Thanks everyone for following our travels. lots more to come. see us on instagram at our_wee_journey and Facebook group Our Wee Journey
It’s been several weeks since we took the reigns as camp hosts at Olive Hill Farm. With the Xmas holidays ending the camp has been a bit quieter but the weather continues to be hot. We are spending time between the farm and the beautiful beaches that surround the area. We have also began a fitness regime that we try to do most days depending on how we feel in the morning. It’s mostly stretches and includes a bit of weight training. We continue to offer Helen help around the place and have managed to carry out a few improvements around the camping area. Helen has generously opened her stunning house to us and we are enjoying great nights relaxing whilst watching movies on Netflix. We also enjoy a wee wine or two at the same time.
We had said our goodbyes a while back to our Tassie mates who were the camp hosts when we arrived. We got lucky as they came back to Margs to enable the purchasers of their motor home to collect it at the farm. They hadn’t even told us and sent us some pic’s sitting in our chairs and on Karen’s bike. We were so happy they were back and we all enjoyed some great times out in Margs as well as over at the farmhouse. They are a great couple and we will definitely be catching up with them when we finally get to Tasmania next year. We will definitely miss them and they’re happy demeanour.
With the school holidays ended there was an exodus of people heading back to their day jobs. The camp is a bit quieter and this gives us the chance to help Helen out by doing some easy tasks around the place.
We are now over nine months on the road and from the start it has been fabulous. It’s great meeting some of the characters that come and go at the farm. Spending time with them and getting tips and tricks along the way. The laughs we have had have been brilliant with some folks trying out a Scottish accent. The swims in the river have also been amazing and is a top spot to cool down in.
Thankfully we still have quite a bit of time before we have to move on. We are certainly in no hurry to do so.
The next day we went a walk down to the beach which was desert. It seems no one was enjoying the winds off the ocean although we have stayed. Most of them seemed to have left rather than move to a different spot like us.
We enjoyed a swim in the semi rough ocean which today seemed to be cooler.
Max is not able to do much exercise so there can be no running after ball or frisbee.
We had a visit from the ranger who asked us to confirm that we had booked the spot we were now occupying and we explained we had moved due to the wind. She then said she would note that in the system just in case someone else tried to book it.
We then spent the day relaxing, sun baking and reading books. It’s unusual for me to read books whilst Karen seems to inhale them and has already read heaps of books on the trip so far. I have to have an interest in the subject matter and prefer true stories or biographies. The one I am reading is titled “Anger is an Energy” by John Lydon. You might know him as Johnny Rotten of the punk band “The Sex Pistols.
Karen has just finished a book given to her titled “The Alchemist” by Paula Coelho which I will read next as it pretty small and easy to read but seems a bit religious.
Later we return to the other camp for five o’clock drinks with Sydney and Tasmanians. Tonight we get a treat as John has made a sourdough loaf it’s just out of the oven sliced and wolfed by all coated in butter, delicious.
John is also in to photography and brings out his drone which he sends up to take a photo of the sunset. The drone is having to fight against the wind and as it comes back down John attempts to grab it one of the propellers cuts a slice across two of his fingers, Ouch. George then goes in to paramedic mode by wrapping the cuts in bandaids.
Tomorrow the two couples will move on and we will have the entire place to ourselves.
As we are all heading in the same direction we might meet up further south.
George and Ann, the Tasmanians give us their card telling us to look them up when we get over to Tasmania which is the only State we are yet to visit but is on our radar.
Next day we wave them both goodbye and we get back to being on our own again.
I take a walk over the dunes, down to the beach and go for a run. Not a long run as I haven’t ran for so long and it’s a bit harder in the sand as well as nothing on my feet.
Once I stop back where I started I dive straight in to the ocean to cool off and enjoy a swim with no one else around. I did think if a shark bites me now I am a dead man.
Later we get in to 4×4 mode heading up and over the sands and tracks to visit “Turtle Rock” which sits high on the dunes is a massive flat rock formation which gets smashed by the winds and waves. There is also a memorial stone on the rock to a fisherman and strangely whilst standing there our phones connect and we get phone and internet service.
We then have a walk round the rock before taking some photos and returning to the quiet of the van where our solitude is broken as we have a new van arrived but not close to us. They have two Labradors so we are glad the are not closer.
Tonight we have our own 5 o’clock drinks and get the dominoes out for the next series of matches which is great fun. No really try it.
After another windy night we scoff a light breakfast then drive round and on to the beach. We take a nice long beach walk with Max jumping in and out of ocean.
We manage to walk up to the beach end that we saw from Turtle Rock then explore the rocks collecting a few shells along the way. As we get close to where we parked the car we see a caravan, a Jeep and a guy walking quite fast towards us waving his arms. When we get closer to him we can see that his caravan is bogged on the beach. They have managed to get their Jeep separated from their van using Maxtracks as the Jeep was not capable of getting the bogged van out. The two of them were so glad to see us as the wind had made lot’s of people move on.
It turned out they had dropped the tyre pressures on the Jeep but not the van. As they both started to drop the vans tyre pressure we got the Land Cruiser in position to pull it out. First we had to change tow bar tongues as their hitch was totally different to ours. We then attached it to the Land Cruiser started up, put it in four wheel drive, selected the electronic power button then easily without any wheel spin pulled their van forward then turned round and towed it all the way up off the beach to a hard surface where they could reattach and find another site to park in. They both said that they wouldn’t stay any longer having booked and paid for seven days then left saying they were heading instead to Coral Bay. We got the impression that one of them was embarrassed that they got bogged. We unhooked their van and left them to it.
Fast forward to Tuesday, the day we had to decide to move on or stay in this great spot a bit longer. It’s an easy decision but first we have to fill our tanks with water.
This means we have to hook up the van then drive to Coral Bay. This way we can get on the internet and book a site as we will stay for another five days.
We normally cut across a sandy corrugated back road with just the Land Cruiser that saves about 20km but head up the highway since we have the van attached.
This means getting the compressor out and inflate all eight tyres back up.
There is a caravan park in town who let’s you fill your tanks and for our 130 litres it costs $22.00.
We get on the internet and this time we book a different site to the one we have been on. This morning we had a drive around checking out the sites. That way we could see which ones were a available. Funny thing was when we passed one site the people next to it were stark naked!! They scurried back under cover as we passed.
We checked on the web when they would be leaving and it was Wednesday so we booked the site across from the one they will depart.
Having got that done we went on to the Netflix site and downloaded a few things to watch. It was then time to head back but this time even though we had the van attached we decided to go back over the narrow sandy corrugated road. This meant once again dropping all eight tyres back down before joining the track.
The drive back was done a little slower due to the van but we cruised along easily completing the drive back saving us heaps of time.
It was then straight to the camp master cooker (a fantastic thing) and spaghetti Bolognese is cooked and scoffed with a nice glass of red, yum.
It’s then settle down to watch Squid Game on Netflix before lights out out on another fabulous day on the road. Tomorrow we will move to our new site and get set up for another five more days on Ningaloo reef.
So now Wednesday morning, moving day arrives. There’s no need to hurry as we stayed hooked up yesterday and we aren’t going exactly far. So 10am we vacated our current site and drove the 300 metres to the new one. We were quite surprised driving in as the sand was pretty deep and powdery but as usual the Land Cruiser drove in without any drama and we settled in a nice level spot. A bonus of this site is that there is more protection from the wind so we should wear less sand. Max does his new usual by finding the shade under the van in the cool sand.
Within an hour we get a visit from the ranger asking to see our booking confirmation email. Max walks out from under the van to have a look and bark at this stranger. He then tells us to get Max on to his lead as per the rules. Apparently last week a Kangaroo was found in a state having been mauled either by someone’s dog or a Dingo. Either way the poor roo had to be put down by the Rangers.
We will now be here for five more days before we force ourselves to leave.
In the meantime it will be more of the same thing. Walking, swimming, sun baking, reading, Netflix and maybe a wee wine or three. Life is tough on the road.
Well, the morning we weren’t looking forward to arriving, arrived.
We are moving today on as we travel south. We get going pretty early having packed away most things the night before. We attached the house on wheels to the car and headed out first on to the sand, then gravel, corrugations and finally dirt. Then it was out with the compressor to get the tyre pressures back up for bitumen.
Yesterday another van got bogged on the beach but we figured there were enough people there to help and carried on with our sun baking and swimming.
The drive today is about 300km to our next stop which is a free camp south of Carnarvon. Since we are back in civilisation we of course need to replenish our supplies of food. Yes, ok and drinks. So it’s straight in to the local Safeway with a list. Also on the list we have gas bottle re-fill and camping gas cans.
As we arrived in Carnarvon we spotted a Mitre-10 and said to each other “we should have stopped and got the gas filled” but having said that we drove on to a huge car/caravan wash as both the van and car had spent some time getting sand blasted, covered in dust, shit on and were absolutely filthy. As we lined up there were a couple of oldies driving in with a motorhome who gave themselves a real work out using brushes and jet sprays. Whilst going up and down the ladders on the walkway which gave you height to almost clean the roof but not enough for this poor couple. They did however get it done and next it was our turn.
I managed to climb up on the rail to give myself a bit more height to spray the roof of the van first then worked my way down. It was so good to see the van looking clean and new again. We then moved on to the Land Cruiser which was equally as filthy and all done we rolled out with windows we could see out of for a change.
Having raided Safeway we popped in to BWS & got a couple of things but alas not the casks we were looking for. As time was getting on we decided to head back on to the road south.
We were maybe 20 km south when thought “GAS”. Yep, back to Carnarvon and the Mitre-10 we passed, lesson learned. We managed to get a re-fill and some gas cans thankfully.
As we drove out Kaz then remembered she forgot to add a couple of things to the shopping list but luckily there was an IGA there. We then spotted a Bottle Mart store and straight in for a look where like an oasis in the desert, there we spotted De Bortoli cask wine on the shelf. “Hallelujah”, this stuff is our go to wine now and we have missed it so much travelling the Kimberley.
Then we headed out again, passing a station we did consider but the reviews weren’t great and we decided to drive a bit further on to a free stop that has great reviews on WikiCamps. Arriving about 5pm there were a few vans and motor homes parked already but we easily found a good spot overlooking a paddock. Although its pretty close to the highway as the evening gets late the road “should” be quiet.
Having arrived at Sherlock camp WA which is a huge cattle station which allows people to camp for as long as they like for free. We picked a spot away from the other two vans next to the Jones River. It’s a beautiful view both of the river and the Myriad of birds inhabiting the area. The river is alleged to be safe for swimming with rope swings hanging from several trees. We decided to not bother having a dip not fully convinced and having crossed the Northern Territory where crocodiles almost outnumber people.
Our intention was to spend one night here but as it was really peaceful well away from the road where road trains thunder past we elected to make it two nights.
Strangely there is a resident rooster who visits everyone but he stopped short on the way to ours spotting Max spotting him.
We spent the day cleaning out our home on wheels and the Land Cruiser then it was down to the business of reading books and walking the property.
The river is home to Pelicans, Herons, Egrets, Eagles and the largest groups of Cormorants who appear to be getting a good feed.
Later in the afternoon we get a visit from the van closest to us who are a couple from Rutherglen, Victoria that have been on the road for four months and were in no hurry to return to Victoria until we get on the other side of this dreadful COVID business.
John invites us over to join them later for five o’clock drinks where we can also meet his other half Louise. Five o’clock arrives and we wander over promising ourselves that we will have one or two drinks as we are yet to eat. As usual when you get talking to folks and it is going well with plenty laughs the two drinks turn in to a few more and before we know it it’s almost eleven pm and we are yet to and won’t now have something to eat. We say our good nights and retire to bed.
Next morning we are up and packed ready to move on. We say our goodbyes to John and Louise and head out on our way to the town of Karratha where we will fuel up and do some shopping. We will also fill our water tanks in the town centre where there is a fresh water supply that costs $1.00 for fifty litres. Whilst there who should arrive to do the same, yep John and Louise.
Back on the road and a bit later than we like we head off heading south and arrive at our next stop at the tiny place called Manilya. There is nothing here but a road house, a bridge and the rest stop we take residence at for the night. It’s quite a large area with a few trees providing some much needed shade. We manage to grab a spot under one such tree and as the day goes on a few more folks pull in to stop for the night.
As we sit outside the van people watching we get a visit from the van next door again.
Mick and his wife Janet are Poms from Yorkshire in England but have lived in Australia for thirty years and have never returned. They now call Busselton, WA home and have several kids and grandkids. We share a few drinks and have a good laugh until a sudden gust of wind arrives and blows a massive amount of dust in to camp and everyone runs to close their windows and hide from the sudden storm.
With darkness descending we call it a night having eaten a welcome meal for a change.
In the morning we have little to do except walk Max and put our rubbish in the large bins provided before saying our goodbyes to Mick and Janet but we didn’t get the chance as we see them exit the camp and head over the bridge on to the highway.
A bit rude we thought to ourselves then having loaded Max in we get in ready to go when I spot a piece of paper on the windscreen. It was a note which read “Give us a call when you are in Margaret River and we will come and meet you”. Signed, Mick and Janet complete with their phone number.
Annoyed at having missed them we head out on to the highway. We are heading for Warroora Station – 14 mile beach and the Ridge.
This is another station but this one you can drive on to the beach sites which gives uninterrupted ocean views and access for swimming croc free but possibly sharks.
Today the drive is short. We arrive at the turnoff and turn in to read the information board and also to drop the tyre pressures on both Land Cruiser and caravan. Eight tyres all up and takes about 15 minutes. The road in starts off gravel then quickly changes to corrugations and stones. As we travel further in on the one lane track we are glad we dropped the tyre pressures as we come on to the soft sand before arriving at the caretakers van. As he was out fishing we carried on driving straight on to the beach with the ocean colour and views amazing. We drove on through the soft sand arriving at our designates site number 25. Here we have no one next to us or even close so visitors should be rare unless people arrive later as we will be here for the next ten nights.
We spend the day swimming, sun baking and throwing the ball in to the warm ocean for Max who absolutely loves the beach.
Later we take in the usual sunset which we never get bored with before turning in to enjoy a great nights sleep listening to the waves crash on the beach.
Next morning the wind has really increased to almost gale force coming off the ocean. As we walk along the beach our legs are getting sand blasted and having walked Max long enough we return to the van. There would certainly not be any swimming happening today as the ocean is pretty rough with a bit of swell and a bit of a rip just off shore. We had read reports and feedback testifying that the wind here can be problematic but we remain hopeful that it will blow out and move on.
Having spent the last few days getting hit by strong winds we have moved off the beach in to a higher spot with we hope a bit of a barrier from the wind. Whilst on the beach the wind had shifted the sand so much that the van and car were slowly sinking as the wind blew. We decided we had to get out of there and might return if the dreaded wind dies out. The site we moved to might be booked by someone and we will have to move again. The people closest to us who are from Tasmania have done the same moving to a site they didn’t book either. Close to them there is a couple in an ‘A’ van who also move up.
I went down to the beach to have a look and got talking to a couple who were Australians from Thailand but were over holidaying, meeting up with friends and had been on the road for eight months. They had made the decision to move on due to the wind but had only booked a couple of nights anyway. A short distance from them there was a caravan that had its awning blown off, why you would put your awning out in that wind is beyond me.
Tuesday we decided to take a drive to Coral Bay and see if the wind there would be as strong. So it was off up the road through sand, rocks and corrugations before reaching the highway and pumping the tyres back up with the compressor.
Arriving at Coral Bay the immediate feeling was, it’s busy. We had come from a camp with almost no one. Coral Bay seemed like a metropolis with lots of people around crammed together in the main caravan park like sardines whilst paying at least $60.00 for the privilege. Strangely it was still windy but not like our beach front. We only stayed maybe an hour due to having phone coverage and listening to the Melbourne Cup on the radio. Karen managed to pick the winner which gave us our money back.
We also wanted to check the weather forecast to see what we were in for.
We then returned to camp and once again lowered the tyre pressures.
Fast forward and it is now Wednesday morning and the wind seems to have dissipated. We walk down the dunes to the beach only to find it empty. We enjoy a swim but poor Max is really struggling with his arthritis (he is close to 13) which we are giving him oral injections for but he really is not good on his back legs and we are having to limit his exercise.
Last night the people in the “A van were so worried about the wind they packed their van up and slept in their car before moving on this morning. The weather forecast is not great with a possible storm which we don’t mind as they are a real light show usually. Speaking to the Tasmanians they are prepared to stay like us although they are only here till Friday.
A bit later in the day a Land Rover and caravan drove in and we thought here we go time to move but it turned out that Tasmania were in the site they had booked. Land Rover said don’t bother moving as they would find another spot. They then got bogged in the sand and Tasmania had to pull them out. They then settled in a spot next to the one the Tasmanians were in.
In the afternoon we chatted to the Tasmanians who invited us and the Land Rover people over for 5 o’clock drinks. We prepared our evening meal, grabbed our chairs and went over for the chat.
Land Rover were John & Anne from Sydney and Tasmania were George & Wendy.
It’s always good to meet people and get the good oil of where is good and also places best avoided. It was a good laugh and a couple of beers later as the sun was setting we returned to the van to reunite with Max and have tea.
Having spent a glorious week in Broome we decided that we weren’t ready to leave and booked a second week. The second week followed the path of the first week although we swapped beaches on a couple of occasions to try and avoid jellyfish in the high tides.
On one of those occasions we drove on to Gantheaume Beach and noticed four police officers talking to three guys who it turned out were from a boat just off the beach which in turn was a landing craft for a much bigger boat anchored off the shore. This bigger boat looked like a rusting piece of death at sea and could be mistaken for an Indonesian people smuggling cruise ship. After a while the three of them were ordered to produce passports etc before being allowed to leave. We never did find out the true story but it made things interesting for a while.
We spent several days at this beach as the vibe was really good with everyone just laying back enjoying the heat, water temperature and of course beautiful sunsets.
On returning to the van we invited our caravan neighbours Matt and Shelly over for drinks and we sat around in the nice cool night air having a laugh. Then before we knew it it was 1am. Time passes fast when chatting and it was off to bed.
Next morning we went off to the Courthouse Market which had all the usual Beach goodies on offer and in fact Karen’s hat we bought here 4 years ago and old mate was still there looking exactly the same.
Later we went to the town beach for the staircase to the moon event but really I can’t say I was impressed by it. It might just have been that that one was not that great but others might have been superb. It’s a bit like a sunset but as the moon rises it shines on to the flats of Roebuck Bay giving the illusion of a staircase going up to the moon.
One of the days we visited the Roebuck viewpoint which gives an amazing view of the colours of the ocean. To get up the stairs to the viewing platform we walked through a group of local people which at first seemed a bit daunting but they all wished us a great day whilst referring to us as Brother & Sister. We then took in the view, took some snaps then were given the same send off from the group “enjoy Broome Brother & Sister” as we walked to the car.
It was then time for a visit to Matso’s Brewery just for a look at the menu as we fancied coming here later to eat. On the same site there is a gallery full of amazing artwork. Luckily as we have no house for some time it was easy not to buy anything. Adding to the fact that any we would have bought were priced in the thousands. The artists here also do massive street art type murals as well as canvas. Outside there was one such mural and we grabbed a pic of that one.
Later we returned to the van before taking in the sunset on Cable Beach once again. This time however we decided to splash out and went to the Life Saving Club for a cold one.
We then went back to Matso’s Brewey where we had arranged to meet our caravan neighbours Matt & Shelly for dinner. We arrived and were surprised to see a band playing. Luckily Matt & Shelly had already grabbed a table although later we did move tables as the one we were on was pretty high.
The place was really busy and when ordering food we were told it would be at least a 40 minute wait.
Eventually the food arrived and it was certainly worth the wait. I had the Seafood Linguine, both Kaz & Matt had the Snapper and Shelly the Duck Pasta then after 1 more drink we had to get back to the van as we had left Max in there. Not a worry for him with the air conditioning keeping him cool.
A Bit later Matt & Shelly returned and joined us for a natter as we would be leaving the following morning. This time there would be no repeat of the previous nights lateness as we had a relatively long drive ahead of us.
In the morning we packed up said our goodbyes and headed for the road South. We have seven days to get to the Ningaloo coast beaches as we have booked ten days on a beachfront spot that we will drive on to. We will then have uninterrupted ocean views. This one has been on our to do list from four years ago when we had to give it a miss due to time constraints.
On the way we stop at the Sand fire Roadhouse for a night. This is just what it is, a roadhouse although it does have plenty of wildlife around.
One night here was more than enough and the next day we headed for the town of Port Hedland where we stayed at the racecourse free camp. Again there is nothing fancy about the place but it is free and we stay for two days. Port Hedland is a massive mining area and everywhere you look there are white mining Utes and Land Cruisers everywhere distinguished by there yellow stripes and high red flags. You see so many of these that we wondered if anyone is actually working at the mine sites.
As usual when we come to a major town with amenities we stock up. The beauty of the racecourse is its proximity to a Woolworths/BWS supermarket allowing us to purchase the essentials as well as food.
One thing here is if you were a light sleeper you would be in trouble as all day and night the mining trains don’t stop and they are at least a kilometre each in length.
We visited the viewpoint across the road where you can see one of the only domestic beaches where turtles lay eggs. You can also count the number of iron ore and coal ships waiting to dock in to PH before heading back to China.
We only stayed here for two night b4 we headed back out on to the road South this time making our way to a spot just south of Karratha.
To the Kialrah Pool (Jones River), Roebourne-Wittenoom Road, Sherlock, Western Australia. This is privately owned but the owners allow anyone to come off the road set up on the riverfront as long as they like for free. It’s only about 185 km from PH and we would have been quicker if not for the huge mining truck being transported in front of us. This load is extra wide and if you want to pass is best to wait until told it is safe. We sit back not bothered about overtaking it and in fact pull off the road and take a break letting the wide load move further in front.
Shortly after we arrive at the turnoff and drive the 10 km rocky road arriving after 10 minutes at a great riverfront spot with only two other vans here. There is an abundance of wildlife here, unfortunately that includes snakes which we will have to keep our eyes peeled for especially for Max. Apparently the river is good for swimming in but well I don’t think we will risk it as it looks like a crocs dinner table.
Two nights will be the go here before we move on through Karratha heading for Ningaloo.
We left Bitter Springs reasonably early but weren’t in any hurry due to the short drive we have today travelling to Katherine in the Northern Territory.
In no time we reach our destination, the Manbulloo Homestead.
This is a working cattle station just 12km south of the main town. It’s more of a bush setting with plenty of shade which we need as the temperatures have been around 40 degrees and are forecasted to stay for sometime. We booked a powered site to run our aircon or Max (our Border Collie) will have a heart attack.
The place backs on to the Katherine river but as usual you can’t swim in it due to crocodiles.
We will be here for 7 nights which is a welcome change. It also allows us the luxury of rearranging the gear we carry. We also made the decision to sell our rooftop tent as we doubt we will use it due to having Max with us.
We placed an ad in Facebook Marketplace and within the hour a lady from Brisbane said her hubby who works in Katherine would come and have a look. Later we received multiple requests and offers from people but Mark was first in and would get first dibs on it. He turned up on time and we opened the tent up showed it off and he bought it on the spot.
With Mark having no roof rack yet we offered to drop it off at his place. He then made us a very generous offer that when we drop it off he would supply a couple of beers and we could have a swim in his pool !!
We duly arrived dropped the tent off then had a glorious dip in the pool which was very much welcomed in the heat. We then had some drinks and a great laugh before we returned to the van where we left Max enjoying the aircon which we left running.
As we will be crossing another border in to WA we have to be in the NT for 16 days before we are allowed in. Meantime we have to go online and apply for a permit and detail all of our travel within the NT.
We completed this pretty easily and within minutes got our acceptance and border passes. This was great news as the only part of this journey we have booked is at Olive Tree Farm in Margaret River, WA. We will be there for one month in mid December, our first Xmas on the road.
It will be a wee bit boring staying in Katherine as we have been here before and done all the place has to look at and experience. We can’t complain as every day on the road is Saturday and we have lot’s of reading to do.
I also spent some time underneath the car with a hammer and screwdriver knocking out huge rocks of dust that had got collected up in Cape York. I will then take it to the car wash for a high pressure clean. I reckon we will be removing this dust until we hit a hard rain we have to drive through. As it is we haven’t seen rain for months.
At the time of writing we have three more nights here then we will take a couple of long drives with one stopover to ensure we make our WA border crossing date. This will be our fourth border through COVID restrictions in 6 months.
Having left the Corrella Dam site we drove on to the town of Camooweal where we pull up another free camp which runs along Lake Canellan and is quite similar to the site we just left. This stop is a great location being so close to the Northern Territory border. This will give us plenty of time to complete our entry declaration allowing us to enter the state.
Today we are pretty happy to get off the road again as it continues to be windy and in fact we end up staying here for a couple of nights due to the high wind gusts.
There aren’t many people here and there is plenty of room and privacy.
When we came through Mount Isa to do some shopping I took the chance to head in to the local ARB dealer because when we drove to the cape and back we lost several bolts from our bull-bar. This made the bash plates loose and were getting pretty noisy. The guy at the ARB store couldn’tj have been better. He apologised that this had happened even in tough conditions then promptly supplied the missing bolts for free!! I then went in to BCF as the first time using the compressor we purchased the bag ripped itself apart, The store swapped the bag for a new one without question again apologising that this had occurred.
Now with a couple of days without driving I took the time to fit the new bolts then checked all round the car in case there maybe more but thankfully there were none.
Later we had a visitor from another van who came over to chew the fat about where we were heading, where he was heading and the good oil for both directions. He then told me that he and his wife are gold prospectors. They travel Australia in search of gold nuggets and in fact have had considerable success. So much so that they now use a $10,000 dollar detector which has paid for itself in a relatively short time. It seems there are more and more people doing this on the road and hey we might even have a go one day without the $10k machine.
Finally the wind has dropped allowing us to move on. We drive in we drive in to Camooweal where we fill our water tanks then queue up to get fuel.
Whilst filling up we notice a group of young people sitting in the shade with their bags and at the same time see a truck with a couple of vehicle’s on the back. A girl from the group approached us asking if they could get a lift to Mount Isa but we have to say no as we are heading west. She then explained that the vehicles on the truck were theirs and they were now stranded. If we were headed that way we certainly would have helped them out but we left hoping someone picks them up.
At last we make our way to the border where we get stopped and have to show our completed border declaration then driving licenses before happily we can drive through in to the Northern Territory.
We drive on for a bit then stopped off for the night at a roadside rest area called Wonarah Bore where we could drive a good distance from the road which avoids some of the road train noise through the night. We were the only ones here but later there were about eight vans.
Here there is no service for phones or tv but our bus mates had given us a box set of DVD’s from the series Love/Hate, it’s pretty gritty and came out in 2010. This will keep us entertained at night as it is a five series box.
After a great night sleep we are back on the road now heading a bit further west before arriving at three ways roadhouse where we again fill up with fuel had lunch then headed north for a change on to the Stuart Highway.
We then repeated our stop like the previous night. This time at the Old Cattle yard which looks exactly like its name suggests but again it’s a free stop with no problems and another great stop. Max is slowly turning in to red dog due to the amount of red bull dust he is picking up.
Friday the 24/09/21 we are the the last to leave but get back on the road north. Today we will make it to the famous Daly Waters pub which has a campsite next to it. We have been here before as it’s a good stop before Katherine. On the way we stop at the town of Elliot. We only stop as we have phone service but take the chance to have an early lunch before getting back on the road and later arrive at Daly Waters Pub.
It feels funny being back here after our last visit four years ago and thankfully it hasn’t changed a bit with all the usual quirky stuff around.
We head straight to the bar but just to book a spot in the free camping section which puts us in with a variety of campers and back packer type vans which we prefer as they are a varied and chatty bunch just having fun.
Having chosen a spot we get set up, awning out for some shade against the hot sun then went for a wander around the place. Last time here we booked in for the famous beef n Barra food night complete with entertainment provided by an Elvis impersonator. This time we don’t other now that we are full time travellers and need to tighten the spending.
We intended staying here for one night (Friday) but Saturday is the Australian Rules Football final. We ask if the game will be shown on the big tv in the bar which is confirmed and we decide to book in for another night to make sure we see the game.
Later we head for the bar as happy hour is on from 4pm till 6pm. Food is also not served until 6pm. A couple of drinks later we order some food, Burger for Kaz and fish n chips for me. The waitress asked me if I want the seperate salad which comes with the fish, I say yes please but i am yet to see it.
Later we take in a bit of the Elvis guy and the owner turns up with his horse who thinks it’s a dog as it follows him wherever he goes. The same can be said of the goat which wanders around as it pleases. Funny thing is there are no dogs allowed in some bits of the place but the horse and goat access all areas. The goat reared up at one stage in head butt mode on a poor dog that didn’t appreciate it. Thankfully it didn’t come near Max probably due to him showing his teeth to it earlier.
We then retire to the van and watch another episode of our Love/Hate DVD.
Arriving at the Endeavour River Escape we are immediately impressed as we drive up the 3K long dirt driveway to the homestead. The property sits overlooking a river which meanders through the massive acreage. We had a chat with the owner, then we follow his you bloke on a huge quad who directs us to the spot we will occupy. We are again delighted as the spot is massive and we have it all to ourselves including the bus. Unfortunately, although the river is close by we will not be swimming due to it being home to croc’s.
Having set up we took a drive in Cooktown where it seemed pretty quiet but then we remembered it was Sunday. We managed to scope out somewhere to eat for dinner later which was the bowls club in the Main Street. Then went down to the wharf where we saw an old guy fishing with a bare line and hook. Every time he dropped that line, 10 seconds later he pulled up a fish.
On our way back to the van we stopped in at the souvenir shop where we purchased a mascot for the trip in the shape of a crocodile who will travel on the dash to the cape and the rest of Australia we get to.
It would not be us if we didn’t find the local pub for a cold one. Cooktown would be no different. We found the Top End Pub where we could also take Max in to and enjoyed a nice freezing cold beer.
Back at the van we met a dude who walked in to our camp section then asked if it would be ok to use his metal detector. We asked him he had found any gold where he replied, yes, about 55 dollars. We were thinking of actual gold and not gold coins. He then wished us “safe travels” then left.
Later we returned to the bowling club for some food and drinks. This place must have the youngest crew in Australia working the bar. The poor bloke behind the bar didn’t look old enough to drink never mind serve alcohol. It took him 15 minutes to pour 3 beers while blaming it on the keg, gas and even air in the pipes. We grabbed a table then the menu where since we had 30 minutes before meals could be ordered gave us plenty of time to study it and the specials board.
All that studying resulted in 2 parmies and two steaks washed down with a bottle of red. And a scoop of ice cream was scoffed by myself and Richo which the kids didn’t finish. It was then back to camp and lights out.
Next day we got busy sorting out the cars for the trip to Cape York as we would now be using roof top tents and the van and bus would be in storage for a few weeks. The dogs would be going in to kennels as there are to many croc’s around to take them with us. Our metal detector friend then walked past and wished us “safe travels” again.
Having checked and double checked everything it was time to have some dinner before a couple drinks then an early bed.
The day had arrived where we hit the road on our Cap York adventure. We hooked up the van and bus then moved them in to storage. Next we headed to the kennels to drop of the dogs. We did this quickly before Max had time to realise what was happening. Then it was time to start with a 350Km drive to Cohen where we free camped just outside of town down a 4×4 track next to the river. There was one other person there but he left and we had the place to ourselves for a while before two caravans came in and stayed the night. This was the second spot. The first was down off the road then over a river in to a camp which had loads of people around. We decided to give this one a miss. Having had a long day we called it a night early and climbed up the ladder in to the roof tent for a well earned sleep.
In the morning it was off in to Coen where we filled up with diesel dumped our rubbish then waited for the local hotel to open so wee could buy some beers. We weren’t the only ones and when at last it opened at 10am we bought a box of beers which cost $90.00 for Great Northerns cans.
It was then back on the road in to the dust and corrugations heading only 60Km to the Archer River Roadhouse. Since we dropped the tyre pressures the corrugations didn’t seem so bad and with a decent east west wind the dust cleared a bit faster as we followed Richo who was about half a kilometre in front. In no time we reached the roadhouse which we went past turned right before the bridge and down then over the river on to a cracking spot with easy access to both the river for swimming and the roadhouse should we need anything.
Tonight we would light a fire so we all went, collected some wood and had a good supply for later. We headed for the roadhouse for a look. It was really basic but we are miles from anywhere. A bottle of soft drink was $6.60 but the cost is definitely in the shipping. We bought a bottle of ginger ale as these places need supported by buying something whilst there and also we are alcoholics.
In the evening and with darkness descending, the fire set and a meal on the go we were treated to a fly over by a large group of bats heading out. This looked great until quite a few of them landed on trees close to our set up. This means in the morning we would be guaranteed bat shit on the car.
The fire was lit and with a reasonable wind blowing it got fanned in to an inferno pretty quickly. We then added a packed of Rainbow Flames which burn turning the flames as you would guess in to all sorts of colours. Had there been less wind they might have been more of them but the breeze kept the colour show short. We sat in the heat of the evening gazing between stars and flames while listening to the river flow, amazing. It was then up the ladder to enjoy another solid night sleep.
After a couple of days at this fantastic spot where we picked up so much information about the Cape and met some really nice people it was time to leave. We made a quick stop at the roadhouse to bin our rubbish. Whilst there we were told of several vehicles that had broken and were waiting for days to be recovered to Cairns costing one couple who had a bus complete with trailer would cost them in excess of $20,000 dollars. There was also a couple in a motor home where they couldn’t select any gears. That would cost them in excess of $5,000 to be recovered.
Leaving the roadhouse we started out on a short stretch of tarmac which didn’t last long before it changed to gravel, red dust and corrugations. Our destination was the The Bramwell Tourist Park which would have music, a buffet and a happy hour.
We booked in for two nights and set up our rooftop tent and went for stroll around the place which sits on 300,000 acres. There are hot showers and toilets but not much else but that’s as usual on these types of stations.
We managed to get the last half of happy hour, then the start of the music but left shortly after without eating. Instead returned to camp to have an early night.
This morning we head out of the Big4 caravan park which has been great but we prefer to be in farms and remote stays. Today we will do just that as we head north on our way to Cooktown Far North Queensland.
First we head to a farm stay called Birds On Barron in Biboorha where we meet back up with our bus mates. We will stay here for a couple of nights as we need to make solid plans for the next few weeks. The property is huge with lots of wildlife roaming around there is also an Emu which thinks it’s a horse. It also has a stream running through it to cool off in. The farm is just 7k from Mareeba so is an easy drive should we need anything and just as well. Whilst we were walking with Max he had a run then yelped then couldn’t walk on one of his back legs. Kaz called a couple of local Vets in Mareeba and we took him in to the one with the earliest appointment. In the consultation it was suggested that we should x-ray his leg to make sure there was no break. She also said that he had inflammation in the lower part of the leg. We left him there and headed to The Coffee Works in Mareeba to treat ourselves to a great coffee with a bite to eat whilst we wait on the completion of the X-ray.
So back to the vet and $350.00 for the x-ray and a total Bill of $450.00 later he has no break instead he has severe arthritis in the knuckle joints. We have to give him oral injections now and apparently his arthritis will only worsen as he ages.
Later both groups take some time to organise the gear for Cape York as we will leave the caravan and bus then continue with both Land Cruisers. We will have quite a bit more room as Max will be going in to kennels in Cooktown till we make our way up then down. We can’t risk him being taken by a crocodile due to his love of water. The O’Neills with do the same with little Meeko their terrier.
Next morning having spent a couple of nights here it’s time to leave. We head out and on the way drop our cash for the stay in the honesty box then hit the road for the short drive via Mount Malloy to Mary Creek Camp Grounds which is another huge farm property backing on to a lovely stream again. We both arrive without drama then get set up on a level site among the trees. The place is not too busy but it is so big it would take a lot to make so. The owner meets us and we pay him the $20.00 per night due. We reckon we will stay another night as we are making good time now although Cooktown will be a bit of a longer drive.
We spend the day reading, planning and relaxing before we suffer the onslaught of corrugations whilst in the Cape. There is also a little stream which allows us to cool of as the temperature rises to around 30 degrees as the sun gets higher.
Later it’s over to the bus where Richo has a new satellite dish for the big tv and tonight is Friday night footy night as Geelong takes on Port Adelaide in the finals series. Although a good game if you are an Adelaide fan but since me and Kaz are Geelong supporters it was not great. It was as always magic to sit out in the warm night before retiring to bed after another amazing day on the road.
So up really early this morning and arrive at Bob Janes, Cairns to have the stock Land Cruiser tyres replaced by BF Goodrich KAo2 all terrains. These will be better for the rough roads as we drive in to Cape York. With this done it was then off to Pacific Toyota for the service to be done. I managed to drop it off early and get a courtesy drive back to the park where Kaz and Max were waiting on me having stalked me online as I travelled.
After a quick bite to eat we walked over to the pool and got straight in. The outside temperature is around 30 degrees so perfect for a dip. There are also two slides which we had a go at before getting in to the hot spa for some rejuvenating.
In what seemed a very short time I was picked up by Toyota where I returned to collect and pay for the service. Good thing is the car was given a clean Bill of health including brakes which have had a hard time with the van attached.
Having again returned to the camp we headed for the bar where every day there is a happy hour between 4pm and 5pm. There are also a wide range of bar snacks including small plates to graze on. We enjoyed a couple of drinks then headed back to the van to eat. I should say the site we are on is about 30 steps from the bar.
We then sat outside to tune in to the latest Survivor Australia episode before enjoying a rare early night.
After a long night where Max was up and down drinking water due to it being warm then understandably needing to go out, it was good to see morning arrive.
Today we don’t mess about enjoy some breakfast with sourdough rolls from the local baker. Washed down with tea and coffee. It was then off to to the pool for a nice swim, slide and spa before we headed in to Cairns.
Due to tomorrow being one of the last days we will be in a place this size with all the amenities you would expect we thought it wise to get in to the big supermarkets to stock up on supplies of mostly pasta’s, rice and an assortment of tins. We also grabbed 3 x 10 litres of water for the trip which we will add to the 15 litre container we already have.
Tomorrow we will hook up leave camp to go back up and over Kuranda, in and through Mareeba to meet back up with our bus mates at Biboohra. We will then work out a semi concrete plan together as we motor on with our journey to the top of Cape York.