The Eagle has landed – best sunset ever

Have you ever seen a more unique sunset than the one below? 

We had driven down Cable Beach a few afternoons ago, not intending to stay for sunset. However, the huge cloud formation above reminded us of some sort of bird, and started to look promising. The surrounding clouds seemed to highlight the single, dense cloud adding to the impression of a big, giant bird speeding down towards the water. The sun peeping out behind it’s tail feathers further added to the illusion.

We stayed on a while longer to watch what would eventuate. This is how it progressed:

We thought we’d seen the best of it, so headed back through the rocks to come home. However, it just got better! We just had to stop again.

 Our final photo shows it in it’s true glory, seemingly with it’s landing gear drawn well up ready for landing, it’s tail feathers streaming out behind. Looking at the beak area, a jet comes to mind, with the eye area ressembling a cockpit window. Perhaps it was an eagle crossed with a 747!

Those of you who have visited Broome will no doubt have witnessed some stunning sunsets, as have we. But this, well, it was just so unique and in our humble opinion this one takes the cake. What a pleasure! What a pleasure it is to be back in Broome again!

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…..

The crooked Carrot

Most definitely a quirky little eatery The Crooked Carrot is located approximately 35 kms from Bunbury on the corner of Rigg Road and Forrest Highway, in Myalup, in the South West of WA. It opens at 6.30am for breakfast, and stays open until 4pm, seven days a week.

It’s a paddock to plate cafe as much as possible with produce coming from garden beds on the premises, as well as the owner’s farms and market gardens in the vicinity.
On site garden beds

I’m told they have a dedicated cake cook. The cakes on display in the cabinet certainly don’t look like the run of mill, bought in, cakes that seem to be apparent in so many places. I gather they make their own pies too.

There’s plenty of tables, both inside and out. I particularly liked the colourful little booths.

Dogs are welcome with the usual dog rules. Apparently every one with a dog seems to do the right thing.

There’s lots of play space for the children, catering to both little kids, and the bigger kids in different areas.

Can you see the dragon in the tiny tots play area?

The bigger kids would have to be a lot braver than I’ve ever been to climb up that towering climbing net.

There’s an old Tram, which is gated off, but I believe there’s plans to turn it into an eating area.

I’m sure lots of farmers will get a kick out of recognising old tractors and farm machinery. There’s plenty of them on display.

The toilets are in another converted tram building.

There’s a set of rules posted in both playground areas.

I love the old truck. We were talking to one of the gardeners there who told us the old truck on display used to be gorgeous. Sadly the children’s owners don’t seem to be as responsible as the dog owners. Parents have been known to watch on as ‘little Johnny’ smashes the headlights, or whacks away at the paintwork, which is now in rather a sad state compared to how it was when originally displayed. I gather this isn’t an isolated event either, it happens on a regular basis.

The mind boggles – perhaps there’ll come a time when children will only be allowed if kept on a leash. I guess that’s not particularly politically correct to even suggest such a thing in the year 2019, but one does wonder what will be next. Today, behaviour such as wrecking a gorgeous old truck is tolerated without a word of reprimand. Will the same sort of behaviour be indulged when directed towards another person tomorrow. We wouldn’t want ‘little Johnny’ to get traumatised by being prevented from letting off steam now would we! ( Now back in my day….. – I think I’m turning into my parents….)

The Crooked Carrot is on the highway in the middle of nowhere. You can’t miss it as there’s always dozens of cars parked outside. It’s popular from the minute it opens until closing time. Be sure to stop in if you’re passing by. Good coffee, fresh paddock to plate meals, and be sure to save some room for one of those delicious cakes though. This place is an absolute gem!

Stats for Katherine trip 2019

This is probably the maddest trip we’ve ever done as far as covering a lot of distance in a relatively short time. It was tiring, but we enjoyed it. Would we do it again – the distance most definitely, but at least three months would be our preferred time frame. Less than five weeks was just a tad crazy!

For those of you interested in cost and distance details, I’ve put together a few stats for you.

We were away from home for 33 nights in total.

The journey was completed in two legs for each direction, with a stay in Broome to rest before continuing our trip. We stayed for three nights in Broome on the way up to Katherine, and for nine nights on our return trip. We also spent two nights in Kununurra on the way up.

The first leg
The second leg

We were at the farm in Venn for a total of eight nights (Venn is 25 kms south of Katherine.) During those eight days we helped plan a wedding, helped with the decorating, and the catering, and helped with the clean up afterwards.

All other stopping points were for one night only.

The return trip – 3rd leg
4th and final leg

There were 8 driving days in total in each direction with an average daily distance of 513kms. The longest of those days was 818kms – and yes, it was to long! Between 400 and 500 kms is a good distance on WA and NT roads. More than that is too much, less than 400kms and you never seem to get to where you’re going.

The total kms for the entire trip, including all the daily trips when we were in one place for more than a night totalled 9680 kms. The total fuel cost was $2684.

The combined costs for paid accommodation was $819.

We travelled up the Great Northern highway to Port Hedland on the way there. On the way home we came via the coast road for a change of scenery. The distance is virtually the same whichever road you take.

The average cost per km worked out to .28cents. The average cost for accommodation was $26 a night.

So there you have it. – the statistics for an almost 10,000km trip in almost five weeks.

Katherine to Busselton – days 33 and 34, Carnarvon to Home

(Amblin Holiday Park is only a few hundred metres from home)

An early start, and a long day’s drive took us from Carnarvon to Eneabba Recreation Centre for our last night on the road. A toilet stop at Galena Bridge on the way, and thank goodness we hadn’t decided to stay there overnight. We have stayed there before and loved it, but on this occassion there were about a million flies – those little pesky, newly hatched flies that try and get in your mouth and eyes, and a gentle swat does nothing to discourage them.

We continued on, and it was mid afternoon when we arrived Eneabba for the night. There’s a charge of $5 per person to stay there, and it was well worth the charge. I think we were one of four vehicles camped for the night on the big, grassed oval. I say grassed, it was really well mown weeds, but it was very neat. Each camper spaced themselves sensibly around the oval with about 1/4 of the oval distant between each caravan. We threw a ball for Tills on our part of the oval, and at the same time someone over the side was throwing a ball for their pooch. I don’t think either dog was particularly aware of the other, which gives you an idea how much space there was.

There’s no power at the site, but excellent toilets and hot showers. We had a wander around the tiny town, and were impressed as to how tidy everything was. Well done Eneabba. There are lots of public gardens full of flowering natives, and gum trees, including this tree with it’s unusual growth, the biggest growth I’ve ever seen on a tree.

A pretty inland sunset lit up the night sky, a fitting finale for our last night on the road.

Another early start the next day, and we headed for home. Our mid morning stop was at the day use only area of Regans Ford. Rather a shame that no overnight camping is allowed as it’s a lovely stop. Never mind – it’s still a lovely spot for a leg stretch. Then on to home, arriving around 1pm.

That was two days ago now. As always it’s good to be home, but the reality hits of how weeds love to take advantage of an empty house. We’ve been away less than five weeks, but by the look of the garden anyone would be forgiven for thinking the house has been vacant for at least five months. Guess we’ll be busy for a few days…..

Sometime soon I’ll try and put together some stats for this trip, so watch this space…

Katherine to Busselton – Day 32, Fortescue to Carnarvon

We set out around 8am after a refreshing night’s sleep. It had been a very hot night, so we were thankful to have access to power and could have the air conditioning running the entire night.

Our destination for our 32nd night was the Wintersun Caravan Park in Carnarvon. It was an uneventful trip with just one toilet stop on the way at Barradale Rest Area.

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