Getting to Broome 2020

The travel plan for our trip north – 2020

We usually try to get to our destination quickly when travelling to the top end to get away from the southern winter. Being mindful of fatigue and road safety, we will often travel distances of between 400 to 700kms a day, always staying in tune with our body clocks and travelling only at the times we know we’re alert and fully awake. For us that means early morning starts and making sure we’re off the road before 4pm. Both Paul and I are definitely morning people, so being off the road before any sign of dusk is vital for us to avoid travel fatigue.

This trip we decided we’d try something different with slightly shorter travelling days, and more of them. We carefully planned all our travel days  with none to be more than 450kms. We wanted to focus on the journey this time, not just the destination. Using Wiki Camps we made our plan. 337kms on our first day took us around the outskirts of Perth and saw us to our first destination, Wannamal (near New Norcia).

This has become both our favourite first, and favourite last stop on our trips to and from the north of our country.  It skirts the city of Perth and seems to get us on the way quickly. See the map below for the full travel plan of overnight stops:

So how did it go, did we stick to it? (We’re notorious for not sticking to plans. ) Almost! We found we had time for a more leisurely breakfast, and for Mr Tilly to enjoy a short walk before we set off each morning, and we were still on the road most days by around 8.30am.  We arrived at each days planned overnight roadside stop some time between 12.30 and 2pm. This meant we had a few hours of daylight to enjoy a good walk and to explore the surroundings, and to wind down at the days end. We stayed with the plan for all the stops with the exception of Stanley, the very last one. It was prior to mid-day when we arrived at Stanley, and Broome was calling. With only 209kms to go and so much time left in the day, we decided to keep going. 

Picking our overnight free stops

So, how do we pick an overnight stops. We look at all the available destinations on Wiki camps, and by clicking on them we find what is available there, and how many stars the place has earned from independent travellers, people just like us who are travelling the roads. I’ve used Kirkalocka as an example below. You’ll see that the first thing that pops up when clicking on Kirkalocka is the facilities available there. (We have previously marked Kirkalocka as a favourite – hence the  heart)

You can see that a 24 hour stop is allowed, dogs are permitted, there are toilets, a dump point for caravan toilets to be emptied, bins, fire pits and picnic tables there. There is also telstra reception, and it is suitable for tents, mobile campers, camper trailers, caravans and big buses. It has gained more than 4 stars so, it’s likely to be a reasonable place, and will attract travellers in sufficient numbers so as we’ll feel safe. 

Next we read the independent reviews on Wiki.

And we look at the photos that people have posted on Wiki.

The road side places are usually free, although some require a small donation (Wannamal asks for a small donation).

With the stops planned, and knowing the distances between places we start to look out for the signage to alert us as to when we need to start slowing down and signalling that we’re turning off the highway. The signs are blue, some with just a ‘P’ and perhaps a picture of picnic table indicating what sort of a stopping place it is. Or if it’s a big, well equipped place such as Kirkalocka, it’ll be quite a big sign showing the availability of toilets. See below:

I always think the etiquette at overnight free stops is similar to the etiquette used in an elevator. You space out according to the amount of people there, that is, if you are the second person to arrive you park no closer than coo-ee distance from the first person who has parked up. You don’t park bumper to bumper, but you can park close enough to feel the safety of being within shouting distance for safety. If the place fills up, then people start to fill in the gaps. There have been times when we’ve awakened to no more than 12 or so vans spaced roughly at equal distances from each other, and there have been other times when we’ve woken up to more than a 100 travellers with lots of small vans and tents fitting in wherever they can. Most of the places with facilities such as those at Kirkalocka have the capacity to fit in hundreds of travellers at a time.

The stand outs from this trip

As always, the scenery in the wide open spaces of the Australian outback impresses. The words of Dorothy MacKellar’s poem, My Country, always come to mind, In the opening  verse Dorothy acknowledges the countryside of England speaking of ‘ordered woods and gardens’, as a love she cannot share for her ‘love is otherwise.’ Then starts Dorothy’s most famous verse starting with, ‘I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains…’ and in her final verse more words than resinate with me on our road trips, ‘all you who have not loved her, you will not understand’. I love Australia, and I understand her poem fully. I can happily sit in a car for hours with vast expanses of wide open plains broken every now and again but scenery such as this to look it. 

Our stand out overnight stop this time was at a place called Albert Tognolini. It’s situated off the Great Northern Highway with Karijini National park in the distance. There’s a look out several hundred metres off the road, and from there, there are tracks that lead up high for miles inland offering spectacular views, especially when the sun rises in the morning lighting up the deep red ranges below. You can only stop there if you’re self contained, but it’s stunning, panoramic scenery has earned it almost 5 stars on Wiki camps despite it’s lack of facilities.

So that’s our trip up to Broome for 2020. We’ve now been here for a week, and have seen some more of the stunning sunsets that Broome is famous for, but nothing could have prepared me for one of them. Soon I’ll post some of pictures of the most amazing and unique sunset I’ve ever seen, so watch this space…..

20 thoughts on “Getting to Broome 2020

  1. I’m glad you’ve chosen shorter distances. I do believe that the Stress of Covid has taken a hidden toll on us as we’ve also been driving much shorter distances and in fact we’re just plain tired, perhaps it’s the constant bad news and the smell of sanitiser embedded in our nasal passages but we’re taking it much easier. My Country could not be a more apt poem for anyone who loves this land. Have you read the books by the woman who bought Dorothea Mackellar’s house on Pittwater?

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      1. The author is Susan Duncan her books are a memoir style and she buys the Mackellar home in either the second or third book, but start with the first Salvation Creek. All great reads. She was the editor of the Women’s Weekly and New Idea.

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    1. I’m very grateful to be living in such a big state. And fortunate that I love coming up to Broome better than anywhere. I’d love to be able to get across to NT though to see my son and daughter in law.i can go there, but then I can’t come back into WA. Do you have any trips you can take that interest you Peggy?

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  2. Hi Chris, hope you are enjoying Broome. Another cold frot has just hit the Capes so its wet and cold here atm.
    We follow much the same process for selecting campsites, but we dont rigidly plan our trips. I’ll research some spots for our next day, but then we see how we are travelling and decide where to stop. Some days you just feel like pushing along on and others you want to stop earlier.
    We prefer to be out of sight which generally means away from big rest areas if possible, however some of the rest areas on the West Coat are really nice and we have used them. We try to get away from other people as much as possible and haven’t had too many issues with late arrival camping too close to us.
    I pay most attention to the comments in WikiCamps, as we have alrady selected for dog friendly. Its pretty easy to identify the reviewers who just want to whinge, and ignore their feedback. Likewise those who try to promote the location because of financial or other interests! We have often found the same people commenting on sites along the same route as us and they can be good people to follow if you trust their judgement.

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    1. Oh dear, another cold front, but I believe you did have a couple of fine days. Are you planning any get always this year? We’re so lucky to be living in WA at the moment with the whole, big state just to ourselves. The businesses in Broome though are really Eli g the absence of the usual Eastern State travellers. Our caravan park, normally full at this time of year, is only around 25% full at the moment.

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      1. Yes, we had an absolute cracker of a day on Friday, perfect winter sun and no breeze. Yesterday was nice too, but breezy, then the storms came in this morning. We will probably get away for just a few short breaks only this winter. We were supposed to be going to Africa, but of course that has been postponed. Deb has just started a new course at TAFE so we will only manage short breaks. Margs is packed again this weekend for the start of school holidays, and we know plenty of people who have headed north, but probably only to Exmouth. I’m surprised Broome is not that busy yet. Enjoy the sun!

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      2. Normally 60% of their winter visitors up here come from the Eastern states. Of the 40% that normally come from WA some have lost incomes, and some are just wanting to stay closer to home in case we get a second wave.

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  3. Useful tips for travellers here, Chris. Glad you made it safely and enjoyed the trip, spaced so well for your time preferences.
    I love road trips too but usually with a bit more greenery. It is a feeling of being free as a bird.

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    1. I can appreciate the beauty of greenery too Amanda, but for some reason it’s the wide open brown plains that make my heart sing.
      By the way, the problems I’ve been having with WordPress, are finally being looked at by the WordPress team. It seems that there have been several instances of others experiencing the same things going back over two years. I ended up getting very grumpy with them and asking for the problem to be escalated up to a supervisor before I managed to start getting something back from them that indicated they even knew what I was talking about.They are now trying to sort it out. In the meantime I’m finding I have more success by using the laptop than my iPad for posting. Fingers crossed that WordPress will get to the bottom of the lack of notification in relation to comments soon.

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      1. That is great that you are finally getting some help. As WordPress is opensource and not everyone pays for sites, I feel that paying customers have and shoukd get priority. Having said that, they still should be able to sort out the problem in a reasonable time frame. Interesting that the ipad causes issues. I didn’t like using the ipad for wordpress at all, so stick to preferable desktop or phone. Do your posts show up in the reader?

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      2. I’m not thinking they’re going to find a fix any time soon, but at least now they’ve acknowledged there is a problem, so I’m part way to getting it sorted out. Main problem I think is that it seems to work a bit like a call centre. Every time I get a response it’s from a different person, so each person has to get a handle on what’s going on. Sometimes I get someone who, I think, just looks through their scripting for a key word and then sends a bit of useless scripting that’s way off base. That’s when I get cranky! I wish they’d just put one person in charge of finding a solution.

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      3. Oh yes, no doubt contacting wordpress is like a call centre with scripted responses. I think you should make a suggestion that senior call centre personnel deal with more complex issues so that you have one contact person. A very good suggestion! Good luck with it all. I do hope you can get some satisfaction.

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