After our 5 day stay at the Roebuck Roadhouse, we left with clean clothes, clean hair and a fairly clean van plus lots of food and water. We then headed up a dirty, dusty dirt track towards Cape Leveque. The road is best for 4WD, but nonetheless we were determined to meet our friends Jo and Jim on the coastline for some free camping. As we were driving (very slowly at about 20km/h) we saw our friends heading back from the coast towards us and discovered that there was a bushfire in the area and that they had been evacuated the night before. So after sleeping elsewhere they were headed back to the mainland to give us a ring to let us know. Luckily we reached them before this and decided to head on regardless to the coast but further up away from the bushfire. We still saw lots of flames on the side of the roads, but as is the case in the outback/remote areas, the fires are too big and remote for the fire trucks to even try and put out. After a long 1 ½ hour drive, we arrived in a camping ground called James Price Point right on the coastline. It was amazing to see and hard to believe that there are campgrounds like this that are free! You have to be completely self-contained here as there are no toilets or drinking water available. We set up our camp here not far from our friends and in the end stayed for 4 nights. The kids found some hermit crabs, so every morning they would find some crabs and then play with them all day making homes in the red sand for them and even racing tracks lol. Then at the end of the day the crabs would be let back near home and a new batch found the next day! The beach itself wasn’t great to swim in but the kids did a bit of wading and splashing. Me and Jo were conscious of the fact that saltwater crocodiles do swim in the waters, but we thankfully didn’t see any. The most amazing sight here were the sunsets. I took countless photos of our campground at night, with dinner cooking and the gorgeous sun setting in the background. The only annoying thing about being here was the red sand! Oh my, the kids looked like oompa loompas by the end of the day and since we were trying to conserve water, in the end we had to wash them with salt water and then rinse in tap water from our tanks. They were filthy, but they loved crawling around in the sand. I was able to go for a couple of big walks by myself along the beach with my iPod and myself for company. Bliss!!! All good things must come to an end, so on the 9th July, we packed up and headed back to Broome and along the way home on the corrugated track Wayne discovered we had broken another spring on the van. We headed into Bunnings where Wayne was able to clamp the spring until we arrive in Karratha (in a couple of weeks) where some new springs have been ordered and are awaiting us.
Click on any photo to enlarge it.
We spent a few more days at Broome, exploring the town itself. We became more game with where to stay and a couple of nights we went to Town Beach and had a fun time playing in the kid’s water park at Roebuck Bay. Here we used the outside shower to bathe (with cossies on and I was thrilled to scrub all the red dirt from our bodies and hair) and then cooked dinner in the car park lol. Lots of nice people around so it made the experience lots of fun. Then when darkness descended upon us, we drove to a fairly new housing estate, found an area with no homes but with nice tarred roads and bunkered down for the night for a sleep! We turn up at night, stay in the van the whole time (no unhitching) and are quiet and the only thing we leave behind are our footprints! Then in the morning we aren’t far from the town/city so we drive in and find a place to park and then go exploring. After we did this for a couple of nights we met Jo & Jim & Arid at a free camp about 30kms outside of Broome where we camped in the bush and had chickens roasting on the rotisserie on coals. Was delicious! Then the next day with rain looming in the distance, we decided to go to the Roebuck Roadhouse caravan park again for a couple of nights to wash clothes and re-fill our water tanks. We were quite thrilled to see rain as we haven’t seen it since Babinda in Qld. We put our big tarp up so were nice and dry outside and with power had a nice day sitting inside watching TV and I got to catch up on some Breaking Bad episodes!
On the 14th we headed off fairly early and had a long drive to our next overnight stop, called Stanley Rest Area. Another great WA council run rest stop that has long drop toilets, garbage bins and even shelter with tables and chairs. Just brilliant! As with the other places like this, the people are incredibly friendly and we enjoyed being social with other travellers.
Wayne really wanted to visit more of the coastline so he could take the kayak out for a dip and possibly catch some fish as well. We arrived at Cape Keraudren after a boring but uneventful drive. After all the wonderful free camping it was a shock to be asked to pay $29 for one night where you had to drive on a crappy corrugated road to arrive in a campground that was packed full of grey nomads who had obviously been there for weeks or even months (one guy even had an established garden growing! It cost $10 per vehicle for the whole stay and then $7.50 per adult per night and $2 per child per night). It was terribly windy and the drop toilets were pretty gross. Wayne did enjoy his kayak and even caught a fish for entrée that night! We managed to have a little fire but the wind was so bad we called it a night and early the next day headed off to somewhere where the natives were a bit friendlier!
We arrived at our next destination – De Grey Rest Area – on Wednesday the 16th. We were thrilled to see Jo & Jim here as we thought they would have moved onto Port Hedland. We found ourselves a nice comfy spot not far from our friends and since we were surrounded by trees we decided not to put any tarps up. On either side of us was a dirt road that the odd person used to go past us to access further down the river, but overall it was a great spot and a nice easy walk to the river’s edge to collect fresh, fairly clean water when needed. We spent the next couple of days doing school work and the kids had a ball playing in and around the trees. The days were full of fun and the nights were fabulous with a campfire used for cooking dinner and heating up water for bathing. On Friday night it started to rain, but since we were inside our vans all tucked away we didn’t pay too much mind to the rain and hoped it was giving our van a nice clean.
The next morning we woke up to quite a site, we were now marooned on our own little island! The roads that ran on either side of us and at the back of the van were flooded and as the rain kept coming down, the more water came into our camp ground until in the end even our door stool started to float away! Wayne was fantastic in using the shovel to try and divert the water away from our camp and down the hill, but we knew we weren’t going anywhere in a hurry!!! At first it was quite a shock and then amusing to see all the water and we had fun calling ourselves the Island of Simes. But with water comes mud and lots of it. It was a real job to keep the inside of the van dry & clean though. On the second day after the rain, the puddles were slowly shrinking but there was so much mud we told the kids to go for their lives and have a mud bath while I heated up water for a good scrub down later. We ended up staying there for 6 days and 5 nights but thankfully a nice guy camped behind us with his 4WD was able to pull us out of the mud on Monday morning. What an adventure!
We drove into Port Hedland leaving behind a bit more than footprints but made it onto the road thankfully and arrived at Woolies for a big shopping trip and some diesel. We drove around the town for a while and looked at all the amazing infrastructure of Port Hedland and all the ships in the port ready to be loaded up with iron ore and steel. We also saw huge salt hills that were quite impressive and wondered how all the machines driving around on top of the hill lasted with salt everywhere.
We ended up at a park to make lunch (we were starving at 2pm!) and saw our lovely friends again, so the kids had a ball playing in the park while Wayne and I went to a local op-shop around the corner for a browse. We were pretty excited, it’s been a long time in between op-shops lol. We also found a tap nearby and filled up all our water tanks ready for the next lot of free camping and headed towards a spot to camp for the night. We met Jo & Jim at the rest stop, but found out it was only a stop for trucks and since it was on the main road and was incredibly noisy with dozens of road trains whizzing past all the time, we decided to keep moving and go south (instead of East) and stay at a designated free camping area called the Herbert River Rest Area. We arrived on dusk with grey clouds and a light drizzle. A few other vans were here so we headed into the bush a bit more and quickly set up camp for the night. A fire was amazingly lit and I quickly heated up the pre bought pizzas in my frying pan while the kids played inside. We didn’t know what the area looked like but got a most pleasant surprise in the morning to see ourselves nestled into the bush with hundreds of lovely trees and most importantly, the land around us was even and not muddy! YAY! So here we are still, tonight will be our third night here and more than likely our last before we head back towards Port Hedland and then inland to our next free campground. We are really taking it slow at the moment, winter has set deep into the southern parts of WA, and we are not keen for really cold weather, we can see why the grey nomads all head north. It is still cool at nights here and I think we sleep better when its cooler, but the days are still amazing with lots of sunshine and about 27C (except of course the rain we got in De Greys and I hope it benefitted the farmers more than anything).
Things I’m loving: free camping, it’s just amazing and if you are fully stocked up and prepared, you can have such a wonderful time being in the great outdoors. Also loving camp fires at night. Not only for ambience and feeling warm, it’s a great place to cook meals, heat up water for bathing and burning any rubbish we have. I have enjoyed cooking all the vegies in foil in coals and tonight I am even going to try to cook lasagne in the camp oven on coals. I’m also loving seeing the kids play so much outside and climb trees, play in mud & dirt, meeting new friends and not watching so much TV or playing on screens. Definitely loving Wayne cooking loads of bread, cakes and savoury bread rolls in the camp oven. He has really taken on the challenge and his bacon/onion/cheese rolls the other day were fantastic. We sure do like a freshly baked loaf of bread with lunch.
We have now been on the road for just over 7 months.
Til next time….