We are travelling around parts of Australia. Our route will take us through South Australia,
the Northern Territory, Western Australia and back across the Nullabor back home. Something
Home to Nhill. (393 kms)
After a huge day and night packing we left at 10:55am, about two hours later than the intended
departure time, however at least it was on the planned day. It wasn't looking like it would
happen at one stage.
Due to this delayed departure, we didn't make it to our intended destination of Tailem Bend in
South Australia but stopped at Nhill, still in Victoria. There was no one at the caravan park
office but they had a sign on the door to set-up and they'd catch up with us later. Amenities
looked clean and well kept. A train went past somewhere fairly nearby and Corey declared it
was a Diesel. No doubt correct, but we were hoping it was the last one for the night. It wasn't!
Dinner was microwaved Pasta Bake that Glenda had prepared the night before. That was followed by
ice-cream, fruit and cake. Not too bad for our first night on the road.
Due to this delayed departure, we didn't make it to our intended destination of Tailem Bend in South Australia but stopped at Nhill, still in Victoria. There was no one at the caravan park office but they had a sign on the door to set-up and they'd catch up with us later. Amenities looked clean and well kept. A train went past somewhere fairly nearby and Corey declared it was a Diesel. No doubt correct, but we were hoping it was the last one for the night. It wasn't!
Dinner was microwaved Pasta Bake that Glenda had prepared the night before. That was followed by ice-cream, fruit and cake. Not too bad for our first night on the road.
Nhill to Port Augusta (658 kms)
Up early for 9am departure. Lots of driving with stops for petrol, the toilet and lunch. The boys
played cards, watched a movie and drew some pictures. Arrived at caravan park and after having
trouble getting the bed fly pegs into the ground we luckily persevered as it started to rain
Tea was Risotto. Having prepared meals for the first few nights, particularly after long days driving
is a big help.
Tea was Risotto. Having prepared meals for the first few nights, particularly after long days driving is a big help.
Port Augusta to Bon Bon Rest Area (383 kms)
Almost packed up and it rained again. Had to wait a few minutes to complete the job by sheltering under a tree.
Had a short detour to go shopping for a few items and then headed out of town for Coober Pedy. Stopped for
a look at the Missile Park at Woomera. Continued on towards Coober Pedy but decided there were too many
kilometre's to go for the amount of daylight left so decided to stop at a rest area. Pulled into one that
someone else was already beginning to set-up camp and thought safety in numbers was a good idea. While Glenda got
tea underway the boys went and collected some wood for a campfire. We toasted marshmallows and chatted to fellow
travellers Les and Laurie.
Bon Bon Rest Area to Coober Pedy (165 kms)
Good nights sleep even though several road trains barrelling past. Booked into Stuart Ranges Caravan Park in
Coober Pedy and had a chat to our neighbours, Bill and Phyll from Albany. They are wheat farmers so lots in
common to chat about. Drove around the town and decided you'd need to find a lot of opals on a regular basis
to want to live here. Went to an underground church then old underground mine and house. Quite interesting
but also quite stuffy. Afterwards we drove out to see the Dog fence and the area called the Breakaways. Had
pizza for tea from the onsite pizza shop with all the other caravan park residents. Was very popular and
we had a long wait to get ours.
Coober Pedy to Erldunda Roadhouse (482 kms)
Nigel did early morning shop as the shops got there supplies overnight and were open early. Brendan and Corey played on the
playground while Glenda readied camper for travel. Saw lots of eagles munching on dead kangaroos. One had been
hit, obviously too busy eating to move. Stopped at Marla for lunch and ice-creams. Chatted to fellow caravaners
who had come along the Oodnadatta track where it had been -6 overnight. Next stop was the Northern Territory border
where we took the usual photos standing in front of the sign. Nothing fancy for tea this time, a variety of noodles
and pasta from packets.
Erldunda Roadhouse to Yalara (291 kms incl sunset viewing of Uluru)
Short run today out to Yalara, the town near Uluru. Quite cold overnight with 2.5 celsuis registering on the
thermometer. Tried to trick Corey with another "There's Uluru" when we sighted Mt Connor but he's a bit wary
of the numerous lumps of earth that 'could' be Uluru. Stopped and took some photos then continued to the real
Uluru. Glenda spotted it but the road runs between what are probably sand dunes under the vegetation and it
took awhile before Corey got to see it for real. He was very excited. We booked into the Ayers Rock Resort
campgrounds and set up camp. Some household tasks of washing and making lunch were completed before heading out
to the sunset viewing area. Drove around to the area where you can climb to access if the boys can have a go. It
did look steep but they shot up the first few meters with ease. We then returned to the sunset viewing area to join
the crowds to experience sunset at the rock. The moon was rising over Uluru which added to the spectacle. Afterwards
we went back to camp for tea.
Ulura Climb (40 kms)
Nigel got up early to take some sunrise photos while everyone else slept in. After breakfast we drove out to
Uluru to attempt the climb. We tied Corey to Mum and Brendan to Dad using some webbing we brought along for the
purpose. Up the chain we went, stopping a few times to catch our breath. Corey was leading the way and setting
a cracking pace. Once to the top of the chained section we had a dotted line to follow. Along the way there
were some magnificent views and rock formations. It took us 1 1/4hrs to make the ascent, we then enjoyed an apple
and rest for 3/4hr before taking 3/4hr to descend. We decided going up test your heart and lungs, coming down
tests your legs and footwear. We were glad we'd hunted around for some decent walking shoes for all of us. We
enjoyed the adventure.
Back at camp we made lunch, Nige did some shopping while Glenda cut the boys hair. Nige headed off for more sunset photos while Glenda made tea, beef casserole with boiled rice. The rightmost picture was taken by moonlight. 30 seconds @ f4 for the photo buffs.
Kata Tjuta (The Olga's) (130 kms)
Today was a drive out to Kata Tjuta, otherwise known as The Olga's. Or should that be the other way round? One thing I can say is we don't know how to pronounce Kata Tjuta, and the boys call them "The Ogres" (after Shriek) anyway. Stopped of at the sunrise viewing area for photos even though we were a fair way behind sunrise. First real need for fly nets and have added them to our shopping list. Next stop was the "Valley of the Winds" walk where we strolled to the first lookout and then a bit further to the junction of the loop section. We had lunch on a seat under a shady tree.
Yalara to Kings Canyon Resort (300 kms)
Left Yalara after stocking up with some provisions. First stop for the morning was the Mt Connor lookout for a toilet stop. Good value for money from that one! A little later stopped to gather firewood. Kings Canyon Resort is the nearest campground to Kings Canyon and so is fairly busy. They only had unpowered sites available so we signed up for two nights and selected a somewhat grassy site. Played footy with some other campers, Mark and his dad Peter (who we catch up with later). More sunset photos, this time it's the George Gill Ranges and then back to the camper for tea of fried battered fish and the usual veggies. Sweets were pancakes followed by oranges.
Kings Canyon Rim Walk (20 kms)
Arrived at Kings Canyon for 9:30am start to the rim walk. Glenda and I both had colds so found the initial climb of
about 500 steps a bit harder than we would have otherwise. We had to ask the boys to wait for us a couple of times.
One thing we have observed on some of these activities is the attitude some people take in regard to water. There are
warnings in all the brochures and some signs at the sites about taking enough water with you but so often you see
people with none or maybe a single bottle between two.
Around the walk we took our time making many stops for photo opportunities. The 'canyon' is an impressive sight. We
had lunch in a shady area created by a rock outcrop. As we'd taken the 1st half of the journey fairly slowly we
decided not to make the 600m side track to the Garden of Eden waterhole but it looked quite nice from above. We
pushed on and completed the walk in about 3 & 3/4 hours. Back at the campgrounds we had a lazy afternoon before a meal
of chicken schnitzel with gravy and veggies. The promise of an ice cream if tea was finished before the time the
shop shut saw Corey eat his in record time. Also tried to buy a Mereenie Loop pass but was informed can only buy them
on the day of travel.
Around the walk we took our time making many stops for photo opportunities. The 'canyon' is an impressive sight. We had lunch in a shady area created by a rock outcrop. As we'd taken the 1st half of the journey fairly slowly we decided not to make the 600m side track to the Garden of Eden waterhole but it looked quite nice from above. We pushed on and completed the walk in about 3 & 3/4 hours. Back at the campgrounds we had a lazy afternoon before a meal of chicken schnitzel with gravy and veggies. The promise of an ice cream if tea was finished before the time the shop shut saw Corey eat his in record time. Also tried to buy a Mereenie Loop pass but was informed can only buy them on the day of travel.
Kings Canyon Resort to Glen Helen Resort (234 kms)
Woken at approx 5:30am by howling dingos. Reminded us of our little mutts that can howl similar at times. After
breaky went and purchased some supplies and the Mereenie Loop pass. Didn't buy a kangaroo tail ($5) that was available
at the roadhouse. Left at 9:45am and started on the Merennie Loop. The first 20kms was rather rough and corrugated.
We stopped to install our stone guard, some shade cloth strung between car and camper. Appeared to work very well except
the rear section in the middle must have been flapping up and down enough to hit the road and wear through. Will need
to fashion repairs before the Gibb River Road. Drove into Gooses Bluff which tested out the 4WD capability of camper.
We found the Mereenie Loop road to be over-rated, the brochure stated the beauty of the area but there was nowhere
to stop off the road and admire the scenery. Some parts of the road had been recently graded and where quite smooth,
other sections especially that first 20kms were pretty rough, both corrugations and rocks. A road crew where working on
one section and we were escorted though by a ute. They had just watered the road and both car and camper ended up
covered in red mud. One bottle of chilli sauce managed to have it's lid
unscrew and made a bit of a mess in the fridge. Since we had no flat tyres we were happy.
We pulled into Glen Helen Resort (not sure why they decided to call it this, it could hardly be described as such
truthfully however it was fine) and set up camp. Went for a walk to the waterhole and admired the scenery. Tea
was chicken fried rice cooked in the electric frypan. Couldn't have been to bad as boys ate their servings completely,
without complaint and in record time. Sweets was oranges.
We found the Mereenie Loop road to be over-rated, the brochure stated the beauty of the area but there was nowhere to stop off the road and admire the scenery. Some parts of the road had been recently graded and where quite smooth, other sections especially that first 20kms were pretty rough, both corrugations and rocks. A road crew where working on one section and we were escorted though by a ute. They had just watered the road and both car and camper ended up covered in red mud. One bottle of chilli sauce managed to have it's lid unscrew and made a bit of a mess in the fridge. Since we had no flat tyres we were happy.
We pulled into Glen Helen Resort (not sure why they decided to call it this, it could hardly be described as such truthfully however it was fine) and set up camp. Went for a walk to the waterhole and admired the scenery. Tea was chicken fried rice cooked in the electric frypan. Couldn't have been to bad as boys ate their servings completely, without complaint and in record time. Sweets was oranges.
Glen Helen Resort to Alice Springs (189 kms)
A powerpoint blew up and all power to camper stopped. Decided to make our way into Alice Springs to see if we could
find someone to fit a new one. On the way, we stopped at Ormiston Gorge and spent a while admiring the beauty of the
gorge. The parking does not cater for cars with vans so we took up about 6 angle parking spots. Some others had done
the same but it was a quiet day and we didn't inconvenience anyone. Down the road a bit further, we noticed some
interesting rock formations, rows of skinny rocks with jagged edges which looked like a Stegasaurus, pity the dinosaur
devote, Corey, was asleep at the time.
Next stop was Stanley Chasm. There were quite a few cars leaving on the road in so we thought we were going to be to
late but although on the walk up to the chasm someone coming down offered Glenda the advice of "next time bring a
torch as you've missed it" but we reckon we got the perfect viewing with all the crowds gone.
Next stop was Stanley Chasm. There were quite a few cars leaving on the road in so we thought we were going to be to late but although on the walk up to the chasm someone coming down offered Glenda the advice of "next time bring a torch as you've missed it" but we reckon we got the perfect viewing with all the crowds gone.
We made our way to the MacDonnell Range caravan park and checked in to the overflow area. For tea we went to a pub with Peter, Karen and son Mark who we'd met at Kings Canyon. They were camped just nearby and spotted us as we drove in to setup in the overflow area. Had a good feed and chat.
Alice Springs to Chambers Pillar (171 kms)
During the night Glenda noticed the power had gone out again. After unsuccessfully trying to locate an electrician, a
nearby caravanner suggested plugging in his lead and we had power back. As our power lead was too short to reach
the powerbox we had borrowed one from the park. I had tried disconnecting and reconnecting these to no avail, yet
when I re-plugged it back in after trying the known good one, it also burst back into life. More on this saga later.
After breakfast packed up camper and left it in the storage area. Went up to the main city centre to get some supplies
and visit McDonalds for lunch. Next we found the road to Maryvale and started the long run on the corrugations out
to Chambers Pillar. Stopped for a look at the Ewaninga rock carvings. Next stop was Maryvale station to ask advice
on gathering some wood and buy the boys an ice-cream. 4 ice-creams and 2 drinks cost $17.80 which would have been
ok if the backpacker manning the shop knew anything at all about the area, which she didn't. We stopped up the road a
bit and gathered some wood for a fire. The final few kilometres into the camp grounds was a fairly narrow track with
sand dunes that were hard to see over. We selected a site for our tent and erected it like we knew what we were doing!
Went and took some photos then cooked tea. Free gas powered BBQs were provided but our BBQ plate wouldn't fit and we
had to use our gas bottle. Toasted marshmallows under the clear night sky. The Milky Way was so bright.
After breakfast packed up camper and left it in the storage area. Went up to the main city centre to get some supplies and visit McDonalds for lunch. Next we found the road to Maryvale and started the long run on the corrugations out to Chambers Pillar. Stopped for a look at the Ewaninga rock carvings. Next stop was Maryvale station to ask advice on gathering some wood and buy the boys an ice-cream. 4 ice-creams and 2 drinks cost $17.80 which would have been ok if the backpacker manning the shop knew anything at all about the area, which she didn't. We stopped up the road a bit and gathered some wood for a fire. The final few kilometres into the camp grounds was a fairly narrow track with sand dunes that were hard to see over. We selected a site for our tent and erected it like we knew what we were doing! Went and took some photos then cooked tea. Free gas powered BBQs were provided but our BBQ plate wouldn't fit and we had to use our gas bottle. Toasted marshmallows under the clear night sky. The Milky Way was so bright.
Chambers Pillar to Alice Springs and Rainbow Valley (344 kms)
Everyone had a cosey nights sleep in the tent, it was much warmer than we thought it would be. Nige went to take
sunrise pictures while we slept in. We got up and were having breakfast when he returned. Packed up camp and
went for a walk around Chambers Pillar and climbed the stairs to the platform. It was much higher than we initially
thought. It was interesting to see the names of the original explorers engraved in the rock.
They went and picked up some hot roasted chickens and rolls for tea while we setup the camper at our new site. Left at 3pm and along the way decided to pickup some wood to have a campfire so we could toast some more marshmallows. Once we'd parked and determined some campers already there wouldn't mind us lighting a fire in the fireplace near them, we went for a walk to the featured rock outcrop and another called Mushroom Rock. Back at the camping/picnic area we had our tea and the kids played various games including football. The marshmallows got toasted then we packed up and headed back to Alice Springs.
Alice Springs (20 kms)
Was a cold morning (1C @ 7am) and we didn't want to get out of bed. Glenda did 4 loads of washing, all at once! It was
pancake morning in the caravan park but by the time we got there the line was so long we decided to give it a miss. Went out
to the Old Ghan Railway Museum but unfortunately the train wasn't running. Some government issue with a clearance needed
to be issued before they could use the track. Had a look through the museum which was quite interesting. Was told the
current Ghan was arriving from Adelaide at 12:20pm so we went up to Heavitree Gap to watch, but after waiting an hour
and a half, it still hadn't appeared so we went back for lunch. Heard it go past about 3:15pm but were over it so didn't
race down to catch a glimpse.
After lunch the kids played at the playground and on the jumping pillow. Caught up with Karen, Peter and Mark to
hear how their last couple of days had gone. They had spotted a few black rock wallaby's so were happy. Went out for tea
with Susie, Vic and kids. Most places were closed so we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant adjoining the
appropriately named 'The Dust Bowl' bowling alley. All enjoyed their meals once we got them.
After lunch the kids played at the playground and on the jumping pillow. Caught up with Karen, Peter and Mark to hear how their last couple of days had gone. They had spotted a few black rock wallaby's so were happy. Went out for tea with Susie, Vic and kids. Most places were closed so we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant adjoining the appropriately named 'The Dust Bowl' bowling alley. All enjoyed their meals once we got them.
Liam, Corey, Brendan, Harry & Georgia
Alice Springs (31 kms)
Mornings getting colder... 0C @ 7am. A bit of an educational morning with visits to The School of the Air and The Royal Flying Doctors. Lunch of pies.. supposed to be beef but not so sure. Afterwards we hired a go-karts and trike at the caravan park and the kids rode/drove them around. Susie looked after our kids while we went and washed and vacuumed the car then did some shopping. We all had a BBQ for tea including salads and then strawberry pancakes with ice cream for sweets. Kids watched a video while we chatted outside. Karen, Peter & Mark called in to say goodbye as they were heading for home via the East MacDonnell Ranges. Lastly the boys went to bed while we cleaned up the camper ready for the next days travel.
Alice Springs to Devils Marbles (400 kms)
The cold mornings are getting serious... -1 @ 7am! We've had enough of that, we're going north! Just top add to the
cold, the mains power to the camper had dropped out again. Decided to buy a new power lead as we were using an extra
extension lead again and thought our lead might be allergic to the cold.
Had showers as no facilities at the Devils Marbles campground. Said our good byes to Susie, Vic,
Harry, Liam & Georgia after several enjoyable days with them. They are heading to Broome up the Tanami then back East so we
may see them on the Gibb River Road.
By the time we had bought the power cable and some supplies it was 10:55am. Not a great start to a 400km day. Had lunch
at Ti Tree. We like to make our bread rolls or sandwiches at lunchtime and the shelf on the side of the camper comes
in very handy. Went to the loo, as you do and also bought a bucket of hot chips and some dim sims. Service was very
friendly and pleasant.
Found Devils Marbles campground and picked a spot. Only about 50 other vans there for the night! One of our neighbours,
John and Gaynor from Busselton gave us lots of good info about various places as they were going the other way. John
also provided an astronomy lesson pointing out various stars and planets. Once again the Milky Way was stunningly
beautiful. After tea (chops, sausages & veggies) a dingo was roaming around looking for scraps. Apparently they will
steal your shoes if you leave them outside. We tried to take a photo but were mostly unsuccessful.
For the mandatory sunset photos, it was difficult to get a wider shot without people in it. There where people
climbing over anything that looked like a rock. The facilities of the campground where pretty primitive and under-
supplied. Three pit toilets of which one was out of action isn't sufficient for the number of campers. A quick
calculation of the fees, assuming everyone pays, whoever runs the facilty would collect a tidy sum over the
By the time we had bought the power cable and some supplies it was 10:55am. Not a great start to a 400km day. Had lunch at Ti Tree. We like to make our bread rolls or sandwiches at lunchtime and the shelf on the side of the camper comes in very handy. Went to the loo, as you do and also bought a bucket of hot chips and some dim sims. Service was very friendly and pleasant.
Found Devils Marbles campground and picked a spot. Only about 50 other vans there for the night! One of our neighbours, John and Gaynor from Busselton gave us lots of good info about various places as they were going the other way. John also provided an astronomy lesson pointing out various stars and planets. Once again the Milky Way was stunningly beautiful. After tea (chops, sausages & veggies) a dingo was roaming around looking for scraps. Apparently they will steal your shoes if you leave them outside. We tried to take a photo but were mostly unsuccessful.
For the mandatory sunset photos, it was difficult to get a wider shot without people in it. There where people climbing over anything that looked like a rock. The facilities of the campground where pretty primitive and under- supplied. Three pit toilets of which one was out of action isn't sufficient for the number of campers. A quick calculation of the fees, assuming everyone pays, whoever runs the facilty would collect a tidy sum over the holiday season.
Devils Marbles to Daly Waters (506 kms)
A few more pictures of the marbles at sunrise to start the day for Nige. Was surprised at the number of people sitting on the rocks yet again. Glenda wrote some more postcards and readied breakfast for everyone. We were close to last to leave at around 10am, our excuse having a wannabe photographer in our party. Stopped in Tennant Creek to post postcards and had lunch out of town a bit at the Battery Hill. Didn't go in as we still had a long way to go. Filled up the car with petrol and bought some hot chips to continue the 'hot chip' survey.
Daly Waters to Mataranka (213 kms)
Was all hands on deck for a 8:35am getaway, a record for us. Starting to see a lot more termite mounds now, some are quite large. Checked into Mataranka Homestead and caught the 11am tour around the grounds guided by the owner. She explained about the 2006 flood which photo's showed just how high it was, showed us around the replica homestead used in the film "We of The Never Never" and explained various other aspects of items around the park. She also had a baby Wallaby which a lady got to feed while walking around. Afterwards the boys got to pat it and Glenda got a hold too. Had some lunch and headed down to Tudor Manor caravan park to see the Baramundi feeding. This was a little different to what we expected. They had 6 baramundi in a pond and the owner got in the water on a submerged platform and tried to entice the fish with small bits of cut up fish but they weren't really interested. However, we did get to see them up close. Back at the caravan park we went for a swim in the hot springs. Around the camp we had peacocks and wallabies ambling around.
Mataranka to Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge (146 kms)
Another slow morning getting ready to go. Whilst packing up Nige got talking to our neighbours (again) getting info
for places further in our travels. Ended up leaving at 9:30am. Once in Katherine we tried to find an electrician as
overnight our power had gone out again. Of the 4 numbers we obtained from the Visitors Centre only
one answered and they couldn't do
anything today (Friday) and don't work weekends at all. We must have been given a fax number for one firm and after
deciding we'd have to wait till Darwin to get someone to look into it, we spotted a sign for the business and made a
u-turn to get back to the street. Bill at Benash Electrial finished his chicko roll whilst asking questions about the
problem, then came out and checked what he could. He pulled apart the input connection and deemed that fine, which was
good cause Nige had already done that. After testing power points and the circuit breaker he determined that the only
thing he could find that might have been loose was the connections to the circuit breaker, and even then he couldn't
say that it was the problem. Writing this a few days later, we've had several nights on powered sites where the
power hasn't gone out, so he might have fixed it. We might have to wait until we get back to colder nights before
finding out for sure. Either way, a big thanks to Bill for dropping everything (well he did finish the Chicko!) and
helping us out.
We drove out to Nitmiluk Gorge camping grounds and paid for two nights on a powered site. Performed the set-up routine and
went over to the visitors centre and booked a 2hr cruise up the gorge. This takes in the first 2 or 13 gorges, with a
small walk required to get from gorge one to two. For the afternoon we lazed around, Glenda did lots of washing and
we cooked the magical ('magical' because the boys eat it) chicken fried rice. No scenery photos today, so a couple of the
birds around the campgrounds. The wallabies also arrived later but no pics of them this time.
We drove out to Nitmiluk Gorge camping grounds and paid for two nights on a powered site. Performed the set-up routine and went over to the visitors centre and booked a 2hr cruise up the gorge. This takes in the first 2 or 13 gorges, with a small walk required to get from gorge one to two. For the afternoon we lazed around, Glenda did lots of washing and we cooked the magical ('magical' because the boys eat it) chicken fried rice. No scenery photos today, so a couple of the birds around the campgrounds. The wallabies also arrived later but no pics of them this time.
Nitmiluk National Park (0 kms)
Had to be at the boat dock at 8:45am so had a medium slow "get ready". Glenda put her washing out and we were ready for our 10min walk down to the boat. Our guide was an informative and funny fellow, balancing the jokes with the facts nicely. The 1st gorge was nice enough but not spectacular. We had to walk from the 1st gorge to the 2nd and another boat. The 2nd gorge was a lot more spectacular. The afternoon was spent cleaning some red dust out of the 'kitchen' cupboards and plugging the hole where it got in. Late in the afternoon we walked up to a lookout, stopping along the way to view a bridal party arriving by boat. Looked like there was another party setting off as well, it must be a popular way of having a wedding. Tea was Chicken snitszels, gravy and usual vegies.
Nitmiluk National Park to Wangi Falls in Litchfield N.P. (337 kms)
Whilst packing up got talking to the couple in a "Mr Bean" camper. They had previously taken it to Cairns & Tasmania and where on a similar trek to us so we may see them again. We'll certainly recognise their 'rig'
Continued on and found the Wangi Falls campground. Setup camp and went for a swim. The water was 'refreshing' but very nice. Went back to camper and had burgers for tea. The bugs moved in and straight through our flyscreens. As it was still 25C we decided to leave the windows down, turn the lights off and jump into bed... at 8:15pm. A very early night.
Litchfield N.P. (106 kms)
First stop for the days sight seeing was the Lost City. 10kms of 4WDing to get there but well worth it as the area
was formations of sandstone rocks that resembled a ruined city. Many rocks looked like common objects. Next stop
was the Magnetic Termite mounds but we thought the boardwalk used to view them wasn't much good. The only mound you
could take a 'sideways' picture of had the boardwalk in the background. It was interesting seeing them and reading
about why they build them in the North-South orientation (to control the temperature inside). Across the road was
a huge 'normal' mound 4-5 metres high. Ate lunch in the shade by the side of the road. Nige decided to 'fix' the
sub-quality photos of the magnetic termite mounds by bushwhacking the bush and long grass to some in the distance.
This was accomplished with no injury to photographer or wildlife.
Wangi Falls to Darwin (235 kms)
Woke early but didn't want to turn on lights because of the bugs. Waited to about 7am when there was enough light to
have breakfast and pack up. Found our way out to Lee Point Caravan Park. Apparently you can't book a site and this
seems feasible as there didn't seem to be any system in place. They did have good bays for bus's and big 5th Wheelers.
We got possibly the last powered site and it was very nice, under a big shady tree. The extra power cable we had
bought when searching for a solution to our power problem came in handy as our power point was miles away. There
were 6 water hoses coming off the one supply using a variety of plumbing solutions. After getting organised we went
in search of the Casarina Shopping Centre as we'd promised Corey MacDonalds but we were keen on something else ourselves
and a "food court" seemed a good thing. Brendan
and Corey got their Maccas (and the all important toy), and we had something a little healthier.
Nige was keen to go to the Aviation Museum to see the B52 aeroplane on display. Wandered around looking as various
exhibits and watched a video about the B52 sitting underneath it. Glenda, not a plane person at all, even enjoyed it.
$30 (family) to get in though is a bit stiff. Back at the park we tested out the swimming pool. It was refreshing
(a bit on the cold side) so enjoyed it since we were all pretty hot. For tea Nige had leftover (from lunch) noodles,
Brendan and Corey had 2 minute noodles and Glenda pasta & sauce noodles. Noodles all round!
Nige was keen to go to the Aviation Museum to see the B52 aeroplane on display. Wandered around looking as various exhibits and watched a video about the B52 sitting underneath it. Glenda, not a plane person at all, even enjoyed it. $30 (family) to get in though is a bit stiff. Back at the park we tested out the swimming pool. It was refreshing (a bit on the cold side) so enjoyed it since we were all pretty hot. For tea Nige had leftover (from lunch) noodles, Brendan and Corey had 2 minute noodles and Glenda pasta & sauce noodles. Noodles all round!
Darwin (75 kms)
Went to feed the fish at Aquascene. For many years someone had been feeding the fish at this spot and now they've
made it into a tourist trap. Only $22 for the family to get in. They had bread which you held in the water and the
fish would eat it from your fingers. Despite the $22 it was a good activity. A bit of a drive around town to see
the wharf area and main CBD. Bought some barra and chips for lunch which we had at a lovely park we'd spied up the
road. thought about going back for the rest of our $3 chips that they obviously forgot to put in our package... there
weren't many chips for $3! The boys had a good play on the playground. A Corey in a playground is a happy Corey!
After an evening meal of Stroganoff & vegies, we trooped of to see a digjeridu demonstration. The man showed and explained how they made them. After much discussion we selected two to buy. Being different lengths, they make different sounds. Now all we have to do is learn how to play them.
Darwin (65 kms)
Quiet morning, lunch and a swim before heading into the Mindil Beach Sunset Market. It was very popluar and car parking
was being directed by people. We liked how they lined up the rows, with big gaps between them. At Melbourne events
they would have had an extra 2 rows of cars in the gaps!
Since we were going to have tea here, were wandered up and down the food vendors. There was a wide selection of
cusines but a lot of Asian varieties. We selected some Thai noodles, satay chicken sticks, hot chips, spicy battered
squid and rice, washed down with some Coke. It was quite expensive, that lot adding up to about $45 and it wasn't as
if we had any leftovers. We wandered around watching some of the buskers then watched the sun set over the water. Corey
had a long awaited ride on a pony. The contraption the ponies were walking around could have been called a clothes horse
as it looked a bit lick a "Hills Hoist" clothes line.
We watched a man 'paint' using spray cans and bits of torn paper as masks. Decided to buy one of his works depicting
Australia, Uluru, kangaroos and a few other things.
Since we were going to have tea here, were wandered up and down the food vendors. There was a wide selection of cusines but a lot of Asian varieties. We selected some Thai noodles, satay chicken sticks, hot chips, spicy battered squid and rice, washed down with some Coke. It was quite expensive, that lot adding up to about $45 and it wasn't as if we had any leftovers. We wandered around watching some of the buskers then watched the sun set over the water. Corey had a long awaited ride on a pony. The contraption the ponies were walking around could have been called a clothes horse as it looked a bit lick a "Hills Hoist" clothes line. We watched a man 'paint' using spray cans and bits of torn paper as masks. Decided to buy one of his works depicting Australia, Uluru, kangaroos and a few other things.
Darwin to Merl Campground near Ubirr (336 kms)
Had booked a "Jumping crocodiles" tour and were told to allow 1 & 1/2 hrs but it took about 45minutes so we had awhile to wait. A goanna wandered by and a tree frog amused everyone.
Merl Campground to Cooinda (101 kms)
Quick stop at Jaburi to visit the post office, which we found this time, and some supplies at the supermarket. Corey
came out with a crocodile toy he has named 'Scotty' after the big jumping croc we saw. We originally intended to
stop the night at a campground but decided the Cooinda Caravan Park and their pool seemed to inviting so headed there.
Got the last powered site which happened to be right next to the fish cleaning table but the smell wasn't too bad so
we took it. Glenda ran off to book a cruise on Yellow Waters billabong. The 4:30pm cruise was recommended by the
C.P. manager as the birds are more active which sounded feasable to us.
The cruise was very entertaining and in minutes we were
parked next to a large croc sunning itself. We were dubious about it's authenticty as it repeataly opened
it's mouth and blinked it's eyes. We thought the boat driver/guide had a remote control unit until the croc decided
to go for a swim! He was definently real! Later we saw many birds, more crocs and enjoyed the sunset floating
back to the dock.
The cruise was very entertaining and in minutes we were parked next to a large croc sunning itself. We were dubious about it's authenticty as it repeataly opened it's mouth and blinked it's eyes. We thought the boat driver/guide had a remote control unit until the croc decided to go for a swim! He was definently real! Later we saw many birds, more crocs and enjoyed the sunset floating back to the dock.
Nourlangie Rock and Culture Tour (60 kms)
Drove to Nourlangie Rock and viewed the rock art. Some of this rock art was a lot younger than others, just 'thousands'
of years old. Some was quite vibrant. Listened to a ranger, Russell, give a talk about one scene and a explaination
about Aboriginal skin names and family relationships. Quite complex and the concept of multiple aunts, nephews, etc
of all different ages and the implications was daunting. He also mentioned you could end up with multiple mother-in-laws!
Walked up to a lookout and saw the rock that was in his story about the painting. Raced back to the camper for a light
lunch then went over to the Cooinda Lodge Bar for some hot chips (very nice but very expensive) to round out lunch.
Corey was chomping away when he lost his 1st tooth. Mum was able to capture it before it went the way of the chips and
the tooth fairy eventually found the offering.
Jim Jim Falls (153 kms)
Drove to Jim Jim Falls. Much anticipation about this track as we've heard many variations as to the difficulty. The information books suggest about 2hrs but we did it in a little over an hour as the grader was on the road and had done a good portion of it. However, it was divided into two distinct sections, the 1st 40kms took us 1/2hr and the next 10 also 1/2hr or so. There were a few creek crossings but the most worrying sections were very soft sandy areas with deep wheel ruts. The centre had been flattened by cars without enough clearance. We took the track up to the crossing to Twin Falls but at about 1.1 to 1.2m it was too deep for us. We watched one of the 4WD buses come through and it looked pretty bumpy as well. There was a Patrol sitting on the far side, with all it's doors open probably letting a bit of water out, but it drove off so it was ok even if a bit wet. We then went to the Jim Jim Falls carpark and had lunch before setting off on the walk to the falls. The walking track gets fairly difficult for the last 300 or so meters with many boulders to scale. As it was a hot day and we had worked up a sweat, Nige dived into the cold plunge pool. The boys paddled around until Brendan worked up the courage to dunk his head. Glenda wet her toes. Once out and dry, took several photos and made our way back to the car and the drive home. Went for a swim in the caravan parks pool.
Cooinda to Gunlom Falls (127 kms)
Drove to Gunlom Falls and selected a shady site, had some lunch and went for a swim. The water was cool as is usually the case with these plunge pools and it had the usually fish swimming happily around. Not much water was running so photos were a bit dismal. Back at the camper another family pulled up nearby and setup. Patrick, Sally and kids Brody, Tess & Tara were from Port Hedland and they had Patricks parents out from Sweden or Switzerland, I forget which one. All the kids played together, first footy then chasey. After tea, we all went to a slide show about bush tucker held by a ranger. Afterwards, the adults had a chat around the fire while the kids gathered more wood and poked the fire a whole lot. A bag of marshmallows were consumed in record time.
Gunlom Falls to Edith Falls (171 kms)
Sally did a great job cleaning and dressing Corey's blistered feet. He won't let us touch them but he sat pretty still for her. Drove to Edith Falls near Katherine and setup then had lunch in the shade of the trees surrounding our grass area beside our camping bay. Later we set off on the fairly long walk to the upper falls and plunge pool. It was very hot so we bought ice creams, mainly to keep Corey's mind of the walking part of the excursion. Once again the water was cool but we all got in and splashed about. Continued around the loop walk back to camp and had steak and vegies for tea.
Edith Falls to Katherine (88 kms)
Very casual start to the day as not far to go into Katherine. Brendan helped outside, his apprenticeship in camper setup and packup officially started. Corey helped Mum inside. Arrived at the Katherine Low Level Caravan Park to be greeted by Nana and Pa who had arrived the day before. Had some junk food (Red Rooster) for lunch and did some grocery shopping. Went to the Country Club for tea and had a good feed.
Katherine (10 kms)
Mostly housekeeping tasks today. Washing clothes, tidying and reorganising camper, writing this website and some drawing for the boys. Nana and Pa went and played golf. After lunch went to the post office to send didjirdus home as we found out that the beeswax mouthpieces wouldn't be allowed into W.A. More shopping then back to caravan park for a swim. Tea was beef stroganoff and vegies with ice cream and fruit for sweets.
Katherine to Timber Creek (308 kms)
We had been having trouble with our campers awning as it was not folding away correctly all the time. With Keith's help we finally got it sorted and worked out we had been folding the support arms slightly incorrectly. Now it shuts like it is supposed to. After sorting that out, we headed off. The countryside was covered in ant hills, there must be a lot of termites in the world! The Timber Creek caravan park is old but has some lovely shady trees. In the afternoon the park owners fed the fresh water crocodiles that live in a creek bordering the park. The crocs put on a jumping show to get their snacks of meat but it wasn't quite as impressive as the Adelaide river jumping crocs we had seen. Keith had been given some Barramundi so we dined on Barramundi in beer batter with chips purchased from the roadhouse.
Timber Creek to Kununurra (228 kms)
Originally we had planned to stop over in the Keep River National park but with Corey's blistered feet we decided to go straight to Kununurra as he needed a rest from walking. First thing though was to cross the Western Australia border and the border check! We sailed though having prepared by eating all banned goods and were on our way. Once at Kununurra we followed Keith in a circulus route to the caravan park and were shown to our sites. Our site was a bit small for our camper so we asked to be moved. Decided on an ensuite site ($9 a night extra!) and moved the camper to there and setup. We enjoyed having our own shower and toilet but $9 is a fair premium once you multiple it by several nights.
Lake Argle (181 kms)
Went for a drive out to have a look at Lake Argle. Stopped off on the way at the Durack Homestead. Introduced the boys to a new term, the "ripoff". $8 to have a look at a house and the gardens was deemed a "ripoff" and they cottoned on to the term pretty quick. The lady manning the entry table and shop was kind enough to let Corey go to the staff toilet when he declared he was busting! She extracted a further $10 from us when we bought Glenda's Dad a book about a local stockman. Further up the road we hit a Whistling kite and it's flying days were over. We stopped on the way back and found it. It was a lot smaller and lighter than they look when flying. Pulled a couple of tail feathers out for the boys and through it into the bush to feed the plants and ants. Lake Argle was looking very blue and we stopped at several lookouts for photos. Back to Kununurra for some shopping then a swim at the caravan park pool.
Glenda and Corey went to the doctors to have someone look at their ailments, Corey had blisters on various toes and a sore on his ankle and Glenda a sore on a finger that was infected. Corey had his sores dressed and Glenda came out with a prescription for some penicillin derivative. Brendan and Nigel went shopping and got our missing Annual Parks pass replaced then used it by visiting the nearby park that has Bungle Bungle like rock formations. After lunch we drove out to the Ivanhoe Crossing to have a look. A grey Prado similar to ours went across and back and we took photos intending to say that's what we would have looked like but decided to have a go. Corey spotted a couple of crocodiles not far away which was interesting since there was a fisherman walking around in the water near the crossing.
Kununurra to Purnululu National Park [Bungle Bungles] (332 kms)
Packed up car to spend the night in the Bungle Bungles in our tent and after doing a few things around town, headed off to meet Marg & Keith (Glenda's parents) at a rest stop near the road into the park. They had taken their van to Fitzroy Crossing in preparation for our jaunt across the Gibb River Road. We had planned to meet at the rest stop for lunch at 12:30pm but after 400 odd km's, they were 1 min late! We ate lunch and then headed down the track. We had been told the 1st water crossing was the worst, being quite bumpy, and when we got there we got out to have a look. No one else was around so we couldn't watch another vehicle go through but we could see some tracks where others had been. We decided to follow them and proceeded without drama. We did decide it was a good idea to leave the camper in Kununurra although later we saw a few similar campers that had been through.
Bungle Bungles to Kununurra (362 kms)
After early breakfast drove to the Piccaninny Creek carpark and did the Domes Walk. This leads to the track to Cathedral Gorge which follows the creek bed into the amphitheatre that is Cathedral Gorge. Very hard to take a decent photo as it is so big and quite dark (in camera terms). Enjoyed the ambience and the boys found rocks to throw into the still pool of water in the middle. Boys will be boys, as a fellow traveller commented.
Decided Brendan's legs needed looking at by the doctor and after the visit he was prescribed the penicillin for
the infections. After lunch Glenda decided Corey's ankle needed attending to by a Doctor, so back to the Medical
Centre went Corey & Glenda. Corey was perscribed the same penicillian. Did some shopping ready for the Gibb River Road.
Kununurra to Home Valley Station (125 kms)
Set off to tackle the infamous Gibb River Road. Word around the caravan park was that the road was in great condition
but as we've found out so many times, it's best to keep an open mind and access conditions when you get there. Too
many times we've found the good intentioned advice was wide of our perceptions. However, this time things seemed to
be as described and we sailed along at 70-80kph.
That accomplished we continued on to Home Valley Station and since there was no powered sites at the homestead itself, we decided to camp at their riverside (Pentecost) campground. They said to camp anywhere on the right hand side of the road, as the left hand was too close to the resident saltwater crocodiles. On the way down the access track, we were stopped by a European dude driving a Landcrusier like the rental car it was. He wanted us to wait there for 10 mins while they filmed an overseas version of "Outback Jack". The contestants were parachuting in, so we got out and watched. Don't know how much training they'd had but they looked like professionals, spiralling down. Once setup by the river, well back I might add, we went crocodile spotting. There were several around.
Tea that night was our first cooking using an open fire and the BBQ plate we had been dragging around the countryside. Potatoes in jackets were cooked in the coals and the chops were superb, having that true BBQ aroma. Some salad was also on offer, but I don't remember that! We all ate in our camper to stay away from the mossies. Marg and Keith were consigned to the 'lounge' seating as they were less likely to drop anything. We also decided to attempt to cook a damper on the hotplate. It came out very nice with a great crust. To finish the night we toasted some marshmallows and went croc spotting.
Home Valley Station to Drysdale Station (245 kms)
Stopped off at Ellenbrae Station for morning tea. Freshly cooked scones were available ($3 each, including jam and cream) so we all had one, the boys sharing one as they were unsure if they'd like it. The scones were very nice. Not sure how many scones Glenda could make for $15 though! Drove on to Drysdale Station. The Kulumburu road had some sections with fierce corrugations but we made it into Drysdale Station with no apparent breakages. We did get some dust inside which we believe is coming in under the fridge. Nige bought some fuel ($1.98/L) and discovered he had left his credit card somewhere. It was traced back to Kununurra and a phone call established it was still there. More phone calls put a block on it for the time being as although the person we talked to cut the card up, one can't be too trusting! Once again tea was cooked on the open fire BBQ plate, this time steak with garlic butter, more jacket potatoes, some vegies all followed by damper and fruit. Nige and Keith dined alfresco while the others avoided any mossies lurking around.
Drysdale Station to Mitchell Falls (186 kms)
Packed up the car again for tent camping at Mitchell Falls. Was told it was about 5hrs to do the 180 odd kms so a day trip in and out was out of the question if we wanted to have time to walk in or out to the falls. We were intending to walk in and catch a helicopter out. At the Drysdale River we stopped to take a picture up the river and then one of Keith and Marg coming though. Keith went through fast trying to wet the camerman!
Mitchell Falls to Drysdale Station (186 kms)
Our helicopter flight was for 8:00am for we had our breakfast and did some tasks of packing up. Keith and Marg had
selected the "taxi" flight that takes you direct to the falls, does a couple of passes over the falls and lands. About
8mins according to the brochure. We decided to do a longer flight called the "Mudcrab" that was 18mins long and
flew downstream to Little Mitchell Falls then followed a tidal creek back to a gorge and finally did the passes over
Mitchell Falls before landing. As the helicopter had the doors off, Brendan got the front seat so Mum and Dad could
'flank' Corey in the rear seats. The seatbelts where standard aviation style as you'd see in a large passenger jet
and Glenda wasn't sure that was sufficient. During one banking turn, she was observed with all limbs jammed against
whatever she could reach. We all enjoyed the flight, Corey wanting to ride up front next time and Mum still making
comments about those seat belts.
Drysdale Station to Manning Gorge (172 kms)
Packed up and made our way back down the Kulumburu Road to the Gibb River Road junction and turned right towards Derby, however our next stop was to be Manning Gorge, the campsite at the Mt Barnet Roadhouse. At the roadhouse we bought petrol, pies, sausage rolls and hot chips. Nothing healthy, but very tasty! Went back in and bought some groceries and the camping pass that is needed to camp at Manning Gorge. Opened the camper to discover the usual dust and 1/2 bottle of olive oil spilt in a cupboard. Bottle wasn't broken, the lid had worked itself off. Fun job to clean up that took the rest of the afternoon. Went for a walk to assess the course to the gorge tomorrow as the mud map showed two possibilities. The first was to float yourself and any belongings across a pool of water using polystyrene boxes and the alternative was to walk around, crossing a creek that required you to take your shoes off. We walked down to the creek crossing and decided that was going to be the preferred path. Been trying to find a suitable boab tree for a sunset picture but yet to find one in a suitable position. Back at camp everyone showered (cold water only!) then had a meal of beef souvlaki, damper and fruit.
Manning Gorge to Bell Gorge (121 kms)
Got up at 6:30am, had breakfast and part packed up the camper. Got dressed in our bathers and walking shoes to tackle
the walk into Manning Gorge. At the creek crossing, Pa and Nige carried the boys across to save them getting wet feet.
The track wound it's way through varying terrain, some quite steep rocky sections. Took us about an hour. Once
there we viewed the waterfall then found a small waterhole for a swim. Water was as cold as usual. Walked back to camp,
packed up and drove up to the Mt Barnet roadhouse for lunch. This time hamburgers, sausage rolls and hot chips.
Bell Gorge to Windjana Gorge (145 kms)
Earlish start and packup so we could walk to Bell Gorge. You need to vacate your campsite by 10am so we needed to pack
everything up and drive to the carpark. Luckily there was suitable parking for us with the camper in tow. The map of
the walk was not too scale and it turned out easier than it looked. To get down to the plunge pool below the falls we
had to cross the river and we did this a bit upstream by taking our shoes off and wading through the water. A water
monitor gave us a fright when it shot across the water (we couldn't see it's legs at this stage) and out the river on
a rock. It disappeared before any cameras could be pointed in it's direction. It was a steep climb down to the plunge
pool where we had a swim. Very cold again, but quite enjoyable once in.
Windjana Gorge to Fitzroy Crossing (161 kms)
Went for a walk down the gorge to view the freshwater crocodiles that make it their home. There were about 40 in all, either sunning themselves on the bank and various vantage spots or swimming about. Unlike salty's, freshies tolerate each other and some even looked to be very good friends.
One the way to Fitzroy Crossing we stopped at Tunnel Creek and walked through. At the tunnel entrance we had a bit of excitement when Marg spotted a small black snake nearby and pointed it out to Glenda who was following. There was a loud squeal as Glenda hit top gear to get as far away as she could. Poor snake is probably now deaf. In the tunnel itself you have to walk through the water several times and it was pretty cold. One area had a warm spring coming out of the tunnel wall. In the water we spotted a fish and a yabbie.
Once in Fitzroy Crossing, Keith retrieved their van from storage to Marg's relief and we setup in the unpowered area as there were no powered sites available that night. Tea was some scrumptous burgers.
Fitzroy Crossing (6.5 kms)
Moved to a powered site before breakfast as it was a case of occupier owns the site, no site allocations from the office. Washed a heap off red dust of the car and the camper as the caravan park didn't mind you doing it. The boys made friends with 3 boys from Adelaide, Jack, Zed & Harvey and played with them for most of the morning. Went for a swim in the park pool and it was freezing. As usual, Corey took ages to get in but eventually managed it. We had a yummy tea of chicken snitzels & gravy, potato salad and tossed salad. Ice cream and fruit for sweets. Brendan & Corey invited their friends and their parents, Mel and Tony, over for an after dinner chat. The kids watched Sinbad and part of Wallace & Gromet before going to bed at 9:30pm, a bit later than their usual bedtime.
Fitzroy Crossing to Broome via Derby (499 kms)
Packed up in record time then decided to wash the camper roof and bed end flys. The red dust turned to mush and unexpectantly washed mostly away. We thought it might have stayed there. Ended up leaving at 8:50am. Along the way Glenda continued her obsession with taking pictures of termite mounds out of the car window. The driver won't stop anymore. She even managed to combine anthills with her new obsession, boab tree pictures out the car window. In areas where there has been a fire though, they really stand out. It is amazing just how many mounds there are, in a varity of shapes and sizes. There are a lot of termites running around.
The morning tea stop was under a large boab tree and Brendan climbed inside. He thought it smelled like a toilet, he was probably right. At the turn off to Derby, we turned right to go and have a look at the Derby Boab Prison Tree and the Derby pier. Marg and Keith continued on to Broome having been there before. Unfortunately but understandly, the prison tree had a fence around it.
Once we got to Derby we located the wharf and after some deliberation, decided we could drive around. The tide was coming in and quite turbulant as it raced under the wharf. People were fishing but I wonder how a fish could find a bait in the murky water. We were going to have fish & chips for lunch at the wharf cafe but it was closed for Monday lunch. We ended up getting hamburgers and chicken nuggets. Drove on to Broome and set up camp. Decided we'd go out for tea and selected a chinese resturant. for the six of us we ordered, prawn crackers, 4 main dishes, rice, 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine and one can of coke. It came to $155... welcome to the west coast! Will have a rant about the price of fish and chips soon!
Slow start to the morning, did some washing then went for a drive around to have a look at Broome. Cable Beach looked nice but nothing that doesn't exist in many other places. Decided to have a fish on the wharf and bought some bait at a cafe nearby, the guy said it was squid that wasn't fit to serve to customers. We started fishing and it wasn't long before we were reeling them in. Corey caught his 1st official fish, having been with Pa to a trout farm before which was deemed not to count. Brendan caught a mackerel that gave a good fight.
As it was a low tide that evening, we went searching for the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point. At the top of the cliffs is a replica set in concrete, but we weren't here to look at those and down the cliffs we clambered to reach the low tide mark. There were a few others looking as well but Eagle Eye Glenda spotted a set after awhile. The map with the whereabouts of them is somewhat vague. That combined with the somewhat difficult climb probably deters too many people from getting to them. Our little dinosaur lover was thrilled to find them. We took our photos and climbed up back to the car. Tea was roast lamb with all the trimmings.
Big day of fishing for Nige and Keith. Went on a boat to catch some decent fish. Motored out of sight of land and trolled around as our Skipper, Scotty, thought that was the best way to catch a fish as the day before they had got nothing trying to catch reef fish. There were two lines out and two of the 7 passengers on board had the fishing belts on ready to leap into action if there was a strike. Scotty had to tell one guy several times to not hold the line as a strike on the line could cut his finger off. Murphy's Law kicked into action and it was that line that got the 1st strike. The fish, a Yellow Fin Tuna was very unlucky as "Rex Hunt" as Scotty started to call the bloke, tried his hardest to loose the fish, ignoring Scotty's advice. Eventually it was landed and put on ice. The next two fishermen took over, one being Nige. We trolled around for ages and Keith and someone else said get ready as they saw some fish swim past the boat. Seconds later there was a strike on Nige's line but it didn't take it. Keith took over and not long later both reels sang as the fish that had hit the lures took line away. Both reeled in nice Spanish Mackerel. Another mackerel was caught then Nige got to reel one in. This was another double hookup but the guy on the other rod. who happened to be the 1st blokes mate, took too long winding his in and a shark most likely took it. This took line off the reel for a long time then Scotty backed the boat up after it. Eventually whatever took the original mackerel spat it out and "Fisherman No2" reeled up what was left, a 20cm long chunk of fish flesh. This episode was a bit of a thrill but we probably would have preferred to have an extra fish to divide amongst us all. We trolled around a bit longer but then it was time for the dash home. During both trolling and the cruise out and back we got to see sea snakes, a green turtle and some saw some whales off in the distance. We divided up the fish and went back to camp.
In the afternoon we had booked to go on a camel ride. We couldn't get on the famous Sunset ride so had to do an afternoon one instead. This was both shorter at 1/2 hr instead of 1hr and cheaper, $30 for an adult instead of $55. This was good in two ways, one it was cheaper and two, 1/2 hour on a camel is better than an hour. But first we had to pack up the camper to take it to get the winch fixed properly. Left it with Ron the fixit guy and went down to Cable Beach to find our camels. The meeting point is actually on the nudist beach and there were a few people sunning their 'bits". Corey commented they were all 'skinny dipping' after learning the term when having a skinny dip of his own on the walk back from Mitchell Falls. What was amusing was the camel train had been positioned amongst several who now had about 20 people milling around waiting for their camel ride. We were allocated our camels and instructed how to get on them. Once that was accomplished, we got on and the camel train was led down the beach. The camel that Corey and Glenda was on must have liked the sunscreen that we had on as it kept sniffing Nige's leg. He thought it was going to have a chomp on his leg. On the way back, we watched a nudist fisherman catch something. We wondered what bait he had been dangling in the water!! That over, we went back to pick up the camper but it wasn't ready yet so we did a few other chores then went back and got it. We then had to take it back to the caravan park and set up again in the same spot. Tea was the fish caught earlier with chips from a fish & chip shop. It was agreed by all that it was, as the real Rex would say... MAAAAAAGNIFICENT!!!
Broome to Eighty Mile Beach (372 kms)
Pretty boring scenery during travels this morning, not much variation at all. Very windy and it seems to always be a headwind. Doesn't affect car and camper other than the fuel consumption increases. Found our way into the Eighty Mile Beach caravan park and set up before going for a walk over to the beach to access the fishing. Decided not to bother as the tide was on the way out so as it was 5pm at home we started "Happy Hour" drinks. Just before sundown we went for a walk along the beach collecting shells and taking sunset photos. Tide was still on the way out and the shoreline was now 200m or more further out to sea. We walked 150m out and the sand turned to mud as we sank down to our ankles in grey mud. The boys loved it all gooey through their toes. Took more sunset photos then back to camp for chops with vegies.
Eighty Mile Beach to South Hedland (298 kms)
Corey had another unsettled night, up to him several times. He looses the plot and doesn't know where he is and we need to wake him up enough to get some sense into him before he'll settle down. Up a bit late but packed up super quick and set a new departure time record of 8:05am. Was very windy and at morning brew we nearly got blown away. Also noticed the spare wheel carrier had broken and needed welding. Tied a strap around it in case it broke completely and we wouldn't loose it bouncing off into the scenery. We rang the friends we meet at Gunlom Falls who lived in Port Hedland to see if they owned a welder, not having much faith in getting someone to do it on a Friday afternoon. Patrick didn't have a welder but Sally rang a friend to see if they did. She rang back to say they did and we could borrow it. The guy didn't think he had any welding rods so organised to get some delivered and Sally picked them up. She also found out the name and location of a place she thought we could buy some bits of steel. Pretty good for someone who you've spent an evening around a campfire chatting to. We were intended to catch up with them anyway so we unbolted the camper bumper bar which holds the spare wheel, tied it to Keith's roofrack and organised to meet Keith and Marg at their house after we both had done a few chores. Keith needed to get a slow puncture fixed and we needed to go and pick up our replacement credit cards. Once we'd said hello, we welded the wheel carrier, reinforcing it in the process while Glenda, Marg and Sally chatted and the kids played. Sally brought out the best orange cake we'd ever tasted (must get the recipe!) and we chatted for the rest of the afternoon. The kids had great fun playing Playstation and jumping on the trampoline. Unfortunately (in our opinion at least) Sally and Patrick had the evening already organised so we said our farewells and headed back to the caravan park to refit the bumper and cook some tea, chicken snitzels and salads.
Tara, Tess, Brendan, Brody, Corey
South Hedland to Dales Gorge, Karijini N.P. (359 kms)
Picked up some supplies and met Marg and Keith outside town to continue on down the highway. Scenery was quite interesting as we got further inland. Stopped at Munjina East Gorge lookout for lunch. Continued on to the Karijini N.P. turnoff where we said goodbye to Keith and Marg who where continuing on to Tom Price then Exmouth. We were going to camp at Dales Gorge for two nights. At the park entry the lady said there were a couple of campsites left so we were lucky we weren't a bit later although we saw the overflow camping area and we thought that was fine, at least it had a water tank which the main campgrounds didn't. At the campground we queued up waiting to be allocated a campsite and I (Nige) got talking to the guy in front of us. The conversation ambled around various places and Subaru's, both of us having seen some in the Bungle Bungles which meant going through a decent water crossing. As they were establishing these Subaru's were the same ones, Lindsay mentioned they were camped near "The Griswalds" who had kept them awake half the night, and they had a kid named COREY! A bit more discussion determined that that COREY was our Corey and they were camped near us the night Corey chucked his wobbly. We had a good laugh about it but not sure if it was more embarrassing for Lindsay, putting his foot in his mouth or for us having the "Corey" that had kept them awake! Organised we'd catch up with them at some stage.
We got our campsite organised then went and set up. We then drove down to the day use parking area and had a look at Circular Pool from the lookout. Saw Lindsay and Bev again and said hello. Decided to walk down to Circular Pool which is a class 4 trail, 1 being easy and 5 being very hard. The track down was steep and rough. The walk along the gorge floor was easier but there were some tricky sections to cross the creek. We got to the end and viewed the picturesque Circular Pool. Took our photos and walked back out, drove back to camp and had tea of steak, potato salad and tossed salad. Fruit for sweets.
Dales Gorge to Weano Recreation Area and back to camp via Tom Price. (270 kms)
1st action for the day was a toilet stop for Corey. As Mum was checking he'd wiped his bum properly (it's a learning process!) he remarked there was a "poisonous spider under the seat". Glenda checked and there was a Redback spider under the bowl at the front. He must have been eye-balling it from a few centimetres away! Glenda disposed of it with a stick. As the nearest loo was occupied, I went to the other nearby for my morning twinkle. At the back of this one was the biggest Redback I've ever seen, the body of it was over a centimetre long. I thought of attacking it with the dunny brush but decided that might just make it angry so went looking for a suitable stick. Glenda saw me walking around and guessed I'd found another. Later that evening, Glenda found another at the back of the 1st toilet. Any future bush loo visits will be preceded with a spider check.
Drove to the Visitors Centre and had a look through. The building was supposed to look like a lizard and from a plane, it just might. Displays inside were quite good and there was a video running but we didn't view that. We then drove to the Weano Recreation Area which was about 40 kilometres along a dirt road. A few kilometres from the parking area we passed Lindsay and Bev. They arrived as we were coming back from the loo (no spiders to report). Had another good laugh about "The Corey Incident" and "The Griswalds". They'd been telling their camping neighbours who thought it tremendously funny. We walked the gorges with them and chatted along the way. These gorges were very different from what we had been visiting in that they are all eroded out of flat country rather than part of mountain ranges. We thought it must have been amusing for explorers walking along. Have to be careful you didn't walk over a cliff. Definitely not a activity to be done at night. While Lindsay and Bev were going to return to Dales Gorge via some other gorges we decided to go into Tom Price and have a look as the road we were going to take the next day didn't go into there.
First stop was at the service station for fuel and ice, it's important to keep the beer cold. We then drove up Mt Nameless which is WA's highest mountain with vehicle access. Maybe a small grasp at fame but it did have great views in all directions, including the Tom Price mining operation. After that we drove back to camp to pick up our bathers for a dip in the Fern Pool. We saw Lindsay and Bev and organised for them to come around to our camp for a drink and chat. The water was cool but refreshing. The fish were a bit eager to get a free feed of toes and if you hung onto the ladder for too long they started nipping your toes. This swim doubled as a wash as there were no showers at the campground. We stayed at the swimming hole longer than intended and just as we were getting back to camp, Lindsay and Bev were arriving. They stayed for a couple of hours and we had a good chat. They are taking a bit longer to get back to their home town of Kyabram so unfortunately we probably won't catch up with them again in our travels, however you never know!
Dales Gorge to Exmouth. (722 kms)
Had decided to make the large jump from Dales Gorge to Exmouth in one day as there wasn't anything in between we wanted to see. The countryside changed a bit so it wasn't completely boring. Highlight of the day was watching a good sized "Willy Willy" not far from the road. Had to stop at Nanaturra Roadhouse for fuel and bought some hot chips. They were very nice chips but the most expensive on the trip. The box at $8.95 was good value compared to a bucket for $5.95. In fact everything was exceedingly dear, ice creams almost double the price one would normally pay. Yes it's somewhat in the middle of nowhere, but there's a lot more remote places that charge more reasonable prices. Up to you to decide if you really want something, up to them to fold if no one does. No doubt the petrol sales will keep it going. There was another RFDS emergency landing strip on the highway and Glenda has another obsession with taking pictures of them out dirty car windows. Later on the road up to Exmouth, we had to stop for some anthill pictures, the driver taking pity on her attempts through the window. Stopped in Exmouth for some supplies before motoring out to the Lighthouse Caravan Park which Glenda's parents were staying at. After a long day, we were all glad to get out of the car, but the boys travelled well, playing games, drawing pictures and watching a couple of videos.
It was at this point we gave up plugging the 240V power into the van as the power was not longer getting through the circuit breaker at all. We had a power board so plugged that into the supply cable and the fridge into that. We borrowed an extension lead off Keith and used that plugged into the power board for other power requirements like laptop and microwave. The camper is still under warranty so it will go to the supplier when we return home.
Lighthouse C.P. (17kms north of Exmouth)
Drove into Exmouth to book a glass bottom boat ride in Coral Bay as we only had a couple of chances to get on and we wanted to go the 1st day we got there so that if the weather was no good, we'd have the chance to go the next day. That sorted, we went for lunch. In the afternoon the boys went fishing. As the surf rods were needed the little boys played in the sand while the big boys pretended to know what they were doing. I landed two fish, a Long Tom and something unknown quickly while while Keith fed sinkers to the rocks. That was the last of the fish and we only got a few more bites for the afternoon. Went and took some sunset photos while Glenda, Keith & Marg cooked up the remaining Mackerel caught in Broome. They cooked chips in the VVF (very versatile frypan) as we were too far from Exmouth to buy chips.
Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park (92kms)
Drove down a place called Torquise Bay in Cape Range National Park. The Ningaloo reef comes right to the shore along this stretch and in this particular spot the ocean current runs down the beach in what they call the Drift. You jump in the water, wade and paddle out a bit then let the current drift you over the reef. You do have to be careful you don't go to far as down a bit further is a rip that will suck you out to sea. We bought a couple of foam "noodles" to help us float along. We had a great day floating around viewing the fish and reef. The corals are not as brightly coloured as seen at the Great Barrier Reef but there were many interesting shapes and colours. There were lots of fish and when we get the film developed from our underwater camera, we'll see if we managed to take a picture of some. Glenda and Keith cooked Chicken Fried Rice for tea while I tried to take a picture of the lighthouse. Just as the light was getting good a tour bus parked right at the lighthouse, wrecking an photos that could be taken. Eventually they moved on but the good light had gone.
Exmouth to Coral Bay
Drove to Coral Bay and the Peoples Park caravan park. Nice location and some green grass to walk around on. Set up and went for a walk up the street for lunch (pies & sausage rolls) then went on the Sub-Sea Explorer, a boat where you sit below the waterline to view the fish and coral. A guide gives a good commentary of what your looking out the windows at and we saw lots of fish and corals. A brief glimps of a turtle was a bonus.
Once back on terra firma, we had a lie on the beach and play in the water. After a bit of a water fight we had beach sprints, beach wrestling and some synchronised soaking. Tea was sausages in onion gravy and vegies.
Coral Bay - Quad Bike Adventure
After breakfast Glenda gave us haircuts. At one point she had two grey nomads lined up wanting a trim but they were out of luck as we had to go on a Quad Bike Snorkelling Adventure. We rode 'our' Quad Bikes up through town then out along tracks and the beach to a 'secret' snorkelling location. We had a good snorkel in this 'natural aquarium' (their description) then rode on to another spot that had a chance of seeing a turtle. We were snorkelling around when someone pointed in the direction they could see a turtle. I swam in that direction and got to see a Loggerhead turtle but he didn't like the look of me and swam away. We then road home and Glenda cut one grey nomads hair, her Dads. Marg cooked a roast for tea.
Coral Bay to Carnarvon (255kms)
On the way we stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn sign, another of Glenda's obsessions, signs marking state borders and anything else of note. After the usual set up at the van park we headed to the jetty to have a fish. Got slugged $8 to go out on the jetty as they are trying to restore it. Brendan caught a small flathead and Corey some Rock Cod thing. We moved further out to near the end of the jetty and Corey caught a small Brim. No keepers but the boys had fun. Caught the "Coffee pot" train back along the jetty. Steak for tea with strawberry pancakes for dessert. Watched Collingwood beat Sydney on the tele. The TV's been out four times, the first two nights for Glenda to watch 'her' shows and two times to watch Collingwood play.
Carnarvon to Denham (337 kms)
Marg & Keith left before us as they were heading to Kalbari and we were going to Denham to make a visit to the dolphins at Monkey Mia. Quite a few wildflowers on the sides of the road in many different colours but as they weren't as dense as you see in the brochures so we didn't stop specifically, just took a couple of photo's at our morning stop. Later we to find out that was as good as it gets, the real wildflower displays in the brochures are in a different area (inland) and although there are many species of flowers along the coast, they don't grow by the paddock full. Our next stop was Hamlin Pool, home of some stromatolites. These things are thought to be the oldest form of life and only can be found in a few places in the world. Had lunch then strolled to the boardwalk they have built to protect the stromatolites. Was pretty windy so the waves on the water made it hard to see them. There was one in a fish tank in the old telegraph station where we were parked, so you could get a good look at it there.
Next stop was Shell Beach. Here the beach is made from billions of little shells. What was interesting it that the a good portion of the shells are in fact intact and not broken up pieces of larger ones. At the carpark there was a discussion going on how to help a family that had done a head gasket on their car. A tour guide had a NextG phone so she said she'd ring as soon as she got coverage and another couple were heading into Denham so would call at the service station to see if there was a tow truck about, which left us to go on our way. As we were about to drive off we wondered if they had enough water (they had a large dog too) and Glenda wound down the window and asked. The guy said that was the one thing they didn't have much of, intending to fillup at the roadhouse down the road. We filled a container he had, probably 15 litres or so from the jerrycans we've been carting around the countryside. Later in the afternoon we saw their car being dropped off at the caravan park so they must have got some help out to retrieve them.
Denham to Monkey Mia and return (109 kms)
Got to Monkey Mia to watch the end of the 1st dolphin feeding at 8:00am. Was wandering around the shops when we heard the that there were dolphins back at the beach so we raced down to get frontline spots in the lineup. The rangers chat away for awhile waiting for more dolphins to turn up and I guess to prolong how long they are there for. Once the feeding got underway the boys got picked out to feed one which was lucky as each dolphin only gets about 3 fish each and there are a lot of people lined up. Also watched the last feeding session. Drove back to Denham for lunch and then drove out to Eagle Bluff where you may see rays and sharks in the shallows from the cliffs but we couldn't see anything. Drove back and lounged on the beach. Brendan and I had a snorkel and watched lots of crabs in their shells going about their daily business. We decided the caravan park was quite good but Denham was a windy place as both night we thought we were going to get blown away.
Denham to Kalbarri (381 kms)
Nothing much interesting between Denham and Kalbarri other than a close encounter with an Emu. A Britz campervan pulled half off the road in front of us so we sailed past on the other side of the road only for an Emu to appear from behind the campervan heading for a collision course with our car. I hit the brakes and steered away a bit but luckily it decided to turn around and we just missed it. It was close enough that I could see the fear in it's eyes. At our lunch time stop we took some wildflower pics, then carried on to Kalbarri. Once set up in the caravan park we went for a drive around town and out to a beach called the Blue Holes. Looked like a good place for a snorkel. Had fish and chips for tea with Glenda's parents.
Time for a bit of a rant about the price of Fish in these seaside towns. $9 to $10 for a piece of fish! We ordered 5 pieces of fish (snapper as at $9 it was the cheapest), 4 dim sims, 3 potato cakes and $6 of chips ended up costing $64. Ouch! Glenda and Marg were debating about having a Chiko Roll at first but decided to have fish. They were only $2.50, could have saved $13. $9 is a rip-off, but silly people like us must keep buying the stuff for them to get away with it.
After tea we drove up to a high spot to observe the lunar eclipse. Information about when it was going to occur was pretty scarce so we were standing around chatting when Glenda spotted the moon already in darkness. As it was taking a long time for the moon to come out of the eclipse, Glenda took the boys back to the camper to put them in bed while I stayed out to take some photos. These photos are cropped from the full size the camera takes to make them viewable.
Kalbarri Region, Sightseeing (112 kms)
Started the day by attending the pelican feeding that takes place on the foreshore just in front of our caravan park. The boys both had goes at throwing fish to the pelicans, even Glenda had a go. We then drove out to Kalbari National Park and viewed the local attractions, Natures Window and Z Bend. We all sat in Natures Window for the obligatory photo. At Z Bend some other tourists found out method of getting everyone (mainly the boys) to look at the camera at the same time amusing. We count "1 2 3" and look up. This lets you take photos looking into the sun which usually gets a better picture without shadowed faces and because you haven't been squinting for ages, everyone can look happy and smile.
In the afternoon we went looking for wildflowers having been given a tip that there were lots down a nearby road. We spotted many, and were heading to the Blue Holes (a beach) for some snorkelling when it decided to rain. We raced back to the camper to put up the windows that we'd left down. Snorkelling was cancelled and we started thinking of out stomachs. I had read on the internet about a place called "Finlays Fish BBQ" but we hadn't seen any adverts for it in the tourist brochures. We eventually found it on a map and went for a drive to have a look. It was a strange place with mostly an semi-outdoor eating area and we couldn't see a menu other than sweets or apple pie was $4 each. That, and Keith's love for fish, made our mind up that we'd give it a try, weather permitting. It was a blustery night so we sent the ladies in to decide if we were staying. They gave it the thumbs up so we stayed for dinner. The boys had huge kids Fish & Chips ($7), Marg had Orange Roughy and Glenda, Keith and I had the special for $19.95. This consisted of Fried fish, BBQ fish, seafood rolls, a seafood won tons, normal prawns, honey chilli prawns, mussels, chips and fried rice. Salad was a $3 option and Glenda got that as well. It was a great feed and we'd highly recommend it if you're not too fussed about fancy plates and cutlery. Also was BYO (inc glass) which is good.
Kalbarri (12 kms)
In the morning the boys went fishing off a local jetty. Pa assisted Corey and I helped Brendan, baiting their hooks. They caught about a dozen small Brim and a crab. That was Corey's 'Catch of the Day' but like the Brim, we threw it back. A pelican thought is was his lucky day when we threw him a few of the baby brim. Glenda and Marg had been shopping and luckily had bought something for lunch. Keith and I then attempted to go beach fishing but the wind was too strong and had whipped up waves too big for us to tackle. We tried fishing at the river mouth but couldn't keep a bait on a hook. We think schools of baby fish were cleaning them off as Keith floated a bait and a black cloud followed it along. In the afternoon I went to a cafe to upload an update to this website, the girls took the little boys to the a wildflower centre and seahorse sanctuary (zoo) while Keith had his grandpa sleep.
Kalbarri to Geraldton (180 kms)
The drive south to Geraldton showed a marked difference in countryside. There we lots of Banskia trees and farming was more common, with lots of healthy crops. Stopped for morning tea at Lions park in Northhampton and I found a service station that sold hot chips. They were very nice, much better than biscuits I thought. Once we made it to Geraldton we navigated our way to the H.M.A.S Sydney Memorial. As memorials go it's quite intriguing, the dome is made up of 645 seagulls, one for each of those that lost their lives. There's a bronze statue of a lady looking out to sea waiting for her loved one to return. We then went and found a recommended caravan park and the usual set up. Next we did some shopping, including another UHF aerial and collected some information at the tourist office. For tea we BBQ'd chicken kababs, accompanied with salads.
Sightseeing, Geraldton Region (80 kms)
Decided we would drive out to the historic town of Greenough and have a look. on the way we stopped to look at a leaning tree. They are not actually broken but due to the high winds in the area they get bent over and continue growing like that. Greenough (pronounced "Gren-off") was a bit of a weird place in that it's been fenced off (to make sure you pay the entry fee!) but due to the low amount of foot traffic, all the grass around the buildings is overgrown. There is basically nothing between the buildings, not even fences and there's normal road road right down the middle which is completely out of place. The Catholic church grounds were in good order as it is still used weekly, the gates opened to allow the worshippers in.
We went in search of lunch at the local Inn but there was a market being held inside so there was people everywhere and they only had about 4 tables inside (and some outside) for meals so decided to go elsewhere. Found a food court back in Geraldton so while Glenda, Marg & Keith had quiche and salad, the boys and I had Macca's. All were happy. Afterwards, Keith and I went back to the caravan park while the ladies took the kids shopping. For tea we cooked steaks, onions and tomatoes on the barby and added cauliflower with white sauce, mashed potatos, carrots and peas. Sweets was fresh fruit salad and ice cream.
Geraldton to Western Flora Caravan Park (205 kms)
Left Geraldton and drove to the Western Flora Caravan Park which is 22km north of the town of Eneabba. The park has a wildflower talk each day buy the owner. We drove around the local roads doing our own tour, spotting many flowers along the way. Back at the park Glenda and Marg went on the wildflower talk/walk and we played various games with lollies as a prize for the winner. Corey had two wins and Brendan was looking like missing out but won the final game with his last throw. Keith came by and we walked up to watch the end of the wildflower talk where the guide, Allan, showed each flower he'd collected on the walk under a microscope using a projector on the wall. It was very interesting and he explained how the plants 'operated' especially in regard to pollen transfer. He also showed several bugs that were happily going about their business unaware they were the stars of the show. After the talk was over, we moved into the dinning room as we'd booked for the dinner, cooked by Allan's wife Lorraine. We had an excellent meal and the boys ate everything on their plates. They did get special treatment by being given pumpkin soup rather than the vegetable soup the adults got. They also got extra scoops of ice-cream for sweets.
Western Flora Caravan Park to Jurien Bay (228 kms)
Marg and Keith left before us as they were going to Fremantle and we were heading to Jurien Bay to see the Pinnacles. Brendan and Corey had an invitation to see the parks resident baby kangaroo, Roxy, be fed it's morning bottle of milk so we were waiting for that when Roxy bounced over and the boys fed her some grass. Soon Lorraine called out to Roxy and she bounced over to her ready for her morning milk and sleep. The boys helped feed her the bottle of special formula and then she jumped into a bag for her sleep.
On the way to Jurien we stopped at Greenhead to have a look. We were parked at a lovely bay having our morning munchie stop when a lady from a bus tour decided she wanted to either test the water temp or more likely, touch the Indian Ocean. She was elderly and in her attempts to touch a wave, fell head first into the water and sand. Her partner in this activity tried to help her up but nearly went in too in the scramble to stand up. The old dear staggered back up the beach to the rest of the group sopping wet with a face full of sand. They dragged her suitcase out of the bus and took her up to the toilets to get her changed. We had a good laugh and she got a story to tell her family about how she "kissed" the Indian Ocean.
As it was a nice day we decided to drive to the Pinnacles for sunset. Stopped at Lake Thetis just outside Cervantes on the way to look at more stromatolites but unlike the ones at Hamlin Pool, the ones of these you could see were practically flat. At the Pinnacles we drove around taking photos and marvelling at this strange rock formation. We picked a spot to take sunset photos and I set up the camera on the tripod while Glenda cooked some sausages for tea. She used one of the Pinnacles as a wind shade. We ate our sausages in bread while snapping sunset pics. There was one other guy (taking photo's too) remaining when we left. It was quite eerie at twilight with no one around.
Jurien Bay (8 kms)
Lazy morning catching up on a few household chores. The boys played on the bouncy pillow for most of it. They love these things and it was the reason we chose this caravan park rather than going to stay in Cervantes. We went for a fish at the marina but it was very windy and started to rain. Had we been catching something then it wouldn't have mattered but since we'd caught nothing, we packed up and drove back to the caravan park. Just outside the C.P. there's a jetty so since the weather had cleared up a fraction, we decided to drown a few baits there. Once again nothing was biting until a few toadies arrived. The boys tried their hardest to catch one but they were so small they weren't actually biting the bait. Brendan eventually managed to flick one up onto the jetty. The boys had another jump on the bouncy pillow before having hamburgers for tea.
After tea, Glenda had an itch and found a tick on herself. A quick examination found several on both of us. Glenda had a look at Corey while he was asleep but couldn't find any. Brendan thought he'd removed one near his eye earlier. We left a message with Keith and Marg to check themselves. We think we must have picked them up at the Western Flora Caravan Park or surrounding countryside when looking at wildflowers.
Jurien Bay to Freemantle (295 kms)
Unsettled night as it rained heavily and the wind blew all night. Checked Corey better for ticks and found two. Packed up in a hurry as could see rain coming and managed to get away before the downpour. Corey took his jumper off and found another 'nasty' (tick) running up his arm. Glenda grabbed it and squashed it into oblivion. Uneventful run down to Freemantle other than stopping at a Macca's for lunch and their chip fryer was out of action. Decided to find another but we found the caravan park first so went in and set up camp next to Marg & Keith. We then went in search of a Macca's and found one at 3:15pm. We used this as an example to the boys that when they are screaming they are hungry and if they don't get something immediately, they won't actually die. Tea was chicken in creamy spring onion sauce with vegies. Fresh fruit salad and ice cream for sweets. As it was cold outside we ate inside the camper. This time we bought a table inside as well so Marg & Keith didn't have to balance theirs on their knees.
Day Trip to Rottnest Island
We were ready for the 9:15am courtesy bus pickup but it didn't arrive till 9:30am. We decided they told us 15mins early to make sure you were there as the bus driver didn't seem to be running late, jovial fellow that he was. The trip over was pretty good although the swell was making the ferry sway in a gentle sea-sickness inducing roll. We went outside in the fresh air. The boys seemed fine, but then they read and write in the car so are probably less prone to motion sickness than us. Once at the island, we hired bikes to ride around on. It was already 11:15am so decided to have an early lunch before setting off on our ride as there are no facilities away from the main town. After a delightful lunch of Red Rooster we set off on the bikes. Corey, who had only recently got off his trainer wheels before we left home, and hadn't sat on a bike for 2 months took off like an old hand.
We had ridden out to a place called Parker Point which had a lovely bay to use as a background for a family photo. I'd set up the camera and asked the others to line up their bikes. Brendan was a little enthusiastic and rode over but as he went over the curb, his feet bounced off the pedals and thus the brakes. He careered down a path to the beach. I started running as he disappeared around a corner then reappeared cartwheeling through the air. When I got down to the crash site, he was standing there somewhat confused but basically unhurt. His face was covered in sand so must have performed a face plant at some stage and had a graze on his stomach where he must have hit the handlebars. Luckily he did land on sand as the distance between where he landed and the rock that catapulted him into the air was 3-4 metres. In the process he bent the front rim which burst the tyre. When they hired the bikes to us, they gave us a phone number to ring so we had to ring it and get another bike delivered to us. The guy looked at the bike and decided to deduct $10 from our bond. We were happy with that as the rim was stuffed and the tube probably was too. Mobile again, we continued on.
As everyone knows, Rottnest Island is the home of the Quokka. During our bike ride (over 11kms) we hadn't seen one. We decided to ask at the tourist information office and they pointed us in the direction that we might see one. The directions were spot on and we enjoyed watching several quokka's nibbling grass.
The homeward ride on the ferry was very smooth and we were deposited back at our caravan park by the bus. We went out for tea at the Fremantle wharf area.
Freemantle to Busselton (228 kms)
Packed up under the threat of rain and just got the roof down when it started to lightly drizzle. Just after leaving the caravan park it poured down, and continued to do so for most of the way down to Busselton. We called in to the timeshare resort we were staying at for the week in the hope of leaving the camper there. They gave us directions and we unhooked before returning to meet Marg & Keith who had checked into a nearby van park. Drove down to the main part of town and had pies for lunch. Went and grabbed some groceries and then went back to the timeshare and checked in. As it was still raining Glenda started cooking her famous Pasta Bake for tea. In a rain break we dashed down and got a few things out of the camper. Another family doing a similar trip to us although taking 6 months, were doing the same thing with their camper which was also a Goldstream. Pretty funny considering they are fairly rare. Sweets were strawberry pancakes with ice cream and my secret strawberry sauce.
Busselton (75 kms)
Lots of household chores including lots of washing. Drove to a nearby town looking for a market but we had the wrong weekend. However in the town of Dunsborough there was a little market and we bought some jam, fruit and a pumpkin. Back at the unit we prepared to watch the Collingwood V Sydney footy match with a round of mini-golf. Tea was take-away chinese and it was very nice. Said goodbye to Nana & Pa (Marg & Keith) as they were heading home the next day.
Went to a local market. Quite good especially if you want fruit and vegies. We bought 2 lemons for 20 cents. We would have gone fishing but the boys had been naughty and that was their punishment. Watched Geelong beat the Kangaroos in the footy.
Slow start as I got up in the middle of the night to watch the F1 GP (motor racing) so had a sleep in. Headed down to the Bussellton jetty to do some fishing. This pier is nearly 2kms long. Had an initial go about 1/3 way along but did no good so went out to near the end. People were catching heaps of squid but we didn't have the gear needed so fished using our rods normally. Was pretty quiet until I took over Corey's fishing rod and caught a Skipjack (Silver Trevally). Brendan and Corey started catching them and we ended up catching about 18 but kept 14 better sized ones. People were stopping to look in our bucket and the boys were filling in them on who caught the most (Brendan) and the biggest (Corey). We filleted them and took them home for tea. Fried in beer batter they were delicious.
Had to get car serviced so hung around the unit until we had to go and pick it up. Did some shopping then went back and played tennis and mini golf. Had remaining fish (had kept 4 to bake but decided to fry dusted in flour) for tea with sausages and vegies.
Sightseeing From Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste (330 kms)
Another miserable day, raining and wind blowing a gale. We decided we'd drive down to Cape Leeuwin and see if we could see where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean as apparently the currents usually go in opposite directions. Today you couldn't see anything except whitecaps and that was only when you were game enough to poke you head out into the gale. Amazingly there were people wandering around the lighthouse but there was no way we were getting out of the car.
Had lunch at a bakery cafe then started driving towards Cape Naturaliste via the scenic road. Stopped at many scenic spots along the way. The surf was pounding the shore and putting on a great display. Later we discussed that it was probably a great day to go as if it had of been a flat sea it would have looked pretty much like any other piece of coastline. One spectacular spot was Canal Rocks. They have built a bridge over to some rocks and the sea was flowing under the bridge at tremendous speed. The wind was blowing so hard is was hard to hold the camera still. Another place was Sugerloaf Rock. Not sure how tall it was but several waves breaking shot water into the air higher than it. We had hoped to have Deavonshire Tea along the way but couldn't find anywhere so when we got home Glenda pulled out her old recipes and baked a batch of scones which we devoured.
Busselton (10 kms)
Spent the day around the unit mostly getting ready to get back on the road including packing lots of things back into the camper. Played bowls and tennis.
Busselton to Wave Rock (506 kms)
Weather was looking grim as we packed the last things into the camper and it started to rain as we were finishing, just managed to get the roof down as it poured. We sat in our unit while the worst of the rain passed then made the dash down, jamming the remaining stuff in the car. The boys stayed in the car while we hooked up the camper to the car and did a 3 point turn to get out of the car park. Half way to Pemberton it was still raining and the weather forecast for the South East was for rain, so we decided to head inland and go straight to Hyden and Wave Rock. It had rained 5 days out of 7 while we were in Busselton so we were hoping to find some better weather. We'll have to come back again to see Albany, Esperance and that area of W.A. Of the 506 kilometres we travelled we only had the windscreen wipers off for about 5 minutes, it had cleared up as we got to the Wave Rock caravan park. This wasn't to last long as we were beginning to set up it started raining. About 5 minutes after finishing getting everything set up, it stopped raining. Thankfully Glenda had made some pasta bake so tea was quickly heated up in the microwave. Afterwards, we watched Collingwood and West Coast Eagles play an exciting game of footy.
Wave Rock (0 kms)
It hadn't rained overnight and there were patches of blue sky so we were feeling happy with our decision to alter our plans. We wandered up to Wave Rock and took some photos including the usual 'surfing' ones. We walked up the path that leads to the top of the rock and looked at the walls that were built to funnel rainwater into a dam nearby. We then walked to the Hippo's Yawn, a rock formation that resembles a hippo with his mouth open. We continued on the self guided walk but should have took the short cut back to the caravan park as there really wasn't much to see and Corey decided he'd walked enough and wanted a piggy-back ride home. After lunch we walked across the road to the Wave Rock Wildlife Park as they had some white Kangaroos. They were worth the price of admission but the boys also enjoyed the other animals as well. Glenda took many pictures of a Golden Possum so I'd better include one of it.
Wave Rock to Kalgoorlie (544 kms)
Decided to go the long way to Kalgoorlie as we didn't know what the dirt road that was quite a bit shorter was like after the rain we'd had and any time saved would have been used up in cleaning up the camper. Glenda met someone in Kalgoorlie she'd been talking to at Wave Rock who did go that way and it was fine. Our track did take us to the best display of wildflowers we have seen. A big batch of pink ones a bit like you see in the books and over a dozen other varieties. Once at Kalgoorlie we stopped at the tourist information office to book a mine tour and grab some local tourist information. At the caravan park got chatting to a guy behind us who was in town driving a mine truck to earn enough to build his dream house back in Pambula on the NSW south coast. He gave us a couple of recommendations and we had tea at one, the Star & Garter Hotel. It was an eating bonanza as they served your main dish with just the meat or whatever and you helped yourself to the vegies and salads which were very nice. Afterwards we drove up to the SuperPit lookout but the view wasn't that good as not much of it was lit up and the trucks and machinery working couldn't really be seen very well.
Kalgoorlie (SuperPit Mine Tour)
Went on our tour of the SuperPit mine. First we had to endure a SH&E video, answer a questionnaire to prove we'd been paying attention and sign a indemnity form. Corey got 10/10 with a little bit of help for us! Next we had to put on bright yellow safety vests and board our little bus for our drive through the mine. Our guide Matt had worked at the mine and in mining for many years and gave a good commentary of the workings and various statistics. We got to get out of the bus at an internal lookout which gave us a great view of the mine. We thought it was a great tour and would recommend it. Although we were allowed to take photo's we aren't allowed to publish any without permission from inside the mine but we stopped at the SuperPit lookout on the way back and anyone can take a picture from there, so here are some of those.
Kalgoorlie to Fraser Range Station (289 kms)
After all the railway crossings we finally got stopped by a train at one. As it was an ore train it was quite long and slow so took awhile to pass. We waved at the driver and got a wave back as well as an extra toot of his horn. After Norseman there were lots of road works and we had several delays. Many people were getting out of their cars to chat to other travellers. We amused ourselves by listening to the road workers on the UHF radio. We pulled in the Fraser range Station. It is a working station with a homestead built in the early 1900's but as it's the owners residence they ask you to stay well away which is a bit of a disappointment. We went for a walk up a nearby hill for a look at the surroundings. Some kids had started building a little stone cubby and the boys added lots of rocks and added a rock 'vegetable' garden and path. After tea we joined some other travellers at the communal fire and cooked some marshmallows.
Fraser Range Station to Roadside camp (662 kms)
Early departure at 7:55am. First stop of the day was to take a photo next to the sign at the start of the longest straight stretch of road. Later. we were having lunch at Madura Roadhouse when we thought we saw Lindsay and Bev drive in. We'd last seen them at Dales Gorge in Karijini National Park a month earlier. Lindsay strolled over to the bin but we weren't sure it was him as he didn't have his hat on. We wandered down to get a better look and Lindsay spotted us and called out. We decided to bush camp somewhere for the night and picked the 42km Peg roadside stop in South Australia as a meeting place to then decide where we'd stop for the night. We called in at the Eucla Telegraph Station ruins which is being swallowed up by the sand dunes. We started looking for somewhere to stop to gather some firewood but nothing looked to promising. If you're wanting some firewood, grab it between Norseman and Fraser Range Station, there was plenty where the road had been widened. We got to the roadside stop and had a look at the view over the Great Australian Bight. We headed back up the access road to wait for Bev & Lindsay and to see if we could rustle up some firewood. We gathered some and were loading it as they arrived. We decided that it was too late to go any further so drove back down the road to the rest area.
There were two other groups camped and I pulled up next to Lindsay who had pulled up nearish one of them. This fellow had commanded the picnic table and shelter but took offence to where we had stopped (although yet to even look like setting up camp) and started grumbling comments like "the whole of the Nullarbor and they have to park in my lounge room". We strolled over to take in the view and decided to set up camp in the far corner well away from "Grumpy Guts". While we were setting up a large 5th wheeler drove in and parked between us and Grumpy Guts. They got an earful about rich people bringing their lounge room with them and couldn't they park closer. Sharon, the driver said she could back up a bit if he liked. More grumbling was emitted. but nothing specific. Lindsay and I were talking about it later and both of us had noticed that Grumpy Guts had a toilet seat on a stand next to the picnic table and someone had used it recently. Nice!
The 5th wheeler that had pulled in is worth a few words. We had first seen it at Erldunda, the turn off to Uluru and had nick-named it the Zingermobile as it had large signs saying it was a Zinger, the manufacturer we presumed. We then saw it at Yulara (Uluru campgrounds), Alice Springs, Daly Waters, Materanka and Kununurra. As we'd never actually camped next to them we'd never actually spoken but we went over and said hello and told them where we'd seen them. Sharon was driving as her husband was wheelchair bound. They had their daughter, Cassie, and her mother in tow as well. I would have liked to see Grumpy Guts when Steve motored his scooter out to have a look at the view. He probably would have whinged that his transport was motorised. We invited them over to join us around the fire later.
Another guy had pulled up near us and Glenda invited him over too. After tea we got the fire going and cooked marshmallows and damper. Lindsay pushed the coals around with his shovel and cooked the damper surpurbly. Cassie played the digjeridu (very well) for us. Earlier she'd given a whip-cracking demonstration which is what had caught our attention in the van park at Erldunda. We all had a good chat around the fire until our meagre wood supply was exhausted.
Roadside Camp to Ceduna (472 kms)
Up early to take photos of the sun rising over the bight. Glenda unzipped the bed end canvas and watched the sunrise from the comfort of the doona. It was blowing a gale and packing up was interesting as we had to get our canvas into the camper and keep it there while winding down the roof. Managed that and took off towards the Head of the Bight whale watching, but first we had to drive across the most barren part of the Nullarbor. The scenery did change a bit and it wasn't near as boring as we had been led to believe.
Once we had paid our $24 to get into the Head of Bight whale watching site, we strolled down the boardwalk to be greeted by several pods of whales. Most of the whales (Southern Right) had a calf at their side and were teaching them how to swim and do things like whack their flippers onto the water surface. We got to see a few blow water and air out their blowholes which was quite noisy. We did have to explain to the boys that they don't squirt water up like happens in cartoons. We spent over an hour watching their antics. As well as the whales, you get a good view of the cliffs along the bight.
Next we made our way to Ceduna, catching up with Lindsay & Bev along the way and found our way to the Shelly Beach Caravan Park. A very nice caravan park except it's beach location meant lots of mosquitos that gave Glenda and Brendan a hard time. For tea we'd been told the local pub bistro had a nightly special so we went for tea. The special was "$9 schnitzels" which were very nice.
The boys went fishing at the beach, a short walk over the sand dune behind the caravan park. It was a nice day and the tide was 'right' but we didn't catch much. We did see a school of salmon feeding along the shoreline but after following them a long way along the beach we couldn't entice them to take our bait. The boys had trouble understanding that they just weren't interested. Glenda and Bev came over to check on us, but were probably just finalising their shopping lists (tea wouldn't be provided by the fishermen). We had a visit to our campsite from a stumpy tail lizard. After lunch we went down to the pier for some more fishing and bought home a blue swimmer crab (Brendan) and a small Whiting (Lindsay). We went and bought some prawns and flake to supplement them. For tea, we set the television up in the camp kitchen (Collingwood v Geelong) and cooked the fish on the nearby BBQ. Lindsay boiled up the crab and prawns and the girls made several salads. All very good except the Magpies went down to Geelong in the footy, although it was a good match.
Ceduna to Streaky Bay (159kms)
A short drive down to Streaky Bay left us with the afternoon to go sightseeing. Glenda had decided that we needed to do something other than fishing. We decided to do a tourist drive to the nearby Whistling Rocks and Blowholes. The Whistling Rocks were 'whistling' except they sounded more like an angry T-Rex according to Corey. We went looking for the blowholes but initially couldn't find them. On the way back I noticed some holes in the side of the hill about 4m above the path we were walking on and had a look. Yep, this must have been them as the holes went down as far as one could see. The holes were big enough for a person to fall down yet there was no signs or fence which we found amazing since they are listed as a tourist attraction. One would get a bit of a fright if you managed to get near them and then they 'went off'
Streaky Bay sightseeing (151kms)
The morning was spent fishing off the pier. A family at the end was catching heaps of fish and they took pity on the boys who were fishing 5m away but getting nothing and invited them to fish amongst them at the end. I thought they would regret that once Corey got amongst them but it all worked out well and the boys got into the action and caught a few fish. After lunch we went and filled up the car with petrol and had a look at the replica of a Great White shark caught near Streaky Bay. It looked pretty big.
Our next activity was a drive to Point Labatt to view the Sea Lion colony. There's a platform that overlooks the sea lions that lets you have a good view as they go about their lives. Along the road we had seen lots of Stumpy Tail lizards so on the way home we stopped near one to take a photo or two. He wanted to fight so we teased him a bit to get him to open his mouth for a photo. A side benefit of this was he ended walking off the road.
Streaky Bay to Coffin Bay (309 kms)
First stop for the morning was Murphy's Haystacks, a collection of weird shaped rocks. As we were walking in some people coming out warned us about a magpie that had been swooping people. We approached cautiously be he still gave us a fright as he swooped down and past, landing in a tree nearby to keep a watchful eye on us. We armed ourselves with sticks to wave above our heads. On the way back to the car we warned the next group coming in.
Our next sightseeing diversion was to see Talia Caves but we think we might have missed it and went to Woolshed Cave instead as the sign posting wasn't very good. The cave is created from waves pounding the shore. A little bit further along was "The Tub", and area that had collapsed leaving a fairly round crater. It looked like with the right sea conditions water would make it's way in. On the rest of the days travel we followed a scenic drive near the town of Elliston that had some good costal views.
Coffin Bay National Park (66 kms)
The weather was looking a bit grim and the forecast was for rain so we dropped the camper roof and put up the bed flys in preparation for some precipitation. Once that was done we drove into the nearby national park. We had thought of camping in the national park but had decided we'd seen enough mossies for the moment. We drove down a sandy track but decided it was getting too rutted and getting bogged was a possibility as we hadn't let our tyres down. We turned around and luckily I selected locked 4WD as until we'd built up a bit of momentum, we were struggling along the track a bit. We drove to the other side of the park (not far at this point) and had look out over the cliffs. Once back in Coffin Bay the boys jumped out at the pier to do a bit of fishing while Glenda went back to the camper to make some lunch. She bought that back to the hungry fisherman and found out there hadn't been too many fish caught. Corey caught 3 mullet in about 5 mins and that was about it.
Coffin Bay to Port Augusta (395 kms)
Drove to Port Augusta stopping in Port Lincoln for petrol and Cowell for lunch. We had some very nice pies, sausage rolls and chips from the bakery. Had a look in some shops and the ladies in the craft shop were up for a chat, mostly about the football. We had a quick look at Whyalla from Hummock Hill lookout. Most of the town is covered in red dust from the iron ore being processed and moved around. Would be interesting trying to get your washing dry.
Stopped at the same caravan park we had stayed in 3 months earlier. Set up the camper then went into town to do some grocery shopping. There was an aboriginal woman in the car park trying to sell a painting and after some discussion between Glenda and I to see who was going over to try to buy it, I went over to see how much she wanted. She was pretty drunk and conversation was difficult. She reckoned she had painted it although I wasn't too convinced but wanted $20 which was reasonable. Always after a bargain, I offered her $10, but that wasn't acceptable. After a bit of haggling she agreed to $15, so I gave her the money and took the painting. Half way back to the car she called out loudly so I returned to see what she was trying to say. She wanted five more dollars and snatched the painting out of my hand. We argued for a few minutes and I thought if she got up and walked off that would be my $15 gone as I wasn't going to be able to tackle her! She'd put her bottle of grog on the seat beside her and I picked it up. She grabbed it back with a vice grip but her attention was on the bottle and I snatched my $15 back and walked off. She got up and tried to follow, yelling what I think was "fifteen, fifteen", however I got in our car and drove off. Hopefully she ran out of grog early in the night and didn't manage to 'sell' the painting to anyone else to replenish her bottle!
Port Augusta to Bordertown (569 kms)
We were intending to take 4 days to get home from Port Augusta and headed of in the direction of Burra. As we were travelling along we decided we'd had enough sightseeing and a new route was selected to head directly home. As we were already off the main road we ended up coming though the Clare Valley region and decided that the area was worth a few days exploring on another trip sometime. Decided to stop at Bordertown instead of pushing on to Nhill as the sky was threatening to rain and setting up the camper is best done without rain. It started to drizzle as we set up but we managed to avoid most of it. We decided to buy pizza for tea so I went in search of one. It was now raining quite hard. On the way back I decided I'd stop at the roadhouse nearby to supplement the pizza with some hot chips. I thought it would be quick but after 10mins waiting I drove home and we ate the pizza. I then went back and waited another 10mins before the chips were ready. About 1/2hr total I worked out. They were very nice chips though. The caravan park was very nice except it's location, right next to the highway. The road had a bit of an incline so the trucks going up the hill were making lots of noise under power, and the once coming down the hill were making more noise with their exhaust brakes. We changed our watches before going to sleep so we would be on Victorian time in the morning.
Bordertown to Home (486 kms)
Packed up and hit the road for our final day. Had noticed it was about 12C when we left but as we went around Ballarat the gauge was saying 4C. Some things never change we joked. There was a lot of traffic on the road with many cars displaying their allegiance to Port Power for the Grand Final. It would have been a long drive back for them at the end of the weekend. Once in Melbourne we noticed how busy it is, with many maniac drivers jumping from lane to lane and back again. Arrived home about 3pm having travelled over 20,000 kilometres. Everything was in order, our friends having taken good care the place, even stocking the fridge with some milk and butter and bread in the cupboard.
Some last comments...
One of the big worries when going on a trip like this is the mechanical reliability of your vehicle and I'm happy to say we didn't get any flat tyres or break anything. We did get a decent stone chip in the windscreen but luckily I took out the windscreen option on our insurance so that will get changed. Our camper had a couple of issues but nothing that stopped us, although the winch would have been more of an issue if Keith didn't have a fair idea what we were feeling around for to be able to put it back together. The power issue was annoying as first but didn't really make much difference. The camper is now back at the manufacturer having those issues rectified. None of the items I constructed (extended mudflaps, false floor, camping-gear box and car DVD shelf) fell apart which suggests my welding and woodwork skills are not as bad as they look.