Monday, November 30, 2009

Esperance & The Bay Of Isles

Week 4 - 30th November 2009.

What a trip! The weather has been absolutely dreadful for the last two weeks.

12th Nov. Pulled in to Forrestania Plots which was an absolutely delightful campsite. It was a trial back in 1920 or so to try to develop the area for farming but failed. The campsite has some beaut Rottnest Island Pines which were planted as windbreak and they provide some great shade and shelter. The area is all heathland so it is quite dense scrub and not really suitable for rambling. Still thunderstorms every day and night, so I will stay here for a couple of days until the weather sorts itself out.

16th Nov. The weather was still lousy, but I moved on anyway. The road is is very good condition, draining well but of course it is throwing red mud all over the van. I had planned to stop at "The Breakaways" but the ground was very muddy and the sandy areas were very boggy, but the area is very picturesque and would be a very nice site in good weather. Still pouring with rain so I kept on going. Pulled into McDermid Rock which is nearly as big as Wave Rock. It has the same surf wave type formation, but not as extensive. One thing about this rain, the water cascading off the rock is very impressive. This whole trip along the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail is very well marked and signposted. Every area has information panels illustrating the attractions. The walk trails at McDermid Rock and at Disappointment Rock are well worth the wander.

20th November. Still raining although no thunderstorms and there are a couple of hours sunshine each day. I pushed on and refueled in Norseman and bought some essentials and then to Dundas Rocks which is an abandoned mining townsite 25km south of Norseman. Nothing left but the old dam. There is no trace of any of the old buildings, just signs indicating where they were. Plenty of opportunity for bushwalking, there are dozens of tracks all over the place. One thing, there are HORDES of March Flies all over the place - definitely long sleeves and trousers required around here. There is one drawback to this site as a camp. There is not one level spot in the entire area. I must have tried about 7 or 8 spots before I found one that was even approximately level. Thank heavens I bought a pair of levelling wedges when I was in Perth.

28th Nov. The weather has improved a fair bit although it is still very variable. I'm not getting much value out of the $1000 I spent on a solar panel when I was in Perth. On Wednesday (25th) the temperature got up to 39 degC during the day and by 6pm I had to put a pullover on, it got down to 7.5 degC during the night and the next day the temperature never got over 18 degC. Crazy! There have been plenty of fine spells however and lots of bush walking to do and very few travellers stopping, only about one or two a night and then not every night so I am stretching the friendship a bit by staying on.

30 Nov. Three days in Esperance to do some shopping, banking, wash the car and van etc. I spent many pleasant holidays in Esperance many years ago when I lived in Kalgoorlie, so there isn't too much that I want to do around here. Tomorrow I'm off to Cape LeGrand and Cape Arid and then up the Balladonia Track to the Eyre Highway.

I'm not sure when I will have coverage again, perhaps Balladonia in a week or so - see you soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Through The Wheatbelt

Week Two, 12th November 2009.

I stayed at Wannamal for another couple of days and then took off on Friday morning. Through to New Norcia and fuelled up ($1.26/L) and headed in a big loop north and east to a spot called Petrudor Rocks near Kalannie. This is a granite outcrop, similar to many in this area. This particular one is not as big as some of the others I have seen, but the area looked quite nice with a bit of shade, so I set up for a couple of days.

Appearances can be deceiving! This place is infested with ants - everywhere. I must remember to buy a large economy size container of baby powder to put around the van's wheels. Flies are really bad too, I've been spending most of my time inside the van, which wasn't the idea.

Took a ramble over the rock to have a look around and to get my daily exercise.
After a couple of days, I got so sick of the ants and flies I packed up and headed off. I stopped in Kalannie to pick up some bread and milk. Every single container of milk in the shop had somebody's name written on it. "Those are ordered" the girl in the shop told me, so there was no full-cream milk available for sale ( I absolutely hate that UHT stuff). I know it's only a tiny place, but you would think that they would have at least a couple of bottles of milk for passing trade.

On again through Koorda (plenty of milk), Bencubbin, and Mukinbudin heading for Baladjie Rock which was supposed to be my next stop, but when I got there, there were no extra-special campsites and the radio is forecasting severe thunderstorms for the area, so I think I'll keep going and head for Southern Cross. Baladjie is certainly worth a visit and there is a great view from the top if you walk up.

Three nights in Southern Cross and it looks like the worst of the weather has gone, so I headed for Hyden via Marvel Loch. Great gravel road, looks like a good short cut if you're coming from the east from the G E Hwy to the Great Southern without going further in towards Perth.

I'm heading out on the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail, heading across to Norseman and I am planning to stop at the Forrestania Plots (whatever that is) tonight. I'll be out of range for a while, so see you next week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seconds out, - Round Two

Week One, 4th November 2009

As Willie Nelson says - On The Road Again. I'm off on the second leg of my travels around this big, brown, beautiful country. This time, I will be travelling a lot slower, with many more stops along the way and hopefully, spending several nights at each stop rather than the one-night stops so common in my last circuit. I imagine that it will be two years this time before I return to Perth.

Well, I spent a pleasant two weeks in Perth, getting a lot of house-keeping issues out of the way, re-registered the van, had the van and the Kia serviced, filed my (final?) tax return, got some new specs and re-stocked the pantry and freezer. I've learned some important lessons while on the road, and not the least important was the make up of food stocks. I ended up after ten months with several items I originally packed untouched, whereas some things I ran out of all the time. Quite a different cross-section this time.

I called in to see some of my former work colleagues and I copped quite a razzing for turning up as brown as a berry at this time of year while they were all still in their winter plumage. Suck it up, Guys.

I was hoping to head straight for the south coast of WA, but summer is a little tardy in coming in this year. Still quite cool during the days and chilly at nights with typical winter pattern weather, cold fronts sweeping across the south-west and still plenty of showers around. What I have done is headed north for a couple of weeks to wait until the summer pattern comes in with big high-pressure systems sitting in the Bight.

I'm currently at Wannamal (population 4) about 30kms north of Bindoon and I'm going to make a big north-easterly loop through the wheatbelt and will come out about Southern Cross and then head down to Hyden. I'm looking forward to an area about which I have heard a lot of good things, but have never visited and that is the road from Hyden to Norseman called the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail. I also hope to make a side trip up to an area called Cave Hill and then down to the south coast. That should take me about three or four weeks and hopefully, summer will be here by then.

I promise faithfully to keep the blog updated a lot better than I have in the past. See you soon.