All in Road trip

Broad Arrow Tavern

As we strolled into the iconic outback hotel, Steve was telling me that the last time he was there was 30 years ago. He was playing pool when there was suddenly an almighty crash behind him - he turned round to see a donkey in the bar. With perfect timing, just as he finished his story, Bella appeared behind the bar…she’s a five year old great dane cross with excellent hospitality skills.

Revisiting Lake Ballard

In 2003, to mark the Perth International Arts Festival’s 50th anniversary, renowned artist Antony Gormley created 51 sculptures which were installed on Lake Ballard. I’d read a lot about it at the time and dreamt of seeing them for myself, but an hour or two north of Kalgoorlie, Lake Ballard isn’t really on the way to anywhere else…you really have to make an effort to get there.

I finally got to Lake Ballard in 2010 and walking out onto the salt lake, I had that feeling that I was meeting people for the first time that I’d heard so much about from a mutual friend.

Eric adding colour to Cue

Just a couple of kilometres from Cue we started spotting life-size metal cutouts of blue sheep, and red dogs on kayaks. A little further down the road we saw Eric, sporting a crazy hat and obviously trying to get some phone reception, as he paced around his quad bike complete with Aussie flag, proudly fluttering in the wind. I’d barely started asking the question, and Steve was already slowing down to do a U-turn!

Walga Rock

Walga Rock lies 48 kilometres west of Cue in WA’s Goldfields. It’s one of Australia’s largest granite monoliths Of huge cultural and spiritual significance, the rock faces feature incredible, well-preserved Aboriginal art. Strangely amongst the art is a depiction of a sailing boat, drawn in white ochre. Its origins remain a mystery but there’s stories that it may have been drawn by a shipwreck survivor who had ended up a few hundred kilometres from the coast…or perhaps it was created by an Afghan cameleer who was showing his Wajarri friends what he had seen.

Passing through Meekatharra

We’ve passed through Meekatharra a few times now on long road trips north and south. I’d been hoping that we’d get to spend a few days last month…unfortunately that wasn’t to be. In the meantime I’ve added a few photos to my growing collection on Meeka’s main street, and I’ve moved it way up my list of places to stop for a while next time we’re in that part of the world.

Pilbara backroads

As far as possible on our meander around Western Australia, we’ve chosen to take the unsealed backroads and have discovered so many amazing spots along the way. When I mentioned on social media where we were and where we were heading next, I got a couple of messages from friends telling us how to find the most beautiful little swimming spot.

Around Marble Bar

Marble Bar is officially Australia’s hottest town, holding the record with 161 consecutive days over 37.8C (100F). Fortunately it was a very manageable 32 degrees when we were there recently. This outback town is named for its jasper which the early explorers believed to be marble. There’s more photos of the jasper patterns and colours in an earlier blog post.

With a rich history of gold mining, Marble Bar still draws gold prospectors from far and wide, hoping to find their fortune.

NASA in Marble Bar

Five men walked into a bar - an Aussie, an American, a Canadian a Norwegian, and Spaniard…they told us they were a team of five NASA scientists who are working on the Mars landing next year. We thought we might meet some interesting people in Marble Bar’s famous Iron Clad Hotel, but this was most unexpected!

Tim in Marble Bar

Pretty much everyone we got to know in Marble Bar, we met in the Iron Clad Hotel, including Tim. Like so many people in this outback town, gold is in Tim’s blood. While Tim uses a metal detector his mother Katie used a yandi. Shallow multi-purpose dishes, yandis were traditionally used by Aboriginal women to carry water and bush tucker, but they could also use them to sort chaff from seeds, and in these parts, to separate gold from dirt.

Pilbara bush camp

When we were up in Wyndham I photographed some beautiful gouldian finches. That sparked a passion for bird photography so finding this little bush camp beside a billabong near Marble Bar was a real treat…the birdlife was phenomenal. I spent the late afternoon and early morning, standing as still as possible, observing and occasionally photographing the rainbow bee-eaters, white-plumed honeyeaters and the tiny black-fronted dotterels. It’s a steep learning curve photographing birds - and a big lesson in patience - but I’m loving it!