Tours operate on Fridays and they book out well in advance, as the facility draws people interested in buildings, research, technological advances in medicine and much more. Little is lost in monochrome, as this silver building is impressive either way.
This is my first entry in Cee’s Black and White photography challenge. The theme is water and I chose something pretty rare in South Australia – a day of hail storms. We had them almost continuously in my area, July 2016.
Coolgardie, gateway to the gold mining region, was a stretching stop on the way to Kalgoorlie, that proved to be very interesting. Seeped in history and with charming heritage buildings, Coolgardie lays claim to the first gold sighting in WA,1893, and has excellent facilities for a family stopping there for any length of time.
There was a discovery trail suggested outside the visitor centre, covering the Eastern Goldfields and promising history, geography, culture and exercise. Had we more time, we may have explored further, but headed for Kalgoorlie as our main destination.Kalgoorlie is etched into Australia’s early mining and railway history and we thought it was worth seeing, at least once. We are glad we did, as the buildings are impressive, the museum informative and the sight-seeing within easy reach.
Parking at the visitor information centre (look for the yellow ‘i’ signpost), we received excellent advice about what could be seen in a day. The major sightseeing spots were within a 3km radius.
We started in the very building we were in and explored the City Hall, with its displays of World War I and II, sporting and local heroes and beautifully maintained dress circle.
We walked the main street, Hannan Street, named after one of three men who found the first nugget, and admired the architecture while we looked for ECOmaniac where the owner recycles things into crafty objects. Very interesting wares. The old market place was a bright construction, well-restored.
There are mining monuments all around Australia, but the one to St Barbara in the main street of Kalgoorlie sent shivers down my spine – it connected me with the present and the past. My family tree goes back to a place in Poland where they mine coal. St Barbara is the patron saint of miners and she is revered in that region of Poland. It reminded me of the great distances travelled by people, to harsh environments, when a new country or mineral was discovered. This circlet tells the dramatic story of Barbara, betrayed by her own father and is just down the street from the Paddy Hannan statue.
We jumped in the car to Hannan’s North Tourist Mine, which was very informative and you’ll find modern-day mining trucks
Alan on the driving platform
I’m pretty tall and the wheels towered over me
as well as old machinery, recreated buildings, a miner’s tent with a recording of Paddy’s find, and even a gold panning area where you can keep what stones or gold you find. You find yourself realising that people will endure a great deal in the hope of making it rich, quick.
The Chinese arch and garden of remembrance were a nice touch, to pay tribute to the many miners who came from China during the goldrushes.
There are souvenirs and a cafe, as well as outdoor BBQs and tables and chairs in the shade.
A short drive from here is The Mt Charlotte reservoir and lookout. The site informs you of the woodland area and the 360 degree trail has information and photographs about the opening, at the turn of the twentieth century, of the water supply which was the only one for 200km. It is the head of the Golden Pipeline, designed to get fresh water to miners and stop the deaths caused by lack of water.
One claim to fame of Kalgoorlie is the Superpit – once the largest open cut gold mine in Australia (now beaten by another in WA) which has a stunning viewing platform. The mine produces a massive 28 tonnes of gold a year.
Burt Street, one of the original features of Boulder, established first, was damaged by an earthquake in 2005. A stone’s throw from the Superpit, it has recently been restored to its original state, from the late 1800s. Charming and with a symmetry that blended with the colour scheme, it was very quiet and the locals said that it was hard to keep up business when school holidays were started, and summer coincided. It’s a hot and dusty place and many people stay home or in the main street of Kalgoorlie to do their Christmas shopping. We had a very good free- trade coffee in Newton’s Espresso Bar.
So, were we in Boulder or Kalgoorlie? Both – the towns merged at the start of the 19th century to sustain growth and share the only water supply for over 200km.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder explored sufficiently, we made for a petrol station, filled up with diesel and made it to Norseman before sunset.
There is a railway line that connects Adelaide to Perth, via Kalgoorlie, the Indian Pacific. Most drivers crossing The Nullarbor do not go through Kalgoorlie, as there is a quicker way to Esperance and Perth.
Always, always take water and a hat. Go west young ones, and see the world!
For this week’s Photo Challenge: 2017 Favorites I have selected one from our trip to Tasmania. It was the only State in Australia that we hadn’t visited and we kept putting it off, believing it would be cold. It was a stunning place to photograph and explore. As this photo shows, on the Enchanted Walk in Cradle Mountain National Park, it is truly enchanting.
Even for an amateur photographer, using a phone, you almost can’t help but take a good shot.
Equipped with a new (secondhand) Prado and a full tank of diesel, we wondered how long it would take us to perform that iconic trek across the Nullarbor. It took two days, but we could owe it all to three mulberry sandwiches and four chocolate/raspberry brownies – thanks Jude.
Where you measure this epic journey from is contested, but we used the RAA touring map and the west and east signal points were Norseman, WA and Ceduna, SA. The upper boundary is the Indian Pacific railway and the lower boundary is the coastline. Therefore, we decided to tour from Perth to Wave Rock, then on to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, before completing the Nullarbor.
Norseman, our starting point, was neat and had adequate facilities for an overnight stop, but I’m not sure if anyone stays there very long.
The motel room we took was very comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. Perhaps this is where I mention the 3 sleeping bags and tent, that remained snug in the back of the new car, as the drive had been long and the caravan park had shaded sites with plenty of red dirt, but no grass in sight. We’ll never know if it was level ground.
So what can you expect on the great journey? Lots of straight road, but plenty of well-equipped rest areas, signalled by the blue P signs or others showing trees, cars, maybe trucks and possibly two people, indicating toilets.
They are good places to get out and stretch, change driver, or break out another brownie for a spurt of energy to complete the drive. One had water but that was rare. You can park there for the night but, as the signs say, they are not equipped for overnight stays if there are no toilets. Contrary to popular belief, there is a variety of foliage along the way and a huge surprise when coming from WA is Madura Bluff, where the flat plain just drops away from under you.
Some people attempt to drive by night, but we’ve heard a few stories of the camels, cows, emus, kangaroos, horses and goats that step out of the shadows into your path, requiring intense concentration. So we do between 6 and 12 hours driving a day, alternating roughly every two hours. On this journey we stopped the first night on the Plain at Eucla, almost at the border of WA and SA, and about half way .
Eucla is very small although it has been settled since the late 1800s. Edward John Eyre and his exploration team are said to have camped in the area in 1841. For Australia, that is very early for white, or European people to have been in South Australia, the last state settled by non-Aboriginal people.
There is a monument to the people who made the town and an old telegraph station that had me wonder who had the job of fitting the lines and poles in the isolation of the Nullarbor Plain. The standard room took me back to the 1970s but it was clean and the window had a screen, so we could have it open at night. It was also reasonably priced.
monument to the people who had built Eucla
the road we had travelled
monument to Eyre, Baxter, Wylie, Joey and Yarry who explored the area and camped nearby.
views of the sea and old telegraph station
The excuse for not camping this time was the gravelly caravan park with no grass and no blow up mattress. There is a restaurant here, a bar and a small shop.
There are also many fuel stops along the Nullarbor, or notices to tell you how far to the next one. They usually have food and drink and signboards to tell you where you are going and where you’ve been. Some service stations offer repairs. They all have water.
The road between Norseman and Eucla contains the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, but the scenery does alter, from thick and varied vegetation to ‘treeless plains’.
A breakfast of the last brownies, and no prospect of mulberry sandwiches for lunch, began the second day. Only a few km took us to Border Village, where the facilities looked somewhat newer and we stopped for fuel and a cup of coffee.
We left the border kangaroo holding the jar of Vegemite and headed off, stopping at only one of the many lookouts to see the Great Australian Bight. The paths are dirt but wide and we have previously taken our two wheel drive and caravan on these without mishap. The Bight’s rugged sea cliffs are the longest stretch in the world and the longest line of south facing cliffs in the world.
The Bight is home to more endemic marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef ( https://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/great-australian-bight) and is home to more than 36 types of whales an dolphins. However, there is oil deep beneath the ocean and the natural environment could be ruined forever if it is mined. There would be other side effects for the rest of Australia, too, both good and bad.
At some lookouts there are platforms over the cliffs (with warnings) which give you a much closer look, enjoyed every year by whale watchers in particular, and the following photos were taken three years ago at some of these.
In another blog I talk about the weird things you see on long stretches of road in Australia. Well, on your way to or from Ceduna you may come to Penong, where they restore and maintain windmills. It makes sense in a place where you’d need bore water, but we didn’t find the “Big Windmill”.
Home was on our minds and there were, after all, no mulberry sandwiches or brownies left, so we took our first big stop at Ceduna, just too late for the hotel restaurant meal we had been discussing, to celebrate our journey’s end.
Ceduna is a pretty place and large enough to find accommodation, food and every kind of facility. However, the disappointment at not scoring a schnitz was too much, and we pressed on toward home and Kimba. There is another way to go, toward Streaky Bay, which is by the sea, but we had gone that way last time and wanted to compare the road across the top of Eyre Peninsula.
Out came the tent, the beer garden and a great big Schnizzy. In case you’re wondering, that’s a schnitzel in South Australia, very popular from our German settlers. AS pub fare goes, it’s fairly unadventurous, and the waiter asked if my husband would like to have the gravy on the side, just to be on the safe side. I had a superb chicken breast marinated in lime and chili and cooked to juicy perfection. I’d like to think it was a magnificent meal and not the absence of food since breakfast that led to such a good response.
The beer garden afforded a view of the painted silos – wheat silos that had received a pleasant picture.
The grassy knoll upon which we placed our tent wasn’t quite as smooth as we had thought and we woke to birdsong and joint-ache, but a golden sunrise.
More long stretches of road, with Iron Knob rising ahead, the Gawler ranges to the left and the Flinders Ranges in the distance. Beautiful driving.
A few salt lakes outside of Port Wakefield
And before we knew it we were home. We live in the north, so this was a half-day’s trip.
So, why 2,3,4?
2 – days to drive the Nullarbor
– ice packs to keep the cooler bag ready
– drink bottles filled with water
– fuel stops (1.5 tanks used @150L/tank)
– nights in motels
– dinners from a cooked chicken
3 – mulberry sandwhiches
– sleeping bags (two for padding underneath)
4 – chocolate/raspberry brownies to restore energy
The weather was pretty mild (around mid 20s) for the most part, so long driving days were possible. I think I would advise someone to put aside 3 days to complete the Nullarbor Plains comfortably. We had anticipated that length. If we had been towing it would have taken longer. Many seasoned travellers say that it is faster to go from WA to SA as there is usually a tail wind, rather than the other way, where you have a head wind. I’ll have to research that extensively when I am retired.
There are really nice places to stop, like Streaky Bay and Elliston, beside the sea, in SA. There are interesting sights that we didn’t stop for – Pildappa Rock in Minnipa, before Kimba, for example, which is compared to Wave Rock.
I would have liked to include my Niece’s recipe for the chocolate/raspberry brownies but, incredibly, she won’t share the secret! So if any of you have a good, sticky, slightly tart around the raspberries recipe for brownies, please share it!
In Australia, the Summer holiday season is approaching. Amidst the excitement and bustle of Christmas and the emotion of the school year ending, a corner of our minds steals away to plan an escape.
This week’s photo challenge, Serene, has taken a lot of people to the water. Australians appreciate that – we are a big island where most people hug the coast. Personally, when I lose my inner calm I head to the beach and watch the water lap at the edges of the sand. Refreshing and dangerous. Ever-changing. Timeless.
On the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia lies Stansbury, a town of less than 1000 people with excellent seafood, delightful streets and views, and a great caravan park where you can get a site right on the shoreline (as the photos taken at dawn, above, show). Only an hour from Adelaide, it is excellent for kayaking, fishing, crabbing, swimming or just being silent. As with a lot of this Peninsula, the water can be quite shallow for a long while, but it does make it very safe for small children, and families love it.
The town has all the facilities you need and is part of the Walk the Yorke project, where it is planned to have 500 km of walking trail along the coastline. We took our bikes and ended up in some interesting places, on some death-defying goat tracks and eventually a beach. Still here, though! There are good places to explore the shoreline and the limestone cliffs.
Whatever is going on in my life, the tide will rise and fall, regardless, connecting every continent and every person, with all of our joys and cares. Today, tomorrow and always. And this moment will be forgotten, is small by comparison. Very little really matters in the big scheme of things. .