The Snail Trail

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

Nullarbor Roadhouse


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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 


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Flashback Friday

2014 – My last week in Tasmania!

My camp at Geeveston on the way to the Tahune Air Walk

Tahune Air Walk

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A highlight waJim Haws catching up with my ex-brother in law Jim who I hadn’t seen for about 40 years. My biggest challenge was not the thought of meeting him again after all that time, it was getting Brutus up the hill to his home – it was so steep I thought I was going to roll backwards into the peak hour traffic that was built up behind me!

My last weekend in Tasmania was with the Tassie Shearwater Solos at the Evandale Penny Farthing Races. What a great way to end my nearly 3 months in Tasmania!

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Flashback Friday

I have decided to start a new blog feature and call it Flashback Friday. At irregular intervals, (I was going to go for regular but then common sense kicked in!), I will go back to my calendar from the previous year and recall where I was and what I was doing. It will be mainly pictorial …. and I do hope you enjoy my recollections as much as I am!

Where I was then and Where I am now!

Where I was then and Where I am now!

This week in 2014 I was at the last couple of days of the Tasmanian Combined Chapters Rally in Sorell before heading to my sister’s home at Lake Leake in the northern midlands of Tassie.

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Marion’s garden is a profusion of lavender, daisies and red hot pokers….

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Away with the Willie Wagtails

No – not those cute little chattering black and white birds, but the Western Willie Wagtails, a chapter of the CMCA. Mind you there was still a lot of chattering going on!

My first trip was in May when we went to Bindoon.

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What a wet weekend it was! There were only a few vans camped at the Bindoon oval but it was a great opportunity for me to meet some new people. Richard, who I had met at Lucky Bay, also came along and his van became the meeting place as he put his awning out – it was the only reasonably dry area for us to gather. But as we discovered, if you sat to close to the edge the rain ran off the awning and down your back! As Happy Hour kicked in the awning struts also became a hazard as we forgot to duck whenever we moved so there was a constant cry of “Watch your head!” It didn’t do any of us much good as we still managed to knock our heads whenever we moved.Despite the weather we had a great time, and wandered off to the Bindoon bakery for morning tea together one day.

When we woke on Sunday morning there was a heavy fog which was quite beautiful as the sun came up over the orange grove next to the oval.

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A foggy morning in Bindoon

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The fog lifts as the sun comes over the hill

I wrote the following thank you for the weekend

The rain came down at Bindoon
But not on our parade
The happy campers came and went
The stayers – well, we stayed!

We gathered next to Richard’s van
– He had his awning out –
But whenever someone went to leave
We had to give a shout

“Watch your head” became the cry
But it didn’t seem to matter
The drinks flowed freely at happy hour
And there was a lot of noisy chatter.

Friday’s happy hour began around four
And finished around nine
Some of us forgot to eat
But we were all feeling fine.

On Saturday we shared our meal
And all sat down for dinner
There was a lot of laughs and friendships made
For me, the weekend was a winner!

In June our venue was at Gillingarra.

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We travelled through Bindoon to get there and I had company on this journey as I picked up Wilma, one of the ladies I had met at Bindoon, to take her along.

What a different weekend this was! There were about 20 vans at this excellent facility, with a great kitchen, hall, and hot showers. Although the weather was chilly it was dry, with beautiful sunny days and clear starry skies at night.

Jose(Yosay), who I had travelled with in Tasmania, turned up with her little campfire and we gathered around that on Thursday and Friday night for Happy Hour – and later!- and there was lots of good conversation and sing alongs led by Jose. Friday the 13th was also a full moon so we all stood up and wolf howled at the moon! I don’t think we would have scared anyone away with our feeble attempts, though!

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Jose getting the wood ready for our campfire

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Happy hour begins

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Around the campfire with the Western Willie Wagtails

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Around the campfire with the Western Willie Wagtails

I was totally spoilt by Les, one of the other Solos, who cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for both Wilma and I.

Saturday night was our shared meal in the comfort of the hall and then back out to the huge fire pit where Les had a massive fire going. The wind had dropped, the stars were out, the wine flowed, the company was excellent, the laughter loud – I can’t wait for the next meeting in July.

 


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Flashback to February

My last weekend in Tasmania, which was also the last weekend in February, was spent at Evandale Penny Farthing Bicycle Races.

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The Tassie Shearwater’s, a Chapter of the CMCA (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia), had organised a camping area in the grounds of a local church and it was a great location to just stroll down the street where all the action was happening to join in the festivities. This map shows my route from the time I left Marion’s in Lake Leake, stopped off in Evandale and then headed towards the ferry home to the big island that departed from Devonport on Sunday night.

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Evandale is an historic town and the perfect setting for an event such as racing Penny Farthing bikes. “Evandale today is a National Trust classified Georgian village, popular with tourists for its unspoiled heritage buildings …..” You can read more about Evandale here , find out a brief history here, and find loads of photos here.

The locals got into the old fashioned mood for the weekend dressing in period costume, as did many of the bike riders.

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The Evandale markets were an added attraction and for the first time since I was a little kid I saw an old-fashioned Punch & Judy Show.

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There were also vintage cars and a steam tractor, Morris Dancers and a street parade.

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The Church whose grounds we stayed in was an amazing structure with Doric columns.

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There were about a dozen vans on site so of course Happy Hour was a great time to catch up with everyone and share the day’s experiences.

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At Saturday’s happy hour we held a mock wedding for an engaged couple in our midst and decided we would all eat together that night in the hall that was provided for us. This meal became the ‘wedding breakfast’, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately for the ‘bride’, she did most of the food preparation – and did an amazing job!

As Sunday dawned I realised that this was my farewell day in Tasmania, so van packed, I headed off to Devonport to catch the Spirit of Tasmania that night. I had spent nearly 3 months in Tasmania and I still have so much to see there that returning is not an option, it’s a must!


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Sidetracked at Wantabadgery – on the way to Wagga Wagga

Day 3 & 4 – Sandy Beach at Wantabadgery

You know, sometimes you find a camp spot that you’d be happy to spend a bit of time at, and this is one of them. Right on the banks of the river it was a lovely clean, mowed area with picnic tables, a toilet (composting) and water – and plenty of room to camp without being on top of someone else.

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Marion and I were a bit cheeky and pulled up either side of a covered picnic table and claimed it as our own while we were there. It wasn’t a problem as it was mid-week and not a lot of people around.

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This photo MUST have been taken after 4pm – it looks like Happy Hour is in full swing by the level of my vodka and tonic!

We were camped near some lovely people from Yeoval and they were amazed when I said I had been there – quite by accident of course – when I was bringing Brutus home to the Gold Coast not long after buying him. You’ll have to read my first blog if you want to catch up on that story!

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I know, this photo has a fingerprint on it, but it’s one of the few I’ve got outside Marion’s van.

Sandy Beach is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, which Jack made the most of by having several swims. He loves the water almost as much as he loves sticks to play with. And sticks and water together – dog heaven!

We had a couple of lovely days here, the weather was good, the facilities fine, Jack was a happy dog – and I think Marion is getting into the swing of this. A camp site like this certainly helps! If I hadn’t needed to fill up my gas bottle I could have easily stayed a few more days.

Day 5 – Arriving at Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga wasn’t far away so we checked out one of the other freedom camps at Oura Beach on the way there. It had a few more people staying there but once again looked like a good place to go. It was a little closer to Wagga Wagga than Sandy Beach, too. Love the sign going into town!

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As you come into Wagga Wagga there is another free camp right on the edge of town at Wilks Park, but I’m so glad we have a cousin here and we were able to stay at their home on acreage a little way out of town.  Wilks Park was right on the highway, and although it had good facilities and gave easy access into town, it was crowded and noisy.

Being here was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Gretchen and Richard, and Marion was thrilled that Richard was able to fix a squeal in her air conditioning. A hot shower and shampoo was very welcome, too.

Jack met some cats for the first time in his life – and they soon let him know who was boss! His ball, another favourite toy, rolled into the horse paddock during one game and that was an interesting encounter to watch. The horse just wanted to be friends but Jack was very wary and couldn’t get out of there quick enough. That was the biggest dog he had ever seen!

We enjoyed a nice evening together before heading further south the next day. The Rutherglen wineries are not far away ……


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Destination Orange – friends, fun and wine festival

From a rally in Bingara to a wine festival in Orange – how good is this life. A trip of about 550 kms took me to my next destination, which was broken with a stay at Coolah Home Base.

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After the Bingara Rally, fellow Solo June and I went back for a quiet couple of days on the Gwydir River before heading south to meet my sister Marion at a farm at Cudal, about 50kms from Orange. We stopped for a couple of nights at Coolah Home Base, a great place owned by a couple of ex Solos, so they have a great camp kitchen and Happy Hour room. It was good to catch up with the washing, too. Some of the other Solos had also gone to Coolah before heading off to the Narrabri Rally – or in whatever direction they were going. The morning we were leaving I was chatting to Pauline who decided to join June and I and spend some time in Orange too. So our 3 vans set off!

IMG_0691We travelled through some pretty country but I couldn’t resist stopping to take a photo of The Rock which we passed not long after leaving Coolah.

I was looking forward to seeing my sister Marion. The last time we were together was December 2012 and she had planned this trip for some time. She had bought a tent and was going to join me camping at her friend’s farm. Anyhow, my blogs got the better of her and 3 days before leaving Tasmania she bought herself a campervan and left the tent at home! This was going to be a lot more fun!

Marion’s friend Brian welcomed us to the farm at Cudal and it soon resembled a camping ground with Marion, Pauline, June and I setting up camp. We had arrived on the Saturday, spent the day settling in, and on the Sunday Brian did the tourist thing and took us to our first event for the Orange Wine Festival – a fabulous choral afternoon at one of the wineries. The Orange Male Choir performed with a female group called Canta, who also provided the most amazing afternoon tea of home cooked goodies – a perfect afternoon of good music, food and friends.

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After the concert Brian took us for a drive to Mt Conobolas.

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June, Pauline and I

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Marion and I

Another day he took us for a drive over the farm – beautiful countryside.

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Apart from Marion and I going to a few local wineries for tastings the other major event we went to was the Night Markets in Orange on Friday night. There were 40 sIMG_0710talls of lovely wine and food and the markets were held in a central park with beautiful old trees. The atmosphere was great – lots of families and everyone there to enjoy themselves, just like we were. We sampled some local food and wines before heading back to the farm at Cudal, where our stay was coming to an end. I have to show you this photo of an amazing rooster that we saw the day we went to an Iris farm near Molong.

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Monday morning we said our farewells and headed south…… but more about that later.