Week 2 (June 26th to July 2nd)
quick update. This doesm't look like the challenge I was expecting. I'm
well past the turnoff to Googs Track - on a good gravel road. My maps
show the road right next to the Vermin Proof Fence but this road veers
away from it and then back again. There have been no signs saying no
And there seem to be mobile phone towers at regular intervals.
I certainly got that wrong. I posted that in the middle of the morning.
At one stage I was cruising along at 60kph when suddenly a train
went past so I turned the speed limiter off and kept pace with the
engine for a couple of km, probably 80 or 90kph. I felt like Mad Max.
Then I let it go and dropped back to 60 again, but obviously it was a
good road in places.
This is all there is of Mt Christie .
There was a bit more of Barton.
The road certainly ran close to the line in places.
Towards Ooldea the road was in big sand dune territory, but went over the less high bit of them - probably 5 dunes altogether.
where Ooldea should have been there was not a sign of anything - and I
believe there is a memorial to Daisy Bates here somewhere. The road
crossed the line and there was a sign saying you were entering
Maralinga area and it was illegal to do so without a permit. I went a
little way but the road was way away from the railway line so I went
back to the crossing. There was a small track continued along the line
and I went along it - terribly corrugated and I couln't even get up to
20kph on any of it. After a few km I came to this.
km or so and the track went through what had been a boggy area and the
wheel ruts were 30 to 40cm deep. There was no way round this and no way
this little car with its tiny clearance was going to go any further.
There wasn't any need for 4WD, just high clearance. It was about to get
dark and Cook was still about 30km along here. I decided this was as
far as I could go. Maybe some other time I'll try from the
Kalgoorlie end and see how far I can get. The limited traces of the
ghost towns made the decidsion easy. But I had been hoping to see the
Rawlinna area - way along towards Kalgoorlie, as Arthur Upfield wrote a
very good novel based in that area - "Man of Two Tribes".
to the crossing where there was a road heading south to the Eyre
Highway at Yalata - another fairly corrugated road. It was now dark.
Later I could see bright lights off to the left and assumed it must be
a mine site as there are no towns out here. My GPS had me in the middle
of a blank screen, with a message saying go to the nearest road.
Finally a road appeared on the GPS, and a bit later I connected with an
excellent bitumen road with white lines down the centre and the sides -
and a sign indicating which way the Eyre Highway was. I was about 80km
from the Eyre Highway. It started to rain and I thought how glad I was
that I was not still on the dirt roads. It rained just about all the way to
the WA border when I got on the highway. There were big road trains on
that road with ore carrying trailers.
I'd been driving for 12
hours and fuel was getting down a bit and I knew that a lot of the fuel
stops along the highway are not open all night. I bought 40L at
Nullarbor thinking that would pretty well get me to Norseman - I was
planning on driving all night. At the WA border check point I poured my
20L container into the fuel tank and that gave me a full tank - still
with another 5L container in reserve. Many times I stopped at rest
areas and walked about in the cold night air but eventually had to give
up driving about 3 in the morning. I put the tent up and had 4 hours
sleep. It had been a long day.
had a fresh headwind all the way along the highway to here, and the
other day had a headwind all the way north of Port Augusta. I'm getting
about 8L to 100km, or 12.6km to the L.
was on the road again as the first of the sun's rays hit me. I did get
a few more L of fuel at Balladonia just to be on the safe side but
think I would have been OK. Filled up at the Ampol station in Norseman
and then noticed a long piece of hose hanging down under the car, and
also one side of the spare tyre carrier hanging loose. The hose was
easy, the same thing had happened to the hose on the other side last
year. The plastic "hanger" had broken and just needed a couple of cable
ties. I had spare nuts and bolts for the tyre carrier but not a big
washer which was essential. Ampol didn't carry any of that stuff - and the
hardware store had gone out of business. Fortunately the IGA have
started to stock a bit of hardware and had the "mudguard" washers I
needed - I now have a few spare ones.
Whenever I drive to Perth
I always go on the Hyden-Norseman road - always. It goes past Lake
Johnson which is a good place to stop for a break, or camp the night. I
wouldn't go out of my way to camp here, it just happens to be on the
way. This way to Perth (The Brookton Highway) also goes through Roleyston in the hills before
Perth - which is where my baby sister lives.
Just for interest I
asked Google maps for directions to the lake. It found the lake but had
it in the centre of a blank area and could not give any directions on
how to get to it. I then tried it with Hyden and it directed me
way down towards Esperance before heading back up to Hyden. Google Maps
doesn't seem to know that the Hyden-Norseman road exists. I then tried
the GPS in the car but it had never heard of the lake. But it did know
about Hyden and directed me along the Hyden-Norseman road. If you leave
the centre of Norseman you go across a salt lake area and causeway
before joining on to the road.
to Lake Johnson on a really great straight flat dirt road you could
easily do 120kph on, when it is dry. They have started to seal parts of
there was one thing in the car that enjoyed yesterday's 12 hours of
corrugated roads it was my laundry bucket - I've never seen so much
dirt come out of clothes.
There was some info that said Lake Johnson should probably be more correctly described as "playa".
Too cool a breeze to bother about a fire tonight.
AT HYDEN. LAST UPDATE. COMPUTER PROBLEM. CAN'T CHARGE BATTERY. PUFF OF SMOKE OUT OF POWER SOCKET. WILL FIX IT WHEN I GET HOME.
rest area was right next to the highway, and about 200m from the
railway line so was a bit noisy till about 10pm, and then not much till
5am. I started on the tyre. I wasn't seriously thinking I'd drive
across the Nullarbor with it -but thought that these types of damage
could be repaired to a certain extent in an emergency. If you could put
a big patch inside the tyre, and then an inner tube the patch should
stop the tube bulging out of the tyre.
I took the tyre off the rim but only had one large patch and half a
patch. I preferred to keep the big patch for a real emergency. Right
now I was only a few km away from at least half a dozen tyre places. So
I had a practice with the half patch.
inside of the tyre has little ridges which have to be ground off so the
patch will sit flat. You need a carborundum wheel and an electric
drill for this (which I imagine we all carry).
Then the glue and then the patch.
first attempt to inflate it didn't work because I had pinched the tube
and put a hole in it. I had to take one side of the tyre off the rim
again and remove that tube and put the other one in..
It did bulge a bit but I think if I'd driven carefully on a sealed road it could have got me out of trouble.
then it was back to Dunlop where I bought the tubes and this time got
the cheapest tyre they had. $110 later I was headed north.
I've ironed out all the wrinkles in the car and got rid of all the old
and worn out pieces of gear (except the driver of course) and feel I'm
as ready as I'll ever be for 1,000 km of dirt road.
intended to stop at Kingoonya but noticed a camp ground just as I was
leaving that I hadn't seen before. Piles of firewood, and rubbish bins,
and fire pots. No signs that there was any charge for camping.
I won't get through all that wood tonight - I may have to stop two
nights. There are many piles like this all round the edge of the camp
cracked rib seems to have mended. It has been very painfull the last
few days - particularly if I coughed, or turned over in bed. Hardly
noticed it last night or today.
was packed up and left well before 8am and drove north to Yunta. Then I
continued going north because on my map there was a camping spot with
facilities but no station marked anywhere near it. I had to see this.
The route took me on some rough stony roads at times and unfortunately
one sharp stone punctured a tyre. In the Hilux I used to carry 3 spare
tyres but this car just has the normal spare. Since getting off the
sealed highway yesterday I had the speed limiter set on 70kph. I now
reduced that to 50kph and drove very carefully till back on the sealed
road at Wilmington.
There were certainly a few ruins out in this area.
And I found out that my Hema map doesn't show all the homesteads. This was the camp site with facilities.
was remiss of me not to be carrying at least a couple of spare inner
tubes in case of wrecking a tyre and I made up for this by buying two
when I got to Port Augusta. Also my thirty year old 40L water container
was starting to weep out of the bottom so I bought a new one of those
as well. Stocked up with food and fuel, including my 25L in cans, and
had a shower at the service station.
Most people would have thrown
the punctured tyre away as it is practically beyond repair but I am
going to have a go before disposing of it altogether. So I have driven
out of Port Augusta to the first rest area I could stop in and
will attempt the repair tomorrow. If I can fix it I am going to drive
back into PA and round a bit just to test it - and if I can't fix it
then I will go back to PA to get a new one. The car is weighed down
with fuel, water, and food load.