Category Archives: 2013
It’s done – the trip to the top end and back. Click here for a picture story.
I left home at the beginning of July for a chilly trip across the Nullarbor and then followed a dirt track along the Darling River visiting the iconic pubs at the old ports at Tilpa and Louth, camping on the riverfront.
The SpareWheel celebrated her retirement by flying via Brisbane into Roma. From there we spent a few days in Carnarvon National Park – doing two consecutive 22 km day treks into the gorge. We then ambled via Mackay and Cape Hillsborough to meet up with family for a week’s charter in the Whitsundays.
After a few days in Cairns, we headed north up the Cape York Peninsula – doing the usual tourist stuff. We were lucky with our stay at Captain Billy’s Landing – hardly any wind so could camp on the beach edge. Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Falls, Twin Falls etc. were fantastic and required us to take on some of the Overland Telegraph Track – rather timid stuff compared with the macho places!
The Jardine Ferry was a shambles – it didn’t start operating until after 11am with the consequent long queues. We stayed at Punsand Bay which is ’a beaut’. , and there ventured to the Tip, and lovely Somerset Beach. Pity about the crocs!
On the journey south we overnighted at a lovely free camping spot on the Steward River, birthday in Lakefield National Park at Kalpowar Crossing (where we sighted the only Saltie on the whole trip), then at Elim Beach.
A Saturday night at the iconic Lion’s Den pub was fun, and then followed the magic Bloomfield Track down to Cape Tribulation.
We used Port Douglas as a base to have some work done on the Prado and trip out to the Barrier Reef, before heading into the Tablelands, then dirt track down to Winton, to start the World’s Longest Shortcut back to Perth. After ruining 2 tyres on the Donahue/Plenty Highway heading from Boulia to Alice Springs, and 3 days in Alice, we tripped through the West Macdonald ranges, then to Kings Canyon via Mereenie Loop Road (Red Centre Way) and Uluru.
- The week’s charter in the Whitsundays
- Iconic pubs
- Fruit Bat Falls
- Lotusbird Lodge (near Lakefield)
- Staying at Eddie’s Elim beach
- Daintree Area
- Day trip out of Port Douglas for some scuba and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
- Waltzing Matilda Museum (Winton) – serious!
- Alice Springs Desert Park
- Kings Canyon
- Gosse Bluff crater (Tnorala)
- Missing all the election hype
On the road one meets many interest folk – on this trip I am not sure who to give the “Redneck” award to:
- The turkey who said “no it’s not owned by aboriginals, its owned by real Aussies”
- The idiot found walking in thongs, no hat, no water down a dirt track to get petrol from the nearest town 50 kms away
- The bloke who carves his name on every tree where he camped up “It’s my brand, just like Burke and Wills”
So the score this time – 13,700kms, 2 tyres, broken Ipod and great memories
Pigpen’s trip to the WA lower south-east had been an on-off affair since late January – several times we had postponed due to forecast rain. With a long-weekend at the beginning of March, we did the old “Carpie diem” thing (which I believe means seize the fish) and headed out on the Saturday, just as ex- tropical cyclone Rusty started dumping its water over Esperance. How bad can it be? Or how good – click here see the movie!
Night one we camped at Quagi Beach, a delightful spot 80 kms west of Esperance, enjoying our first Southern Ocean swim in many years – not as cold as we remembered. And it rained …
Sunday saw us heading west, to Alexander Bay 100kms east of Esperance, where we free-camped on the beach without anybody in sight, and dolphins on our doorstep. A near perfect spot, except it rained a little more. On a wonderfully sunny Monday we day-tripped to Cape Arid national park – the Thomas River camping area looked good with two camp sites just off the beach. Further east to Jardee Creek and Poison Creek proved why Cape Arid is so named.
Cape Le Grand national park is extremely popular and it is notoriously difficult to get a camping spot – no free camping allowed. So we started out early, visiting Duke of Orleans Bay and Wharton Beach area on the way, and arrived at the national park gates by 10am – rain has its positives, there were 8 sites available. We checked out Lucky Bay – very crowded with edge-to-edge caravans and campervans and then decided that the Cape Le Grand site was the go – with a better beach, just 14 sites, hot showers and the princely cost of $9 pp/night we were delighted with our spot nestled in the dunes just off the beach. By noon all camping sites were full.
Guess what – it rained again. Celebrating PigPen’s first birthday, we considered changing his name to “Rain Maker” given our weather experiences over the past year. Leaving PigPen to enjoy the big drip, we drove 22kms down the beach then onto Esperance for the day, enjoying the scenery around there and getting fresh supplies.
Next day we climbed Frenchman Peak, a good 2 hour hard walk/climb to the top which was well worth it.
We explored the bays in the national park, with our favourite being Hellfire Bay, with waves just perfect for a bit of body surfing.
Forecast for Friday – rain! Enough! Heading home!
In summary, if one likes white beaches good for swimming and driving on, turquoise waters, spectacular scenery, hundreds of offshore islands and a little rain, visit this area – we experienced many of these. If you are put off by sharks, slippery rocks, sandbars and strong currents then you are being misled by the signs – we experienced none of these.
Score – one beach bogging, one lost rear-window protector and one late night visitation by a mouse – my theory, they like vegimite.