Lucky 13, the Grand Finale week of our epic tour.

The race to cross the SA/WA border before the “rules” change again & we get locked out. By Will.

  • Feature Photo: End of day 90, last camp for the tour, “Breakaways” on Hyden/Norseman Road.
  • Week 13,  Australia Pandemic Tour Travel Diaries. By Will.
  • 2/09/21 to 8/09/21.
  • Day 85 to 91.
  • Port Lincoln, SA to Mandurah, WA (home).
  • 2283kms (total since leaving home, 15541kms).  

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So here it is, the map of the route we took, 15541kms (9657 miles), over 91 days, 10/06/2021 – 8/09/2021, clockwise.

This is it, the final blog post of this tour. For those of you who have followed since we started our journey in early June you may have noticed that travelling in Australia is not as simple as it once was ! We don’t have the big picture answers of how the pandemic should be managed. I guess the simplistic answer to the pandemic dilemma is to offer everyone the vaccine and set a fixed date in the not to distant future when everything opens up and the Australian people’s liberties and freedoms are fully restore. 

Jenny and I aren’t impressed or happy with how the state and federal governments have dealt with the pandemic. Initially they did some wise moves but failed to adapt as time progressed. Still we are just two average people who can only do our best to manage what is put in front of us. There is no point finishing our last blog post of our huge journey off with a big rant, we all just have to remain as upbeat as we can.

4th of Septemper: We find ourselves keeping a close eye on the Western Australian Government Covid Restrictions website. South Australia was changed to “Very Low Risk” just before we crossed the NT/SA border which means we will not have to quarantine once we enter WA.

This weeks journey takes you from the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula, across the Nullarbor, into the Great Western Woodlands, through the vast West Australian wheatbelt and onto the west coast where we are based. 

Kilometre wise it turns out to be our biggest week of driving, with over 2000kms of bitumen and 250kms of gravel road traversed. We were lucky on the Nullarbor for this time of year and generally had good tailwinds to push us homeward. Tourist traffic heading west was extremely light, there was the typical freight trucks but not much else, we observed quite a lot of car/caravan combinations heading east.

Right then, let’s get down to business and lay out my travel notes for you, they’re a bit more condensed than usual as we focus on the task at hand which is to wrap up out tour and get home as fuss free as possible.

After a windy night in Port Lincoln we are greeted with a wild morning.

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  • Day 85, Thursday, Date,2/09/21.
  • From to where: Port Lincoln .
  • Distance & time: 10kms.
  • Accumulated Distance: 13268km.
  • Accom type & cost: $30, night number 3.
  • Grocery Food $: 153, Woolworths.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: 47, block of beer.
  • Day Total $: 230.
  • Rolling Total $: 13197.
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • Weather: very windy, 50-70km/h from the north swinging around to SW  30-40km/h in the afternoon with light rain throughout the night 26C then cold.

Notes: Rodgie recovery day.

Not much happened weather is horrible, camper handled it well, took Rodgie walking and gave her the medication . Did some shopping, later heated up some dry/freeze meals in the camper on the Jet Boil as the weather outside was miserable.

Here comes the rain, Port Lincoln SA.

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  • Day, 86, Friday, Date, 3/09/21.
  • From to where: Port Lincoln to Streaky Bay RA south. (28km from SB).
  • Distance & time: 286km 0930-1515.
  • Accumulated Distance: 13554km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no
  • Fuel $:  112, @ 153.9cpl, Elliston .
  • Litres: 73L , economy equals 17.8L per 100km. Headwind and Speed.
  • Accom type & cost: free,  Streaky Bay RA south. (28km south from SB).
  • Grocery Food $: 13
  • Take away food $: 10 coffee
  • Day Total $: 135
  • Rolling Total $: 13332
  • Gopro footage: GP8
  • Weather: 16C, rain clouds, strong westerly wind.
We stopp in Elliston for lunch, mid west coast of Eyre Penisula.

Notes: Eyre Peninsula, the west side.

  • Dump the WC (toilet cassette, yucko).
  • Murphy’s Haystacks, interesting rock formations.
  • Bush camp, 30kms out of Streaky Bay, one of the best of our trip.
  • Scattered showers and strong wind. Yeah it’s the tail end of winter and we’re way to far south !
  • Let the photos tell the story. 😊👌
The coastal towns on Eyre Penisula are famous for their many jetties, this is the Jetty at Ellison.
Murphy’s Haystacks (they are granite Inselburgs), located on private property, there is a small fee to take the walk and view them.
Rodgie dog doesn’t know what to make of this creature at Murphy’s Haystacks. Jenny and I call them Bobtail Lizards, they are also known as Blue Tongue and Shingle Back Lizards.
We found a cracker of a free campsite about 30kms south of Streaky Bay.

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  • Day 87, Saturday, Date, 4/09/21.
  • From to where: Streaky Bay RA South (28kms) to Kidnippy RA about 60km west of Nundroo.
  • Distance & time: 306kms, 0935-1515.
  • Accumulated Distance: 13860kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no probably, no more this trip. 🙁.
  • Fuel $: 85, @ 152.9cpl Penong .
  • Litres:  economy 16.5L per 100km.
  • Accom type & cost: free at Kidnippy Rest Area, WikiCamps give it 4 out of 5 stars but we would give it a generous 3 stars.
  • Day Total $: 85.
  • Rolling Total $: 13427.
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no.
  • Weather: cold 16C strong southerly wind intermittent cloud with rain.

Notes: We’re going home ?

  • Caught up with Nev in Streaky Bay, Karen was at a local districts footy grand final in Penong.
  • Lunch break at 1pm west of Ceduna.
  • Fuel and Air at Penong.
  • Camped at Kidnippy RA , cooked steak on fire, etc.
  • Watched Alex and Chris’s wedding online.

No real notes, just some minimal dot points, guess we’ve entered the realm of being in a mission to get home. I do recall the camp site being average, to close to the main road, dusty, litter, but heaps of fire wood if you jumped the farming fence (2/10/21).

Neville at Streaky Bay spots us parked in the nearby car park, he invites us over to his house which is very close by for a coffee and a look around. Thanks Nev, very appreciated. (We first met Nev and Karen in Kingoonya, see last blog post, week 12).

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  • Day 88, Sunday, Date, 5/09/21.
  • From to where: Kidnippy RA to Moondini RA South, (approx 40km East of Madura, south side of road) tucked in right out the back, lots of wood.
  • Distance & time: 461km, 0900 CST to 1600CST (1430WST)
  • Accumulated Distance: 14321km.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no heading for home.
  • Fuel $: 140 @ 201.0cpl at Border Village RH SA.
  • Litres: ~70L economy 16.5L per 100km.
  • Accom type & cost: free Moondini RA.
  • Take away food $: 20, Nullarbor Roadhouse .
  • Day Total $: 160.
  • Rolling Total $: 13587
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: 19C max fine with some high level cloud, moderate SE wind, tailwind.

Notes: Checkpoint WAlly. Into the hermit state.

We sat behind this extremely overwidth load for 50kms, they were maintaining 80km/h so not too bad. At Nullarbor Roadhouse we left before they did.
  • Good driving,
  • 50kms east of Nullarbor got stuck behind an overwidth load at 8mtrs wide, Caterpillar dump truck body.
  • Late breakfast at Nullarbor RH.
  • Fuel up at Border Village SA.
  • Checkpoint WAlly, Covid checks and vegetables quarantine checks, which took 20 minutes.
  • Easy driving to Moondi RA, tailwind, Landcruiser sitting at 1500rpm at 100km/h.
  • Not a bad camp site, well off the road some fire damage from 2019/20 bush fire. Lots of wood had a Camp fire. 
  • Cold and clear night, no moon lots of stars.
Nullarbor Roadhouse, South Australia.
Bunda Cliffs, Great Australian Bight. Stopping for a look and a photo is a must and not to be missed.
Don’t forget the ubiquitous selfie.
We stop at Border Village on the South Australian side to fuel up with diesel. It’s 12 cents per litre dearer than in Eucla 8kms west, but we still aren’t completely confident that the authorities will let us cross the border into WA. You can see the border crossing in the background.
Trucks lined up at checkpoint WAlly waiting to have their “Good 2 Go” covid permits checked, nearly time for team wiljen to try our luck. As it turns out all our “paperwork” G2G QR code was in order and the Police Officer sent us onto the food quarantine officer. All up it took about 20 minutes to get through. So glad they’re keeping us safe.
We’re home, first photo in WA, driving down Eucla Pass.
Camp for the night, Moondini Rest Area south, we had it to ourselves.

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  • Day 89, Monday, Date, 6/09/21.
  • From to where: Moondini RA South to Rest Area 90km east of Norseman.
  • Distance & time: 470kms, 0830 to 1515hrs.
  • Accumulated Distance: 14791kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no.
  • Fuel $: 115, @195.0cpl Caiguna Roadhouse.
  • Litres: 60L, economy is 15L per 100kms, tailwinds.
  • Accom type & cost: Free, far back of Rest Area, 90kms east of Norseman.
  • Take away food $: 20, Caiguna.
  • Day Total $: 135.
  • Rolling Total $: 13722.
  • Gopro footage: GP8
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: strong NE Wind, max temp 23C, fine, cool mornings.

Notes: The run for home.

Jenny and I know this drive well, we have driven, cycled and motorcycled it at least 11 times together over the past 33 years. We always enjoy it but this time it feels like a mission. We stopped at Caiguna around 10am for fuel and food. Jenny did the 90 Mile Straight while I rested. It was her turn to drive the 147km section (I did the driving last time in December 2015, strangely we keep track of these things). Very green vegetation out here but some serious fire damage to the Woodlands along the south side of the Eyre Highway near Balladonia.

Burnt out scrub from the big 2020/21 summer bush fires near Balladonia .

We also stopped at Balladonia for a break, all the Roadhouses along the trip have been deathly quiet. Like no one is stopped at them, not much light vehicle traffic heading west, just big Road Train trucks. We ended up at a rest area with no name that is 90kms east of Norseman. We have camped here before, it looks like no one has camped out the back of it for a very long time. Lots of wood around so we had a camp fire. Then shower and bed by 9pm.

Campsite no name 90kms east of Norseman, WA.

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  • Day 90, Tuesday, Date, 7/09/21.
  • From to where: Rest Area 90kms East of Norseman to Breakaways Norseman/Hyden Road.
  • Distance & time: 265km, 0900-1440, long stop in Norseman.
  • Accumulated Distance: 15056kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no.
  • Fuel $: 110, @ 165.5cpl BP Norseman .
  • Litres: 66.47L , economy 17L per 100km.
  • Accom type & cost: free at the Breakaways.
  • Grocery Food $: 37 IGA Norseman.
  • Beer/Wine/Soda $: 52, block of beer Norseman .
  • Day Total $: 199.
  • Rolling Total $: 13921.
  • Gopro footage: GP8
  • Weather: 28C , NW winds, headwind, fine and sunny.

Notes: Last Full Day on the road.

  • Resupply in Norseman.
  • Hyden Norseman Road, lots of burnt out woodlands. Dirt road in good condition, 80km/h. (We do know the road quite well).
  • Checked out McDermid Rock but continued another 60km west to the Breakaways.
  • Ended up busy at Breakaways with 6 other campers plus us.
  • Camp fire and our final night camped in the bush for this tour, it’s a bitter sweet time. At least we have each other, it has been the only constant in our lives for 33 years. Everything has changed, we have changed, but after all the highs and lows we are still together. ❤️
At the start of the Norseman/Hyden Road, about 200kms of quality dirt road.
The Breakaways is another great spot to camp and roughly at the halfway point of the Hyden/Norseman Road.
Breakaways.
Night number 90, final free camp at the Breakaways.

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  • Day 91, Wednesday, Date, 8/09/21
  • From to where: Breakaways 130kms east of Hyden to Mandurah, Home.
  • Distance & time: 485km, 0815-1600hrs, stopped at Gorge Rock (near Kondinin for lunch).
  • Accumulated Distance: 15541kms.
  • Cycling Y/N, KMs: no.
  • Fuel $: 60, @ 155.0cpl, Boddington we make sure we get home so top up.
  • Litres: 38.71L.
  • Accom type & cost: home.
  • Day Total $: 60.
  • Rolling Total $: 13981.
  • Gopro footage: GP8.
  • DJI Drone Footage: no
  • Weather: NW wind, headwind, 25C, clear and fine.

Notes: Home & The End.

  • 100km of dirt road.
  • Lunch at Gorge Rock.
  • Back road, Bullaring Road to Pinjelly (some gravel, 20kms?).
  • Noticed the Clearview Side Steps had failed at Boddington, drivers side in open position, passenger side in closed positions, no power ?
  • Harper and partner Jen who had house sat our place for 2 months cooked us a welcome home dinner.
Gorge Rock was once the local swimming pool, take note of the picture with the diving board, it’s mounted on a 44 gallon drum filled with concrete now check out the next photo.
Diving board drum is still there but very rare these days to see the water up too it. The south west of WA has had it’s wettest winter in 40 years, that is what we are hearing.
We walk up to the top of Gorge Rock. The farmers are predicting a bumper harvest this year.
The small Gorge Rock carpark, officially you are not suppose to camp here but I think the local council still turn a blind eye to the occasional overnighter. Just do the right thing !
The final 100kms to home was done with the drivers side power board stuck in the open position, currently we have a warranty claim in with the manufacturer. I’ll let you know how it goes in a future blog post.

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There you go, this is how an epic trip turns into a fizzle, you are forced and coerced to rush home on a route not of your choosing, the need to cross the state border before you are not allowed home was strong. Right now it’s 3 weeks in the future (2/10/21) and I can tell you we still are feeling deflated. 

All that time effort and money to find out you can not travel freely in Australia anymore. Don’t get me wrong it was at times a good trip, great to catch up with family in Queensland, some amazing highlights, lots of new roads and places we haven’t visited before, though there is always a “BUT” !  We have lost all faith in the government and I doubt that we will every remotely trust the authorities much ever again. Anyone who wants to control your life to this degree should not be trusted !

What does this mean ? Will we forever be trying to undermine them, avoid their rules and regulations, become fringe dwellers of society, I don’t know. All I do know is be nice to other people and yourself, live and let live, try to live the best life you can, pretty simple really.

Does this mark the end of wiljen’s adventures travel ? Right now we are not feeling the travel love. The travel fire is just smouldering, but if the coals are warm there is always hope they will reignite with a bit of fresh tinder so who knows, when the sun rises tomorrow it’s a new day and we might just say let’s go !!!

Both of us are very happy with how the 200 Series Landcruiser GX and Lifestyle Reconn2 Camper performed, 15541kms on some seriously rough outback roads is a good torture test on man, woman, dog and machine. There was some minor mechanical/equipment problems, but nothing even close to being a show stopper. 

Compared to the average vehicle based traveller out there our set up was relatively compact, flexible and light weight. The only improvements I can foresee in the future are, All Terrain Tyres, Bullbar with driving lights, dedicated vehicle mounted UHF two-way radio. Diesel heater fitted into the Reconn2 Camper and battery upgrades.

The final cost of the trip came to $13981, which averages out to $153 per day, that amount includes all spending with the exception of the Vet bill in Port Lincoln for Rodgie dog. When you consider that we spend a similar amount of money just sitting at home (about $700p/w not including all your household utilities, rates and insurance bills) and if you travelled slower (less fuel), free camped more and cut back on the alcohol the nomadic vehicle based lifestyle would be an economical viable way to live. 

Thanks for travelling along, don’t give up on your freedoms, you do not have to answer to anyone but yourself. Stay true to you, be a good person and the rest will fall into place.

Until next time, adios, W&J 🚴‍♂️🚴‍♀️🐕…

Day 1…Where it all began, the first of many selfie’s taken at the end of Dwarda Road on the 10th of June. We will be back, thanks for tagging along…team wiljen.

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