Day 92 – Wednesday 14th September 2011
Leaving Doon Doon Roadhouse this morning we headed through more mountainous country and stopped at a well frequented rest area right by the entrance to Purnululu (Bungle Bungle Ranges). Some travellers leave their vans here for a night or two and drive into the ranges (which is 4WD only) and there was one van left unattended when we arrived. I think I’d be too worried that it might get stolen. What if we came back and everything we owned was gone! Anyway, we’re not doing the Bungle Bungle because we’re not set up for camping away from the van, no tent, etc. Also, we’ve loved this area so much, and seen so little of it, that we already know we will come back one day and do a trip more dedicated to this area. Having decided that, I’m far happier to skip things because it just feels like ‘saving them’ for later.
The toilets here are revolting and I’m glad we have our own! Pit toilets are one thing, but pit toilets with a little, filthy concrete ring that sits at about shin height instead of a seat is just yuk. What are you supposed to do…hover over it?
We are camped down by the banks of a river which still has a little water in it. After telling the boys they could wade through it to cool down (only about 30cm deep and clear, so I could see there were no crocs) they eventually ended up actually ‘swimming’ in it, lolling about up to their necks, which I thought was a bit gross considering it had some slime it it but they’d already done it so I let them go a bit longer. They had a great time. (We were told a few days later by a fellow traveller that they met someone who’s kids also had a swim there, until they saw a freshwater croc sunning itself on the bank).
Didn’t get any photos of this place unfortunately as my phone was off and put away with no reception. About 7 vehicles here tonight, including one unattended caravan and one broken down bus (big motorhome style) waiting for a spare part to be delivered.
Day 93 – Thursday 15th September 2011
Packed up and headed for Halls Creek today. After initially planning on stopping in the town just long enough to download some required uni work, before heading to a rest area, we changed our mind with our thoughts once again on our newly acquired air conditioner. So, softies that we have become, we ended up booking into Halls Creek Caravan Park, a big, red dust bowl with a nice pool and an absolute Aladdin’s cave of a reception/shop. They sell everything! Toys (even a range of pushbikes!), baby gear (even walkers!), dinnerware, jewellery, perfume, hair dye, a huge range of ‘chemist’ stuff, not to mention the regular supermarket and hardware items. Maybe it was to service the entire town because they don’t have a department store? Either way, it was fun to browse around.
The pool was nice looking, but a little on the chilly side. We didn’t need to do any shopping while we were here so we just enjoyed being able to escape into air conditioned comfort.
Day 94 – Friday 16th September 2011
Almost every traveller we have ever come across who is going in the other direction recommends we stop at Mary’s Pool rest area, in between Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. So stop there we did. I can see why it’s recommended. It’s a picturesque stop beside a (now mostly dry) river, it’s a massive area with enough shady trees for everyone to have the ‘best’ spot, and it’s really far off the road so traffic noise isn’t a problem. It even has flushing toilets (though they were still a bit grotty).
We arrived in plenty of time to enjoy the larger part of the day here. The boys were allowed to get their bikes down off the roof racks (a privilege usually saved for places we’re staying more than one night) and Daniel found himself some toddler friends right next door – Hi Flynn and Aidan! We had a nice chat with our neighbours and the boys had a good afternoon running and riding around and generally enjoying the free reign.
Mum, can I ride Flynn’s bike?
I strolled back down to the bit of road that crosses over the river at sunset as it looked really pretty, and there were a few other travellers with the same idea. It was a beautiful spot to watch it with the riverbed in the foreground. It’s amazing to think that we can be out in the middle of nowhere, yet still be joined by so many like-minded people, enjoying a beautiful sunset in an ideal setting, and staying here for free!
Record breaking night, with 30 other vehicles here by nightfall.
Day 95 – Saturday 17th September 2011
Again, due to uni work commitments, we opted for booking into a caravan park with internet reception tonight. On more recommendations, we chose Fitzroy River Lodge caravan park, which turned out to be very nice and quite reasonably priced. There was excitement the moment we arrived as the lady next door had just found a green tree frog in the power box as she went to plug in. She thoughtfully gave it to the boys thinking that they would like to hold it and release it, which of course they did. I had to stop Daniel from trying to grab it though. Who knows how his ‘cuddles’ might have ended up.
We set him free in a nice, moist garden, then walked the million miles (that’s what it felt like anyway) to the pool, which is part of the ‘motel’ side of the caravan park, so is actually quite far away from the caravan section itself. The pool was nice, but cold. A lady already in the pool noticed me coming in with three kids, and warned me that the pool was very deep with not much shallow end. ‘Can they swim?’, she asked, looking at Ethan and Jack preparing to jump in. ‘Yes, they’re fine’, I was able to respond. It was so nice to be able to say that! I’m so proud of them, they’re swimming beautifully.
The boys caught up on some schoolwork in the afternoon while Daniel watched his new favourite over and over on the laptop – the fire truck song by the Hooley Dooleys (they used to be Jack’s favourite too). He absolutely loves it, and we all walk around singing ‘Ding-aling-aling-aling-a Wee-awww Wee-aww’ because it’s stuck in our head! It’s so cute, every time he wants to watch it he says ‘wee-aww wee-aww’ (that’s the siren sound for those who don’t get my little sound effects).
Day 96 – Sunday 18th September 2011
The next conveniently placed rest area on the map was called the Boab Rest Area. No-one had ever mentioned or recommended it, and it didn’t have toilets (which at least meant it would be less popular) so we didn’t know what to expect. Upon arriving, I immediately proclaimed it my favourite rest area ever! Of an average size, and average proximity to the road, with no facilities bar a few picnic tables and bbqs, my favourite part (aside from the Boab, which I’ll get to shortly) was the obvious lack of red dust! The entire rest area was covered in tightly packed white gravel. It was absolute bliss…it was so CLEAN! The boys could play outside all day and not get dusty. They could run in and out of the van and not cover the floor in dust. They could go without shoes and not complain of prickles. It was magnificent.
And even better than the gravel was the centrepiece of the rest area, a giant old Boab tree, who was absolutely gorgeous. My favourite one so far I think. Just as big as the one at Wyndham, which is proclaimed to be one of the oldest known boab trees and estimated to be over 2000 years old. And, as with the prison tree at Wyndham that we drove 30 kilometres on dirt road to see, this one was also hollow and you could crawl inside. It was the perfect place to leave the boys for a day while we drove into Broome to have a look around and get some peace and quiet! Seriously though, it was a great spot for Daniel to play because he couldn’t get out! 🙂
With the tree itself, the gravel rocks, and the chain fence surrounding the tree, the boys found plenty to do all afternoon.
The sunset was beautiful and it made some amazing colour changes on the Boab. My photos don’t do it justice – it changed from pink to purple to blue.
This photo of Daniel’s hair, however, is completely accurate. This is what he looks like in the setting sun, no longer camouflaged by red dirt but ‘glowing’ proudly against the white gravel.
Day 97 – Monday 19th September 2011
This morning we decided to do the last 3 hours to arrive in Broome today (instead of Tuesday), so we were planning on making an early start and stopping for some morning tea about an hour down the road. After a fond farewell to the Boab rest area (and no sweeping out the dust as we left) we headed for the next roadhouse. Once again, another brilliant stop. We pulled up outside the roadhouse which, as expected, was all red dust, aside from a big section out the front that had green grass…GRASS…and sprinklers on. Wooh! As you can imagine, the boys had a ball running through the sprinkler and rolling around on the grass (the likes of which we haven’t seen for ages – funny what a treat simple grass becomes).
The frolicking lasted a good hour, then it was time to move on again. Before that though, a quick use of the amenities, where I discovered a very interesting sign posted above the hand basin I chose to use (it was one of two).
Am I the only one who has no idea what this could possibly be referring to? I almost wanted to ask the staff. I should have because it’s had me thinking. What sort of emergency…and designated for what??
Back on the road we saw a city of termite mounds (which have become small again) that had survived everything else being burnt around it. We see fires nearly every day now – I’m not sure how many are intentional burning and how many are not.
Again, going on fellow traveller’s recommendations, we arrived in Broome and headed straight for Cable Beach Caravan Park. I was slightly apprehensive as I had also heard many negative reports about Broome being overpriced and ‘touristy’ (yes, I know I’m a tourist too) but I was pleasantly surprised when I found the staff to be friendly and check-in relatively pain free (yes, still expensive compared to what we’re used to, but we’re lucky it’s not peak season prices anymore!). However, my ‘pleasant surprise’ didn’t last long once we actually drove in and found our site. Welcome to sardine city. We have been so used to staying in lower budget, lower key caravan parks for so long, I think we got used to the more relaxed atmosphere and the extra space. This caravan park was by no means full, it’s off peak season now, but people were certainly still jammed in like sardines. We had barely pulled up when the charming man in the site behind ours came rushing out to advise us that we’d parked half a metre over the invisible line that defined our site from his. So sorry!
With the not so lovely atmosphere of the park, we quickly set up and headed straight back out to visit Gantheaume Point, the location of some real dinosaur footprints! We knew we wouldn’t see the actual footprints, as they are under water and can only be seen at very low tides, but we had heard that they had some concrete casts of them up at the top of the cliff. The boys were a bit disappointed to find only one cast of one set of footprints (we thought there were meant to be four, at least there are four types of real ones under water) but the place was so spectacular that they soon forgot the footprints in their new game of playing on all the red rocks overlooking the ocean. It was really beautiful, and looked quite ‘other worldly’, with lots of strangely shaped rocks in lots of reddish colours. Had to be careful not to lose Daniel again.
This little round pool was dug out by hand by one of the old lighthouse keepers for his wife, who had arthritis and couldn’t manage the scramble down the cliffs to get to the water. It’s named Anastasia’s Pool after her. I thought it sounded quite romantic. I guess it fills up at high tides. At least you wouldn’t have to worry about sharks or crocs!
Next stop, the famous Cable Beach – and not a moment too soon, for Daniel had been begging, ‘pool, pool’, ever since we got sight of the ocean. And yes, it is a beautiful beach, though I’m not sure it is worth all the fuss it gets. Or maybe I’ve just discovered on this trip that, although the beach is lovely, I’m a mountains person at heart. I miss them already.
The water was lovely and quite a nice temperature, apparently we don’t have to worry about stingers until November, and Daniel is a crazy kid who would rather be knocked face first into a wave than hold my hand. The boys had an absolute ball swimming and playing in the sand. We had some hot chips and watched the sunset over the ocean, and Daniel had his first experience feeding the seagulls, which he loved.
Back to the caravan park for a shower (which reiterated my annoyance with the park – it went boiling hot every time someone flushed the toilet and then freezing cold. Would hate to think how it copes in peak season!). Anyway, we will finish off our last minute things in Broome tomorrow and then carry on south. It’s okay here, but we don’t love it, and there’s still so much to see and so little time!
Day 98 – Tuesday 20th September 2011
Left the caravan park bright and early to do our weekly food shop and a few other bits and pieces. Also popped in to ‘Broome Beads’ to check it out for Mum and see if there was anything we might love to have at Weaverworks Art Emporium, our wonderful art supply store in the Adelaide Hills, with children’s and adult classes run by some brilliant artists, workshops, art supplies, beading, and lots more. Check it out at www.weaverworks.com.au. For anyone randomly reading this blog. 😉
Anyway, about the size of our kitchen at Weaverworks, the majority of the stuff at Broome Beads was extraordinarily similar, if not exactly, what we’ve already got. Yes, I suppose they had more, but just more of the same really. Their 3 ‘special’ glass cabinets did have some very nice looking beads, and so they should have been at an average of $45 each! Some of the really nice ones were called Tibetan something-or-other, and were like a big stone looking bead surrounded by various styles of metal casings. The nicest beads of all were their handmade polymer clay beads, with lots of swirly colours and little patterns. We could make these ourselves – well, you could Mum.
On the road again, and finally heading south! Now it really does feel like we’re on our way home, albeit slowly. Now, I loathe to say that any drive through any part of Australia is boring – even the centre of Australia always had something to see out of the window – but the drive south from Broome is BORING! Sometimes it looks like this…
And other times, you have a refreshing change of scenery and there are some low shrubs for a while, like this…
There was a very exciting moment there when we saw a whirly wind on the side of the road – highlight of the trip!
We had intended on stopping at a rest area 2 hours down the road, but when we pulled up and opened the door it was so damn hot, and there was not a scrap of shade (see above photos) that we had a quick stretch instead and carried on. For an image of the next two hours driving, just see above photos. Daniel was very good for the next two hours and kept himself occupied reading up on travelling tips.
At last we arrived at Sandfire Roadhouse (yes, I was thinking of you Dad!) and paid for an overpriced powered site so we could use the beloved air con. (She nearly charged me for Daniel as well until I questioned the reason for charging extra for babies, and she grudgingly scribbled out $45 and wrote $40 – it’s so ridiculous. I want to own a caravan park one day just so I can NOT charge for kids).
Red dust again, but fun for the kids with plenty of room to play, plus an array of animals to look at – bulls and cows, a camel, a flock of geese and some peacocks including an albino one that had it’s feathers up. Quite a sight! (sorry the photos not great, it was far away).
Daniel loved the bull, kept saying ‘cow, cow!’ and doing his version of ‘moo’, which is really quite funny and sounds more like a long grunt – he doesn’t do it from his mouth, he just makes the noise in his throat. He also ran after the peacocks shouting ‘cock, cock’ but we won’t go into that one (and his noise for peacocks is ‘beep beep’ after they kept honking at him).
Had a nice chat with the neighbours, who also dislike Broome for the same reasons, and confirmed that the drive will indeed be this boring until we get to Port Hedland. They’ve travelled a fair bit and reckon that this stretch of road is the most boring in all of Australia. So, we’ll probably be travelling a bit faster than usual for the next few days! That, and it’s so hot we’re looking forward to getting a bit further down. (Not too fast though, apparently it was raining in Exmouth a few days ago. Rain! Haven’t seen that for a while).
That’s all for another week. Looking forward to our trip being ‘coastal’ now, though I miss the mountains and the boabs already. 😦
Hope all is well back home. Speak soon. XXX