RAVENSWOOD – A GHOST TOWN

It has been a few months since the last blog thanks to Covid 19 and all the restrictions placed on us.  At the start of the year I imagined the travel side of this blog would be all about Iceland.  Our trip was booked, the wedding planned and all was in place – until the Pandemic struck!  So, we are biding our time and hopefully will be able to get to Iceland in the future.

Meantime we are exploring our own backyard and last weekend we did a little road trip to Ravenswood.  This charming heritage listed township is 89 kilometres west of Charters Towers and was once a thriving gold mining town.  There are lots of stories and history is at every turn you make.  Apparently in 1868 whilst mustering cattle, a local pastoralist by the name of Marmaduke Curr stopped to have a drink of water from Elphinstone Creek and saw specks of gold at the bottom of his pannikin. The area quickly became part of the gold rush.  IN the boom era there were over 50 pubs and a population of over 5000.  Today it is a virtual ghost town with a population of around 255.

We set off on the 130 km drive from Townsville on an all bitumen road.  Recent rains had turned the country into a palette of greens and small farms with Brahmin cattle are interspersed along the route.  An hour and a half later we drove into the historic town.

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The main road into town

It was quiet and the first stop we made was at the Miner’s cottage – on the right in the above picture.  This was a brief history lesson for Bea – age 9 – who has not spent a lot of time in the bush and who was fascinated in the lives of the children at that time.

The last time I was here was years ago with my daughter’s school class and we visited the school at the time.  Bea was intrigued to know it was a one teacher school, with all students from years 1 – 7 in the same room and taught by the same teacher!  Then there were about 17 students in total.

The old cottage is original and displays how the miner and his family would have lived in the late 1800’s.IMG_7253IMG_7254IMG_7257

The kitchen was an eye opener, as was the bedroom.  Seeing this made young Bea thankful for what she has at home!IMG_7255

Outside was the laundry and the outhouse – I had to marvel at the fortitude of the pioneers, both male and female, who sacrificed so much to live the dream of finding that large gold nugget. For many it was hardship and disappointment and for others there was success in measured amounts. This is related as well at the local cemetery where gravestones tell of mining and horse accidents, illness and child influenza.  Pioneers came from all over the world in search of a new life and many descendants are still in the area.

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The old London Mine built between 1903 and 1915 consists of a headframe with mullock heaps to the north and south.  Today we can walk to the entrance and stare down and imagine the miners toiling in impossible circumstances years ago. There are old chimneys, rusting machinery and old shafts throughout the town making the journey an informative one, especially for eager young minds.

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The quaint shops – no longer trading – show some of the merchandise that would have been available at the time.  A fun thing to do is to pose for a photograph outside and imagine you are out for a Sunday stroll in the early part of the century, dressed in your Sunday best and carrying a parasol for the sun.  Note the bag of money held by the male!

We had lunch at the historic Railway hotel where little has changed.  There are some original fittings and furniture, the ceilings are pressed metal and there are large french doors opening onto the verandas at the side.  It is possible to stay here and during the winter season it becomes quite busy with passing travellers keen to experience a night in the old town – along with ghosts and wildlife!

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We had a delicious home cooked lunch here and wallowed in the feeling of yesteryear.

On the way home we stopped at the White Blow Environmental park which is about 4km from town along the road to Ayr. The large quartz outcrop is a prominent feature of the park and is about 15 metres in height with a diameter of 45 meters and is the largest of several masses of quartz in the area. The quartz is estimated to be about 300 million years old.

We took the road to Ayr which gave us spectacular views of the Leichhardt ranges and was devoid of any traffic.  We did see wildlife, including this curious little fellow out for a munch of newly grown grass.

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An easy day trip and a little bit different.  Now to explore some more although the island calls this weekend!

ORPHEUS ISLAND, WHALES AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

It has been a busy few months since we returned from our road trip and sadly the blog has been neglected.  However, in a couple of weeks we are travelling to Japan for a month and so blogging will, once again, be on the agenda.  Meanwhile I thought I would reflect on a fabulous little trip I took in July to our beautiful Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

July is a wonderful month here in North Queensland.  It is winter and the weather is glorious with days of around 25C and cool nights.  There are many festivals and events planned for this time of year and one of my favourite is the Australian Festival of Chamber Music ( http://afcm.com.au ).  Now in its 29th year this Festival brings musicians from all over the world to perform here in Townsville in a variety of venues ranging from an intimate space at The Ville for Conversations and Music, to full blown concerts at the Civic Theatre as well as performances in Cathedrals, Schools, on Magnetic Island and even in the street.  A firm favourite, though, is the day trip to Orpheus Island, a small, secluded island in the middle of the Palm Island group about two hours from Townsville.  Here a few musicians play on the beach – their ‘stage’ being between large granite rocks, on the sand and shaded by large trees opposite the ocean with fantastic fringing coral all around. The audience can choose to either sit on the beach or the rocks to listen – or even to swim and watch the whole event from the warm waters of the Reef.

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This part of the island is set apart from the very exclusive resort and the ferry arrives at Yanks Jetty onto the small beach at Hazard Bay. The trip across from Townsville passes several small islands, mostly uninhabited, and it is here that we watch for whales.  The Humpbacks come to this region every year to calve and fatten up the babies before returning to Antarctica in November to spend the summer months there.  This year was no different, we were lucky to see three of these magnificent creatures.

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Excitement builds and everyone goes onto the top deck to try and spot the mother and calf – then suddenly she is there, right in front of you!

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It is hard to leave the whales but the Captain has to start up the motors and continue on to our destination.  After all, we were all there for the concert (as well as the whales!). Once at the island everyone wanders onto the beach and selects a spot to sit – either in the shade or in the sun and just relax.

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Some decide to swim or snorkel  – but for me, having lived in the tropics for a long time, it was a bit chilly this year!

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Among the performers was Wu Man – who played an ancient Chinese instrument called the Pipa – note the improvised music stand!

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Rachel Clegg played the oboe, Roberto Carillo-Garcia was a dream on the guitar, Sally Walker was on the flute and Martin Kuuskmann played the bassoon. They were all excited about this unusual venue for the concert and loved the informality of it all.

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For these musicians, who hailed from the UK, Canary Islands, China/USA and Estonia/USA, the whole experience was one they will never forget.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9b0.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9a2.jpg

Imagine sitting on a rock to listen to world class musicians! Or testing the water before you settle down to sublime music….

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Last year even the artists themselves couldn’t resist the water

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Finally it is time to board the boat and head back to town – along the way a fabulous dinner is served along with fine wines and small, tasty desserts.

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Farewell Orpheus – until next year!

FROM THE OUTBACK TO THE COAST AND HOME

 

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Our last leg before home and quite a few kilometres to put in front of us yet but the roads are straight and there is little traffic compared to the coast road, so it is easier driving. We take breaks very couple of hours and at Coonamble stopped for a picnic by the (dry) river which was one of our favourite meals – sushi and sashimi from a sushi bar in Dubbo.

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Country folk are proud of their towns and so many in this area have large, ugly wheat or grain silos by the side of the road.  One way to brighten up the vista is to engage an artist to create “Painted Silos”.  One very good example is at Weethalle where the art beckons you almost from the horizon!

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It would be worthwhile doing a road trip just checking out all the painted silos!

On the Queensland border we found a typical outback pub – corrugated iron and hitching rails but with so much character.  This one is at Hebel and there were several old timers contemplating the world problems over the never ending glasses of beer!

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Soon it became dark and this always poses a problem whilst driving in the country as the kangaroos, wallabies, goats and sometimes pigs wander onto the sealed road or are attracted by the car lights.  There is always road kill at the side of the road so the message is “don’t drive at night” .  Nevertheless the sunsets in the outback are glorious and this one was no different.

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The clouds seemed to set the horizon alight, everything was still and it was total magic watching the colours change quite quickly before the sun dipped over the horizon altogether.

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We spent the night in St George and had dinner at the local pub where the message was very clear to all and sundry

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The next day we had a short break at Surat – a small rural town on the Balonne river and which has become known for its fishing and its park along the banks of the river.

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The area around is scenic and there are vast reserves of oil in the Surat Basin – as the website states: “Hydrocarbons in this part of the Surat Basin are generated in the underlying Bowen Basin Permian sequence and are liquids rich.  Oil is also trapped in the Triassic age Showgrounds Sandstone and in the Jurassic Age Evergreen Formation. It is estimated that the “potential recoverable resources” are between 200,000 and 300,000 barrels.” 

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Our final stop just before we reached home was in the historic town of Charters Towers.  Beautiful heritage buildings line the main street and this is where the first stock exchange in Australia was built in 1888 and is indicative of the rise and fall of fortunes in the Charters Towers goldfields.  Today it is an Arcade of shops and cafes and is a perfect spot for a light lunch before resuming one’s journey.

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It has been a wonderful trip and an eye opening insight to the vastness of Australia.  We covered 17,500kms in just 7 weeks and yet there is more to see and experience.  What will remain foremost in our minds are the long, straight roads, the vast open country, rolling hills and fertile farmlands, cotton balls by the side of the road in the cotton growing area, the never ending sunsets both on the coast and in the outback, the Nullarbor cliffs and coastline, oysters and seafood, road trains and fabulous Kakadu  as well as all the Aboriginal history throughout the whole country. There are termite mounds by the thousands, millions of sheep and lambs, wallabies and wildlife and, of course, the fabulous little country towns and the welcoming people in every place.  This is Australia!

I can’t wait to go again!

 

ON THE ROAD WITH MORE VINES AND OLIVES

The Road Trip continues with over 14,000kms clocked up so far, we are feeling a little weary but still eager to discover and revisit places in South Australia.  Heritage towns definitely appeal and so we stopped at Burra – a small pastoral town in the mid north. It began as a mining township in 1851 and at one time supplied 5% of the world’s copper for 15 years. People came from Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Germany  to work in the mines which closed in 1981.  It is a beautifully preserved town and it is here that the Burra Charter was adopted – this outlines the best practice standard for cultural heritage in Australia.

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Beautiful autumn colours are everywhere.

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The parks and gardens are relaxing and well maintained and tiny old miners’ cottages surround the lake in the middle of town.

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As we drove on the farming practices changed from wheat and sheep to vines and olives.  Beautiful trees line the highway and it is hard to believe this is the main thoroughfare to the city of Adelaide.

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Another pretty little town is Myponga – a very strange name and not easily forgotten!  Here we have a friend who grows olives and makes the most delicious olive oil and it is always a treat to visit.

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This time we had a picnic by the newly named Lake John – in memory of an old friend who loved this farm and is no longer with us.

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Delicious fare of cold chicken, salads, cheeses and, of course, olives!

Not far from Myponga is the attractive little town of Victor Harbour which is on the coast and where, from the waterfront, horse drawn trams cross the causeway to Granite Island, home to a wild penguin colony.

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The beach is covered in seaweed at this time of year – perhaps another gourmet experience if it could be harvested and marketed for our palates!

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However, the parks and beaches are wonderful for recreation and relaxation.

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It was time to start heading north again and this time we drove along the Murray River seeing the views from the cliffs rather than on the water as we had done in a houseboat three years ago.

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When it came time for a break we stopped at the river’s edge for a picnic and enjoyed the peace of the river and the birds.

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As we came closer to the New South Wales border, once again vines appeared and there were acres and acres of them as well as orchards and fruit processing plants.

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This area is home to the Murrumbidgee river, a major tributary of the Murray River and the second longest in Australia.  We found another quiet spot for a break here.

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Now we are on the last leg of our trip and home beckons – but we have more than 1,350kms to go!

 

 

 

 

 

FROM OYSTERS TO VINEYARDS

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Another long, straight road awaited us for the next leg of the road trip – this time to finish with the Oyster Trail and get on to the vineyards.  A nice combination – oysters and wine!

Last stop on the Oyster road is Cowell – a pretty little town on the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula and situated on Franklin Harbour. The waters are sheltered and are very popular for fishing – and oysters.  We found a shack close to the jetty which supplies oysters to various outlets in the town.  On entering we found the proprietor busy shucking the oysters which had just come in from the bay – so without further ado we purchased a couple of dozen and together with fresh lemons and in a cardboard box, we found a table in the park and indulged for lunch!  The verdict?  Excellent!

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Our overnight stop on the way to the Clare Vallety Vineyards was the port town of Whyalla.  Named Hummock Hill in 1802 by Matthew Flinders, the town’s name officially changed to Whyalla in 1902 which is an Aboriginal name possibly meaning “water place”.  The steel industry here is over 100 years old but fishing is also of primary appeal. We were there just before sunset and went up to Hummocks Hill – a local lookout – to witness the change of colours.

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The next day the road was clear and, for a lot of the way, was backed by the beautiful Flinders Ranges.

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We drove through many little towns and villages but the one which captured us was Crystal Brook.  This quiet rural service centre is in the heart of South Australia’s most productive sheep and wheat country and has retained its charming historical links.

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Beautiful shady peppercorn trees line the main street and there are several art pieces in iron, reminders of the part the camels played in this part of the country in the early years.

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The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions where there are heritage towns, boutique wineries, galleries and beautiful scenery.  We had booked lunch at the Skillogallee Winery where we had been before.  The vineyards here are resting – grapes picked and wine made but the vineyards still looked beautiful.

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The road to the boutique winery is shady and winding at the end of which is the restaurant which seats both indoors as well as in the garden.

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The menu features local produce with wine suggestions matched with each dish. Unable to resist the sashimi, I had, yet again, fabulous South Australian Kingfish and tuna served in a very artistic way.

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Then came the wine tasting and purchasing – thank goodness we had a large car !

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Staying in a little apartment in the centre of the town, we were perfectly placed for a choice of restaurants in the evening.  And that is what you do in these regions – eat great food and drink fabulous wine!

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THE OYSTER TRAIL AND PORT LINCOLN

Ceduna is the first major town at the end of the Nullarbor and its pristine waters produce excellent oysters and other quality seafood. It is also the start of the Oyster Drive which goes south to Port Lincoln and up the coast to Cowell.  We endeavoured to taste the oysters – which all taste very different – at each place!

First stop was Thevenard -four kilometres from Ceduna – where we found a little shack shucking fresh oysters for $12 dozen – so with a couple of dozen in the car we headed for a spot by the ocean to indulge.  They were good – very good!

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Next it was off to Smoky Bay, a small settlement where the oysters are also excellent but of a different taste altogether.

Streaky Bay was our overnight stop and here we witnessed one of the most beautiful, calm sunsets we have seen yet.  We walked along the jetty whee the locals were trying their luck fishing and the pelicans were ever hopeful!

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As the sun set and the shadows deepened the reflections became more dramatic.

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Of course, more oysters were on the menu along with King George Whiting and Blue Swimmer Crab.

Next morning more beautiful coastal scenery awaited us at Sceale Bay which is a tiny community and is known for fishing and holiday recreations. The permanent population is 40 and that can triple in holiday periods;

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Coffin Bay is renowned for oysters and on the drive to our favourite restaurant there – 1802 Restaurant – we came across Murphy’s Haystacks which just appears out of nowhere on the landscape.  This 1500 million year old geological wonder is one of the most visited locations on the Eyre Peninsula and is actually on private property.  The unique form of pillars and boulders dates back 100,000 years and are ancient wind worn inselbergs.

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They were buried by calcareous dunes about 30,000 years ago and subsequent erosion has revealed the pink granite forms standing on the hilltop today.

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The local legend is that coach driver Charlie Mudge named Murphy’s Haystacks following a remark by a Scottish agricultural advisor who saw the landmark in the distance whilst travelling on the mail coach.  Shimmering like haystacks in the hot afternoon sun, he was very impressed with the sight and remarked “that man must harrow, look at all the hay he has saved!”

At Venus Bay we went to the Needle Eye Lookout for amazing views of towering rugged cliffs and beautiful beaches as well as pounding, rolling surf.

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Here we spotted a pod of dolphins frolicking and playing in the surf.  An artist has carved his work on the granite rocks at the top of the cliff reminding everyone that this is tuna fishing territory.

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More oysters awaited at Coffin Bay – and I have to admit that these are my favourite.  Not too large and salty, they are delicious and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

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Followed by raw tuna Asian style

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This place is an absolute must for anyone travelling along the Eyre Peninsula.  The town is sleepy but swells in holiday periods.  Lots of pelicans keep you company!

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Port Lincoln was our final stop for the day.  This is a seafood lovers paradise with, it is said, the cleanest, freshest and most sought after seafood in the world.  Prized for its superb quality in sushi and sashimi, the majority of the southern bluefin tuna is exported to Japan with some available locally.  We decided to take a boat trip in Boston Bay to view the tuna and kingfish farms – now a multi million dollar business for the town.  The Marina is busy with fishing boats coming and going, some to catch sardines to feed the tuna in the farms, others to catch prawns and other fish.

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The farms are situated in the bay and the tuna are grown there before being caught and exported once they reach the required size.

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Seabirds know when it is feeding time!

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Mussels are also grown out here and are serviced daily by the fishermen.

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We took a little detour to an island where there is an enormous number of seabirds living alongside seals lots of seals many of which were having a roll about in the water.

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Finally we got to taste different sashimi – and shown the correct way to eat it!

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Lunch consisted of…..you guessed it – Sashimi!

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Our oyster experience was not yet finished – more was to come tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE START OF THE NULLARBOR

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Camels have played a huge part in the history of the Outback and everywhere we have been from the North to the South and now here in the mid west, there have been heroic tales of explorers and pastoralists with teams of camels opening up the country.  Here, in Norseman, south of Kalgoorlie, the animals are honoured  in corrugated iron statues in the middle of the main street of the town.

Norseman is a small mining town at the very start of the drive across the Nullarbor Plain which is a flat, almost treeless, semi arid country stretching 1,100km from east to west.

The town was named after a horse called “Norseman” and belonging to a gold prospector named Laurie Sinclair.  He tied his horse to a tree near his camp one night and noticed in the morning that the horse had been pawing the ground making a hole in which he uncovered a piece of gold bearing quartz. Over the years gold has been mined here – once it was the second richest goldfield in Western Australia and today the Norseman Gold Mine is Australia’s longest continuously running gold mining operation and has been in operation for 78 years.

Beacon Hill Lookout gives a wonderful overview of the countryside around Norseman with 360 degree views.  We drove up and enjoyed a picnic lunch before starting the Nullarbor Crossing.

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Then we began the drive which was take us two days.  Along here is Australia’s longest straight road

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As well we had to watch for native animals and the very long road trains.

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The Flying Doctor uses part of the road as an airstrip in emergencies and we came across several of these.

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About 100km east of Norseman we found our lodgings for the night at the beautiful Fraser Range Station which is a working cattle station as well as providing tourist accommodation in the form of cabins, caravan park and camping grounds. The station is surrounded by the largest hardwood forest in the world.

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We had a cabin which was very comfortable and from which we could watch a glorious sunset and several wildlife visitors – emus, wallabies and lots of birds.

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Taking a walk around the property we came across “Mr Squiggle” the pet camel whose best friend was a young steer!

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And the baby camel was too cute!

We had a station dinner and a nightcap before bed with the prospect of more of the straight road in the morning!

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And this is the gorgeous station garden on this treeless plain.

 

 

 

THE ROAD TO GOLD AND KALGOORLIE

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Beautiful Salmon gums lined much of the road north from Esperance to the Gold city of Kalgoorlie. Located in the Eastern Goldfields area, Kalgoorlie/Boulder is Australia’s largest Outback city and one of the oldest – and many beautiful old buildings remain as a link to the past.  We had heard a lot about this city and the mines and the first sight we came across was the Super Pit Lookout.

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Here we could see a working mine in action and watched a blast.  This pit is 3.7km long and 1.5 km wide and 600 metres deep.  It is quite incredible to watch the workings and see the trucks weaving their way up and down- like little ants in a hole.

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A shovel of a 994F loader is here for visitors to step into showing the sheer size of the machine.

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The tyres are bigger than a man and the vehicle itself is a monster!

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Later, at Hannans North Tourist Mine we had the opportunity to climb inside and then fully appreciated what the drivers of these machines have to do day in and day out. This mine gives visitors the opportunity to experience gold rush history  and modern day mining. Wandering through the re-created part of the mining camp, I really felt for the Pioneers and gold seekers in the heady gold rush days.  Living in tents and huts of corrugated iron in the dry, hot and dusty town must have been hard but all were hit with “gold fever” and were sure they would find their fortunes here.

In a tribute to the Chinese who flocked here in large numbers and contributed to the community in many ways, the city has built a beautiful Chinese garden.  Wandering through with soft Chinese music playing in the pavilion by the lake, it was easy to see how some of these people would have been very homesick and missed their country.

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One attraction in Kalgoorlie that links to the heady gold rush days is “Questa Casa” which is Australia’s Oldest Brothel  it has been in operation for 115 years and is possibly the world’s oldest working brothel. There are countless stories and books about how it was in “old” Kalgoorlie for these ladies of the night and the lonely miners who visited them.

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This brothel has the famous “Starting Stalls” which are still operating and the girls throw open the doors nightly. Tours are available daily – sadly we didn’t have time to do one!

We wandered through the wide streets of the city and marvelled at the beautiful historic buildings – many of which have been restored and are now shops and businesses.  With the golden light of late afternoon, this was a perfect time to appreciate the architecture and imagine the city at the turn of the century and earlier.

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Even the interior of some buildings has retained its past glory – as we saw when we had breakfast the following day before hitting the road across the Nullarbor.

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THE OPEN ROAD TO ESPERANCE

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Esperance is located on the pristine Southern Ocean coastline and is often described as “out of the way” but it is well worth the effort to get there.  It is surrounded by National Parks and many really beautiful beaches of pure white sand and crystal clear water in the most vibrant of turquoise hues.

We stayed in town where the foreshore meets the CBD and it is easy to walk to the many restaurants, shops and artisan galleries.  The iconic sculpture of a whale tail is surely the most impressive along this stretch of coastline.

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Just around the corner is the historic centre where old houses have been converted into galleries and gift shops and it is a really lovely place to wander and perhaps purchase an unusual gift to take home. What a great use for these historic buildings – keeping stories of the past alive.

The Great Ocean Drive is purported to be one of the most beautiful drives in Australia and it seemed that at every bend there was jaw dropping scenery.  Towering cliffs, rugged bush, red rocks dropping into powdery white sand really does present an artists’ palette and even the most sceptic would agree that this is quite incredible.

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Twilight beach is one of the most photographed in the area but each beach had its own special brand of beauty.

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Many of the beaches had access via wooden walkways and stairs and safe swimming from either the flat rocks or the sandy beach is possible.

Beyond is the Recherche Archipelago with more than 110 islands offering perfect spots for diving, swimming, snorkelling and fishing.

Then, wearied by all this scenic beauty but not to be outdone, we drove out to Cape Le Grand National Park where we had been told of more jaw dropping scenery.  This is possibly the most spectacular of the Southern Coastal National Parks and is about half an hour east of Esperance. The park’s rolling heathlands are home to pygmy possums and western grey kangaroos – and these can often be seen lounging on the white sandy beaches or skipping through the campsites and carparks and socialising with visitors.

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We gasped when we saw Lucky Bay – it is honestly the most beautiful beach I have seen so far.

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Nearby is “Whistling Rock” so named because the wind whistles through the gaps and makes quite a musical sound.

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Massive rock outcrops form a chain of peaks and Frenchman’s Cap was named by surveyor Alexander Forrest during an expedition in 1870 because it resembled the hats worn by French troops in the 1800’s.

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Around 20 kms of coastal track link many of the spectacular coastal sections and rock fishing is popular from several of them.

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This is truly a fabulous part of the country to visit and we are told that wildflower season is magnificent with flowers of all types, including dense thickets of banksia, putting on a display.  I guess we will just have to come back!

 

 

 

 

THE FOREST ROAD TO ALBANY

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We spent five lovely days in Perth staying with friends and just relaxing after the 10,000km we have driven so far.  Long sleeps, great restaurants and little walks through urban villages made this a wonderful R&R.  All too soon we hit the road again.  This time to Albany.

There were lots of pleasant forest drives to this southern part of Western Australia which made a nice change from the flat landscapes we have had for days previously.  Albany is a small town on the southern tip and was known for its whaling station in the early days.  The former whaling station now houses a museum from where migrating whales can be seen passing off the coast in season.

We made our way to a different museum – the National Anzac Centre which is located up on a hill in the Princess Royal Fortress.  It overlooks the actual harbour where over 41,000 men and women departed Australia for the Great War.

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Immediately on arrival you are given a card upon which is a photograph and the name of someone who served in the war. Then you follow their personal story through state of the art technology, multimedia and historic artefacts.

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Mine was an Australian Army Nurse – Olive Haynes – who went to Gallipoli and then Egypt after which she was in Marseille and Boulogne in France.  It was fascinating to learn of her journey, see her letters and follow her life.  Happily she survived the war and lived to the age of 90.

There are amazing historical displays and many, many stories but one piece touched me deeply – a sculpture of a digger giving his horse a drink of water from his hat.  Those men were deeply attached to their horses and the bravery of both is highlighted in the museum as well.

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Albany has one of the most exposed coasts in Australia and about 20km from the town centre is The Gap – a 24 metre chasm to the ocean.  We had heard of this area but nothing prepared us for the spectacle that awaited on arrival.  Also at this place is The Natural Bridge which is a large span of granite that has been eroded and has formed an archway. There is a path leading to both attractions and even on the windiest day, it is possible to watch the fury of the ocean.

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The Natural Bridge is also amazing – and walking across the granite rocks to the bridge one can sense the magnitude of time and also think of the Dreamtime legends of the Aboriginal people.

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The coast here is rugged and wild and there are countless stories of shipwrecks.

Later we went to the Torndirrup National Park in Albany where there are a number of lookouts and walking trails.

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Being here amongst the cliffs, the wild sea, the granite rocks and in the little town made me think of one of my favourite novels – The Light Between the Oceans  by M.L. Stedman – which tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in this part of Western Australia in 1926 following the Great War and is loosely based on a story here in Albany.

Finally, in this place of granite rocks, we stayed in a Hotel called Dog Rock – and this is why……

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Can you pick the dog?