Coober Pedy to Home!

Coober Pedy! It’s certainly a unique town and looks barren with barely any grass and overrun with dumped, broken down old trucks and machinery which are in fact parked out the front of underground houses and used for modern day opal mining! Fifty percent of the residents live in dugouts and we went into one which was dug out by three women. Quite impressive with a cellar, lounge/entertaining room, three bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and an indoor pool and games room on the ground level. The temperature stays around 23 to 25oC all year round and is comfortable as long as you don’t mind no windows and lights on all day! And if you need a bigger house, no need to move, just simply extend or dig out another room! There’s also underground hotels, motels, churches and more opal souvenir shops that you can poke a stick at! About 30kms out of town is ‘The Breakaways’, an outcrop of spectacular coloured hills used in films such as Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome and Ground Zero as well as numerous ads. As we were leaving town we stopped at the Coober Pedy sign with the truck and blower for a photo and picked up a few pieces of opal on the ground. Planted? Who cares!
Our next overnight stop was the town of Woomera which was a rocket testing range and is now a RAAF base. It’s quite eerie as you don’t see anyone on the streets but apparently they all come out about 6pm to go to the pub.
Next was onto Burra where we caught up with a friend from Kalgoorlie who was also passing through. Burra itself is a nice town with lots of history from when it was a copper mining town run by mostly Cornish people and the majority of buildings are heritage listed.
From here we camped a couple of nights at Lake Bonnie and the only fish we could catch were huge carps but it was great for canoeing and the sunsets. Mildura was the next stop and you should see all the houseboats! Most were huge and parked at the door of rather large houses. Some people have too much money!
We continued on across the Hay Plains and spent a couple of nights in Hay camped on the Murrumbidgee. What we didn’t know was that Hay was where they had internment and POW camps during WW11.
Onwards and heading east, we went to Lake Cargelligo, Eugowra, Orange and Bathurst before arriving back to the Central Coast. Greg has picked up a couple of months shutdown work at Bayswater Power Station and was to start on the 1st April but has now been delayed to the 19th at this stage. So at present we are at a mates property near Kew having a rest from our trip, and feasting on mud crabs before work starts.

Coober Pedy to Home!

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This album has 17 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 08-Jul-16.

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Anne Beadell Hwy.

We flew back into Perth after a hectic trip back to the east coast but was again great to see everyone. Once we got back we stocked up and headed up to Laverton to begin our trip across the Great Victoria Desert via the Anne Beadell Hwy. What an awesome trip! We travelled 1420 kms along a mostly single lane track which changed from sandy to dirt to rocky to corrugation to sometimes ‘barely there’! We traversed many sand dunes and often along what seemed like just creek beds! At first we followed the tracks of a couple of vehicles with CALM workers for about 70 kms till we caught up to their camp and where they were working. After that we were on our own and never saw another car again the whole week! Luckily we had a digital map as sometimes the track would disappear or fork with no signs or directions. Our average speed was mostly 20 to 40kms/hr as you just couldn’t go any faster without doing damage. Towards the end we got up to 80kms/hr where the grader had been for about 120kms but then he must have gave up and it was back down to 30 again. The only incident we had was when going out to see a plane wreck we had to go over heaps of sand dunes and we got stuck on top of one. We finally got off and unhitched the trailer to go the rest of the way. On our return and picking up the trailer we got back over the one we got bogged on but had to make another track over one which was just too steep to get up. We acquired a slow leak from that and had to pump the tyre up every morning but that’s all good!
Not quite halfway across is the only roadhouse and at $3.00 a litre it set us back $330 to fill up including the jerrycans. We had four cans onboard but decided to buy another one ($50) ‘just in case’. We made it without using the fifth one but only just!
We couldn’t get over how green it was and the amount of vegetation on the WA side. As we got further into SA it started changing to more dryer and what you would expect out there. As for wildlife, we saw one emu, three kangaroos, one dingo, quite a few camels and lots of zebra finches and some other birdlife.
We passed through and camped at Woomera where the British military had their base camp called Emu with a landing strip on the salt pan and did two atomic bomb tests back in October 1953. While here we had a bit of rain overnight and the track next day had a good bit of water over it. Some we could go through and some we had to go around and hope we didn’t get bogged. As we drove into Coober Pedy the skies opened up and dropped a couple of inches on us. How lucky we made it not a minute too soon otherwise we’d be still be out there now waiting for the road to dry out!
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and take our hat off to Len Beadell (who named the track for his wife, Anne) and the Gunbarrel Construction Crew for their amazing feat in surveying and cutting the track by grader back in the late 50’s to 1962.

Anne Beadell Hwy.

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Ravenhoe Farm to Paradise!

The Powell family returned to the farm from their holiday in New Zealand which they loved and the kids enjoyed visiting ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ scenes. We packed up and prepared to head off in a couple of days when the weather was a bit nicer to go and camp at Little Bay near Horrocks. Next thing, one of their neighbours turns up on our doorstep to see if we wanted a few days work driving their tractor and ripper. They wanted a couple of paddocks ‘deep ripped’ before they planted their next crop. Greg started doing the midnight to midday shift and another bloke was doing the other twelve hours. He had a family emergency after a couple of shifts and had to go so then I stepped into his shift. It was a new experience for both of us and something else to put on the resume. It was pretty easy to drive as it was on GPS auto steering and you just had to line it up in the next row and push a button and the tractor took over. We just had to lift and lower the ripper when there was a lot of rocks or gravel and on changing lanes.
While we were still at the farm we did a day trip to Kalbarri and also stepped out of the country to visit Principality of Hutt River. Prince Leonard who is there to have a chat and tell you how it came about is a character and a very intelligent man and still very bright at 93. He basically taught himself law and outsmarted the government with their own laws and seceded from Australia in 1970 when they tried to resume his land. He is now exempt from paying tax, has his own currency and international stamps and can legally stamp your passport and issue visas to enter his country. If you’re interested in knowing more I recommend you Google www.principality-hutt-river.com
Since leaving the farm we’ve had five very relaxing days at Little Bay and saw a large sea lion sunbaking while there too. We are now about 300kms north of Perth at another beach camp, this one is free and we’re doing nothing more than a bit of fishing, canoeing and taking it easy before we head to Perth on Monday ready to fly back east on Tuesday for a two and a half week visit.

Ravenhoe Farm to Paradise!

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This album has 14 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 06-May-16.

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Merry Xmas!

Merry Xmas everyone, hope you are having a great day and holiday. Now, spare a thought for the poor farmers who don’t get public holidays off and still have to get up early every morning!
We are presently farm sitting 25kms out of Northampton which is about 50kms north of Geraldton. We came across this job (volunteer) advertised and thought it would suit us for the Xmas holiday period to get us off the road and away from the crowds and pricey caravan parks as well as another new experience. The family of this property have gone to New Zealand for a months break after finishing their harvest.
So before we can sit down for Xmas breakfast and relax we have to let the dogs Pirate & Jemma off, feed the four cats Matty, Felix, Alby & Lorna. Check and feed Max the guinea pig, feed and collect the eggs from the nine chooks. Pick the days produce from the veggie garden and start the sprinklers, then go and feed the horses Blaze & Zephyr.
Then we can leave the house paddock to do the water run, check the tanks, clean the troughs and check on the 640 sheep in three mobs. We then take a roll of hay out on the loader and roll it out for the young mob, as well as top up the feed bin for them with the large tractor and chaser bin.
We’re enjoying the experience and are usually finished in a couple of hours most days. The bonus is we have a swimming pool and air conditioned house and as the days go from mid 30’s to 40’s with hot winds, we need them.
We’re only about 30 minute drive from Horrocks, a small coastal village where we went the other day for a couple of hours, and no doubt we will be back a few more times. We were told about a spot just north of town called Little Bay which is great for a swim and snorkel. Just drive down and park on the beach! Too easy! Also Kalbarri is only about an hour away so we hope to get there again, as well as a visit to the Principality of Hutt River to get our passports stamped.
Before Bill & Shelley, the owners left, they killed and butchered two lambs for us and the garden is full of veggies, as well as heaps of eggs so we won’t have to buy much food at all. In fact we can’t keep up with it and are giving some away already or the chooks get it.
We’ll be back on the east coast 9th February for two and a half weeks and hope to catch up with many of you. Meanwhile Merry Xmas and have a great new year!

 

Xmas on a Farm!

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This album has 13 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 23-Mar-16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Greg

Tonight we celebrated Greg’s 50th birthday with a beautiful corned beef dinner followed by a wicked chocolate carmel cake. Tom at the head of the table is the farm host where we are staying who happens to be a butcher as well and cooked the beef to perfection. Janie and Kenny are the other couple also staying here and contributed with veggies. Great team effort and a top night with good company.

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Latest Casualty!

Lucky we were driving through town when this wheel fell off as the damage could have been much worse! The nuts were gone and one stud snapped off. The rim is also buggered! A lady behind us saw and raced up to get the local mechanic who came straight away and got us back to the workshop. Just waiting now for him to finish fixing it.

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WA Wildflowers.

On leaving the coast after shaking the red dust off, we again headed east to Kennedy Ranges and Mt Augusta for more red dust! Mt Augusta is the biggest rock in the world, even bigger than Ayers Rock but not as scenic. Never the less, it was still worth seeing and the wildflowers were out everywhere making the countryside very spectacular. The fields of ‘everlasting daisies’ are really something to see and most of the other flowers grow on the side of the road including the famous ‘wreath flowers’ which grow best where the road has been graded or burnt and only in some areas. Also everywhere is wheat and other grains as far as the eyes can see making it a very good year for the farmers.
We slowly meandered our way south through the countryside with plenty of sticky little flies for company. One place we stayed overnight was New Norcia which is the only Benedictine monastery community in Australia. Amazing place with an old church, chapels, convent, inn, blacksmith, colleges, flour mill, bakery and paddocks of wheat and sheep. In the early days the convents housed and educated aboriginal ‘orphans’ and families were also housed and converted to Christians. Everything was grown and made on site as well as their own wine. These days there is only eight monks and the education centres are still used by visitors. But the tranquillity of the place is ruined by the highway running through the middle with non stop road trains day and night. Must admit it felt funny having ‘happy hour’ in the middle of a monastery, but hey, do as they do!
We’ve just spent three nights in Kalgoorlie catching up with a few people who are still here (and there’s not many left) as well as some we worked with. Driving into town was like returning from a holiday even though we left twelve months ago. Was glad to leave again though, but no doubt we’ll come back through when we head north again next year. At the moment we are back just outside of Esperance in this beautiful free camp on the beach and waiting to see if we have a small job with the grain harvest.
For those hockey players who don’t like playing on sand based fields, check out this one in Bencubbin!

Wildflowers & Monasteries.

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This album has 19 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 17/01/2016.

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Muster Photos.

Mustering.

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This album has 17 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 17/12/2015.

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Life on a Cattle Station.

We’ve now experienced life on a cattle station the size of approximately 320,000 acres and about 90kms drive south of Onslow. We were there for three and a half weeks and it was definitely interesting. When we got there, they still had four young blokes who were hired stock men and labourers for the season and we got conned into cooking for them while the family and young governess were away camp drafting. Man, they can eat! We would cook extra so they had enough the next day for smoko and lunch but no, they would just about eat the lot! You had to be thinking all the time, what to have the next day and have it out of the freezer in time and make do with what you had as there’s no shops round the corner. Once a week they order online and it gets delivered to the station next door (which is owned by the brother) and someone would have to drive across the paddocks about 30kms or 30 to 40 minute drive to pick it up. We went a couple of times and surprisingly didn’t get lost. The boys who worked there, one from Sth Africa, one from Germany, one from Holland and the other Aussie, worked six days a week, ten to twelve hours a day for the princely sum of $600 a week!
We also had to water the lawns and gardens around the homestead and feed the pets. They had a young goat named Rosie who was locked up with the chooks all the time as she kept trying to eat the plants in the house yard. I felt sorry for her and would take her for a walk most afternoons and the dogs would come along too. She was a character!
Living in or close to town you take a lot of things for granted. For hot water the donkeys for each of the dongas and the house had to be lit and stoked up every afternoon and the water was salty bore water!
Drinking water was tank water which you had to go outside the kitchen to get. I was surprised there was still so much as they hadn’t had rain since May.
Another job was to do the ‘mill run’ every three days. This was checking that the solar bore pumps were running to keep the tanks and troughs for the cattle full and if not, start the generators or pumps to run over night to catch up. The run was about 170kms round trip and would take about six hours.
When the family returned the first thing they did was get a ‘killer’ for the freezer. It was only hung overnight as they don’t have a cool room yet and butchered the next day. A few days later the first of the mustering started and we hung around for two of them to watch and bring up the rear in the ute. Greg got in the yards with them to help herd the cattle in for drafting and ‘scruff’ the calves for ear marking and castrating. I was the ‘official’ photographer and the boys were stoked as they had never been able to get photos of themselves mustering before .
Once we did our time, we returned to Warroora Station on the Ningaloo coast for a sea change and to clear the red dust out. We enjoyed the experience and can now tick that one off!

Life on a Cattle Station.

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This album has 13 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 17/12/2015.

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Bungle Bungles to Marble Bar.

Purnululu, the Bungle Bungle Ranges are stunning and an incredible piece of geology! Formed approximately 360 million years ago (yes we did our homework) and carved out by erosional forces mainly during the wet, the result is banded sandstone domes rising out of flat plains. You are completely surrounded by them once you walk in and it really does blow you away! We stayed three nights spending the first day seeing the northern end of the park with Echidna Chasm, Mini Palm Springs and the escarpment. The second day we went to the southern end, Piccaninny, where the domes are and Cathedral and Whipsnake Gorges. Over the two days we walked about 26 kms.
Halls Creek was our next stop and as a band was playing at the pub just up the road and we weren’t going to get any sleep anyway, we went and joined the ‘locals’. Wasn’t a bad night and they were friendly enough and well behaved.
The next night we stayed at Fitzroy Crossing and did a sunset boat tour of Geikie Gorge on the Fitzroy River which was very spectacular.
Back in Broome again we sent the trailer in for a small welding job and found a broken spring which was the latest causality from the Gibb River and Bungle Bungle roads. Lucky it was found and Greg replaced both before any major damage was done.
We then went to Marble Bar for a look see and was quite surprised. The town is renown for being the hottest in the country but actually holds the record for the temperature not dropping below 37.8oC for 161 consecutive days in the summer of 1923-1924. Imagine trying to sleep at night as there would be no air conditioners then! While we were there though I’m sure we got the coldest night!
There is also a mineral bar known as ‘Jasper’ out of town which was thought to be marble and that’s how the town got it’s name. The rock is quite stunning especially when wet. We could have stayed an extra couple of days as there are gorges around the district but was running out of time as we have to start heading south.
We are heading to Onslow to caretake a cattle station for two weeks. We think we only have to look after the pets, chooks and pumps and keep an eye on the cattle. They are off camp drafting and when they return the mustering starts which we can stick around to see or help. Should be interesting!

Bungle Bungles-Geikie Gorge-Marble Bar.

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This album has 16 photos and will be available on SkyDrive until 14/11/2015.

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