Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week 19 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Esperance – Nullarbor (x2) – Ceduna – Whyalla
Kilometres          22893 – 24915 km

What a week!
At the end of last week we were hopeful Leonie’s broken finger would have a simple outcome and we could share a few days with friends at Cape Le Grand NP, how wrong were we? Early Monday morning Leonie was at Esperance Hospital for an x-ray and the results weren’t good. There was a clean break in the pinkie finger just above the hand but the bones hadn’t re-aligned properly. This resulted in plenty of discussion between patient, nurses, local doctors and an orthopaedic surgeon in Perth. The short story being Leonie’s hand was placed in a half hand cast requiring another x-ray in 3 days to check bone alignment. This could be done in Esperance and then possibly surgery in Perth or we could dash across the Nullarbor and try our luck in Ceduna SA, some 1400km to the east. We chose the latter….. We paid for another night in Esperance while preparing for our trip across the Nullarbor, we bought food and fuel and stocked up on water ready for the demanding trip.
How exciting
Tuesday we were up very early and on the road, the plan was to do as many kilometres as we were comfortable with and then bush camp somewhere just off the highway.  We would still try and squeeze in a few sightseeing stops as who knows when we’d be back over this way. Reaching Norseman by mid-morning we restocked with fuel again before heading east onto the Nullarbor Plains. The heavily wooden areas either side of the road soon gave way to the flat grassed plains with barely a tree in sight. In parts the road seemed to go straight on for miles and miles, rolling over hill after hill, till we reached a sign saying the next 90 mile stretch of road was the longest straight stretch in Australia. That proved to be the highlight of our 1st boring day on the Nullarbor… Towards the end of the day we stopped at a blowhole, not as we know them, but an earth blowhole where cool air rushes out of a 1m round hole in the ground…. Just on dusk we found a very nice bush camp and were happy to call it quits for the day.
One hole on the Nullarbor Links course
Wednesday started with us feeling a little flat. Driving the Nullarbor to meet a deadline isn’t fun but we put this behind us and were soon on the road with no change in the scenery. We had a couple of stops at various Nullarbor Golf Links holes, these make up the longest golf course in the world simply because it’s a few hundred km’s between each hole and it stretches right across the Nullarbor. We’d soon reached Eucla and the WA/SA border where we stopped for the obligatory photo and to reminisce on our 2½ months in WA. Soon afterwards we got our first views of the Great Australian Bight. This continued for the next couple a hundred kilometres, culminating at one stop where we saw the towering cliffs of the Bight and the Southern Ocean smashing into the base some 100m below. By days end we’d found another bush camp just near the “Head of the Bight” and setup as storms threatened to lash the area.
WA/SA border
We were now on SA time which meant the mornings were a lot darker and more conducive to sleeping except we needed to be on the road. The remaining 200km into Ceduna passed uneventfully. Seeing civilisation slowly approach felt funny, first there were a few fences, then sown fields, power poles, a few farm houses and finally the township of Ceduna….. The Nullarbor Plain had finally been conquered….. We checked into a Ceduna caravan park and waited for Leonie’s appointment time, the kids did a bit of fishing off the nearby wharf. By late afternoon Leonie had been to hospital to see the Dr and once again the news was bad, however this time it was the doctor’s inexperience and her reluctance that deterred us. She advised us to come back tomorrow after which time she could consult with an Adelaide specialist.
Bunda Cliffs - The Great Australian Bight
It was back to the hospital on Friday and once again the Dr was full of suggestions but with a glaring lack of experience to perform any of them so we err’d on the side of caution and with a nurse’s suggestion we would take our case to Whyalla…. We spent the next few hours seeing a few sights around Ceduna. As its wheat harvesting time the Ceduna port is a buzz with ships queuing to transport wheat offshore…..Our friends from Esperance had arrived in town which gave the kids an afternoon of playtime and the parents an enjoyable happy hour. We all shared fish n chips by the wharf as the sun set over the bay.
Ceduna Jetty
Saturday saw us on the road again, we’d deviated from our original plans and were heading straight to Whyalla where hopefully Leonie could get her finger attended to by a specialist. The drive to Whyalla is another one of those inland boring highways with very little to see, the endless wheat fields is a stark reminder of how much wheat Australia produces. Strong winds buffeted our drive and on numerous occasions we drove through huge dust bowls that blanketed the highway reducing visibility to less than 100m. Once in Whyalla we took Leonie straight to the hospital where finally a positive outcome was agreed upon, but as it was the weekend this couldn’t be achieved till Monday…… Ahhh! The country lifestyle and facilities can be so so frustrating sometimes….. We were soon setting up the van but with the wind still relentless we spent the afternoon tucked away cosy in our van.
HMAS Whyalla
For the first time in quite a few days we could spend Sunday lazing around the van. We caught up with family and friends electronically and really enjoyed the morning just relaxing. At lunch time we joined a tour of the HMAS Whyalla which is beached high n dry some 2km from the coast. This Navy ship served in WWII before being returned to its name-sake. From there we took in the views from Mt Laura, this unofficial lookout provided some 4WDriving and offers sweeping views of the Spencer Gulf and the industries which use it to transport steel and grain around the world…. Returning to the van, Leonie and the kids spent some time baking. We haven’t seen or used an oven since leaving home and as the van park had one the kids were keen for some cakes and cookies. They were a yummy way to finish a busy week.

Let’s hope next week brings us some joy with Leonie’s finger and we can get back to enjoying our holiday at a more leisurely pace. 

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