Broome to Busselton via Coast Road in six days – Day 3

Day three – Miaree Pool (Northside) to Lyndon River (East) 418kms (4 1/2 hours driving time)

Lyndon River in May 2014

Day three of our six day trip home coming from Broome to Busselton was an easy, uneventful day of just 4 and half hours.

After a walk and a leisurely start to the day at Miaree Pool we headed south towards Lyndon River East. First stop along the way was approximately three hours south at Yannarie (Barradale) road side rest area. We stayed at this little gem last year on our first night out from Cape Range National Park, near Exmouth. At the time we’d come from a week at the National park which is near the town of Exmouth, and had no internet. We were pleasantly surprised at that time to discover fantastic internet cover at Yannarie, which is in the middle of absolutely nowhere. This time though we weren’t there long enough for any internet use. Just a  loo stop, and a cup of coffee this time. However,  determined to make the travel days more puppy friendly means we need to spend a bit of time at our stops so instead of drinking our coffee while driving, this time we sat at one of the many picnic tables and let Tills have a good leg stretch and some fresh air.

After setting off again, approximately an hour and half later we reached Lyndon River East. We first stopped at this little stop back in 2014 at the commencement of our first Australian round trip. It was May, and there was crystal clear water in the river at that time. It’s a different place at the end of the dry season in August  than it is at the beginning of the dry in May. This time round the river bed was a bone dry, red dust bowl. We attempted a walk but there were too many prickles and bindi’s for Mr Tilley’s unruly coat. The few minutes that we did spend having a quick peruse of the area resulted in approximately half an hour removing all the prickles from him.

Rustically pretty, but no water

Although we didn’t manage a walk, it was pleasant to sit outside for a few hours relaxing and playing cards prior to dinner. It’s a roomy place with plenty of parking, and we parked far enough from the highway so as not to be troubled by the road trains throughout the night. For my overseas readers, road trains are trucks that travel the Australian roads. They tow 3 – 4 carriages behind them, hence the name ‘road train’, and can be close to half a kilometre in length. Parking near to the highway at night can result in wind turbulence and a disturbed night’s sleep every time one of these beasts thunders by.

One of many road trains that travel the Australian roads

We always look for a place with a decent buffer between us and the highway.

Plenty of level places to park up away from the highway

We will no doubt stay at Lyndon River East again, but not this late in the season. When the river bed’s dry it’s still nice and rustic visually, but not being able to take Till’s for a decent walk reduces it’s appeal. At the beginning of the winter (dry season) when there’s still water in the river, I’m sure he’ll love to have a paddle or swim, and the prickles don’t seed until around August.

So that was our third day.  Stay tuned for the next eventful night’s stopover at Gladstone camp ground.

Advertisements

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’.

Dampier to Pardoo Station

On our second day at Dampier we took a day trip to Point Sampson, for research. And what are we researching I hear you ask? Dog friendly caravan parks! Paul and I have decided after almost a 1/4 of century of being dog free that it’s time to add a four legged companion to our household. We’re both extremely fond of cats, but cats aren’t as practical as caravan travelling companions, nor will they take kindly to the occasional few nights being pet sat at Alice and Paul’s when the need arises, and I’m sure there will be an occasional need. We have our name on a waiting list for a miniature Labrodoodle. It’s almost a nine month wait, a bit like waiting through a pregnancy, and almost as exciting.

We’re spending much of this trip researching pet friendly accommodation in the North West, and yes, having a pet is going to restrict both where we can stay, and where we can go for day trips. So far we’ve found between Perth (but not Perth itself) and Carnarvon will be a breeze. The Winter Sun in Carnarvon will be perfect for a week or two for sure.

There’s plenty of overnight free stops that are good enough for a night or two between major destinations. We just need to determine the best places to put on our list for longer stays of a week or two. We’ve worked out Point Sampson looks to be the nicest of the pet friendly parks in the Pilbarra. There’s nice beaches there for playing with a dog on, good for a paddle or a swim too, and certainly good for fishing. So, Point Sampson will most likely be our 2nd major place to stop after Carnarvon on next years trip. While at Point Samson we called at Tata’s restaurant for a light lunch – good service, a pleasant lunch, and interesting decor, and so, so clean.

Life sized horse sculpture at Tata’s

and beautiful ocean mosaic wall.

Meanwhile back at the caravan park in Dampier the corollas were waiting for Paul to return. We’d no sooner returned to camp and sat outside with a drink when one came visiting.That’s what you get when you give them a nut or two, they remember for the next night. Several watched from the trees while the first one came in to test the waters. Yep! once it was established that Paul was indeed a ‘soft touch’ for the second night, the whole family/flock quickly descended upon us. I’m not sure if some had found water to have a good bath in, or if some had just taken a dust bath.

Clean and white

Clearly this one’s been enjoying the Pilbara dust

‘Soft touch’ Paul

Next stop,  Pardoo Station which gets great reviews for being pet friendly. As it turns out it wasn’t a good week-end to try it. Being a long week-end in WA, every man and his dog from Port Headland, only about 100 kms away, had decided to have a fishing week-end at Pardoo. It was jam packed. We were lucky to get a site, many that arrived later in the day weren’t so lucky and were turned away.

The station was in the middle of mustering, bringing the cows into pens directly opposite our caravan for re-tagging. Being confined to small holding pens after roaming free on the station didn’t make for happy cows. They bellowed their discontent well into the night. The wind was up, in fact, it was blowing a gale, carrying the noise, along with the smell of a couple of hundred penned cows directly towards the campers – but one has to expect that as a possibility when camping on a cattle station. Obviously the cows needs must come before the needs of the campers, and rightly so.

We drove down to the beaches to check out fishing spots. The tide was out, so what we saw I’m sure didn’t do justice to what the spots would look like at high tide. Perhaps, we’ll give it a second look one day, but for now from our first impressions, and despite the glorious sunset on our last night, it hasn’t made next years list.

As the sun drops over Pardoo

And dips a little further, turning from yellow to deep red

Tonight we’re camped in a free roadside camp at Stanley, approximately 200 kms from Broome. It’s a great overnighter with heaps of space and plenty of level areas for parking on. There’s lots of tables under shelters, and the toilets are in reasonable condition. A good, clean freebie before we head into Broome tomorrow is most welcome. After tonight, we’ll be paying Broome’s ‘high season’ prices of more than $50 a night. The caravan parks  fill up despite the high prices, so the cost is just a reflection on how much people love Broome – including us. Can’t wait…..

Cape Range National Park

We’ve recently finished five nights at Kurrajong campsite in Cape Range National Park. There’s several campsites in the national park, all not that far as the crow flies from Coral Bay. However, not having the benefit of wings, the trip to get there from Coral Bay takes considerably longer for mere mortals than it does for the crows. Accessing the campsites means a road trip up the east coast of the Exmouth peninsula, through Exmouth, around the cape, and then down the west coast of the peninsula to reach the campgrounds.

The arid surroundings of Cape Range.

Local wildlife abounded.

The arid landscape means there’s no fresh water there, and the campgrounds have no electricity. There’s no phone or internet cover, and no TV reception. Our solar panels ensured sufficient power for our needs, and by being economical with our water we survived the five days using only our 180 litre tank, plus 4 additional 15 litre jerry cans. In fact we had water to spare, and so treated ourselves to a really good shower on the last day. TV, wasn’t missed at all, but the internet….. I think I had withdrawal symptoms. I think I’m addicted!

It was good to see one person had managed without the benefit of being able to use their mobile phone. We found a message written in the sand at one of the bays – clearly the meeting place had changed to Turquoise Bay.

A message spelled out in stones.

Being just up the coast from Coral Bay, Ningaloo reef is just offshore, so water based activities are high on most peoples agenda. Despite several fishing attempts, Paul only managed to bring in one Dart, which was one more fish than I managed to hook. Other people, however were bringing in some beauties. One of our fellow campers reeled in a Golden Trevally that fed two for four meals. Another caught a 60cm Spangled Emperor one night, and another of similar size in the middle of the afternoon the next day. The fish were there, just not for us.

Paul did a bit of snorkelling at Turquoise Bay, but somehow I couldn’t seem to get in the mood. Perhaps it was the wind that blew each and every day while we there, or perhaps it was those internet withdrawal symptoms….. Eventually, I started to feel sorry for poor Paul, out there looking at the pretty fish and coral with no-one beside him to share the experience. I donned my mask and headed out there to join him, only to discover as soon as I took my first underwater breath that the seal had disappeared from the end of my snorkel. Coughing and spluttering I returned to my towel on the shore and left poor Paul to it.

There’s plenty of walks in the park, and had the wind not being blowing incessantly perhaps we may have tackled a few more of them. We did one short walk at Yardie Creek. Yardie Creek is at the southern end of the park and signals the end of the accessible area on the north western side of the peninsula. The red shoreline provides a striking contrast between the deep blue waters of the creek and sky above. The photo below hasn’t been enhanced at all, so the colours you’re seeing are just as they were to our naked eye.

Yardie Creek flowing out to sea.

The winds usually blow all along the WA coast from around September until around Easter, and then they drop. This year they seem to be continuing on much longer than usual. On one of the days the wind was almost gale force, and blew for the entire day. Most other days it either blew up strong during the night, continuing into mid morning, or it blew up in the mid afternoon. So, sorry folks – we didn’t get to experience the park as much as we could have, and don’t have the amazing photos that I’m sure were there just waiting for us to snap. Perhaps next time…

 

 

A day of cooking

Cooking on the road is different than cooking in a house. Consideration needs to be given as to what is cooked inside the caravan, and when. Fish, curries, and other highly fragrant meals aren’t pleasant in your bedroom! Additionally, cooking anything that requires several hours heats up the caravan considerably more than it does a household kitchen. Meals are more often than not something that we cook up quickly outdoors, with barbecues being the obvious choice.

Sometimes we miss the slower cooked meals, and will spend a day lazing around the caravan, doing normal household chores like washing, and doing some good old ‘slow cooking’ to stock up the freezer. Nothings cooked quite the same as it is in a household kitchen, as can be seen from today’s effort. Cooking in a confined space with limited  bench space and cooking implements means making do. It doesn’t look as pretty, but still tastes okay.

The bedding’s been changed, and all the linen’s freshly laundered and drying in the sun. Don’t you just love the smell of sunshine on your sheets after a day of drying in direct sunlight.

A rich, red bolognaise is simmering in the electric frypan outside, almost ready to portion up for freezing in small meal size quantities. I’ll cook up a box of penne to freeze in similar sized portions separately from the bolognaise. If we’re in a place without power I find it better to have the sauce separated from the pasta. After both are defrosted, I’ll heat the sauce in a large saucepan first along with any vegetable additions (frozen spinach if nothing else is available), then at the last minute stir through the pre-cooked pasta.

Sauce ready to freeze in meal size portions.

Later this afternoon I’ll cook a roast chicken with veggies. The left over chicken will make us a salad tomorrow, and also provide some cooked chicken and left over veggies to add to another couple of meals. As you can see everything is cooked in the one frypan. Firstly the chicken, then the potatoes and pumpkin. Then at the end I place the cauliflower and broccoli flowers stalk down with the flowers supported by the rest of the roast. Not as I’d do it at home, but it works a treat in the caravan situation.

A one pan roast dinner – cooking is very different on the road.

Paul (our bread baker) has made a couple of  loaves . He makes his own recipes in a Panasonic bread maker. He slices them up before freezing.

Yum, I’ve just been handed a crust from this fresh loaf spread with butter and honey.

And to top it off, a batch of pancakes for today’s enjoyment – what a pleasure!

 

A stack of irregular shaped pancakes cooked in the electric frypan

Pancake topping – chopped banana and fresh mandarin in a sauce of mixed maple syrup and bitter orange marmalade.

We’re fortunate that our caravan has a good sized fridge and freezer. I don’t know how people manage months on the road with only a tiny fridge. Our fridge is usually full, and that’s without drinks. We use the Engel for our drinks and for any spill over of fresh produce that won’t fit in the fridge.

We have almost two weeks ahead of us without power, firstly a week at Cape Range National Park, starting tomorrow,  followed by almost a week of free roadside camping as we make our way to Broome. Starting out with all the laundry up to date, and a freezer, fridge and pantry well stocked with the ingredients for easy meals is going to make the trip easier. We’ll  be out of range for phone and internet as of tomorrow, so if things go quiet – it’s only because we haven’t any internet connection. I’ll update with where we are and what we’re doing as soon as technology allows me to.