Saturday was the first day for a while that we woke to a bright sunny day, although there was a very chilly wind which followed us all day. We made a slow start and after chatting with some fellow travellers, we left Mount Magnet at about 10.00 am.
We headed north along the Great Northern Highway, past an almost dry but apparently huge Lake Austin. The drive today featured heavy road train traffic and a lot of road-kill including an emu and several cattle.
We stopped at the town of Cue for our morning break and had a walk around looking for coffee. Cue is an attractive town with some amazing stone buildings and iron sculptures. One really impressive building is the combined Post Office, Police Station and Courthouse – built in the late 1890s, this building is still used for its original purpose. Gold was officially found there in 1891, which was actually before Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, when Tom Cue registered the area’s first gold claim. In its heyday it had a population of 10,000 people and 11 pubs. Very few people live there today. There was a very impressive general store/supermarket/newsagent/lotto agent/etc, but no coffee. We reverted to our standby thermos of boiling water and a coffee bag in the caravan.
From Cue we continued north and stopped at a rest area about 20 kms south of Meekathara for lunch.
We then continued on to Meekathara and although we cruised through town quite slowly to get a bit of a feel for the place, we didn’t feel comfortable about stopping. Further up the highway was a rest area that we thought could be a potential free camp for an overnight stay. Although there was lots of space and it was obvious that plenty of people had camped there in the past, we thought that there were a few too many empty Jim Beam cans and doughnuts in the dirt to feel really comfortable, so we continued further out of town along the highway.
Just a quick comment about free camping in this area. We had planned to be doing quite a lot of free camping on this adventure but we are simply not finding very many suitable spots. Much of the area we have been driving through in the past week or so consists of flood plains, and there has been some recent heavy rain. There is a fair bit of water along the road side and as a result many potential free camp sites, as listed in the Camps 7 book, are just too wet and too much of a risk for us in our big rig. Hopefully further on we will have more luck finding better free camping spots.
Our eventual destination was Karalundi Caravan and Camping Park, which had been recommended to us by some fellow travellers at Mt Magnet. When we arrived it looked quite inviting but we couldn’t find anyone to actually book in with, so we temporarily set up camp in the carpark outside the café and got out our chairs and books. Eventually the manager turned up and showed us to a suitable spot and said that we could fill out the paperwork in the morning. We chose an unpowered site as we are fully self contained but wanted the reassurance of being in a safe place. Not long after us another caravan arrived with three young kids and a baby. Obviously they wanted to feel safe for the night also.
There was no mobile, internet or TV reception at Karalundi, so after a delicious tea cooked in the caravan, we watched a DVD and had an early night.