Day 77– 17th September – Tuesday –Kalgoorlie.
Vin woke up with the motivation to finish the catch up of the blog (to do his last posting on the net before arriving home). Since he was doing this everybody else had a lazy morning. The kids eventually had some friends Ben and Sean return from their mine tour so they went to play on the playground with them whilst we spoke to their parents Liz and Gary.
We eventually went to see some of Kalgoorlie. Initially we went to the tour office to book our Super Pit tour for the next day. Then we went to the Information Centre to get maps/ Booklets about where to go, also venturing to the Town Hall which was an amazing old building. It had an art show on there which we all really enjoyed. Finally we went to the museum which was interesting, before going to the shops to purchase things for dinner. When we returned it was times for the Atkins to arrive.
This is the water fountain in Kalgoorlie, which is a statue of Peter Hannan. Abbey having a drink or giving him a kiss, while Riley was checking the temperature first.
We had dinner before we had a catch up with the Atkins while the kids played at the playground before heading to bed, with the adults being up rather late (some even getting in trouble with the neighbours for being up so late- not Vin of course).
The three late owls causing trouble again!!!
Day 78– 18th September – Wednesday –Kalgoorlie.
This morning was again a fairly lazy morning with Vin actually finishing the blog and posting it (Yeh, what a relief). The kids played on the playground with many other kids from the park while this was happening. We even had time to shave Vin's and Riley's head this morning with our new clippers!Kids and Mum shaved Vin's head again.
It wasn’t quite as late for us to get going, about 11am heading for the Mine Museum. We met the Atkin’s there and ventured around this quite interesting place. The most fun was actually getting to climb up onto a mining truck (huge) and of course doing some gold panning (unfortunately nothing found- have to come back to work after all)! Also looked around at the grounds which had an original miners cottage and miners tent, it was a bit like a mini Sovereign Hill. After we left there we went to the Super Pit look out. Wow this mining pit was enormous and over 600m deep. They have been mining at the Super Pit since the 1940’s and the size of the pit has changed drastically over the years.
We then quickly went back to the caravan park to get changed, as we were going on a tour of the Super Pit in the afternoon. For the tour you had to wear long pants, long sleeve top and closed in shoes. The tour took off from the main sheet and we went on a bus out to the mine. On the way the tour guide filled us in on the history of the mine and some very interesting facts. For example the tyres on the BIG mining trucks cost $38,000 each and the actual vehicle cost around $4,000,000! The miners’ work 7days straight from 5am to 5pm or 5pm to 5am and then they have 7 days off. The Kalgoorlie Super Pit only employs local people from the area. The Mine will continue to be in operation until at least 2021 with the possibility of being extended to 2028. It will be interesting to see what will happen to the Super Pit when mining finally ceases and also to the town of Kalgoorlie. The tour was very informative and we got to see the Monster trucks in operation, however we didn’t get to go right down into the mine.
A quiet evening tonight as we were starting to pack and get organised for our big trek across the Nullarbor!
Day 79– 19th September – Thursday –Kalgoorlie- Eucla
It’s time for the exciting but dreaded Nullarbor trip which hopefully will only take us a couple of days to complete (900km’s). Obviously we needed to get off early so we left by 7.45am, Fred had left by 7am, however with his bigger van it takes him considerably longer to get anywhere. It was freat that we were having 2 other families doing the trip across with us, the Atkin’s who were at Kalgoorlie with us and the Ellis’s who were coming up from Esperance.After several hours of travelling we met both other families at the at Blowhole at Caiguna for lunch. Although the actual blowhole was a little disappointing as a sight, it was just a casual fun way to spend our short 20 minute lunch break. It was then off for the crux of the trip to Eucla, the Snell’s and Ellis’ eventually arriving there by about 5-45pm local time (we’d had to move the clocks 45 minutes forward), the Atkin’s arrived about 30 minutes later.
We set up at Eucla Caravan Park which was nothing special to look at, however good for our means. We were able to spread out from other campers and pick our own site. Only one unfortunate thing was again a little bump into the back of the car from the caravan when we tried to adjust the level of the van (handbrake not on tight enough).
A hit for the kids at Eucla!
We didn’t let this dampen our spirits and headed off to dinner with the other families at the only place in town, a bistro which had a good variety of meals. The meals didn’t disappoint with everyone enjoying, along with fantastic company it was very enjoyable. After dinner we at last were able to have another open fire which Vin had been hanging for! He’d actually been carrying around a box of wood that he’d acquired in Exmouth in the hope of soon getting an open fire. Although we didn’t have the marshmallows the ambient atmosphere it provided was awesome, particularly when Fred shared his coal trick under the seat which kept the ladies particularly happy.
It’s amazing how in such a remote, nothing place you can have such an enjoyable time.
Day 80 – 20th September – Friday – Eucla- Streaky Bay.
Today was to be another big day of travel, confronting us was the other half of the Nullarbor (only 600km’s). After a lazy morning we departed at about 9-30am for a quick explore of Eucla. We went and had a quick look at the old Telegraph Station ruins with the Ellis’ , deciding not to venture into the amazing sand dunes that were there as it was still quite a hike for the day.
We were advised of the many great lookout points along today’s travel, although as the first one was just down the road we decided not to stop, heading past 2 lookouts before eventually stopping about 100km’s down the stretch at the Great Australian Bight Lookout 1. Wow! I think we should’ve stopped at the other lookouts. What an amazing coastline we have, like nothing I’ve seen before. The magnitude of the cliff faces is amazing, not to mention how clear the ocean waters look.
Shortly after we stopped at the Head of the Bight where we had been advised that there was more amazing coastline and whales to see. We weren’t disappointed (except for the price of $35-), with heaps of whales (about a dozen), including a few calves, with one in particular giving us a show and performing lots of breaching. We caught up with the Atkin’s here and the Ellis’ arrived soon after us. They stayed to eat their lunches here but Vin was keen to push on so we ate in the car as we had another 4 hours of driving.
Everybody hanging out at the Head of the Bight.
On the journey we had to go through the quarantine at Ceduna, fortunately this was a much more pleasant experience than when we went into WA. The bloke was very relaxed, even taking our rubbish bag (we’d been eating fruit all day to finish off all our supplies). We were first to arrive at Streaky Bay just before 6pm. This gave us enough light time to set up and get ourselves organised with dinner before the others arrived about 40 minutes later.
That night the kids explored the caravan park, playing at the playground for quite some time before finding the damn games room. All parents gave them a couple of dollars each which somehow kept them at the games room all night!! That night the adults sat around watching the Geelong V Hawthorn preliminary final which was a classic match, typical of these teams. Hawthorn eventually got over the line by less than a goal, much to the disgust of Corbin who went off to bed (an Essendon supporter who has been scarred for life in the 80’s by the Hawks).
Day 81 – 21st September – Saturday – Streaky Bay.
After 2 big days of travel it was a restful morning for all, although Britt and Leanne did dust off the cobwebs and went for a run. The Ellis’ of course went off exploring while we bumped into Jo and Derm who were 2 sites away. It was nice to see them as we hadn’t caught up since Broome (although being Blues supporters Vin and Riley were glad we hadn’t seen them). Eventually we had enough energy to head to the shops to restock supplies’ after Nullarbor. We just got to the local fish shop and butcher as they were closing at lunch time Saturday (still behind the times, lucky them)!
We planned to go for a drive but children had a big group playing together and we were all happy to stay at the park, particularly as although it was a windy morning it settled to be a beautiful sunny day. Vin was the only one who braved it and went swimming, the rest of us adults were happy just relaxing in our chairs on the beach. Fred cooked damper for afternoon tea (Willie Creek farm recipe), and it didn’t disappoint. Vin then cooked up beautiful scallops and fish for dinner. Very yum, I think we are all getting use to this seafood.
The adults and several of the children spent the night watching the footy, barracking for Swans for Fred. The children lost heart half way through and went to watch a movie, while there was a huge group of adults who stayed watching footy. A good fun social night!
Day 82 – 22nd September – Sunday – Streaky Bay.
Today Vin woke up with a brainwave to change our travelling plans, which he knew Leanne wouldn’t be so excited about at first (adding another 400km’s), although she was amazing receptive to the idea. The only sad part for all was the decision to detour away from our original plan of heading to Adelaide to catch up with the Lawrie’s again (who we visited on the way through), as this would add another 300kkm’s.
Riley at last got a teddy from the machine at the games room in the morning. Yeah, at least he won’t have to spend any more of his money on the challenge of actually getting something. We then decided to join the Ellis’ and Atkin’s in an adventure day. We even succumbed to allowing kids to all swap cars. On the way out, Corbin stopped along the road to pick up one of the many lizards found scampering across the road. He gave it to Riley, who was very brave to hold onto it. We continued our 50km drive out to the Sea Lions Look out. It was quite amazing to see so many (about 50) of these beautiful creatures lazing about. Although we did see a couple of the young ones play fighting in the small rock pools.
Leanne trying to make her way up the sandhills. Good for the calves!
We then did a loop of off road driving to different beach points. We explored on the rocks at Smooth Pool before venturing to the Sandhills, following the Ellis’ lead. Here we had great fun sliding down the sand dunes on the skimmer boards, even the adults had a turn. The most hilarious was the race back up the sand dunes between Fred and Vin. Oh what a sight to see as these massive creatures wrestled each other to get that advantage, eventually Vin winning the wrestle (Fred covered head to toe in sand) and the race!
Fun at the sand dunes!
Upon our return the kids were able to buy their Adelaide favourite (Mini melts). The other families kids joined in as we didn’t want any fights. Vin, Corbin and Fred then decided to go exploring to Hayley’s Head Surf beach and the Blowhole, while the ladies and the kids were happy to stay. The ladies lazed around on the beach while the kids went back to the park to play. That night we started to pack as we had to move on tomorrow. Quite sad as we were all going our separate ways for the journey home.
Day 83 – 23rd September – Monday – Streaky Bay -Mildura.
Final goodbyes as we had a big day of travel (970km), the kids were up for the challenge. We left at 7.45am and the kids were fantastic as it was a very long boring drive, although there was some scenic areas through Peterborough. Leanne having one of her rare drives for the trip suffered through lots of road works, travelling at some stages at only 25km (about 10km’s of this).
We finally arrived at 6.15pm and it was a warm 30 degrees. We set up for 1 night stay, so whilst Vin was finishing setting up Leanne went to the shops to get some fillets for Vin to cook for our barbeque dinner. We ate this outside while watching some of the Brownlow Medal. As much as Riley wanted to stay up to watch the whole lot we got the kids to bed fairly early (9pm). Vin and Leanne stayed up watching the Brownlow, which was quite exciting (good job Gazza!) During the night Leanne put it to Vin that we stay an extra night so she could visit Red Cliffs which was where she use to go for family holidays as a child. We just had to find out in the morning if we could get a site and swap our booking at Howlong.
Novelty trip across on the barge- across the Murray River to Waikerie.Day 84 – 24th September – Tuesday -Mildura.
Needed to until 8.00am to see what our plans were going to be for the day, as this is what time the park office opens. Firstly, we had to see if it was possible for us to stay another night at the Big 4 in Mildura before ringing the park at Howlong to hopefully change our booking. The Mildura Park could put us up for another night, but it meant changing sites! Also the Howlong Caravan Park could move our booking back a day, so it looks like we were going to stay another night much to Leanne’s excitement!
Team Snell got into action again and we moved sites really quickly, not even winding the van down this time. Once we were set up again, we headed off to Red Cliffs, only a 10 minute drive from where we were staying. Red Cliffs is a small town where Leanne and her family use to spend their Christmas holidays for many years. We spent the morning driving around revisiting all the places Leanne use to go to when she was younger. The Red Cliff Pools was where Leanne and her family spent hours swimming over the years. The pool was closed due to the time of year, so we couldn’t go in, but not much had changed except that the diving board and slide had been removed from the pool. We then drove to the caravan park where she used to stay. Other places we visited that were significant to her time in Red Cliffs were; the grass tennis courts where they played most mornings, the bowling club where her dad use to often play, St Joseph’s Church where they would attend Mass and the famous Big Lizzie, a steam train they use to climb on. Vin, Abbey and Riley were most disappointed that you could no longer climb the old steam train! Leanne took lots of photographs and is excited to share these with her family when she returns home.Photos from Historic Red Cliffs- Great memories for Leanne!
Back to the Caravan Park for lunch and even a swim in the pool as the weather in Mildura is 30 degrees. Even though the weather was warm the pool was rather cold, but Abbey, Riley and Vin still braved the conditions and went for a swim. That afternoon we played Rummikub and Sequence, which was some quality family time after we have been all very busy socialising with our travelling friends.
Relaxing, playing games as a family for a change!
A relaxing night, Leanne and Vin even watched some television which has been a very rare event on this holiday (apart from watching the footy finals). A very memorable and emotional day for Leanne going back to Red Cliffs and being able to share all the things she did there with her family when she was a child.
Day 85 – 25th September – Wednesday –Mildura - Howlong
Woke up in our own time today as we knew there wasn’t too much of a drive today. We’d packed up and left by about 9am, being quite seasoned with packing up by now. How long to go to Howlong was of course the continual comment, (joke) of the day. We travelled through some beautiful scenery and very cute little towns. Balranald was a very cute town in the fact that they obviously were in the grand final and playing out of town somewhere, so on the way out of town they’d put up encouragement posters on the signs, then on every second post coming out of town they had posters with players names and numbers on it (pretty inspiring- how to do in a small town)! Go the Roos (that’s what they were called).
Beautiful Wildflowers along the way- Canola flowers!
Thankfully Dylan from Mildura Caravan Park had given us directions to get to Howlong quicker, so even with the stock crossing the road a couple of times on the way there (cows and sheep), we managed to arrive at Howlong by 2-30pm. We actually managed to have some reception so we called the Ladd’s who rushed outside and were our welcoming party. It was a moderate day weather wise so we were able to sit outside and have a catch up with afternoon nibbles before taking a walk over to the local sports precinct (quite impressive). The Ladd’s advised that this was the hub of the town’s activity, with sports being the main weekend activities for everyone.
That night we were lucky enough to have the Ladd’s cook up dual meals for us, being Taco’s and Beef with Black Bean. Oh how nice to be waited on! A nice relaxing evening chatting while the kids watch tv for a change (x-factor).
Day 86 – 26th September – Thursday – Howlong
After a windy night in a town that is never windy (Kez and Ian told us this the day before), we were entitled to a sleep in. Eventually having the Ladd’s knocking on our door at about 8-30am (only because they’d already seen Leanne at the showers, as she never sleeps in). The kids went over and played at the Ladd’s cabin while Vin was getting himself organised.
We finally decided due to the crappy weather this day to head into Albury to play laser tag. Riley was the only Snell to have done it before so we were quite excited. In the first game the boys went on one team while the girls went on the other. We had a few other people in the game including these three older boys who obviously play this regularly and they were dressed to match (future commandos. It was good fun in the first game, however the commando’s smashed us, Leanne and Vin (last place) were the worst of anyone. Mitchell was best scorer of our families.
Because we were matched up to play against these boys again in the next game we at the last moment asked if we could have our own game after their next game. It was ok, so the kids decided it was to be them against the adults. This obviously fired Vin up who top scored in this game (being the bully that he is)! It was great fun but the kids were no match for the firepower of the adults. In hindsight we should’ve probably made the teams Ladd’s v Snell’s which of course the kids wanted in a third game, but we’d decided that was enough adrenalin for one day.
Laser Play for everyone- Ladds and Snell's.
We then headed to the main park in Albury for a play around as the sun had decided to shine (still windy in Albury/ Howlong though). After a couple of hours kicking the footy/ throwing the Frisbee and playing on the swings and flying fox it was time to head back to Howlong. Ian and Kez became the tourist guides, driving us around Howlong, showing us houses that they’ve been looking at, and general areas where they’d like to buy. We then dropped in at Kez’s parents place (Eddie and Lesley). Had a chat with them out in the backyard, while they picked heaps of fresh vegetables for us (pumpkin, lettuce and spinach). Wow, what a garden! It was nice to catch up with them. We headed back to freshen up as we’d decided to go to the golf club for dinner.
Playing at the park with Ladd's in Albury!
It was a two minute drive to the club where they had Chinese on the menu. We decided on the banquet which was a beautiful meal. The kids enjoyed there’s as well, finishing quickly so they could go and play at the chocolate machine- oh, what a waste. Vin and Ian eventually at the end of dinner went to show the kids how it was done (not that we did so well). We headed back to the caravan park around 9pm. When we got there the kids went to watch a movie in our van while we stayed in the comforts of the Ladd’s van to watch the G/F footy Show. A relaxing and fun evening had by all.
Day 87 – 27th September – Friday – Howlong - HOME
Didn’t think or want this day would come, the day to travel home. Very mixed emotions for all of us today as it’s been such a remarkable journey for us all, however we’ve all missed the comforts of home, and of course family and friends! One thing we can say is that we haven’t missed the rat race pace of life at home, although busy on our trip, it was busy when we wanted it to be.
We said goodbye to the Ladd’s around 10am, which was a little emotional for all! It was going to be a 4 hour drive to arrive at our destination. Vin was quite sure he was going to make it home without any accident or incident (speeding ticket) for our whole journey on the road (we forget those incident when setting our van up)!
Leanne was waiting for some news from her sister Linda who’d been getting some medical test results, unfortunately getting them part the way home (being not great news). This dampened the mood somewhat, however Leanne did well to hold it together, considering! We decided to stop for a bathroom break at the dreaded servo in Seymour. This had been the servo that we’d stopped at last year in the Magna on the way home from Lake Hume and the car had broken down. Saw the man (Brian) who’d helped us last year and again said thanks. Fortunately the car started again and we headed towards home. Although a relatively slow trip through the city we made it home by 2pm. The sun was actually arriving for our return! Now it’s time to unpack!
Thanks to everyone for supporting us in our trip and for those friends we developed along the way. It certainly was always great to hear from people (anyway we were constantly out of range- damn Vodafone). Look forward to catching up with you all now that we’re home and back to reality.
A particularly huge thanks to Leanne, Abbey and Riley who made my trip everything I wanted it to be and more! Can’t wait for our next adventures! Thanks Leanne for helping complete our blog to our friends along the journey too! Signing off for now, VIN!