Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29th

We have enjoyed  a lovely day in Leonora, camped in the local camping park. Washing of clothes and 'on tap' showers have been the real bonus. We have spent several hours today visiting Lisa Brown who is John's cousin and her partner Tony Pilkington who live here in Leonora. Lisa and Tony have a Gold Prospecting Business which we found very interesting, mainly because we know nothing of mining for a career or a living. The area is still rich in gold with several large mines still operating.

Our travelling companions have now gone down to Perth for some different activities. We will meet again in about 3 weeks time. By then we will be ready to make our way east again.

After lunch we drove around Leonora and visited the Gwalia Mining museum. It is a fun place to walk around because of all the old Miners cottages which you are free to walk through. Miners lived a very hard life with high summer temperatures and cold nights during the winter. The homes were very basic with iron or tin outside walls and hessian walls inside. There was little furniture and no comforts to ward off hot or cold weather. Toilet and bathroom facilities were very basic.

Our new tyre will arrive in Leonora tomorrow morning. After taking delivery of this we plan to head north for some more explorations of new places. It is unusual for us to not have definite plans but it will be fun seeing some  new areas within this huge state.
Front door of Pink Miner's Cottage

Typical wood stove from the early mining era.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 28th
On the main road at 8.30 am. These time changes are really upsetting our sleep patterns!
We had a wonderful camping spot amongst Black Oak trees which have very tiny nuts of 1 cm in size compared with the nuts from the Desert Oaks which are about 6-7 cm long. Both trees belong to the Causerina family of trees.

This morning we have been lucky enough to find a Kings Mills mallee tree in bloom with large yellow-cream flowers. The nuts are bright yellow-orange in colour.

We passed by Cosmo Newbury, an Aboriginal settlement which was recently featured on TV.

A track led us off road to visit the Bullrush Rockhole. It was a pretty area of red rocks and of course a few bull rushes growing at the edge of the rock hole.
Next visit was to Giles Breakaway, a huge and wide area of rocky cliffs with many coloured rocks. Two more rock holes for the day were Bubbles rockhole and Deba Gnamma hole.

Laverton is a small mining township with basic facilities. 124 km further south is Leonora which is also a mining town. We are camped in the local camping park for tonight. We walked down to a Pub for a meal. Many of the campers are here because of their enthusiasm for gold prospecting.

Kings Mills mallee buds and blooms

Silver Cassia

Bullrush Rockhole

Trivia for the day is the fact that the Great Victoria Desert (which we have been travelling across) is the largest desert in Australia and the 7th largest desert in the world.

June 27th

Another wide blue sky. The road was excellent and there was a team of men and machines working on it maybe even preparing the surface for bitumen. Desert Poplars and Mulga trees line the road as we travel toward Tjukayirla where there is a very good road house albeit quite expensive. This is to be expected in such a remote place.
There were many points to stop for today. The first after the Roadhouse was a Lone Desert Kurrajong tree…’The Kurrajong Sentinal’.
Paine and Barclay were two explorers who travelled the area in the first part of last century. We stopped at a memorial cairn which recognises their journey. They named the Pikul Rockholes in 1931. The breakaway had several overhanging ledges which were quite ‘cave’ like and contained some aboriginal art work. It is impossible to imagine how old it is.
Lunch time brought us to the Eurothurra rockholes which gave us a wide view to enjoy. It is very easy to walk by the rockholes without seeing them. They are simply ‘holes in the rocks’.
The flowers today have been lovely. We came upon one patch which looked like snow…an area covered in white paper daisies.
Mid afternoon we actually drove through the NW corner of the Yeo Nature Reserve. This has special meaning for us as our eldest grandson has been named after the Surveyor who named this area….. John Yeo’s great great grandfather.
Tonight we are camped in a huge forest of Black Oaks. The area is called ‘The Pines’ although the Oaks are actually ‘Casuarinas’ and not ‘Pines’. We have a camp fire which is enjoyable on a cool night.

Eurothurra rockholes

Paper daisies like snow in the desert

June 26th

We woke to a beautiful clear sky but what is the time?? There have been several time changes along the way as we have crossed borders and here in the east of WA there is a separate time to operate from.

A short while after leaving camp we realised that we were driving on the northern section of the HANN Track. The section that follows the Great Central Road.  Hann was an explorer of note and we are following a number of interesting points along his route. . Some times we drove on the old highway and some times we drove on very faint tracks to visit water holes. It is amazing how many water holes there are. They must have been an asset for Aboriginals in the area as well as to explorers travelling this way.

Mulga or Acacia Aneura

White Emu Bush
Yowalga Rockhole

Acacia Aneura or Mulga is very common. We lunched amongst a sparse
forest and now we are camped amongst a similar forest of Acacias. We set up camp early so washing could be hung and dried and we have all had time to catch up on notes etc. John & I will cook roast lamb for dinner. The flies are very nasty so dinner will be late. Today I finished the last meusli bar of a tasty box of bars my sister in law, Joan, had made for me. They were much less sweet, thankyou Joan.
June 25th
 The wind last night blew in gusts through the desert oaks, in fact the morning was quite cold.
A couple of dingoes were circling our doubt waiting for us to go so they could check the area for food scraps. A disappointing wait for them!
The corrugations continued, on the Great Central Road, until we crossed the border into Western Australia.. The road improved markedly and made for much 
more enjoyable driving. We were able to enjoy the beautiful Petermann ranges and the Schwerin Crescent of hills.  The bush consisted of a wonderful variety of growth Mallee trees, Acacias, Grevillias, Desert bloodwoods , Ghost gums and one lone Currajong tree, to mention a few. The variety of landscape was remarkable with wide flat areas and low hills as we travelled the seemingly never ending road with an occasional mirage.

We called at the Warburton Roadhouse and Art gallery. Some of the art which has been done by Aboriginal artists is quite innovative. There were paintings, huge glass bowls, basketry and huge felted wall hangings with wonderful colours.
 We camped a little way out of Warburton in the mulgas by the roadside.
Len Beadell's Ghost Gum with Petermann Ranges in background

Great Central Road meets the horizon

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 24th

The morning was quite cool as we left the foothills of Mt Connor. I was not prepared, so early in the day, for the 13 kms of severe corrugations. The bitumen felt so smooth as we drove the Lasseters Highway to Curtain Springs and on to Yulara.
Desert Oaks are standing tall across the surrounding dry and stressed country.
Curtain Springs Road House was very busy with several buses arriving before us. The aviary of parrots was interesting but I really don’t care for birds in cages. However we were able to get a really close look at the Princess Alexandra parrot with its beautiful soft pastel colours and very long tail. So sad to see such a beautiful bird unable to fly free.
Yulara is a busy resort with roads and buildings in unexpected places..a very modern design to blend with the ‘desert’ scenery. We stocked up on goods at IGA and Shell.
 Off we went on the bitumen road to see the Olgas. What an amazing formation of sedimentary rocks. Lots of different pebbles and stones show through the layers…pebbles which were once washed by a river. John walked for awhile through the rocks while I stayed and tried to draw these wonderful icons.

We planned to camp at the Docker River Campsite. It was a long way on an extremely corrugated road. We were quite late arriving. Left overs from last night made for an easy dinner. The campsite is set among an extensive stand of Desert Oaks. Dingoes howled as we sat by another warm campfire. Another day of fun and enjoyment in the Outback of this great land of ours.

A quick 'shot' of Uluru as we were driving

HE & ME with the Olgas in the background

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 23rd
Camped near De Rose Hill and quite close to Stuart Highway among the Mulga trees. Luckily we were not disturbed by traffic. John found a delightful example of a Harlequin Mistletoe in Bloom. Mistletoes plants love to grow on Mulga trees.
We crossed the border into the Northern Territory and immediately took a turn westward along Mulga Park Road. It was wide, red and corrugated. It was lined with a bush of Mulga trees. Many cattle were suffering from lack of fresh grass. A mob of young camels crossed the road was our first sighting of these odd looking animals. It is a pretty area with mauve/purple hills in the distance.
Generally the sand is a red/brown colour and red rocky outcrops dominate the scenery as we travel.

There is a slight wind today with some raised dust/sand. The temperature reads nearly 22 deg. As we turned north we could see the image of Mt Connor dominating the sky. It is a large sized mesa mountain…compared with the rounded shape to Ayres Rock but not as large. We would really like to be able to camp near it or climb it but such activities are forbidden.  Eventually we camped in a gravel pit as close to Mt Connor as we can even though we cannot see it from here due to trees and the undulating terrain. There is a small amount of passing traffic which we do not expect to be disturbed by. Again the sunset is a brilliant orange/red. All sunrises and sunsets have been so very bright on the morning and evening horizons.
Harlequin Mistletoe
Mob of wild camels

Stones around our camp
June 22nd 2015
From our camp De Rose Hill
North of Oodnadatta we camped in the area of Neales River, actually the South Branch of the Neales River. We could see that
the site had been very recently flooded as the tiny creek beds were wet and I am sure boggy, if we had tried to cross them. Galahs, Corellas and Budgeregahs are now common in the skies above.
We slept well through the shortest night. The Mulga wood fire from last night was still hot for boiling our breakfast billy today.
Marla was in our sites this morning. It is a busy spot, on the Stuart Highway, offering accommodation,  gargage and meal services to travellers. There are a lot of caravans on the road many of which had stopped to enjoy lunch under the shade of the garden trees. It is a spot to connect with the internet so many of us had our phones to our ears. I posted several blogs from the last few days.
John was able to organise a tyre to be delivered to Leonora by next Friday when we expect to pass that way. We hope the plan works.
We had planned to stop at the Aboriginal Art Gallery ‘Indulkana’ near Chandler but unfortunately it was closed. Tonight we have set up camp a little further north, just off the Stuart Highway about 60 km from the border into Northern Territory and near De Rose Hill. The day is warm at 29.00deg an increase from 6.00deg this morning.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 21st
    A wonderful sunrise with a clear blue sky to follow. The camp at Beresford, on the Old Ghan Line, was peaceful amongst the bush of Acacia trees. This morning we headed for William Creek stopping along the way to look at Cunningham’s Parrot Pea which was growing in abundance on the dunes. I checked my ‘desert flower’ book for this very special bloom. I had marked the very first place I saw it as William Creek 1997…18 years ago and we have seen this wonderful flower many times since.
It is obvious that rain has fallen in the area. The stony desert areas are green with new grass and the bushes are also green, replacing the normal grey look they have when there is no moisture to be had.
Cunningham's Parrot Pea near William Creek
 We enjoyed the drive today through very wide flat areas interspersed with undulating hills and dunes. Mid afternoon we reached Oodnadatta which is a small place offering garage and store services. It was disappointing to find that the road out to Cadney Park, through the Copper Hills, was still closed with impassable areas on the road. We have now continued north and west to Marla on the Stuart Highway.
Pink Roadhouse, Oodnadatta
June 20th
Below zero this morning but a wonderful warm and sunny day to follow. We spent some time exploring Farina with its old stone buildings. The bakers’ oven is now in operation so we purchased bread and cinnamon scrolls.
Looking down on the Farina Camp Ground
Maree was the first township we came to along the track. From here we travelled on the Oodnadatta Track. The roads have dried out but water is obvious on the country around.
‘Wide Open’ spaces are all around us with a wide blue sky with very few clouds. It all makes for easy camping and travelling after the few wet days. We stopped at Lake Eyre South to take in another wide view. A view of salt water and distance, a view of a ‘Salina’. Lake Eyre is a huge expanse of water which, at that point, is 12 metres below sea level.
We planned an shorter day and eventually camped at Beresford siding on a great spot among the Mulga trees.
The old truck that Tom Kruise used as a mail truck on the Oddnadatta Track many years ago

John and Beth cooked us a wonderful camp oven meal of roast beef and vegetables. It was a superbly quiet evening to be sitting by a big log fire enjoying a roast meal with red wine. The sky is clear with bright stars and a very shallow moon.
June 19th

The blue sky was very welcome this morning after the recent rains have freshened the countryside,  especially the crops.
 Gradually the country is becoming more arid in appearance as we come further north.
A common sight are the many old stone and brick buildings. Sadly they have been abandoned by early settlers who must have worked so hard and then experienced tragic disappointment with unsuccessful farming.
Enjoying lunch at the Prairie Hotel, Parachilna
Emus and kangaroos are part of the scenery and luckily we have only seen a few dead animals on the road , this is a relief as I hate seeing road-kill
Flinders Ranges from west side
We arrived at the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna just in time for lunch. We enjoyed a kangaroo burger while sitting in the sun outside the hotel. An empty coal train went by heading back to the mines of Leigh Creek. It was pulled by 3 huge engines and must have been nearly 1 kilometre in length.
Food shopping was successful at Leigh Creek. We are preparing for our excursion into more remote areas. The tyre which troubled us yesterday has been abandoned as the hole in it cannot be repaired. It is difficult to buy a large new tyre out here so we will run with one spare tyre until we can arrange for a new one further down the track.
We have camped at Farina Campground this evening and were able to have a hot shower. There is a ‘donkey’ heater to stoke for the heating of water. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18th

Another dull day even though we saw the stars in the sky last night. Early today John Andrew rang me to ask whether we knew how close Cynthia and David were. He thought we may have missed each other. Little did he know Cynthia and I had arranged a morning tea meeting. It was fun to see them and the coffee and tea in Burra is excellent at the Gaslight Cafe. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo of us all together.

The day has been quite cold but without rain. This evening we are settled in a Rest Area west of Orroroo. A fire and washing on the line!

Harrisons and Browns camp on the Murray River at Waikerie

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 17th

Quite a long day of driving. We met up with our travelling companions, Beth and John Harrison.
After some indecision we have camped on the Murray River near Waikerie which is in South Australia. It is a pleasant temperature but fast cooling as the sun goes down.

As we were coming through Mildura we got a glimpse of the Rotunda  which is a long standing memorial to George Desailly who lived and worked in and around Mildura. He owned a sheep property in the Riverina.  Another of my relatives from my Mother's family.

We enjoyed lunch by a very attractive lake. I had the pleasure of finding a bush flowering in a pretty mauve/lilac colour. I think it was an Eremphila sometimes known as a Native Fuchsia or Emu Bush.

Late in the evening we made arrangements to meet Cynthia and David in Burra tomorrow morning. It is a little over 100 km from here. They are on their way home from an inland trip and were chased by rain down Goog's Track. the rain has followed them all the way.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16th

We left Milawa on a foggy morning and travelled west through Devonish, Dookie and Shepparton. Rain fell on and off all day.

We eventually camped in the Nyah State Forest on a sandy bank not far from a farm and the Murray Valley Highway. Tracks are muddy through the bush so we did not venture too close to the river. It is a warning to us and the bitumen looks good.

Sandy patch in the Nyah State Forest

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15th

EC is parked in our driveway in readiness for departure. Already we have more than enough on board. Hope there is space for me! We hope to leave Milawa about mid morning tomorrow.

A rain band is coming across Australia. This is good for our country but not so good for travellers. Some of the roads in South Australia, that John has planned in our itinerary, are now closed because of wet and muddy conditions. It takes very little rain to make outback roads impassable.

We will head west in the morning and see what eventuates with roads and weather. Bitumen roads will be more attractive until the roads dry out.