Day 67 continued
After catching up with George Baldwin at Smoky Bay and attending to some required tractor chores, completing and emailing report No 5 and picking up some famous ‘Smoky Bay’ oysters we decided to ‘make a mile’ (we all agree that it sounds better than ‘make a kilometre’!!). So with goodbyes said we were on our way at 3.15pm. Thanks for making us so welcome as usual George, we all would have loved to have stayed but really needed to keep moving west.
We went on through Ceduna and stopped for fuel at Penong. As we were about to leave, it was noticed that Bassy’s 9g had a split in the rim of one front wheel. With a ‘ready to use’ spare being carried the necessary change was made and we were soon on the road again. A few k’s out of Penong we found a suitable campsite at the roadside. Allan soon had the camp oven on the coals with our dinner under way. George prepared oysters for an entree`. Another 9g Club Member, Phil Price from Penong and his friend Damo caught up with us and delivered a lovely lot of mallee roots for our evening camp fire. Thanks for the gesture Phil and Damo. Glad you could stay and enjoy the fire with us all.
dawned and guess what – condensation again! Gee we loved these mornings!!! A quick wipe down and out with the plastic sheets to cover the beds and we were all packed up okay. There was no point in waiting for the sun to dry the campers out because whilst not wet, it was a bit cloudy with certainly no real sign of the sun. Our first stop for the day was at Nundroo road house where we met a lovely (very generous) group of tourist on their way to the whale watching centre. They were travelling in a coach from the town of Butte, South Australia, on a five day tour. What a pleasant, happy group of folk to meet and chat with. We again thank you all very much for your generosity towards our fundraising. As we travelled this first leg on to the Nullarbor, the green pastures continued and even the bush land glowed but it wasn’t very long before the land took on a “wide open spaces appearance”. Our next stop was at Nullarbor road house where we met up with a motor bike riding group who were riding to raise awareness of depression and its consequences.
Since getting on to the Nullarbor there had been very little in the way of ‘road kill’ – one wombat and one kangaroo. Live wildlife consisted of two dingo’s despite the caution signs warning of kangaroos, wombats, dingoes, camels etc!! As the afternoon went on the clouds became heavier with a slight/very light shower of rain falling and the winds became quite strong. Later in the afternoon we found a good camp site near a gravel dump (obviously placed for some up and coming project.) Once we were set up we were joined by Chas and Sandra from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast who were heading to WA to tour the Pilbara, the West Coast and South West of our State. Then we received a telephone call from Peter & Brenda Barr who were returning home. They were about 1.5hrs behind us and said they would join us a little later in the evening. This they did giving us all another great opportunity to catch up on events of the last few weeks since we farewelled each other at Birdsville.
As our camp was only about 100 yards from the cliff edge we woke to a beautiful view of the water’s of the Great Australian Bight. There was a chill in the air but no sign of rain. After breakfast we said goodbye to Chas and Sandra and continued west towards the South Australian/Western Australian border some 20k’s down the road. Once through the border check we went on to Eucla to enjoy one last coffee and chat with Peter and Brenda before they went on ahead of us on the last leg of their journey back to Esperance.
Since being on the Nullarbor we had become aware of the many road transport trucks carting sheep from WA to the Eastern states because of the lack of rain in the south of our State. After having seen so much water throughout the country it was hard to believe that some parts of our own state had missed out once again.
The weather for the day was looking good but from all reports there were warnings of more fronts coming from the West. At this late stage of our trek we hoped we would be lucky enough to miss anything really bad!
After Mundrabilla some ‘wag’ had been busy decorating trees!! We passed quite a number that had been done with all sorts of paraphernalia – undies, shoes, shirts you name it and it would be sure to have been part of the ‘display’! Guess that is ‘passing the time of day in the outback’. We continued on through Madura and Cocklebiddy with very little to report. Wildlife, be it dead or alive was almost nil! We could only assume that there was so much green feed and water for as far as the eye could see that the animals did not really need to frequent the roadside. Also gone are the days of little or no traffic on the Nullarbor. Now apart from heavy road haulage of all shapes and sizes – very big business all throughout our vast country, there are the tourists/travellers in all manner of vehicles- campers, caravans, four wheel drives, cars and so on it goes, everyone is on a mission. Our overnight camp was about 5k’s east of Caiguna.
We were up and ready at 6.30am (WA time) although we did not leave camp until about 7.30am after some minor repairs to the winding mechanism on the Bass camper. Once we left camp we were on to the longest straight road in Australia – some 146.8k without a single bend.
We had lunch at Balladonia then arrived in Norseman at 4.40pm. After fuelling up we turned north towards Kalgoorlie. Having done a total of 402k’s for the day, we made camp 162k from Kalgoorlie. After so many weeks together and with such wonderful challenges and accomplishments behind us, this would be our last bush camp as a group because on reaching Kalgoorlie Cedar and Allan would head south and the Bass’s would head north back to where it all began. That night there was lots of reminiscing around the last campfire reflecting back on all we had seen and done together. We also discussed the ‘outcome’ of the damper competition and it was decided that a ‘draw’ would be the best result because it was beyond any of us to say who really made the best one – or was it that we did not want to take the responsibility of making the final decision!!!
As we headed through Boulder on our way in to Kalgoorlie on day 71 we could see signs of the recent earthquake experienced in this area. Once in Kalgoorlie the time had come to say our farewells – Cedar and Allan would be staying in the city for the night to visit with Cedar’s son-in-law Enzo whilst the Bass’s planned to visit relations before continuing on towards Dongara. As we have said a number of times throughout the trek ‘farewells’ are not much fun and this one was no easier than any of the others!
With some 10489.8k’s on the clock, as Allan and Cedar drove off to meet up with Enzo, they still had that sense of togetherness but for the Bass’s it was the strangest feeling, suddenly we were just one!!!
The Bass’s make their way back to Dongara – lunch was enjoyed with family before departing Kalgoorlie at about 1.15pm. The journey continued on through Southern Cross to Bullfinch where a room was booked at the local hotel for the night. Again the generosity of folk came to the fore during the evening – thank you to all who contributed at the Bullfinch Hotel.
Whilst feeling that we had passed through some fairly good looking crops along the way it became more apparent all the time both in conversation and in the media that many parts of our state were still suffering with the lack of good rains for their cropping programs – also confirming the reason for seeing so many sheep being transported to the Eastern States. We had been so hopeful that our own State would have been going as well as other parts of the country but this did not seem to be the case in many areas. Our thoughts are with those who continue to suffer at the hands of ‘Mother Nature’.
At 6.10am, Bassys 9g, was back on the road with the aim of getting through to Dongara by evening. Our travels took us through various centres including Muckinbudin, Wialki, Beacon, Kalanie, Wubin and on up to Morowa, Mingenew and in to Dongara.
On the 11th September, 2010, at 4.05pm we arrived at Cumbers workshop (back where we were on 2nd July, 2010 prior to the commencement of the trek). We had travelled almost 600k’s since leaving Bullfinch in the morning and with a total of 11,322k’s on the clock since leaving Dongara on the 3rd July, 2010 the feeling we both had was very difficult to explain.
Family and friends were on hand to meet and greet us before we did the final few k’s home. All that was now left was the unpacking, cleaning and storing until next time!!!
Allan and Cedar on their homeward trip
After farewelling the Bass’s, Allan and Cedar made their way to the Miners Rest Hotel Motel to meet up with Enzo who is the breakfast chef there. The Miners Rest provides accommodation and all meals for Miners and General public. Both tractors and campers were allocated a ‘camping’ spot at the rear of the motel units and subsequently enjoyed the excellent hospitality and meals provided by the staff. The first ‘priority’ jobs to be done in Kalgoorlie was some minor electrical work for Allan and a long awaited haircut for Cedar.
On Saturday 11th September, the much anticipated underground mine tour had been organised by Enzo and both Allan and Cedar were ready for pick up at 10am. They were taken to the Tindal Mine (which has been operating for 100years) at Coolgardie. Following an induction and provision of the appropriate safety gear they headed in to the bottom of the open cut and on down the shaft underground in a 4wd dual cab through a series of single lane shafts to approximately 900mtrs.
During the tour there were large front end loaders and trucks operating, the chance to learn about the ventilation system, observing drilling machines in operation as well as machines applying safety mesh to the roof. Both agreed that this was an extremely interesting tour and sincerely thank all concerned.
On Saturday afternoon, having been provided with the use of a vehicle, a sightseeing visit of the super pit in Kalgoorlie was enjoyed – what a massive hole in the ground was the comment. Some 50 million ounces of gold have been extracted from the Golden Mile in its 110 year history. General sightseeing throughout Kalgoorlie including the famous ‘Hay Street’ (too early for business) was also enjoyed by both. Conversations with the Minors of today at the Miners Rest later in the evening were very enjoyable and informative.
Sunday 12th saw both Allan and Cedar up and raring to go. On leaving Kalgoorlie the direction taken was through Coolgardie and on to the Victoria Rocks Road to the Hyden-Norseman Road. At Mc Dermid Rock it was interesting to read the sign that told of a gentleman who had tried to set up a pastoral lease in the 1950’s but lack of reliable water was the problem.
To this point, the wildflowers and trees were ‘quite spectacular’ – to say the least. After meeting up with a group of ‘restored military vehicle’ enthusiasts from Kelmscott, camp for the night was made at the southern end of the Holland Track near Lake Carmody. The camp oven came out again and like so many other camps along the way another enjoyable night was had by the fire. Prior to making camp travels were down the Holland Track (very overgrown but a good surface to travel on) gave the opportunity of seeing first lot of crops, unfortunately they were not looking the best – these folk need rain.
Monday 13th travelling on through Newdegate and Pingrup and on south, the crops began to look better. At Ongerup a visit to the Wild Flower Show and museum was enjoyed. Then there was a visit to the Mallee Fowl Centre to check out the six new mallee fowl chicks.
Amongst those present, Allan boasted having travelled some 14000k’s without even a flat tyre – FAMOUS LAST WORDS for Al – 300m from the centre and his front tyre was flat. Thank goodness for the Tyre Centre being close by!
In a truck bay just before Allan’s driveway it was ‘farewell’ time again – the trek for ‘In Like Flynn’ and ‘Faulky’ was over and they too now just had to be cleared, cleaned and put away until next time. Both Allan and Cedar were welcomed home by loved ones and families.
We all can only repeat, we have continued to be humbled by the generosity of people throughout Australia who have contributed to our charities – Flying Doctor and Children’s Hospitals. Our collection tins will be opened and counted at the Club general meeting in October at Three Springs. In the mean time we are all grateful to each other for the wonderful trek we have completed and each and every one of us again say a very big THANK YOU to everyone.
The Chamberlain 9g Trekkers of 2010