Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Broome to Kununurra

Well, it certainly has been a long time between updates! We have been all over the place in the last month or so, often out of range, making it very difficult to access a computer. So its catch up time - this blog will be about our trip from Broome to Kununurra, then I will write about a 3-day canoe safari we did which deserves a blog all of its own; next, our time from Kununurra to El Questro and finally our time in the Bungle Bungles.

But... first things first.

After leaving Karijini Natrional Park we drove the 360km to Port Hedland which was just a stop-over - not a lot to do here! Although we did meet Renate - a German backpacker who was heading to the Buingle Bungles at a later date and was looking for some company in her 4WD - a person you will hear more about later.

We were planning to buy new tyres in Port Hedland as we've given ours a pretty good thrashing on dirt roads in the last while but there weren't any available. The other thing we needed to fix was the sliding door on the side of the van - the lock was playing up and the door couldn't lock (or else locked permanently). Dave spent a good 3 hours fiddling with it to no avail so it was off to Broome - 600kms away.
We stopped half way at a rest stop for the night and frustratingly had to climb into the van through the front. Our gas lantern decided not to work either. Grrrrr.... However, there were beautiful stars to gaze at and we had to remind ourselves, in the words of Monty Python: "Always look on the bright side of life"...

The next morning we left at 7am and drove the 220km to Broome, passing a sign along the way pointing to 'Didyabanga'. A quick check on the map saw that this was a piss-take on Bidyadanga.

We drove into Broome and straight to the Roebuck Caravan Park as we heard it was very hard to get a spot in Broome. However we were lucky to get a powered site for 3 nights.

Our next stop was to try and get the door fixed. This involved lots of driving around - locksmith, smash repairs etc. After a while we had seen nothing of Broome (but were very familiar with the light industrial area!) but did find out that it was the cable in the lock that had seized. A visit to a Toyota parts place saw that there was no new part in Oz and we would have to wait 4 weeks for it to come in. No thanks! We rang a wreckers in Perth and organised for them to send a 2nd hand cable express post to us. Phew!! After all this we went to about 5 different tyre places and ended up getting booked in for 2 new tyres the following day.

Later that evening we finally managed to do our first bit of sight-seeing when we headed out to Cable Beach to meet up with our friend Jen from the Mad Monk. We hung out for a while and then decided to meet up shortly for a BBQ on the beach. We went back to camp to grab some washing off the line and as we were walking back to the car, chatting away, I felt a movement right by my leg. Instinctively I jumped out of the way and just as well for right there, in the middle of the driveway was a big SNAKE, reared up in the striking position!!! It had tried to have a go at me! Rather freaky but as it slid away a man came over and said it was an Olive Python - harmless to humans apparently. Still, made for an interesting story!

The next day we had a mosy round the shops and drove around to the cape which was rather nice:

We then drove out to Town Beach. It was really nice and we couldn't figure out why no-one was swimming on such a warm day. Found out later a salt water croc had been removed from the water a few days earlier.

We headed to a brewery called Matsos where Jen had just got a job. Sampled the beers which were OK, but nothing compared to Justins at the Monk!!

Drinks with Jen (2 girls, 4 beers, what more could you want?):

That evening we headed to the Moscow Circus with Jen and some others. We had an absolute ball and there were lots of great acts: magicians, jugglers, contortionists, acrobats, clowns, a great ringmaster, a giant slinky and to end it all an amazing motorbike act where they fitted 4 motorbikes in a tiny steel sphere, all travelling at 80km/hr. Good stuff.

Oh so mature:

The next day we bummed around a bit and then drove to Toyota to pick up the car cable. Went back to the caravan park and Dave managed to fix the door. Yippee!!!

The following day we went to the markets and then met Jen at Town Beach where we hung for most of the day and said our goodbyes to Jen.

After dropping Jen off at work we drove to Cable Beach for a sunset camel ride.

This was with the BLUE camels (there are three tour groups that operate)
This one was the best as they are happy to run along beside you and grab your camera to take photos of you and the camels - as opposed to the other operators who charge $10 for a professional photo. This was great fun. We had a camel named Cairo and he was a little bit mischeivous.

The tour was an hour and we saw a great sunset:

We're the ones in the middle waving:

True to the rumours, they are pretty smelly but not a too uncomfortable way to travel (at least for an hour - don't know if I could do the 5 day tours they do in Alice Springs!)

Afterwards they were rewarded with a carrot for their efforts.

We headed to the sunset bar for a quick drink - rather a nice atmosphere and quite a tropical feel about it!

In the morning we headed to Town Beach to cook up some pancakes. This photo is for Sarah and Dan "Darklords" - see Dan, this is what pancakes are supposed to look like...

Unlike this:

We then realised that our power inverter was not working and that it must be the cigarette lighter. As this is our lifeline to charge things on the road, we decided to hang another day (being a Sunday) and wait for tomorrow to see an autoelectrician to get it fixed. So we had a very L-A-Z-Y day at the beach and in the evening we went to the iconic outdoor cinemas and watched an aboriginal movie called "Samson and Delilah" - very sad but a good movie.

It was nice sitting under the stars with our wine, cheese and crackers.

By this stage it was getting very hot and we were struggling to sleep in the van at night - very sweaty and sticky!
The next morning we drove to the Autoelectrician who was lovely and fixed our lighter for $10 as well as testing our battery - all good!
We drove across to Derby and started to see a lot more Boab Trees. Very impressive! We stopped at the Prison Boab Tree which is a huge hollowed out tree that was once used to lock up kidnapped aboriginal prisoners when they stopped over in Derby overnight on their way to Broome to be used to work in the pearling industry.

We drove into Derby. Saw the wharf and had lunch - lots of mozzies! Not a lot else to do so drove to a parking area near a walking track to stay the night. Unfortunately in the morning just before we drove off we were reprimanded by a warden for staying there. Just a warning though which was lucky. Had to happen some time I spose!
The next stop was Windjana Gorge. We drove on the Gibb River Road for a bit and then turned South to Windjana. We had heard so many conflicting stories about the Gibb River Road - from "She'll be right in a 2WD" to "Its a rough as guts". We decided to take our chances and the road so far was pretty good.
Windjana Gorge was amazing - it felt so untouched and ancient. You could easily picture dinosaurs roaming the land. There were so many sounds and smells to take in as well as the sights.
This was our first sighting of crocs in the wild - only freshies but exciting nevertheless!

You could get pretty close:

Spot the croc:

We also saw the "Bushtucker Man" which excited Dave! (Personally I've never heard of him!)
Next stop was Tunnel Creek. This was pretty good too - you need a good torch to get around.

Following this we drove the rest of the road to Fitzroy Crossing. The road got a bit rough at the end but good old piggy made it through no worries.
We called in to Coles Express and caught up with a couple we met in Coober Pedy - had a few drinks and a catch up before heading back to camp at the Fitzroy Crossing Lodge.
The next moring we noticed the back tyre was just a little flat. Pumped it up again and drove out to Geike Gorge to do the boat trip. We went on a short walk before the cruise and when we got back to the car this is what we found:

Hmmm, maybe the pig didn't cope so well after all!!!
Dave changed the tyre while I went and bought tickets and then we boarded the boat for an hour cruise. This was lovely - not as spectacular as some of the places we've been lately but that's just because we've been spoilt! Saw a few more fresh water crocs and plenty of other animal life.


Couple of crocs:

We left Fitzroy Crossing after lunch and drove towards Halls Creek. Stopped at a gallery in the Yiylii Community - a nice wee place with a school of 60 kids. Saw some great paintings but nothing we could afford.
We drove on to Halls Creek and East to see the "China Wall" - a limestone formation.

(Photo: Renate)

We drove a few kms further where we stopped for the night at Carolines Pool where we saw a few wild brumbies (horses).
The next morning we drove into Halls Creek to fill up.

(Photo: Rentate)

I went to open the back hatch and...aaaagh..... the back latch broke!!!! Not having much luck with the locks! We decided to drive straight to Kununnurra and went to yet another Toyota Dealer. Dave took off the back panel and found the latch had snapped. Probably just due to general wear and tear as well as all the red dust thats been getting into things. again, same story - nothing available in the area, rang Perth Wreckers again but they had nothing so we had to ring Dave's parents to find one in Sydney and bring it with them to Darwin - a few weeks away. So this meant climbing in through the back every time we needed to open the back hatch!!
We got the other 2 tyres on the car replaced and then went to the visitor centre where we decided to do a canoe safari. We drove to a rest stop for the night and were called by Maka from the canoe place at 7:30pm to say we could go the next day at 6:30am - so no time to buy any supplies. They canoe safari turned out to be a real highlight and we took heaps of photos so I will dedicated a whole blog to that next - stay tuned!


  1. Hey Guys! What amazing adventures you are having! Love the pics - the camel ride looked so much fun! xxxx

  2. Glad you didn't get bitten by a snake, even if it wasn't a poisonous one.

    Wow, camel rides DO look like fun!

    Hmm, that IS a small pancake Dan (not small, it's special!)

    Wow, it does seem you have had a LOT of repairs needed on the van, although I do appreciate it has travelled many miles. Any idea how much you would have spent on it since you bought it?

    That photo was amazing but then I saw that Renate had taken it. I was going saw that your photography skills were getting really good!