Where are we now
We enjoyed our last couple of days in Broome completed domestic chores then chilled out on Cable Beach swimming before driving onto the beach to enjoy the sunset. We had left our chairs back at the PCYC Overflow Camp so took the next best (or better) option and sat up on WIII’s roof, great fun watching everything from birds eye view. We also wandered into Chinatown one evening finding it much quieter than expected but did find a very genuine Chinese Restaurant and enjoyed a yummy dinner. Our highlight though was catching up with Marie & her husband Rod, Marie & I had worked together and they had been travelling in the opposite direction from us. We’d been following each other’s travels and wondered where we’d cross paths, such a lovely evening sharing our experiences.
We realised as driving out of Broome that we’d spent 2 weeks in the area, it was a case of OMG how did that happen, this is certainly the luxury we have when travelling in our own country with a very distant deadline.
Our next stop was Barn Hill which literally everyone had mentioned was a place to stop, initially we thought we’d only spend one night as it isn’t free camping and we weren’t right on the beach however after a couple of hours we realised why people stay longer. Everyone seemed very friendly, the beach is just a short walk away for a good swim and there is plenty of room both in the campground and on the beach. Facilities were good and we enjoyed our amenities block with views to the sky although did hope there were no drones about. This place is part of Thangoo Station with 8000 head of cattle on 430,000 acres and has operated as a campground for the last 31 years.
Heading south down the Great Northern Highway isn’t the most exciting road we’ve travelled just scrub and the occasional sandy track to a station, the first place of any interest is Sandfire Roadhouse stopped here for our first burger on the trip – had to do this just once. Continued on to the turn off to 80 Mile beach where we stopped overnight free camping before heading down to the beach. We find it unfair that there is this huge coastline with amazing beaches but we can only access them through caravan parks hopefully this changes as we head south.
Went down to 80 Mile Beach to check it out the beach, which is very long in fact from memory I think it’s 136 miles long, by the caravan park (which is the smartest one we’ve ever seen with plenty of green grass, hedges, cafe, shop and even a veggie garden) there wasn’t any rocks or anything of particular interest. Highlight here was the car wash bay so Walkabout III had her first wash since Katherine which amazingly was 2 months to the day ago. We decided it was definitely a good move just to visit for a couple of hours before going on to Cape Keraudren.
The turn off for the cape is just by Pardoo Roadhouse so a good location to refuel if need be and 7cents a litre cheaper than Sandfire Roadhouse. Surprisingly the 13km road in is mainly bitumen, this is a conservation park so an entrance fee is required as well as a per night fee for camping – reductions for seniors 😊. We planned to stay one night but after seeing whales, turtles and dolphins all within the first hour we decided an extra night was warranted. We saw a large shark the next day apparently there have been many here but much smaller than the one we saw. The park is very large with a variety of places to camp some with toilets and other for the self contained, we scored a great site enabling us to see sunrise & sunset and close enough to hear the whales communicate and the slap of their tails. As you can guess we went for plenty of walks and found an enclosed lagoon with it’s own select variety of bird life and the boat ramp.
On our last afternoon at Cape Keraudren (we ended up staying 3 nights) we noticed a few people down near the water where we hadn’t previously walked so went to investigate just as well we did as there was the most amazing rock pools ever. It was quite windy but so pleased that I’ve some good photos just to show how nice it was. This place should be a must see on anyone travelling up here.
Where are we now
Broome again didn’t disappoint we stayed this time at the PCYC Overflow Camp didn’t mind paying $30 as it went fully back to the community. It was a handy location for us to do a bike ride up to the lighthouse although a little harder than we anticipated as rather than roads out on the point it was sand tracks so lots of bike pushing, oh well good exercise. The lighthouse was somewhat insignificant but nice views out to the ocean. We rode back via Town Beach and had a late lunch at the market that was just setting up in preparation for the crowd coming to see the staircase to the moon.
Early evening we returned to Town Beach and sat with 100’s of others in anticipation of the moon rising, yes spectacular but photos not as good as I’d have liked. Wandered round the markets again now with every type of food you could imagine as well as other stalls and a couple of brothers entertaining us with some good country music. A nice relaxing night and just a short walk from camp.
Woke with another sea mist covering us in dampness but this was again burnt off by 7.30. We headed off on the Cape Leveque road knowing that the first 100 was unsealed. The road was much better than expected with a few rough spots and some interesting slopes when I felt that I was going to topple sideways from my seat. Our first stop was Beagle Bay Community where we checked out the 100 year old church decorated with 100’s of mother of pearl shells, built by 3 pioneer brothers with the help of Aboriginals, the church has been beautifully maintained and is still in use today. The community is very tidy and has a good general store and a bakery although no cakes had been made that day, they do make a mean iced coffee though 😀
We were heading to Pender Bay Camp but I missed the turning, yes more bad navigation, so we continued north and checked out Kooljaman on the tip of the Cape rather nice with fancy restaurant and their own airstrip to fly in guests who didn’t want to face the rough roads. A cute little lighthouse up there too. We didn’t stop for long carrying on to what turned out to be our spot for the night – Gumbanan Bush Camp.
Gumbanan is in a perfect location just on the east of the Cape with views in all directions small islands dotted around which grew as the tide went down. Also some amazing rock pools on low tide incredible coral and other aquatic plant life and a variety of small fish, I spent both mornings for about an hour just photographing and watching. While up that end of the peninsula we went to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm where I did a very informative tour about the Brown Family and how they developed the farm and perfected the culturing of pearls. We also visited the hatchery at One Arm Point, not really a hatchery as such but a number of large tanks with a variety of fish and seaweed. Worth a visit all the same as there was interesting boards about the history of the local community.
We were going to stay at Pender Bay before heading back to Broome but 500 meters down the road we decided to turn around due to rough corrugation, didn’t feel too disappointed as we’ve stayed at 3 gorgeous beaches on the peninsula.
Where are we now
We arrived in Broome on 31 July, it has taken us 4 days shy of 4 months to cross from one side of Australia to the other, not sure how many kilometres but will work that out in a few days. It is so nice to be on this amazing coast our first night we stayed at the Cable Beach Caravan Park which meant that we could walk down to the beach. It was pretty special as the sunset was on low tide so lots of folk brought their cars onto the beach to have a few drinks and for some to stay longer with a BBQ. Of course we watched the camel riders an iconic picture if you visit here, I do want to ride a camel but will leave this until I can find a desert safari.
Our first impressions of Broome are all positive, the town is a nice size to wander round and there is a good feel about the place with plenty of recognition of the early settlers particularly the pearl traders. Although not particularly large there are all the main outlets we need such as Coles & Woolworths, Bunnings and Repco. We will come back to Broome after exploring the Dampier Peninsula and some free camping on the coast.
Our first camp is Quondong Point which has plenty of good spots overlooking the Indian Ocean, we tucked ourselves in at the northern end of the longest beach. Amazing views here and lots of walks up and down the beach and tracks. Some campers are here just overnight, others a few days then right through to 4 months. The wind got up the second day we were here and it was interesting to feel WIII swaying, still beautiful blue skies and cooler at night so great sleeping weather. Vey quickly we were enjoying the ocean and not having to drive on each day, we had been unconsciously looking for a place like this just to stop and chill out. Swimming too is lovely with warm water and nice waves, high tide was mid morning and there are safe areas we could swim in even at low tide. Bonus here is that we have Telstra coverage to catch up with family, emails etc
Day 6 at Quandong while scanning the ocean through binoculars I spot 3 turtles (we had seen signs that turtles 🐢 had been up on one of the smaller beaches to lay eggs) and then just a short time later from the point I spot a couple of whales breaching quite a distant out. Too far out for good photos but was excited to tell Rob when I got back. Later the same day talked to a couple who had been on the beach when the turtle laid the eggs it was a flat head (I think) who only had the stump of one flipper but did ok burying the eggs in 3 places.
We had visitors on our last day at Quondong, Martin & Renate, SLR owners who we’d met in Kununurra & again at the Bungle Bungles. Good to catch up but unfortunately we couldn’t find where they’d camped, or they left too early, for a longer chat and also to see their travel mates Anthony & Kate again.
We put off going back to Broome and continued north on Manari Road to the end and stayed 2 nights on the cliff top at Flat Rock. There is a sand track that continued on but Walkabout III is just too wide/high for the nasty scratching trees. We did however walk all the way to the next point which I believe is Coulomb Pt about 4.3km from where we camped, worth the walk picking up unusual shells and seeing some large large dolphins chilling out. We had plenty of swims here and also put the kayak in near camp, both enjoyed a paddle at low tide. Relaxing on day 2 we started to see more and more whales, some just slowly moving by and others more energetic spouting and breaching – watched them for hours. Then later when we walked out on the rocks looking at all the different plant life and live coral we could hear the slapping of the whale tails and also the noises they were making. The southern walk from camp is particularly beautiful with red cliffs and interesting white sand formations.
Woke up on our last morning at Flat Rock shrouded in mist, a surreal feeling being on the top of the cliff with mist all around, brought back memories of a similar situation when camping at Pacifico south of San Francisco.
Headed back to Broome to see staircase to the moon then will go back up Dampier Peninsula to see more up toward Cape Leveque.
Where are we now
After Windjana we decided to turn right on the Gibb River Road (for readers not familiar with this Road it is a 650km rough gravel road on many four wheel drivers bucket list) and go as far east as Bell Grove. First day we travelled 80km and were pleasantly surprised the road surface is rough but very little corrugation. There are brilliant views of the various ranges and small flowing rivers, there are pull off areas for views and even some areas that have been sealed particularly on the steeper hills. We free camped at a small river called March Fly (thankfully no March Flys) with a few others very peaceful with lots of bird sounds and very little traffic.
Next day we’d planned to go up one of the side roads to Bells Gorge staying at Silent Grove Campground. On looking at the campground we decided it had nothing to offer just another dust bowl and a 200meter walk that we did in 5 minutes. We carried on the 10km to Bells Gorge where we walked to the bottom of the 4 tier waterfall and had a brilliant couple hours swimming and lazing on the rocks. Unfortunately no campground here so we went back to the Gibb and found a good overnight site to ourselves. The next day back along the Gibb past the turn off to Windjana and the road was being graded and further along a large stretch of bitumen and more to come as roadworks were in full swing.
Got into Derby by lunchtime, we’d decided to stay at the Kimberley Caravan Park to get our back log of washing done. We had a mountain – numerous towels and two sets of bed linen and clothes ended up to be 4 loads but thank goodness with 3 amenities blocks I was able to trot around and get every washing load on at once. Even managed to find space on a few different lines to get everything dry within a few hours. We then walked the couple of kilometres up to the jetty to watch the sunset & see high tide and also by chance a guy pulling in a large Jew Fish. After walking back we decided we deserved to dine out and found a great little BYO Italian Restaurant.
Next morning we drove to the jetty this time to see low tide, Derby has the highest difference in tide rise and fall of any area in Australia and about the 6th highest in the world. Very impressive watching the water churning in and then seeing the mud banks at low tide. After this we went to see the Old Gaol, just awful reading the history here and seeing the condition that prisoners, mainly indigenous, were kept in including being shackled in chains and attached to a metal ring at night – horrific. We also stopped to see a huge water trough built in1916/17 and still in use as well as another Prison Boab Tree.
Before too long out of Derby we join up again with the Great Northern Highway and on to a free camp area for the night. Another state run one already numerous vehicles when we arrive but we got a good spot next to a shelter. We were soon joined by others and had a lovely afternoon/ evening chatting.