Broome to Busselton via coast road in six days – Day two

Day two – Cape Keraudren to Miaree Pool (northside) 405 KMS  (5 hours driving time).

We’re early risers (around 5am).  Paul had taken Mr Tilley for a walk around the rock pools, we’d had our breakfast, our thermos was filled ready for a second cup of coffee later in the morning, and our travel mugs had our first coffee in them for the start of our journey. We set off around 8am, Miaree Pool our destination.

We must have passed by this little gem at least a dozen times in the past without stopping, or even being aware of it’s existence.  It’s located on the Maitland River, approximately 28 kms south of the Karratha turn off. Perhaps the close proximity to a big town is the reason we’ve previously overlooked this site. We stopped in Port Headland on the way for fuel.  Then one more stop at a roadside place for a coffee refill had us arriving at our destination not much after 1pm.

It’s gorgeous!

A beautiful spot

The main parking area is quite large but with only a few level sites. Then there’s tracks that run off in all directions, so we parked up while we did a quick peruse of the area to find a suitable place to park for the night. Clearly the tracks were to rugged for our van and level of four wheel drive experience,  but for those with the right rig and level of expertise there’s some magic places to park up. We did manage to find the one and only spot reasonably accessible, reasonably level, and just down from the main car park with a beautiful river view. There was no room to turn around, so it meant backing out, up the short, but steep and bumpy dirt track, but Paul was confident he’d manage that ok.

The view between the trees from our van

Parked up, we had a quick lunch before getting into our bathers (cozzie, togs,  or whatever bathing suits happen to be called in your neck of the woods – in WA it’s bathers), and headed down to the river. The first access point we came to had a rope which some children were using to swing out over the water and drop in – mmmm!! no thanks. We wondered down a bit further.

A rope for easy access (if your game)

A little further on and we found another area with a couple of people in swimming. The bank looked a bit muddy, and the river bottom looked a little squelchy, but the people already in assured us access wasn’t slippery, and the river bottom was a lot more sandy than it looked. They were correct. What a gorgeous place for a swim, not cold, and not squelchy at all.

A beautiful spot for a refreshing swim

Some people were swimming out towards the middle – I stayed close the edge

Mr Tilley loves to paddle in the waves, and will swim in the ocean but only if we carry him out of his depth.  Prior to Miaree Pool he’s never ventured out of his depth voluntarily for a swim, but with Paul and I in the water there was no way he was staying on the river banks on his lonesome. Wherever we swam to, Mr Tilley followed. He loved it.

After our swim and walk along the river banks we took a drink up to the main area and passed an hour with a gentleman who was travelling on his own, then dinner while the sun set, a few games of cards, and bed for the night.

A walk the next morning with the sun at a different angle over the water showed some lovely reflections.

Reflections in the morning sun

And more reflections

Then it was time to begin our third day of driving. I watched (holding my breath) as Paul backed, back up the bumpy hill – no trouble! He did it with such ease that I began to wonder about those other tracks for next time….. but no – I think we’ll still leave them for the dare devils. We prefer to be safe, rather than risk being sorry. There will be a next time at Miaree Pool though that’s for sure. It’s only a 24 hour free stop over place, with basic long drop toilets. But you know what – next time we may cheat and stretch our stay to a second night. Yes – it’s that good!

Coming up next – Miaree Pool to Lyndon River East. Watch this space…..

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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.

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

Critters

Four months on the road – countless critters seen and photographed. These are our favourites from this trip:

The water critters

With most of our times spent at the ocean we saw some amazing sea life. Amongst them lots of pretty blue spotted Rays at Corol Bay.

Ray at Coral Bay

We saw several sea snakes on the shores of Cable Beach as the tide receded. This one was actually quite small, but we saw some that were more than a metre in length. Although deadly poisonous, there’s little chance of being bitten by one. They have tiny mouths, so just keep your fingers away from their mouths and you’re pretty safe. Should one get you though, they say you won’t make it to the telephone to call for help. I’ve heard it said you get about 10 seconds……. Needless to say I kept my fingers well tucked in.

Sea Snake

We saw turtles swimming in Roebuck Bay, and also resting in the mudflats when we went on our Hovercraft tour.

Turtle in mudflats of Roebuck Bay

And then there were the smaller critters, lots of starfish on the shore at low tide,

Starfish buried under the sand when stranded at low tide

and several of these  amazing looking critters in the rock pools at low tide on Cable Beach. I’ve never seen anything quite like these Feather Stars. They look like a Fascinator that one might wear to the races. Apparently they start life like a flower attached by a stem to the ocean floor, then as they mature they break away from their stems. Dozens of feathery arms (or are they legs) dance around in the water. They actually walk around. That’s if you can call in walking, but definitely they move along the bottom of the rock pools with purpose.

Feather Star

We saw crocodiles, some saltwater, and some freshwater. The Johnstone Crocs (Freshies as they’re known colloquially) are relatively timid and harmless, unless cornered. Then, like any wild animal they will try and defend themselves, often doing themselves more harm than they do to their victim. They can inflict nasty damage, but in doing so are likely to do irreparable damage to their own narrow snouts. Wide snouted Salties, however, prey on larger animals. To them, any animals entering their hunting ground is fair game, and to them humans are just another animal.

Don’t be fooled by their common names either. Contrary to what some people believe,  Salties don’t only live in saltwater. They’ll make their homes in fresh water swimming holes, and if you see crocs in any potential swimming hole it’s important to know which kind. Salties won’t usually tolerate Freshies, so if you see a potential swimming hole with several freshies in it, you’re most likely safe. However, we always go by local knowledge, and will only swim in water holes known to be safe.

Freshwater Crocodile at Windjana Gorge

The Birds

We spent several hours watching Sea Eagles tending their nest in both Cape Range National Park, and at the lighthouse at Gantheaume Point (Broome). It was while watching the eagles in Cape Range that we realised our need to invest in a better camera so as to increase our chances of getting photos that do justice to these amazing critters. The need for a better camera was re-enforced many times whilst on this trip, and never more so than when trying to photograph birds. So, apologies for some of the following photos, I know they’re not up to scratch. We’ll get some better ones next time.

Sea Eagle’s nest

Darter with dinner

Peregrin Falcon

Owl Faced Finch

And flying creatures of the a smaller variety

Red dragonfly

Land animals

We saw lots of emus, kangaroos and wallabies, the stand out of which were these wallabies on the outskirts of Broome. The small female with the Joey in her pouch had apparently been hand reared as a baby, so had no fear of us when we approached for a photo.

Joey in the pouch

Mum bent over to nibble some grass allowing the little Joey to also graze safely without having to leave the safety of his snug pouch. Some great close-ups of some very trusting wild animals – I only hope they never pay the ultimate price for their faith in humans.

Mum and Bub sharing a meal

So, that’s the stand out critters from our trip.

We’re home now, almost four weeks earlier than we’d intended to arrive home. The reason for the earlier return – another little critter is about to enter our lives. ‘Mr Tilly’ wasn’t going to be with us until early next year, but an extra large litter of all boys meant there was one for us sooner than expected.

So, we came back early, and are currently cleaning out the caravan and getting ourselves and our house ready for our new arrival. We have lots to do – four months has given the weeds a chance to grown with wild abandon. We’ll try and get the garden sorted out a bit before we get side tracked with our new arrival.

Watch this space. Shortly we’ll be introducing, ‘Mr Tilly’.

Free camp spots

There’s no shortage of free road side stop places when travelling around Australia. The purpose is to enable travellers to drive safe daily distances without suffering fatigue. Some have barely anything there except a place to park up, but others have some sort of toilet facilities, even if it’s just a long drop loo, and most have rubbish bins. In the eastern states there’s often water as well, but in the barren WA outback, free water isn’t readily available.

The local shires maintain the facilities in their areas, often requiring trips of many miles by their maintenance staff. Most are designated somewhere between 24 and 72 hours as the maximum stay. However, some that are particularly picturesque often entice people to outstay the designated time frame. Continue reading

Galena Bridge to Coral Bay

After our night at Galena Bridge we headed for world heritage listed Shark Bay.

Green ‘twenty eight’ parrots at Galena Bridge

Reading all the Wiki camp reviews (our travel bible), it appeared that Hamelin Station had the best atmosphere, so that’s where we headed. We gather after our two night stay, that most of the positive Wiki reviews had been written by patrons who had been lucky enough to be there when a sociable crowd had gathered. On the two nights we were there, the travellers seemed to be more solitary, and stayed in their own caravans, so the reported atmosphere of commoradie wasn’t in evidence.

With Hamelin Station being close to the main highway, and over 100kms from the townships of Denham and Monkey Mia, we felt too far away from everything. However, we did enjoy the birdlife on the station.

A Rainbow Bee-eater

Zebra Finch

We took a drive to Nanga Station on Mother’s day, approximately 50 kms away, for an ice-cream. Then a visit to Shell Beach, and the Stromatalites. Shell Beach is literally a beach of undulating Shell dunes, millions and millions of tiny shells.

Small shells that make up Shell Beach.

If you’re not familiar with Stromatatlites, they’re the oldest living organisms known to exist on our planet, and I gather are one of the main reasons Shark Bay captured the attention for World Heritage listing. All interesting, but not as captivating for us they would be to Marine Biologists. There’s a boardwalk that goes out over the warm, shallow water so you get to look down on the rock-like, living, formations. While for us it was only mildly interesting to see, the ambience created by the water softly lapping over hundreds of Stromatalites was amongst one of the most peaceful ambiences I’ve yet to experience.

Rock-like living Stromatalites.

From Hamelin Station we travelled onto Carnarvan for another two nights, staying at the Winter Sun Caravan Park. An enjoyable two days there that included a successful mornings fishing. Paul caught a lovely flathead, several good sized whiting, and a few undersized bream. I only managed a couple of undersized bream, so nothing to keep for me. We’ve ear-marked Carnarvon and the Winter Sun for a return visit, with a longer stay next time.

Yesterday we arrived at Coral Bay. Temperatures are expected to be around 30 most days, the skies are blue, the water’s pleasantly warm, and there’s a gentle breeze blowing. We’re here for a week. What a pleasure!

A mix of blue waters in Coral Bay

And more of the same….

I’m pleased to say, so far we’re sticking to our plan of shorter travel days. All trips between destinations so far have been between two and a half and three and a half hours. Not exhausting at all.

On the road again

After five nights in Perth catching up with family and friends, we’re once again back to living ‘The Life of Riley on Wheels’. And let me tell you, it feels pretty damned good.

Firstly, the five days and nights in Perth. We arrived at our favourite Perth caravan park, Karrinyup Waters around lunch time on Saturday. Time to set up and a quick retail trip before Alice called around for a coffee.

One of two lakes at Karrinyup Waters Caravan Park.

The next morning we enjoyed a pleasant walk with Alice and Tim. Up the beach path from Ocean Reef to Burns Beach, a takeaway coffee (in house dining was to busy to even contemplate), and back again to Ocean Reef. With the coffee, approximately 2 hours, without coffee, not much more than an hour – the Burns Beach Cafe gets very busy on Sunday mornings.

Sunday Night we went with the family to a cafe in Northbridge as Josh had a gig there. The lead singer, Amber, was ill. Never mind, the band managed and compensated quite well without her, even though we could clearly see they missed her as the front person. Most songs went off without a hitch. We took photos of the band, but sadly the stage wasn’t lit well enough so none are good enough to post.

Tim and his dad

Alice and her dad.

Monday, Paul’s birthday – a much needed hair appointment for me, then a visit to friends in the afternoon.

Tuesday, lunch out with friends to celebrate Bob’s 65th birthday, and retirement. We stayed the night at Bob and Di’s, along with Marina and Terry. A lovely night was had by all, drinking, eating and playing cards. We had a good laugh, as we always do. We play an assortment of card games, Pontoon, Brag, various forms of poker, and our own made up version of something that I believe is called Acey Ducey, Shoot the Pot or In-betweens..

It’s an hilarious game, but lethal. This is how our version is played.

Each of us put a dollar’s worth of poker chips in the middle to form a pot.

The first dealer is nominated and shuffles the deck. Two cards are dealt face up to the person to the dealer’s left. That person then has to place a bet against the pot that the next card dealt will fall in-between the two cards already dealt. If an Ace is dealt the player can call it high or low. The wider the gap between the cards the higher the bet is likely to be. This, I believe,  is the basic In-betweens game.

In our version though we’ve added a couple of variations. The first is that should the first two cards not allow for a card to fall in-between, e.g. two threes, or a two and three, then the player nominates that the third card will either be higher or lower than the two cards dealt. Instances when two Kings, or two twos, or a two and three, or a King and Ace (with the Ace nominated as low), most cards dealt will win. Most people will bet whatever remains in the pot.

This is where the game becomes lethal (and often hilarious – thank goodness we all have a sense of humour). In our version we have a penalty should one of the first two cards be repeated with the third card dealt – double the bet must be added to the pot.

So, this is how the first round may go:

1st player is dealt an Ace and a two and nominates the Ace as high. The only possible losing cards will be another Ace or another two. There’s six dollars in the pot, so the player bets the full pot – and is hit with another Ace. He loses $12 and the pot now holds $18.

2nd player is dealt a three and Jack, and bets $2 against the pot. A four turns up so he takes $2 out of the middle reducing the middle to $16.

3rd player is dealt a two and three. She nominates any Aces dealt will be high, which means she can only be beaten by another two or a three. With the odds stacked heavily in her favour she bets $10. A three turns up. Amidst much laughter (and cussing) she adds another $20 to the pot. It now holds $36 and the first round hasn’t even finished.

You may think the odds of this happening would be fairly rare. Let me assure you, it happens often. I’ve seen a pot increase from $6 to over $100 before two rounds are completed. Fortunately, we’re all very good friends and try to ensure none of us gets completely fleeced – we always try and leave some in the pot for any big losers to try to recoup their loses. It’s rare for any of us to end up losing more than $20 over a whole night, and we don’t play often. There’s not many places we could be entertained for so long, with so many laughs for $20 or less a person.

The dealer continues through the pack placing all played cards upside against the unplayed cards. Once through the pack the deal passes to the next player. Should the pot be completely won, all players again replenish it with another dollars worth of chips each. Once the deal passes to the last player the play continues until the pot is completely emptied. It’s a game I’d recommend only with caring friends – without a care factor it could be easy to lose the shirt off your back. With caring friends it’s fast game, and a laugh a minute.

Yesterday, our last day we enjoyed a walk through Bold Park with Alice. Bold park is a very bushy park that feels like you’re miles from civilisation, yet it’s smack bang in the middle of Perth’s expensive Western Suburbs. A wonderfully maintained track, good hills to get our heart rates up, and the occasional glorious city view peeping through the trees – it’s a gorgeous place. Then Josh met us afterwards at Clancy’s Fish pub, overlooking City Beach – good food, tasty tap beers, and a view to die for,  a lovely last day in Perth for a while.

City views from Bold Park.

And today – it’s good-bye to Perth and for approximately five months. We’re now approximately three hours north of Perth at a free camp on the banks of Lake Indoon (near Eneabba). There’s flushing toilets, hot showers, and good shelter overlooking the lake for happy hour. And as it’s now just gone five, the shelter beckons….. It’s good to be back on the road. What a pleasure!

Pelicans landing on Lake Indoon.