Heading For Home, Week 12.

Bound for South Australia, oh no, Rodgie is as sick as a dog, closest Vet, Port Lincoln. By Will.

  • Feature Photo:
  • Week 12,  Australia Pandemic Tour Travel Diaries. 
  • 26/08/21 to 01/09/21.
  • Day 78 to 84.
  • Ross River Resort NT to Port Lincoln, SA.
  • 1610kms (total since home, 13258kms).  

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25th of September, 2021.

Hello to you all, welcome back. Spring is now here in Mandurah, WA. We have been home for over two weeks, doing our best to settle into the new routine of being at the “Travel Home Base”. Have also been busy getting our garden sorted out, with particular attention going towards the veggie garden. Weather is starting to improve with more warm sunny days than cold wet ones. 

After a couple of weeks at home we have made good progress on our garden.

You would barely know that there is a Covid storm cloud developing on the eastern horizon, life in the rut is pretty much normal for West Australian’s. The “storm” will get here soon enough, Jenny and I will be as prepared as we can be and once it eventually passes life will continue on. We do wonder if we will ever get to travel overseas again ? We hope so.

Rodgie is happy to be able to visit her closest beach at home, even with a storm coming in.

There has been quite a lot of cycling, I’ve been out on my big Yamaha motorbike a couple of times. The old 105 series Landcruiser is still here but not for much longer, it goes to its new home today ! Rodgie dog is back to her normal happy self but still no bones for her to chew on. We’ve also caught up with family and friends. Only a few more weeks and I’ll be heading off to work on the grain harvest, then hello summer, good times ahead ! 

Nearly time to say goodbye to our old 105 series Landcruiser which we have owned from new for nearly 20 years. Many great journeys and memories, now our son can continue the tradition.

Here are week 12 travel notes of our Australian Pandemic Tour, life on the road during the biggest pandemic in 100 years isn’t that easy, but there are moments of absolute magic out there in the outback, this week takes you on the journey with us from Ross River/Alice Springs in the Northern Territory across some awesome outback roads through to the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula to Port Lincoln, South Australia. We hope you enjoy.

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  • Day 78, Thursday, Date,26/08/21.
  • From to where: Ross River.
  • Distance & time: 0
  • Accumulated Distance: 11648km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no but did walk 6kms with Jenny & dog.
  • Day Total $: 0
  • Rolling Total $: 12030
  • Gopro footage: no
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: 21C cold night, light SE wind, Fine.

Notes: Our last rest & relax day ?

Very relaxing day, apart from a 6km return walk along the N’dhal Gorge we didn’t do much. We slept in until 8am, played with the dog, I scrounged enough wood for a small fire that we started as the sun was setting. Camp ground is busy but we are way out on the fringe so it almost feels like we are alone.

Heading off for a 6km walk along N’dhal Gorge, Ross River.

Didn’t spend any money or drive anywhere today, most likely the final zero day for the tour as we commence the arduous journey home tomorrow with a government induced schedule due to the pandemic. The SA and WA state government and authorities want to know our itinerary and movements as we travel through their kingdoms. Fun, fun, fun.

Most of our walk was along the dry river bed.
Selfie time for team wiljen at Ross River, possibly our last day of R&R for this tour.
Our day off comes to a close sitting around the fire.

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  • Day 79, Friday, Date, 27/08/21
  • From to where: Ross River – Alice Springs – Kulgera Roadhouse.
  • Distance & time: 363km, 0930 to 1600hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 12011kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Fuel $: 130 @ 206cpl
  • Litres: 63L, economy = 16.5L per 100kms.
  • Accom type & cost: $20, unpowered site at Kulgera Roadhouse.
  • Grocery Food $: 100, IGA, Alice Springs.
  • Day Total $: 250
  • Rolling Total $: 12280
  • Gopro footage: GP8
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: NW wind, cool morning, 26C fine.

Notes: Let’s get out of here.

Another nice morning at Ross River, though it was 2C overnight. We played ball with Rodgie dog, packed up and drove the scenic 83kms back into Alice Springs. Shopped at IGA because there is room to park and an sports oval next door with clean toilets.

Rodgie doesn’t mind travelling in the car but after about 4 hours she’s had enough.

$100 doesn’t buy you much anymore , I left there with two bags of groceries, small bag of dog food and a 10 pack of sugar free cool drink. After a quick early (11.30am) lunch we were back on the road heading south. Just before we departed we both received SMS text messages from the WA Government / Police Force that our Border Pass had now been rejected and we would have to reapply. Seriously WTF, is wrong with the people who are suppose to govern this country !

Stopped at the IGA in Alice Springs, pick up some supplies, have lunch, give Rodgie dog a run around the park and head south for the border.

As best as we can work out it’s because the status of South Australia has been down graded to Very Low Covid Risk, which means all travel G2G passes have been cancelled and need to be redone.

Anyway after driving 200kms from Alice Springs we fuelled up at Erldunda, diesel was pricey at $2.06 per litre, Rodgie spun out at seeing the Emus penned behind the fence for the first time ever. Yes Rodgie best to leave the “Bush Chooks” alone. Lots of green and yellow Budgerigars flying around out here as you drive along.

Jenny checks out a possible camping spot 10kms north of Kulgura, fences as far as the eye can see.

Between Erldunda and Kulgera we scoped out a couple of potential free camping sites. They would have been adequate if the sun was setting but both were quite average. To dusty, to close to the main road, to many prickles, stuck up against of a station fence. The whole of the Stuart Highway has been fenced so far, camping options are limited. At 4pm we pulled into Kulgera payed a very reasonable $20 for an unpowered site and called it a day.

Parked up in the Kulgura caravan park at the rear of the Roadhouse.

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  • Day 80, Saturday, Date, 28/08/21.
  • From to where: Kulgera to Anita Gravel Pit, 4kms south Matheson Bore 24hr RA.
  • Distance & time: 305kms, 0920 to 1445hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 12316hrs.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no but met Manny cycling Darwin to Adelaide over 6 weeks.
  • Fuel $: 76 @ 168cpl.
  • Litres: 45L.
  • Accom type & cost: Free, Anita Bush Camp (WikiCamps).
  • Take away food $: 14, pies. at Marla Roadhouse.
  • Day Total $: 90.
  • Rolling Total $: 12370.
  • Gopro footage: Yes, police talking to us at Checkpoint SA, Marla.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: cool, 22C , strong SW wind after 12noon, headwind, fine.

Notes: Checkpoint SAlly.

Kulgura Roadhouse, NT.
Crossing the NT/SA border, looks like we are in for a “bad hair day”.

From Kulgera to SA border is only 20kms, from there to Marla is another 150kms this is where the SA Police Force have established their Covid Checkpoint, a young police woman asked for our permit numbers, names, where have we come from, where are we going and will you be in SA for more then 14 days ? “None of your business really” but for the sake of keeping a low profile and achieving our goal of getting into WA unhindered we play the game. The police woman also says it’s best for us to avoid Port Augusta and Ceduna as they’re currently hotspots and it may stuff up your chances of getting into WA if we go to those SA towns.

Manny from Brisbane enjoys a short break from the saddle.
Check point SAlly at Marla.
Stopped at Marla South Australia.

We’re also required to mask up when entering the Marla Roadhouse. The Roadhouse has posted signs it’s at the request of the Police and not an instruction from them, the Roadhouse staff. These rules are truly bonkers and I later find out that the two truck drivers who were from NSW and are positive for Covid had earlier received their first Covid vaccination ? They also stopped at Norseman, Widgimultha, Yellowdine, only Norseman is a concern for us. After that we’re taking the shortcut home via Hyden.

On a brighter note we did meet Manny from Brisbane about 10kms north of Marla who is into week 4 of his 6 week bicycle ride from Darwin to Adelaide. We topped up his water and gave him an apple, also talked about cycle touring and his trip for 30 minutes then back on the road heading south.

Only 305kms today, Jenny found an old gravel pit between the Stuart Highway and Ghan rail line that was mentioned on WikiCamps for us to spend the night. It’s very windy, I’d guess 30-40km/h south westerly wind we’ve tucked in behind a pile of gravel to help break the wind a bit.

Home for the night, known as Anita’s gravel pit on Wikicamps, turned out to be a good spot, squeezed in between the Stuart Highway and Ghan rail line.

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  • Day 81, Sunday, Date, 29/08/21.
  • From to where: Anita Gravel Pit to Kingoonya.
  • Distance & time: 347km, 0930-1600hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 12663kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Fuel $: 74 @ 163.9cpl.
  • Litres: 45L.
  • Accom type & cost: $15.
  • Take away food $: 40 pizza at Kingoonya.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: 111, bottle shop Coober Pedy, $51 Kingoonya.
  • Other $: 5 clothes washing.
  • Day Total $: 222 + fuel 74 = $296.
  • Rolling Total $: 12666.
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: Northerly tail winds, 19C, Fine.

Notes: Into the South Australian Desert. Only dot points from today because we ended up at the Pub eating pizza and drinking beer around the open drum fire out the front with the locals as well as Karen and Nev, so we wouldn’t have to wear face masks.

  • Coober Pedy. Stopped and blogged at Jewellery Store diggings. 
  • Mandatory masks required to be worn inside buildings.
  • Short cut from Kingoonya to Wirrulla. (260kmsof dirt road).
  • Dinner and drinks at the Kingoonya pub, Dennis and John (owner).
  • We met Nev and Karen from Streaky Bay.
  • Cooler weather, 19C max temperature.
Leaving Coober Pedy.
How great is this V8 turbo diesel Landcruiser 200 series, towing 2 tonne of camper at 100km/h while only sitting at 1500rpm, fuel economy averaged about 16L per 100kms.
260kms of dirt road ahead of us, the Kingoonya to Wirrulla road is an excellent shortcut option if you are heading west.
The Kingoonya to Wirrulla road, it is dirt/gravel a bit on the rough side, 260km shortcut to the West Australian border.
The small caravan park at Kingoonya, SA.

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The following morning I take the dog for a walk around Kingoonya and snap some photos.

Kingoonya Hotel, where we spent an enjoyable evening.
Morning “tool box” meeting ?
  • Day 82, Monday, Date, 30/08/21.
  • From to where: Kingoonya to Salt Lake west of road. (south of Lake Everard Station).
  • Distance & time: 145km, 1045-1430, average gravel/dirt road 50-70km/h.
  • Accumulated Distance: 12808kms
  • Accom type & cost: Free, Salt Lake Camp.
  • Day Total $: 0.
  • Rolling Total $: 12666.
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • Weather: 23C , fine 20km/h wind from the north.

Notes:  Oh the wildflowers !

One of those magical days that happen occasionally when you travel, this Wirrulla to Kingoonya road at the end of winter, early spring, August/September is very spectacular. Possibly better if you travel in a southern direction with the sun at your back like we’re currently doing. Heaps of wildflowers like Sturt Desert Pea, native succulents similar to pig face with pink flowers, everlastings just to name a few.

We stopped for lunch in amongst the casuarina trees and dunes.

We stopped often as we skirted the Gawler Range, Lake Gairdner and Lake Everard. Initially we were hoping to reach Smokey Bay but we departed Kingoonya to late, 10.45am, the rough road made for slow going and multiple photo opportunities had us frequently stopping. At least there was no traffic, we only saw 3 other vehicles (all travellers) heading north during our day. 

Old water tanks.
They have been disconnected but still interesting to see.

Once we reached this salt lake just after 2.30pm we both instinctively knew our day was done. There is quite a lot of water in the lake so I’m sure we will be treated to an amazing sunset. We spent about 30 minutes driving around, it’s soft so we were in low range 4WD for half the time. Eventually we found a suitable sort of flat spot with an exit route for our departure tomorrow. As I said the ground is soft so we’ll only get a couple of goes at getting out of here. Another bonus is there’s lots of wood laying around and the flies are only moderately annoying.

Camped at an unnamed salt lake on the Kingoonya to Wirrulla road, this photo shows how soft the ground is.
Checking out the area.
Graham and Maxine’s outfit.
Another day comes to a spectacular end.

Just before sunset a 4WD ute towing a Chinese manufactured hybrid camper rolled in, they reversed and jack knifed the trailer. Crunch. Later we met Maxine and Graham from Sydney, they’ve been travelling for 6 months, Graham wasn’t to concerned about the damage to the front of the camper from repeated jack knifing events. It was their first ever long tour for the newly retired couple after many years of working. They had decided to sell up their Cronulla home and go exploring, they were loving the travel lifestyle. Good on them, we enjoyed a couple of drinks, watched the sunset over the salt lake and returned to camp.

The nights events were about to take a turn for the worse.

Always nice to cook dinner on the fire when you can.

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  • Day, 83, Tuesday, Date, 31/08/21
  • From to where: Salt Lake camp (100km north of Wirrulla) to Port Lincoln.
  • Distance & time: 440kms, 0930-1620.
  • Accumulated Distance: 13248km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Fuel $: 135, @ 147.9cpl Wudinna SA.
  • Litres:  91.28L, economy 15L per 100km.
  • Accom type & cost: $60, 2 x nights Port Lincoln Tourist Park.
  • Take away food $: 10 pies at Wudinna Golden Wattle Roadhouse.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: 20 drinks at Pier Hotel.
  • Other $: 83, dinner at Pier Hotel.
  • Day Total $: 248.
  • Rolling Total $: 12914.
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no.
  • Weather: 24C, fine, northerly wind.

Notes: Sick as a Dog.

The “Salt Lake Camp” was great but at about 8pm Rodgie dog started throwing up and continuously hacking, eating wild grass and generally not looking very happy. We left the camper trailer door open overnight so she could come and go as she pleased. Fortunately there wasn’t many bugs too contend with. It seemed like she had a stick or bone caught in her throat.

By morning the dog hadn’t really improved much, Rodgie had gotten up during the night to vomit about 5 times. Jenny and I didn’t sleep very well and we did our best to get going early. There is no phone reception so we assume there will be a Vet at either Ceduna or Streaky Bay. Saying our goodbyes to Max and Graham we head south for Wirrulla. 

The drive is super scenic and currently very green with lots of wild flowers. Sadly not many photos today as we’re on a mission. Road conditions were good and we made reasonable time getting to Wirrulla at 11am. There was one stop along 100kms to town to clean up dog vomit in the car.

We discover the closest Vets are at Port Lincoln, Cowles and Port Augusta. All 300kms or more from Wirrulla, we call the Port Lincoln Vet and they say to bring Rodgie in ASAP. Our ETA is 4pm, we still have to get fuel, inflate tyres have a toilet break and a very quick lunch, deal with road works and tow the trailer, it all conspires to slow our progress. Ultimately we take the Tod Highway which cuts through the centre of Eyre Peninsula and arrive at the Port Lincoln Vet at 4.20pm.

Rodgie’s home for the night, very happy with these guys.

Emma the Vet does an assessment. We leave Rodgie dog in overnight, she is looking very sad and sorry for herself. The short story is Rodgie has Gastritis, her stomach is severely irritated by bone fragments, she will be ok but we will need to wait around a few extra days, feed her soft cooked food and give her gastro pills. 

With minutes to spare we book into the Port Lincoln Tourist Park, set up and go to the Pier Hotel for dinner. What a day !

It’s been a long stressful day and we only just made it to the Port Lincoln Tourist Park just before reception closed.
Dinner at the Pier Hotel, Port Lincoln. If you ever visit the Eyre Peninsula be sure to try the local oysters, they’re delicious.

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  • Day 84, Wednesday, Date, 1/09/21.
  • From to where: Port Lincoln .
  • Distance & time: 10kms.
  • Accumulated Distance: 13258km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no, washed and lubed bikes. Some rust on brake discs.
  • Accom type & cost: payed.
  • Grocery Food $: 23
  • Other $: ***1350*** vet bill, not included in travel costs  !
  • Day Total $: 23.
  • Rolling Total $: 12937
  • Gopro footage: GP8 , picking up Rodgie from Vet.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: 23C fine, light northerly wind.

Notes: Relief, Rodgie is ok.

We’re in for some rough weather tomorrow as a cold front passes through sometime during the afternoon, so best to get some jobs done. Jenny catches up on the washing while I do some camper maintenance. Clean dust suppression air filter, top up water tanks, grease the independent suspension swing arms, and other tasks that help to make life on the road easier. 

What a beautiful day, we had the whole unpowered section to ourselves.

After lunch we pick up Rodgie dog from the Port Lincoln Vet, she is looking better and happy to see us both. It’s been an expensive exercise at $1350 plus buy medication, cooked chicken and rice. For the next two weeks Rodgie’s diet is to consist of a syringe of chalk, anti nausea pills, indigestion pills, 4 small serves of boiled chicken and rice per day. Definitely no bones !

Time to pick up the Rodgie dog.
Someone is happy to see us !

In the late afternoon the storm rolls in from the west, there’s lots of wind and rain. The three of us hunker down inside the camper as the wind buffets us. The camper is not designed for cooking inside so we just use the Jet Boil to heat up some water and pour it into a Moroccan Lamb freeze/dried meal for two. It’s cold and we snuggle up in bed early, Rodgie is tucked up in her bed on the floor.

Port Lincoln, fishing capital of South Australia.

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Only one more blog post to come for this tour, week 13. We have our concerns, will Rodgie be ok, will we get across Check Point WAlly near Eucla before SA has an outbreak of Covid, will the border remain open for us ? It will be my 12th trip and Jenny’s 11th across the Nullarbor, how will it go ? We first crossed it together travelling east to west in July 1988 as teenagers driving in an old Ford Falcon panel van. This will be our second time towing a Camper across the bottom of Australia. We both hope we don’t get strong westerly headwinds, which is the norm for this time of year. 

Visit the blog in a week or so to find out how we go. Until then thanks for reading and following our journey, Will, Jenny and the mutt, Rodgie.

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Back with the final tour blog soon, week 13. Take a guess what our final trip kilometres will be ?

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