Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

The next stage of our travels was the long drive from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia crossing the Nullarbor Plain, a journey of almost 1800km. We stocked up with food at Port Augusta and headed west for an overnight stop at Kimba. (In the rain!). Our next stop was in Fowlers Bay. We have stopped here in the past, it's a nice little town sat between sand dunes on the edge of the Great Australian Bight.

Fowlers Bay Sunrise

The navigator got up very early in the morning to take this nice photo of sunrise over the Fowlers Bay jetty.

After leaving Fowlers Bay, we stopped at the Head of the Bight to see the whales. A viewing platform has been built on top of the cliffs overlooking an area where Southern Right Whales pause on their migration to give birth to calves, socialise and mate. They arrive in May and leave in October. There were quite a few to be seen very close, just at the bottom of the cliffs.

Mother and calf
Albino Calf

About 2% of the male calves are born pure white and there were two in the Bight this year.

We ended up spending an hour and a half watching the whales as Ali was convinced one of them was about to give birth. It spent a lot of time lying on its back with fins in the air which it what they do apparently. However they can spend days like this and we had lots of kilometres to drive!

Whale tail

So that's the end of that tail!

The next section of our journey took us across the South Australia - Western Australia border and through the quarantine check point. This meant that we had to ensure that we were not carrying any fresh fruit or vegetables as the check was very thorough and the penalties severe. It also meant that we would be without fruit for the next two or three days! Would the navigator survive? (It didn't matter too much as I have had TomTom guiding me most of this trip!)

We spent the night just across the border in Eucla.

The jetty near the old telegraph station at Eucla.

The old jetty at Eucla
Road Trains and planes

For fuel, food and accommodation when crossing the Nullarbor, there are roadhouses which are used by everyone including the road trains and airplanes!

For our fourth night we pulled off the road and camped in the bush. A few other people pulled in as well and we spend a pleasant evening around a camp fire with three other couples.

Oh! and it rained hard that night so we had to pack up a very wet tent in the morning.

Nullarbor bush camp
At the western end of the Nullarbor we had a few options, one was to take a track that would take us down to Cape LeGrand and the Esperance area or we could stay on the Eyre Highway and turn right at the end to take us to Kalgoorlie. We made some enquiries at a roadhouse and was told that the track was very rough as the rains had washed away the sand leaving a very rocky surface so Karlgoorlie it was.

Karlgoorlie is in a region known as the Goldfields and the town itself is dominated by The Super.Pit. This is a massive open cast mine that will eventually be 3.5km long by 1.5km wide and 600m deep. There are 32 massive haul trucks crawling in and out of the pit each carrying 225tonnes. We were told that only one truck in six carries gold and that results in about 500gm of gold -about the size of a golfball.

About 3 or 4 times a week they blast out a new area and we arrived just in time to watch a blast from the viewing gallery.

To give you an idea of the scale, the little yellow things on the right of the picture are massive face shovels weighing 710 tonne.

Blasting at the Super Pit

Kalgoorlie

Kargoorlie

It's an interesting town with a lot of history and some of the original buildings are still in use.

One of the tours on offer was around the local bordello but we didn't have time for that but we did take a tour down a mine.

Underground in a gold mine

We were considering spending a couple of days touring around the northern goldfields but we found out that many of the roads were closed because of the recent wet weather so abandoned that idea. It was just as well as we had a call from Adrian to say that Emily had arrived so we packed up and drove the 600km to Perth.