Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 18 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Bunbury – Kwolyin Bush Camp – Kalgoorlie - Esperance
Kilometres          21444 – 22893 km

As Monday was Leonie’s Birthday we’d planned a day of leisure which included a few things that she loves to do. Naturally we started with a sleep-in and a hearty dose of bacon rolls. For most the morning we lazed around the van, the kids hired the pedal karts and zoomed around the park for a while…. By about lunchtime we headed into Bunbury to check out a few of the local sights. The Rotary Tower offered great views of the area with the black n white chequered lighthouse provided a contrasting backdrop. Naturally our day wasn’t complete without a bit of retail therapy and a coffee with the family. By late afternoon we’d returned to the van where we enjoyed a lovely dinner.
Bunbury harbour
Tuesday was the start of a reluctant milestone for us, our trip back east had begun, we were heading towards Kalgoorlie. There was no more coastal greenness or heavily populated suburbia, it was replaced by Merino filled paddocks and endless golden wheat fields. It was harvest time and on number of occasions we watched the big combine harvesters flanked by tractor trailers as they filled and made their way to many temporary stockyards that spring up at this time of year. By mid-afternoon we’d driven halfway to Kalgoorlie and were happy to find a bush camp for the night.
Moving in a north-easterly direction away from the coast brought an instant change in the temperature, the cool days and nights of southern WA were replaced by the warmer temperatures that we’d experienced and loved for much of our trip. On Wednesday as we pushed on to Kalgoorlie where we experienced temps of 36deg and once again the scenery changed to a much harsher arid landscape…. With two solid days driving behind us we finally arriving in the mining town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder where we soon found a caravan park and setup for a few days. We headed into town for a few supplies and a quick look around, the enormity of Kalgoorlie caught us by surprise. The supporting infrastructure that accompanies a mine is amazing. It’s similar to that of Wollongong or Port Hedland but there is no shipping port out here! We soon found ourselves at the life-blood of Kalgoorlie – The Super Pit. This massive open-cut mine is beyond comprehension, its 3.7km long, 1.55km wide and 600m deep. At the bottom, cars look like ants while people are nearly unrecognisable and what are normally huge bucket loaders and monster tippers are dwarfed against the scale of this hole/mine…. By early evening the temperature still hovered around 30deg with Thursday expected to peak at 40deg.
The Super Pit
Thursday started out hot and got hotter, we spent much of the morning by the pool at the caravan park but with things to see and do we couldn’t afford to sit around all day. There was plenty of mining history to see with a few old mine headframes still standing in place and the nearby lookout provided a great view over the town…. Each day the Super Pit blast a new section of rock for the next days excavation and at 1.30pm we were lucky to witness the explosion. The ground rumbled and the noise vibrated through us as we stood at the visitors lookout…. The culmination of our day was a tour of the Questa Casa brothel which opens its doors to the public each day, an hour and a half later I was  very informed as to the way a madam makes her money.
Friday started early for us as we joined a tour of the Super Pit. The operators of the open-cut gold mine KCGM, provide a very informative tour bus ride around the mine, from excavating the rock, to the crusher and mill through to the electrolysis process, its all done on site. The mine produces approx’ 15 gold bars every 3 days or about $1.2 billion/year. There are 40 dump trucks each costing $4.4 million running up and down the hill each day while there are 4 face shovel excavators each costing $18 million removing the ore and to be up close to these heavy machines was amazing. Ethan didn’t know which way to look as he continually spied a new machine or process….. After the tour and lunch we finished the day by seeing a few more sights of Kalgoorlie.
Ready for work Boss!
Saturday was moving day and we were on the road by 9am. We were heading to Esperance where we’d hope to catch up with some friends we’d met earlier in our travels. The day was pretty uneventful until we stopped at a small town just north of Esperance for a pee-break when Leonie trips on a small step causing her to fall to the ground, resulting in a broken pinky finger and a bit of bark off her knee. After some onsite 1st aid we headed to the Esperance Hospital where they strapped the finger, but they couldn’t X-ray it as it was the weekend (typical small country town). Hopefully by Monday we’ll know the full extent….. In the meantime we’ll spend a couple of days relaxing as we look around Esperance at a slower pace…. Late in the day we caught up with some friends we hadn’t seen since Perth, we spent the next few hours catching up on our respective travels.
Big, bigger, biggest
A grader, a water cart, a tipper
Sunday is meant to be a day of sleeping, tell that to some of our neighbours who thought it’d be good to be packing up and chatting to anyone who’d listen at 5.45am. That aside we did have a lazy morning around the van, it was nearly lunchtime when we headed out to see some of Esperance. We stopped by a local festival, checked out the Pink Lake, a few lookouts and beaches before returning to town where we stopped at a fish tannery. It was here that we learnt how they turn unwanted fish skin into very valuable leather products which we all thought was really interesting….. Our week concluded watching some cricket and enjoying some liquid refreshments.
Esperance Bay
By this time next week we’ll be somewhere on the Nullarbor, getting very close to South Australia.
Ciao for now   

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