I think I have been subconscioulsly delaying finishing off the posts about our trip because I really don’t want to believe that it is all over. I love looking back at our trip photos, it truly was the most amazing time of our lives!! This post will I think be the third last post recounting our adventures, nooooooooooo! Continue reading
As I gathered the photos for this blog post, I realised that there is less then a week of trip travels left to blog about! This combined with the fact that Karen Camper was driven away by somebody else last week, (she sold only 2 days after we listed her on Gumtree!) means I am feeling a little sad that our trip really is coming to a very ‘official’ end. I am reminding myself though, that as my mum-in-law Gayel said to me last week, “if you hold on to one adventure too long, you will never have another”, and she is exactly right.
Ok, so now just a little entry about the beautiful Emma Gorge. Continue reading
Right, back to the trip! Our last post saw us travelling along the Gibb River Road, where after a long day on the road we eventually arrived at El Questro Station. I had been leaving this post for Matt to write as El Questro Station was his favourite stop on our whole trip, but the Farmer Boy just doesn’t have time at the moment and he is usually asleep in the chair in the lounge by 8pm, so if you want some more ‘blokey’ details about El Questro just yell them out in the comments and Matt will get back to you! Continue reading
From Manning Gorge we decided to push for El Questro Station to spend the final two nights of our travels along the Gibb River Road. That turned out to be a very long day on the road! This section of road was the worst stretch we travelled on the Gibb. We blew a tyre on the camper and pretty much averaged between 20 to 60km’s per hour for the whole day. A few photos of this stretch of the road to begin; Continue reading
So, getting back to the Gibb River Road now – we are only about half way along it and there are some beautiful places we still want to share with you! After stopping at Bell Gorge, we set up camp for two nights at Manning Gorge. This was a really nice place to camp with heaps of campsites and the campground was quite big so if you didn’t mind a walk to the amenities you could find a campsite away from everybody else. The amenities were generator operated hot water showers – so you could only get hot showers for an hour or so in the morning and two hours at night. The generator was a little noisy but the toilets and showers were nice and clean. It was a little smelly though so I was glad we didn’t camp near the amenities. Most of the sites were quite shady which was nice but they were all very dry and dusty when we were there.
The best thing about the manning gorge campground was the river and sandy river bed right near the campsite which you could swim in – it was lovely! Continue reading
After two nights camping at Windjana Gorge and checking out Tunnel Creek we headed off to get a few kilometres of the Gibb River Road under our tyres. We were a bit nervous about what the road conditions would be like, but we were pleasantly surprised to find this stretch of road – about 1oo kilometres from Windjana Gorge to Bell Gorge – was pretty good. Corrugated and mostly dirt but it looked like it had been very recently graded so we travelled along with no problems. It was hard to bypass Lennard Gorge and the Mt Hart Homestead, but as we only had a week we had to be selective with where we stopped on the Gibb. We had decided that this was just to be a ‘practice run’ Gibb River Road trip and we will come back and do it properly one day!!
This stretch of the Gibb was quite scenic – with some lovely spots to stop and check out the views.
We had decided that Bell Gorge would be our lunch time stop, but we didn’t realise that it was actually 39km in to the Gorge along the access road off the Gibb River Road. This road was actually pretty rough and there are a couple of creek crossings along the way which we didn’t know about either. They were quite shallow when we went through so no problems and a bit of excitement for us as they were Karen Camper’s first water crossings!
We unhitched Karen Camper at the entrance to the Bell Gorge Campsite (called Silent Grove) as we thought the road was getting quite rough and we weren’t sure what parking there would be at the Gorge entrance. We were really glad we did this as the road did get more corrugated (it was another 10km’s from the campsite to the gorge) and the car park at the Gorge is really quite small – it would have been difficult to park the camper down there. The Silent Grove campsite looked quite nice – very dry and dusty but some shade and amenities so you could easily have a few nights there. We then had a quick bite of lunch and headed off for the short 3km return walk into the gorge – yes dragging a few reluctant kids again for another walk!
It was an easy walk in to the Gorge although it was quite hot walking in the middle of the day! We were glad to have a swim when we got there! The water in the swimming hole at the bottom of the water falls was freezing!! But we did all get in eventually – even me! Be warned though – the edge going in to the water is very slippery and slimy – we all had big slips going in!! The pools at the top of the gorge are really lovely and not as cold as the bottom pool – they would make a great spot to waste away a few hours soaking in the sun and water. The climb down to the water fall pool is very steep but our kids made it no problems – their walking skills have definitely improved heaps over the duration of the trip!
When we first arrived at the waterfall pool at Bell Gorge there was a tour bus of people there but they left shortly after we arrived (I’m sure we didn’t scare them off – we didn’t smell that bad!) and we had the place pretty much to ourselves – it was heaven! We were definitely glad that we got to see this spot! After about an hour swimming and relaxing we headed back to pick up the camper and push on to our campsite for the night at Manning Gorge which was about another 80km’s along the Gibb River Road once we had got back out off the 40km stretch of the Bell Gorge access road. Once again we had to reluctantly drive right past Adcock Gorge and Charnley River Station, with a promise of ‘next time’. We stopped at the Barnett Roadhouse and purchased our camping permit for the next two nights camping at Manning Gorge. It was of course ‘ice-cream o’clock’ and we thought we all deserved one so we bought those and a souvenir stubby cooler too!
Our time at Manning Gorge will be our next post. So, who has stopped at the places we missed along the way from Windjana Gorge to Manning Gorge? C’mon then, make us jealous, tell us what did we miss out on???
Tunnel Creek was really cool! I know I sound like a big kid when I say that but it was just really fun and quite amazing! We had read lots about it but I wasn’t really that excited about walking through a dark tunnel filled with bats and freezing water and if rumour had it correctly – fresh water crocodiles! But after being strongly encouraged to visit by a follower on our Facebook Page (thanks Tracy!) we decided to check it out and boy are we glad we did!
Tunnel Creek is Western Australias oldest cave system, in Tunnel Creek National Park, and is famous as a hideout used late last century by an Aboriginal leader known as Jandamarra. He was killed outside its entrance in 1897.
The entrance is actually a little tricky to find which adds to the experience – the kids were so excited running off ahead of us along the path to the cave entrance that they totally missed it and had run off up a hill and we all had to turn around and come back!
The cave is about 750metres long and quite dark in places so taking a torch is a must. You have to wade through quite a few permanent water pools which were mostly only ankle deep when we were there – except for the last one which was about waist deep. I think if you are there after the wet season there is quite a bit more water around and you may even have to swim in parts. There are a colony of bats living in there and some beautiful stalactites that descend from the roof in many places. It was really quite fascinating.
We finished with a quick dip in the water hole at the other end of the tunnel which the backpackers swimming there assured us was croc-free! It is really quite a quick sightseeing trip – we spent about an hour there and felt like that was heaps of time and tunnel creek is only about a 45 minute drive from the Windjana Gorge campground where we had based ourselves for two nights. There is also some Aboriginal Artwork on the cliff face at the end of the tunnel which was quite easy to spot and something else interesting to see.
The whole family enjoyed our afternoon out at Tunnel Creek, although be warned – all that time in a dark cave can make you go a little crazy!
Ok – now for the last two weeks of our trip on the road! After a great week at Middle Lagoon we reluctantly packed up reasonably early and were on the road out and headed for Derby by about 8am. We were all feeling a bit grumpy and sad as we left Middle Lagoon as we were now heading ‘back’ to the East and commencing the journey towards home. Up until now we had always been travelling ‘away’ – this was the first day heading back, signalling that our trip which had been almost two years in the planning was just about over!!!
At least we had the fact that we were heading into new territory again and the excitement of getting to tackle the Gibb River Road ahead of us. We had ummmed and aaahed all week at Middle Lagoon as to whether we head home via the infamous Gibb River Road or back the same way we had come across to Western Australia, via the Great Northern Highway. We were keen to not travel the same road again, but also a little worried that we wouldn’t be doing the Gibb the justice it deserved by trying to cram it all in to a week – before our trip plans were changed, we had planned to spend about a month exploring the Gibb! It was also worrying us that by having to travel quite hard to get across the Gibb in a fairly short amount of time, we might put a lot of strain on the car and camper and given that the Gibb has a name for being quite a rough stretch of road, we were not keen at all to have something major breakdown only 2 weeks out from home. However, after talking to other campers at Middle Lagoon who had done the Gibb in their caravans not to many weeks before us and said that the road was pretty good, we decided to give it a go.
So after a quick stop to check out the Church at Beagle Bay (pics in our Cape Leveque post) and a last longing look at the turnoff back in to Broome (if we had still been travelling we definitely would have spent another few weeks in Broome after exploring the Cape!), we headed to Derby (it took us about 4 hours from Middle Lagoon) for a quick look around, a late lunch and some grocery shopping to stock up on supplies before we headed off on the Gibb for a week.
We checked out the prison boab tree on our way in to Derby (it is about 7km’s outside of town on the Broome side), it is huge!
We splashed out and had some lovely fish and chips for lunch down at the famous Derby Jetty. The tides in Derby are the highest in Australia and we were there at just about high tide which was lucky! The jetty in Derby used to be used for live export but is now mainly used for barges exporting lead and zinc from a mine at Fitzroy Crossing. We all thought it was pretty interesting as we had never seen a big commercial wharf before.
We stocked up on groceries from Wollies and had to wait in line for half an hour at the bottle shop to buy a carton of beer as it was rodeo weekend in town so everybody was out buying their alcohol! Then it was off to start the Gibb River Road!! It was late by the time we started the Gibb which had the bonus that we got to witness a beautiful sunset, but once again it meant we arrived in to our campsite in the dark!
We had decided that our first stop on the Gibb River Road would be Windjana Gorge. The road to get in to Windjana was very corrugated and we again lost a headlight – not ideal when you are driving in to a new campground at dark! Lucky for us when we arrived at the campground a lovely couple saw us come in and pointed out a great campsite for us right near the shower block and then also offered to mind our tired and grumpy kids while we set up. The funny thing about arriving at a camp site in the dark is that you really don’t know what to expect when the sun comes up in the morning and you can see where you are. We were so surprised to wake up and see that this was the view that greeted us;
As we had heard that the best time to see the crocodiles at Windjana was early in the morning, we had a quick breakfast and then walked over from the campground to the Gorge to have a look around. We thought we were ‘gorged’ out after all the gorges we had seen in the Northern Territory but Windjana was definitely worth the stop!
We spent the morning at Windjana, but didn’t do the whole gorge walk as it was very hot and other campers had suggested that the best part of the gorge was just the first couple of kilometres so we were happy to just do that and then headed to Tunnel Creek for the afternoon. You will hear all about that in our next blog entry!
We camped for two nights at Windjana Gorge and it was a nice spot! The showers were hot and free – pretty good for a National Park Campground! The only downside to our time at Windjana was that after a week at Middle Lagoon without power, and then some very hot weather at Windjana – the fridge in our camper just didn’t seem to cope! Which made us very grumpy as we have struggled all along to get the camper fridge to run well on gas. Anyway – we decided for the rest of the trip to just turn it off and run with our car fridge only which worked out fine! Stay tuned for Tunnel Creek details next – it was one of my favourite stops on the whole trip!
While we spent a week camped at Middle Lagoon, we had time to check out some of the lovely spots along the road to Cape Leveque. First a few photos of the road. It was long, corrugated and very dusty! We dropped our tyre pressures to 28 PSI and travelled along ok – no damage to the camper on arrival – just lots and lots of dust inside – we probably should have taped up our fridge vents!! From Broome the road to Cape Leveque is unsealed until about 80km from Cape Leveque where it is then sealed all the way up to One Arm Point. On our way up to Middle Lagoon we stopped in to check out the Quondong Point free camp areas. These were only about 30minutes out of Broome and there were three camp areas off Manari Road. It looked like a lovely spot but was quite busy when we checked it out so we decided not to leave Middle Lagoon early to come back here. The track to the last Quondong Point camp spot was quite narrow so we copped quite a lot of scratches to the camper going along here and it was a little tricky to turn around at the end. We think you would have to pick a quiet time at Quondong Point to nab a nice shady campsite as most of the sites were in full sun which would make it pretty hot in the middle of the day.
One afternoon at Middle Lagoon we headed out in search of icecreams to the nearby Whalesong Cafe & Campground. It was only about 15 minutes drive from Middle Lagoon and it was a lovely spot (and it had full internet reception – if I had of known this earlier I would have taken the laptop up one morning on my own and enjoyed a cake and smoothie and gotten a couple of blog posts done – would have been lovely)! The Whalesong Campground was only small and quite basic with its amenities but there were some nice sites with lovely views over the water. The beach there was closed when we were there because a crocodile had been sighted so that was a bit of a bummer.
We took a full day trip away from Middle Lagoon and decided to check out the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, One Arm Point and the Kooljaman Campground at Cape Leveque. It was a big day out – we left about 9am and didn’t get home until after 7pm! It was a little bit of a pain having to air our tyres up again when we hit the bitumen after the Middle Lagoon Road and then air down again when we came back in that night but a small thing to whinge about really!! If we had more time I would definitely have liked to try out one of the beach camping shelters right on the beach front at Kooljaman – something to go back for!
Our first stop was the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. This is a family owned and operated farm and it was really pretty – a great cafe on site with little sandpit for the kids to play in and the meals and drinks looked delicious! We did the Pearl Farm tour which was something I had wanted to do in Broome and although the tour was good and really interesting – it was very expenisve ($140 for our family) and we didn’t really get to see a lot. I was a bit disappointed too that we didn’t get to go out on the water to check out the oyster shells but that was a different tour that you had to pay extra for and was just too expensive for us. It was a beautiful spot though!
From here we headed up to One Arm Point where you are required to obtain a permit ($10 per adult) from the local general store to enter the community. One Arm Point had the most crystal clear water I have ever seen! Again – if we had more time I would have loved to have come back and spent a day snorkelling and swimming here! Another family said they saw some whale sharks here so we would probably have to be a little careful about where we swam! There is also an aquaculture centre at One Arm Point that does tours for $10 an adult which looked quite interesting.
We finished off the day with a late lunch and a swim at Kooljaman at Cape Leveque. It was a lovely spot – a bit more commercial than Middle Lagoon but lots of different types of accommodation here which looked awesome. The kids found themselves with a few scrapes on them after their swim as there were quite a few submerged rocks in the water – we might have been swimming at low tide I think! Matt got some lovely shots of the kids here!
And of course we had to stay and watch the sunset and have an icecream on the deck of the newly built restaurant – beautiful spot! And the woodfired pizzas they were cooking there looked pretty good too!
On our way out after our wonderful seven nights at Middle Lagoon, we stopped in at Beagle Bay and checked out the lovely little church there. Inside it is beautifully decorated with local shells and definitely worth a stop to see it – I had never seen anything like it!
From Broome we headed north to the top of the Western Australian coastline and spent a glorious week relaxing and ‘taking a break from our holiday’ at Middle Lagoon.
Our week went a little something like this ……………………………………
Middle Lagoon is a two and a half hour drive from Broome along a pretty rough, red sand and dirt, corrugated road, but it is worth the drive. We did get a bit of a surprise when we reached the Middle Lagoon turn off the Cape Leveque Road and then realised we still had just over 30kms still to go! And the road in to Middle Lagoon was rougher than what we had already travelled on the Cape Leveque Road so it was a very long drive!
We stayed at Nature’s Hideaway Campground at Middle Lagoon on an excellent site called site 5 on the Terraces (or Snob Hill as Trice and Geoff called it hehehe!). Although it wasn’t directly overlooking the water like you can see in this picture (and those sites were spectacular!)
we really liked our site because we could still see the water but we had lots of shade too which the ocean front ones didn’t. The shade was really nice to have in the afternoon when it was too hot at the beach and we just wanted to be chilling out around camp.
We did lots of relaxing at Middle Lagoon but we also had lots of fun as it just worked out that also here at the same time were the family we had meet at Lake Argyle (Geoff & Trice and the kids), plus the Rollason family we met at Cable Beach and another family we had met in the caravan park in Broome! The kids had a ball having lots of friends to play with and Matt and I enjoyed some friends to talk to as well! We were lucky enough to be given one night, a dinner’s worth of freshly caught spanish mackeral from a lovely couple at a neighbouring campsite. This fish came to us filleted and all so all we had to do was cook it over the fire – it was so delicious!!!
The next day Matt and the boys were lucky enough to go out with Geoff in his tinnie and try a bit of fishing themselves! Even though they came home empty handed they were so lucky having got to see whales, dolphins, a big sea turtle and lots of different types of fish! The boys had a great time and Geoff we are so grateful to you for taking them all out!
We really didn’t do much at Middle Lagoon – we spent a big day trip out exploring Cape Leveque and surrounds but other than that we just ‘stopped’ and although it was a little hard to make ourselves do it when there is so much to do and see – we’re really glad we did as it was a great rest.
On our last night at Middle Lagoon we decided to head off and explore some of the 4wd tracks around the lagoon – we ended up on our own private little beach to watch the sun set – it was beautiful!