Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

The Flinders Ranges spread  from Quorn in the South to Leigh Creek in the North.  From Whyalla our trip to the Flinders Ranges took us through Port Augusta, Quorn, which was just lovely with great cafes, beautiful old buildings and friendly townsfolk, then up through Hawker.

Rawnsley Park Station was where we were heading for four nights and better weather was predicted for our time there. Yes, finally we were away from the wind and we had a fabulous camp kitchen with a wood fire.  Only problem was limited reception on the phone once again but by now we were very used to that.  This station offered lots of walks some extremely difficult and some just right but with some steep climbing…that was so the signs said.  We tackled Alison Saddle on the first afternoon, it wasn’t too bad, the steep parts were just that and it was very windy at the top.  The view, well it was fantastic as it was directly at Rawnsley Bluff set among the evening glow, the setting sun showing off different facets in the rock face, with the cool night air coming in but the climb of the Bluff, we were told, was very extreme in places so we didn’t partake in that one while we were there. We spent the evening in the camp kitchen, cooked our meal among the banter of many travellers who were also partaking in the warmth of the fire Murray had lit earlier and watched some of the Olympics on television.

Wilpena Pound was our adventure of the day on Thursday 11/08.  It was a cool, crisp start to the day and I was well rugged up for it, once again looking my best as the Michelin Lady, as the first part of this trek was along the creek bed but through the shadows of the forest.  We chose the Wangara Lookouts walk which was around an 8km round trip, this included the climb to the top of the pound which was 0.9km.  The sights and sounds on our walk were unreal as everything was in its morning freshness and the wildlife was just waking up with all the sounds of the native birds singing and whistling.  The trees were absolutely huge, towering above us in all their glory.

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Rugged up ready to go.

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Refer to previous sign

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A family who were on the same journey.

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Pioneer’s homestead.

At the top of the steep climb we were greeted with the breathtaking view of the Pound before us. This was well worth all the effort. It went for miles. Murray has become quite the photographer on this trip but sometimes even photos don’t tell the story of what it’s like in real life.

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After a rest at the top we made our way back down and had a bite of lunch at an old homestead of one of the original pioneers of this area. On the walk back we ran into some other long legged locals who wanted to race me but I let them go ahead. What a wonderful morning, back to camp for a cuppa and a warm up by the fire.

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On Friday we took ourselves on a self drive tour from Rawnsley Park to Blinman, through some very beautiful gorges Bunyeroo, Brachina and Parachilna, stopping at the Prairie Hotel for some light refreshments. This place is well known for its culinary delights of fresh local Aussie game on the plate but we settled for a Devonshire tea which is a bit odd from a pub, I know.

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Morning view of Rawnsley Bluff.

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Cazneaux Tree

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Razorback lookout.

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Through the gorges.

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Our return trip from Blinman took us past the Great Wall of China or Mt Emily, where we stopped and made some lunch while taking in the view, then back past the Appealina Ruins which were old miners quarters plus a homestead. Stokes hill lookout gave us a complete 360 view of everything before returning to Rawnsley Park where the sun was beginning to set and it was time to light a fire at our own campsite for a change then dinner in the camp kitchen once again. Another fabulous day in the Flinders.

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Saturday saw us having a camp day where we caught up on some housework (washing and checking the car) before we hit the road again on Sunday heading towards Adelaide for a few days of R and R, plus wineries, with our good friends Max and Tricia.

Cheers for now, love us. Xo

Posted in Adventure, Challenges., everything, Life, Love and Laughter., New People, South Australia, Travel | 1 Comment

The Nullarbor and Beyond.

If you wish to cross the Nullarbor it can be covered anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.  Knowing what to look for and do is key to your journey and we probably didn’t know as much as we could have before we began. I’m not sure but since we crossed we have found out little places we maybe should have smelt those roses. Knowledge and time is what you need as we have sometimes discovered along this journey of ours.  Either way we were happy with what we saw and did. This is my recollection of our time across the Nullarbor, the people we met who helped define our time on this road and the places we visited or stayed.

The weather was in our favour to begin our journey across the plains. From Kalgoorlie we headed down to Coolgardie then Norseman where we stopped for some lunch by the roadside. We had it on good advice from Nerida, Murray’s sister, that Fraser Range Station was a lovely stopover therefore we made our way there and booked in for a couple of nights. We needed to cook up some meals and use our vegetables before the checkpoint at Ceduna.

Our campsite was private and spacious at the Station, the weather was good enough for now to not need the awning up and we managed to cook our meals for the next few nights which makes it easier if rain does happen. The Station had a wonderful camp kitchen with plenty of room for everyone, a warm fire to sit by which we made use of each night rather than sitting outside in the cold night air, as did many other travellers. The campfire area was also great to meet up with all the neighbours around us for happy hour. We had lots of animal neighbours here as well, with emus and kangaroos roaming around freely and peacefully near the campsites and on the open plains.  There were some pretty walks around the Station which we enjoyed and Mack the Station dog joined us on these walks, the views were spectacular across the camps from the hilltops.  I picked myself up a new vest here as I needed  a second one and some souvenirs in the little shop/office.  With plenty of beautiful birdlife and gardens to relax in this place was great to have our two night break.

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Our next destination for the 05/08, after talking to many people at the Station and receiving much helpful advice, was Moodini Bluff, a free camp with good toilets, plenty of spread out campsites with little fire pits. We lit our fire, heated our dinner of lamb Rogan Josh and sat under the stars enjoying a quiet chat and each other’s company. It drizzled a little bit but didn’t spoil our fun.

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06/08 we drove on to Mundrabilla Roadhouse for a warm drink and a stretch of the legs, then onto Eucla.  Just outside this little town we were stopped for a random breath test by a young policeman, who was only to happy to have a chat while he checked everything over.  Apparently they were after some stolen vehicles. There were many bikers on the road with side cars and plenty of gear in them. Murray chatted with a few in Eucla and found out they were on a 40th anniversary border rally being held over the weekend. We crossed the border into South Australia on this day, our fourth Border, two to go.

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The temperatures rose to 26 as we pulled into the first point of interest, of which there are four along the Nullarbor, Bunda Cliffs. Spectacular colours and sheer drops of cliffs into the water. Under the blue skies of a clear day these cliffs shone in all their beauty.  Each point of interest was certainly different and we hoped for the next one to display the wildlife we were waiting to see.  Whales.

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Head of the Bight, pay the $15 each and do the walk down to the observation areas and you will not be disappointed at all.  Around fifty whales were in the area and it wasn’t early in the day, after 4pm, stay and watch to see the display of mums and bubs playing, be patient and you’ll see others flipping out of the water and putting on a brilliant display with flippers waving and tails slapping. One little white baby was with its mother and having a lovely time in the late afternoon sun. These mammals were really putting on wonderful displays for us as we watched and clicked away on the camera. Five o’clock approached quickly and we had to leave but we were very satisfied with what we had witnessed. Whale, whales and more whales. Magnificent.

We returned to the entry gate where there was a free camp called the Whitewell, an old Waterwell in its day, and set up for the night with one other couple in a van, Stewart and  Kay from Albury, for company.  What a day we had spent on the Nullarbor. Tomorrow would be our last day across these plains.

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On a recommendation from some people we met at Fraser Range, Brian and Margaret, we spent our second last night on the Nullarbor, 07/08, at Coorabie Farm, near Fowler’s Bay, where the owners Poggy and wife Deb greeted us with open arms and friendly hospitality. These two not only came and had happy hour but spent their meal times with us all as well, in the camp kitchen. Brian and Margaret were staying here too.  We went on lovely walks out of the station and within it, checking out all the wombat holes around the fields and the old machinery.  We had a very protected site with power, clean and roomy ammenities and can highly recommend this place.

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Haslam Council Camp, $5 honesty box, was our last night on the Nullarbor. This is a tiny town just past Ceduna and Smoky Bay but before Streaky Bay. There isn’t much here, a block of toilets for camp use,  a few houses, small post office which isn’t manned regularly and a jetty to fish from with a lot of people catching squids. We did some shell collecting and witnessed a pod of six dolphins playing just off the end of the jetty.  That night we had a campfire with our neighbours Sue and Tony and were also joined by John and Helen, Ross and Sue.

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The weather had turned for the worst again becoming wet and very windy as we headed toward Streaky Bay but it was too wet to enjoy the coast.  Morning tea was at a little bakery in a pretty coastal town of Elliston and then we drove to Whyalla where we booked a cabin for the night out of the high winds and rains that were now hitting hard.  Deb was the manager of the Whyalla Caravan Park and she couldn’t have been more helpful for us giving us a fully self contained unit which had been recently refurbished and a $9 discount, only charging us $81. Warm, showered and fed we slept well and were looking forward to our trip to the Flinder’s Ranges the next day.

Cheers xo.

Posted in Adventure, Challenges., everything, Life, New People, South Australia, Travel | 2 Comments

Running from the Weather.

Rain, hail and wind were all forecast for Albany, Esperance and all coastal areas of WA, where we had planned on going.  Rain doesn’t really affect us unless we are packing or unpacking but wind can play a big part with our kind of set up.  The winds were supposed to reach around 120kms per hour so it could do some damage to us.  We now had to head inland to avoid the winds. Kalgoorlie here we come but not all in one day.

As we drove the winds were picking up in this area as well. I looked up Wikicamps and a place for us to bunker down from the winds.We headed towards Hyden and decided that we would like to see Wave Rock which had been our plan on our York Weekend  Time Spent With Lifelong Friends.  This countryside was full of luscious green wheat fields and rich golden canola fields.  The colours just jumped out at you like a patchwork quilt.

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Karlgarin is a little town of 50 people, it is 320kms from Perth and only 21kms from Wave Rock, Tressie’s Caravan Park was our choice for the night.  Merv and Laurie were absolutley lovely, friendly, helpful and full of information on the area.  They were retired farmers and had built this park to give Merv something to do while their son ran the farm. During the day Merv tends the office and also runs a tour twice a day of his Museum of collectibles and memorabilia.

Tressie's CP, Karlgarin.

Tressie’s CP, Karlgarin.

We booked a cabin for the night, due to the weather, as it was too windy to safely set up the camper.  The local Country Club was open for dinner on Thursdays and Fridays and as it was Friday we decided to patronise this little club. When we got to the club there were six of us from Tressie’s in for dinner so we all sat together and had a great old chat. One couple were from Perth, Bob and Gail and the other couple were from Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands, Dennis and Karen.  The meals were plentiful and delicious, everything about the place was good old country hospitality.  After talking to everyone, as we enjoyed the warmth of the fire, the decision was made to stay another night to enable us to see and do everything this area had to offer.

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Saturday morning we set off to Wave Rock where there are several walks to enjoy.  As we drove through Hyden we pulled to see the story of Hyden depicted in a sculpture storyline in the Main Street.Wave Rock is part of a massive granite outcrop known as Hyden Rock, there is also Hippo’s Yawn which is a cave that has been weathered out of its middle. Both walks form a loop of around 3.6kms meandering through the surrounding bush filled with wildlife and wild flowers. On top of Hyden Rock are many rock pools and different rock formations which are Spread throughout the 1.8km walk. The outlook is over a picturesque golf course and next to Hyden dam.

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After all this exercise we took the car for a drive along the road to Kulin which has been aptly name the Tin Horse Highway.  It is scattered with many tin horse sculptures made by the owners of the farms along the road and some really are quite clever. What an awesome day this had turned out to be with lots of surprises along the way.

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While in Kulin we checked out our new trailer but decided to give it a miss even though it already had our name on it as we thought it would definitely make our fuel economy rise on the trip home.

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Sunday we travelled to Kalgoorlie on the best gravel road/shortcut ever, 151kms and no traffic the whole time we were on it and it cut 200kms off our trip. We got to Kalgoorlie around 1.30pm just in time to drop by the tourist information centre before it closed.  We grabbed all the details of tours to the Superpit and what was around town to see and do then found a Caravan Park for the next few nights.  Weather was still upsetting our being able to put the camper up so we booked into a cabin for the first night (which was just as well as a storm hit as we were booking in and was pretty hairy with torrential rain and huge winds) then a site for the other two nights with power as it was very cold.

Good to be back in our little home away from home.

Good to be back in our little home away from home.

Monday morning we took a walk along the Main Street, booked into our tour of the pit for Tuesday morning,  I got a haircut at Envy, and am very happy with it, and we took a walk through Hammond Park with its lush green grassed areas, bird avaries and its own miniature Bavarian castle near the pond area.  Such a beautiful park in such an historic town.

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Tuesday morning we had to meet at the Goldrush tours booking centre for our tour of the KCGM Superpit (Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines).   We were kitted out with a reflective orange vest and safety goggles before we got onto our bus, with our tour operator Dan, who was excellent, and headed to the mine.

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The Super Pit covers more than 35,000 hectares of leases and is made up of around 260 individual mining leases joined together. Alan Bond was one of the brains behind forming this single large-scale, cost effective operation.  KCGM manages the Super Pit, it produces around 700,000 ounces of gold each year (22,000 kg per year or 60 kg a day).  This pit runs 24 hours a day, 365 a year.  Our tour took us to the boneyard where the retired vehicles, old tyres and scrap metal ends up and the workshops are there too. There is a fuel farm on site with a capacity of 700,000litres, each month they use 5-6 million litres of diesel.  We went to the mill where the gold is extracted from the ore and leaves the plant in gold bullion form then taken back to Perth Mint on commercial flights.  The only part of the mine we couldn’t enter was the floor of the Pit as it is deemed too dangerous for the tours and blasting takes place in this area twice a day.

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After our 2 1/2 hour tour we took a look around the York Hotel in Kalgoorlie, as advised by Dan, for its amazing interior and then returned to the viewing platform at the pit for the 1pm blasting that afternoon.

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After another magical day we did our groceries and returned to the camper for a barbecued rissole dinner and some well earnt rest that night.  Wednesday we were back on the road and on our way across the Nullarbor towards South Australia. Of course that’s another story for later.

Cheers. Xo

 

 

Posted in Adventure, everything, Life, Love and Laughter., New People, Travel, Western Australia | 2 Comments

A Long Jetty and a Tall Lighthouse.

On the road again and travelling through some wonderful little towns in southern Western Australia, what could be more perfect.  Pinjarra, early lunch stop at a great little bakery which was very popular; Waroona; Yarloop the town that was burnt out only six to twelve months ago, so sad to see but they haven’t given up; Harvey with all its horse studs; Brunswick very rural and plenty of dairy farms. All these little places just pop up and leave a mark on your memory for their uniqueness.

Busselton, a very lovely seaside town about 300 kms from Perth, this was where we were spending the next three nights at the Kookaburra Caravan Park. This was a very neat little park with great facilities including an indoor camp kitchen and outer BBQ area and a great location not too far from the shops.  Quick set up of the camper because we would be using the camp kitchen for our meals as it had everything we needed and our camp was right next to it and the ammenities.  Off we went for a walk down to the beachside and jetty where we found the tourist information centre to grab all the information we needed on Margaret River, Augusta and find out just what Busselton had to offer.  Then a walk into town to check out what was around and get some fresh rolls to go with our dinner of pumpkin soup, which I had made in Perth and frozen.

We made the most of the kitchen that evening face timing the boys for a chat, we had our heater set up in there to keep us warm while we enjoyed the comfort of the indoors away from the cold evening, warm soup and the company of our neighbours, Barry and Tess Guerin, whom it turns out are from Figtree near Wollongong and Barry worked with our neighbour and friend, Tony, before he retired twelve months ago. Small world again.

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Our first morning we took ourselves across to the Jetty where we wanted to visit the underwater observatory and walk the Jetty but due to the weather tour was closed and as it turned out it would remain closed for the rest of our stay as it wasn’t a clear view from the observatory.  Back to the caravan park to regroup and, decision made, we headed to Margaret River and Augusta for the day. First we headed across the coast to Dunsborough and Simmo’s Icecreamery where we enjoyed a delicious treat that left us very cold inside and out. We both had two scoops, mine were salted burnt caramel and coconut, Murray had salted burnt caramel and hazelnut nougat.  Yum!

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Now, off to hit the wineries and whatever else we can find along the way. First stop was the Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Distillery and Killerby Winery, we were on a mission for Dave and Leonie Bere back home for a bottle of Liqueur Shiraz they liked.  What a shame I had to do the tasting for them.  The pear cider from the brewery was just lovely but not on the shelf for purchase yet.  We did go to Willespie Wines for our friends Bec and Kev but it’s was closed on Wednesdays so I’ll just have to come back over another time.

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Murray wasn’t too interested in the wineries as he was driving and it wasn’t as much fun for me without a drinking buddy, Sharyn, so even though the weather wasn’t the best we decided to forego some wineries and take the drive to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.  The drive down was just spectacular as we passed through Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and Boranup Karri Forest with its huge trees that towered way above everything else.

Tallest trees ever.

Tallest trees ever.

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is 56 metres tall and has 176 steps to the top, it is the tallest mainland lighthouse situated at the most south westerly tip of Australia, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, it also overlooks Flinder’s Bay.  Our guide was fabulous and very informative, we could tell he loved his job by the smile on his face the whole time he talked.

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On our trip home we called into the Margaret River Dairy Company and tasted the most beautiful cheeses and yoghurts and made sure we didn’t leave empty handed.

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The next morning we returned to the Busselton jetty and did the 1.8km walk out. It was very windy and cold but well worth it.  It’s the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere.

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After our excercise on the jetty we took the drive back down to a winery called Aravini where the owner has a collection, 10, old cars within the showrooms.  This place was amazing, the cars were beautiful and so were the wines. We were both happy with this place.

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Another great day finished off with a catch up with Tess and Barry, a night walk to the jetty for some night photos and another dinner in the warmth of the camp kitchen.  Busselton, what a lovely place to have visited.

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The next part of our trip would change again but that’s another story. Till next time.

Cheers. Xo

 

Posted in Adventure, Challenges., everything, Life, Love and Laughter., New People, Travel, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Time Spent With Lifelong Friends.

Sharyn, Jeff, Murray and Leanne.

Sharyn, Jeff, Murray and Leanne.

What a wonderful time, 18 days, we spent in Glen Forrest with our friends/family Jeff and Sharyn and their son and daughters, who are triplets, Darcy, Emma and Hayley.  When we arrived we were cranky, with each other, tired and wet from our time on the road when the weather had turned bad and we had the wettest pack up ever  The Trip South Begins.  Time off the road and with someone other than just ourselves was what was needed.

Jeff, Sharyn, Murray and I were very excited to see each other again and we were also excited to meet all three of their children, as we had already met Darcy and Hayley but not Emma before.  Murray and Jeff were best mates from their airforce days together and it was hard to think they had spent anytime apart at all.  Happy hour this first day was full of laughs and stories, which would only get better over the next couple of weeks with plenty more stories and memories to be shared into the future. Both Jeff and Sharyn managed to get time off while we were with them which made it easier to spend time together doing some touristing and enjoying each other’s company.

The weather had well and truly turned cold with a hailstorm and plenty of rain on the first day we were there with the fire becoming my best friend every afternoon.  We had taken the camper down to a neighbour’s place and set it up to dry out. Later it would come back to Jeff’s carport for some modifications to it such as a new jockey wheel and hitch, new bed struts as the old ones have had it, new trailer struts too, all this to make our lives easier on the road,  while we spent time in a ‘real’ house and bed for our holiday here, which was nice for a change.  Murray and Jeff spent many hours in the shed admiring Jeff’s collection of bikes, talking, laughing, working on our car and starting happy hours early everyday. Our car looks clean again after a good scrub and is sporting a new light bar after our issue on the Gibb with the old one falling off and the new battery charger is doing its job very well in the trailer.

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Within our first week we managed to make friends with the dogs, Aura, Emma’s pup and Desmo, Sharyn’s pup. Sister and brother, Alaskan Kleikai one year old and six months old, lovely dogs and so funny.  Murray and I had to get some new clothes due to the fact he had no winter pjs and had only one flannie shirt with him and I had only bought one pair of trackies with me, not good enough in this cold burst, we were definitely feeling the temperature difference. Jeff and Murray got out on the bikes within the first few days and were like kids again. Murray rode a Ducati Multistrada, the red one and Jeff road  the Ducati Darmah, the black one, Murray hadn’t ridden in quite a while but handled it with ease. I got to go to the “Georgie Girl, The Story of the Seekers” show with Sharyn as Emma was one of the dressers for Crown we had tickets.  What a show, I loved it from beginning to end, I sang, I laughed and I cried. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all night.  Each day Emma would tell us about her day and I was in awe of her, she is living her dream and loving it.  Darcy is an aircraft maintenance engineer with Virgin West, where Jeff works also, and mostly enjoys his work. Hayley is a qualified environmental scientist but unable to gain employment in this area and so is following her passion of working with animals in studying to become a veterinary nurse.  Each of them is doing well in life.

The busy worker, sewing for her oth job for a fashion designer's show.

The busy worker, sewing for her oth job for a fashion designer’s show.

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We also met the neighbours, Ruth and Jeff, from across the road during the first fe days, before they left on their trip around Australia, they had sold their house and will one day settle somewhere that meets their fancy, but for now the world is their oyster. This was a big night with Murray and Jeff beginning happy hour very early and being three sheets to the wind by the time the guests arrived. Both were very happy and talking a lot but Murray became the slurry one after several shots of sambucca.  An entertaining evening. What was annoying is that the next day neither Murray or Jeff were unwell, maybe a slight dull head but that’s it.  Not fair.

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Our first weekend was spent in York. On the way there we visited quaint little towns like Beverly where we ate lunch in a lovely park attached to the old railway and visited the local art gallery which was run by a very chatty front of house host and her hubby, who was one of the artists.  In York the men went to the car and bike museum for some nostalgia time while Sharyn and I perused the bookshops, lolly shop and whatever else we could find in this beautiful old town.

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Another friend of Murray’s from airforce days, Peter Knox and his wife Maureen had a house in York so we dropped by for a cuppa and what was hiding in his shed but some motorbikes for the guys to drool over, listen to and enjoy.  Peter and Maureen live in Perth city through the week but weekend in York working on their house which is heritage only meaning they have to maintain a certain frontage and can work on the interior as they wish.  They have a fantastic property with a beautiful walk backing onto the Avon River not far from their back door.

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That evening, Saturday, we stayed at the Nod and Nosh and enjoyed Christmas in July at Settler’s House which is run by another mate, Brian Huddy, of Murray’s, apprentice intake, and Peter’s airforce days and who also knows Jeff from his current employment. His partner runs Settlers’s with him and her sister runs the accommodation of the motel.  We had an absolutely fabulous evening with entertainment by Geoffoire Honkytonk on piano and as Santafella singing and also Psycho Santa, Narelle Belle as Santarella and Amy Housewine.  These entertainers both made us laugh till we cried and had us all up singing, dancing and having a ball all night.  The food was exceptional, three luscious courses of  soup, Christmas dinner and pudding. What a fabulous night we spent with all these new and old friends, I even made it behind the bar before the night was over.

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We returned to Jeff and Sharyn’s on Sunday afternoon, rested up overnight and set out for King’s Park in Perth on the Monday morning, 18th, where we ran into the ‘Pokemon Go’ game that has taken hold of the world, people were everywhere on this day as this was the latest hub for the game.  It didn’t take over our having fun though and as we hadn’t been to Perth for 24 years we made the most of our day. We also went to Elizabeth Quay which is the newest foreshore development in Perth. The next day Jeff, Murray and Emma all went for a bike ride to visit Jeff’s dad Dave in Safety Bay about an hour from the hills where we were.  Sharyn and I went to the shops for dinner ingredients and spent time playing ‘Bananas’, a new word game better than Scrabble while having a few laughs.

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Wednesday was spent in the Swan Valley. A day for the girls. Wine tastings-only two wineries Talijancich Wines and Olive Farm Wines where the lady, Deb was so good Sharyn and I were nearly legless by the time we left, so we didn’t taste anymore after this one;  chocolates which were so creamy, cheeses, noughat, nuts, and the biggest lunch at Penny Gardens before heading to Koffeeworks to select some coffee and teas to take home. We had the best day and talked all the way home while sightseeing on the way.

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Jeff and Murray headed for the Auctions the next day to see if they could get Emma a bike of her own as she was very keen for it, she had already achieved her learner’s  permit to learn to ride, they returned home that afternoon grinning from ear to ear and the next morning bought the ‘newest member of the family home’, a KTM Duke 200 and Emma was ecstatic, to say the least.

This garage is getting by busy.

This garage is getting by busy.

Friday we went to Perth Mint but Murray forgot the camera and I left the iPad in the car so no photos which is a shame as we saw an actual gold bar being made from melting to pouring to solid.  This place was fascinating. That night we were invited to the Knox’s in Perth for happy hour and Pizza dinner. The view from their third floor apartment was amazing out over the night sky of Perth. Their daughter Kirsten came for dinner and we were so thrilled to meet her at last, another lovely young lady.

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Saturday we spent much of the day in Fremantle catching up with a family friend Rhonda Begg for lunch which was fish and chips at Kailis’ then we met up with her son and my friend since we were littlies, Daryl for coffee.  We caught up on everything since we had last chatted and had a wonderful day together.  The rain had once again settled in so after a quick look around the Fremantle markets we took off back to Jeff and Sharyn’s for a night on the lounge with a movie.  Another friend from Wollongong, Tammy who lives in Perth came to dinner in Glen Forrest on Sunday night and it was lovely to see her again, she is good friend with our friends back home, Bec and Kev.

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Leanne, Tammy and Murray.

Leanne, Tammy and Murray.

Our last day in Glen Forrest was spent washing, packing and Grocery shopping  for the next part of our adventure down the coast.  Dinner on this night was spent with the whole family, the first time all three children had been together since we had arrived, they are a credit to their mum and dad and each have their own unique personality.  It was a privilege to meet them all.  Lots of laughs this night, good food, drinks and singing.  The bike came in for a family photo but doesn’t actually live in the house.  What a wonderful family and fantastic friends these people are.

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Sad as it was to say goodbye to them all, we knew we would once again catch up in the not too distant future.  Farewell for now to the Wards and thankyou so much for putting us up and putting up with us. We had a ball. Till next time.

Cheers xo.

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The Trip South Begins.

Heading south was going to get a lot cooler for us after the temperatures being mostly mid to high thirties for most of our trip but we were looking forward to seeing some old friends and making some new ones.

Day 1, 01/07, was mostly spent in the car. We pulled into Sandfire Roadhouse for diesel and to make some lunch.  Never before had we seen such a line up for fuel, waiting time was about half an hour. Lunch with the peacocks around was interesting as one in particular took a liking to me and what I was eating, trying to get to the saos in my hand and stalking me around the trailer. Our stopover for the night was on the De Grey River at a rest stop which was right beside the river and it was very peaceful. Our neighbours were from a cattle station near Binnu and were lovely people, Ian and Kay (not our previous friends, just a coincidence), they invited us to join them by their fire that evening which we did and it was good to hear of their adventures for ideas on places to visit.

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The next day we headed to Port Hedland, as the weather wasn’t the best we didn’t do a lot of sightseeing on the way but we did enjoy the drive. First stop was in South Hedland to stock up on supplies then back to Port Hedland for some sightseeing around the Port and Salt lakes.  Freight liners were huge down at the Port, as we enjoyed our lunch there we saw a couple come in which was amazing to see. It was here we met Charlie and Mick who invited themselves to a seat with Murray while I got lunch ready at the trailer. When I returned with the lunch Mick says, “That’s what we need, Charlie!”  “What’s that?”  says Charlie. “A wife, then we’d have some lunch too!” laughs Mick. They both sit there having a great old laugh and then continue to chat.  I laugh at them when they head for the car as neither of them looks like they’re real healthy or agile enough for driving the car they’re in. Funny old chaps they were.

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Whim Creek Hotel was where we decided to spend the evening and set up camp in the car park.  It doesn’t cost anything to camp or shower here as long as you patronise the bar/restaurant.  There were quite a few staying here including the ‘Ride to the Other Side’ charity team who have been driving a ride on mower around the country over the past couple of years. There was even a band setting up for the evening…it was now we find out it is the beginning of NAIDOC week and the band weren’t the only indigenous we would see that night.  Well, this was certainly an entertaining evening with car loads of people from outlying communities arriving, plenty of alcohol being consumed by most of them and some very intriguing characters among them.

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Our dinner was lovely with our neighbours joining us, Elaine and George from Mildura, but as our trailer isn’t something you can lock the doors on we headed back early to look after things. Just as well we did as some young girls with the families inside decided they might take a look around the vans in the car park but didn’t expect to find us sitting outside ours having a cuppa in the dark and when they approached they got a scare.  Haha, we caught them out.  Nobody bothered us throughout the night, even though there was a bit of an argument in the early hours of the morning but nothing that wasn’t stopped without a fight.

The next morning we headed to Karratha in search of some touristy things to see and do. At the information centre the staff were fantastic, very informative and made us feel guilty that we weren’t staying in town for the night but we wanted to see Dampier as well that day and had plans to free camp somewhere. We filled up our water tank on the trailer and set off for Dampier.  The weather wasn’t looking too favourable but it did hold off while we did some sightseeing. This place reminded me of something Hawaiian with the palms along the sandy waterfront and the colour of the water.  After a drive around the Dampier port and beaches we had our lunch at a park opposite the Red Dog memorial. I love that movie.  Sturt’s Desert Pea was growing beautifully here and is an unusual but pretty flower.

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Dampier is home to the North West Shelf Project, one of Australia’s largest resource developments and the world’s biggest producers of gas. This plant was amazing, it was a shame we were there on a day it was closed to the public because we would have loved to do a tour but we managed to take some great photos.

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Robe River was our place of rest for the night and as we set up it began to spit with rain but we managed to get dinner in without getting wet as we enjoyed sharing a shelter with some other people who had stopped here for the night. It was here we cooked up our station sausages from Barn Hill and they were beautiful. Then the heavens opened and didn’t let up much throughout the night.  We had a very wet pack up the next morning and moved on as some of the roads behind us were beginning to be closed.

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Our trip south was supposed to take us about two weeks. The plans were to visit Ningaloo, Shark Bay and Monkey Mia before arriving in Perth around the 11th July but the weather was beginning to get a bit monotonous with rain, rain and more rain predicted everywhere we went or wanted to go. After our wet pack up at Robe River we headed to Carnarvon where the weather was fine by the time we got there but the midgies and mozzies weren’t too friendly, even Murray was affected by the midgies this time.  Luck was on our side though and we had a very good indoor camp kitchen which we made use of to eat our dinner in over the two nights we were there. We did do some touristy things such as visiting the 1 mile jetty, Chinaman’s pool and the Space Museum which we could also see from the caravan park at night.  This station was part of integral communications for the first landing on the moon but it was never widely known or publicised like the Parkes telescope.  We also had our flu shots while in town at a chemist, where they were very friend and only too happy to assist us.

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The caretakers of our caravan park, The Capricorn, were helpful and friendly, they liked to treat their patrons with something different in themed evenings and we were happy to join in their curry night for $15 each with three different curries, rice and pappadums. A great evening where we sat with the caretakers Mal and Michelle plus their helpers that night Doug and Margy.  Once again we had plenty of laughs, heard lots of stories and the food was excellent. Fresh veges were supplied each morning by a local farmer and for sale at the front office.  Rain and bad weather persisted while we were here which made it hard to want to move on due to wet pack ups but we were now pushing ourselves to get to Perth and the comfort of Jeff and Sharyn’s home.

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The weather followed us all the way to our next overnight stop which was at Galena Bridge Rest Area where the birdlife was beautiful and it didn’t rain before, during or after dinner. The whole night remained rain free and we managed a dry pack up the next morning which was most pleasant.

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Geraldton was to be our next overnight stop, we were unsure where we would be staying though.  Kalbarri National Park was just near Kalbarri and we wanted to see Nature’s Window which was within the Park. This was a very busy tourist attraction to visit and it was so worth it.  Beautiful and amazing place. Fields were turning yellow with canola and wheat fields were dotted with emusas we headed further south, we went to the Port of Kalbarri and enjoyed our lunch overlooking the waters.

The approach to Geraldton and the fields were turning gold with canola.

The approach to Geraldton and the fields were turning gold with canola.

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We booked into a quaint little caravan park in Geraldton, Batavia Coast Caravan Park, it was clean and quiet. From here we headed into Geraldton to visit the HMAS Sydney 2 memorial which was absolutely brilliant.  Murray also purchased his new wood box here to  keep things dry for our fires and make it easier and neater to keep things on top of the trailer.

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The new hard case for fire wood.

The new hard case for fire wood.

It was definitely a colder night here and wetter. When it was time to pack up on the morning of the 8th the heavens opened and this became our wettest pack up  ever. We were drenched, it became windy as well and made folding the canvas more difficult. In the end we just got in the car and waited a while but it didn’t stop for long. Packed up and on the road we headed to Perth to dry out, warm up and catch up with our friends.

Cheers xo

 

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Beaches, Shells and Fishing.

Hello there, I’m back. I’ve been a bit slack with my writing since we arrived in Perth nearly two weeks ago, and as my friend Yvonne said to me today I must be having too good a time to sit down and finish this blog. Anyway here it is.

After our ‘Once in a Lifetime’ adventure at the amazing Horizontal Falls our thoughts were to head to Cape Leveque with some free camping along the way. I’m not really a beach swimmer, I will admit that the waves scare me, but I do like to walk on the beach to collect shells and rocks and paddle in the rock pools.  After a quick diesel top up and a bite of lunch we hit the sandy track to the Cape where we were going to check out a couple of free camps along the way,  Quondong Point and James Price Point.

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As Quondong was first we turned in to take a peak and were greeted with a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean. The day was clear, hot and calm and this was where we decided to stay for a couple of nights away from everything except the ocean and a handful of people that were friendly but not on top of us.  Our camp was right on the ridge overlooking the beach.  to our amazement and excitement we managed to see few giant sea turtles breaching the waves but it was quite difficult to get decent photos at such a distance.

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Our afternoon was filled some walks on the beach, a chat with the boys while we enjoyed happy hour and a beautiful sunset on the horizon. As night fell we enjoyed the sound of waves crashing on the rocks below and an amazing starry sky above. Sleep didn’t come too easily for me that night as it’s usually quiet for us and I’m not used to beach noise. It became quite windy with a huge tide that produced bigger waves with plenty of noise due to the proximity of our camp to the beach.

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Saturday morning we set off early for a walk. It was a little calmer than the night before and overcast when we left camp.  The beach was cluttered with plenty of shells from the dumping it received the night before and the rock pools were full.  As the morning wore on the sun appeared as did the wind, which became quite blustery as we returned to the trailer. Not being prepared for the wind or sun while on our walk we became quite sun and wind burnt, not like us at all.  We had made an extensive hoard of shells while on the beach though which we were pretty chuffed with and saw heaps of hermit crabs along the sand.

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After another walk that afternoon the weather turned quite blustery and it became quite clear that it wasn’t going to improve but get a whole lot worse through the night.  As the camper trailer creaked in the wind I began to think it wasn’t so good to be so close to the edge. The next morning we were told by our neighbours that a severe weather warning had been issued for the coast and once again we had been in it.  Sleep deprived after a rough night and ready to move on we packed up finding it quite difficult with the wind billowing the tent on the trailer and making folding up hard for us.

We didn’t head to the Cape after this, instead opting to move on to Barn Hill which is about 120km south of Broome (where we had popped into for some supplies and voting).  Barn Hill is situated on Thangoo Station, a working cattle station, which stretches 85kms along the coast between Broome and Port Headland, running 8,000 head of Braham cattle.  It was here we met up again with our good friends Kay and Ian Power and new friends Roger and Lyn.

Set up at Barn Hill.

Set up at Barn Hill.

We settled in quite happily here, first booking in for two nights then extending to four.  Each day we walked along the beach adding to our cache of shell and beginning a rock one as well. The rock formations here were absolutely amazing and each day we would discover another little niche around the corner. The daytime temperatures were still very warm and the nights were comfortable. Dinner was shared each evening with our group of friends followed by a game of canasta, which Murray and I adapted to playing quite quickly. Many laughs, drinks and stories were shared each day.

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Our toilet and shower blocks were open air which was quite refreshing after a warm day on the beach or around the caravan park and we very rarely needed to use the hot water with the heat.  Lawn bowls was quite popular here and it was fun to watch, players were barefoot on a sandy green and no uniform was required.  We enjoyed a homemade ice cream in a cone and iceblocks each day to cool off.

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Murray even went fishing with Ian and Roger one afternoon, but he preferred to be taking photos than holding the rod.  The fish were going off while we were there, it was common to walk on the beach and catch the sight of someone reeling one in, their smiles were priceless.  Eating the fresh fish was even better and we were able to do that a bit with Ian and Roger having regular success. Queen, Spanish mackerel, whiting and threadfin salmon were the popular catches of the day while we were there.  The station staff made regular deliveries of fresh sausages and mince, vanilla slice, bread and lamingtons to the shop each morning, all of which were made on the station.  We bought some of the sausages to take with us when we left and discovered them to be the best ever, no preservatives and absolutley no fat in them, better still was the fact that they didn’t upset my reflux when I ate them.

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Moving on was a decision that held some trepidation for us as we were leaving our friends, not knowing when we would catch up again and not sure where we were headed next, only knowing that we were now heading south towards Perth and it was going to cool off soon. So much more to see and do though so we needed to get back on the road of adventure.

Cheers. Xo

 

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A Date with Adventure.

We returned to Derby on Monday 20th June to spend the next five days relaxing, sightseeing and for our adventure to the Horizontal Falls. Our home for this time would be the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park where we had a very spacious site and once again,  good neighbours. image

Tuesday morning we were up and raring to go. The bus picked us up at 8.15am and took us to our waiting sea plane at Derby Airport. The flight was so smooth. Take off and landing were too easy. I thought landing on the water would be rough but it was smoother than on land.

Before take off, not real sure how this will go.

Before take off, not real sure how this will go.

Excited couple selfie.

Excited couple selfie.

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Our flight into Talbot Bay took us over the falls we were to ride through that day and from above they didn’t look too bad, but it was low tide at the time.

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Arriving at the jetty in the middle of Talbot Bay we were quickly greeted by Adrian, our boat skipper and guide for the day. He put us straight through our safety talk and got us all into the boat immediately as the tides were to be big that day because of the winter solstice, shortest day of the year 21st June, so we didn’t have time to think of anything other than holding on tight. Murray headed to the front of the boat but I didn’t follow as I wasn’t real sure so remained at the back. There were twelve of us on this little boat and it certainly had some grunt. We sat astride our seats like we were on a horse with a ‘hold on tight’ bar in front of each seat, which quickly became my best friend.

The 'yeah, I'm ok' look.

The ‘yeah, I’m ok’ look.

On the ride out to secure our bags at the lunch mooring and get safety jackets on we were told all about the Sharks and crocs in the water and how important it was to stay in the boat. Hmmm, now I’m starting to wonder what Murray has got me into.

The water was beautiful, the sun was heating up and my heart was pumping as we headed out to the falls for our first run. I could see Murray up front with a grin from ear to ear, he was pumped and loving it. We met up with another boat that was sitting in the first section of falls which was the wider of the two, 10 or so metres wide. Adrian backed our boat in next to them and you could feel the rush of the water pulling and pushing against the boat and this was only low tide still.

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Through we went backwards and then forwards. The force of this water was unreal. Then we were taken on a trip around the cove between the two falls taking note of the watermarks on the walls that were up to 11 metres high when tides were well in. We then passed through the narrower falls, about 7 metres wide and the water really was strong here. My heart was pounding after a few passes in and out of  these massive sections of water, I think I was more concerned with the boat tipping over than anything, in the rush of this water. ..oh and the noise of the water surrounding me, and the speed of the boat and ….the list goes on.

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After a few passes in and out of the falls we returned to our mooring for some morning tea and a swim with the Sharks. What???? A caged of area was set up for us to swim in with the Sharks fed on the other side. They weren’t great whites but were still intimidating. Murray had a play with them, not me.

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Lunch was back on deck with young Grace cooking up a storm at the BBQ of Barramundi. It smelt fantastic and tasted even better with a lovely couscous salad and tossed salad plus a bread roll if you wished. Wow, my mouth waters just thinking of it again.

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We were taken back out to high tide at the falls after lunch, another thriller of a ride with the roar of the water so much louder now, and then on a tour around all the hidden coves in this amazing part of the country with rock formations full of colour and character.

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Our flight home took us out over the Bucaneer Archipalego and the barramundi breeding tanks. It was good to be back on solid ground after an awesome day in which I overcame some more fears, although timidly.

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Back at the caravan park we caught up with some people from our day and relived our memories we had all made. It truly was an amazing day.

Our evening visitor.

Our evening visitor.

The next day, Wednesday, was about washing and catching up on some R&R in the park along with some tidying up in the car and trailer. It was another hot day but we did manage a walk around the streets of Derby for some exercise. Thursday I had a haircut and then we set out on some sightseeing visiting the Prison Boab tree, the old gaol, the longest water trough that can take over 500 cows at once and taking in a sunset that evening down at the wharf where eleven metre tides can be expected at times. Friday we stocked up the groceries ready to hit the road once again and we caught up with our niece Bethany and her family (whom we were to visit in Pannowonica on our way down the coast) for the evening before they hit the Gibb River Road for their few weeks holiday.

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Saturday morning we packed up and set off towards Cape Leveque unsure of where we would be that night but sure it would be somewhere new and memorable.

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Cheers. Xo

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A birthday in Broome.

Off the Gibb and back to reality. We needed some power and Internet. Topped up again with fruit and vegetables and a lovely lunch with Kay and Ian, we left Derby and headed to a freecamp along the road towards Broome that had been recommended to us by neighbours at Windjana. Tumble Goodine was its name, a bush camp on a property off a side road on the Fitzroy River a few kilometres up the road from Willare.

Opening the gate to this place gave me a few doubts as to what it was going to be like. The road in had been churned up by people coming in to fish on the property and having fun in the recent wet, so this made the road very interesting to manouvre through. I didn’t enjoy this drive at all as it also had a few ups and downs that weren’t that friendly.  Murray had to get out several times to clear tree branches off the path in front of us and walk ahead to find the path between overgrown trees. I kept telling him there was no way through but he’d find one. There were fences down and barbed wire on the track. We arrived at the spots we were told about. They were way too isolated for me and near the river where there was a resident salt water croc, so we were told. The bush land was thick so I felt it was not that safe for a fire. Murray took a look around, checked my face and said maybe it was better to move on if I wasn’t going to rest easy here. Phew! No photos we taken here as I wasn’t keen and Murray wasn’t real impressed with me, just use your imagination.

Back out we went with me gritting teeth all the way. Further up the road, about 100kms from Broome, we found Nullibubicca Rest Area and pulled in there. Down by a fence was a lovely quiet spot so we set up for the night. A few other cars pulled in near us and we met two backpackers who had been picking fruit in Orange on their trip, then met Emma and Christina from England whom we quickly began chatting with, even inviting them to join us for happy hour, our shout, as they had no fridge with them. Really lovely and friendly girls, 21 & 23, with good heads on their shoulders. They were waiting here a few days to hear about a job in Mataranka which they had applied for. A couple of days after we left they messaged us to let us know they were successful. Well done to them. Murray admitted we were lucky to have come here in the end, much more friendly than the other spot and we met these two girls.

Happy hour with Christina and Emma.

Happy hour with Christina and Emma.

We arrived on Friday 17th June to another hot day in Broome, although the temperatures had dropped to low thirties mostly and the nights were cooling off to 18s, which was good for us as the past month had mostly been 37 with lows of 25. Tarangau Caravan Park was well set out with clean ammenities and the sites were shady enough.  Our site was powered and we weren’t crowded by our neighbours as we were at the end of a row and facing a different direction.

Camp Morris in Broome.

Camp Morris in Broome.

Heading out for a look around we went to Cable Beach first. The water was that lovely turquoise and the sand was white. It looked like a postcard with the red rocks of the Gantheaume Point in the background. Sunset would be lovely here so we would come back for that. We went for a walk down at the Port where road trains were delivering livestock for export. Part of the jetty was being refurbished so we couldn’t walk right out but it was a lovely view back to the beaches and points. Gantheaume Point was just beautiful, everywhere we looked  there was a myriad of colour with all the rocks, sky and water surrounding the point. Murray decided that we would come here for a sunset and happy hour the next night. After getting the rest of our groceries we returned to the camper for dinner.

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Saturday we got up early as usual and headed to the Courthouse markets, we were hoping to meet Kay and Ian there as they were arriving in Broome that morning, and we did. There were plenty of goodies and wares being sold, from handmade to commercial, this market had it all. Of course, I beelined for the homemade goodies and Kay and I enjoyed taste testing all the chutneys, pickles, dukkahs and sauces as well as smelling all the candles and soaps.  I had to be careful because anything I purchased had to make it back home yet. Murray and Ian had a bit of a look around but were still in the same spot we had left them when we returned.  All of us enjoyed some morning tea with fresh ground coffee for Ian, Kay and Murray and handmade lemongrass and mint tea for me. We returned to our caravan park for lunch and then did some sightseeing with the Powers. Murray was the guide as we had already seen quite a bit the day before on our little tour and he impressed Ian with his intake and bearings of the local surroundings.

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That evening we returned to Gantheaume Point for our sunset happy hour with Ian and Kay.  We had our wine, beer, nibblies and cameras ready for a great time and it was, with plenty of laughs shared, photos taken and memories made. We met a lovely young lady there, Megan, who was into photography and happily gave the men tips on angles and lighting. Plenty of people made their way down to this spot and it didn’t disappoint anyone with a spectacular sunset that evening.

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Sunday, 19th June, my birthday. I am so lucky to have been in such a special part of the country for my birthday this year. It was a far cry from the sad one of last year as I had lost my beautiful mum on the 17th, two days before. Mum and dad had both been on my mind over the past few weeks (8 years on 4th since I lost dad) and I often wonder if they are enjoying this journey of ours from above as they are with me in my heart everyday. Nothing planned for today I just wanted to relax, do some blogging and talk to our boys on FaceTime. It was made even better though as I not only saw the boys but Kev, Bec and Allira too and I got some lovely surprise phone calls from  Scott and Kylie and several family and friends which I hadn’t expected. An afternoon dip was enjoyed at Cable Beach and Kay and Ian had organised a birthday cake and drinks at their van for that afternoon, another thoughtful surprise.  Dinner was at Zanders on Cable Beach where I got to enjoy some excellent barramundi with my wonderful husband. All in all a very special and relaxing day. What a life.

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Monday, 20th we said farewell to Kay and Ian yet again but knew we would run into them while on the West Coast somewhere. We headed back to Derby to stay for five nights as we had our Horizontal Falls trip on the 21st and our niece Bethany and family were arriving on the 24th on their way to the Gibb River Road.

Till next time, cheers. Xo

 

 

 

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The Gibb River Road, Part Two – Silent Grove to Derby.

We departed Manning Gorge on the 10th June and pointed the car in the direction of Silent Grove. Along the way we did a quick stopover at Galvins Gorge which is a short 1.5km walk from the road in. It was very peaceful, the water was cool and clear. A swim would have been nice but we didn’t have one, not sure if you can and we wanted to get to Silent Grove. The roads had improved since Ellenbrae much to our pleasure, we had no further problems with the car or trailer.

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Silent Grove is run by the National Parks, fees are $12 per night per person and a $12 vehicle fee also has to be paid. The campgrounds are very spacious, plenty of trees, with a generator area separate from the quiet area where we camped. Showers blocks have about four showers in each and toilet cubicles are seperate in single blocks. All were very clean. The water is fresh spring water from a little Spring just near the campgrounds. We still boiled it up before use, just in case. It was hot and a little dusty when we set up but we had some shade. There is no power here at all so solar was very popular.  We once again ran into our fellow Albion Park friends, Gaye and Richard, which was lovely, and also Marco and Donna from Mareeba whom we had met at El Q. Small world really. This place had a lovely ambience about it, there were lots of campers both nights we were there but it wasn’t a noisy place. Everyone was generally in bed before 9.30 and up early in the mornings with the sun searing through.

Morris camp at Silent Grove, Murray relaxing.

Morris camp at Silent Grove, Murray relaxing.

Bell Gorge is about a 10km drive on a not so rough but dusty road. It is a forty five minute walk into the gorge and to the waterfalls, but it is so well worth it. We began at 7.30 because it was going to be another hot day. A tough walk in places with a water crossing that was a little slipperyin places, we wore our wet shoes through here because there we no stones out of the water so we were bound to get wet feet. There were places along the edges of cliffs where I was hanging on tight with my little fingers. I also had to sit and bum shuffle over some large boulders and squeeze through some more narrow areas but I did it with Murray encouraging me all the way.

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When we reached the top of the gorge and climbed down into the swimming area it was absolutley breathtaking. A picturesque place indeed. Once again fresh clear water, it was a little colder that any other hole we had swam in to date.  It was only us there for a short time and it was so peaceful away from the world. After a swim, we enjoyed our oranges and a rest, then headed off on the climb back out. What an accomplishment I felt we had achieved. I was pretty proud of myself this day, pushing myself to do something that I wouldn’t normally do as this was harder than other gorges we had done. Murray was impressed with me too because I didn’t back down from the challenge.

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In camp later that afternoon we spent a pleasant happy hour with Gaye and Richard and after dinner sat around a campfire with our neighbours enjoying some more company of fellow travellers. We would highly recommend Silent Grove and Bell Gorge.

On we travelled the next day, 12th June, to Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge, located in the heart of the King Leopold Range Conservation Park where the rock formations were now black dolerite, no longer red ranges. The camp here was another bush camp set on the banks of the Barker River, with spacious camp spots, all unpowered, and clean, roomy ammenities. The drive in is fifty kilometres off the main road with about seventeen creek and river crossings of which eight were wet. We stopped along the road to get firewood as we wanted to do our curry in our camp oven for dinner even though it was too hot to enjoy a fire still. Murray got the coals just right and put them in the hole he had dug, we popped our oven on top, covered it in coals and waited. It smelt fantastic and tasted even better when we sat down to enjoy it that evening.

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It was a very peaceful camp the first night as there were only six lots of campers, possibly due to the long drive in off the main road. The only annoying thing was the amount of flies which we had not had anywhere else. We finally met a couple we had seen at Silent Grove, Michael and Karen, they were lovely and were travelling our direction after this too. That evening a young couple pulled in just near us. We began to chat and found out they were from Orange. Their names were Brittney and Mitchell, they had a little girl Addy. Turns out they know my cousin Mark’s daughter Liz and also his son Ben. The world just got smaller. Wow, fancy meeting someone who knows my family all the way across the other side of the country.

There are a few swimming holes at Mt Hart such as:- Annie’s Gorge which is only a little plunge pool but quite pretty; Mt Matthew Gorge, a twenty minute walk along a dry rocky creek bed which you follow upstream, a bit of rock climbing till you reach the waterfall and waterhole, this was very pretty; Barker Pools where you can swim and fish, only a fifteen minute drive from camp. We didn’t swim in any of the waterholes as I didn’t find them too inviting, they weren’t as clear as the ones we had been used to.

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On the evening of the 13th we had booked dinner at the restaurant up at the homestead. We took the trip across the airstrip and up the hills, about 1.7kms, to the sunset viewing area on Sunset Hill. Another sunset, I know, but it was a lovely spot with a beautiful outlook over the Station.  While there we met Kay and Rod, Kevin and Evelyn from Perth and shared happy hour and a stunning part of the day.

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At dinner we joined this same group of friendly people and had a scrumptious meal cooked by Chef Brad, served by Roberta and Marcus. Starter was homemade ciabatta with fresh chilli and lime hummus. Entree was pea and ham soup, not usually my fave but I enjoyed it. Main was lamb roast with all the trimmings including fresh mint sauce. Dessert was cinnamon tea cake, stewed pears and vanilla bean egg custard. Mmmmm. We were so full but satisfied.  When we returned to our camp we found that the traditional owners of the land had moved in for the night and there were plenty of them, but they didn’t cause us any angst.

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Windjana Gorge is about 86kms from Mt Hart turnoff. Our plan was to spend two nights here which we did. As we headed towards Windjana we passed through Queen Victoria’s Head and the Napier Ranges. Wow, what stunning rock formations and colours. the road into Windjana is quite corrugated and unrelenting to some poor people though.

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Just when you when think you’ve seen every rock formation there can be, up pops the stunning walls of Windjana. Black, red, orange the colours take your breath away. Massive walls of rock all the way to the sky, almost. The campgrounds here were the same as Silent Grove with the same prices as they’re run also by National Parks. They have two completely separate areas for generators and quiet camping with a day area in between so you don’t even hear the noise from the generator camp. Still warm so it was great to have some shade for at least half a day, need it to top up solar.

Camp at Windjana.

Camp at Windjana.

After a cuppa we headed to the gorge for a look as it was only a fifteen minute walk from our campground to the beach within the gorge. The full gorge walk of 3.5kms is not totally open at the moment, not sure why, but we enjoyed the trek in along the Time Walk which takes a look at marine life forms fossilised within the limestone of the gorge walls.  We saw some sort of fossilised fish from the Devonian times preserved in the limestone walls as we passed through. It was interesting for children to see. This gorge has been carved by the floodwaters of the Lenard River through the Napier Range. The walls look so smooth but when you feel them they’re rougher than you realise. Freshwater crocodiles are abundant here as are their food the Archer fish. On our first afternoon, around 4ish when we returned from Tunnel Creek we only caught a few freshies lolling in the water. Would have to come back in the morning.

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Tunnel Creek was something you could do at anytime of day so we headed out after setting up to tackle it. It was a rough drive out along many corrugations. I wasn’t too sure of this walk as it was in the dark of a tunnel and it was in water. We had bought our wet shoes to do this one so I thought I might as well give it a go. Luckily for me some of the water wasn’t more than knee deep, on me, shins on others, the rest was lucky to be ankle deep mostly. The tunnel is up to 12 metres high and 15 metres wide in parts and at the centre the roof has partially collapsed and is where the fruit bats often take roost. It is not possible to do this walk in the wet season. Murray had his headlamp on and I had my trusty torch, or so I thought.  As we found on our walk through there are a few little freshwater crocs but they are more scared of you than the likelihood to bite someone. I wasn’t taking my chances though so I hurried through each section. After walking through the deepest section Murray says to me did I see that little fellow over there and sure enough he got it on camera. I didn’t think it was too little. Then as we looked around we could see many little red eyes in the dark looking back at us. Glad I hadn’t realised earlier. On our return to the beginning, our now exit my torch went dead, which did not impress me at all. I took the headlamp and semi led the way for Murray. When all is said and done I actually did enjoy myself in there, it was a different feeling, I would t say an easy one.  I was glad to get back out into the sunlight at the end though and back to the car although it was cooler in the tunnel.

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Windjana never ceased to amaze me. Not just because of the colours and look of the rock formations but the serenity of the place. It is just so peaceful. You feel like you are on another planet away from anything with not a care in the world. Just you, the peace and the crocs, which I might say were numerous when we returned the next morning to see them, around nine. They were beginning to surface on top of the water and some on the banks of the river, and as the day went on they came out in their numbers. We returned to the beach at oneish, after lunch, and I counted around 150 then struggled to keep count. They were everywhere along the banks, surfacing all the time from the water. You’d see bubbles then pop another one had appeared. Watching them was so relaxing as they weren’t worried about you and if you keep your distance you haven’t got to worry about them either.  We could have stayed the forever watching them. Spectacular. Exhilarating. My heart was pounding being so close to these beasts of time.

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Once again we had made friends with new people and met up with others we had already met along our travels, Michael and Karen from Silent Grove, Marcus and Donna from El Q. On our last trek into the gorge we ran into another couple from Orange with three children, who turned out to live at Nashdale and she was Erica from Nashdale Hall, there goes that world again getting smaller everyday lately. Our neighbours, Theresa and Mick, were there the two nights, they were lovely and made our nights more pleasant with our chats and laughs.

Sunset chat.

Sunset chat.

After two magical nights and days at Windjana we were heading to Derby where we desperately needed to restock our fridge and pantry, we were out of fruit and veg, without these essentials life isn’t the same. It is an accomplishment to have driven this road and survived, we have evidence of that.

Done and dusted, I should say dusty. Lol

Done and dusted, I should say dusty. Lol

When we reached Derby we got reception and found out our friends Kay and Ian were in Derby too so we met up with them and had a most enjoyable lunch at The Kettle Cafe. As we had a few days to kill before we needed to be back in Derby for our treat on the 21st we decided to head to Broome for a few nights.

Ian was pretty chuffed with the presentation of his sausage roll.

Ian was pretty chuffed with the presentation of his sausage roll.

Cheers.xo

 

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