The Snail Trail

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

Rosemary's Road Trip 2015


Now That’s a Road Trip – Part 1

I went on a bit of a road trip in 2015 – about 11,500 kilometres without counting the side trips to tourist attractions and bush camps. I started at Collie in Western Australia with my new best friend, the blue parrot that landed on my shoulder and adopted me for a couple of weeks. And I’ll see out 2015 back in the Collie area at Stockton Lake. This is what my road trip looks like –

2015 trip

I thought it would be interesting to highlight my Top 20 places I visited this year, so here’s the first 10 (ten), in chronological order.

1. Stockton Lake, near Collie, Western Australia

Stockton Lake is about 7kms east of Collie. It is only $5.50 a night (concession) and the only facilities are toilets – no drinking water or power – so you need to be fairly self-contained. To be able to camp on the edge of the lake makes it all worthwhile!

2. Chapman Pool, Blackwood River, Western Australia

There are 3 great campsites along the Blackwood River: Alexander Bridge, Chapman Pool and Sue’s Bridge. Chapman Pool was my favourite, not least because I caught a couple of good sized black bream there! And what about the possum that invited itself to dinner! This was the best swimming hole, too. $6.60 a night (concession), long drop toilets, barbeques. No power or drinking water.

3. Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park

I shouted myself a bit of luxury and stayed here for 5 nights – showers, toilets, laundry, power and water! The bonus was the boat cruise run by the manager of the caravan park. I don’t know what the going rate is but I was lucky enough to negotiate a good price at the time I was there (Feb 2015) It was while staying here that I was prompted to write my poem called The Parking Roundabout.

I can’t leave Denmark without including some photos of the spectacular Elephant Rocks and beach which is a short drive west of Denmark on the Williams Bay Road.

4. Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand, near Esperance, Western Australia

Lucky Bay is in the National Park at Cape Le Grand in the South East corner of Western Australia. It was my first beach stopover when I arrived in 2014 and nearly 12 months later I was back in one of my favourite campsites. It prompted me to write my poem Lucky Bay. This year I caught up with Richard again, having first met at Lucky Bay last year, and his friend Jay took us driving over the dunes at nearby Dunn’s and Rossiter Bay – spectacular!

Lucky Bay is $6.60 per night, solar showers, flush toilets, limited drinking water – and a coffee van visits the beach a few days a week. What more could a girl ask for?

5. Salmon Gums, Western Australia

Salmon Gums, Western Australia

Salmon Gums Community Caravan Park

You’re probably wondering why I would include a dry and dusty caravan park in my favourites…. well, I’ve stayed there on 3 different occasions now and each time I have met some wonderful people. It is only $5 a night for an unpowered site, there are spotlessly clean showers and toilets, a laundry and I’ve always had great company. My poem about Max, the Mad Rooter was written here after watching Max try to assert his dominance over Jock, the caretaker, Janet’s, little dog.

6. Martins Bend, South Australia

Easter 2015 was shared with my sister, Marion, at Martin’s Bend on the Murray River in South Australia. It was the time of the blood moon and I love the photo I snapped of the full moon through the trees over the river. We had a relaxing few days there at a very minimal cost. There were toilets and drinking water available. No fish jumped on my hook though 🙂

7. Lake Hart, South Australia

Lake Hart is on the highway about 250kms north of Port Augusta on the way to Coober Pedy and only about 25kms as the crow flies west of Roxby Downs. It is a free roadside stop and is one of my favourites because of the vastness of this old abandoned salt lake mine and the spectacular photo opportunities it provided. There were no facilities there but a picnic table! Oh, and The Ghan passed by on its way north – that was pretty special!

8. Yulara – camping at Uluru, Northern Territory

My visit to Uluru, and the campground at Yulara, was extra special as I had my birthday there and celebrated by going to the Sounds of Silence Dinner. It became even more special when I met Roswitha, who was also celebrating her birthday on the same day. We shared a table at dinner and have maintained contact ever since, with Roswitha and her husband Klaus also joining us at our camp at Alice Springs for a few days.

And it’s impossible to leave here without including Kata Juta (The Olgas) as part of this special experience in the ‘heart’ of Australia.

Yulara offered a 3 night camping package for $84 with all facilities provided, plus it was only a walk to the Resort with its shops, restaurants and bars. The Sounds of Silence Dinner was $190 or thereabouts.

9. Alice Springs, Northern Territory

We stayed in Alice Springs for about 2 weeks as it was the jumping off point to visit so many nearby attractions. The Gap View Hotel offered camping out the back for $11 a night and there were showers, toilets, barbeques and a laundry. You could also connect to power for a couple of extra dollars (it was a bit dodgy, with leads running everywhere, but it worked!)

Gap View Hotel, Alice Springs

Happy Hour at the Gap View Hotel

Old Telegraph Station and Alice Springs Desert Park

Hermannsburg and Palm Valley

West MacDonnell Ranges and Standley Chasm

Alice Springs – a ‘must go back to ‘ place – I haven’t even ventured to the East MacDonnell Ranges yet!

Ooops! Can’t leave Alice Springs without my side trip to Amburla on the way north…..

Amburla Station

10. Longreach Waterhole, Northern Territory

The Longreach Waterhole is a few kms north of Elliot, in the Northern Territory. My travelling companions, Margaret and Nev, decided not to venture on to the gravel road but I am certainly glad I did. The waterbirds were a constant entertainment, there were plenty of places to camp right at the edge of the waterhole, there was a long drop toilet, a picnic shelter and best of all, it was free! I enjoyed a few days there before leaving to catch up to the others further north.

My next ten of my top twenty will be in my next post – probably a week before I connect to power again – so from my latest camp at Lake Brockman my friends and I will shut down the computer and see you in the great outdoors.







Nullarbor Roadhouse

Leave a comment

Crossing the “Big Paddock” – Norseman to Ceduna

After a false start because Brutus misbehaved badly, I finally left to head east over a week late and considerably poorer! Can you believe it cost $1000 to be towed 200kms? Thank goodness for my insurance with Ken Tame as $600 of that was recovered and he also arranged the tow for me. I was holed up in a caravan park in Norseman for a few days while the mechanic sorted out the problem, then wimped out and went back to Salmon Gums (in the opposite direction to where I was heading!) to lick my wounds and change my mind-set! One of my Solo friends, Val, popped into see me on her way west with her new dog, Max, who promptly became the subject of a poem due to his behaviour!  And then Margaret, another Solo did a 100km detour to meet up with me so we could travel across the Nullarbor together.  Oh, on the way to Norseman we stopped to have a look at Bromus Dam as it is a free camp which might be of interest to some of you. (no facilities)

So, what is the “big paddock”? It’s a name given to the journey from Norseman in WA to Ceduna in SA, across the Nullarbor. (Null = No; Arbor = Trees)The interesting thing is that although this whole trip from Norseman in the West to Ceduna in the East is called “crossing the Nullarbor”, in fact the true Nullarbor Plain is only a portion of this trip and starts just to the west of  the roadside stop of Nullarbor.


Here’s the map that shows you the extent of this trip…..and I might mention that the Nullarbor is often called the Nullarboring!

Salmon Gums to Ceduna

Salmon Gums to Ceduna

We made really good time, staying our first night east of Balladonia at the 90mile peg. I was excited to even make it to Balladonia because a week earlier I had been towed in there when Brutus died about 60kms east. For those of you who have never been across the Nullarbor the places that sound like towns are really only a roadhouse, and they are dotted about every 200kms.

Our second night was at Madura Pass, in the parking area at the lookout. What a spectacular view! (My photos are much better than the ones on the link to Wikipedia, too!)

Madura Pass

Fellow Solo, Margaret

Madura Pass

We’re not even really on the Nullarbor yet, but it certainly looks like it!

Madura Pass

Madura Pass

Madura Pass

Sunrise at Madura Pass at 5.06am

Our last stop in Western Australia was at Eucla. As we wanted to do some touristy things there we booked into the caravan park. A shower was really welcome after a few hot day’s travel and because we got in fairly early we had the pick of the spots.

Eucla Caravan Park

Eucla Caravan Park

The ‘must see’ at Eucla is the old telegraph station. As the dunes shift, sometimes it is hardly visible but it was quite exposed the day we were there.

On the way to the telegraph station there is also the Traveller’s Cross and a memorial stone to John Eyre, who crossed the Nullarbor from Fowler’s Bay in South Australia to Albany in Western Australia. The following information is from Wikipedia:

With this money, Eyre set out to explore the interior of South Australia, with two separate expeditions north to the Flinders Ranges and west to beyond Ceduna.

Eyre, together with his Aboriginal companion Wylie, was the first European to traverse the coastline of the Great Australian Bight and the Nullarbor Plain by land in 1840-1841, on an almost 2000 mile trip to Albany, Western Australia. He had originally led the expedition with John Baxter and three aborigines. On 29 April 1841 two of the aborigines killed Baxter and left with most of the supplies, and Eyre and Wylie were only able to survive because they chanced to encounter, at a bay near Esperance, Western Australia, a French whaling ship Mississippi, under the command of an Englishman, Captain Thomas Rossiter, for whom Eyre named the location Rossiter Bay.

In addition to exploring inland South Australia and New South Wales, Eyre was instrumental in maintaining peace between white settlers and Aborigines along the Murray River.

The next day we crossed the border into South Australia and stopped at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for a break and to re-fuel. I had heard a few bad reports about this stop but there are new owners and they are really trying to fix the place up. The showers and toilets were brand new and showers operated on $1 coin in the slot. Their petrol certainly wasn’t the most expensive we paid and the staff were friendly. A good stop with a good atmosphere. This is the sign as you are leaving.

Nullarbor Roadhouse

At the Nullarbor Roadhouse

We’ve almost made it! Our last stop before Ceduna was at the 222km peg and we managed to find a camp back off the road amongst some trees which we shared with 2 caravanning couples.  It was really foggy when we woke up the following morning.

foggy morning

Foggy morning at the 222km peg camp

We were stopped at Ceduna as you are  not allowed to take certain fruits and vegetables across the state borders but Margaret and I had cooked everything up a couple of nights ago so we had nothing to declare. Our journey of 1686kms was at an end. We left Salmon Gums on Monday March 9 and arrived in Ceduna on Friday the 13th – and you can bet there’s a story there – but more about that in my next blog as we start exploring the Eyre Peninsula.