The only ghosts here are pinching our water!

Trip Start Apr 13, 2011
Trip End Jul 13, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Big day, small day - funny how the day can change without warning. We'd had enough of Kalgoorlie by now, although I had revised my earlier harsh judgement and was being sucked in by all the yummy food options and the beautiful old hotels - at least three on every corner in the nice parts of town. Kalgoorlie is a funny mix of Texas, Sovereign Hill and the DFO complex out at Essendon airport. There are gorgeous old buildings everywhere, but in amongst them is every franchise and consumer temple you would care to name - remember, we visited 90% of them yesterday! I am happy to say, though, that although we used Hungry Jack's, Maccas and Chicken Treat (there's a new one for you Victorians!) as landmarks, we did not actually set foot insides any of these holy temples. 

Anyway, we started our tourist day with a tour to "The Superpit", where all the goldmining is done, and where Kalgoorlie's vast fortune is being torn from the ground. The bus driver was very PC, reminding us at regular intervals of how safety conscious and caring the big mining magnates are. I didn't listen too hard to all the facts and figures, how many thousands of tonnes of diesel they use in a day, etc. etc. etc, so most of you will be relieved that I am not going to list all of them here. They were impressive at the time, but that's as far as it goes. The big trucks are every bit as impressive as people say they are. They are MASSIVE, then you see them in the pit and they look like little matchbox trucks. If you do look closely at the photos, make sure you look for the ute and the man standing next to the big trucks for an idea of their size. The numbers on their fronts refer to the tonnage they carry in one load - average seems to be about 215 tonnes in one go!

We headed north shortly after the tour finished. The plan had been to look at Menzies (now a ghost town) and some famous sculptures on nearby Lake Ballard, then to head to Leonora for the night. Somehow, though, time got away with us and we ended up in Menzies for the night. Now, this is really only newsworthy because half an hour before realising we could no longer go elsewhere, I had been cruelly taking pictures of the half-built caravan park and taking the piss in a big way. I had to eat big slices of humble pie when I ended up pitching my tent here.   
The townsfolk are very proud of this new venture, and either Kevin (Rudd) or Julia (Gillard) seems to have paid for it, which is nice. Prior to that, the toilets for the caravan park were over the road behind the Town Hall. That's a long way for a piddle in the middle of the night! The showers were a couple of portaloos. The new facility is much nicer, but still very barren. That's the only reason there's an entry for tonight - so you can see photos of what I suspect will probably be one of our most bizarre camping spots. We could have stayed at the pub, but no - we are proud campers, we have our principles. That's the other odd thing - we are almost the only people doing this journey in a tent. Everyone else rocks up in their swanky off-road camper trailers, Britz-Fritz motorhomes or their mini-houses on wheels and looks either in admiration or pity at our set-up. At this stage, we are still having fun, but it's unseasonally cold at night, so I'm not sure how we'll go in June on the way home. 

Lake Ballard has been scrapped for the moment, because Paddy's contact at Leonora reckons we'll sink in up to our axels if we try that in the next two days, due to all the unseasonal rain that's been falling everywhere we drive! I'm a bit worried about our old Swedish mate from the trail, as he sailed in there a few minutes before we pulled the pin. He was planning to bush camp, so it will be interesting to see where he ended up camping - on the lake or in the middle of the road!

This started as a quick entry, but the weirdest thing has been happening all evening, and I have to mention it before battening down the hatches for the night. We thought we had well and truly established that Menzies was, indeed, a ghost town, so we were mystified when some strange noises disturbed us late in the evening. Turns out the new caravan park is a bit of an attraction after dark, and no, the visitors are not ghosts! Far from it, they are just very enterprising locals. A few times now, two different cars full of the local indigenous folk have pulled in to the caravan park and driven their cars straight to the taps near us. They then dim their driving lights while they grab some water (presumably in buckets or bottles) before driving out again, not turning their headlights on till they get back to the road. It's all very strange! What's even stranger is that they are looking at US as though WE are the ghosts, which is quite an eery feeling. Not sure I'll sleep much after all, but I do have some good tips for keeping your home water bill down if you are lucky enough to live near Menzies!


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