South We Go

Week 9 The Gold Rush

This post in Francais

Playing with Alpaca’s, making friends with kangaroos, being a mummy to baby sheep, getting scared by road trains, seeing our first snake, watching the artic water splashing out of blow holes, enjoying the sun in Esperance, temping numbat’s with a BBQ, visiting the mining hall of fame and the super pit in Kalgoorlie, learning about how the flying doctors save the lives of people that live in remote Australia.

Day 56 (27/10/10) Demark

Time to discover this quite, scenic town on the south coast of Australia, armed with guide maps and recommendations given to us by the tourist office we head off to explore. Our first stop is the Green pool, a look out over the southern ocean made up of lime stone rocks. Next we get onto the Scottsdale tourist road and start driving, we stop at a farm that makes wine out of honey, not bad, but not very tasty, and they also made many different types of honey including ones made with ginger that was quite nice.
The highlight of the day happened when we arrived at the Alpaca Farm and we were greeted by the lady who owns the place and she was holding a baby Kangaroo rapped up in a blanket. He was so cute, I asked the lady if I could take a picture of him and she said I could hold it! It was so small and curious and liked my face! We then entered the farm armed with a bag of animal feed. The first pen we passed contained Alpaca’s and Kangaroo’s, we went inside and started to feed them, at first we were a bit scared, but after a short while we were really close to the animals and they we just as interested in use, trying to get the feed out of my pocket when I was not looking. We petted and watched the Kangaroo’s and even saw a mother carrying a baby kangaroo in its pouch. It was then time to play with the baby goats, which for some reason thought that I have milk in my fingers and were sucking them trying to get some milk out. I have three of them on me at once. Too cute for words; after which we decided to sit in the rabbits hut for a while and play with the rabbits and guanine pigs. There were other animals to see in the farm as well, including an Emu that tried to attacked my camera, horses, donkeys, cows, and a fox.
After having so much fun playing with the animals the only logical thing to do was to go and taste some of the great wine and cheese this region has to offer, we stopped at Duckets farm where we tasted cheese, fudge, and wine.
In the evening we went to a campsite on the Perry Beach, which is on the Bilbuman track, a walking path that is 1000kms long that goes from Perth to Albany. It started to rain this is not a good sign for the walking we would like to do over the next few days.

Day 57 (28/10/10) Rain Rain and more Rain

If anyone has ever told you it is fun to camp when it is raining well let me assure you, it is not in the least bit fun. Last night it rained almost non stop and the wind did not stop howling, so of course sleeping in a van we heard all of natures sounds very very clearly. When you wake up and it is raining in a city you don’t feel like going outside, when you live in a van the feeling is the same, but worse as you know that as soon as you step out you will be wet and you don’t have a choice you have to get out of the van. Mud gets everywhere and while you pack away things you get wet and cold. I will stop complaining now. We spent the day hiding in a shopping centre in the near by town of Albany, stocking up on the essentials.
We tried to rent a move in the evening before heading to our campsite, but we were not able to do this, of course, because we do not have an address. Without an address it seems you can not be a functional part of society, you are always hindered just because you don’t have a home address. I don’t find this fair, but this is a conversation for another day.
We arrived at Cosy Beach, our campsite for the night and started cooking dinner, picture this, two people holding umbrellas huddled over a camping stove, trying to keep the steak dry. It is not easy or fun to camp in the wet.

Day 58 (29/10/10) Albany

They say that if you really want something it will happen, well yesterday I really wanted it to stop raining and this morning when we woke up it was sunny. It really does make camping a whole lot nicer when it is sunny. After having a full English breakfast we headed off the visit the sites of Albany. After going to the whale world, which is too highly price for what it is, and not going in, we headed along the Frenchman’s Bay scenic route. A bit of history, after the Dutch, the British came to this point of Australia and deemed it of little value so left, it was not until the French claimed the land that the British came back and recalled Australia by sending its prisoners here. We started by visiting stony hill, a look out over the southern ocean with large rocks that make you wonder how they came to be there. We saw our first snake (sasha) at the point where Australia and Antarctica were once joined, a place called the blow holes, where waves crash up against the rocks and water come spraying out of the rocks. Did you know that Australia is drifting and is 5cm further way from Antarctica then it was last year? We got tricked into having coffee at a place promising free wifi and did not find out until after ordering that the staff did not know the password.

Tonight we will bbq some chicken for dinner on the beach of Emu point which will be our campsite for the night.

Day 59 (30/10/10) Albany to Esperance

When we were cooking our bbq last night we got a visit for 2 little numbates, they look like big rats, but cuter, we play with them with our flashlight, before they got tired and ran into the bushes.

As the weather is not very nice here at the moment, rainy, cold and windy, we have chosen to hit the road and head east to the town of hope, that is the meaning of the word Esperance in French. 500 KMs of windy road passing road trains on the way, this will be fun. I have a fear of being crushed by road trucks, some of them can be over 50 meters long. On the road we met a guy from Holland that has ridden his bike from Holland to Asia and then across Australia, he rides about 80 to 100 km a day. I admire how fit and determined he is. I can hardly walk 10km in a day without feeling tired.

Esperance is a small town on the coast; it is the last town on the coast on the side of Western Australia. We head directly to our campsite for the night. It is confusing to arrive at a new campsite almost each day, you feel disoriented, you need to find out if the water is drinkable, where the facilities are, which facilities they have, and it is like move home each day.

Day 60 (31/10/10) Esperance

When we stay at a campsite with power and other facilities we always tend to take our time the next morning getting ready for the day. There is an information/demonstration day down at the jetty of the Esperance emergency services, most of which are made up of volunteers. It is a great sunny day, and we walk around the fair, on the grass in the sunshine, watching all demonstrations. The town in proud of itself and it shows, I really like how people in Australia act as part of a community and not as individuals. We then squatted outside McDonalds in our van where we caught the free wifi signal. Spent some time catching up with the world before trying to find somewhere open on a Sunday to buy food, of course everything was closed so we ended up eating Red Roster, an Australian version of KFC.

Getting board quite fast of Esperance we hit the road again and headed north to Norsemen, the town that is on the border of the Nullabor. Tomorrow we will drive up to Kalgoorlie, the famous mining town of Western Australia, said to resemble the Wild West.

Day 61 (01/11/10) Kalgoorlie & Old Gold Mine

Yesterday marked 60 days since we left Pairs, 2 months into our journey and we find ourselves in the heart of outback Australia. Kalgoorlie became famous in the mid 1800’s when the golden mile was discovered. This sparked a gold rush and people came from all over to seek richness in this desert town, unfortunately many of them where ill equipped to deal with the harsh conditions of the Australian Outback and perished or became severely ill. However there toils were not futile, today Kalgoorlie, is home to the super hit, the largest gold mine in the southern hemisphere.

After orientating ourselves with the help of the tourism information office, we choose to visit the Mining Hall of Fame. This site is home to an old gold mine. It is really worth a visit, you can visit the site over 2 days, and it takes a full day to see the whole site. Included in the entrance fee you have 2 guide tours one of the old mine underground and one that shows you how gold pouring is done. We saw monster trucks, the wheels of these babies, are twice as high as I am. We saw the gold pouring and I tried to run away with the gold coin they were showing us, but unfortunately I did not get very far. We walked though a life size replicate of what Hannan street looked like back in the day, just a few miners’ huts, a pub and a bank. Today Hannan street is the centre of town, with shops, cafes, banks, and just about everything you can find in down town Perth. The city still has the feeling of the Wild West, most people that live here work in the mining industry and although it has become a lot easier to mine, it is still dangerous.

Day 62 (02/11/10) The Super pit and Flying Doctors

As we are about to cross the Nullabor, we thought it wise to give our Baby Hippo a check up, it turns out that he is in good health and just needed to change the pump belts.

Once our Hippo was feeling better we went to Dominos, as it is Tuesday there is a half price special on the pizzas. With our pizzas we go and visit the look out of the Super pit, the biggest Gold mine in the southern hemisphere. We watched how the mine worked and read the history of the mine. The super pit was created when, (I forgot who) had the vision to buy up all the leases of the individual mines on the Golden mile and turn them in to on super pit, in order to make it more cost effective to mine for gold.

The Royal Flying Doctors are people I greatly admire; they bring health care to remote populations, which without them would have a slim chance of survival if an accident where to occur. They have 3 airplanes based at Kalgoorlie; each airplane is a flying intensive care unit and can carry a doctor, a nurse, a pilot, 2 passengers on stretchers and another passenger. The Royal Flying doctors also help people in remote communities with health care issues by radio, they leave medical boxes in remote towns and when someone is ill they explain over the radio waves how to treat that person. They also do travelling medical clinics and go from remote village to remote village topping up the medical chest and teaching the population the needed skills to handle an emergency. They are an organisation funded by donations only.

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