We can’t stay in Whyalla forever, even though I just want to stay in bed and sleep my flu away while B takes charge of everything, but on the road again we must go.

We usually don’t have much of a plan as to where we are stopping, all we know is that B flies in and then we have 2 weeks until he has to get back on the plane and fly back to work. We usually know where he is going to fly out from and so we aim to end up somewhere close enough to the airport for that to happen – someone has to earn the money to keep the kids and I living in style 🙂

Shall we stop at Port Augusta….no, let’s have a quick shop and get back underway. The kids are getting really good at snapping up opportunities as they appear and the skate park behind the shops is calling their name. Sending B and Big shopping is always a little dodgy, there is always lots of fruit and nuts and bread in the bags but usually nothing helpful in the way of ingredients for an evening meal…but I am too tired to care and so use the time to lay the seat back and have a snooze.

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They’re back, the Camps 6 book comes out and we have a look at what might be within a few hours drive of us, decisions need not be made yet but it is always good to make sure that you at least have the page open at the right map.

We drive and I, as always, point out the beautiful countryside which everyone drags their eyes towards and then promptly drops them back down towards iPod screens, Mad Magazines etc. I bet my kids wish they had a dollar for every time I say “Just have a look, take it in….one day you will tell your kids about this.” The countryside is amazing and I am happy to gaze out at it and wonder at what a task it must have been to take power lines up, over and through these hills.

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Shortly afterwards we slow to a crawl on the highway as we come across the aftermath of what looks like a three car accident. One car is in a field, looks like they drove off to avoid an oncoming vehicle. They are loading another vehicle onto a truck and in the middle of the road is the shattered shell of a caravan, just the floor and part of a side wall cling drunkenly to the chassis. Thankfully, nobody is badly injured but I feel sad for all involved, especially for the people who’s van trip has been cut terribly short.

We don’t have the heart to go much further and so pull into a little place called Baroota Campground. We are greeted by three dogs running in from a paddock where a 4 wheeler is working. Much to our delight and amazement we watch one of the dogs jump clear over the paddock fence whilst the others look on longingly. It’s a little muddy, we are the only people here but the fireplace is fantastic, the “shower shed” is huge and Little has a brand new friend, Matilda, the blue heeler.

Can we keep her?

Can we keep her?

Decisions have been made and we are going to head down the Yorke Peninsula to Innes National Park so off we go again.

The weather is awful, it is Winter and I have once again NOT excelled at navigation. We make it as far as Maitland and I suggest that there is a Showground where we can overnight. How good was it to pull in and see this undercover area where our van can snuggle underneath overnight!

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Again, just a single overnighter and we are back on the road down the Yorke. On either side of the road are fields of green, which I later find out is barley. Apparently our next stop, Minlaton, is the barley capital of the world. It is also the home of The Red Devil, Captain Harry Butler’s monoplane. This “must see” monument radiates the pride and respect that the people of the Yorke Peninsula feel for their flying ace. I was inspired by this “self educated” pilot who was fascinated by flight from an early age but then also devastated to find out that he died so young, at 34, in 1924, possibly as a result of injuries sustained in an earlier plane crash in 1922. He was married in 1920. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair.

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So, I am inspired, the kids have played at the park and we have only about 100kms to go until we reach Innes National Park.

Teens with attitude...at the kiddies playground.

Teens with attitude…at the kiddies playground.

With a last tin of tuna given to the cat who adopted us and an unexpected loss of breakfast by yours truly, we departed Port Lincoln – just before the arrival of the next force ten gale.

My birthday is fast approaching and I am sick as a dog with some kind of hideous flu – I never get sick!!…..until I do. I am so glad now that we had an early birthday celebration with Deb and family (thank you again for the beautiful cake xx).

First stop is Cowell where B grabbed “his best coffee so far” and a short playground experience for kids and dad alike. I think that this is also the town where B scared a woman as he ran down the pathway (he was trying to get to the shops without Little seeing him). He is not a small man, and with hoody up and thongs a-slapping he is a bit of a scary sight.

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No really, get off, it’s my turn.

You can catch a ferry from just outside Cowell over to Wallaroo if you don’t want to go up and over the top of the Eyre Peninsula. It saves you about 250kms of road travel. South Australians love their ferries. I think it has something to do with their “distance perception” (this is my own term, created after realising that Crow Eaters do not like to travel far from home at all, or even leave the town of their birth if possible 🙂 )

We got as far as Whyalla that first day out and I have to say that I was expecting barbed wire fences around every property, based on information provided by other travellers, but instead found a fairly large “mining town” that didn’t seem that much different to a lot of North West towns we have lived in or passed through……in my defence, I was delusional with fever. We had planned to stay overnight but B was very keen to check out the Onesteel Steelworks and as luck would have it we were able to get on a tour the next morning. What can I say, the man loves his metal!

It’s not very hard to find the Tourist Centre at Whyalla. They have very conveniently popped the HMAS Whyalla outside the front door. It was the first ship built at the naval shipyards here in 1941 and was brought back and parked up in 1987.

Yep, it's a big boat.

Yep, it’s a big boat.

We all piled onto the bus for our one and a half hour tour of the steelworks. The raw materials come from local iron ore mines and are put through the blast furnace, coke ovens, reed beds, steelmaking and casting plant and the rolling mills. It is a massive operation and quite a dirty place as well – you can almost hear the beer ad in the background as the dirty, sweaty men finish work. We all enjoyed the tour right up until we got back to the Tourist Centre and then Little’s day was ruined when he and Sista got off the bus and the driver said “Have a nice day girls.” Might be time for a haircut Little?

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He's starting to be mistaken for a girl a little too often now.

He’s starting to be mistaken for a girl a little too often now.

 

Ok, I am officially very far behind with my blogging….what can I say, life just gets in the way!

So now I must cast my mind back to South Australia and to one of my very favourite places, Port Lincoln.

We came into Lincoln from the west side, nothing overwhelming initially – some railroad tracks and light industry – but passing through the town centre we noticed that it had a Woolies & a Coles all on the main road….we have hit the jackpot! We had opted to stay 10km out of town at the caravan park in North Shields, part of the reason being that it was about $100 a week cheaper than the park in Lincoln and a lot more roomier.

 

The drive between Lincoln and North Shields “had me at hello”. It’s winter, everything is green and growing, on one side of the road are green fields sloping upwards to rolling hillsides and on the other side is Boston Bay, water like glass and this island, Boston Island, just begging you to jump in a boat and play Robinson Crusoe for a few days….or months.

There are just a couple of small issues, the bloody wind and apparently, a very high fire risk in summer. Our first day in we couldn’t even put out our awning as we were positive that it would act as a sail and either rip off or flip the van over (maybe that was just me worrying about that). When it blows down here you certainly know about it! Thankfully, it is not an everyday occurrence and you find yourself falling in love with the place all over again….until the next time.

We ended up spending about six weeks here and even then I found it hard to leave…Looking back, I think that it had a lot to do with meeting great people and also being in a place that is so full of natural beauty…..that and staying for an auction on a piece of land (I know, the trip could have been over before it started!)

Whenever we are stopping for a few weeks I try to touch base with local homeschoolers – it’s always nice to be with peeps who understand you – and the kids enjoy hanging out with friends their own ages as well. With a bit of googling and a bit of luck we managed to find the delightful Deb and family who then introduced us on to the gang of girls who were Donna and family. The welcome we received was amazing – invited to tea after one email, sleepovers for Sista, getting taken up to Glenforrest animal farm, riding motorbikes, lots of shared meals….thankyou so much to you wonderful women and your gorgeous families…we still talk about you.

You can’t visit Lincoln without heading out onto the water and B had already placed his order for Swimming with the Tuna. It  worked out at around $50 a head and I can say that it was worth every cent! These guys run a very tidy operation and the pontoon setup is amazing for all ages and abilities (if you didn’t want to swim you could check out the touch pool with an informative talk or view the underwater areas from a fully enclosed walkway). Can I just say that wearing a wetsuit is actually more flattering than you might think ….at least I hope that everyone on the cruise that day wasn’t too offended by the sight…not that I cared, I was mesmerised by the fish in the middle aquarium and ended up being the last person still in the water. Little even managed to catch sight of a whale and calf as we were cruising around the bay to finish off our day.

I just know that I have forgotten some great things already – thank goodness for photos to remind us 🙂 even if I can’t get them to line up perfectly on the page!

At the top of the Stamford Hill Hike, Lincoln National Park

At the top of the Stamford Hill Hike, Lincoln National Park

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The view from the block we looked at

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How cool is this touch pool?

 

 

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What you see under the surface in the middle 

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aquarium.
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Looking so cool on our tour of the wharf.

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Sista loves doing her schoolwork.

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He will hide anywhere to get out of doing his maths!

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A lounge chair makes our Big a happy young man.

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Hello ladies, how do you like my spunky hat?

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A view of Boston Bay from the fire lookout above Port Lincoln.

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Lovely Lin from Sydney who spent the day with us after we gave her a lift to the Fish Factory Tour.

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The kangaroos at Glenforrest Animal Farm know exactly what those little white bags mean….and they are not shy.

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No Little, stay on the road when you are on a segway

 

Finally get around to arriving in Elliston for a quick overnighter. While B is home we are supposed to free camp but we seem to a) take ages to pack up and get moving in the morning and b) spend too much time sight seeing and not enough time to get set up and settled at a free camp…..besides, after about 3 days in the bush I end up with a giant pile of washing.

Elliston has two parks but we opted for Waterloo Bay and the kids were glad that we did. This is the first time I have come across a pedal cart hire in a caravan park and for keeping our kids occupied while we were setting up and getting dinner ready this was just the thing.

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Some days this is my favourite view of these two

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Only another couple of years until he can get his learners.

Persisting in a seemingly hopeless quest, B rigged up the rods for another torture session  fishing trip. 

Either there are no fish in the ocean surrounding the jetties of SA and all the other anglers are liars or we are just completely useless at fishing. Fortunately, all of the jetties here also have a lovely sheltered seat close to the end and I find these to be a great place to make phone calls from whilst B cuts up bait and then stands aimlessly until the kids start complaining and we head back to the van.

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B from his best angle, Little excited about wetting the line & me on the phone – yep, that’s how we roll.

I think that I might actually have reached my limit for cliff top scenic drives, they are all beautiful but they are kind of all the same (Oh no, I sound like my kids) but the drive at Elliston includes artworks from the Sculptures on the Cliff Festival which makes it a bit more interesting.

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Saw that Coffin Bay National Park got a pretty good wrap on some of the online travelling groups (Facebook) so we thought that it would be a nice place to spend a few nights and days.

As we were driving into the Yangie Bay Campground, Little spotted a sizeable mud puddle and his eyes literally lit up – so glad that I got all that washing done at Elliston. B couldn’t get the bikes off the back of the van quick enough for him!

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Mud in the eyes….not this time around.

It was a beautiful spot where we pulled up and the weather held out nicely until we went to bed that first night. The second day was a bit of on and off rain but still able to get out and do a walk trail (saw an adult emu with a couple of youngsters) – or filthily a few more pairs of pants, Little!

So many little birds here, just wish that they would slow down so I could identify them in the bird book…..one was forced to slow down as he hit the side of our mesh tent, I keep imagining him going “bloody hell, that wasn’t there yesterday”. Fortunately, he just shook himself off and flew away. The usual visits from the kangaroos – how cool is it that native wildlife visits become the norm living this life.

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What’s that Skip, I should bring my bike and follow you through the mud, Skip?

The last day was just rain, rain and wind and so the inside of the van was disgusting and we started getting a bit of cabin fever. Must be time for a drive. Jumped in the Patrol and took some great tracks from the campground out around past some of the loveliest beaches and these sections of road that look like they belong on postcards….you know when the trees kind of meet up overhead and create a leafy tunnel….I am in my happy place again.

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I can see why this is a favourite destination over Summer for the locals.

My friend Rach had done a trip around Oz while we were still at the planning/building stage and when we were looking through her pics from the trip she told me that she would have loved to have had more time on the Eyre Peninsula. So being the good friend I am, I decided we would do it for her 🙂

First stop from Ceduna had to be Streaky Bay, can’t remember why now – probably why I should blog while it is all fresh in my mind!

We drove around town, did a bit of shopping, walked on the jetty – South Australia does jetties well – they all have great metal signs that are engraved with images of the local fish as well as your bag limits…..there is nothing like catching a fish and then having to walk around asking people what it is you have actually caught and whether it is edible. They also all have a steel mesh netted area that ensures that your jetty jumping jaunt doesn’t end in Jaws eating you.

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One of Sister’s photos of the netted swimming area

Instead of being total whus bags and opting for the caravan park option (so tempting in Winter) we headed out to the Sceale Bay Bush Camp (you say it as Scale Bay). Any bush camp that has a flushing toilet gets my vote and this one is a real gem. Pete and his family have created a lovely spot that is quite affordable at $5 per adult and $2 per child – apparently the bay is popular with surfers and Kelly Slater had visited recently….never know who you might bump into down here.

Even though the camp is unpowered and mobile reception is a bit hit and miss all you need to do is walk/ride about 4kms down the road to the gazebo at the beach and you are able to plug in to the power board and get great reception as well. The kids have been doing an online writing class with home2teach and so the poor things had to use the gazebo as their classroom – hard done by, aren’t they?

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Trying to find a shot with the view onto the beach.

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Big and Sista hard at work. Think Little was riding a bike down the steps at this stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We could only spend a couple of days here as we needed to get to Port Lincoln so B could catch his plane back to work but we still managed to have a 4wd around the tracks and bays to a cool sand dune area where the kids had fun on their boogey boards. There is a sea lion colony just a couple of kms down the road at Point Labatt with a great viewing platform.

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Little and Sista have a look at Heart Bay

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Too scared of the Great Whites, Big will stick to sand dune surfing..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling out, we knew that we wanted to stay at the Coffin Bay NP for a couple of days so that’s where we headed towards. One of the benefits of travelling the Southern route during Winter is that you don’t need to think ahead about booking into parks or grabbing a spot at the free camps before everyone else……I hold onto that thought as I look at all the pics coming up online from other families travelling Oz, sitting around in shorts and bathers up North somewhere. This is also very fortunate as I am not the most organised person

Driving towards Elliston we saw a sign that said Talia Caves – we have decided that if we ask ourselves “should we have a look” then the default answer is yes!

So glad we did. The Woolshed was spectacular, even if Sista was terrified that B and Little where in danger of losing their footing and being swept away.

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The cave is inside the hill to the left of these stairs

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From the inside looking out – I imagine that the waves would smash in here in bad weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can you see the edge of the hole behind the sign?

 

We also had a look at The Tub, which is what I imagine a sinkhole must look like and I got stung by a bee (I think). Next, we managed to see one of those amazing displays of nature in the form of a big group of dolphins – there must have been about 4 separate pods of 4-5 dolphins in each and they were jumping up and doing somersaults and held us entranced for a good ten minutes…….of course the only photo we got shows you nothing other than a couple of fins!

 

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I initially thought it was a school of sharks as the fins stayed on the surface for longer than usual, just circling each other.

 

Apologies for any picture/text alignment issues – if anyone is a wordpress expert I could use some help on making everything stay where I want it to.

Can it really be true, have we finally crossed a border into another state? Despite my mum’s predictions that we may only end up travelling around Western Australia we have finally made it across the Nullabour and into South Australia.

I had our day so beautifully planned in my head – van packed up the night before, an early morning wakeup call with breakfast up at the mess (no dishes to slow us down) and pull out around 7.30am…..why do I even bother! I think we actually dragged ourselves out of the mess at about 7.45, then B just had to check the tyre pressures, then we really should just pop into Woolies for a couple of last minute specials…..so, actually on the road at 11, yep, just as I planned.

B works with a guy (coffee club member) who’s mum lived in this tiny town called Widgiemooltha and B had promised him a couple of photos so we all piled out (after about a whole 40 minutes of driving) and wandered around the bush looking for a coloured stone garden border – which we couldn’t find. We did however find a couple of interesting old irons, horseshoes, bottles etc and a concrete dam area that used to be the town pool.

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Boys wandering through the old Widgie town area

Can I just say that I had already formed pictures in my mind of this leg of the trip, based on conversations with fellow caravanners and reading forum posts, and they involved track like roads, big road trains blowing us off the road as they went past and large quantities of desolate nothingness……needless to say, I was a little worried.

So finally, here we are at Norseman, the official start of the Eyre Hwy. We’ve had lunch, we’re fuelled up and ready to tackle the N Beast.

My first thoughts, this road is not that bad, maybe it gets a lot worse along the way. The scenery doesn’t appear that much different from what we were looking at on the road between Albany and Esperance. Keep on driving and hit the first of the roadhouses, everyone taking bets on how much the fuel will be, from memory I think it was about $1.87 – we had been warned about the super expensive fuel across the Nullabour – clearly by people who have never filled up their car at Nanutarra Roadhouse in the NW of WA!

I should have kept up with my blog posts while everything was fresh in my mind because I can’t even remember which free camp we stayed in the first night – but I bet the people around us did – kids very keen to have a fire, despite the fact we have arrived after sundown, with no firewood and the camp is stripped clean of any dead branches. I think I am starting to overcome my fear of speaking plainly to my children with others so close by.

Up and at it early but not for long. We had been keeping an eye on our transmission temp whilst driving and as long as we sat on about 85-90km we were ok but over that we were heating up and when we stopped we could see an oil drip coming from the left front wheel arch which smelt suspiciously like transmission fluid. Because of all that has come before we have some trust issues with our tow vehicle and this is our worst fear – breaking down in the middle of bloody nowhere! No choice but to have a look under panel A and see where the oil is coming from. What we find are some breathers that must have been disconnected when our snorkel was fitted, ok not a gasket leak or a ruptured hose so we soldier onwards – there is a running joke now that by the time we finish this trip our car will be minus most of it’s panels – we just keep stacking them up in the boot until we get excited enough to put them back on.

A quick phone call from the next roadhouse to the transmission workshop and we are given the ok to keep going – breather hose not necessary but get one when you can.

Our second stop was a rest stop just outside Eucla which we had all to ourselves and we could actually get mobile reception. We, mistakenly, thought that this was our last chance to eat all our fruit and veg so a delicious meal of cauliflower was enjoyed by all.

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We remembered firewood this time. Kids made a cool bike racing track as we had the whole place to ourselves. Note the missing trim from front wheel arch.

The next morning with a feeling of high excitement we pulled out to drive our last 30km on the WA side of the border. I had pictured us taking a photo as we came to the sign, I mean we would have to stop for the quarantine, so of course we would get a picture. In reality, we got to the checkpoint and no-one was asking us to stop, no signs telling us to pull over and put our fruit in this bin, so we sailed through to South Australia mildly confused and with poor old Big a little deflated.

Nothing for it but to keep on driving.

You can’t cross the Nullabour without stopping at the Head of the Bight. I had wrongly assumed that because we were out of migration season that we wouldn’t actually see any whales but we did in fact see several frolicking in the water much to my delight. There was also a sighting, by the kids, of a white whale – boys laughed but Sista not happy!

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Obligatory pic of happy family at the Head of the Bight lookout – Little upset that he is not big enough to look through the viewing telescopes.

We had met a man at Kambalda who told us that he always looked forward to reaching Ceduna and getting the best feed of fish and chips there so we talked with the kids and decided that we would aim to make Ceduna for dinner time and get our hands on this famous  delicacy.

By the time we got there we were buggered, we felt very grubby from a couple of days with no shower and long days in the car. We walked in, placed our order and sat down at the table. A funny thing about SA fish and chip shops – they don’t give you a number or write down your name, they just call out your order. In my defence, I thought that we were the only people to order a chico roll that night, it seemed that way at the time, and so we jumped up and grabbed our feed – but why have we got potato scallops, I didn’t order potato scallops? We spent the next 10 minutes eating the wrong order, whilst under the watchful eye of the correct orderee…….it tasted like sawdust and I felt like a clown – a tired, dirty, guilty clown.

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MAC Village Central

Okay, so I knew that at some point in time we would actually have to leave Kambalda MAC Caravan Park to continue our travels and maybe even manage to leave WA but it didn’t make leaving any easier.

It truly felt as though I was leaving Wickham again (this is where the kids were born and spent their early years). I can only say that it is a testament to the good people who work and live at the MAC and the strong sense of community that they have created there.

This post is a thank you to you all ……even the people I don’t remember to mention 🙂

To Johnny L, the unofficial Lord Mayor and his offsider Pat, I so miss your cheery wave in the morning as I made my pj clad walk up to the ablution block and the invitation to come have a cuppa. I miss sitting and talking and feeding the birds with you – so does Sista. I appreciate the way you treated my kids, especially when Big thought you were Pat – just without a beard, and they loved you for it. For coming to the mess with us for Big’s 14th birthday and for getting up early to have breakfast with us on our last day. I look forward to catching up on the road again somewhere.

We had to interrupt Big's cleaning to get this shot - note my carpeted annexe pad - living very flash!

We had to interrupt Big’s cleaning to get this shot – note my carpeted annexe pad – living very flash!

To the big bus brigade, Ted & Dave, who were always ready and willing to lend a hand or a tool for any job on the go as well as the advice…”go slowly, 300km a day is plenty”

To Ray and Sandy from Tassie, for selling me on the Flavorstone cookware (I have got one now and I love it too!) and for reminding me that family are everything and that I should make sure that I post lots of photos for the family we have left behind.

To all the prospectors (Al, Al & Wendy, Thommo, Lindsay and Co) thank you for sharing your knowledge, your stories and your Minelab 5000 settings with us – a more diverse group of people I have yet to meet!

To the Chinese Geos, for showing us that 5 grown men can all live in a Jayco Expanda quite happily and that language does not have to be a barrier to friendship. Thank you Michael for making us steamed bread, playing bucket ball with the boys, teaching us words in Mandarin, answering questions about your life in China and for letting us teach you how to play Uno – we miss you.

Photo is terrible but best one I have of us with Michael

Photo is terrible but best one I have of us with Michael

To Trudi in the office and all the MAC staff, you guys rock. To the people in the Mess – thank you for not shutting the doors when you saw us coming up for tea……I know that watching Little hit the desert bar and Big go up for 4th servings must have made you question that decision, so thanks.

Last but not least thank you to Woolies Kambalda for saving me so much money on food…..it’s just not the same going shopping anymore 😦

I also need to mention my best Mother’s Day surprise ever! Sista had picked up a colouring in competition from the Kalgoorlie library that had a single line asking “Why you loved your mum”….not only did she fill in that line but attached another 3 pages!! God only knows what she put on it (I didn’t even realise she had done it until she was dropping it off), but she did say that she put good and not so good things on the list….getting more worried now 🙂 Anyhoo, she got a phone call telling her that she had won first prize…..best daughter ever xx

So wish I could had read that list.....librarian wouldn't even let me do it unless Sista said yes.

So wish I could had read that list…..librarian wouldn’t even let me do it unless Sista said yes.

You can’t stay in the Goldfields of WA without getting caught up in the excitement that is prospecting….and we were no different.

Wherever we stayed we came across people who were looking for gold, some come away for a month or so each year to enjoy, what can be, a profitable hobby and then there was the couple we met who only spend one month a year at home! All of the prospectors we met had  a number of things in common – they were happy to share a wealth of knowledge for as long as we wanted to sit and talk with them and they all agreed that if you are serious about metal detecting then you have to have a Minelab 5000.

Full of these words of wisdom we headed off to the Mines Department to get our Mining Licenses. A license, in WA, costs you $25 and lasts you for your whole life…..and it is a government fee, go figure?? The only bummer is that you have to get a license for anyone who is going to “swing a detector” and that includes the kids.

Next stop, the detector. So, a Minelab 5000 will set you back a cool $6000 or you can hire one of these beasts from somewhere like Finders Keepers in Kalgoorlie for a much kinder $350 for a week. Despite Little’s pleas we opted for the week rental option and walked away with the tip that if we could find nails and bullets with the detector then we were doing the right thing and should find gold….if it’s there to be found.

So, we have the detector, we have the licences, we have the high vis shirts thanks to the Salvo’s store at Boulder, we have the van hooked up and full of food and water. Where do we go to find the gold? Laverton 359km, Menzies 131km or maybe Leonora 235km….how about we just go 20km back the way we just came and go to Woolibar Station.

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Okay Dad I think I can do that.

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Just do a quick air balance

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That’s how we roll…..”fresh kids D”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what we have learned after a week of prospecting;

  • we are absolute champions at finding bullets, nails, alfoil, tin and staples.
  • you probably shouldn’t spend your “findings” before you find something (Kids)
  • you won’t find gold in your first hour/day/week of prospecting – especially if you give up in the first day (Little/Sista)
  • flies and mosquitos come from everywhere when you are the only humans in thousands of acres of bush.
  • I should take up nature photography because I absolutely suck at metal detecting and am much happier looking at trap door spider nests and lizards that look like rocks – I do make a pretty mean “pick bitch” though.
  • that B was born to detect – small shuffling steps and earphones on so that he doesn’t have to listen to any of us moaning about being bored.
  • you should probably know what a She-oak tree looks like if you are going to use it as an  indicator.
  • that if you keep your eyes open there are treasures everywhere (apparently I have found a bottle that is worth $120 & Little found a gold pan in new condition).

But when you do find that first little piece of gold there is no feeling like it and you want to just keep on doing it for as long and as often as you can…..yep, I’ve got GOLDFEVER.

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Around about 1 gram of gold – about $80 worth.

Enraptured by the price of our previous visit, I chose to spend the following fortnight back at the Kambalda Caravan Park with a view to making once a week visits to Kalgoorlie to provide lashings of history for the kids and I – efforts were made to find tourist attractions in the Kambalda township but even a visit to the Shire Office in town provided only a single option “Have you been to the Red Hill Lookout?” Me “Yes” (Enter the sound of silence).

They do have a cool recreation centre and playground, skatepark and a Woolies that has enabled me to save a fortune! I have never seen so many Reduced For a Quick Sale stickers in my life.

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One of our first visits to Kalgoorlie was actually prompted by my friend mentioning the Boulder Market Day, on her blog http://www.followingourhearts.com , and her talking about the free Superpit Tour which you need to line up early for (first in, first served). Some days I manage to surprise myself – we got in to Boulder and snagged ourselves seats on the first tour of the day!!

The tour runs for an hour and they take you along the pit roads, through the haul truck workshop and into a viewing room on the side of the pit that lets you see the trucks being loaded and gives you some idea of the size of this big hole.

ImageAn interesting fact that came up was that for every 6 trucks that get loaded with rocks they manage to extract about a golf ball size amount of gold…..not much, especially given that this is considered by some to be the richest square mile on the face of the Earth.

On Market Day you can also see demos of dry blowing and gold panning and we found these to be really interesting and an informative reality check – it must have been a lot of work for little reward for most of the people who came to the goldfields.

We also visited Kal during History Week and managed to get onto a Town Hall Tour given by a historian employed by the Shire – he was very entertaining but unable to answer a question that has intrigued me for a good decade now “Why do so many magicians, illusionists and hypnotists visit Kalgoorlie?” Not that I want to cast any aspersions on the good people of the Eastern Goldfields but…..?Image

I am assuming that the kids were inspired by the historic tour and just wanted to check the quality of the carpet and pressed tin ceiling….at least I hope so anyway.

When you come to Kal make sure you visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service out at the airport – they run regular daily tours that are well worth the very modest entry charge and a walk around the small display area may well bring a tear to your eye (the patchwork wall hanging) or a laugh outloud (medical chest display). Having lived in the bush before we have used the Flying Doctor and are so grateful for the work they do – here’s hoping that we have no need of them during our Big Trip but always nice to know that they’re around if we do. 

We still need to make a couple more visits to Kal to check out the cool museums (kids groan) so I will leave it there for now.

 

 

My lovely friend Lynette http://www.followingourhearts.com had recently blogged about staying at a free camp just outside Kalgoorlie called Lake Douglas and so that became our next destination.

Kalgoorlie is a town that is well set up for travellers, well signposted parking areas and dump points and tell me, who can resist those automated toilets that play music while you go about your business? So after a visit to the local Woolies we made the long 12km journey out to the Lake.

Now, I don’t know about you but when I pull into somewhere I haven’t been before I like to get out and do a walk around and establish where we might park up……not my husband though! “She’ll be right” and off down a fairly dodgy looking track we go until we reach that point where you realise that you have to go back out the way you came (at least to appease your panicking wife).

There’s nothing like watching your car and van moving sideways to really get the heart rate up. So after digging a new channel for the lake with our back wheel we entered a lovely parking area accessed by an equally lovely track (which we probably would have found on the reccie walk).  

Trust me, the photo doesn’t actually do the experience justice.

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On our first night we were joined by a couple in a campervan and another couple in a Walkabout van – can I just say that during the design process of our van build it never once occurred to me that I may need a place to cook crabs….thankfully the people at Walkabout include a very large hydraulic powered drop down gas ring on the side of the van for just such a situation. Jokes aside, it was a clever van and B and I got a few good ideas for the next build we are going to do – I know, I know, but never say never I guess.

It goes without saying that we organised a campfire asap – and this time we had marshmallows. The kids knew exactly how many marshmallows they had to space out over 4 days (Little even had them on the table in lovely piles….and then he still ate them all in one night!)

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What is it about free camping that just enables people from all different walks of life to come together without putting up any facade?

We met some amazing people at this free camp who shared their stories, their skills and their meals with us. There was Al and Rosie, Al has been blind since his teens and was on his way to a ten pin bowling championship but during our couple of days together he and Rosie taught the kids to read braille, introduced us to talking computers and audio movies!

There was Brendon & Libby and their kids who were an absolute godsend. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while and will never look at the driver acknowledgement wave in the same way ever again. Thankyou also for teaching us that yabbies don’t actually eat the bait that people put into the pots but are instead just trying to clean up their environment.

Then there were the Bushtracker Prospectors who have now given B’s life a new direction and inspired Sista to rekindle her relationship with crochet.

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We could have actually stayed here for longer but our water tanks were empty and we really needed a shower, so it was time to get moving again.