Report by Ian Yarker
26 tagalongers in 14 recreational vehicles travelled the official 10,200 klm, 78 day tour during mid August to late October and could not believe what they were experiencing.
They commenced in a shearing shed west of Port Augusta, travelled across the Nullarbor Plain, which proved most interesting especially visiting the Southern Wright Whales and Calves, then on through Salmon Gum forests to Kalgoorlie to experience the many and varied interest spots like Raceday, Gold Mine tour, Hay Street and R.FDS base.
Having entered the WA Gold Fields region they travelled north through Leinster, Mount Magnet and on to Meekathara where an R.FDS Pilot shared an hour of his private time, before proceeding on to Karalundi and entering the East Pilbarra and Hammersley Ranges at Newman. Dining in the BHP Mess Hall and visiting the mine went down well. On to iconic Karijini National Park then Tom Price mine tour on the way to Port Hedland where they travelled by bus, car and boat inspecting the huge ore port with staggering logistics, infra structure, driverless trains, road trains, mindless ore volumes and salt, all of huge economic significance.
Southward along the coast through early now abandoned settlements and more big mining and the fantastic Northwest shelf gas plant they began to see wild flowers, Red Dog country, desert to the coastline, ocean cliffs, ancient river gorges and seriously grand landscape scenery.
Travelling down the WA coast in spring on a good rain year brings color and joy to everything. Seeing stromatolites at Shark Bay, pristine beaches, fringing coral, red soil, white beach, blue sea and cloudless sky, endless sand dunes cloaked in wild flowers amid low windswept shrubs all capped off with a 4WD trip to the most westerly point on the mainland, challenged the best cameras.
Meeting Rotary Clubs, seeing the rare Wreath flowers, visiting the largest grain handling terminal in Australia, Private tours of a Cathedral, MHAS Sydney 11 Memorial, a Rotary Club initiative, a Pink Lake, more wild flowers, lobster Co-op, a National Park with 900 native species, the spectacular Pinnacles and on into Perth. Wow!
Perth is a beautiful modern visitor friendly City appreciated by all. 3 different coach tours visited amazing Kings Park in full bloom, Fremantle, Rottnest Island, Swan Valley and oh so much more and also a wonderful Belmont Rotary Club meeting.
By contrast they travelled inland to Wave Rock and back via Tin Horse Highway to rejoin the coast and explore the very green, heavily timbered and intensive agricultural and viticulture regions of the South West corner. Mandurah, Busselton, Margaret River, Augusta and Manjimup revealed wineries and associated goodies designed to tempt and delight everyone.
On to Albany, Hopetown and Esperance with amazing granitic coastal scenery, National Parks of Cape La Grand and Fitzgerald River revealing yet different wildflowers, scenery and wow factor plus , caves, granitic outcrops, vast wheat crops, contented cattle, sheep, Alpaca, Marron, Seafood, Coffee, bakeries and 2 Rotary Clubs that joined to share insight into their community. One Club owns an 1800 acre farm, the other a 34 bed retirement village.
Finally back across the Nullarbor to Streaky Bay, again through SA wheat crops stretching over the horizon and finally a great Pub meal to signal the official close. But the scenery, the friendships, the shared achievements of discovering orchids, flowers, rocks, refreshments, foods, coffee stops and knowing they achieved a tour which will just get richer for all the many and varied memories reflects a most successful Tagalong Tour 2018. It surely was an eye opener.