President's Report - July 2013
My wife, Sue, and I have just returned from 3 weeks travelling in Western Australia, including two weeks north of the Tropic of Capricorn (aka the winterless north). After flying to Perth, our transport was a Toyota 4WD Troop Carrier – not exactly Peugeot comfort, but admirable for the purpose of travelling on a mix of sealed and unsealed roads in areas that had experienced unseasonable recent heavy rain (Karratha had 200mm in one day, only a week or two before we arrived). The winterless north certainly lived up to expectation, with shorts and T-shirt weather the order of the day (sunny days with maximum temps between 20° and 28°), though nights were a bit chilly on occasion. Just as well, really, as we were camping most of the time.
Some of the places that we stayed included:
- Dalwallinu, a sleepy wheat-belt town about 250km north of Perth; probably our coldest night on the trip.
- Meekatharra, an old gold-mining town, surrounded by big holes in the ground (abandoned open cut mines) and associated hills of mine waste. We had dinner in the Commercial Hotel, the day that Kevin Rudd replaced Julia Gillard as PM. The locals were only interested in State of Origin footy!
- Newman, a mining town next to the biggest open pit iron ore mine in Australia, owned by BHP Billiton; the caravan park was full of mine workers living in ‘dongas’, but the tent area had grass and a cooking shelter. Tom Price (WA’s highest town), another mining town with a big iron ore mine owned by Rio Tiinto; we had a tour of the mine and I collected rocks for my research. We also visited spectacular Hamersley Gorge, in Karijini National Park.
- Munjina Roadhouse, on the highway near Karijini National Park. We stayed overnight in a comfortable (but expensive) motel room; they had run out of diesel fuel, which miffed a few truckies; we were able to refuel the next day after a night-time fuel delivery.
- Dampier, staying with good friend, Ken Mulvaney, an archaeologist who works for Rio Tinto; we spent time with Ken, looking at the wonderful Aboriginal rock engravings nearby. Ken featured in the first episode of the documentary series ‘First Footprints’ that screened on ABC TV recently. Marble Bar, Australia’s hottest town (a world record 160 consecutive days above 100° F in 1923/1924). We arrived the day after the annual race meeting and the camping ground was full; the first night we were serenaded by bagpipes just outside our tent; the second night we made the acquaintance of a lady from Braidwood and talked about mutual friends!
- And, of course, Perth. We stayed in a pleasant hotel in East Perth; visited Kings Park gardens, which includes the big boab tree that was transplanted from the Kimberley region a few years ago and we did a tour of the Perth Mint (including watching a ‘gold pour’).
So, here we are back in cold, wet Canberra...The morning after returning, I jumped in the 508 and pressed the start button only to be met with silence and a dashboard message saying ‘key not detected’. Hmm...since I had the key in my pocket, that message seemed a bit odd, so I rang the Peugeot roadside assistance number. A service guy (not a Peugeot specialist, I might add) turned up in about 30 minutes and we scratched our collective heads. Then he put a battery pack on and tested the battery – the battery was good, but appeared to have run down in the 3 weeks I had been away. Anyway, the car was successfully started and I was on my way. Still not sure why a less than two year old battery would have lost that much charge in only three weeks…
On a brighter note, with the winter solstice now a month in the past, the days are getting significantly longer and the risk of hitting a roo at dawn or dusk will diminish as we get to travel to and from work in daylight. That said, I’d like to encourage members to take the risk and come to the next (after dark) club meeting to be held at 8pm at the Weston Club, with dinner from 7pm, on Tuesday 23 July.
Keep on Pugging,