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

Motorhome Travels - May 2010


The Grand Plan for winter 2010 (in case you missed it) - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Grand Plan for winter 2010 (in
case you missed it)

We left our base north of Perth yesterday and are currently heading for the Northern Territory (via the Great Central Road)!

Comming down from a look out - extra spare tyre attached  - [Click for a Larger Image]
Comming down from a
look out - extra spare
tyre attached

Having spent the better part of a month getting the bus ready for the trip I am very confident of the old girls ability to get us there and back - what could possibly go wrong???.

We decided to lighten the load by removing everything that we will not be using in the next three months ... it is not likely that we will be going much SCUBA diving in Alice Springs - so all the dive gear has been left behind. I also decided to go through our inventory of spare parts and tools - this proved to be more of a job than I expected. The result is a bus that is perhaps a ton lighter (and a room at my sisters house that is full). We have declared that we will not be putting all that back in the bus!

Our travelling companions (sister Lee and bro-in-law Howard) have been slightly delayed and will be catching up with us in a few days time (they are travelling in their 4WD ute).


SPOT Hobohome (in real time)

Those of you who know me will know that I like playing with technical stuff. Thanks to the kind people at SoftRock, I will have a now tech toy to play with on this trip. They have loaned us a SPOT satellite messenger - this little device will track our progress and display our current location on the website in real time.  In the unlikely event that we get ourselves into trouble the SPOT device is also able to request help (both urgent and non-urgent). I will be picking the device up in a few days and once activated you will be able to follow our track on the website in real time. To learn more about the SPOT satellite Messenger - visit our friends at SoftRock (http://www.findmespot.net.au) - it could just save your life!


As you can see from the photo to the left, we have mounted an extra spare tyre onto the bull bar. Of course we also carry all the gear needed to change a tyre if required. This was put into practice a couple of days ago when we removed this spare tyre from a rim - this is quite a task and took two of us over an hour just to get the tyre off the rim. Lets hope we don't have to do that too often.



Did I say that nothing could go wrong? Firstly let me say that it was not my fault! (I have not yet decided who is to blame, but I am sure it can not be me).

On Saturday we arrived at a nice camping area about 200km west of Kalgoorlie. I decided to have a look at the fittings on the airbags (they have a tiny annoying leak). I was very surprised to find what looked like buckets of oil dripping from under the bus. Seriously, it looked like we had just driven through a half meter deep puddle of engine oil. It did not take long to find the culprit ... one of our "spin-on" oil filters had partly "spun-off". So an hour and a half of cleaning and degreasing later the underside of the bus looked a little better. From the dipstick reading I would estimate that we lost about a litre and a half (looked more like 50 litres from the mess).

We have stayed at some fantastic, very deserted, camp spots in the last few days. We have a series of books called "Priceless Camps" written by Jan Holland and we find these to be brilliant for locating really nice places to camp. Jan's books are getting a bit old now and I understand that she is no longer updating them, but if you are visiting Western Australia I recommend you try to find a copy.

I picked up the SPOT satellite messenger device today so we now have live onboard satellite tracking. You can see where we are right now (and our track for the last 7 days (once we have been tracking for 7 days)) by clicking the "Live Location Map" icon at the bottom right of the page. You can also learn more about the SPOT satellite messenger by visiting our SPOT page here.


Kevin Bloody Wilson - one night only! - [Click for a Larger Image]
Kevin Bloody Wilson -
one night only!

There has been a delay!

No it is not a mechanical issue ... no, not a medical issue. It is a comical issue that is stopping us from leaving Kalgoorlie. The very famous Australian comedian Kevin Bloody Wilson is performing in a one night only show at his home town this Friday. This concert is in support of the Boulder earthquake appeal - with Kevin donating his time and all door proceeds going to the appeal. We have been big KBW fans for a long time and went to one of his shows on the Gold Coast a few years ago. We enjoyed it so much that we always said that we would go again if every we were near a venue that he was performing at. So for us this was an opportunity too good to miss. We will be leaving Kalgoorlie the morning after the show. And yes - I have cleaned up all the oil from under the bus! :-)


The Broad Arrow Tavern - north of Kalgoorlie, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Broad Arrow Tavern - north of
Kalgoorlie, WA

The Kevin Bloody Wilson concert was fantastic. We all really enjoyed the night and Kevin was a generous entertainer as always, happy to play everyone's favourites. There was a big crowd at the event, so I guess a lot of money was raised for the earthquake appeal.

Yesterday morning we said goodbye to our friends Rod and Vicki and drove part way to Coolgardie to meet my sister and brother-in-law. They had travelled there to look at a business venture. The opportunity was too good to pass up, so they have decided not to join us on the trip through the desert. We will be doing the 6,300 km round trip on our own - that does not present us with any real issues, we are very happy with our preparation and we have more safety equipment onboard than the Queen Mary :-).

A few last minute shopping items from Kalgoorlie and we head north towards Leonora - this is a good sealed road, but there are lots of road trains with huge loads (of ore?) leaving a massive trail of dust behind them. We stopped for the night at an abandoned mine site just a kilometre or two off the main road.

The overnight temperature outside got down to just 2 degrees last night - I guess it is just going to get colder as we head further into the desert.

The local councils around Kalgoorlie seem to be doing lots of work in preparation for the CMCA motorhome rally that is scheduled for October 2011. Many of the overnight camping areas are sporting new dump points and toilets and the roads to them are also getting some attention. We have stopped at a nice camping area called Niagara Dam. The 16km road to the dam is newly sealed and a brand new dump point has just been installed.



We arrived in, and left Laverton on the same day (I suspect most sensible people would do the same) - a top-up of fuel is the only reason we ventured into the town which seems to have its share of problems. A slightly faded sign proudly pointed out "Laverton's Tidiest Street 2000" - clearly much has happened in that street in the last 10 years. Houses with broken windows and doors,  and junk and upturned vehicles on the front lawn, now greet visitors to this not-so-tidy street.

Wreck number 1,Great Central Road WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Wreck number 1,Great Central Road WA

We left the sealed road and started towards the Northern Territory border at midday on the 19th. The gravel road was not too bad (but not quite the smooth hard surface that some had reported). About 5 minutes down the road we came upon the first wrecked vehicle - "ooo" we said, "lets take a photo of each wreck we see along the way!". This seemed like a great idea until we realised that doing so would involve stopping about every 500 meters. The road is a virtual history of motoring in Australia. Holden's feature prominently, but Ford fans would not be disappointed. We abandoned the photographic mission a few kilometres further down the road.

We have been very surprised at how green it is out here, not at all what we expected. There has clearly been a reasonable amount of rain out here recently.

The Giles Breakaway, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Giles Breakaway, WA

Last night we camped at Giles Breakaway - this place is spectacular! The terrain is fairly flat out here - so when there is a bit of a rise, it is worth taking a look. From the top of these red cliffs it seems possible to see to the edge of the earth. From this vantage point we spotted a small track running around the bottom of the cliffs - a quick check of Google Earth (ya gotta love technology) and we had decided to get the Moke out and go exploring. It was at this point that things became difficult. It seems that the road corrugations had vibrated some important components off the catch/lock on the upper back door (the Moke bay). This is of course was a bit of a catch22 - I could easily fix the problem - if only I could get the door open! Long story short ... two hours later, a tent pole with a spanner and a torch taped to the end of it ... door open.

We spent the rest of the afternoon (and a little of the evening) driving around and exploring the base of the cliffs (watched by about 200 kangaroos). We even saw our first sign of feral camels (hoof prints and droppings). Watching the sunset from the top of the cliffs with a camp fire warming us against the cool desert evening was nothing short of magical.

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