Australia, Meekatharra, Cue and Dalwallinu, 20 – 22 August 2020

The last leg of my journey took an unexpected turn because Murphy decided to remind me who was Boss hahaha.

Total trip distance 11,632 km and 76 days.

 

I left Marble Bar bright and early driving down a good paved road and Murphy made me miss the turnoff to Nullagine which is a gravel road. After about 20 min I realised something was wrong as I was still driving down a paved road that led to a mine site, the roads to the mines are better than some public roads. So I turned around and found the turnoff and straight onto the dirt which continued for 150 km passing through the tiny town of Nullagine, interesting drive with good views. After that I joined the Great Northern Highway and encountered the first of the wide loads travelling very slowly usually in a convoy of at least two. These are trucks carrying the monstrous machines used by the mines and they take up the whole width of the road and require 3 pilot vehicles, one of them a police escort. The police escort preceeds the wide load by about 10km and as soon as you see them you are required to find a spot where you can drive completely off the road. They will contact you by radio and you must acknowledge, this is for trucks not cars. Next pilot vehicle is a few hundred meters in front and again they will contact you by radio, next come the wide loads themselves and behind them the last pilot vehicle. Getting stuck behind them means waiting until you reach pre-determined points where the wide loads can pull over and let following traffic pass, be patient hahaha.  The normal oversize loads have only one pilot vehicle in the front. Avoid the Great Northern Highway and take the coast road as far as possible.

The next morning, my last day on the road or so I thought but Murphy had other plans, I started out early as it was 767 km to Perth and I was hoping to get ahead of some of the wide loads. Not long after I left just as a Semi trailer passed me going the other way I heard a loud bang and a big crack appeared at the base of the windscreen with shards of glass on the dashboard, a big rock and I don’t have windscreen insurance. Note: if travelling on the Great Norther Highway make sure you have windscreen insurance. And I got stuck behind the wide loads again hahaha they must sleep in their cabs and leave at the crack of dawn. After about an hour the Engine started making a loud clattering noise and then I noticed a sign “Cue 10km” so kept going until I reached the town and parked at the Service Station, checked the oil and water and it looked good. I then called the RAC (my Automobile Club) at  8AM and they said it would take a mechanic 4 hours to get to me from Mt.Magnet. The mechanic turned up at 12 and had a look, he noticed that stop leak had been used in the radiator and suspected that there had been overheating problems in the past. He said there was nothing he could do and to have it towed back to Perth as the RAC would pay for the tow. So I got back to the RAC and they managed to find a truck in Cue but it was now too late so they organised accomodation at the local hotel and told me to be ready to leave at 7 AM for the 650 km drive back to Perth, I would be riding in the tow truck with the driver. The weather has become colder and I actually had to turn the air-con to heat in my room.

Cue Walkabout – Once upon a time a Gold rush town with some interesting street art.

Dalwallinu – A wheat belt town where I had to swap tow trucks.

After several calls to the RAC the Tow operator arrived, he turned out to be the Boss and loaded the vehicle onto the tow truck and said they were very short staffed. We then drove to his Depot and had to wait for the driver who was also a local farmer with a small cattle and sheep property (250,000 acres) who did some driving on the side. They complained that they can’t get enough workers here while the Government was paying people a full wage to sit on their hands in Perth hahaha. We finally left at 8:20 AM, uneventful drive to Dalwallinu arriving at 12:20, unloaded the vehicle, had lunch and the driver went back to Cue while I waited for a truck to come from Perth to complete the journey. The second truck arrived at 1425, we loaded up and headed for Perth finally arriving at home at 06:15 PM.

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