Perth - Alice Springs
As feared the plate for our OKA does not arrive in time
This means that our OKA cannot be registered.
is still employed as test driver at OKA we are allowed to
drive the OKA with dealer plates
But dealer plates are only valid within Western
Australia and we cannot leave the state with them.
As we have to be in Alice
Springs with some gear for our
friends by July 15th and want to travel the Red Centre
with them, OKA
us with an old Toyota 75-Series Bushcamper with
approx. 380'000 km
on the clock.
We are free to do with it what ever we
want, no restrictions on tracks like one has with rental
We install the GPS and UHF / CB radio.
Susi saws seat-covers
from Ninja Turtle towels. As "Dude" is written
in bright yellow letters on them we decide to call the
We pack all our gear into "Dude".
The car is packed chock-a-block
and we already know now that we will hate ourselves every
evening when we have to repack all to be able
to go to bed ....
But we will have to live with it until we reach Alice Springs.
Perth on Tuesday, July 4, 2006. Due to recent rainfalls
we cannot take the Great Central Road, which connects Kalgoorlie
with the Ayers Rock.
We will have to go the long way round over the bitumen
of the Nullarbor and the Stuart Highway.
So we leave the area of Perth on
the Brookton Highway and soon reach the wheat belt.
The draught is very severe.
Some farmers have not even
tended to their fields this year.
Some farmers still haven't lost their good sense of
way in the middle of a field we see some kind of a memorial
of a ute with a dog in the back.
The memorial is in memory of the "Cobber Dog in a ute
queue" world record broken on October 10th, 1998.
699 registered utes with dogs on their trays drove into
Corrigin bumper to bumper forming a 7
km long convoy.
They broke Victoria's record of 325 utes.
This event raised 220'000 AUD for the Royal Flying Doctor
Victoria got the crown back in the year 2000 getting 797
utes with dogs together and raising 560'000 AUD.
But in 2002 Corrigin beat the Victorians with 1'527 utes.
is also very special.
It was created when Paddy Wrights best friend "Strike" died.
Paddy asked for a place to bury his dog and got this
Alan Henderson then buried his dog alongside and added
Alan cared for the graves and all other that followed there
the time to have a closer look at some of the graves for
... and cats.
In Kondinin we meet some special members
of the community ...
The first night in "Dude" is a real challenge.
no experience on what is where and have to pack gear around
over and over again.
Have you ever slept in the top section of a bushcamper?
The space is approx. 60 cm high and 130 cm wide.
To reach it one has to climb on top of the kitchen bench and then crawl into
There is a big difference to the OKA with its bed of 140
cm width, much head space so one can easily sit up on the mattress and where
on can go
to bed even without any mountaineering experience.
Susi gets really frustrated.
During the night the temperature
drops to below 10°C and
the humidity condensates in the top section of "Dude".
Susi's sleeping bag gets wet and she gets really cold.
So the next morning she is ready to go home .... but where
please is that?
Ruedi manages to calm Susi down and promises that with
the fleece blankets it will be much warmer the next night.
In Hyden with relief we find that the Hyden
- Norseman Road has not
been closed because of the rain.
It is a bitumen road more or less until Wave
Rock, then it turns to gravel.
Wave Rock is a rock face that has been eroded by the
wind over time and now looks like a giant wave.
visit in 1995
we were not impressed by it all
so we don't have an urge to revisit it right now.
Not yet knowing how "Dude" behaves on dirt roads
we are a bit careful and hope that we don't have to reduce
the tyre pressure (and how much would we have to reduce
anyway??? No clue ...).
But the worries are in vain.
The road is maintained by
the mines and is more like a highway than anything else.
We see many tables and signs referring to the local tourist
The Holland Track, one of our "musts", also
ends at the Hyden - Norseman Road.
The last 100 km before reaching Norseman we travel through
a beautiful forests of Salmon gums.
There are some great
salt lakes with good camp sites.
We will come back and spend more time here to explore all
this. Now we are in a kind of a rush ....
We spend the night at the Norseman Caravan
Park and set up our new tent for shelter against the cold
During the night the temperature drops to 4°C. Susi wraps
herself in fleece socks and fleece blankets.
The sleeping bags stay dry but in the
morning the surface of the fleece blankets are covered
In the morning we see that "Dude's"
radiator is loosing water. The gravel road has already
claimed its first victim ...
Luckily in the garage they find
the clamps have to be tightened.
As "Dude" is a rental car, we don't want to touch
it as long as possible.
They also find that
the bash plate is
As they don't have a spare we will have to have
it repaired at the Toyota garage in Alice Springs.
The garage mainly repairs
vehicles for the local mines. We see a couple of good examples
of what damage salt water can cause to a car ....
We visit the lookout and find Norseman to be a quite
interesting little town with its surrounding lakes.
But it's all salt water meaning that the water for the
mines has to be brought in by pipeline.
We also read the story of how the horse "Norseman" found
the first gold nugget which created the gold rush.
mines are still producing gold. But the miners don't live
in town anymore, they are flown in and out by the mines.
Norseman is the gateway to the Nullarbor (= Latin for
Beeing good tourist we also have to take the famous picture
of the road signs.
In Western Australia the animals on the warning signs
are kangaroo, camel and emu, in South Australia they
are kangaroo, camel and wombat.
We also drive Australia's longest stretch of straight
Due to the little hills that have to be passed it is not
really that obvious.
Also many other parts of that
road are not much different and contain only a slight little
corner every few kilometres.
We reach Caiguna where we camp in
As soon as the sun sets the temperature drops rapidly.
Ruedi plays the guitar but soon it gets to cold
even for that
After a cold night with 9°C inside the camper
and 4°C outside we wake up to another sunny day.
The humidity in the air is so high that rainbows can
We continue travelling on the Nullarbor and are surprised
to see many Wedge Tailed Eagles.
Because the trucks continue driving through most of the
night there is a lot of road kill which attracts the birds
The large birds only abandon their food in the last seconds
before we drive past them giving us the chance to have
a close look at these beautiful creatures.
Some of them have a huge wing-span.
We stop at the Madura Pass and enjoy the views.
find a few flowers. Susi's flower book helps to identify
the Desert hopbush (Dodonaea viscosea ssp. angustissima
The other two .... let us know if you
got the names for it.
wonder how they survive in such
a hostile environment.
It looks like the dew they get
is enough for them to reproduce.
We find the Royal Flying Doctor landing strips intriguing.
The road is turned into a landing strip allowing the Pilatus
planes to land and pick up patients.
We cross the border into South Australia and see Western
Australia's quarantine station.
As we still have some fruits and
veggies we stop at the next parking place, peel all, chop
them up and get rid of the peel in local bins.
According to the tourist
information in Norseman this is all they ask for.
a good conscience we drive on.
We also have to advance our watches by 1 1/2 hours.
Australia and the Northern Territory both have a time
difference to Perth of 1 1/2 hours, not full hours.
At the first road sign we have to stop and check the animals.
They really are different than the ones on the WA signs.
Let's hope that never a wombat crosses over to WA!
We reach the Nullarbor Roadhouse shortly
before 5 PM and continue on to the "Head
of Bight", where we want to have a look at
But they close at 5 PM so we decide to stay at the Nullarbor
Roadhouse over night.
Water is so scarce out here that you have to pay an extra
3 AU$ for the showers on the campground ....
On Saturday, July 8, we go over to the "Head of Bight" to have a
look at the whales.
We are informed by the rangers that there is a group of approx. 50 whales
present, 20 of them calves.
Before Ceduna we come across South Australia's quarantine station.
OK except the Orange-salad which we would have to leave at the station.
We turn round, drive back 1 km, scoff it all up and return to the quarantine
station - now we are
We roll-on through the endless Nullarbor plains.
In Wirrulla by chance we see a small
sign to Coober Pedy. At the local pup we ask for the road
condition of the track. They tell us that the road has
been recently graded and they predict we will use approximately
4 hours to the train station of the Pacific Railway in Kingoonya.
The dirt road takes us into a valley with lots of Wombats
(we first thought
we spotted a calf ....)
It's a shame that it gets dark and we cannot continue watching the nocturnal
After a cold night the sun drives us out ob the sleeping
bags on Sunday, July 9th, 2007.
We have noticed that if we park "Dude"
in such a way that the morning sun can shine through the
it gets warmer quickly in the camper.
But this also means that the sun wakes you up at the crack
In return we are
rewarded with the sight of the Gawler Ranges in
the light of the morning sun.
We pack up and hit the road as soon as we can thus having
a chance to see the one or the other wombat on the
They look like large guinea pigs and we take an immediate
liking to them.
We will definitely come back to this valley another time
and have a closer look at these cute animals.
The road along Lake Everard and also
the ford through the lake are dry and cause no problems.
But we can imagine that after rain the situation could
be completely different ...
Lake Harris and the sand dunes are beautiful.
The road gets corrugated but is still good to be driven
On the side of the road we see some kind of nests in the
We guess that it is some kind of a caterpillar ... we
have so many questions but our books only supply very little
corresponding information ....
At the railroad crossing at Kingoonya we
follow the road sign to Coober Pedy.
For the shorter road to the Stuart Highway follow the road
that turn left right after the crossing, then
the road turns to the right.
Then you reach a Y-junction, where you have to stay right
and not follow the road to North Well.
Before we reach the Stuart Highway we pass the Woomera
Prohibited Area at Mulga Well.
This is an area of approx. 500 x 400 km, in which in the early
days of nuclear power some atomic bomb tests were executed.
Several roads including the Stuart Highway and some station
tracks go through this area but it is prohibited to leave them.
In the afternoon we reach Coober Pedy,
a mining town. All around the town prospectors mine Opals
in underground mines.
A specialty of this town is its underground living. Due
to the extreme heat during the summer months the inhabitants
have created a while town in unused tunnels.
This has become a tourist magnet. Some modern hotels are built
underground but we are not sure if it is not just dirt that
has been piled up on top of the hotels once it was finished
To alleviate Susi's frustration we allow ourselves to stay
in one of these hotels for one night.
We go to the Greek
restaurant "Paul & Mary's Tavern" and
find the food very good.
After that we cuddle up in the wide, dry and warm bed and
peacefully fall asleep.
During the night some neighbours come home in a rather
noisy way but we just turn around and fall asleep again.
Early in the morning the noise starts again. Equipment is
carried to a car, doors opened and banged closed, opened
again and banged closed again. over and over again ...
Then the engine is started and let idle. The vehicle must
have been parked with the exhaust towards the hotel and soon
our room fills with stinking exhaust fumes.
had it and gets up to have a look.
That was a mistake
because the he finds himself in front of the fist of a pretty
angry person that starts yelling at him.
Susi hears the noise, runs out and can just prevent a fight.
The guy had thought that we had been the noisy neighbours
of last night and wanted to get even his way ... well, you
can't win all the time ...
We have somehow lost our good mood and decide to get ready
and hit the road again.
But "Dude" has no intentions of starting
even though its battery and its starter motor are fine.
After a bit of searching we find a mechanic that has some
time to have a look "Dude".
After the mechanic has sprayed a bit of "Wonderspray" into
the air-intake the engine starts instantly. The first few seconds
the engine runs a bit rough but then all is fine.
We can even stop the engine after a few minutes and it has
no problems starting again.
Good, so we also by some "Wonderspray" and leave Coober Pedy.
We will try to have this repaired in Alice Springs. Ruedi suspects
that it has to do with the spark plugs.
A bit later than planned we leave in direction of Alice Springs
on July 10th.
On the way we decide to look for the not yet visited Confluence
Point S 28 E 134 just a bit off the Stuart Highway.
Confluence Points are points where longitudes and latitudes cross.
There is a project that aims to have all of these points visited. On their
) one can record first visits and also check out, which point
have not been visited yet.
We try to reach that Confluence
Point but have to give up some 3 km away form it as there is
a fence and we would have to walk to it.
At this moment we just don't have the time do this, but next
We camp 22 km south of Kulgera on the Mulga Park Road,
right after the crossing into the Northern Territory.
The next day we have only 300 km left to Alice Springs,
so we take it a bit easier.
We find ourselves a good road-train-watching-spot to shoot
some photos and wait.
But somehow they seem to know that we are waiting here .... none appear ....
In the afternoon of July 11th we arrive in Alice Springs
and check in at the MacDonnell Ranges Holiday Park.
It is the same caravan park we were in 1995
on our first visit to Alice Springs.
It is funny to drive through the city and to look what has
changed and what not and what we (think) we recognise ...
Soon again we feel at home in Alice Springs, or "The Alice"
as the city is called affectionately by its inhabitants.
We both like the city and feel comfortable in it even through
somehow neither of us can find the way around in it.
In Alice we go to the local Toyota garage (Kittel) and make
an appointment for a Service, to fix the starting problem and
a few more small things.
The LandCruiser still requires its "Wonderspray" to
get started and now there is also some oil dripping out of
the dash board,
probably from the power steering.
On Wednesday we stay put at the caravan park and work on
our web page and photos.
Our tent is worth every dollar we paid for it because as
soon as the sun sets the temperature drops quickly
We take the Cobb Grill into the tent using it as heater
and appreciate the cosy warmth.
On Thursday July 13th we have to drop the Toyota already
at 7.30 AM. As we have to leave it at the garage all day
we have no other choice than to hit into town and play tourists.
Alice is known for its dry weather but it is logical that
the day we are in town with no "house" it rains and we mean
RAIN! We would have expected rain like that in Queensland
but never in Alice.
So we visit the base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and
the Reptile Centre, where Sandra, a keeper, has a very amusing
show where she presents her "endearing" animals.
The performance of the local Toyota dealer, Kittel, is lousy.
Most of the work was not done, the problem with starting
not solved but it cost a lot of money. We are not impressed.
On Friday Ruedi tries to start "Dude" by connecting
the conductor rail of the glow plugs directly with the battery
by using the
Shortly after he also finds out what the cause of the problem
Directly at the battery the cable that is also connected
to the glow plugs has broken.
With every attempt to start the engine the cable glows and
slowly burning a hole into the battery casing.
Soon the gas in the battery would have exploded which could
have had some nasty consequences on "Dude" and its
Ruedi make an appointment at Repco to have the vehicle repaired.
Susi stays in the tent at the camp ground, washes clothes
and works on the computer.
There are many photos to be processed, web-pages to be generated
and mails to be read and answered.
Sadly there is no mail from OKA ...
On Saturday July 15th Guido and Judith arrive. We pick
them up at the airport.
To accommodate 4 passengers and
all their gear we have to almost empty "Dude".
Guido has a good laugh as he hears the story of the OKA
and sees what we have as a replacement vehicle.
We hope that OKA will manage to get the vehicle ready in time for Guido to have
a good look at it.
While we are carrying the luggage into
their hotel room Susi's phone rings.
It is Fredy and Monika, two Swiss travellers we have met
in Perth and have passed a good time with, calling us from
They are on the Tanami Road, a more than 1'000 km long dirt
track through the Tanami desert, on their way to Alice Springs.
Because of the recent rainfall they are delayed by at least
Also Fredy has had some issues with his vehicle and had to
pull into one of the mines on the way to have it temporarily
it is good that they inform us about their delay because we
had expected them today. Had they not arrived we would have
become worried about their well being.
Often if somebody travels a lonely route and fails to get
in contact at an agreed day or time it is bad news ....
As Guido and Judith have flown in from Singapore the time
difference is very small and we can go out for a comfy dinner
without having to worry about them falling asleep because
of a jet lag.
Sunday morning is rather fresh with only 13°C.
bring the material for their camper to Guido and Judith.
we have a bit more space in "Dude" for our own stuff, but
it is still cramped.
Fredy and Monika announce their arrival for the evening.
As the camp ground is solidly booked they will stay on our
As "Keller's" is closed we go to the "Al Fresco" Pizzeria
The pizzas are still as good as we remember
them form our visit with René and Marianna in 1995.
The following day Guido and Judith fetch their Apollo camper.
As the weather is still bad they decide to stay an extra
night in the hotel and organise their equipment there.
The camper will be their home for the next two months so
they want to take their time and have it all set up comfortable
Fredy is busy at the local Iveco Garage where they fix his
broken Diesel pipe and we have to bring "Dude" to Repco to
have the cabling fixed.
As we hang around in town once again we have to laugh at
the excellent humour Australians have.
It looks like Australian animals also ignore restraining
Today it is July the 18th and it still is raining on and
off. The temperature is not too warm with only 13°C.
We spend a lazy day in our Oztent.
Guido and Judith move into the caravan park and continue
As we know now that takes a long time and one keeps changing
thing around over and over again.
We were able to reserve a site for them right beside our
So we now have all three Swiss vehicles on one spot.
In the evening all six eat dinner in Fredy and Monika's
Their vehicle is equipped with floor heating.
We appreciate the cosy heat and have quite a party in there.
Tomorrow we will leave.
We will travel around Alice Springs with Guido and Judith,
Fredy and Monika will continue their tour of Australia.
It was nice seeing you again and who knows, maybe we will
meet each other again on the road?