Our Big Valla Road Trip

Day 26, 27 and 28

Sorry another long one but not much Internet wild camping across the Nullarbor!

After the delay from Graham’s smashed screen we decided to stop at Elliston so that we could explore the coastline to Streaky Bay in the morning. We called in at Venus Bay before heading to see Murphys Haystacks, huge granite rocks sticking out the ground pretty cool. We then hit gravel road to make our way to Point Labatt to see the sea lion colony. We lost sight of Graham, he had stopped to shake the dust out of his pillow and cover his bed over because of how much dust was getting in. We all watched the Australian sea lions playing in the sand and sea or just sleeping. The New Zealand fur seals were a bit further out on the rocks sleeping. Was pretty awesome to watch them but it was blowing a gale so we moved on after Andrew adjusted the rear hatch lock plate so that Graham’s door sealed better to hit the gravel road again. We drove through Sceale Bay and stopped at Surfers beach lookout before heading on to Streaky Bay. We had a big feed at the Streaky Bay Hotel and topped up supplies and Jamie replaced his fanbelt as was loose and had run out of adjustment. As we topped up our fuel Dave spotted the Powerhouse Museum, all the engines have been restored and are in working order. We pulled off the Eyre highway just passed Ceduna and travelled about 10 km’s along a gravel road before stopping in a dry waterhole for the night. It wasn’t long before the giant mosquitoes bad themselves known. A quick scavenge in bush and we had enough firewood for the night. We had a sun downer on the bank before heading back to the fire where fortunately the mosi’s had been smoked out.

Wednesday morning we woke to the hum of mosquitoes swarming the van so we decided we would shift everything without getting out, only jumping out and removing the screen covers at the last minute before shutting ourselves back in. Graham and Jamie were braving it out on the road so we said we were leaving and would meet them in Penong. At Penong we fuelled up and ordered breakfast, the others arrived whilst we were waiting so nobody fancied breakfast with the mosi’s. We made it to the Nullarbor and stopped for a photo at the Eastern end sign. We took the road off to Head of Bight to see the views of the Bight and finally on our fourth trip across we got to see whales. We had heard there where 120 – 150 whales at the Bight, they are spread out across a wide area some of the mothers and calves very close in to shore just spectacular to see. We fuelled up at the Nullarbor roadhouse and did the obligatory photos with the whale. The morning started off overcast and drizzly but cleared up and the further west we went the hotter it got. By the time we arrived at Eucla it was 29 degrees with a hot wind. We walked over the sand dunes to explore the old telegraph station at Eucla before parking up the kombi’s in the dunes for the night. It was a very warm evening even after the sun went down but there was a constant wind. It was too hot during the night so we had the door open fortunately we weren’t in mosi territory. In the early hours the wind really got up, I heard Andrew’s pop top go down then I thought I saw lightning but realised it was Jamie’s strip light coming through the front of our van where the wind had blown our screen cover down. Jamie was packing everything back in his bus so he could pack his awning away, Dave got up to give him a hand as it the wind was so strong it looked like it would take off.

Thursday morning we got up thinking it was 7.30 but discovered our phones were still on SA time so it was only 6am! We headed up to the roadhouse for breakfast before hitting the road again. Not much to see on this part of the Nullarbor so apart from a photo stop at the 90 mile straight it was just a driving day today. We made it to Fraser Range station about 100km’s out of Norseman, a great place to stay very well looked after by the owners with a lovely warm fire burning in the camp kitchen. The station was the first one settled on the Nullarbor.

Friday morning we woke to a frost very chilly morning, especially considering we were in 29 degrees Wednesday night. We decided to try and make home today so we said our goodbyes to everyone. The Norseman to Hyden road was open so Jo and Andrew will be taking that road across to Hyden then home to Mandurah. Jan, Jamie and Graham are heading to Kalgoorlie, Jamie’s clutch is slipping so he will have to nurse it and hope he makes it. We left ahead of everyone as it’s over 8 hours to get home, we were about 55km’s away when we got a call that Maid Marion had dumped her oil on the caravan park driveway. We left our oil filter in a parking area for them to collect in case they couldn’t get one at the caravan park. We carried on our way and stopped at Widgiemooltha to use the facilities, our ignition barrel wouldn’t engage the starter motor so Dave had to get underneath and put a wire directly on the starter motor to get us going again. Jamie, Jan & Graham made it to Kalgoorlie with no more issues. We have just got home and Jo and Andrew expect to be home tonight aswell.

What a great trip with great company, so many amazing experiences and definitely worth taking the three weeks to drive back. We were very lucky with the weather in so many places where we kept getting comments of how bad the weather was last week or normally is at this time of year. The rain coming in on the Blue Mountains was probably the worst we had, cold can be dealt with but rain we just had to try and escape from. Our trip certainly created lots of interest, everywhere we stopped people would come across and ask what we were doing and most had a VW story to tell. We had a few minor issues with the Kombi’s but nothing we weren’t able to fix even if only temporarily until we got home. We travelled 7695 km’s and used 1187 litres of fuel, which cost $1,740 yikes!

Valla 2018 umm sounds like another road trip is needed J

Murphys Haystacks

Murphys Haystacks

Me Murphys haystacks

Lowered Kombis on gravel

gravel road

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Kombi’s at Point Labatt

Point Labatt

Camp Mosi!!

mosi camp

Three Kombi’s travelling the Nullarbor

3 kombis

A road sign, a road train and 4 kombi’s

rd train kombis

2 mothers & calves at the Head of Bight

whales

A whale, a road train and 4 kombi’s

rd train kombi whale

WA quarantine station

quarantine

Eucla old telegraph station

old telegraph station

Camping in the sand dunes

camp sand dunes

Maid Marion and the long road ahead

Maid Marion

90 mile straight

90 mile straight

Fraser Range Station camp kitchen

Camp kitchen

Camped at Fraser Range Station

Fraser Range camp

Days 24 and 25

Saturday night was a big night back in Brian’s local, we staggered back to Brian’s after several bottles of local red had been consumed hence Sunday was a very lazy slow morning. Once everyone eventually surfaced we cooked breakfast outside in the glorious sunshine, Brian couldn’t believe the weather very unusual to be so warm at this time of year. We replanned our destination for the day as Graham needed to get new tyres and being a Sunday nowhere was open. As we were now only going as far as Melrose Brian decided to join us for another night before we start heading west. After buying a case of local red wine each Brian took us on a tour of little country towns vintage shop hunting. We passed through lots of rolling green hills that reminded me of England. We stopped at Melrose to go across the swing bridge before heading to the rest area just outside of town. We had nice little spot with a fire pit and the Flinders ranges as a backdrop. Wood was quickly collected to build a fire which was definitely needed as the temperature dropped as soon as the sun went down. Later that evening Jo and Andrew arrived after spending the previous evening with Shelley, Martin and Jack. We said goodbye to Brian as we were heading out early in the morning. A big thanks to Brian for his hospitality, putting up with us invading his place and for reviving the party animal with baileys J

Monday morning Dave, Graham and I set off early to Port Augusta to find some new tyres and investigate the scraping noise that had developed on Grahams brakes Sunday afternoon. We had a beautiful drive through the Flinders ranges in the early morning sunshine. After a bit of investigation Graham tracked down a couple of 215/65/15 tyres at a local independent. They lent the boys a trolley jack and a couple of axle stands so they were able to get the wheels off pretty quickly. When they removed the rear nearside wheel a broken split pin feel on the floor, and upon investigation the axle nut was loose causing excessive bearing play. We got a new split pin from the tyre centre and Dave fixed the brakes up whilst waiting for the new tyres to be fitted. We met back up with Jamie, Jan, Jo and Andrew as they came through town and headed to Streaky Bay via Birdseye Highway. We stopped for a bite of lunch on the foreshore at Cowell before continuing on our way. Just outside Rudall Grahams drivers side windscreen shattered inwards. Fortunately he had sunglasses on so only suffered a few minor cuts and bruising. Whilst we were clearing the worst of the glass out an RAA van stopped, he told us how to get to Randall motors where they had some Perspex. Jamie borrowed a jigsaw and cut out the Perspex which he then duct taped to the window frame to get us on the road again.

Wine Shopping

row

Antique Shopping

antiques

antiques

Camp by Flinders Ranges

Camping Flinders ranges

Dinner by headtorch

dinner by head torch

dinner by head torch

dinner by head torch

Patina tyre and brake repairs

Patina repairs

Patina broken windscreen

patina screen

Rudall motors

rudall

Day 22

Thursday night we camped at Haythorpe reserve on the Murray River, it was dark when we arrived so we set the kombis up for the night and walked to the ferry to go across the river to Mannum to the pub for dinner. Jo and Andrew re-joined us at the pub after their parts hunting.

We had a lazy start to Friday all having a sleep in including Graham who is normally up and raring to go! The Murray Princess paddleboat came past giving us more photo opportunities. Jan & I took the ferry across ahead of everyone so we could take photos of the kombis coming across on the ferry. Brian took us on a tour through the Barossa Valley including wine tasting at Rockford winery and lunch at a brewery in Tanunda. We continued north to the Clare Valley to Brian’s place where Andrew started stripping his tie rod ends, Martin and Shelley should be arriving shortly with the rest of the parts from Adelaide. Jamie and Dave also adjusted the brakes on micro, which were a bit worn after all the hills we’ve been driving.

It was a very relaxed day without too many km’s on the clock.

Camping at Haythorpe Reserve

camping haythorpe

The Murray Princess

murray princess

Kombi’s crossing the Murray

crossing the murray

Graham back driving a bay

Gra back in a bay

Wine tasting at Rockford winery

Rockford winery

Over the hill

over the hill

Parked at Auburn

Auburn

Day 23

Friday night we got back from Brian’s local and Martin, Shelley & young Jack had arrived and Andrew had finished replacing his tie rod ends. It was quite chilly so Martin and Andrew had been on the hunt for the wood pile, they built a fire in front of the shed so we had some red wine around the fire. Eventually Graham and Brian arrived back from the pub, Brian was a bit surprised to find us outside he normally lights his fires indoors J

Saturday was a very slow start, eventually Dave, Graham and I decided to drive north to Clare where Graham bought some award winning sausages for breakfast and we stopped in at an antique shop on the way back before heading to Saddleworth to look at more antiques. Jamie, Jan and Brian met us in Saddleworth but only one of the three shops where open. We then headed south to Adelaide to join the Volks Enthusiasts club of South Australia 20th anniversary cruise, where we met back up with Jo, Andrew, Martin, Shelley and Jack. It was good to see the Volks Enthusiasts double door panel van in the flesh and to see some Karmann Ghias out on a cruise. We cruised around some Adelaide streets before leaving the cruise and heading back up to Auburn before dark.

We’ve now clocked up 4800 km’s only 2600 ish to go

Drinks round the fire

fire

Volks Enthusiasts club of SA 20th anniversary cruise

cruise1

cruise

cruise2

cruise 3

Days 20 and 21

Wednesday morning we said goodbye to the koalas and headed off to Melba Gully where we took a brisk 1.5km walk through the ancient mossy trees and giant tree ferns. We stopped at the twelve apostles and took lots of photos. Jamie, Jan and Graham decided to do the 2km walk to Gibsons steps to get a view of the Apostles from the beach. We carried on with Jo and Andrew and stopped for view of Loch Ard Gorge before stopping at Port Campbell for lunch at 12 Rocks café & bar with ocean views. The others re-joined us midway through lunch and we continued on stopping at all the viewpoints, The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto and Bay of Martyrs. We spent the whole day playing tag with 2 German girls that also stayed at Bimbipark and where at all the stops along the way J

Next destination is the Grampians so we decided to get as close as we could and pushed on to Dunkeld. As there was a severe weather warning in place we decided to stay at the caravan park, we must have been spoilt at all the others parks as the camp kitchen was an open one and it was freezing cold & wet so we went to the local bar for dinner and drinks and had an early night. It rained all evening and we had a few gusts of wind but no storm.

Thursday morning we headed up to the Grampians watching out for the wildlife as there were roo’s about, an emu ran across the road in front of us so we slowed down when suddenly I saw black coming towards me out the corner of my eye and there was a huge bang as another emu ran straight into my door. The emu jumped back up and ran away and there was no damage to the kombi just gave me a fright. We continued on to Mount William lookout, which was a bit of a drive off the road and then a 1.8 km uphill strenuous walk. I was nearly at the top and the clouds came in all I could see was cloud so I sent Dave on ahead to take photos. I kept walking but round every bend there was another one so I gave up I started walking back down. When everyone eventually came down it turns out I only had one more bend to go but the clouds obscured the view. We carried on to Halls Gap where we turned off to Boroka Lookout, which was a short stroll from the car park, and there were no clouds so we got a great view.

Maid Marion had developed a clonking noise and when Andrew had a look whilst at the lookout he discovered his tie rod ends were badly worn and need to be replaced. It turned out Johnno was in the area so Jamie spoke to him to try and track down some replacements and Graham spoke to Brian in Adelaide. We left Jo and Andrew in Horsham to go and pick up the new tie rod ends whilst the rest of us hit the A8 to meet Brian at Tailem Bend before heading to Mannum for the night.

Melba Gully

melba gully

Twelve Apostles group selfie

12 Apostles

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard gorge

Port Campbell

port campbell

Micro driving into the sea J

micro into sea

London Bridge

london bridge

The Grotto

grotto

The Grampians

Grampians

Micro heading for the hills

Micro hills

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