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The Nullarbor - Beyond The Eyre Hwy

The Trans Australian Railway

We did this in two parts. The first part was done in April, and the aim was to cover the Nullarbor Muster in Rawlinna. From this trip, came the idea to travel and film along the Trans Australian Railway line.

April 2015

Nullarbor 2015 Part One -
Day one - two - April 3-4

My son Brett and I relived an old moment yesterday. Brett had suggested that I leave a day earlier than planned, and that he and I travel via Goomalling, Trayning, Nungarin and Merredin. He would then return to Perth, and I would continue on my way to Kalgoorlie.
Now, the old moment relived. Twenty two years ago, I had the task of towing (on two separate occasions - two different vehicles - a few months apart) the vehicles he was driving as they both suffered from minor problems - one a battery, the other a fuel pump. The embarrassing situation for Brett was, having his V8 Falcon towed by my (then) Volvo.
Yesterday, we were 2 kms out of Goomalling, when the radio burst into life, and Brett declared that he had a problem - the temp was through the roof. A quick look confirmed that a belt had broken, and as it wrapped itself around the fan, it had removed the other two belts as well. As it turned out, I had spare belts, but we soon realised that we were going to need a little help from someone who knows what they are doing, and we required shade. And so, ...... out came the tow rope. At least this time, as we both own Land Cruisers, he was spared the indignity of being towed by possibly a Nissan, or even worse, a Pajero or Landrover ...... oops, I guess I just lost a heap of readers.
Anyway, we lost 5 hours as we searched for a set of belts for his 80 series (on Good Friday), before a local Greg and his son Zack saved the day by somehow squeezing my 100 series belts onto the motor.
A few hours later, we arrived at Yelbeni, where we decided to stop for the night. We found a great hidey hole about 300m from the town site, and set up camp in the bush. We had settled down and were having a chat, listening to some music, when all of sudden there were a couple of voices, and a fellow and HIS son walked into the camp. About 3 hours later, we had gleaned just about the full history of the town from Kev and Chris, before we finally turned in for the night.
My Grandfather and Mum lived in Yelbeni for a few years back in the 1920-30s. And so it was interesting to find out that we had set up camp at turn one on the old trotting track. Yep, it seemed that where we had camped, was once upon a time, a recreation ground. We found the cricket pitch this morning, with a tree growing about mid pitch.
This morning, we climbed out of bed, took a look at the sky and decided weíd better get de-camped - too late, the heavens opened, and we got sort of soaked. We got ourselves moving, had a look at the town (a couple of houses, a shed, and the old town hall, which is now used as the local store .... it was used as a school in the time my mum was there. There is an information bay which doubles as the local museum, and the old siding. The railway is now but a memory
From here, we travelled through to Merredin, our taste buds dripping with the anticipated taste of the wares of the local bakery - one of Australiaís best. We pulled into town, to find the bakery closed for Easter .......... sigh ......
Brett had been researching his maternal grandparents histories as we had travelled through the various towns on our route, and after visiting the Merredin Cemetery, we parted ways, and I continued East.
I found an automated toilet in Coolgardie. It talks to you. It tells you that you have 10 minutes to vacate the premises, and then plays elevator music as you struggle to evacuate your constipated condition in the 10 minutes allowed, before finding that the automated paper dispenser has run out of paper ....... and then comes the dreaded order ďyou have reached your 10 minute allowance, please leave the ToiletĒ .......
I am tonight camped in the bush somewhere between Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Nullarbor 2015 Part One -
Day three - 5th April

Well, what a shit of a night ..... The battery wouldnít drive my sleep machine and it wasnít nice.
However, the spot I found was a beauty, It was obviously very popular, Ďcos there was a million flies - sort of like at a popular beach with people I sípose.
I was on the road by 8 oíclock, and drifted into a very quiet Kalgoorlie. I found another one of those singing toilets, but I have to confess that the difficulties encountered last night were no longer, and I could put up with the elevator music. And it had paper ... joy. Then a couple of locals came by and were gobsmacked that you didnít have to pay. The totally manual one down the street costs 50c a session. Anyhow, I have a blues song half written in my mind ........ something like the Automated Constipation Blues ......
I grabbed the camera out, and started filming around town, and then a trip across to Boulder to do likewise. Maccaís provided lunch. I have discovered the Grilled Chicken with Aolian Salad McWrap (or something like that). And so eating some ďhealthyĒ food, balanced with a chocolate Shake, I took advantage of their free internet to do a bit more research whilst munching.
A few years ago, I had visited the remains of a town just outside of Kalgoorlie called Kanowna. My grandmother was apparently the first white baby to live there. So I decided to go back out and have another look. It is promoted as a heritage trail listing. Well, they havenít done a thing to it, most of the signage is broken, rotten or missing, and I couldnít find the grave site .... but there is a mining camp in the area. Disgraceful.
Oh well, back into town, and a look at the Bush 2 Up School. Now I understood that 2 Up was tolerated by the diggers on Anzac Day, but I stumbled into a full on ring, which happens every Sunday and the funds go to the community. Naturally, I just happened to have a video camera in my hand ........
It was now getting on for 3pm, and a check of the weather tells me that we should be ok for another couple of days, so I asked Wanda (my GPS for the newbies - so called cos I wonder where the hell sheís gonna take me) where she recommended I camp tonight, and she has brought me out to this huge freecamp area at Lake Douglas Recreation Reserve. You can camp for three nights in a month. Incidentally, despite the plethora of caravan parks, Kalgoorlie does have a pleasant 24 hour free stopover in town - but for FULLY self contained vehicles only. Well done Kal.
Well I have the Gennie charging my auxilliary battery at the moment, and so I hope that I get a better nightís sleep tonight.

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Day 4 - 6th April

I must have walked on a Chinamanís grave or something.

A couple of days ago, the bag with my metal stretcher fell over .... nothing wrong with that, but my leg was in the way. Not my good leg, no the one that has hosted DVT and also suffers from Cellulitis ... or so they tell me. I have been treating it, but this morning I noticed that it was weeping, and having been through this a few months back, there was only one thing for it. ER Kalgoorlie. One tetanus shot, and an intravenous antibiotic shot later, and I am to report for the next 2-3 days until they are happy that Iím not going to fall off my leg.

This morning, I was in no hurry to go anywhere. Iíd hooked my C-Pap machine to my inverter after finding that 12 volt just wasnít going to cut it, and had a good nightís sleep. I set up to download video into a hard drive, and 29 gb later ran a couple of the clips, only to find that there was shudder and all sorts of nasties happening. Changed cables, used a different program to dump, same result. Grabbed another Hard Drive ...... perfect.

Then I cleaned the wound and found that it needed expert attention. And so I packed up camp, and found that I had flattened the batteries last night ,,,,,, something strange going on here. Out with the generator and charger, and we were up and running again. Tomorrow, I dig out an auto electrician. I was out of camp at 11.55am. Most of the afternoon was spent at the hospital. Better now than further East where there is NO ER.

So, where to stay, and the only sensible place was in a sardine can ... whoops, sorry, caravan park. Thank goodness for Top Tourist membership to help the wallet. And so, I am in Boulder. The weather has been great so far. Showers forecast for Wednesday, but I have a feeling I wonít be leaving here much before the end of the week. There is no excuse for not getting Kalgoorlie documented fairly thoroughly.

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Days 5 & 6 - April 7-8

I have nothing to report.

Just back and forth to the Hospital to have the leg checked. At least I got nurses without beards this time, and a lady Doctor (Michelle) who gave me a lecture about sitting with my foot suspended from an aircraft - ďnot horizontal, must be higher than your heartĒ - I have been accused of not having one of those, so an expert opinion was welcome - and not walking too much - they usually tell me to walk to keep the circulation flowing. Anyway, it turns out that she was worried that the swelling might be a return of the old DVT complaint of a few years ago, and so I was duly sent to Ultrasound, where it was confirmed that I was NOT suffering the DVT complaint, and my request to see if my stomach size was the result of being pregnant fell on deaf ears. With the negative result (DVT) Dr Michelle sent me packing with a request to present myself again tomorrow for further drug shots and leg dressing. I will hopefully be given the advice to bugger off onwards, or retreat back home to give the leg more time to recover. Twice in 5 months is a good reason to consider my position.

I took the car in to have the battery problem sorted. It appears that the old deep cell battery (20 months) had somehow dispensed with its liquid sustenance, and although it would charge up, it wouldnít hold it. A subsequent dump test proved the theory. The battery was stuffed. And so a new one, AGM for those who understand those things (supposed to be better, stronger, can be stored on its head - well, sort of), and horrendously expensive. Supposedly it will last for ever - 6 to 10 years at least, if looked after properly ......... yeah right. Anyway, itís done.

And I have been sent back to my tent in the sardine can (oops caravan park), to rest up with my leg suspended ..... now how on earth do I do that? We are having intermittent patterings of rain, and the tent isnít leaking ... yet .... so THAT is promising.

Geez, itís true what they say ..... I CAN go on when I have nothing to say .........

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Day 7 - 9th April

Itís a bugger getting old .......

How often have you heard some old fart muttering that phrase? Sometimes I think to myself, ďIf I hear that one more time ......Ē

Those of you who are intent on following my misadventures, will recall that I introduced you to Dr Michelle yesterday. She gave me a talking to, all in the interests of my health you understand. Well, it was my last visit to the Emergency Department today, and the good doctor was on duty once again. It seems that she is not a local, and in fact works wherever she is sent - she was in Albany during the Anzac celebrations, and will be there again in a couple of weeks. It seems she belongs to a group, who are I guess in effect, Locums. What surprised me, is that she operates out of New Zealand. Michelle comes from Nelson in the South Island, but gets to work all over Australia as well.

Today, I was given my final intravenous antibiotics dose, and was given a script for the oral alternative to complete the healing of my dodgy leg. Whilst playing with my legs (no it wasnít fun - they squeeze and if the leg is tender, it hurts) she discovered that it seems I am also suffering from fluid retention. And so, i was fed a water tablet, and given a prescription to obtain a bottle full of the things. I was warned not to take them at night, but in the morning. Already, in just a few hours, I have found myself making numerous dashes for the nearest loo, hoping that no-one is in residence.

Now I am sure that these things were prescribed in the appropriate manner, and were prescribed strictly in the interests of my health, but I canít help wondering that with her place of origin, and the thrashing we gave the Kiwiís in the World Cup Final, whether I may have been got at.

Geez, itís a bugger getting old ............

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Day 8 - April 10th

I was hoping to get some video of the Nuretha Meteorite, It was the first meteorite to be found on the Nullarbor and collected by the authorities. It fell just 6kms north of the Nuretha Siding, and was to be part of my story. And so I made an appointment went to the WA School of mines in Kalgoorlie, and we found the cabinet empty. Apparently, Curtin University (who now have the WASM under their wing), may have moved a couple of the larger meteorite pieces back to Bentley for insurance purposes.

And so I detoured to have a look at the hole in the ground they call the Superpit. Itís 3.5 kms long, 1.5 kms wide, and 360m deep. Apparently, it is due to close in 2017. Now what do you do with an old open cut mine? Fill it in? Youíre joking. Let it fill with water and have a lake (with huge walls)? You can be certain they wonít rehabilitate. Anyhow, if you have never had a look, photos donít do it justice. It is huge.

I called into the Boulder Town Hall to have a look at their famous Goatcher Curtain

This beautifully preserved historic hall, with pressed tin ceiling and wrought iron balustrades, was opened on the 23rd of June 1908. It became famous as the host venue for celebrity performers such as Dame Nellie Melba and Eileen Joyce.

This multifaceted hall also operated as a library and municipal offices at various times during the 20th century and was the main focus of community life in Boulder.

The Goatcher Curtain is a priceless curtain depicting the Bay of Naples. It has hung in the Boulder Town Hall since its opening in 1908 and is believed to be the last surviving example of a working Philip Goatcher stage curtain in situ. Goatcher was paid 50 pounds in 1908 to paint the curtain as a drop canvas to complement and close the Ďpicture frameí stage of the Town Hall. Less than a year earlier he had painted the stage curtain at the Midland Town Hall.
This 6.25m x 8.45m work of one of the Victorian eraís greatest scenic painters was bought to the attention of the local council Ė torn in many places and the paint layer had become unstable and badly stained. In 1997 the curtain was removed and transported to Sydney where it was stabilised at a cost of $200,000 by the council and the fundraising efforts of Boulder Hidden Secrets.
Phil W. Goatcher (as he signed his name) was nicknamed Satin Ďní Velvet for the lavish illusions he created for drop curtains that graced theatres from Paris to New York. Like many of Goatcherís works, the curtains painted for Perthís His Majestyís Theatre were painted over in 1948.

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Day Nine - April 11th

Well, didnít it bucket down last night. The forecast said it would, and they werenít wrong. I zipped up the Oztent RV4, turned on the sleep machine, and woke up this morning surrounded by a lake. I canít believe I slept through it all. There was some lightning and thunder when I turned in, and I gather the sky got all angry as the night went on.

I read on a friends page, where he was complaining about the fact that the weather station for Katanning is well out of town. We have the same situation in Albany, where the station is at the airport, 10 kms out of town, and the weather and rainfall reading bear no resemblance to what happens in town.

So when I read that we had had 19.3 mm I thought, yeah, right. You see the Kalgoorlie weather is taken at the Kalgoorlie Airport, and that is situated at Boulder, some 6 kms away. And then I realised, that the caravan park I am staying in, is right next door to the airport.

Great little tents these Oztents.

Tomorrow, all being equal, I will pack up, everything is now dry (assuming it doesnít rain tonight, and there is no expectation that it will), and I will start my trek towards Rawlinna. Now THAT piece of road could be interesting, although they tell me it doesnít take long to dry out.

We shall see.

Nullarbor 2015 - Part One
Day Ten Ė 12th April
Day Eleven - 13th April

My goodness, where am I?
The last couple of days have been different. You will recall that we had a heap of rain in Boulder (20 mm) on Friday night - Saturday morning. That rain also fell along the Trans Access Road for about 200 kms, and red dirt roads get very slippery when wet. If you watch NASCAR, you will know that if a right hand tyre blows out, you are a passenger, and you hit the wall. This was a similar experience on a couple of occasions, where I was on full left lock, four wheels driving, and the road telling me ďNope, you are going this wayĒ, until something gripped and threw me back on track again - all at about 30-40 kph in 4WD. It kept me awake, interested and tested my skills at times. Other times, it just splooshed all over the windscreen, which is not helpful if you have a camera rolling.

The highlight of the day was once again, Karonie Dam. This was built by Italian Interned POWs during the second world war. There is a dammed catchment area, and a lower reservoir. There is a number of catchment walls built along the rocks, diverting water into the weir and reservoir. We had a look in 2008, but we only saw part of it. A group from Birds Australia gave me the heads up on a few things to look at. What did surprise me was the size of the rock quarry just before and behind the dam.

I camped last night at a quarry just before Zanthus. I decided that rather than go through the rigmarole of pulling the Oztent off the roof and setting up the stretcher, that I would pull my trusty old 2 man dome tent out. Now the first thing was, that it still had the camping ticket attached from the last time it was used .... Chilli Beach on Cape York in 2010. Second thing was a large leaf that was definitely not endemic to these parts. I put it up, rolled out the self inflating mattress, and then settled down to cook dinner.

Now the two kinds of flies out here. ďFriendlyĒ, and ďMore friendlyĒ. And they were out in force. And as soon as the sun went down, they were gone. But now came a squadron, or maybe three, of the light seeking bug brigade. I sat in the car, opened the computer, and had a battle seeing the screen. I gave up. Bed time.

That two man tent has been my faithful companion for multiple trips. It cost me about $60 in 2005. It was again, an ideal foil for the wind and the cold last night, but NO MORE. Iíd forgotten how bloody uncomfortable it is sleeping on the ground, climbing out and UP in the middle of the night .... Iím not built for it anymore, and Iíve decided Iím just to damned old to do this anymore. And so, it has now been officially retired, and tonight, I am back in my Oz Tent and on my stretcher .... Iíve done my time, I have nothing more to prove.

Oh, if you have an Oz Tent RV4, the bag is a tightish fit when repacking the next day - yes? Spend the $69 or whatever it is, and buy an RV5 bag. Our bag rotted on the Savannah Way trip, and I bought the bigger bag to replace it - perfect.

Today, was another beautiful day. The sun was shining, the flies created the cloud, but the going was much better. I had been told by the Birds Australia people that there were a couple of young ladies riding their horses ďreinlessĒ to Rawlinna. I caught up with them today, and spent some time filming them and finding out more about what they were doing. I found Suzie and Cooper Pedy walking, Coober having a couple of problems with saddle soreness and a potential fetlock problem, whilst Robin was away in front with Jasper. Both horses have lovely natures, The girls are riding/walking the horses totally without the use of reins. They are doing it for the horses, but raising money for Beyond Blue, Melanoma Institute, and RFDS. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/ReinlesstoRawlinna?fref=ts . If you have a dollar or two to spare, please consider donating to the cause. I hope to catch up with them again tomorrow at some stage.

I had an itch to have a look at Naretha siding. It is just 6kms south of where the first meteorite was found by authorities on the Nullarbor plain. There is a Loading Bay with a shed, and old cattle yards which make you wonder what stories they could tell. There also a huge abandoned quarry behind the siding, but it was on private land, I chose not to trespass.

And so Rawlinna. I rolled into town, found one young bloke working on the back of a truck. His dog seemed pleased to see me. I wondered out to the muster site, to find the place deserted. Seems that they were here this morning, and have a fair bit to do before Friday. A phone call, and I was told where I could set up camp, and here I am. No-one else within coo-ee.
Tomorrow is another day.

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Day Twelve - April 14th

I had decided I wasnít going to do that.

I think I mentioned that after the dramas with my leg, that I wasnít going to take any chances by pushing on beyond Rawlinna, because of the lack of medical help and letís face it thereís no-one out there should you get into trouble.

Well, I woke up all bright eyed and bushy tailed, thought about my Reinless To Rawlinna friends, and figured that they had a cameraman with them, and That they were still 100kms away. And a check on the GPS found that Nurina (which was one of my goals) was 111 kms away, albeit in the opposite direction. A check of the 512km Kalgoorlie Radar told me it was not going to rain, and the sky was blue - not a cloud anywhere. And so, I figured a day trip.

I found Barbara Hogg (Secretary of Nullarbor Muster Club) on the grounds - she was the only one here - and told her of my plans, asked about the road and the restrictions, and her reply was that everybody goes out there, and to ring Jill Campbell when I get there and visit Kybo Station. Fantastic. I told her I would be back that night, and high tailed it for Haig.

Of interest along the road to Haig, is the odd triangular pylon - I saw three - situated within a couple of hundred metres of the rail. On our train journey in 2007, it was explained to us that because of the lack of trees, Eagles used to nest in the telegraph poles. These had been removed withe advancement of technology moving the cable underground, and these pylons had been placed to allow the birds to build their nests. Thatís the story - I guess itís true.

At Haig, the first thing you notice (travelling west to east) is the airstrip right along side the road, strategically placed I would think for the RFDS to be able to transfer patients from the train readily. The line is only about 200m from the strip. There is the usual loop line, but crossing the line, there is another of those raised siding slabs as at Naretha, but with no shed on this one. There was a couple of piles of what looked like plasterboard, as well as the spare rail irons, ballast, sleepers.

The road to Eyre Hwy is clearly marked, and this is the end of the line as far as legal travel is concerned. However, there is no indication sign wise that this is the case. I did however see a couple of poles that once did hold a sign, but what was on the sign is a matter for conjecture. I pushed on.

I was surprised that the road was is reasonable condition - that was until I reached the turn off to Kybo Station, 13 kms from Haig. That made sense I thought, as the locals need to go to Rawlinna and Kalgoorlie as well...... Not that there is any business activity at the former. The road now became a track, rocky in places, and very obviously a problem road in certain areas when it rains. This thought was supported by the stacks of spare concrete sleepers positioned along the way, ready for any wash outs.

Nurina is the site of an old POW camp. There isnít much to show for it now, except the signs on the side of the rail. It is fairly obvious where most of the activity took place, as the Limestone rock stretches back for a few hundred metres on the southern side of the track, indicating where the camp was set up. There are some lines of rock still showing the rad way patterns, but most has now been disturbed. The prisoners were interned Italians, many of whom had sons who were fighting for the Allied Forces. But I guess who knows where a former nationalís allegiances lie in time of war, and so they were interned. A letter I saw later in the afternoon indicated that we were really no better at treating our prisoners, than ours were treated overseas. Shocking revelation .... I think not. These people were used to build and maintain the railway.

A few hundred metres on the land dips to where the loop line is situated. There is a creek which runs beneath the line and into a huge dam, which was probably put there years ago to supply water for the old steamers. There is also the remains of an old cattle loading ramp which has seen better days, I had been wondering about how many cattle, graziers lost due to train strike, and there beside the track were the remains of about 10-15 animals - I didnít count, the odour was powerful.

It was time to phone Jill Campbell. No signal. Thatís odd, there had been signal all along the line. There are repeater stations all the way, but, nothing. Kybo was only 5-6 kms away, and so I headed in that direction. First thing I found was a mob of about 25 camels wandering across a paddock. Not long afterwards, the homestead appeared, and I was greeted with the sight of a multitude of old vehicles, buildings, machinery.

I was met by Jill and her husband Rod, apologised for not phoning first, and the reason why. They explained that everyone who lived on the Nullarbor had mobile coverage except them, despite Telstraí best efforts by erecting two towers, which didnít work. For some reason, Nurina is still coverage free.

I spent a couple of hours with Jill as we talked about the history of the Nullarbor - they had taken up a lease here 50 odd years ago, built the house with old railway sleepers and cement - her father started Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, built the first motel there - her son owns Mundrabilla Station ....... and we discussed the Old Coach Road, and it seems that despite the name, it has no historical significance, and is a nuisance to the station owners, who have a bundle of travellers crossing their land getting confused on the myriad of tracks in the area. And it turned out that the dead animals by the train track, were in fact a mob of camels, who had decided to settle for the night. The train had no chance of stopping.

Rod gave me directions back to the rail line via a ďgradedĒ road across his property, which ended at the aforementioned Kybo Turnoff. Now if you are using either the Hema or Exploroz Topo maps out here, let me tell you, the tracks are not all where they say they are. Itís a good idea to get a mud map from the locals. And remember I mentioned at the beginning that there is no-one out here to help you? Well I learned today that station owners will help, and very graciously.

Now it appears that the shire of Kalgoorlie-Boulder extends to the border, but they have relinquished control of the land along the rail line after Haig to the Commonwealth and rail company it seems. So they accept no responsibility, and the rail company donít want to know, and so the road is officially closed. It appears that the major problem is breakdown - usually by unprepared travellers, and itís the likes of Rod and other station owners who get to do the dirty work, and often donít get compensated.

The trip back to Rawlinna was fairly quick - I was able to maintain an 80 kph rate for most of it and arrived back just before 5pm. I had left at 9am - it was a day that I am pleased that I changed my mind.

Nullarbor 2015 - Part One
Day 13 - April 15th

Wow, I am glad I did that run yesterday ....

Woke up to an overcast sky this morning, and there was a threat of rain. I decided that I would do some filming around the Muster area whilst it was still in itís natural state. There was no one working here to get the place ready, but there were a couple of old time couples who have retired and come out for the weekend. And so I hit record and got more of the history of the area. Was wonderful. I saw a photo of a Mr Hogg yesterday (I thought it was David Helfgott, who I went to high school with in first year) and it appeared that he dropped dead whilst playing his bagpipes. It turns out that John Farrell (one of the people I was talking to) was standing next to him, also playing his pipes, when it happened. It also turns out that Johnís wife Anne is the Great Great Niece of Harry Readford. Now for those of you who donít know the story, Harry Readford is credited with being the first man to drove about 1000 head of cattle down the Strzelecki Track. The only problem was, they werenít his.

Readford was apprehended in Sydney in 1872, and faced trial in Roma, Queensland. However, the jury members were so impressed by his achievements that they found him not guilty, whereupon the judge, Charles Blakeney, remarked, "Thank God, gentlemen, that verdict is yours and not mine!" In response to the verdict, in July 1873, the Government shut down the Roma District Criminal Court for two years but rescinded the order in January 1874. You can read the rest of the story here .... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Starlight

After taking my leave, I did the filming I had planned, and then decided to take a run out to the nearby abandoned Lime Mine.. the mine was operated by Cockburn Cement until a few years ago when it was closed up and was under the watch of a caretaker. He apparently left about 3 years ago, and all the machinery and infrastructure just sits there empty. The lime was used in the production of gold in Kalgoorlie.

I came back to my luxury hotel for lunch under ominous skies, and this afternoon, they did roar a bit, and moisturised the ground, and I had a window open behind where I was working on some video, and I wound up with a nice little puddle inside the tent. Duh.

It was about time to start cooking tea, and about two steps out I realised that if I didnít keep my feet securely on the ground and walk by sliding my feet, I was going wind up on my bum and deep red mud. Very slippery.
What a contrast to yesterday, and I feel justified in my decision to do my Nurina run then. It will be very messy out there now.

Nullarbor 2015 - Part One
Day Fourteen - April 16th

The rain appears to have gone, the wind is blowing hard - which is good to dry things out. The gymkhana grounds are good - they are limestone based, it's the camping area which is red dirt which is very gluggy. As usual, I appear to have camped in the wrong spot ..... you get that.

Meanwhile, the punters are slowly starting to roll in, and work has begun on getting the place set up. I have taken the opportunity to go into town filming this afternoon, whilst the weather has eased.

According to the Indian Pacific timetable, the train is due to arrive in town at 7.35 tonight. Someone told me a while ago that it's Friday nights. I will take the camera and wait ............. and wait even longer if it DOES turn out to be tomorrow. It seems the train stops here for three hours, and they feed the passengers a big nosh up on the platform ..... I think they might be eating on board tonight.

We'll see.

Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Days Fifteen to Seventeen - April 17-19

The train didnít turn up Thursday. But it did Friday. But it turned up early, according to the timetable on the net, but not according to the NEW timetable which isnít on the net .... confused? Good, cos so am I.
It appears the new company has changed things around, and I havenít been personally informed - I guess not that I expected to be. Anyhow, I got some shots of the people eating (after asking permission of train staff), and I guess I will find out if I am allowed to use the footage.

Anyhow, I am getting ahead of myself. I decided to head out and meet the girls, and film their activities of the day, and found that JT, their hired videographer had come back out and was going to complete the journey with them. We got on like a house on fire, and between us, got some varying types of footage, especially as he had a drone and was getting some great aerial stuff. The girls rode into the muster ground just after 5pm, having completed 14 days of riding (with a couple of rest days) covering 360 kms from Kalgoorlie to Rawlinna. An excellent effort.

Friday night, down to the train .... then back to the muster where an old mate Grant Hart and his son were the band. And so a half hour filming them for some YouTube stuff. It was once again, an extremely cold night. The last couple of nights had clear skies, and we froze.

Saturday - up early, horse gymkhana stuff, JT buzzing around with his drone, and then sat around half the afternoon waiting for the Bull Riding to begin ....... 1 1/2 hrs later than the program. By now, the breeze was starting to whip up, and the bulls began to heat up, a couple trying to get into the ring before they were meant to ... OVER the fence .... all for the entertainment of the fans I guess. Finally transferring ALL of the video files Iíd taken to JTís drive, so that he could use what he wants with the Reinless To Rawlinna DVD production. Another cold night, but because of cloud cover, warmer than the last couple and without the condensation that drips off the tent roof onto your face whilst sleeping.

Today, Sunday ........ up at 6am, started breaking camp, fueled up, said my goodbyes to JT, the girls and their backup crew, and headed for Haig, where the road to the Eyre Hwy is the recommended route south. Now my shovel has been on the roof with no problems for the duration of this trip, either strapped securely on itís own, or strapped to the tent. Somehow I think I didnít strap it to the tent this morning. Thank goodness I didnít need it today, cos itís GONE.

Gates .... I havenít seen so many gates in years. Real gates, and Cocky Gates. Now the latter are great, because they invariable fall apart as you open them, making it darnn near impossible to close them again, or in one case today, I almost had to rebuild the locking mechanism ... if you can call it that.

It was 119 kms, and took about 5 hours. There is a lot of rock outcrop, and you are virtually tied to around 20-30 kph, except for the red dirt sections, where you can occasionally hit 50 kph, before then running into muddy sections left from the rain earlier in the week. It was an enjoyable drive. But I was most disappointed when I got to the Eyre Hwy, Instead of a proper turnoff, it is really only a cocky track, unsigned onto the main road. Rather an Ignominious finish to a days drive I thought. Then a few kms down the road to Cocklebiddy, where I have gone soft for the night, booked a motel room, had a lovely hot and cold shower, (hot-cold-hot-cold-etc),had dinner in the restaurant, and retired to the room to download video and write this drivel.

I hope you all had a great weekend. This has been a great trip. Now for part two in September. That doesnít mean Iím not doing anything Ďtil I get home this time. Who knows what the next couple of days will bring. Iíve just got to sort out what Iíve seen and learned in the past few days and put it into some semblance of order and sense.
Good night.

September 2015

Day One 120915
Transport day today. We had a couple of delays, and got away from Midland at 11am. It was wet and windy, and and the conditions caused a couple of moments that got our attention. We reached Merredin at 2pm, not really expecting our favourite bakery to be open, but surprise, it doesn't close until 3pm.
We pushed on, wondering where we were going to camp, it being so wet, but just before Coolgardie, the conditions changed, and the sun came out. We were making good time, and so we decided to push on to a spot I had camped at in April when doing the first stage of this trip. Despite the strong wind, we got the tents up - it was sort of like wind surfing, but we prevailed. Brett still has damaged fingers on his right hand, and so it was the both of us working to get set up before dark. The Dockers game kept us awake, whilst we had to wait until camp to find out how the V8s fared at Sandown. Tonight, it's a bit chilly - read Brrrrr - but it's OK in the tents out of the wind.
I've something funny happening with the clutch - it all works, but feels as tho there is no fluid - or spongy - or something, and then it's fine ......... I guess tomorrow will tell.

Day Two 130915
What a difference a day makes. When I did the first part of this journey in April, my son Brett travelled with me as far as Merredin. He lost his fanbelts at Goomalling, and we had to replace them before continuing. This morning, 50kms out of Kalgoorlie on the dirt, my inverter started playing up - I switched everything off one unit at a time - still kept protesting at me - then the Tyre Pressure management system started a long continuous beep - and I realised I had a problem. I jumped out, put a meter on the batteries, and the starter battery was about 6 volts. A quick look, and the Alternator belt had broken, taking the second one with it. And so we limped back into Kalgoorlie, grabbed a cabin, watched the V8s at Sandown and the football.
I tried to open the back door of the Cruiser - nup, wouldnít budge. This happened to me once before in Timber Creek in the NT. It necessitates removing the doorskin, which is easy when the back door is closed, and has a drawer system inside, and a table and chair jammed between. ........ but I DID it. I figured out how to open the door, and then sat trying to figure out what the problem was, and how it could be repaired .... long story short - Gaffa Tape.
Meanwhile, the starting battery was as near to flat as could be - gauges, lights, trafficators, radio all shut down as we drove back to town, where we booked into the Discovery caravan Park at Boulder - I had spent a week here in April ....... things are getting spooky here.
You see, where we camped in April, was where we camped last night. In April, an infected leg found me camped back here on day two, and this time, day two ..... you get the drift
Iíve rung three mobile mechanics, and waiting on a phone call from at least one of them who desperately wants a job ..... I hope.
Tonight, I will take Brett to the Albion Hotel here in Boulder, and reluctantly force some of their scrumptious food down my throat.
Tomorrow is another day

Day Three 140915
Wow, it got a tad chilly in Kalgoorlie last night, and that was in a cabin in the caravan park.
You may remember that I had phoned and left messages with three mobile mechanics yesterday. Would you believe that only ONE replied, and he had sold up and was back in Melbourne. However, he did give us a lead, and at 7.45am, I rang the recommended company, and at 8.30am, there was a mechanic under the bonnet. 20 Minutes later, it was discovered that the tensioning screw from the alternator was missing, that the fluid in the clutch was contaminated, and of course, the alternator belts were missing and stuffed. Once it was all put together again, a test on the alternator showed that it was not charging at the recommended rate, and although it might have done the job for a good deal later, it might just as easily packed up in the near future. With 2200 kms of wilderness ahead of us, it was a no-brainer .... replace it.
The day was spent re-editing the video that was ďcompletedĒ after our April expedition on the new computer. A quick trip to the Superpit to see much difference six months digging and blasting can make.
We then suffered another dinner - this time Chicken Parmigiana at the Historic Exchange Hotel.
Now, as we welcome a new Prime Minister (AGAIN), we are preparing to be up, up and away early in the morning.

Day Four 150915
We got away to an early start, and headed out the Trans Access Road AGAIN..... this time with more success. Our first planned stop was Karonie Dam, where I wanted to get some aerial shots with the drone. But the phone couldnít match up to the drones Wi-fi signal .... then I found that the wi-fi extender battery was flat, and I knew that I had charged it all up .... then I noticed that the switch had been turned on somehow. So we threw some charge into it, but the result was not what I was looking for ..... next time ..... which happened to be Zanthus. By now the extender battery was charged up, and much better results. I reckon weíll get it right by Christmas smile emoticon
The road was in the main pretty good .... the other bits ... well letís put it this way, the sun was directly above us and therefore no contrasting patches to tell you where the dips are, and when you hit them, they stay hit.
As we approached Rawlinna, the Kangaroos and emus came out to play chicken ,,,,,, in fact we came across an emu that had been obviously hit by a previous car or truck, and was badly injured. We only had one humane option, and we took it.
Tonight we are camped up at the Rawlinna Muster Ground.
Rawlinna is a railway siding on the Trans-Australian Railway in Western Australia. It was the site of a small lime mine, now closed..
Rawlinna is also the start of the Connie Sue Highway, an outback track that leads to Warburton. There is no fuel for sale at Rawlinna. The closest locations are Caiguna and Cocklebiddy on the Eyre Highway, more than 100 km to the south.
Tomorrow we head toward Nurina which hosted a prisoner-of-war camp in WWII. Then we continue on towards Forrest.

Day Five 160915
Up bright and early this morning. Flew the drone over town and caught a train coming through on camera. We had a quick look at the old Lime Mine, and were on the road by 8.55am. The road to Haig was good, then it began to deteriorate.

One of the bucket list items was to get a train stationary whilst being passed by one heading in the opposite direction. We ticked that one off this morning.

We sent the drone up again at Nurina over the old prisoner of war camp ground. And then again just down the track where the dam that was used for supplying water to the steam engines in days gone past is situated. A train rumbled through at the same time ... great footage .... went to download - hadnít hit the record button. Up she went again on nearly flat batteries - a totally non - prepared flight and ..... perfect video. Thank goodness for that one.

The track really deteriorated from here on. We passed the spot where the worldís longest stretch of straight railway line starts, and finally reached Loongana. Not quite as far as we would have liked, but not bad in the circumstances. We are travelling East, and so are losing daylight as we go. We took a run out to where the lime mine used to be years ago, and decided to camp for the night. As for putting our pegs in the ground, a couple of sticks of gelignite would have been handy.

I had hassles with the Jerry Cans falling over on the roof, and I figure that I have more diesel spilt up there than in the tanks. Brett had a different problem with his tailgate refusing to open. We got it fixed, but it was a major worry - the food was trapped inside.

The kangaroos and emus were out in force this morning, including one dad with his three chicks.

We really appreciate the response and comments we have been getting to our Photo uploads. Thank you everyone for participating in our journey.

Tomorrow, Forrest and the border at Deakin.

Day Six 170915

Wow, we have reached the border. Tonight we are camped at the Deakin Obelisk, situated on the spot surveyed by Robert Anketell way back in the day., More about that tomorrow.

We covered over 180 kms of track .... thatís about the only way to describe it. It was rough, stoney, and extremely dusty. This was bulldust at itís best ..... best? We were following the wheelmarks of a truck carrying stuff from Nurina to Forrest. We had been told that he was choosing the best tracks, so follow them. That put us at one stage a few feet from the railway line, and when a train thunders past you at close range in a multi-million hectare paddock, it does feel a tad strange.

I didnít mention the stars last night ..... the sky is just a blanket of white shiny dots of light. Itís amazing. You donít see night skies like this in populated areas.

This story canít be told without the Indian Pacific, the train that runs from Sydney to Perth across this vast expanse of land. I felt that we were going to miss it, because of itís schedule compared to ours. However, it appears that it is currently the season for running two services each way. We were on the rail access road, when Brett, who was travelling a couple of kms behind me trying to avoid the dust - no wind to blow it away - announced that a train was coming, and was the Indian Pacific. Well I grabbed the camera, and managed to shoot it out in the middle of nowhere. Bucket List item ticked. Now, trying to get a train with the drone, you have to set the drone, connect muck around, and the before you get it up in the air, the train is gone. We were approaching Mundrabilla siding, when I noticed that the Indian Pacific was parked up waiting for an oncoming freight train to rumble past. It was a perfect opportunity to drive past, send up the drone, and record the Indian Pacific from the air. I couldnít have organised it any better.

We finally arrived at Forrest. This is a full sized airstrip, created back in the 1920ís, when Western Australian aviator Sir Norman Brearly won the mail route ftom WA to SA. It can land a Boing 707, and is a refuelling point for small aircraft and the RFDS. There is a (now) automated weather station, and half a dozen houses that are available for guests. It is an oasis in the middle of this vast open, treeless wilderness.

It was now starting to get on, and we needed to reach the WA-SA border before dark to camp for the night. It was achieved, not without a few hassles for Brett, who is attempting to drive this course one handed, having injured himself a few weeks ago, when he lost an argument with a lawn edger. I was hanging on with both hands, and that was arduous enough. My admiration that he did it the hard way.

We will report on the history of this place tomorrow.

Day Seven 180915
We woke at 5.30 this morning, to the dulcet tones of an express train running full bore through our tents .... well, at least, that's what it sounded like.
I couldn't get into gear this morning, and so it was a bit later than we would normally get moving, when we finally fired up, and drove the 100m to the railway line to have a look at the Deakin Obelisk, which signifies where the WA-SA state border is.
That done, we changed tack, drove the 3 and a bit kms back Deakin, and turned south down the Deakin -Eucla Expressway ..... OK, so it's really only a track .... and different to you lot negotiating freeways and the like, no traffic snarls ..... well, at least not until we found the only camel in miles, trotting ..... yep, you guessed it, up the middle of the road. Brett and I had been discussing the size and the shape of the little black articles littering the track - he thought Kangaroos, I thought camels ....... I did see a couple of Roos before meeting "Clyde", but skippys tend NOT to run up and down roads.
Brett spied a herd of camels off in the distance a little while longer, but Clyde was definitely on his own.
Surprisingly, the road was better than we had been on, but still needed to be treated with respect. All seemed to be going well until we reached the bitumen, and Brett reported that the 80 series was wallowing like I do when trying to turn in a hurry. A check had the front of the car bouncing like a bouncy castle, and we have discovered not one, but both front shockers are stuffed. And that creates a few problems in getting them fixed out here in a hurry. We will see what tomorrow brings.
Meanwhile, we booked into the Motel at Eucla, had a well needed shower, uploaded videos, had dinner, and watched Hawthorn destroy Adelaide. I feel that the Dockers will have their work cut out next week.
I promised you last night to tell you a bit about Robert Anketell's part in the railway survey.
"The Engineers-in-Chief, under the chairmanship of Henry Deane, met in February 1908 to organise the survey. The WA Government was to survey the route from Kalgoorlie to the state border, and the SA Government from Port Augusta to the border.
Route surveys
Richard Anketell, an engineering surveyor who had also been a member of Muirís 1901 flying survey, led the Western Australian party, which consisted of three other surveyors, ten camelmen and assistants and 91 camels. They left Kanowna on 1 July 1908. Anketell went ahead with an assistant setting the alignment by compass and checking it by stellar observations. He marked the route by means of a heavy Ďsnigging chainí drawn by one of his camels, a simple, effective, method of his own devising. The chaining, pegging and leveling party followed. The pack camels left 270 litre caches of water every eleven kilometres, and at each of these, the camel wagon party established a new camp every night. By the end of September, the party reached the border, where it built a cairn and then turned south for the small telegraph station town of Eucla, where the members had a well earned rest. Most of the camels and camelmen then returned along the coast to Norseman. A small party, including Anketell and another surveyor, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, returned along the pegged line to look for additional water supplies, and to locate and size culverts, while the remainder of the party sailed for Albany on 8 October 1908. Drake-Brockman later wrote a succinct comment on Anketellís organizing ability. ĎWe built no heroes but we left no bonesí."
Tomorrow, we hope that our "shocker" of a day brings positive news.

Day Eight 190915
We made the decision after a couple of phone calls, to do the 491 km run from Eucla to Ceduna where we would have a better chance of getting the shock absorbers on Brettís 80 series replaced, hopefully on Monday morning. It would be suicide to attempt the Old Eyre Hwy, which was our plan, and risk damaging the shock towers and other parts on a bad road.

We have decided to re-schedule, and return to the Maralinga turnoff once the 80 Cruiser is back in business, and then follow the railway from Watson to the Stuart Hwy, Pimba (and hence Woomera) down to Port Augusta. I will then return to the Cook turnoff, and do the 102 km run on my way back home, while Brett continues on to Melbourne.

The highlight of the day, would have to have been this morning, when I looked out through the motel door in time to see a girl leading a white horse ....... with a dog sitting on itís back ......

When I drove through Ceduna in 2013, I stopped at the Ceduna Airport Caravan Park, and was impressed with the pricing. And so we rang about a cabin, and were given three options, ranging from $70 to $130. The cheaper option, you supply your own bedding - we've got sleeping bags, so that did us. Keep in mind, the room has ALL of the amenities, including stove, full sized fridge, and a decent sized TV :-) .

Tomorrow is Sunday, and will give us a chance to explore this neck of the woods, which in the past, has been just another fuel stop on our journeys.

Day Nine 200915

I have to laugh. My eldest son who shall remain nameless, you know the one, Brett, is always on at me about the S**t I eat and probably drink, and the food I choose to cook (the instructions are on the packet, and they fit well in the microwave) ...... I admit that I am no Jamie Oliver or Nigella Kennedy - as I said the other day to him, I love food, I just donít like preparing it ...... letís put it another way, I love driving, but I didnít build the car. But thatís OK, because thatís what sons are supposed to do, stir their old man along.
Now when it comes to soft drinks, the one every one takes a swing at is Coca Cola. If you get full strength, it has 8 tonnes of sugar in it, if you get Diet Coke, you get enough aspartame to kill you in 3 days, and so you switch to Coke Zero ....... and it has nasties as well, but apparently not enough to make any toes or fingers drop off. Refer to http://www.mhlearningsolutions.com/commonplace/index.phpÖ
So what it all boils down to is moderation .......
So, if you are going to mix your bourbon with coke, then what better than Coke Zero? COLD Coke Zero. Which brings me back to our rude awakening this morning. I thought a tree branch had crashed onto the roof of the motel room. About an hour later, Brett noticed that the freezer door on the fridge in our room was slightly open, and the can of Coke Zero (did I tell you he is always going on about my memory) that he FORGOT he had placed in the fridge last night had ........ yep you guessed it
We had a day to kill in Ceduna, and so I washed last nights dishes, Brett took off to the laundry to put some washing through, while I transferred video taken so far into the hard drives and computer, checking that everything was happening on the footage that was supposed to. We had a bit of spillage in one of the car fridges that needed to be cleaned up, and then Brett took off for his walk that has been a bit neglected with everything that has been going on.
This afternoon, a bit of a Cooks tour around Ceduna. We went out to Denial Bay and had a look at the MaKenzieís Ruins. He was an early pioneer of the area, and his memory lives on at McKenzieís Landing and one of the main streets in town.
We checked the TV guide and set aside 4.30pm to watch RPM. So at 4.30 PM, we switched on the TV and watched Matt White wrapping up the show. Now I understand that TV is broadcast Nationally. In the West, we get the TEN programs delayed 2 hours. I accept that SA is half an hour behind Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane, and would receive the Eastern States programs live with a half hour difference. So at 4.30pm, we watched the 5PM news - ok so far? - but the TV tells us that the time is actually 5.30pm - but it is really 4.30 pm ......... arrrgh. No wonder Adelaide didnít turn up for their AFL final against Hawthorn. They didnít have a clue what the time was.
We received the news yesterday, that Baby K had finally made an appearance a week or so after the original ETA, and we are now the proud Uncle and Grandfather to another lovely little girl, Adelaide Sophie. Well done Cristy. We love you ......... oh and you too Matt

Day Ten-Eleven 220915
We were out of bed bright and early (Monday morning) and Brett headed to the local Toyota dealer to see if he could get the required shock absorbers, and get them fitted. The dealer was flat strap, and had no stock. A quick ring around found a set at Auto Pro, and the guy at Toyota gave us priority, and we were out of town by 1pm. A big thanks to Ceduna Toyota, please support them if you are passing through and need service.
Meanwhile, because of our hassles, I had not booked our Maralinga Tour, simply because we didnít know when we could do it. Now, with a timeline, I ducked around to the Maralinga office, and the girls were really professional in getting us sorted.
And so, we were leaving Ceduna on Monday, tours happen on Tuesday and Thursday, and we got Thursday, and so we now had 2 1/2 days to kill. We had abandoned the Old Eyre Hwy (OEH) part of the expedition, and I had decided to now do the run to Cook on my way back home. We decided to compromise, and head back toward Nullarbor, and pick up the OEH and make our destination for the night Ivy Tank. I had also cleared with Yalata to do their section of the road, and wanted to get that out of the way. And so, we arrived at Ivy Tank in time to set up, watch the sun go down, send up the drone, and reflect on the past few days. It was a beautiful night, and then the heavens opened for about 4 minutes - then gone, leaving 2 drowned rats to wonder what the hell just happened. 1.30am, I woke, and it was freezing - another rug fixed that, and it was only the occasional drip of condensation on the nose that kept me awake.
Tuesday Morning, and the land was covered in fog. The sun was rising, and so out came the camera, and the dogs started baying. Finished filming, and the dogs stopped ....... strange.
Ivy Tank was a roadhouse back in the day, it had accommodation, and fixed up broken down cars that could be fixed. Those that couldnít, are left in two groups. One near where the roadhouse once stood, and the rest about 300m away down a track. We had breakfast, and wandered down to have a look, and send the drone up again to record our findings.
The tanks themselves, stand under the remains of a roof, that used to collect rain water and divert it into said tanks.
It was time to leave, and apart from a collection of assorted rusting hulks on the roadside, the rest of the journey along the road was non eventful, apart from some wicked corrugations once you passed the Yalata Community. We thank the community Council for allowing us to travel and film in their lands.
We decided to head back Nundroo, refuel, and then take the relatively newly bitumenised road north to Ooldea. Again uneventful, until I took a look at the GPS, and we were heading in the wrong direction. A quick turnaround, and we found the sign and the road we had missed, and we now found ourselves on a well formed dirt road, that could be driven easily at 90 kph. After passing through some dry lake country and bordering some sandhill country, we found ourselves once again back at the railway line, at the place where the two lines of steel from East and West met 98 years ago, thus finally presenting us with a continuous path of communication from East to West, or in our case, (cos weíre biased) from West to East.
More tomorrow.

Day Twelve 230915
We woke up again to the sound of a passing train after another windy night. We hit the track and went back to Ooldea to look for the monument to Daisy Bates, who was a strong advocate for and lived among the local aborigines for many years.
Having found that, we moved on back towards Watson. Just a few kilometres along the track, we came to the remains of the monument marking the point where the Western Australian and South Australian rail parties met, and joined their respective pieces of the railway, and the in October 1917, West and East were finally connected
And so to Watson. All that remains of a huge military structure in the 1950s, are the stone slabs of buildings, and a huge quarry. Watson was strategically important to Maralinga, being the closest rail siding. The British built a bitumen road to Maralinga Village, and every piece of equipment was trucked from the railhead.
A phone call to Robin at Maralinga, and 45 minutes later, we were being admitted through the gate that leads to the village. We were welcomed, set up camp, had an introductory chat with mein host, and went to bed looking forward to tomorrow.

Day Thirteen 240915
Written by Brett Kibblewhite

Today we had the privilege of touring the Maralinga Atomic Bomb Test Site. Privilege in that it's a fascinating story. But it's also the most shameful episode in Australia's history, and that particular list is quite long.... I've decided not to get into the guts of it here, it's just too hard when a part explanation will not tell the whole. So basically, we are staying in Maralinga Village, built by the British Government in 1954 as the base for their nuclear tests. How the Menzies Government allowed this to happen beggars belief. This little town had all the latest technology, an outdoor cinema, cricket ground, four tennis courts, basketball court, olympic swimming pool, full convention centre and bar, hospital, you name it. Much of it has gone but the foundations remain. It's an interesting walk around the place... We were taken to the airport and further out to ground zero where despite the close presence of the local indigenous people and woefully unprotected Australian Army and Air Force personnel, the British scientists detonated a variety of nuclear bombs in 1956-57... The consequences of this of course I really don't need to elaborate on. It's now well known in Australian culture. So we came to see, to make up our own minds. Our guide was extraordinary in his depth of knowledge and love of the area. He's been here since 1972..... They've only been doing tours though since April, 2015. Tomorrow we again plod tour way East along the rail line. Thanks for reading folks

Day Fourteen 250915
How good is this. No radio coverage out here, but as night falls, AM radio performs itís magic, and we are listening to the Dockers-Hawthorn game.
We are at Wynbring in South Australia (donít be lazy, look it up hehe), and camped at the site of Daisy Bates Wynbring camp.
This morning we left Maralinga, and with directions from Robin Matthews, we found our way into the Ooldea Soak, a delightful 7km sand track drive. The Soak had provided water for the local indiginous people for thousands of years. From October 1917, The railway relied on Ooldea's water. The water which replenished the soak was pumped away to supply the steam trains which stopped to take on water and the houses of the rail workers along the line. By 1926, Ooldea's water source had been exhausted and the railway pumping station closed.
We popped the drone up to have a look. The country is glorious red sandhills,
On the way back, we dropped into the site of Daisy Bates Ooldea camp, where there is a grave for an aboriginal man and woman. Again we sent the drone up to have a look. Read here to find out more about Daisy Bates......
We set sail for Barton Siding, firstly along a badly corrugated road, until we got into the sandhills, and the road improved immeasurably. Rolling over the sandhills with the rail line spearing along side of us - just a beautiful drive, and such a contrast to the flat treeless plain that is the Nullarbor.
ďStopping, photo opportunityĒ barked the voice though the UHF. Nine rail carriages were either overturned or standing beside the line.
Taken from a railway investigation report ......ďAt about 00401 on Sunday 10 June 2007, westbound freight train 6MP9 derailed at the 716.7 km mark2 near Bates in SA. There were no injuries as a result of the derailment, however, there was significant damage to the track and rollingstock. Of 10 wagons that separated from the train, four overturned.
The investigation found that a broken rail, emanating from a transverse rail defect, had probably caused the derailment.Ē
Why not, we were getting good at this, we sent up the drone again to have a look at the devastation from the air.
I was looking forward to having a look at a ďbuildingĒ at Barton Siding called ďZigguís CastleĒ. Apparently Ziggy was an eccentric ex railway worker, who had built this very strange residence from old sleepers, iron and anything else that was discarded by the railways. In my mind, it had a place in the history of the rail road story, but it seems that in 2010, the building was demolished by the authorities and everything removed from the site. I got a very quick image on our 2007 rail trip. (video is on our YouTube Channel - follow the link from our website www.4wdozdvd.com)
Finally, we arrived at Wynbring, found the Daisy bates Campsite, and true to the tradition, set up our tents.
Tomorrow, we aim for Tarcoola, where the rail splits north for the Ghan, and West for the Indian Pacific, and the pub apparently closed itís doors just after the opening of the new Ghan line. Tomorrow, hopefully, we will find out for ourselves.

Day Fifteen 260915
The Daisy Bates Camp at Wynbring was where we spent the night .... when we found it. We looked at some photos on Exploroz to confirm that we were actually in the right spot. The remains of the old T Model confirmed it for us.
There was no radio reception, but as the sun went down, the magic of AM radio reared its head, and ABC Grandstand burst into life, and we listened to Hawthorn end Fremantleís season.
The road after the sandhills was great. We rolled into Tarcoola. I donít know what I was expecting, but somehow not what we found. The place is deserted, not much in the way of trees, and is the point where the Ghan splits and heads north, whilst the Indian Pacific continues on itís merry way across the Nullarbor. There was a rumble in the air, and we dashed over to the line in time to catch a train passing by the old railway station. We sent up the drone for an overview, before doing bog laps of the couple of remaining buildings, and heading for our next town.
We seem to be like little kids every time we see a train. But that was what the trip was about, the history of the railway line, and so trains were going to feature.
I rolled into Kingoonya, and relayed to Brett that the pub was open. Understandably, because we had been joking about Maccas, Woolies and the like every time we rolled into an abandoned siding, he thought I was joking. Imagine his surprise, when he found that this former ghost town had indeed revived the pub, and it has been up and running for a couple of years. Brett immediately made friends with a relatively new resident, Shorty, who was rapt in the drone as we sent it up to have a hawks eye view of the town. The resident hawk wasnít so impressed and buzzed around the drone as it did itís work. If you watch closely, you can see Shorty filming the drone just after take off. He appears for about 1 second. The video will be on the DVD, but we decided to put it up on YouTube as a preview. See it here ....... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRFv_VN_IUE
Shorty informed us that the Bucket with a flag in it standing out in the middle of the main street was the towns roundabout, and that visitors were required to circulate it before leaving town. We ordered a couple Toasted sandwiches, did bog laps, and then being an Albany boy, where we have roundabouts and NO traffic lights, I had no trouble in circulating the flag in a bucket, as we headed for the Stuart Hwy.
The town was on the Stuart Hwy before it was re-routed in 1987. That no doubt played a big part in the decline of the town.
We reached and Glendambo and the bitumen, aired the tyres up, and headed for Pimba and Woomera, where we booked into the Eldo Hotel for the night.
Then we watched the Eagles down the Kangaroos ...........

Day Sixteen 270915
It was time to have a look at Woomera, and its memorabilia. A drive out the cemetery to have a look at Len Beadells Memorial, when a minor problem was noticed with Brettís Alternator - the tensioning bolt had snapped and needed replacing. We made a phone call, and were amazed when Louis, a local mechanic, came out to get us out of trouble. It was a Sunday, his work was excellent, and his price was reasonable. If you need mechanical support in Woomera or Pimba, his phone number is 0400 269 377. Thanks Louis.
We hit the road again. It was the first time that I had driven down this section of the Stuart Hwy. What a gorgeous drive. The lakes area, the Flinders Ranges ........ just amazing.
We arrived in Port Augusta and drove around to a caravan park that had a line of caravans waiting to book in. I cheated and rang their number that advised that they were busy, leave a message and they would call back. We wanted a cabin ....... the call wasnít returned, and we booked into a motel at a much lesser price, with excellent service and friendly owners.

Day Seventeen 280915
It was time to split, Brett going on to Melbourne to try and jump the fence at the MCG, and me to make a run for Nundroo. I got to Ceduna about 3.45pm, was feeling somewhat tired, and decided that discretion was the better part of valour, turned into the Airport Caravan Park, and got the cabin we used when here last week, hit the bed and slept for an hour.
Tonight, I am watching the Brownlow count.
Tomorrow promises to be a big day. We missed filming Cook, which is a vital part of our story, and so I will be doing a 208 km round trip up the Cook road from the highway sometime over the next couple of days. Tomorrow will determine how that pans out.
Címon Matty Priddis

Day Eighteen 290915
I have no idea what day it is or what date, but suffice to say that I am tonight in Eucla. I left Ceduna at 7.30 this morning, with the intention of getting as close to Cook as I could, to complete the required filming for our project. I turned onto the Cook road from the Eyre Hwy, to be greeted with "4wd only" "not suitable for 2wd" "dry weather road" and "Cook 105kms".The sun was out, it was dry, and the road was a dream. 1.5 hours later, I pulled into my destination at 1pm.
I had a look around, did some filming, sent up the drone, and finally found someone to talk to.
Cook is looked after by 3 couples, who take it in turns to do their duty. There are three houses which are allocated to them, three houses for ARTC (Australian Railways Transport Commission I think) staff, and there is a huge shiny new complex with smart looking dongers, which houses the 24 drivers who change trains at Cook. There are about 12 trains a day go through the station, and at this time of the year, the Indian Pacific stops 4 times a week - twice west bound and twice east bound.
The old hospital, which was the pride of the place had been pulled down and removed.
After conceding that the worlds entire fly population were in town to see me today, and having finished what I came here for, I turned tail and commenced the 105 km journey back to the highway. But not before ringing Eucla Motel, to book myself into a $45 budget room .... I just somehow couldn't justify the $170 executive suite that was the only remaining room not taken by rabid Eagles fans ..... and others. I did spy one car with a FFC number plate this morning.
I arrived in Eucla at a tick after 5.30pm SA time, having spent 10 hours on the road, doing 712 clicks including a 210 km round trip on dirt to Cook. Dinner in the restaurant, and some fine conversation with Murray and Sue who were kind enough to take pity on me and invite me to join them at their table.
Tomorrow is another day

Day Nineteen 300915
5am and my eyes opened, closed, opened, and somehow I managed to force them to stay open. 5.20am, car fueled, 5.30am, and we hit the road, pointing west down the Eucla Pass. There was a light fog, and just before Mundrabilla, it got worse. A few minutes later, and I was stuck behind a truck for nearly an hour, as the fog turned into a pea souper, finally clearing up somewhat just before Madura.
The traffic heading in the other direction was a mixture of Eastern States cars and vans returning from their holidays, West Coast fans with flags attached to their cars, a chartered and suitably endorsed coach, and a Limo ......
A 750ml bottle of Iced coffee at Cocklebiddy cost $7.00. It was explained to me that it came from South Australia and you just canít get stuff dropped off and ....... but ALL of our stuff in the West comes past your roadhouse door, and it doesnít cost THAT much..... The answer is simple, the roadhouses in the main are owned by a group of accountants or lawyers or something, and they have you at their mercy ... THERE IS NO COMPETITION.
er, settle down there young fella ........
I was stopping every hour for a quick walk around the car and cursory kick of the tyres, and still managing to put 90 kms away every hour. The cruise was locked on 106 kph .. all very cruisey. Into Balladonia, and a stop for lunch. It was about 1pm when I got moving again. Norseman was reached, and the tank filled at the Caltex, and Esperance was in my sights. Arrived here and booked into my motel room just after 4.30pm. An eleven hour day and a tad over 900kms covered. I jumped out of the car, strode purposefully into the room and ..... collapsed on the bed. Iím getting too old for this.
A welcome shower, and dinner at the Oceans Blue Restaurant, flick on the telly ...... bloody free To Air........ Gosh they have some garbage. TV off, and time to start reflecting what we have achieved.
I am not home yet, but by Esperance, we have covered over 5200 kms along some of the most remote and loneliest roads on the continent. Whilst we were on the dirt, apart from Railroad workers, we saw no-one. We did an alternator just as we started, we did two shockers by the time we reached the WA border, we broke an alternator bolt on the other vehicle as we reached the end of the dirt, we learnt how to finally fly the drone, and I occasionally remembered to turn the camera on whilst it was up there, and I THINK-HOPE that we shot everything we needed to.
This next period is the nervous one. We have shot 2 weeks worth of footage in some of Australiaís most in-accessible country, and at this stage, have seen none of it. Itís not until we sit down and peruse it, that we find out whether we got everything we wanted, or if it turned out the way we wanted. The thing is, you will NEVER know smile emoticon, because we wonít tell you. We will just edit the story to suit what we have

Day Twenty 011015
Itís all done and dusted, finito, over ..... I am back in Albany.
Now the work begins, trawling through the footage, and turning it into the story that developed as we travelled. We set out to do one thing, based around the Nullarbor Muster in April, and that became a desire to continue along the railway line to present a history of the Railway and itís effect on transport and communication across the nation in the days of WWI. We then discovered how it became important in the cold war
period in the 1950s in Australia, and also how it affected, and to a large degree shaped the lives and future of indigenous Australians who had lived and hunted in the area for thousands of years.
Itís a complex story, itís something that we havenít done to the same extent in the past ..... the question we ask ourself is, have we done it this time.
The good news is, we didnít crash the drone ........

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Updated 12.10.15

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