Time to Reminisce – Pilbara Adventure Part 1

Welcome to this first of a multi part Time to Reminisce,  our Pilbara Adventure from a few years back. Often overlooked as a stand alone destination in contrast to the more popular Kimberley region the Pilbara offers far more than appears at first glance. So jump on board the trusty Hilux as we explore some of the treasures on offer in this magical place.

Half the adventure of the Pilbara, especially when residing in the east of the country is getting to this far flung oasis. With the trusty hilux packed and us feeling very under the weather we set off from our home base on the Central Tablelands of NSW spending a night with family in the Riverina Region before hightailing it westward via Hay to our first nights accommodation in the border town of Mildura. On the road again early the next morning, our destination being Port Augusta in South Australia. Again due to our ill health we opted for accommodation. Next morning we even had to attend the local medical centre. Then with drugs onboard we were on the road again venturing to our first nights camp for the trip at Tcharkuldu Rock on the Eyre Peninsula. This is one of several large granite outcrops along the Eyre with outstanding views over the surrounding country from the top.

tcharludu rock ls

Along the Eyre highway they certainly don’t beat around the bush.

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On the road early next morning we motored further west heading for the isolated expanse of the Nullarbor.  Due to our continuing poor health and the weather closing in we decided on a night’s accommodation at the Nullarbor Roadhouse, we were a sight cooking dinner in the carpark. Up and moving early next morning it was time to do some exploring just off the blacktop, firstly to Gilgerrabie Hut within Nullarbor National Park. The perfect spot for breakfast and a great photo opportunity.

gilgerrabie hut ls

On from Gilgerrabie and deeper into the Nullarbor the historic Koonalda Homestead complex can be found and well worth stopping to explore. We have been here several times and find something new each visit. It always impresses.

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Out the back of the historic homestead the rusting remains of many vehicles that succumbed to the vastness of the old Nullarbor Highway can be found.

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Venturing further beyond the homestead and its outbuildings the massive Koonalda Cave is a sight to behold.

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Along with exploring to the north of the Eyre Highway there are also several spots to absorb the beauty of the southern coast particularly where the high and mighty Bunda Cliffs plunge into the deep blue of the Southern Ocean.

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From here it was off to the Western Australia border via the quarantine station. Be warned to make sure you are well aware of what you can and can’t take across the border here, they will go through your vehicle thoroughly or they did for us anyway. Maybe we looked a bit suspect! Once over the border we set up camp at the Eucla Caravan Park and had a night off cooking having a meal at the adjoining restaurant. A good feed for in the middle of nowhere.

Next morning it was off to check out the historic crumbling remains of the Eucla Telegraph Station. A great spot to soak up the history and a good photo opportunity.

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After fueling up it was time to head further into the unknown. The sign up ahead told the story of the days drive in front of us.

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Just after hitting Australia’s Longest Straight Road is the air blowhole. A small sign on the side of the road indicates this hole through the limestone where cool air from the underground caves and caverns escapes. One of those must stop spots.

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Following a long day in the saddle we pulled up to Balladonia Roadhouse for the night. The onsite museum with relics from the wreckage of Skylab as well as an interesting display on the Afghan Camel Trains is well worth a meander.

Heading yet further west the next morning we called into the picturesque Newman Rock. This was a great spot for morning tea and even better for a camp on the way home. A stunning locale that many just drive straight past.

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We eventually hit civilization at Norseman where we picked up a few supplies.

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We proceeded south of Norseman to check out the Dundas Coach Road Heritage Trail. This 50km circuit is a signposted interpretive drive exploring the original Dundas goldfields that were established in 1892. A fascinating drive.

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Also out of Norseman the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail spears off to the west. Due to the previous wet weather only some of this drive was open to vehicles. We ventured a short distance to take in the views over Lake Cowan.  Another great diversion.

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Next it was into the mining town of Kalgoorlie for a couple of nights. A days outing was planned to visit the mysterious sculptures at Lake Ballard near Menzies. This is a haunting and beautiful sight where renowned artist Antony Gormley has installed 51 sculptures in the dry salt lake.

Back through the quaint town of Menzies there were interesting sculptures spread throughout town depicting its history.

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Next morning prior to leaving Kalgoorlie we had to visit the famous Super Pit for which the town is well known, and it is BIG.

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Heading deeper into the west we ducked into Goldfields Woodlands National Park and Boondi Rock Picnic and Camping area for lunch. Like many of the granite outcrops in the area a wall was built at the base of Boondi to channel water into a dam, some ingenuity from the 1800s.

boonda rock ls

The next stop on our westward journey was Karalee Rock and dam. There is a picnic and camping area here however back in the 1890s steam trains heading to Kalgoorlie would stop to refuel at the dam. The remaining aqueduct is an amazing sight.

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After an interesting day exploring the history of this fascinating area it was time to find our camp for the night. Heading north from Southern Cross we made our way to Baladjie Rock, a scenic spot near a rocky outcrop and close to the Baladjie Salt Lake.

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It was heading into Baladjie that we noticed the red clay access road with numerous deep ruts where many vehicles had obviously had issues in the wet. We noted to ourselves that if rain were to come we would depart in rather a hurry. Well, later that night drops began on the roof of the tent awaking us. We decided to pack up as the drops got heavier and hightailed out just as the heavens fully opened with torrential rain. We made it by the skin of our teeth. After driving for a couple hours we finally pulled up at a roadside rest area in the wee hours for some kip. Luckily this was next to a roadhouse and we were able to have a delicious bacon and egg roll for breakfast. Not a bad way to end a midnight run.

Bound for famous Wave Rock near Hyden we made a detour to Hidden Hollow, a beautiful natural amphitheatre rock just out of Narembeen.

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A night at Wave Rock Caravan Park was next on the agenda and of course a visit to the iconic rock. It is mesmerising as are several other sites in this interesting spot.

wave rock ls

Next day we still had several attractions to explore before hitting the big smoke of Perth. Just up the road from Wave Rock is Mulka’s Cave, a significant Aboriginal Rock Art Site.

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Then it was into the hamlet of Hyden with its unique sculpture park. The sights in Western Australia just keep getting better and the trip has only just begun. From Hyden we pick up the Tin Horse Highway, more unique sculptures line the way and make for a fascinating drive.

tin horse highway 1 lstin horse highway 2 lstin horse highway 3 ls

At Corrigin enroute to Perth we came across our second Pet Cemetery whilst in the west.

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From here our westward journey ends in the city of Perth. Jump onboard next time as we explore Perth and surrounds before starting our journey north up the stunning Western Australian coast.

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