Avalook at Australia News

Issue Number 30, 7 May 2002

ISSN 1443-0797

Editors: Eric Lindsay and Jean Weber

In this issue...

Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia links
Winter's coming in Australia -- want to ski?
More changes to airline services in Australia - Ansett gone
Where to leave luggage when on a tour with limited space
Nostalgic for the old-fashioned drive-in cinema?
Camps Australia wide: budget conscious travelling
What we've been doing
Subscription information

Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia links

Our travel plans for this year are to head off across northern Australia, down the west coast, across the south coast as far as Port Augusta (north of Adelaide), then home by a route not yet decided.

We've collected some useful links on these pages, which we'll be updating as we do more research:

Northern Territory http://www.avalook.com.au/nt/index.htm
Western Australia http://www.avalook.com.au/wa/index.htm
South Australia http://www.avalook.com.au/sa/index.htm

Most of the really useful information for the outback places we're going we've found on the following websites, but before you can find what you want, you really need to already know the names of the towns or national parks in the areas that interest you. Fortunately, we have lots of detailed maps!

Go to the A-Z index and search for place names. Most of the resulting pages have a wealth of information about things to see and do, the history of a place, places to stay and eat, tours, you name it.
Has a map maker and trip planner, plus links to weather, fuel prices, events, and lots of other information. Some of their info is taken from the Walkabout site.
National Parks in Western Australia
CALM = Dept of Conservation and Land Management
The site is detailed, with maps, opening hours, facilities, tours, all you need to know.
Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission
Useful, informative site; although some parks don't yet have detailed information on the site, most do.
South Australia Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs
Good maps, searching, lists of facilities and fees, etc, including passes good for various combinations of time and parks in South Australia.
The Nullarbor
The long stretch of coast along the Great Australian Bight, from approximately Esperence (WA) to Port Augusta (SA) is known as the Nullarbor. This website has an impressive collection of information about the area and is very well organised, so you can easily find what you need.

Not surprisingly, most of the tourist-oriented sites focus on the primary tourist areas and don't have much if any information on less well known (or less easily reached) places. And a lot of popular areas have changed their names in the past few years, from a European name to an Aboriginal name, though in most cases a park or feature is indexed under both names.

While researching this trip, we discovered many interesting places that we'd never heard of before. You might be interested to look up some of the places we plan to visit on our trip. Here's a list -- a map is coming soon!

Northern Territory
Barkly Homestead, Borroloola, Elsey N.P., Cutta Cutta Caves N.P., Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) N.P., Darwin, Litchfield Park, Kakadu N.P., Gregory N.P. (Timber Creek), Mirima N.P., Keep River N.P.
Western Australia
Kununurra, Lake Argyle, Wyndham, flying tour to Argyle Diamond Mine, Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) N.P., Broome (most of the Kimberley we'll do on another trip), Port Hedland, Newman (because we know someone who lives there), Wittenoom, Karijini (Hamersley Range) N.P., Millstream-Chichester N.P., Karratha, Cape Range N.P., Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, Francois Peron N.P., Kalbarri N.P., Hutt River Province, Shark Bay Marine Park (Monkey Mia), Lesueur N.P., Nambung N.P., the Nullarbor.
We aren't planning to visit much of southwestern W.A. (we're leaving that for another trip), so we haven't listed here the many national parks and other places of interest in that part of the state.
South Australia
The Nullarbor (see Nullarbor site for place names) and Port Augusta. Not sure where else! Lots of good choices, but we'll probably leave them until another trip.


Winter's coming in Australia -- want to ski?

Yes, there are vast ski fields in NSW and Victoria. While extensive, the mountains are not as high as those in Europe and North America and hence there are less dramatic runs. The ski season is about June to October.

It's not our sport (snow is **cold** especially when you fall in it a lot, like we do), but if it's yours, you might find this site helpful as well as interesting.

For lots of stuff about skiing in Australia, including the locations of ski resorts, costs, facilities, and all the other stuff skiers need to know, go to http://www.ski.com.au/


More changes to airline services in Australia - Ansett gone

Last issue I mentioned that the airline situation in Australia has been changing almost weekly since mid-2001. The latest news (now rather old) is that Ansett went out of business completely in early March when the purchasers failed to finalise the deal. Regional flights provided by Kendell, Aeropelican, Skywest, Flight West and Hazelton continue to operate. Their websites say what towns they fly between.

Kendell http://www.kendell.com.au/
Aeropelican http://www.aeropelican.com.au/
Skywest http://www.skywest.com.au/
Flight West http://www.flightwest.com.au/
Hazelton http://www.hazelton.com.au/

There are several other regional airlines, many of which are associated with Qantas. One that appears to be independent is Northwest Regional Airlines http://www.northwestregional.com.au/


Where to leave luggage when on a tour with limited space

Most outback tour companies provide storage for visitors' luggage if their vehicle can't carry all of it. Many of the overnight 4-wheel-drive tours have very limited luggage space, so they won't take a full pack or large suitcase, or more than one bag per person. It's a good idea to have a soft-sided bag (no larger than a US-sized airline carry-on bag, but without wheels) with you if you're planning to take such a tour.

Another place to leave luggage: if you're staying at the same accommodation (hotel/motel) before and after your tour, the hotel/motel will often keep your bags until you return. Do check what their security arrangements are, especially if you have anything particularly valuable; some places are fairly casual about locking up bags, while others have better security.


Nostalgic for the old-fashioned drive-in cinema?

Here's a website about one of Australia's drive-in cinemas still operating. http://www.drive-in.com.au/

I love their slogan! "If you don't like the movie, slash the seats."

For more general information about drive-ins in Australia, and mention of some others still working, visit http://www.drive-insdownunder.com.au/


Camps Australia wide: budget conscious travelling

If you're driving a motorhome or campervan, or towing a caravan, you may not always want to stay in caravan parks, but you may also not want to camp off the road, especially in areas where 4WD is needed. In some parts of the country (particularly in the main tourist areas on the east coast), you often cannot legally park overnight in a rest area, picnic area, or other recreation spot. But once you get further into the countryside, there are many places where you can stop overnight for free.

Philip Procter provides an extensive compilation of free and low-cost places to stop overnight, titled "Camps Australia Wide: The Ultimate Guide for the Budget Conscious Traveller". Released in April 2003, the second edition of this popular book is available in two versions. Section-sewn RRP A$42.95. Spiral-bound RRP A$45.95. It is available from http://www.campsaustraliawide.com/ or PO Box 828, Cooroy QLD 4563; phone 07-54425554, fax 07-54425551.If you think the price is a bit high, consider that if it helps you save just two or three nights' camping fees, then it's paid for itself.


What we've been doing

Yet another long gap between issues... what have we been doing? In early February, Jean flew off to the USA for two months, mostly to visit her mother. While there, she finished writing another computer book and worked on plans for our around- Australia trip later this year.

Eric stayed home and endured the hottest, driest (but very humid) summer in many, many years in the Airlie Beach area, while dealing with motorhome-related things like getting it registered for another year and having essential maintenance done. We think Jean had by far the better deal!

Jean arrived home just before Easter, to be greeted by nearly a week of perfect weather: hot (around 31C), not too humid, few clouds, comfortable water temperature in the lagoon -- the sort of weather that gives Queensland its motto of "Beautiful one day, perfect the next!"

Since then we've been preparing for this year's trip, some of which I've described earlier in this newsletter.


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