Nullarbor - Beyond The Eyre Hwy
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.
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
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
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
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
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
I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
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.
2015 Part One
Day 4 - 6th April
must have walked on a Chinamanís grave or something.
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.
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.
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.
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
Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Days 5 & 6 - April 7-8
have nothing to report.
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.
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.
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.
itís true what they say ..... I CAN go on when I have nothing
to say .........
2015 Part One
Day 7 - 9th April
a bugger getting old .......
often have you heard some old fart muttering that phrase? Sometimes
I think to myself, ďIf I hear that one more time ......Ē
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.
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.
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.
itís a bugger getting old ............
Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Day 8 - April 10th
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.
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.
called into the Boulder Town Hall to have a look at their famous
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.
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.
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
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.
2015 Part One
Day Nine - April 11th
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.
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.
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
little tents these Oztents.
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.
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
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.
2015 Part One
Day Twelve - April 14th
had decided I wasnít going to do that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Nullarbor 2015 - Part One
Day 13 - April 15th
I am glad I did that run yesterday ....
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Nullarbor 2015 Part One
Days Fifteen to Seventeen - April 17-19
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.
- 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.
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.
.... 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.
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.
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
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
NO WE DIDNíT DO IT BECAUSE OF THE MOTOR RACING ......
Iíve rung three mobile mechanics, and waiting on a phone call
from at least one of them who desperately wants a job ..... I
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
kangaroos and emus were out in force this morning, including one
dad with his three chicks.
really appreciate the response and comments we have been getting
to our Photo uploads. Thank you everyone for participating in
Forrest and the border at Deakin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
will report on the history of this place tomorrow.
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
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.
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
Day Eight 190915
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.
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
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 ......
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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love to hear from you
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