Aus Update 22 - Wave Rock, Kalgoorlie, Esperance

5-Nov-2006

<Chris> 28th-Oct After visiting the North Perth Church we set out east heading first for Wave Rock (Hyden).  

Before reaching the rock we stayed the night at Kondinin Shire caravan park. This was one of these amazing places with full facilities, nobody else there, a nominal fee and could you please put the key in the box outside the shire offices before you leave! We were all comfortably setup, and sitting having dinner when it started raining. We were thanking our lucky stars that we'd put our shade up (and recently waterproofed it), when all of a sudden the thunderstorm really struck. The shelter immediately pulled out of one side in a strong gust of wind, so while Paula held it in place, I quickly ran all our gear like the fridge etc into the shelter of the laundry area. I really don't know what we'd have done if we'd been at one of the roadside rest stops we have stayed at - gotten very wet I suppose. The thunder and lightening was spectacular and at one stage in the evening the whole town blacked out for about 10 minutes after a lightening strike that seemed to hit in the middle of the main street.

29-Oct We discovered another one of Australia's amazing oddities on the way to Hyden...


Hopefully you can read this, if not it says "INTERMITTENT SINGLE LANE ROAD NEXT 10 km"

It's kind of hard to see in this shot, but if you look towards the distance you can see how the road narrows to a single lane then opens out again!!!

Wave rock is simply an unusually beautiful geological phenomenon where water has eroded a spectacular overhang, enhanced by the "stripey" nature of the actual rock - easiest to show with a photo or two. Hopefully you can see how it gets its name.



If you follow a walk around the base of the rock, there are some other structures too, such as the "hippo's yawn" which we could easily see in the shape of the rocks... 


We stopped at a cave full of aboriginal art (that hadn't been repainted recently). It was called Mulka's Cave. There is a legend that explains how Mulka came to live in the cave as a result of not following tribal law. Most obvious are hand outlines said to be Mulka's.


We then headed slightly north to join the Great Eastern Highway that runs from Perth to Kalgoorlie. Along the side of the highway we could see this pipe, which we sort of guessed was water, but later we found it is the only source of water for Kalgoorlie, and it runs the full 560km's or so from Perth.


We actually stayed for the night at the Lake Douglas recreation reserve just to the west of Kalgoorlie. Needless to say, the lake is man made, and it appears that it is often a lot fuller than when we were there, but we couldn't help laughing at this sign when we arrived...


The sign is totally unreadable in this shot, but we had to fit the "puddle" in too. The sign reads "Motorized water sports are strictly prohibited" :-)

30-Oct Now a little explanation of the town Kalgoorlie. Strictly speaking it is called Kalgoorlie-Boulder, but the two towns were so close together that they eventually overlapped. There are still two historic main streets, but there is only one reason the area came to life. It was the site of a massive gold rush called "the golden mile" when gold was found in 1893. 

In the visitor information center for the remaining "super pit" mine it gave the statistics for the amounts of gold found over time, and although I don't want to give the wrong statistics with actual tonnes of gold found because I didn't take notes, I will give some indicative numbers. Something like 60% of the gold that was found was taken out by very limited means in the late 1800's as almost pure seams and nuggets, then another 20% of it was taken out around the 1940's. At that stage, there were many individual claims and it became unprofitable. In the 1980's, Alan Bond began buying up all the leases. He never managed to complete the merger, but eventually in 1989 what is now KCGM (Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines) managed to merge all the claims. Todays operations are to simply extract the remaining 20% which was once considered unprofitable but due to the price of gold now is expected to be viable to around 2017. They are now digging everything out of one huge hole in the ground then crushing, dissolving in cyanide then roasting to produce the desired gold. 

Just to give you an idea, ONE of these trucks below is carrying 225 tonnes of rock. That will contain maybe 450-500 grams of gold if it is high quality ore (about the size of a golf ball). However about 1 in 6 of the truckloads is like that, the other 5 are pure waste. The pit currently is 3.5km long, 1.5km wide and 400m deep.

We headed south from Kalgoorlie towards Esperance. We stayed overnight at another tiny community caravan park at a place called "Grass Patch". Before you ask, "was there one?", no, well, not where we stayed anyway. The ground was so hard we couldn't get pegs in for the shade, so we covered the fridge as best we could and it held off raining really hard until after we got up the following morning

31-Oct We arrived in and drove around the Esperance area. Unfortunately it was grey and drizzly, but you can see how the beaches are amazing, even without a blue sky background. 

We didn't stay in Esperance itself, but because I was wanting to have a 4wd place advise on a shimmy in the front wheels the next day, we stayed just back up the Coolgardie-Esperance highway at a picnic area in Helms Arboretum.

1-Nov. From the advice given at the 4wd place I decided not to get anything done, and so we headed east towards Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid National Parks.