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2010 Central NSW Trip

This 89 day trip in the spring thru Central NSW area, with a good look around Barrington Tops/Gloucester NP.   Trip begins with a weekend in Balranald for son's wedding, then onto Hay & Temora to catch up with a couple of old army mates and plan was to continue up inland to Inverell then come down Thunderbolts Way to Gloucester/Dungog, but catching a bad flu/cold and the cool nights  inland pushed us out to the coast for a bit of warmth at Port Macquarie where we'll spend a couple of weeks and see how things are after that.

Trip route/plan/notes can be seen at 2010 Central NSW Trip plan

Some photos will be on this Picasa Photos link


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Gypsies Cross The Border To Barham


Barham is just across the Murray River in NSW and the Barham Caravan Park which is right next to the river was the venue for another very successfull Gippsland Gypsies Muster, the park has very generously sized sites some with ensuites. The facilities are excellent, a very clean toilet block and large camp kitchen area with a huge fire place at one end, at the moment the area is only closed off on one side but there are plans to extend and close off the rest of the area which will make it nice and cosy in winter.

The river was filling very nicely due to all the recent rain in the area and this made all the locals very happy, they are looking forward to a bumper season and all looks well on the Murray. It was interesting to hear that the Murray Cod is making a come back in the area and according to one local that I was talking to they will eventually out number the Carp in the river. If you want to try your luck he says cheese or grub worm is the go. Good luck and tight lines.

Eleven Vans and two Camper Trailers made the trek to Barham. Derek & Lyn were first to arrive on the Tuesday. Thursday saw the arrival of nine other Vans and Camper Trailers and by Friday everyone had arrived. 


Once everyone had become settled in and organized it was just about happy hour well sort of close enough, the fire had been started for us by the owners of the park so we all settled around the huge camp fire it was a great time to catch up with friends and those new to our small but happy band of Gypsies.


There is a beautiful lake complex next to the caravan park and this was a very popular spot to go for a walk and as the weather was very kind to us, many of our group took advantage of it. The lake is home to a pair of Black Swans and they were seen out on the lake with their five very young babies tagging along behind them.

Dinner was at the local pub and all attended, this was a great night out the meal was very good and the company even better I am sure everyone enjoyed themselves, after dinner it was back to camp fire and a few social drinks and lots of fun and laughter.

Saturday was again reasonably warm and sunny in the morning and early afternoon with the cloud forming in the afternoon with a few wintery showers. Nothing organized for today which is the way we like it, an easy going, do what you like sort of day. A bunch of us decided to walk back to Victoria to Koondrook and along the way we passed some red gum carvings these were carved using a chain saw, very well done.

Saturday night dinner is traditionaly organized by the lady Gypsies and they always do an excellent job and this night was certainly no exception. Casseroles and desserts were eagerly devoured by the masses. Well done Ladies (special thanks to Gwen for organizing who brought what)

Sunday morning saw some of our group leave for home but not before the Gypsy Breakfast, bacon and egg rolls and sausages were as usual very popular and is a great way of getting everyone together before parting ways.

We still had ten vans left on Sunday night and everyone gathered around the campfire and had great time, it did not take long for the jokes to start and everyone was in stitches with laughter, another great night around the campfire.

Gypsies you have done it again, another fantastic Muster, easy going unregimented fun had by all.









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Sunny Qld

Marion and Rol are currently in Proserpine Qld enjoying the beautiful 28 deg weather. This is week 11 of our 20 week trip up to Airlie Beach and returning to Geelong for late sept.
We are unfortunate to miss the musters but we cannot be in 2 places at the same time. We look forward to catching up in Nov

Rgds Marion and Rol

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Around the block again - well almost - back at home.

Saturday, 17th July. Time to head for home. We had hoped to head up the Parmango road from Duke of Orleans Bay, but the previous night’s rain meant that was out, so we turned west, back to Esperance. The rain held off until lunchtime, but as we travelled north to Norseman we had pouring rain. It eased off just before we reached Norseman, and as we turned east we could see the sky clearing ahead. We still had a few showers, but more and more of the sky was blue, the further east we travelled.

We spent the night at Balladonia roadhouse, where we caught up with Brian and Linda (members of Touring Oz and also the Australian Caravan Club). Brian is the manager at the roadhouse.
While we were waiting for a coffee, a wallaby with a joey in her pouch, came up to the door of the shop and stood there waiting. Someone said she would come right in to the shop if she was allowed. Someone gave me an apple to give her, and as Eric had gone out to see her, I handed it to him, and he fed her. Apparently she was a wild wallaby who had become a pet. The lad in the shop reckoned she must be the most photographed wallaby in Australia.

The sky was still clear when we went to bed, so we were hopeful that the rain might not catch up with us. One disadvantage of the clear night was that the temperature got down to about .9, so it was pretty cold.
Our next stopover was Eucla, with a stop on the way at the lookout at Madura Pass. Before we booked in at the caravan park we drove down to the old Telegraph Station. There was quite a lot of it uncovered – more than we have seen on previous visits. Eric and Ron walked down to the remains of the jetty, but it was cold, and I had “been there, done that” so I decided to head back to the car. When I got back to the telegraph station the evening sunlight was shining on the walls, so I took a few more photos, then waited in the car for the sunset, which unfortunately wasn’t very marvelous.

Bunda cliffs on the South Australian side of the Nullarbor.

Penong. The caravan park here is quite small, but the owner was very friendly. During the day we discovered six more apples in the van fridge that we had forgotten about, so we ate a couple for lunch, and I stewed the rest up for dessert tonight. We cooked up most of the veggies we had left, and the little we had left over, a couple of onions and a bag of carrots, we left with the owner of the caravan park, who said she would pass them on to some needy locals.
We had wondered what the surface of the ground was in the park – thought it was some sort of sand – but apparently it is gypsum.
Next day, Tuesday, we crossed in to South Australia. One comment I must make about South Australia. We have noticed on previous trips that it is hard to find toilets in rest areas in South Australia. It seems to us that the government must be systematically removing them from rest areas. As we crossed SA this time, from the WA border to the NSW border, there was not one single rest area on the open road that had toilets. The only places we found them were at roadhouses and in the towns.
We spent a couple of nights in Port Augusta, partly so that I could do the washing, and partly to have time to visit the Wadlata Centre, which has had a million dollar upgrade since we were last there. We spent a couple of hours there, and would have spent longer except that it was bitterly cold in the exhibit. The shop itself seemed bigger and brighter than before, and the new exhibit takes us back in time (about 400 million years I think it was) then gradually brings us to the present. It was all very well presented, with lots of videos of varying lengths. It had a section on the aboriginal dreamtime stories and then some history of the European exploration and settlement. The Ghan featured, of course, and the Flying Doctor. Then at the end we found the old stuff we had seen before – peddle radio, etc.

Explorer Charles Sturt.

Eric tries out the peddle radio.

For lunch we made our way to the Coles shopping centre where we found the Office Café that served fish and chips and salad for $10. Had we known how big the serve was going to be we would have ordered half serves ($6) but we didn’t know, so ordered full serves each. Eric had soup ($5) and a hamburger ($6.50) and was very satisfied with his meal, as were we and thought we had had very good value for our money. We picked a table by the window in the sun, so we could thaw out.
After lunch we drove out to the Arid Botanical Gardens, which we had visited eight years ago. Even in mid winter some of the eremophila were in flower.

Time to move on again, this time to Broken Hill. We stopped at Orroroo for morning tea, at the Lions picnic area. This was a very pleasant place with a small dam (and ducks), and some nice trees to give shade. Orroroo is a nice, tidy little town. The old houses look well cared for, and look as though they were probably owned by the well-to-do when they were built. At the western end of town in the main street was an unusual metal horse and mouldboard plough. The street was divided by a strip down the middle, which at the eastern end had some formal gardens.

 The dam at the Lions picnic area in Orroroo

And the horse sculpture in the main street.

Once we had unhitched the van at Broken Hill we went around to the Visitors’ Centre where we picked up a key for the Living Desert sculptures, which we had seen before, but Eric had not. On the way down from the Sculptures, but still in the locked area we saw a sign indicating there were Sturt’s Desert Peas in flower. We pulled over and found huge patches of them. The patches were spread up the hill, and each time we thought we had seen the last of them, we found more patches further up. This is by far the most we have ever seen in one place. They were in good condition too – bright scarlet with very black centres.

Before heading back to camp we called in to Woollies and came out with bags and bags of fresh fruit and veggies – enough to last us until we got home.
Next morning we were planning to head out to Silverton, but had to drop the key for the gate to the Living Desert Sculptures back to the Visitors’ Centre first. We arrived there just before ten, and learned that a guided walking tour was to depart in about five minutes, so changed our plans and joined the tour. Our guide introduced herself as Margo.
One of the stories she told us was about the Union owned newspaper. The paper was supported financially by subscriptions from the union members membership fees. Every union member was entitled to a copy of the paper, so if you had a family that had, say, five union members, then five copies of each issue would be delivered! When Woolworths first came to Broken Hill they gave their advertisements to a rival, independent newspaper. The union owned paper approached them and asked that they also put advertisements in their newspaper, since this was the town policy. Woolworths refused, saying it was against their policy. So the union bosses informed Woolworths that unless they advertised in the union owned paper, the unionists would instruct their wives not to shop at Woolworths. Woolworths capitulated.
Just after visiting Trades Hall, we passed a small building with a sandwich-board notice outside, and Margo pointed it out and told us this was the local historical society, and if any of us had any family connections to Broken Hill, we could get information there. My father was born in Broken Hill, so after the walking tour finished we walked back, and found some information about my grandmother. We also got an address for her, which had been taken from an advertisement she had placed in a local newspaper. But either it had been transcribed incorrectly from the newspaper, or the lady who gave us the information wrote it down incorrectly, because as far as we could ascertain, the address was wrong, which was a bit disappointing.
For lunch we went to the Workers Democratic Club where we got the Seniors’ Special, battered Butterfish, chips, bread roll and salad bar for $7.50. The fish was really nice, and once again we felt we were getting good value. We had passed this place on the walking tour and seen the sign outside and Margo had commented it was a good place for a meal. The staff were all wearing pyjamas, and one guy who was clearing tables was getting around in a dressing gown and slippers. Turns out it was a “dressing down” day, in which many people in Broken Hill were taking part, to raise funds for Lifeline.
It was getting too late to go to Silverton, and also too late for the Museum, which closed at three, so we decided to stay another day.
When we were doing the town walk, our guide told us about the “war” in Broken Hill, when a disgruntled “butcher” got together with a friend and declared war on the townspeople. One New Year’s Day, when a train full of picnickers was heading out of town, they ambushed it at a cutting, killing four people and injuring seven.
When we visited the museum next morning, we found an account in the local newspaper of the time, of the incident, with a series of headlines set in a “box” at the head of the page.
These read, “Attack on a picnic train. Under the Turkish flag. Men and women shot.
 Four killed and seven wounded. Broken Hill in arms.
 The chase of the murderers. A fight on the hills.
Behind the Cable hotel. The murderers riddled with bullets.
 Both pay the last penalty. The constable twice wounded.”
Apparently in more recent times, someone was sent an article by a tourist, from a German newspaper of the time that gave an account of the attack on the picnic train. The German newspaper reported it this way…
“We are pleased to report the success of our arms at Broken Hill, a seaport town on the west coast of Australia. A party of troops fired on Australian troops being transported to the front by rail. The enemy lost forty killed and seventy injured. The total loss of Turks was two dead. The capture of Broken Hill leads the way to Canberra, the strongly fortified capital of Australia.”

A Hornsby steam engine at the Broken Hill museum.

The museum is mainly a railway museum, and after a while I got bored with what Eric and Ron were looking at, and told Ron I was just going to slip down to the Family History place to see if they were open. Anyway, I decided to go to the loo before leaving the museum. I came out of the loo, and found that the door to the outside was closed (it had been open when I went in) and went to open it. It was stuck fast. I couldn't budge it. What was I going to do? Ron would think I was down at the Family History place and would have no idea where I was. There were no windows. I thought of using my phone, but then remembered that Ron had left his phone back at the van, and Eric had left his in the car. So I banged on the door. Fortunately there were a couple of visitors in the room outside the loo and the husband tried to open the door, but he couldn't budge it either. So he called out that he would find a staff member. Some minutes later a staff member came and he managed to get the door open - it really was jammed tight. When I came out I saw a sign on the door "Toilets out of order. Nearest toilets at the Visitors' Centre". I commented that that sign hadn't been there when I went in.” He said, "I know. I just put it there, but didn't realise there was anyone in there. The sewerage has blocked up."
After lunch we drove out to Silverton, first visiting the Day Dream mine, which is on a side road on the way. We were just in time to take part in a tour.
On arriving at Silverton, we went first to the old gaol, which has been turned into a museum. One of the exhibits there was a specimen of the first dial telephone, which was invented in 1889. “Mr. A B Strowger invented it in America in 1889.  He was an undertaker and made the invention because the manual telephone operator was directing all the business to his opposition.”

Catholic Church in Silverton, built in 1886.

We left Broken Hill next morning and when we got to Wilcannia we enquired about the condition of the road up the Darling, and decided to take it. It is about 80 kilometres shorter than going through Cobar, but has over 300km of dirt. However, apart from a few corrugation near the beginning, and occasionally along the way, it was in pretty good condition, and Ron drove at around eighty or ninety most of the way.
We stopped for lunch at the Tilpa pub – a steak sandwich each. While we ate it, we sat at a table on the pub “verandah” chatting to another couple who had come down from Bourke and had an Ultimate camper. This was their first trip with it, as they only picked it up on Monday, and are very pleased with it.  At Bourke we stopped at Kidman camp.
Next morning (Monday) we were aiming for Goondiwindi, but noticed there was a rest area about seventy kilometres east of Goondiwindi, and thought we might try for that if we felt up to it. Between Moree and Goondiwindi we found a couple of new rest areas,which we had been told about by a truckie. The first one we came to was about 32 kilometres south of Boggabilla, on the western side of the road, but would not be suitable for camping.    The second one was only one kilometre further on, on the eastern side of the road, and looks to be really set up for overnight camping, back from the road, lots of big trees, and plenty of space.
When we got to Goondiwindi we decided we would keep going and use the rest area 70km further on. We were about half-way there when Eric called up and asked how would we feel if he carried on home. His navigator was telling him he could get there some time after eight, and he felt fresh enough to keep on driving. We told him that was fine with us, and to go ahead.

Sun behind the clouds as we left Goondiwindi.

When we eventually reached the planned rest area, around six, we were a bit dubious about stopping there. It was right close to the road and there were no other caravans there. Had there been anyone else, or if Eric had still been with us, we would have stayed, but felt a bit too exposed to stop there on our own. There were no further rest areas before Millmerran, but there was a caravan park there, so we rang to make sure they had a vacant site, and decided to carry on.
By the time we got there we were really tired. It had been a very long day. Just to top it off, when I got out of the car I started to stagger, and before we had finished setting up I knew I had vertigo.  Fortunately we had Stemetil with us, and after taking that and lying down for a couple of hours I could at least walk straight.
I still felt rather fragile in the morning. However, we managed to pack everything up and get on the road. We got home around 11:15, and just parked the van on the footpath, grabbed the morning tea stuff out of the car and headed inside, where we had a cuppa before unpacking.
We were gone exactly nine weeks, did 16,080 kilometres, 13,285 of them towing the van and 2,795 without the van. Haven’t got around to working out the total cost – we’re not sure that we really want to know!
Jan Barham

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Caron and Peter : v00216
really enjoyed reading your blog and loved the photos
Friday, 30 July 2010 12:59
Thanks. Jan.
Sunday, 01 August 2010 13:40
Alby & Geraldine : s00037
Enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your photos over the last few months. Great stuff. Anybody could use it for making up a... Read More
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:35
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Around the block again - well almost - Grand and Arid Capes

Monday, 12th July. We stopped off at the tree-top walk between Walpole and Denmark. We were still having intermittent showers, and it chose to rain while we were there. Since we had previously done the walk Eric suggested he would slip quickly around while we had a cup of coffee. He was prepared to do it in the rain, but got a bit more than he bargained for, as while he was gone it started to hail. Fortunately it was quite small – somewhere between a peppercorn and a pea in size, but there was a lot of it. Admission to the treetop walk includes the ground level walk amongst the huge tingle trees. We stopped for the night at Jerramungup. This is only a little town, but we had perfect TV and full phone signal. The outside temperature around six was 5.6 degrees! No wonder we felt cold when we arrived. The forecast for the night is storms and high winds (125kph) between Albany and Esperance - and we are about half-way between the two! It was a bit blowy – every now and then the van rocked from side to side! On the Tuesday we passed through Esperance. We stopped to shop and drive around their Great Ocean Drive, past some beautiful beaches, and the Pink Lake that on this occasion wasn’t pink, then continued on to Duke of Orleans Bay. We had originally planned to spend two nights each at Cape Le Grand, Duke of Orleans Bay and Cape Arid. However, with the cold, wet weather we had been experiencing we decided to base ourselves at Duke of Orleans Bay caravan park where we would have power for the heater, and do day trips to Cape le Grand and Cape Arid from there.

Duke of Orleans Bay campsite.

On Wednesday morning we set off for Cape le Grand. We took Merivale Road instead of going up to the bitumen. It is shorter that way. However, after the rain it was terrible, and we came home along Fisheries Road on the bitumen. Once at Cape le Grand we first went to the Cape itself, took a few photos and checked out the camping area. Hellfire Bay was the next place along the road to Lucky Bay. It was drizzling rain when we got there, but since our last visit a big shelter with four picnic tables has been erected, so we decided to have lunch while we waited for the weather to improve. We could hear lots of little birds in the bushes beside us, and got tantalizing glimpses of one we didn’t recognise, but it wouldn’t stay still long enough to get a photo. Just as we were finishing lunch a couple of families arrived, and shortly after that we saw the six children in the water! Brrrr. We carried on to Thistle Cove and the Whistling Rock (that wasn’t whistling today). Just after we got there the sun came out, the sky cleared, and we had lovely fine weather for the rest of the day. We had been finding a few wildflowers along the way, but there were quite a lot at Thistle Cove. We were quite surprised to find so many in the middle of winter. While here a group of New England Honeyeaters came swooping through. Two of them landed in the middle of the road and started dancing around each other, beak to beak. Not sure if they were courting or fighting, but they looked so funny as they spun around and around.

Whistling Rock, and below, on the other side of Whistling Rock.  The whistle (more like heavy breathing) is caused by the wind blowing between the main rock and the little appendage on the lefthand side.

And someof the wildflowers at Whistling Rock.

Lucky Bay looked just beautiful after the rain. The sand is so white and the delicate blue of the water was set off by the white of the breaking waves. We walked down to the Matthew Flinders monument, which reads, “To commemorate the naming of Lucky Bay by Matthew Flinders who used this bay as a safe anchorage on Saturday, January 9th, 1802 during his circumnavigation of Australia. Erected by the Esperance Bay historical society, January, 1974.” Lucky Bay would certainly be a lovely safe anchorage.

Finally we drove to Rossiter Bay where we did the wildflower walk. Not as many wildflowers as last time, of course, but certainly some. On the other hand, when we arrived at what they call the “bird sanctuary” at the end of the walk there were far more birds than last time. Myriads of small birds were continually flitting through the canopy, but so fast, and sheltered by the leaves, it was impossible to identify them, let alone photograph them. It had been a great day, but coming home we hit a wallaby on the road down to the caravan park, which put a real dampener on the day. Fortunately it was killed outright, as its leg was broken. We drove back to it and Eric pulled it off the road, as it was lying in the middle of the road. We spent Thursday exploring the Duke of Orleans Bay area. Big Wharton Beach is yet another beach with white sand backed by big white sand dunes, very similar to Lucky Bay. We carried on to Little Wharton Beach, which has a number of island offshore. More photos! While standing on the beach watching the waves we saw a pair of big birds on an island in front of us. They were huge, with a white breast and appeared to have a nest on the island. We think they must be sea eagles. We could hear lots of little birds in the bushes nearby us, but didn’t catch sight of them.
Little Wharton Beach

Approaching the beaches we had seen a big “rock” with a cairn on the top. From Little Wharton Beach we walked up a smaller “rock” and found it had a connection to the bigger one, so carried on up it as well. I only had my sandals on, and was a bit concerned about getting down the steep bits on the way back, so I stopped part way up while the guys carried on. They reached the cairn, and Eric added a couple more rocks.
The "rock" with the cairn on top.

We turned off onto the “gravel” (we think it was more like dirt) road that led to a view of Nares Rock. At the end of the road a 4WD track continued on, which Ron took. It eventually continued over the bare rock surface on the side of the “hill”.
Nares Island.

After lunch we set out on the walk behind the caravan park. This is along the track that Eric uses when he goes fishing. The track is very narrow and requires the walker to push through the bushes. Wildflowers were growing along here as well. At the end of the track we dropped down on to the beach, and at this point Eric decided he wanted to show us where some big birds (he’s not sure whether they were Pacific Gulls or Sea Eagles) use the rocks to break open shellfish, by dropping the shellfish from a great height. It was quite a scramble for me to get over the rocks. I only managed it because Ron took my camera, leaving me with both hands free to hang on to the rocks. Once we had reached the spot where the shells were, we then had to decide whether to go back the way we had come, or continue to scramble over more rocks and across the banks of seaweed along the beach, back to camp. We decided to carry on along the beach, and after a few more rock scrambles got to the path Ron had found earlier in the day. That was a bit easier going, but though it bypassed a lot of the rocks, we still had the seaweed to negotiate. These banks, or drifts, of seaweed are quite deep, and sometimes there are logs or branches out of sight beneath the seaweed, that could trip us up. We sank into the seaweed with each step, and it was hard to keep our balance. Friday was our last day here, and we drove out to Cape Arid National Park.  Since our last visit, the park has been devastated by a fire in 2006, right out to the western boundary. There was no rain in the next year, so the vegetation we saw was only three year’s growth. With the big banksias gone everything is much more open at the Thomas River campground, and macrozamias have been revealed that previously were hidden. There are lots of young banksias, single stemmed so far, up to about six feet high.
View from the campsites at Thomas River, with the river in the centre of the photo.

The ranger has been very busy, providing a new graded path down to the beach, and two camp kitchens and new toilets. The campground will be ready to re-open in August. Everything looks great. The camp sites have been increased and access is easier so that big caravans and even fifth-wheelers will be able to get in.
One of the new kitchens.

We carried on to Dolphin Cove carpark, and walked from there down to Dolphin Cove and then Little Tagon Beach. These two beaches are smaller than Lucky Bay, but still have the white sand and blue water, and huge expanses of rock, that give them a beauty of their own. Leaving there, we drove down the 4WD track to Tagon Beach. What a difference to last time, when the vegetation formed tall walls, higher than the car, on either side of the track. This time we could actually see the track winding down to the beach. Tagon Beach is a much bigger beach than the other two, and although it still has the blue water and white sand, with big white dunes behind it, it doesn’t have quite the same magic. The vegetation hasn’t grown back to the same height here as at Thomas River. At one place there was a big area of wattle in bloom – just a few feet high as yet.
Dolphin Cove, and below, Little Tagon Beach

To reach Poison Creek we had to exit the park, and re-enter it further east. We decided to try Melville Road. The first part of the road, to the 4WD section was in good condition, and when we reached the area that really was 4WD a big sign announced “traffic hazard ahead”. The road became a sandy track. That was okay – it was slow, but just a 4WD track. However, we soon had water holes along the track. Someone had been along before us, and we followed their tracks through the waterholes. After that it became very corrugated between the patches of water – worse than the corrugations at Karijini! Not long before we arrived at Poison Creek Road we saw a big stretch of water ahead – with a couple of ducks swimming in it! Now, we have experienced ducks beside the road on occasion, but never ducks swimming on the road! They flew off before I could get a photo. The Poison Creek road had a “4WD only” sign at the start, but we think it may have been a temporary sign. The road was good, though wet in places, which was probably why the sign was there. However, it was smooth driving and Ron mostly drove at about eighty. When we finally arrived at the creek we found it had overflowed across the road. We got out and walked along the bank at the edge of the road to see around the corner. Last time we were here the creek flowed into the bay, and Ron and I waded across it to the beach. This time the creek was blocked, which no doubt is why it has flowed across the road. Anyway, we could see someone had been through the creek. Ron checked the hardness of the sand under the water with a stick (it was too cold to walk through), and decided to carry on to the beach. As it was possible to walk around on the bank beside the road, I got my camera to get some photos of Ron driving through.
This used to be the road!

Ron driving back through the creek.

After a bit of time on the beach, having a look around, taking some photos, and having afternoon tea, we decided it was time to head back to camp. This time we carried on up to Fisheries Road – a much, much better road, and our trip home was uneventful except for a huge flock of White-tailed black cockatoos that took off ahead of us. The weather forecast was not good. Another low was on the way, expected to reach Esperance around midnight and Israelite Bay by sunrise. When Ron went up for his shower that evening the outside temperature was under 8 degrees. When I went up, only five or ten minutes later, it was over 8 degrees and by the time I got back it was over 9 degrees. We got up around two in the morning and it was over 11 degrees, but the sky was still clear and there was no wind. Not long after that it started to rain – lightly at first, then it just poured. When we got up there were pools of water lying everywhere, but the rain had stopped, and though the sky was cloudy, we had no more rain while we were packing up.

Jan Barham

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Graham & Ann : v00008
Looks like you having lots of fun Jan & Ron, visiting/revisiting some fabulous place in this great land. We have yet to revisit ... Read More
Sunday, 25 July 2010 15:37
Glad it helps. Thanks. Jan.
Wednesday, 04 August 2010 07:06
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Around the block again - well almost - Karri forests

We've had nearly a week without phone signal, and busy days, so too tired at night to do much on the computer.  Anyway, here's the next installment of our trip.

From Dunsborough we moved on to Pemberton.  The weather forecast was not good, with bad weather predicted from Perth to Esperance, but the caravan park at Pemberton is down in a hollow, where we felt we might be protected.

We arrived in time to have lunch and turn up at the Pemberton Tramway for their afternoon trip to the Warren River Bridge.  Ron and I had done this trip last time we were here, but we were happy to keep Eric company and do it again.

On this occasion only two "cars" were going.  The railway was originally to be built from Perth to, I think, Albany.  However, the Great Depression came along so only part of the railway was built.  It was later used for logging between Pemberton and Northcliffe.  Now it is a tourist railway.  Just as we were about to leave, down came the rain, making us quickly pull down the plastic window covers.  However, it didn't last long and we were able to put the covers up again.  The tram makes a couple of stops along the way, the first at the Cascades, where we all alight and walk down a track to view the Cascades.

After seven minutes the train whistle reminds us that we have only three minutes left to get aboard, and we are on our way to the Warren River Bridge.  At this point we alight again for a short walk through the forest, taking time on the way to have a look at a 300 year old Karri tree.  This is as far as the train goes, so it is all aboard for the trip back to Pemberton.

On Sunday morning we did the Karri Explorer Drive.  This drive takes in eighty or so kilometres of forest driving through the Karri forests.  The first place of interest is Big Brook Dam.  This part of the forest was logged about eighty years ago.  It was then planned to set the remaining forest on fire, the idea being that the remaining trees would drop their seeds, which would germinate in the ash-bed and regenerate the forest.  However, before this could be done, the railways beat them to it when a spark from an engine caught alight and soon the forest was burning, and Pemberton was threatened.  Eighty years later the trees are enormous.

Further along the way we stopped off at Beedelup Falls.  Last time we were here, in summer, there was very little water in the falls.  It was a different story this time.

Since that time the track beside the creek has been improved, with a solid footbridge crossing the creek above the falls.  Below the falls the same suspension bridge that was there last time brings the visitor back across the creek.

Following our walk to the falls we entered the forest on the other side of the track, for an hour's walk through the Karri trees.

Fortunately the rain held off while we did the walks, and had lunch, then down it came.

Jan Barham

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Northwest Ho! No more!!

Last time we blogged we were on our way back south from Geraldton to Perth to get the car repaired.  We spent a week in Perth with our daughter and found a place to fix the car.  EFI Automotives of Balcatta did a great job getting the fuel consumption and tuning sorted out.  In the end it was a computer problem, ie, bad memory which was cleared and the car now is running like a Singer Sewing Machine, well almost.!   The mechanic did some adjustments to the autogas tuning but when we hooked up the van it still backfired under duress.   We decided that due to the need to get home to Adelaide we will use ULP and not bother with the autogas.  The mechanic told us that if the computer problem happens again next time, just disconnect the battery and that will clear the computer memory and it should be OK .  That's fine for him to say but I think I'll be calling a mechanic.

We left Perth on Saturday and spent the first night in Southern Cross.  Sunday we got to Fraser Range and Monday we are in Eucla.  The car is performing very well, we are getting between 14-16ltr/100kms.  Excellent for towing at 100kmh.  Tomorrow night we should be in Ceduna and Wednesday in Pt Augusta.  If all goes well we will be back home on Thursday.

Fraser Range

Sitting around the fire at Happy Hour, Fraser Range.

Fraser sunset

Sunset, Fraser Range.


Cooking with the Turbo

Update:  We did a dash across the Nullarbor to Eucla after we left Fraser Range.  The wind was behind us and we had excellent fuel economy.  We arrived at Eucla at 4pm Central western time, 45 minutes difference with Perth.  Overnight a wet front moved through and left some rain on the ground.  Next day we continued on to Ceduna again with a tail wind.  In Ceduna the rain and wind caught up with us again.  Today we drove to Port Pirie again with a tail wind.  At Pt Augusta a rain front was moving east being blocked by the Flinders Ranges. Tonight we are at the Port Pirie CP, in between rain showers.  Expecting some rain overnight.  Tomorrow will be a quick trip to Adelaide.  Till next time, safe travels.!!

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Hi, At the start of your report I thought we'd be able to catch up with you, as we are in Port Augusta tonight and tomorrow night... Read More
Wednesday, 21 July 2010 17:45
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Around the block again - well almost - Cape to Cape.

While at Dunsborough we were hoping to see some wild and woolly weather on the coast.  However, we hadn't ordered rain as well, but we got it.  Fortunately it came in fits and starts, and inbetween the showers we had blue skies.  We were amazed at how quickly a totally blue sky could become totally grey.

Our first destination on Friday was Becketts Flat Winery, which is owned by former members of the Queensland Mitsubishi 4WD club.  Last time we were over here we scored a ride on the top of the grape picking machine, and helped to handpick some grapes from some of their vines that weren't able to handle the grape picker.  Noni and Bill have won a few prestigious awards with their wines, and we picked up a few bottles to take home to our sons and son-in-law.  After some time chatting with them, and making friends with their friendly Doberman (who knew when he was on to a good thing, and kept thrusting his nose into my hand every time I stopped petting him) we felt we had better get on our way.

As we drove down to Cape Leeuwin the sun shone and the sky was blue - right up until we were about to get out of the car at the lighthouse, when down came the rain.  We sat in the car for a while, and when it started to ease decided to brave the elements.  Ron went to the back of the car to dig out our ponchos, and down it came, heavier than ever, this time with tiny hail - so small it could almost be called sleet.  The wind blew the poncho all about and soon it was as wet inside as out.  At this point he gave up and got back into the car until the rain stopped.

We did eventually make it into the lighthouse grounds.  This is the tallest lighthouse on the Australian mainland.  Ron and I had done the lighthouse tour on our previous visit, so didn't bother this time, but did pay the $5 that let us roam the grounds.  As we walked up the hill to the lighthouse, and breasted the crest, we were nearly blown over.  We hurried to the lee of the lighthouse, where the ground was dry for about six feet out from the lighthouse wall.  While we were there it started raining again, but we were kept quite dry, protected by the lighthouse.  The winds were only 40kph on this day - the previous day they had been 45kph.

Cape Leeuwin is where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet, and we had been told that in winter the ocean can be a sea of foam as far as you can see.  It wasn't like that on this occasion, but still fairly spectacular.

Before leaving the lighthouse area we made our way down to the waterwheel.  This waterwheel originally had a pump attached to it, and supplied the water for the lighthouse and surrounding farms.  Water from a spring 300 metres inland, running down a trough, turned the wheel which operated the pump.  Over the years calcium in the water was deposited over the wheel and coated it all with limestone.

We had planned to base ourselves in Hamelin Bay, as we had been told it was a pretty place, but with the adverse weather reports we had been hearing, we felt we might be better off at Dunsborough, which is on Geographe Bay, and possibly more protected than Hamelin Bay, which is on the ocean.  So as we headed north on the coast road, we had a quick look in at Hamelin Bay.  It certainly is a pretty place, and it would have been nice to stay there.

Time was getting on, and as we hoped to make the 2:00 tour of Lake Cave, we didn't tarry here, but quickly resumed our way north.  Caves Road winds its way through the forest and is a very pretty road.

We arrived at Lake Cave just in time for the tour.  The entrance to Lake Cave is a big doline.  The roof of part of the cave fell in around 700 years ago, and makes a spectacular entry to the Lake Cave.

After negotiating 270 steps, at this point we only had 60 more to go.

The formation that Lake Cave is most famous for is this suspended "table".  It was once part of the floor of the cave, and when the rest of the floor sank, remained suspended, attached to a couple of stalactite columns.  The stream that gives the cave its name runs right through the cave, and although it is quite shallow, the reflections make it look very deep.

Close by the "table", at the side of the cave is another suspended formation.

Heading north once again, we detoured to Canal Rocks.  Here we found the spectaclar waves we had been looking for, as the water roared over the huge rocks and through the "canal".  Trying to get to the end of the walkway, I had to make a hasty retreat as the water rose up over the walkway.  Unfortunately the photos don't do it justice, as the water hides most of the rocks, so it doesn't show just how high the water came.  I could have stayed there for ages, watching it, but by now it was getting late and it had been a long day, so we kept moving.

Our final stop was at Sugarloaf Rock, at Cape Naturaliste, near the lighthouse.  This was what we really wanted to see, as previously we had seen a photo in which it was covered by the waves in winter.  Well, as Michael Flanders (of Flanders & Swann, if you've heard of them) would say, it was a "dead waste of a shilling".  Nothing much was happening there at all.

On the way back to camp we detoured by Meelup Beach, but it was raining and the light was going, so didn't get out of the car.  It had been a long, but very enjoyable day.

Next morning we packed up and moved on.  One final look at Dunsborough - our water-logged campsite.

Jan Barham

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Around the block again - well almost - back on the road.

Paul was unable to tell what was wrong with Eric's ute, but he thought it was either the car computer or something in the fuel line.  So next morning (Sunday) he loaded the ute onto his truck and we set off for Perth.  Along the way Paul rang a caravan park close to Nissan and booked us in.  Just as well, as we had the last available site.  Paul offloaded the ute onto our site, and next morning Eric and Ron drove around to Nissan.  Nissan sent someone around to pick up the ute and said they would get on to it by lunchtime.

At the end of the day they still didn't know what was wrong with it, but said they would get back on to it first thing in the morning.  Fortunately Eric had offloaded his mattress and other gear before the ute was taken.  We put up our awning and with the aid of various tarps managed to make a "room" for him.

Next morning Eric decided that if they hadn't solved the problem by lunchtime, he would ship the ute back to Brisbane and fly home.   We felt that if we didn't hear by nine, we would have to book in for another night, but at ten to nine Nissan rang to say they had the car running - they think the problem was caused by an air bubble in the fuel line or the injectors.  We were able to organise a late check-out, and Ron and Eric went around to Nissan to pick up the car.  Then we had the big job of putting everything back  in to it, and packing up our makeshift annexe.   We were on the road again before twelve.

From Perth we drove down to Pinjarra.  Once we had set up camp and had a late lunch, we went down the road to Mandurah to the Abingdon Miniature Village.  This little village has miniatures of a number of English buildings.  It is only small - nothing compared to Cockington Green in Canberra either in number of buildings or the settings around them - but quite a pleasant way to spend an hour.  They also had a maze, which we all managed to find our way out of, Ron and I going different ways (he took every righthand path, I took every lefthand one) and Eric more or less followed me.

Next morning we fronted up at the Hotham Valley Railway.  Fortunately I had rung them on our way to Pinjarra and booked our seats, because they were completely booked out when we arrived, and some people were being turned away.

Our engine being shunted from one end of the train to the other, at Dwellingup.

On the way we saw some unusual grass trees.  This is not a very good photo, but the best I could do trying to get a photo as the train hurried past.  Not easy, first finding it in the viewfinder, then panning as we went by and trying to focus, but it will give you an idea.  Instead of the single tall flower stalk we are used to on our grass trees here, these had half a dozen or more short ones with a knob on the top, in a circle at the top of the plant.

We saw quite a bit of wattle along the way, with several big trees at Dwellingup station.

We left Pinjarra on Thursday, taking the long way to Dunsborough.  We had thought of making Hamelin Bay our base whilst in the Capes area, but the weather forecast for last night made us decide on Dunsborough, as we thought it might be a bit more sheltered.  As it happened, we didn't get the gales here, just strong winds and squally rain.

We took the long way around, calling in at Gnomesville on the way.  Boy, has this grown - it must be at least four times as big as it was when we visited eight years ago.  It's character has changed - most of the new stuff doesn't have the witty sayings the original ones have.  It has been tidied up, walking paths made, steps in places, and a long avenue has been created through the trees, which is already filling up with gnomes.

The avenue

Part of the original area.

We did another small detour to see the King Jarrah tree, and finally called in at Busselton to see the jetty.  Last time we were here we expected to be able to see the underwater observatory which was supposed to be finished, only to find they were still building it.  This time we had read (on the jetty's own brochure, no less) that the jetty had been undergoing a massive rehabilitation, which was finished in May.  Uh Uh!  It looks as though they have hardly started.  One of the locals said they are expecting it will be finished by Christmas.  So the jetty is closed and consequently so is the observatory.

When we arrived at Dunsborough we found that though there were heaps of empty sites, most of them had pools of water on them.  We drove around and finally found one that had a block of concrete where we were able to back up to one end and Eric backed up to the side.  His fly meets our awning, so he is able to get from the back of his vehicle into our van under cover.  Of course, this doesn't altogether stop the rain blowing in, but on the whole works quite well.

More next time.

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Northwest Ho! - Kalbarri to Monkey Mia

We left Kalbarri behind us and continued our journey north to Shark Bay.  Along the way we stopped at the Billabong RH for fuel. Fuel economy 27ltr/100kms.  Not good!  We stopped at Shell Beach along the Shark Bay World Heritage Drive.  A beach made up of billions of small shells up to 7m deep. Eventually it will be crushed into sand.  Some quick photos and on to a couple of lookouts along the road.  We finally arrived in Denham a quaint seaside town catering mainly for the fisher people and tourist accommodation for the Monkey Mia Dolphin experience. We booked into the Top Tourist CP at the far end of the seashore esplanade for 3 nights. 

The next day we drove back along the road to the Eagles Bluff Lookout, where a boardwalk has been built along the cliff so that you can look down on to the shallow water and see shark, rays, dugongs, turtles and other fish.  None were to be seen, as it was probably too cold and the wrong time of year. Apparently, in winter the fish move to the other side of the bay because the water is warmer there.

Back towards Denham, we called in at the Ocean Park Aquarium to look at the fish display in tanks and ponds.  They have a number of small sharks in a pond including a tiger shark which they only keep for about 3 months before releasing it.  They then find another one for the display, this keeps the sharks from dying because being migratory, they don't do well in an enclosed enviroment.  There were several other species of fish in the ponds, barra, mulloway, snapper, coral trout, wrasse, lemon sharks and sandbar sharks are just some.  The young guide was very good and gave interesting information about the fish and the workings of the aquarium. The next day was an early start for us because we had to go to Monkey Mia to experience the Dolphin feeding. This starts aound 8am and there is usually a large group of tourists and resort guests waiting for the occasion.  The Ranger gave a history of the dolphins at Monkey Mia and then some volunteers came out with the fish buckets to feed them.  A number of people were invited to join the volunteers in the water and feed the dolphins a small fish each.  There are normally 3 feeds per day and all before midday.  Normally it is all over by 10am.  We looked through the resort shops and Geraldine bought a 'T'shirt.  We had breakfast in the Cafe. After that it was back to Denham and the caravan park for a relaxing rest day. Due to the ongoing problems with the car and family illness at home we have decided to return to Perth for repairs and then home.  Tonight we are back in Geraldton and tomorrow will be in Perth.  We found out last night that the MIL had taken a nasty  fall and was in hospital. We will need to go back to help with her rehab. So this will be our last entry for this blog, apart from the advise that we have arrived home safely, hopefully the end of next week.

Shell beach

Shell Beach panorama.

fish feeding

Feeding fish at the Ocean Park Aquarium.

Monkey Mia

Dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia.

Monkey Mia 2

Volunteers feeding the Dolphins.

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Around the block again - well almost - an unexpected stop

We had one more day in Newman - supposed to be a rest day, but the guys wanted to do something.  There are a number of pools and waterfalls around Newman, but they mostly entail travelling on gravel roads, and after Karijini Ron had had enough of gravel roads, so we picked a few places we could easily access from the bitumen.

First was Radio Hill, for a view over the town and the mine. Then we headed out to the highway, on the way passing a flock of pink Corellas.  Never heard of pink Corellas?  Then you haven't been to the Pilbara.  They may have started out with white feathers, but they're pink now!  Silent Gorge is only about fifteen minutes drive out of town.  This is just a small gorge, and we walked through it and a little way up the creek bed that runs into it.

These white trunked gums (I believe they are called Snappy Gums) are everywhere here, and look so good against the red gorge walls.

Another sixty kilometres further along the road we turned off to visit Wunna Munna Pool.  This is a permanent waterhole, and we stopped to have a cuppa before tackling the walk down the creek bed.  We had been told we would find some aboriginal petroglyphs about 1.2 kilometres downstream.  After making our way 1.5km, I gave up and sat on a bar of rock while the guys went even further, but no sign of the petroglyphs did we find, so we gave up and headed back to the car.  What made our going difficult were the huge bars of rock, reminiscent of Marble Bar that lay across the creek in a number of places.  It would be something to see when the creek is running.

Back at the car we were about to leave, but Eric decided to have a look at the rocks just above the pool, and there we found the petroglyphs!  They were practically in sight of the Pool.

Still, had we found them at the start, we probably wouldn't have bothered going down the creek and would have missed some pretty scenery, such as shown in this photo, just below the pool.

Next day we set off for Cue.  Along the way we lost another aerial - don't think all the bouncing around at Karijini did it any good.  I saw it go - it was as if a giant hand had just plucked it out of the mount.  Luckily we had a spare, though I did walk back and find it - might come in handy for something.

The scenery has changed - no more mountains, mostly flat terrain, though for quite a while we were still above 600 metres.

Today was the day of wide loads.  First up was a double 8 metre.  They really take up all the road.

Later we encountered a double 5 metre, then a double 7 metre and finally a 3.7 metre - just a baby one!

We were late getting in to Cue and all the powered sites were taken, so we opted for an unpowered site.  We were in a rather exposed postion and the wind was bitterly cold - and no heater.  Out came the ugg boots and extra jackets.

We had arranged to have a late checkout so that we could visit Walga Rock (also known as Walganna Rock) about 50km out of town.  We turned where the map and navigator said we should, and found ourselves wandering around the tailings from the gold mine.  Eventually we found the new road a bit north of the tailings.  Yes, we were back on gravel and dirt, but for the most part it was a pretty good road.  Walga Rock is the second largest monolith in Australia and is quite impressive.

At one end there is a cave that has some aboriginal art, and we visited that first.

And then drove up towards the other end to the start of the walk to the top. The next photo, taken on our way to the top shows how the top "crust" of the rock is gradually slipping away.

Cue is a very attractive little town, and after returning from the Rock and retrieving our caravan and Eric's vehicle we spent some time wandering around the town.  Some of the buildings, Court house, police station and Post Office were built around 1896 and are still being used for their original purpose.  This is the Post Office.

On our way again, and just north of Mount Magnet we detoured to show Eric The Granites, which we had discovered on our last visit to this area.  This was just a very quick look-see - it would be possible to spend quite some time exploring this area.

We stopped overnight at the Mt Gibson rest area.  Eric built a small fire, and we ate our dinner sitting around it.

And so to today.  Yes, well, here we are in Wubin.  We had no intention of stopping in Wubin - after all it is only 80 kilometres south of last night's stop.  But unfortunately Eric's vehicle had other ideas.  Two kilometres south of town the engine stopped.  Nothing he tried would get it going again, and eventually he and Ron went back to Wubin in our vehicle (van still attached) while I waited in Eric's vehicle.  Turns out Paul, the town mechanic, was in Perth.  Eric was able to ring him, and he tried to get another mechanic in the area to help out, but apparently he was unable to do so.  To make a long story short, we are camped at the local primary school (that closed 5 years ago and is now owned by Paul).  He expects to be back about six.  He thinks it is the car computer, apparently a common fault with Navara's.  If so, the nearest computer is in Perth.  We brought the caravan in here and parked it, then went back and towed Eric in.  Just as we were about to pull him on to the highway, we heard there was an 8 metre wide load in the vicinity.  I called them up, and they were just a couple of kilometres south of us, heading north to Wubin.  So we said we would wait for them to pass.  We only had to wait a couple of minutes, then were able to pull in behind them and had an escort into Wubin.

When Paul gets in he'll check out Eric's vehicle and if it is the computer can put his vehicle on his tray truck and take it to Perth.  Another option may be to have the computer sent up on Monday and installed here by Paul.  We'll know more later.

In the meantime we walked into town and checked out the Visitors' Centre, where we had an excorted visit to the machinery shed - old cars to interest the guys, and were then invited back to the Centre for a cuppa.  Here at Paul's place we have toilets, even a shower, and are plugged in to power.  What more could we ask for.  Country folk are great.

Jan Barham

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Those trucks are huge Jan. We followed one into Winton a couple of years ago. Great pics as usual.
Monday, 05 July 2010 17:30
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Northwest Ho! Geraldton to Kalbarri

Well, after getting the car repaired in Geraldton we were off to Kalbarri for a few days to relax and have a tour of the Kalbarri National Park.  We left Geraldton's Batav ia Coast CP on Saturday morning and drove through Northampton and on to the coastal scenic route to Kalbarri, through undulating hills, and farmland.  We arrived in Kalbarri without incident and booked into the Murchison Park CP on the foreshore. 

We spent the afternoon driving back along the coast to look at the various lookouts and interesting rock formations on the coastline.  Nature's Bridge, Castle Cove and Red Bluff are just some of them.  I refueled in Kalbarri and was amazed at the amount of fuel I had used getting to here.  It worked out something like 25ltr/100kms, way over the top for this Falcon.

Couldn't do much about it on the weekend so first thing Monday morning went to see the RAC Repairer here in town and he found the air intake hose was split open in two places and the O2 sensor needed replacing.   Will these repairs never end!  Another $250 on the card.

Finally got the car back and after a good run through the National Park and up the Kalbarri road to the Highway, it seems the fuel problem has been fixed, until the next stop no doubt.!

We went to the Kalbarri N.P. on Sunday and Tuesday, looking at the gorges and the Murchison River in several places.   The Murchison River cuts its way through the landscape for 750kms to the Indian Ocean leaving some wonderful scenery and wild river gorges in its wake.  Tomorrow will be a rest day.

Hawk's Head Lookout, Murchison River.

Ross Graham Lookout

Sunset, Kalbarri

Natural Bridge, Kalbarri

Sunset Murchison River, Kalbarri

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Have been so busy doing my own trip reports that I haven't had time up until now to relax and read yours. Really takes me back. ... Read More
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 12:16
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Around the block again - well, almost - Karijini


Arriving at Karijini we booked in for five nights and were given a nice big campsite – plenty of room to put up our awning and for Eric to put his up, giving us a nice big shaded area.  Our awning is a major job to put up at any time.  Trying to put it up and keep it out of the dirt while doing so was a big job even with the three of us.

Everything is fast becoming a delicate shade of Pilbara red – car, van, shoes, clothes.

During this trip we have been able to catch up with several Touring Oz/ACC members.  The latest of these were Brian and Maria from Perth (members of both Touring Oz and ACC).  They pulled in to Karijini the day after us, and once they were set up came looking for us.  They found us just as we were about to sit down for afternoon tea, so we invited them to join us, and the next couple of hours passed rather quickly, as we caught up on each other’s news.  It was great to see them again.

Dales Gorge

   View from the lookout

    Fortescue Falls.

The way down Dales Gorge to Fortescue Falls is fairly steep, but mostly cut into steps – some of them rather high steps – but it didn’t take too long to get to the bottom.  On this expedition we just explored the falls area and walked into Fern Pool, a pretty little pool, complete with waterfall.  I tested the water and it didn’t seem too bad – not as cold as at Gunlom Falls – but I hadn’t brought my togs.  Eric dived in, clothes and all!  More about Dales Gorge later.

   Fern Pool.

After leaving the gorge, we drove down to the Visitors’ Centre.  As we were leaving a guy came up to us and said, “I know something you don’t know!”  It seems he and his wife had just come back from a visit to Tom Price, where he received a phone call from his son, to say that we have a new Prime Minister – Julia Gillard!

Sunset at the campsite.

Tom Price, Mt. Nameless and Hamersley Gorge

We did a day trip to Tom Price and while we were there drove up the 4WD track to the top of Mt. Nameless.  Though Mt Nameless isn’t the highest mountain in WA, it is the highest with a road to the summit.  At 1128 metres, this is as high as we will drive while in WA.

After lunch we went to Coles to do the shopping.  While we were in the fruit section I brushed by one of the plastic crates that held the fruit and the corner of it tore a largish piece of skin on my arm, which started to bleed.  Ron didn’t have a bandaid on him, so I went looking for a staff member, thinking that surely in the office they would have a bandaid.  I found one lady at the delicatessen and asked her.  She said she would certainly have one, but she wasn’t authorized to do anything, but she would get someone who was.  She then went to the phone and rang into the public address system and announced, “Code blue to the deli” then commented to me that they would probably think she had burned herself again.  Suddenly three staff members came running.  I explained that I simply needed a bandaid.  I was taken to a room out the back, given a chair, and had my wound washed with a medi-wipe (also wiped the blood off my finger where I had been holding it on the wound).  Then they applied a blue plastic bandaid.  This was all a bit overwhelming, when I just needed a bandaid.  I apologized for being a nuisance, but they said not to worry, they were happy to help.  They certainly looked after me well.

Shopping done, we set out for Hamersley Gorge.  It wasn’t very far down into the gorge, with the usual steps to help us on our way.  At the bottom was an attractive pool, with a waterfall that was really just rushing across sloping rock rather than falling.  Eric decided he wasn’t going in.  I talked Ron into going in, and he actually had a swim.  I got in to about waist deep, but it was just too cold – colder than Gunlom, and I soon got out and left him to it.

   Hamersley Gorge

Oxer Lookout and Weano Gorge

On the day we visited these gorges at the other end of the park sunrise covered almost the whole of the sky – salmon pink in the east, pale pink everywhere else.

After driving over horrific roads we eventually reached Oxer Lookout.  With four gorges meeting there, (Weano, Red, Hancock and Joffre gorges) it was hard to get photos to show what it was like, so Ron and Eric took some video.

In Weano Gorge we walked as far as Handrail Pool, then turned around and walked back to the steps, and carried on to the other end of the gorge.  Here Ron and I had our own little drama for the day.  We were nearing the end of the gorge, and walking over some stepping stones.  We were almost on the last stepping stone when Ron slipped.  He overbalanced and one foot went in to the water.  I was holding his hand for support and to help my balance, and of course, when he overbalanced, so did I.  However, while his whole foot went in to the water, only the toe of my shoe went in, so my shoe and foot didn’t get as wet as his.  The sign at the start of the walk said to allow 2 hours, but we took only an hour and a half, so I think we did pretty well.  When we got back to the day use area we found Brian and Maria just finishing their lunch, so we sat with them while we had ours.

   Weano Gorge

After lunch we set off again, with Joffre Waterfall our destination.  Here we had no temptation to do the walk into the gorge – we certainly would not have been fit enough.  However, we were able to see the waterfall (what there was of it) from the lookout, and see some people down in the gorge.

Kalamina Gorge.  This has to be the gorge that makes you glad you have a digital camera rather than a film camera.  At every corner we found new photo opportunities, and so we kept on going, “just to the next corner” and the next, and the next.  Apart from an area near the beginning of this track, where we had to negotiate some stepping stones, the walk along the bottom of this gorge was certainly the easiest of all the gorges, a lot of it being on flat rock.  Even where we had to go up and down, the layers of rock made easy steps.  The little stream tumbled in a series of tiny waterfalls from one level to another, the layers of rock forming ledges for the water to fall over.


Kalamina has got to be the easiest gorge both for getting into, and walking along the bottom.  We think it is also the most impressive and prettiest.

Dales Gorge.  So far all the walks we had done were Class 3 – “Users require a moderate level of fitness.  Trails may be slightly modified, and include a combination of steps, some hardened sections and unstable surfaces.”  Dales Gorge below Fortescue Falls is a Class 4 – “Distinct tracks in relatively undisturbed natural environments.  Trails are often rough with very little, if any, modifications.  A moderate to high level of fitness is required.  Users need to be self-reliant.  There may be few encounters with others.”

We were giving serious thought to trying to do the Dales Gorge walk, going down near the Circular Pool, walking to it, then walking back up the gorge to Fortescue Falls and finishing with a swim in Fern Pool.  We were not sure if we were up to a Class 4.  We were also a little nervous about the steepness of the track down near Circular Pool.

Before making a decision we went around to Brian and Maria’s site, as they had already done the walk.  After talking to them we decided we’d give it a go.  We decided to leave late morning, take some nibbles with us, and have a late lunch when we got back.  We drove the car around to the Fortescue Falls lookout car park, since we planned to finish at the Falls end and wanted to have the car handy when we finally got back.

We set out from the car park, walking along the top of the cliff to the descent. 

The descent turned out to be  much longer and steeper than the one at Fortescue Falls and took about twenty minutes just to get down the steps and ladder.  It took us another half an hour to reach Circular Pool.  I found the track to Circular Pool fairly hard and wondered how I was going to manage the track back, as I would have some high ledges to get down from.  We spent about twenty minutes at the pool, having something to eat and drink and taking photos.  The pool is beautiful.  The water seeps down out of the walls and maidenhair fern grows luxuriantly on the ledges around the pool.  I guess my legs must have been tired from the steps on the way in, and the rest at the pool restored them, as we made it back to the bottom of the steps in fifteen minutes and I actually found it easier than going in.

According to Ron’s navigator we had 1.2km as the crow flies to Fortescue Falls – rather further as the track went.  For the most part the track wasn’t too bad.  There were some bits where I needed Ron’s help, especially where there were stepping stones, some of which were a bit rocky.  There were slippery and muddy places too, and we were getting dirtier and dirtier.  Along the way there were a number of tiny waterfalls as the rock ledges dropped in height along the gorge floor.  And we also discovered the work of the phantom cairn builder (or builders).  One quite tall cairn was balanced so precariously it must have taken a lot of time and patience to build, and would take very little to topple it.  At one place there was a whole “city” of cairns, both tiny and big.  Eric had gone on ahead of us, and told us later that there were a couple of girls building this “city”.  They had been at it all morning.

This is quite a pretty gorge, though a lot of the time I was too busy watching my footing to take a lot of notice.  Fortunately for a lot of the track it was fairly easy walking.  Finally we arrived at Fortescue Falls and had to make our way across the water.  Maria had said that at this point she took off her shoes and walked across barefoot.  There were a couple of young guys there who had taken off their shoes, so we watched which way they went back, but when they started wading we decided that wasn’t the way Brian and Maria had gone.  So we looked around and found some stepping stones.  Ron went ahead to check it out and decided that was the way, so I followed, a bit nervously on my own across the stepping stones.  I needn’t have worried, they were mostly firm and he warned me about the rocky ones.  Then we had to clamber along a narrow ledge on the side of the gorge before finally arriving at the tier of rock ledges leading to the top of Fortescue Falls.  About half way up the little track markers changed from the yellow grade 4 markers to the green grade 3.

We continued on to Fern Pool, where we stopped for a drink, then stripped down to our bathers, and braved the water.  It was cold, but not as cold as at Gunlom Falls.  However, I found the cold left me a bit breathless, and I found it difficult to swim, so stayed at the edge, hanging on to the steps, since I was out of my depth even there.  After a while we got used to the cold.  We stayed in for a little while, then got out, dried off as best we could, and donned our clothes over our togs.  Then we made our way back to the falls and up the steps to the top, where we arrived just over four hours since we had left.

On Monday morning we said goodbye to Brian and Maria who still had another day, and left Karijini for Newman.  Some time along the way I remarked to Ron that we hadn’t heard any wide loads on the CB this time.  Shortly afterwards we did – a two unit 8 metre wide load was coming our way!  When we met it there wasn’t a lot of room to pull over, but we certainly needed to be right off the road, as the wide load needed all of it.  Just a few more kilometres down the road we met a 4.8 metre wide load, and as we approached Newman we heard there was a 5 metre wide load coming.  However, we were in Newman before we encountered it.

The 8 metre load.


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Dennis and Therese : s00021
We are reading with interest about your caravaning, the photos are magic, what is the weather like at the moment as we are about f... Read More
Saturday, 03 July 2010 17:16
Hi Dennis and Therese At Karijini we had cold nights but beautiful days - didn't even need a jacket in the bottom of the gorges. ... Read More
Sunday, 04 July 2010 14:02
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Around the block again - well almost - Marble Bar and the road to Karijini

Tuesday, 22nd June  -  Marble Bar


Today we have been on the road for four weeks.  Five more to go.


We were told at the Visitors’ Centre that Marble Bar has had a very dry Wet – a total of only 70mm for the whole season.  Last time we were here Chinaman’s Pool was a wide stretch of water.  Today it was absolutely dry.  Consequently we found it hard to get our bearings, and were unable to find the really good jasper colour we had seen last time, though we did find some




We called in to the Comet Mine, and the guys enjoyed fossicking around the various exhibits there, finding one piece of machinery they were unable to identify.




Our caravan site from the lookout.  The building in the foreground is the amenities block, and just beyond the lefthand side of that you can see Eric’s ute, with our van behind it.  At the visitors centre they told us that a new owner had taken over the caravan park two years ago, and he had planted grass and made big improvements.  We certainly appreciated the grass.


Wednesday, 23rd June.


We set out for Karijini at last.  We had made enquiries at the Visitors’ Centre about the Hillside road, and found that there is another road which cuts across the Hillside Road.  It leaves the Marble Bar/Hillside road, and joins up again on the Hillside/Woodstock road, making a shortcut.  Some of the road was a little rough, most of it fairly smooth.  On the whole a pretty good road, and certainly worth taking it to save the distance involved in going any other way.


One thing we noticed today was the constant change of terrain.  We’d come to a line of hills and when we crested them would find another line of hills, but of a totally different formation, sometimes red hills, sometimes rocky hills.  This happened several times.  We saw a lot of spinifex again.


As we approached the highway we could hear another wide load –five and a half metres.  This one was also heading south, and actually passed us while we were at the junction pumping up the tyres and taking the covers off the fridge vents.  We caught up with it not far down the road and were able to pass it when the traffic was stopped so it could cross a bridge.  We stopped for lunch at a rest area about half-way down the bitumen to the Auski roadhouse.  As we left we heard on the CB that the wide load had just left the roadhouse.


We stopped at the roadhouse to fill up with fuel.  Going through the “mountains” we saw the wide load ahead of us, and had to pass it again.


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Caron and Peter : v00216
thanks for sharing your adventure and wonderful pictures.
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 12:15
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Around the block again - well, almost - Road to Marble Bar

As we were driving out of Barn Hill this morning we could hear the escort of a 5 metre wide load instructing drivers to pull over and come to a stop.  Shortly after we got on the highway someone informed us that the wide load had passed Barn Hill turnoff and was heading south.  It must have been going at a fair clip, because it was quite a long way before we caught up with it.  They were very good at getting following vehicles past, and we weren't stuck behind it for more than a few minutes before the escort called us up to come around.

When we met up with Bevan and Yvonne in Katherine, Bevan told us about this beaut overnight spot on the Boreline road, where there was a bore with hot water.  Motherhen on Caravaners Forum also told us about this bore, and several people mentioned that the Boreline road was always in good condition, so we decided to take this route to Marble Bar.  Although it is shorter than the route we planned, it has around 120 or 130km of dirt road, instead of about 75km of dirt on the originally planned route.

The bore would come too early in the day for a stopover, but we thought it would make a good place for lunch, so pulled in there.  Then we went searching for the hot water.  No hot water!  In fact, no water!  Judging by the condition of the pump, it has been quite some time since there was any water there, and the actual bore has been sealed off.

We had just finished lunch and were getting ready to depart when a big tour bus pulled in.  The driver was obviously a bit disappointed to see we were parked in the only shade, and very relieved when he learned that we were just about to leave.

The surface of the road really was very good - for the most part smooth dirt, with a few rough patches later on.

It is an interesting road - lots of spinifex covered ground and hills in this area, and some hills and cliffs of many different shapes and sizes.

We met a group of three caravans, apparently travelling together.  Fortunately they didn't put up much dust - I guess they, like we, slowed down to pass.

Sometimes the hills were a fair distance away, and at other times the road wound through them.

Eventually we came to the De Grey River, where we had hoped to have a swim.  However, there wasn't enough water to entice us, but it was very pretty there, all the same.

We pulled in to Marble Bar just on four o'clock.  Don't know how hot it was here through the day, but it was quite nice in the shade with a breeze at that time.  Eric set his table up between his vehicle and the caravan and once we were all set up we were able to relax and have a much needed cuppa.

We are booked in here for two nights, then, finally, we get to go to Karijini.


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Northwest Ho! Perth to Geraldton.

On the road again, blah,blah,blah!  Willy Nelson knew what he was singing about!  We are on our way to Geraldton after spending 2 weeks in Perth.  We managed to find our way out of Town following the Tonkin, Roe and Great Eastern Highways  to the Great Northern and the Brand Highways.   We stopped for brunch at the Upper Swan, Shell Roadhouse.  I also topped up on LPG and ULP , the last at city prices for a while me thinks.
We pressed on and decided to stop the night at Cervantes as Geraldton was just too far for us to get to in one day.  Besides, a sunset on the beach at Cervantes was something to look forward to.
The township of Cervantes is located 254 kilometers North of Perth and only 2 kilometers West of the entrance to the Nambung National Park, which is the home of the internationally famous Pinnacles formations.   Coming off the Brand Highway, we followed a couple of sand trucks  until we reached the turn-off  to Cervantes.  They are working on a section of the Indian Ocean Drive near the turn-off to the Nambung N.P.   We booked into the only Caravan Park in town, the Pinnacles Caravan Park, near the beach, and nearly full of permanent sites.  There is a small section  for tourists.  We managed to get a drive-through site near the front office.  As it was only for a night we weren't too concerned about location. Most of the permanent sites are unoccupied at the moment probably due to being week enders for the suburbanites of Perth or rural north.  Having been to see the Pinnacles on a previous trip in 2007,(see our website)  we stayed in the park and relaxed. Later, I checked out the sunset, but due to cloud moving in it was  unremarkable.  I set up the sat tv, discovered I had lost and had to rescan Aljazeera News and NITV, due to them moving to a new frequency, and also found two more free channels, Foxtel's Boomerang and Sports 1 active news. 

After spending $450 to get the auto gas repaired in Perth, I'm still having backfiring problems whilst towing.  We have decided to tow on ULP and use the LPG around the attractions, in case we cause more engine problems with the gas.

Update: Tuesday 22/6

Today the Ford packed it in for an hour until the RAC arrived to find the fuel pump needs replacing.  Have it booked in tomorrow at Ford Dealer in Geraldton.  I'm starting to loose confidence in the car's ability to finish this trip!  Fingers crossed ,hope all will be OK!

Update: Thursday 24/6

Had the car in for repairs Wednesday , they found crack in pump housing, needs replacement part, not available in Geraldton, had to source in Perth, hopefully overnighted today and may have car back this afternoon. We are stuck in van park at moment. Waiting on phone call to say all is fixed.

Pinnacles Caravan Park

Cervantes Jetty, Cray Boat.

Sunset at Cervantes.

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The sunset pic looks pretty good Alby
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 05:02
Know the feeling of being stuck in the caravan park. My brother-in-law, Eric, has the same problem at the moment. We are sitting... Read More
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 12:11
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Around the block again - well almost - Barn Hill.

I'm suffering from sore feet tonight, the result of walking around seven kilometres on a sloping beach.  My right foot didn't take kindly to it.

Eric left around six this morning to go fishing.  We stayed in camp to have a look at the camp markets.  All campers were invited to set up a table on the "green" with anything they might have for sale.  After that we made our way down to the beach and headed south.  At the first headland we found Eric, who so far had had no luck with his fishing.  We continued on, giving the camera a good workout with the formations along the cliffs.

These have changed dramatically since our last visit eight years ago.  Some of the ones we particularly remembered have completely disappeared, no doubt the result of storms and high seas.  However, there are still some extraordinary formations to be seen.

Some are close to collapsing now, as these two photos show.

Eric was finally successful, bringing home four Dart, which he cooked up for our lunch.

This evening Barn Hill put on a 3 course dinner for $16.50, which we attended, along with a big crowd of campers.  We were entertained by an Aboriginal band.  It seemed a little weird to see an elderly grey-bearded aborigine gentleman singing "House of the Rising Sun".

We are off again tomorrow, heading for Marble Bar.

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Around the block again - well almost - arrived at Barn Hill

We arrived at Barn Hill at lunch time today, after leaving Kununurra two days ago.  We drove through some spectacular scenery - here are just a few samples.

First night out we stopped at Mary Pool.  This is a very popular overnight spot - hordes of caravans, fifth wheelers. motor homes. camper trailers and tents.  We pulled in around three, and it was crowded then.  The choice spots in shade had mostly gone, but in any case we need a sunny spot for the solar panel - got to keep the battery fed!

The people in the next van (hidden behind ours) had done the combined flight and cruise to the Horizontal Waterfall, and were still thrilled by the experience.  They had a DVD which they loaned us - turned out to be mainly a promo for the flight/cruise.  Sounded great, but at $625 per person Ron and Eric both thought there were other things they could do with the money.  Would have been nice, but a lot of money.  Most of the crowd of vans were over to the right.

Next day we continued westward, pausing to take a heap of photos at the Ngumban Cliffs lookout, and afterwards I had my window down and head out the window taking yet more photos - a really spectacular place.

The view from the top,  and a couple of views along the road below the cliffs.

Eric reckons he'd like to do a study on the different types of termite mounds - they come in all shapes, sizes and colours.  Towards the end of the day yesterday we passed through an area where there were myriads of small termite mounds - as far as the eye could see.

Last night we stopped at Nillibubbica rest area.  We got in around 2:30 and boy, was it hot.  We sat for a while in the shade of the caravan, having a cuppa.  At least at night it cooled down and we were comfortable under just a sheet, even pulling up a blanket in the early hours.

I think Nillibubbica is one place that will remain forever in Eric's memory, for it was here he had an "interesting experience".  Standing in the dark at the rear of his ute, safe from prying eyes, he stripped down to his birthday suit, the better to facilitate his "bird bath".  All was going well, until he heard footsteps approaching.  He cowered back into a corner where his foxwing awning gave some protection, but the footsteps continued to come ever closer.  Then, around the corner of his ute came ... wait for it  ... a big brahmin bull!  While Eric was contemplating the logistics of diving head first into the safety of his canopy, it wandered over to the corner of the fence, sniffed around a bit, apparently found nothing of interest and departed, and Eric was able to continue with his ablutions.

Ron and I slept in this morning, so we decided to dispense with breakfast and pick something up at the Broome markets.  These proved to be something of a disappointment.  We're sure they are smaller than when we were here eight years ago.  We managed to find something to eat, but most of the stuff on offer wasn't the kind of thing you'd want to start the day on.  While in Broome we picked up some fresh fruit and vegies and a few other items for the kitchen cupboard, and headed off for Barn Hill.

The weather is still  hot (34 degrees when we arrived) so instead of the unpowered site we had planned to get, we opted for a powered site, some shade, and the opportunity to use the fan without worrying about what it was doing to the battery.

It is cooling down now, so shortly we'll head off for a walk on the beach.

Jan Barham

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Around the block again - well almost - Keep River national park

Forgot to mention that when we arrived at Douglas Hot Springs Len and Sue (Touring Oz members) were already there, waiting for us, and we enjoyed their company while we set up and had lunch, before they had to head back to Darwin.

We ran into Murphy again at Douglas Hot Springs.  This time he had Eric in his sights.  Eric's 25 year old Trailblazer had been giving trouble pretty much from the beginning, and when we pulled in to the campsite at Dougals Hot Springs he found it had completely died.  So there was a quick transfer from his fridge to our fridges.  Fortunately by this time he didn't have much left, mainly a couple of frozen meals, which we ate over the next couple of nights.  On the morning we left he was backing his vehicle, forgetting that one of the windows on the canopy was open, and the inevitable happened.  He managed to find a tree in the wrong place, and broke the glass in the window.  We did a temporary repair job, which saw him through to Katherine.  We had already decided to leave a day early, since Butterfly Gorge was closed, so that he would have time in Katherine to look for a replacement fridge.

So once in Katherine we all went fridge hunting.  He is very happy with his purchase, a 60 litre Primus fridge, which is proving much more economical on power than the old Trailblazer.  He found a signwriter who provided him with some corrugated plastic from which he fashioned a new window, that seems to be working well.  For me it was time to do the accumulated washing.  We had an ensuite site, and they allowed Eric to park on the site as well, just charging him as an extra person.  Had we gone somewhere where he would have been on an unpowered site he would have been charged the same as two people.  The site here had its own private clothesline, which saved a lot of running back and forth.

Once the washing was on the line we set off to Cycad Gardens where we were to catch up with Bevan and Yvonne (more Touring Oz friends).  We had a quite extended lunch hour there before parting company.  We will catch up with them again at the ACC musters.

After a couple of nights in Katherine we were once again on the road west.  First overnight stop was Big Horse Creek.  We had been warned to get in early, and sure enough, we were lucky to find a spot.  It is a very popular overnighter - only $3.30 per person, so cheap camping.  No showers, of course, but the toilets were clean. Someone there advised us to stay two nights before heading in to Keep River National Park, as the second campground there was closed, and it being a long weekend it was bound to be crowded by the locals from Kununurra.

We talked it over, and decided we would still try for Keep River.  We got an early start, not even stopping for breakfast.  We needn't have worried - we had our choice of three sites when we arrived there, and by 10:30 the place was almost empty, though by about two it was pretty well full again.  Turns out the WA long weekend had been the previous weekend.  Although Keep River had had a fairly dry "Wet" there had been rain just a couple of weeks ago, and the second campground and the road to it were very boggy, which is why it had been closed.  Unfortunately this meant that the walk from the second campground was also closed.  However, we were able to do the loop Gurrandalng walk from the first campground.  Last time we were here (eight years ago) we were advised to do it both ways, once in the morning and once in the evening.  This we had done, and also planned to do it again this time.

Had Eric not been with us, we would have given Keep River a miss this time, having "been there, done that".  I am so glad we went there again.  I had forgotten how magical the loop walk is, particularly at sunset.  It is a 2km walk, for which they say to allow an hour.  We took an hour, forty minutes - much of that time spent taking photos and just enjoying the scenery.

Once we had set up and had breakfast (a very late breakfast) we drove back down to the Ranger HQ to Cockatoo Lagoon.  There were not as many birds as last time, but then we may have visited it in the evening, not the middle of the day.  However, there was more water.

That evening we set off around the loop.  We could hear lots of birds, but only got occasional glimpses of them as they darted from tree to tree.  Here are a few scenes from the evening walk.

And our campsite.

Sunrise next morning.

And some scenes from our morning walk.

We saw more wildflowers this time.  The elephant ears wattle is a strange one - leaves and trunk look more like a eucalypt

A couple more, but don't know the names.

Some trees have a precarious hold on life.

Got some beaut sunset photos last night, but they are still in the camera.

Today we are at Kununurra - will be here for a couple of nights.

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Marvellous pics Jan (and commentary).
Wednesday, 16 June 2010 18:20
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More Kakadu and beyond.

Our final camping spot in Kakadu was at Gunlom Falls.  The road in was 37kms of corrugated gravel  -  well, most of it was corrugated, some was just rough and there were actually a few smooth places.  Gunlom Falls are quite impressive.  To the right of the tree that is leaning out over the water is the spot where Crocodile Dundee speared a fish in the movie.  On our second day here, we walked to the top of the falls, actually, to the high point to the right of the falls in the photo, then walked down to the pools at the top of the falls.

The pool at the top of the falls.

And looking the other way.

This is as far as I went.  The day before I had quite decided I wasn't going to attempt the walk, as it was described as "Steep and difficult" but the lady at the kiosk talked me into doing it, and I am glad I did.  However, not wanting to push my luck, I stayed at the lower pools and let Ron and Eric go off on their own to the upper pools

This next photo is one of Ron's of the upper pool.

Eric's foxwing awning is proving a success, and so far we haven't bothered to erect our side awning, using Eric's to sit, have meals, even play board games at night.  This time he also put up one of the side "walls" his daughter-in-law made for him.

After a couple of nights at Gunlom Falls we moved on to Douglas Hot Springs.  We had hoped to visit Butterfly Gorge whilst here, but unfortunately it isn't open yet, and may be some time before it is.  This is the pool where we enjoyed the hot water.

This morning we moved on to Pine Creek, and this afternoon drove in to Umbrawarra Gorge.  Had a bit of a "swim" here.


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Fabulous pics Jan. We'll be up there in a couple of months. We'll certainly be following in your footsteps.
Thursday, 10 June 2010 18:56
Alby & Geraldine : s00037
Great stuff Jan, beaut! photos.
Sunday, 13 June 2010 07:54
Great pics and very informative. Would love to take that trip on but not sure how the Ford Falcon would handle those roads.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010 07:48
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