Left Karijini early and stopped at Mt Bruce the 2nd highest mountain in WA, we did the short walk to the lookout. The main view was the iron ore mine close by and we joked whether it would still be the 2nd highest by the time they finished mining!!
Drove to Tom Price where we meet up with Margie and we all went to the pub for dinner. We have noticed a common problem with a lot of the mining towns that we have been through. They are so expensive to stay in due to the high wages of those working on the mines, that it is hard for people on ‘normal’ wages and jobs to survive. As a result the towns seem to struggle to have enough works in the shops and the pubs. Many windows have job vacancy signs, as did the Tom Price pub. They did a good job at the pub considering most of them could speak little or no English and were short staffed.
We drove out the next day making our way back to the coast. We decided to break up the trip and stopped at Emu Creek Station, a short way off the track for a few nights. So glad we did! Kylie and John have been running the station for 2yrs running droughtmaster cows and have great camping and BB accommodation. They have two gorgeous children 3yr old Kaysha and 9 week old Dryden. We were lucky to be the only campers as we are in the off peak season. They made us feel very welcome and we set up camp next to the permanent water hole on the river. It was quite and relaxing as we watched a beautiful sunset and had dinner listening to the birds.
We spent the next few days kayaking, looking around the old sheep shearing shedand yards, Kylie showed us how she reads the weather for the bureau of metrology everyday and made us the best Devonshire Tea ever! We sat and chatted to her, Joe and Glen their friends/workers. (John was away in Karatha working) Kaysha and the boys had a great time playing together. We were still sitting around chatting when the men had come back for dinner!
Met John the next day and Mike spent the afternoon helping out, taking water to the cattle at one of the troughs where the pump was struggling to keep up. On the way back Joe shot a kangaroo and Mike helped him skin it. This was more than he imagined he would be doing when he offered to help and he did well.
John cooked up a feast that night for us all and Mike tried kangaroo for the first time and really enjoyed it. Though he felt quite guilty about killing Skippy! A wonderful evening chatting and the boys watched a DVD with Kaysha.
It is hard to explain how comfortable and welcome we felt in such a short time and we thank you for such a wonderful outback experience. Mike is keen to come back and do some wwoofing with you.
It took a bit of convincing to persuade Mike into doing a huge 400km detour from the coast and head inland to Karijini National Park. Concerned about the heat, that there would be no water, that we wouldn’t have enough time for the south of Perth and, and, and … We stayed a few nights 50km out at a great roadhouse called Auski with powered sites, so we had aircon. Drove into Karijini where we spent the day walking at Fortescue Falls and then onto Fern Pool. Here we swam in amazing water holes. Fern Pool was something out of a dream, an absolute paradise hidden in the gorge. We checked out the Dales campground in the national park and Mike was up for a few more night in the Park.
Circular pool was incredible. First a steep climb down into the gorge where we saw lots of goannas. Two of them were fighting on the path directly infront of us. The pool was very cool and the water fall coming off the rocks was like a hot shower.
The next day we went to Oxer lookout, a great view to get a perspective on where the four gorges meet. Bumped into Margie and we all went on the Hancock Gorge walk. Wow!! what a great hike, starting with a long steep climb down into the gorge on ladders and rough steps. Once down the walk followed the creek bed. At times you had to swim through pools and other times a bit of rock climbing. As we got to the class 5 section (pretty hard!) you arrived at the spider walk. Here the gorge is so narrow that you straddle either side and use your arms and legs pressing on the wall to move though. Alternatively you side down on your bum as it is dangerously slippery and scramble over some boulders. Tom used the bum sliding technique. The walk ends when you reach Kermit’s pool and can’t go any further without a guide and rock climbing gear (class 6, bloody hard). The pool was very deep and we had heaps of fun jumping from the ledges. Margie was determined to overcome her fear of heights and with some encouragement, did a jump. Good on ya Margie! We meet up with Nicki and Les, a Tassie couple and their son, Jordan. They were camped next to us at Dales and Bryce and Jordan had a ball sliding down the Spider Walk into Kemit's Pool.
We all enjoyed a great evening together having a drink and chatting. The walks in this national park were steep, more challenging and more fun than any we have been on so far, this would be a great girls (or guys) adventure trip.
We had a huge drive from Broome to Port Headland. Mike is very fastidious in calculating how many km to a tank and at best he has got towing is 18 litres per 100km. To achieve this means he cruises at about 80km and stays under 2000 revs. He is very proud of this achievement and I drive him crazy (pardon the pun) when I am at the wheel trying my best to stay under 100km and seem to find this quite difficult. As I result I throw all his careful calculations and budgeting out and therefore have adopted the name lead foot.
Port Headland is certain not a pretty town and because of the mining it is the most expensive caravan pk we have stayed in costing $70 per night. We had 2 nights here because the car was booked in for its 90,000k service. So we did the sights of port headland for the day and bought a great little underwater camera ready for Ningaloo reef. At the port we watched the huge Iron ore carriers getting pushed in and out by tug boats, which were quite amazing; meet up with Margie here who had just arrived in Pt H.
Next stopped was the tourist photo and BBQ spot??!! Here you are nestled between the very busy main road bridge, which goes over the railway line. The train holds the record for the longest in the world running at 7km, but is general
2.5 km as it carries iron ore from the mine to the port. You also had a view of the salt mine that was so close you could taste the salt! While it was a great view of the train, it was extremely noise, dusty and a popular spot with the flies. We had a great joke with Margie, discussing how many people would actually stop here for a BBQ?
But despite our cynicism the huge new house bring built on the other side of the bridge obvious thought all of these views were fantastic. Well each to their own as they say!
On a more positive note, the view from the caravan over the town at night was very pretty when all lit up and the large goanna that strolled through our site was very cool. The boys had a great last night playing with a family we had met a few days earlier and a little girl that lived at the park who was in love with Bryce.
With Mike looking south towards Perth longing for the cooler weather, me looking a few hundred km north to camp on the beach at Cape Leveque, and the boys just wanting to swim.We found our compromise by staying in a unit at Cape Leveque, what luxury to have a bed you could walk around!
And where is Cape Leveque I hear you say! Well I can best describe its location as the very top left hand corner of Australia.
It was well worth the drive to spend time on these pristine beaches. On the first afternoon we meet up with Ronelle and Matt who were camped under the beach huts. As we all swam and the kids played, we watched Humpback whales doing incredible breeching in the distance. What a performance and what a sunset!!
We went to One Arm Point for the day which is a community that run a trochus hatchery. Trochus shell are only permitted to be collected by the local aborigines, some are exported to Italy to make buttons, some polished up for tourist and the rest are ground down and put in makeup, paint and many other products giving that mother of pearl shimmer. Had a great guided tour by a local through the hatchery which has large tanks holding turtles and fish for the pet market and for show.
We spent the afternoon snorkelling at the swimming beach looking out over the Buccaneer Archipelago (found out a few days later there was a 4m croc hanging about the area!!). Saw many turtle shells littered about the shore that the locals have caught and cooked up on the beach. We did some fishing but seemed to spend more time untangling Tom’s line than fishing!!
I love doing Yoga outside early before the heat of the day, and every spot seems to come with a bit of a challenge against me and nature! Sometimes flies, sometimes ants but the hardest to deal with for me is mossies and this spot was swarming with them. It was a very tight fit in the tiny unit!
As we spent the last morning at the swimming beach (eastern side with the huts) Mike worked out which hut we would stay in when we returned! I think he was glad we made the effort.
It was great to see beautiful ocean again and be able to swim in it! The water was warm but no stingers yet and generally croc free. Cable beach has been closed due to crocs but this is very rare. It is a few degs cooler on the coast, Michael and Bryce are enjoying the breeze and sleeping better. I on the other hand got out my jumper!!
We caught up with Tyme and Luis who have been holidaying with family in Broome. Tommy had been looking forward to this for weeks, we hung out at town beach and the water park for the morning and then Tyme and I took the kids into town and did a bit of Pearl window shopping. We caught up again a few days later and wandered the court house markets and did a bit of tight rope walking – heaps of fun, I want one in the back yard.
Margie was staying at the same park and we all did dinner on cable beach watching the sunset and the iconic camels of cable beach. Afterwards we went to the open air cinema, which is the oldest continuous running open air cinema in the world. It was very cool and came with extra effects as it is directly under the airport’s flight path. So close that you might think the plane was going to hit the screen!
We checked out the very impressive Dinosaur foot prints at Gantheaume Point and watched the moon rise at town beach famously called the staircase to the moon, due to the reflection on the water as to rises.
We did the Willie Creek Pearl Tour which was fantastic and made even
better by the very funny and entertaining tour guide.
There is a LNG Processing Plant being built at James Price Point about 50km north of Broome, and the town is divided between those for and against it. We spent some time at James Price chatting to the protestors, swimming and enjoying this beautiful location. It will be interesting to see it in years to come.
Broome has been great, we bumped into Kate whose son Levi went to school with Bryce in Bridgewater, caught up with friends from Adelaide and many of our new travel friends that are following a similar direction to us. Margie has become one of the family.
We left the Van in Derby and camped a few nights in Windjana. Our first stop was Bell Gorge, the road in was terrible and we got a flat. We managed to change it without too much bother but Mike was incredibly stressed and worried (as you can imagine) as we only carry 1 spare. Still with a bit of encouragement we went on and even he was glad we did, as it was one of the best gorges we have visited. Bumped into Margie here and we spent so long exploring and swimming in the gorge that by the time we got to Windjana, we were setting up camp in the dark. Fortunately Margie’s amazing set up takes about 5mins so she helped us with the tent and got the boys dinner- Thanks heaps Margie.
Matt, Ronelle and their 3 kids were people we met a week or two ago in El Questo, they were here also; their eldest Quin is only 3 and adores Bryce. We all did Tunnel Creek together and this is probably the most exciting walk we have done. It was superb, the Tunnel is about 750m in length and we had to wade with your touches though cold water which at one point was over waist deep. It took a lot to convince Tommy as it was very dark, but he did it. We spotted a huge Freshwater croc, a metre long catfish, snake skins, heaps of different colonies and species of bats, the largest water monitor we have seen to date and it was the first time in ages that we had been cold. This area has interesting history, it was a hide out for a famous aboriginal freedom fighter Jandamarra in the late 1800s; he hid here and the surrounding area for 3 years and was finally killed at the tunnel's entrance after being tracked down by an aboriginal tracker.
We walked a few kms of Windjana Gorge which showed us a great selection of wildlife, from crocs and cockatoos to a tree snake and eagles. This area was once an inland sea and has fossils in the rock walls.
We headed back to Derby where we got the tyre fixed and now have 2 spares and a much happier Michael!
A very short stop for petrol at Halls Gap, (this place did not have a particularly friendly vibe to it) and straight to Fitzroy Crossing for few nights. Bryce learnt to dive with his new friend Lachlan and in the evening they played cards, Lachlan taught Bryce to play Blackjack and Bryce taught Lachlan Go Fish. We did a great boat tour of beautiful Geikie Gorge and saw a few crocs.
To the boys were delighted to find a stowaway green tree frog in the caravan, they looked after it until we found a lovely garden in Derby where they could release it. We were pleasantly surprised by Derby because we had been told by many that it was ‘a crap-hole’, bit hash I think, we found it very friendly and it had a lot of history. Met up with Margie our new travel mate from the Bungles and did fish and chips with her on the jetty watching the sunset. Looked around the town and the historic site like the old Goal, Prison tree and a great museum, we are certainly learning a lot about the history of Australia through the whole top end, from Australia’s involvement in the War to the terrible treatment of the aborigines.
When we arrived at a caravan park in Fitzroy Crossing Tommy spotted a bower bird creating it nest and we have been watching the bird for a few days. I like the bower bird because of its amazing sounds and their incredible nests which they decorate with shells, pebbels, fethers, glass and heaps more. The sounds of a bower bird can be chainsaws, the sound of a car starting and a car door. When we were in Alice Springs Wild life Park we heard a bower bird mimic the avairy door shutting and the rangers talking on the walkie talkies.
Boab trees grow up to 5 to 15m, they look like big fat bottle trees. They grow in the Kimberly’s and the NT. The leaves fall off in the dry season, in the wet they come back. Aborigines use the leaves fruit, seeds and roots, inside the tree is water.
We were only 30km out of Kununurra heading to Purnululu National Park or more commonly known as the Bungles, when we passed a road train (on sealed road) which threw up some stones that hit the front window hard. It wasn’t until we had gone another 10km when we noticed a crack on the window; it was slowly getting longer, so back to Kununurra we went. By the time we arrived at the repairer the crack was half way across the windscreen!! A few hours later we had a new windscreen.
Set off again the next day stopping for a break at Doon Doon roadhouse where we watched a large scrub fire that had just started. Mike offered to help but wasn't necessary. Drove onto a great rest stop at the turn off to National Park, a popular spot to leave your van or tent and do a day trip in, had a great night chatting to some fun characters! Early next morning we drove the van to Mable Downs Station for safe keeping. While booking in we heard the station owner chatting to rangers on the CB about a fire, so naturally we asked how bad and close it was. She assured us that it was nothing to be concerned about and so off we went. After 2hrs of 4WD driving we finally reach the rangers station and booked in to the Nat Pk. First stop was Echidna Chasm which was lovely and cool as it went deep into the mountain, quiet an exciting walk climbing over boulders, up ladders and though very narrow sections. We then went and set up camp for the night, completely unaware that the road in had been closed due to the fire. Packed up camp next morning and went on a hike to Piccaninny Creek lookout,Cathedral Gorge and the Dome walk. From the lookout we had a great view of the incredible Domes (rock formations) for which the Bungles are famous. As we were walking back we met a tour group that told us they had been flown in over the fire and were flying out!!! So we drove to the ranger station to find out that we were trapped in the park and everyone was to stay at the volunteers centre. The rangers were going to try and convoy everyone out at 5pm. The centre had a huge kitchen and lounge hall, showers and flushing toilets, luxury! We spent the afternoon lazing around meeting many people and trying to stay cool.
The wind picked up and so did the fire, resulting in the convoy being cancelled. We all had to camp there for the night, some set up camp while others like us laid out beds in the hall. It was a great night socialising with all these people, on tours, family holidays, interstate and overseas travellers. One great story of a Canadian couple from Adelaide and their parents visiting from Canada, who were stopped by a helicopter when they were driving out the day before! That’s not something you see every day!
Around 7pm it started to rain! The first rain we have seen in months and it was fantastic. The kids stripped off and ran around in it, we stood in the rain watching the red glow from the fire in the night sky.
It was a magic moment! The rangers came later to tell us that it missed the fire but that we would convoy out
at 5.30am before the heat of the day flared the fire up again.
We watched a great sunrise, swapped many email address and by 6.15 we started the surprisingly fast 1.5hr convoy out following Margie.
What an exciting few days!