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First stop, Mildura
First stop, Mildura
Stopping at the Big Galah
Nullabor Plain
Kalgoorlie border

Sydney to Perth

Thursday, June 27, 2002
This is the big drive — covering 4000 kilometres in around 10 days and raising a lot of money for some worthy charities. Read the story and Bid for the JEEP!

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This is the big drive — Sydney to Perth. Ben and the crew covered 4000 kilometres over 10 days, met some wonderful people and raised a lot of money for some worthy charities.

The first stop was Mildura, 953 kilometres from Sydney, just across the Victorian border. The town is an oasis after driving for hours through dry and desolate country and the main road leading in is lined with palms and eucalypts.

Mildura is one of Australia's richest agricultural areas, producing quality fruit and wine. It thrives on an excellent irrigation system and is popular with tourists and seasonal transient workers.

Local radio station STAR-FM invited Ben to auction his services, and the generous business community quickly raised $10,000 which went to Chances for Children. Ben had to earn those dollars and was put to work in the bar and bottleshop at the Edge Hotel, dressed as a barmaid.

The next leg was 470 kilometres to Port Augusta, on the tip of Spencer Gulf in South Australia. It was charted by Matthew Flinders in 1802 and is the staging point for tours of the Flinders Ranges and Birdsville Track.

About 440 kilometres west on the Great Australian Bight is Ceduna, which has a population of just 2877. Its name is derived from the Aboriginal word chedoona, which means resting place … and that is exactly what it is. There are motels, caravan parks and lots of great weather for enjoying the beaches of Murat Bay before heading across the Nullarbor.

Another 523 kilometres takes you across the Western Australia border to Eucla. It has spectacular dunes and the beautiful remains of a telegraph repeater and weather station which began operation in 1877. The ruins are slowly being engulfed by moving sand, giving it an eerie appearance. Eucla National Park is 33 square kilometres of Delisser Sandhills, the high limestone Wilson Bluff and mallee scrub and heath.

An 806 km drive north-west takes you to the old gold mining town of Kalgoorlie. Western Australia was established in 1829, but was quite lacklustre until the first gold strike in 1887. The welcome metal soon petered out but later strikes attracted more people and the state became viable in its own right.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the only town of any size remaining and its buildings are evidence of the wealth the town enjoyed. It is a town of golden-age architecture, raucous pubs, bush two-up played in a corrugated-iron amphitheatre, and enormous mining operations. It is Western Australia's second-largest place after Perth.

At one time Kalgoorlie had several brothels and 93 pubs, and there remains a hangover from the 19th century. In Hannan Street you will see a blend of Victorian, Edwardian, Moorish and Art Nouveau styles giving a bizarre variety of facades, footpaths, verandahs and walls.

Rarely mentioned in travel brochures is Kalgoorlie's block-long strip of brothels. They have been generally accepted for so long and are such a part of the town's history that a blind eye is turned to them.

One of Kalgoorlie's leading bordellos is Langtrees, and during daylight hours when business is quiet, curious visitors pay to have a look through the premises.

Again, Ben's services were put to auction, this time on Radio 6KG, and another bidding frenzy began. A timber yard and a furniture supplier were bidding against each other, but were outbid by Langtrees for an amount of $2500. Ben was given general cleaning duties to perform and was pleased to hand over the money to the local Rotary Club, who intend to put it towards a hospice run by an order of nuns.

There are ghost towns and towns nearing that status around the area, and in spring everything is a carpet of magnificent wildflowers, attracting many tourists.

The final stretch is 612 kilometres to Perth. En route you will enter the Shire of Coolgardie, made up of two towns, Coolgardie and Kambalda. It has a number of interesting attractions, including one of the most magnificent buildings in the area. The 1989 Warden's Court building is home to the Goldfields Exhibition Museum and Tourist Centre. The warden's residence, built in 1985, has been restored by the National Trust and is bursting with history.

Lion's Lookout gives a good view of the landscape and there is an open-air display dedicated to a long-time resident, Ben Prior, who spent his life collecting interesting memorabilia. If you fancy a ride on a ship of the desert, Coolgardie Camel Farm opens at 10am each day.

There are plenty of day trips so visit the tourist office, grab some picnic food and enjoy this marvellous part of Australia.


From Sydney across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth.

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