Friday, July 27, 2007
Back in Perth
Having lunch in the middle of the road was an illustration of how truly remote the center of Australia is. And we had another example of that when we visited Lake Bollard, some 60 Km NW of Menzies, a town of around 60 inhabitants, north of Kalgoorlie. In a salt lake which is normally dry we found 51 carbonised steel sculptures by Antony Gormley; true to our reputation, it had just rained for a few days, so we had to walk through the mud. It takes at least two hours to walk around the installation. "The "insider" reveals an attitude in a taut abstract shape formed by the passage of the person's life". Visiting this place is a very strange experience. The sculptures are cast in an alloy containing molybdenum, vanadium and titanium, all found in the Archean rock of Western Australia.
In Kalgoorlie we visited the Super Pit at the time of a planned blast; it is done with milli seconds spacings, so there is not just one big bang, it looks like rolling out a carpet. The pit is 1.5 km wide, 410 m deep and 3.2 km long and the planned maximum depth will be 600 m. If you enlarge the picture, you'll find a yellow trailer on the RH side; you can also see the blast hole pattern near where the first holes have exploded. The Kalgoorlie goldfields have produced already more than 50 million ounces of gold. There are lots of statistics but one impressive figure is the 225 ton of ore which goes into one haul pack truck and it takes only 4 scoops to load it! These monsters are usually driven by women (better drivers?)
The yellow bucket is the one that delivers 60 ton per scoop.
It was in 1893 that the first gold was found in this area. A major problem was the absence of water and in 1903 a pipeline was constructed from Perth to Kalgoorlie, a distance of 530 km, with 8 pumping stations along the way. When steel was scarce, they used wooden planks tied with wire on the outside, as in the picture.
We arrived back in Perth on the 4th of July and with a friend's help we got a house sitting job in Swanbourne until the 4th of September. Meanwhile we have found a new builder for the house near Mandurah and it looks like we may sign the papers next week. We plan to rent a house until our new house is finished. Just today we sold our wonderful camper trailer to a very nice couple in Perth; we are happy that it can continue giving others that marvelous feeling of space and freedom.
The last picture of the Landcruiser and the camper trailer, at Cunderdin, about 150 km east of Perth.
Trip distance: 25,144 km over 7 months (Dec.'06-July'07)
Weights (fully loaded): Landcruiser 2680 kg, trailer 1140 kg
Fuels used: 3231 liter diesel and 682 liter LPG
Price variations: diesel $1.13-$1.90 and LPG $0.47-$1.20 (if available)
Longest distance covered without refueling: 1000 km (only the two standard tanks, we did not use any fuel jerry cans)
Cruising speed on bitumen: 95-100 km/h
Average speed off-road: as low as 20 km/h
Hot nights: 2 (30+ degrees, all night)
Coldest night: -1 degree C (Alice Springs, the "hot" center of Australia)
Rainy days and nights: about 90 (on a similar trip around Australia in 1990 we had 2 in a whole year) Global warming or just bad luck?
Longest time spent in camper trailer due to non-stop rain: 30 hours
Hours played Rummikub: 130
Flat tyres: 0
Deepest creek crossed: 60 cm and no snorkel on the car.......
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Uluru, the Olgas and further west
Len Beadell is often called the last outback explorer; he surveyed and graded most of the outback tracks in WA, SA and the NT. Len was out there with his family for many years after World War II and many of these tracks have the names of his family members. He wrote 7 books. The grader in the picture is the one he used and is now parked near the Giles weather station; it carries the name of the Gunbarrel Construction Co, referring to the Gunbarrel Highway which was the only east-west road link across Central Australia stretching for 1600 km. Len and his team opened up a 2.5 million square km area which includes the Great Sandy, Gibson and the Great Victoria deserts. Later the Great Central Road was improved and became the main connection between Perth and Alice Springs.