they have developed this side of its history into more of a tourist attraction.We really only stumbled across this because of my interest in going to Derby as it is not well promoted as a Tourist Attraction.

The Tin Interpretation Centre at Derby is a ‘must see’ experience if you are travelling that way.It is a beautiful building with an wonderful wall of theatre that tells the story of the discovery of tin in the area and how the early miners harnessed the power of the water to successfully mine the tin. The climax is the devastating flood in 1929, which broke the banks of the dam and spilled billions of litres of water through the town. You can find out a bit more about it here.

There is also a tribute to the contribution of the Chinese miners, and I loved this part of the Centre, as you will see by the number of photos I took of the wall murals!

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There is free camping at the river on the outskirts of town – a nice grassy area with shady trees and toilet facilities – and it’s close enough to walk into the little town.

We left Derby and our next stop was following a track beside the Ringarooma River which led to an old Chinese miners hut. Inside were story panels of the life of a Chinese tin miner. I found this really interesting, too, and was happy to leave my donation in the tin at the door.

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By the time we got to Weldborough we were ready to sample the Tasmanian Boutique beers on tap – they also had ciders available.

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While enjoying our ‘coldies’ in the beer garden we met a couple who were camped at the back of the pub and they told us of a couple of good camping spots to try as we headed west.

Weldborough is on the Trail of the Tin Dragon as it was the site of the confrontation between the Chinese miners and the ‘whites’. The Chinese had walked from Bridport and were on the way to Derby when they were stopped from going any further by an angry mob. They turned around and trudged all the way back to Bridport and came back with a police escort that quietened the mob and gave them safe passage to Derby.

We had planned to stay at Scottsdale that night but the free camp was very crowded so we did our shopping, fueled up our motorhomes, and headed off to Bridport to enter the rally early. It was hot, the roads had been winding and steep, and the roadworks everywhere had contributed to a tiring day. We were ready to stop!

This little map will show you the area I have been talking about and the route we took over the last couple of days. It will also give you an idea of the long walks the miners had when they were landed by boat at Bridport and had to get to Derby! When I think about that I realise that we have got it soooo good these days!

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Camping the Tasmanian Coast

I’ve been so busy finding all these wonderful camp sites that I’m having blog withdrawals – as some of you must be judging by the messages I’ve had about the lack of blogs. So here goes my attempt at blogging on my iPhone
Rather than tell you lots of stories in this blog I’m going to concentrate on the camps! Hope you enjoy the pics.
Mayfield Bay
Great little campsite. Donation box. Long drop toilet. No showers.
The first pic is of a convict built arched bridge and the second of my sister, Marion, on the beach.

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Lagoons Beach
Right on the beach. Heaps of campsites with level ground and trees between the camps so although there was a lot of people there the camps were quite private.

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Binalong Bay
Day visit only. Lovely clean beach

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Swimcart Beach
Another lovely free camp right on the beach. It was quite windy when we were there but there were more protected sites back off the water.

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Paper Beach
On the western side of the Tamar River. Toilets, water, camping between 5pm & 9am for about 6 vans.

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Jose and I both managed to wash our vans here as they were covered in white mud from all the roadworks we’d been through.
Preservation Bay
Nice grassy free camp near Penguin. No facilities but a lovely beach.

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Detention River
Not listed in Camp 6. Heading west on Bass Highway turn right before the Detention River bridge almost opposite service station. Big open area by the road but drive down the track and there are lovely protected and private sites along the river and towards the river mouth. No facilities. This is what this lifestyle is all about!

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This next photo was taken as we left the next day and the tide was out. Taken from a similar spot as the first pic.

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Boat Harbour Beach
Another one not in Camp 6. Free. Good clean toilets. Water (recommended to boil). Grassy site for about 10 vans. A local couple came around to welcome us and give us an info leaflet. Sisters Beach is now closed for camping and this is the closest spot to there. Beautiful clean beach. Kiosk open during the day.

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Today, Jose is off to rodeo in Ulverstone (not Galveston!) and we’ll catch up again tonight to head towards Queenstown and Strahan. She’s looking the part, don’t you think?

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