This trip brought to you by co-pilots Nicole and Mike, and crew Emily, Chloe and Amy ....
And our trusty Prado and long suffering home away from home trailer
13 October 2017
Our last night of the trip☹
We stumbled across the Cockatoo Downs farm stay, between Keith and Bordertown, which turned out to be the perfect way to end the trip.
The girls particularly enjoyed the hay bale maze and farm tour where they got to meet all the animals including Camilla the Camel! Great place to stop over on the way between Adelaide and Melbourne.
12 October 2017
Camp Oven Damper 🍜
Now we're really on the home straight. Only two more nights and we will be back in Melbourne.
Tonight we are back in Spear Creek, near Pt Augusta. The same caravan park we stayed at on the way up.
Last night we also stayed at the same free camp near Ceduna that we used on the way up. We're creatures of habit.
10 October 2017
Stopped at Baledonia Roadhouse for lunch, where they had an actual piece of the Skylab space station that crashed to Earth in 1979. Bits of it landed all over WA.
9 October 2017
Pretty uneventful couple of days as we motored down past Perth.
We spent the night at a nice little town called York an hour or so East of Perth. Really nice little town but a terrible caravan park.
Today we drove on past Calgoorlie and are now camped about 15km outside town in a free camp. Very quiet, no-one here but us.
On the way past we stopped at a section of the original rabbit proof fence that ran north to south across all of WA!
7 October 2017
We had quite an eventful day today.
We roused early so we would be packed up in time to drive across the island to Cape Ransonette where the barge leaves from. It was a bit of a rush but we made it.
When we reached the end of the national park area we stopped to pump up the tyres which were at 15psi for all the sand driving. That's when I realized that one of the bolts holding the trailer's suspension arms had sheared off and dropped out! Must have been the dodgy barge boarding on the first day followed by hours of corrugations.
As a temporary repair I jammed a socket extension from my tool box in there which kind of stabilized the suspension.
Luckily a nice bloke who works at the nearby Shark Bay salt mine (for real!) offered to take us back to the mine town to make a better repair. The mine mechanic had a bolt that was ideal and our new friend Ron lent us his garage to effect the repair. Phew! We were back on our way!
Many hours later we are relaxing in a motel in Geraldton.
6 October 2017
Amazing full moon tonight!
For our last full day on Dirk Hartog we decided to go up to Sandy Point for the day.
The beach there is seriously awesome. Clean white sand and amazing blue water as well as little bits of reef. We even saw a reef shark right up near the shore.
4 October 2017
We finally reached Cape Inscription at 3 in the afternoon! What a trek!
There is a display showing replicas of the original inscribed plate left behind by Dirk Hartog in 1616. The first European to set foot in Australia.
There is also another plate left by Willem de Vlamingh in 1697 (he replaced Hartog's plate with his own). The island has quite an interesting history.
There is also a lighthouse, first erected in 1910 and still in use.
It took us another hour and a half to cover the next 50km or so up to Dampier Landing point.
The driving is hard work, the track is sandy, soft in places and corrugated in others. There are tough scratchy plants overhanging on both sides, so the Prado has a new set of pin stripes!
We only saw one other vehicle the whole day, a Landcruiser containing a park ranger and a fisheries dept guy. It is a massive island with almost no one on it.
Dampier Landing is where William Dampier made his first landing and collected a set of plant samples which are apparently still on display at Oxford university.
Next stop was Quon Bluff South, where you get magnificent views back down to Notch Point and up to Louisa Bay. Down by the beach there are the remnants of an old stone wharf which was used during the Guano mining that took place on the Island.
After that we stopped at Louisa Bay for lunch.
We decided to explore the Island today, driving up to Cape Inscription and taking in Donne of the sights along the way.
The first challenge was the enormous set of sand dunes that the track goes over. The track just disappears and you have to make your way across between some posts in the sand. Luckily it is not too soft.
3 October 2017
Now we are set up at Notch Point on DHI which will be our home for the next four nights.
We have the whole beach pretty much to ourselves.
After setting up we spent the afternoon exploring the point. I also tried my hand at fishing but only caught 1 crab and a load of seaweed!
Boat Journey over to DHI! It was a little rough and the Prado and trailer got coated in salt spray.
2 October 2017
After setting up camp we drove the final few kms up to Steep Point, the westernmost point of the Australian mainland.
The scenery is very wild with high cliffs, strong winds and waves bashing against them. The sea looks very rough.
1 October 2017
Today we drove up to Steep Point to be ready to catch the barge to Dirk Hartog Island tomorrow morning early.
We are camped on the beach just before Steep Point. It's a really beautiful spot.
Uh Oh. The dust cap has come off one of the trailer wheel bearings. Probably shaken loose on the way out of Francois Peron NP.
Needless to say it's impossible to find a replacement in this little town.
I've made a temporary replacement using the bottom of a soft drink container and copious quantities of chinese imitation gaff tape (called "Duck tape" not to be confused with duct tape)
I will be amazed if it holds ...
30 September 2017
This morning we went over to Monkey Mia to check out the dolphins.
These days they really try to restrict the contact between dolphins and humans. 2-3 times a day they feed a couple of selected dolphins a handful of fish and the rest of the time humans have to keep well away. They are trying to make sure they do not become dependent.
It is understandable but it does make the experience a bit of an anti climax.
There is a resort here and once you have paid your entrance fees you can use the facilities, so we stayed for lunch. It's a very commercial setup compared to what we have become used to.
29 September 2017
On the way back down the cape we stopped at one of the salt pans so I could take some drone photos and video.
The pans are apparently quite soft underneath and easy to get bogged in so they recommend keeping to the tracks.
It was still extremely windy so the Mavic (drone) had to struggle to maintain position but it did very well. I was amazed at how well it did.
Today we drove up through the park to Cape Peron which is at the northernmost tip. The trip is 50km of soft sandy tracks and salt pans. Spectacular scenery but even more windy!
We saw a group of herons on the beach and then noticed a dolphin fishing just off the beach. They apparently drive the fish into the shore and trap them after which they can grab them in their mouths.
I took some amazing drone photos and video at the lagoon this morning. The video is even nicer than these stills but I can't post that on journi. I'll upload it to YouTube some time.
28 September 2017
We are camping at Francis Peron NP at the big lagoon campsite. I cannot rate this park highly enough, it is amazing.
It is 4wd only to get in and around, with corrugated sandy tracks that have some sections of soft sand.
The lagoon is enormous, it would have been great to spend a whole week here. Although it was very windy, which seems to be a theme on the west coast!
We stopped at Shell Beach on the way up to Denham. The water in the bay is super salty, twice as salty as normal sea water, due to the action of currents and evaporation. The only creatures that can survive are cockles which is why the beach consists entirely of cockle shells.
27 September 2017
We stopped for the night at Hamelin Station. Nearby we took a look at the Stramatolites, formed from single celled organisms that have remained essentially unchanged for 3500 million years!
There is also an old telegraph station there which contains a museum.
Fantastic vista from the Gladstone lookout on the way from Carnavon to Shark Bay
25 September 2017
Today we drove in to Coral bay and had lunch at a cafe there. After lunch we set off to Five Finger bay, where there are five "fingers" of coral leading from the beach out. It's supposed to be good for beginner snorkelling.
You reach it by driving 5km or so of dune/beach tracks so down with the tyre pressures and up with the sand flag! We felt well prepared after having done the sand driving course at Robe earlier this year.
The snorkelling was not as good as it could have been. The water was choppy and the wind extreme. Still Chloe and I gave it our best shot.
24 September 2017
We spent the day exploring Warroora station. They have some amazing beaches and coastal scenery. It literally takes hours to drive from one end to the other.
Elle's beach is supposed to be good for snorkelling but it was way too rough for us!
When we got back to camp the girls spent some time playing on the beach. Chloe enjoyed being buried :)
The weather has been a mixed bag. Very blowy and a rain shower every few hours. Overnight we had incredible wind, it felt like the camper might tear in half!
23 September 2017
We've gone a little further south now and we're camping at Warroora Station. They have a number of camping areas at different beaches along the coast.
We are camped just behind a sand dune, about 100m back from the beach. Handy because it has been pretty windy!
We cooked the roast lamb that we bought in SA in our camp oven. It was the first time we had tried anything so ambitious, and it turned out ok although a little under done. The girls topped theirs off with "smores" (biscuits with molten marshmallows and chocolate).
22 September 2017
Today we went snorkeling in the Cape Range NP, at a location known as Oyster Stacks. Amazing sea life! You literally step into the water and you are on the reef.
Amy stayed on shore and made an octopuses garden.
After lunch we went to a different beach. Great to have such amazing places almost entirely to ourselves.
21 September 2017
The last few days we've been camping at the Yardie Creek homestead caravan park. Nice compromise between hard core bush camping in the NP and a town caravan park.
We had booked into a glass bottomed boat tour but it was cancelled at the last moment due to rough seas and wind resulting in a wasted morning. So in the evening we took a whale watching cruise instead.
Amazing creatures, and there are dozens of them just off the shore, on groups of 3: mother, calf and "escort". They are constantly jumping out of the water and flipping their tails
19 September 2017
Bit of a slow day today. Nikki and Amy had spent the night in Tom Price hospital, so the girls and I drove down to pick them up in the morning. The doctor put Amy on light duties for a few days.
Emily and I decided to return to the scene of the crime and take on some of the sights we had missed because of the drama the day before. First we went to the Oxer lookout which has an amazing view over the intersection 4 gorges each of which is over 100m deep.
After that we did one of the easier gorge walks.
Too much to see here and not enough time!
In the afternoon we went down to Weano gorge. We climbed the many steps down into the gorge, and then followed the creek downstream towards handrail pool.
This pool can only be reached by clambering down past a waterfall whilst clinging to a handrail bolted to the wall. Amazingly we managed to get down without incident.
Unfortunately we were not so lucky on the way out. Nikki lost her footing and slipped down, dragging Amy with her. Amy got quite a knock to the head so after getting out of the gorge we had to take her to Tom Price hospital where they kept her in overnight as a precaution. She is fine now but will appear in subsequent photos with an impressive set of bruises!
18 September 2017
This morning we took in Joffre gorge. Amazing view from the viewing platform! The gorge is very deep and narrow.
The climb down was pretty treacherous, too hard for Amy so first Em, Chloe and I went down, then Nikki had a look later. The waterfall was amazing.
17 September 2017
Our first day at Karajini NP. We explored Dale gorge and went for a swim in the fern pool. Despite an ouutside temp of 38C the water was freezing!
We are camping at the Karajini eco retreat campsite. Very pleasant bush setting.
16 September 2017
They have a nice council pool at Newman, so we spent the morning there.
15 September 2017
At last the long driving days are coming to an end!
We stopped for lunch and Ice creams at Kumarina roadhouse. There was a cockatoo there that was constantly asking for a scratch!
Then we arrived at Newman. They have an old mining truck set up for you to look at near the information booth. The scale of those things is amazing.
We plan to spend the day tomorrow restocking, washing clothes before heading over to Karajini on Sunday.
14 September 2017
We drove north all day along the Goldfields Hwy. At lunch I got the drone out and took some video and footage that really gives you a feel for the incredible open spaces out here.
The last 150km or so was gravel road. At one point we came across a dead cow in the middle of the road - presumably road kill although I would not like to see the damage that would have done to whatever vehicle hit it.
We are spending the night at Meethekarra. The campground is terrible - right alongside some kind of truck depot where road trains come and go all day and night. Pretty grotty facilities also. We should have continued on down the road and found a free camp ☹
13 September 2017
More driving, west to Norseman and then north through Kalgoorlie. We spent the night at Menzies which proved to be a really tiny little village without even a proper petrol station. Nice campground rhough!
12 September 2017
We spent most of today crossing the Nullarbor (which if you didn't already know is latin for "no trees" and there certainly are huge sections without a tree!)
The road goes right along the coast and there are a few very scenic spots. The cliffs are amazing.
We crossed over into WA and this time were better prepared- we'd eaten most of our fruit and veg so didn't have as much to surrender to the friendly border guard!
We spent the night at another free camp about 20km before Caiguna. It was extremely windy which made for a challenging evening. The wind eventually died down but it was freezing!
Another long day's drive.
We stopped for lunch at a surprisingly trendy cafe in a little town called Kimba.
We eventually stopped for the night at a free camp near the highway about 80km west of Ceduna.
11 September 2017
Amazing fields of canola flowers all the way from Western Victoria and into SA.
After stopping for lunch at Gawler we had a lovely drive up through the Clare valley.
We stopped overnight at Spear Creek caravan park (near Pt Augusta) which I thoroughly recommend. Very natural bush setting, and super friendly hosts.
Also, thanks to a tip from Justin Hood, managed to reset the fuel warning light on the Prado! Thx Justin
10 September 2017
Stayed overnight at Nhill. To enable a quick getaway we stayed in a cabin.
First drama for the trip: the fuel system warning light after only the first few hours! I had the car serviced only a few days ago so this was somewhat unexpected.
After pulling over and looking under the bonnet a found a disconnected wire on the fuel filter, presumably not connected properly when it was serviced.
The light is still on even after reconnecting it, probably will stay that way until we can get to a Toyota mechanic.