Saturday, February 4, 2012

Week 45

Feb. 4    Koonalda to Ceduna
Miles 278

Last up. Had to be kicked awake to drink tea—disgraceful! Had breakfast, and then went down into the caves for quite a long way until we were stopped by water. Apparently the system extends a good deal further and has never been completely explored. Very impressive. Got under way by 11 and drove to Ceduna via White Wells, Nullarbor and Penang. The last stretch was pleasant travelling through pasture and farmland. Weather still cool. Had a couple of beers at Penang and very nice they were, too. The latter part of the road was very dusty. We are camping tonight in a caravan park at Ceduna, right on the sea front. Had a shower and did all our washing. Our first shower since Perth!!

Feb. 5    Ceduna to Port Augusta
Miles 313

Up early, packed, - no go. Found we had a duff diaphragm in the fuel pump. Dulcie and I wandered into town while John put in a replacement. Got away about 10 and drove to Port Augusta via Wirrulla and Iron Knob. Had a few beers at Wirrulla and noticed one tyre very bad. About 30 miles down the track we had a blowout. All the tyres are pretty shot now but we are going to try to limp through to Sydney before buying new ones. Port Augusta is a pleasant town at the head of the Spencer Gulf It is very clean, with a nice beach. Had a couple of beers and then retired to the local caravan site for a slap up salad feed. We are now scratching about, catching up with mail etc.

Feb. 6    Port Augusta to Kingoonya
Miles 232
Spent the morning shopping and just looking around. Found we had a broken shock absorber but managed to get it welded at a workshop. Got away about 12 and drove to Kingoonya via Woomera. It is getting warm now and the country is very barren. Our usual 3 schooners went down even better than usual today. Met two opal miners in the pub who were on their way from Coober Pedy to Melbourne with the intention of selling a bag full of opal, which they showed us. Apparently it was worth in the region of 3000 pounds. Needless to say, the talk that night was all about opal and how we were going to make our fortunes mining it when we got to Coober.

Feb. 7    Kingoonya to Hawks Nest Well
Miles 331
Got a good early start and, after one blow out, got to Coober Pedy via some of the most horrible country imaginable. Everything dead and scorched. Coober was bloody hot; with no shade at all and just a couple of stores and a garage-and no pub. And a lot of extremely hard looking opal miners. Tried to buy tyres but none here. We no longer have a spare so when we get a puncture it is a case of repairing the tyre on the spot. All enthusiasm for opal mining evaporated very suddenly. Had another puncture leaving Coober, again no shade. Drove as far as Hawks Nest Well and camped for the night. Had a fine time throwing buckets of cold water over each other. Still hot

Feb. 8    Hawks Nest Well to Alice Springs
Miles 372
On the road by 7 and full speed ahead. Got our first puncture just south of Kulgera. Had a brew, mended it, and pressed on. Stopped at Kulgera for a beer, saw the price and settled for an orange. The next 170 miles passed as a blur for me—slight heat exhaustion. Reached Alice Springs at 6 and immediately found a smart air- conditioned bar called the Stuart Arms where we quickly downed some of the nicest, coldest beer I have ever had. From there to the swimming pool for a shower, a swim, and several cool drinks. Then to the fish and chip shop and, finally, to the camping ground. I was still feeling”ick”

Feb. 9    Alice Springs
Up really early, breakfast and then a kit sort-out. I was feeling too groggy to participate everything full of dust. Went into town and had a few beers, none of which seemed to touch the sides on the way down. John and Dulcie picked up mail, and then we retired to the swimming pool for the rest of the day. We left about 6 and had our first full meal for 3 days. Back to the Stuart Arms and quaffed beer until closing time, when we had a fish and chip supper before finally going to bed, exhausted. That road from Port Augusta to Alice is the worst bit of road we have seen yet with some deep potholes; unsealed and very corrugated the real problem was the state of our tyres. We had 8 punctures in 800 miles! 

Sun. Feb 10    Alice Springs
John working on the land rover so Dulcie and I hitchhiked into town and went straight to the swimming pool. We stayed there all day, swimming, rehydrating, writing letters, and swimming. Had a spag bol tonight