Monday, 14 November 2011

10/11/11 Day 2 - Coolgardie-Caiguna

The first night sleeping in the campervan was a success.  It took us a few minutes to work out how to collapse the table, and use the tabletop to slot between the bench seats, to make up the bed, but Jim succeeded in his usual manner. 

We awoke early, made tea and a quick breakfast, and we hit the road by 5.45am.  The first town was Coolgardie.  The gold found here was alluvial gold.  There is gold in the rocks and geological movement has folded the rocks, and weathering and erosion has winnowed out the precious metal.  There are still a few backyard miners working the area, but the majority of workings are closed because richer gold deposits were found elsewhere. 

Coolgardie has a very wide main street.  This is because during the late 1800s, when the gold boom was at its height, camels were used for transport.  Camels are ideal pack animals in completely arid environments.  However if you have a train of camels, and want to turn them around, you need a big area, which is why the main street is so wide.  (Quite why no-one thought of walking them around a block, and maybe setting up a one-way town square, is beyond me).
Jim and our van on the main street at Coolgardie where it was wide enough to turn a camel train

Coolgardie's name is derived from aboriginal word coolcaby, meaning mulga trees at waterhole.

I rather liked the road sign for Widgiemooltha, another place with a rest area with facilities, which became another postcard for Lisa.  Widgiemooltha gets its name from the aboriginal word and was originally wagiemoola which was the name of a well in the area.  Understandably, wells and water sources were important in this environment.

We reached Norseman and refilled with fuel - $1.90 per litre.  Petrol prices were rising dramatically, which is unsurprising, given the extended distances that it had to be transported.  Norseman is the last small town before the Nullabor commences. 

The next piece of road is commonly known as 90 Mile Straight. I am not sure why, in a country that measures everything in kilometres, this road is measured in miles!  Jim drove for 90 miles without a bend requiring him to turn the steering wheel! There are places where the road ahead is so long, that it disappears out of sight, because of the curvature of the earth! This is where I am glad that Jim did not cycle from Sydney-Perth. The section from Norseman to Balladonia is 192k with no facilities at all.
Cathy at 90 mile straight.

Most places named across the Nullabor, are just one roadhouse building. Nothing else. Unsurprisingly prices are high. Passing trade is all the roadhouses have to make their money, and if they go out of business, there is no facility for vehicles.

Near the end of the day, we crossed into the Central Western Timezone.  This advanced the time by 45 minutes.  I find this really odd.  I understand moving the time forward by an hour - a nice round amount of time to adjust.  We have also encountered the half hour time change at other locations on this journey.  Not so sure about this - why such a small change?  What difference does half an hour make, other than to inconvenience people travelling?  But 45 minutes is completely beyond me.  Difficult to mentally adjust easily when working what time it is for someone you are telephoning.  Much easier to do an hour change.  Maybe someone will tell me.

Today the weather was hot. And Jim worked hard - driving all day, with little rest. There were plenty of rest areas provided - often just a piece of hardstanding a few metres away from the road, with maybe a toilet.  Plenty of signs stating "A microsleep can be fatal, Rest area ahead".  I expect there have been many accidents due to driver fatigue, so provision of rest areas is part of the Government safety campaign.

Approaching Caiguna we decided to set up camp, and found a small rest area just off the main road.  No services at all, but very peaceful and quiet. 

Distance travelled - 780k

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