Way 2013 Trip Diary - Part One - Perth to Broome
5.6.13 ......Unique I believe to
Western Australia, we have a 3000 km
hike from Perth to reach the start point for our journey. We
are leaving from Albany on the South Coast of Western Australia,
and our first major destination to start our journey, is Broome
in North Western Australia. We have spent a fortune (or so it
seems) on preparing my 1999 Toyota Landcruiser which ticked
over the 400k on our Kimberley Trip in 2011. And then we discovered
a damp smell in the caravan, and so I took it in to have it
re-sealed against moisture intrusion, and was infoirmed that
I was too late, and the entire front and some of the back had
already suffered ..... BADLY. And so we pick the caravan up
on Monday, and then hopefully we can get moving.
13.6.13 Finally, we are on the road. Got away from Perth
around 11am, and called into Yanchep, Two Rocks, Seabird, Ledge
Point and Lancelin. The rangers are fairly strict up the Indian
Ocean Road I believe regarding free camping, and so we did the
right thing and checked both caravan parks, who couldn't accommodate
our van size. And so, we found a spot that I have camped in
a couple of years ago about 15 kms north of Lancelin, and we
will see how we go.
14.6.13 Another beautiful day in the West, and a leisurely
day drifting up the Indian Ocean Drive, calling into Wedge Island,
Grey, Cervantes and a number of other little points where side
tracks met the ocean. Took a left turn at the Lake Indoon/Eneabba
turnoff and headed down to a delightful little fishing spot,
only to find that what was a fairly easy turn around with a
30' long van 15 months ago, was no longer that easy. After a
few attempts from various angles, we wound up reversing back
up the road about 150m or so, and turned using a side track.
Our first TEST for the trip. Portable walkie talkies are a great
tool to have in the car with you. Saves so much potential aggro.
Finally arrived at my "secret" freecamp point on Seven
Mile Road just near Dongara, only to find two other vans already
set up. Guess it's not so secret after all………..
Tomorrow is a rest day …… after only two days? We've had a fairly
busy start to the week, driving from Albany to Perth, attending
to getting some jobs done in Perth whilst waiting for the word
to pick up the van, then on Tuesday spending the day sorting
the van, Wednesday was more shopping and family, and Thursday
we hit the road. Annette plans to do some fishing (we are literally
10m from the ocean) …… and anyway, the V8s are on in Darwin.
15.6.13 Rest day…… see Day 2 post. Annette took to the beach
with her rod and fishing bucket, and came back with what was
supposed to be our meal for the night ….. but turned out to
be a 6 cm Blowfish. Undeterred, after lunch, she headed out
again, but again unsuccessful. She could see the fish out there,
but being forced to used a lure ('cos we had no bait - I should
have told her where we were camping instead of making it a surprise)
the fish weren't taking much notice. I spent much of the day
fighting with my Mac trying to gain control of iPhoto, and finally
worked it out, and I think, had a win. That was when I wasn't
watching the V8s on TV. Fishing is not in my field of interest,
but I have plenty of spots in mind for Annette to enjoy her
pastime as we head further north.
left 7 Mile Beach about 10ish, and headed into Geraldton. Needed
to find a 7 day chemist to stock up the drug supply, get some
fuel, and move further north. We dropped into Champion Beach,
had a look around Northampton - gorgeous old buildings including
the old monastry , now a B&B - before heading down the road
to Horrocks, where we booked into the Caravan Park for the night.
Had a good piece of the sky to set up the dish, and caught up
on the days V8s on Foxtel. We also did a couple of loads of
17.6.13 Annette took off down to the jetty armed with bait,
a heavier sinker (to try and outwit the blowies - didn't work),
whilst I sat down to have a look at what happened in the world
of NASCAR, recorded overnight. Annette returned fishless, having
been told that you need to be down at the water at sparrowf..t.
Meanwhile, I had paused the race (will watch tonight) and had
the van all but ready to go when she returned. We pulled out
about 10.10am, and parked in a viewing spot on top of the hill
to make a couple of phone calls, and who should pull up, but
a couple of friends from Bridgetown, Rob and Jane. And so we
solved the world's problems, they headed on down the hill, and
we proceeded across the dirt road to the Port Gregory Rd, and
on to said village. There were more caravans gathered there
than you would find at George Day Caravans lot. Then it was
on the road to Kalbarri, which we decided to pass thru stopping
only to top up the tank - we had spent a fair bit of time in
the town in recent times - and continued on towards Carnarvon.
Tonight we are in a rest stop about 80 kms from Billabong, where
we hope to catch up with Shane Anderson from Postcard Adventures
where is that remote ……..?
18.6.13 It was a brisk 6 degrees when we woke this morning.
We didn’t hear the traffic after we hit the sack last night,
and I wouldn’t say it was busy, but if you have seen the “Blues
Brothers” movie, and can remember the scene where Jake and Elwood
were in Elwood’s room by the subway with the trains passing
every few seconds ......... well, it wasn’t QUITE like that
with the trucks........
We were in no hurry, and got moving about 9.20 this morning,
and first point of call was Billabong Roadhouse. Unfortunately,
we missed Shane Anderson, as he had gone down to Geraldton yesterday
and won’t be back until Wednesday. We trucked on at a leisurely
pace, stopping off at the Gladstone Scenic lookout near Wooramel,
where some tourists have taken a great deal of trouble to set
up a colony of Gnomes looking out across the plain towards the
At about 2.30, I had been suffering a bit of sinus discomfort,
and so we found a rest stop that looked as though it would do
for the night, hung out some washing that didn’t dry last night,
and hit the sack for a papa nap for an hour and a half.
Tonight, we are just 93 kms from Carnarvon.
DAY 7: 19.6.13 We rose to another beautiful, if a bit
chilly morning, and readied ourselves to hit the road again.
This time, only a hundred kms to Carnarvon, where we booked
into the Wintersun Top Tourist Park for a couple of nights.
We got into town to get a couple of jobs out of the way, before
cruising around the inlet that is part of the mouth of the Gascoyne
River. The Gascoyne is 830 kms long, and is referred to as the
blood stream of Carnarvon. It is mainly a subterranean river
when not in flood, and it’s water supply and fertile red sands
provide life to the town and its flourishing plantations.
We then found our way out to one of the plantations, where we
stocked up on some frozen mango cheeks and some other fruits.
20.6.13 Tomorrow, we move on, and so today was spent shopping
and stocking up on supplies for the next phase of our trip north,
which will take us via Onslow to Karratha. We bought some frozen
local mullet and cod ...... Annette hasn’t taken to the waters
with her rod again recently.... but that’s ok, she has some
great ideas for fish based meals over the next week or so.
I tried to find a technician who was handy with a soldering
iron, only to be told that there was no-one in town who could
help me. The only tech they had closed up shop and left town
due to health issues, and he was also the Jaycar agent. And
so it seems that any of that sort of thing just isn’t available
up here. Meanwhile, there are a couple of electrical businesses
who haven’t taken the opportunity to expand into another potential
side of their businesses. Oh well, it’ll just have to wait until
Karratha ..... what’s that you say, why don’t I do it myself
.... have you seen me with a soldering iron? ...... hahahahahahahaha
(hysterical laughter) ..............
For those that are interested. Diesel Carnarvon $1.659. ULP
$1.629 - There is a Woolworths Caltex.
21.6.13 We got away from Carnarvon about 10.30, and set
sail for Minilya. We pulled up at the Lydon River rest stop
for lunch, and spent some time having a look around the (dry)
river bed. After photographing some of the local feathered population,
we again hit the road. We stopped for fuel at Minilya, and were
surprised to find that Diesel was the same price as Carnarvon
that the sandhills were running parallel to the road. We reached
Burkett Road Rest Stop, and decided that we would look elsewhere
for a campspot that suited us better. Only 1.9 kms down the
road, we found a great little metal dump that fitted the bill
perfectly, set up the dish, and watched the Hawthorn/Eagles
22.6.13 We were on the road by 9.30, and heading for the
Barradale Rest Stop. We are in no hurry, and so later starts
and early finishes are all good. We are sitting around the 80
kph, averaging just under 5 kpl towing the “hotel” as my eldest
son likes to call it. Also, I had climbed out of bed at 6.30
and had pretty much designed a cover for a new DVD project I
am working on by breakfast time.
We now found
that we we running at right angles to the sand hills, and then
we hit the first range of hills that feature Mt Alexander at
Roadhouse is situated on the Ashburton River. We got our first
taste of high fuel prices when we discovered the $1.909 tag
on the bowser. We were heading for Onslow, and having fairly
full tanks, decided that we would pass, and fill up when we
reached the coastal town ......... wrong move ......... Diesel
is $1.989, and Unleaded is $2.06. Our next point of call is
Fortescue, and we had more than enough fuel to do that, but
we wanted to go out to Old Onslow Town, and so, decided to heck
with it, and filled up. In future, we will stick with our strategy
of topping up the tank each time we hit a road house.
We arrived in Onslow, and discovered that there are two caravan
parks, one was full, and the other didn’t appeal to us over
much. We had a look around, filled the tank, and headed out
to Three Mile Pool near Old Onslow Town, where we joined a group
of Free Campers along side the Ashburton, and Annette chucked
in a line. As I write, no result. But very pleasant surroundings.
reports of a 40mm downpour tomorrow, altho there is no sign
of it on the radar. If it does, we will be here for a while
I would think, as the road will surely be closed. At the moment,
looks great. Well, the dish is out, and we have Foxtel ....
what else do we need ... apart from a haul of fish from Annette
23.6.13 We checked the BOM site Radar, and had a close look
at Foxtel’s Weather Channel, and decided that with a couple
of dirt roads that had already taken a hammering in the last
week, and were showing that even a light downpour would be enough
to close them, that we would stay in front of proceedings and
head back to the bitumen.
It seemed that rain may have already taken it’s toll on one
of our planned routes, with the Onlsow - Peedamulla Road already
closed to all traffic. However, where we had camped, and indeed
on the road back to the North West Coastal Highway ........
not a skerrick. Subsequent Radar checks have shown us that the
rain appears to have gone south of Onslow .... so far. Anyhow,
we are subsequently parked about 40kms from Karratha beside
the Maitland River. We believe that we can expect some fairly
heavy rain over the next couple of days.
from the Onlsow turnoff took us through differing landscapes,
varying from fairly flat grasslands, to areas of rocky outcrops
and small ranges of hills. We arrived at Fortescue Roadhouse,
and parked near the river to take a lunch break. The cost of
Fuel at Fortescue Roadhouse was $1.88 for Diesel and $1.90 for
24.6.13 It rained for much of the night, and where we were
camped was at the bottom of a dirt road. Up here, when a dirt
road gets wet, it becomes instant bog, and so we decided to
try and outrun the expected 100mm that was predicted for the
area. The slight gradient back to the main road provided plenty
of wheelspin, and I reckon that if we had stayed much longer,
it could have been interesting with a 31/2 tonne caravan in
to bypass Dampier, Karratha, Roebourne and environs, and try
to get closer to Port Hedland. The we got further East the sky
lightened up, and showed up black in the rear vision mirrors.
We refuelled at Travel Stop on the main highway near Karratha,
Diesel $1.689 - sorry about ULP and Gas, it was P.....g down
and the pumps were out in the paddock. The rain started to let
up, but where we have stopped at West Peawah River (about 100kms
from Port Hedland), it has rained constantly.
to stay here for a couple of nights, as I have mail due to arrive
in Port Hedland near weeks end, but we may be forced to move
on if the weather doesn’t let up.
into Whim Creek pub on the way through, and sadly, it has not
only been closed again by the mining company, but they have
now created a dirt bank barrier around the place to discourage
people from approaching the building. It’s very sad.......
having been rudely awakened about an hour before her usual rising
time, made up for it with about a 3 hour sleep this afternoon,
whilst I watched the NASCAR race from Sonoma that I recorded
last night. As I type this at 4.53pm, it is getting quite dark
(has been since about 3pm), and the rain has lifted in intensity.
somehow managed to sporadic internet, and the Radar pic shows
that the rain is situated directly over us, and some heavier
showers can be expected.
25.6.13 Well, it hasn’t stopped raining all night, and at
1.40am, it really belted down as I guess a front of some sort
passed over us. What to do today is the conundrum. We can’t
get onto the net to check put the BOM site, and I didn’t bother
putting the dish out when we got here to check Foxtel’s weather
channel. My feeling is that we will move on into Port Hedland,
where hopefully the weather is a little kinder. I have mail
being forwarded from Albany, and we got here a lot sooner than
originally planned, because of the weather. It’s 6.48am as I
write this. I’ll report back later with an update ............
It occurred to me during the night, that there had been no traffic
past our Rest Stop for some hours. The weather news on ABC Radio
confirmed that over 100 mm of rain had fallen in the past 24
hours, and the North West Coastal Hwy was closed to all traffic.
And so, we won't be moving for a little while.
The Pilbara and inland are being shutdown, as rain continues
inland. Port Hedland it seems is flooded and they are worrying
about the drains being able to cope with a high tide expected……
and here at Peawah River, the river itself was dry as a bone
last night, and this morning is flowing quite rapidly and is
about 100 metres wide. The level has dropped since earlier this
morning though. Travellers who have made a bit of a dash have
reported water across the road rising and flowing reasonably
The rain seems to have moved between Port Hedland and Broome.
It hasn't rained here for a few hours now, and the ground is
drying out. Although the Highway is still officially closed,
there are people who are ignoring the closure and travelling
2.02 pm And finally, the road is open. However, we have decided
to stay another night and head into Port Hedland tomorrow, all
being well. And if you are reading this today, we managed to
get a bit of internet ………. :-)
Well, it's been two weeks since we left Perth, and we are way
ahead of where we planned to be, courtesy of the weather. We
had to bypass a number of planned destinations whilst trying
to stay ahead of the rain, but regardless, we are now in Port
Hedland (or South Hedland to be exact) safe and sound..... can't
The river that had started out bone dry, and rose to a hundred
metre wide raging torrent, was this morning, a trickle through
a sand base. (Seems a good time to reaquaint you with my son's
experience at Cave Hill just 3 years ago - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE9RA06hp4I
It's worth watching all the way thru for two reasons - be very
wary where you camp, try and be aware of the weather, and it
is quite funny - oh, that's three reasons, isn't it?)
We Had a number of sections of road with some water still over
them, and there was huge expanses of water on the paddocks on
either side of the road. We arrived at South Hedland shopping
centre (which was pretty much surrounded by lakes), did the
necessary, phoned for a quote on a basic vehicle service, and
figured they could shove their $520 up their hoist. Another
place I enquired at was surrounded by vehicles waiting to be
serviced (must have been nearly 30 in all) and was told that
"yep, I can fit you in, in about 6 weeks time". He
told me I had a better chance in Broome.
My mail hadn't arrived - had been sent on Monday, and the Post
Office here told me it could be here Friday, or sometime towards
the middle of next week ........
We went for a tour of PH, watched an ore ship being piloted
into Port, took a run along the beach (road by car ..... not
puff puff running .....), Annette threw a line in, and lost
her hook and lure on a rock snag under the water, went shopping
at PH ......... and then took the wrong road out of town back
Hedland is a funny place. There is the original PH, which is
basically a port these days, has next to no main amenities,
and is stained by red dirt. SH on the other hand is the main
hub, has a proper shopping centre, hospital, Government services
etc, and is 20 kms away.
A quick look at property prices here, and this appears to be
typical of Port Hedland .... "Cooke Point Prince, Affordable
Home, Top Location It’s sell time folks. Opportunity never knocks
twice. This property has been a family home for many years ...
PRICE $1,070,000". AFFORDABLE IT SAYS ......... and over
in South Hedland, it's more like $950-995,000......
WE fueled up at the Caltex in SH, $1.649 for diesel, , and they
were happy for us to fill the water tank on the caravan. We
had enquired about caravan park accomodation, and wound up in
an overflow at the golf club - no power or water, but we are
self sufficient, so that didn't worry us.
As I write this, The Eastern Staters are all over at the club
watching the State Of Origin match, and just as a point of interest,
I was at Bramwell Juntion in Qld when Kevin Rudd got dumped,
and I was in Port Hedland when he got reinstated.
Lay day today. It appears that my parcel has arrived later this
afternoon, and so we shall pack up and get moving again tomorrow
morning, pick up the mail on the way thru, and as for tomorrow
is concerned …… who knows? We are all going to have to wait
and see. Could have done with an Eagles win tho ……….. :-)
Up bright and early ... for us , anyway, and headed into South
Hedland for some supplies.Now I told you about the cost of living
up here, well I had to exchange a Gas Bottle (no BCF up here)
and it cost me $55. Talk about highway robbery. But it's not
ALL bad. Because of the number of travellers who are passing
through Port Hedland, the Golf Club has an overflow situation
happening. It's not cheap, but in the overall scheme of things,
it's a steal ... if you get what I mean. It costs $25 per night
- no power or water on site, but showers and toilets are available,
as well as a well stocked bar in the clubhouse. A washing machine
We refueled, ($1.649 Diesel ..... sorry ULP and Gas users, I
keep forgetting to look at the pump prices) topped up the water
supply, collected the mail, and hit the road. Plenty of water
lying around still, and the DeGrey River is huge at the moment.
The camp ground was being well patronised as we passed through
- interesting, it has TWO dump points.
This afternoon we pulled up at a rest stop a little way past
Pardoo Roadhouse. Not a lot of distance today, but who's in
29.6.13 We had stopped at a parking bay about 30 kms past
Pardoo last night, and had a couple of trucks for company. This
morning we woke to a stiff Easterly breeze, that was going to
become a headwind for the mornings travel. Although we were
still travelling at our customary 75-80 kph (we are in no hurry
and fuel conservation is high on our priorities) the fuel gauge
was falling like a stone. And then the turnoff arrived for the
80 Mile Beach, and 25 minutes later we were booking into the
caravan park. Although I have had a look at the beach a couple
of times in the past, I have never stayed here. The current
rate is $41 per night, and there is no concession until you
have been here 4 weeks, and then I believe a 10% discount can
be negotiated. This is a big park, and many of the campers have
been here since the start of the season and will remain until
the end. Fishing it appears is the main pastime up here, and
as the tide approached high tide today, there was a steady exodus
of vehicles out of the park and onto the beach, all heading
for their favourite fishing spots.
We arrived at our site, and the first four people we were accosted
by all came from our home town of Albany. It seems if you want
to get away from your towns folk ...... stay at home
We set up, took a look at the beach, spent a moment at the Vietnam
Veterans War Memorial (opened in 2010), before having a bite
to eat, and then Annette set off down to the beach with her
fishing gear whilst I dug out the cameras and jumped in the
car to go and re-familiarise myself with how they work. We reach
Broome shortly, and the main reason for our trip becomes our
AND THEN, HER LINE WENT TAUT, AND ANNETTE PULLED IN A .......
catfish. Apparently these aren’t all that good for eating, and
so back into the drink it went, whilst a guy just down the beach
was having his photo taken with a similar sized catfish, which
he decided to fillet and keep ........
Something I have noticed, is that the North West Coastal Hwy
to Port Hedland, has a goodly number of 24 hour rest stops (with
dump points), but north of PH, they are very scant. I mentioned
De Grey yesterday, and then it is a just couple of roadhouses
and about 3 rest areas that are mentioned in Freecamps 7 for
the next 360 odd kms.
30.6.13 We left the Eighty Mile Beach caravan park and headed
for Sandfire Flats Roadhouse. It was reminiscent of an ultra
cheap price petrol promotion by a city station, as cars and
caravans lined up to take their turn at feeding from the diesel
pumps. ($1.89 Diesel) We took the opportunity to have morning
tea and make a couple of phone calls (There is signal at Sandfire)
before once again hitting the road. We were driving into a stiff
headwind, and one caravan stayed put behind us, refusing to
overtake, advising us on the UHF that he was using us as a wind
Lunch beckoned, as we arrived at the Stanley Rest stop, which
was pretty much chocka with vans parked up already, and with
others arriving and departing in a steady stream. After feeding,
we continued on, and in keeping with our policy of “who’s in
a hurry?” pulled into Goldwire Rest Area - now there are 200
caravan bays at the 80 mile Beach Caravan Park, and I reckon
there weren’t too many short of that number in this Rest Stop
.... well, yes,I do stretch the truth a little, but again, it
was chockas, and we chose to continue on to a truck bay, where
we have the place to ourselves, set up the dish, and Annette
retired to the flat to read a book, and i settled down to watching
a bit of telly.
1.7.13 We arrived at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse, and decided
that we would book into the Caravan Park for the next couple
of nights, whilst we get ourselves sorted for the Filming Expedition
ahead of us. We are 34 kms from Broome, and so having dropped
the van, we took off into town, set up a car service for tomorrow,
had a blood test done, and then Lunch in the main street of
Chinatown. A bit of clothes shopping by Annette, and then a
tour of the town and surroundings. Cable Beach was chockas at
4.30pm, and the service road to the beach is one car wide -
a really dumb idea. You would think that the council would either
widen it, close it, or put a light system which shows red for
so long and green for so long - ala what you see on the roads
I don't know what I think of Broome.... as usual, whilst it
thrives on tourism, I reckon tourism has killed the charm of
the place, as it seems to do everywhere that becomes popular.
Best kept secrets can no longer hide behind that title, and
"progress" mows them down.
The natural attractions remain the same, but the human intervention
seems to not know how to attain a balance between retaining
the charm and the need to prosper from the invasion of tourists
of all ilks.
Enough of the philosphising (is that a word?). Tonight, I treated
my lady to dinner at the roadhouse tavern, and for $38.50, we
got a (bloody) huge plate of Roast Beef and Veges, and THREE
pork chops with veges. Wonderful stuff. Now back to the book
(in Annettes case), and last night's NASCAR race, recorded whilst
stopped at a rest stop some 85 kms from town. I love my dish
.......... Good night