Archie's Eastern Walkabout: The Final Chapter, Westbound!
Date Posted:31 May 2011
After all our magnificent adventures on the East coast, it became time to think about heading home back to Perth. We set off from Sydney on the auspicious day of Friday 13th…
Drove through Katoomba and stopped at the Panorama Café – what a beautiful time-warped shop, making chocolates and selling cups of coffee and tea in beautiful paneled rooms.
Then it was over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst, where I was lucky enough to enjoy a joyride around the circuit of the Bathurst 500 on Mt Panorama. Vroom, vroom!
If only I could do just a few more laps…
But Marie and I had to move on, or rather, Marie had to tear the rev-head away from the playground, so it was off to Orange we went. Passed via Oberon, a lovely little rural town named after Shakespeare’s king of the fairies. Spent the night at Oriana Motel Orange - very warm and cosy, a nice getaway from the freezing cold outside! There was snow at nearby Mt Canonolas, and when we left for Dubbo the next morning it was very cold, overcast and grey – thank goodness for efficient 21st century car heaters!
Overnight at Cobar, getting warmer now, out of the wind with clear blue skies in the Shire of Bogan. This is a mining town with a population of 4,000, although at one point in its history they had a population of 10,000 and their own stock exchange! Spent some time at the races in Cobar, on the same day as Black Caviar’s win in Sydney – we like to think there was some sort of connection with the win...
Passing through Wilcannia on our way to Broken Hill we decided this small town next to the picturesque Darling River is as close to an Australian ghost town as you might imagine. Beautiful turn of the 19th century buildings were boarded up from its busy days as a once- important inland port.
Visited Silverton, the home of the Mad Max 2 museum, before staying overnight at Broken Hill. Parts of quite a few films have been filmed at Silverton (a town with a population of under 100 – they’re a close-knit group) including Mad Max 2, the second Town Like Alice, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert to name a few. The pub (a necessary stop!) was very interesting with a Mad Max vehicle standing outside.
Visited Pro Hart Art Gallery in Broken Hill – in the garage of the gallery are a few of the family’s collection of Rolls Royce, two of which were decorated with Pro Hart Paintings, one a very spectacular rendition of the Australian outback.
Left Broken Hill on the Eyre Highway heading for South Australia and a return to Port Augusta where it was clear and cold. Stopped at Manna Hill (which seems to have a population that barely hits 2 digits) for morning tea at the pub, then basked like a lizard in the sun. We also met and chatted with the publican Dianne Highett who was kind enough to allow us to capture the memory on camera.
Skirted Port Augusta and passed by Iron Knob and onto Kimba, the home of the Giant Gallah (we love those large animals!) and a café which is appropriately named “Halfway Across Australia”. No time to stop! Morning tea and a visit to the tempting bakery in Wudinna was on the schedule, a town also known for its granite outcrops, hence were we found the granite statue dedicated to the farmers of the area.
Spent the night at Nundroo Roadhouse in a very modest dwelling, as all of the roadhouses are on the Eyre Highway. People manning the roadhouses were sociable and very welcoming, which happened to be not the only thing making our time spent here much more pleasant. Showers were lovely and hot and the beds comfortable, with good food too – never underestimate the importance of a full tummy and a nice warm bed to sleep in! A fellow traveler ate a 1kg steak and for that feat won himself a t-shirt with the message “You kill it and we cook it” – so now we know why there were minimal sightings of road kill on the way here…
Next day stopped at Head of Bight, part of Yalata Aboriginal Land, with hopes to see the whales in the Southern Ocean. Success! We were lucky enough to see one whale quite a way out in the bight. Evidently, hundreds of Southern Right Whales come into the bight yearly to socialize, calve and breed for the next season, and we saw the first one to arrive this year!
Now we were getting closer to our WA roots… Over the border at Eucla to begin our final leg home.
A re-visit to the longest golf course in the world, the Nullarbor Links. Played a hole and spent the evening at Madura Roadhouse – originally a station breeding horses for the British Army in India, hence the name of this particular hole “Brumby Run”. The eighteen holes of this course span the run from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna. Maybe our next walkabout will cover each of the other holes in this massive (adventurous!) course… Certainly a worthy feat!
Now onto Esperence, via Norseman, Salmon Gums and Grass Patch. Could not resist a one night stay at Esperance, WAs best kept secret. Beautiful coastline, pristine beaches... Even if it was a little overcast! The town has grown in size since the last visit 11 years ago, but it’s still one of our favourites.
Back to Perth via Ravensthorpe and Hyden to see the Wave Rock. Well, “see Wave Rock” was on our list of things to do, but unfortunately we didn’t QUITE make it there. Although we have still not seen the Wave, we snagged an excellent photo of the sign!
So our Eastern Walkabout comes to an end… We have seen big towns, little towns, many large iconic animals, frozen our toes in the cold weather, met dozens and dozens of Morish fanatics (new and old!) and spent plenty of time discovering the heart of Australia.
And on a picturesque homebound arrival, we drove into Perth at sunset on 20th May – what a way to finish such a grand adventure!