MG 4510

On the road: Perth to Cervantes

I took the bus and train to pick up our Camper while Keryn stayed behind and finished packing all our stuff. The camper we were assigned looked a little beaten up and was registered in South Australia, so obviously had already done a number of journeys. The back of the camper had been modified with a wooden frame fitted providing a number of compartments to hold stuff and lids to go over the top which made a flat surface for sleeping on. There were four simple foam single mattresses to give some level of comfort and a number of curtain cords strung up with some tired looking curtains attached to give a modicum of privacy. At the back was another wooden frame construction that supported a small bench top with built-in sink. A tap was attached to a water canister so we could rinse dishes and wash things with the sink piped to empty underneath the vehicle. There were a few shelves holding a seemingly random assortment of cutlery, old plates and beaten up pans for cooking with. There was also a small, old chilly-bin (esky, cooler box etc) to store perishables. We had already assumed we’d need to have a good shop before we set off, we just needed to make sure we picked up a few extra things now.

I was given a five minute show around the vehicle, with various dents and cracks already marked off on the rental form. I wasn’t shown how to use the 4WD controls, something that would cause a few issues later on in the trip. All in all it was OK, nothing more. Keryn and I both have GPS on our phones and we have a SatNav application called Navigon loaded to provide directions (Navigon is free for our phones in Australia and this includes all the maps for Australia and NZ, which is a bonus). I set it up to direct me back to Michelle and Mikes place and I was off down the road to fill up with diesel (the vehicle was pretty much empty when picked up).

It didn’t take long to get home, even with a couple of unusual diversions I took when I mistook the navigation instructions. Keryn had everything packed so we were able to load the vehicle up before heading to the local supermarket for some shopping. In addition to food and water we also bought a sharp knife, a small chopping board, a non-stick spoon for use when cooking, zip-lock bags for storing food and packed lunches, some tea towels, disinfectant spray, some clothes for wiping down surfaces, paper towels and a bunch of other things we thought we might need. With everything purchased and loaded up we were set to go, heading off just before lunchtime.

MG 4510Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Our first stop on the road.

We were using the SatNav mainly to give us estimates on time for each leg of the journey, we also had a map book and documents we’d printed before leaving NZ with some of the highlights. Our plan for day one was to drive to Cervantes, stopping if we came across anything interesting along the way. This meant a drive of around 250km. Inside the vehicle on the dash were a number of stickers warning to always check the oil and water and advising to not overheat the engine. To this end a separate temperature gauge had been installed on the drivers side giving an engine temperature reading and in the end we tended to drive based on the temperature more than the speed. With outside temperatures normally around 35+ degrees reaching the speed limit of 110km/h on the open road was a dream, normally we were restricted to between 80 and 90km/h as the engine temperature approached the warning level of 105 degrees. We figured we weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere so this wasn’t an issue. The vehicle had air-conditioning which we used a lot of the time and we had an iTrip to give us access to an ipod for music which we could just hear over the constant rattle of the vehicle as we drove.

Leaving Perth we were soon driving through countryside, the landscape becoming more arid with red dusty fields dominating the scenery. There were plenty of trees around but the vegetation tended to be thin. It was hot and dry but also clear, blue skies with only hints of cloud occasionally appearing. We stopped a few times for snacks and to check out the scenery, at the Emu Downs wind farm we had a look at the giant towers and read about the site. This would be the first of many wind farms we saw on our drive, wind obviously a constant presence on this open landscape. I grabbed a few photos of our vehicle, the back end graffiti on our vehicle “Have a sex change, swap your partner” actually not too bad considering what it could have been. In fact I don’t think we saw anything particuly offensive on any of the multiple Wicked vans and campers we passed by over the coming days.

MG 4517Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Checking out the Emu Downs wind farm and our camper.

At Cervantes we found a spot to stay for the night at the Cervantes Pinnacles Caravan Park. We arrived fairly late in the afternoon and didn’t hang around at the caravan park for long as we wanted to catch the sunset at the nearby Pinnacles, a well known tourist attraction in the Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles are limestone rocks slowly being eroded as they stand in the desert landscape, hundreds of them dotting the landscape. There is a dirt and sand ring road that travels through the park giving good access to the area and we found our way there as the sun was beginning to set. We found a place to stop and got out to walk among the rocks and take photos and this is where we first encountered the annoying flies of Western Australia. The flies don’t really do much other than be annoying, they don’t bite thankfully. They are however very tenacious and once they’ve found you they hang around, buzzing around the head and just being very annoying.

We walked and surveyed the different views. Keryn headed up to a high point where she could see the sunset while I wandered around taking photos of the last light hitting the Pinnacles. There were not many people around and with a breeze blowing to cool the air it was a stark and beautiful landscape.

MG 4530Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Evening light on the Pinnacles.

MG 4540Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The wind and sand carves the limestone rocks into strange shapes.
The final glow of the sun upon a rocky outcrop.

MG 4562Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Dusk.

As it got darker we headed back to the caravan park in Cervantes, a couple of dopey looking kangaroos watching us from the side of the road as we drove past. We cooked and ate dinner in the camp kitchen before getting ready for our first night in the campervan. We strung a few travellers washing lines up to provide some extra cover in vehicle, towels providing a screen from the front. The mattresses were surprisingly comfortable but also a little short, both of us having to sleep either with bent legs or alternatively finding an angle to poke our legs through the gaps in the end of the vehicle shelving. An alarm was set so we could drive off in the morning to catch sunrise over the pinnacles and then we slept.

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