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Friday, December 31, 2010

52 week tour Down-Under Western Australia

Thank you for stopping by my blog. As an introduction below is a photo of your hosts - your tour guide - myself, my driver and tripod and sustenance bearer - my husband Rod, and my son Mark - who travels with us with good humour even when his mother stops to photograph yet another wildflower! (well sometimes with good humour...LOL....)

Without them I would have never travelled around my wonderful state Western Australia and been able to bring these photos to you. I thank them for their support. There is so much to show you - from beautiful coastlines, to towering forests, shady pathways and river banks, to desert vistas, rugged gorges, gorgeous wildflowers, and beautiful sunsets.

When I decided to do a 52 week project, I thought about all the wonderful photos I had seen on DPS from people all over the world and I decided I wanted to share my corner of the world, Western Australia with you. I live in a truly remarkable state where you can go from oceans, to mountains, streams and gorges, rolling hills and deserts. We have it all. And I love every part of its infinite beauty.

As much as I would like to take a year off work and go touring - that might have to wait till I retire. Western Australia is huge, and as I thought about how I could possibly bring this tour to you, I realised that we had travelled over a lot of Western Australia over the last few years. So I wrote down a plan of how to travel around my State in a logical manner, starting from our capital Perth, then travelling south, then through the middle to the north and back down the coast. To cover all this ground would indeed take many months. So the photos you will see are not all new, but 90% of them have been taken in the last few years. The Kimberley leg for instance were all taken during our trip in 2009. So some photos are from my archives of thousands of photos, and some are new this year as we travel to places new to us, or we have revisited some places to bring you new photos.

I hope you enjoy the ride as I take you around Western Australia. Start from week 1 in January and work onwards through the year to December.  I hope to "see" you along the track. I'll make sure the billy is boiling and the damper is on the fire cooking!  Make sure you bring the marshmallows!


 and for a sneak preview of what is to come ...........



I will be updating these posts from time to time with new images and info. So drop back and see me sometime. I look forward to seeing you up the track! Want to send me a message - drop a comment in the "comments" box at the end of any post  - I look forward to hearing from you!

Of course our touring doesn't finish here - we are constantly looking for new places to visit - so if you are interested in checking out more articles about Western Australia on my blog? click here - Life Images by Jill or for my latest photos visit me at Flickr - Life Images by Jill on Flickr

Looking forward to seeing you on the road somewhere!
 


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 52/52 - Great Central Road - and onwards to the border - Western Australia

Well hello everyone and welcome to Week 52 of 52 - of my Tour Downunder Western Australia. Yes it is the last week! I can hardly believe that I have taken you for 52 weeks around my magnificent state where I live - Western Australia. I have enjoyed bringing you photos from my travels around my state and I hope you have enjoyed seeing my corner of the world.

For all of those who have come along for the ride, and taken the time to look and comment, I thank you very sincerely. I have enjoyed immensely having you along and reading your comments. You gave me the enthusiasm to continue the 52 weeks of posts, so I thank you.

This week we continue eastward over country new to us. We are travelling on part of The Great Central Road - which is also known as The Outback Way - and - Australia's Greatest Shortcut - a series of roads which connect to travel 2750 kilometres right through the centre of Australia from Laverton in the middle of Western Australia, across the Northern Territory to Winton in the middle of Queensland, taking you through spectacular country . It is very interesting to see the changes in landscape and the 10 different bio-regions featuring their unique flora, fauna, geological and landscapes - sand ridges, deserts, mountain ranges, sand plains. The road is well maintained, and information panels along the way are interesting to read. A map is essential so you know where you are, and there is a touring atlas of the road which as well as containing maps, distances etc, has a wealth of information to assist in your enjoyment of your trip!

For this part of the journey we will be continuing east from our last camp at Niagra Dam to Laverton, and we will be camping out in the bush for three nights before we reach the Northern Territory border (as it will take us 3 days to get to the border!)

As you will see from the photos this section of the road is gravel, which we found to be in very good condition. This is remote country, although you will meet other travellers doing the same crossing and there are a few small towns, aboriginal communities, road houses and pastoral stations along the route, so you need to be well prepared for remote travel. Look out for road trains (be careful of the huge dust cloud they throw up reducing visibility to zero! - I'll show you a pic later), as well as wild camels, dingos and kangaroos. - keep your eyes open to see them!

This is a photo of my son's vehicle coming towards us. They travelled with us for this part of the trip.

From Western Australia

Late afternoon at my son's camp site at what we called Desert Oakes camp. The Desert Oakes are actually not an oak at all but a type of Casuarina.

From Western Australia

The wide dry sandy bed of Giles Creek, lined by river gums, near Desert Oakes camp. I like the painted look of this photo.

From Western Australia

Early morning low rain cloud over the Petermann Ranges near the Western Australia/Northern Territory border.

From Western Australia

Spinifex heads in the late afternoon light..........spinifex is a common plant in the desert regions of Australia.

From Wildflowers

another road shot taken through the front windscreen as we drove along - the dust in front is from my son's vehicle...... (can't always stop to take a photo LOL)


From Western Australia

You actually see a lot of these along the road side - old cars that have broken down, been stripped of their tyres and engines and whatever else can come off, and left to rust on the road side.

From Western Australia

When we are travelling for several days, and camp out in the bush there are no facilities like showers and toilets.....you find a bush to squat behind. But we do carry our shower tent, and a solar shower (a bag you put water in basically) so that we can have a shower every couple of days. Amazing how refreshed and clean you can feel from 1 or 2 litres of water....

From Western Australia

A road train......the only thing you can do when you meet one of these is to move over to the side of the road and wait for the dust to settle....visibility is zero!

From Western Australia

A wild camel on the edge of the road - unfortunately I was looking straight into the sun when I took this photo, but I wasn't going to get out of the car to try and get a better angle!

From Western Australia


This is sunrise at Yarla camp - I climbed to the top of the breakaway up from our camp to take this photo. Scenes like these and the peace you get when you are camping "out bush" are what I love about travelling around Western Australia.

From Western Australia

Thanks again everyone for looking, and for your support throughout the last 52 weeks. I hope you have enjoyed the tour. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 51/52 - Golden Quest Disovery Trail - red dirt and gold fields - Niagra Dam

Hi everyone and welcome to Week 51 of our 52 week Tour Downunder Western Australia. We are nearly to the end of our journey, and this week we head north from Kalgoorlie and into more of the gold mining areas.

From Kalgoorlie you can do the goldfields Golden Quest Discovery Trail, a 965 loop which takes you through some of the history and landscapes of the goldfields.

Here we are on the road.....


From Western Australia

And here we are in Menzies. Below is a photo of the Council Offices. Completed in 1896 the clock tower remained "clockless" for one hundred years despite being built to overcome the locals confusion about the "real time". The clock was finally installed in 1999.

From Western Australia

This is Lake Ballard - a huge salt lake - part of a number of salt lakes that follow the course of ancient river beds. An interesting feature of Lake Ballard is 51 statues that are spread out over one part of the Lake, installed in 2003 by British artist Antony Gormley for the Perth International Arts Festival. The lake is a hazardous environment, and visitors are warned to walk with someone else and that temperatures on the lake reach over 45 degrees Celsius (113F) in summer.

From Western Australia

Here is one of "out bush" pubs - Ora Banda, built in 1911 from local stone. And part of all that remains of the goldmining town of Ora Banda which had a population of 2000 in 1910.

From Western Australia

We visited the old townsite of Gwalia - Goldmining began here in 1897, but today Gwalia is essentially a ghost town, having been largely deserted since the main source of employment, the Sons of Gwalia gold mine, shut down in 1963 and the town became deserted virtually overnight. Residents from nearby Leonora keep the deserted buildings as a museum of sorts - you can wander about the old buildings and get a feel of what life was like in the old days.

Here is the old mechanics garage - the walls are adorned with vehicle number plates.

From Western Australia

And the old hotel.......

From Western Australia

A pressed metal wall inside one of the houses....

From Western Australia

Tonight we will camp at Niagra Dam - built in 1897 to service the nearby gold mining town of Niagra, the gold soon ran out, the town died, and the dam never reached its full potential due to unreliable rainfall, and a major source of fresh underground water was found near the new townsite of Kookynie.

It is a lovely place to camp, and several walk trails take you around the dam and amongst the breakaway seen here in this photo....

From Western Australia

here is our camp at Niagra Dam. You can see our car is a little dirty from the red dust roads.

From Western Australia
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 50/52- Kalgoorlie-history written in gold

Welcome to week 50 of our 52 week Tour Downunder Western Australia.

This week we continue eastward from Coolgardie seen in week 49, and arrive at Kalgoorlie. You might remember from week 49, that the Perth to Kalgoorlie pipeline ends here.

The discovery of gold by Paddy Hannan in 1893 led to one of Australia's great gold rushes. Since then Kalgoorlie-Boulder has developed into a major service hub for Western Australia's gold resource industry. Dominated by magnificent historic architecture, Hannan and Burt Streets provide a focus for modern caf├ęs, restaurants, hotels, and a pub on every street corner. As in this photo of the Exchange Hotel.


From Western Australia

The huge KCGM Super Pit stretches along the eastern flank of the twin City, dominating the skyline - You don't visit Kalgoorlie without going to the SuperPit lookout. The huge dump trucks (see lower right) look like toy trucks from up here. The Super Pit is 3.5 kilometre long and 1.5 kilometre wide and produces 800,000 ounces of goold each year.

From Western Australia

To learn more about the history of Kalgoorlie and the mining industry, take a visit to the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame - the gold once hauled on wooden carts is now carted by these huge dump trucks.

From Western Australia

Kalgoorlie boasts colourful characters and culture - you can take tour to the traditional two-up game - it's a bushy gambling game where you throw two coins up in the air and bet on what comes down heads or tails - held out in the bush in a corrugated iron "building"....

From Western Australia

Here are some more pics from Kalgoorlie..........

one of the more unusual designed hotels.....

From Western Australia

The government buildings clock tower...

From Western Australia

The Court Hotel in Boulder.....

From Western Australia

And for something completely different - a yellow flowering Eucalypt tree.....

From Wildflowers

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 49/52 - Coolgardie & Kalgoorlie - Gold fever! and the need for water.

Hi everyone, and welcome to Week 49 of our 52 week tour Downunder Western Australia. We have finished going down the coast, and now head east and inland to the goldfields.

In week 23 I took you to York, one of the first inland towns in Western Australia, then further east through the wheatbelt in Week 19 and 20, and in Week 21 to Cave Hill and the Woodlines where we explored the area where wood was taken by the thousands of tonnes during the gold rush era. Well this week we continue east from the wheatbelt, and north of Cave Hill.

First stop is Coolgardie which became famous overnight when two prospectors Bayley and Ford discovered gold here in 1892 - a year before Hannan, Flanagan and Shea found gold in Kalgoorlie (we will visit Kalgoorlie in week 50). The discoveries lead to a gold rush to rival California and the Klondike.

Prospectors piled their possessions onto wooden carts and travelled overland to the goldfields on horse-drawn wagons, or even walking pushing their wheelbarrows. They lived in tents or rough bush shelters on the goldfields, like the one you see here as part of the display at the Kalgoorlie Mining Hall of Fame. (That is a mine head you can see in the background) Times were tough and many died in the attempt to strike it rich. There are many unnamed graves in the Coolgardie cemetery, but you can look through the register in the museum if you are looking for the resting place your ancestor - as we did!


From Western Australia

At its peak Coolgardie had a population of 16,000, with another 10,000 in the surrounding area, 7 newspapers, 2 stock exchanges, 6 banks, 23 hotels, and 3 breweries. Today its heritage precinct is a 'living museum' where you can learn about the history of the gold rush.

This is the Coolgardie Town Hall, government offices and Court House, which houses an excellent museum. Completed in 1898, this building is one of the finest examples of early Australian architecture.

A lot of the original buildings were probably built of wood boughs or corrugated tin, (as in the photo below of a miners hut). However the Government buildings were often built from local stone quarried in the area, and reflected solidarity, the wealth of the goldfields, and their prospects for the future. Now often in towns like this (also you might remember Cue in Week 27 where I showed you similar buildings) these solid stone buildings and a couple of hotels are all that remain.

From Western Australia

The area is dotted with mine shafts, so you need to be carefully if you go walking. Here is a photo of a minehead located on a look out hill overlooking the town.

From Western Australia

Today the Coolgardie only has a small population mostly involved in gold and nickel mining and pastoralism. This is the main street of Coolgardie, now very quiet and very different to what it was like during the gold rush era. The road is very wide to allow camel and bullock trains to turn in the street.

From Western Australia


Here is another photo of the government buildings in Coolgardie. You could easily spend an hour or two in the museum and strolling around the town taking photographs of the heritage buildings.

From Western Australia

A prospectors cart displayed in the museum

From Western Australia

In the hot dry conditions of the goldfields, water was scarce, and was distilled and sold by the can. In 1895 the first plans were prepared by Engineer-in-Chief CY O'Connor, for an engineering feat that would stagger the world — an attempt to pump fresh water uphill 560 km, from Mundaring Weir in the hills near Perth to the goldfields of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.

The pipeline was completed in 1903, and is still in use today supplying water through 8000 kilometres of pipe to over 100 000 people and six million sheep throughout the goldfields and surrounding agricultural areas, in an area covering 44 000 square kilometres.

The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail follows the pipeline from Mundaring Weir to Kalgoorlie, and information panels and guidebook tell you the history of the pipeline, the land and the people.

The pipeline was an amazing engineering feat. Unfortunately there were many critics, and CY O'Connor, the engineer and visionary, sadly took his own life in the ocean at Fremantle before the first water reached Kalgoorlie. CY O'Connor was a great visionary and is much revered in Western Australian history. He also designed the Fremantle Harbour

From Western Australia

Here is the end of the pipeline, at the Mt Charlotte reservoir in Kalgoorlie.

From Western Australia

  The museums at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie are fascinating places to visit. In fact one of my ancestors worked at the water distillery on the goldfields, and then worked on the pipeline.

Here is a replica of what a goldseekers shack might have looked like.

From Western Australia
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