Letho's Blog

Archive for April, 2011

Go West

by on Apr.16, 2011, under Traveling Australia

Monday evening, 11th April 2011 – Saturday noon, 16th April 2011

As you have read so far we have arrived in Ceduna with a sense of achievement – not only had we finished the Eyre Peninsula but gathered important insights into sanddunes, beaches, high tides and four wheel driving in general. But more important lessons are still to come.

We arrived in Ceduna in the evening, met our couchsurfing host Matt at his workplace, the best fish and chips shop in town, and, surprising for us, got his only key and a map to his house.
There wasn’t anything particular we wanted to do at Ceduna, just get everything ready for the next trip that is doing the laundry, writing some blog articles for you guys to read and wait for our mate Sebastian whom we had met in Adelaide before. The peace and quiet was disturbed when Frank saw a mouse escaping from him in the car and our patience and empathy for this little creature was over quickly due to former mouse encounters. Among doing the laundry and going shopping was a new agenda: to buy a mouse trap. Armed with good advise from all sides with what to prepare the trap (“fry some cheese in a pan”, “they like cheese and peanutbutter, that’s how my parents would get them in the restaurant”) we decided on good old plain cheese only to be fooled by the mouse which ate the cheese and was very much alive afterwards. You can imagine our growing frustration.
We finally got it with peanut butter on top of cheese put very tightly into the mousetrap.


We spend three days at Matt’s place, the second day two other couchsurfer were there too and enjoyed a great dinner with self-caught fish (Matt caught them not us ; ))

Preparations were finished, our mate had arrived, Pet Shop Boys on CD – to cut it short we were ready to go West. (I am only joking about the Pet Shop Boys though).


Ahead of us the mighty Nullarbor Plain named after one bit without trees. To be honest, even with a tree here and there the rest of the area wasn’t much more exciting, at least the plain driving.

First stop was Cactus Beach where some of our now 7 head and 2 car strong group took a swim. The beach is reknown for its great surf waves, not interesting for us and only few sufers there.


On the way back to the main road the pink lakes:

After that we stopped at head of Bight about 000 km from Ceduna to have a look at the Australian Bight with its steep cliffs and rough waters. Being a platform for whale watching as well they charged 5 $ so that only some of us went to check out whether it was worth it or not. It wasn’t especially since the view at the Bunda Cliffs that were free was so much more spectacular. Have a look for yourself:

After such beautiful and exciting landscape another manmade adventure awaited us – The South Australian – Western Australian Border! In order to not spread fruitflies or larvae no fresh vegetables or fruits were allowed that means we had to eat up all our fresh food he day before. Not a problem. But then they wanted our honey! So we had to throw away an only half empty jar of honey when they searched our car. In case you haven’t noticed Australians are extremely keen on giving fines and of course there would have been a fine if you „forgot“ to get rid of it. So in this case better not take the risk. When the grumpy border lady was finished searching our car we finally had arrived in Western Australia. But still no big towns no nothing – the Nullarbor Plain only.


Old Telegraph Station in Eucla

One more exciting event along the Nullarbor Plain was the Weebubbee cave which we found after several attempts and via quite hidden tracks since the Australians are not the best when in comes to well visible signs. After a rather rocky drive of several kilometres we finally arrived – only to find out that the cave was closed. The entrance to the cave was located in a huge sinkhole and since there was no danger visible having a look at that three of us did so. The climb down was fairly easy and there it was the entrance to the forbidden cave. The ladder leading down was a fair bit welcoming and therefore we gave in to temptation and had a quick cautious look. And what a great cave it was, quite dark though and quite big. And fortunately, we got out save and sound – hurray!!

Now off we went back to the Nullarbor Plain with Australia’s longest straight road and pretty straight it was!

Camping and travelling together as a team of seven:

In between Sebastians car had problems with the clutch – not the only problem we would encounter during the trip…


But for the moment we arrived safe and sound in Balladonia, ready for the next adventure to come!

Have a look at the map to see where we have been and what is ahead of us…


Größere Kartenansicht

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Lots of new pictures

by on Apr.15, 2011, under Photos

Hey you,

it’s been a while since we showed you some picture galleries of what happened in the last months. We are behind again with our articles a couple of weeks, as usual. You know the drill – enjoy the pics for now and read about it later. 😉

 

The Cape Le Grand National Park

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Point Labatt and Streaky Bay

by on Apr.11, 2011, under The Eyre Peninsula

April 11, 2011

We left Sceale Bay early to get to the Point Labatt Conservation Park.

Here you can find the only permanent colony of Australian Sealions on Australian mainland. The other permanent colony is on Kangaroo Island at Seal Bay – we were there, read up on it in that article. 😉

We continued towards Sceale Bay where we wanted to drive two scenic drives. We started with the Westall Way Loop which starts at Tractor Beach and High Cliffs:

Next stop – The Granites:

Further along the way we strolled down to the Smooth Pools which looked similar to The Granites. They offered a variety of rock pools near the sea for easy and safe swimming or snorkeling. We didn’t do any of that, however .. too cold! Still they provided for a nice view. And we saved a crab struggling in the muscles! 😉

A quick stop at Speed Point ..

Contrasting rocks at Speed Point

Contrasting rocks at Speed Point

We missed out on Yanerbie Sandhills .. no more experiments with deep, soft sand after our previous experiences. 😉

The second scenic drive on that day was the Cape Bauer Loop. We probably started on the wrong end at Hally’s Beach – but hey, it’s a loop, does it really matter?

*grrr* Hally's Beach

*grrr* Hally's Beach

Much more interesting were The Whistling Rocks and The Blowholes. The whistling rocks are tube-like holes leading to a cave through the rocks to the surf. When the surf presses water and air into the caves or the pipes, the air is driven at high speed through the tubes resulting in a sound similar to a giant whistling. The blowholes were a bit lazy when we visited – no spray, fume etc. But we found some impressive holes in the ground. If anyone accidentally falls into one of those … it might be your very last step.

Finally we stopped at Cape Bauer which we found a bit disappointing.

This was our last day on the Eyre Peninsula. In the upcoming dark we rushed to Ceduna to prepare for crossing „a lot of nothing“ – the Nullarbor Plains on our way to Western Australia.

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From Coffin Bay to Sceale Bay

by on Apr.10, 2011, under The Eyre Peninsula

April 10, 2011

We left Little Yangie Bay and therefore Coffin Bay NP in the morning and headed north to Elliston. On the way we found endless coastlines and countless bays, thus we stopped here and there to take a look. You can take one, too:

Near Elliston we did the Elliston Clifftop Drive along the coast and found a few interesting sculptures on the way.

In the Anxious Bay we sighted two interesting sites: The Woolshed and The Tub, both of which we explored in greater detail. First the Woolshed, a cave driven into the limestone by erosion:

The waves here were genuinely huge and beautiful:

Afterwards we were adventurous enough to climb into the Tub as well, a big hole in the ground with an arch that is connected to the Pacific surf:

The „ladder“ into the Tub consists of nothing more but an old tree stump with a few steps chopped into it. It does the job! 🙂

Looking for a campspot near Sceale Bay we came across Murphys Haystacks, an interesting rock formation made of granite as a leftover after the surrounding soil and rock had fully been eroded:

We found a bush-camping site in time to set up our tent in daylight at Sceale Bay and had a fine campfire .. another good day spent on the Eyre Peninsula. 😉

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Coffin Bay

by on Apr.09, 2011, under The Eyre Peninsula

April 09, 2011

At 10am we entered the 4WD track to the northern parts of Coffin Bay. Well – we tried, at least. Waiting for a good point in time with low tide to circumvent flooded areas we almost failed miserably at one of the first and relatively minor sandhills. After our experiences in the Sleaford-Wanna-Dunes we didn’t hesitate this time and lowered the tyre pressure – a lot! And it helped enourmously:

First obstacle - vanquished!

First obstacle - vanquished!

After that most of the sandy sections did not cause too much trouble anymore .. if only we had done that way earlier. 🙁

A part of the access route to the end of the peninsula goes along the Seven Mile Beach. This means: the ocean to the right, a tiny sandbed (10-15 meters at most) to drive on and the shoreline to the left. It actually lasts about 10-11 kilometers as the name implies, and as well is only accessable during low tide. We had planned before to enter shortly after low tide, wait for high tide to pass and return 3-4 hours into low tide. What do you reckon – does it work out? 🙂

See what Seven Mile Beach looks like:

It was a bit of a struggle here and there, but manageable. After returning to the main track we drove to Morgans Landing, had a breakfast and continued to Point Sir Isaac on the northernmost part of the peninsula:

Here we noticed a drastic change in the characteristics of the surf. Instead of calm and low waves like in the more protected, southern beaches of Coffin Bay here the Pacific pounded strong against the rocks:

Although a lot of sandy sections existed along the track, quite a fair bit of it was made up of rocks in varying sizes. That meant a lot of shaking and rattling driving us increasingly crazy ..

Rocky tracks in Coffin Bay

Rocky tracks in Coffin Bay

Our next stop was Mullalong Beach:

Mullalong Beach

Mullalong Beach

On the track itself we gathered a lot of impressions what kind of barren wasteland we just crossed:

Wastelands

Wastelands

We passed Reef Point ..

.. and Sensation Beach.

Whoever got bogged down there, it was not much left of him. Poor fellow. 😉

We encountered a lot of birdlife, of course. Not all of them as nifty arranged as this group of pelicans, though:

Pelican Parade

Pelican Parade

It was finally time to go back to Yangie Bay, so we thought. Therefore we drove back to the Seven Mile Beach, only to discover the following scenery:

We started to fear the worst and found our assumptions confirmed: low tide or not, the return path was simply not yet accessable. The flood had cut off our way back! We met a few locals fishing nearby who advised us to simply go over the sand dunes where necessary. Sand dunes? Oh no, not again!

After a while – you guessed right – the unspeakable happened: when going reverse for a few meters on a steep sand dune I failed to check what was behind us. Well, there was just a really steep abyss. The back tyres were already sliding downhill, so was the back of the car and then the rest followed sideways on its right side, simply due to its own massive weight. The angle was getting more and more inconvenient. It felt like an overturn of the car was no longer avoidable .. when it suddenly stopped to slide.

There we sat in the car leaning to its right side in an unhealthy position, finally bogged down and not sure how and in what possible direction to move the car to get out of this misery… 🙁

When I opened the door to get out I almost rolled down the sand hill below us… looks like Coffin Bay didn’t get its name for being a peaceful and friendly place. 😉 Let me assure you that judging from the pictures you will not be able to properly estimate how sloped the car was sitting there at first. It looks like it should be totally easy to simply drive the car down the hill, but then we had already stabilized the left side somewhat.

Luckily we had a shovel on board, but had never used it so far. Now was the time! We cleared the area below the tyres carefully, restarted the engine and moved a few centimeters backwards and forward again and again and again .. those were some very unpleasant moments until we finally could move the car forward down the hill. We found a way through the dunes back to the safer parts of the Seven Mile Beach, hurried back to our camp and recovered from the shock with a very cold beer.

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