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Home > Travelogues > 2006 Travelogues Index > WA to Melbourne - WA and SA
The drive to Melbourne from the south west of Western Australia
Short version only - full version with pictures yet to come
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We left home in January 2006 for our planned tour of Tasmania; allowing a total of three months to taking the time to see a little of the states we were travelling through on the way to and on the return journey from Melbourne.  We had booked seven weeks for a ‘Taste of Tasmania’ short tour of the island state, as a taste was all we could fit into such a short timeframe.  To really enjoy the delights Tasmania has to offer could take many months; something we could not take the time to do. 

 

Along the way we visited the Stokes Inlet National Park and Esperance in Western Australia.

 

In South Australia we saw the mighty Murray River for the first time, and crossed it several times by ferry, toured the Coorong and the Mouth of Murray, and saw the vivid turquoise lake high in the centre of Mount Gambier. 

 

In Victoria we enjoyed the Great Ocean Road drive from the limestone coast, the rainforests of the Otways and the cliff edge drive.  

Western Australia

 

Due to unseasonal rain and flooding from cyclone Clare, in particular around the Lake Grace area, we had to detour via Jerramungup and Esperance, adding an extra day or two of travelling to our short time frame to reach Melbourne for our booking on the Spirit of Tasmania. 

 

A check with Main Roads two days before we left confirmed we could not go through or near Lake Grace nor any other way to take a short cut to Norseman.  They added that we could go via Jerramungup and Esperance as the Fitzgerald River Bridge would be repaired and opened the next day.  I didn’t even know it had been washed out.  They repaired it just in time for us.  It is always a pleasant drive through to Esperance, past the Fitzgerald National Park. 

 

We spent a night at the Stokes Inlet campground; in the National Park which we had bypassed on our tour the previous year.

 

Turquoise seas and wind farms on the Esperance coastline. 

 

From Esperance we headed north to Norseman then east to Balladonia and the Nullarbor Plain, stopping for the night at the “90 Mile Straight Road” rest area. 

 

See Camping along the southern coastline from Albany to Esperance

South Australia

 

Continuing into South Australia along the Eyre Highway, we spent the first night at our favourite Nullarbor hideaway amidst scrub and wild fuchsia flowers.  We had a light shower of rain during the night. 

 

We climbed Mount Wudinna on a very windy day, as we missed this on our 2005 Granite Monolith tour.  When back on the Eyre Highway due to a very strong head wind, unusually from the South East, we stopped early. In South Australia, locals claim that Mount Wudinna is the second largest monolith after Uluru, but several other states also make this claim about their rocks.  It is certainly known as the largest exposed granite monolith in South Australia.

                 

After going through Port Augusta our Patrol slowed before we even got to the Horrock’s Pass with the turbo temperature climbing; not a good sign.  We crawled up the pass very very slowly, fearing we would not make it to the Spirit of Tasmania.  Taking the eight kilometre track into Hancock Lookout for lunch we stayed on, unable to ascertain the cause of our mechanical problem. We enjoyed views across the Spencer Gulf, from Port Augusta to Port Pirie and Whyalla and watched a stunning sunset.  At night, light glows showed many townships in the viewing arc.  Beautiful at sunset and again in the first morning light after a fairly sleepless night.

                 

We then went to Peterborough and stayed a while with friends.  There we found the cause of our near breakdown.  We had recently fitted a turbo boost gauge to ensure we did not stress the engine, and a crack in the tube just behind the gauge was just enough for us to loose power.  We visited Peterborough again on our return from Tasmania.

 

After delaying our trip for a couple of most enjoyable days with our friends, is was time to leave our wonderful hosts and head south.

                 

Typical of so many ruins, where farms were opened up with 100 acre holdings which proved non viable, stone walls remain, dotting the landscape like memorials to the hardships suffered by early farming families in this dry state.

 

We stopped at Burra; a beautiful old town in a historic copper mining region.  A well signed walk trail shows remnants of the old mines, mining town and processing works spread over the hill.  The present town along Burra Creek has been attractively set out, with lots of creek side parks.

                                     

Our first glimpse of the mighty Murray River was at Morgan.  From there we followed the meandering river to Lake Alexandrina; one of the large fresh water lakes at the river mouth.  We revisitedLake Alexandrina and went to the Mouth of the Murray on our return from Tasmania.

 

Most river crossings are by ferry.  We crossed by ferry to the Narrung Peninsula, where we watched the sun set over the lake from a lovely grassy free camping area at the water’s edge.

Looking across the lake, the setting sun lit up the old Point Malcolm lighthouse marking the channel between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert and the keeper’s cottage alongside.  It was the only inland lighthouse and at seven metres height, Australia’s smallest lighthouse.  It operated from 1878 to 1931.  There is a small cool cave at the base of the cliff and this was used to store surplus food crops grown by the lighthouse keeper to be taken by boat to other settlers. 

 

The sunset across the water was just beautiful as the colours changed from lilac and pink to vivid orange and yellow.

 

People fishing from the Narrung jetty caught only the dreaded Carp. 

 

The Narrung Peninsula is almost an island, dotted with jersey cattle studs.  Being on the edge of the Coorong, we saw an abundance of birdlife. 

 

The Coorong is a body of water 130 kilometres long, stretching southwards from the mouth of the Murray River and protected fom the ocean by the narrow band of sand dunes known as the Younghusband Peninsula. 

 

Further down along the Coorong at Policeman Point, we camped at the best caravan park we have seen, which was spacious, very well appointed all at a very reasonable cost.  Unfortunately this caravan park was soon to go to make way for residential development. 

                                    

Beyond Robe was a huge Hereford cattle enterprise called Woakwine.  Near Woakawine, in 1957, a local farmer had carved a huge channel through the hills to drain the swamps and create farming land from the wetlands.  We stopped for the night along the roadside and some of the lovely Hereford cattle came to the fence to investigate and make us feel welcome. 

 

Heading further along the coastal route we drove into Beachport; a coastal town with the second longest jetty in South Australia, and to Millicent where there is an interesting museum.

 

A little further east is the Tantanoola Cave; a beautiful small dolomite cave hidden in a textured limestone cliff, which was discovered by chance in 1930 by a boy from the homestead at the base of the cliff, when chasing rabbits.  We first walked over the top of the cave, with views across the pine plantations which are frequent in the region, and to a wind power farm.  The cave is rich in delicate ‘straw’ stalactites.  The main part of the cave is wheelchair accesible.

                 

High on the hill in Mount Gambier is the famous Blue Lake, a volcanic crater lake which is 204 metres deep at the deepest point. It also provides the water supply for the town.  During summer, the brilliant turquoise colour occurs.   It is caused by calcite crystals coming out of solution in warmer water.  The water is a dull grey colour for much of the year.  We took the five kilometre walk around the rim of this beautiful crater lake. 

                 

Being a town in the midst of pine plantations, there is a paper mill at Mount Gambier.  The hillside town is surrounded by flat farm lands and plantations.  Mount Gambier is the second largest city in South Australia.  

 

Travelling on through an area of predominantly pine forests, we crossed the state border into Victoria.

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