(Click on photos to enlarge them)
After leaving Darwin, we arrived in the town of Hayes Creek and their Big4 caravan park. We don’t normally stay in Big4’s as they are very expensive, charge extra for kids and usually very busy. This one was completely different and we decided to stay two nights as it was so lovely. Near where we camped is the Butterfly Gap, so off we went for a lovely walk that afternoon and kept walking… and walking… and couldn’t find all these butterflies everyone is talking about!!! We ended up turning back as we obviously were a bit lost and then went for a swim in a small lagoon not far from camp. We found out later that instead of walking the 5 extra kms we did walk, the butterfly gap was only 500m down the track! It was so lovely too, two huge rocks formed a gap and inside were thousands of butterflies (and huge spiders!) in there. We had a lovely time here after the congestion of Darwin.
On Friday the 13th, we stopped again at Katherine for groceries. This Woolies is so popular and so very busy it was hard to even find a park in the caravan car park! We left there after lunch and found a lovely free camp called Sullivans Creek Campground where we arrived just in time to get a spot. Here we met our lovely new friends Jim, Jo and Arid (who is the same age as Jakayla).
We had a nice evening of socialising and the girls got on so well we asked Jo & Jim to follow us to our next destination of Zebra Rock Mine Campground. Before arriving at Zebra Rock we had the most gorgeous drive along the Victoria River with the prettiest scenery I think we have seen in a long time. Wayne also tried his hand again at fishing on the Victoria River, but apparently we were at the end of the Barramundi season.
Zebra Rock is situated just before the WA border and we had loads of fun here. They mine for zebra rock here (hence the name) and apparently it’s the only rock of its type found anywhere in the world. The kids had loads of fun playing with Derek the snake and Matilda the bearded dragon (pets kept in cages near reception but taken out regularly for pats). Rory especially loved Derek and we had to assure him that not all snakes like to be cuddled and picked up lol. Wayne also went on a fishing charter on Lake Argyle. He came back after 5 hours with enough fish to feed us for over two days!!! He had a blast and we loved eating all this wonderful fresh fish (he did amazing considering he had the flu and felt like shit!!)
The Western Australian border has a quarantine you have to pass through to enter. They prohibited potatoes, onions and honey and a few other items. I had spent the day before cooking up a giant onion relish (you can take cooked in but not fresh or frozen) and we also used up all our potatoes. The quarantine was fairly thorough, he went inside the van and opened up most drawers and cupboards but amazingly didn’t ask to see our kitchen and pantry. Very strange. Oh well, we had nothing to hide as i had cleaned it up but whats the use of quarantine if they don’t check fridges etc??
On the 17th we arrived at Lake Argyle Caravan Park for one night. Wayne had heard all about the Infinity Pool they have here and although it looks stunning, the water was ice cold and no one was swimming in it!!! Such a shame as that was one of the reasons we went there to stay.
Oh well, the next day we left here and headed towards Kununurra and stayed at the Tourist Resort for 3 nights. It was a nice stop here, time to refuel with groceries, diesel and clothes washing. Kununurra is a nice place, the rivers are very pretty and I took some lovely sunset photos. It’s only a small town, but did have a Coles and a few other small shops. Lots of indigenous folk around and like most outback towns, there is lots of dust and the weather is still very warm (in the daytime) and cold at nights. I think they filmed the movie ‘Australia’ here. I can’t imagine Nicole Kidman walking down the main road going to buy a loaf of bread from Coles LOL.
We arrived at Wyndham Caravan Park on the 21st and there were signs welcoming us to the hottest (average daily temp) place in Australia! Sure felt like it that’s for sure, very warm weather and once again hard to believe we are still in winter. We really liked this park, very social and who can forget Fuzzy the donkey. Apparently he was rescued from a donkey cull many years ago and has lived in the park and around town ever since. He is very friendly and gentle and obviously everyone who sees him feeds him or at least gives him a pat. Our only problem with Fuzzy was our outside kitchen, we couldn’t leave it open in case he helped himself to the pantry lol. He sure did love giving Wayne a cuddle though. We stayed in Wyndham for two sleeps and had a look around town and had a nice drive up to the lookout where you could see a nearly 360° view of the area. Not terribly much to see in Wyndham but it was nice to visit and see the giant crocodile as you enter.
Our next stop was a free camp on the way to Halls Creek and the next day we tried to go and see the Bungle Bungle’s, but they are definitely for 4WD only. We entered the gate with big signs telling us that they will turn us away if we have 2WD and/or a caravan. Well that leaves us out!!! We were very disappointed but one day we will come back in our 4WD! We then stopped at Halls Creek for supplies from the local IGA. There we ran into Jo, Jim and Arid (after I had just sent them a message asking where they were!!!) and we decided to meet at Old Halls Creek for lunch. I went for a little look around here and discovered fenced off was the original mud hut that was about 130yrs old, where the town had a sudden influx of people due to some gold being found. I can’t imagine living out there, it was so hot and dry, those poor women in the 1880’s with those long dresses and petticoats struggling through bushland!! After lunch we all headed to a free camp called Caroline Pool for the night. Not much of a pool, but a bit of water there with pretty scenery. We had a great campfire with our friends and a nice & peaceful sleep.
Our next stop was Larrawa Nature Stay a few kms up the road from Halls Creek. It is a camp stay for $20 a night which includes clean water (no power) and outdoor hot showers (private though with walls and ceiling but enough gaps to see the stars at night and feel the cold wind when it came through!!). This was a working 500,000 acre cattle station with a puppy called Morse who was in training to become a working dog. He loved the kids and we often found him hanging around our van waiting for a play. Unfortunately I got sick the night before and ended up with a dose of flu (my turn) so we decided to stay for 3 days so I could recover and we could also do some washing. Near us was a guy who owned his own helicopter and took it out every day for a spin in the sky. Not every day you see a huge trailer with a helicopter in the back!
Starting to feel better, we headed to Fitzroy Crossing for a quick stop over and shop at the IGA there. Once again, another dusty uninviting town with aborigines fighting in the street, screaming obscenities to each other and generally making the place not somewhere we wanted to stay longer than necessary. The kids and Wayne did manage to go for a walk and buy me a birthday present from Dr Sawfish’s hot glass studio. It was amazing to watch him at work behind a glass window and also hundreds of art glass. I was lucky enough to get a beautiful glass blown necklace of the bungle bungles and sunset that was given to me on my birthday the following day. We arrived that night (28th) at a free camp about 11km off the main road. Unfortunately the road was dirt and corrugated but we travelled it at 20km/h and made it without any injuries to us or the van. We once again met our friends there and had a lovely campfire that night and Wayne cooked another of his delicious bread loaves. The next day was my 24th birthday, well the kids all drew me a card and it had 24 candles so that’s the age I’m going with lol. I got a cup of tea in bed and got to open up my beautiful necklace and have worn it every day since. After a yummy brekkie we all jumped into Jim’s 4WD and drove to Tunnel Creek for a few hours to check out the amazing creek within a cave/tunnel. It’s a nice walk and even some of the walk was in water up to our thighs. Thankfully no crocs, some fish though! We also viewed some aboriginal art on the cave outside the tunnel and some people even went for a swim in the deeper parts of the creek (no thanks!). That afternoon Wayne cooked some more bread and even a chocolate cake in the camp oven which was delicious! I have never been sung Happy Birthday to before in the middle of the outback surrounded by giant rock formations and boab trees! On a side note, I absolutely love the boab tree. They are just amazing to see and come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the really big ones are a thousand years old, just amazing! They were everywhere where we camped and surrounded the rocks like soldiers guarding a fortress. I will miss all the boab’s up here.
On the 30th we said our goodbyes and headed towards Derby which is a small town that had a Woolies and a few other shops. It was the first time in the trip I have felt unsafe in a town with aborigines fighting and vomiting in the car park and smashing a guitar on the ground!!! We drove around for a bit and went down to the wharf and took some gorgeous sunset photos. Apparently Derby has one of the highest tides in the world, second only to an area in Canada! The next day we went to a local butcher and got some lovely cry vac meat and then headed out of Derby towards Broome.
On the way to our free camp, we were driving across a bridge when i looked out the window and saw dozens of crocodiles baking in the sun. We were so excited, we turned around, found a spot to park and ran back with our binoculars and cameras. They must have been freshies as they ran away as soon as we walked on the bridge but it was still awesome to see so many of them at once.
We stopped at another awesome free camp where we were lucky to get a spot, it was very popular. The people were incredibly friendly and Rory met a family with 4 boys, so he was in little boy heaven playing soccer for hours with the boys. Jakayla pretended not to be interested but hung around and played a bit with everyone. Wayne cooked a lovely bread loaf and afterwards in the camp oven I cooked some of the amazing chicken I got from the Derby butcher. I had quite a few people come over and look at our kitchen/pantry and one older man asked if I was running a food business hahaha. No, I assured him it was our private kitchen and I was just cooking dinner. The next morning we heard a very loud generator running (not very well) so we went over to investigate and it was the older gentleman from the night before. He (Ben) had his own business of selling ice-creams and cappuccino etc. from his trailer. Wayne tried to help him with his generator to see why it wasn’t working properly but unfortunately it required further help. Ben did offer us some ice-cream though (8am!!!!) and we couldn’t say no to tam-tam ice-cream!!!! They were so lovely they even gave us their business card and said call them when we are closer to their home (near Margaret River) and we could come and camp on their front lawn. How amazing!!!! Whilst at this camp we met another elderly German gentleman walking around with his dog. Wayne got chatting to him and discovered the story behind Yogi and his dog (Thomas). Apparently Yogi was parked near a house that Thomas was living in and the dog was severely depressed as he had lost his elderly German owner a few weeks before. The dog wasn’t eating properly and was always fretting. Anyway, Yogi met the dog and the deceased man’s wife saw how much the dog loved Yogi (elderly, German just like her deceased husband), so she asked him to take Thomas with him! So, next thing you know Yogi and his wife are now travelling with a 4 year old dog who is so happy to have another owner like his first one. It’s wonderful how many kind and friendly people we are meeting on the road and most love having a chat and that’s another reason you have to factor in chat time when travelling. Don’t plan on leaving at 9am on the dot as it rarely happens!!! We also met another lady at this place who came over and asked me if she could play with the kids with blow up balloons as she missed her own grandkids and loved seeing other kids on the road. All was good, she sat with the kid’s right near our van and they all had a lovely time! We teach the kids about safety and they are never allowed in someone else’s van/tent without our permission but we also on the other hand encourage them to say hello to people and chat if they feel comfortable.
A couple of hours later we arrived in Broome. I have been looking forward to seeing Broome and was not disappointed with the beautiful blue water and cleanliness of the town. Just like Darwin, we spent a few hours driving around looking for somewhere to park our toothbrushes, but it was terribly expensive in town, so we ended up driving about 30km out of town and are now staying in a van park for 5 nights. Today we have been busy doing some cleaning and clothes washing and tomorrow we are going to spend the day in Broome looking around and visiting all the sights. Our clothes were filthy from all the red dirt so I was happy to have unlimited water to wash with and a hot sunny day to dry them. This morning we saw an elderly man walking his dog and lo and behold, it was Yogi and Thomas! We are currently babysitting Thomas as Yogi and his wife had gone into Broome for the day and couldn’t take the dog with them, so the kids are having a ball looking after the puppy for the day.
Will update more on Broome next week. If you have any questions about our trip or want to know anything, please ask in the comments and I will be happy to answer everything!