Last post I said that we would be travelling in the outback and would only have occasional internet coverage. Wrong!! Try no coverage, unless we were lucky to find a hill high enough to pick up a signal and walk around to find that magic spot. That’s if you are with Telstra. Optus – forget it altogether! It’s a joke when they advertise 90% coverage in Australia. Probably means 90% of the population who all happen to live in the large cities on the coast. Although it has been rather nice to opt out and have no TV, radio or phone, I did miss the Internet a little.
Gripe over, back to the travels. I attempted to do a daily sketch to record our travels. I missed a day here and there, but here are some of the sketches in my little travel journal. We travelled through to the goldfields of Western Australia which are very remote, dry, arid and underpopulated but so interesting and full of history from early gold rush days.
First nights camp along the way at the Porongorup Ranges opposite some farmland. At the camp the following night we saw the most amazing sunset. Red sky at night preceded a huge storm the next day.
Heading further north we visited Wave Rock. A good time to visit after the heavy rain storm the previous day, making the colours in the rock face much more vibrant than usual. A lot of the little inland towns still have their two story hotels from around 1900, often with iron lace or some form of Victorian decoration.
Coolgardie, the first of the gold mining towns we came across, still has a few remaining grand buildings of local stone. This was the largest of the towns established with a population of over 15000, now down to about 200. Kalgoorlie is now the major centre for gold mining and processing. We arrived in town just in time to see a blasting of the rock face in the super pit. A large open cut mine 4km long and 500 metres deep. They do things on a big scale.
Heading north into the deserted goldfields are many small ghost towns, and the area is extremely popular with modern day prospectors with their fancy metal detectors. Large companies also have mining sites dotted throughout the area. Many of these ghost towns had populations of 5000 or more in their heyday, before the gold became harder to find and water even more so. The graveyards are full of victims of typhoid, exposure and suicide.
Lake Ballard is an interesting place to visit. Over 50 cast metal abstracted body forms by renowned sculptor Sir Anthony Gormley are installed in this usually dry salt lake. It is a sight to see these figures set against the glimmering white surface.