Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's Not All Beer and Skittles

Welcome to the beautiful Kimberley - Not!!!

Thursday, 30th May 2013

We left Cape Keraudren (in a big hurry) and headed further north. We arrived at Stanley, a rest area about 100 kms north of Sandfire. Very few people there and we got a nice spot well away from the "day" area (to avoid the lunchtime blow-ins") and set up for a few days.

First, one of the roof cables let go while we were winding the roof up. No worries, I've taken to carrying a prop of just the right length for when this happens.

First day, great, managed to get the Penguin aired out and hopefully got rid of most of the sandflies.

Second day, blew a gale all day and all night and that kept up non-stop for three days. I haven't fixed the awning completely, so it started to blow off the van.

After the third day, the wind dropped and the rain came in. We didn't get all that much at Stanley, maybe 1 or 2 inches, but Broome got almost 5 inches and Roebuck got 7.

Finally, after 10 days the weather fined up and we headed further north.

Stopped in at Goldwire for a look but it was filled up already at 11 in the morning. We are getting a bit low on some essentials, so we headed for Roebuck to do some shopping and fill up with water and booze.

Sunday, 16th June 2013

The caravan park at Roebuck roadhouse is quite nice, and a lot cheaper than in Broome, but it is a bit of a bugger driving 33 kms each way into Broome when you need something, it can be very bloody noisy at times and besides, too many people around, we prefer to have a place to ourselves most of the time.

We are off again tomorrow, heading for Kununurra via the Gibb River Road and we probably won't be back in mobile coverage for about 6 weeks, so ......

See you soon
Mike and Anne

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

East Pilbara

Tuesday, 7th May 2013

We left Port Hedland at 09:30 and reached the DeGrey River campsite about an hour later (80 kms) and we were amazed to find plenty of spots vacant down near the railway bridge (which is well away from the main road and the best spot to camp) and as an added bonus, they were repairing the bridge following the recent cyclone and, as a consequence, no trains running.

Anyway, selected a nice spot and settled in for a while.


Only a couple of other caravans set up, and evidently, they have been there for four weeks already. It may be still a little early in the season for the Grey Nomads to start travelling. Because of the cyclone in late February, all of the rivers in the area flooded, and because most of them flow into the DeGrey, it REALLY flooded, evidently topping the rail bridge which was being cleared of driftwood when we arrived.

Thursday, 9th May 2013

Had a look around Pt Hedland while we were there to try and find a way to repair the awning which got torn off in the tornado at Niagara, but there doesn't seem to be any sort of caravan repair business in town. Curious when you consider the number of tourists who come through here. We were sitting, having a quiet moment, when it occurred to me that the rope-edge track along the front of the awning wasn't being used, because we don't have one of the privacy shade screens which attach to the edge of the awning, and we might be able to utilise that. Now naturally, after carrying around my cordless drill for four years, I left it at home this time, so into Hedland and picked one up at K-Mart for $38. Cheap as chips! Got back to the van, took the channel off the awning rail, screwed it to the van and Bob's your uncle, we have an awning again.

Looks like I spoke too soon. Now the generator has died. Oh well, it was a cheapie anyway, so back into Hedland and picked up a Honda 2KVA for $1850, which isn't a bad price considering I paid $1500 for the 1KVA which got washed away in the Flinders Ranges. I must remember not to put this one in a creek!!!

Thursday 16th May 2013

While we were in the caravan park in Pt Hedland, we were both feeling a little achy and had sore joints, so we went up to the hospital where they prescribed some Prednisone. It seemed to work alright, we were feeling better, but after the ten days the Predisone ran out, we both started feeling achy again, so back into the hospital and they confirmed that we both seemed to have Ross River fever, but they suggested that it would not be a good idea to keep on with the Prednisone, so we are treating it with Nurofen. Watch this space.

The campsite is getting a lot busier the last few days and there are hordes of vans, campers and trailers on the roads, some are only staying for a single night, but quite a few are taking advantage of this truly beautiful spot to spend a few days chilling out. Not a great deal to see except for the river, which is still flowing, but on the plus side, the walks along the river are very restful.

Sunday, 19th May 2013

Well, the weather witchery is still working, it bucketted down all night and the whole place is a bog, good thing we hadn't planned on moving just yet.

Tuesday, 28th May 2013.

Well it's been three weeks since we pulled in here, and it is starting to cool down a little, so we decided to move on. Not far, just another 75kms up the road, opposite Pardoo Roadhouse is Cape Keraudren. Neither of us have been there before, so we are going to give it a try. We considered 80-mile beach, but their fees have now gone up to $41 a night which is getting a bit pricey for a fairly basic park. Keraudren is $63 a week for two concession cards, which is a lot more reasonable.

Wednesday, 29th May 2013

Oh boy, did we ever get that wrong. We booked in and set up and to be honest, the place is absolutely beautiful, but ........


......About 4pm the sandflies started in on us. Both Anne and I are covered in bites. They don't affect me too much, I just come up in red spots, but Anne has big welts from the bites. I think we will cut this visit short and head off towards Broome tomorrow.

See you soon,
Mike and Anne

Monday, May 6, 2013

Goldfields and Pilbara

Well, we actually got away on time. Left Forrestfield at about 09:00 on April 8th and headed East. Our timing is pretty much determined by the school holidays, we really don't want to be at any "touristy" places during this period because of the hordes of families with screaming kids in tow. With the van fully loaded and the Sorento fueled up and an extra 200 litres of water on board, the climb out of Perth up Greenmount hill was interesting, and the intercooler air temperature was up to 130degC before we topped out.

Monday, 8th April 2013

A pretty clear run of 460kms today and we pulled in to Boorabbin Rock. No facilities, but plenty of room, shade and opportunities for bushwalking. A really big granite rock, which has been quarried in the past and two dams for watering steam engines when the railway line ran through here.

Got in at about 15:30 and set up, but can't get the satellite TV to work. I'll have to re-register when we get to Kalgoorlie in case my registration has dropped out from not being used.

 We went for a walk up on to the rock, not as big as McDermid, but enough to get Anne puffing. Great view from the top and the quarry is very impressive, looks like it must have been a fairly big operation in its time.

The rock has been walled up for water catchment and then a long sluice built from stone slabs to direct the water into the dam. The standard of workmanship is incredible, they really knew how to build in those days.
 The dams are quite big and again, there is an over-flow from the first dam to the second that is all constructed from stone slabs.

The use of stone in this way seems to date the period to the 1890's or early 20th century, but the drill holes in the granite blocks in the quarry look like heavy machinery from a later period. I understand that there was a narrow-gauge line up until the late '60's or so and as this quarry was for railway ballast, these blocks may be from that period.

 Some wag has built a giant's picnic table using a granite slab.

 Damn! I knew I should have packed the Marron (yabbies for you eastern states people) nets, looks like a great spot.

Friday, 12th April 2013

 Packed up this morning and headed for Kalgoorlie. Stopped and had a bit of lunch and kept going. We've both been to Kal several times, so we didn't bother with any sight-seeing. Up through Menzies to Niagara Dam and set up camp under the breakaway.

The dam had a surprising amount of water in it, must have been some good rains in the area lately.

We took a side trip out to Lake Ballard via Menzies. The road was very rough and it was stinking hot, but Anne hadn't seen the sculptures before and was quite impressed. She wasn't all that enthusiastic about climbing to the top of the little hill you can see behind her, but I appealed to the Wonder Woman inside her and she made it to the top - great view.

Back to Niagara and did a bit of wandering around. The catchment area for the dam is incredible, it looks like a moonscape and we couldn't work out what the fence was for until we found a sign which explained that it was to strain all the dead animals out of the water when it floods. Mmmm, dead dingo, Yumm.

Friday, 19th April 2013

We were supposed to be on the road yesterday, to head up to Ned's Creek Station to see Pam and Clyde, friends of Anne's, but Wednesday and Thursday we has some big thunderstorms and everything was wet. Anyhow, Thursday afternoon looked like it was clearing up except about 2 o'clock in the morning, we had a tornado came through and ripped the entire awning right off the van. Tore the channel which holds the awning right off the van and bent it like a pretzl. Just one more page in the book about why Fate doesn't like me. More repairs needed.

Guess who misjudged??? It was a LOT further from Niagara, via Leonora, Leinster, Sandstone and Meekatharra to Ned's Creek than I estimated. We ended up doing 756kms today and I am shattered. Did about the last 40 kms on a rubbish road (Wiluna-Meekatharra) in the dark. Note to self: small stages, small stages.

Anyhoo, we eventually made it and Pam and Anne talked each other's ears off for two days solid. We had to move on, because Pam had visitors coming to stay, but Anne really enjoyed catching up.

Sunday, 21st April 2013

 Now we are starting to get into the good country. Left Ned's Creek about 09:00, Fueled up and did a bit of shopping in Newman and got to Mt. Robinson about 16:00. Nobody there at the time, so we managed to get a nice spot.

Mt Robinson is a very under-appreciated spot. During the week that we spent here, we saw only one couple who stopped bother to take a walk up the gorge. One of the nicest walks going and some of the rock formations, and the strata in the rocks themselves are absolutely beautiful.

Anne is still not feeling all that fit yet, but I talked her into climbing halfway up the hill behind the van and the view from up there was fantastic. This is really beautiful country, not as good as the Kimberley, but close.

Sunday, 28th April 2013

We moved on to another of my favourite spots, just 70 odd kms from Mt Robinson. The rather grandly named Albert Tognolini Rest Area at Munjina Gorge.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos 'cos my camera gave up the ghost just as we got here. I have old photos from a previous visit a couple of years ago, but that would be cheating. Anyway, a great spot to camp and lots of places to take a ramble.

Monday, 6th May 2013

We have just spent a couple of days at the Cooke Point Caravan Park in Port Hedland. After we booked in, I Asked Anne if she knew where the manager kept her horse. What Horse, Anne replied. Well, I said, Ned Kelly always had a horse. $54.00 a night for what is a fairly ordinary CP is, IMHO a bloody rip-off. But, we needed to re-stock, do some washing, fill up with water etc, so we used the $100 Big4 voucher that they gave Anne when she retired. Also, we needed to re-stock the wine cellar, and completely forgot about the alcohol regulations up here. Only 2 litre casks, not 4 litre, and a limit of two casks a day, so we had to get some at Woolies and then drive out to South Hedland and get some more at liquorland. Hope it'll last us until we get to Broome.

We're heading off in the morning, hopefully we can get a spot at the DeGrey River if it's not too full, it can be a very popular spot.

Don't know when we will be back in range, possibly not before we get to Broome in about 4 weeks.

See you soon,
Mike and Anne

Saturday, April 6, 2013

We're Off Again - Really, Truly This Time

Too many false starts and too many little things that have come up, but we are honestly leaving for an extended trip this coming Monday, 8th April, come hell or high water!!!

We made a valiant attempt to get away in January and made it as far as Forrestania Plots, just east of Hyden, but the weather was dreadfully hot (46 degC one day and a week over 40) and on top of that Anne's dermatitis on her hands flared up and she had forgotten to bring the cortisone cream so we headed back home to rest and recover. We did have a good time but it was just to much all at one time.
 Anne had a good scramble through Mulka's Cave

and the campsite was nice in the shade of the Rottnest Island Pines. Note the little mesh shelter - easy to set up and great to get away from the flies and mozzies, but - - we had a willy-willy come through the second day we had it up which destroyed it completely. So much for that idea.

Back home for a couple of weeks to rest and re-fit and we headed off again. Down to the south coast this time, we figured the weather might be a bit better near the ocean. We planned the trip using the Camps 6 book, another camp-site book we have and some well-meant advice from friends, but nothing prepares you for the actual experience of pulling up at a prospective campsite.

Out first (planned) stop was Willow Springs near Bridgetown and although it might be very nice for hikers, it was not much for the Grey Nomads of the world. Virtually no direct sunlight, so nothing for the solar panels or to heat the camp shower bag, no sight-line for the satellite dish and the March Flies were there in their hundreds. As soon as we stepped out of the car, they literally swarmed!

We proceeded on to Karri Glen, extremely small area and even more March Flies if that was possible. We kept going through Bridgetown and tried another couple of likely spots, but still hordes of March Flies. We eventually ended up in Nannup and booked into the local caravan park for a couple of nights. We needed to catch up with Daryl and Lyn in Bridgetown, so we had to stay somewhere in the area.

Nannup is a beaut little town, very "arty", so I'm told, lots of artists, wood-carvers etc have made it their base and some of the public art is very interesting.

The Blackwood River was very low as could be expected for this time of the year,

but as the flood-level labels on the "flood tree" indicate, it can get very high during the winter floods.

There is an Arboretum, right next to the caravan park, where early in the 20th century, several different species of trees were planted to determine whether they would be suitable for growing in the area. Very Impressive!

Friends had told us about Sue's Bridge, so we headed there from Nannup. Very nice, but I still have reservations about the cost of staying in National Parks and DEC areas. I may be a miser but I think that $8 per person, per night is a bit of a rip-off when there are no facilities except for a (very smelly) long-drop toilet. Not even rubbish bins (although that doesn't seem to stop some people dumping their garbage). Thank goodness Anne and I both have concession cards now, although $10 a night for no facilities doesn't compare all that well with the cheaper caravan parks. I stayed in a very nice council caravan park in Windorah with power, hot showers, laundry etc, for $5 per couple per night. Bah Humbug, whinge, whinge, whinge.

Anyway, Sue's Bridge was quite nice, plenty of places to walk and right on the Blackwood River, so we stayed for a week.

The birds were friendly after a couple of days of getting used to us, and the fairy wrens came right up to the campsite.

The walks along the river and through the State Forest were fantastic, very few other campers and school holidays are over, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves, which suits us just fine.

Monday, 11th February 2013

We decided it was time to move on, so we packed up and left Sue's Bridge and headed for Alexandra Bridge. A really nice spot but absolutely chocka-block. Not a site to be had for love or money and some of the people there look like they have been there for months. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them were permanent residents!

We stopped for a look at Shannon, but as soon as we got out of the car we could hear the March Flies lining up. Pity, it looked like a good spot even though it was $16 per night for the two of us, even with concession.

Through to Pemberton where Anne got her daily exercise by walking up the main street. That's a BIG hill. We had a cuppa and went out to look at Big Brook Dam, which was really lovely, huge Karri trees and a picnic area with a man-made beach for splashing.

We stopped for the night at the Big Brook Arboretum. What a shit-hole (literally) - got to be the dirtiest, smelliest public toilet I've ever seen in my life. It was disgusting. The site was very small, extremely un-even and, probably as a result of burning-off, our feet and legs were black within a few minutes from the dust. Definitely not a place we'd recommend.

The next planned spot was to be Cosy Corner. We had heard so many good things about this spot and were really looking forward to it, only to be disappointed. The site was lovely, but not only full, but over-flowing. People were camped in the sand dunes 'cos there was no room in the main area.

We kept heading east, through Walpole and Denmark and by-passed Albany heading for Mt Manypeaks and Two People's Bay. Anne had memories of Betty's Beach from years ago, but it is closed to campers at this time of the year because of the Salmon fishing, so we picked Norman's beach, just around the bay from Betty's and virtually under the shadow of Manypeaks. Very small, but only a couple of people there and we managed to get a nice spot near the (clean) toilets.

 The weather was very nice at this point and we had some great walks along the beach.

And the neighbours were very sociable.

We needed to get to Bremer Bay to visit Rick and Pam, friends of Anne's from her younger days, so after a week at Norman's we headed straight through. I had never been to Bremer before, but Anne had lived there so she did the tourist-guide thing and we had a couple of great days although the weather could be a bit better.

Saturday, 23rd February 2013

After a couple of days, Anne had caught up on all the gossip, so we continued on. We still wanted to do the Hyden-Norseman Road, which we had started in January, so we headed east towards Esperance. Very few spots along this part of the main road, although there are a few places on the coast itself.

Anne had childhood memories of Point Ann, so we did a bit of a side-trip to have a look. Fantastic spot, but the road in was verrrry corrugated. Good facilities and the water looked very inviting.

We stopped in Ravensthorpe to have lunch and buy a couple of water containers to replace those which had cracked. I can't seem to get more than about 12 months out of a container before it starts to split. Obviously no UV inhibitor in the plastic. Bought two 20L containers at the brand new IGA in town and filled them from the local town water supply. More about that later.

By-passed Esperance by taking the back road to Gibson and then up through Salmon Gums to Dundas Rocks, just south of Norseman. I had stopped there a few years ago, but it was all new to Anne and she quite liked the location among the Salmon Gum and Gimlet trees.

We managed to find a nice level spot up near the old dam and set up for a few days. One great thing about this spot is there are plenty of places to go bush walking. There is a track which goes up to Norseman which was the old coach road and the local council have marked a lot of the historic locations, including a cricket pitch which the miners built in 1896

There are several rock out-croppings to explore and some intriguing rock formations.

Within walking distance (about a kilometre each way) of the camping area is the shore of Lake Dundas and we walked down there one day and managed to find the "Lone Grave" which was marked on the map in the Camps book, but with no location marked. Also no indication at the picnic area as to where it was. So sad, a little boy, only 7 years old who died there in 1897.

Anne was very impressed by the colours of the pigface growing wild, so we thought we'd share

You remember the water we topped up with at Ravensthorpe?  YUUKKKKK. I don't know how the locals cope, they must live on bottled water.

I am absolutely convinced that Anne is a Weather Witch! Everywhere we went she managed to attract RAIN. We had been at Dundas Rocks for only a day and down it came. On the plus side, it filled the old dam and the salt lakes which made for some interesting insights into how the early settlers coped, and within 24 hours, there were thousands of frogs in the pools.

Tuesday, 5th March 2013

We needed to vote in the WA state elections, so we packed up and headed into Norseman. Did our civic duty, topped up with some water from the information centre, vegetables from the IGA, wine from the pub and diesel from the roadhouse and we're hot to trot.

First stop is McDermid Rock, just west of Lake Johnstone. Fairly small area, but we managed to find a nice campsite with some shade, close to the walk trail.

We went for a walk over the rock the next day, the weather was beautiful and Anne made it to the summit with only a couple of "puff-stops".

There are some very interesting sights here including a "wave" formation, very similar to Wave Rock near Hyden.

and some fantastic Salmon Gums.
Sorry about the exposure of some of these photos. I didn't notice that I had somehow changed the setting from Auto to Manual and they over-exposed a bit.

We went for a wander through the bush and came out on the main road about 1 km from camp and just our luck, it was time for about 5 or 6 road trains to come through. We got covered in dust from head to foot.

Anne's weather witchery cut in again, and some big thunderstorms came through. Once again, the rain filled the old dams on the rock and if nothing else, gave us some water for showering.

Gave us an opportunity to catch up on our reading!!!

Some fantastic rock formations.

Wednesday, 13th March 2013

The next spot we chose to camp was the one we've been wanting to see since we started out in early January. The Breakaways on the Hyden-Norseman Road would have to be one of the most attractive areas we've ever seen. We found a nice spot well away from the day-tripper's area with some nice shade and with a great view.

The rock formations here are nothing short of spectacular. The colours of the rock are visually amazing and there are areas where the combination of the red and white makes the rock look like melting strawberry ice-cream.

As usual, Anne brought the rain in after a couple of days and we were treated to a terrific sight of the area with water features. Just above the breakaway the road is banked for a curve and there is a culvert under the road to drain the rain channels. This directs the water straight to the breakaway and as a result we were treated to a waterfall display cascading down the breakaway.

Made to trip to the toilet interesting!

So that was our shake-down. We used the experience to sort things out, for Anne to get used to where things are in the van, and mostly to ensure that she would be happy with this sort of travelling which is what I love. The great news is that she loved the experience and can't wait to get going again.

We made it back home, restocked and on Monday we are off to the Goldfields and up through Meekatharra heading for the Kimberleys to spend the next winter.

See you soon
Mike and Anne