Month end Odo reading: 12,551
July 2009
Km's for the Month: 4,500
Odo reading at month start : 7,751
1-6 July     Distance:  285kms  in car
3 July -  Still in Darwin, still hot & sticky, still 1000's of blood-sucking mozzies and midges (no-see-ums). Can't wait to get going again. Washing machine repaired - really great service from local agent, Loveridge Enterprises.
Yvonne arrives back tonight just after midnight.
 
5 July  - We drove to Litchfiled National Park, south of Darwin. On the main sealed road the main attractions are 3 waterfalls and a most strange field of gigantic termite mounds - called the Magnetic Termite Mounds. Most stand about 2 metres high and all are in a north-south orientation.

Got back and felt energetic enough to wash the roof of the motorhome, and as well the cab front and top.  Also polished the cab hood and cab top.

In the evening Yvonne and went down to Stokes Hill Wharf for dinner, where we watched the yachts sailing past and the setting of the sun. There were 100's of moon fish feeding on chips patrons were throwing off the wharf into the water.

 
11 July     Distance:   454

Kununurra to Leycesters Rest Area - Ord River, 100kms north of Halls Creek & 63km south of Turkey Creek. A large rest area with toilets. 
S 17o 28' 53  E127o 53' 03
 
Left Kununurra early and drove north to Wyndham. We had been told we must go to the Five Rivers Lookout where one can see where 5 rivers - the King, Pentecost, Durack, Forest and Ord rivers.  As it is the dry season the rivers were not too impressive but I imagine they would in 'the wet'.  Wyndham appears life has past it by, it's really tired looking yet it has not yet reached the status of ghost town.
 
We stopped at the Doon Doon roadhouse on the way to this rest area, diesel was $1.79 per litre.
My sand-fly & mozzie stings
Magnetic termite mounds
Red Mountains, Victoria River
Lake Argyle
Mary River???
The Cessna
Yvonne & I, Cable Beach
Derby, high tide. Same location
Derby at low tide
Baobab prison tree
Camels a-waiting
Gantheaume Point
Broome town
Japanese cemetery
Coral Bay beach
Yardie Creek (saltwater)
Town Beach
Coral Bay (reef in background)
North West Cape Beach
Reef inhabitants
Yvonne snorkelling, Ningaloo reef
Roadside flower
Hardhats on termite mounds
Port Hedland & iron ore ship
7 July     Distance:  308kms 
Darwin to Katherine. Staying at Shady Lane Tourist Park again, stayed here 4 weeks ago on way to Darwin.
 
"On the road again" - after a stay just a little too long in one place. It's amazing how the temperature has dropped, it was 13o overnight in Katherine, as opposed to night temperatures of 27o in Darwin - no more sleeping on top of the bed with the air-con on, now it's under the duvet. 
8 July     Distance:  403kms    19.5 mpg
Katherine to Saddle Creek Rest area, via Victoria River and Timber Creek. S 15o 57' 26  E129o 33' 42.
 
The rest area is fairly large but by the time we arrived at 15:00 it was full, (about 50 vehicles)  but I managed to squeeze in between 2 badly parked vehicles, 1 a caravan and the other a motorhome.  We are 117km west of Timber Creek & 109kms east of the NT/WA border. On the way here we saw 1000's of Baobab trees. The Victoria river which we crossed a few times and drove along at other stages is a large river, full of water. Most other creeks and river were totally dry.
 
 
9-10 July     Distance:  124kms   
Staying at the Hidden Valley Tourist Park. The layout & entrance are messy to say the least, however staff are friendly & helpful. The non-powered area is pretty but dusty, the powered area is overcrowded. Amenities blocks are old and not so clean. $24 per night for an unpowered site - that's pricey, and it's only an extra $3 a night for power & water?!
 
Left early to get to Kununurra as we had been unable to get a camp booking. However, we did  not leave as early as others who left before 6am, one caravan left at 4:30 to get a camp site at Kununurra. Another border crossing, this time our motorhome was searched for any fresh fruit or vegetables. We had made a curry paste with all our onions, garlic & chillies, and pickled the remaining onions with sliced beetroot.
 
We arrived at the camp at 8am and it was already full, but we managed to get a un-powered site. It's a very busy resort town - used as a base to get to the Kimberleys.
 
10 July  - We took a 2-hour flight over the Bungle Bungles in a 13-seater Cessna Grand Caravan 'plane. thankfully it was air-conditioned as it was very hot today. We first flew Over Lake Kununurra, then the Ord irrigation scheme, the over the extremely large Lake Argyle.
 
When Lake Argyle id filled to 92m above sea-level it is 27 times the size of Sydney harbour, but is only at 30% of it's potential. The maximum level is 116m above sea level and then it is approximately 40 times the size of Sydney harbour. The highest the lake has been is 99m above sea-level.
 
After that we flew to the Bungle Bungle Mountain range about a 20-minute flight from the southern tip of Lake Argyle. Te range was formed about 360 million years ago. It is an unique range with rock formations we have never seen before. Until 1987 it was only known to a few helicopter pilots, Aboriginals and stockmen. It became the Purnululu National Park which was listed as a World Heritage site in 2003.
 
On the flight back to Kununurra we flew over the Argyle Diamond Mine,  which produces 30 million carats each year ) that's about 48 kgs! ( I think!). The Company's production accounts for 25% of the world's natural diamond production.
Bungle Bungle range
Wave Mountain
12 July     Distance:   208

Leycesters Rest Area to Mary Pool rest area (Mary River), via Halls Creek. S 18o 43' 37  E126o 52' 19.
 
On the advice of many travellers we stayed overnight at this rest area - it's one of the nicest ones we have stayed at, except for the red & talcum-fine red dust. It's situated on the Mary River, although one can hardly call it a river this time of the year, the river is bone dry. The floor of the motorhome was covered in he fine red dust - caused some idiots who drive through a rest area as if they are on a F1 racetrack.
13 July     Distance:   266

Mary Pool rest area to Ellendale rest area, via Fitzroy Crossing  S 17o 57' 38   E124o 50' 10
 
Fitzroy Crossing is what appears to a 1-horse town, and that 1 horse was eaten at the local BBQ a few years ago. The town is really run down and the only supermarket (loosely put) burnt down 5 days ago. Pretty depressing place!
14 July     Distance:   177

Ellendale rest area to Derby.  Staying at the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park.
 
Just before Derby we stopped at the Old Prison Baobab tree - apparently it was once used to house 14 prisoners - inside the tree, click on photo to see the entrance hole.
 
Derby is the place in Australia that has the most tidal difference - at Spring tides it has a 12-metre tide, while most other times it is between 5 & 8 metres.
 
At low tide the muddy beach stretches far out, mud-crabbing is a favourite local pastime. 
 
The jetty here was used in the filming of Australia, the movie.
 
We went back to the jetty the next morning and I took a photo from the same location, of the same beach as the day before. The tide was mid-high tide, the difference in the height of the tide is amazing.
15-17 July     Distance:   230

Derby to Broome. Staying at Palm Grove Caravan Resort.
 
15 July  -  Our first night we only have a un-powered site, but a powered site for the next 2 nights. Broome is extremely busy & most parks are totally booked out.  The camp is about 4 kms from the town centre but there is a bus that runs every 30 minutes.
 
16 July  -  After a disappointing start to the day it turned out a really good & interesting day.  We walked to Cable Beach at 8am to do a camel ride, however after hanging around for nearly an hour and no appearance of any camels, I phoned the camel owners only to be told half of their camels were stolen the night before!!! I just wonder who thinks they can get away with the theft of around 15 camels in a small-ish town such as Broome, it's not as if they can make a fast getaway on them.  We then decided to go to town in the motorhome, it's a really neat & interesting resort town - we are surprised some people told us not to bother coming here, if it was closer to New Zealand we would come here rather than the Queensland coast.  I certainly would have preferred staying here for 3 weeks rather than in Darwin.
 
While we were in town I got  call for the camel owners apologising for the 'problem in the morning and offering us a complimentary ride at 14:30 and a refund of the $90 we had already paid. We walked Cable Beach again in the afternoon, on the way we met the camels heading there as well, so we walked with them.  The ride was very good, even if a bit bumpy and wobbly - it's a much rougher ride than on a horse, but well worth it - we both thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Red Sun Camels have redeemed themselves. I recommend a camel ride to anyone, it's fun and not something you can do in many places in the world.
 
Cable Beach is certainly one of the best beaches I have seen anywhere in the world, Yvonne even swam and true to form I got the water up to my knees and then chickened out as the water was pretty cold.
 
7 July  -  We did a fascinating 4-hour tour of Broome and surrounding areas, we learnt a lot about the early history of Broome and it's pearling industry as well as its multi-cultural make-up. Most pearlers in the early days were Japanese who were later interned during WWII. We visited the Japanese cemetery in town - most were killed either during or just after diving, with the bends.
 
The visit to Gantheaume Point was also very interesting, the rocks and their formation was fascinating as is their colour. The contrast between the beautiful blue sea and the red multi-coloured rocks was very pretty.
 
There are just so many beautiful beaches in & around Broome, Town Beach is one of them.  This is the location where many seaplanes were bombed by the Japanese during WWII.
 
Broome is a great place to visit, with hindsight, we should have stayed there longer! 
18 July     Distance:   476

Broome to Pardoo Roadhouse. 150 kms north of Port Hedland. A long day, with not much to see. Met some nice people at the roadhouse camp, which was pretty good besides the ablutions which were shocking.
19 July     Distance:   397     18.8 mpg

Pardoo Roadhouse to Karatha. Staying at Pilbara Holiday Park (Big4). One really bad thing about this camp is it appears to be a camp for young mine workers, all living in really small Fleetwood manufactured homes -  which appear not to have showers or toilets, although all are very neat & tidy, the camp has a 'compound' feel about it, just like a trailer park in the USA, and the ablutions are as busy as railway station ablutions - disappointing considering a powered site, in the middle of nowhere costs $44 per night.
 
Another long day. Stopped at Port Hedland and other than seeing a train of around 3.5kms long carrying iron ore and the harbour there wasn't too much of interest to visit. Almost every building in the town is stained a reddish brown colour, especially the roofs. On the way to Port Hedland a road train went by going in the opposite direction to us, it's wheels threw up a stone which cracked my windscreen fairly badly, so we  changed our plans for tonight and headed for Karratha where the is a Novus repair agent. Oh yes, we also had a tent bag (complete with tent) fall of a ute in front of us, we only just missed running over it!  Karratha is the youngest & fastest growing town in the Pilbara region - fuelled by the mining boom, and the off-shore gas fields and the gas processing.
 
Just prior to the stone damage we spotted hundreds of termite mounds that some joker or jokers had fitted hardhats to - it looked pretty funny.
 
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20 July     Distance:   182

Karratha to Dampier, then Fortescue. Staying at the Fortescue Roadhouse caravan Park, dusty & not so nice & $25 for a power site.
 
We first had the windscreen chip repaired in Karratha, then drove to Dampier, the port out of which iron ore  is shipped from.  We also drove to the North West Shelf Venture operation, which processes natural gas.
 
This operation is the largest single development project in Australia's history. Unfortunately the informative visitors centre closes on Mondays! We also saw the salt pans between Dampier & Karratha.
21 July     Distance:   231

Fortescue to Barradale Rest Area #454. Nice rest area but very dusty with he dreaded red sand and the pit toilets are disgusting as are most of Western Australia's rest area toilets.
 
22 - 14 July     Distance:   206    21.3 mpg

Barradale Rest Area to Exmouth. Staying at Exmouth Cape Holiday Park (Big4). Lots of 'roos, sheep & cattle on the road today, especially the last 60kms to Exmouth.
 
We stopped at Kailis Fisheries about 10kms before Exmouth, to buy some fresh fish, thinking it would be reasonably priced considering it is a fishery and they catch their own fish - wrong, Snapper was $42 kgs and Coral trout $55 kg - absolutely ridiculous! Funnily enough prawns were not too badly priced.
 
24 July  -  We did a glass-bottomed boat trip over the Ningaloo Reef, after a bit of a tour around Exmouth. The coral was like the Great Barrier Reef, more grey & brown as opposed to brightly coloured coral, however it was interesting. The water was extremely clear and Yvonne even snorkelled over the reef - the water was far too cold for me!  We saw plenty coral fish.
 
The Ningaloo Reef starts 1,000kms north of Perth and is north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is part of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Cyclones do hit Exmouth from time to time, Cyclone Vance (1999) had winds in excess of 280kph. It is well know for whale sightings, we saw a few whales from the lighthouse, there are also whale sharks. One can do dive tours specifically to see the whale sharks.
 
On the boat tour we met a couple from Melbourne, Phil & Gail, who later that afternoon took us with them to the Ningaloo Marine Park, on the opposite side of the peninsular to Exmouth. Here we saw a lot we may not have seen if they hadn't taken us with. On the way back to the camp we passed 100's of live, hopping 'roos - we have never seen so many in one day ever before.
 
That night I took Phil & Gail to dinner a Chinese restaurant in Exmouth and the food was surprisingly very good and we had a super evening.
25 July     Distance:   153
Exmouth to Coral Bay. Staying at People Park Caravan Village. Coral Bay really is the prettiest beach we have seen on the west coast and certainly one of the best in OZ - only problem the water's a bit cold, but there again it is the middle of winter.
 
As usual Yvonne swam and I stood knee-deep in the water. I almost succumbed but my hate of cold water prevailed. The water is crystal clear and the shades of blue & turquoise really add to the beauty.
 
All sorts of tours are available from Coral Bay, but we have already done most of them from Exmouth so today is really just a rest & catch-up day.  The camp does not have fresh water available for hook-up, only from certain taps, so we are leaving tomorrow.
Toilet at Quobbo
Stromatolites Colony
1-mile jetty
Compacted & "glued" shells
Quobbo blowholes
Shell quarry
2 crabs & kg of prawns
Beach freedom parking
26 July     Distance:   262
Coral Bay to Quobba (blow holes). Staying at a "Shire" (council) freedom type camp at Quobba  - @ $5.50 per night. Pit toilets & no water or power and some sites are virtually on the beach - very much a fisherman's camp as well as catering for fervent campers, but it's very busy and full, we just squeezed in. Had to travel 1.5km on a sandy road, but at least it's white beach sand and not red bulldust.
 
We crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn latitude line again today, so we are now out of the tropics again. We crossed into the tropics near Alice Springs on our way to Darwin.

Very windy again today, the last 5 days or so have had very strong south-easterly winds - mostly on-the-nose when driving which has had a pretty negative impact on fuel consumption.

We came here to see the Quobba blowholes and the 120km detour was well worth it - the swells were large-ish so every few minutes we got to see a really impressive blast of water from one of the many blowholes. The water blast from some of the smaller blowholes resembled the geysers spouting steam in Yellowstone of New Zealand. Took some great video footage.

The rock formation coastline is also very different, the likes of which we have not yet seen on our trip.

27 July     Distance:   101
Quobba Blowholes to Carnarvon. Staying at Wintersun Caravan Park (Top Tourist).
 
Carnarvon has a population of just over 9,000 and is mainly a fishing port and agricultural centre, bananas, avos, tomatoes and mangoes and many other vegetables are grown here.  There are many roadside fruit & veg stalls as one comes into town. It is a pretty town with a very scenic palm tree lined esplanade that runs around the yacht-filled harbour - many yachts are smart catamarans. It was worth coming here, the town has a nice feel about it.
 
The jetty at Carnarvon was built in 1897 to accommodate State Ships that brought supplies & passengers from Perth, and allowed the export of livestock & wool from the region, the first livestock were exported from this jetty in 1900.
 
It is the longest in the North West of W.A. -  the brochures refer to it as the 1-mile jetty. It no longer operates today, but a band of rail enthusiasts run a small train to almost the end of the pier. We did the trip.
 
We bought some steamed crabs and tiger prawns from the Crab Shack at the fishing harbour. We will have them tonight with mayo and chilli paste, I'm sure we will enjoy them.
 
Night temperatures are dropping pretty rapidly now as we head south, last night at Quobba it was 8oC - the days are still blue-skied and cloudless & 22oC.
28 July     Distance:   229
Carnarvon to rest area +- 200kms south (rest area closed) so we stayed at Hamelin. Staying at Hamelin Pool Caravan Park.
 
Very interesting caravan park, it is situated where the old Hamelin Pool Telegraph station was, the original building is still here, but is no longer a telegraph station (duh!). The shop which served as the telegraph station residence is very interesting with all sorts of things sold in it, a veritable treasure trove of odds 'n sods.
 
Of interest is the shell quarry, a short walk from the camp where mining took place  in the early 1900's  the quarrymen cut blocks of solidified shells into building blocks and most of the buildings in the camp are built with these blocks. The shells are small cockle shells that become glued together after getting wet, the water and the lime in the shells makes a strong glue.
 
Hamelin Pools is one of the few remaining sites in the world where Stramatolites still grow - they are caused by bacterial growth and the ones visible at Hamelin Pool are 1,000's of years old. Their evolutionary history spans some 3 Billion years. Similar to coral reef, stramatolites comprise tiny living organisms that eventually die and are then replaced - only the surface of each mound is alive.
 
When very much older they comprise, if cut open, of uniquely coloured very hard stone.  The ones at Hamelin pool only a 1,000 years old are white.
2-million old Stromatolite
Caravan boat
Shark Bay World Heritage area
29 - 30 July     Distance:   134
Hamelin to Monkey Mia, via Denham. Staying at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort (Aspen Parks). No fresh water to fill tanks, no cassette dump, hence the following low rating.
 
Denham is a neat little beach resort which one passes through (small detour) on the way to Monkey Mia. The beach looks really great, but most of the beaches from Broome down have been really great beaches, with beautifully coloured crystal clear blue-turquoise water, it's just a pity the water is so cold.
 
We saw something interesting near Denham, a caravan boat. It's a houseboat, but on wheels. Looks ideal for the person who want to tow the boat and the home all around the country.
 
30 July  -  We went down to the beach at 7:30am to see the dolphins who apparently almost always come close in shore to view the humans - and be fed, of course! After quite a long wait, first 1, then 4 other dolphins came in really close, at one point a dolphin was no more than 2 feet away from my legs and in water no deeper than 18". They seem to really unafraid of humans, as they swam from left to right, than back again a number times, always parallel to the line of spectators, and really close.  They hung around for close to a hour, once fed they were off out to sea again. Apparently they come in about 3 times a day, so we may see them again later this afternoon.
 
I guess they have become accustomed to being fed at the end of their "display", although the rangers only give them 3 small fish each, so it does not fill them up and they still have to hunt for food. We actually saw a few dolphins hunting cormorants floating on the water.
My mate!
Galena rest area
See how close they come!
31 July     Distance:   319     20.43 mpg
Monkey Mia to Galena Bridge rest area (Murchison River) -  #412. Really nice rest area alongside the Murchison River - and the river even had water in it!
 
We decided to go to  further south rest area than we had originally planned to, a good decision, the rest area we stopped at is a really neat place and very scenic.  We met a really interesting person, Diane, who is travelling on her own, in a pop-up caravan. We spent a really good happy hour with her, and yours truly even made a campfire which kept us warm for  a couple of hours - what a super way to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary, in the middle of nowhere under the stars and in good company. Also met an young Italian couple travelling around OZ in a station-wagon, it'll be cold for them tonight.