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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13

Stage 8 - Sunday 27 July 2008 - Day 93
By Dick and Pip Smith
Jul 27, 2008, 13:55

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We were up at 6.00 am as we had arranged a call to Macca on ABC radio.  We had spoken to Macca from Australia All Over from all around the world.  We found that as we drove, especially in Australia, people would say they had heard us on Macca’s show and wanted to know how the trip was going.


Early in the morning we went over to the yards and fed the young lambs, a very small donkey, and a new pet camel.  We then walked down to Henry’s old house and visited the grave of Henry’s wife Eileen, who had died seven years previously – to the day.  When Pip and Dick called in with Hayley and Jenny on their Canning Stock Route trip, they took a famous photograph in the family room of the old house. The photograph was used in the Australian Geographic Canning Stock Route book.  After taking a photograph of the whole group we departed the 760,000 acre Glen Ayle property at 8.20 am and headed off along the road towards Lake Carnegie Homestead.
Pam's pet sheep
Pet camel with Pam and Dick
Dick making friends with the baby camel
Pip getting to know the pet donkey


We discussed what a wonderful family the Ward dynasty is.  Six generations have been on the two properties and there are now four generations actually living.  They work extremely long hours from dawn until dusk. When the seasons are good they obviously do well.  When the seasons are bad it is a lot tougher.  It is a wonderful way of life and it is obvious that their family bonds are strong.  It is so important for Australia that our country people can be successful and continue with their culture and traditions.
We visited Henry's house
Henry's wife Eileen's grave
Henry outside his house
We all gathered to say goodbye


We decided that rather than driving the shorter trip via the Gunbarrel Highway to Warburton, that we would drop back to Wiluna and Leonora to drive the Great Central Highway.  Dick had already flown the Gunbarrel at low level in the helicopter, stopping at all the Len Beadell plaques, so we thought it would be better to do something different – even though the distance would be something like three times greater.
We left Glen Ayle and headed along the road towards Carnegie


Before joining the Gunbarrel, we stopped at the Pinnacle and climbed this 150 foot mesa, which gave us a view over the plains.  We then joined the Gunbarrel Highway, and rather than turning east we turned west.  We taped a video of the vehicle driving in the dust and Pip took over the driving.   We seemed to be able to maintain between 80 to 95 kph on this excellent dirt road.
Kaljahr Pinnacle
We climbed to the tope of the pinnacle
Looking down to the Earthroamer on a good section of the Gunbarrel Highway
Pip drove along a section of the Gunbarrel Highway
The Earthroamer on a good section of the Gunbarrel Highway


At 10.25 am we stopped at Mingo Camp, a beautiful little stockmen’s camp on the Mingol Waterhole with river red gums.  To the north of us were the Princes Ranges.  It is an ideal stopping place for anyone travelling the Gunbarrel.
Waterhole at Mingo Camp


We stopped for lunch at 12.11 pm beside the road and each enjoyed a simple chicken and salad sandwich with a good cup of tea.  We also ate a few passionfruits that had been given to us by Pam at Glen Ayle.  We then headed towards Wiluna and the road became corrugated for a while – but nothing as bad as we had endured in Siberia.  It was 84° Fahrenheit (29° Celsius) and we were at 1,642 feet.  These enormous plains are at a reasonably high altitude for Australia.
Magnificent trees beside the road
Corrugations which the Earthroamer managed very well
Salt lake


The roads don't have much traffic on them.  In fact in the first 5 hours of driving today we only passed two cars.
Sculpture on the junction of the Goldfields Highway at Wiluna


After two days of almost cloudless skies we had some scattered cirrus, which made the photographs more effective.  At 2.20 pm we were through Wiluna, taking a photograph of the beautiful bronze sculpture on the southern side of the city. Suddenly our mobile phones worked, and for the first time in three days we were able to collect our messages.


We were now travelling on the Goldfields Highway, and to the left and right were constant turn offs to huge mines.  We could see the spoil dumps rising above the plains.  The road was bitumen as smooth as silk, but with hardly any vehicles.  It is obvious that this is a very wealthy area from the numerous mines. The road train signs were now saying we should be looking for 53.5 metre long road trains – and we passed a few. That is about 180 feet long – the equivalent of over 12 normal cars.  They would sit on exactly 100 kph, which allowed us to pass one at 110 kph – the maximum speed limit.  At 3.20 pm we passed the Mount Keith Mine on the right, and there were further road trains.  We watched the “clock” of our mileage indicator click over to 58,000 kilometres – remember, we purchased the Earthroamer second-hand in the United States, and we had also driven from Denver to Seattle on the delivery trip.
Matilda Mine
It was great to travel on the bitumen road
Mount Keith mine
Warning about the extra long road trains
We overtook this huge road train
BHP Leinster Mines, nickel concentrate silos at Leonora – the concentrate is loaded on the trains.


We arrived at Leonora at 5.30 pm and parked at the very friendly Leonora Motor Inn, where the new owners insisted that we park in their yard for nothing.  It was right opposite the Police Station.


Leonora is a friendly town which is spotlessly clean.


We drove 718 kilometres for the day. We think this is almost a record since we were in Kazakhstan.


Total today 718 kms  34,997 kms since Anchorage, Alaska.

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