Thursday, 4 August 2016

7,940 kms......but who's counting?

After the drama of the night before, we had a great night's sleep at the Railway Hotel in Peterborough and woke at 0630 hours to beautiful sun on the magnificent sandstone buildings of SA and a hearty brekkie of bacon (almost a whole porker!) and eggs and then off .....on the road again!
Back of Railway pub.  Been in operation since 1869.
Our motel accomm at the back of the pub.We opted for this as opposed to wending our way up the stairs of the pub with heavy bags. Don't ya just love these buildings. Love the mural on the cabinet makers.
 As you can see, my knitting improves - slightly. This was our last square for the trip.  We have done 9.  Now I have a challenge from Claire to keep going!

We had a great trek back and covered 10+ hours of driving today. It was great to see green fields after all the scrub lands and sage brush, but it was also a reminder that the journey was coming to and end....and back to the workaday week soon.

As we trekked through the environs of Peterborough and down to Burra, we came across the big wind farms in SA.  Very impressive and they are still putting more up.

We finally got into Lake Boga late afternoon and enjoyed seeing water again. It was interesting that as we progressed further into the Victorian landscape, how everything started to become closer together - farms, towns, scenery and all changing rapidly in a small space.
As we got to Kerang, we noticed that the sky started to look very "gliding-like!  The streeting had started and it looked like familiar skies.
We had decided from Swan Hill that we could get to Benalla, albeit driving at night. But it was familiar territory and we just wanted to get home. Great run home and we gave a queenly wave as we arrived into BLA and headed for the airfield. Park VH-GLP. Said "good riddance" and Good Luck Justin!  Will let him know it has arrived safely and it's now all his!

To my erstwhile skeptical mechanics at Euromotorsport - Myrtle the Merc made it - and never missed a beat the whole way.  What a gal!  There is still life in her yet.  She is now due for a service as I note that after two weeks of solid driving, the oil is starting to look a little black!  She was serviced before I went and is now due after two weeks for another one! 
And to finish off the blog for this trip, please note the wonderful work that Claire and I did. Mainly Claire! Mine was a little erratic, but we got there in the end. Some lucky person will get a very colourful blanket when it is all finished.  (Errr,I start on the red and yellow wool when I get home; Claire will be checking!
Thanks everyone for reading our blog. We hoped you enjoyed it as much as we did putting it together.

And many thanks to Claire for being my travelling buddy; it made the long journey much shorter and we had a lot of laughs along the way. 

See you next trip.....whatever that may be!!!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Started out uneventful...then.........

Started out an uneventful day.

Up and on the road by 0800 hours - late for us.  Checked the maps and decided we could Ceduna to Peterborough in one day - 597.8 kms or 6 hours 15 minutes.  Definitely doable, and gave us and extra hour on the road bringing us closer to home.
The knitting surfaced as Claire took the first shift behind the wheel.  We decided this would make a good beginning on a bikini!  (I started out well, then stuffed it up and Claire had to undo and re-knit. Oh well, guess I should stick to angle grinders and nail guns!)
We had a leisurely drive and did a final top up of fuel at Wudinna, a small country town on the road to Port Augusta.  We had a couple of young tackers (4-5 years old) totally fascinated by the trailer.  We opened it up and they were boggled that it "had a plane in it!"
They were a bit awestruck that both Claire and I, a couple of old boilers, were pilots.  In good WIG fashion (Women in Gliding to the uninitiated) we told the little 'uns that girls can do anything if they set their mind to it. Feminism rules!!  AND don't mess with the WIG!

The landscape was starting to become more farmed and we enjoyed the change of scenery. Heading into Port Augusta, we passed Iron Knob, a massive mine on the outskirts of the town. Iron Knob is said to be the birth place of the Steel Industry in Australia  After nearly 100 years, mining at Iron Knob ended in April 1998, when the last ore was taken from the Iron Monarch open cut pit.
Courtesy Iron Knob mine
Port Augusta is a gateway to Alice Springs to the North and Perth to the West.  It is starting to feel like a second home as I seem to have been there so much in the last 2 years!
The low road leaving town feels like you are right on the mud flats.  Would be interesting to see in flood!

We arrived at the turn off to Peterborough, called Horrocks Pass and then life started to change along with scenery that became mountainous with the clouds hanging low over the hills.
As we were wending our way through the beautiful hills, gulping in the scenery and the old dilapidated stone farmers cottages from yesteryear, we have our first brush with Skippy!  Bounced right out of the gully in front of us! Luckily, due to the windy roads, we were only travelling at 75 kms and were able to put the brakes on and Skippy passed us by; although he was a lucky little kangaroo today as another car was coming the other way and missed him by 50 meters.  Ya just never know when it will happen.  Shock over, and we continued on into Peterborough bound for Terowrie - yes, we still don't know how to pronounce it. Note to self - ask local tomorrow......
Terowie....that was a nightmare we had to have!  We booked in to this roadhouse motel at around 1030 hours this morning.  Some trip reviews good, others bad.......believe the bad..........oh so bad!
Paid money, went to room with owner, a young fellow and his wife who have migrated to Australia from China. Very nice couple.
Showed us the room - on the surface it looks clean; old, but clean.  Then he showed us the bathroom with mould on the walls and a cracked shower screen. Not sure what he was saying about the cracked shower screen as his accent was very thick. Then he proceeded to tell us to boil the water if we wanted to drink it as it was from the rainwater tank only. No fresh water supplies.  Alarm bell number 1.  OK.....can work with this.
THEN.....I checked the sheets!  Oh my holy Mother Mary!  They smelled of stale sweat and looked liked they had not been changed for at least 3 bodies worth of visitors. The pillows were so flimsy, they had no guts to them and smelled of old man's stale Brylcreem.  Bile was rising.  Claire then smelled her bed - we both looked at each other and said "we're are not happy!"  We started to reload the car and the owner came out and asked if anything was wrong.  I said "yes there is".  I told him were were not staying and the sheets were not clean.  He offered me new ones, but the deed was done. He was very nice, I must say, and gave us a refund and apologised.  They are a young couple trying to make a go of it in a new land and they knew that the property was a little run down, but they need to do research on what constitutes acceptable provision of accommodation, even if budget.

We raced back to Peterborough and got a very nice motel room at the back of the Railway Hotel with Claire insisting on seeing the room first!  Beautiful old grand dame with all traditional fittings (should see the wooden bar fridges - McAmazing!) and we took a motel room out the back and were able to park the trailer there as well. Peterborough is very, very familiar with gliders due to Waikerie being a crow's flight down the road and many landing in paddocks or trailers passing through on the way to retrieves.
                                                              Courtesy Railway Hotel

No, the saga does not end there.  Jaysus, holy Mother Mary!  Claire can't find her washbag...are you kidding me. Yep, back to Fawlty Towers!  Dive into the car, hurtle 26 kms down the road, trying to do this by nightfall.  Arrive at Fawlty Towers and kick Claire out of the car to retrieve errant washbag with my gentle tones chortling "your on your own with this one!"  Retrieved washbag, and hightailed it out of Dodge down the road at 110 kms (or more) to get back to clean sheets and a nice meal at the pub.  I'm exhausted and so to bed and another day tomorrow.  
Claire in need of a good red to calm her nerves!  Fawlty Towers did her in as well!

Tomorrow will be either Ouyen 518 kms or Swan Hill 643 kms.  Then the home stretch!
That should give us one more charity knitted blanket square.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

On the road again...........Tuesday 2nd August

The two intrepid road chicks have arrived into Ceduna - yay!!

Finally at the Big 4 Tourist Park in Ceduna - oh, such joy! This is 5 star luxury compared to Eucla Oasis Pass Motel! OMG!! WTF!!  OMG!!

Eucla - well what can I say....let's see.  Oh yes, for $140 (yes, you may gasp, we did!) we had the joy of cracked mirrors, mould on the bathroom shower tiles, orange mould from the showerhead, cracked basin in the bathroom, no tissues or shampoo/conditioner, a luscious assortment of dead bugs in the overhead light fitting, dust and dustmites covering most surface, window that would not shut and flywire that was broken, dirty carpet, cigarette burn in the sheets, two lonely powerpoints that required my long lead so that Claire could use her CPAP unit, a television that is older than me and a split system airconditioner that you had to stand on a chair to turn it on.  Remotes....what are they?
Food was good at the restaurant, but at Melbourne prices - and the seafood catch was local!
Headed off first thing in the morning and didn't stop for breakfast - not at their prices. Headed 13 kms down the road to Border Village and had a very yummy ham & cheese toastie with coffee and served with a smile!
Met a very nice truckie when parking the trailer at the motel.  He was fascinated that women could back a trailer!  He enjoyed having a good chat about gliding and nearly fell over that 10 year old tyres were originally going to be left on the trailer with the expectation of travelling 3,970 kms!  Yup!!

If you happen to take to the road this way in your life, bypass Eucla and head to Border Village! Better accommodation and cheaper for what you get. Also the chef at Border Village is very, very good!

The trek was uneventful, thank goodness and I do believe that the roo repellers DO work!  A little Wally the Wombat was ambling across the road and 100 metres before we got to him, he started to really scoot across the road, so he obviously heard the sound and moved his little toosh to safety!

The Nullabor Plain is a long, straight road, but so varying in scenery. From totally treeless for 360 degrees and then moving into scrub land and finally sown fields as you get closer to larger towns, like Ceduna.

"Agnes" the agricultural trailer behaved even with the brake lever gone to "road god" heaven.

 At Nullabor Roadhouse we stopped for coffee and met up with a couple, Elizabeth and Peter, that we shared dinner with at Norseman. Grey nomads doing their thing, and were fascinated by two women scooting across Australia in 2 weeks.  Yes, it fascinates us as well!!
Lovely people and we keep crossing paths with many of the same people with caravans as we stop and they pass, and they stop and we pass!  It's like old home week in Ceduna today as we waved to all the people we have met on the road.  The above photo is common across the Nullabor.  Claire is showing Peter the Thelma and Louise video of our impression of Willie Nelson's "On the road again"!  He near wet himself! It's too large to download here, but check Facebook.  We keep playing it and falling about laughing.  Hilarious!!

Note dirty "Agnes" in the background.  Needs love and a good paint and greasing....

Claire has now perfected the two finger salute and is having some success I may add!
We arrived into Ceduna at 1530 hours.  This was a good time for us as we had not had a good night's sleep and Claire had a recurring nightmare from watching ABC2 4 Corners re PTSD for NSW Police the night before. I had to intervene with "Claire - wake up, your having a nightmare" - this was after 30 minutes of sleep talk and then finally moving into a full blown yell.  Wondered who was being murdered at one stage!

So finally, in Ceduna we have found skeins of wool!  At last, we can continue the charity squares for the blanket and I can continue with  my advanced lessons in plain stitch and PSSO - can't remember PSSO? Check previous blog post!! We also visited the post office and Claire sent a postcard to friends in the UK, to wit, the postmistress checked with Claire that the "UK is in England, isn't it?"
I posted back the key to the Eucla Motel that I had inadvertently stowed in the car.  Knowing that my credit card would probably be charged a good $27 to replace the key, I rang and said it was on the way!

Enjoyed a lovely meal again at the Foreshore Hotel and took some nice pics of Ceduna beach.
Unfortunately, the police have to patrol the shopping strip at Ceduna as the local indigenous people spend a lot of time loitering, yelling and screaming across the street to each other. There seems to be a disconnect and it seems to be the same people in the street as we recognised them from last time. Such a shame as it is a lovely town and big enough for all to reap the benefit.

On to Port Augusta tomorrow and if we have a good run, we will trek on through to Peterborough. :-))
From there, work our way down to Swan Hill and home.

On the road again........Monday 1st August

Monday 1st August 2016
Claire and I did 698 kms today to finally get to Eucla from Norseman.
We arrived at Norseman at 1630 hours yesterday.  Definitely time to get off the road now before 1700 hours. Sun goes down quite quickly now and we are doing long hauls to get back home. Nice room at Norseman Travel Village, but like most places out here, very basic for what they charge, though I did get an RACV discount here. Plumbing was very noisy though shower was fabulously hot and the meals at the restaurant very good with home cooking.
Good run today as we set off at 0700 hours to beat the "grey nomads" and get some mileage under our belt before they set off.  We had a clear run so instead of staying at Madura Roadhouse, we opted for Eucla Roadhouse Motel instead which was 300 kms more than we were going to do.
We have perfected the art of “the finger salute!”  The Aussie finger salute is a recognition of other travellers on the road, which is almost mandatory in Australian country areas, especially remote areas.  
As we travelled along, I noticed that my work phone which is through Telstra, worked everywhere – even in some very remote areas. Optus was hopeless.  So word to the wise; if travelling in outback areas, get a Telstra phone plus a Satphone for back up.  I am writing this on a tether to the Samsung on Telstra.  Optus won’t recognise the connection. 
The trailer is still shite.  The brake lights now don’t work, but at least the lights come on. Indicators still work.  There is a knack to getting the tow ball of the car.  Just don’t wind the jockey wheel up until the lever slips up and back.  A truckie, who wandered over to have a chat upon seeing the glider trailer at our stop at Eucla, looked over the towing mechanism and his eyebrows disappeared into his hairline.  What more can I say???
I have purchased 2 more “sonic roo repellers”.  Some roadies think they are good and work and others are sceptical.  BUT as we were coming into Eucla tonight, there were quite a number of wallabies lurking. Their ears perked up and heads turned but no movement, so I am hoping that the sound is a deterrent!  If they are struck by a car, they won’t survive as they have small thick bodies, but long thin necks and small heads and this part of the anatomy seems to snap upon impact as we have noticed looking at the roadkill.
 But always our friendly crows are there to clean up the “left overs”!  We have also seen some beautiful eagles on the roadside near Eucla…..obviously waiting for breakfast or dinner, thanks to trucks and grey nomads!
 ‘Tis a biiiiiggg country out there.  The photos say it all….

And I love the Royal Flying Doctor Service signs that advise they land on the road – I do want to see that!!

I did not have my panoramic camera with me today, but cobbled together this view looking out over the cliffs of Eucla to the ocean.  There is even an airstrip there (bit hard to see in photo) but it is enormous.  I want to fly there!!!

We head to Ceduna tomorrow over the Nullabor Plain – just a short trip of 528 kms.  We will travel again over Australia’s longest straight road of 146.6 kms or 90 Mile Straight!

Monday, 1 August 2016

She's a big country out there........

I will put this blog up tomorrow in Ceduna.  Eucla is limited in connection and my tether to the Telstra phone will not accept the photo downloads. Sooooo, look for this space tomorrow :-))))

Sunday, 31 July 2016

We've arrived Beverley....and we've left Beverley

Too stuffed yesterday to blog!
Thought I would post some more whales from the Yalata Centre where the Southern Right Whales come into breed. You can see the spume bubble trails where they move around and come close to the coastline.
Yalata Centre:
Courtesy of Yalata Centre
Courtesy of Yalata Centre

And the magnificent coastline and sand dunes that shift 11 metres each year.
This country is a vast landscape and it is awe-inspiring to view its magnificence.
From as far as the eye can see, there is nothing but salt bush and sage brush.  Not a tree to be had.

To while away the time, my knitting has improved.  Claire does throw a curly one now and again, but chucking in another random colour that somehow has to be weaved into the pattern!  Moving on to advanced classes now.....
Anyhoooo, after the joys of Coolgardie, we left early and headed to Beverley, WA.
 We travelled via Norseman and picked up a couple of "roo sounders!" These are little gizmos that you attached to the bumper that give off a high pitched sound, that mere humans can't hear, but is supposed to put the little blighters off and they head away from the road.  (I hope!)

Coolgardie is lovely and we took a couple of snaps of the beautiful architecture of this old gold town. They have 2 licences for grog in the town - one for the pub and one for the motel.  The second pub can't get a licence to serve alcohol until the town's population grows! Hmmm, that's a little bit of a conundrum...
Also, the amount of trucks that come through Coolgardie in the night is extraordinary.  The new Caltex servo is getting quite a bit of business, but the layout does not cater for caravans and glider trailers. They have the bowsers facing into the shop!  Great if you only have a car, absolutely no good with a long load.  The truck area is only diesel, so we mere mortals that use petroleum are stumped. I managed to use the end bowser, but it was tricky to manoeuvre to make sure I didn't take out the pump with the back of the trailer.  Why do they lay out servos like this?  Note to self, write to BP, Caltex and Shell.......

We travelled via Merredin, Bruce Rock, Quairading, (pronounced Quwhereding to those not in the me! Sounds like something from Hogwarts!) Mawson to Beverley.  Just a little cross country trek - the short route. 

Just ask me about Bruce Rock....and the kitty kat.  This only happens to me.  Why, why??!!
Get out of car for a pitstop.  I hear a kitty meowing loudly, so I meow back....a few times. Next minute, le puss is running across the road to me.  At this stage, methinks I have found a stray! Damn!  Run into road and shoo it away. Nup, that doesn't work. Pick up puss and deposit back behind local pub.  Nup, that doesn't work. Back to following me. Pick up puss and go to local food shop and ask who owns puss.  Nup, they don't know.  Stride back to pub and ask who owns puss. Nup, they don't know.  Decide to deposit puss in the park.  Can't do that as there is a motorhome there and they will think I am dumping said puss. Damn!  Stride to local gardens, and put puss in gardens ....... and run with instructions to Claire to fire up the car as I leap in!  Glance back and puss is looking at me as if to say....mum where are you going?!  Now I feel guilty!
Head on through to Beverley and the Canola or Rapeseed crops are stunning and a relief on the eyesight from khaki salt bush.
We also passed Lake Cowan - no water, lots of mud, but very scenic!

So here we are on 31 July having arrived at Beverley in WA and dropped off the glider at Beverley Soaring Society and met up with new owner John and some of the Beverley crew.

Check out LS6 trailer. Not happy Jan.  Owen did a great job in getting the new tyres sorted out that morning and arranging a suitable conversion from a Nato? 7 pin plug to a 5 pin plug. Go figure - only in WA.  Federation was in 1901, but we are still using different plug fittings - well, in WA anyway!

LS6 trailer is not in the best condition. The towing assembly was in need of a good oiling and was profusely sabotaged with WD40 and will continue to be so until delivery. On the journey back to Norseman today the brake assembly that keeps the brake from bashing backward and forward into the tow ball, broke! Yep, snapped on the journey. So that will make for painful driving.  Claire and I will sort this out in the morning. I am always at a loss as to why glider pilots spend literally thousands of dollars on their gliders and leave their trailers in such shit condition. Oh yes, and finally did work out how to get the tow hook off the tow ball.  There is a knack!  Albeit discovered whilst learning a new vocabulary!

Moving on back to the evening of 31st July.  Had a great dinner at the Beverley Hotel where Claire and I stayed. Such a grand ol' dame.  Needs a little (lot) of love, but great atmosphere, very clean and pub owner very accommodating.  The meal in the evening was absolutely delicious.....and the double choc die for!

We had an early brekkie this morning and headed off.  All good we think. Cruising along to Merredin when we get a phone call from John who is missing a box of goodies.  Shite! And double shite!
We have pulled up outside the Carradin Hotel/Motel/Caravan Park and we discuss the best options. Claire and I were ready to turn around, but the guys from Beverley suggested to leave the box at the Hotel and John would scoot down and pick it up.  Very important yellow box.  Has all the manuals, batteries and chargers for the glider!  Double shite!  People at the Hotel very accommodating and we left with them for John to pick up.  As it took us 2 hours to get there at 110 kms, we expected John would make it in 1.5 hours.  This was at 1030 hours.  We arrived into Coolgardie at 1300 hours.  I had not heard from John and had left a text and phone message to see if all was well.  Starting to have a mildly anxious panic attack that said yellow box had gone missing and was prepared to curl up in the foetal position and fade into oblivion, I called again and John had just arrived at Carradin and taken possession of "the box". We checked that everything was there and all was good, before we headed on and John made tracks to Perth.  Many apologies were expressed on my behalf.  In the dither of getting everything out of the car, then repacking with the LS6 gear and then fiddling with the LS6 shitty trailer, the yellow box was buried under a mound of stuff still in my car.  Very distressing. :-(

We chugged on through and whilst in mobile range decided to book a room at Norseman for the night.  No late night arrivals and just scooting in at dark anymore.  The time difference is now against us and we will have to be careful of when we arrive as the time change will catch us out.  So called the Gateway Caravan Park to book a cabin.  Phone was answered by "hello?"  I asked if this was the Gateway and the reply was, "oh yes, Gateway Caravan Park!"  Alarm bell number 1.  Said name and what room was required and details of trailer so that it could be stored away.  Yes. All good - hesitantly.  Alarm bell number 2.  Chugging down the road about 10 minutes and receive a call - just in mobile range - that "no sorry, we don't have a room. I have just checked spreadsheet number 2 and all rooms are booked!"  Grrr. Head back to Coolgardie to get internet reception, other
wise out with Satphone again. Got a booking with the Norseman Travel Village. Great room and my RACV discount, which ended up being $30 less in a lovely room as opposed to a rather ordinary cabin. I say ordinary, because the Gateway is right next door to the Norseman Travel Village and you can see the cabins over the fence! 

Had a lovely dinner with another couple travelling across the Nullabor and we will probably wave as we pass them tomorrow.....yes, grey nomads doing the prerequisite 95 kms, holding up the traffic.  I have now found out saves on fuel!  OMG....OMG!!!
So there we are.....on the road again and heading home.  Already booked into Madura Roadhouse and then we will start the trek to Ceduna.  One good thing, the trailer is lighter than the Nimbus, so we travel better on the road.