It seemed a bit strange to finally get back on the road again and resume my travels. It didn’t take long though to get back into the routine of the perpetual state of relaxation. Travelling in my bus IS my happy place.
My first stop heading east was for a cuppa at Mundaring. This used to be a sleepy village on the escarpment outside Perth but has now become a destination in its own right. It was busy and a popular place. It was a Friday when I was here but I imagine it gets packed on weekends with day visitors.
I used to travel the Great Eastern Highway out to Kalgoorlie at least 8 times a year back in the 1990’s. I took the new (for me) Northam bypass and had a stop at Meckering which is famous as being the epicentre of the 1968 earthquake that destroyed the towns buildings. At 6.5 on the Richter scale it is Australia’s second highest earthquake. Before the quake, Meckering had 51 dwellings, 12 businesses and 15 public buildings. Only 16 houses and three businesses survived.
I stopped a couple of nights in Kellerberrin at the Caravan Park to ease myself back into the camping lifestyle. Kellerberrin is a very neat tidy town, as are most in this section of the wheatbelt area. Had a few walks into town and sampled the cafes. Tick of approval. While wandering around town came upon the Men’s Shed and was invited in to see what they were up to. It is open most days and they have a well stocked shed with plenty of machinery and tools. Also visited the towns cemetery and the lookout which had an abundance of wildflowers.
From Kellerberrin I headed north and through the small towns of Trayning, Bencubben, Muckinbudden and Nangarin before rejoining Highway One at Hines Hill. Every small town I went through was neat and tidy and each does their bit to make the travellers life comfortable and welcoming. Some towns have fared better than others. Just down the road near Doodlakine was Baandee Lakes. This was a gem of a place and I ended up spending 3 nights here. Able to park right beside one of the salt lakes which still had plenty of water in it and is used as a ski lake in season. I had some nice walks around the lake (and through it in one section). It was a very relaxing time here. One of my favourite camp sites for the trip.
After moving on from Baandee I had a look around Merredin where I used to stay overnight when I was selling books in the 90’s. The town is still a reasonable size as it caters for the smaller towns with a number of Government services here. After topping up with some more fruit I headed to Westonia for the night. Westonia is just 9km off the Great Eastern Highway and was a former gold mining town. There is still a mine operating in the area. The town is as neat as a pin and a great example of how tourism, if done well, can keep a town alive and thriving. There is a 48 hour RV Stop and the Main Street has been maintained and enhanced with facades on the front of buildings showing yesteryear. The town boasts an excellent museum for only $3 entry fee. It even has a tunnel where you can experience several “blasts” from underground. It has a great heritage walk that winds its way out of town through the town common to the cemetery then back into town. 10 of 10 to the Westonia Shire Council.
Southern Cross is a lot bigger than I remember and was a hive of activity with tens of tourists about. Never seen so many caravans parked in the Main Street. It also boasts an excellent museum and good cafes. I stayed a night at Boondi Rock National Park. About 3km off the highway with plenty of room and only one other vehicle in that night. A huge granite rock is the backdrop and was an easy climb up to the top. The next night I stopped at Coolgardie at the RV stop at the old Railway Station. Several other vans there as well. Had a good walk around town. Still looks typically a Wild West town that time forgot. Plenty of history to read and an outside museum in a park on the Main Street. In the evening I went for a walk up to the Lions Lookout thinking I’d get a good sunset shot but too many trees. Still worth the effort.
Kalgoorlie has grown but still has the feel that I remember from my numerous trips in the nineties there. I caught up with a few friends over a 3 day period. Within an hour of being parked at the top end of town I met a bloke, also a coaster owner, who offered for me to park up at his place at night. As the RV stop only allows 24 hours I took him up on his offer on the second night and then went back to the RV Camp on the third night.
It was interesting to walk around Kal after so many years. Memories both new and old are what makes this trip so enjoyable. A sudden thunderstorm one afternoon reminded me how full the gutters can get and why they are so deep beside the roads.
Boulder still appears to be the poor cousin to Kalgoorlie although they have done a good job beautifying the streetscape and making the derelict buildings look somewhat attractive.
I had my second Covid shot while in Kalgoorlie and then moved on to Kambalda for a night before hitting the road to Norseman. Norseman holds a special place in my memory. When I moved to Western Australia I came over with friends and their 2 year old son. Sitting in the back seat with a two year old and singing nursery rhymes across the Nullarbor. What fun it was! They were headed to Esperance from Norseman whereas I wanted to get to Perth to start work so they “kicked me out” at the BP Roadhouse and I hitchhiked with a truckie into Perth.