How time flys. Last update was in October last year. Now heading to Geelong after two years on the road.
On the 24/03/2023, we dragged ourselves out of Olive Hill Farm / Margaret River and got back to retired life on the road.
As we headed south east the weather took a turn and we drove through the rain which funnily enough, we hadn’t seen in quite some time. It helped wash away some of the accumulated dust from the farm off the car and van. Since we had 3500k’s to do we decided to do a decent drive and arrived at the Rush-cutters camp site just outside Denmark. The place was basically a paddock on a hill adjoining a winery. We parked up, didn’t unhook the van before getting indoors out of the still raining weather. It was great to stop for the night, just reading and planning our stops. After a good nights sleep we decided to move on. Before leaving we stopped at the Single File Winery where we bought a couple of bottles. After the drive yesterday, we only went 36k’s before pulling in to Cosy Corner campsite. We got lucky by scoring the last spot available and including seniors discount $10 a night with ocean frontage is incredible value.
We booked two nights but might stay for three to enjoy more chillaxing. Anyhow that’s it for this update but please see pic’s and more via the following.
Having made the final drive to Cue, we arrive in the town around one o’clock then have a short look about the town. The town centre has some amazing buildings that have been restored to a very high level and others which have a bit more of an original look to them. In the middle of the street is a restored bandstand that sits in the middle of the road across from the original bank building. There is also a visitors centre next to the rather grand looking police station. Across the road is the local shire offices in an equally impressive condition.
Although early in the day we decide we will head straight for the house sit that lies a couple of streets back from the Main Street. The house is a weatherboard clad single level house which sits on a large site, that has been extended and has a huge garage at the rear. We park up at the front of the property before we are met by Ross and Karen. Ross tells us to drive round the rear where we can drive the van in where it will be kept in a large plot under lock and key.
With the van secured we get in to the house where we get the tour. The house is a good size with three bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, a toilet and the real bonus of having a spa. We enjoy a good catchup and a laugh then before too long it’s bedtime. The following morning at seven am we hear the rear gates open as they get ready to leave. We get up in time to say our goodbyes and the two caravan convoy (Karen’s sister and brother-in-law are joining them) drive out and head north.
All of a sudden we are left on our own to enjoy the house, Cue itself and the surrounding areas. To demonstrate how remote Cue is, we are six and a half hours from Perth in a north east direction and four and a half hours from Geraldton to the east. The slowest town is Mount Magnet at eighty kilometres south and Meekatharra at one hundred and twenty kilometres north. We will be here for the next four months but luckily we have great internet coverage and a massive curved screen tv complete with all the apps and surround sound system. The weather is also great in the mid twenties most of the time and sunny. Max our Border Collie will enjoy the freedom, because we are looking after ‘Muddy’ the cat we will have to be careful.
More later as we get comfortable and start to move around the place. Photo’s on the following.
The last few days have been challenging. Our Tassie mates moved on as they make their long way home. We were now on our own as camp hosts. This week has been getting hotter as the week went on. Tomorrow (Friday) is set to be 40 degrees. This has already made a few leave camp as they wanted to run their generators when they liked. Since the shire put in a complete fire ban, this is not possible. we just head for the beach with our tent and swim and snorkel in the ocean.
We have got on well as camp hosts and it’s always interesting meeting people from everywhere. Can’t wait till Monday when it will drop below 30 degrees.
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.
After another hot night we we wake to a hot morning and the first rain we have had in months. Calling it rain is a bit of a stretch as it lasts about 30 seconds and what had fallen was immediately dried out in the sun.
Having scored a drive through site we didn’t even have to unhook the van. We only have to lock up and start the car before we are back on the road heading west to WA.
The drive of around 200km takes us to the WA border where we have to show our permits and go through the usual quarantine check before being allowed in. 20 minutes later we have crossed our fourth border in six months.
We will stay in WA for four or five months before we head over another border in to South Australia.
We drive on to the town of Kununurra where we head in to the local Coles for supplies then we have the usual frustration of the north and wes where we have to wait until 12pm before we can buy alcohol. At least its not as bad as the NT which was 2pm.
Now fully replenished we are back on the road and decide we need a nice place for a treat. One of the best we have been to before is Lake Argyle and we cover the 70 km from Kununurra.
It’s kinda strange being back here after four years. It seems the place hasn’t changed a bit and has retained arguably the best infinity swimming pool view in the country.
We are having to abandon our free camping purely due to the heat which is 40+ almost every day right now. The forecast doesn’t show it changing anytime soon. Both Max and ourselves are just about surviving by drinking a ridiculous amount of water. Luckily Lake Argyle has power and so we run our aircon on just about permanently.
Within the park there is a walk down to the lake where you can have a beautiful swim which we decide to do. There are 30,000 croc’s in the lake but all freshies no no worries unless you make the mistake of standing on one. This turned out to be a bit of a stuff up as my thongs decided to break half way down. Then poor Max was getting his paws roasted from the rocks and sand. When he got to the bottom he just sank in to the water looking like he was never going back.
I dived in and cooled off and Kaz did the same trying not to think of how we would one, get Max back up and two, get me back up without any foot coverings. In the end Kaz had to just grab Max and get up ASAP then wait for myself running up the hot coals to the safety of a sprinkler on a large piece of grass which helped put my foot fire out and poor Max’s paws.
Later in the afternoon we grabbed some refreshments then headed down to the pool area where Steve Case was entertaining everyone with his guitar and funny stories.
It was great to be kicking back as the sun was setting providing an amazing backdrop on the rocks and lake behind him.
We then decided to get in the pool and cool off once again before returning to Max in his air conditioned luxury.
In the evening we walked down to the restaurant/bar where we enjoyed a meal we didn’t cook on dishes we didn’t have to wash. With the sun already gone and a nice cool breeze happening it was a treat to be people watching whilst listening to Steve Case do his more adult set of songs.
Then having had a pretty long day we returned to the cool of the van walked Max the it was lights out on a great day.
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.
In the evening whilst at Pinnarendi Station, as nightfall descended we decided to light the fire pit in front of the van. It had been stocked with enough wood for the evening by the owners. When we arrived there was no one around in this area of at least two acres.
Then a couple who seemed decent looking but also looked like they were sleeping in their car and parked pretty close to us on the other side of the fire pit asked if I was aware that you can’t light fires on the ground. I replied yes I was but the non powered side of the camp had three camp fires already designated as fire pits complete with wood, ours being one of them. That is why we set up next to one. He then tells me that if any smoke comes his way that I would have to extinguish the fire. I replied, sure, 😂. NOT.
The fire was lit and the troublemakers were in their car and lights out by 7:30 smoke free.
Thankfully the next day we woke to find them gone. No doubt on their way to annoy someone else’s peace. How un-Australian.
This morning we take the 3km walk around the property which is a massive cattle farm with at least three dams and it’s own airstrip!! In fact the owner takes off in his plane to go pick up his two kids who are at school in Charter Towers.
We continue our walk getting to the Garden dam first then on to dam no2 where Max was allowed to take a dip in which he does whilst inhaling copious amount of the dam
as he runs around splashing about.
Shortly after we get to the big dam which as the name suggests is huge and was made by the property owners who want to have all sorts of birds taking it over.
As the heat rises we head back to the the van for a large drink of water ourselves.
We then thought a treat was due so off we went to the cafe where we had great coffee, scone with Jam and cream and a piece of strawberry cheesecake all of which were delicious.
Later on there seems to have been a mass arrival, we have vans, motor homes and a tent parked around us but we are excited as the pizzas we ordered arrive and we both scoff in to them. These are made on the property by Nadine then delivered to everyone’s sites by her two young sons. These are magnificent with sourdough base with veg, herbs and everything else from the property then cooked in their wood oven, YUM. There was no way we could finish them so they will be tomorrow’s dinner again.
Next day we are off and back on the Savanna Way westbound.
We passed through the town of Mount Surprise. The surprise to us was how small it was and we motored on.
Our intention was to stop at Georgetown but on arrival we didn’t feel any vibe about the place so once more we carried on straight through. We would have liked to visit the Undara Volcanic National Park and the lava tubes but with dogs not allowed we had to drive past.
We took a stop off the road to visit the Cumberland Chimney and Mine for a couple of pic’s and a wee break. There is also a huge lake/dam with an abundance of birdlife.
With it getting in to late afternoon and the sun beating down at 38 degrees we arrived at the town of Croydon. This little town is a fantastic place really trying to be bigger than it is with lot’s of things to see and do. The people we met were just easy to talk to and pumped up about Croydon. We headed for the tourist information where a lovely lady with a real funny quirky sense of humour talked us through the things not to miss.
We headed for the Heritage Precinct where as you would guess time has frozen the place but the original buildings etc have been restored. Including the police station, jail and courthouse. You can have a seat in the courtroom and listen to a trial played out on speakers. This included the actual testimony and a few words had to be bleeped out from the defendant who was a woman charged with being drunk and disorderly. She was eventually sentenced to two months in jail. There is also a museum documenting the towns mining heritage. We then popped in to the local hotel which is the last bar standing where there were thirty eight in one street. It was good to stay out of the heat and a the beer was so cold and refreshing.
Later we headed for the campsite a small bit out of town. It’s nothing much with toilets, a shower and a few trees around for shade but on mostly level ground which is good. It only costs $5.00 for two nights, good on Croydon for providing a place to stop bringing in some travellers dollars to the town.
We set up our awning then scoffed the pizza from the previous camp which were again delicious. We were then joined by a couple of other folks travelling and we had a chat for a while before heading to bed this time with our fan blowing to help cool us off a bit.
In the morning we take a drive to the fantastic Belmore Lake two kilometres out of town. Again a beautiful part of this place and if you are ever there do not miss it.
Later we take some pictures of the town from the viewpoint near the lake then head in to town to spend some dollars.
We grab breakfast with coffee at the little cafe in town and were served by a lovely French girl. We then fuelled up before getting back on the Savannah Way this time we are heading to the town of Normanton where we will reunite with friends Karen and Helge we last seen in Kenilworth.
As we travel we are seeing some huge eagles flying above or feeding on the roadkill of pig’s and Kangaroos amongst others, there are plenty to choose from.
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.
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.
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