Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31st

It seemed quite a long day because the 2 wheel track was so rough with similar desert conditions all day. We came across several windmills, tanks and bores with cattle enjoying water from a trough. Horses were galloping in the distance, a few camels and kangaroos as well.
The weather is fine and warm with cool nights..just right for sitting around a camp fire.
Tonight we have set up camp in the Nullarbor Muster Grounds at Rawlinna. District activities are held at this venue. There is a large space available for camping with showers and toilets provided. We have been invited to an evening of music and entertainment this coming Saturday but sadly we will have moved further west by then. Rawlinna is on the Trans Continental Rail Line and there is Telstra connection here after 5 days in more remote places. We have been nearly five days coming from Maralinga and this is the first time we have seen other people. Yes, Australia has some very remote areas.
Bricked water tank

Cattle drinking from trough
July 30th

Morning fog at sunrise

We woke to fog and a softly coloured sunrise at about 6.30am. Western Australian time seems to have lengthened our days.
The wide, flat and barren lands continue as we travel west across the Great Victoria Desert and through Yurranna which is an uninhabited aboriginal land.There are no sign posts out here except to warn of 1080 
poisoning. We were glad of our GPS to guide us along the correct track. There are many 2 wheel tracks
across the dry land. Cattle and wild horses are obviously grazing..a few dead camels and a few birds, 
all not far from the windmills and bores.
We have set up camp early this evening for showering, washing clothes and making bread.

July 29th

 The arid lands of the Great Victorian Desert have been dominant in the vista today.. Despite the beauty of the glorious star filled sky of last night and the soft coloured sky of dawn, there are few living things to take
the eye. We have driven past thousands of rabbit burrows but we have only seen one rabbit alive..many dead on the ground which have probably fallen to the effects of the calesi virus or a 1080 poisin bait. Very few camels, kangaroos or birds can be seen and only a few small areas of flowers and green shoots which are probably the result of recent rains.
Sadly there are lots of brown beer bottles which, we assume, have been left by workmen as there is evidence of mining exploration.
Despite the dry and remote conditions of the land I can understand how I have been inspired to stitch after visiting similar Australian landscapes. I will post a photo of a stitched piece resulting from a previous visit to the inland.

Sand and Sky

July 28th

Great overnight camp amongst Black Oak trees and Emu bushes in full red blooms. We travelled west through the Mamungari Conservation Park then turned south along a two wheel track which ran for about 100 kms. The country was extremely barren in some places while other areas were treed or covered in lovely blue-grey salt bush. The brightest spot was one small vine of Sturts Desert Pea. We hoped to camp at
Decoration Cave but it was situated in a very rocky limestone area which was devoid of any growth.
 We have eventually found a clump of trees to shelter us a little.
Turning south from Oak Valley Road

Decoration Cave

July 27th

After reluctantly leaving Maralinga, we have had a wonderful drive west along Oak Valley Road.
The bush and flowers are fresh from the rain. The bush is noticeably green compared with drier years when they appeared dry and lifeless. All four of us are interested in the trees and flowers...hopefully we can identify some of the new varieties. I have chosen some leaves for use in fabric dyeing when I have returned home.
Six young boys met us at the corner into the Oak Valley settlement. They were lively and wild and really wanted a ride in our vehicles and even asked to come with us.
Tonight we are camped amongst the bush of this wonderful desert area.

Little boy from Oak Valley Community

Passing a camel on the Oak Valley Road

July 26th..Maralinga

 We had a wonderful day tour of Maralinga. Robin Mathews, the manager, has much information to tell.
The tour took us about 90km with many stops...including bomb sites, Explorer Tieken's well,
Len Beadell's fresh water well, buriel pits for radio active soil, gravel, trucks, aeroplanes and any
other dsangerous items. We noted the bare areas around bomb sites which, after 50 years, had not
re vegetated to the normal growth of the surrounding areas. This was a fascinating and enlightening
trip. A few cassia and acacia blooms were on display after the wonderful rains that had recently fallen.
Water supplies have been renewed with tanks and dams full.

If anyone has read the book 'Maralinga' written by Judy Nunn you will be interested to learn that,
prior to writing this book Judy had visited Maralinga to research some of the mysterious truth about
the experimental Nuclear bombs which were exploded in 1956 & 57. I have begun reading it again to see
how she blended her story with the truth about those dangerous years.

Guide and Manager of Maralinga

Fifty year old bitumen air strip

July 25th

We have camped amongst the bush at the side of the Eyre Highway. After a restless night listening to road trains racing by..we set off, north, across the Nullarbor. I have never seen these plains so green. There is fresh grass and the salt bushes are green rather than grey.
 We learned that there has been 75 mls of rain during the last fortnight.The bush and country side all look wonderful.
Our luncheon break was at Ooldea which is on the Trans Continental Rail Line.
Onward north to Maralinga, the controversial area where test bombs were released during the 1950s It is now clean of radiation danger. John and I were lucky to meet the Manager of Maralinga last year when we travelled this way. Robin Mathews has been working in the area for many years and generously invited us back to Maralinga,
It appears to be a deserted area but there are many interesting places to see. Hot showers have been offered to us so that will be a bonus.
We will tour the vast undulating desert tomorrow, so we are looking
forward to seeing the wider space of Marilinga.

Beth & John on Trans Continental Rail line at Ooldea

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 24th
Our travels took us through cropping country once more. The roads were lined with beautiful mallee eucalypts again. I do love the shape of the mallee trees. They would be an artists delight.
The day dawned cold morning a clear blue sky. ..the sunshine at last.
 We had a busy morning in Ceduna with a visit to the Laundramat and the Foodland Super Market as well as  filling EC with fuel and water. Five extra  jerry cans of fuel have been loaded as well.

Loading fuel to cross the Great Victorian Desert
The highlight of our day was our meeting up with Beth & John Harrison who will travel for most of the next few weeks with us.
We will enjoy their company as well as some support if there are road or mechanical problems.
Tonight we are sitting around a camp fire for the first time. We are close to the Eyre Highway so transports are noisily passing. The Southern Cross is clearly visible in the southern sky.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23rd
A much more pleasant day with sunshine, no rain and little wind. We came across Eyre Peninsula from Spencer Gulf to the Southern Ocean where we have set up camp at Laura Bay. The agricultural lands were wonderful to drive through..wheat, oats, barley and beans with Mallee Eucalypts along the roadside.  We lunched in a barren area of caves and blowholes.

Steps down to Woolshed Cave

Stream at Woolshed Cave, running into
 Southern Ocean

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22nd

About 7.00 last night John booked our passage, via internet, on the 'Aurora V' Ferry. An early start was needed as the ferry left at 9.30 am. The port is at Wallaroo on the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula. The crossing took approximately 2 hours with the ferry berthing at Lucky Bay near Cowell on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula. Our rig, EC, had to be tied down because of its height. The crossing was uneventful although a little rocky at times.

Ferry 'Aurora V'
We arrived on the Eyre Peninsula in sunshine which was an encouraging surprise. A camp spot was found at about 3.00 pm. A pleasant change to have relaxing and walking time mid afternoon.
Again tonight we are close to the sea..this time on the other side of Spencer Gulf at a remote spot called 
The Knobs.
Moon rises at sunset over Spencer Gulf.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21st,

This morning we explored the Innes National Park. The coastline is breathtakingly wild and beautiful. Rainbows have followed us all day as have the rain showers. We saw a couple of pairs of Australian Shell Ducks which we sometimes see in the NE of Victoria. They are very attractive birds.
We have come north to Tickera along some very remote coastline. Tonight we are camped about 6 metres from the water in Spencers Gulf. Hopefully no tidal wave this evening!

Cape Spencer Lighthouse..with rainbow

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20th

Gulf of St Vincent from Macs Beach
Macs Beach proved a good place to camp despite the very windy and wet night. We enjoyed a long walk this morning along a coastal track and enjoyed the banksias but wattle heavily in bud.

Today we have travelled coastal roads and tracks enjoying the beautiful colours in the sea. One southern area had magnificent cliffs, rocks, heavy seas and crashing waves.

Tonight we have settled in the Innes National Park which is on the very 'toe' of the Peninsular. We have chosen the Stenhouse Bay Campground. The sun is setting and we hope for a fine day tomorrow.
PS..I now realise the location is actually listed under my blog when it is opened!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19th
A morning of rainbows and showers.
 Very soon after we left our camp we found Shell Hill Reserve. There were several information boards so we now understand much more about the Shell deposits.

Oyster shell deposits in the Gravel pit

Despite the showers all day we have really enjoyed our drive through the beautiful farming countryside. We were lucky to see and identify a new bird (for us) On several instances Adelaide Rosella Parrots flew across in front of us. They are similar to the Crimson Rosellas we see in NE Victoria but they are not as brightly coloured.
Years ago we visited a wonderful Bakery in Nuriootpa. I have always remembered the German cakes we purchased at that time....needless to say we will enjoy German Cake for dinner this evening. The one we purchased is 'plum' flavoured. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18th,
What a wet night! Water everywhere this morning which simply lies across the paddocks without draining away. The track out from the Little Desert was narrow but EC loved the challenge and so did the driver.
Kaniva brought sunshine which was very welcome but the wind has been strong all day.
 Our travels have taken us along the Murray River after we crossed it at Murray Bridge. The river is very different from how we see it in the NE. The cliffs and flats are enormous.
 After a lot of driving up stream between Murray Bridge and  Swan Reach we have found a spot to camp, near a gravel pit,. We do not have a view of the river from here as we are a valley away from it.
Interestingly the walls of the gravel pit, which are up to 6 metres high, show dense layers of soil and shells. They appear to be mostly oyster shells which are very large, some as big as my hand. How long have these been here and how did they get here? The valley here was probably part of the Murray thousands of years ago. Were the shells dropped by the river water or were they discarded from Aboriginal feasts?
We also found a wombat's hole which contained shells in the diggings. It has been a fun night really as John lifted an old piece of tin..and under it was a large lizard in hibernation mode. He did not move so we covered him again to prevent attack from hungry birds.
The rig is rocking with the strong wind..hope it slackens a little.

Mallee bush where we are camped including a few flowers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17th.

We awoke to thick fog, so were unable to walk as planned. The day has been cloudy as we have travelled through the cropping country of the Wimmera. Good rains appear to have fallen as there is water by the road and lying in the paddocks. Great stuff for bogging a vehicle.
We have seen several varieties of wattle in bloom. The Cootamundra wattle is dominant with its full blooms of yellow. They are probably in bloom around the North East as well.
We enjoyed our lunch in the Recreation Reserve at  Dimboola which is a well cared for town. A pink lake was interesting as was the paddock of cultivated salt bush. It was good to meet Graeme and Jo at West Print Maps in Nhill.
Tonight we are camped south of Kaniva in the Little Desert National Park.

Pin Cushion Hakea

Cootamundra Wattle

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16th.
 Take off time was approx. 10.30 am. As always we were glad to drive out the gate..having said that I know we will be glad to drive back through this gate mid September. A very foggy morning was followed by a very grey day with only a little sun while travelling north of Bendigo. Our track has taken us westward from Milawa and tonight we are camped in  the Kooyoora State Park near Inglewood. It has huge granite rocks which the fog descended on about 4.00 pm. One of the dominant eucalypts is Blakely's Red Gum which grows near Beechworth and another is the Red Iron Bark which can be seen in the Chiltern can imagine we feel very much at home. We walked a short distance to Melville's Cave. Melville was a young outlaw during the 1850s Gold Rush days of this area.
PS a hint...Click on the Location tab on the right which should give the location of where we are this evening.

Midday reflections at Waranga Basin

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 15th,
 No time today for photos..
The textile exhibition we had on display is now dismantled. The excitement is over. I can now concentrate on finally packing EC. 
This evening we are nearly ready to hit the road. We are excited to be heading off for 8 weeks. We are lucky to have this wonderful country, Australia to travel and explore. This year we have planned to go west..west is a long way with many new places to visit.