Trip Leader: Rick & Nancy Ellis
When: Friday 25th-28th March 2005
Location: Coolgardie to Lake Johnston
Saturday 26th March
Small kids were up bright and early, especially the Theunissen’s tent as it is Rachel’s birthday. Most campers up by 6:30, wakening to a beautiful morning at Lake Johnston. Lots of mature Salmon Gums and Gimlets with red trunks and grey saltbush.
After breakfast Frith, Kelly Nikki and Jade headed off for a big walk across the salt lake to the other side where they discovered five green pools and dead fluorescent huge insects (They were gone for ages, so we have learnt to take the handhelds & water)!
The rest of us coped with flies, swarming bees and noisy wood-choppers.
We left at 9:15AM and went back slightly and turned off onto Victoria Rock Rd (towards Coolgardie) which is a bumpy dirt track with the occasional stick poking out to scratch our new Jayco (The Queen Elizabeth – QEII). People spent their time playing with their GPS’s, but I prefer to just go explore and see the scenery. (the texture of the bark is incredible).
The track got more rutted and sure would be interesting in the wet! After about an hour and 20 minutes, we turned left onto Mundale 4×4 track where the QEII went into battle and struggled with closer trees. We wondered about the sign that said “un-maintained road”.
Arrived at a rocky open area at 10.50 for morning tea. Lizzy took off up to the rock and the rest had imaginary birthday cake, and coped with huge March flies and hot weather.
Left at 11.30 but we lost the track and went back to find the correct fork. Should have taken the right one five minutes back. The track was very narrow, with Daniel having to hold a few branches out of the way. Rick had to get his chain saw out (I thought he was joking). The track got seriously tight and Daniel did a great job holding trees back for Terry -building his muscles! He felt he might as well stay on the rear bumper bar for the duration and he felt that he deserved the big bed tonight.
Stopped for lunch off the track, as we were all starving and thirsty.
Left again at 1.30 refreshed but hot (must be over 40°). Tedious work – approximately 20 minutes for 1 km.
It’s amazing how your perspective changes–
first you don’t want to take your car there,
then you don’t want to take your Jayco through,
then you simply don’t want to scratch it,
then ‘well it was only a soft tree’,
then you’d be glad you didn’t dent it,
then we’ve just got to get through… so we don’t care!
Wow! We got stuck on a tree stump and lost a protective plate. Took three men to help lift it off–no damage though but Diana lost a mirror. I’m sure the Ellis’s are glad they haven’t got their new Jayco yet!
At 3 PM got out yet again to move more branches and heard the hissing of the Jayco tyre, so Trevor plugged it. Concerned with the track getting worse. We’ve done 53 km’s since 9.30 am and the first 30 minutes we covered a lot of ground. We think we’re going parallel with the Discovery Trail!
By 4 PM we all gathered and saw where we were on the GPS – still miles from anywhere and people only have half a tank of fuel left.
We drove 15 km’s in 6 hours!! So consensus was to turn around and go back. Used the SAT phone and left a message on Wes’s mobile as we were supposed to be meeting him at Cave Hill. Daniel and Duncan were on tree patrol up the back of the Jayco and got filthy dirty.
On the long way back Jade said to Nikki “Would you rather roast marshmallows, or have a toilet?”. What a choice! We considered camping along the track, but made a decision to go back to Lake Johnston as the clouds looked threatening. Got to the fork at 6 PM. Drove down the discovery trail with a full moon on front of us, and then into camp at 7 PM. Malcolm asleep by 7.45!
Sunday 27th March 2005
Easter Sunday. Some rain during the night. Kids woke early with the Easter Bunny coming to their camper trailers. Terry had a fire going so people had bacon and eggs, then Ellis’s gave out egg packages as did others (even gourmet liqueur ones for the adults!) Decided to break camp. The Hansen’s Jayco tyre was changed over, then headed off at 10:15 along the Discovery Trail to Norseman, about 70 kms away as people needed fuel. Then north on Coolgardie Hwy, then in to Cave Hill. The rain has dampened the road nicely–a great drive.
Stopped at 11:30, at “Site 15″ for a photo shoot of the huge salt lakes. We honked our horns at Luke “going bush” by the big sand hills, then drove into the 111 year old town of Norseman. We drove past the metal camels and famous horse called Norseman, and then cruised the town looking for cheap petrol and a lunch spot. Stocked up on hot chips and coffee, then found a lovely park to eat at. Big kids teamed up with little kids for an Easter egg hunt, then they watched a huge long train pass by and later had fun jumping on Terry.
Some of the adults had showers and Hansen’s looked at inner tubes for the leaking Jayco tyre, and hose clips for the leaking water tank. We left BP at 1.45 pm heading north to Higginsville. The men discovered their fuel consumption and a Toyota convoy passed by us going the other way. At 2:30 we turned left to Cave Hill and travelled on a lovely wide dirt road. However, ½ hour later Luke was sick (maybe too many chips or easter eggs!). Hansen’s passed the time making up poetry and Trevor contributed an interesting one… “
“Mary had a little lamb, it’s fleece was black as charcoal”
“And every time it leapt the fence, sparks flew out it’s ——-“! What a creative bunch we are!
Beautiful scenery. It is like an old Australian landscape painting. “Easter Bunny” (Wes) met us with a big arrow of rocks on the track. Took the right fork into the reserve, then right again on the Burra Rock Track – brought back memories of yesterday! Drove to Wes’s campsite by 4PM. It is an incredible spot beneath a big rock with a man made wall around it, and several dams with small yabbies in them. Pretty sky with all the stormy clouds around and lightning over by Coolgardie. Amazing small lizards that take flight across the hot rocks. We had a lovely happy hour and the “Jayco Club” bought out their flash wine! What a wonderful day!
Monday 28th March 2005
After a steady drizzle all night it was a soggy job packing up camp but people made good time and the young contingent (all the children) had time for a last trip up to the dam. A prompt start today, heading off just after 8:30am, as planned. Several people had to stop and check tow hitches as we departed the camp site, but then our first stop was at Cave Hill and “Mini Wave Rock”.
Cave Hill is a spectacular cave with many shelves to climb. The daredevil children provided plenty of opportunity for photos and there were family portraits all around. After departing Cave Hill we farewelled the Hansens and Keesings as they headed south to Esperance via Higginsville and the rest of the convoy set their sites (and GPS’s) for Coolgardie.
We travelled along the Woodline road and stopped at Burra Rock to let the under 17’s drive an old rusty Ford (no engine – no worries!). Stopped at Coolgardie for lunch but didn’t spend any time looking around as there was still a long drive ahead. After some time spent discussing whether or not to pass a semi full of caravans Wes got on the radio and spoke to the truck driver who kindly pulled to the side and let us all through. We watched the town site of Ghooli whiz by but stopped in Merredin for coffee/icecream.
As we passed Kelleberin I was asked to note that Rick was being followed by the Paj goddesses (there were, in fact, only Pajeros in the convoy from Cave Hill to home!).
It was with sadness that people began to peel off to their respective destinations as we headed down the Great Eastern Highway.
Thanks to Rick, Nancy, Luke and Blake, we had a great weekend exploring with good company, but the drizzle of rain on the way home ensured a messy cleanup awaited all.