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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - May 2009


Pulled out of the mud at Fowlers Bay - [Click for a Larger Image]
Pulled out of the mud at Fowlers Bay

I am sure you will be pleased to know that we are no longer stuck in the mud at Fowlers Bay! Many thanks to the kind local who came to our aid with a tractor.

We did try using the "Super Outside Wheel Lifter" device we built when at the Glasshouse Mountains and this seemed to do the job very well. We have decided that we do need to carry more blocks of wood to help with jacking etc.

We decided that this time we cross the Nullarbor we would try to explore more "off-the-beaten-track". With this in mind we turned off the main highway and headed north towards Cook. Now it is fair to say that you would have to go some way to find a place more off-the-beaten-track than Cook. The town was originally established to serve the Trans-Australian train line that runs between Sydney and Perth. It was a very important maintenance and fuel stop for the many trains that ran this line. At it's height, Cook was home to 150 people and had it's own hospital, school and even a public swimming pool.

A train bound for Perth stops for fuel at Cook - [Click for a Larger Image]
A train bound for Perth stops for
fuel at Cook


Those glory days are gone - Just 5 people now call Cook home. The adoption of concrete sleepers reduced the need for maintenance crews and now Cook simply supplies fuel to both the passenger and freight trains using the line. There are in fact now more houses than people in the town. The road out to the town (100km north of the main highway) is in bad shape and in need of some work. The recent rains have left large lakes across the road and by the time we got back to the main highway the bus was a rich brown-red color and the underside was caked in thick mud.


The Road to Cook - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Road to Cook

Yesterday we crossed the border into WA - it kinda feels like home - I have no idea why.

I wondered what the WA quarantine people were going to say about us bringing that much of South Australia into WA with us (all the mud we collected on the way to and from Cook). I thought that they might offer us a free bus wash? No such luck

We reluctantly gave the remains of our vegetables to the quarantine officer (who, judging from his size, made it his personal responsibility to eat everything that was surrendered) and made our way to a beach just west of Eucla.


Wigunda Cave, Nullarbor Plains - [Click for a Larger Image]
Wigunda Cave, Nullarbor Plains

If you have never crossed the Nullarbor plain you really have missed something. This is a truly amazing place - remote and quite untouched. As we are driving we look at all the tracks that lead off the main road and we comment on how amazing it would be to have a motorhome capable of following those tracks. We have followed some of the better looking tracks to check out caves etc and it is almost always worth the effort. I am sure that 99% of people drive this road with no idea what lies just off the bitumen.

Secret Camp (Newman Rocks), Nullarbor Plains - [Click for a Larger Image]
Secret Camp (Newman Rocks),
Nullarbor Plains

Last night we re-found a camp spot that we stayed at last time we passed this way. It is an tiny oasis located up on a rocky escarpment. The camp overlooks the plain and has a small waterhole that attracts wildlife from all around the area. It is not what you expect to find on the Nullarbor.



Wedge-tailed Eagle, Nullarbor Plains - [Click for a Larger Image]
Wedge-tailed Eagle, Nullarbor Plains

Our new low ratio gearbox started making a bit more noise a few days ago. When I investigated I was very surprised to find it completely devoid of oil. That's not good! For some reason, it seems to have ejected the entire 3 litres of oil from the breather located on top of the box. How can it do that? 3 litres fills the gearbox to the recommended level which is just 1 third of the way up the casing. How can the oil defy gravity, congregate at the top of the box then, by means of some magic, be pressurised out through the breather?  As a work around, I have installed a reservoir that collects the oil that is ejected and allows it to run back into the box when we stop. This seems to be working.

We arrived in Kalgoorlie a few days ago - what an interesting place. The whole city seems to have a vibrance about it, and it is a great place to get maintenance done on the bus. It has everything (being a large mining town) but is not as spread out as a big city - this makes it really easy to find all the things you need without having to drive for hours. 

We did all of the normal tourist stuff ... visited the super-pit (this is one very big hole in the ground created by the Golden Mile gold mine) and did a tour of one of the brothels. We then headed west along the Great Eastern Highway bound for Perth. We have a bit of a dilemma regarding our storage unit south of Perth. We have a house lot of furniture stored there. They have consistently raised the price of the storage each year and it is currently costing $1700 per year. We are considering disposing of the entire content and freeing ourselves of this cost. Of course this is not such a great idea, if we decide we need furniture a year after we sold it all. Hindsight tells me that we should have disposed of it all 6 years ago and saved ourselves nearly $10,000! There is of course the fairly large "hassle factor" involved in dealing with it - but this might just be the right time to do something about it.


Inside the brothel, Kalgoorlie - [Click for a Larger Image]
Inside the brothel, Kalgoorlie

Kalgoorlie was the kind of place that I would have been happy to say for a while. It has a nice feel to it and seemed to have lots of energy.

After leaving Kalgoorlie, we headed for Perth - but rather than just driving straight to the big city we decided to do a bit of a detour to Bruce Rock. Now there is not too much at Bruce Rock, but not far from the town there is a real rock ... Kokerbin Rock is the third biggest lump of rock in Australia (and much less known than the other tow biggies).

There was almost nobody else at the rock when we arrived at the camping area - this soon changed! No less than 20 motorhomes descended on the little camp in less than 2 hours. We wondered what was happening until we were told that this was the venue for CMCA (motorhome club) chapter meeting. Well the "Perth Sand Gropers" turned out to be a friendly bunch and we enjoyed talking to them around a nice fire.

The following morning we were up early for a walk on and around the rock. Clearly not in the same size league as Ayres Rock in NT - but still quite a climb. There are great views to be had of the surrounding wheat-belt and the rock seems to be home to lots of wild life.

We arrived in the Perth area last Sunday and so far we have not had any issues finding places to hide. We have quite a list of things to do here before we can head off to the warmer north.

The met office has been promising showers for the last few days - these never arrived. However yesterday they all arrived at once in the form of a storm. It has been raining here for most of the last two days. The temperature has plummeted to just 15 degrees. It is time we were heading north.

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