Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 11th,

We said farewell to our last camp spot at 8.30 am. The busy Murray Valley Highway was quite noisy during the night but our sleep was OK.

Our trip home was uneventful with a stop in Shepparton for Food Shopping and lunch. John enjoyed his favourite, a foccacia from the Food Mall.

We were soon back on the Hume Highway with many vehicles. The last avenue of trees we drove through was along the Snow Road. High eucalypts gave us no problems, unlike the low  and spreading mulgas of the inland tracks.

'Kyamba' welcomed us with our lovely Leucoxylon in bloom. Cynthia had been this morning and put a bunch of these bright flowers on my table as well as a welcoming container of soup for dinner this evening. Very soon I had a 'Welcome Home' phone call from Anneshka. Yes, we are pleased to be home after being away for 8 weeks. EC is really quite small inside so we are both appreciating much more room to live in. Having said that, the rig provides us with many comforts while on Safari. We have seen some lovely new places and added some new experiences to our list of pleasures....My favourite day was driving through the wild flowers to Mt Augusta. Success in identifying quite a large number of new mallee eucalypts was good fun and challenging.

Avenue of eucalypts along the Snow Road from Glenrowan to Oxley

Leucoxylon in bloom at 'Kyamba', Milawa.

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10th

We left Loxton early this morning after a quiet night. The road south through Pinaroo and Ouyon and on to Nyah on the Murray River was largely lined with beautiful Eucalypt mallee trees...I just love the shape of them with their many trunks. The broad green acres of wheat was an enjoyable change as well, after the grey of the Nullarbor. We stopped in Ouyon especially to buy a Vanilla Slice..very decadent..particularly for me!

We made the final change of time to our watches now we are back in Victoria. The main thing I have noticed for the first time for 2 months is the chill air of winter with some sharp showers coming from the south west. We even got caught in one as we walked, this evening, along the edge of Lake Boga where we are camped. It is a clean and fresh park looking over Lake Boga, but with the traffic of the Murray Valley Highway noisily going by. Lake Boga is close to our Mystic Park Vineyard so we are familiar with this area.

Our trip today was 399 km. Tomorrow will be the very last leg of Safari 2015. We expect to arrive at Milawa mid afternoon.

Pelicans on Lake Boga, Victoria

Wattle in the park area around Lake Boga, Victoria

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9th
Water pipes from the Murray River
We left Port Augusta later than planned but the morning shower was a treat.

Fancy striking traffic lights so soon, just as we are leaving this Port on Spencer Gulf. All the Wood Wardi trees are displaying their beautiful yellow blooms as we drive along the water's edge. Wood Wardi trees are a tall weeping eucalypt.

We travelled south along the gulf, admiring Mt Remarkable along the way, then turned east with only a short distance to Burra which was cold as usual! We enjoyed a short break with a walk a long the street.
Mt Remarkable

The undulating country was brilliant green with wheat crops and yellow with the occasional canola crop. The farmers of this area are experiencing a great season.

We have followed two water pipes again. One is carrying water (maybe in the larger pipe) to Port Augusta from the Murray River at Morgan. I wonder whether the second and smaller pipe goes to Coober Pedy.

Tonight we are camped on the Murray River at Loxton. The River Red Gums are huge and there are quite a lot of birds about especially some very vocal cockatoos.

We are quite tired after travelling 470 km yesterday and 406 km today. With luck we will camp in the Murray River Forest at Nyah in Victoria tomorrow night.

Camp on Murray at Loxton

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August 8th

Having said our final farewells to Beth and John we left our foreshore camp at 8.45 am with Iron Knob and Port Augusta in our sites. Actually we have had a very smooth run with much more confidence in our tyres. We decided to come on to Port Augusta and camp in the BIG 4 Camping Park. The attraction of another hot shower from Murray River water swayed our decision.

We followed the large pipe line carrying this water. It ran alongside the road for much of the day. Ceduna and Port Augusta are both such a long way to take water. It comes from Morgan, on the Murray River, in South Australia. I keep thinking that some of it probably fell at Milawa!

Water pipe in the bush near the road.
The Eyre Highway is very pretty with many large mallee trees in the bush. This bush is very similar to the Mallee scenery in Victoria when we drive through wheat lands. The crops all look green and even, so rains must have fallen at the right time. Canola crops are bright yellow with their spectacular blooms

Today we met several wide loads transporting machinery westward..maybe to mining areas. Two trucks were carrying front end loader buckets. They took up much of the road. They had a Police escort speaking over Channel 40 asking oncoming traffic to stop at the side of the road and 'give way' to them.

The weather has been quite warm again with 20 deg. I think we are in for a shock of cold when we return to NE Victoria
Mallee trees on the Eyre Highway
Water pipe runs near the Eyre Highway

Tonight we plan a meal of King George Whiting locally caught around Ceduna. John is going to cook it in the very clean 'camp kitchen'

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 7th,

At last I have been able to post the blogs I have been writing during the 14 days we had in remote country. We have been thankful to have a satellite phone to be in contact with John A. He and John found it easy to send emails to each other. They did have a phone call on one occasion but found messages quite reliable.

We left our camp before 8.00 am with 170 km to travel to Ceduna. Because of a problem 'out of balance' tyre we could only travel at 70 km per hour. We arrived at the Quarantine check point just prior to  10.30 am.  Immediately we went to the Bridgestone Tyre garage. We were booked in for the afternoon, but luckily, the workshop guys were free and started on EC right away. They worked solidly for 2 hours. Two tyres were patched, balancing beads were put into the 'troublemaker' tyre, which was swapped to the rear instead of under where I sit and we were away with 2 spares which would get us mobile in an emergency...all for $140.

It was time for an easy afternoon. Lunch in a cafe instead of my sandwiches was a change. Then we visited the Fish Co-op and purchased 5 packets of local fish..already frozen. Supermarket shopping was needed to get us through the next 4 days as we return to Milawa.

Lastly, dinner at the Foreshore Hotel looking over the Bay. This was a great way to complete a successful trip with John & Beth. We have really had good fun together with lots to talk about.

Sunset over the Bay at Ceduna

August 6th

A beautiful red sunrise after the spectacular sunset.

I feel it is a special experience being able to follow a wandering track about the Nullarbor Plains. I loose my direction often and need to check our GPS tracker to see which way we are headed and to check on the track which comes out about 80 km from Ooldea. Yes, Daisy Bates lived here in a tent for about 30 years and wore a  cream dress most of her life. She helped the aborigines. What a strange life for a single lady.

 We lunched near the Transcontinental rail line. Just as I was about to cross it I noticed a truck travelling toward me. Yes a truck on the rails, going very slowly but with metal wheels to guide it on the rails. It was being used by workmen who were repairing the line.

Rosie Dock near the rail line at Ooldea

The grey appearance of the plains has a few trees near to track this morning also clumps of green vegetation. They must be growing in damp areas as most of the plains look dry. We saw a dusting of white daisies in many places..just like a dusting of snow. Rabbit warrens are evident but no sign of rabbits now. Historically they were in plague proportions out here.

Eventually we came to a bitumen road, then more very rough gravel and then onto a bitumen mining road, and eventually to the Eyre Highway. What an achievement, to travel safely all this way without a spare tyre. We were glad we had the support of Beth & John while we were travelling such remote and rocky roads.  At last we are on the way east and on bitumen and nearer to towns for assistance if necessary. 

Shortly before Colona, where we met the Eyre Highway, John was chatting on the radio to a road train driver. He was transporting mineral sands to the port at Ceduna. They were then taken to Geraldton for processing, However he found out that the truck had 62 tyres on it...a lot of tyres to repair!

We stopped west of Ceduna, not far from Colona, in the eucalypts by the road and made a warm campfire which will probably be our last camp fire together for Safari 2015.( I expect the huge log to burn until morning!)

 Tomorrow we hope to have tyres patched in Ceduna so we will have a spare to travel home with.

John & John put a log on the campfire
August 5th

An early start because we have a couple of long days ahead to ensure we reach Ceduna by midday on Friday 7th.

Grey arid bushes and straggly trees are on either side of the very rough limestone track. Gradually the track became a little better as we approached Cook. Along the way we stopped at a huge tank shed which actually had water available. Further on we stopped to look at Muckera Rockholes. Only one of the three Gnamma holes had dirty water in it. A flock of finches were flying around waiting for us to depart so they could come down for a drink. The birds were so shy and quick that we were unable to identify them.

Salt bush is plentiful as we travel south onto the Nullarbor Plain which is FLAT FLAT FLAT with only a scattering of trees, at this point, and some low dried grass. I mean FLAT as in no hills not FLAT as in tyre without air!

We sat on the railway platform at Cook, and ate our lunch. There was a freight train stopped at the station. There are houses at Cook but we did not see people...a sparsely populated railway town. Rain is in the air so we hope it does not fall as we head east on the Old Caravan Road. This is a two wheel track but not so rough with rocks. We travelled 80km on this 'cross country' road before we stopped to camp. We  were lucky to find a sheltered spot near a rare thicket of trees. It is surprising how many flowers are growing in this harsh dry country..daisies of mauve white and yellow, carpets of goodenias, a single Sturt’s Desert Pea and several Desert roses. Near our camp there are Pittosterum trees growing with lovely orange berries hanging on the branches. I can understand why their common name is Desert Apricot.

Track across the Nullarbor Plains

Sunset on the Nullarbor

We had watched the clouds throughout the day with virgo often part of the picture. The pre-dinner sunset was brilliant as virgo was lit up in the orange colour from the setting sun. 

After dinner we had a visit from several dingoes. They can probably smell food. I cannot imagine what they live on out here.
August 4th

What a great day! We have made good progress with out travel distance and the roads have been very much improved. Onwards south down the Voakes Hill road. It continued to be overgrown in some places but gradually there were more open sections. This made for much better time. EC glides over this wonderful dune country. The fine red sand is easy to drive on. The bush is varied with dense sections and more open areas covered in pink and white daisies, some wattles and some cassia. We have been looking for a couple of specific eucalypt trees so our eyes and thoughts were on the details of these trees.

We found a couple of huge tank sheds, one of which gave us plenty of clear water and the other had damaged tanks and no water. Behind the first tank John was alert enough to find ‘Eucalyptus beadellii’. This is a rare tree found in a small area along the track on which we are travelling.

We found the other tree along the track.  ‘Eucalyptus vokesensis’ or commonly known as Vokes Hill Mallee is found in only this area of Australia. It is very attractive and to my delight had beautiful blooms on display. It was quite dense in several swales with its large glaucous leaves and straggly shape. John picked a wonderful Anniversary bouquet for me!

My anniversary bouquet!
The drive today was really attractive over the red dunes with a huge variety of trees and bushes. Eventually the road changed with patches of rough limestone to go over. The sandy dunes of the Great Victoria Desert are gradually changing to the limestone of the Nullarbor Plains. We are camped amongst a patch of Casuarina trees. Already the wind has been whistling through them. The dry timber has made us a very hot campfire. Both John Harrison and I have made loaves of bread this evening.

We are hoping to arrive in Ceduna on Friday to have our tyres patched ready for our trip home. We are lucky to have had  John A. helping us sort our tyre problems. It has been very unlucky to damage 3 tyres beyond an easy patch. John eventually decided to have the damaged tyres patched with tubes inserted as new tyres are not available.
Blooms & leaves of Voke's Hill mallee
August 3rd

The day dawned at -3.8 deg..a very chilly start to the day. The wet tea towel I pegged on the line last night had turned to a stiff rigid form for this morning’s dishes!

The road continues to be challenging for the two drivers especially for EC which is a tall vehicle and it catches on many bushes. The flowers were brighter today with some large patches of pink, white and yellow everlastings. The cassia were showing bright yellow in many places. Spinifex spreads across the dunes obviously very suited to the area.

Early afternoon we came to a sign correcting the spelling of Voke’s hill (as I have always spelt it) to Voake’s Hill because it was named after Bill Voake who was a member of an expedition in 1901. The correction has been officially accepted.

We have been checking eucalypts today, with the hope that we might find Eucalyptus Vokesensis. As yet we have had no luck but we did find another attractive tree with glaucous leaves and pretty buds ‘eucalyptus canescens sub species canescens'. They are so specialised to identify. It takes John ages to do this identification process.
Ann Beadell Highway showing overgrown trees & corrugations

Huge Mallee trees at Voake's Hill corner

This evening we have had a disappointing email about our tyres which are not expected to be in Ceduna by the end of the week. We will just carefully drive on without our spare. 
August 2nd

Rain is in the air with dark clouds about. We did use the wind screen wipers for awhile but there was little water falling to help the stressed land.

The best thing about today was the fact that our tyres remained ‘round’ instead of flat. It was a slow trip on a narrow track with corrugations, over grown mulga trees and rough rocky sections. However we have a lovely campsite again with about 70km  to travel until we come to Voke’s Corner.

We have been in contact with John A (our son) who is organising a couple of new tyres for us to have fitted when we reach Ceduna which is some considerable distance away. We have changed our route plan a little so now we will not travel the remote track we had planned to use on our return to Ceduna.

We are now in ‘Maralinga’ owned country. It is the only area  which we have to pay for a permit to enter. Soon after we left we came to a sign saying  NO CAMPING  in the next 50 kilometres because it is a Culturally Significant area. I would like to understand more about this and the culture that is important within this area. The country is ‘wild and free’ so to speak. Maybe there are special stories that relate to points of significance. Whatever it is the trip through has been most enjoyable. The eucalypts which are in bloom are beautiful and include Eucalyptus kingsmillii, a couple of other eucalypts, wattles and the lovely grass leaved red Hakea. The scenery has been beautiful  with the red, red sand as the background to everything, quite ‘stunning’ really..no wonder I love the colour of red/orange!

Suddenly a wild dog appeared. He was interested in our vehicles and calmly walked around us. His colour was really quite dark without signs of the yellow dingo of the desert.

An inquisitive wild dog 

We met 2 cars which is always a point of interest way out here where vehicles are rare. The total of 7 vehicles and 1 grader since we left Laverton on July 24th is quite remarkable.

This evening I had the pleasure (and success) of cooking a pot roast for the four of us. It was a delicious meal enjoyed in front of another hot campfire which was burning mallee or mulga roots. The sky is clear, stars are out, including our distinctive Southern Cross, the blue Moon is rising, the rain has gone and it is sure to be cold in the morning. To give extra atmosphere to this evening the call of an owl is a constant background noise, easily heard in the silence of the night. MoPoke….MoPoke….MoPoke…MoPoke. Two owls were calling to each other.

August  1st

The last bush camp in WA was really attractive with dunes in the distance, open bush and that delightful red sand. The Ann Beadell Highway continues with hectic corrugations. They make everything rattle to the extent that we cannot have a conversation while driving, the vehicle makes a noise actually going over the bumps as well as all the rattles.

The dune country is beautiful to travel through when there are no black scars from fires. The bush is open with low green bushes and tall marble gums which, without doubt, are the most common eucalypt we have seen.

A small mob of camels were close to the road so we were able to have a good look at these strange, odd looking animals.

What luck we a came upon a few eucalyptus youngiana trees which were in bloom. As well as another eucalyptus tree which had quite large chunky nuts with 4 distinctive wings and lovely blue/green leaves. Across the track was another eucalypt with spiky yellow buds and masses of cream flowers.

Eventually we found a shady place for lunch. We all needed a break after all the corrugations. While we were packing up there was alight sprinkle of rain. We continued on with the road which was showing some improvement. 

We came upon two tank sheds today. Both tanks had a supply of clear water. They appear to be quite new installments  and  are well cared for. The crossing of the border from Western  Australia into  South Australia caused us to stop and read the various signs, one of which advised us of the penalties for entering into this section which is Maralinga Land. The penalties for not having a permit are severe. All our permits are paid for and in order.

Continuing on we crossed the Serpentine Lakes which are huge Salinas with salt, mud, caked salty soil and lots of Samphire. While travelling the next area of attractive woodlands we realised that EC had yet another flat tyre. This is #3 for this trip. The guys changed the tyre with a good deal of disappointment especially for John. This means we must continue without a spare tyre.

Another lovely camping spot appeared and we settled for the evening. We formally made changes to our watches with much confusion and banter between John G.B. and Beth. The full moon came up through the trees but was soon covered by cloud. Evidently it is a  blue moon, which I had never heard of. This means that it is one of two moons in the month. Generally there is only one moon each month.

Warning notice on going into Maralinga land

Blooms and leaves of eucalyptus youngiana

 Rain is drifting in, this evening, with quite a strong breeze. Tomorrow we will need to make some changes to our travel plans as we cannot afford to be in such remote places with no spare tyre. 
July 31st

To the east we travelled this morning, along the Ann Beadell Highway, toward the Ilkurlka Roadhouse. The road is an improvement on the Connie Sue Highway. However corrugations are there most of the time. The day is warm with a mild breeze. Even the last 2 nights have been warm and this evening we sat by the campfire in shirt sleeves with a full moon beaming down from a clear sky except for a great display of stars.  

There are vast areas of the Great Victoria Desert that have been savaged by wildfire. I have come to the conclusion that there is only a very small percentage of this beautiful desert that does not show the scars of burning. It makes us appreciate the areas that are clear of black timber as our campsite is this evening.
Rain water tank west of Ilkurka Roadhouse

About 50 km west of Ilkurlka we stopped at a rainwater tank. These tanks are constructed with a shed over them to collect the water. This tank had good drinking water in it which is what they are meant for--- to supply travellers with the all important commodity of water. We travelled the last step to the roadhouse where we refuelled, filled up with water and checked out any grocery needs. EC had a problem with a fuel leak so John was able to rectify this before moving on. Gunta and Elissa, the volunteers at the Roadhouse at present were very helpful. Fuel cost us $3 per litre..an expensive necessity! I was able to read my emails but I was unable to post any blogs. We were able to have a shower and could have camped in the camp ground but decided to travel a little further.

The road was horrendous with corrugations and rocky sections. I doubt that I will ever drive this way again either.

Corrugations on the Anne Beadell
 A pity really as the first time we came across here the road was much better and the bush had not been burnt. The sand dunes are fun to cross and the bush was very attractive with some bushes in flower. To compensate we have a lovely campsite on red sand.

July 30th

The warmest morning we have yet had. Breaking camp is much easier without cold toes and fingers. Now that we have completed the Hann Track we will make our own way in an easterly direction. The track through the Mulga to the Connie Sue was only 3.6km in length.

The main word for today has been Corrugations. The Connie Sue Road as well as the Ann Beadell  were dominated by Corrugations. This made travelling very tiring especially for our drivers.
We crossed many sand dunes and travelled along the swales. The bush was rather plain and grey with only a few flowers. The Connie Sue did improve somewhat as we came further south. However we may choose never to come this way again because of the road quality which had deteriorated in the 4 years since we travelled along it from Warburton with our friends Eileen and Geoff Dinning.

We arrived at Neal Junction for an early lunch and rest stopover. It was interesting to read that The Great Fergie Tractor Trek had been this way.

This afternoon we have come east along the Ann Beadell Highway and camped among a thicket of Mulgas which provided quite good shade on a hot afternoon.

 Now for a little history.. During the 1950s and 60s Len Beadell was employed to develop some roads across the Great Victorian Desert. He had a truck, a grader, a bulldozer and a team of men. Connie Sue was Len’s daughter. Her mother was  Ann, after whom the Ann Beadell Highway was named. When Connie Sue was a baby she was brought out here with her parents and slept in a butter box. Today we drove along the road which was named after her.

Travelling the Connie Sue Highway

Eucalyptus Glomerosa at Neale Junction
July 29th

There are many Gnamma Holes marked on the map, but some are difficult to locate. They vary in size, shape and depth as well as water quality. Today we were unable to locate Dinner Gnamma Hole as well as any of the holes above the Wallaby Rocks Site. This afternoon, in 30 deg heat, we went looking for Lillian Rock Hole. I think we have all lost enthusiasm for walking around the very rough rocks.

Several times during the last few weeks John has spotted large birds flying in the distance. Up until today I have been unable to isolate them in my bird book. Today I have researched again and we think the bird is a Mallee Fowl which is found right across the western area of Australia.

The track conditions have been varied today as we travelled the last leg of Hanns trip to camp here at Lillian point and turn onto the Connie Sue Highway in the morning. Driving today has been tedious for the guys. It has been very slow, mostly under 20 km per hour, as they have negotiated Mulga thickets  and the dry creek crossing of Waulfe Creek. It is so very easy to catch high branches on our rig as well. There will be scratches and I expect some other damage when we inspect its condition on our arrival home. We have actually completed 2 sections of the trip today..so maybe a rest day?
Flowers have not been so plentiful. Spinifex looks healthy in some parts and in others very stressed from lack of rain. Even some trees appear stressed from the dry conditions. Overall we have seen very few animals and birds. Maybe this is lack of water or maybe they are being caught by wild cats or dogs..not that we have seen any of the latter in the bush we have travelled.

John Harrison has a flat tyre this evening which is not surprising with all the spiky mulga sticks on the edge of the track we have travelled.

Morning cuppa at Wallaby Rocks

Point Lillian
July 28th

Another great day which began with a bright and clear sunrise. The clouds disappeared over night. Strangely they are in the sky again this evening.

Even though we only travelled 38 km today there was lots to see. The wild flowers were lovely with many varieties in bloom. Thryptomene in dark pink, light pink, white and even yellow. Upside down plants showed their bright red flowers at a couple of places along the track. We were lucky to see a number of Desert Grevillias in bloom as well. The golden orange flowers are quite ornate.

The spectacular Saunders Range was a special interest as we explored it looking for rock holes and Rock artwork. The directions were difficult to follow but eventually John Harrison came on them both. 

We even enjoyed our lunch as we admired the rocks of this red and craggy Range.  While we were climbing around the rocks two other vehicles arrived. The first we had seen for several days.

After coming down the very steep ‘jump-up’ track we headed south along the Range inspecting a couple of gorges along the way. We drove further east to find a campsite near some lovely Marble Gums.

Early morning camp fire at Millar Range

Desert Grevillia
July 27th

 Another interesting day as we travelled through flat areas and over rocky ridges The sun still shines but this evening stratus clouds threaten as a fore runner to rain. It is difficult to forecast out here because the weather signs are different from NE Victoria. We have now had 4 days on the Hann Track.

Prior to leaving the camp area we drove back to inspect rock holes and to collect some water which in itself is a challenge because you never know when the little pump will suck mud from the bottom..which it did, so muddy water went all through my smalls, when all I needed was a rinse. 

We walked a little further back along the track to see the old tree, in which Hanns had carved a 30 cm high ‘H’. The tree is well weathered. On leaving the rocky jump up we saw a solo kangaroo, in fact I thought he was unwell and moving slowly.

We moved from one swale to another going through spinifex, clay pans, and many burnt areas. At last we came to an area which had not been burnt. The mulgas and Marble gums had leaves and did not display burn scars. Admittedly the green regrowth and juvenile marble gums are attractive  but unburnt stretches appear  to be much cleaner.

At last, we came upon a herd of camels. There were 20 or 30 of them, calmly feeding among the trees. Some ambled off into the scrub. They are very ungainly animals.

We have walked quite a bit today, looking for Gnamma holes and water. It is amazing how many are dotted across the desert. Our guide book gives us specific details of where to stop for rock holes or points of interest. 

We climbed up to a rock formation called ‘London Bridge Cave’ It would be a good place to be on  a hot day or a wet night.

There have been a few new plants including a very pretty pink and white Eremophila and a reed like plant, up on a dune, which was exhibiting and unusual flower. The hop bushes have been really strong in colour. They seem to grow around rock holes so probably have their roots down into a water source. Some acacia trees form a dry ‘basket’ shape when they die. These have been showing up in the burnt areas. Some years ago I made a small wallhanging inspired by this extraordinary shape.
A helping hand 'thankyou'

Pink and white eremophila 

We did have a disastrous highlight just prior to our lunch break. On a sharp turn going over Attack Break Away our front left tyre was spiked by a very sharp, low stump as we drove around the corner. I heard the ghastly ‘spike’ puncture the tyre..it was about 3 cm across so the hole is considerable. John was pleased to have a helping hand to give assistance as our tyres are quite heavy to handle.

July 26th

Oh, What a beautiful morning at 1.5 deg with a clear blue sky. We left early at 8.15 am.
 Mature and juvenile Marble Gums were with us for most of the day. The juvenile trees are really pretty with round glaucous leaves. They often lined our track. We stopped quite early for a walk up to the top of a dune to see the view and to see the plants which like to grow on sand dunes. Some dunes were quite sandy but mostly they were quite stable with trees and bushes well established on them. The area between dunes is called a swale. The swales were quite wide and the track wandered back and forth through the bush. Many areas had been burnt by lightening wildfire. Thankfully regrowth was taking place. The mallees especially were regrowing from their lignotuber.  Hakeas and grevilleas do regrow quite well too. Some trees and plants will never sprout again but only regrow  from seeds.

 We could see camel tracks along in front of us but no camels to be seen. There have only been a few birds but no kangaroos or emus or even a lizard sunning itself on this warm winter day.

Our first point of interest were the Sunday Surprise Rock Holes, Frank Hann named this on Sunday, July 26th 1903 exactly 113 years before our visit which was a Sunday, July 26th as well. This is such a coincidence. We found 7 of the 9 rockholes which have been recorded here. Some have clean water in them but others have green or muddy water.

We enjoyed our lunch at Winterbottom Rocks after which we found one rockhole up on the ridge. Really it was liked ‘jump-up’ with a flat rocky top. The rocks were bright with daisies and hop bushes. Instead of camping early here we decided to travel the next 15km to Amy Rockhole. The track across the top of the rocky flat topped area was very rough and challenging for the drivers. Luckily the track was marked by simple stone cairns.

Our camp was set up on the other side of the rocky ridge near a mulga thicket. John returned to the ridge and located a rock hole with clean clear water in it. We will drive back there in the morning to pump some water into our containers for use along the way. It will be clean enough for showering, washing clothes and dishes.

We are privileged to drive this remote track across the Great Victoria Desert. It is said that less than 200 vehicles have ever driven through this country. We are driving a winding, simple 2 wheel track with the occasional branch over it which we drive around. It is a slow trip but that gives us the opportunity to stop for a closer look at plants or to take photographs. Today’s speed was between 10 kph and 30 kph.
Early morning track

Juvenile Marble Gums

Red Hop Bush

We have not seen another vehicle for 2 days so there are no traffic or parking problems!
July 25th

We visited many points of interest along the way beginning with the abandoned Yeo Homestead. It is really quite well cared for as everything seems to be in a similar condition to when we first visited it in 1998. The pump on the well is working and the outside shower looks as it was and still operates. The birds were quite noisy as they moved about the nearby trees. The guys pumped some water for our showers this evening.
Abandoned Yeo Homestead

Both Pulpit Rock and Bishop Reilly’s Pulpit Rock are spectacular points of interest. John climbed both of them. I find the slippery shale rock too dangerous for me to walk down once I get to the top. I did walk around the amongst the rocks and beautifully coloured stones.

Early in the afternoon we arrived at Lily Rockpool. It is situated at the top of a small but attractive gorge. It had water lilies growing in it as well as white daisies in the surrounding rocks. Aboriginal art work in a large cave.

The flowers along the road have been great with a huge display of everlasting daisies which ‘looked like snow’. There were quite a few different flowers today including some blue Pincushions, and  Clustered Everlastings. Here at our camp we are surrounded by flowers which are mainly yellow everlastings and a low growing purple pea.

Beth & June in the everlasting snow!

The garden where we camped

Some parts of the road were corrugated and other parts rather over grown with mulga. It is difficult driving EC through these sections. We have now branched north of the Ann Beadell Highway and the track leads us across country. We may travel across sand dunes so that will give us a different view of this very flat and wide country we are crossing.
July 24th

At 9.00am we departed from Laverton. EC was packed very full for this big step of our Safari. During the next 10 days or so we have planned to follow the track of Explorer Frank Hanns. There has been a small book written to guide travellers along the route that Hanns took. It was written by Ian Elliot. I have inserted several pages from this book for general reading. I am sorry the placement and order of these pages is not perfect but this program does not always do as I wish it to! Hopefully you can read it all. Let me know please.

  Hanns lived for 15 years near Laverton with his faithful aboriginal companion Talbot. They lived in a tent, with little to shelter them, under a black oak tree. This was the first and very important ‘point of interest’ that we visited. They carved their initials in the tree. Sometime later a metal sign was nailed to the tree. Nearby Frank’s little dog Scamp was buried.

We followed the Ann Beadell Road all day. Some sections of it were better than others which were badly corrugated. The bushland trees and flowers made driving interesting  and attractive. A large proportion was low arid bush but their were sections of beautiful trees and bushes in bloom. These included  native oak trees, blue bush, mallee trees, cassia and wattle. The cassia made a very attractive display of yellow amongst the green.

John, Beth & John at Kidman's Cairn
We followed the route and visited several gnamma holes and climbed a break away where there had been a cairn built in honour of Sir Sydney Kidman who was a friend of Frank Hann. We did pass the grader late in the day. He has a lot of work to do to make this road more attractive for general use.
Sunday Point where we camped
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 23rd

Off to Laverton to meet our travelling companions, Beth & John. We had a pleasant drive here this morning travelling on the old Laverton road. We stopped at various Lookouts and drove through a couple of old gold mining towns. In Mt Morgans the only well cared for building was the very old Municipal Chambers. The area was opened up for gold in the late 1890s. Mullock heaps both very large and very small were constantly part of the scenery. It is fascinating to see the display of earth colours which have been piled to make a mullock heap...colours ranging from grey green, through orange, grey to chocolate brown.

After finding Beth & John at the Caravan Park we enjoyed a picnic lunch together before spending a couple of hours shopping and filling EC with fuel and water so we will be ready to leave in the morning. My refrigerator is full to the door. It will require patience to find everything when needed.

There are many prospectors staying in the park. Some keen gold enthusiasts come to the area each year for several months of gold detecting. The elderly chap in the next caravan showed us his finds of gold. He had a small nugget about 3 cm x 2 cm. It is a new and interesting skill to learn. However I do nor intend taking it up as a hobby.

This evening we walked along the street to the local hotel- the Desert Inn. There were 2 bars for purchasing beer. This is rather confronting especially when aboriginal women and children wait at the door of the Pub. We spoke to them as we entered. There is definitely a saddening divide.

The meal was good but far too large for me. I hope there is walking to be done tomorrow. We will be up, up and away in the morning as we begin this long trip. We are looking forward to traversing the Great Victoria desert again. Hopefully there will be some wild flowers. We will be away from Telstra connection for some days so my blogs will not be posted.  Ilkurka is 900 km from here and will be the first place where fuel will be available for purchase. There is a small store at this junction/ John and I visited there about 3 years ago. Internet connection was available but the situation may have changed since then.

Brightly coloured rocks near Leonora

June & John with Beth & John at the Desert Inn, Laverton

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 22nd,

North to a small place on the map called Malcom. It has a very low water storage dam. The country has undulating low bush country with no flowers. We drove by a Shipping Container Trans Shipment Site..presumable servicing the mines.

We were pleased to arrive at Leonora and settle into the Caravan Park where I did 5 loads of washing and drying. It is so good to get practically everything  clean and dry. I feel I become quite paranoid about this aspect of camping. We are preparing to head east again on Friday with a 12 to 15 day trip without a reliable  opportunity to buy food. So the focus has been on the Supermarket which has quite a good range of food especially fresh fruit and vegetables. John has been 'sussing' out diesel prices and settled on paying $1.40 per litre. We now have both fuel tanks full and both water tanks full. To- morrow at Laverton we will fill five Jerry cans with diesel as well. We have 870 kms to travel to Ilkurlka where we can purchase fuel ..at what price?? I have purchased a lot of food this afternoon but will fill in the gaps at the Laverton Supermarket tomorrow. Everything is expensive but it is part of the holiday expenses.

This evening we walked up the street to the White House Hotel where we both enjoyed a delightful meal of fish. We have enjoyed returning to Leonora although there are few services here. I did go to the Chemist shop this afternoon. Sadly the windows are barred to protect against illegal entry after drugs.

John's cousin Lisa and here partner Tony are not in town this week. They accepted a gold detecting job with a Mining company. It is a shame we have not seen them again but a contract like this is very valuable to them.

There are no photos to post today but I am sure there will be plenty to see as we cross the Great Victoria Desert. I will be unable to post blogs for some days but hope to keep up my records and photos.
July 21st

The day dawned with a clear blue sky which soon clouded over and developed some very heavy sharp showers. There have been no wild flowers to mention over the last few days. After these heavy showers seeds should start to germinate.

We arrived at Niagara Dam late in the morning. It is a very rocky area. The rocks appear like ‘ironstone’. They look so rugged and dangerous to fall on. I must take care..not another slip!

After lunch we walked around the ‘Break Away Trail’ which goes around the small dam. The Niagara Dam was built during the late 1800s to supply the township of Niagara which was a busy mining area. The actual Niagara township only lasted for about 20 years before gold became scarce. The dam was not completed in time for use by these miners.

The short walk we took was dominated by rocks..their formation, their colour and the care needed to walk over them. The colours ranged from brown, tan, bright orange, white, cream and even some shades of deep red/purple..an artists delight. A deluge of water over them would be spectacular. At the time the dam wall was constructed a ‘Debris Trap’ was built as well with the aim to stop branches and other smaller debris being washed into the dam during a flood. The trap consists of a substantial iron fence consisting of uprights close together with a railing along the top and set into a concrete wall.

The afternoon improved and allowed us to light a fire and bake a loaf of Gluten Free bread for me. The shops are few and far between in the Inland and only a few have heard of GF products.

Niagara Dam

The GF bread part way through the cooking process.
John is still trying to identify Eucalypt trees. He works with a computer program which has an elimination process. There are so many different varieties. Even the Mallee trees which I am using for dyeing fabric are difficult to identify. There are 57 varieties of Mallee trees in the Murchison Bio-region alone, the region in which we were in, a couple of days ago. In total, there are approximately 100 eucalypt trees in that region. So many of them are similar..they may all have small leaves, cream trunks and tiny buds and nuts…where to next? If you are really keen you would need to compare the size and shape of the seeds or cut open the buds to see the different ways the flowers develop. I think we will leave many as unidentified.