GOLD MINING & GATEWAY TO THE NULLARBOR
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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JOURNEY: Esperance, Salmon Gums, Norseman, Fraser Range- 300kms
WEATHER: overcast and drizzle at 9.30. Warm and sunny further north.
MILEAGE: 35847 KMS
Esperance did not look great on this cool overcast morning but we did manage our 6km Esplanade walk before the rain started.
Glued to the radio to hear news of Japan's horrific earthquake and tsunami. No more complaints about the weather today.
We had stocked up with groceries yesterday as the major shops close on Sundays in WA and filled the tank with diesel, as well as pumping up the tyres in anticipation of the trip across the Nullarbor.How could we resist one last "bee sting" from the Esperance bakery to take with us for coffee breaks? Wish we had bought more!!!
The Great Ocean Drive was next on the agenda and it looked pretty good even under the clouds and then it was north onto the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway.
Unfortunately on a sudden incline up a steep little road the van displayed "Check Engine" warning sign. Great! This is the third time that we have had this happen; once we drove all the way back to Hobart to check the engine, the next time in the Flinders Ranges we ignored the sign and it disappeared 20 kms later, so we hoped that it was just a blip like it had been before, because the computer check after each previous incident indicated a brief dip in the air quality and not at all serious. So we drove on with some trepidation and hoped that the warning would soon disappear. Just imagine having this happen just before the big road trip across the Nullarbor. "If it is still there when we reach Norseman" says Kath, "we'll have to think about contacting Fiat. And how far is Perth from here??"
We stopped a few times but the warning remained! Then 200kms later in Norseman it disappeared and we were very relieved.
This road to Norseman was quite attractive with low heath and forests of eucalypts.
Norseman is all about gold mining with the huge mountains of tailings dominating the town; obviously mining has taken precedence over aesthetics. Driving the streets with abandoned houses, ugly mining sites you feel that making money for the company rules!!! According to the information centre most of the 300 miners are "Fly in, fly out" and so have no real commitment to the town.
Norseman was named after a horse that belonged to Laurie Sinclair looking for gold in the area in 1892; when Laurie checked his horses hoof and found a quartz bearing gold lodged there, he lodged a claim and called it "Norseman Reward". He eventually sold the mine and the town grew when the mine became one of the richest gold mines in Australia. In 1935 a water pipeline gave Norseman water security.
A drive up to Beacon Hill Lookout gave us a perspective of the area and we noticed some pretty grand salt lakes.
We were keen to turn into Eyre Highway and get a go at the Nullabor! It was a lovely drive surprisingly; the great Western Woodlands were very impressive with a huge variety of gum trees and lovely salt bush.
We arrived at Fraser Range Rest Stop at 4.30; a spacious roadside camp. We wondered being that close to the road if the road trains would interrupt our sleep but there were few after 9pm. Kath chatted to Rhonda and Reeves, permantly on the road and always camping free. She had a form of verbal diarrhea and he was the silent partner, consulted when facts needed verifying.
We were tired but a bit restless and took some time to fall asleep. This is a good night stop and in fact the free stops were much more attractive than the dusty, poorly maintained road house parks that you have to pay $30 for. Yuk!