Sunday, January 27

Update Kalgoorlie to Esperance

My apologies to anyone who has missed my updates - but I have had limited internet access - and it has been difficult to upload photos and do my whole thing, so I have chosen to update it with some photos (of which there are many!)

I am currently in Rockingham, which is about 50 kms south of Perth.

I did stay in Kalgoorlie for two nights, at the  Best Western Hospitality Inn on Hannan St, Kalgoorlie, which was very convenient to all I needed.  They were a friendly bunch, and I met some great travellers around the pool too.  I drove around and checked out many of the sights, but one could really spend days there, as there is so much to see.  As readers would know I did the Bordello Tour and the Super Pit Tour.  There appears to be great shopping in Kal, but I did little more than window shop.

Me on the Mine Tour
My next destination was Esperance, however I did go via Coolgardie, which is a very interesting place.  There is so much history, so many old buildings - and well worth a visit of a day or two, not just a quick drive through as I did.




Back through Norseman again - how sad this place is.




Lake Curtin

There was fabulous scenery all around.  Could have stayed longer, but I progressed on and on to Esperance down on the coast, and checked into accommodation.  I had been told that there was no accommodation available in Esperance as I had tried to book from Kalgoorlie, so when I arrived at Esperance, I was not sure what to expect, but as I drove in, there was a big sign "Vacancy" so I booked into a great little holiday spot, just near the jetty.

Saturday, January 19

The Bordello Tour

The tourist info said "Questa Casa - Australia's oldest working brothel. Taking a tour of Questa Casa is like stepping back in time. Built at the turn of the century (that is 1901) the famous Hay Street landmark is Kalgoorlie's only historical brothel and a tour of the pretty pink establishment is both fun and informative" So do I do a Mine Tour or a Brothel Tour?

When I arrived at the iconic pink corrugated iron building I rang the bell, and a lady answered.  I was to learn that she is Carmel, the madam of a still functioning brothel, though only a shadow of its heyday.  She tells the story that she lived in Sydney, and clearly from her voice a rather well educated, could I say "posh" sounding lady.  She was widowed and subsequently depressed and her doctor suggested she do something useful with her life.  The story of how she became the madam at Questa Casa is fascinating, and when she returned to her doctor and told her that she had bought a brothel in Kalgoorlie, her doctor remarked with shock "I thought you'd do something like charity work!"

Carmel has owned the brothel for around 20 years, and now there are only two or three working girls, as there are 'escorts' all around Kalgoorlie since the government decided to change the law and make it easier for girls to work without the safety of a madam.







The first hour we learned the history of brothels in the mining town of Kalgoorlie, when gold was found.  This particular brothel was built in 1901, and has had few changes since then.  Even in one of the rooms the metal ceilings were still in place.

She told of some of the exploits (sexploits) of the girls, who were all registered and approved by the local police, something that is not done now.   One call could manage 70 clients in a night - the mind boggles.  She was a lady from Europe who worked in Kalgoorlie for six months of the year, for 25 years!!!!

There were many hilarious stories.

Going to Kalgoorlie????  This is a must do!!!!

Kalgoorlie


I hadn’t booked accommodation in Kal, (as the locals call it), and I had to call into a few places before I found a room at the Best Western Motel.  I had a look around town – certainly a lot bigger than I had imagined, and quite go ahead, especially with the local mines doing so well.

I called in to the local Visitor Information Centre, as I usually do, and found some information.  One “must do” apparently is the Mine Tour.

The Mine Tour is usually booked out, and I procrastinated about doing it.  I did go up to the lookout and see down into what they call “The Super Pit” and went back to the motel for  a rest, and while doing so discovered that there was a very interesting tour due to start shortly, so I called up and booked a spot.  What an interesting tour that was.





The tour was the Bordello Tour - where I learned so much, about the history of brothels in Kalgoorlie, and how they operated.  My daughter phoned me while I was there, in fact just minutes before the tour closed, and I cancelled the call, then phoned her back, and when I told her I was in a brothel, there were loud guffaws, and soon the story appeared on Facebook!



Norseman



I had no idea that this little town had fallen into the doldrums. Norseman is a town that I have known of for many years, and I had the misconception that it was perhaps a larger town than it appears to be.  It is of course a mining town, and up near the mine there are may cabins which appear to be for the miners, and I am not aware if the mine is serviced by FIFO’s (Fly in Fly Out miners).  There are some lovely spots in town, and I especially like the corrugated iron camels that inhabit one of the roundabouts.  However, it is like some of the other old towns that I have passed on my way though western Queensland, New South Wales, and  South Australia and I am sure there are more in WA, where the town has fallen in to disrepair due to the falling population and financial fortunes of the towns for a whole range of reasons.  I don’t have any suggestions, but can only comment that the towns look sad and in desperate need of an injection of enthusiasm, funds and a greater reason to be.

There is so much character in these places, but one can also see how difficult it must be for folk to live here.  There is a supermarket in the town, only one, so there is little choice for the locals, and no inspiration or funds to improve things.  The old supermarket was quite depressing really, an old building which clearly could do with a facelift, but probably no funds to do so.

I was surprised to discover a Woolworths supermarket between Norseman and Kalgoorlie, at a place called Kambalda which seems to be going ahead in leaps and bounds.  There are many mines in both areas, but clearly Kambalda is on the receiving end of funds for development.

I stayed in one of the caravan parks at Norseman, which was quite good (not the best I have been in), but more than comfortable.    In these dry dusty places there are few lawns or gardens, but clearly the management is trying to make this one look better.  It can’t be easy!

View from my cabin



Eucla



Eucla is nothing more than a small settlement these days and certainly a popular spot for folk to take time out of the long drive across the Nullabor.  It is also famous for the role it played in Australia’s early history when a telegraph station was built between the current settlement and the sea, and a jetty made it possible for provisions to be delivered by sea.  It is also one of the places famed explorer Edward John Eyre passed through in 1867.

There is little left of the telegraph station now, long since deserted, and the jetty has fallen into disrepair, but it is a lovely 1 km walk from the parking area near the telegraph station ruin.
The beach has pristine white sand, and it certainly is beautiful.
Sand hills and the tree that I knew I had to return to after walking through the sandhills and bush

What remains of the Telegraph station

More of the ruins of the Telegraph station

Remains of the jetty at Eucla

Pristine white beach at Eucla


If you ever pass through Eucla, take time to drive to the Old Telegraph station and walk the 1 km to the beach, but make sure you know how to return.  In the distance on the beach there is a group of young people, European backpackers I think, but I just hoped they (a) had worked out how to return to their campervan and (b) did so before sunset.  It would be difficult to find one's way at night!!

Thursday, January 17

Ceduna to Eucla


After a wonderful crab dinner, thanks to the gent I saw on the jetty, who honoured his promise to give me some crabs.  Two awesome crabs, just for me.  Actually I would love to have had my own net and tried to catch some - he was doing it easily.  Perhaps at another spot I might try.

My first brief stop was at Penong - I went into the General Store, which was rather weird to me.  Some sad fruit and vegetables, in a shop that had empty shelves.  I just bought a Ginger beer.  I was looking for food, but there was nothing there that appealed.  Penong is a very old settlement, surrounded by wheat farms, and windmills.  I learned that it was called the town of 1000 windmills.  I had taken photos of some water storage and old windmills, but surprised to see so many in the town.

Old water storage

Some of the many windmills on the edge of Penong







I didn't see a roo or a wombat!

Ruins of an old school

I detoured to Head of the Bight, and highly recommend it.  I heard one traveller say they don't intend to pay anything to see our Australian coast, but to me it was $5 well worth spending, as there are two walk ways from the Head of Bight Centre, and the views are spectacular.

Path to viewing platforms at Head of Bight
View of cliffs to the right

View to the left

There are many spots along the Eyre Highway to detour and have a closer look at the Great Australian Bight, many are listed as spots to take photos, but others are not named but easily accessed.  There are so many wonderful views.


Tuesday, January 15

Ceduna at Dawn

Ceduna is quite beautiful.  I walked along the foreshore for a short time last evening and met a lady who has ridden her motorbike around Australia taking less than a month.  She lives in Perth and is on her way back to start work on Monday.


The scenery is certainly beautiful, with a lovely jetty reaching out from the town itself, with a lovely hotel overlooking the bay and jetty.

The hotel at dawn


Baby albatross

Mother Albatross looks on

There was a baby albatross scrambling around eating old bait, with a mother sitting on the light above keeping an eye on things.  There was also a lovely bloke catching swimmer crabs - he lives in Perth, but spends several months a year at Ceduna, and enjoys catching the crabs.  He had about 5 pots at the jetty and left each for about 10 minutes, then pulled up, most of the time with two or three crabs in them.  He has promised to drop two to my cabin later.  Mmmm.  I can't wait.


Bloke catching blue swimmer crabs

Monday, January 14

Port Lincoln to Ceduna

 It has been a long day, and a long drive.  Some 470 kms I think all up, because I detoured to see places that were off the main road.  I may never get here, so visited a number of places.  Coffin Bay we hear about a lot, because of the oysters there, and as I was walking along the jetty, some children called me as there was a baby seal, which had been swimming alone and struggled up onto the rocks under the jetty. Poor little thing.  A lady there phoned the Parks and Wildlife and were waiting for someone to come.  It looked exhausted.





The jetty had a number of large fishing boats tied up, but it was pretty quiet.  A pretty place with many holiday houses around the waterfront.  Great holiday destination.







There really is so much to see all along the coast here, from spectacular scenery of the Great Australian Bight, to interesting country side.

Stone fences
All along are piles of stones - some piles are where farmers had picked the stones out to make sure they could plant crops without fouling tractors etc, while others are the remains of old homes ruined by time, and others are the fences that the early settlers created out of the plentiful supply of stones.  Most of the stone fences are falling down, but many are incorporated in current fencing.

And among it all was a wonderful little 'eating house' from long ago, and further on the watering hole that Edward John Eyre found his water for his travels across the peninsula that was named after him.

At one point near Lake Hamilton I headed off the highway to a cairn erected in honour of a man who lost his life trying to rescue a friend in the waters below.  Such wonderful scenery I would not have seen if I had not gone to explore.







There really is so much to see - and even in this stretch I took nearly 70 photos, which made my trip a little longer.  I am so tired - will stay in Ceduna two nights as I have some long drives ahead of me.

Winery and Fire

As I drove into Port Lincoln, I wondered if there was a winery in the area, and quite surprisingly I noticed one on the right overlooking the water as I headed into town. (Mental note:  Must visit before I leave!)
The winery, Boston Bay Winery, has been in operation for around 28 years, and has a fabulous view over the water - something that not many wineries in Australia would have, I am sure.

The Winery and Function Room

Grapes ripening

View from the Winery

View from the Winery

Ship approaching port - view from the Winery

It was here that I met Boston Bay Winery Chef, Tony Ford, and we had quite a chat.  He showed me an amazing looking cook book featuring the products from the Eyre Peninsula, and as I sipped my wine I looked through it.  Ooops!  So many things about it that worried me as a writer and some time editor.  It was written by a local lady who clearly did not have the services of a quality editor.

It reminded me of a book published years ago (a novel) which was so full of errors that I would not recommend anyone paying for it.  I had been assured that the writer had paid $1000 for an editor, but I guess I have learned that it really costs more than that for a quality editor, and that, in any case, the more editors one has the better.

In the cook book I saw at the winery, there were many English grammar errors e.g. "you're"  when it should have been "your", and many others I won't quote here.  And the price of the book was around $60!!!  Certainly not value for money I don't think.

As I like a light sweet wine, and there was none on their menu, I 'tested' others - quite nice drops, but I ended up ordering a Reisling Mistelle, which I loved.  It is a liqueur really and just so yummy.  I ordered a bottle!  He gave me a cook book on seafood of the region, and a DVD, which I look forward to reading.  So glad I went.

After leaving the Winery, (dare not keep drinking as I don't need a DUI charge!), and took a few more photos, including one of a ruin of an old home, where the settlers would have had a wonderful view of the bay.

Under the roadway

Ruins

Makybe Diva 

The racehorse Makybe Diva won three Melbourne Cups, and is recognised by the statue above on the seafront.


As I was heading back to the Cabin, I decided to get some petrol and came across the drama of the Target Store on fire.  Photos below.
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