About Chris Riley

Eclectic in all things.....

Broome to Busselton via Coast Road in six days – Day one

All good things must come to an end, as did this years sojourn to sunny Broome. Having travelled to Broome a little too quickly via the inland/Mount Newman Road, we decided to take a slightly more leisurely trip home via the coastal road.

Day one – Broome to Cape Keraudren, 466kms (5 1/2 hours driving time)

We filled our thermos ready to make coffee at our first stop, had the caravan hitched up and the inside secured ready for an 8am departure. As Mr Tilley had shown signs of travel fatigue on our rushed trip to Broome, we determined the return trip would comprise shorter driving days, with more rest stops. Goldwire, a pleasant little roadside stop 1 1/2 hours from Broome seemed like a good distance to travel before stopping for breakfast.

Suitably replenished and our travel mugs filled with hot coffee we journeyed on, this time with me at the wheel. This was the first time I’d towed this rig. Paul’s happy to do long days of driving, and I’m a happy passenger, but good sense tells me that, ‘just in case’, I should feel confident driving with the caravan behind. No problems – it towed beautifully, but I was still happy to hand back the wheel at our next stop, which was less than an hour down the road at another comfortable roadside stop, Stanley. That left a comfortable three hours to our destination for the the first nights stopover.

We arrived at Cape Keraudren around 2 PM. We’ve stopped there before, and it’s just gorgeous. There’s four camp grounds at the cape, which are located via 6 kms of dirt road turning off the main highway just south of the Pardoo Roadhouse. Same as on previous visits,  we again chose the section named Sandy Beach, which overlooks the ocean on the Eastern side of the Cape. Living on the west coast of Australia, opportunities to see the sun rise over the ocean are rare. We couldn’t let this opportunity go by.

A gorgeous camp spot overlooking the water

The tides are much the same as in Broome – huge, or should that be HUGE. We were parked up close to the water at high tide, yet seemingly miles away for the water line when the tide is at it’s lowest. It was around 2pm when we arrived, and the tide was on the way out, fantastic! Time for a relaxing lunch before we took Tills to explore the rock formations and pools left behind by the receding tide.

To the rear of our van were some shrubs which the Zebra Finches seemed to love.

Our lunch time entertainment

Pretty little birds with beautiful markings

Lunch finished and the tide had sufficiently receded to allow for a great walk with plenty to see. Rock formations that were completely underwater at high tide were now fully  exposed. Compacted sand sufficiently drained of seawater allowed for comfortable walking between the rocks, and rock pools made great places for Mr Tilley to splash through as we wandered around.

The water which covers these rocks at high tide, is now quite distant.

It’s an amazing feeling to walk under rocks that only a couple of hours previously were completely under the ocean’s waters.

There’s miles of rocks to walk around at low tide

Tilley exploring one of the many rock pools – this one in a bit of a cave

The tide rose through the night, and then receded again before morning. We awoke to a glorious sunrise over the tidal flats.

Sunrise over the water – a rare sight for those of us who live on the west coast

We left with the sure feeling that, ‘We’ll be back!!’ And what a pleasure that’ll be.

Next day, Cape Keraudren to Miaree Pool – watch this space.

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Bad hair days

I knew we should have called him Rastas. After nearly a month spent at the beach Mr Tilley almost has dreadlocks, and that’s despite having had a hair cut only a few days after we arrived.

Surfie dog

We give him a wipe over with micro fibre cloth each evening, which seems to get most of the sand off him, and we give him a bit of a brush before going to bed. Despite our best efforts, Paul’s first words to him most mornings are, “looks like another bad hair day, Tills”

No wonder his hair’s a mess, he gets great value out of the beach:

Chasing birds and their shadows along the beach

Jumping through the surf

Sitting on the sand between swims watching the world go by

drinks are coming out – ‘yes please’ he says

His very own dog water bottle

It was our own Busselton Beach, and the beaches of Broome that inspired our decision to re-join the world of dog ownership. Both beach areas get their fair share of dogs on them, and they all look so happy. Mr Tilley hasn’t proved to be the exception. He just loves the beach, and when not running on it, or splashing in it, he’ll happily sit with us just soaking it all in. He’s a happy little boy, but definitely is happiest, ‘on the beach’, despite the havoc it plays with his hair.

A very special sunset

OK, I know. You’ve seen enough sunset pictures to last a life time, as have we. However, I couldn’t resist posting these next ones.

Sunset through a smoke haze

Paul took these from Gantheaume Point beach earlier this week. There was a faint smoke haze on the horizon, which added a special purple hue, and added depth to the colours. The one above is my favourite of all the sunset photos Paul’s taken, and he’s taken more than a few. It’s possibly my favourite of all the sunset pictures I’ve seen. What do you think?

A couple of others taken also on that night:

I love the red outline around the sun in this one (no we didn’t put there, it really was there)

This one reminded me of the Aboriginal flag

You’ve heard of a Tequilla Sunrise – well we have our own vodka and tonic based version.

Cable Beach Sunset cocktails

We call it Cable Beach Sunset. It’s our drink of choice when having happy hour on the beach as the sun sets – another of the life’s simple pleasures!

Gantheaume Point Beach

Gantheaume Point is located approximately 6 kms from Broome. The beach at the point is approximately an hours walk south from the main Cable Beach, and there’s a once a day bus that services the area. It arrives at the point at approximately 8am to drop people off who want to enjoy a beach walk back to the main Cable Beach area.

For those with vehicles there’s easy vehicle access onto the beach, so it’s a favourite place for Paul and I to go. Being able to drive onto the beach with our beach umbrella, chairs, towels, and lunch is a lot easier than lugging all our gear down to the beach by hand.

We sometimes also drive to the north of Cable of Beach, and area that goes for miles. Hundreds of vehicles go to the north, but because there’s so much space you can always manage to put a lot of space between yourself and others. The area allowing vehicles to park at Gantheaume Point isn’t very big, so it can get a little crowded.

A busy place – note the buses which drive their passengers right onto the beach

Unlike the drive on beach area to the north, which is quiet and peaceful, Gantheaume Point Beach is always a hive of activity. Don’t let this detract you from visiting – it all adds interest.

Kayak tours leave from here. Usually when we’re there we see a tour either leaving or arriving. Fishing charters, whale watching, and snub fin dolphin tours also depart from this beach, so there’s always people coming and going.

Plenty of boats, both private and charter anchor in the calm waters of the bay

A parachuting company sets up their flags adjacent to the vehicle area as an area for their tandem jumpers to land. There’s plenty to see.

Tandem jumpers landing – Mr Tilley is terrified of the parachutes

Mr Tilley is absolutely terrified of the parachutes. The first time he saw them we were very close by. He shook with terror for around ten minutes. It’s the only thing we’ve ever seen that’s frightened him. We now set up closer to the rocks putting quite a bit of distance between us and their landing area. Most times he doesn’t notice them coming in to land, but if he does he clearly hasn’t sorted them out as something not to be scared of yet.

Setting up close to the rocks gives us a bit of breathing space for Till’s to run around with a bigger margin of safety.  Some of the drivers don’t observe the 15KMH speed limit, and Tills loves to bound after something that takes his interest. The two together could be disastrous. We love to explore around all the rocks, as does Mr Tilley so it makes good sense to be near them.

Rocks at low tide add interest for puppies (and us) to explore

As at Cable Beach, Gantheaume Point Beach is another great vantage point from which to observe the sunsets that Broome is famous for.

We sip our cocktails poured from the back of the car as the sun descends towards the ocean

The fiery afterglow after the sun sets reflecting in the wet sands of Gantheaume Point beach signals the end of just another wonderful day on Broome’s beaches

We’ve been in Broome a little over two weeks now, and apart from basic food shopping, caravan park fees, and the occasional ice-cream, have spent very little. It’s easy to enjoy the simple things in life here – good weather, pristine beaches made for walking on, and glorious sunsets at the days end. What more could anyone want – it’s such a pleasure to be here again in Broome.

Walking on Cable Beach

There’s always plenty to see when walking on Cable Beach.

Sea birds diving for breakfast beside a fishing boat

Wings tucked in close for streamlined water entry

A perfect entry – worthy of the Olympics

It took Paul several attempts to manage to get the full descending dive. What he didn’t manage to capture was the success of the dive when the bird surfaced with his breakfast. Maybe next time….

The planes, frequent at this time of year,  fly low over Cable Beach to land not far away.  If we’re directly underneath Mr Tilley gets a bit of a fright, but soon recovers to watch them disappear over the dunes. His curious gaze always follows them until they’re out of sight.

Another plane load of visitors arrive scaring a bird as it comes in to land

And another plane load disappearing over the dunes

There’s cyclists to see. These wide tyre cycles, suitable for beach riding, are available for hire close by to the parking lot at Cable Beach.

Cyclists and a jogger enjoying  early morning exercise on Cable Beach

There’s plenty of people on the beach in the morning, but providing you time your walk to coincide with the lower tides, you’re always able to put a comfortable space between yourselves and others.

Mr Tilley loves it. He’s a bit like our friend Brian. Kaye, Brian’s wife, says he can’t walk from one end of a mall to the other without making at least two new friends. There’s regular canines on the beach that Mr Tilley recognises and greets now like they’re old friends. And there’s new possible friends that he introduces himself to, referencing and cataloging their individual scents with a sniff in the places that dogs use for this purpose.

This boy gets a bit too boisterous for smaller dogs if off his lead. He’s a regular that  Tills recognises now and always says hello to. They’re happy to see each other despite Bluey’s seemingly concerned look.

By the end of each morning’s beach walk I’m sure Mr Tilley has made at least two new friends. I don’t think Brian sniffs his potential new friends rear ends though for future recognition. Such are the delights of the canine ‘meet and greet’ system!

Enjoying Broome’s glorious sunshine and beaches

Anyone familiar with Broome will know that the consistently good winter weather entices more than it’s share of visitors from the south of the country during the colder months. Years ago the Broome caravan parks could name their price, and had strict booking conditions. Whilst the prices still remain high during peak season, the rigid booking conditions are now more relaxed. On our first camping trip to Broome some of the caravan parks would only take a minimum booking of two weeks, and only from Saturday to Saturday. Of course, you could depart earlier, or arrive later in the week, but the payment was in accordance with the Saturday – Saturday fortnightly schedule.

I’m pleased to say the conditions are now a lot more relaxed, and vacancies are usually obtainable, at least somewhere in the town. People who arrive in town without a booking can usually be accommodated, if not in one of the proper caravan parks, at least into one of three additional overflow sites that are now allowed to open for the peak season. Up until this year, it was only in the overflow sites where one could stay if any pets were on board. Anticipating nowhere else for us and Mr Tilley, we arrived at Broome Pistol club’s overflow site where we stayed for the first week.

Whilst we were grateful for a place to be able to stay with Tills, the rustic, dried out, grass sites were full of seeds, and weren’t proving to be overly compatible with Mr Tilley’s scruffy coat. Fearing it was only a matter of time before a seed managed to embed itself in-between paw-pads, or down an ear, and finding out Broome caravan park is this year, trialling accommodating pets, we secured a booking for the remaining two weeks of our time in Broome.

So – that’s where we have been, and are currently staying. Now onto what we’ve been doing. Fortunately we’ve been to Broome several times so have ticked off all of the must do’s. The absolute stand out highlights have been, The Horizontal Falls, Cape Leveque, and last year’s trip up the Gibb River Road using Broome as our starting base. If you’re planning any trips to Broome, you really must factor those places in.

With those things ticked off, we’re free to just relax and enjoy acclimatising Mr Tilley to the pleasures of caravan life. Learning to quietly adapt to people, their pets, and children coming and going from neighbouring caravan sites is uppermost, and for a twelve month old puppy, he’s doing remarkably well.

We start most days with a lengthy walk and ball chase on Cable Beach to ensure he’s used up a considerable amount of his puppy exuberance early in the day.

Cooling off in the shallows after relentlessly chasing his ball

he runs till he’s knackered! and would still run some more if we’d let him

It took us a while to connect his sudden bursts of disobedience with being physically over stimulated. Now we’ve made the connection we’re able to regulate his behaviour (most of the time), by interrupting his break neck speed of ball chasing and beach running, with some quiet trick training.

Time out – ‘right paw shake’ – yes, he knows his right paw from his left paw

Eagerly awaiting the next request (and accompanying treat)

“beg” – yep, but only with a bit of help. Balancing isn’t his strong point yet

A few minutes of quiet mental stimulation provides some much needed respite from all the hectic physical activity, and he remains a reasonably obedient puppy throughout the walk.

Then, depending on the tides we may pack up a lunch and return to the beach for a couple of hours of people watching. Or we may pack up drinks and return to the beach for sunset drinks.

Some things just go together – Bread and butter, flowers and sunshine, Cable Beach and dogs! Mr Tilley understands quite a few words now including, ‘Beach.’ A question of, ‘Do you want to go the beach’, gets an almost whiplash response, followed by his undivided attention as we get ourselves organised to go.

Our long travel days spent getting here seem to be well forgiven and forgotten. I suspect if Mr Tilley could talk, and we were to ask him what the highlight of his life so far has been, the answer would definitely be, “visiting Broome’s gorgeous Cable Beach.” Introducing and sharing this gorgeous spot with our canine companion –  a pleasure that’s sure to be repeated.

Three nights, four days, Busselton to Broome road trip

Before I commence telling you about this years road trip, let me first explain that the WA roads are fantastic for a long days travel. For this trip we chose to travel up the Great Northern Highway, a road used extensively by the Pilbara mine traffic. Big, BIG, mining vehicles use this road often, so it’s maintained in absolutely perfect condition, and with long, straight sections overtaking is never difficult. Comparing roads throughout Australia, I have to say WA has the best by a country mile, and travelling 1000 kms in a day is not out of the question. I thought I’d just point that out before anyone starts to panic at the thought of our lengthy days of travel. And now onto our road trip – Busselton to Broome for this year.

Our plans for the year, as per usual, didn’t go to plan. The caravan trip we had in mind had been to head up to Katherine via Broome to see our son, Kelvin, and then come home via the Red Centre and South Australia. A few things seemed to get in the way of the original plan, not least of which, was I think, that we were still settling down after the topsy turvy past couple of years.

The rain, winds and cold of a Busselton winter finally saw us glad to be on the road, albeit with an alternative, and much shorter trip than the original plan.

Paul had carefully selected the route and the van was packed and ready to go by 1st August. Four decent road side stops, all a comfortable 5 – 6 hours apart, would have seen us arriving into Broome early on the fifth day. Another plan that went awry……

DAY ONE (742kms)

A couple of hours out from home and the predicted wet weather met us head on. No problem – the caravan was towing well, and we were snug and warm inside the car. Our travel music (mainly 60’s and 70’s songs that has us singing along) was playing. We had our flask of coffee for our morning tea and lunch time stops, and we had an easy to prepare lunch waiting for us in the caravan. We found pleasant places to stop for both, but with it being absolutely freezing and pouring down outside, Mr Tilly didn’t get the walking break a one year old puppy needs on a lengthy car trip!

We realised the pelting rain was going to see us confined inside the caravan at our planned, Mt Gibson, overnight stop from around 2.30 PM. A quick plan revise saw us instead heading 155 kms further up the road, to Kirkalocka for a later stop.

Kirkalocka, all the basics of a WA roadside stop over

With an hour or two before dark we took Mr Tilly for a bit of walk around on his lead. It was freezing – in fact so cold that Paul thought it was going to snow. Then a bit of dinner, a game of cards, and leaving the van hitched up (as you do when in roadside overnighter), we headed to bed early for a dawn departure the next day.

DAY TWO (782 kms)

Having made up a considerable part of day two’s trip on the first day meant that by lunch time we had arrived at what should have been our night time stop,the south branch of the Gascoyne River. A lovely place, but to early to stop for the night.

Gascoyne River, Southern Branch

Again we revised, and headed further up the road to Mount Robinson. Being close by Karijini National park, Mount Robinson is particularly gorgeous as far as road side places go. It’s spacious with plenty of room to put between vans, and is a considerable distance in from the road, so there’s little in the way of road traffic noise. It has good long drop toilets, and a dump point for our caravan toilet – so all the basics were well met. Oh, and did I mention – it’s a gorgeous  spot….. We’ll stop there again that’s for sure.

Scenic backdrop at Mr Robinson

DAY THREE (726 kms)

Just passed dawn on the third day we set off again. It was a cool 2 degrees outside – freezing! We passed our third night’s planned destination of Two Camel Creek early in the day and with our favourite stopping place of De Grey River being currently closed due to an outbreak of some sort of weed infestation, there seemed to be a shortage of suitable places to stop on the Port Headland – Broome section. We would have preferred a shorter day but with a shortage of suitable places we decided one more long driving day was needed. We arrived at Stanley, our planned fourth night stop, around 4pm on the third night.

Plenty of space at Stanley rest area

Although Paul and I are used to long driving days, in fact we quite like them, it was clear Mr Tilly was just a bit, ‘over it’. By mid day on the third day he had turned his back on us, and when we attempted to talk to him he’d respond with the most fleeting of glances before turning away again at a speed that was likely to cause whiplash. It was clear he definitely had the ‘huff’.

DAY Four (218kms)

The last day was a very short and relaxing 218 kms and saw us into the Broome, dog friendly pistol club.

We set up camp and took Mr Tilly to Cable Beach for a much needed run – more on that later.

Retrieving his ball on Cable Beach – the lengthy travels are forgiven