We leave Perth in the morning of Saturday, March 17th,
stop at Beverly to visit
our friends Cherry and Robert Williamson and continue towards Hyden.
The country is very dry, all yellow and burned.
We drive until the sun sets and set up camp at the crossing
of the Hyden – Norseman Road with
the Holland Track.
The outside temperature is still close to
Ruedi notices that the batteries of the back-section are not fully charged.
It looks like they have only been charged with the solar panels and not
also with the alternator.
Checking the alternator reveals a problem with the dual-battery charger that
will require some attention.
We continue our way to Norseman and hit the Nullarbor shortly
It has not changed much since we came through last time
in August 2006 except the construction site that is
now. They recon it will be there for another 15 months
Again and again we are amazed about the goods that are moved by truck
form one side of the country to the other one.
We stay at the Baxter Rest Area for the
There are tracks at the back of the rest area leading
to large camp
areas and it is surprisingly quiet for the proximity of the
Ruedi continues his testing of the electrical fault.
It is either the OKA´s battery, the alternator, the voltage
regulator or the Arid battery charger that is playing up.
But this will have to be tackled once we reach Adelaide
We are surprised how fresh (13.9°C) and humid (80%)
it gets out here over night.
The plants have well adapted
to this weather and seem to live quiet well of this little
water they can get.
We continue travelling. After the Madura Pass the sun
disappears behind the clouds and the temperature drops from some 28°C
More and more we see puddles of water on the
side of the road.
After the Nullarbor Roadhouse we catch up
with the rain and stay in it until we stop for the night
some 10 km west of
the Yalata Roadhouse.
It rains the whole night. The humidity increases to up to
more than 80%. Beside the drizzle there is also fog.
We continue and find the Aboriginal owned Yalata
Diesel at the Nundroo Roadhouse has a good price (it
is actually cheaper than in Ceduna!).
They also have a display of Aboriginal
Art with some interesting pictures, especially the whales
In Ceduna we follow the Eyre Hwy towards Kyacutta where
we turn off towards Port Augusta.
As we pass Kimba it
looks like the area has received quiet some rain in the last
The dams are full and water lies on the side of the
road; we even see signs “Water over Road” and
Amazing if one thinks that South Australia is in
its 7th year of drought.
As we drive through the Lake Gill Conservation Reserve we
see a Mini-Van on the shoulder on the other side of the road.
When asked if they have a problem a young man explains that
they have lost their gears. Only the 4th gear is left and
he cannot start with that gear.
We give the van a good push
and they manage to drive away. They will easily reach the
As we turn the OKA to continue our way we realise
a bit too late that the shoulders are too soft for our weight
and the OKA sinks in.
But we are lucky and with the diffs
locked we manage to reverse out of the track and get afloat
Lesson learned: don't leave the bitumen in a
We pass the Princess Mines in Iron
Knob and once again have
to take note to visit this attraction next time we come through
and have more time …
Staying at the rest area just west of Lincoln Gap turns
out to be a noisy undertaking, the road trains run past all
We get up early. The sun is back on the sky, the batteries
are being charged again by the solar cells and we have one
worry less for the day.
We drive through Port Augusta (a dry area), along the Flinders
Ranges, through Port Germein and Port
Pirie to Lochiel.
is not much activity at the road train assembly area, maybe
next time …
We are amazed about the amount of caravans and road trains
that travel on this road.
Just before Port Wakefield we see a road
train that must have been travelling a bit too fast …
now the driver has a lot of time to think about it until
the crane has put
the truck back on its wheels …
We arrive at Peter and Margaret's place in Adelaide.
Their OKA 196 is ready to hit the road (OKAs are named by
their serial number).
On Thursday 23rd we hit the road towards Melbourne. It is
muggy and the mozzies are pretty friendly.
Peter guides us through narrow roads that are almost too
narrow for the two OKAs onto the Princess Hwy (also called
South Eastern Fwy) towards east.
The county is very dry, no greens to be seen, just brown
After passing the Murray River the country has a green
touch and the trees have fresh leaves. Light rain sets in …
We follow the Princess Hwy towards Meningie, Coorong and
the coast. The sun is back and the temperature rises to over
As we drive along Peter informs us about the attractions
and tracks we can visit next time we are here …
After Kingston we deviate to Cape Jaffa for
a nice little harbour where the Southern Lobster is fished.
The place is under development, channels are dug so future
house owners get direct boat access to the ocean.
Driving back to the main road we pass many vineyards and
pine tree farms. The wood of the trees is used to build houses.
We stay on the Southern Ports Hwy and after Robe pass
We stop at Nora Creina, a private property
with a small village of holiday cottages on it.
A walk along
the beautiful beach
with its rock-formations gives us a chance to cool down
a bit (temperature is 34.5°C).
We visit the Woakwine cutting.
This is a cut through a small hill that was constructed to
a large swamp.
The cutting is 1 km in length, 28 - 34 meters at its deepest
point and 276'000 cubic meters of material had to be removed
It was undertaken by 2 men
and was completed in less than 3 years. They used a caterpillar
D7 tractor, a 7 ton drain ripper, Letourneau 8 - 11 yard
scraper and explosives.
At Mt. Gambier we visit the Blue
Lake and are stunned by
its beauty and the deep blue of the water.
Volcanic activity occurred in the Mount Gambier area in
recent geological time.
The Blue Lake crater is an explosive structure
called a maar which consists of a rim of ejected
material (vasalt and ash) resting directly on the pre-eruption
The crater, which formed during two closely spaced periods
of eruptions some 4'800 years ago (extremely recent in
geological terms ...), is on of the youngest volcanoes
Average depth is 80m, its deepest section 204m keeping
the water cold all year round.
Groundwater flow into the Blue Lake is mainly from the regional
limestone aquifer (Gamboer Limestone). This flow starts to
the north of Mount Gambier and, as the groundwater moves
through the aquifer, it is replenished by infiltration of
rainfall and storm-water.
Mount Gambier disposes of its storm-water
via 350 drainage bores and sink-holes through the city.
This low salinity water has caused the salinity of the Blue
to decrease since the early 1970s.
The colour of the Blue Lake changes dramatically from grey
to vivid blue over a few days in November each year. Then
after summer, usually in late March, it gradually fades until
the grey winter appearance is resumed.
We travel to the Little Blue Lake. It
is another volcanic lake, quiet deep and its water is also
But after this hot
day we are brave and have a swim.
We stay over night and
ruin the plans of at least 2 other youngsters that wanted
to have a few quiet moments in their cars alone…
After a warm night (24.5°C) with some rain the sunrise
is beautiful. Strong winds set in.
We head off and pass Piccanini Ponds and Nelson, drive through
the Cobboboonee State Forest to Portland. We stay on the
Princess Hwy and pass Port Fairy, a nice little town.
It is the season for the Angus cows to have their little
ones. Lots of calves can be seen running around.
The temperature rises to 32.5°C and the wind picks up
clouds of dust that are blown over the country.
In Warrnambool we
have the impression of having a sand storm blowing through
The storm increases and the temperature rises to 35°C.
Even though it is mid day it feels like dusk.
peaks up to 60 kmh on the wind-meter.
We turn into the Great Ocean Road and visit
a few of the many lookouts ( … Grotto … London
Bridge … The Arch …)
London Bridge used to be connected with the main land.
a few years back the bridge collapsed without any warning.
Some people were trapped on the new island and had to be
rescued by helicopter.
Luckily nobody was on the bridge when
At the Arch the limestone rock has been washed out by water
As the Great Ocean Road is mainly travelled by tourist
(many of them from overseas) signs reminding of the “right” and “wrong” way
of driving in Australia have been mounted at the exists from
the parking bays.
We pass Port Campbell, a busy little tourist
village and continue our tourist drive … the twelve
On Wattle Hill at about 550 m altitude
the OKA decides to “auto
shut-off” its motor, luckily close to a bay.
checks all and the only thing that is a bit too high is the
coolant. So he tries to restart the engine and there is no
We proceed to Wangerrip, where we turn
off, follow a track into the bush and stay over night at
of a fellow
The Easter Lilies are still blooming.
It rains all night and the temperature drops to 10.5°C.
We still decide to go on the walk in Oatway National park
down to the ocean and find a friendly mob of kangaroos.
The area is also populated by less friendly creatures.
leach found his way up Susi's sleeve and made himself comfortable
on her upper arm.
Sprinkling salt on them makes them flee the scene quickly ....
We continue on our route and deviate to Cape Otway to
have a look at the lighthouse.
They charge an entry fee
of 12.50 $ per
person which we think is a rip off.
But as it anyway starts raining again and we don't
fancy going for a walk in this lousy weather we decide
not to go in.
On the way back we find at least
8 koalas in the trees.
During the day the weather improves a bit,
but the warmest we see is 16.5°C.
With the strong wind
blowing it feels much colder. We are surprised to see so
in shorts and even surfies on their boards.
We continue along the coast. The beaches look beautiful
in the sunshine.
We catch the ferry at Queenscliff over
Crossing the entry into Port Philipp Bay wakes memories
of our trip
to Australia on the Matisse in 2005 (click here for
When we see a large container boat coming in we are ready
to go back on board.
We drive to Mornington, where we stay
at the property of Juergen and Claudia, where the OKA-rally
The OKAs keep coming, some ex-army ones, some built up as
The campers are all inspected and the “big boys” can
do some “OKAing”
… (= talking about the ins and outs of “their” OKAs)
Future OKA-driver ....?
After a cold night with only 8.6°C the sun is up again.
We start visiting fellow OKA-owner and having a look at their
Even more OKAs arrive.
By 2 PM 26 OKAs are assembled at Juergen and Claudia's property.
This is record!
At lunch there is plenty to be discussed.
Then some OKAs are taken on Juergen's 4WD track.
Amazing little trucks ... even if they snatch an axle every
so often ....(only true for the old OKAs, our NT has much
We decide to have a group picture taken.
Drivers and photographers get in position.
What a sight!
26 OKAs lined up ... this must make every
OKA-owners heart beat a bit higher ....
Then we go for a drive through Mornington and have
a ball of a time.
Later on in the afternoon the majority leaves.
For the rest it's another Barbie and some more OKAing…
Monday March 27, 2007, during the morning the last OKAs leave.
Thanks to Juergen, Claudia and family for having us.
so much fun!
Just call and the OKAs will be back .....
We go into
town and have the electrical system checked.
the battery and the alternator are found to be fine the
fault must lay within the wiring.
Ruedi gets to work and
finds the loose and corroded contact at the central connection
point at the starter motor.
After one last night at Juergen and Claudia's we leave towards Morwell,
where the 20'000 km service
will be done by Whitehorse Trucks.
It is sad, but the Arid dual-battery charger still does not
work, only the solar panels are charging the batteries in
there is something wrong with the Arid too.
In Morwell we see this interesting truck.
The semi-trailer can be folded and loaded onto the truck.
Unfolded the trucks carries large logs.
During the 20´000 km service on Wednesday no problems
are found during.
So we head straight back to Melbourne because we have
the next appointment lined up in the city at 8:00 AM in
On the way again we get
an “auto shut-off” of the motor. Guessing it
could be because we are running low on fuel (6%) we switch
tanks and try to start the motor.
As the motor does not start even after 8 x 30 seconds
of cranking again we need the help
After checking all OKA's engineer Lindon recommends one
more try but leaving the motor cranking even after 30 seconds.
It starts the 9th time
after cranking for 40 seconds non-stop ..... this can't be
it ..... Lindon, OKAs developer, promises that he will look
for another solution for priming.
Driving in Melbourne in
the early evening, in the dark, with rain, lots of traffic
and narrow, bumpy roads is
But Susi guides perfectly through the city
based on a GPS-Route she prepared before hand.
Since we end
up in a residential area and to be sure we are at the
place we call Roger Smith (the developer) from Bead Locks
allows us to camp in his backyard (which is also his
A beadlock is a kind of flat Kevlar tube inserted into
the tubeless tire.
This prevents the tire to roll off the
rim while driving with low tire pressure.
We have to replace ours as they don't work properly with the
Susi is busy answering mails.
them is from a Swiss couple that has found our web page and
wants to meet us.
As they live in Melbourne we quickly answer
them and are invited to stay at their property in Heidelberg
West, approx. 12 km north of Melbourne.
Fitting the new “SecondAir Bead Locks” and modified
valves, takes up the whole of Thursday.
In the evening again we have to drive through the suburbs
of Melbourne to get to ABS (Auto Brake Service) in Frankstone.
And again it rains … the OKA is really not the right
vehicle to be driven through a city during rush-hour in rainy
Since the owner of the ABS shop is a member of the OKA
Owners Group we camp directly in front of the shop.
another break distribution valve for us, which will improve
Due to the load, the brake power is
currently wrongly balanced between the front and back
also washing day.
As it rains on and off during the whole
day the clothes that cannot be tumble-dried are dried
in the truck.
They are placed
on the clothe-line inside the truck, the floor heating
and the fan turned on.
It works perfectly; another theory tested and
proven to work.
Ruedi finds that one of the tires with the new Bead Locks
So we will have to go back to the shop tomorrow
again to get it fixed.
We drive to Heidelberg West and find Barbara and Rogers place.
After an extensive inspection of the OKA we soon find ourselves
inside the house discussing pros and cons of camper concepts
as Barbara and Roger are starting to plan their own rig.
Once again we find that even if you haven't known each other
for a long time travelers just have so much to talk about.
Then the laptops are unpacked, pictures shown and time just
In the evening it is still rather unpleasant weather and
the temperature feels colder than the 12°C seen on the
So we leave the floor heating on and enjoy the
comfort of our warm and cosy home.
The next day at Bead Locks Australia they find that 3 tires
are loosing air, so we loose half a day.
It's a bit
of a shame as Barbara and Roger had planned to show us a
and its surroundings.
Well, next time …..
On Sunday, April 1, we wake up to wet roads but the sun
After a long breakfast we leave Barbara and Roger and head
north on the Hume Hwy.
Thanks for having us and see you sometime on the road again!
We pass Wangaratta, Albury, Gundagai and again have no time
to visit the many attractions.
The more we get into the hills the more it must have rained
during the last few days.
The hills are covered in a light
green and there is even a bit of water in the creeks.
of Yass we stop for the night. It is a cold
night with just 8.9°C.
We wake up to a beautiful sunny day. We leave the Hume Hwy
take the route to Kangaroo Valley.
It is a narrow road and we have to cross
2 passes with steep ascends and descents.
The OKA is at is
limits, the weight pushes it downhill and the gears are not
strong enough to hold the truck, an exhaust break would come
It feels the same as when we drove our Landrover Defender "Millimeter" (click here for
The valley is very beautiful, the views stunning. We will
come back …
We reach Yatte Yattah and are welcomed by Lyn and Ron Quigley
We have a good time talking about vehicles
and travelling. We learn a lot about how the country people
react and what we should not do.
In the evening we can assist with the sheep, bringing them
to the paddock.
We sit until late and enjoy Ron and Lyn's company.
Thanks for having us.
Hope to see you on the road in your
It is already Tuesday, April 3, only 3 more days until the
Easter-weekend, so we better get going to be off the road
by Easter Friday.
We pass Sydney through the suburbs on the Cumberland Hwy,
a 4-lane divided road with lots of traffic lights and drive-ways
exiting directly onto the highway.
We wonder, how bad it
must be going through the city …
Then we enjoy the easy travelling on the hwy to Newcastle.
The OKA goes well with speeds up to 122 kmh (downhill). On
straight roads the max. speed the heavy OKA achieves is 110
The highway is almost finished up to Taree.
As we travel north the humidity and the temperature rise
(overnight temperature now stays close to 17°C).
We continue travelling up the coast.
To Susi this wakes memories.
She was here some 20 years ago. Then there wasn't much
between Kempsey, Coffs Harbour and
the Queensland border.
Today it is like driving from one town into another one,
lots of cars, lots of people …
We reach Wardell and
turn off to Gerry and Corinne's
place, where we will stay over night.
We haven't seen
each other since we were at Chambers Pillar near Alice Springs
with the Toyota last year.
Gerry and Corinne are tour operators
working out of Alice Springs. We had some technical discussions
last year regarding the receiption of the Globalstar
Even though the Globalstar Sat-Phone is supported by
the Australian Government it has some large areas where
there is no reception on it.
We had perfect receiption at Chambers Pillar and their
Globalstar Sat-Phone did not receive anything.
As this is no good
for a tour operator that depends on a tool like that Gerry and Corinne are
seriously considering changing over to the Iridium Sat-Phone like we have
On Thursday morning some more ideas are exchanged.
is currently working on the conversion of one of his Toyota
There is a lot to be told and time flies.
having us and see you again in Alice!
At lunch Susi almost walks into this beautiful specimen
of a spider.
Shortly after lunch we reach the Gold Coast and
manage to slip through before the Easter traffic jam starts.
arrive at Merrimac, where we meet Susi's brothers Hans
Peter and Bruno with his wife Silvia.
We will stay there
for a few weeks, take care of Susi's father who lives close
by in Nerang, do some administrative stuff and prepare our