Whaleoil Road Trip

Day 19 – Ballina – Sydney, The Last Day

Today dawned fine for our last driving day of the Great Whaleoil Road Trip Around Australia.

We left Ballina at 0600 after enjoying a night at the Ballina Palms Motel. The lovely lady there even cooked us a steak dinner which? incidentally has made it to our top 3 meals on the road trip.

Despite the best efforts of a journalist snitch to hamper our trip we have not been bothered by the Police in the slightest for the last two days. Clearly the coppers were too busy off collecting their bribes to bother with a couple of speeders.

The drive down to Sydney was an exercise in frustration with numerous road works and poor road conditions. It was until just north of? Taree that the road turned good. basically there is a dual carriageway from there all the way to Sydney a distance of over 300km's.

We made it into Sydney at about 1530. the areas around Newcastle and Maitland are still suffering from the effects of the flooding from the past two weeks. There is still a great deal of water lying in the paddocks. Still at the least the drought is well and truly broken.

So we made it to Sydney, having successfully completed the "Loop the Loop".

Stats for today are;

  • Fuel: 68.7l
  • Average Fuel: 8.9l/100
  • Time 9:36
  • Distance: 753.9km
  • Average Speed: 91.6km/h

So let's review shall we.

  • States visited: 6 (NSW, VIC, SA, WA, NT, QLD)
  • Elapsed Time: 19 days
  • Driving time: 5 days and 19 hours?
  • Total Fuel Consumption: 1700.2l
  • Average Fuel Consumption: 11.08l/100km
  • Total Distance: 15,047.0km
  • Average Speed: 109.8km/h

We spent 1 night in each of NSW and VIC, 3 nights in SA and NT and 6 nights in WA. WA by far is the most pleasant driving state with the best roads and the most interesting scenery. Northern Territory comes a close second. You can keep the East Coast.? I have crossed the Nullarbor, driven the longest straight road in the world, Driven around the longest State Highway in the world, Been as far North on bitumen as is possible in Australia, been to the eastern-most point and the western-most point of Australia, crossed the Tropic of Capricorn twice in three weeks and visited every State and every State capital except Tasmania's. This has been a massive achievement and I am gobsmacked that our total drive time was actually under 6 days!!! Surely that is some kind of record.

The National Highway is over 20,000km long and includes Tasmania, we have just travelled over 15,000km's of that. My FIL always has said "Everything is big in Australia". Now that I have driven around it I have to agree. The whole country is massive. the infrastructure is massive, the trucks are massive, the land is massive. Plenty of Australian's just do not know what they are missing in their own country.

Tomorrow I can rest and sleep in with absolutely no driving and just catching up with some old friends and a bit of shopping. i am completely stuffed but now have an appetite for some more rad trips in this fantastic country.?

Day 18 – Rockhampton to Ballina

Last night I got a call from a journalist who was writing a story about the Great Whaleoil Around Australia Road Trip. I spoke to him and it soon became clear that he was more concerned about slagging off a Kiwi and the excessive speeds I have been talking about. I pointed out to him several key aspects. Most of our speeding has been done on roads that are superbly constructed, with sparse traffic, that our speed has dropped considerably on the east coast due to built up areas and inappropriate roads and road conditions. I mentioned the nostalgia aspect of the trip in visiting places that Skippy had not seen in over 40 years and in some of those places he had actually built the first roads into and out of them. I also mentioned the superb role the Federal Government has had in building the National Highway. I then in my discussion with him discover that this little prat hasn't even travelled around Australia.

Anyway upon rising I grabbed The Morning Bulletin and read what he had written. As per usual with lazy journo's he mostly had used my words straight from the blog with about 10 of his own. He completely focussed on the speed, he never mentioned my comments about the truly appalling situation of the abo's in Halls Creek, he never mentioned the nostalgia aspect and he never mentioned my praise of the Federal Government in actually improving, vastly the state of the National Highway around Australia. Yes the article was negative but who gives a shit about a little rag in Bum-Fuck, Queensland. So James Brecknell, you little pansy, get out of your shitty little hole in Queensland and actually visit this magnificent country called Australia. You cannot comment on anything if your sole experience of life is town of 60,000 with an upside river.

Anyway back to the Road Trip.

We were travelling to Ballina today and the trip involved our second crossing of the Tropic of Capricorn, crossing of the Queensland/New South Wales Border and an end to the sugar cane. We also passed a dead Dingo, so that makes the road kill? we have passed almost complete. We his the Motorway about 250 km north of Brisbane and cruised along untroubled around Brisbane and over the toll bridge, at $2.50 this was a bargain for the time saved. The Motorway extends all the way down to over 100 km's past Brisbane meaning our average speed was somewhat higher than the previous two days. The further south we go the better the roads are becoming.

Stats for today;

  • Fuel: 72.6l
  • Average Fuel: 8.7l/100
  • Time: 8:45
  • Distance: 837.4km
  • Average speed: 95.6km/h
  • Total Distance so far: 14294.1km

Tomorrow is the last day of the Road Trip around Australia and we will make Sydney sometime after 1400. It has been a massive experience, one I doubt many Australian's have actually undertaken. Looping the loop is definately not an easy undertaking, nor a cheap one, but certainly is an effort worth making at least once in your life. It took Skippy over 40? years to realise his ambition to "loop the loop" and he is glad and well satisfied that he has done it. I am thankful that he chose me to travel around with him and it has certainly been an experience of a lifetime.?


Day 17 – Townsville – Rockhampton

Three days to go to complete the loop the loop and today's leg is to Rockhampton.

Cane and more cane, hundreds of miles of the stuff.

Today we copped our first speeding ticket, just north of Bowen. We have travelled exactly 12,863.2 kilometres, the vast majority of it well and truly over the speed limit and today we get pulled over by a cop doing 115km/h!!! Like that is speeding. We wisely kept quiet about our escapades of the last 16 days and Constable No.18064 as his partner were reasonably pleasant. They didn't like me taking pictures though.

Oh well $150.00 and a warning to slow down, oh and a whopping 3 demerit points if we had Aussie licences. This road was fair crawling with cops, we saw 6 more.?

Driving at slower speeds is actually more draining than moving along at a good clip and another thing, this country loves fricken' caravans…..there are literally thousands of them all crawling along and holding up traffic wherever they go. I have no idea why they bother with those stupid fricken' extended mirrors as they seem incapable of using the fricken' things.

When I am el Presidente, Minister of Everything for Life i promise that I will ban caravans from the road between the hours of 0400 and 2300.

Roadkill was pretty voluminous in the Kangaroo department and we saw 1 dead Echidna.?

Well, here we are in Rockhampton, note to self Queensland is shut on Sunday. How quaint.?

Stats for the day:

  • Fuel:72.0l
  • Average Fuel: 9.8l/100
  • Time: 7:41
  • Distance: 736.1 km
  • Average Speed: 95.6km/h
  • Distance so far: 13,456.7km

Tomorrow is a longer day, over 800km. We expect to be in Sydney on the 19th. That will be a complete circumnavigation by road of Australia inside 19 elapsed days. Travelling time will be actually quite a lot less.?

Oh and look what Skippy found in his coffee cup at the motel.?


Another five star moment

I didn't think it could be done. A steak better than the one in Darwin at the Raging Bull. Unfortunately for the raging bull the mantle has now passed to the Steakhouse at the Seaview Hotel in Townsville. The big neon sign annouces that they are the best Steakhouse in Nth Queensland. i think they are being too modest and they can actually lay claim to being the best steakhouse in the whole of Australia.

The 400g Eye Fillet, cooked blue of course, simply melted in my mouth. the Mushroom sauce was superb. Skippy had a 450g Rump Steak with a Garlic Cream sauce and he was moaning like a well paid whore at the taste.

The meat served was grain feed beef and the taste was to die for. the beeves certainly died and for that I am grateful.

Both the Raging Bull and the Seaview are five stars, but the Seaview was better. We are considering staying in Townsville for another day so we can sample the steakhouse again.?

Day 15 – Cloncurry – Cairns

We left Cloncurry this morning after breakfast planning on stopping in Georgetown via a quick stop at Normanton to see the Croc statue of a 8.64m long salt water crocodile, the largest ever shot. You just can't imagine the size of this thing until you get next to it. The girth is over 13 feet [Shudder]

The trip went quicker than expected and we arrived in Georgetown at 1100. A quick check of the Navman told us that the distance to Cairns was a paltry 645km so we decided to move on rather than stay in Georgetown (pop. 300).

By advancing to Cairns we have made up a half day which means we can do some sightseeing.

Stats for today are:

  • Fuel: 125l
  • Average Fuel: 11.3l/100
  • Time: 9:44
  • Distance: 1105.3km
  • Average Speed: 113.4km/h
  • Total Distance so far: 12,461.0km

We also passed a great deal more road kill and for once some live Kangaroo's beside the road. That makes a total of just six Kangaroo's for over 12,000km's of travel!!! Apparently they are in plague proportions!!!

So, where are we at? Well today has seen us complete the second crossing of Australia from Coast to Coast. Week 1 saw that completed from East to West and now in Week 2 we have gone from West to East. We have also in the 15 days traversed Australia from South to North again Coast to Coast. We have four more days of travel to make it to Sydney then we will have completely "looped the loop" in one go.

A comment on Abo's

A comment on Aborigines, submitted by Adolf Fiinkensein after my post on the Abo's in Halls Creek raised some hackles.

[quote]I see I have sprung an encyclopaedic commenter on your site who has failed to show that the abos were exterminated in WA. If they were, how come there still are so many of them? The truth is there were vicious local wars in which whites and blacks suffered many deaths with the blacks suffering more because they had sticks and the whites had guns. They were invaded and conquered. In Tasmania they were indeed deliberately exterminated, much to Australia's shame.

If you talk to cattle station holders they will tell you the real story, rather than the the rewritten history of today. The 'slavery' to which your commenter refers in fact was a common arrangement which lasted for about a hundred years, whereby the station provided the local tribe with sufficient basic foodstuffs – eg flour sugar and salt etc – along with so many cattlebeasts for slaughter for them to get by without relying solely on hunting. In return, the tribe supplied x number of stockmen at muster time, a period of two to three months. The stockmen would rotate as each would 'go walkabout' after ten days or so. It worked very well, so I'm told, until the unions, backed by the churches, turned up inthe early sixties and demanded that the blacks should be paid 'white man's wages.' Of course the station owners could not afford to do this because it meant paying some 50 men full wages for the full period because nobody could identify who actually clocked on and when.

It is interesting to note the 'slavery' to which your commentator refers was probably preferable to the conditions of 'freedom' in which most poor Londoners lived in the 1850s.

So, the free food and beef stopped and many of the blacks moved to coastal towns where they were plied with sufficient welfare to keep them quietly pissed up until the present day.

Of course this is a vast over simplification and is based on traditional oral history. Being white man's oral history however, it will be dismissed by the socialists.

Adolf Fiinkensein[/quote]?


Day 11 – Halls Creek to Katherine

After a night in the compound following the most appalling dinner known to man we left as soon as the compound gates opened.

The day was fine and clear as we have come to expect and we made good time to our breakfast stop at Turkey Creek. Sausages, Bacon and eggs of a two star standard were enjoyed.

The country side up to the border of WA and NT was grassland and hilly, after the border mostly hilly as we passed through the southern boundary of the Kimberley's.

We passed a brilliantly named little place called Feltchers Creek, I looked high and low and couldn't spot Jordan or Tony anywhere!!?

A dickhead in the restaurant last night warned us about the terrible road from Kununurra onwards to Katherine. What a complete load of crap. A better road probably couldn't be had. After the border the speed limit increased to 130km/h. yes, Northern Territory has done away with unlimited speeds.

We got our second road kill in Northern Territory, a Sand Goanna . Tried to miss him but alas he got smacked by the left wheels.

Stats for Today;

  • Fuel: 105.6l
  • Average Fuel: 11.9l/100
  • Time: 6:57
  • Distance: 887.8km
  • Average Speed: 127.7km/h
  • Total Distance so far: 8957.4km

The Hotel in Katherine is superb, with Wireless hotspot access, a pool, cold beer and a restaurant.?


Day 10 – Broome to Halls Creek

We left the beautiful town of Broome and drove to Halls Creek today. Three main road kill, a 4WD, a Ford falcon and a Toyota Corona….all occupants safe and sound but vehicles busted.

Again it was very interesting scenery, that constantly changed. We went from the norther edge of the Great Sandy Desert to rocky country with jump-ups to Boab trees to savannah grassland type country. After passing Fitzroy Crossing we got the fright of our life as we slowed down to check out what looked like a dead body on the side of the road. It turned out to be an Abo sleeping, literally within inches of cars travelling way over 100km/h, his head popped up as we drove past.

Both Fitzroy Crossing (so named because you cross the "mighty" Fitzroy) and Hall's Creek are sorry-arsed back of nowhere places that leave you depressed. All the windows and doors over every property are barricaded and fortified. Bands of Abo's roam the streets bottles in hand or sit in the middle of wasteland in 30 degree heat like they are at the beach. there are signs up all around town about liquor sales bans. Basically you cannot buy more than a can of beer to take away.

At the motel it is essentially a compound with high barbed wire fences. We are told to be in by 9pm after which they lock the gates which are re-opened at 6am. It is very disconcerting, especially when filling up there are signs to lock your cars whilst paying for the gas. I feel like I am in what I imagine South Africa to be like. On the edge of town there are black polythene shanty hovels erected.

Wow I am gobsmacked by the place. The motel/hotel book says this place is 4 star, let me tell you it is a 1 star at best.

Stats for the Day:

  • Fuel: 85.7l
  • Consumption rate: 12.4l/100
  • Time 5:30
  • Distance 693.3km
  • Average Speed: 125.8km/h
  • Total Distance so Far: 8069.6km

We are well over half way around now.

Day 9 – Port Hedland to Broome

Beautiful day here in Australia today. It is the dry season in the Top End and that means no clouds. The sunrise was simply amazing.

We stopped for breakfast at the Pardoo Roadhouse and enjoyed out 1st equal breakfast. We originally planned to stop at Sand Fire but felt hungry earlier. Just as well because as we pulled into Sand Fire we saw that the road house had burnt to the ground. Apparently it was an electrical fault and caught fire about 8 weeks ago.

There was a great deal more wildlife on the road today, we scored our first kill, a King Brown , we nailed him right in the middle. Plenty of wallabies trying to nail us and let me tell you it is hair raising going from 180km/h to zero whilst trying to avoid the little critters.

Broome looks like a cool little town except it is 28 degrees. I am going to do my dhobi and then shopping.

Stats for today are;

  • Fuel: 85.4l
  • Average Fuel: 14.2l
  • Time 4:10
  • Distance: 603.7km
  • Average Speed: 145.1km/h (new record)
  • Total Distance so far: 7376.3km

Accomodation tonight is in the fabulous Moonlight Bay Suites.

Tomorrow it is off to Hall's Creek where ever the bloody hell that is.


Day 8 – Carnavon – Port Hedland

Today we left Carnavon at 0700 and headed into red earth territory. Again it was "an ever changing scene", with Spinifex , Ant hills, Cattle, Emu and lots of dead roos.

We also saw our first cop on the road, after 6542km, and apparently driving past them at 140km/h if just fine. We then did it again 200km later. So that is two cops in one day!!! Still no tickets. When we get one, I'll photograph the cop and post it, hopefully he will let us off when I tell him why I took his photo.

I also have some random questions;

  1. Why is it that you catch up to a caravan when you are approaching a corner, crest or oncoming traffic?
  2. Why are there so many caravans in Australia?

I also have been wondering if Road Trains get bigger than 3 trailers, I wonder no more after passing several with four!!

We hit our highest petrol costs today at 181.9c per litre. The biggest "paddock" we crossed was 38km's from gate to gate.

Officially we are in the tropics after crossing the Tropic of Capricorn. Port Hedland is a mining and shipping Port and we happen to be staying in a motel dump called the Walkabout Hotel. It is built like the proverbial brick shithouse and looks like one too. At least it has a pool and the air-con works.

Key Stats for today;

  • Fuel: 112.8l
  • Average Consumption 12.8l/100
  • Time: 6:39
  • Distance 880.8km's
  • Average Speed: 132.2km/h
  • Total Distance so far: 6782.6km's

To give you an idea of the distances in volved in driving around Australia, consider that State Highway 1 from Cape Reinga to Wellington Airport is 1106km's. We did that in 8 hours just the other day.? Most days we do a similar distance as Picton to Bluff on SH 1!!!?

Tomorrow we head off to Broome.?