Sherlock WA to Ningaloo

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.

Leaving Broome

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.

Gantheaume Beach, Broome, WA

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.

Roebuck Viewpoint

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.